Taking Care With Songwriter Tayla Parx and Yoga Teacher Jessamyn Stanley

Taking Care With Songwriter Tayla Parx and Yoga Teacher Jessamyn Stanley (Artwork created by Brigido Bautista)

In the first of three special Mental Health Awareness Month episodes, Adult ISH co-hosts Merk Nguyen and Nyge Turner learn practical skills for taking care of their whole selves – mind, body and soul. First, they connect to their breath and relax their minds with yoga instructor and body positivity advocate Jessamyn Stanley, who leads them through mindful conversation and a sonic meditation. Then star songwriter Tayla Parx shares her best tips to cultivate a soul-nourishing creative practice while dodging burnout, plus some disco-influenced tracks from her latest album, “Coping Mechanisms.” Follow our socials @yrAdultISH to stay connected!

And if you’re looking for some mental health resources, here are some to check out:
Latinx Therapy
Therapists of Color
Asian Mental Health Collective
Therapy for Black Men
Therapy for Black Girls
National Queer & Trans Therapist Network
• Even MORE resources on this Google Doc!

Episode Transcript

Merk: Okay, Nyge. You know what time it is?

Nyge: (sings) Is it peanut butter jelly time?

Nyge and Merk: Peanut butter jelly time. Peanut butter jelly. Peanut butter jelly. Peanut butter jelly with a baseball bat.

Nyge: Alright.

Merk: Okay, you know, with the baseball bat yeah? It did not hit the question out of the ballpark because I was going to say it’s reflection time. 

Nyge: Oh, just as fun. 

Merk: Yeah! No, really, I want to know. How you doing these days? Like, how are you really doing physically, spiritually, mentally? Where do you want to take it?

Nyge: Ooh I feel like I’m in a really good place mentally, physically and emotionally. Like I feel really good. Yeah, I get nervous to say things like that. But then at the same time, I think it’s really important to like lean into the positive feelings because I mean, we lean into the sad feelings all the time. So, yeah.

Merk: Yeah I feel that. 

Nyge: Speaking to that, what about you?

Merk: Yeah, she’s been feeling what I call poopoofunky, you know, when there is just this fog in your head and you’re like questioning, “Why am I feeling kind of sad sometimes? Is it because the pandemic is still going on? Is it because I’m reaching my quarter life crisis?” It feels like my mind is a “Jeopardy” game. You know that category where it’s “Could Be Anything for 400?” The reasons for the poopoofunk, it really could be anything. I just don’t know which one it is.

Nyge: Well, what have you been doing to like, take care of yourself during the poopoofunkiness?

Merk: Well, I wash away the stink with a good ol’ shower, first of all, the metaphorical stink, but also just calling up loved ones, friends from middle school, 12 minute jogs and Sudoku.

Nyge: Oh.

Merk: Sudoku has just been a way for me to just feel like I’m accomplishing stuff and just to numb myself with numbers. Numbers!

Nyge: Ooh, numbers. I see what you did there. You really are reaching your quarter life crisis. You’re doing Sudoku puzzles and all of that. I feel like you’re embracing it. I like that. 

Merk: Thank you. For you?

Nyge: I don’t know. I really haven’t been doing a lot of self care lately, which is like really bad. That’s a bad thing. But I do, like when I start to feel better, I kind of stop.

Merk: You fall off the train? 

Nyge: Yeah, I do. I definitely fall off the train. My dad used to always say that. he used to always be like, “I can never compliment you because as soon as I compliment you all of a sudden, you stop.” 

Merk: Oh. 

Nyge: And it’s true. Like as soon as everybody’s like, “Oh this — you’re doing so good at this” or things start working, I’m like, “Alright, cool, it worked.” That’s something I really need to work on. I have to really work on being consistent with my self care so that, like, I don’t end up… 

Merk: Back in the dumps. 

Nyge: The dumps without anything to get me out of it. 

Merk: Well, that is such a good reminder because it is also officially Mental Health Awareness Month and right now marks the first of three mental health episodes in a row here on “Adult ISH” produced by YR Media, a show where we tic-tac-toe our mental health thoughts and experiences because why not? Make it a fun game. I’m Merk Nguyen.

Nyge: And I’m Nyge Turner. Today, we’re focusing on “Mind, Body, and Soul ISH.” Specifically we’re gonna talk about self-care practices to help nurture these parts of ourselves. Instead of just talking about the idea of self-care, we want to actually practice it. What that looks like is different for everyone but hopefully, if you’re a little lost, you’ll feel more grounded by the end of this episode.

