On Sharing Joy

We have watched the rain outside switch from a hazy drizzle to snowflakes all day long. I pulled on Noah’s jacket and wrestled him while he tried to stand up, sliding one sock and shoe on at a time, hoping they would last longer than the car ride. Today, I took Noah to a local nursing home to visit a family member. As we walked inside, I couldn’t help but fixate on the most recent posts on social media and news warning of colds, flu viruses, RSV, and other dangerous bugs floating around waiting to infect a small baby. A buzzer sounded as the code was punched in to the alarm system, protecting those inside from the outside. I held him tightly as he stared up at the florescent lights. 

Strangers who were chair ridden stretched their arms out to him as we walked by, cooing and trying to connect with him. He flashed his best smile, flirting with the crowd like usual. They called him beautiful, handsome, and a perfect baby. As his mama, I couldn’t help but agree (and I was secretly thankful that he didn’t chose this time to pitch one of his toddler fits that have been starting to bubble on the surface). A woman asked to hold him, and I politely declined with a smile. I tried to kindly mention we didn’t want him to come down with any sickness, but she was welcome to wave to Noah and blow kisses to him. He juggled making friends and balancing while walking through the hallways, holding onto my fingers for support. His new-found mobility made it hard to keep him in my arms because he certainly prefers crawling and independently standing compared to cuddling these days.

We spent a little time chatting with family and catching up. Noah scoped out the colorful candy bowl and was captivated by the black and white movie playing in the background. I found myself reflecting on visiting the nursing home with my family when I was a child. Christmas carols were sang to cheer friends and family members up. Hard candy was always a staple, butterscotch candy being the ever popular bribery treat for sitting still. And the memories of that distinct smell of nursing homes, of age and idleness, a smell that lingers in every one of them probably.

Sitting in the small apartment style room and holding my sweet baby, I also spent some time thinking about my grandmother. She spent the last few days of her life in a nursing home with comfort care. I thought about holding her hand and singing to her as she slipped away from the world. Often times, when I think of these places and memories, I feel a sadness creep into my bones. I felt that today. I think of the loneliness and changing of life, how it can pass by so quickly and quietly for so many people.

As we made outside to head home, a woman stopped us in the entrance. Noah rubbed his eyes, and I held him closely as people continued to wave at him. He needed to make it home in time for his upcoming nap.

“Thank you for sharing him today,” she whispered.

Pure joy

Why is it that these days, I find it so much easier to share life with Noah from the quiet of my home instead of the commotion of public? That I would choose to share highlights of our life through social media instead of discussing them with friends in person? Why is it that I find it so much easier to seek connection through the internet instead of real life? For some reason, I chose the ease and comfort of sharing in the solitude of my screen, instead of being with out with strangers who need joy more than anyone else.

I could tell you that I was afraid to take Noah into a nursing home because of sickness, because we didn’t have time, or because there would be strangers all around. But the truth of the matter is, I was nervous to take him because of how hard it would be for those memories to come back to me. I was fearful to share my joy because I knew it would be difficult for me personally to go into a nursing home. And I knew it could be difficult for strangers there to see our joy, too.

We too often struggle to look those in the eyes, like people in nursing homes or the homeless or even our friends who are grieving, and share our joy authentically. We think maybe our happiness can increase their sadness. Or it may even cause us a little heartache too. The often overlooked truth that joy can be held right with sadness at the same time. Instead of being afraid to show up, in person, we need to love right where we are. In joy and sadness, connection and loneliness, happiness and heartache – it is in sharing that things get messy. It is in sharing that things get hard. But the beauty is that we all have the chance to do it together, and I would much rather share those moments in person than hide behind my screen any longer.

Sure, I’ll hold onto my baby in public closely. I’ll try my best to protect him from the world, people, and illness during this life. But I will happily share him today and every day with those who might need it most. Chris McCandless once wrote, “Happiness is only real when shared.” You might know him as the subject of the book Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, a young man whose life ended in isolation after setting off on a solitary journey in the Alaskan wilderness. McCandless is someone who would certainly know about the consequences of detachment. If sharing joy in the world is the small thing I can do to make a small impact on my community, I plan to do so going forward. I hope you also can find tiny ways to be fearless and joyful in the days ahead.

