Category Archives: Aspire to Inspire

Grief is Not Linear

Grief isn’t linear and it f**king sucks. 

When I was younger, 8 years old to be exact – I lost my Pop-Pop to cancer. A concept I couldn’t quite grasp and even though I carried that loss with me throughout my life. I think I was too young to fully understand. Losing him did mean that I only had my Mom-Mom left in the grandparents department as I never had the privilege of meeting my Dad’s parents before they passed. 

Grief is different when you’re a child. 

The impact changes as we grow, but as I’ve said before- never linear and ultimately feels like each loss we experience is connected like a spider web. 

I remember the sunken feeling I felt when I was in my early twenties and experienced grief in a different way. The news hit me like a ton of bricks. My childhood friend had passed away at the mere age of 23. A woman I admired, a bright light on this earth with one of the kindest & loving families. 

That hurt, for years and it still does. 

Five years ago last week I lost my Mom-Mom and despite the time that has passed – the impact still comes in tidal waves of emotion. She was my rock, the person I talked to on the phone with every day (on my ridiculous 3 hr round trip commutes to work from South Philly to Germantown via Septa and A LOT of walking), and the woman that believed in me unconditionally & loved me just the same. 

There is a memory her and I both cherished that we reminisced about often. It was from when I was younger and I would stay over at her house on the weekends. One of those days we happened to be sitting out on the porch looking up to the sky and suddenly what felt like magic – swarms of golden monarch butterflies appeared. As they migrated above our heads we counted well over 100. Nature’s work of art.

When she got sick five years ago, it all seemed to happen quickly and suddenly. I remember it was right around my birthday and I was at my sister’s visiting my nephew. I promised my Mom-Mom I would make a stop back home to see her before returning to the city. Something in my gut made me feel like I should surprise her a day early. 

I was twenty minutes from home when my uncle called. They had taken her to the hospital and it wasn’t good. My insides suddenly felt like a million pretzel knots and I lost the ability to remember how to breathe. The plans had changed and I was to meet my other sister at the hospital, so we could go in to see her with my aunt and uncle. 

My gut instincts knew heartbreak was near, and that the time I had left with my Mom-Mom was limited.

For two nights I stayed with her in the hospital, not wanting to leave her side – I wanted her to know I was there, even if she wasn’t completely lucid. I didn’t want her to wake up and be alone. Growing up she made it her mission to know she was always there for me, I couldn’t bare the thought of leaving her by herself.

When the time did come that week when I had to leave to go back to the city, it was one of the hardest things I ever had to do and still to this day that remains true. 

I knew when I looked her in her eyes and she looked back at me. That was going to be the last time we exchanged “I love yous” face to face. And it was. 

Grief is a roller coaster that you ride blindly. 

That week was difficult – being alone was the worst and work was more of a reminder than a distraction. I was able to talk to her twice that week on the phone to hear her voice, which felt like a gift in itself. But then that day at the end of August came and my phone rang. She was gone. 

No matter what people speak of losing a loved one – the hard truth is this: it never gets easier, you learn to live with the grief. 

And there are times when something important happens and I have to remind myself she isn’t a phone call away anymore.

There are no answers, there is just love and the impact of that love that we all carry with us from those that we have lost along the way.

Grief isn’t linear and may be infinite, but the love that remains within us knows no bounds.

10 Things That Got Me Through This Week

It’s August, the month I love and hate. 

I love it because it’s my birthday month and I hate it because it usually marks the end of summer. 

For that reason this week has been a true struggle.

So here’s a list of 10 things that got me through this week and maybe will help you too: 

1. Buying a ticket to An Evening with James Lapine & Stephen Sondheim only because Christine Baranski was the moderatorlisten my appreciation for that woman is REAL and I feel no shame.

2. Cooking instead of ordering take-out – maybe it is because I’m the daughter of a chef, but being in the kitchen centers me. Also I love take-out, however in DC it is OVERPRICED (as are most things in this city).

3. Washing dishes while listening to true crime podcasts -I love a good true crime podcasts. Recommendations are welcomed.

