Holidays & Events
Here are some New Year’s conversation questions to start conversations and keep them going.
If you’re staying home and keeping the dog company, it’s the perfect time to assess where you’ve been and to chart your course for the new year.
- What 3 words sum up last year for you?
- What were some highlights of the year?
- What were your favorite movies and concerts?
- Do any special books come to mind?
- Did you have any turning points this year? For example, did you start or end a relationship or a job? Did you discover an aptitude for accounting or cooking? Did you get over a fear? Did you join a club and make a new set of friends?
- Who inspired you this year? How about Captain Sullenberger who landed the plane in the Hudson River? Or English singer Susan Boyle?
- Name 3 things you accomplished this year. They could be as simple as cleaning out your closet or as complicated as organizing a conference for 500 guests.
- What’s your secret dream?
- If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do?
- What are you looking forward to next year, personally and professionally? What would you like to see happen? What specific steps will you take to make your vision come true?
|What a great Labor Day weekend! How did you spend your time off? Did you do something fun? (That’s a good conversation starter, by the way, because it invites the sharing of personal information.)
For the third year in a row, I volunteered at the Hawaii Writers Conference, (the weekend formerly known as the Maui Writers Conference).
Ahhh! 4 days of bliss for everyone who loves writing, books and movies. That would be me and 700 of my dearest writer friends.
When I attend a conference of like-minded folks, I’m never at a loss for words. (Not that that happens to me anyway. After all, I am the Queen of Conversation. <blush>) ”Tell me about your project” got everyone talking enthusiastically. Notice the word project, instead of book. That’s because some folks were screenwriters and poets.
Here are some other good conversation starters you can adapt for your conference or group:
- Why did you come here? What do you want to get out of the conference?
- What presenters have impacted you the most? Why?”
- What good tips have you picked up so far?
- Have you had any consultations with publishers or agents? What did they tell you?
- What’s the next step for you, writing- and publishing-wise?
The key to a good conversation
Ask for more information on any given topic. That means you gotta resist the urge to blab about your own project, your own favorite authors, until your turn comes. Did my turn come? Yes. Everyone was curious and eventually invited me to talk about my own coming E-book, Do You Squeeze the Toothpaste in the Middle? Playful Questions for Dates and Mates. I love how people smile when they hear the title.
Alas, the conference ended, and I am suffering from a serious lack of schedules, speakers, speaker-host teammates, authors and wanna-bes. But my dawgs are happy to see more of me than my coattails. (Does anyone wear coats with tails anymore?)
Next post: Why you should volunteer. Special perks you might not know about.
Here’s a conversation topic in keeping with Mother’s Day:
Can teen mother Bristol Palin (whose mom is governor of Alaska), teach abstinence?
The folks who brought you National Teen Pregnancy Awareness Day thought so because they made Bristol their poster child, er, poster mom. She said, “Regardless of what I did personally, I just think that abstinence is the only way you can effectively, 100 percent foolproof way, you can prevent pregnancy.”
My mom had another foolproof way. She told me to take an aspirin on my dates…and hold it between my knees.
Why bother with abstinence-only sex education? Research shows that these programs, which were used throughout the Bush 2 administration, did NOT reduce teen pregnancies.
And yet, there is a great need for effective education. Of all the first-world countries, the United States has the highest rate of teen pregnancies. About 750,000 American teens get pregnant every year. Eighty percent do not marry the child’s father.
Ask your friends and family these conversation questions:
- Do you think that others learn from hearing people, such as Bristol Palin, talk about their mistakes?
- Have you learned from what people say or from what they do? Can you give examples?
- Why do you think just-say-no sex ed bombed?
- If you were in charge of a program to reduce teen pregnancies, what would you do?
Here’s a closing riddle for you:
What do they call people who use the rhythm method of birth control?
The answer is hiding in here: pxaxrxexnxtxs
Most females are capable of being moms, but it takes something special to adopt another’s brood. Lily’s a doggone great mom. Here she is in action:
Happy Mother’s Day!
She’s frumpy. She’s spinsterish. She’s 47 and never been kissed.
And when she walked on the stage of Britain’s Got Talent show, Simon Cowell smirked. So did the audience. When she said, “I want to sing like [Broadway star] Elaine Paige,” you could practically hear everybody thinking, “Fat, frumpy chance, Sister!”