Give a Little Love

“And if you share with your heart, you give with your heart. What you share with the world is what it keeps of you.”

This past week, I’ve had gratitude on my mind. It’s a theme that has continued following me since Valentine’s Day. The lyrics above are the last haunting words from the song Give a Little Love by Noah and the Whale. The advice deeply resonated with me in a week of candy hearts, fancy cards, and material gifts – when it’s easy to get caught up in the symbolism of Valentine’s Day instead of celebrating the love and generosity in our world.

J and I celebrated our first Valentine’s Day together as an official, hand-holding, mutual relationship couple (insert smitten, googly eyes here). Back in our college days (and the first time we dated, for those who don’t know our story), we were spring chickens you might say. We had been on a few coffee and dinner dates, but still shied away from jumping in headfirst to the cliché couple routine of Valentine’s Day. Today, I have a lot of gratitude that God allowed His plan to unfold for both of us, all in sweet time, making this first Valentine’s Day that much more special.

Processed with VSCO with t1 preset

Growing up, February 14th was truly celebrated in my family. As children, my sisters and I made boxes for cards that we displayed at school. I always took serious care in selecting my cards to give classmates. I can remember waking up to special breakfasts of French toast, bacon, and fresh strawberries. Flowers would always decorate the table at home. Every year, my mom gave us small gifts and receiving them in college when I was homesick for my family made it such a treat. Every Valentine’s Day, I felt so loved. This national holiday wasn’t just for relationships full of love and passion. It was a day to celebrate all the relationships in your life – from the big to the small. Looking back, I’m so thankful my parents taught me the concept of gratitude during this time.

Cultivating relationships is difficult, especially as an adult. I made the decision to move away from Kansas nearly five months ago, and I miss my friends and my family every single day. I’m so appreciative of the channels of connection that exist in our modern world – from phone calls, snapchats, Face Time, and Skype. I know those I love are just a few minutes away. While learning how to do long-distance friendships, I have learned that gratitude is the heart of love. If love is a flower in bloom, gratitude is the soil that allows the roots to be nourished. Without appreciation and thankfulness, I would not be able to sustain the love that connects my friends and family.

As I sat in a restaurant Tuesday with J across from me, I was reminded why it is so important to show everyone you meet gratitude. We were at a local, downtown restaurant with the mountains in the backdrop. With delicious food and my favorite guy across from me, I was a happy camper all evening. In happenstance, we were seated very close to the front door and snugly between a few different couples. Together, one of our favorite things to do is to observe the room, catching snippets of conversation and discovering the stories of those around us. J and I couldn’t help but overhearing multiple fights between couples. We even listened as the couple next to us refused their food and were arguing with the waitstaff at the restaurant. As we left the building that evening (on our way to the best dessert a girl could ask for – Dairy Queen Blizzards), I linked arms with J and felt a deep sense of gratitude envelop me. My evening was so much more enjoyable because I chose to focus on everything and everyone I loved on Valentine’s Day.

Every single person you meet has a history, a good and a bad one. You might not know their story, but it does deserve to be told. Despite struggle, despite imperfections, and despite fear of the unknown, every single person you encounter is worthy of love. I’m so thankful that from an early age, I was taught that relationships matter. The respect and gratitude you give others, those who are your best friends and those you encounter in a single event, says so much about you.

“You are imperfect. You are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” – Brené Brown

My hope for the rest of your February is that you find time to give a little love to those around you. Give it in big ways. Give it in small ways. This year, I worked hard to hand-write personal notes to send to those I love. A little, old-fashioned snail mail was my way of reminding those around me that they mattered and I have a deep sense of gratitude each time I think of them in my life. Even in small encounters, at coffeeshops or restaurants, I have learned that you can make someone’s day be being appreciative. If you allow your daily mindset to focus on gratitude and the joys of a thankful heart, imagine all the people you can impact (and all the evenings you could really enjoy).

