Tag Archives: positive

Don’t Fix What’s Not Broken

By Tray Taylor
IG: allusiontoreality

Sometimes writing for this website feels like I am consistently learning how to ride a bike and continuously falling off it each time.

There’s imposter syndrome and loads of self doubt with being a writer, but the gag is …. in order to be a writer you have to get over that and write anyway. 

I don’t think I can count the amount of times I heard the phrase in my life, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” I’m trying to relate that to what was working when I first started creating posts on this site and I don’t want to stray too far away from just sharing music with my opinions/reviews to each track or sharing book suggestions or writing anything in my authentic voice. I say all of this because I’m looking to grow my readership, so if you ever want to recommend my writing to a friend, family member, or stranger …that would be greatly appreciated. 

What does seem to be broken though are these past two weeks, because every single day has felt like a Monday. The amount of energy it has taken to intentionally find the silver lining in each day has been utterly exhausting. 

I have searched endlessly to find just the right kind of songs to make me feel upbeat for a mere two minutes of the day. Here are those songs (tell me why I said that like that part in L&O:SVU when the intro says, These are their stories.):

Shakedown Street – Grateful Dead

This is one of the songs that made me fall in love with The Grateful Dead and it is a song I turn to often when I want to reconnect with my younger self. My teenage years and early twenties were very drenched in Dead Head culture. I went to a lot of shows, played the music endlessly on repeat, and dressed the part. Over the years I’ve strayed a bit from my hippie ways, but every now and then I like to play the Dead to remind myself of how carefree life once felt…especially in moments of stress.

At My Worst Pink Sweat$ feat. Kehlani

Okay so, yes this is more of a sad bop. The truth is sometimes, when I am searching for music to uplift my spirits listening to sad songs that I can sing along to actually have a tendency to uplift me (I know I am not alone on this). This song is fairly new, and has been added to one of my recent playlists that I have had on repeat. I love the combination of both of their voices together – poetic in every sense.

Dead FLowers – New Riders of the Purple Sage

I admittedly didn’t discover New Rides of the Purple Sage until a few years into my love for the Grateful Dead. It was actually an old Tumblr friend that recommended the band to me. Sidenote: Tumblr for those that don’t know, is a blogsphere type of platform where others can connect through similar interests & blogging (Disclaimer sidenote: this was not the best description, you can Google it for further details). ANYWAY – my point is I have been going through old favorites of mine and stumbled upon this gem.

Got My Mind Set On You – George Harrison

Oh sweet George – I have a deep love and appreciation for George Harrison. I think the first time I heard this song when I was younger, I became instantly obsessed. I know for those that have listened to George Harrison’s music this may seem like the overrated single and he has a greater discography than this song….and I would agree with this sentiment. However, this song still has a special place in my heart, and will always be a favorite. Especially in a time when I need a song to boost my mood.

Heat – Paul Woolford, Amber Mark 

This song just made me feel like I was in a club in the Gayborhood in Philly or at Pride …and I couldn’t resist putting it on the list. I miss music to dance to, I miss dancing, I miss the feeling that dancing to good music gives the soul. So, if you want – here’s a directive…turn up the music, and dance wherever you are…right now.

America – Simon & Garfunkel

Yeah, I know… another sad bop…and this isn’t the last one – so get over that already. I adore this song. I adore Simon & Garfunkel. They were one of the first artists I listened to that showed me that some music lyrics are absolute poetry. Their music tells a story of a time I wish I could travel back and live through. My old soul yearns to just live during this musical time period more often than not. If I could live in a song – it would be this one, hands down.

Dancing On My Own – Robyn

A forever favorite of mine. Robyn is a go-to when I want to get up and dance – but don’t know exactly what I want to be listening to. The answer is never not Robyn, so therefore it is always Robyn. Plus, I mean…”Dancing On My Own”… it just kind of hits different during a time of quarantines and pandemics.

Orpheus – Sara Bareilles

Swoon…Every. Single. Time. when it comes to Sara Bareilles. Her voice is like the sun setting across an ocean horizon and the sky fills up in bursts of all of the colors that every existed in the universe. Beauty that expands any true imagination. She has the power to write a slow song and I find myself singing my heart out in my apartment suddenly filled with energy. Or maybe I am just some strange person that enjoys singing sad songs even when I am not sad just to feel something? I don’t know. Anyway, she’s a master of her craft – if you’ve never listened to any of her music…please do me a favor and go, now.

Welp. That’s it. That’s all there is for now. Writing this made today, an actual Monday, feel a lot less like a Monday…so hopefully reading it did something similar for you.

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”

Holiday Music to My Ears

By Tray Taylor
Instagram: @allusiontoreality

Through the years I’ve realized there are three kinds of people out there: 

  1. Ones that love Christmas music and will start playing it as soon as they possibly can.
  2. Ones that tolerate it, but only when (and I mean ONLY when) Christmas is a few days away.
  3. Ones that cringe at the sound of it. 

So where do I fit? I fall into the let me listen to Christmas music whenever I need a lift in spirits, and that definitely starts some time in November. 

But don’t worry 2’s and 3’s – I usually keep this to myself through headphones or when I’m in a car driving solo. I won’t subject others to it until, at least, December. 

My favorite thing growing up was playing Christmas records on our huge stereo (that had a radio, cassette player, record player, and cd player). We had a solid collection of Christmas with The California Raisins, Chipmunks Christmas, New Kids on The Block, and I’m sure a few other classics. 