4. Dancing it out (channeling earlier Grey’s Anatomy vibes)- mostly to 00’s Janet Jackson music

5. Putting music on the record player again – too often I forget how this uplifts me with such pretentious joy.

6. Going for a walk everyday- even if it was to the grocery store or just to get an iced coffee. I hate advice like this sometimes, but it really does make a difference when you’re able to talk yourself into going for a walk.

7. Inspiration from Newsletters- Josh Spector is always offering great advice in his newsletters. One of the latest thing he suggested was a take on how to write fill-in-the-blank-headlines. I’ve clearly taken note: check it out here.

8. Interacting with writers on Twitter reassuring me I’m just at the eeek part of my 30s and it does get better

9. Mindless, interesting, quick fun way to see how you differ from the “average” person (from Josh Spector Newsletter)- link here

10. Sipping tea remembering that despite birthday depression (it’s a thing..I read it on twitter…), I’d rather not be anything but a Leo sun:

What is one thing or a few that have uplifted your spirits this summer?

A Writer is a Writer

What makes a writer a writer? Does it matter if they are published? Is it possible to call yourself a writer if you aren’t? Are you a writer if you simply write everyday? Is there a requirement that one must write everyday to be a writer?

Sometimes I think artists of any craft are the hardest on themselves. Perhaps it is the way our brains are wired. 

These are thoughts I have been pondering lately as I make a bolder mark on the world with my voice as a writer. 

Whenever I feel lost in my determination, I think back to this particular quote by a writer named Adam Gnade, “Everyone’s a “writer” between the ages of 16 and 22 because everyone at that age is a romantic. This is okay. The key is to keep doing it after the rest of them quit.”

That quote comes from one of his short essay books entitled Do It Yourself Guide to Fighting the Big F**king Sad. 

“Everyone Good is Necessary”-Adam Gnade ,Photograph by Traci Taylor

Part of me believes if you consider yourself a writer – then you are in fact a writer. Similarly to most things in life, don’t let other people try to label what you are. 

If we learned anything from experiencing a pandemic it is that we were almost forced to get to know ourselves and what we want out of life. Or you just felt stuck with yourself and it was a really frightening experience. I’d like to note…one that we are all frankly still experiencing despite the overwhelming return back to a “new normal”. 

What I found within myself during that time was a re-exploration of the writer in me. For years I called myself an aspiring writer, too shy to claim the sole title of writer itself. I recreated a website focusing on the things I love the most (MUSIC, MOVIES, TV, ALL THINGS GAY) and donned myself a writer. 

There are still many times when I feel lost and I need to recenter myself. I either go for a walk and listen to Jim Croce or I return back to that Adam Gnade quote. 

Whatever you decide your calling in life is, if you are already doing or creating – you are already on your way. 

Let me know below in a comment what are some of the things that help you to recenter yourself.

Sunsets, Sunrises, & Relaxation

There are many times I try to find ways to center myself through meditation or just listening to music. This week I learned a 4-7-8 breathing technique from my therapist that I found helpful in the moment. 

First you inhale through your nose for 4 seconds, hold that breath in for 7 seconds, and then exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds. I repeated this about four times – and felt my anxiety sort of melt away. This isn’t a guaranteed fix and I am no expert – but when I learn things that I find helpful for me, I think it is important to share just in case it may help someone else along the way. 

Watching sunsets or sunrises used to be my favorite calming activity that left me feeling a sense of relief and hope. I often miss seeing those sights in my old South Philly apartment and definitely miss the beauty of a Cape May sunset in my hometown. 

Which is why I take so many sunset/sunrise photos and the reason behind the photo wall in my apartment. Looking back over those photographs gives me a sense of comfort, almost like I feel at home when looking at them. 