Cheers,

Taylor

Gifts

Happy New Year, dear reader!

I know many of you have been anxiously awaiting this time of year. As the old year begins to turn to new, I’ve taken time to watch my friends and family and notice just how taxing this past year has been. Our 2016 was a banner year for anxiety, stress, and all-around burnout. It’s no surprise to me that many want to see the sun set on this past year and just forget about it. The elections, the harsh lens of the media, the wars, and hateful mindsets caused a great deal of heartache this year. Throughout the year, I started a nasty habit of running. (No, I don’t mean the “nasty” habit of being healthy by physically running. I’m honestly expressing this essence inside of me to run away from conflict, internal and external.) This year, I found myself turning away from hard conversations instead of leaning in, in order to save what I thought was my own sanity. The more I think about my past year, the more it is plain to see that I should have been turning in, not turning away, appreciating the gifts in my life and precious time I had been given.

But, despite my own personal struggles, I think 2016 gained a bit of a faulty reputation. With all the hardships, good did come from this year. It was a year of learning, growing, and changing. The beginning of January always makes me think of the start of a new day—a sun rising up over a pale, blue horizon, shifting a world of darkness to one of golden light, and brightly illuminating the path ahead. My birthday falls only 3 days into January, and with the ending of a year of my life, I always think of the beginning of one ahead. This year, I’m entering my quarter-century mark. 25. On my birthday, I didn’t feel a slight bit of panic when thinking of the laugh-lines I recently discovered on my face or the fact that I can barely start a morning without coffee. Instead, I felt relaxed and took a little time to turn inward, thinking more importantly about the changes of my own past year. Reflecting on former experiences is necessary to have progress in the future.

indian-peaks

My 2016 was a whirlwind. Even at the first of the year, it became apparent that this was the year for changes. I committed to leave a job that I was passionate about without plans for the future. Throughout the year, I felt frantic while trying to balance my career, my friendships, and my personal life. More space in my heart was taken up by a boy who lived over 500 miles away, which felt like a world of distance at the time. Suddenly, in a flash of time, summer came and I was in a relationship head first, leaving a job, and traveling to Europe without any upcoming career plans in the span of two months.

And then Autumn came. Just like the leaves change, I made changes too. I made a move and settled into a life I wanted to savor. I was fortunate to find a position that captured my interest and let me dive deeper into my strengths. My setting shifted and I headed west for the Rocky Mountains, which I am fortunate to see every day. As time passed, I began to establish roots by connecting to my church, exploring and hiking, and making more friends. Not to mentioned I began life-lessons in budgeting, paying bills, and “adulting”. But I learned that changes can strike even when you least expect it. I lost a dear friend to me, one whom I didn’t have time to say goodbye to or remind him of how much I respected him.

group-photo

I met Kyle at the beginning of 2015, and though I didn’t know him long, he left a legacy on my soul. While meeting him, I knew I wasn’t at my best. My heart was overwrought, and I often felt off-balance and overwhelmed. I spent more time on myself instead of being a good friend to others. But in spite of all of this, Kyle was my friend. He invested in me simply by including me and listening to what was on my mind. In the two short years I knew him, Kyle was a blessing. He was truly one of the first Godly men I had ever encountered. His fierce love for Christ, passion for civic engagement, and genuine laughter impacted so many. He simply radiated enthusiasm when sharing about his love for Christ, from spending time in China on a missionary trip to being at the center of a college campus. In addition to all of this, what truly made Kyle unique, was his genuine ability to just be. His laughter lit up a room and he always gave you his full attention. During any task for work at K-State’s Department of New Student Services, be it welcoming new students on to campus or fixing a schedule for day, he was fully engaged. I admire Kyle so much because in every moment I watched him soaking up his precious gifts of life and time, cultivating an atmosphere that glorified Christ. He knew what God had intended for his life and he utilized every moment to be a reflection of that plan. A few months before he died, Kyle marked his earthly body with a tattoo as a reminder of God’s hopes for him. The word GO painted his side was for Matthew 28:19 – “Therefore GO and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” In his time and his life, you knew Kyle’s call to action was for Christ, and I know he was welcomed back with opened arms the day he returned to Heaven.

