Sunday, September 28, 2008

Love it!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Cats

Anbody who knows me well knows that I am a sucker for musicals. My iPod is full of soundtracks from my favorite musicals. Some of my favorites are Wicked, West Side Story, The Sound of Music, Hairspray, Joseph and the Amazing Technical Dream Coat, Evita, Pretty Woman, Fiddler on the Roof, and Sweeney Todd just to name a few. Saturday night the family and I went to Cats at Capital Theater. Cats is the longest running play in Broadway history. I had never seen it so I was excited to see it for the first time. The singing, dancing, make up, and costumes were all absolutely amazing. My favorite songs were Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats and Memory. After watching Cats I can't wait to see Wicked this spring. Here's a video of Memory performed by the original Broadway cast.



My other favorite was Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I want YOU!


I am very happy to have the opportunity to be a Co Director for the Kid's Book Club Program at The Road Home. Part of my job as Co Director is to get some volunteers for the program. So I am calling on you, who ever is reading this blog. Book Club happens every Monday night at The Road Home which is located at 210 South Rio Grande Street (455 West) Salt Lake City, Utah 84101. The Kid's Book Club is a great way to get involved and make a difference in our community. The goal of the program is to help children ages 5-12 gain an interest and love for reading. Volunteers will read one on one with a couple of kids, then come together and read a fun group book. Afterward, art and/or snack activities centered on the theme or characters in the group story follow to reinforce the enjoyment of reading. Volunteers should come with an open mind and a love for reading and kids. I should warn you up front that it can get chaotic. If you like nice well mannered children who only speak when spoken to, then this program probably isn't for you. Volunteers should be able to work effectively with these awesome kids and be positive role models and examples. I mentioned in a previous post about the insane number of famlies living at the shelter (last week there were 20 families in crisis shelter, meaning not in a room of their own). As a result of the increase in families there is also an increase in kids coming to Book Club. We need all the help we can get. I hope to see you there. If you have more questions you can e-mail me at taylorhorn@hotmail.com.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Amazing!

This is absolutely my favorite thing right now.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Memories

Why is it that you never really have a true appreciation of a person or place until they are gone? When I miss a place or a person it is the very small things that get to me the most. I miss smells, sounds, words, sensations and feelings. Feelings of contentment, feelings of love, feelings of thinking I know what the future holds for me. Life has a way of keeping you on your toes. As soon as you feel like everything is as it should be, something always happens to destroy this feeling. I used to think I knew what the future held in store for me. The simple truth is, I don't. I never will, and that's ok. I can appreciate what I have right now; celebrate who I am right now, because tomorrow is a new day with new events, new people and new experiences. While the future is always new and exciting, memories are always there to remind you of the past. Memories are strange. The smallest smell or faintest sound can bring a faded memory back to vibrant multi color in an instant. I love memories. They can be painful (even the good ones) but they are mine. No one else's. They are mine to be dusted off and revisted like an old photograph. Memories have the ability to change my day. I can be walking along and smell a cologne, see a landmark, or hear a song and the rest of my day is thrown into a pot overflowing with an eclectic mix of emotions. Sometimes it gets to be too much and that's where releases come in: tennis, running, writing, and crying (or a combinations of these). I have learned that when a memory is painful, ride it out. because there just may be a pleasant one hiding in there somewhere. A memory which forces a smile onto your face no matter where you are. Those are the best memories I possess.

Dream Big

In my weekly meeting at The Bennion Center (the community service center at the University of Utah) we were given this poem which I really really like.

Dream Big - Author Unknown

If there were ever a time to dare,
to make a difference,
to embark on something worth doing,
it is now.

Not for any grand cause, necessarily--
but for something that tugs at your heart,
something that's your aspiration,
something that's your dream.

You owe it to yourself
to make your days here count.
Have fun.
Dig deep.
Stretch.

Dream big.

Know, though, that things worth doing
seldom come easy.
There will be good days.
There will be times when you want to turn around,
pack it up,
and call it quits.

Those times tell you that you are pushing yourself,
that you are not afraid to learn by trying.

Persist.

Because with an idea, determination,
and the right tools, you can do great things.
Let your instincts, your intellect,
and your heart guide you.

Trust.

Believe in the incredible power of the human mind.
Of doing something that makes a difference.
Of working hard.
Of laughing and hoping.
Of lazy afternoons.
Of lasing friends.
Of all the things that will cross your path this year.