Merk: Yes, so first we’ll have on yoga teacher Jessamyn Stanley. She’ll get into the importance of self-acceptance and how yoga can help explore different parts of your mind. Plus, she’ll guide us through a sonic meditation!

Nyge: And later, we’re vibin’ out with the soulful songwriting mastermind, Tayla Parx — who has written songs like “thank u, next”, Janelle Monae’s “Pynk” and Panic! At The Disco’s “High Hopes.” She’ll tell us about how she implements self-care into her creative practices and how that feeds her inspiration. 

Merk: Okay, yes, thank you. You ready for this next segment?

Nyge: Yup!

Merk: Okay, let’s breathe in … and out …

Nyge: Here we go.

[Music Break]

Merk: Here to get us aligned with our minds, bodies and souls is yoga teacher Jessamyn Stanley. She’s the HBIC of The Underbelly, her yoga studio that’s based in Durham, North Carolina. She’s a body positivity and cannabis justice advocate. She’s the author of, “Every Body Yoga,” AND an upcoming book called “Yoke: My Yoga of Self Acceptance” that we’re getting into. So, Jessamyn … Hello and welcome!

Jessamyn: Thank you so much for having me. Hello, hello, hello. How’s it going? How’s it hanging?

Nyge: Good. Yeah. Nah, I think the weather being like hotter to being bright outside and stuff like that. Even though honestly throughout this whole pandemic, it’s been like beautiful days out in the Bay. Like I feel like we’ve only had like five or six like  rainy days. But yeah, I think that like boosts the mood. 

Jessamyn: It really does. And I have to say, though, that the other day it rained for like two days straight here and it was really coming down. My producer and I were driving together and I was just like, “You know, it hasn’t really rained in a while, like it hasn’t — we haven’t had, like, a good rain.” And I was just like, “Damn, we are so lucky for this rain.” And then just like coming from that place, I was like, “Oh, the gray is kind of nice.” You know, I can just settle in to this feeling. And it’s like the other day I was having a day and I was like, “You know what, I want to be in a good mood and in a bad mood.” 

Nyge and Merk: (laughs) 

Jessamyn: And I’ve been holding off on listening to this podcast. I’m kind of obsessed with serial killers like everybody else. 

Merk: Normal. 

Jessamyn: And I was like somebody had recommended a podcast about Charles Manson. And I was like when I first went to listen to it, I was like, “Yeah, I’m not in the mood for this right now. This is going to be a buzzkill.” But that day I was like, “You know what? And I’m listening to that podcast.” And I got into it and it was dope. And then by the end I was like, chillin. 

Nyge: I think yeah. I think that’s important to, like, lean into however you’re feeling. 

Jessamyn: Right. 

Nyge: But to get into your book, so the yoke that you write about isn’t from, you know, the eggs that we’re cracking at brunch. It’s a lot more holistic than that. What does it mean to yoke? 

Jessamyn: To yoke is to bring together, to join. And so to me, yoke is the most accurate definition of yoga because yoga means to yoke. It means to join together. It means to bring together the light in the dark within yourself, and that both things have to be there, that you can’t even understand the light if you don’t accept the darkness. That if you don’t accept the hard parts of your identity and of your life, then you’re not accepting your whole self. And I think that we’re living in this time where it is really trendy to talk about self care and like intersectionality and anti-racism and all of these things that like are somehow becoming like marketing terminology when really it’s about these very complicated aspects of self. For me, the practice of yoking has meant compassion and acceptance of myself, and that it means accepting the things about myself that I would rather keep hidden, things that I don’t want to look at, like looking at my internalized racism, accepting my internalized fatphobia, accepting my cultural appropriation. I think we are finally as a society coming to a place where brutal honesty and vulnerability is just a requirement at this point. That has been one of the gifts of the pandemic. And I think that as we sit in that space, that it’s important for us to know that the work doesn’t start by pointing fingers at each other. It starts from looking inside yourself. 

Merk: It’s interesting because, like, you know, with the light and the darkness, I think for me personally, because I’m so used to being this like happy, joyful, optimistic person who’s on all the time. When I have faced this darkness for the past, like, however long I’m like, “What is this? This isn’t me.” But it is. Part of it, I guess. 

Jessamyn: Exactly, and it’s like it’s so annoying, too. Oh my God, I would so much rather just be like, “Yeah, I’m just going to keep pretending that’s not there.” 

