About Me

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be. Shel Silverstein

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Bansky Hunt: London

I have almost fully recovered from my post-fall break cold and have been extremely productive homework wise, so... I decided to indulge myself in a little blogging :) Over my fall break, I went with two friends to Dublin and London. On our last day of the entire trip (and the only sunny one), we decided to go on a Banksy hunt. Scouring London for just a handful of his street art was one of the most emotional and thought-provoking days of my entire trip. This is where I would usually give an overview about Banksy for those of you who may not know who he is, but honestly, all I know about him is how his art affects me personally and I cannot take away from your own experience by trying to sum him up from my own perspective. But, basically, he is a street/graffiti artist that has a political agenda.

I have loved Banksy's work for a while now, but I had yet to experience the other half of his meaning: the locations he chooses. Banksy showed me a side of London that I would have never seen. He showed me a side of London that is overlooked; forgotten. I picked three pieces to go find that were located in places easily accessible on the Tube: Camden Town, Warren Street, and Seven Sisters.

Upon first step out of the Underground Station, Camden Town is an awesome, hip, young, fun part of town. It actually reminded me a lot of my hometown of Austin.

But, as we wandered passed the colorful, populated, facade of the main street, we found ourselves in a lower class neighborhood. We were surrounded by those who work hard for little pay and live in a rough part of town. And then, as I am wondering why Banksy chose this area, we find it on a very unsuspecting wall. We frankly felt a little silly taking pictures of something that is just a wall to everyone who lives there.
This piece is a tribute to one of London's regulars in the graffiti world who recently was convicted of criminal damage. The technical meaning of the piece, though, isn't what struck me. What struck me about this piece was its foreshadowing of the emotional ride Banksy was about to take me on. 

So, then we hopped back on the Tube to Warren Street to see one of Banksy's more infamous pieces. 
Now, Warren Street was totally different from Camden Town. It was a lower-average middle class area. And that is exactly what it was, average and a bit lackluster. We saw lots of people around our age, some families, and some of the more artsy types. The thing that stood out the most to me about Warren Street was the GIANT tower visible from all angles of the area. It was the CCTV main tower. For those who don't know, CCTV is the 24/7 omnipresent surveillance system in London. It's extremely similar to the book 1984 except it is London, not America. Traveling through London, it's easy to miss the cameras following your every move. But, for the locals, 90% of their lives are constantly being documented for the government. Right to privacy, anyone?

It was about this point in the hunt that the pieces were becoming the supplementary piece to the bigger puzzle of Banksy's message. Onward to greater social awareness location number 3: Seven Sisters. 

Now, let me first start off by telling you that the Tube ride north to Seven Sisters was enlightening in and of itself. Each stop further from central London weeded out the businessmen, the students, the fashionable, the intellects, until all that was left were tired men and women taking the long Underground commute back home.

Walking out of the Underground station, I realized that this was definitely the roughest neighborhood of the three. I guess a good way of putting it is that Seven Sisters was the kind of place you are probably better off keeping your eyes to yourself. Stuck between wanting to turn around and realizing that turning around is exactly what Banksy is fighting against, I kept walking. 

Those next couple hundred steps between the Underground Station and the painting is when the lightbulb went off in my head. 

Banksy knows he is famous and that people will come to see his work. Example, me. He uses this as one of his artistic mediums. He pulls you into the political/social statement he is making.  He makes you experience for yourself the injustice he is protesting against. It is way too easy to "appreciate" artwork, poetry, literature, music, etc.. that has social and political agendas while still keeping yourself separated and untouched by the subject of the artwork. I got to ride the Tube with the forgotten and disregarded population of London, I got to see where they live, how they live. Bansky successfully made it impossible for me to be detached from the subject of the art that I was "appreciating."

It left me thinking long and hard (and uncomfortably on an 8 hour bus ride from London to Paris) about my own art and how I want it to be perceived and the power it has the potential to hold. I have spent so much time wanting to make the viewer experience the emotions of the subjects of my photography. My ultimate goal in life is to take the poverty, the hunger, the pain, the dehumanization and slam it down smack in the faces of the rest of the world until something substantial is done about it.

Bansky successfully brought me to the lower/middle classes of London, and I want to take others to those suffering around the world. I don't want you to ignore them, to pity them, to offer them your excess change; I want you to sit next to them in a subway, to share a meal with them, to walk through where they live, to feel the utter roughness of their lives so intimately that it's etched in your brain and in your heart.  When I grow up, I want my photography to do that. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Life's a Beach?

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to go see Omaha Beach in Normandy. For those who aren't 100% familiar with the location, it is the beach where the Allies attacked the Germans on the coast of Normandy. Omaha is the specific beach that the United States had their regimes attack. This event is better known as D-Day, June 6, 1944.

