Sunday, October 04, 2015
“Life Talks: The Conversations Continue”
Retired Butte College administrator Peggy Jennings-Severe opens her new “life talks” book with an homage to her mother, now gone more than a decade, and to her mother’s wisdom about the power of words. “We were taught that questions were the way you showed another person your interest and respect.”
In “Life Talks: The Conversations Continue” ($15 in paperback from CreateSpace; also for Amazon Kindle, with more details at facebook.com/lifetalksbook) Jennings-Severe provides a series of provocative, open-ended questions for life’s grand and not-so-grand moments. Such questions “encourage us to explore more deeply, with ourselves or others, our ideas and feelings and hear them out loud—exposing them to the light of day. …”
These questions can be added to family traditions, like holiday celebrations, which can add meaning to what might be “just another year.” For those who celebrate Christmas, there are twenty-five questions starting with the first day of December. For December 5: “If you had no money or decorations, how would you celebrate the holidays?” December 19: “Is your faith tested or strengthened, or both, during the Advent season?”
Chapters have a wide range, from questions you might (sensitively) ask in conversation with those from different cultures, to conversing with aging parents; from questions relating to “health issues, hospital stays and death” (including things to ask health care providers) to “sibling gatherings” (“In what way did our family misperceive you?”).
The author provides questions for “conversing with your children” (“Who are your heroes?”; “What is something you do really well?”) and for those in book clubs (“Would you like white wine or red wine?”; “Do any of the characters in the book have traits of people you know?”).
Each chapter opens with insightful observations about using open-ended questions as an approach to life (not as a gimmick). Jennings-Severe takes up questions for young couples, for empty nesters, those seeking the spiritual, people involved in long-distance relationships, those going through divorce. Throw in chapters on romance and sex, vacations, and reconciliation, and readers using “life talks” will learn more about themselves and those they love, and about the author as well, who has not yet met Oprah.