What happened to meaningful conversations? Can we even remember how to do it?

My co-author, Doris Brett & I, were overwhelmed by the enthusiasm for The Sunday Story Club at The Happiness & It’s Causes Conference in Sydney a few weeks ago.

 THE SUNDAY STORY CLUB (PanMac) shows how to ask questions that open up a conversation. The conference delegates that bought a book said they would use these questions to facilitate better conversations in aged-care, youth groups, and the workplace.

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Over chit chat? Try the book club without books!

THIS WRITER’S LIFE: I was in Dymocks, Melb CBD, on Friday signing books when up popped an image of The Sunday Story Club on several large screens around the store. But look! The books now have an autographed edition sticker on the cover. That’s never happened to me before.

Big thanks to Dymocks and Zoe for all their enthusiasm. And if you can’t make it to Dymocks:

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The BOOK CLUB without BOOKS. Stories of love, loss, trauma & resilience

Our audiobook has just been released. It is a bit spooky hearing your own voice. You can listen to my co-author Doris Brett reading from the introduction (click below the pic).

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You are not a sad face emoji!

We talk. We text. We email. We might even Tweet and post on Facebook and Instagram. But too often we are just skimming the surface of our lives.

There are many benefits to spending time reflecting on your life through a deeper conversation.

Here is our interview with Cassie McCullagh, ABC Sydney, about our book The Sunday Story Club.

We would love others to engage in a deeper conversation by running their own story clubs.

 

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How E M Foster’s dystopian world became our reality!

THIS WRITER’S LIFE: In Foster’s 1909 novella, The Machine Stops, people communicate via glowing screens but live lonely, isolated lives. His dystopian world has become our reality. We wrote The Sunday Story Club as an antidote to screens.

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The Antidote to FAKE online Personas

My co-author Doris Brett & I were overwhelmed with the enthusiasm for our book THE SUNDAY STORY CLUB (PanMac), @The Happiness Conference in Sydney on Mon. There seems to be a hunger out there for open and honest conversations. This is one theme of the book, which we wrote as an antidote to all those FAKE online personas. (Yes! Irony alert! I’m online here.)

Not only do we share stories from our salon, we also encourage and show you how to run your own salon to benefit from deeper connections with others.

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Spasming Vaginas, Dark Web News, Erotic IQ. Melbourne, we have to talk!

I nearly overdosed on Melbourne as you will see. But worth every minute. Here is the article  I  wrote  for  Independent  Australia.  You  will  find  all  the links to the various events here. I was a guest at TEDx Melbourne. 

I wanted to be Annie Oakley when I grew up. I think this might be why!!!

One day last week I overdosed on Melbourne: 17 Tedx Melbourne talks and performances at the  conference  centre,  South  Wharf,  and  then 1 0 The Moth Melbourne open mic stories hosted  by  comedian  Cal  Wilson  at  the North Melbourne Town Hall. Throw in some single-origin coffee, boutique tea, smashed ava, mini-chirizo burgers, wine in tumblers and whinging about the weather  and  I  experienced  that  singularity moment,  Melbourne’s unique edgy, bookish, intellectual, artsy vibe condensed into one day.

Spasming  vaginas,  erotic  IQ, buying  drugs  on  the dark web, playing soccer on top of Mt Kilimanjaro. These are parasitic stories that invade your thoughts and colonise your brain. But, of course, I’m getting them all mixed up together when they are quite distinct. The TEDx talks cover the intellectual turf. They promote edgy ideas.

The theme this year was Rebels, Revolutionaries and us and criminologist Dr James Martin put a convincing case that buying drugs on the dark web improves safety. It’s a sort of eBAY for ecstasy with supplier ratings and product returns. Laura Young organsied 60 women from 25 nationalities to play soccer on top of Mt Kilimanjaro. My favourites were architect Mond Qu who  invented  an  island  off  Mexico  and now has it recognised by Wikipedia with maps and pics. That’s Fake Geography, I guess, and Lisa Leong the rapping, ABC DJ corporate lawyer, who wants to make lawyers less robotic. Fake optimism, perhaps.

The Moth open mic sessions, which have been popular in the states for some years, delivers personal – very personal – stories. Participants  tell  true  stories  from their lives in 5 minutes. Could  you  imagine  standing  in  front  of  an audience talking about discovering you had a spasming vagina via awkward moments dating through Tinder? Then there was the girl who dated boys always waiting for her kiss-bliss moment to discover she was, happily, a ‘massive’ Lesbian. Is The Moth a platform for over sharing or authenticity?

I  asked  one  participant  what she gained from the experience. She had suffered a break down, driving for Uber while she recovered. ‘It’s a sort of therapy’ she explained. So telling your story to people who listen is, perhaps, the therapy you need when you are not having therapy.

My fascination with these two events is linked to an interest in starting a deeper conversation. Four  years  ago  I started  a  Salon  with  a psychologist friend, Dr Doris Brett. We called it the Sybils’  Salon  after  the  Sybils  who  had wisdom and insight and predate Plato. We devised some  questions  and  asked  10  strangers  to  share their stories in a non-judgmental, non-competitive space. That’s when the magic happened. Women who hardly knew each other dropped their usual defenses and told stories, wonderful, hilarious, sad, heroic stories about their  lives.  Energy  filled  the  room  and  the  buzz remained with all of us for hours. Indeed, research is now showing that connecting through face-to-face conversation is as good for our physical self as it is for our psyche.

Meanwhile, research by University of Arizona psychologist, Matthias Mehl, found that people who engaged in deep conversations, rather than endless small talk about the weather or TV shows, rated higher for happiness and  life  satisfaction. You  know  how much weather small talk  we  do  in  Melbourne.  If  it’s  not  the  weather,  it’s  football. Melbourne, we need to go deeper. Ditto the rest of Australia.

But how do you start a conversation? The TEDx Melbourne talks will be posted online. The Moth  sessions  are  continuing  in  Brunswick. Or you could try one of the openers from the Sybils’ Salon. These questions get taken home and raised around dinner tables and even ten year olds have chimed in. A sample question, for instance, is: ‘The Fairy Godmother is able to make  it  to  your  birth, has remembered to bring her magic wand and can bestow upon you one gift and one gift only. It can be a talent, a life circumstance or anything you choose. What will it be?’

Ask someone today, even a ten year old, you might be surprised at the answer.