Ladies, You Need to Follow Your Arrow

Ladies, You Need to Follow Your Arrow

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Have you ever had a moment in your life when you realize, I mean deeply and terrifyingly realize, that you’ve gone way off track?  You knew who you were at one point in your life, but the person inhabiting your body now is foreign to you.  Mama always said to not talk to strangers and yet, somehow, you’re that stranger.

I would look at my hands and think, “Yes, these are Taylor’s hands.”  I would hear myself speak and think, “Yes, this is Taylor’s voice.”  But I examined the life I was living and thought, “Who the hell is this woman?”

This important, yet freaky realization typically comes at rock bottom.  The end of your rope.  Fortunately, that’s the same spot where inspiration typically comes knocking.  For me, inspiration peaked its head around the corner in the form of a Facebook photo quote a couple years ago.  This exact one:

Follow Your Arrow

 

Arrow.  Focus.  Launch.  Aim.  These words resonated with me, so I latched on to them.  There was something there for me in the midst of the muck.  I was backward, and I was being dragged by difficulties.  So the thought of being launched into something great was fine by me!!

Enter Kasey Musgraves.  About the same time as my “Who Am I?” meltdown, the country singer published this tune called “Follow Your Arrow.”  It goes like this:

If you save yourself for marriage
You’re a bore
If you don’t save yourself for marriage
You’re a whore-able person
If you won’t have a drink
Then you’re a prude
But they’ll call you a drunk
As soon as you down the first one

If you can’t lose the weight
Then you’re just fat
But if you lose too much
Then you’re on crack
You’re damned if you do
And you’re damned if you don’t
So you might as well just do
Whatever you want
So

(Chorus) Make lots of noise
Kiss lots of boys
Or kiss lots of girls
If that’s something you’re into
When the straight and narrow
Gets a little too straight
Roll up a joint, or don’t
Just follow your arrow
Wherever it points

If you don’t go to church
You’ll go to hell
If you’re the first one
On the front row
You’re self-righteous
Son of a-
Can’t win for losing
You’ll just disappoint ’em
Just ’cause you can’t beat ’em
Don’t mean you should join ’em

(Chorus)

Say what you think
Love who you love
‘Cause you just get
So many trips ’round the sun
Yeah, you only
Only live once

(Chorus)
And follow your arrow
Wherever it points

The song is clever and comical, but it makes an important point.  People want lots of conflicting things from us.  We need to be good, but not too good.  Skinny, but not too skinny.  Educated, but only in the “right” fields.  When we play into that, we start pretending. Before we know it, we get to that point where we don’t even know who we are.

There is so much talk about going out and FINDING yourself.  But I think sometimes we’ve already been found.  Our natural tendencies and desires, the things that make our eyes light up and our hearts beat a little more quickly – we know those things deep down, or at least we have an inkling. Maybe it’s not only about finding the pieces of who we are; maybe we also need to drop the pieces of who we are not.  What’s left is your arrow.

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My “Arrow” came to represent the real, deep, nitty-gritty Taylor and all my dreams and plans – minus the pretending and role-playing.  Lo and behold, once I started following that arrow, I found out that my life was really interesting TO ME, and I genuinely loved it.

It is THIS concept that has urged me on to create The Interesting Project.  I’m getting close to launching a workbook that helps young women (18-30ish) follow their own arrows by pursuing interesting lives that THEY love. As part of this project, I will also offer free goodies, some blog posts, and newsletters to aid in the process.

I know what it’s like to forget about your arrow. I know what it’s like to be pulled backward from life’s difficulties. But I also know what it’s like when you follow that arrow and really start pursuing an interesting life you love. THAT is what I want for my fellow ladies.

If you are a young woman wanting to move from thinking about your dreams into LIVING your dreams, The Interesting Project will be for you.  Please subscribe to my new newsletter right here, and you will be updated as soon as The Interesting Project Workbook and all the other cool stuff is available.

Remember, my friends, your arrow is there. Follow it wherever it points!

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My Church Is Love, Not a Building.

