Painful Endings & Small Beginnings

This time last year I felt as though my life plan had just pulled out from under me. I was confused, hurt, lonely, frustrated, and desperate for some sort of direction. I was still reeling from the shock and pain of a break-up and disappointing loss in my family. The trauma of my summer experience working with refugees was fresh in my mind, and I had just quit my job, abandoning my only source of steady income. It was as if I had just experienced an earthquake, and the ground I was standing on didn't exist anymore. 

I'm starting to wonder if your 20's are made up of a series of painful endings and small beginnings. At over halfway through, my guess is looking pretty spot on. Maybe you can relate. The death of friendships. The death of dreams. The death of future plans. The death of love. That's a lot of deaths. And a lot of closed doors. 


You've probably heard the saying "when one door closes, another opens", right? But that's probably the last thing you want to hear in the midst of a painful ending. Like a break-up, or any kind of loss, really. 

In the kitchen of a family friend last fall, I remember tears falling and nearly ugly crying as she encouraged me with the words above. Another door would open soon, she offered. And she was right, but if only it was that easy (or fast). 

I was both frustrated and comforted by her words, wondering if what she said was true. I pictured myself in a hallway, knocking on doors, waiting for one to open, or for someone to at least tell me if I was getting closer. I felt stuck. 

But that's where the good stuff happens. It's where we learn to dig deep, find ourselves and God, and grow up. I didn't know this season was on the other side, but now, looking back, I'm so grateful. I'm currently living a new dream in LA pursuing grad school and working at a creative marketing agency. Oftentimes the painful endings lead to the small beginnings we've been waiting for. And I wouldn't change it. 

My decision to quit my job last fall prompted me to start writing and freelancing, which ultimately led to the development of my first work guide, Build Bridges Not Walls. Sign up to receive this free resource and join us in creating honest conversations with people different than us. 

From Trekking the Andes to Sitting in LA Rush Hour Traffic

How did I get here? I’ve asked myself this question quite a few times since landing in LA a little over five weeks ago. Just before I was backpacking into mountain villages in Peru #livingmybestlife. 


In short, I came here to start grad school and got a job to support myself (because life is twice as expensive in SoCal than small town Texas). In many ways, I fulfilled a dream coming out here, and truly I’m grateful. But all dreams come with small moments, too. 

I’m not very good at small moments. Instead, I live for the big, grand adventure, fantasize about taking risks, and constantly have to be doing something. But most of life isn’t like that. Most days it feels small, even when fulfilling a dream. 

I was sitting in traffic a few days ago (I commute an hour both ways to work), and the still small voice started whispering again. Though I leave a little later than most commuters, I’m still making quite a trek from Pasadena all the way to South Bay in Torrance. The elevation changes and so does the temperature, and most days I drive right through downtown. Each time I pass through, I think wow, so this is what it feels like to live in LA


There are perks, to be sure, but when you haven’t moved in 20 minutes and the podcast you’ve been listening to gets old, it’s easy to lose perspective. The phrase that still voice whispered was “vantage point” and I feel as though I have been given a gift to appreciate the small moments, all of which add up to something really big. 

I’m extremely grateful I had the courage, the support system, and the means to make a big move like this. It’s opened so many things for me. And I want to stay thankful, to see from this vantage point of what a gift this truly is. Today I even thanked God for traffic - I’ve gotten to catch up with friends and family on the phone more than I anticipated, because what else do you do in a car for two hours a day? (I’m also on the hunt for all the podcasts, so HMU if you have suggestions). 

A little over a month ago I was trekking through mountain villages in the Andes mountains - hadn’t showered in days, packed everything in a backpack, and was doing what I love most. But today I’m sitting in the outside patio in front of my office building wearing heels that hurt my feet and eating the cold lunch I packed last night. I actually mourned having to become one of those meal planner people, but it’s honestly the only way to manage eating well when you are gone from 8 to 10. 

I’m sure the small moments will continue to build as my classes at Fuller begin. I imagine myself staying up well into the night writing papers and listening to audiobooks on my drive to and from work. But all of those moments make up a big, God-sized dream - and that’s significant and big and exciting. 

For the first time in a while, I feel as though I have clarity and focus and even an appreciation for small moments. Because I’m seeing from the right vantage point. And because I’m staying thankful. 

A couple days ago at Fuller’s orientation, President Mark Labberton said “smallness is the antipode to worship.” (If you’re like me and had to look up the word antipode, let me save you some time - it’s basically a fancy way to say opposite). When we worship (and stay thankful) in each moment, no matter how small, life gets bigger. And that’s the point at which I want to keep seeing.

