Quick Update

Hi there. I’ve been away from the writing board for a while. Life is crazy, and I thought some of you might be missing your weekly dose of “Taylor,” so I’m whipping this up quick between my dinner and my group project at the library. I’ve got five minutes. Let’s do this.

  1. I’m in my final week of my undergraduate college experience. I finished up my last actual class on Monday. All that’s left is my Marketing Research & Analysis report and presentation and my senior project, Work the Industry: Music Business Conference.
  2. Speaking of my senior project, it’s going to be awesome. It’s an actual music business conference with presenters, attendees, and networking. There have been a lot of hiccups and it’s been extremely stressful. I’ve put in over 100 hours worth of work and I have some really incredible friends/assistants (Hey Ana and Adrianna!) But if you’re in the Mankato, MN area and are a musician, interested in the music industry, or just want to check it out, here’s the link for registration: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/work-the-industry-music-business-conference-tickets-31542880605. Hopefully I’ll see you there.
  3. As for employment, I’m wrapping up my job at the Career Development Center which has been amazing. Starting this summer I’ll be splitting time between Edina and Mankato. I’ll be a Special Events Intern for the American Diabetes Association as well as brewing up some espresso at the local Caribou Coffee.
  4. I’m graduating, like actually graduating. May 6. 9am. It’s going to be lit.

 

Thanks for checking in. I’m running late so talk soon.

-Taylor

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That Time I Ran a Half Marathon by Mistake

I signed up for a half marathon at the end of 2016. I wanted to change my life for the better. To do big things fast. Tackle the one thing I hated, running. Trust me, I realize how ridiculous this sounds now.

So a month or two ago I fell off of my training regimen. After two weeks of bad moods and even worse runs, I actually stopped training. Life had gotten too chaotic trying to figure out what life after college would be like. I got caught up in the uncertainty and anxiety of it all. I gladly changed my registration from half marathon to 5k. I felt light. I felt good. I knew I could run a 5k no sweat.

Race day came around. I was tired from a bonfire I’d been at the night before and a tad dehydrated thanks to Stella Artois. My alarm went off and I sat bolt upright. The only thought in my head, “I’m late.” I rolled out of bed. I threw on my clothes. I sped to the race start. I got in line. I ran. 13.1 miles later I collapsed into the drivers seat of my car.

When I got home I swung open the door to the porch barely able to stand up right and I told my roommates and assorted friends, “I just ran a half marathon by complete accident.”


How did this happen? Honestly I don’t know. It could probably be chalked up to too little sleep, stress about other things all rolled into me being perpetually late to things and imagining in my early morning grogginess that I was in fact late. Maybe it was fate. The universe just answering my earlier wishes, ‘You want a challenge? How about a challenge you weren’t prepared for?’ Whatever it was, it didn’t hit me what was actually happening until mile five.

It started off like a typical race. If you haven’t done one before it’s filled with crazy energy. People are excited, ecstatic almost, to run. They’re all a little insane in the best way. I remember in my half awakened state, limply stretching, looking around at the people getting ready and thinking, there should really be a photographer here. These are some of the happiest people I’ve seen in months.

I probably looked a little nervous or just out of it because a woman next to me smiled and said, “Hi! You’re first one? Me too. I’m a little nervous. My niece talked me into it. She’s way up there with the fast ones.”

We chatted for a little bit longer until the race gun went off. Looking back I should have realized in that conversation that I was at the wrong race. That in reality I showed up an hour early. But I didn’t.

I remember running and running and thinking that the mile markers were pretty far apart for a 5k. That’s when I hit mile five and I knew something was wrong. At mile eight I finally worked up the nerve to talk to someone. I’d kinda figured out that something was wrong. I took me three entire miles to work up the nerve to ask someone. The options were look like an idiot or not know what was going on. I took the route of intelligence and I waved down a woman who had headphones in.

“Can I ask you a question?”

“Sure, go ahead.”

“This isn’t the 5k is it?”

“…Oh honey…no.”

I ran/walked the next mile with that woman who I didn’t catch the name of. This was her 20th half marathon, her daughter’s first, and as a diabetic she was struggling to maintain her blood sugar throughout the race. She was my first insight to the race mindset I was starting to understand.

She said, “I used to worry about my time. Now I don’t care. It’s just about getting in the miles and crossing that finish line. No matter how long it takes.”

I asked her how she got into running half marathons/marathons and her reply hit home,

“I don’t have a reason to not do this. I feel more balanced and more focused at home, at work, and in every other aspect of my life.”

At that point we were on a trail with houses on one side and a ravine with a creek on the other and I had two options.

  1. Flag down the next race volunteer, admit I’m on the wrong race, head straight back to the starting line, sit down, grab some McDonalds on the way home and, in that process, get disqualified.
  2. Bite the bullet, walk/jog the last five miles while my body screamed at me in pain, and finish what I started.

I took option two.

Hands down this was one of the hardest physical and mental things I’ve ever done. It hurt to move my feet. I could feel blisters forming on my heels. My calves cramped up back on mile four. I had muscles in my hips that were sore that had never felt that way in my entire life. And I still had miles left to go. It may sound absolutely miserable physically, and it was, but it was even tougher mentally. Do you know how hard it is to keep going when every part of your body and half of your mind is telling you to quit?

I had to keep telling myself just one more step. Just one more half mile. Just one more mile. Take it easy. Keep it simple. Don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be. You got this.

I was one of the last people to cross the finish line. But I crossed it with almost no training and with a woman named Brenda. The last two miles were almost impossible and I don’t know if I would have made it without her conversation. She had gotten off a flight at midnight the night before, was in bed by 2am, and still managed to get up and tackle a half marathon. We talked about the race and running in general, her job, my college experience, and other random stuff. I could barely walk the last half mile and I know she could have went on ahead without me, but she didn’t. She stuck by me, chatted, made me feel a little less alone, and as we rounded the corner to the finish line she turned to me and asked, “Ready to run a little bit more?”

