Rebecca Todd

Gin and Topics: Inspiration Edition

By: Rebecca Todd | April 19, 2013 | 

Gin and TopicsI awoke to my sister shaking my shoulders, holding me at the top of the stairs saying “Becki! Run! RUN!”

I ran down the stairs with her hot at my heels.

I had just turned 9 at the time, and while my memories of this fateful night are disjointed, they are also crystal clear.

My big sister Heidi running outside to take the car and get help.

My two big brothers running down the stairs, Cam managing his guitar, his skis, and an oil painting of him on his motorbike all under his arm, rushing out to dump his goods then right back in to be by my father’s side.

My mum yells “someone grab the leash I’m going up for the dog!” and disappears back up in to the thick cloud of smoke that has engulfed the upper story of our old farm house. She returns with the dog, Stew grabs me and the dog and pulls us out to the other car.

Mum slips on the ice, twisting her wrist. The ceiling collapses as Cam and Dad struggle vainly to rescue the hand written report cards, but end up with the national geographic maps; and dad deflects a piece of lumber, burning his fingertips.

The large picture window explodes, glass and flames erupting out in to the cold Canadian Winter. We ended up gathering in the homes of our neighbours, watching as the volunteer firefighters from the next town over bravely fought to contain the flames as our house disappeared in to ash.

The next day, two men walked down the street, still in bathrobes and slippers. One we knew well, but one was new to our sleepy little hamlet of Goodwood, Ontario. The man we had never met handed us the keys to his house. His family was leaving that day for two weeks in Florida, and he wanted to allow my now-homeless family free run of his home while they were gone. Even though we had never ever met.

I use this memory to remind me that there is so much GOOD in humanity. When tragedies strike, I do find it comforting to remember this. With that in mind, with this Gin and Topics I would like to share some videos to remind us how fantastic people (and animals!) really are.

1. I am a dork. A big nerdalinger. My friend tried to convince me to go out on a Saturday night recently, and I replied “Yes, sure, maybe…but Doctor Who is on…” Why I love this show so very much- it is the triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism.

2. When I face a daunting task, I watch this. Listen to this girl prep herself for her first ski jump. I love her analysis post jump. Amazing!

3. It’s a Great Dane and a Mini Pig caught snuggling! Your arguments are invalid!

4. Best Goal Ever- Kitchener, Ontario hosted the Special Hockey International tournament 2013 this year, and this clip sums up why this is such a powerful opportunity for people of all abilities. Watch both the diligence of this little player, and also the players around him that work patiently to support his success. And I dare you not to cry!

5. And, still on the hockey theme, I leave you with this little bit of inspiration. The recent events at the Boston marathon were beyond tragic. But in true American style the people of Boston picked themselves up and dusted themselves off. And they sang. They sang their hearts out. This might be the most moving rendition of The Star Spangled Banner ever.


About Rebecca Todd

Graduating with her bachelor's of education degree, Rebecca Todd knew the classroom wasn’t for her. Her passion for adventure carried her to educational publishing, and now she travels the globe and savors life on the road as a representative for Ivey Publishing. But she’ll always be an academic at heart, as evidenced by the meticulous annotations in the science fiction novels she loves to find in second-hand bookstores. When she’s not working on her list of the world’s best vegan restaurants, she enjoys hot yoga, hangs with her dogs, and sometimes thinks about working on her Victorian home.

  • Great story Rebecca, and love the inspiration theme of today’s Gin & Topics. The great dane and pig…ADORBS!!!

    • yvettepistorio You can find more of Brutus and Piggy on youtube…I love them!

      • RebeccaTodd yvettepistorio Is this the same piglet that goes down the stairs for the oatmeal?

        • Erin F. RebeccaTodd yvettepistorio No, that’s Hamlet! Another favourite. Hamlet has a bunch of videos up, too, but Brutus and Piggy stole my heart this week.

  • Erin Feldman

    Rebecca Amy Todd – This is amazing and wonderful.