For some reason, I was overtaken emotionally by the thought of literally touching the sands on which thousands died to fight against the Germans in WWII. Our entire group was in the little museum that was off the beach a little bit, and I simply could not maintain enough focus to stand still and read about what happened on the beach. I needed to interact with it personally. So while everyone else was looking at relics from that day, I snuck off to see the ultimate relic: the beach. I hiked a good 15 minutes down the banks to the shore, each step bringing me closer and closer to an emotional mourning for the soldiers and their families. 

Whenever I finally got to the beach, I was practically in tears. I began to feel silly because I was crying for no personal reasons, but simply for the overwhelming history I was getting to experience. I was all alone on a peacefully haunting beach where, 67 years ago, thousands of men fought and died.

Standing on the edge of the water, closing my eyes while trying to picture the ships, submarines, airplanes, guns, troops, noise: the chaos, I was taken aback by how peaceful the beach still seemed. It was if the air was saying, "yes, the history here is terribly haunting, but everyone who died here is now in peace." Although, maybe I simply heard what I desperately wanted to hear. 

 Throughout my studies here in France, we have been studying both WWI and WWII. Prior to studying here, I understood the major countries, political figures, and general reasons for the wars, but until now I have yet to really humanize the wars and appreciate the little consequences that mean so much more than the overarching ideas. My whole life, I have been so anti-war. I never have, and have yet to understand what part of the human condition leads us to make points and take power by killing massive amounts of men and why so much of our money goes to developing the next best way to kill large amounts of people, when we could be putting that same money to SAVING even larger numbers of people.

I have learned two major factors that have, although not changed my perspective, opened my understanding of war. There are people, governments, out there in the world that will terrorize and have their way with the world and it's population despite any civil efforts to stop them. Sometimes, the tough choice between two evils needs to be made. The men that fought on the beach I got to personally experience, they were fighting an evil that needed to be stopped at all costs and they were willing to have the price be their lives. They traded their lives on that beach for the lives of thousands more that would have been murdered had they no one to fight for them. The other thing I have learned is that the soldiers, on both sides of the war, are merely men, my age, with parents, wives, siblings...lives back home. Sometimes we forget about that when we develop biases against "the enemy." We need to learn to humanize seemingly inhumane conditions. The German soldiers were just as human as the soldiers fighting for the Allies, and despite what they were fighting for, coerced or not, they deserve to be remembered as well.

I admit that I did take some sand from Omaha Beach, and it is currently displayed on my desk in my apartment as a reminder of all that I have learned and have yet to learn about the history, present day, and future of France, the world around me, and myself.

over and out.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

réflexions sur la beauté...

To me, a Texas girl, I think Angers is a beautiful, albeit small and simple, European town. To the French students who grew up knowing nothing but the beauty of Europe find it to be less than attractive. It's as if to experience the true beauty of something, you have to experience it for the first time and it has to be an experience outside of your own personal norm. I find the mix of ancient, medieval, modern, and all the time periods in between to be a beautiful eclectic mess, yet if I grew up seeing this everywhere.. I might prefer a city made up of buildings built after 1800. This... phenomena lends itself to subjectivity based upon the individual and his/her own experiences. Something that is beautiful, ugly, awe-inspiring, boring, overwhelming, etc.. is based only upon what I know and don't know. Nothing has one inherent universal characteristic. 

Another example is Paris. This weekend, all of the American students will be taking a trip to Paris, all of which are excited. There is so much history and beauty bursting from the seams, yet to the French students who either lived there or have been there more times than they can count are apathetic to all that we, that I, am anxious to experience. This makes me wonder if I have taken advantage of experiences that others would be overwhelmed to  have simply because it wasn't outside the little bubble that I know. Why do thrilling experiences have to happen outside our bubble? Does broadening our horizons force us to look back inward and appreciate what we have always known? Does it help us to better understand what we have been blind to, whether positive or negative? 


over and out.

Travel Excitement

Yesterday, our professor took all of us to the train station to teach us the in's and out's of train travel throughout France and Europe. It finally made traveling a reality and led to a lot of excitement! Although, buying the right train pass has been a little confusing, I think I finally figured it out :)

Also, this past weekend was extremely fun! There are 9 students from St. Edward's in Austin and about 12 French students also in our group. We all live on the same floor at our apartment and are intermixed in the same classes. It has been so fun to be able to bridge the language barrier and have the Americans and the French bond and form such good friendships for such a short period of time.

There was a festival in Angers this past weekend, so after spending Friday in Brittany kayaking on the Atlantic, we all went out to experience the festival. Saturday we found a free electronic concert which was probably my favorite part of the weekend.

