Posts in life
Girl

We’re living the life music row writes about.

The pull yourself up by your bootstraps, sit on your Ws, tighten your phantom topknot kinda life.

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The life that makes your great grand babies name a blue-steel-eyed heir after you.

The life that chooses fm to streaming, black to frap, and currier to bird chirps.

The life that says k bye to easy because living the right side of an f5 is the only way the west is ever won.

Hold tight, girl, we have 15 go rounds left. And, I’d say it’s about to get a little western.


Photo, always and forever, by Stacy Pearce Creative.

Way back in 2011
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It was the year Iowa State gave us a late season L, putting 'Bama in the BCS Championship, and giving us Stanford, whose band forever haunts my nightmares.

While we were tailgating for Bedlam, Katy, my friend since freshman year (shoutout to Zink Hall!), and Korey told me they were having a baby.

I bought this outfit the very next week because I just knew they were having a girl.

They had a boy.

And I guess because I’m a super creep of a human, I decided to keep it because eventually I’d have a kid and whatever I’m hilariously creepy.

But can you even? No. You cannot.

Now we have our own little legacy, and she’s Homecoming Queen material, if I don’t say so myself.

Here's to hoping she's outgrown her premie clothes and fits into this by October.

🧡

20 days 'till game day.

Brooke Clay Taylor: 2008 Homecoming Queen, Oklahoma State University

Brooke Clay Taylor: 2008 Homecoming Queen, Oklahoma State University

The Brave Team
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HERD, TRIBE, SQUAD — it doesn’t matter what you call your people as long as you have them.

Kiah Twisselman [aka Burley and Barley 🌱] found inspiration in my post about bravery and turned it into this incredible watercolor.

It’s swoon-worthy, really. This is how I feel. I’ve got the guy I first made out with in a pasture the night before senior skip day at my side (true story), my babe in my arms, and all the women who have walked this journey, those who pray for us, those who cheer for us, and those who love us standing behind me.

I admire creativity simply because it’s a small glimpse into someone’s ability to see a situation or obstacle from a unique perspective.

It’s not exclusive to artists or musicians, and it’s up for grabs for anyone who wants it.

Thank you for this, Kiah. It’s everything. 🧡

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An Open Letter to my Sweet New Baby

SWEET BABY ELSIE JAMES — Today you came along to doctors appointments because your mama has cancer, and to be frank: that sucks. You’re already a baby warrior and that not only makes me tremendously heart broken, but also stupendously proud.

Life is equal-opportunity when it comes to heartbreak or illness. It doesn’t discriminate when it comes to things like cancer, which means bad things happen to good people just the same as good things happen to bad people.

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So we live life knowing we’re not entitled to easy. It affords us the opportunity to appreciate the all the good moments - regardless of grandeur - because we know life is lived in the leading.

It’s between the lines the good stuff happens. Like a first family outing between oncology appointments. Or high-fiving because your new pediatrician’s office was able to work your appointment around my port surgery so I can go, too.

It would be easy to be grateful the only thing you’ll know about this season will be from pictures and stories, but I almost wish you would remember. Remember that we’ll grow our hair out together. Remember that your mama fought to change your diapers and was selfish about midnight feedings.
Because cancer or not, we’re already living a life worth fighting for.

And it’s buried deep in the leading.

Wildlife Baby

So many things had to align perfectly so that in this season, we’ve got this guy.

The guy who can make me laugh so hard my c-section stitches might pop. Who said, “just cry,” when I hadn’t even been able to say the words “dr frame called. it’s cancer.” Who says “move over” and climbs in the hospital shower to remove my c-section bandages. True story. I’ll for sure blog about that.

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How insane is it that after he made his tour through Nevada, Minnesota, Montana, and Nebraska building his career and living the wildlife dream ... and I made my tour through North Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, with stints in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, and Arizona ... we unknowingly moved back to Oklahoma only weeks apart. Wild. Just wild.

Day one of #kbyecancer means I’m spending 24 hours away from Elsie James, who sacrificed her cushy womb space and joined the world early so I could spend this week getting a PET scan, meeting my medical oncologist, a mammogram, et al.