And we ran.

Crossing that finish line and walking to my car were some of the most emotional moments of my life. I just started crying. All of this emotion was released after holding it in for 13.1 miles. I felt accomplished, embarrassed still at my mix up, disappointed I didn’t have anyone to share in the moment with at the end, and so damn proud. I felt like I’d aged 50 years and in the same moment rediscovered the giddiness of a five year old. Who would have thought that without training, without eating breakfast, completely oblivious that I was running the half marathon until around mile five or six, that I actually did it?


It’s been almost a week since the half marathon and my body is finally, almost recovered. There are eight blisters on my feet, three of which are particularly nasty. My hips are still sore and I’m not sure my legs will ever be the same again. But the rest of my body that wasn’t actively involved in the moving of my legs isn’t sore anymore. All I’ve wanted to do while recovering is run. That’s something I never thought I would say. I want to run. I want that runner’s high and the meditative state I hit a few miles in.

So would I relive the events of that day all over again? Hell no. I had a really laid-back twenty year plan for running my first half marathon. The universe obviously wanted me to keep my commitment though. Would I run another half marathon? As a non-runner who fell in love with running at mile 11, it might be worth another shot. Maybe this time I’ll actually stick with my training…Maybe.

 

So this is where I’m at. This is who I am so far.

Monachopsis: n. The subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place.

Monachopsis describes how I feel at this moment in my life. Out of place. It might have something to do with the fact that I’m in the middle of being, and doing, so many different things at one time. I’m a student who’s about to not be a student for the first time in over 18 years. I’m entering into a new territory known as the “real world.” I didn’t even stick to studying one thing while in college. I’ve been studying music and business if you haven’t caught on to that yet. I still have too many interests for my own good and I feel pulled in different directions just so that I can learn more about them.

The thing is I’ve never been good at knowing what I want until it is too late or I have to make my decision in a split second. So I’ve started slowly compiling a list of the things I know without a doubt that I want. So far this is what I’ve got.

  1. To get a tattoo.
  2. To live abroad.
  3. To own my own business.
  4. To get a Master’s in Marketing.
  5. To develop healthy habits that actually stick.
  6. To let go.

I’m on my way to fulfilling some of those. So what am I trying to get to here? That no matter how awful your day was or how anxious you are for your interview or how badly you did on that last test or how behind schedule you are for graduation, homework, or whatever else, that you’re lucky and you have the ability to do something about it. It all comes down to letting go. Loving yourself means letting go.

One of the most ridiculous aspects of life are these imaginary boundaries that people put up and surround themselves with. In reality, they only exist in our minds. If I wanted to drop out of college and move to Hawaii right now I could. There is literally nothing stopping me. Money? I can get a job. Sell my belongings. Borrow from people who want to give me a hand, ultimately paying them back later. My house? I’m on a lease. I can find a subleaser. Or I can just bite the bullet and continue paying rent until the lease is up. My degree? I graduate in a month. I could just quit. There is nothing holding me back. Except for the fact that I really want my degree and I’M ONLY A MONTH AWAY. In reality though, I could be sitting on the beach in Hawaii, sipping on a pina colada, this time next week if I really wanted to. It’s all about letting go.

For the longest time I believed I could control almost every aspect of my life. That’s a type a personality for you right there. If I’ve learned anything this past year it’s that as people we don’t have the power to ensure that everything in our life stays on track and goes the way we foresee it. “Expectation is the root of all heartache.” That’s one of the most honest sentences I’ve ever read. Thanks William Shakespeare.

So I’m in the process of learning about myself. And I’m in the process of truly learning to love myself. That means something different for every person, but for me that means letting go. That means breathing a bit more and learning to tell the negative self-talk to shut up, that I got this, and I’m great. That means believing in the process and knowing that the worst thing that can come my way is a different route with new adventures and challenges. Sometimes I need a little pep talk from people in my life.

My advice for people who feel similar to me, who feel out of place, and are anxious about the future? Just go for it. What’s the worst that can happen? Not fitting into the standards of what’s expected of you?  You shouldn’t judge where you are at in life based off of where someone else is at. You are on your own journey. You are living your own separate life.

I feel like I’ve finally come into my own with this advice. At least I’m finally starting to let go. I don’t necessarily feel that I’m in the right place, but I have this gut feeling that I’m on the way to getting there. I’m lucky to have had this past year of extreme growth where I’m finally starting to accept and grow into who I am. I’m lucky to be healthy and I’m doing my best to become even healthier. I’m lucky to have options in my future that are exciting and unknown and slightly terrifying.

You are lucky too. We all are. We’re breathing.

 

Thanks for reading my thoughtful rant. Be sure to check out the rest of my blog while you’re at it.

-Taylor

 

A Week of Cooking by the Expert of Not Cooking

Food is essential to life. I love food. Correction: I love eating food. I do not like cooking or baking or dicing or mixing or sauteeing or frying or…well, you get the picture. So I took to Twitter once again, and my lovely followers or I should say my well-meaning friends, challenged me to cook for an entire week. At first, I was going to go to the extreme and cook every meal. Then I cut it back to just making dinner every night. This was harder than I thought it would be and at the same time so simple. So this is how the past week of pretending I was Rachel Ray actually went. Side note: I planned on taking pictures of everything, but I basically ate all of the food before I remembered.