One thing the whole group seems to be learning is a good balance of study time, sleep time, and fun time. Our first week, we all went out almost every night. It is so tempting to do so whenever you meet a large group of new people who happen to all live merely a couple of feet from your door. The first week, we had very little homework so it was okay, but now most of us are having the homework pile on and are tired thanks to our thrown off sleep schedule. The value of using my time wisely has never been so... necessary! And I am glad to be learning how to manage my time.

over and out

Thursday, September 8, 2011

un euro pour mes pensées

While walking my 30 minutes home from class this morning, I had really good quality thinking time. So far, the most important thing that living in France has taught me is how to live sans excess. I brought one lump sum of money with me and have no job, so wasting precious funds on a 8 euro cheeseburger has become absolutely absurd to me. Why spend 30 euros on a particular brand of makeup, whenever I could wear none and use that money on a train ticket to an adventure? Why buy bottled water whenever the tap water, albeit doesn't taste awesome, but it's perfectly safe to drink? I spent a good 10 minutes deciding between 4 euro fresh brie and 1 euro pre-packaged brie in MonoPrix yesterday. I bet all the french people around me were thinking "I have never seen a girl stare at cheese for this long" (except they would be thinking it in french). The strangest thing about all of this, is that in a matter of a couple of days stuck in another country, I have gone from someone who spent her money randomly and undoubtedly haphazardly, to a girl who has her priorities set on experience rather than material and a firm grasp on how wasteful excess truly is.

I apologize for a such an all over the place post as my first blog from France... but... what I am learning is more important than my living environment and what classes I am taking (although I will post about those soon!)

over and out.

P.S. It's cold here! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

a cause, shopping with a cause, and just plain shopping

HE(ART) for Haiti results:

The event went pretty incredibly actually. We had a blast hanging the show and getting to know the manager at Dominican Joe Coffee Shop. I was honored to have my own paintings in the mix of AWESOME artists. We had a nice large group of family, friends, and other supporters come and help us raise about $2,600!!! That's half the house! We are so excited to plan how to raise the rest :)
My Pieces

After we hung all the pieces!

Shopping with a Cause:

My friend Mackenzie was wearing some really cool sandals the other day and whenever I asked her where they were from she told me they were SSEKO's and told me a little bit about there mission (I'll share below!). I have been a huge fan of Tom's Shoes (and now sunglasses) for quite a while now and have stocked up on more than a few pairs. But, when Mackenzie told me about SSEKO's, it made me realize that there are other organizations out there that do similar things (obviously), most that aren't for profit. Two organizations I am seriously digging right now are SSEKO and Noonday.
Sseko \say-ko\ Designs was created to help these bright young women continue their education. The Ugandan school system is designed with a nine month gap between secondary school and university. These nine months are intended to allow time for students to earn money for tuition before continuing on to university. However, in an impoverished and male dominated society, many of these young women struggle to find fair work during this time.

Sseko Designs hires recent secondary school graduates for this nine month period to live and work together, while earning money that will go directly towards their university education. These women will not makesandals forever. They will go on to be doctors, lawyers, politicians, writers and teachers that will bring change and unification to a country divided and ravished by a 22 year-long war.

Sseko Designs is a not-just-for-profit enterprise that recognizes the power of business and responsible consumerism to support sustainable economic development, which in turn affects a country's educational, justice, and health care systems. The goal of Sseko Designs is two-fold: provide university tuition for these promising young women through a sustainable monthly income, while also contributing to the overall economic development of Uganda.

Although consumerism makes many empty promises, responsible and proactive consumerism has the ability to change lives.
Sseko's are really cool sandals that you can tie any infinite number of ways and you can change out the ties. They are unique, trendy, comfortable, AND are a great alternative to wearing Tom's in the heat of summer!

Noonday's story: After visiting Uganda in February of 2010 and holding hundreds of children without moms and dads, Joe and Jessica Honegger (the founder) decided to adopt internationally (from Rwanda). Also on that visit, they met up with long time friends who had lived in Uganda for many years trying to create sustainable income opportunities for the Ugandan people. They asked Jessica if she would like to sell the fair-trade locally made goods in Austin, in order to raise money for the costly adoption process. Jessica agreed and the first Noonday Collection trunk show was born!
At Noonday Collection, we believe every child belongs in a family. While the owner is no longer raising money for their Rwandan adoption (though they think more adoptions will come), the vision remains the same. We advocate for the orphan by: 
  • Providing jobs that create a pathway out of poverty for women. A stable income means a family is less likely to abandon their child.
  • Help families fundraise for their own adoptions. We give10% of trunk show sales directly to the adoptive family when they host a trunk show.
  • Aside from donating 10% towards qualified adoptive families, Noonday Collection Foundation gives net proceeds towards orphan care and prevention. Watch the video to see one of our main beneficiaries.
  • The dream: Take YOU on a trip to visit artisans and visit orphans in their distress.
Noonday is an organization that makes really pretty jewelry and accessories and are JUST my style :

Unadulterated Shopping:

I am still a shopaholic and find myself drawn back to the same, purely for profit stores. BUT, I am proud of myself for keeping in my (very tight) budget for the summer and enjoying trying clothes on without purchasing them! Also, I have saved half of the money I need to go to France!! :) Anyways, here are some clothes I have stumbled across while shopping in the past month!