The start of something new
brings the hope of something great.
Anything is possible.
There is only one you.
And you will pass this way only once.
Do it right.

Monday, September 8, 2008

S.O.S

I have the opportunity to work at The Road Home every Monday night. I work in the Kid's Book Club Program there. I love the chaos that occurs there. I love talking to the kids and their parents. The parents are doing their best to give their kids the life they never had. I respect and am inspired by the hard work they put into raising their kids. I always go away from The Road Home feeling physically drained but spiritually full. Today was an especially draining day. It was my first day being "Program Director" and organizing and planning the group reading book and activity. So after reading The Thingumajig Book of Manners the kids brainstormed about some "manners" that we should have in book club. "Don't say bitch" and "Don't go into the boy's bathroom" were some of my favorites that the kids came up with. (I tried to make the kids come up with rules without using "no" or "don't" but they didn't really grasp that.) After the chaos was over and the room put, somewhat, back together I waited with 2 kids for their parents to come pick them up. As we were waiting in the lobby I noticed that there were about 4-5 families living in the lobby. They had run out of rooms in the shelter and had set up emergency shelter in the lobby. I have never seen this many families living at the shelter. Usually the winter months bring in a lot more families and that is when it gets crowded, so it was strange to see that there were this many families displaced at this time of year.

I definitely lean to the left. I am a big proponent for the little guy, pro-choice, pro gay marriage, and anti big business (Wal-Mart is the epitome of evil). Looking at all the families in the lobby, all the kids in book club, and all the cars being lived in near the shelter, it hit me. This is the reality of the economic mess we are in. It is no longer just numbers stated by politicians and talking heads on CNN. It isn't just something that you see in the newspaper. It is reality. People's, and more importantly, children's lives have been turned upside down. While oil execs are raking in record amounts of cash, regular people are foreclosing on their homes and being forced out onto the streets. A small number of these families are homeless because of addictions as stereotypes would suggest. They are a product of our economic situation and the current administration occupying office for the past 8 years. They are a product of high gasoline prices, high food costs, foreclosure rates, high insurance costs etc. But most importantly they are human. They are just like you or I. They deserve the same health benefits as you or I simply based on the fact that they are human beings. I am so blessed to live in a home, go to school, go on an amazing trip to Africa. We have all been blessed and because of that we are able to give. Whoever is out there reading this blog, go work in a homeless shelter, work at the Utah Food Bank, or simply donate money if you're short on time. We need change, everyone is in agreement on that. "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." -Mahatma Gandhi

Sorry to get political but it was just on my mind after tonight.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Now that I'm home...



A lot has changed since I got home from Ghana 25 days ago. Changes for the better, and changes for the worse. You never really know how much you love a place until you have to leave it. That is how I feel about Ghana. I was excited to get home to a boyfriend, a hot shower, Wendy's, and some clean clothes. I had painted such an exciting and beautiful picture of my life back home; I was excited to get back to it. Now that I am home I realize the picture is faded and definitely not what I had envisioned. I always chuckle when I get the question "So...how was it?" There is no way that I can sum up my entire experience in one conversation or even a days worth of conversation. And a simple "It was good" does not serve justice to my experiences and memories. There is so much that I learned and am still learning from my experience in Ghana. There is a plus to being home and that is a fast internet connection. Meaning that I can finally upload some pictures.


Kelvin









His name is Kelvin. I've talked about Kelvin in previous posts. He was adopted towards the end of the trip, and in my opinion he is going to have a pretty easy time assimilating into his new british life style. His mother's house will be the cleanest in all the land thanks to Kelvin's love and excitment for helping out. Kelvin taught me that sometimes you can't wait for someone else to rock you to sleep. Sometimes you just have to do it yourself. He also taught me about standing up for the little guy. Kelvin was not afraid to stand up for his peers against some of the older orphans. I miss Kelvin, and think of him daily.



Kofi






This beautiful little boy is Kofi. In the beginning Kofi was always serious, never talked and rarely cracked a smile. After a few weeks though, he was all smiles and chattered away in Twi. I never understood what he was saying but I loved it all the same. Sometimes Kofi would go back into his serious state and just watch the other kids. He would cry when necessary but would quit when it was no longer necessary. Kofi taught me that there are times when you need to cry but there are times when you don't. There are times when you need to be serious and take a step back and just watch, but there are times when you need to get in there and have fun. Who cares if no one understands. I miss Kofi, and think of him daily.

