Brand building through storytelling

Stories by Rona

This page is your gateway to my most formative magazine work: two short stories that launched me as a teenage writer, examples of my first bylined column (for the long-vanished Pathways, edited by my mentor Keitha McLean) Chatelaine columns, and pieces I wrote after leaving the Editor’s chair. To zero in on Chatelaine columns, click “Published in Chatelaine.”



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2015

2014

  • September 15, 2014 : Mary and Me: What a Nurse Taught a Manager about Mental Illness at Work
    The toughest challenge of my corporate career was managing a talented staffer with a mental illness. Compassion didn't cut it: I needed expert coaching that HR couldn't provide. I wish I'd known there was an expert down the hall--the occupational health nurse.
  • March 3, 2014 : My favorite vacation disaster
    The vacations that make the best stories are the ones that go comically wrong--the ones that make your friends glad they were stuck at the office. Come with me while I relive my favorite vacation disaster.

2013

  • January 1, 2013 : The fight of her life: Jan Wong against workplace depression
    I felt like cheering when the Globe and Mail launched a 28-part series on mental illness, produced by a team of reporters. As a survivor of depression, I'd been waiting for the day when diseases of the mind would command that kind of attention. I didn't stop to notice that one of the Globe's biggest names, Jan Wong, was missing from the team. And I couldn't have guessed that she'd been laid low by depression.

2011

  • December 6, 2011 : Making peace with my hometown
    I grew up wishing I could grow up anywhere but Durham, New Hampshire, where I never fitted in at school, where the few friends I had were other weirdos like me. But for one extraordinary August weekend, Durham was where I most wanted to be. I'd been chosen to speak at my school's first all-class reunion, to people who had juggled their schedules to be there. And suddenly it no longer mattered that no Durham boy had ever asked me out. I had to be there.
  • July 27, 2011 : Kicking my estrogen habit
    I never planned to be an estrogen lifer but I seem to be headed that way. I've made two attempts to quit; both times broken sleep and sour moods drove me back to my little blue pills. I've been on estrogen 15 years--three times as long as the maximum that even the most hormone-tolerant doctors recommend. What am I doing to myself?

2010

  • November 16, 2010 : Stuff happens
    I was packing for a trip to Argentina with my husband, and we deserved every mind-clearing minute of our escape to the land of tango. We'd just moved from a house-size condo with three walk-in closets and endless built-ins to the compact loft that now held just a fraction of our former possessions. We had jettisoned carloads of belongs---some of them nearly new---that used to seem essential but suddenly felt like excess baggage. The more bags and boxes we filled with cast-ffs, the more useless things we uncovered that we didn't even know we had, from Annie Hall pants last worn in 1980 to a 25-year-old Encyclopedia Britannica from our son's school days.
  • September 3, 2010 : Beauty in motion
    I once thought I wanted to be a ballerina. What I really craved was the beauty of every woman who moves with assurance and grace, never mind a less-than-perfect body. An eccentric, small-town ballet teacher pointed the way.
  • July 20, 2010 : Losing it
    I once owned a man's silk paisley scarf in burgundy, cream and navy blue. It was the kind of thing that looks expected on a silver-haired guy in pin-stripes, but playful on a 30-something woman in jeans and a T-shirt. I wore that scarf so often that it smelled of my favourite scent and felt like an extension of my skin. One day I wore it to a movie. Halfway home, I realized that I'd left it on the seat. I rushed back but no one had seen a paisley scarf. Something plummeted inside when I knew for sure that I had lost it.
  • May 27, 2010 : So this is what 60 feels like
    For the better part of three decades, I've been shrugging off milestone birthdays. Forty: eclipsed by my mother's death two weeks earlier. Fifty: an excuse to squeeze a girlfriends' lunch between meetings. Then I turned 60---the boundary between thinking I have forever to do my growing up and accepting the fact that I don't.
  • April 27, 2010 : The walking life
    It started years ago as a multi-tasking move. With one brisk daily walk to work, I could turn my commute into a fitness program. No more jostling for space on crowded subway cars, no more sprints to the gym between meetings. Come to think of it, maybe I wouldn't need the gym at all (no more annual fees). What a plan!
  • April 22, 2010 : A fine funeral
    Way back before anyone I knew had died, I cringed at the very thought of funerals. I pictured dark rooms, fussy floral arrangements, ministers droning pieties about people they'd never even met. I've since discovered that a funeral can be rich in potential---for creativity, for celebration, for a deepened connection with the world. And I've developed a few rough working principles about the elements of life's most underrated ritual.
  • April 21, 2010 : Five years old and smitten by love
    Adults belittlingly call it "puppy love." But there's nothing trivial about the tenderness of children's first longings for each other, or the anguish of their first heartbreaks. That's what I learned from the five-year-old boy who named his doll Rona after me.
  • March 2, 2010 : A word of advice
    At the bottom of my purse lies a battered leather case containing a fistful of cards from people with corner-office titles: Executive Producer of This, Senior Vice-President of That, Grand Poo-Bah of Whatever. My favourite card puts them all to shame. It belongs to a much older woman who announces her well-earned role in life with one authoritative word: "Advice."
  • February 5, 2010 : My Broadway Debut
    At 12 I dreamed of winning the National Spelling Bee, but I went down to ignominious defeat in my Grade 6 class. I cried all the way home and later told the sad tale on my first date with my husband. Then I got a chance to appear on Broadway as an audience volunteer in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Good-bye, orthographic angst!