I really love this dress, but I did not buy it.

I thought this was really fun, but it also didn't make the cut.

This is what I purchased! It's a strapless cotton jersey pantsuit I found for only $12! I wore this to the he(ART) for Haiti benefit.

Every girl needs a fun swimsuit for summer! 

over and out.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

HE(ART) for Haiti- an art benefit

Okay, it's time to give FULL details on my small group's art benefit this weekend.

When: 7:00- 9:00 P.M. on Saturday, June 4, 2011.


Dominican Joe's Coffee Shop
will be donating 20% of proceeds from the benefit

Once upon a time (current day) there were Dominican and Haitian families living in poverty in the Dominican Republic, whose children had little or no access to a good education. At the same time, on the same island, there were coffee farmers growing one heck of a good coffee bean but not getting paid enough to support their families. Enter Makarios - a non-profit dedicated to helping pull families out of poverty by providing their kids with a quality education - and an idea that would help support the school and the community of farmers. What if we bought this high grade coffee (now certified by the Rainforest Alliance) directly from the farmers using fair trade practices, imported it to the US, and sold it here in order to raise money for the school? Brilliant!  

With this idea in mind, Dominican Joe Coffee Shop was birthed in Austin, Texas and Café Makarios coffee (under the Dominican Joe label) made its way into the hearts and homes of caring people all over America who want to help make a difference. It really is possible to change the world by drinking coffee! 

The Dominican Joe concept was born in early 2005, as a partnership between
Mehul Patel (local entrepreneur) and Sharla Megilligan (founder of Makarios).
Our goal was simply to make a difference in the world. The question we faced:
could we provide Austin with a high quality coffee shop in a way that made an
impact in the world through our coffee partnership? The vision took shape in early 2006, and on 
September 19th, after about 18 crazy months, we opened our doors in the heart of Austin at the corner 

of South Congress and Riverside Drive. Yay us! We breathed a sigh of relief and celebrated and then 

realized that was the easy part...

Artists: (The art shown will not be at the show, simply examples of the artist's work)

We will have artists from our small group:
Maree Haney

Taelor Russell (me)
Although I am a free lance photographer, my pieces at the benefit will be paintings!

Bethany & Levi Hanusch

Taylor Strauss

And artists from all spectrums of the art community:

Kirk Gentzel

Kate Stafford

Samantha McCrary

Amy Melsa

Sarah Brown

Daniel Davis

David Schwab

Tyler Northcutt

Ty Clark (SAMO4PREZ)

Scott Wade


nakedFOLK Collective

nakedFOLK is an artist collective designed to help songs from local songwriters find a home in the hearts of the Austin community. On any given night you will see performances by 2 or 3 of the collective. The nakedFOLK house band consists of a rhythm section, but is sometimes combined with mandolin, accordion, violin, organ, harmonica, trumpet, or sax. nakedFOLK was created to highlight the songwriting of each artist, so the venues we choose lend themselves to quiet conversation and a deep listening experience. If you like to hear the lyrics, and appreciate honesty, courage, and quality music, you need to come hear nakedFOLK.

There are so many orphans in Haiti, and the world is doing a pretty good job building and facilitating orphanages. One of the major problems happens whenever the orphans get to be too old to be taken care of. It is extremely difficult and sometimes impossible for these kids (around my age) to find homes and jobs to support them. Many of them turn to human trafficking either out of deception or out of desperation. Once caught in human trafficking, it is unfortunately a life of misery that is nearly impossible to escape. Sex trafficking is by far the most prominent and extreme form of trafficking where young women and children are bought and sold for sex. Often, they are drugged, beaten, or both into submission and obedience. Millions of these women and children die from AIDs each year, countless are severely injured through sex and torture, and all are extremely emotionally scarred.

My small group and I were presented with the opportunity to raise money to build a house in Haiti to provide shelter for three individuals at risk of being trapped in human trafficking. The organization we are partnering with, HELP (Help End Local Poverty) want to see a community build up around these aged out orphans. They will get a home and a "house mom" for a mere $5,500. They will have the opportunity to be sponsored until they secure a job, and will be offered jobs as the opportunities arise.

When we learned of the cause and how unbelievably inexpensive it would be to provide a home for three aged-out orphans, we said absolutely! This benefit is our first major fundraiser to fund this home. The cool thing about our benefit is that all of our artists, musicians, and our venue are passionate about social justice. But, the COOLEST thing is that although coming to the benefit, enjoying the music, having some coffee, and/or leaving with a piece of art would be awesome in and of itself, you will leave knowing that EVERY SINGLE CENT you put towards the benefit from 20% of your coffee, to donations, to raffle tickets, to buying art will go directly into building one house. The money we are raising will not go to a general fund, but will go specifically to one house that once built can be found on Google Maps. Therefore, if you purchase a painting for the amount that the door on the house would cost, then you will be funding the door!