Nyge: Right.

Jessamyn: The thing for me, though, is that the more that I’m able to, for lack of a better word, except the shitty things about myself, the more I’m able to do that, the more I’m able to accept other people as they are, because I think, oh my God, there’s so many different places where, like, I’m silently judging other people for not being the way that I want to be on the inside so that I’m like, “If you were doing this, then you wouldn’t be you wouldn’t be that way.” And it’s like “Damn, bitch, you got enough problems on your own. I don’t know why you’re over here looking at somebody else!” So like that’s really in so many ways, it’s just a way of like being able to accept and to be around other human beings also.

Nyge: In your “Meditation” chapter, you talk about acceptance of whole self and how that doesn’t happen without acknowledging and accepting your inner conflict. I think that’s where many of us struggle is really accepting that inner conflict. And that’s been a big theme of this season of our show. And I definitely struggle with the acceptance of my inner conflict when it comes to things that I go through in life. But what inner conflicts of yours were the hardest to accept and maybe that you’re still working on to this day?

Jessamyn: I was like, “How much time do we have?” Honestly, so many different things, endless things. It’s always a mutation. And turning into something else, so like life is like a whack a mole or something. It’s like you think you handled something and then it just turns up in another place, totally mutated and different but yet also exactly the same. The biggest thing is probably a lack of self belief and a belief that I have to, for one reason or another, apologize for my existence. And this is something that the first time that I really remember it, like stabbing me, was when I was in my yoga teacher training. This is actually the last story that I tell in my first book, “Everybody Yoga.” But in my teacher training, we were practicing yoga for like hours a day. And so in that, you’re building up this fire inside yourself and in yoga, we call it the tapas, you call it. It’s the fire. And I was partnered with somebody who is much smaller than I am. And as a fat person, I am very conscious of my size. And I was panicked by the idea of doing this exercise where I was going to need to like lay on top of this person who is like half my size. I was panicked about it. And so I was like the whole time that we’re doing this, I just kept apologizing over and over again. I’d be like, “Oh, I’m sorry. Oh, I’m so sorry.” Any time I even sort of touch her, I would apologize. And at one point she literally stopped me and she put her hands on my shoulders, looked at me and she was like, “You do know you don’t have to apologize for everything right?” And that tapas is burning. The fire is burning. And so I was speaking freely in a way that I don’t usually. But it just slipped out. I said in response, “Oh, no, I’m just apologizing for existing.” And it was the first time I had ever said that out loud. And I was just like, “What the fuck? Like, how long have I been apologizing for existing?” You know, like what relationships have been impacted by that? Like what decisions have I made that were born entirely from believing that I have to apologize for even being here and I’m not, not in front of other people. I’m not typically a crier. But I found myself just inconsolably crying and I cried for the rest of the practice. And I went out to my car and I cried. And it wasn’t like I had an experience of resolution. It wasn’t like, “Oh, yeah now I fixed that.” Like, I’m not about to tell you, like, “Yeah, and, you know, now I never had to deal with it. I don’t apologize for that anymore. I think I’m so great. It’s wonderful. No, it was like … It was really just like … it was like I’d been looking at a steamy bathroom mirror forever and that I had just like swiped down the center of it and I could see myself for real. And it’s not about trying to change the reflection or doing anything with it. It’s just gazing upon it and letting it be there and letting that be okay and making space for it. 

Nyge: Personally, my experience with meditation, I don’t think it’s super conventional. My introduction to meditation was after being hospitalized due to like a mental health like emergency. And then that’s how I got introduced by doctors to meditation. And so I use meditation to help me in times when I need peace. Now, it’s like a tool in my, like, health care plan. And meditation isn’t just me on all my meditation apps to have like a whole page dedicated to them. But … 

Jessamyn: Yes, yes, do it. 

Nyge: But it also just can sometimes be me listening to Lauryn Hill’s “I Gotta Find Peace of Mind.” What does the room smell like? What are you listening to? What does a Jessamyn meditation session look like? 

Jessamyn: Well, okay, this is amazing, first of all. And second of all, I feel like that is maybe one of the most common introductions to meditation is mental health breakdowns. (laughs) There is no greater introduction honestly to being like, “Okay…”

Nyge: Right. 