After saying goodbye to my friend Kyle, I’m not ready to let go of the legacy he left behind. I want to live a life more like Kyle. While 2016 was full of changes, I’m ready for this new beginning to take place in my heart. Here’s my 2017 and 25th year manifesto:

I want to be braver. I want to handle the messes with grace instead of panic. I want to learn that it’s okay to lean on others, have the hard conversations, and grow closer. I want to savor time and open my life to change.

This year, I’ve learned that life and time are precious gifts. They aren’t always wrapped up in beautiful layers for you to unfold, tied up with a neat ribbon, organized in a precious pile that’s Instagram-worthy. Sometimes they can appear ugly. Maybe they look like time you don’t really have, money you can’t spend, or resources that feel wasteful. Recycled wrapping paper, crumpled bags, or simple brown paper packages tied up with string. But let me just declare this – I can’t wait to unwrap these presents. I will make them my favorites, carry them in my pockets, pull them out every single day and look upon in wonder. Life and Time are to be savored.

Cheers,

Taylor

Taking Off the Mask

I’m a big fan of Halloween. That’s putting it lightly, and any of my friends and family reading this will know the truth. From my childhood trick-or-treating years to current days of binge-watching Hocus Pocus, I absolutely adore this holiday – the costumes, the candy, the pumpkins—all of it. In preschool, I was able to pick out my costume for the very first time. Being the indecisive Disney-loving girl that I am, I choose a unique combo of Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Princess Jasmine from Aladdin. Even after I passed age 3, I obsessed over potential outfit ideas when October 31st rolled around. A 50’s girl costume, a Karate Kid, and a homemade Glinda the Good Witch costume courtesy of my Grandma Jo (my all-time favorite, by the way) – so many options! Would the kids in my class like it? Should I have a backup plan in case things didn’t turn out right? What if someone else had the same idea?

Of course, with the passing of Halloween, another large event in the United States loomed on the dim, autumn horizon. This year brought around an election year, and a big one. Mere days after a joyful celebration and countless smiling children, Americans made the very serious decisions on the future leaders of this country. And as I watched countless debates leading up to November 8th, I couldn’t help but notice the scary similarities between Halloween and Election Day. No, I’m not talking about a pants-suit costume or frightening foreign policy. I’m talking about masks. They were everywhere this year. And I find this more haunting than any horror movie, zombie costume, or terrifying corn maze. I know I’m not alone in this observation. This year, the country lacked authentic, genuine candidates to stand behind on the national level. With the attack ads playing over the television on an hourly basis, values and character were brought into question constantly. Malicious words were exchanged. Vicious rumors were spread from all angles. In an election when we should have been celebrating two huge milestones on both sides—the first female presidential candidate and the first presidential candidate without a career in politics – the entire country was tearing each other apart. It was in the media and it was at your dinner table. People were obsessed with the identity of the two party nominees. And here’s the core of it all – did we truly even know who they were? With the chaos surrounding the election, did we learn anything truly real about their characters? All I saw were masks, left and right, hiding the truth from a country that deserves better. My heart hurts just thinking about the mess.