My Church Is Love, Not a Building

I’ve read many articles trying to explain the mass exodus of Millennials (aged 15-35 roughly) from churches. Many of these articles accuse certain churchy behaviors like trying to be too hip with flashing lights and a coffee bar.  Others say churches aren’t hip enough.  Most point out that Millennials are tired of churches that are wrapped up in politics while ignoring social justice.

Long story short: there are lots of ideas and people obviously want to get to the bottom of it. Instead of looking to statistics, I’m simply going to share my story. I’m a Millennial, and I didn’t breakup with God, I consider myself to be healthier spiritually than ever before, and…

I don’t go to church.

Trust me, I did! It’s not like I dipped my toe in the water and decided it wasn’t my thing. I was the Michael Phelps of church waters.

In fact, I have a problem with that sentence: I don’t go to church. (What can I say, I’m an English major and like to talk about verbs!) I don’t go to church. As if church were a place to go!

When you read the Old Testament, you’ll find that church looked more like a hippie commune than it did a large building with stained-glass windows or a hip auditorium with strobe lights. Church was a gathering of people, connected by love. They lived together and helped each other. I know – how very Liberal!

Somehow church morphed into somewhere we GO.   Then it morphed into this idea that if you don’t go, you’re ungodly. People created the modern-day concept church (with 20 minutes of worship on a stage, announcements about potlucks, a video, a special song, and a 30 minute message) and then they suggest you displease God by not attending that concept.

If you go to a church, I think that’s great! Hear me: I’m not convincing you to stop! But if you think that church is somewhere you go instead of a way you live, you may be missing the point.

To me, church is a human connection of love, not a building. Church is a lifestyle, not a weekly activity. Church is an act of service to myself, to nature, and to others, not a service to attend.

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  • When I travel, I get to see people who were also made in the image of God, but look nothing like me. Isn’t that funny how that works? I realize how holy they are. Church.
  • When I go exploring I see the nature that God created.  I realize it is holy too. Church.
  • When I create, I get to be a creator like God who is the ultimate creator.   I get to partake in the grand creative forces of this universe. Church.
  • When I work out issues on my yoga mat, I get to know that God does not hide in a church sanctuary; sometimes God is hanging out by my small rectangle of rubber on a wooden floor. I learn that holiness is not confined to pews and a steeple. Church.
  • When I read, kiss my boyfriend, talk to my family and friends, or work with my hands, I realize that all the things that fill life are precious and holy too. Church.
  • When I serve living, breathing creatures.  When I forgive.  Church.

I’m not scared to go out searching for God in the unknown. I’ve tried it and found that God’s actually everywhere.

Please know, once again, that I do not think poorly of those who attend a church.  I am a close friend with many churchgoers! And I see value in it! But for me, the value of exploring and experiencing the world, creating magical art, serving others when I can, and connecting with people who are different than me (with different religious backgrounds) was, to me, more church than a 90-minute church service.

I am a Millennial, and I didn’t leave church because of lights or coffee, and as much as I hate the politics infused in modern church and would much rather see the church being busy with social justice issues – that’s not why I left either.

I left church because I think church is bigger than a building. God is bigger than a building.

Actually, God is everywhere, which means holiness is everywhere. We just have to open our eyes to see it.

“So I’ll keep my eyes, ears, and body ready for the unexpected and the unpredicted.
I don’t want to miss out on God, thinking I already knew exactly where He was.”

– from my poem “Two Decades.

My Church Is Love, Not a Building

 

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I’m Worried About Hate, Not Too Much Love

I’m Worried About Hate, Not Too Much Love

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In case you haven’t heard, on Friday the Supreme Court made it legal for everybody to get married and everyone started putting rainbows everywhere because rainbows are awesome and gay people are awesome and you’re awesome and I’m awesome and life is awesome and love is awesome…

In the midst of all this awesome, there were those who really didn’t think it was awesome. Actually they thought it was dangerous. As in, the world is now going to end because Rick and Larry are getting married. Because apparently those who believe being gay is a sin have never seen anybody who sins get married beforeI was a little irritated about all this. Which was sad because there was so much awesome going on…

And now I’m going to tell you a story.  It’s relevant, so keep tracking:

My boyfriend and I went to breakfast Saturday morning. A woman sat down next to us with two young boys around 6 and 9. The older one touched the younger one; the younger one tattled. Total brothers. Instead of scolding the oldest or telling the youngest to not tattle or any other typical parenting tactic, the mother chose to say these things to her son:

“I should never take you out in public.”