Jessamyn: “… I’m losing it, or I have lost it.” Like I feel like I have to. And I think that I mean yoga and meditation, that is almost always like the key component that leads to a lifelong practice is recognizing that the practice itself is medicine and that it has to be tailor made to wherever you are right now. And I would say honestly that most of my meditations look like complete chaos. It’s like it’s me recognizing that you don’t have something more important to do. You don’t need to make it special like you don’t have to light that candle. You don’t have to find that meditation online, you don’t have to do that, just sit down, just get heavy. Don’t even try to breathe specifically, just be. And so I guess what I would say is that the way that I meditate is that I just let myself show up exactly as I am. I let it be as messy and as sloppy as it needs to be. I don’t try to block out any thoughts. I don’t try to assume a specific posture. It’s nice whenever the aesthetics are there. But, you know, I hope if I need to meditate at the worst of times, then it’s good practice, you know what I mean, like not not sticking to any one specific thing. 

Merk: Well, something we’d like to do is given just everything that’s happening in the world, given just where we’re at in our lives, we want to just explore some of that messiness with you. And in your book, you do say that, “Breath is the butter that sizzles on your body’s cast iron skillet … and your body can cook all kinds of things, but it’s going to need some breath to get that ish poppin’.” So with that, can we be with you in this moment by you guiding us through a little breathing exercise?

Jessamyn: Please, I would love that truly. And I would say if we can start by just shaking it out a little bit, wherever you are, however you are, just shaking your legs out, shaking your arms out, shake your head from side to side. And it doesn’t even have to be like, “Okay, I’m shaking my body.” Just let it move organically. I’m sure there’s a way that your head wants to tilt that you weren’t tilting it before. So just let that happen organically. And for me, I have my feet on the ground and I’m rooting into my feet, but only so much so that I can get really heavy.

(meditation music begins)

Jessamyn: And as it feels natural, you can just let your eyes close. You’ll know when it’s time. And initially, you’re just letting yourself arrive. Every piece of yourself you been hiding from. The things you don’t like. Make space at the table. Let everything arrive here. You start to notice. There are little parts of your body. That don’t want to be still. Maybe it’s … your eyelashes. Maybe it’s your fingertips. It’s all good. There’s no judgment. Everything about you … is exactly where it needs to be. And as you sit here … letting your breath get heavy … letting your body weight down … just start to notice the way you’re breathing. Not with any judgment. There’s no need to change anything. You may notice that your inhales … are strained. That your exhales … are ragged. That’s okay. All of you, every piece. Everything is as it needs to be. You are exactly as you need to be. And the more you accept exactly as your breath is right now. You’ll notice … that the breath wants to become more intentional. And as it feels natural, and as it feels organic … find your breath flowing in through your nose. And then out through your nose. And if you need to flex and stretch on your exhales, that’s fine. Let it out. You can lean into this breath. This breath. It’s always here for you. No matter where you are. No matter what you need. This breath is here. To guide you. To teach you. To fill you. And to make you cool. When you’re ready. You know, when it’s time. Gently blink your eyes open. 

(meditation music ends)

Nyge: Thank you. Thank you so much.

Jessamyn: Thank you so much. If I can say one thing in closing on the breathing, something that my students in my yoga community, the Underbelly, ask me is, “What do I do with the bad thoughts come up? How do I get rid of them? What do I do to move on?” And I think the bad thoughts are the point, I think it’s all about letting everything that you would usually run from letting it catch up to you, just like looking under the bed for the monster that you’re afraid lives under there or looking in the closet, or turning the lights on. And we are all so powerful. You are so powerful. And if anything, experiencing the worst of yourself is just further proof of that. 

Merk: Well, everybody, we want to thank Jessamyn for being here today. If you want to learn more about her, you can check out her site jessamynstanley.com, follow her on IG @mynameisjessamyn, and of course, pre-order “Yoke,” online which drops on June 22.

Jessamyn: Thank you all so much for having me.

Nyge: When we’re back, we’ll be chatting with singer-songwriter extraordinaire, Tayla Parx.

[Episode Break]

Merk: Our next guest brings art to everything she does. We’ve got with us Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, businesswoman and creative Tayla Parx. She has written for basically everybody from Janelle Monae, Ariana Grande, Kendrick Lamar, Anderson .Paak, BTS, J.Lo, Christina Aguilera, and Mariah Carey – just to name a few, you know, a little few. 

