In the Wrong Place

I keep finding myself listening to a similar conversation with friends. Although there are different people and situations, I keep sensing a fear to admit when they find themselves in the wrong place. They’re in the wrong job and pretending it’s the right fit because they invested so much time and money into their study. They’re in the wrong relationship but convinced he’s going to change or she just needs to put in more effort. They’re using all the wrong things to numb their pain, thinking they’re fine because it makes them happier. They’re pretending to believe something they no longer believe because they don’t want to have an identity crisis. The list could go on.

I sense the fear of admission because I recognize it in myself. I’ve been there. I admit that I could be projecting, but I don’t think that’s what this is.

This is what I know it to be:

Deep down, from your inner most being there is a protest.

“I was not meant for this. This isn’t right.”

But you smother the protest for weeks, months, years. The protest dies, but resurrects itself the next time something happens that isn’t right. Why don’t you listen? Why do you make excuses? Why do you keep going?

Because there aren’t other options. There are only things tying you down. There is no green grass on the other side that you can see from where you’re standing. You don’t know exactly how you arrived here in the first place, but you sure as hell don’t know how to get out. You don’t have a plan or an alternative. So, you keep putting up with what doesn’t feel right because even though it might not be ideal, it’s what you have. There’s always hope, right? Always potential. It would be stupid to surrender a perfectly fine or at least comfortably familiar job/life/relationship/etc. and instead hurl yourself into a complete mystery.

Look, by all means, give this all you’ve got. Please keep going as long as you possibly can. Exhaust all your resources. Use up every last drop of determination and optimism you can muster.

But know this: there is something holy and relieving about surrendering to the inner protest of, “This isn’t right.”

There is something that happens in a person when they admit the fear and are brave enough to go, “I don’t know what it’s supposed to be like, but I know it’s not this. I don’t know what’s next. I don’t know if it’s going to be worse or better. All I know is that where I’m standing now isn’t right, so I’m going to move.”

This is how life changes. This is how you find your sanctuary. The choices made from that place of, “I don’t know, but not this” are terrifying. But if that inner protest begins to play like a broken record, LISTEN. Be brave. Move. Because the next step might feel worse at first. In fact, expect that it will. But at least it won’t be “this”…whatever your “this” is.

The solution to fear is not creating security, it is having courage.

 

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Love,
Taylor

BOOM.

YOU GUYS!!

I am very excited to share this with you:  See Through Stories

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You see, I’ve had several life ties to Alzheimer’s disease: personal (my grandma was diagnosed), professional (I worked as a CNA on an dementia unit), and academic (this was my research topic for my dissertation). In grad school I had this idea to start a story-telling project with people diagnosed early onset and well… I ACTUALLY MADE THE IDEA HAPPEN. Or got it started, anyway. And that’s the hardest part, right?

This has been slowly growing over the last few months and today I am officially launching the website for See Through Stories. There are only two features so far, but I’m hoping that all of you will help me spread the word so I can make connections to more people interested in taking part. I think if there can be anything beautiful about having dementia, it might be that it forces people to live fully present in the moment. I think we could all learn a little from that.

I don’t know if this will last one year or 50 years. I don’t know if this will stay a project or become and organization. I don’t know if this will just feature people where I live or if I’ll be fortunate enough to hear the stories of people with dementia all over the globe. I don’t know if I’ll work solo or if I’ll be lucky enough to form a dream team. There’s a lot I don’t know.

It’s new. It’s figuring itself out. I’m going to be patient and present with it. No matter what it becomes or doesn’t become, I’m proud of myself for at least seeing the idea through. And I expect that I’ll enjoy every bit of the work immensely because it has me all like: damn, people are beautiful.

 

Love,
Taylor

Extra special thanks to:

The Alzheimer’s Association in Des Moines for connecting me to the wonderful people I’ve interviewed so far // My family, for literally everything // Ryan, who helped get this off the ground from every technical standpoint and was my brainstorming partner// Sarah, Rachel, and Lewis for consistently insisting I must do this, from the very beginning // Andrew, for being my sounding board.