Anyways, we hope that you come out to the benefit, bring a friend, drink some coffee, enjoy some music, look at some art, mingle with our participating artists and supporters, and help us build a house!

Some Links:

Restore Communities
Help End Local Povery (HELP)
HE(ART) for Haiti
Dominican Joe's Coffee Shop

over and out.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Yoga Yoga Yoga

So, I finally got around to finding a physical activity that I enjoy and will be motivated to continue. I actually have done yoga before and knew that I liked it. The problem was that I could never find a place that I could afford and that was in a could location with a convenient schedule. This was until I found Black Swan Yoga. Now, I know the name sounds scary, but the yoga studio came before the movie! Anyways, they are a yoga studio instead of a gym that offers yoga classes. This is great because instead of working my schedule around when classes are offered, I can take a class around my schedule, since they have classes all day long every day. Another great thing about this place is that it is a donation based studio. They suggest $10-$15 if you can afford it, but understand some people can't and ask only for what you can give. I have been giving about $5 per class on average and that is perfect! The location of the studio is on 5th street by Whole Foods, which is really close to where I work on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. It takes me no time to get there after work, and by the time I am done with the class, 5 o'clock traffic is gone! AND if I want, I can walk over to Whole Foods afterwards and grab a salad.


So far I have taken two classes, Vinyasa (Vinyasa means “to flow” and also “to link postures together”. In this class, you’ll do both as you breathe, and move in a conscious dance from pose to pose. Longer holds are added to build endurance and deep stretches keep you flexible and strong.) and Hatha+ (Hatha yoga plus a little more at the end. A little yin yoga, holding stretches for longer periods of time. Perfect balance to the yang part of class.) Both of these kicked my butt! You really do stretch muscles you normally never stretch and tense muscles you normally never tense. Yoga is such a disciplined practice, which I love, but it takes a ton of concentration and control over your whole body. By the end of the class, you feel like you had a full body massage... until the next day when you are super sore! But I know the difficulties will pass as I go to more and more classes. Overall, I am SO excited!

Next week my yoga schedule is:

Monday: Sweaty Yoga (Mix of Hatha Yoga and Vinyasa Yoga in a heated room. Enjoy the music, breathing, and have a great time.)
Tuesday: Sweaty Yoga
Wednesday: Vinyasa
Friday: Power Yoga (This is a class for the vinyasa student looking to get their sweat on.)

 Tonight is date night with a nice meal at The Grille at Rough Hollow and then an evening showing of The Hangover 2!

over and out.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Real Beauty

I want to talk about beauty for a little bit, and I want to be totally transparent and honest as I do so. I have struggled my whole life with seeing myself as something beautiful that God created and truly worthy of the word "beautiful". I have gone from eating my insecurities, to starving myself in the name of eliminating the insecurity. I've had people criticize me for not being thin enough, and many many people criticize me for being too thin. I've had mild to moderate acne my whole life, never enough to take drastic measures, but enough to not remember a single day when I was zit free. I've been a health freak vegetarian that works out, to a lazy, eat whatever is cheapest kind of girl. I also have a really bad habit of chopping every last inch of my hair off, which definitely has not aided me in my desire to feel feminine and pretty. And although I have put myself through all this for most of my life, it breaks my heart every time I see another absolutely beautiful girl treating herself as if she isn't inherently beautiful, as if she has a million and one things to prove until she deserves "beautiful".

What do you think makes someone beautiful?

At the risk of sounding totally cliche, I think beauty is a heart issue. Loving yourself is beauty. When you love yourself, you love others better. When you love yourself, you can love others simply to love them, instead of loving them so you can get some love back. When you love yourself, you want to treat your body well by eating healthy (both food and the amount of food) and being active. When you love yourself, you want to treat your skin well, keeping it clean and well moisturized. Beauty doesn't come in the form of makeup, hair colors and styles, the size and shape of your clothes, and definitely not in a lack of clothes. Because none of those things are showcasing you as the beautiful person that you are. When you love yourself, you want to do things that make you happy, which leads you to being passionate about something, which makes you beautiful. Your passions are outlets to utilize the characteristics that are beautiful about you. Loving yourself gives you absolutely no excuse to be mean to others. Loving yourself motivates and empowers you to help others love themselves. That is what makes someone beautiful.

When do you feel most beautiful?
I feel the most beautiful whenever I am doing something I am passionate about. Be it painting, doing photography, reading or really enjoying my education, or simply living missionally for God. Whenever I am doing something that I love, that I can accomplish to the best of my ability, with my whole heart, I see the purpose God has for my life. I see the reasons why He created me, and that makes me feel like the beautiful hands of God that I am. That we all are.