Nyge: Tayla has released two of her own albums, her latest being Coping Mechanisms. In addition to that, she recently launched Tayla Made, Inc — the umbrella company to Parx Publishing, her Trailer Parx lifestyle brand and her creative collective Parx Studios. So, to talk with us about music, passion, creativity and all the things that feed our souls we wanna give a huge welcome to Tayla Parx!

(“Dance Alone” plays)

Tayla: What’s up? What’s up, y’all?

Nyge: We also didn’t mention it up top, but you have acted before in one of my favorite shows growing up, “True Jackson VP.” And then also you were Little Inez in “Hairspray!” 

Tayla: C’mon True Jackson.

Nyge: Yeah, yeah. That show was so dope. But when fans approach you, do you like since you’ve been a part of so many huge projects, do you really ever really know what they’re going to bring up? 

Tayla: No idea. Some people are calling me, you know, AJ, from “The Walking Dead.” They’ll hear that and be like, “Oh my god, you’re AJ!” And some people are like Little Inez. And some people are like Tayla Made. You know, it’s always actually a really, really fun thing, honestly, to see what people really connected with me on and to see their discovery of all of the other things because, you know, I’ll see a lot of times on Twitter, for instance, people will be like, “Y’all didn’t tell me Little Inez is writing the songs that I love!” And so it’s just funny to see people make that connection.

Merk: You’re like it’s been true. It’s been true.

Tayla: (laughs)

Nyge: So as a publisher, you’ve talked about making sure songwriters feel happy about their contracts. What types of things do you do to make sure that they’re being fed creatively but also taken care of on the business side, too? Because I know that’s really important to you.

Tayla: A massive part of me being a publisher and my role of being a publisher is, first of all, helping them understand what you’re signing and making sure that you’re aware of that, making sure that I’m — you know, the expectations are, you know, something realistic and something impossible. It’s a little bit of both, because you have to be able to believe that you can do whatever at any point in your career. So it’s really saying, “Look, what I wish I would have known when I first signed the deal,” that’s exactly the type of publisher that I’m going to be. And a lot of that is really creating longevity and finding ways to do that. And that is by practicing being proactive toward your mental health. 

Merk: Yeah, I mean, I wanted to ask about the Burnout camps that you did have a couple of years ago. You focused a lot on self care and you used a lot of your own money to build those camps. Why is self care such an important thing to you? And how do you go about finding coping mechanisms for yourself as a creative?

Tayla: Self care is super important for me because I’ve seen the effects of what not being proactive about your mental health and your self care and all of those things does to people, you know? And like I said, my only idea of success is longevity. It has nothing to do with the amount of money that you’re making. It has nothing to do with how popular you are or any of those other things that people forget about. How long were you able to consistently be successful? You know, because that’s really the only thing that happens is we see a lot of this burnout happen. You can be successful for six months. Good luck living off of that money for the rest of your life, though, you know, not thinking about longevity and some — you know, and also I had, you know, experiences where it was like I was having panic attacks and, you know, eventually the stress-induced seizure. And, you know, I’ve been working since I was nine years old. So these are things that, you know, people will look at me at my age — I’m 27 now — and forget that that means I’ve been working for definitely the majority of my life. But it’s a long time in the game. Eventually I got to the point where I was like, I need to find a hobby outside of working. My latest one is pottery. So like I’ve literally have like a little membership. I made my first bowl the other day. Like I’m…

Merk: Ohhhh. 

Tayla: Yes, yes. 

Nyge: That’s so cool. I used to do pottery when I was a little kid. I think when I was like eight or nine, I was in pottery like every Saturday morning. It was at this place called Kids ‘N’ Clay. 

Merk: Yes, we had those up in Washington, too. 

Nyge: Yeah, I used to live at Kids ‘N’ Clay.

Tayla: I’m so sad that I never knew about this until I was older. That was my fiance. My fiance was like, you know, I got an award when I was five for my clay. And I’m like, “Girl, get out of here.” 

Nyge: That’s clean. Yeah, that’s clean. You touched on it, but I kind of want to dive a little bit deeper into that. Like, how did you approach that moment where you had to readjust yourself? Because I think that’s something that we all hit at as creatives at points in our lives. 