 

Apologies

I’ve been volunteering at DMCW for 9 months now and when you’re a staff volunteer, you see the same people come through every week. First, you get to know names and faces. Then you learn things like how Stanley takes his coffee and how when Kim asks if you have noodles she means ramen noodles and nothing else. You learn that Jimmy prefers donations of black socks to white ones and that if anyone is mouthing off, Annie will most certainly have your back.

The longer I’m here, the more I learn not just about preferences and personalities, but about what happens on the other side of the street when our doors have closed for the day. I am only privy to seeing the tip of many icebergs, but it’s enough to keep me from living in comfortable ignorance of what lurks beneath the water where I float.

I can fill a plate, clean and bandage cuts, drive someone to detox, or offer my undivided attention and a hug. But all the love and good deeds in the world don’t change the fact that at the end of the day I’m the one sleeping inside when it’s below zero outside. I’m the one who can raid the fridge at night if my stomach is growling. I’m the one who can work. I’m the one with a car to take me to work. I’m the one who goes home to people who aren’t abusive or tweaking. What do I do with the privelege I carry as I attempt to live in solidarity with these nieghbors of mine?

 

There have been several times I’ve asked one of our guests a question, completely unprepared for where the conversation would go. Totally unaware that I just signed up to have my ears violated. I’ve had some real good sob sessions in my car lately as I drive and decompress from all the information I take in. I hate, hate, hate, HATE that most of the time all I can do is say, “I’m so sorry.”

I’m so sorry that your husband beat you until your eyes swelled shut and you could feel your mouth fill with blood.

I’m so sorry that you’ve been shot 9 times and can show me the scars scattered across your abdomen.

I’m so sorry that you’re finding it impossible to stay sober and it’s ruining everything.

I’m so sorry that 3 of your 4 sons died when they were just kids.

I’m so sorry that your fingers are frost bitten.

I’m so sorry that you were forced into prostitution and that you feel trapped and violated.

It feels like there are apologies constantly pumping through my bloodstream. All I know is that I cannot burn out, get cyncical, and angry. I cannot disengage. In this place where I live, contemplation and action are connected. Connecting to Love allows the community to stay engaged working for some semblance of peace and justice when the presence of pain is so thick and tangible. I believe this house is holy ground and these neighbors are immensely loved in the only way we know how: to show up, to see and listen, to stand together, and to know how they take their coffee.

God, I hope it’s felt and that it’s enough.

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Love,

Taylor

P.S. I know this is kind of heavy, but I promise most of the time there’s a lot of joy and good vibes all around. 

 

 

Waves

Shout out to Kanye West and Rob Bell, who inspired the following content with their individual creative genius. This is for all the people out there who currently find themselves in a season of life where they just can’t catch a break and have no f-ing clue what’s happening. Come. Join me in my little wave mantra.

 

I am getting pounded by waves. Waves never come alone. They come in sets. They pummel you, sending your whole body into a vicious spin cycle. Your muscles get tired. You can’t see what is happening. You can’t fill your lungs with precious gulps of air. You don’t know which way is up or down, left or right.

Waves don’t die. They’re ever present. But in the moment where you’re involuntarily forced underwater, you must remind yourself…

This moment is not all moments. The wave will come. It will pound me. It will pass over me. Then I will come up for air.

When you’re tossing and turning in every direction, you will want to thrash your body against the water. Your heart and mind will want to frantically conjure up all the worst case scenarios: What if I don’t make it? What if this doesn’t work out? What if I don’t have the money? What if I get rejected? What if this person doesn’t come through?

What if questions and worst case scenarios only add pound to the pummel. You are burning up energy that could be used to do the only thing that is helpful in a wave: Stay calm. Take care of yourself. Eat well. Sleep enough. Remind yourself…

THIS IS A WAVE.

This moment is not all moments. The wave will come. It will pound me. It will pass over me. Then I will come up for air.

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Love,

Taylor

Skorts + Sno cones

I came across this picture today (thankfully social media didn’t exist when I was in middle school, so pretty much none of that experience was documented like it is for people now) and I just want to be this girl wearing a skort at Adventureland again.
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You know…when feeling grown up meant getting to wear mascara and shaving my legs. When being independent was about getting rides from friends instead of my parents. When socializing involved rollerblading to get sno cones and jumping on a trampoline, because no one had cell phones that did anything except maybe let you play Tetris.