Monday: Mac n Cheese

I decided to start it off easy. This is one of my favorite dishes, both in box form and homemade. And to answer the question, no, I did not use the box mix for this. This is a dish I discovered on Pinterest earlier this January and I’ve been making it at least once a month since. When it comes to cooking, I try to stick to exactly what the recipe says because what if I accidentally make it taste awful. I’d rather blame the recipe itself than my spicing judgment and weird ideas. I like to experiment with this one. Different cheeses? Yes. Throwing in olives? Yes. Bacon? Yes, and I would have if I had thought about frying some up before I got to this end stage. It always ends up being a delicious, cheesy, gooey mess and I can physically feel my body gain five pounds. It’s amazing.

Rating (based on taste and cooking experience): 10/10; No explanation needed.

Recipe: http://cincyshopper.com/easy-stovetop-mac-cheese/

*Substituted: shells for macaroni, milk for almond milk, cheddar for mozzarella, muenster, & Colby Jack, add-in olives or whatever else suits your fancy.

Tuesday: Baked Potato & Peas

I recently discovered how baked potatoes work, which is probably embarrassing for a 23-year old to admit, but I’m oddly proud of my lack of skills in the kitchen. Who has time for cooking? I’m actually, like, really busy. Haven’t women been oppressed enough? Do I have to keep making people sandwiches if I don’t want to? No. I’m getting sidetracked now. Ever since this epiphany of how easy potatoes are I’ve been making baked potatoes and experimenting with seasoning. Olive oil and rosemary is my favorite by the way. As for the side, peas. They came from a can, but at least I heated them up. That’s kind of cooking right? This was the point I started to second guess this whole cooking everyday thing. In order to stop myself from bailing, I got organized. I planned out my dinners and made a massive ingredient list. Like ginormous. Like more than I typically buy in a month.

Rating: 5/10; I took the easy way out, but it still was tasty.

Wednesday: Chicken Enchiladas

This was my first meal with multiple steps. I was totally prepared to take this all on by myself and just accept that it would take me about two hours with all of the prep and baking. Luckily, my roommate and her boyfriend stepped up and helped out. When I say helped I mean they literally cooked all of the veggies and chicken. I was in charge of the enchilada sauce and the tortillas. No one ever said teamwork was off-limits. And to be honest, I promised them enchiladas and I don’t think they wanted to wait for my tedious kitchen pace to wrap up and deliver them a meal. The enchiladas were a hot, delicious mess. I watch a lot of reality TV cooking shows and those judges would look at my enchiladas and kick me out without even tasting them. Presentation: 0. Taste: 100.

Rating: 7/10; Teamwork makes the dream work; Very messy; Never enough cheese.

Enchilada Sauce Recipe: (This is the entire recipe. I just used the sauce. http://thekindlife.com/blog/2014/10/thug-kitchen-sweet-potato-squash-black-bean-enchiladas/

Thursday: ??????

Whoops. I skipped a day. Actually what happened was it hit me that there was no way my fridge would hold all of the leftovers if I cooked every day. I have four roommates. We all eat different things. Our fridge was already overflowing. Also, I was tired of standing over the stove and pretending to enjoy what I was doing. I may or may not have ordered pizza.

Rating: 0/10; Rest days are the best days; Also I honestly can’t remember if I even ate dinner.

Friday: Lasagna

Today was the day I physically was put to the test cutting onions. I haven’t cried that much since watching P.S. I Love You for the first time. Mascara was literally streaming down my cheeks and onto my neck. Part of the crying was from laughing, but mostly my eyes are just super sensitive to onion apparently.  I would never have known that if I hadn’t attempted this challenge. My roomie cooked the meat for me because I rarely eat meat and I’m always convinced I’m going to undercook it and die. Dramatic I know. I probably wouldn’t die from undercooked meat and I would probably overcook it out of fear. Overcooked meat isn’t good though. So  I left it up to someone else to handle. We assembled the lasagna and baked it. I broiled it, as directed, and it burned. On the plus side, it was still really good despite the entire top being brown.

Rating: 6/10; Really good straight from the oven, however, I still have leftovers that I just can’t bring myself to eat.

Recipe: http://damndelicious.net/2016/03/19/easiest-lasagna-ever/

Saturday: Baked Brie &  Sriracha Roasted Cauliflower with Peanut Dip

Saturday I had a little get together with some friends and instead of making dinner I decided to make snacks or hors d’oeuvres if you’re fancy. I wanted something sweet and something savory. Challenging myself to do, and eat, something I never had before. First up, baked brie. This was by far the fanciest thing I’ve ever made and maybe the easiest. Brie with raspberry jam wrapped in pastry dough with some maple syrup and brown sugar on top. Crackers for dipping. Is your mouth drooling yet? Mine was just writing this. It didn’t get sealed properly so when I pulled it out of the oven the “pastry” was sitting in a pool of melted cheese and syrup. Not that that is something to complain about. Yum.

Next, sriracha roasted cauliflower with peanut dip. I got this from Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You Give a F*ck, which is my favorite cookbook. This is the only cookbook I’ve read from cover to cover because it is that funny. It’s also completely vegan so you can’t go wrong with what you choose. Ran into a couple of problems with this one. One of my roommates is allergic to peanuts so I had to be extra cautious about where I was slinging ingredients around. I put too much of the batter on the cauliflower. It wasn’t anywhere as crunchy/roasted as I wanted it to be. I was the only one who thought this was actually spicy. But it was finger-licking good.

Rating: 9/10; Delicious with minor problems.

Baked Brie Recipe: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/baked_brie/

Sriracha Roasted Cauliflower with peanut dip: Recipe isn’t online. Guess you’ll have to buy the book. 🙂 http://www.thugkitchen.com/

Sunday: Shakshuka

When I picked this I thought let’s cook something I would never think of cooking that’s also easy. It hit me as the dish was about done that it consisted of a lot of ingredients I just don’t like. I’m talking about poached eggs, onions, and red bell peppers. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m a picky eater who likes to keep it simple. Shakshuka smells amazing and I made a garlic yogurt dip to go with it too. It’s a middle eastern and north African dish and one of the most exotic things I’ve ever eaten. I enjoyed how different it was from everything else I normally eat and I think it can be best summed up by my roommate, “It was good and I’m satisfied, but I wouldn’t go back for seconds.” Definitely recommend trying it though.

