Tuesday, December 31, 2013


I'll never forget 2013. One year ago, I was still working for a Congressman, was significantly less acquainted with Paris and my writing abilities, was without any dreams of Kilimanjaro or Africa, and not very happy about life in general.

It has been quite a ride, but I'm ready to put this year in the books. It's amazing what life throws at you, and I'm ready for whatever ringers I'll be put through in 2014. Here are a few of my (hopefully) attainable resolutions for the new year:

1. Summit Kilimanjaro.

2. Not die on Kilimanjaro (equally as important as number 1).

3. Spend more time journaling and dedicate more time to writing. I've let it fall by the wayside these past few months, and I'm not happy about it. 

4. Keep up the exercise routine I learned while training for Kili. 

5. Figure out what career path I want to take next. Or at least narrow it down to an industry.

6. Appreciate how amazing life is, even though I am perpetually uncertain of what my future will be. 

I still feel like somewhat of a wanderer during this mid-twenties sabbatical. But while I'm unsure of many things, I learned so much about myself this year. I guess you could say I'm continuing to "find myself," but I've never really liked that phrase. It implies that at some point you are finished exploring and growing, and I don't believe we ever are. It's all about the journey, and mine is just beginning.

Have a Happy New Year!!!!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Thrill of Hope

My favorite view. And Santa came!

I always love Christmas. If you couldn't tell that from my recent (first!) published article, I'm happy to reiterate. The music, the movies, the fire, the tree, the food, the family...all come together to make my favorite holiday. This year, we traveled to South Lake to be with my mom's family last weekend, and were back in time for a Taliaferro Christmas on Wednesday morning.

My favorite gift was definitely my Anthropologie house shoes, which I pretty much haven't taken off since yesterday morning. My other favorite gift was being able to sit around the fireplace with my parents and my brothers and talk and laugh and drink white cranberry mimosas (white cranberry juice, Prosecco and frozen cranberries!)

Christmas Eve shenans.

While presents and christmas carols flow throughout the season, I try my best to remember the reason for the season, and give thanks for Jesus' birth and his coming to Earth. My faith has been tested this year in many ways, but I continuously hold on to it, gathering strength from it when I'm at my weakest. For that I'm grateful.

Now I'm off to run three miles with my brother as I pick up my training for Kilimanjaro. Stay tuned the next couple of weeks for my updates on buying gear, training, planning my 2-day layover in London, training, and more training.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, and have a Happy New Year!!

Friday, December 13, 2013

...and then I decided to climb my first mountain.

I was five years old when I first heard of Mount Kilimanjaro. My dad climbed it when he and my mom went to East Africa to visit my grandparents, who were missionaries at the time. Ever since then, it has always been a distant idea, almost a figment of my imagination. It was a place so far away from my life that even if I thought of the tallest peak on the continent, it seemed more like a dream than a real place.

Then, a few weeks ago, I heard from a family friend that some women were going to climb Kilimanjaro to celebrate one of their birthdays in late February 2014. I was so inexplicably excited about it that she asked me if I wanted to join them.

And I did. I really, really did.

Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is something I am now desperate to do, for reasons not entirely known to me. Much planning and training is involved, but everything I read says that it is a life-changing experience. So I am going to climb Kili with only a couple months left to train, no previous knowledge of mountain climbing, almost no experience with altitude (Abilene is only at 1700 ft.), and a pretty nasty (delicious) wine habit.

I am so excited to see how I fare as I trek toward the roof of Africa. Every struggle between now and then will be worth it, and every exercise will make me stronger for arguably the hardest thing I've ever done, mentally and physically. When I'm standing on top of that glorious mountain, holding a Texas flag that my dad is definitely going to want me to carry, those worries and work outs will be things of the past.

I can't wait to share my preparations for the trip and then the climb itself. So much of this thing called "life" is better when it's shared, and to be honest, I'm going to need some support during this next little bit as I reach for that summit. I hope you'll stay tuned, this could get interesting..

Friday, December 6, 2013

Moral of the Story: Snow Day Edition

Today is a snow day in Abilene. Most everyone is inside (except those who enjoy sledding behind a 4WD car on the white, icy roads) and the only place I plan to go is to the grocery store to get items for baking a pie or cookies or something. Even that errand is a maybe. Perhaps I'll be productive later in the day, but for now, I'm going to share some things I've learned in the past few weeks.

1. Don't judge a TV show by its, err, synopsis? I've been watching Call the Midwife with my roommate, and I'm pretty sure it's my new favorite British drama. (Haahhahah, jk jk, Downton Abbey is on January 5th and I've missed everyone so much and I wish I could hug Mary and Branson and make everything right in their world, and also pet Isis, also sorry, this was not meant to be about Downton!) It follows a group of midwives in the East End of London in the 1950s, and each show is more dramatic than the last. If you can get past all the birthing scenes, it's really pretty entertaining, with love interests and drama that could rival the most intense Grey's Anatomy episodes. Even the nuns they live and work with have some spicy plot lines now and then. Since I always love a good medical drama, Call the Midwife is just my cup of tea.

2. I wish candles would last forever. I bought an Illume candle at the store where I work the other week (Surprises on S. 14th, if you feel so inclined to drop by), and it's already almost halfway gone! It's a fantastic pumpkin scent that makes my room smell like fall. I guess I'll just have to move on and buy a Christmas candle...

3. Mindy Kaling is still one of my favorite people on TV. And I really hope this is the title of an episode of the Mindy Project coming soon, because it may actually be the best title ever.

4. I have an exciting trip coming up that I'll talk about--probably at ad nauseam--soon, but it requires a stay-over in London. The moral here is that I miss that enchanting city and the semester I spent there in 2009. If you can afford to go, both financially and in terms of your graduation timeline, going abroad is the best thing you can do when you're in college, and I recommend it to everyone. Not only do you learn about another culture, but you realize how much bigger the world is than the town you grew up in, or your college campus, or even your state. You live and bond with people whom you would have never met otherwise, and forge lifelong friendships and relationships that may be the most meaningful of your life. For me, I discovered a lot about myself in a small flat in Islington, and on chilled walks through Hyde Park, and in jaunts through Borough Market under London Bridge. Places I had never even heard of before were my temporary home, and "out of my comfort zone" was no longer scary.

I once read that travel is the only thing you spend money on that makes you richer, and I couldn't agree more.

Those clouds. 

Have a warm, wonderful weekend!!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thanksgiving Happenings

Cranberry Old Fashioned I made before Thanksgiving dinner. It was delicious but so, so strong.

My Thanksgiving was filled with love, laughter and, well, lots of wine. Seriously though, it was a drinking marathon and I'm exhausted. Not as young as I once was, I suppose. The only sad thing was that on Thanksgiving morning, we had to put my dog, Suzie, down. It was sad and I shed a tear or two, but I was trying to be thankful for her 17 years, and remember the early days when she wasn't quite so blind and deaf and running into walls.

On the upside, I spent the long weekend with friends and family that came in from all over, and I caught up with so many people that I love.

Bonus: Leftovers.

Mmmmmm. Rolls.

Beautiful table.

My brother giving us a concert.

A stop at Bill's Burgers on Saturday because we apparently hadn't had enough to eat.

Cotillion with the fam. It was so fun this year!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!! Now on to the most wonderful time of the year!

PS. Bye bye, Tussy.