How do you deal with the pressure for body perfection in our culture?
This is something I have struggled with a lot. As I discussed earlier, I went from being slightly bigger than other girls my age at the beginning of highschool, to being way too much smaller than other girls my age, to finding my healthy weight and struggling to be happy with that. I also find myself trying to use clothes, makeup, and my hair to feel beautiful and that simply doesn't work. Cute clothes are only fun to wear whenever I am comfortable with my body. Makeup is only fun and expressive whenever I am comfortable in my skin (otherwise it just feels like something I am hiding behind instead of shining through), and new hairstyles aren't a fun change whenever you aren't confident in yourself. Seeking perfection only makes you miserable and leaves you feeling inadequate. Loving yourself for who you are makes you feel beyond worthy of "beautiful".

If you could give your younger self advice about beauty, what would it be?
Stop caring what everyone else thinks; stop seeking acceptance from everyone else; treat yourself with all the respect, care, and love that everyone deserves..even you. Don't seek happiness by pleasing others; make yourself truly happy by doing the things you are passionate about.

What’s your one, can’t-live-without-it beauty product?
Hmmmm, mascara. Coats and coats of mascara.

Who is your beauty role model?
My boyfriend. Because on those days whenever I let self degradation take over and convince me that my physical flaws deem me unworthy, he holds my hands and looks into my eyes and tells me I am the most beautiful person in the world. He reminds me of the true reasons why I am beautiful.

over and out.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

All Over The Place

Okay, I am posting as a simple distraction from studying for my final final of this semester, this year, and the first half of my college undergraduate carreer. Also, on this mile marker of a day, I worked my first day at a real office, after driving downtown in eight o'clock traffic, for real 9-5 hours, with a real break room, wearing real work clothes, with real co-workers while doing real (assistant) work. Now, yes, I have been working for my Dad since January in a real office. But, as a new business starting, I mostly get to file things, answer phones, and make excel spreadsheets. I don't have co-workers there, and unless my Dad is there doing some phone calls and/or having business conversations with me than it is me, myself, and I. Also, I normally work 3/4 days and only three days a week. Next week, I will be working 40 hours a week a.k.a. FULL TIME. A couple days a week I will be assisting downtown, where I was today. The other days, I will be in my dutiful position at my dad's office. Why might I be working full time? I have three reasons. 1. Experience, 2. I need to save up some serious $$$ before flying off to France, and 3. I have really come to thoroughly enjoy the time I have got to spend with my dad while working for him.

Anyways, back to this mile marker. I woke up this morning, worked a 9-5, and earned as much as a typical living as any average American does in a day. But, then I have to come home and study Art History. Oh yeah, Taelor, you are definitely still in college and not a grown up. It made me both appreciate college and loathe it at the same time. I get much more sporatic free time in between all my classes, work, and homework. But, a real job, for the most part, gives you a guaranteed 5 p.m.- 9 a.m. break every day with a guarenteed two day weekend once a week. Stability is the first word that comes to mind, but then comes repetitiveness. I am not sure if I am ready for that yet. Good thing I still have two more years of undergraduate and three (+) years of law school...

I am trying to pull a life-transforming lesson out of this, but I am too distracted right now. Time to study.

over and out.

Monday, May 9, 2011

random inspiration

Okay, so the post before last was all about the art benefit that my college small group is throwing on June 4. (Email me if you are interested in coming and I'll send you an invite with all the details) Anyways, as I was trying to go to sleep last night, the inspiration for my pieces that I will be painting just popped in my head. Then I proceeded to get more and more excited and had an even harder time falling asleep. I just have the concept in my head and did a few test sketches, but I am pretty solid on what I am doing. I don't want to give too much away, but it definitely involves some techniques I have never tried before, so hopefully I can pull off what I have imagined in my head. I haven't pinpointed what I want to use as my subjects, nor have I decided a color scheme. I am leaning towards things objects that can be black and white yet still have plenty of detail. I will be using photographs, wheat pasting, and acrylic paint on canvas. Right now I think I am leaning towards bicycles for one and an elephant for the other, but musical instruments would work well too. Maybe a bird... I don't know. This post is kind of lacking a solid point, but whatever :)

I'll be posting more information on the benefit soon!

over and out.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Dream Job.

If I could drop out of college and be a full time photographer, I wouldn't. I would finish school, BUT then I definitely would be a full time photographer. I would also totally love doing professional makeup, but that's a whole other year or two of school, which costs money. To be a full time photographer, all I need is a newer, more professional camera (mine is four years old), and one or two nice portrait lenses. That should only set me back about... $3000- $4000, not including updated photoshop (I have the original Lightroom). So, I definitely don't see that happening anytime soon. But, as a free-lance part-time photographer, I am pretty content. Here's a couple pictures from my Senior Portrait Session today...

It certainly helps that Catherine is beautiful...

over and out.

Friday, April 29, 2011


This blog is going to be long, so bear (bare?) with me. Also, I am nearly shaking with excitement as I type this and I might be all over the place.

