"I live with my husband and a pair of yellow labs in Northern California," writes Peggy Jennings-Severe, "and am currently a student services administrator" at Butte College. And, oh yes: "I want to meet Oprah."
While Oprah can talk to anyone about anything, it seems, striking up a conversation is for many people something of a lost art. Over the years Jennings-Severe "watched older couples at restaurants, seated across from each other, eating in silence, which felt incredibly sad and lonely to me." Going out on a dinner date with husband Rhys was awkward: "It was if I had nothing to say that didn't begin with or include our children."
Yet people yearn for meaningful contact. What if they had a fun way to start the conversation? "Although my family, friends, and colleagues chuckle, roll their eyes, and mildly moan when I tell them it's time for verbal cards or begin an activity designed to break the ice, I think they secretly look forward to it--well, maybe not all, but most."
What changed the author's family is now available in book form. "Life Talks: A Guide To Bringing Back Conversation" ($15 in paperback from CreateSpace; also in Amazon Kindle e-book format) offers key questions and activities for baby showers, reunions, long car rides, retirement, Valentine's Day, and many more (see lifetalksbook.com).
Lyon Books in downtown Chico will be hosting a book signing (and conversation!) Monday, August 26 at 7:00 p.m.
For birthday parties, the group gets in a circle and someone begins by saying "'What I appreciate about __ is...' (No sarcasm is allowed.)" Such verbal cards last far longer than Hallmark. The birthday person joins in, too: "What is the most valuable lesson you learned last year?" "What questions about your life do you want answered in the coming year?" At family gatherings, members sort cards each with a quality written on it, like "creativity," "religion" "winning." Which are the most important, or least important? Surprises abound as the conversation gets going.
Thanksgiving gatherings are a great place to start. "What five things remain on your bucket list?" "You have been given unlimited resources to create a totally new and unique theme park. What would it be?"
This book will get people talking.