“I should have left you alone with the animals.”

“All those problems you’re having with kids in school – it’s you, not them. You’re the problem.”

“You’re stupid.”

“You’re a disgrace to the family.”

“You’re a fucking piece of shit.”

From a mother to a young son. In public. Imagine private life! Long story short, I freaked out on this woman and tried my best to remind her son that he was not a piece of shit. It was a terrible thing.

But I realized something important. There is so much hate in this world.  So many terrible, horrible people spew hate on other people. Verbal, physical, emotional, sexual hate. It’s overwhelming and exhausting to start comprehending even a portion of the hate in this world. Human beings kill, rape, and abuse each other. Everyday.

In a world with so much hate, I don’t understand the people who are upset about too much love. I wrote a song a couple years back with the lyrics: “They think love is sometimes evil and hate’s sometimes ok. If that’s the truth than up is down, there’s got to be another way.” There are mothers in this world who call their children “fucking pieces of shit” and yet two women getting married is going to ruin America?!? There are gunmen who blow up churches, but this country’s downfall is two men loving each other?? I’m not buying that.

Now, suddenly, social media, the blogosphere and human beings seem to be sharing the message that it’s all gone to hell.  It wasn’t a white male who murdered black church-goers in Charleston. It’s gay people getting married that apparently stirs the wrath of God.  I’d be a hurt and mad if I went on social media and saw that Christians (who are totally allowed to believe that homosexuality is sinful) claim that MY “sin” was God-angering, but mentioned NOTHING about THEIR sin or about the truly terrible things that happen everyday.

I’m too busy being concerned about the horrendous atrocities human beings do to one another to buy into the fear that God is less concerned about the acts of hate in this world and more concerned about Pam and Jane loving one another. If the BIGGEST problem in this world is two people loving each other too much, life must be pretty damn wonderful.  But that’s not the case, is it?  Our priorities are way off base if we think God is now too offended, or if you think God deals with all your crap, but now the gays are getting married and He’s reached his tolerance level!!  That’s fear and insecurity talking.  Not love.

Remember that little boy at breakfast?  What if all the energy being spent frustrated with gay marriage went in to helping him?  What if we were more focused on ridding the world of hate than policing love?  I’m gonna worry about the hate, and embrace the love.  Rainbows all the way.  Gay marriage is now, simply, “marriage.”  And love won.  Because LOVE ALWAYS WINS.  And there is never, ever, ever too much love.

Featured Image via Flickr

You’ll Find Me Unstitching the Religion

You’ll Find Me Unstitching the Religion

unstitching_religion

I was listening to Rob Bell’s podcast yesterday. In his latest episode, Rob interviewed my patron saint Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the wildly popular memoir Eat Pray Love and other great books. Rob Bell and Liz Gilbert – it was as if they made the podcast thinking, “Oprah AND Taylor DuVall love us. We might as well join forces.” Listen to it – these two brilliant minds discuss creativity and every word is gold.

In a small side discussion, Elizabeth and Rob took a religion pit stop. Elizabeth mentioned being happy that she “didn’t have anything to undo” in the realm of religion.  Her religious upbringing was not oppressive or fundamentalist in any way. “I hadn’t been fed toxic religion so that I had something to detox from.”

So when she went on her spiritual journey (documented in Eat Pray Love) she was, as Rob put it, “exploring, not just running from something that didn’t work.” She mentioned that she didn’t know how fortunate she was until friend told her: “You’re so lucky that you didn’t have anything that you had to unstitch before you could begin your search.”

In many ways I have related to Elizabeth Gilbert through her writing. She was young to marry, young to divorce, and she found herself through travel and writing and creativity. But this unstitching religion is where our stories take different paths. In a simple moment of rejoicing something good about her past, she offered me verbiage to help explain what’s happening in my present.