Here are a few of my favorite sunset/sunrise photos I have captured with my commentary attached: 

North Cape May, NJ by the bay 2015

This photograph was taken the last time I went to see my Mom Mom before she got too sick. Looking back on this photo always gives me chills because it is one of my favorites for how exquisite the sky appears – but knowing what I know now it also feels like a reminder message to appreciate. This photo brings to mind a quote my Mom Mom used to say to me often, “Ya know those bumper stickers that say life’s a beach? Well they lied. Life’s a bitch, not a beach.”

4th and Washington, South Philly 2014

Without a doubt, this right here is one of my favorite photographs I have ever taken during my time living in Philly. I used to walk all around this city and I captured this on my walk home from a restaurant shift. As a person that grew up in a beach town, I consider myself able to say this… Philadelphia has some of the best sunsets I have ever laid my eyes on. With that being said, most things Philly remind me of Grouplove – and at the point in my life when I took this photo I used to play this band so much it got on a lot of peoples nerves.

Mifflin Street, Home Sweet Home 2015

I really loved this apartment because of the sunset and sunrise views I got. After living in the same house for 23 years of my life, knowing I could never return because it was sold – I never knew if I would feel the same sense of home again. I felt that deeply when living in this city and viewing this skyline everyday. It gave me a lot of hope and reminds me of this quote by Mary Oliver, “Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.

Views from Seattle 2015

My spontaneous 25th “treat yo self” birthday present …one of the best decisions I ever made. A city I often dreamed about moving to since I was 13 or 15. Andrea Gibson one of my favorite poets has said, “Commit to loving yourself completely. It’s the most radical thing you will do in your lifetime.” That is what that trip and that fiery sunset photograph remind me of – to love oneself.

The View of a Mifflin St Sunset 2015

I wasn’t kidding when I said this view delivered sunsets and sunrises to photograph nonstop. In my early to mid twenties living in Philly, I did feel lost and unsure of what the future held – but seeing those bursts of color in the sky made everything seem okay. Sometimes I’d ask myself in Talking Heads fashion though, “How did I get here?”

Balcony South Philly Views 2016

Oh to have a private outside space in the city! And with sunset views that look like a painting? My Dad used to send me this song (Fall in Philadelphia by Hall and Oates) all the time when I lived in Philly, so naturally it is bound to jog my memory when looking at these glorious Philly photographs.

Portland Maine sunrise 2017

First trip to Portland, ME was a solo trip and I fell in love with this town. So much so that I made sure that one of the first trips my partner and I went on was to come back to Portland. This sunrise was a resetting of sorts, and beginnings were right around the corner that I didn’t know were coming yet. Whenever I need a bit of hope, I often will play some Rilo Kiley – that resonates deeply with this photo. A sunrise bringing on many new horizons.

NYC Christmas Eve 2018

The first Christmas I spent with my partner in NYC and it was absolutely magical. There really is a sunset for every special moment in life. After this view we went to dinner and then spent the majority of Christmas Eve in Cubbyhole when Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” came on. That song tends to follow us around, and when I look at this photo I think of my partner and our moments with that song.

Ocean City, MD at sunrise 2018

I grew up in Cape May, but my partner grew up going to Ocean City Maryland (which as someone from NJ that is not the Ocean City I knew). The sunrises we could see from the balcony were breathtaking. I remember during this time having lived in DC for about a year – really needing something to bring me back to myself. I didn’t appreciate sunrises or waking up early until I got a bit older. Truthfully I only ever get up early because of sunrises.

Sunrise Over South Philly 2015

No, this isn’t a painting…although it definitely looks like one. I remember rolling out of bed this morning and seeing how exquisite the sunrise was. I sat there trying to capture the vibrant colors. Hands down my favorite sunrise photo I ever captured living in this apartment. The song that started to play in my mind when looking back at this photo was “New Slang” by The Shins…no clue why, but it seemed right.

South of Spruce Street Harbor Sunset, 2016

Every now and again I would walk from South Philly up to the waterfront right around the time the sun would be setting. Growing up by the ocean I often feel compelled to seek out bodies of water as a sense of comfort or reminder that things flowing along in life as they should be. This sunset was one that brought me reassurance. In the words of Mary Oliver, “I don’t ask for the sights in front of me to change, only the depth of my seeing.” Although plot twist, the sights did change because I ended up in DC the following year.

