Posts from the ‘Non-Fiction’ Category

Dream Weaver

By: Rebecca Taylor in 2008

Previously published by Ageless-Sages, and in Memories Everlasting (compiliaton of stories for a fundraiser for The Wales Home Foundation).

Nestled away in a drawer is my graduation hat. Occasionally, I take it out and look at it. Some probably call it clutter. I call it a memento. Looking at it makes me smile because I remember the hard work that made high school graduation possible and the grand moment when I walked across the stage and received my diploma. Next, I went to college and emerged two years later with my diploma in office administration.

Now, I am secretary-receptionist at a senior’s home where I have the opportunity to meet and help amazing seniors every day. I am proud of my accomplishments but more importantly, I am proud of the undertakings, which I see them make. Change is hard to accept, but when the transformations that occur alter the way your life has been lived, you have to have an astonishing sense of strength to overcome those challenges. Age has caused some of these seniors to lose mobility, eyesight, hearing and sometimes their minds are not as sharp as they desire. The ability to write their names as they once did often changes, they see the change in what was on the papers in front of them but I see perfection, because no matter what life brings them, these seniors push their boundaries, overcoming their obstacles making me proud of them. I believe that as long as any of us does our best we have achieved. Some people fear aging, I don’t. I know at twenty-one, I am starting my life but if I adopt the practices of these seniors and live a happy, determined lifestyle anything is possible. Life must be taken in strides.

You never know what will touch your life. Some of the smallest things can touch lives in the biggest ways. My favourite phrases are “thank you” and “have a great evening.” They may seem insignificant, but they’re not. They mean that someone cares, that you are important. We are all tiny ripples in the ocean of the world, each responsible for changing it. By touching a life, you make a difference. I pray that some day the world will be filled with smiling people, hands reaching out to help each other, and violence will be outdated. I believe positive thinking can help achieve anything; a smile is one’s greatest asset and wanting something enough will make it happen.

The most important thing in life is being happy. If you are unhappy stop, step back, and reflect. You need to weave dreams; they achieve goals. Dreams are motivation. Give back to the world, and it will give back to you. Our lives can be touched in the smallest of ways; a kind word, the touch of a hand and a smile can give people the utmost happiness they experience .Never quit. All lives need to be put in perspective. Sometimes it takes a news story but it could be a memento like my graduation cap, which reminds me of how fortunate I am to be surrounded by people that care both at home, at work, and in the community.

 

 

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Children’s Media: What is it Saying?

By: Rebecca Taylor

**Published by the Montreal Review in 2010**

 

It is natural for children to love having bedtime stories read to them but have you ever really thought about what it is that you are actually reading them. There are many stories and famous fairy tales out there, which undermine values, which you may be trying to teach a child. The same applies for other types of children’s media, like music and movies.

For example, there is “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” This is a story of hypocritical reindeer. Most of the reindeer refuse to or are forbidden from playing with Rudolph because he is different. He has a red nose. However, when Christmas Eve comes and it is storming out, Rudolph becomes a hero because he has a gift, his red nose can lead Santa Claus’ sleigh through the fog so that all the children receive their visit from Jolly Old Saint Nick, and not be disappointed come Christmas morning. After Rudolph saves Christmas, he is accepted, and allowed to “play in any reindeer games.[1]”  What lesson is being taught here, that being a hypocrite is okay? It needs to be duly noted that in the original “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” book by Robert L. May, Rudolph was much better treated, but why is it that this original story is not what children know?

In the popular tale, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” Goldilocks breaks into the Bears’ home while they are out taking a walk. She steals food, breaks furniture and sleeps in Baby Bear’s Bed. In today’s society, Goldilocks would be considered a juvenile delinquent. She would be accused of breaking and entering, stealing and destruction of property. Does Goldilocks get punished in this story? No, she doesn’t, she goes out the window and runs away. What is this teaching children, that it is okay to do something wrong as long as you as you run and hide from it?

In “Rumpelstiltskin,” a woman is locked away and asked to do the impossible (spin straw into gold) because her father lied about her abilities. She is threatened with death if she cannot accomplish this. A dwarf helped her by spinning the straw to gold, and then blackmailed her for her first-born child unless she can guess his name. It is not until someone hears Rumpelstiltskin singing, and tells the woman about what the dwarf’s name is that she is able to keep her child. If you are reading this to a child, what are you teaching them? Yes, the woman gets to keep her child but she never should have been in the situation that she was. The lesson here would be?