The Wholehearted Hero: Lauren Taylor from The Letter Publication

Late last fall I got a phone call from an energetic and bubbly #bosslady asking me if I wanted to be a part of her magazine publication. I reached out via instagram for a call for writers and quickly resonated with Lauren's heart and the mission of The Letter Publication. Lauren decided to chase her dreams early on in her 20's, launched a freaking magazine, and now manages a large team and publication remotely. She both impressed and inspired me during that original phone call to say the least and I am so honored to feature her today!

1. When did you start dreaming of owning or editing a magazine? And what did it take for you to get to where you are today? Can you give us a snapshot into your life now? 

I started dreaming of owning my own magazine at the age of 15 and what's really insane is that I even wrote it down for a school project "Where We See Ourselves in Ten Years" and I had forgotten about it up until the year after I created the magazine and it was so fulfilling to see that I had this dream in my heart since I was a kid. I think it took guts and determination for where I am today. I really just went for it and many people didn't get it or felt like it wasn't going to be anything but I was so head strong about it and didn't let anything get in my way and I believe I learned so much from that and it truly taught me the life lesson of persistence and how important our dreams are. Right now if someone were to take a snapshot of my life I would probably be in my pjs, having my desk covered in letters, to do lists, boxes, and whatever else they could find but most of all they would see I was happy and being very blessed to be able to do what I love. Being able to be creative all day long is not something I take for granted. So many people are not able to just do what they love or even find out what that looks like and so I am obsessively grateful for my opportunities and what I am able to achieve everyday.

2. You strike me as a woman with a beautiful and self-assured confidence. You're not flashy; you just know who you are and what you like. How did you learn to believe in and love yourself? What did it look like for you to embrace who you were made to be and be comfortable "in your own skin"? 

Aw, you are the sweetest soul Tori, thank you! My mother for sure, she is a fire to be reckoned with and she taught me to be very strong and self -assured even if I didn't feel like it in the moment. Many things in life showed me my worth and how loving who I am as a person will only strengthen my other relationships and how I live my someday. Funny enough, my ultimate realization of embracing who I was came after two bad relationships. I think it's funny how an awful situation can turn out to be a catapult into the best things you create and found out about yourself. I now just feel like I can conquer the world and even though every day may not look like that, and I am enough. Flashy is overrated sweatpants and top knots are totally in. 

3. One of the things that most impresses me about you is the way you virtually manage and edit a publication with so many moving pieces. How do you develop and collaborate with the Letter Mag team from so many places? 

Haha, thank you and definitely trial, error, and lots humor. I always wanted a group of girlfriends like in Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants or any other Disney related movie and in essence I created that. At the time, I had no money to buy a warehouse and put people in it to call it a work place and so I reached out to friends across the world and it ended up being the best choice I could ever make because I not only gained help but surrounded by inspirational and inspiring women who ultimately ended up as some of my closest friends. My mind is literally a moving piece and is constantly going at a record breaking speed and I think that definitely helps me to develop and keep up with everything. Collaborating to me has been more of me inviting people to my heart and asking them to be apart of something bigger then all of us. 

4. How do you stay motivated to work hard in order to achieve your dreams and make space to do what you love? Is there anything you do on a daily or weekly basis to stay envisioned or connected to where you want to go? 

Dance parties are a necessity to my sanity. I am constantly dancing around in my pjs and I can't very well explain it but it just keeps me connected and motivated. Time is such a funny thing and we all need more of it but I think you can create a space for what you love and what is most important to you no matter what. 

5. What advice would you give to a young person wondering if it's time to chase their dreams or work some boring day job to pay the bills? In your opinion, what's the balance between responsibility and dreaming? 

If you are working that boring day job to pay the bills so you can achieve your dreams, then work it! If you are chasing after your dreams and struggling but it's "worth the struggle" then keep doing it. Everyone has to make their own decision of what works for them and their own balance. I don't think it's fair to anyone to only stick with day dreams. We have them for a reason and we owe it to ourselves to explore them in the best way possible. 

6. How did you meet your boyfriend and what's it like being in an interracial relationship? I watched one of your youtube videos a few weeks ago on interracial relationships and so appreciated how honest you were! You said something that really struck me - you said you used to tell yourself to "stay in your lane". How did you learn not to limit yourself and be confident that you could relate to and introduce someone of another race to your culture and family?

Another hilarious long story but to keep it short we met at a Redneck Prom. I was working for a radio station at the time and his mom actually introduced us. Being in an interracial relationship is definitely different than other relationships I have had but at the same time it wasn't. I believe it was different because there was this expectation it might be different or certain things might be awkward but we ended up being such close friends before we started dating that I think we both became so comfortable with each other and it just worked.