I promise this post will not get political. You don’t need to know who I voted for or what I thought about the results. What you do need to know, and what I think you already know, is that this country is in desperate need of authentic leaders. People who are willing to show up and be seen for who they truly are. People who are trustworthy, kind, and generous souls. People who are willing to admit when they have made a mistake, instead of pointing fingers. People who are willing to be vulnerable and authentic. People who are ready to get rid of the mask. I know they exist because I see them every day. They are my friends and my neighbors. They are my family members and my co-workers.  They are the men and women next to me in church. They are the people I saw walking out of the polls, smiling because they made an impact in the democratic process and they had hope. I see you. I know you are there. Thank you. My prayer is that you will continue these good deeds whole-heartedly in the future.

dsc_0118

Last year, I had a close friend recommend a book to me about taking off the masks. Scary Close by Donald Miller is a book that touched me deep down in my core. By reading this book, I learned to show up and be seen for who I truly am. I learned to drop my mask to the floor and let the curtain close on my act that I’ve been holding tight, using as a defense mechanism for nearly my entire life. I’ve passed this book onto others numerous times because it needs to be shared. It’s one of those change your life books. And I couldn’t think of a better time to encourage people to live authentically than the day after such a disturbing election. Miller opens his book with an Author’s Note and words that resonate and haunt me today. “Somebody once told me we will never feel loved until we drop the act, until we’re willing to show our true selves to the people around us” (xv).

While his writing unfolded, I discovered that although Donald Miller’s memoir is focused on his life-long struggle with empathy and fear, he has a message that truly resonates with every reader.

Your story is worth telling.

It may be easier to hide who you are, cloak yourself in a costume, or put on a mask every day. But I believe that each of us, by the grace of God, is loved and can be loved authentically. The very idea that Christ could redeem us speaks to the fact that you have a right to show up and be truly known. Of course, like two hands locked in prayer, that vulnerability brings shame and fear. Shame is probably one of the scariest words in the English language. It’s the reason I wear a mask or put on an act. In Chapter 3 of his story, Miller opens up about his own shame and the true root of where it began. Reading his words titled, “Everybody’s Got a Story and It’s Not the One They’re Telling”, I felt emotions begin to pour out of me when I remembered instances of shame and fear from my own childhood. It’s despairing to think about, that at a pivotal point in our lives, we were conditioned to believe that something about us was so inherently wrong that we needed to over-compensate.

Miller pushes this idea even further in the very next chapter, “Why Some Animals Make Themselves Look Bigger Than They Are”, by recognizing that when each of us put on a mask, we are believing in shame. Deep down, something whispers, you are not good enough. As human beings, we have a reflex to distract others from who we are at our core. It’s like seeing a bear while you’re out hiking on a trail in the mountains. (Thankfully, I’ve never actually experienced this. However, one can imagine the scenario and bone-chilling fear.) The silence in is deafening. Even though you are thinking, oh my god I’m going to die today, you are supposed to puff out your chest like a big rooster. Double your size. Make that gigantic bear, or any antagonist for that matter, forget who you really are. We put on a mask because we think that is what makes us worth loving. Maybe then people won’t see that we aren’t good enough. Maybe then people won’t know who we are at the core. If someone hears about our job, our big move, our new car, our upcoming vacation, they won’t be able to find this inherently wrong thing that we carry. We use this theory like a social crutch and I often hear myself making the same mistakes. Validation is intoxicating, and it will always be easier to talk about success than failure, fear, or shame.

Hope still sustains me, though. As I think more about the chapters in Scary Close, the more they truly highlight be pain all around our world today. Just look at the two chapter titles I referenced above. They immediately bring to mind the national election that was so publicly broadcasted and paraded before us the entire year of 2016. But I’ve seen the work this book has done for others. I know I’ve witnesses the change this book has brought out in me. By taking a chance and recognizing the shame that I carry in my life, I’ve opened myself to a beautiful idea. If Christ could love me enough as I truly am, for my authentic and genuine and shameful self, the world might be able to do that, too. For revolutionary change, we need others to recognize this idea. In the future, I know that I am looking for leaders who will take off the masks, and I am praying that this day comes soon.

“I began to wonder what life would be like if I dropped the act and began to trust that being myself would be enough to get the love I needed” (35).