Rating: 6/10; Happy to have tried it; Probably wouldn’t eat it again because I prefer my scrambled eggs and toast.

Recipe: http://www.nourishatelier.com/blog/2015/5/28/shakshukalove

Final Thoughts

I had fun, which is not something I thought would happen. My interest in cooking went from a 3 to a 5 on a scale of 10. I still prefer dining out or having someone else cook. Overall, everything I bought for the week cost me around $60-$70. Keep in mind I hadn’t been grocery shopping in about a month so I was missing the basics. My normal shopping costs me anywhere from $35-$50 and I go about twice a month. Cooking actual meals was a bit more expensive than I anticipated. I normally cook for one, but most of the recipes were for 2-4 people. In the big picture, I did save the money that I would have used to eat out. I think if I were to tweak this challenge I would just try to make every meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner), but keep it as simple as possible to really get those cost savings. I definitely felt better fed. Maybe because I wasn’t relying on pasta and wraps. Food for thought I guess.

 

Tell me about your cooking experiences! The good, the bad, the messy, the delicious. Let me know what recipes you think I should have tried instead! Also, if you have a challenge you think I should try out next, I’m happy to give it a shot. Send me your ideas!

I’ve got to go and clean the mess up in the kitchen. Until next time!

-Taylor

 

How to Create Your Own Luck

Do you believe in luck? I believe in it, but I’m an optimist at heart. There’s been numerous scientific articles about how luck isn’t real, about how it’s something the human brain makes up to explain pleasant, and sometimes unpleasant, unknown occurrences. For some reason society has deemed that the Irish are notoriously lucky. Which is ironic because if you read anything of their history they’re actually extremely unlucky, potato famine anyone?

But it is St. Patrick’s Day so let’s try to focus on the positive here. Today is a lucky day. And I for one have been extremely lucky lately. My business conference is literally falling into place before my eyes, I have interviews set up for possible internships I’m incredibly excited about, and my pessimistic mood that has hung over me the past month or so has disappeared. Yesterday I found myself smiling at how cold the wind is and how nice it felt. I’m not even kidding.

The catch is while I do believe some people are naturally luckier than others there is also power and validity in people who create their own luck. Maybe today when we say “May the luck of the Irish be with you!” we actually mean “Grab a pint, have a friendly conversation with a stranger, and keep your eyes open for any opportunity that comes your way.”

So here’s how I would create some luck while spreading holiday cheer this weekend. These are foolproof. Trust me I’ve been testing them out

1. Get in the holiday spirit.

It’s St. Patty’s Day! Everyone is Irish today and I mean everyone. I may look Irish, but I’m only a tiny bit (somewhere around 5-10%). But how much Irish you are, or aren’t, doesn’t matter. Embrace the Irish. Be outgoing and friendly. Then maintain that attitude for the rest of the week. Maybe minus the alcohol. People have responsibilities you know.

2. Decorate with green.

Go all out. Green clothes, green banners, green food, green drinks, green face paint, and whatever else you can think of. But don’t stop there. Get a plant. Psychologically speaking plants are good for your mental health. They release oxygen into the air and frankly are pretty nice to look at. Green is an incredibly relaxing color to have in your home. So get some green in there.

3. Buy someone a drink.

Or as T-Pain would say, “Imma buy you a drank.” Preferably a Guinness or a whiskey to keep up the festivities. Or a sweet cocktail. Or a coffee or soda. Whatever suits your fancy. Then whoever you are buying a drink for be sure to strike up a conversation. Meeting new people and making new friends can lead to some great opportunities.

4. Make some potatoes.

I am not a cook, but I have never ruined mashed or baked potatoes before. They are delicious and literally foolproof. It doesn’t have to be potatoes though. Pizza is just as great. Or if you’re on a healthy kick try a smoothie, protein shake, or a salad. I’m a bigger fan of potatoes, pizza, or other comfort foods then I am of the healthy options, but to each their own. The next step is to share that food with someone. We all know the kindergarten saying, ‘sharing is caring.’ So share. People will be flattered you thought of them. You’ll feel good for being generous. Good energy attracts good energy. Be a bit more generous and maybe some luck will come your way.

5. Be on the lookout.

This is more about perspective than anything else. Everything can be an opportunity if you look at it the right way. Keep your ears and eyes open. Ask questions if you’re curious. Seek out opportunities. If something terrible happens, sit down and think what can possibly come out of this that is good. For example, when my car broke down for the second time this year, my first thought was something along the lines of “this sucks” but with much more anger and frustration. My second thought was “I can’t afford a new car.” My third thought was actually where I discovered the opportunity. I’ve been trying to figure out ways of eating out less. It’s an expensive habit I developed because when asked how much I enjoy cooking on a scale of 1 to 10 the answer is, and always has been, a solid 3. I can do it, but I don’t enjoy it until I’m eating. Going out to eat is much more convenient and enjoyable. But with my car broken down, I stayed in and made lunch and dinner every day for a week. I didn’t hate it as much anymore. I even bought a cookbook. I took this negative experience and turned it into an opportunity to save a tiny bit of money. It just happened to work.