I believe everything happens for a reason and Eddie came into my life when I wasn't even looking and I think how I learned was just by how he treated me. He was so funny, sweet, and just really got me and I didn't feel like I had to act like anyone else besides myself and myself was enough. It opened my eyes to being confident in who I am and who I care about and love and race/culture wasn't even a question anymore. Introducing your families, was a little nerve racking because you don't want them to say the wrong thing and you want a great first impression and our families were a little hesitant at first but once we met each other's families it was like we knew each other forever and that was something that meant so much to me. 

7. Did you experience any push back from your family or friends in the context of your relationship with Eddie? If so, how did you respond and why is cultivating honesty important to you in your relationships? 

Actually, it was the opposite, we received so much attention even from people we didn't even know and it was almost like animals at the zoo and you're the one behind the glass as everyone talks and watches you. In dealing with that, we are always very open with each other and have so many late night conversations and discussions and really keep in touch with what we are both feeling and we do this thing where we say " How's your heart, hows your mind, and how is your spirit." It's our thing to check in and I think that helps so much with dealing with any animosity or anything from society. Cultivating honesty is the food for our hearts in a relationship. I believe no matter how hard the honest may be it's necessary and will only strengthen your relationships. 

8. What does living wholeheartedly mean to you? 

Waking up and living with fulfillment and purpose. I often ask people what gets you out of bed in the morning, what excites you, and what is the essence of who you are. Big questions but once you I started to answer these things  it lead me to living a wholehearted life.  

9. Is there anything or anyone that has inspired you to live wholeheartedly recently? Maybe a favorite author or podcast? 

I would say definitely Oprah and/or Ellen. They are both two of my favorite inspirations and the way that they pursue life and help others is something that not only motivates me but sets the bar high for me to remember to live wholeheartedly. 

Lauren Taylor is the Founder and Editor in Chief of The Letter Magazine. She is obsessed with pizza, dancing in her pjs, puppies, and believing in the being the real you. In early 2014, after making a promise to herself to breathe life into creative ideas that others deemed impossible, Lauren established The Letter Publication as a way to celebrate women, to inspire them, and to encourage them to make impossible dreams a reality.

Surrender & My Next Adventure

During my personal retreat last month I sensed three words or themes for my upcoming year - to explore, belong and create. Little did I know I'd have the opportunity to do all three in the last few weeks! Shortly after that short but sweet weekend in East Texas, I signed up for an exploratory trip to Peru with two of my dear friends. And it was wild, to say the least. 

Oftentimes when we surrender our own plans and ideas and open ourselves up to listen and wait, we find doors opening that we never could have opened or even identified on our own. So when I was invited to join a team in Peru this summer, I jumped and wholeheartedly said yes to another adventure of a lifetime. To me, this trip represents a convergence of my interests, future plans, passions, and current projects. 


During our trip we traveled to three cities: Lima, Cusco, and Arequipa, all of which were beautiful in their own way. We listened (oftentimes through blurred eyes) to story after story of people who have chosen to lay their lives down in hopes of reaching and loving others, especially those who do not yet have a voice of their own. If you're interested in hearing more about this trip and ways you can be a part of bringing Light to a region desperately in need of Hope, sign up for my newsletter below. 

To reference one of my lessons learned in year 25, I'm more confident than ever that although I may pursue my own options and plans, surrender is the best choice. This is much easier said than done to a motivated dreamer meets go-getter, but striving in my own strength typically doesn't create the results I want (not to mention leaves me tired, anxious and confused). 

What you may not know, is this invitation came shortly after several other doors closed and I was left wondering why I was doing what I was doing and where I was going next. I had no choice but to surrender or give way to bitterness, refusing to let go of my tight grip on my own plans. 

I'm thankful I serve a creative and generous God who seeks to open doors and lead me on adventures better than any I could have dreamed up myself. During the month of February I challenged myself to begin each morning with five minutes of thankfulness and it changed something in me. When we begin our days with thankfulness, it shifts the atmosphere, attitude and heart. Through thankfulness, my little heart surrendered, my hands loosened their tight grip, and I began looking forward with hope and expectation as I watched God start to bring clarity and open doors. 

If you've found yourself standing at series of doors knocking till your hands hurt or discouragement starts to set in, step back for a moment, wait and listen. Offer up your own plans, desires, dreams, ect with open hands and proceed with a gentle openness. You may find another door was just waiting around the corner.