Arlene R. Taylor is founder and president of Realizations Inc., a nonprofit corporation formed in 1983. It engages in brain-function research and in providing related educational resources. Such resources include books (paperback, eBook, and audio), articles, seminars, the Longevity Lifestyle Matters Program, YouTube videos, podcasts, a quarterly Brain Bulletin—Synapses®—and a daily blog.
Taylor’s goals are twofold. First, to help people and organizations enhance health, communication, and overall success in life through a better understanding of brain function. And, second, to assist individuals in discovering and celebrating their personal innate giftedness to more effectively manage their brain’s own unique energy advantage—by design—and ultimately thrive.
Taylor was born in Canada on a wintry day in February. She enjoys putting it this way: “It was 56 degrees below zero Fahrenheit—in the middle of the day, no less—when I came out the chute!” That may be one reason she now prefers the more temperate climate of Northern California. She and her family later moved to Windsor, Ontario, then Oshawa (across the river from Detroit) and then to Winnipeg for “four very cold years.” As a teenager, Taylor moved with her family to upstate New York and later became a naturalized U.S. citizen.
When immigrants to America speak about how difficult things were initially, Taylor chuckles in agreement, recalling her first year of college. “Because I didn’t pronounce words like the other kids, they were forever imitating my Canadian accent. Eh? And because I had learned British spelling, my papers were always returned with big red circles around words I had misspelled—according to American spelling. At least I was speaking ‘English,’ (sort of!) and can only imagine the challenge for those whose languages and sometimes even their alphabets are so different. I hope that experience has made me more empathetic with the language struggles of others.”
As a child, Taylor considered her mother a bit of a “germaphobe”—perhaps an impetus for her adult career in healthcare. During cross-country travels to visit friends, relatives or well-known sites, her mother always carried a stack of newsprint in the car. When the family stopped to “gas up” and/or use the toilet facilities, each person was given three pieces of newsprint. One, to open the door of the restroom. One, to use on the toilet seat if there were no “covers.” (Taylor has no memory of ever seeing toilet covers during her childhood.) And the last piece? After washing your hands “diligently,” dry your hands, turn off the faucet, and open the doorknob on the way out. (That same principle is being touted today as a major prevention strategy against picking up germs in public places.)
Her mother, a language teacher, did give Taylor an excellent start in life with two years of Latin and four years of French—along with English literature and composition. Taylor says that has come in very handy not only with her writing but also when she was an FM radio talk-show host for a program that played twice weekly. “Those nearly three years helped me learn to ‘think quickly’,” she says. “You never could predict what a radio guest might ask or say!”
Her mother had been a champion tap-dancer in high school and an excellent speed-skater. (Heaven knows there was plenty of ice in Saskatchewan, her home province, later in Lacombe, Alberta, where she taught elementary school). Once the family moved to upstate New York, Taylor reflects that she has no memory of her mother ever ice skating again. “Or tap-dancing either, for that matter,” says Taylor. “Decades later I found out that Mum had tap-danced around the house for the last seven months of pregnancy with me, it being too cold and icy outdoors to leave the house even for a walk.” That helps explain the reason Taylor has always been drawn to tap-dancing, although she regrets never taking lessons. “Probably because my mother married a minister and dancing was not encouraged.”
Canoeing, however, was encouraged. “After my father purchased an aluminum canoe, he and I spent many hours on the Red River. Although my parents never ice skated with us, every year when the Red River froze solid with five or six feet of ice, my father would toboggan down the back hill and shovel a good-sized rink so my younger brother and I could skate any time we desired. Sometimes the neighbor kids would join us, leading often to¾you guessed it!¾a game of ice hockey. Later, we kids joked about playing ice and street hockey before learning to walk. A bit of an exaggeration, of course. My uncle was an excellent hockey player, however, and he and his friends competed in several tournaments.”
Subsequently, a fixated and passionate interest in brain function.