You know…before any of the hard parts happen. Before girls get mean, before parents divorce, before you get your heart broken, before stress is a normal part of life, before best friends leave, before guys become assholes, before the debt piles up, before loved ones get sick and die, before the rejections. This girl hadn’t been touched by any of that yet.

I’ve been trying to remember what it was really like to be this girl, but all I can think of is that she could eat a lot of raw cookie dough and Doritos without gaining any weight and was good at Zelda. It’s insane how many days we live and don’t remember. I spent 365 days being 13 years old but I can only vidvidly recall a few moments here and there. Does this mean that 13 years from now I’ll only be able to remember a few moments from what is my now? 

Woah.

Well, I think I’ll keep up these nostalogia vibes by listening to Fall Out Boy’s Take This to Your Grave album.

Love,

Taylor

 

 

50

My Faja, Thomas James Vander Well, turns 50 today.

Cheers to the man who wears many hats (literally and metaphorically). I am mind blowingly fortunate that he’s my father. I seriously think about that…a lot. Like every week at least, because I get a cute little post card from him at that frequency. I am always in awe of his creativity, love, wisdom, and how much fun he has with life. He has, and always will be, my favorite man.

Here’s a little throwback post:

https://love-taylor.com/2014/06/13/when-dad-meets-daughter/

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

Love,

Taylor

So This is Happening

I’ve been one busy lady. Good busy. But busy nonetheless. I feel like I’m teetering on the edge of mental breakdown some days, but soaring high on others. I’m finding it hard to muster the energy to do the things I want to do when I’m done doing the things I need to do. And trying to remember that I get to do it all.

But OK, so this is what’s happening…

I took a road trip to the mitten of the United States last weekend with my friend Kory. Between cafes, breweries, ice cream parlors, and bakeries…we just ate and drank our way through Grand Rapids with Miss Bailey. That city is dope. And so is Bailey. I also got to see my godparents- Dave and Maria and little James, the newest additon to their family. They spoiled Kory and I with an amazing dinner at Terra, a farm to table restaurant. I tried mussels for the first time and I didn’t hate it. After saying peace to GR, we ventured to Detroit to complete the mission of the entire trip: to see one of my favorite paintings in person. We perused the Belle Isle Conservatry, bought succulents at Eastern Market, and stumbled upon a Luge race downtown (which is possibly the most quiet and bizzare sporting event to see up close). A personal highlight was making our way through the midevial art section of DIA via Snapchat and creating these:

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Diego Rivera mural in the DIA

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YAY for used bookstore steals

+ I had the opportunity to play papparazzi at the Alzheimer Association’s Conference last week. The Alzheimer’s Association in Des Moines has been a huge support in the project I am working on and they have asked me to be on a project committee that creates social engagement events for patients and their caregivers. I am so pumped to be a part of that!

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You should sign up for The Walk to End ALZ🙂

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This is crazy.

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My Fridays-Sundays are spent with the DMCW, serving up food and loving our neighbors. I am unendingly appreciative that I get to be a part of this community, which is about equal parts insanely beautiful and hella challenging. But being here keeps me grounded in my values and beliefs about how life is meant to be lived and shared. For every absence I observe, there is an abundance to be experienced. One thing the DMCW does is serve breakfast and give out Whole Foods donations on Saturday mornings at Trinity Church before serving lunch at the Dingman House at noon. If anyone is interested in volunteering or cooking a meal, hit me up!

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My housemate Al and Justin…two of my favorite dudes.

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I’m nannying for one more month. Still applying for jobs and becoming increasingly depressed and frustrated by everything. BUT I’m looking forward to being a bridesmaid for one of my dearest friends in June and to being in Edinburgh for a TBD amount of time this summer. Also, I’ve taken up kickboxing again which has been a sanity saver and makes me feel like a total badass.

Uppercut. Hold the follow through.