2009

  • October 13, 2009 : Hats of my life
    My mother died nearly 13 years ago, but for a fleeting second recently I could have sworn I saw her striding by---a gray-haired woman in a chiffon scarf, a billowing black raincoat and her signature touch, a broad-brimmed hat worn at just the right angle. It was my own reflection, proof that after a lifetime of doing things my way (which once included going bare-headed in heat waves and blizzards), I'm not all that different from my mother.
  • October 8, 2009 : Paper Flowers
    This story, written when I was 15, was published in Ladies' Home Journal in October, 1965, where it kept company with "What Americans Expect from Robert Kennedy." A mortifying sidebar identified me as a "prodigy" who "sang in seven languages at a year and a half and, at three, composed what her mother...calls 'shapely little narratives.' The story was later cited in the annual Best Short Stories anthology edited by Martha Foley.
  • September 27, 2009 : Don’t call me dear!
    My friends and I used to seethe when grizzled tradesmen called us "dear" and our husbands "Mr. So-and-so." We vowed our kids' generation would banish sexism once and for all. Too bad we didn't take a stand against ageism. Now that we're old enough to pay for attentive service, we're getting "dears," "sweeties" and "young ladies" from people young enough to be our children. This kind of faux endearment has a name: elderspeak. And the time to stop it is now.
  • May 19, 2009 : My first love
    Robbie and I were five years old when he named his doll Rona after me. We were going to get married someday. Relationships like ours are belittlingly called "puppy love," yet there's nothing trivial or cute about the tenderness of children's first longings for each other or the anguish of their first heartbreaks.
  • May 14, 2009 : Mothers and mentors
    Why every young woman needs a wise female friend to cheer her on---someone who never worried about her report card or grounded her for missing curfew.
  • May 12, 2009 : The daughter I never had
    I always thought I wanted a daughter, but the time was never right for a second baby. I had one excuse after another---until at last I realized that one child was enough for me. It was time to make absolutely certain that my birthing years were over.
  • February 20, 2009 : The Fan Club
    I was 14 years old and in the ninth grade at Oyster River High School in Durham, N.H., when I wrote this short story, a prizewinner in the Scholastic Magazines annual writing contest for young people. My first published work, it was later featured in the long-vanished Read magazine and has since appeared in countless anthologies for high school students. After more than 40 years, I still get inquiries about "The Fan Club."