Tayla: Well, I’ll start off where I was. I was doing, like I call it, 21 TP mode. And it’s like when I was 21 years old, 22 years old, I was doing like three sessions a day. I was writing over 200 songs a year. So that means that I was in the session from 12 to probably midnight. I don’t even like night sessions anymore. But those songs, I would go through those things and be like, “Wow, I’m seeing these songs come out over the next two or three years.” You know? So now I approach it like this, which I’m coming up on in about a month or two, I can basically say, “Man, I just went in this whole time and I’m only going to do three sessions a week for this next few months.” And those other days will allow me, first of all, to be able to be open enough with any new artist I want to work with if it just happens to pop up. Like yesterday, you know, I was with JID the first half of the day and I was with Iann Dior in the second half of the day. You know, it’s one of those things that’s just being like, “Okay, now I had that moment of go, go, go, go, go.” Now, let’s refill the well.

Nyge: It’s interesting, too, because just you even bringing that up like three sessions a week sounds like a lot. I mean, especially when you’re working with artists like you just mentioned, JID, like the way that JID thinks and the way that he raps and creates is just so, like, abstract. And he’s got like a billion thoughts all at once. But it seems like and you’re managing that and then also moving to two other sessions that week. That’s…

Tayla: Yes, it’s a lot of creative energy. And I’m such an empath that like when you typically — like I said, people don’t like writing with a whole bunch of people at once — but I’m such an empath that I’m like, “Woah, I feel I’m going super saiyan mode. Let’s go!” I’m like getting all of that energy. And really, really, it’s a really fun challenge because you cannot approach, you know, going in with a JID the same way that you do with a pop star, with the same way that you would do with a country artist or the same way that you would do, you know? It really is like a fun thing being like, how much can you really continue to be, you know, somebody who listens enough to be able to be a chameleon in that regard? And so it is important equally to be able to say, “Okay, now I’m going to have a blank slate and I’m just going to be.” You know what I mean? It’s hard to just be. 

Merk: Tell me about it. 

Tayla: And it’s one of the — it’s something that really takes a lot of mental and emotional strength. 

Merk: You’ve said curiosity is what drives you to create. So what’s a topic you’re curious about but you haven’t really dove into yet but you’re ready for it?

Tayla: Hmm, something that I haven’t delved into? I mean, right now it’s been pottery so who knows what kinda lyrics are going to come out of that to be honest. 

Merk: It’s gonna be Tayla Pots, not Tayla Parx. Tayla Pots. 

Nyge: Ohhh! 

Tayla: Oh my god! C’mon, wait a minute. I’m gonna have to slide you a percentage! 

C’mon, love, love, but I think it’s always well, first of all, the curiosity of people. So any time that I’ve been in the same circles for too long, I’m just like, “Okay, I need to meet a bunch. I just need to get just a clean slate, you know? And so doing things like going to — I was in Nashville for like two and a half weeks just writing country music, and I did a little gospel session or two as well. But it was just an opportunity for me to be able to learn from new energy, new people. And it’s because I’m curious that I’m able to do that. Also a lot really, really curious about, you know, of course, like crypto and NFT, like all of those things, because it’s really, really — like I’m just a person who likes to take in so much information because there’s a lot of different ways that you can learn about people. 

Merk: Yeah.

Tayla: And where the world is going. What are people — what kind of content are people engaging in? Because that also helps me to understand what is the world feeling right now? Are they feeling lonely? Are they feeling hopeful? 

Nyge: Right. 

Tayla: And so it’s always been curious about then you can learn it from a million different ways. 

Merk: I am just imagining a whole bunch of little SpongeBobs right now, like us walking the world as SpongeBob, just like soaking up the good stuff and using the imagination. 

Tayla: Yeah, “Imagination.” 

Nyge: Merk literally has that on her wall. 

Merk: I do. 

Nyge: A poster of that imagination from “SpongeBob.” 

Tayla: I love it. I literally just made a SpongeBob reference in my workout this morning. I’m like, “Oh, I feel like Larry the Lobster.”

Merk: Like Larry! 

Nyge: I’m curious what coping mechanisms are most useful for you when you’re finding it harder for whatever reason to make something that’s Tayla Made?

Tayla: I think one of the first coping mechanisms that comes to mind when I’m feeling uninspired is to, first of all, take a step back and breathe. Like that’s the most simple thing that you can do. If you’re not inspired, that means a few different things. It can mean that something is bothering you in your subconscious. You know, it can mean that you are feeling anxious and too wound up to even be able to relax enough to acknowledge your emotions, to really genuinely get them out. There’s so many different things that are behind that, so I like to just take a step back and breathe. We’re going to go for a walk or I’m going to go play with my puppies, or whatever, just try to take a step back and get perspective, and of course, you know, you can light some candles. You can light some, you know, I have some aromas to help you cope. You know, for instance, about to drop, which I like basically mixed up some of my favorite smells and created these own like things. So Trailer Parx is coming with that. But we’re also coming up with a whole thing, like we designed a security blanket. 