Cheers,

Taylor

Summer Convictions

Summer always seems to bring moments of change into my life. You know those moments in the first days of summer? You start to regret when having to walk far distances, and parking lots of black tar quickly become comparable to the Sahara Desert. Those moments when air starts to press so hard on you that you have to gasp in order to fill up your lungs with oxygen? In a similar way, it seems that I find a need to fill up my life with new things in these first moments of summer. My soul begins to gasp for a fresh start. Fitzgerald, in his famous novel on the human fascination with the glittering and unfamiliar, brilliantly describes this strange need for change that grows in my heart.

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Life has started new in so many different ways during the summer. Typically, summer brings back fond memories of melting ice cream, catching fireflies in my backyard, and baseball games. But my memories always look back to include major moments of change. When I started to prepare for life transitions, they always occurred during the summer. As a child, I went through the major life step of piercing my ears during the summer, as not to interfere with playing sports during the school year. Before entering high school, I remember spending time at my hometown’s basketball courts, talking about the next four years ahead of me with older friends. I made the hot trip to Manhattan, Kansas in the middle of August heat – my poor father sweating up 8 flights of stairs as he moved my mini fridge, (many) clothes, and books into a college residence hall. I traveled to Scotland alone. I started a new job after my college graduation. For me, summer has always brought on change, more so than any new year date on a calendar ever has.

With the months of June and July slowly passing me by, lingering like a Summer Solstice sun high in the sky, I’ve realized this summer will bring on more change than perhaps ever in my life. I’m quickly approaching the new opportunity for a career change. I’ve thought about a major location change. I have a boyfriend (and that is such a fun word to say after 3 years. So fun, in fact, that I’m working on another post just to speak to the adjustment of sharing a life with someone after spending so much time guarding my heart.) I just returned home from a big transatlantic trip with my baby sister. I also am feeling my own soul start to change in a way that is new to me, as I look to Christ to guide me through these times and let go of control.

I’ve always looked to keep things very personal on this blog, focused on making a deep connection rather than sharing a lifestyle, and I hope to continue doing that in the future. The past few months, I’ve found myself searching for silence all around me. I couldn’t seem to stop the chatter from my mouth or my brain or my heart. It’d be easy to tell you that I’d been able to breathe deeply, finding strength in God and my family and friends, but anxiety followed me like a shadow. Even the last couple of weeks, my feet wandering up and down the cobblestones of the British Isles, my heart felt a little restless. I hadn’t taken the time to just sit and let it be. My next few weeks will bring a little necessary stillness in my life. I’m looking forward to taking time to decompress – breathe out – and prepare myself for changes ahead. My summer convictions moving forward are to take time to really still myself to listen to God’s plans for me, understand and think about my life recently, and look forward to the future. I can’t wait to share more of my travels, musings, and what’s ahead on my horizon with you.

 

DSC_0054

Cheers!

-Taylor

The Hiatus

Salutations! Remember that one time I went over six months without writing? Ouch. Me too, and trust me, I’m cringing just thinking about the time that flew away from me. I wish I could approach this situation with a plethora of excuses for my behavior. But, to be completely honest, it was simply my own writer’s block and the everyday grind that kept me away. A lot can happen in six months, but in the passing time, I’ve focused on my work and my travel the most. I’ve also had some beneficial time to develop my leadership and focus on building relationships. Yet, when I think about my original intentions with this blog, my writing was focused on Martha Graham’s words – “a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” My goal is to return to this statement, and keep myself going in times of transformation. I’m quickly approaching a season of change, like every new professional. While I may not know exactly what my future holds, I’ve chosen to focus in on a few important things.

Courage, Peace, and Grace

When I think of my plans and desires for my life, this motto is like the compass guiding my heart. There may be many choices ahead, but I have the ability to control my future actions and the way I react to change. Those three little things – courage, peace, and grace—will help me in any trial. This, with a focus on “a blessed unrest” would be my idea of a perfect balance. And, I may sway and stumble like a newbie trying out yoga for the first time. Call it my attempt at a Tree Pose without stretching for a whole six months. So be it. Here I am. This girl is breathing deeply, her face towards the sun.