When I was a child, my mother would change the ending to many stories and someday I’ll probably be doing the same thing when I have children because the lessons these stories are teaching are not what I want to portray. I could refuse to share the media that I disagree with to my children but then they would go to school and learn about fictitious characters like Rudolph. Ignoring the issues, will not solve anything, new endings should be written to these stories, for example, maybe the police would be called on Goldilocks, to figure out the best solution to the problems. If nothing else, Goldilocks needs to be told that she did wrong and that it is inappropriate behaviour. The same applies to the other examples given. There needs to be an add-on or discussion questions at the end, teaching about the issues in these stories. I believe in fiction but I also believe that there needs to be a moral to a story so that children do not get the wrong ideas.

These are only a few examples of the media which children are subjected to. The next time, you pick up a movie, CD or book, think about the actual content of it, consider what it is really saying. And if you decide to still give it to your children, as entertainment, please talk to them about it afterwards. You can discuss what the characters did wrong, and how they could have fixed it. The choice is yours.

 

 

[1] Words from song “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” by Johnny Marks, 1949.

The Benefits of Positive Thinking

By: Rebecca Taylor (written in April 2011)

 

It is easy for life to get busy and sometimes even the smallest things make us feel overwhelmed and discouraged. However, if we attempt to keep a positive outlook on life, this makes it harder for the gloom to get a hold of us.  In order to stay positive, we must all take time for ourselves to replenish our energy. These few minutes a day might make all the difference.

There are many ways that we can turn a not so great day into something better. For each of us, this will be different because we are all unique. For some of us, it can be as simple as getting a phone call from a friend, hearing his or her voice might put a smile on our face even if we are talking about a subject of little significance. Listening to music, watching your favourite movie, reading a book or working on one of your hobbies can make you feel uplifted so if you work these activities into your schedule, around your hectic lifestyle, they may help you be a happier, more optimistic person. If you have the time, you may also consider a volunteer activity, because giving back to others is another way for us to feel better about ourselves.

Positive thinking is beneficial to our health. When we are positive, it is more likely that we will live longer, be less likely to become depressed, be less prone to, or better at coping with stress. The mental and physical strain on each of us is also supposed to be reduced when we think positively.

We must remember what Dennis and Wendy Mannering say, “Attitudes are contagious. Are yours worth catching?” If each of us does our best to keep things positive, then this will make it easier for the people around us to be positive too. There are two ways of looking at most situations. It is up to us to decide if our glass is half-full or half empty.

It is difficult to change all at once, so if you decide that you’re going to work at being a more positive person, remember self improvement takes time and patience but do not give up, the more you work at being positive, the easier it will come. The way you make the transition is up to you, maybe you will decide to start and finish each day with thinking about something that is positive in your life. Wishing you all a happy, positive month.

 

The Dog and the Cow

A True Story by Rebecca Taylor

For many reasons including the fact that most of last week and the entire weekend was spend busy with garage sale things, Chapter 32 of my novel didn’t get written this week. I had good intentions of getting to it last night, but that didn’t work out either, but I thought I would share with you part of yesterday’s adventures. The day began as normal, I got up early and went to my computer where I checked my e-mails for orders from my writing clients etc. Then, it was time to relax a little before work. I had just sat down with my cup of tea and my cat was sitting on my knee when my family and I looked outside the window and saw the neighbor’s Husky and a black bovine standing in the road. Still in my pyjamas, I quickly set down the cat and my cup of tea and put on my running shoes. I wasn’t even wearing socks yet. I went outside quickly, but not too fast as to startle the animals. I walked towards the road and waited for my dad to come out so he could get around the black cow – who when we got closer was actually a large bull calf. In the meantime, cars were coming by on the road and I gestured to get them to slow down – they did – but I’m not sure if it was the sight of me in my pyjamas on the side of the road or the dog and the bull in the road. It wasn’t long before the dog decided to go home as if to say that he was leaving his bovine friend in our hands. The bull calf decided that it was going to meander to another neighbor’s place, which is between ours and the calf’s owner. After several minutes of trying to catch it – I could get close to it, but it kept taking off – my dad finally caught it in a wooded area. It had a twine collar around its neck and he was able to take it by that. The bull’s owner is a man and I think the calf was certainly more used to them. My dad was able to lead the calf by its collar. Thankfully the calf had horns and that meant the collar didn’t slip off over its head. My mom brought us a better rope and then we led it into an enclosure at the neighbor’s – until the other neighbor could come and get it. I was able to finish my tea – now partly cold before getting ready for work. In the evening as I was sitting down, planning to get to work writing, one of our own cows decided it was a good time to give birth and she needed assistance so I went out to help my brother and my dad. A cute red and white bull calf was born and mom and baby are doing well. Life is never dull when you live on a farm in the country.