Today, day one - and her day seven, he’s got her. And me.

And she, friends, is already on the job as the cutest little refuge intern.

Cow Dog Molly Accepts New Baby
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There’s something special about the moment your ride-or-die ranch dog finally admits the new baby isn’t leaving.

She’s been my main girl since 2007.

Through undergrad, a ride in the OSU homecoming parade, graduate school, love, heartbreak, calling home to five states, six jobs, adventuring in 19 states, launching a business, saying yes to Damon Cody Taylor... she’s been there.

Through Whitney ballads, old and new Jo Bro pop, Conway heartbreaks, Maren anthems, and Jason Isbell love songs, she’s been riding shotgun.

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Through learning through failing, she taught me think of anything other than myself in my twenties.

She’s been there for every tear, every laugh, every milestone for 12 years.

And, now we’re adding two more.

She’s my favorite golden girl. And I can’t imagine doing this week without her.

Thank Goodness for Community

It’s no shocker we’re the new kids on the block in our new corner of the world. As newlyweds we’ve really stuck to home projects (the new deck is tremendous, btw), trips home to our hometown of Perkins (2.5 hours away), and I travel quite a bit for work. That hasn’t left a lot of opportunity to meet anyone, let alone find a community.

And now we have a brand new baby. and ... #kbyecancer, which is going to come with so many obstacles it’s overwhelming.

And would you believe all the creative, inspiring, talented locals who I’ve stumbled across on Instagram, but been too nervous to send an awkward IG DM to, were also sort of, kind of doing the same to me?

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As I’ve lived in various big cities - OKC, Charlotte, Austin, Nashville - I’ve learned we can’t thrive without community. I know that, yet, I’ve been too nervous to reach out because this is our forever place, and I guess I just didn’t want to mess it up. Hi, Brooke here. Perpetually an awkward middle schooler.

Thank goodness they’re braver than I am. They pressed send while I was busy overthinking and leaving my messages in draft.

In the midst of chaos this week they found me. Us. And they reeled us in.

And just like that, four-day-old Elsie James had her first dinner invite. I mean, she slept through the entire thing, but she looked real cute in that new bow.

Would you believe there is a whole community ready and willing to not only pray for us and bring us meals, but they’ve also offered to help with things like letting our dogs out when we’re at doctors appointments and treatments? I don’t even know them — YET — but I know they’re our people.

P.S. If you’re one of those people, hi! I’m glad we’re new friends. Can’t wait to meet you. Also, @cowdogmolly is a bit extra. Prepare yourself for puppy snuggles. (Spoiler: she’s a 12 yo puppy)

Dear future tiny human
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A very good friend (to be honest, I could use pages and pages alone to share how incredible of a human she is) reminded me that I wrote the following words a while back, and it’s wild they’ve never been more true.
Pray without ceasing, friends. He hears them - every single one.

Dear future tiny human,

Today I’m thinking about you. I’m walking through the hardest day of my life - to date - because I want to be your mom. I want to watch your first steps and hear your big, boisterous giggle. I want to wipe your tears and kiss your scrapes. I love you - the idea of you - so much that sometimes it literally feels like the oxygen has left the room.

I want the chance to love you. To love your dad. To grow old with him and laugh at his stupid jokes. Because he’ll make us laugh every single day. And he’d rather grow children than a perfectly manicured lawn. And he’ll show up to the important things. Like pizza Fridays and school plays.

He’ll probably be stubborn, which is who you’re going to get it from. But, he’ll be kind. And fiercely loyal.

He’s going to be good to us, kid. And we’re going to be good to him. He’s going to be easy to love because he’s right for us. We’re his people. And he’s ours.

I had no way of knowing that note would be for my sweet Elsie, or that man would be Damon. But He knew. He always knew.

A Big Sky Montana Winter Elopement - Lone Mountain Ranch

I asked my best friend, Stacy, who happens to be a wedding photographer, what she thought about Montana in February. She said, “sounds cold, but I’m there.”

It was below zero. The snow was falling like a snow globe. And, well, it was perfect.

Here’s the proof.