6. Take a risk.

What’s the worse that could happen? Death? If you know that, don’t do it. But if it’s just being turned down for the job, sounding dumb in class, making a fool of yourself, then go for it. If we don’t do things that scare us, will we ever do something worthwhile? I was scared to go to Europe. Actually I was about 5% scared and 95% excited, so bad example. I took a risk signing up for a half marathon late last year. Technically, I am in the process of failing. I’m not doing the half marathon, because physically and mentally I was not prepared for it. And it sucks to say that. What’s the worst that can happen in this case? Well, I ended up disappointing myself a lot more than others were disappointed in me. I’m not trying to glorify quitting, but the power of knowing yourself as a person. As I’m writing this I realized I haven’t taken nearly as many risks as I thought. I should take my own advice more often.

7. Believe your lucky.

Have some faith that things will turn out the way they should in due time. Patience is not one of my strong suits, and essentially the main reason I’ve never been able to successfully go fishing and why I decided I didn’t want to be a teacher. But if you can get yourself to stop for a second, take ten deep breaths, and find a way to focus on something else, some luck might come your way. If you think good things will happen, good things will happen. Like I said before, good energy attracts good energy. If you believe you are a lucky person, then you are.

 

 May misfortune follow you the rest of your life and never catch up.

So have a happy, and safe, St. Patty’s Day! May the luck of the Irish be with you.

-Taylor

 

 

 

Need Some Positivity? Take My Advice.

Recently, it’s come to my attention that I’ve been in a place where I’ve let little failures get to me and I’ve become stuck in this negative mindset. Outwardly, I may be a cheery, positive person, but you have no idea what the thoughts that go through my head are. Instead of immediately recognizing this and trying to fix it, I wallow. I like pity parties. Mainly because they include the word party. But honestly it’s annoying even for me and I’m trying to bust out of this cycle.

To start off here’s what I’m stressed about plus the thoughts that run through my head (not that there really even is anything to be stressed about because all of these stressors have ended up working themselves out and I basically am anxious about nothing).

  • Job/Internship Searching: “Holy [insert expletive here] I’m never going to get a job.” I started applying to jobs maybe three weeks ago and I’m not supposed to hear back from half of them until April. If you love to overreact clap your hands. *clap, clap*
  • My senior project: “A music business conference without presenters or attendees will be okay right?” Wrong, because I’ve already secured two, almost three, out of four time slots and I have friends who will go out of both interest and obligation. Attendees + Presenters = Success
  • Half Marathon Training: “I quit. I really can’t do this.” So this is a conversation I had with my mom and sister and as much as I hate to quit, I’m quitting. (Not entirely, I’m switching to the 5k and I’m planning on making it my fastest 5k ever.) A half marathon is like a relationship and I was not ready for the commitment. I knew that going in, but I’m stubborn and I thought who cares if I haven’t had a regular workout regimen for over two years and who cares if I’ve never enjoyed distance running, or running at all. None of that matters. I want to do it so I’m going to do it. WRONG! My body wasn’t ready. My mind definitely wasn’t ready. I am not good at being a disciplined athlete. I need a coach. And as much as it sucks to say, “Hi everyone who was so proud and excited for me. It’s ya girl. I’m not doing this anymore. Sorry to let you down.” that’s exactly what I’m saying. I’m more disappointed in myself than you are in me so let’s move on.

So I’ve been throwing myself one hell of a pity party. There was a lot of ice cream so you really missed out. I had a friend try to give me advice and drag me out of it, but that didn’t work until he got another friend, my roommate actually, to call me out as well. (I’m honestly too stubborn for my own good. I won’t take advice or ask for help until people gang up on me and make me stop and see what I’m doing.)

I reflected on what I did (throw the best pity party ever) and what I could have done instead (something that would have actually been useful and productive). Here’s what you should do when you’re being a negative Nancy.

  1. Get Out. Not the movie, although I’ve heard it’s really good and if anyone wants to hit that up with me let me know. I mean get out of your house, off your couch, or out of your bed. Wherever you may be. You probably don’t want to and rewatching Parks & Rec is definitely a valuable use of your time, but getting fresh air is better. That’s what Parks & Rec is about right? Make Leslie Knope proud.
  2. Talk to your friends. Or get away from them. However you re-energize, whether it’s around people or off on your own, make sure you do that. I get burned out when I’m off on my own. My impression of a hermit is killer don’t get me wrong, but I only do it by choice when I’m in a bad mood. I love people too much and I’m susceptible to whatever energy they are putting off so I choose who I let into my life carefully. I’ve cut like three people out of my life because they were toxic and I don’t have time for that negativity. I’m pretty good at generating it myself, hence the pity parties.
  3. Watch a sad movie, cry a little bit, and get over it. Growing up the movie was Titanic. Rose totally could have saved Jack by the way, but it would have destroyed the beautiful tragedy of the plot. Now the movie is P.S. I Love You, which I’ve seen over twenty times and still bawl like a baby at. It’s cathartic though. Movies like that make you realize life is beautiful and short and some people have it much worse than you do, so you should probably just eat the ice cream and shut up.
  4. When in doubt, dance. It may feel dumb, but it works every time.

 

If you have done all four of those things and nothing has worked, well that sucks. Definitely seek advice elsewhere. You probably shouldn’t be taking advice from someone who never takes any advice from anyone unless forced. But I’m always happy to at least try to help. Keep it messy and authentic everyone.

-Taylor

 

 

 

What Getting Rid of Junk Food for a Week Made Me Realize

I have a lot of bad habits. I also love challenges. That’s when I got the idea that maybe I should be writing, not just about my challenges in everyday life, but self-imposed weekly/monthly challenges that challenge me to be healthier or a better person or in some cases both. I took to Twitter, created a poll asking what challenge I should take on first. The options were: no junk food for a week, ten minutes of meditation every day for a week, or random acts of kindness.