Born & Raised: Cape May Beach Sunset 2014

Last, but not least and with a classic old Instagram frame added to it as well. This was taken during my first trip back visiting my hometown after my childhood home sold and I moved to Philly. I longboarded down to the beach front from my old work place where I was visiting some old friends just to capture this sunset. My love for sunsets all stem from where I was born and raised – it is often how I hold on to that piece of me as I exist in other places in the world. You’re welcome in advance for this old Al Alberts classic…I guess I love my lil ol’ hometown in NJ more than I like to admit sometimes.

*please contact me for permission to use any photographs or if you would like a print*

In a World of Influencers, I’d Rather Be Fran Lebowitz

By Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

Through all of my feelings of disconnection these past few weeks, I have been searching for something to ground me. Better yet – inspire me to get back to writing. 

So, what did I do? I decided to finally watch the Fran Lebowitz docuseries – Pretend It’s a City on Netflix. I’ve heard her name throughout my life, but never truly knew who she was. I should mention I’m only two episodes in, already I am hooked and completely fascinated. 

Maybe it is because I see a lot of myself in Fran – she’s from NJ, she was horrible at math, she’s sarcastic, and she’s gay…I could go on but I feel like even she would make a joke that these similarities are more common than rare.

Anyway…. the episodes have put a fire under me to keep moving forward with writing. 

Forcing myself to wonder what else should this writing space contain – or should I shift my focus back to writing my manuscript and just talk about the journey of writing that here. 

The little kid in me who used to create newspapers filled with drawings and stories that I would sell to my neighbors is urging me to keep at the dream of being a published writer. Trying to figure out where I lost that spark of just creating because I wanted to and being certain others would enjoy my creation. 

There is one other thing that struck me in the series thus far. In the second episode the documentary flashes to Marvin Gaye talking about a true artist has the intentions of impacting change in the world with their work (or something along the lines of that) and it really sparked something in me. That has always been my reasoning for sharing my words with the world – in hoping that it would make a difference in someone’s life – even a little bit. 

I don’t have any answers this week or words of wisdom. I’m mentally hanging on by a thread. However, I do suggest checking out this docuseries if you haven’t already.

Until next time – now go call an old friend that you haven’t talked to in awhile.

Keep Going

By Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

I researched a lot before I created this website.

There were common repetitive things that I kept stumbling upon that revolved around consistency, endurance, and don’t aim for perfection when posting.

Since going into hybrid mode with work, I haven’t been able to keep up with my original goals that I set to keep. So, I have to admit it may be time to adjust with how often I produce posts – at least for now

Instead of a couple of times a week, it may only be once a week that I can manage to write something to share with you all. Writing is my true passion, and it is what brings me joy. I won’t let responsibilities of growing older hinder the goals I have set out for this website, and myself.

The other thing is, my creative tank has also been closer to zero percent, but I think that has more to do with the grey skies of winter. I write this all in hopes that whoever reads this, if you’ve been feeling a similar sort of way – that you aren’t alone.

And I’ll leave you all with a song that can sum up how my feelings have been feeling lately:

What song have you had on repeat lately that’s been getting you through the days?

In the Midst of Chaos

By – Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

In the most chaotic of times you would think we as humans would take a minute to grow in self awareness of the happenings in the world that surrounds us. 

As the calendar keeps on creeping by I realize that it has almost been a year since the last time I functioned in the world without a mask, around my friends, and in a restaurant. 

Now that it’s been snowing for the past three days in DC, it’s really *snowballed* me in the face with how desperate we’ve been all trying to reach for normal…when there is no such thing as normal

Suddenly we are pressing on the gas pedal harder than ever before (and believe me, before we were still pressing it way too hard). Snow days used to be enjoyable and relaxing days at home – things we look forward to. Now it is much like how we’ve been living through this entire pandemic .. doing too much instead of taking a moment to just….be. 

In a world full of chaos (and a whole lot lacking in self-awareness of the going-ons around us…) I wish for you that you give yourself space to re-center. 