To the New Year

by: Rebecca Taylor

The New Year has arrived and with it is a time for contemplation – remembering the ups and downs of the year that has just ended and what your expectations are for upcoming year. These expectations can come in many forms, they can be hopes and dreams and events you hope to partake in or hobbies you hope to explore. Through it all there are many important things which you must remember: take time for the people that you really care about because time does not wait for you to accomplish what you want before you have time to spend with them. This could mean spending time juggling your schedule to accomplish all that you want to do and still have time for those important to you. It can be hard sometimes to prioritize your life but you must consider the bigger picture. If you get invited to coffee and want to go but don’t know if you can’t because you have a bunch of other things that you should be doing, consider how you might be able to do both or what can wait. I don’t mean that you should continually procrastinate but you also shouldn’t pass up moments which could be very enjoyable when a load of laundry or dishes could wait. We often think about the big events in our life as having the most meaning and often times they do but you have to take into account all of the beautiful little memories along the way because in the end, those small memories add up to be the big picture – your life. With each small encounter, some which may go unremembered by you because they seem insignificant, know they could deeply touch someone. Often a smile or kind word can make a huge difference in someone’s life whether you personally know them or not. So I say for the new year, let’s raise a glass to each other, embrace human and let’s hope for an amazing journey together on this earth, because we can all make it an incredible place to be one small act at a time.

Marveling at Technology

By: Rebecca Taylor

Many of us take the technology we are using for granted. We want our gadgets to work and we want our information fast. I have the opportunity to see people marvel at the equipment we have today, at the senior’s home where I work as an administrative assistant. When a resident wants to have a postal code, I am able to sit at my desk behind my computer, go online and get them the information within minutes, instead of having to use a large reference book to find the correct information. What kind of care does an azalea need? No problem, a search engine brings up this information without having to go to the library and look for a reference book on plants. Knitting patterns are too small; off to the photocopier I go and emerge less than a minute later with an enlarged copy. Family lives far away and wants to share a picture or a few words, e-mail makes communicating easy. With today’s technology the possibilities of what we can do are virtually endless. The internet is practically limitless in the information it has, I will admit sifting through it sometimes is a bit of an organizational challenge but generally it doesn’t take long to get the answer we are looking for. Everything we may want in a way can be found there – recipes, horoscopes, a copy of Dear Annie, quotes, poetry, book previews, even the kind of bird that wakes you up every morning can be found with sound clips. But are we happy with what we have? Some of us maybe but many of us want more, new versions are forever coming forward and everyone rushes to line up for the latest. Can you remember when we didn’t have any of this technology or the first time you saw a computer or the internet? I was in sixth grade when we got our first one and it had dial up internet. It was fast enough then but then we learned about faster options. Is society rushing more or do we just get used to the modern conveniences of today? When I think of the seniors I deal with, I smile because they are in such awe of what I can do with my machines, how much information they hold and how fast things can be done. Their bewilderment and the ease at which I can help them with their queries is a beautiful thing.

Songs that Impact Our Lives

by: Rebecca Taylor

Music is powerful and strong just like we all want to be. It has a way of saying what we want to say when we don’t know how. Choosing one song that impacted my life is almost impossible. We have to open ourselves up to the music and the lessons it can teach us. Songs like Blake Shelton’s “Some Beach” reminds us that when we are going through something difficult, to take a minute and envision our special place – our Zen place –  the beach in our minds.  A favourite of mine is “Keepin’ the Faith” by Rick Tippe because it has one of my favourite quotes “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift” by Eleanor Roosevelt and it tells us that even when things can get tough, to keep having faith and great things can happen. Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb” is another example of a song that can push us forward in our lives because it demonstrates that life is like a mountain, that you’ve got to keep going, it’s not always going to be easy but that it is just as important for us to embrace our journey in life as it is the goal we are heading for. Some songs catch us because the words or melody are fast/slow depending on the mood we are feeling and we find ourselves singing along, or having our day turned around because of songs like Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day” that just seem to made a bad day better. Music is happiness, music is love and despair and every emotion in between. It is the switch that can trigger a mood change or a revelation in our lives. It has a way of helping us through the rough times when we don’t have the words to say we’re hurting or confused. It is a form of medication that doesn’t require a prescription. Music is therapy that can impact us all in different ways. For example, Lonestar’s “Smile,” the heart touching song of someone smiling through the pain of someone leaving their lives so that, that person can be happy with the new life they are beginning. Music has a way of saying it’s okay that you had a life experience and you’re not alone. That’s music’s impact on each of our lives and for this I am grateful.

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