VENDORS

VENUE & CAKE
Lone Mountain Ranch
Big Sky, Montana

FLORALS
Big Sky Blooms

HAIR & MAKEUP
Stephanie Gibbs

BRIDAL GOWN
RL Bridal and Prom

VINTAGE FUR
Luxury Vintage

LEAD PHOTOGRAPHER & IMAGE EDITOR
Stacy Pearce Creative


Our Hallmark Story: We Eloped
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Everyone knew before we admitted it to ourselves, which is the baseline for any solid Hallmark movie. Most assume we were high school sweethearts, because “of course you were.” But, no, we weren’t. We were, however, partners-in-crime, “yes” friends. The few times my then-strict parents let me out of their crosshairs, I was either packing down the gravel on a back road, or tip-toeing too close to a Thursday-night bonfire with this guy not too far out of my eyesight.

Fall of ‘08 I shot him down, hard. Not now, I said.

Winter of ‘11 during our Christmas break ritual of driving county line to county line, he shot me down. And, man, did it sting. Not now, he said.

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We had a lot of life to live. Through Nevada, Minnesota, Montana, and Nebraska he went. North Carolina, Texas, Tennessee with ample time in Wisconsin, Arizona and Massachusetts, for me.

When I moved home - unknowingly weeks after he did the same - I told him I was launching a business and going to travel the world. He said, of course you are. My biggest cheerleader, he is.

And while I was learning the ropes as a business owner (Friday nights reading IRS.gov, meetings with accountants, et al.) and traveling the world (I miss you already, France) I knew I could count on him in that solid friend capacity. “Hey, you lived in a camper in Montana, right? Thoughts on if I buy an airstream and travel west …. “ (I’m still going to do that…. just you wait.)

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And, then, out of nowhere last spring, he asked when I’d be home from a west coast run with a production team. And I caught the first - and only - redeye of my life. I knew, you know? I knew I was willing to finally take a chance and show up to a pasture bonfire (I’m serious. @ me, Hallmark writers) for the human who is always down for an adventure - rural or urban.

As I walked to the fire on that balmy spring night, I heard, “Brooke Clay, it’s about time you showed up.”

“I don’t think he meant literally.”

“He didn’t.”

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While I can fill a notebook full of all the “things” he does that I love like spitting Post’s new lyrics days after they drop, waiting patiently until I catch my breath while talking way-too-fast during an exciting story, or the fist bumps he hands out when I land a new client, the non-surprised shrug he made when I smashed the first clay pigeon I ever tried to knock down, or the one million versions of gluten-free pizza crust he’s tried to make... What I love most is he’s exactly the same friend who sat by me on the bus to church camp.

The guy who shrugged, turned around, and walked to his truck when I college girl declared he’d be taking me and my friend to a seedy establishment (shout out to Erika Curry).

And the guy who walked into the Shoe Bank freshman year after we had the biggest fight to-date in our friendship to apologize in person.

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After 7.2M casual proposals, this past winter he got down on one knee, while I was in a grubby old sweatshirt, ball cap, and yoga pants, and presented me with the most delicious ring pop.

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I laughed.

Hard.

And ate the ring pop.

Amen.


PHOTOGRAPHER
STACY PEARCE CREATIVE


VENUE
Lone Mountain Ranch
Big Sky, Montana

Happy Birthday, Dad: An Open Letter To My Dad Who Lost His Battle to Colon Cancer at 25

When my larger-than-life dad was 25, colon cancer got the best of him. In the past 25 years, I’ve transitioned from the girl who misses her dad, to the girl who wants to know her dad, to the woman who understands how truly lucky she is.

We’re all thrown a few lemons in life. Not a human on this earth is going to make it to their last day without the option to make a few pitchers of spiked lemonade, but, unlike most, I was introduced - at an early age - to the reality our days are not promised.

We’re deserving of nothing, yet I’ve received everything: I have a strong family, a pack of alpha friends, a masters degree, and a business card listing me as the CEO of my own small business.

This week, as I celebrate my dad’s birthday, I’m grateful for a man who should have had more time on this earth, who fought like hell to stay, who adventured hard, and gave me some pretty tremendous chipmunk cheeks.