  • Rebecca, you are such a beautiful person. I love that you shared that part of your story today. 
    Also, that little girl … I felt so nervous for her!! One time, I jumped off a 40 ft high ravine into a river and it was TERRIFYING. I totally felt that girl’s nervousness and then the success. Although, my jump ended in a fractured tailbone … What a darling!!

    • KateFinley Thank you Kate! I was honestly a blessing to learn so young the difference between people and stuff. Stuff can be replaced. 
      Yikes!!! Sorry to hear young Kate hurt herself, but I bet, knowing mature Kate, that it didn’t stop her from taking risks!

    • belllindsay

      KateFinley G’ah!! That’s terrible!

  • Rebecca Amy Todd

    Good! I am glad you enjoyed it Erin.

  • I love this! Thank you for sharing your story and for the inspiring videos.
    The girl who has her first ski jump makes me think I should do a pre- and post-cap Tough Mudder video.

    • Erin F. YES do it!!! I would love that. I have a feeling that once you are done, it will all seem worth it. Great idea Erin!

      • belllindsay

        RebeccaTodd Erin F. Great idea Erin!!

  • Oh RebeccaTodd this is so wonderful and so timely. We need distraction today and your incredible story, and the videos you chose, provide exactly that. Well done! And thank you.

    • allenmireles Excellent thank you! We were so lucky that night that we only lost stuff. My heart aches for those who have lost people this week.

      • belllindsay

        RebeccaTodd allenmireles It is a crazy story – one if my WORST nightmares. Brrrrrrr.

  • Wow, harrowing story, well told! I hadn’t watched the national anthem video — what a moment. “Rampahts” — heh!

    • RobBiesenbach Thanks Rob! Great to see some unity, especially with today’s events.

    • belllindsay

      RobBiesenbach Wasn’t that amazing! Hair raising.

  • Wow, I had no idea about your family and the fire. I agree that there is more good than bad in the world. Not so sure that hockey a sport, to paraphrase George Carlin the only place outside of a hockey rink that you ever see a puck is at the bottom of a urinal.

    • belllindsay

      Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes You kiss your mother with that mouth!!?? #hockey

      • belllindsay I think we ought to ask Beckett to write a post about his mom.

        • belllindsay

          Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes belllindsay I’ll have you know, Beckett thinks I’m the Oprah of social media. 😉

        • belllindsay Does that mean he wants you “off the air.” 😉

        • belllindsay

          Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes No. He thinks I”m fat.

        • belllindsay Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes HAH!!!

      • belllindsay Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Ooo Josh, thems be fightin’ words!

        • RebeccaTodd belllindsay Don Cherry is an overrated hack.

        • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes RebeccaTodd belllindsay Well we all know THAT.

        • belllindsay

          RebeccaTodd Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes But he’s OUR overrated hack. 🙂

  • Uh oh, I just received hate mail from Bob and Doug Mackenzie. A

    • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Actually, my original post featured Bob and Doug, but given the events of this week, I changed my tune.

      • RebeccaTodd I mentioned Bob and Doug to a couple of coworkers this week and discovered they had no idea who or what I was talking about. Young hosers.

        • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes RebeccaTodd Heathens! Actually, Bob and Doug coined the word Hosers- before The Great White North, neither Hosers nor Hoseheads were in the dictionary!

        • belllindsay

          Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes RebeccaTodd KOOrookookookookookookoooooo!

        • belllindsay Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes RebeccaTodd We do that at least once per family gathering. It’s a Todd Family Rule. Like “If there are more than three Todds present, there must be a shrimp ring”.

  • John_Trader1

    Wait. Not one but two hockey videos make it to this week’s G&T? Oh boy. 
    Not only was the Boston fan anthem singing inspiring and a show of solidarity against terrorism and hatred, it was a symbol of pride for the community that can go unmatched. Being an avid hockey fan, I know full well that in Canada before hockey games Canadian fans sing their national anthem as loudly as we heard the Boston fans sing the U.S. national anthem, except Canadians do it every single game. We could learn a thing or two from them.
    Thanks RebeccaTodd for choosing these videos and injecting a little humor and fun in a week where we could all use the smiles. You rock.