When the world is on overdrive to destination insanity – do yourself a favor and wait for the next bus. 

Finding the things that center you can be so vital to thriving in this life. Here are some examples of my own:

+Coffee (iced) – Iced black coffee soothes my soul, and yes it must be iced …even when it is snowing outside. *side note: there are times when my anxiety is far too high for the beverage I adore the most, so I have to switch to matcha tea*

+Naps – I hated naps as a kid. In daycare I would just lay there in the dark waiting for one of my parents to come pick me up. Now? I love them. I learned the hard way though that is is best to take short power naps and avoid napping for too long – the best reset button for the afternoon (or anytime) 

+Fresh air – It hasn’t always been easy to get myself to go outside, I won’t lie about that. When I do though? Sometimes I still regret it …but sometimes I also love it and take enjoyment in just being outside and smelling the fresh air.

+My favorite food – The one thing that can turn my day around is knowing I will be having pizza for dinner – no joke. Living in DC for four years though…I make my pizza at home mostly because well..I’m from NJ and I didn’t realize how good I had it until I no longer lived in the areas of NY, NJ, and Philly.

+Listening to music on vinyl – This is an experience of finding a comfortable center for me – going through my collection and trying to find the right record to play. Mostly I just lay and listen for a little bit – or I clean my apartment while it plays. 

+Cooking – This is a new one for me… sort of. I used to bake and I enjoyed doing that more than anything – especially baking for others. Now I cook significantly more than I ever have, and I realize how creating recipes and trying to cook different things is enjoyable for me (guess that’s another thing I got from my Chef of a Dad) 

+Writing Poetry – The creative in me needs to put words on paper when I am feeling almost any kind of emotion. Writing poetry is my way of dancing out my emotions – but on paper.

+Watching an old favorite TV show – Golden Girls anyone? Maybe some Living Single? Old sitcoms bring me so much joy and they are a great way, especially now, to just let ourselves laugh and not be consumed with so many thoughts. 

+Listening to voicemails I saved from my Mom Mom – My Mom-Mom was my rock. And I am extremely grateful that I had saved some of her voicemails before she passed a few years back. This year especially was one where I found myself going back and listening to them – mostly because I wanted so badly to just call her up, but couldn’t. 

There are many things out there other than those that I listed that have gotten me through this year. Some in a greater deal than others – but that’s the point…no matter how big or small… there are things we can turn to to center ourselves. 

…and just one final thought, as Margaret Atwood wrote in Handmaid’s Tale:
Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum = “Don’t let the bastards grind you down”

To Do List: You

By Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

Things I have realized about myself in the past several months since the lockdown of March 2020: 

  • I love lists (and they help keep me sane)
  • My anxiety has increased with age (or I always had anxiety & just never had the language…but it most definitely has still increased with age either way)
  • I am happier when I am reading (since I have started to pick up reading more and binge tv less I have noticed I feel more grounded) 
  • Stretching is a necessity for a person like me (who has severe herniated and bulging discs) 
  • Listening to music increases my productivity and brings me joy
  • I don’t need to completely cut off coffee (I love it too much – there is a thing of balance between coffee & tea) 
  • Creating new recipes & cooking is a way to show my love for others and gets my creative juices flowing in the kitchen (grateful that I have been able to cook for not just myself, but my partner over this time in quarantine..) 
  • Above all else – writing makes me feel whole

I’m sure the list could go on and on (see above, cause ya know…I love lists). The point is though, I’m not sure I fall amongst those that have “accomplished so much over this time” but I know I have learned a lot about myself. I’m sure you all have too, if you take some time to reflect. Sometimes the tiniest of things are actually rewards, just depends on your point of view. 

The world is still in chaos, whether we are choosing to be aware of that or not. It just is, and more than likely will be for a bit. 

In knowing that, the most important question is – how are you taking care of you?

Remember the flight attendant reminds us (remember flights? Airplanes?…those things in the sky?) before trying to save others we must put the oxygen mask on ourselves first. 