 

Ron Isley was diagnosed with colon cancer on October 27, 1991 when he was only 23 years old. He passed away March 11, 1993.

Ron Isley was diagnosed with colon cancer on October 27, 1991 when he was only 23 years old. He passed away March 11, 1993.

 

 

To my dad on what would be his 50th birthday

Happy birthday, Dad!

Today, you turn fifty. FIFTY. Five zero. You’re old, man.

In a lot of ways, I can’t imagine not wishing you were here, but I also know I’m okay even though you’re not. In your wake, you left a tribe of hall-of-fame humans who have supported me through every school play, graduation, adventure and heartbreak.

I tried to call you once. Maybe it was the rocks kicking up on the mud flaps, maybe it was the pause between songs, but for a moment I wasn’t the girl missing her dad. I picked up the phone and pulled over on that dirt road as crocodile tears fell into my steering wheel. You weren’t going to answer because I tried to dial a phone number you’ve never had. You weren’t going to hear about the simple, normal day that took a hard left when I learned I’d be in Oklahoma State’s Homecoming Royalty. But, maybe you already knew.

You’re real to me. As real as you ever were.

Whether intentional or not, the relationships you cultivated created ripples that have been steadily growing and increasing in intensity. Sometimes I’m not sure where my memories stop and where others’ memories begin. I hear your laugh rustling every time Sammy Kershaw comes through the FM speakers and wonder if mine sounds the same.

As I watch my friends bring new humans to the world, the realness of your love has amplified. Through them I see how much you didn’t want to leave. As my best friend cried her way through a terrible movie because she couldn’t imagine a world where she wasn’t here for her kids, I told her, “they’d know. We’d all make sure they know.” And, they would.

Because I know.

I know as I stand on a ledge at the Grand Canyon, as I make another pass on I-40, as I watch the sun set on another adventure. I know.

I’m good. I’m really good.

Love you.

B.

P.S. Mobile phones are computers connected to the internet now. I know, weird.

 

 
Final paper from Comp 1 at IUPUI, Fall 1992.

Final paper from Comp 1 at IUPUI, Fall 1992.

The Ron Isley Birthday Challenge 

If you loved my dad as much as I still do today. I have a few favors.

  1. Do something adventurous. Go on a hike. Starch those jeans and take ‘em for a spin around the dance floor. 
  2. Donate to Fight Colorectal Cancer.
  3. Get over yourself and get screened if you need to. Sure, it’s your butt. Everyone has one. (I got tested at 19. You’re fine.)
Ron Isley Colon Cancer
I cannot be urban sans rural.

I cannot be urban sans rural roots.

Just as I cannot be me sans rural genes.

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I am only afforded opportunities to travel this world because my past gave me the blessing of an educational foundation in communications and international agricultural.

Which opened the door to a first job as a marketer for Oklahoma’s pork producers.

Which led to launching a social media presence showcasing Oklahoma’s tourism industry.

Which led to digital storytelling for global agricultural and animal health brands.

Which led to launching my own business working with passionate business owners.

Which led to spending more time with my family.
 

Which leads to standing in the “retirement pasture” gazing at Oklahoma’s tremendous sunset thanking God for the past that affords the opportunities for my future.

molly the muttnation model

I honestly can’t imagine what your heart must feel like to be a parent to tiny humans, because mine has ranged from worry to overflowing with pure joy and back again as a dog mom.  

She’s my fearless farm dog who prefers chasing chickens and squirrels to most anything in life. Except maybe for begging for pizza, which of course is her drug of choice.

She’s just a weird little ball of ornery feistiness who brings so much joy to this world she has a waiting list of sitters for my next out-of-town trip. I'm not bluffing here. A half-stranger has called dibs on watching her for a trip in December.

Living in Music City, weird requests come across the table. For example, “hey, my friend needs some dogs for a photo shoot - you and Molly in?”

Yep. Sure.

Wait, for what? 

There are about a million things in this world we should do to make a difference: cure cancer, feed the homeless, care for the orphans. Among them, is take care of all the abandon pups. Miranda Lambert's MuttNation Foundation was built on her love for the furry little creatures and is making great strides to make sure so many of them have loving, stable homes. Last fall, my friends and I took over Tishomingo, Okla. for a long girls weekend, and a common theme among conversations with locals was an appreciation for Miranda's impact in the local community, specifically Redemption Ranch.