Merk: Oh, my gosh. 

Tayla: It’s like rolling papers coming, like whatever way that helps you cope. 

Merk: That is so amazing.

Tayla: Yeah.

Nyge: Well, I mean, like you said, now we’re going to give everybody a second to breathe. We’re going to play a song from Coping Mechanisms called “Justified,” featuring Adult ISH alum, Tank and the Bangas. Yeah, let’s play that. 

(“Justified” plays)

Nyge: Since this episode’s theme is mind, body, and soul, we wanted to know how music serves as an outlet for your mental health and how it nourishes your soul?

Tayla: It really helps me express all of the things that I’m afraid to say or I’m afraid will come out the wrong way, you know? And that’s saying a lot because I’m somebody who will say anything that’s on my mind. But when it comes to my deepest, darkest emotions, the Virgo in me is very — “No, we gonna tuck this on away” and the safe place for me to be able to release that is my music. Because first of all, you know, people can interpret, however, they can interpret it, however they interpret it. But I know every nitty gritty detail on why I write a line or why I said a line the way that I said it and writing is and creative writing in general, even when I was really, really young and I had a teacher, Mr. Grunja, when I was like, I don’t know, I might have been like six years old or whatever. And I was in a poetry class and that was like my first opportunity and being like, “Oh, as a child, to be able to understand, woah I can write out my emotions and that just be it.” Okay, cool it, and it helps me deal. And helps my fans get to know me more. And when you see a bunch of people singing along to those lyrics, it just makes you feel like, well, the same way that when you’re with your friends and you all love the same song and you feel like we’re on the same wavelength. 

Nyge: Yeah.

Tayla: You know, you get me. And so music is that for me, you know? Music has been a diary. You know, it’s been a best friend, has been all of those different things. It’s been a therapist. 

Merk: I mean the work that we do with our show, it’s like, yeah, Nyge and I aren’t making beats like you are, but, you know, in our storytelling and that’s what everything is, right? Creative stuff, it is storytelling at its core. And I think that connection with people and just wanting to learn and be these sponges like that’s… 

Tayla: Yes.

Merk: We’re spongin’ it out here. 

Tayla: Exactly, the moment that you’re not curious, that’s when you really stop becoming the greatest you because you never know what you’re going to have all evolved into. You never know what’s going to be introduced into your life that takes you to the next thing because I never thought of it that way. So you always have to stay curious.

(“Nevermind” plays)

Merk: Alright y’all, well, if you’re not already a Tayla Tot then be sure to follow Tayla on IG and Twitter @taylaparx. Listen to “Coping Mechanisms” and the rest of her discography and check out all things Tayla Made at taylaparx.com.

Nyge: So today’s takeaway number one: accept your whole self, the light and the dark. It’s a process though so it will be messy at times. And that’s okay.

Merk: And takeaway number two: do your best to recognize when you’re burning out and feeling uninspired. Listen to yourself and try to follow your natural curiosities to get you back to being your best self.

Nyge: Before we roll the credits, we also want to remind you that we are not mental health care professionals! If you’re feeling less than 100%, self care podcasts are a great start, but for many people, the right choice is to pair this mind-body-and-soul-ISH with professional help. 

Merk: And even though we can’t therapize ya, you CAN head to our website for mental health resources and info to get you connected to the pros! 

Nyge: With that, thank you for listening to Adult ISH, produced by YR Media, a national network of young artists and journalists creating content for this generation. Big shoutouts to our producer Georgia Wright, Executive Producer Rebecca Martin, and the young people at YR who contributed art for this episode. 

Merk: In addition to Tayla’s music, if you’re in the mood for new playlists to check out, I’ve got plenty of on Spotify @ultraraduberfad. Yeah, follow me if you want to. Our show’s on social @YRadultISH and our site is adultishpodcast.com.

Nyge: We’re also proud to be members of Radiotopia by PRX. An independent listener-supported collective of some of the most mindful shows in all of podcasting. Find them at radiotopia.fm.

Merk: And now for next week’s out of context clip.

(pills rattling in a bottle)

Merk: Hmm … Maracas?

Nyge: Who knows? Find out next week. Peace!

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