All of these were going to be challenging in their own way. Random acts of kindness? I’d actually have to stop focusing on my whirlwind, hot mess of a life and think of fun ways to be kind to random people. Ten minutes of meditation? I’m not entirely sure I can sit in one position for that long, never mind that I’d have to learn to calm my mind. What does calm even mean? No junk food for a week? Are. You. Kidding. Me. As it turns out, you weren’t kidding. An overwhelming number of the people who voted said I should give up junk food for a week. I don’t think you understand how much I love eating crap food.

My favorite food is pizza, closely followed by chocolate ice cream with peanut butter. As a child, I probably had too much sugar, not because my parents weren’t attentive to my diet, but because when it came to snacking I was a constant grazer and I just really, really love sweets. Brownies, get at me. Cookies? They better have chocolate chips. And when I’ve finally filled up on sweets and start craving something salty toss me your chips, pretzels, and extra buttery, extra salty popcorn. I love junk food, but I also love challenges. So I did it *makes face that insinuates that I may have failed more than once and I don’t feel guilty about it (whoops).*

Day One:

First, I established just what exactly I can and cannot eat. This is what I came up with:

  1. No chocolate.
  2. No pastries.
  3. No cookies, cake, donuts, or muffins.
  4. No ice cream.
  5. No white bread.
  6. No chips.
  7. No soda or alcohol.
  8. No food that doesn’t meet the 1:10 ratio of protein to sugar.

I let myself have one vice, pizza because I can’t part with something that is a part of my soul. Monday was fairly easy. Then I got to my job and there were cookies in the office. Cookies! I held out though. No crap food. I made it through day one.

Day Two:

It was a busy day at work with a career fair happening. In between emailing potential interview leads, working scan in, and checking out the employers for myself, I lapsed. On day two, I know, I couldn’t even believe it was happening myself. In the midst of a headache and the career fair, I grabbed a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. I unwrapped it, put it in my mouth, chewed and savored the taste, and then right before I swallowed the candy it hit me. It was candy. So instead of spitting it out, I ate it. And that was the end of the challenge. Just kidding.

Day Three:

Very uneventful. No extra temptations from work or at home. I went to Target and bought some Valentine’s Day candy on sale because I love sales as much as I love sweets.

Day Four:

Otherwise known as The Day of Ruin. My intent for completing this challenge without breaking was good. My will however is weak. It started off with one situation and it just snowballed into me binging on sugar by the end of the night. The trigger: The office was having it’s February birthdays Birthday Party and the treat for the celebration was cookies and ice cream. Now, I understand I could have stayed strong. I could have said no. But cookies and ice cream? At a birthday party? That’s just like saying, “No, I don’t want your birthday treat and I don’t want to celebrate your birthday.” How rude is that! I couldn’t be that person. So I ate the delicious chocolate caramel truffle ice cream with the crunchy homemade cookie and I enjoyed every second of it. #NoShame.

Then I got home and the jar on the table was full of Oreos. I had four. That’s when disaster struck. I remembered the Valentine’s Day candy I had stored away. One Fun Dip, one Lindt truffle, and two Ghirardelli squares and a Modelo later I felt as guilty as a kid who opened their Christmas presents early and got caught. To be honest, the sugar didn’t even taste that great. The Modelo could never taste bad, but I didn’t need it.

Day Five:

Chocolate is my lover and you can’t keep us apart. That’s what I thought as I ate one delicious raspberry filled Ghirardelli squares. That’s when I had a bit of a realization. The best part about junk food is that first taste. After that it can start to feel heavy and weigh you down.

Day Six:

Uneventful and I’m back on that no junk food grind. I feel lighter, but that just may be because it was a good week and it’s Saturday and I’m almost done with this challenge. Pizza has been my saving grace. I ate it three times this week. I probably should have cut that out too, but I just couldn’t bear it.

Day Seven:

I literally counted down the hours. My roommates had to talk me into not diving into my chocolate two hours before midnight. I set an alarm on my phone for exactly midnight and I ate one Lindt truffle to cap off the week.

To be completely honest this week wasn’t easy for me. I failed many times. But I kept going. In one week of cutting out most of my sugar and empty carbs I lost four and a half pounds. That made me wonder how much food had I been consuming that was actually promoting weight gain? My exercise plan didn’t change from the previous week. If anything I ate more pizza than I normally do. To compensate for the lack of sweets I ate more fruit and drank more almond milk. Whatever I did it seemed to work.

 

Do you think you could survive a week without junk food?  I’d like to see you try and to hear about it if it’s something you’ve already tackled. And because I enjoyed torturing myself so much I decided to do another challenge for March. I’ll be taking reservations for dinner soon. Thanks to the faithful voters on Twitter I will be cooking dinner every day for seven days. Keep me in your thoughts because the last time I cooked I set the fire alarms off and I cooked enough food for five people…

Keep it messy and beautiful everyone.

-Taylor

 

 

 

5 Places in Mankato, MN You Should Know Exist

I’ve lived in Mankato officially since August 2013. As my impending graduation is coming up I’m preparing myself to pack up all of my belongings and head north to the great city of Park Rapids.

Just kidding! As much as I loved growing up there you’d have to give me my own tax-free, three story cabin on the lake with all expenses paid to get me to hoof it back up there at this point in my life. Sadly, my plans for escaping to Nashville got delayed due to lack of funds. Not sad, I get to live with one of my best friends and take on Minneapolis starting sometime this late summer or early fall.

So as my time here in Mankato is coming to an end I’ve done quite a bit of reflecting. Coming from a town of 3,000 people Mankato seemed huge and like there was so much to do, until about a month in when I realized the entire town is surrounded by farmland and I was spending most of my time at the mall or doing homework on campus or at my apartment. It’s like home, but with more shopping and less lakes. But I have discovered a few places that I will miss. So if you are ever in Kato, make sure to take a stop at one of them.