So we showed up on a rainy Saturday and found the only XS shirt in the box and rocked some MuttNation Gear.  MuttNation merchandise fuels the MuttNation foundation. So basically, it's adorable and goes directly to local shelters. And, Molly was able to spend a morning soaking in all the attention she clearly doesn't get at home.

Clarification: That's a joke. All she gets is attention. 

So here's to helping local shelters and keeping your furry besties dressed to impress! Oh, and be on the lookout on the MuttNation Facebook page for photos of Molly. 


Affiliate disclosure: I am grateful to be the girl behind Rural Gone Urban and bring you content free of charge. In order to do this, please note that when you click links and purchase items, in most (not all) cases I will receive a referral commission. Your support in purchasing through these links helps off set hosting and other costs. - b.

open letter to my neighbors:

The produce section at our local grocery store is the worst, right? To be fair, I hate it so much. Sometimes I’m simply not in the mood to to fight the poor floor layout and I go to the better grocery store two miles up the road. But their parking lot is a mess. Honestly, it’s horrible.

The fancy Kroger 9 miles north of town is a dream. It has a Starbucks!

Between us chickens, sometimes my friends and I go to Whole Foods because we’re in search of a musician trying to be humble and normal while buying $18 cheese. Our lives are not the same as celebrities.

The Publix in Belle Mead is my favorite. Nothing makes me happier than passing grocery store after grocery store in search of one that fits my perfectly-curated list of demands: seamless layout, decent prices, fresh flowers, choice of gluten-free brownie mix.

We’re all such pretentious jerks. Yeah, you and me. We’re the worst.

Per a quick google search there are at least 20 grocery stores within a 10 miles of our house. Ten miles. That does not take into account convenient stores that have begun to fill their aisles with fresh produce or the brick and mortar farmers market. Or that I can throw a deflated football at three must-visit restaurants and am a hop, skip and a jump from an on-ramp to a major interstate. Growing up in a small town in central Oklahoma, our house was 18 miles from Walmart. I mean, technically it still is, but now it’s 21 miles from a second Walmart. Options!

We’re so fortunate to have such solid options in Nashville. And, to be honest, you and I have it better than most. We have a cars allowing us to drive to the store of our heart’s desire. Some are fully dependent on their own kicks or the bus. Add in a few more hurdles like childcare, schedule, etc., etc. and you have yourself a food desert. (Do you live in a food desert? This map is helpful.)

We have to stop taking our good fortune for granted.

My challenge to you:
Leave town for a beat. Drive north, take a random left, the maybe a random right and see how truly close you are to your food supply.

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You might surprise yourself.

Take a minute to look past the Instagram opportunities and soak in how fortunate you are to live in a place with access to safe, sustainable and affordable food.

Filling the well

A common theme among my various friend groups is a state of overwhelming exhaustion. State of the uterus or left ring finger aside, we all seem to be waiting for the next season to be our knight in shining armour.

Let’s level. I’m a 29 year-old who has had a few too many drinks probably a few too many times in her life. This means I’ve felt the room spinning and prayed for it to stop. If you have not felt this you are a better human than I or are simply too proud to admit you’ve let your hair down from time-to-time.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve felt like for most of 2016. The room is spinning and I can’t will it to stop. And it’s all my fault. I make the choices to push myself and bear the weight of disappointment when I can’t reach perfection.

Climb the professional ladder.
Spend more time with your friends.
Take on more projects.
Visit family.
Exercise more.
Keep the house clean so you can eat off the floors.

Then, I said enough.

I put myself in time out. Made a list of all the things that make my insanely happy: random adventures, writing, making things with my hands, reading, deep conversations with family, helping people, long drives, big ideas and spontaneity.

This year has been one bucket list of filling the well.

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I start every weekday morning by talking to a friend and it’s become the very best part of each day. When friends post about a book, I read it. I took a flower class. I volunteer at church. I’ve bought art supplies and followed up with a calligraphy class. I take my personal laptop (and leave my work computer behind - this is very important) to coffee shops and write short stories and poems and childhood memories.