First, let's go back to my junior year of highschool. I had just spent a couple weeks of my summer at debate camp. The topic that year was about how to increase public health assistance to Africa. My partner and I's topic was on female genital mutilation, which was one of the horrific things I studied day after day and debated over weekend after weekend. Others included things such as black market abortions, child soldiers, and sex trafficking. I found my heart absolutely breaking as I learned more, and I found myself desperate to do something. I tried to attempt a massive event on my own, and unfortunately when I hit some obstacles, my 16 year old idealistic self was left defeated. The summer between my junior and senior year, I found myself specifically attached to sex trafficking. I read books, did research, and realized that God had put this pain on my heart for all the victims trapped in the underground world of brothels and forced prostitution. My heart aches for justice for these women, and that desire lead me to pursue pre-law so that one day I can really make a difference through international law. I have been in college now for two years, for a total of about 20 different classes, in which almost every single one of my research papers and presentations have been over something to do with sex trafficking. I am in no sense an expert, but I know enough after four years of research to break my heart every single day.

Let's go back even further to whenever I was little. I adored painting, drawing, sewing, sculpting, and making jewelry with my grandmother. At the time it was just something fun to do, but little did I know that it sparked a passion for art in my heart. My mom gave me an old polaroid camera when I was little and I would go take pictures of my friends, simply because I was in awe of the process of instantly printing images. I was by no means creative with my child photography, but it's still something I can look back on now and see how I ended up where I am today. I took art all through highschool and was so very close to going to college for art and photography. My senior year, I learned just how much I love painting and really developed. I wasn't outstanding or anything, but I grew a lot as an artist that year. Unfortunately, once college started, I simply did not keep up my creative outlets. The only thing I continue to do is photography, if only because it's not as time consuming as painting or drawing. I want art back in my life!

Okay, back to the present. I am part of an incredible small group for college students and young 20-somethings that is affiliated with an incredible church in south Austin. I am nothing less than incredibly blessed. Our small group is uniquely talented, filled with artists, photographers, musicians..all who have a huge heart for Jesus. Our church has a partnership with an organization in Haiti called HELP or Help End Local Poverty. Our church as a collective helped to build an orphanage and sponsor every single child in that orphanage. And that's awesome and incredible, but God's work isn't finished. There's the issue of older children that grow out of the orphanage being at a huge risk of being sucked into the human trafficking monster. So, what we are now doing is helping to build homes for these at-risk youth, sponsering them until they can get jobs, and even providing some jobs in the process. Each home will hold three people and a "house mom" and the best part about it is how affordable it is! One home only costs $5,500. That's a tiny $1,800 to save one child from being bought and used and tortured for who knows how long.

Well, our small group of around 12 twenty-somethings have made the commitment to build one of these homes. After the home is built, we will be able to see the house on google maps, visit the youth who live there, and develop relationships with them over time.

The first thing, we as a small group have decided to do to raise the money is by organizing a benefit. We are having a silent auction at Domincan Joe's on June 4 that will showcase awesome artists, including art from the artists in our small group. Every single penny spent will go towards the house. We will have a band there, organized by the worship leader of our church. We will (hopefully) have the director of HELP, all the way from Haiti, there to talk a little bit. Domincan Joe's offered to donate a percentage of the proceeds from the night. Wow, I am so blown away by how this is all coming together and how generous everyone has been helping out a group of young kids. God really is great, and will help you when you do His work!

I am not positive on all of the artists that will be featured there just yet, but I do know one who has been EXTREMELY generous and great with giving us not only priceless advice, but is donating a couple of his own pieces that are truly collectibles. I also know that from my small group, Bethany and Levi, Marie, Taylor, and myself will be donating two pieces each. But I am sure you guys would like to hear more about Ty Clark.

I totally encourage you guys to go look him up and learn more, but I will give you a short synopsis. He currently is the founder of Veritas, an apparel brand worn by Ed Westwick (Chuck of Gossip Girl) in the December issue of Cosmo, Sophia Bush, and other celebrities. Here's their project statement and some of their apparel that I personally like!
The Veritas Project is created to support humanitarian efforts across the globe. At the heart of Veritas is a deep burning passion for culture and community. We believe that in every form of art there is healing for the soul. Veritas gives 20% of our profit to support a number of humanitarian causes.


Ty is also an outstanding artist that I would love to have a collection of his pieces. I am not going to try to explain them, because I surely would do his work a great injustice. To find more of his work, look him up under his artist name "SAMO4PREZ" Take a look..
and my personal fav...

I am beyond honored and excited to have my own work displayed in the same benefit as his. Wow...

Anyways, that is just ONE of the artists donating pieces to be auctioned off for the home in Haiti. I'll do another post whenever I have a solid list of all the artists.