Even typing these words, it feels good to be back. I’m hoping to share a few of my adventures during my hiatus soon. In the meantime, have a happy three-day weekend friends. May you all find your “balance”!

DSC_0144

Cheers!

Taylor

My 6 Summer Essentials

Summer—a time of sunshine, longer days, pools, and popsicles—brings on a bit of a love/hate relationship for me. On my love list is grilling with friends, fresher fruits and veggies, patios, the return of our farmer’s market, reading on the lawn, and evening walks. With a list like that, it’s hard to think of the “hate”. But sunshine causes sunburns, longer days cause less sleep, and warm weather causes the endless search for comfy shoes.

This year, after lots of summer loving and hating, I finally have a list of 6 essentials that make the transition to warmer weather that much easier.

DSC_0117

  1. Starting with the sun hat, let’s take a moment to guard those pretty little locks from one of the best bleaches known to mankind. While I love natural highlights as much as the next girl, nothing hurts worse than a red scalp, and nothing looks worse than the red starting to flake away later. Floppy, straw hats immediately bring to mind sweet memories of my grandma hard at work in her garden. They also provide great coverage at the pool for me! This number is from last season at Gap, but I am loving the variety of sun hats Nordstrom has up on their website! (You can browse here: http://shop.nordstrom.com/c/womens-sun-hats?origin=leftnav)
  2. Warm weather brings lots of cute shoe options, but more struggles in that department for me. I love a great sandal, but straps and flat options don’t always love my feet. After some discomfort in my arches, I’ve discovered shoes with a little wedge and soft leather are my best bet! I love a great wedge that is flexible, like these pictured from Marshall’s. A very similar pair can be found from Land’s End (http://www.landsend.com/pp/StylePage-440724_AL.html?CM_MERCH=REC-_-FPPP-_-GGT-_-3-_-440724-_-437947) now on sale now for $33!
  3. Please allow me to step on my soap-box for this next product. I cannot stress the importance of skin care enough, especially during the summer. For me, sunscreen has become an essential part of my daily routine. With a family history of skin cancer, I am so cautious about protecting myself from the sun. However, finding the right product for your face is always challenging. Neutrogena has made things extremely convenient for consumers by providing a huge variety (including my favorite, Clear Face at SPF 55). No more sunburns and oily skin for this girl! A few pro-tips about sunscreen—most dermatologists recommend at least an SPF 30 for patients, and always be sure to reapply if you expose yourself to sunlight throughout the day.
  4. During the summer, I love keeping my face fresh but hate the fuss of a ton of makeup. This C.O. Bigelow Rose Salve sold at Bath & Body Works (http://www.bathandbodyworks.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2726822) is great for relaxing, low maintenance days. The pink tint looks great, while the product keeps my lips super soft! Throw this on with some water-proof mascara and you’re set for a Saturday of running errands.
  5. With summer comes our exciting training program at work, and my “To-Do” list becomes a mile long. I never thought I’d become someone who relishes checking something off a list, but there’s a huge feeling of accomplishment that comes from it! Being an individual who loves “organized chaos”, I tend to lose small sticky notes very easily. This yellow notebook was a gift from a friend, and it sure does come in handy as I keep running notes on work and other agenda items! You can find adorable stationary, like this one, from one of my favorite companies, Rifle Paper Co. (https://riflepaperco.com/).
  6. The long days of summer bring long nights for me, too. I’m enjoying time with friends and finding more time to take walks in the evening. It also means I still need an extra kick to keep going in the morning. As most of you know, I am a huge coffee addict. Black, latte, or frapped—I drink it all. My most recent grocery store discovery has me addicted to Starbuck’s Iced Coffee. Why is this so great? I love iced coffee at home, but hate the watered-down taste ice leaves behind. I simply chill this, and it tastes so much smoother! My favorite thing to do is add some skim milk and caramel drizzle for a sweeter flavor.

With these items, I’m hoping to stay grateful for this season and move more items to my “love” list. As Ben Rector says, “Thank God for the Summertime”.

Cheers!

Taylor