The ones I still own: two throwback vinyl records and one new…all Christmas

Then the 90’s and 2000’s brought us a few classics like: 

+Mariah Carey (ahem the Queen of Christmas) – Her original Christmas album is the stand out above them all. I remember being young and trying to make up dance routines (by myself) with a single candy cane – as if I was in one of her music videos for “All I Want For Christmas is You”. Fast forward for a second to current time, have you seen her special that includes a festive number with Jennifer Hudson and Ariana Grande? If not, go watch it…now!

+Snowed In by Hanson (things that feel gay, but aren’t gay) – I remember walking in the mall past an FYE (remember those?) and seeing this beautiful album cover. My obsession with this band was so deep, and this album fulfilled all of Christmas music AND Hanson needs (…still does).

+Whitney Houston – She’s a woman that gave us lots of holiday content in these decades – with her ‘One Wish: The Holiday album’ and her role in The Preacher’s Wife.

+*Nsync’s Christmas album (did it even have a name?) – Apparently this album was entitled ‘Home for Christmas’ – who knew? This album is very nineties, but also still amazing from start to finish even in 2020. And that music video for “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” yes…please…on repeat.

+Britney Spears – let us not forget “My Only Wish (This Year)” because without Britney Spears what were the 2000s?

+TLC – I don’t know about you, but TLC encompasses everything 90s. “Sleigh Ride” is a necessity to listen to and have on every Christmas playlist. Plus, that video will surely send you back to more cheerful times than the current.

+Hilary Duff – before there was Miley Cyrus on Disney Chanel there was Hilary Duff. I just rediscovered “Down on Santa Clause Lane” when trying to create my latest holiday playlist. And I listened to it about five times on repeat. This song reminds me of the abundance of cheer Christmas music can bring.

+Vanessa Williams (okay but have you EVER seen A Diva’s Christmas Carol? *more on this later in an upcoming post if you haven’t*) – Little gayby me loved Vanessa Williams – so much to the point I can’t explain why entirely. The early 00’s gave us the pleasure from VH1 of dropping a full soundtrack of Vanessa William holiday songs via the movie A Diva’s Christmas Carol. I watched that movie any chance I got, to the point that it irritated everybody else in the house because it was on so much.

+Destiny’s Child – Oh the “8 Days of Christmas” how representative of the times. The music video for this song is so festive and will fill you up with nostalgia. One of the greatest female groups in musical history provided us this song, so if it’s not on your playlist – is your holiday music intake even complete?

I could go on, believe me – especially with all the new music that has come out over the past couple of decades. Instead, I’ll just share my newly created playlist, along with one filled with more of the “classics”. 

Happy Holigays (I needed a more upbeat Christmas playlist, and for it to be super gay)

‘Tis the season (I created this back in 2013, and have been adding on ever since – note: does contain some repeats from Happy Holigays)

So, where do you fall on the holiday music spectrum- are you a 1,2, or 3? Share some of your favorite holiday songs with me 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?”

Keep on Dream Chasing

by Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

What does it mean to chase your dreams? Does it mean you don’t have a plan B? or does it mean you make a promise to yourself to just never stop pursuing what you dream of – no matter what age you are.

That is something I have been thinking a lot about lately. Mostly because I have been second guessing my own path.

Whether it was the right move to pursue a master’s degree in library science when my whole life all I wanted to be was a writer. Really questioning whether that choice was me going down my plan B path, instead of focusing solely on my plan A.

It has felt like a defeatist mindset to wonder these things, but it has also lit a fire under me in terms of motivation to get back to working on plan A.

Let me note that – sure, I love that I have a master’s degree in library science and I love being a librarian.

That isn’t what my doubt is about – and for those that find themselves wondering similar things, I know you get where I am coming from.

I’ve set out to make those changes this year by submitting more of my written work than ever before. Still not published, but it’s the journey – not the destination (or so I keep telling myself).

Last night I did the ultimate “check off the dream chasing bucket list”. I attended a writing drop-in (via Google Meet) at The Second City Chicago. If you’re familiar with Saturday Night Live or improv you will know how spectacular Second City is.

My dream, for a very long time, was to attend writing classes at The Second City Chicago – where many SNL greats got their start (if you know me personally, you know my admiration for Tina Fey).

Plans don’t always go the way we dream them up.

However, for two hours last night – I was living that dream. That little inner flame that has felt dim lately, ignited completely last night.

I got a taste of what it would be like to pursue what I love in practice, and maybe it was the enthusiasm of the instructor (shout out to Andrew McCammon). But overall, I think it was the energy of experiencing what I had always dreamed of doing.

What is something you always dreamed you would be doing in the lifetime? Did you ever pursue it?

This year may not be the year to do it, there’s a lot going on in the world (everything is seemingly on fire around us 95 percent of the time).

But if not now, when? No seriously. Put it on the calendar and hold yourself accountable for that future date.

I’ve always been a dreamer. I just stopped dream chasing for a bit, but I’m back and I’m ready to fail until I find success…what about you?

Time to Reset

by Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

I’ve taken a clear pause on posting any writings. My creativity came to a screeching halt over the past few weeks, hard. 

For some days I was in a dark place, and I am grateful for those around me that helped to pull me out. I haven’t been in a space like that in a few years – which to me, was a wake up call. 

I’m planning on being intentional this week and in the coming weeks in setting my journey for the future – what are YOU doing intentionally for yourself?

We’ve also had a bit of a reset in the United States recently, gratefully. Although the hard truth is the majority of white people still voted for a man that stands for hate in all forms. Which means, I and other white people, still have a lot to do in terms of listening, and taking action. 

My partner and I had this song on repeat yesterday (I’m So Excited by The Pointer Sisters) – it brought us joy, and I hope it brings you joy as well.