2008

  • November 14, 2008 : How I learned to love my son’s teen years
    I feared that my son's adolescence would reduce me to screaming, fist-shaking fury. I had no idea that the dread teen years would be my best years as a mother.
  • October 3, 2008 : My complicated valentine to my sister Joyce
    Thirty years before my sister and I told our widely read story of rivalry and love in More magazine, she inspired my very first feature article. I was 28, she was 24, two young women taking their first steps toward a truce in their lifelong conflict.
  • October 2, 2008 : When my best friend died
    You don't just make friends; you keep them, one guess-what phone call or soul-baring confidence at a time. But the reality is that you can't keep a friend forever. One of you will die and the other will mourn. And the odds are that no one will send a condolence card. In the hierarchy of loss, friends are thought to rank last, even though a friend's death changes a woman forever.
  • August 4, 2008 : My son, myself
    I'd been hoping for a daughter who would play with dolls as I used to do. Instead I had a son with a passion for trucks (the noisier, the better). It was not what I expected, but I've learned to like surprises.
  • July 25, 2008 : If looks could thrill
    My new beauty role model is well into her 60s, and neither lifted nor Botoxed. She has given up stilettos, sheath dresses, eyeliner and a husband. When I'm having a bad face day, she reminds me what beauty really is: the artless confidence that comes with letting go of whatever constricts a woman's best self.
  • May 27, 2008 : Away from it all
    When we rented a getaway cottage in Maine one long-ago summer, we pictured ourselves eating fresh-caught lobster on a deck overlooking the water. Little did we know we had rented the homeliest of yurts.
  • March 25, 2008 : Working for the wife
    A new breed of woman entrepreneur is proving that sometimes the best employee is your husband. Rona Maynard gets the inside story from four of the pathfinders.

2007

  • November 18, 2007 : Written on the body
    The scars and sags on my body are like dings on a well-used car. But to me these so-called "imperfections" are mementos of where I've been and what's happened along the way.
  • November 9, 2007 : Friends no matter what
    Like a good marriage, the good friendship bends and expands to accommodate life's transitions.
  • October 4, 2007 : A tale of two sisters
    My sister Joyce and I share a complicated heritage of rivalry, love and disappointment. For years we didn't speak. Then at last we were able to embrace possibility instead of standing guard against pain.
  • October 1, 2007 : Looking for Mousie
    I tried to shield my child from the pain of loss, but losing is an art that every child needs to learn.
  • September 10, 2007 : Mommy’s too old
    When a woman in her 50s or 60s becomes pregnant, she has another shot at youth. But what does she lose?
  • September 7, 2007 : It’s not my problem
    Liberation means no more search and rescue.
  • August 28, 2007 : Writing the next chapter
    What's it like becoming a formerly important person? Rona Maynard tried to do it by the book
  • August 22, 2007 : My bicultural identity
    I chose to make Canada my home, but the U.S. is still my native land.
  • August 22, 2007 : The hat that got away
    It was perfect in every way, as if the hat gods had created it just for me. But I told myself I couldn't afford it.
  • August 21, 2007 : A parent’s place
    I didn't want to say yes when my right hand man requested an eleventh-hour adoption leave. But I couldn't afford to say no.
  • August 19, 2007 : Teachers who changed my life
    Teaching just might be the purest expression of our need to connect with one another.
  • August 14, 2007 : When your mother dies
    Around the time my mother died, the tender words of other women enveloped me like a quilt stitched by many pairs of hands. Longtime friends, mothers of friends and friends of colleagues, these women had one thing in common: their mothers had died. ("It was 40 years ago," one said, "and I still think of her every day.")
  • August 1, 2007 : What I had to learn about success
    I broke a bad habit: measuring my life against other people's.
  • August 1, 2007 : Food for the soul
    Every time my whole day falls apart, I know there's always one last chance to set things right. It's called dinner.
  • August 1, 2007 : May I help you?
    I have just spent a weekend unpacking from a move. You can picture the results: armfuls of cut-up boxes and a mountain of overstuffed garbage bags full of junk I should have tossed long ago. Late Sunday night, I made what felt like the hundred-and-forty-seventh trip to the garbage room of our new condominium. I was wondering how many more trips I had to go and whether my back would hold out when I heard a friendly voice call, "Let me help you."
  • August 1, 2007 : For bed or worse
    Why some of the happiest couples choose to sleep in separate beds.
  • August 1, 2007 : My day care kid
    I have a wonderful son. At 24, Ben has friendships that have lasted for close to a decade, passions that range from Greek philosophy to graffiti art and a deep appreciation for women (one woman in particular).
  • August 1, 2007 : Sexism and double standards
    The real reasons critics dislike women's mags.
  • August 1, 2007 : Intimate strangers
    The healing art of confiding in someone you've just met.

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