Love,

Taylor

7 Things Sunday

One. Spring is here! Egg production is in full swing and the weather is warming up. That means one of my favorite things ever: breakfast on the porch with friends. YAY YAY YAY. IMG_7036IMG_7016IMG_6991IMG_7009IMG_6878IMG_7048IMG_7051

Two. I had the opportunity to hear the infamous primatoligist and conservationist, Dr. Jane Goodall speak in Omaha Friday night. She told bits of her fascinating story with Gombe chimpanzees, discussed Roots & Shoots (her youth-led community action group…which meant there were lots of kiddos in the audience. Awesome.), and the most pressing conservation matters on her heart (let’s not kill Grizzly Bears). She was absolutely lovely. I could have listened to her for much longer. And then the night continuted with a jazz band playing a cover of ‘Smooth’ by Rob Thomas and Carlos Santana, trying some delish beers, and even more delish tacos from a truck.

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Three. Looooook what I found. Haha. When you grow up with a right-brained father…

Four. Tuesday night I checked out the new, hella busy, Iowa Taproom with some of my besties. All craft Iowa beer. All the time. You should definitely go, but maybe wait a little bit for the excitement to die down if you don’t feel like waiting for long stretches. The food is good, too! And if you’re partial to ginger beer, check out the Firetrucker Cat Dragon. It’s 11.5%, so go big or go home.

Five. This happened  in our community this week. Thank God everyone was okay. It could have been much worse and even the next day there were two more rounds of gang-related shooting. I have lots of questions, thoughts, and feelings but more than anything it just makes me proud of the work ArtForceIowa is doing. I wish they could expand and grow so we can try to keep kids with guns off of the streets and instead give them squeegees and a job in a community of people who love and care about them. I know that sounds idealistic and it’s not a fix-all solution, but I’ve seen it work and believe it can make a huge difference.

Six. I was going to post asking if anyone wanted to go to hear Rob Bell speak about his book How to be Here in Minneapolis on May 14, but I just saw that general admission tickets are $100. Pssshhhh. Well that’s lame. Anyone swimming in $$??

Seven. Introducing Joel. I am now a nanny for this little dude. He’s 8 months old, loves to stick his feet in his mouth, and makes really amazing noises. We’re a fun pair, so if you want to schedule a play date with us, let me know!

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LOL. That drool.

Love,
Taylor

Real

This is a thank you letter to the people who refuse to hold back their emotions in public. They might make some people uncomfortable, but I am not one of those people. I freaking love them for it because they aren’t trying to hide, cover, or not feel. Its refreshing when people give in and react to the moment, even if someone or everyone might see.

Dear woman quietly bawling on the tube in London,

I hear you sniffling and letting out those tiny, gaspy sobs. I keep glancing up from my book to see a constant stream of tears coming down your face. Oh shit. You just read a text on your phone and it made you cry harder. I’ve been there before, sister. Did you just get dumped? Did someone die? Did you get in a fight with your best friend? I wish I knew why you were so sad. When I get off at my stop, I’ll drop a travel pack of kleenax on the empty seat next to you as a token of my appreciation for the honest visual display of your current emotional state…and because crying that hard gives you a runny nose and it’s the worst when you’re leaking from every orifice on your face. Thank you for reminding me it’s okay when you can’t hold back tears. Just let those rivers flow.

 

Dear couple fighting in aisle 13 at Home Depot,

I’ve always been told that home improvement projects are the true test of a relationship. That seems to be a very real thing in this moment for the two of you. You apparently have very different opinions about which project is more important to finish first, but there has to be a compromise, right? Also, I feel like this argument isn’t actually about a project timeline. It sounds to me like this lady thinks you’re over estimating your DIY skills and wants you to just hire someone so you can focus on your relationship rather than drywall for awhile, dude. But she should probably just come out and say that to you. Oops. We just made eye contact and you guys got a lot quieter. But you don’t need to. Honestly. Don’t mind me. I’m just over here mentally cheering you on while I eavesdrop and make what appears to be a very difficult decision about paint primer. Thank you for showing me that I should probably never try to renovate a house with my significant other.