Tsulee


I never got to say goodbye to Tsulee, he was adopted while I was on my trip up north. Tsulee is smart. He loved learning new English words. And I loved hearing his sweet gravelly voice. The orphans and I would play a game, I would say "On your marks" and they would squat down and touch their index fingers to the ground like a modified runners starting position. Then I would say "Get set, GO!" and we would all run run run, turn around and start all over again. This was Tsulee's favorite game. We played it everyday after dinner and if I forgot Tsulee would look at me and say in his gravelly, accented voice "Auntie Taylah! On your marks!" Whenever we were moving to a different part of the orphanage Tsulee would remind me to get my bag by saying "Auntie Taylah, yo bag, yo bag." Tsulee taught me that no matter what your situation is, you can always find a way to have fun. I hope Tsulee is happy with his new family. He definitely deserves it. I miss Tsulee, and think of him daily.



Ama Foli







Ama Foli knows what she wants and wants it now. If I were holding her and, god forbid, put her down to pick up another screaming child, Ama would throw a fit! She may be small but she could make older boys cry. Ama Foli was also known for her songs. Ama Foli loved singing. "Sea Saw up and Down" was my favorite in her repitoire of songs. Ama and I also had a little ritual. Whenever she was in a particularly bad mood I would simply put her on my back, she would rest her head on my back and I would hum, sing or whistle my favorite Jack Johnson, Norah Jones, or Kristin Chenoweth songs. We would walk around the orphanage like this until she was calm. One day I went to the school to pick up our school kids and I noticed Ama Foli was crying. This was nothing new but I decided to go see what was up. I went to pick her up and she winced, I looked to see what was causing her pain and noticed that right knee was at least 3 times the size it should be. I carefully carried her back to the house auntie to see if anyone had noticed this. She told me that Ama had already been treated, and that the swelling had gone down considerably from the day before. I was careful with Ama's knee the rest of the day. Towards the end of that day Ama was running, singing and throwing fits just like the same old Ama Foli. The only difference was a slight little limp which brought a little comedy to my day. I learned from Ama Foli that no matter what life throws at you there's always a way around it. She taught me that I need to carry on with my normal life no matter what emotional or physical pain I may be in. I miss Ama Foli, and think of her daily.



Lydia



Lydia was one of our morning, special needs girls. She has both physical and mental disablities but I don't know the name for them. She had little control over her limbs and muscles. She could walk a short distance if you were holding her hands. She could hear you if you made noises into her left ear, and she reacted to bright colors. I have to admit I was a little squirmish about Lydia when we first started taking her out. Her days are spent on a pot in her own waste and she was only cleaned when we cleaned her or when we asked for her to be cleaned. After I got over those issues I immediately fell in love with Lydia. She has a smile that will melt your heart in an instant. I have never seen a smile that big and that genuine. Lydia was also picked on by all of the other kids. It was a game for the other kids to kick, hit and pinch Lydia until she cried. I stopped this behavior whenever I could see it but I couldn't be in there protecting her from the kids at all times. Lydia taught me about survival. Lydia is a survivor and a hero of mine. I know I would not be able to take the abuse and sub human treatment she was objected to and then smile and radiate happiness a moment later. I miss Lydia, and think of her daily.



Adu


Adu was one of the few kids at the orphanage who were HIV+. This was not what defined Adu though. None of the volunteers kept their distance from Adu because of his sickness. He was just too cute and charming for that. He loved falling asleep in your lap and playing silly games with rocks or leaves. He shared Ama's love of singing but I never could understand the words he was singing. I learned an important lesson from Adu. He is labeled as HIV+ but that was not Adu. I may be labeled by some people but that is not me. I miss Adu, and think of him daily.
These are just a few of the kids and just a few of the lessons that I learned from them. I hold dear in my heart every memory and picture of the kids and Ghana. I had hard days but I wouldn't change a single day if I had the chance. This experience benefitted me then, now and I know it will in the future. Because of events occuring since I got home, I often find myself feeling like my world has fallen apart with no hope for the future. In these moments I look back at my pictures, read my journal entries, and try to heal myself that way.

Thank you everyone who supported me in every way during this adventure. There may be future posts if I feel so inclined on this blog so keep checking back. :) Peace and love.

Oh and if anyone wants to sponsor a child so that they can go to school just let me know and I can get you the information to get started on this process. It really doesn't take very much money to sponsor a child.