    • John_Trader1 Thanks, John! The post I had originally drafted seemed a little trite in the light of all that has occurred this week. You can tell a Canadian is at the helm with two hockey vids and no football, though, eh?

    • belllindsay

      John_Trader1 RebeccaTodd AND we take our hats off. Jeeze that makes me mad when people don’t take their hats off during the anthem.

  • RebeccaAmyTodd

    John_Trader1 SpinSucks Thank you very much, sir!

    • John_Trader1

      RebeccaAmyTodd Stop with the videos that put a tear in my eye. Just stop it. 🙂

      • RebeccaAmyTodd

        John_Trader1 If that one of the young kids in Kitchener doesn’t make you cry, you are made of stone!

        • John_Trader1

          RebeccaAmyTodd It was my fav – reminded me of teaching pee wee lacrosse and watching them score their first goal. Unforgettable.

        • RebeccaAmyTodd

          John_Trader1 Nice! I really love to see peer mentoring. The impact on both parties is astronomical.

  • jasonkonopinski

    belllindsay SpinSucks That RebeccaAmyTodd made me cry.

    • RebeccaAmyTodd

      jasonkonopinski belllindsay SpinSucks Mission accomplished!

    • belllindsay

      jasonkonopinski You’re a pretty easy crier though. 😉 SpinSucks RebeccaAmyTodd

      • jasonkonopinski

        belllindsay True story. SpinSucks RebeccaAmyTodd

  • Cheri Disse Cimmarrusti

    the little kid hockey player did make me cry – and the big kid hockey game already made me cry earlier this week! good ones!

  • HowieG

    I saw that ski jump awhile back it is amazing! GoPro is the only true brand to harness social edia into a billion dollar business. Or should I say Social enabled this. Very rare success story of that magnitude.
    So sorry to hear about your house @RebeccaAmyTodd 8( I know what it is like to lose everything I owned. But it happened much later in life at age 43. The difference was after the shock lasting about a month I felt free. 
    I disowned my recently deceased evil grandmother about 14 years ago. She knitted me a blanket. It was a nice blanket. It was a burden. I kept it locked away. The one night I used it in college was after a night of magic mushrooming with friends. I could feel her evil energy in that thing. How many hours did she spend knitting. And now I felt it wrapped around me. Horrible end to my incredible night. I threw it off me and vowed never to use it again. BUT I couldn’t throw it away. I couldn’t sell it. That was her guilt. That was her evil plot. But then I lost everything. LIBERATION! Yes eventually I felt like France in WW2 as the allies ended the occupation. I still miss some things like my art collection and old photos. Things that would be meaningless to others after I pass on. 
    I think at age 9 having less accumulation of stuff would actually of been more traumatic vs less. Thank you for sharing!

    • Howie Goldfarb Wow Howie! No matter when we learned it, we both now that the stuff you own can end up owning you. It really shaped who I am, that’s for sure. I really do not get hung up on “things”- if they get broken or lost- I don’t stress it. I also see objects as separate from memories. It was actually only a couple weeks after my birthday, so yes, I missed my Voltron, but mum just calmly looked at me and said “Becki, we can always buy more things. What we can’t buy are new people.” The very next day, I had two friends of the family drop by with a brand new cabbage patch kid and a brand new Optimus Prime, so I was sorted quickly. It is actually very sweet- all the kids from neighbouring towns (as we grew up country) all donated toys and such. I still meet people when I visit home that remember the fire happening, and remember what toy or item they shared. It has become this really amazing connection that I have with so many people- their thoughtful generosity. It’s a really nice thing to carry in my mind.

  • belllindsay

    karimacatherine Thanks for the share! 🙂

    • karimacatherine

      belllindsay My pleasure!

  • … the triumph of intellect and romance… Hah! Age and treachery will always overcome youth and skill!!