And then she sang “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables.
Talk about stunning! Smirks turned to smiles. Smiles leaped to their feet and clapped.
If you’ve been underwater for the last few days and don’t mind getting more water in your eyes, listen here.
Susan’s story has a few morals:
- It’s never too late to go after your dream, especially when you have the pipes for it. (Isn’t that right, Paul Potts?)
- Don’t judge the book by its cover girl.
- The right woman can make Simon Cowell smile.
And now we go from a British stage to…
The Ultimate Blind-Date Experience
Picture yourself in a personal development workshop. It’s the morning of the first day, and you don’t know anyone. For the first exercise, you’re blindfolded and led to a chair facing a woman, also blindfolded. You’re supposed to spend 5 minutes getting to know each other. Say anything you like, have fun, but don’t touch and don’t peek.
Your blindfold buddy asks, “Have you read any good books lately?”
As a matter of fact, you have, both fiction and non-fiction. This stranger is so easy to talk to. She’s sparkly and funny, definitely her own person. You’re sure it’s the attractive woman from row 2. Then the bell rings. Five minutes are up. You and Ms. Sparkly exchange pieces of paper with your names on them, but you can’t look yet.
Gentle hands lead you to the next person and the next and the next. Wow, you’re having a good time. When the final bell rings, you eagerly search your pocket for that first piece of paper.
It says “Susan Boyle.”
Dear reader, did you see this result coming? I made up the ending, but the story is basically true. The workshop happened, and the people who took part were shocked—shocked!—to learn that the folks they most enjoyed talking with did not fit their pictures.
That is, had they been sent around the room to pick interesting people to connect with, they wouldn’t have chosen the folks who were so much fun to talk to in the dark.
Draw your own conclusions, and leave them in the comment box.
After mailing my taxes, I put my iPod on shuffle mode. Out of 9,000 songs it played one by Celine Dion:
"Rain, Tax (It’s Inevitable)."
Honest, that’s the song’s real name.
Have you experienced any timely musical messages from the universe?
Here’s a situation that’s right up my imaginary alley. What if you and I were invited to hobnob with Britain’s shining female stars and the first ladies of several countries? What if they included Harry Potter’s creator and the first lady of the United States? What could we talk about?
That’s the enviable and intimidating situation Dame Kelly Holmes found herself in this week. As I began reading her story, I thought "Who’s Dame Kelly?"
Answer: She won Olympic gold medals in running, and, as you and I would have, she "felt a little out of place."
My table consisted of Mrs Svetlana Medvedeva of Russia, Mrs Kim Koo–ok of Korea, the broadcaster Emma Freud, J K Rowling, and Sarah Brown. I had Mrs Margarita Zavala of Mexico on my right, and Michelle Obama on my left. I found myself thinking that had I been Leona Lewis, I would have burst into song with A Moment Like This.
I did wonder how to start a conversation with two of the first ladies sitting beside me, so I simply asked the most obvious question: "How has your day been?"
The question was specific enough and open enough to start a conversation. One key to connecting with people whom we might regard as "out of our league" is to focus on what we have in common.
Read her whole marvelous story and then think about what you would have to contribute to the conversation at our table. What might you have in common with our tablemates? What interests and concerns of yours could intersect with the interests these women have? Remember, they’re women first and famous second.
April 1, 1946, Lanikai, Hawaii
Janie Powlison was doing the dishes at Hilltop House, looking out on Kailua Bay. She’d never seen the tide so low. All the water was gone, and the coral heads were showing. "Dad! Something is happening to Kailua Bay!" Her father, Skipper, looked and said, "I’ve never seen a tidal wave, but I think we’re going to have one."
Skipper called several radio stations who all told him the same thing: "April Fool’s!" They didn’t believe a tsunami was coming and didn’t warn their listeners. By the end of the day, nine walls of water had washed in and out, carrying pianos, fish, trash, houses, and cars. April 1 was the day Mother Nature fooled everyone.
Conversation Questions of the Day:
- Have you been in a natural disaster—for example, a hurricane, flood, or earthquake? What was it like? Could you have prepared for it? If you had to go through it again, what would you do differently?
- Have you pulled any memorable April Fool’s pranks? Have any been pulled on you?
Click here for the Top 100 April Fool’s Day Hoaxes of All Time