Taylor cannot recall when her curiosity about the brain began or even its origin. She does recall lying on her stomach on the rug in her dad’s study and staring at a picture of the human brain. “Must have been when I was kindergarten age,” she guesses. Fascinated, Taylor asked her mother what all the parts represented. The answer was a brief, “Parts of the brain,” followed by, “It’s time you did your piano practicing for today.” Dutifully, Taylor did, since, as she puts it, “It was useless to argue with my mother. That woman had a will of iron.” (It didn’t always work, however. When she got pregnant with Arlene, she told everyone that she wanted one child—a boy—and that it would be born on her husband’s birthday. January 26. Taylor was not a male child and was born five days after her father’s birthday!) When Taylor returned to the study to look at the anatomy atlas, it was nowhere to be found. Her mother claimed she had no idea where it was. That was a puzzle for nearly 60 years until her mother finally admitted: “Well, there were drawings of naked men and woman in that atlas—you had only gotten as far as the brain—and I didn’t want you to see those pictures.”
“Mum!” Arlene countered. “You lied to me! You told me you did not know where it was!”
“Not exactly,” came the reply. “I told your father to hide it and not to tell me where he had put it, so I could truthfully say I didn’t know.” Right.
Once Taylor laughingly quipped, “One would think I’d been born in the Victorian age—or more likely that my mother was. Honestly, if Mum had had any inkling of what I would end up seeing and doing as a nurse, I bet she would have pushed me to follow her footsteps and take up teaching!”
Wanting to become a physician (and receiving no family support for that whatsoever), Taylor began her professional career as a registered nurse. Years of working in acute hospitals for city and county public health departments and as a school nurse in public and private schools K-12 provided her with a rich base from which to practically apply brain-function information in a variety of settings. While working for the Salt Lake City Health Department, Taylor was asked to be the “immunization nurse” for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir—an experience she treasures. She did admit, however, “I was filled trepidation the first time I gave a travel immunization to the famous organist, Alexander Schreiner, especially after his wife told me confidentially that he ‘hated shots.’ Fortunately, things went well. We all chuckled when he asked me, “When are you going to stick that needle into my arm?” and I was able to reply, “Well, sir, it’s already a done deal.”
Over time, Taylor earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, a Public Health Nursing Certificate, and a life-time Health & Development Credential for K-12. Eventually, she added a Master’s in Epidemiology and Health Education and two earned doctorates.
At the age of four, after months of begging her mother for piano lessons, Taylor began to study piano. As such, music has been an important part of her life ever since. She once said, “By the time I truly realized what scales and arpeggios and other ‘exercises’ were all about, they were already embedded in my mind.” Her first conscious experience with mental rehearsal or visualization (although she doesn’t recall hearing those terms) came early in life when her father offered this challenge: “Learn to practice the vibraharp in your mind’s eye. Then, then you can rehearse anytime, anywhere.” Over the years Taylor has done most of her vibraharp rehearsing ‘virtually,’ in her mind’s eye. She continues to remain involved in music as her schedule permits, often composing the piano pieces inserted between audiobook chapters. Emerging knowledge about music and the brain led her to create a syllabus and seminars on that topic. (A manuscript is now in process.)
At one point in her life, Taylor became an instant stepmother for three little boys ages 3, 4, and 5. That experience further stimulated her interest in the brain, especially in relation to gender differences and individual uniqueness. Those parenting years prompted her to add brain function and gender differences to her presentation repertoire, seminars which continue to be very popular.
Dr. Taylor’s fascination with functions of the human brain continues unabated. An internationally known writer and speaker, she incorporates brain-function information into her empowering presentations. Using metaphor and practical-application examples, she makes brain-function research come alive. As such, audiences around the world regard her as a profound, engaging, and imaginative speaker. When practically applied, the information she shares can help people become more successful—by design.
In addition to her weekday blog on aspects of brain-body health, she produces a free quarterly online newsletter: SynapSez®. You may recognize that the name is a play on the on the name for the space between brain neurons or thinking cells. Her two YouTube channels contain a variety of recorded videos, all of which are also free. Most of her paperbacks and some for Kindle are available on Amazon.com. In addition, her audiobooks and eBooks are available through Pacific Health Education Center, Inc. Her website, www.ArleneTaylor.org, contains a wealth of articles, past newsletters, puzzles to stimulate the brain, Brain References, and Practical Application examples.
A fan of distance learning, especially for busy adults, Taylor is a diplomate with the National Christian Counselors Association (N.C.C.A.), reportedly the largest of its kind in the world. As such, she mentors selected master’s and doctoral students.
A member of the National Speakers Association, Taylor is listed with the Professional Speakers Bureau International.
Home base is the beautiful (warm!) and world-famous Napa Valley.