If you set goals for yourself in the age old “New Year, New Me” mindset – good for you. If you didn’t, eh no worries – I didn’t either. One thing I will propose you do after you finish reading this post is: think of one thing you promise to do that will be taking care of you this year – one thing that will leave you feeling happier, more loved, healthier, or better taken care of. 

What’s that one thing?

And I’ll leave you with a line from one of my favorite poets: 

“You are the best thing that has ever happened to you”
– Andrea Gibson, ‘Boomerang Valentine’

Tis the Season for Movies

By Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

What is supposed to be one of the most joyous times of the year, is also somehow the most stressful time as well (and occasionally the most depressing). 

I’m no stranger to spending a Christmas or two by myself – and frankly sometimes those have been the most festive ones. Holiday movies are a way of immersing myself with the spirit of the season. 

So, in the spirit of undeniable joy – I’d like to share a few of the movies that shaped me (yes- Christmas movies can have more of an influence on a person than you may know….just read to find out). 

A Diva’s Christmas Carol 

This movie aired on VH1 on December 13, 2000 – I was a ripe 10 years of age and instantly smitten by everything that is Vanessa Williams. Anytime and everytime that movie was scheduled to play on TV, I needed to be in front of the television. The inner gay-by in me was floored by the elegance and fierceness of Ms. Williams. Overall though, it was definitely the soundtrack that kept me coming back each time. As I type this I can hear “Heartquake” play over and over in my head. You want to talk about a campy Christmas movie? This is it. 

It’s a Wonderful Life

Hands down my all time favorite and an absolute classic. I remember the first time I saw this in high school at a friend’s house and how resistant I was because it was in black & white (teenagers, amirite?). By the end however, George Bailey had won me over and I was doing my best “Merry Christmas Bedford Falls” and “Clarence!” impressions until it annoyed my sisters to no end. This movie has a message that is one I think a lot of us need to be reminded of – appreciating the life we are living without regretting the journey. 

Polar Express

Top three songs: “Believe,” “Hot Chocolate,” and “When Christmas Comes to Town.” The movie didn’t come out until I was a teen, but it was my best friend’s absolute favorite and he listened to the music all of the time. It was kind of hard to escape and in the end became one of my favorites. For me, the movie has the feeling of what Christmas represents – that yearning to still want to hold on to the magic of the holiday.

The Santa Clause (2 to be specific)

You’re probably thinking, “wait…why the sequel? Why not the original?” There’s a reason The Santa Clause 2 is special to me, because of the impact it had on me accepting my Queer identity. Flashback to December 2011: Drunk off tequila at my ex-boyfriend’s house off-campus and all I wanted to watch was this movie *I had seen the movie before, but I was suddenly obsessed with watching it whenever I’d hang out with him* There was a moment in the movie when Elizabeth Mitchell plops down on her couch (in the cutest possible way) right before Tim Allen is about to explain to her he is Santa Claus.

I suddenly realized something about myself in that moment that I felt like I had been suppressing for over two decades of my life – because I thought I only could have one choice. On the screen, I realized I loved this movie because I have a crush on this actress and maybe it was the tequila – but does this mean I’m gay? It was a lot to process: I was drunk, I was at my ex boyfriend’s house, and I was having this inner monologue. So what do I do? I went outside after it had just snowed, sat on his front step and looked above my head to a porch decorated in Christmas lights, and I just cried. Then, I called my best friend (all while still sitting on this front porch). I remember him answering and me saying, “Joey, I think I’m gay” and his only response was, “WHAT! My two best friends are having life changing moments tonight. How is this happening, what is my life. Wait where are you?” Then I of course told him where I was and I’m sure he said “Omg Traci!” Our conversation lasted a bit longer, and then I remember trying to gather myself before going back upstairs to finish the movie (I’m pretty sure I wandered back to my place after that). This movie was my segway into accepting myself, yes – but I’m not guaranteeing it’ll do the same for you….it’s just a funny story about a cheesy Christmas movie that in a significant way, changed my life. 