Coffee Hag

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Coffee at the Hag

As a recovered caffeine addict this is where I go to get my bi-weekly fix, soak in some art, and people watch. It’s located in Old Town, which is full of cool locally owned shops everyone should check out (Salvage Sisters, Curiosi-Tea House, Friesen’s Bakery, and Tune Town just to name a few). Yet, this coffee shop stands out because of the atmosphere and the community that it has built. There is always art on the walls featuring a new artist every month and the stage built into the place is perfect for the live music you often find being played. It’s a place to go to be inspired, to meet friends, and to get a Ying Yang with a homemade organic, vegan cookie while you hang out for a while. I’d say more, but once you go you’ll understand.

 

Once Read Used Book Store

If a penny pincher and a book lover had a baby this store would be its offspring. It’s a secondhand store that specializes in books. There’s a section for everyone

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Once Read Used Book Store Bulletin Wall

and the shelves go all the way to the ceiling. It’s run by a cool old man who hangs out in the back and can literally answer almost any question you have about a book and where to find it. I don’t go here often enough. Mainly because I once walked out with five books, got home, and then stacked them on the five other books I had just gotten at Barnes and Noble and all I could think was, girl you have a problem. It’s a quiet little shop with charm that seems to be old-fashioned and entirely modern all in one. My favorite part is the owner’s cat who sits in the corner and eyes you until you pet him, but once you do that he tails you throughout the store until you leave. It’s a magical, quaint place that is hard to recreate and even harder to find.

Minneopa State Park

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Underneath the fall

Not exactly inside of city limits, but worth the drive. This state park is split since the highway runs right through the middle of it and if you are short on time and have to pick a side, I’d recommend turning left and checking out Minneopa Falls. The waterfall is beautiful in the summer. I’ve accidentally ruined a wedding photo shoot once or twice since it’s a popular spot for those getting, or already, hitched. You can stand on the sidewalk and watch it, but if you really want to have fun, you should head down the stairs and hike around so that you can almost go under the waterfall. The rocks next to it are carved with years of names and hearts with initials and you can get as close to being in the waterfall as possible without actually stepping into the water. It’s a great place to get reenergized. If you have more time, head to the other side of the park and hike up to Seppman Mill. Although, if you’re feeling lazy and would rather skip the walking, stay in your car and go on the Midwest version of a safari. Also known as, the Buffalo Drive. Within the last year and a half, the state of Minnesota released a herd of Buffalo back into this area, which is a natural habitat for them. The buffalo are pretty evasive, but if you’re lucky, you can spot them off in the distance eating. All in all, Minneopa makes for a fun afternoon.

Seven Mile Creek County Park

The only pictures I have of Seven Mile are head shots that I took with my friend Zach. The reason is Seven Mile isn’t a super scenic area, but a place to walk (for seven miles) and clear your head. My favorite time of the year to go here is in the fall. Being the extrovert that I am I don’t go by myself often. I like to grab a friend, walk around the park, and talk. It’s a pleasant, quiet area that is great when you need to stop thinking about the number of hours you’ve put into your senior project or when the words standard deviation and sigma start sounding like lines from an action movie instead of the homework. One of my favorite parts is a specific trail that I don’t quite remember the name of, but it has signs that translate into the sentiment of “not for the faint of heart, turn back.” The last time I went on it I emerged from the woods with my yoga pants caked in mud because it happened to be spring and I may or may not have slid down the hill on my butt instead of face planting. There’s also a giant valley that is impressive and breathtaking in the fall with all of the foliage glowing orange and yellow. I think part of the reason it was breathtaking is because I was literally out of breath, but it was still pretty.

Performing Arts Building

This isn’t a place that many people go to. I mean, I don’t even go there unless I have a

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Up in the Mezzanine

meeting or need a printer. All the same I’m probably going to miss this place the most. I had almost every single class in this building for two and a half years. I spent hours in the music library “studying,” but normally talking with my friends instead, sitting in the mezzanine actually studying, in the practice rooms singing, playing piano, on the phone, and watching much more talented people going over their repertoire for the semester. It’s the place I made quite a few lifelong friendships. It’s where I cried because I just couldn’t figure out how the hell I was supposed to do all of my economics and music theory AND have my French opera piece memorized. It’s where I’ve felt the most excited and alive performing Regina Spektor in the Recital Hall, getting excepted into my major, learning in classes that challenged and excited me, and singing in the choirs. I once posted the picture below of the Performing Arts Building with this caption:

Because when it’s all said and done I’m going to miss this place. I came to Mankato undecided and unsure. I’m leaving with confidence and a vision for the future. This campus showed me the diversity I didn’t have the opportunity of seeing growing up. It’s taught me so much. So grateful I chose to be educated by a college that is so welcoming, open-minded, and beautiful. Walking through these hall, hearing music being created gives me hope for the future. Love will win.

And I think that sums it up.

 

Let me know what your favorite places where you live are so that I can go and check them out! But in the mean time, don’t be shy. Follow me on Instagram, Twitter, here on WordPress, and drop a line and say hello.

 

3 Things That I Love to Hate (And Why I Actually Love Them)

 

Hate is a strong word. It’s a strong emotion. Scientists say that there is a fine line between love and hate. See here. Most religions say that hate isn’t an emotion that we should revel, but something that we should learn to release. Forgive and forget right? Except let’s get real right now, sometimes it just feels good to focus your negative energy towards something. That’s why villains are necessary in stories, movies, and, sadly, they also exist in the real world. Villains bring people together and get them to work against an “unnecessary evil.” I mean, who doesn’t love to hate Voldemort, Dolores Umbridge, the Joker, or Ramsay Bolton?

So in honor of Valentine’s Day, here are three things I love to hate.