You’ll Find Me Unstitching the Religion

I’m unstitching. I’ve been unstitching for a while. I’ll be unstitching for a good time to come. I have things to undo.

My life was given to me as a plain piece of fabric. Everything I’ve learned or experienced made a stitch. Every stich came together to create a pattern. Because I believe that our spirituality is fully integrated with our physicality, I don’t think I have a spiritual life and a physical life. I think life is both. Always. So this piece of fabric was both physical and spiritual. And the pattern was about womanhood, creativity, heartbreak, excitement, music, writing, God, love, judgment, The Bible, church, puberty, and nail polish.

All the things.

Then I became an adult. Which happened after I became a legal adult.  I became an adult somewhere between “I don’t know what I believe” and “I know what I believe but I’m scared to admit it” and “I need to leave the church, my marriage, and life as I know it.”

I knew the person I wanted to be. I knew the type of people I wanted to be with. I knew the places I wanted to go and the things I wanted to do. Even if all of these were general ideas. But none of these things could happen with oppressive and unhealthy stitches of religious dogma that include, but by no means are limited to:

  • Self-hate, self-doubt, shame. All these messages about humans being little and God being big, explaining away every contradiction or problem with “God’s understanding is higher than our understanding,” and humans being pawns in God’s game – I mushed all that together into a big pot of “I am nothing.”   I had to take out that stitch because it isn’t true. My life is not insignificant, my brain is not incapable of high or new thought, and I see myself as a partner in what God is doing on this earth, not as a pawn.
  • Hating gays and democrats. I grew up believing that nobody could possibility be godly and liberal, and I believed that all gay people were actually straight and just trying to piss God off.  Sigh.  Forgive me.  I was holding a handful of sand yesterday and it was tan. Of course sand is tan. But it wasn’t. It was actually orange and brown and white and black and brown and light brown and clear. People are like sand. We all are humans, the same. But we’re not. We are all different and that’s something to celebrate, not something to condemn. 
  • The world is not our home. There’s this idea that the universe we live in is a big test and those who pass get the reward: Heaven, our real home. Life on earth lacks magic and luster when its sole purpose is to get us to believe in Jesus so we can get our “heaven tickets.” This planet is thrilling and spiritual and special. I’m not going to miss it while waiting for the next world. No wonder everybody is always waiting for the next big thing and missing today’s big thing. This world is my home, and I’m going to explore every inch of it.

My list goes on. I ripped out female submission quickly. The purity culture and spiritual abuse stitches followed swiftly.  The stitch that demanded all the Bible must be literal in order to be true, well, I took that one out too.  I unstitched the necessity of church attendance and then added in the necessity of looking for spiritual lessons and community in everyday life.

And I’ve kept some stitches in. Ones like: God. God is still my center stitch. But the color has changed. He looks less hard and one-sided and more like a buddy, a beloved guide who isn’t mad.  Also, I kept “love your neighbor.” I’ve just made that one bigger so it includes more people.

You’ll find me unstitching the religion to make room for life.  For how long, I don’t know. I’ll pull out a stitch only to find I’ve left a few fibers behind. It takes time. I want a life that is rich, wild, and full. I’ll keep all the good – the love, the fellowship, the service, the God, the grace. And I refuse to allow cultish, dogmatic, and exclusive stitches to reside on my life’s fabric any longer.

You’ll find me unstitching.

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(All quotes taken from Episode 21 of the RobCast which can be found here or on iTunes)

Image via Flickr

Millennial Mothering: My Struggle to be Perfect || Guest Post

Millennial Mothering: My Struggle to be Perfect || Guest Post

I love Millennials, and I love women’s issues.  I try to combine the two, but know I come up short when the discussion turns to motherhood.  That’s why I asked this amazing mother what it’s like.  Meet Ally, my sweet friend.  She told me she is “perfectly imperfect,” and I thought that only made her even more brave and amazing.  She’s hitting on a universal truth.  We aren’t perfect, and so many of us pretend to be/want to be – whether that be in motherhood or anything else.  This is truly beautiful and made me cry about 309 times. (P.S. She talks about how much she doubts herself – but I happen to think she is an INCREDIBLE mother!).  Be encouraged moms!  Be encouraged humans!  Happy Mother’s Day. – Tay xo

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I am a self- proclaimed perfectionist.
I struggle with comparison
I am a mom, a brand new mom
I write major run-on sentences.
I say “like” to much :)
I talk WAY to much
I forget to text/call people back A LOT!
And I struggle with judging myself with each of these things and so many more.