The Grinch

The best part of this movie is Martha May Whovier and her iconic line “Betty! Hiiiii!” (yes the role is played by Christine Baranski.) However, the reason I really love this movie is because of my fabulous friend Jeremy. I’m not sure why or how the tradition started, but every Christmas Eve he will send me the scene of Martha May and it is a highlight of my holiday season every single year. This movie for me is about friendships and traditions…and it’s not even necessarily about the movie. Also, sidenote: The Grinch is clearly a Gay icon that has a bad wrap. 

Recipe for a Perfect Christmas

This is actually a Lifetime movie, but I of course own it on DVD. A heartfelt Christmas movie that has quite a few familiar faces (Christine Baranski…is anyone sensing a trend here?). I got pulled in because of Baranski, but I stayed for the food critic trying to rise to the top by also saving the chef who doesn’t want his restaurant to close all while repairing a mother/daughter relationship throughout. Take it or leave it – highly recommended for the Lifetime movie lovers in your life. 

This Christmas

Okay, so I actually watch this movie all year around and here is why: it gives me that comforting feeling that only certain movies can bring. The family dynamics are believable because they feel real – not “Hallmark” like. There are also so many big names in this movie it is hard not to adore. A mixture of humor, drama, and feel-goodness – if you haven’t seen this movie yet, add it to your list for today or tomorrow. 

The Family Stone

Another holiday movie that I could watch at any time of the year when I need a sense of comfort. I think there’s something about how real the family dynamic feels, or the comical bits of SJP being the butt of every joke as the uptight girlfriend. Any movie with Diane Keaton tends to win me over, but regardless this is a must watch for me every holiday season. Watch it, but I warn in the end it ends up being a tear inducing one. 

Honorable mentions:
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Happiest Season
The Preacher’s Wife
Home Alone 1 and 2
Elf
Jack Frost
A Bad Mom’s Christmas (because, Baranski)
All of the Claymations

What are some movies you’ll be watching? Do you have holiday favorites that weren’t on the list (and please don’t say A Christmas Story…)? Share below in the comments!

An Ode to Mary Oliver

by Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality


Poetry has always held a special place in my heart. 

Somewhere out there exists a notebook of poetry that I wrote in middle school. I’m pretty sure in one of those poems  I compared the crush I had on my middle school boyfriend to having a vanilla ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles on a hot summer day (I was so deeply poetic then…).

Mary Oliver has always been one of my favorite poets and I think from the moment I first read her words, I felt some sort of connection to her (I’ve always loved when writers can somehow make their readers feel connected to them as if we’re long lost friends through their writings.).

2020 has me reading her poetry more and more – yearning to be inspired, but also to feel comfort. As I was searching through her words earlier this week, I stumbled upon these lines:

“The most regretful  people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.” – Mary Oliver

Those words did two things for me

  1. Hit me like a ton of bricks
  2. Forced me into deep thought and consideration that it is my duty to myself to keep pursuing writing. To keep striving for plan A, not settling for plan B. 

The time is now, because life is happening NOW. 

So, lately I’ve been trying to keep the fire of inspiration lit in a few different ways:

  • Weekly Goal Lists (sometimes I accomplish half, sometimes only a few – but it’s been holding me accountable)
  • Lighting candles that smell like my favorite wintery smells (pine trees, apple cinnamon, sugar cookie, etc…)
  • Stretching every morning (okay okay this is mostly to keep my back from collapsing completely…but it is helping my overall mood)
  • Reading more (I am a reader, even when I had loads of graduate homework  – it was my favorite way to procrastinate. But, my to-read pile has been getting higher and higher. So, it’s been a nice reminder that reading can be beneficial in many ways.)
  • Cooking soup (this may sound odd, but I have been on a soup cooking spree lately. It’s been both delicious and inspirational – also the warmest of food hugs.)

This year has been one like any other, and it is hard to believe we are in December already. I just hope through all the muck, you are able to find a sense of inspiration in any which way that is a right fit for you. 


As the famous Mary Oliver line goes, “what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”