    • jdrobertson Hah!!! Now I do believe that the older you get, the righter you are. Even when you are wrong, you are wrong based on more information. Of course, The Doctor is over 900 years old…

      • RebeccaTodd jdrobertson Hah!!!! You are absolutely right in your observation once again offering proof-positive that blondes are getting a bad rap! However, may I point out: Those of us of the octogenarian persuasion (four score and seven) are protected by divine rite from ever being wrong about anything. We are protected from contradiction by church, clergy and congregation. And above all you young whippersnappers. Aside from that Ms. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?

        • jdrobertson RebeccaTodd I once had a discussion with my now-deceased next door neighbour. Cocky young me asked her what the greatest technological advancement in her time was, believing I knew the answer-certainly it would be tv or computers. When she replied “well, I guess it would be electricity in our home”, it humbled me beyond belief. While I did not always agree with her conclusions, that woman, even when incorrect, knew a hell of a lot more about EVERYTHING than I did. She passed finally at 99, and I only wish I had spent more time cataloging more of what she KNEW, right or wrong.

        • RebeccaTodd jdrobertson Surely the joy of learning is truly a wondrous thing! Your line … based on more information…. has already been plagiarized in my computer for use in my next paper. Yesterday, I thought I’d show off for a group of kids who were playing with a yo-yo. I ended up spending the next hour with them teaching me a couple of tricks I’d never seen before. I can fly a kite too. Better than those smart-aleck yo-yo sharks. So there!

        • jdrobertson RebeccaTodd Caveat- not my line! From the new Louis C.K. special Oh My God! This link is probably NSFW…

        • RebeccaTodd jdrobertson I’m sure you meant caveat emptor –

        • jdrobertson RebeccaTodd In this case, not so, more of a general warning than a purchase specific one. I like the words Caveat in general, and use it to form all sorts of faux-Latinisms like “Caveat Fragro!” but both of my parents speak Latin, so in my household growing up, we gleaned a few random words.

  • Good of you to share your story, Rebecca. The hockey videos…awesome, thanks.

    • Word Ninja Thanks for stopping by! I just can’t get enough of peer-to-peer mentoring… the teacher in me I guess. So great to see these two buds working hard for that goal!

      • RebeccaTodd Yes! Love to see that, too. I’ve taught college, and I volunteer (creative writing workshops) at the local teen center; it’s great to witness those moments.

        • Word Ninja RebeccaTodd Wow amazing! Thank you for your volunteering efforts! When that light flips on…so exciting!

  • Rebecca,  
    Thanks for sharing a very personal, powerful story… and also demonstrating how to use a personal narrative and yet have it ultimately not be just about you. Nicely done.
    As to the videos, I particularly like the young skier’s post analysis, which applies nicely to much of life… I won’t quote it to avoid spoiling the payoff.

    • creativeoncall Thank you very much Chuck! Yes- the clip of the little skier is just so amazing. And I agree- it is the post jump analysis that really make it all worth it!

  • Great story from your childhood RebeccaTodd . Thanks for sharing and for the inspiration.

    • spinchick RebeccaTodd Thank you! Maybe it makes me a Pollyanna  but I really do think that human beings are fantastic.

  • That was an awesome post. But you know me, I do love a story well told.

    • ExtremelyAvg Thank you very much Brian! The first draft seemed rather…trite after the events of the week. I hope this was suitable.

  • rdopping

    Awww, that was awesome @Rebecca Amy Todd How great was your neighbour to lend you a home? It just goes to show you how giving people really are when given the opportunity. Great selections. Love, love, love the little pig.

    • rdopping Thank Ralph! It was amazing, actually. That was just one act of kindness that day. From Ms. Thornhill thoughtfully arriving with toothbrushes and deodorant at 6 am, to Ms. Bell bringing me a brand new cabbage patch kids at 7 am (how did she manage that?), to the whole Bunker clan who opened their house to us and the community in the middle of the night, made some coffee, and settled in for a night of laughter and tears with us while we watched it burn, Goodwood showed us what small towns are all about. People tell me I am a Pollyanna or idealistic or naive, but I find if you believe the best of people and give them a chance, they will often exceed your expectations. 

      And I NEED a mini-pig.