I am going to be totally transparent right now and let you guys know how special this is for me personally. I started crying whenever I talked to Ethan about this, but this cause, this specific benefit.. it really is everything that I am passionate about wrapped up into one cause. God, Justice, Service, Community, Art. He absolutely will use you and your specific gifts to honor His Kingdom if you put your whole heart into it. Even if you put your half heart into it, He'll spot you the other half. I have spent the last two years of my life going back and forth wondering if I made the right decision to not pursue art, but I realize that I was wondering the wrong thing. I should have been praying, asking God to show me how to use all of my passions as a tool for His Glory. 

Now I just need to finish finals and start my pieces... (and do my part of the organization of the benefit!)

Ephesians 2:10

 "For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."
1 Corinthians 15:58
"So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless."
Romans 12:2
"Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect."

over and out.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Beyond Excitement.

Okay, I am beyond excited, but I am also beyond exhausted so my awesome news is going to have to wait :)

I will give you guys a hint though.... it involves art, music, coffee, and eliminating sex trafficking in Haiti.

I'll be posting details tomorrow :)

over and out.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Plan: Packing Smart

Okay, so I am a little addicting to shopping, but other than a few things from Forever 21 the other day, I have not shopped at all since I started saving for France. I almost feel silly shopping now, since I don't really need any more summer clothes, and I need to pack very deliberately for France. Instead of shopping, I decided I would kind of come up with a tentative To Pack list of all the things I think I will need when I go to France. This list has rules though. They must be already owned, inexpensive, or absolutely necessary for the trip. They must not take up too much space in luggage. They must be versatile. And, I must be able to ride my bike or walk long distances while wearing it. The last rule isn't necessarily a rule, but something to definitely keep in mind. French people dress up way more than people in the U.S., therefore the clothes I take need to look nice and like I spent time putting together an outfit. I put together a grouping of clothing basics that should end up being what I pack. I used Zara and H&M (inexpensive trendy clothing stores available both in the U.S. and Angers) as my sources.

Not pictured: Some basic white, black, brown, gray, and navy shirts and cardigans. Also, multiple pairs of black, dark gray, and white tights and socks. Also, obviously undergarments and PJs.

Dresses/ Jumpsuits:

Dresses and jumpsuits are going to be my best friend both in packing and picking out outfits in general. You get an entire outfit in one garment which takes up way less room in a suitcase than a multiple pieced outfit. I already have quite a few dresses, but I'll probably use some of my pre-departure shopping fund to get a couple more. These will be great on days when I am sick of wearing basics and want to feel a little more dressed up.

I basically live in jeans, but unfortunately they are the most bulky of all every day clothing items. Realistically, I should only need one good, simple, dark pair of jeans to get me through the semester. I think that having a non-jeans pair of pants are essential. Especially a pair that are a little more comfortable than skinny jeans. The last thing are black leggings. The perfect alternative to sweat pants and nike shorts, these will get me through the "I want to wear my pajamas to class" days. These three basic bottoms will match all of my neutral tops and cardigans.

The weather in Angers is going to be quite different than here in Austin. It will be pretty in the fall, good for dresses and cardigans. But, as winter approaches, it will get chillier faster and stay colder consistently. A nice basic coat is definitely an essential. Also, apparently it can get pretty rainy in Angers, and since our means of travel will be walking, biking, and waiting for buses, a good raincoat with a hood is needed. Unfortunately, this is something else I will need prior to going (or something I should buy there). The coats I have now are all cheap and not sufficient for consistently cold weather. I also do not own a single raincoat.

I have way too many shoes and as a result, I rarely wear them all. The shoes I tend to wear over and over are my brown sandals, black flats (great with the tights and leggings), and my brown leather boots. I will need a good pair of rain boots as well as a simple, everyday winter shoe. (The white lace ups) And, no, I don't think I will be bringing any heels. I do not wear them regularly enough now to justify the space they would take up in my luggage, and if I find myself really needing a pair, I am sure I can find an inexpensive option in Angers for the occasion.

 I also have quite a few bags, but to be honest, I only use two on a regular basis. A small brown over the shoulder purse and a larger carry-all type bag. The small one holds all things important, wallet, keys, etc.. and the larger one can carry my school books, my groceries, etc..


 These are the things that are usually the least expensive and take up the least amount of room in a bag. They also happen to be the things that make an outfit fashionable. Something as simple as a pretty scarf or a cool belt layered over basics adds another dimension to an otherwise flat ensemble. To relieve my fashion itch without breaking the bank while I am in France, I'll probably allow myself to purchase these types of items, providing some French trends to my wardrobe. Also, jewelry is something I think of as unessential to a great outfit, but also something I could find while traveling for good prices.

All in all, this adds up to being about 30-40 pieces. This isn't bad at all for a four month trip and can easily be packed in a large suitcase a long with a blow dryer, straightening iron, and curling iron. I am currently planning on buying all my toiletries locally, especially since Lush in Europe is even less expensive than in America (even after converting from euros to dollars). 

over and out.