Mondays

The beginning of the week. The beginning of school and work. The beginning of having to be out of bed by 8 AM. Sometimes Monday just means the start of doing things you aren’t fond of, whether that be an accounting class or work you aren’t passionate about. (Full disclosure: I love my current job and class. This is from past experience.) As the Mama’s & the Papa’s put it, “Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day.”

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As terrible as they may be a Monday always seem refreshing. It’s a new week. There are so many possibilities. I may “hate” Mondays, but actually, I’m always way more motivated to get stuff done. Not to mention have you seen the myriad of funny memes and posts about “Monday sucks, insert crying face, give me coffee.” I’m a sucker for a funny meme. Also, who doesn’t love the feeling of sharing a mutual hate for something of small importance. Bad TV shows and music, villains, days of the week? For humans, having a mutual object that you love to hate really brings the human population together.

Working Out

Let’s be real if the human population was polled and asked if they could give up working out and still keep it fit, the majority of people would be all for it. I personally would be the first person on board with that. One of my favorite hobbies is movie marathoning. It’s a hobby I take seriously. Very seriously. I make sure my phone is far away, I have my laptop available for random internet surfing during the slow parts, I’m surrounded by pillows, snacks are falling from the ceiling, basically it’s a huge deal and I don’t play. So as you can decipher getting up and getting in my cardio and squats isn’t included in my ideal day.

I don’t hate you. I’m just not necessarily excited about your existence.

I’m working on it though. Sometimes a good sweat session on the treadmill gets me out of a funk. I actually hate the feeling I have in the middle of the workout. That out of breath, heart won’t stop pounding, waves of sweat are pouring down my face and back, I will you pay you a hundred dollars to stop working out right this instant feeling. On a really good day or if I’m working out with other people I can ignore that feeling. My body feels more energized. My mouth won’t stop forming words as I talk at the person who’s supposed to be bicep curls right next to me. That’s a good day.

My favorite part of a workout is when it’s over. Runner’s high is real y’all. It’s addictive. So as much as I hate getting off the couch heartlessly turning off Shakespeare In Love I’m willing to spend an hour away to find that feeling again.

Valentine’s Day

You’re tacky and hate you. – Billy, School of Rock

Ah, the holiday of love, what day could be more annoying? Is there a day that a single girl like me could possibly love to hate more? Let me list the reasons. One, not an actual holiday. It was created by companies to boost sales during the slow season. I do like the concept of celebrating love, but the romantic in me questions why we don’t celebrate something as great as love every day. Like for real, I don’t need a holiday to tell me to express my feelings or buy gifts for a person I care about. Two, there’s a whole stigma about being single on V-day. And there shouldn’t be. Don’t tell anyone who’s trying to date me, but I love being single and I’m not in a hurry to change that anytime soon. Being single is fun! I can do what I want when I want within reason.

On the other hand, Valentine’s Day is a great day to spread the love. I’m talking take your friends out for a nice dinner, treat yourself to some great chocolate and a cup of warm, pleasant tea, or, if you have a significant other, spend some time with them doing something you enjoy. It’s a sappy holiday. I love to say that I loathe it and think it’s overrated. And yet, I go out of my way to watch movies that are filled with romance and read books that have a dialogue between two characters that is full of rich text that sparks a love connection. What can I say I’m a softie.

 

Well, there you have it. That’s what I love to hate. Or maybe I just secretly love it. Honestly, it’s probably that one. But whatever it is, I hope you all have a wonderful, love-filled Valentine’s Day and the rest of the year.

If you hadn’t seen the form below yet, go ahead and tell me what you love to hate. Or what you love to love. Or just even say hi. Until next time!

 

 

New Ideas for a Mess In Progress

I started Mess In Progress less than a year ago. It was a means of expressing myself creatively and of processing all the changes that were rapidly happening in my life. Not to mention, I just really wanted to try out a blog. Ever since then my mind hasn’t been able to stop spinning out new ideas. It’s like every few minutes I have a phrase or idea that will pop into my mind and if I don’t write it down immediately it flutters away. So as it’s a relatively a new year I want to try incorporating one of these ideas: a monthly video blog.

I admit it’s not an entirely original idea. YouTube is full of videos of people trying out challenges or recipes sometimes slightly intoxicated and sometimes stone cold sober with maybe a tad bit too much caffeine. So I want to do this with my own spin on it. And instead of worrying about how this may make me look or be embarrassed, I’m embracing it. If I want to give it a try, why shouldn’t I? It’ll probably be messy and I’m not promising top notch video quality or editing, but I can guarantee it will be fun. For me at least. I’m sure it’ll be hilarious, or hilariously boring, for you to watch.

Creativity is experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, & having fun.

-Mary Lou Cook

This idea came to me while I was in Europe. Being in a different country, even with people you may know, you realize all in the same moment how small you are, but also how important every person is. I had the time of my life and I forgot all of the worrisome details that had been stressing me out, but I missed the people who I have cultivated amazing relationships with. I thought of them often and wished I could share the experience with them. Sometimes we don’t realize how lucky we are to have people in our life and so I want to celebrate those relationships that I have.

Not only do I want to celebrate those relationships, I want to celebrate the individuals as well. I’ve met a lot of people in my measly twenty-three years of life. I haven’t liked all of them, but that’s not what this post is about. *stay tuned for blog post ranting about the haters* Everyone has something that they are known for, good at, or something that is a charming quirk. The things that make us different are what make us important. Why wouldn’t we want to celebrate that?

I’ve asked a few of my friends to be prepared to become famous and to come up with ideas for what they want to do. This may be my blog, but they are going to be the content creators for these videos. I’m really excited for what they come up with and I’m ready for the ugly-laugh-crying-so-hard-I-can’t-breathe moments that may come with it.

But just between you and me: I really just want to spend time with my awesome friends and family.