It’s Called Commencement for a Reason

It's Called Commencement for a Reason  Taylor K Flynn

I know this is a little late, but I want to take a minute to reflect on how life has changed in the last few months. I knew that leaving Ithaca College, degree in hand, meant a lot of changes were coming. It’s beginning to sink in just what this really means.

Graduation, and the weeks leading up to it, were filled with friends, hikes and more food than anyone should ever eat. There are so many moments from these weeks I can picture; snapshots I will treasure forever.

We were singing Blink-182 at the top of our lungs, eating more Altoids than real food, spilling all of the popcorn and laughing for half the movie we were trying to watch. The night of graduation, popping champagne into the fountains, we tried to forget the fact that we were all leaving in the morning. To Texas, to Virginia, to all corners of New York.

As much as graduation is an ending, it is also a beginning. I’m so glad to be home. I love seeing old and new friends, exploring revived neighborhoods and having the time to horseback ride again. I am ready to have a normal schedule after a few absolutely crazy semesters.

I’m learning so much on the job – more than I ever absorbed in the classroom. It’s also becoming evident just how lucky I am to have the education I do, one grounded in real-world examples and experience.

But this week, despite a wonderful date night, bible study and catching up with an old friend, I have been homesick for Ithaca. The people I grew to love there, who are now strewn across the country, have been on my mind. It’s time for a reunion!

Breaking Out of the Social Media Box

I still really, really love Instagram, and Facebook is a necessary communication tool for individuals and brands alike. Recently, however, I’ve been getting creative with a few lesser-known social media. I’m enjoying expressing myself using different styles of communication and it’s making me think differently about how I share my thoughts and adventures. My current favorites:

1. So I might be way late on this train, but I’m loving what you can do with Phhhoto. The app, which launched during the summer of 2014, takes 3 pictures and loops them into a video. It’s basically Instagram’s Boomerang, without, you know, the boomerang.

2. My organized, analytical, compartmentalized self is loving li.st. A lot. This app takes travel, news, comedy and so much more and displays it in super-digestible nuggets that make me want to keep scrolling down my feed forever.

3. Goodreads is a little less social than other social media I use, but that’s mostly due to how I’m using it. The platform allows you to connect with friends and groups to see what they’re reading, discuss the book club’s latest and get inspired. I’m using the app for recommendations and to keep track of what I’ve read and am currently reading.

Let’s connect! My username on these (and every) social media is TFlynn457. Are you trying out any other social media not quite in the main stream? Let me know; I’m always looking for the latest and greatest!

Taking the Time

Taking the Time | Taylor K Flynn

In middle and high school, volunteering my time was second nature. Between Honor Society’s mandatory hours, Girl Scouts and helping in Mom’s classroom, I spent a lot of my time assisting others.

My first three years of college, I gave back through Guiding Eyes for the Blind, a national organization that raises dogs to assist those who are blind or have visual impairments. They also have an autism support program and dogs who are not suited to guide work often serve as police dogs.

After leaving this organization during senior year, I was no longer volunteering my time to a cause I felt strongly about. I was able to let this slide during my last two semesters, constantly reminding myself that I was busy and needed to focus on myself. That was okay, but there was definitely a hole in my life.

As a member of corporate America, I often lack the feeling that my job makes a difference, accentuating my belief that I need to revisit the idea of taking time to give back.

Last weekend I spent one morning helping at our church’s annual rummage sale, packing leftover clothes and dishes for missionaries. It felt good. The time away from volunteering made me appreciate so much more how important giving my time is.

September is a time of new beginnings, and this September I am committing to sharing my time and talents with organizations I am passionate about. My goal is to be spending one day a month taking the time to give back. I’m looking forward to the next day I spend helping others!

My Favorite Things: 5 Summer Recipes I Love

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My relationship with food is a healthy one. I love fruits and veggies; shopping at the farmers’ market and contributing to the local food cycle is one of my favorite parts of summer. Bread is one of my favorite foods, and I love The Bread Basket‘s cranberry walnut boules. I am very much an omnivore; while I love meat, a vegetarian or vegan recipe doesn’t scare me. My diet is balanced, but my weakness is definitely ice cream, especially Lake Effect‘s!

Now that you know a little bit about how I eat, here are my favorite warm-weather recipes:

  1. Grilled Zucchini: There’s no recipe for this one, just add olive oil, salt and pepper to sliced zucchini and throw it on the grill. So good!
  2. Oh She Glow‘s Empowered Noodle Bowl with Thai Peanut Sauce: To be fair, I’ve never tried the Orange-Maple Miso version of this recipe. But why would you, because this peanut sauce is absolutely amazing. Get the recipe here.
  3. Inspiralized‘s Pesto: This pesto is so easy and we’ve made it twice this summer with basil from our garden. A version similar to our favorite is located here.
  4. Cucumber Salad: We have cucumbers growing out of our ears, so we eat this salad of cucumbers, red onions and dill constantly.
  5. Cowboy Caviar: Any combination of beans, corn and cilantro is going to be amazing with tortilla chips. I could make this for lunch everyday and be pretty content! Here’s a great version.

What recipes do you make over and over when the days get longer and the grill comes out? Let me know so I can love them too!

Quick Trip: Allegany State Park

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Cody loves Allegany State Park and I have been tagging along on his camping trips there the last few years. I love that it’s only two hours from home, but it seems like a world away. There’s no Verizon service at the campsites, and it’s spotty elsewhere, which makes the park a wonderful place to unplug. We’ve spent weekends with friends, his family and just the two of us. No matter who you’re with, there are a few requirements for the perfect quick trip:

#1. Hobo Pies: My favorite pie iron creations are pizza pockets and Cody’s family’s “Circle Sandwiches,” which are chocolate, peanut butter and a marshmallow melted over the fire between two pieces of white bread.

#2. Biking around the Lake: The three mile trail around Red House Lake has a picturesque view no matter where you are. There are plenty of off-shoots for more adventure, but passing the Ad Building, the beach, an old ski jump and a boat launch is enough on it’s own.

Allegany State Park, Castle Bridge

Allegany State Park, Red House Lake#3. Kayaking: This is definitely a summer-only Allegany activity, but it’s so much fun to be out on the lake, surrounded by the hills you just biked over.

#4. Deer Crusing: Watching wildlife just after dusk is a cool experience. On our last trip, we saw more than 25 deer, a raccoon, an opossum and a stunning red fox.

#5. Thunder Rocks: There is only one big rock I can climb, but watching both people and dogs scramble over these massive boulders deposited here by an ancient sea is tons of fun!

Allegany State Park, Thunder Rocks

Celebrating Family

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This weekend was full of family; we celebrated the approaching arrival of a new baby with my dad’s family, and then were on our way to my mom’s family’s annual gathering.

My mom’s parents grew up in northern New Jersey, a beautiful collection of lakes, mountains and green pasture. We filled the cozy grey day with delicious food, new calves, catching up and reminiscing. Just like every year, we spent hours flipping through photo albums full of my grandparents’ generation’s childhood memories and wedding photos.

Celebrating Family, July 2016, Northern New Jersey

Celebrating Family, July 2016, Northern New Jersey

It’s so important to me to know where I came from, to see the places that my Ownmom and Papa Joe spent their childhood and brought their own kids back to. I love the old photos, newspaper clippings and handwritten notes that were so important to past generations. I cherish the chance to celebrate these places, people and things with my family every year.