 

Dear girl telling off guy in the park,

There are people all around you: eating their sandwiches, power walking with their coworkers, biking to class, playing frisbee, reading on benches, etc. And then there you are just yelling at this guy. You look really strong. I imagine you feel strong. It sounds like you’ve wanted to say this for a long time. Maybe it’s been building in you. Way to go for telling him how it is and walking away. You didn’t turn around, but he watched you until you reached the street. Thank you for being loud and fierce. I felt empowered just observing you and I don’t even know you.

Dear couple breaking up at Smokey Row,

Here are your lattes. Oh. Oh no. This is awkward. You guys are totally breaking up right now, aren’t you? Wow. Did one of you plan to do this here? Because you’d think that initiating a break up in a cafe would come across as a terrible idea. Are you breaking up on a date? This is ridiculous. I feel so bad for whoever is getting dumped right now. I mean, you’d at least expect a to-go order so that this conversation can happen in the car…But alas. Here you are. Both staring intensely at your cups. I’m going to bring you a couple of free cookies and just set them on the table. It feels like the right thing to do since you brought me into this now. Thank you for being reallll real.

Love,

Taylor

 

7 Things Sunday

One. My sister was offered a big girl job with Laura Geller Cosmetics in Columbia, South Carolina. She’s trying very hard to convince me to move there with her. Hmmmm😉 I’m sad that she’s leaving Colorado, but I’m proud of her and excited for this new adventure! Way to go, Madison.

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Two. I wrote about the #KnowJustice project a couple months ago when I was working at ArtForceIowa. The Des Moines Register published this article, highlighting a little bit of what is happening with #KnowJustice and some other exciting arts events in Iowa that have to do with race and justice. I can’t wait to see what comes out of this workshop.

Three. This week my grandpa was in the hospital for a heart procedure that ended up not happening. They ended up needing to start him on a new medication that required monitoring him in hospital for several days. I spent a few of those days hanging out with family in his room and keeping grandma company over night. She kept telling grandpa, “I kind of love you a lot” and giving him kisses. And then at one point when he was getting an EKG he told the nurses he wanted grandma to come over and give him a kiss while they were scanning him so that he could see what it did to his heart. Seriously?! Stop. it. I can’t handle that kind of adorableness. #lifegoals.

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They make my heart explode.

Four. I’ve now reached 6 months into my job search. If P.O.D can get nominated for a Grammy three times, I feel like I should be able to land a job in my field, you know? Sometimes life is cruel and unfair. But there are a few applications I’m feeling fairly optimistic about. Fingers crossed. Toes crossed. Everything crossed. Waiting is hard. Staying really proactive in the waiting is even harder. But I know that life happens between point A and point B. I will always be waiting for something, so I should learn to love what happens while I wait.

Five.  I think you have to be very close to someone in order to have the green light to go off on them when they’re being dumb. In my opinion, you have to approach these situations from a place of, “I could be wrong, but…” but still… I respect and appreciate the hard blow of redirection when it comes from a loving place. And it rarely comes. Most of my friends are listeners. They ask good questions. They’re comforting. But sometimes being a true friend isn’t just blindly agreeing, standing in solidarity, or waiting to see what happens. It’s coming alongside, telling them their eyes are closed, and shouting out what it is you see. The other night I was telling one of my best friends about something that happened recently, and they just went off on me and got upset. But I understood they weren’t upset at me or with me, but for me. And I needed that. I needed to have my motives challenged and my actions questioned so I could figure out how to either defend myself or realize I was wrong. I needed to hear the perspective that wasn’t “I understand,” but rather, “I don’t understand what you’re thinking or doing. This is insane and f-ed up and you need to ___ because I love you and I hate seeing ___.” I need to be better at this as a friend, too. It’s a delicate balance and a thin line because when are you being a good friend and when are you just being an ass? BUT, is it not completely worth figuring out how to do gracefully?

Six. This is awesome. And then Frieda told them about love…

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Seven. I was in a yoga class this week where the instructor played this song during savasana and I legit shed a few tears. It’s like a musical security blanket. I will not apologize for kind of really loving The Fray.

Love,

Taylor