But recently, in the past 9 and a half months of being a mommy, I’ve really been examining this whole perfectionist thing. Who knows if I’m just so exhausted I don’t have the energy for it anymore, or if (and this is what I’m hoping it is) I’m just realizing that it is actually too exhausting to be perfect.
Who’s wanting/ needing me to be perfect?
My husband? Nope
My baby boy? No
My family and friends? Huh uh
God? NO
Me? Yes, wait, why?
Because I’m comparing myself to others. Plain and simple. I’m comparing myself to other mommas. Other Chrisitan women. Other 32 year olds. Etc. but again that all sounds exhausting once I write it down. That’s me wanting ME to be perfect. And I really don’t have the energy for it anymore. So, I’ve started looking at these “imperfections” and I’ve come to realize that they really aren’t that big of a deal.

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My imperfections make me… Me. They aren’t my flaws. Even though everyday my perfectionist self is ridiculously critical of those “flaws.”
I make the mistake (just like all of you I’m sure) and listen to the lies.
We try so hard to cover our blemishes. And I don’t just mean the annoying ones that pop up on our adult faces. But the blemishes that pop into our minds that cause us to bring ourselves down…
I don’t study the bible enough.
I keep the TV on way too much.
I need to lose the rest of this baby weight.
I need to cook for my husband more.
Be the housewife I’m supposed to be since I’m a “stay at home momma.”
(The list could go on for days)
I let those little lie blemishes get to me. Make me judge myself as a mom, a friend, a daughter, a wife and more importantly a Christian. But then I stop and think…
Is my little guy happy? Yes
And more importantly breathing? :) definitely yes
Does my husband know how much I love him? Yes.
Does God love me? Absolutely, without a doubt, YES!
So instead of these blemishes getting me down, I let them be reminders how how much I’m loved for my imperfect self!

And through this examination of my life, well this area of it at least, I’ve come up with a little saying.

“I am perfectly imperfect”

I look into my little boy’s eyes. See his unsurpassable love when he sees me. And know I’m doing it right. We may watch WAY to much tv. Let him play with my iPhone. Stare at the monitor while he sleeps to make sure he’s still breathing. But in spite of all of those different things, that so many people have opinions about, I know I’m doing everything right. Because he loves me and knows that I love him.

allen wedding

I made this tiny human. I prayed for him for 2 years, no correction, my whole entire life. I love him fiercely, with all my being. I never knew I could love like this. With all of me, without even trying. And because of that I know I’m doing it right. I’m mothering my son. My lovely, sweet, joyful little boy, perfectly. I may be imperfect sometimes all the time but in his eyes and more importantly in God’s eyes I am perfectly imperfect. I am a broken person and that’s just fine. Because I am loved by a loving, forgiving Father. Who loves me so much He heard my cries and prayers to be a mother. And He answered them. And more importantly He died for me. Not because I was am a perfect Christian girl, friend, daughter, wife. But because He loves me for the imperfect being I am. So I’m embracing my imperfect-ness. And living life!

Now, Please don’t read this and think “wow she’s really figured it all out, she’s got it all together”. Haha. Lies. I don’t. Believe me I still deal with these comparisons each and everyday. And I probably will for the rest of my life. I fight that perfectionist girl inside of me All. The. Time. She’s quit annoying actually! But I am learning to love my imperfections. Because God loves me in-spite of them.

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I’m learning to stop, breathe, listen to these imperfections and use them to build myself up. Because if I don’t I end up guilting and shaming myself and that’s counterproductive to what’s supposed to happen. I am human. Not God. I wasn’t designed to be perfect.

So I guess I’m not perfectly imperfect per say but instead…
I am an imperfect human loved by a absolutely perfect GOD!

IMG_3176Follow Ally’s Blog, One Little Mama Bear, HERE