And the room has started spinning just a little bit slower.

t h i r t y

One of the very best humans on this earth turned thirty. So we found all the pink and all the gold in all of Nashville and threw her a surprise party. And by we I mean Kristin rocked those drinks, Nicole whipped up the food like a boss and Kirby made sure the jams were on lock. 

Courtney -

Here's to thirty more years. More dance parties. More costumes. And more of life with you! You made moving - again - a breeze and I'm so glad we're conquering our second city together.

B.



vendors 

photography // Sarah Nichole Photography
cake // Nashville Sweets
photo backdrop // Etsy


 

 

pomeranian versus snow

Although we had quite a few snowy days in Oklahoma, they were often outweighed by ice storms that took their toll on power lines and livestock.

So, you can image the delight of a true snow day while living an urban existence in Nashville's east side. I've never seen The Walking Dead, but I image our 'hood could have passed for a scene or two. Imagine folks walking down the center of a snow-filled street toward the local Kroger to fill their bellies. 

To be fair, I keep our pantry quite stocked. We just needed out of the house. We were stir crazy, man. 

The dog turned into a real jerk who gave us the a serious guilt trip for forcing her inside every so often to knock off the snow frozen to her little body. 

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Just look at the little snow bunny. She could barely walk yet she threw us some mad shade when we called her indoors.

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Now that the snow is gone we're left dreaming of another snow day. 'till next time. 

2016: living with intention

I slid into twenty sixteen like an ill-prepared marathon runner crawls across the finish line. My muscles were sore, my brain hurt and my body needed about 14 gallons of water.

2015 was a year to praise for it’s glorious adventures: moving, jobs, friends, et al. 

Just look at that map, though. That's every work trip, friend trip, Haney vacation (oh, hey, Mexico). It's great, right?

I'm so grateful to have a career that allows me to work with some of the most talented agriculturalists and developers in the world. Truly.

Just look at that house in the historic Jonas Snowstorm of 2016.


And I'm also grateful to say I'm a happy homeowner. A homeowner who really likes to stay home. 

This year I'm going to live more intentionally. Weigh my options. Keep my priorities close. Do more of what makes me happy.

I can say this, you know, because it's a resolution I can keep. It's already February for crying out loud. I'm doing this. It's happening.  

will loves courtney

A week to the day after turning 21, my little brother married his high school sweetheart. Courtney, who is making a run for the title of favorite sister, is the perfect addition to the Clay family. In all honesty, she most definitely works harder than anyone else and has somehow found a balance in being Will's biggest cheerleader and keeping him alive. The latter, of course, it a big feat considering his adventurous shenanigans. Bless you, Courtney. 

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The only thing that could have made Saturday better was if college football took a hiatus so my better half could join. Fall weddings, man. 

source: Originallyson Photography

source: Originallyson Photography

source: Originallyson Photography

source: Originallyson Photography

Sammy Kershaw might have written his '93 hit about Courtney, y'all.

She just really doesn't know.

But she is.

On the inside where it counts, too. 

on the eve of fall

Today, on the last official day of summer, I’m thrilled—and relieved.

As I look back at the happenings of the past few months I feel a lot like Drake. I wasn’t at the bottom when I started (ahem, Degrassi: The Next Generation) but I feel pretty high right about now.

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I’m working from the office in the cattle barn this week, which is a stone's throw from the working pens. My heart is full of gratitude for a career in digital media that allows me to pursue my passion for the agricultural industry and work anywhere there is high speed internet.

And, yes, I’m thanking my lucky stars high speed Internet found its way to rural Oklahoma.

The view from the west pasture on Sunday afternoon. 

The view from the west pasture on Sunday afternoon. 

I’m three weeks into a new job, folks. Three weeks with an all-digital agency based in Boston and a client in the animal health industry

As part of the strategy team I’m working with talented, passionate stewards of the digital space on blogger engagement programs, new websites, social strategy, et al.

With an innovative, international brand.

Pinch me. 

Grateful just doesn't seem to do it justice.