The power of objects to evoke


As I write this, I am in my disabled daughter’s bedroom looking at some of the balloons that float over her bed. She has no volitional control over her body–can’t sit up, can’t roll over, can’t communicate. She has never even been able to do something like blink once for yes and twice for no. We see evidence that she hears and understands what goes on around her, though–for instance, now that she is 13, if I come in and say something like, “How’s Daddy’s baby today?” she will roll her eyes like any 13-year-old would. Since she has no volitional control, it suggests to me that eye-rolling is simply a teen-aged reflex.

She follows things with her eyes, and that’s one reason for the balloons. They can float in her field of vision and provide some entertainment and diversion for what must be a very isolated experience, even though they are starting to lose their helium and dangle just above her headboard now.

As I watch those balloons, I am suddenly transported to a Nash automobile in 1959.

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Who are you talking to?

Ten and Rose

Do you ever have conversations with someone else in your head? Someone real, or maybe even someone fictitious? Surely I’m not the only one who does this.

In the middle of the night, not quite awake but not quite asleep, I’ll “write.” I’ll imagine writing out entire stories, blog posts, book chapters. I’ll envision standing on a stage and speaking to an audience. It’s brilliant stuff, too, if I only had a way to capture it. Continue reading “Who are you talking to?”

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Stories: the low-tech mind meld


If you think about your own experience, I think you can see how a good story deserves the metaphorical label of “mind meld.” I remember being enthralled as I listened to Appalachian storytellers at the Museum of Appalachia’s Fall Homecoming, as I read my first novel that a teacher didn’t assign (it was Have Space Suit – Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein), and as I watched 2001: A Space Odyssey. You know that power on the receiving end, and (I hope) have experienced it on the other end.

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Choosing stories wisely solves many speaking problems


Today I witnessed a student struggle initially with an impromptu speech. He started out so general that he covered his topic in only 15 seconds, leave a full 45 seconds to meet his minimum. For impromptu speeches, I’ll nudge them a little if they get stuck, and he responded, but only plowed ahead a little bit before grinding once again to a halt.

He was almost at his minimum time at that point, so I almost “helped” him out by starting to applaud, relieving him of his discomfort. Before I could, though, an expression of recognition crossed his face. ClichĂ© it might be, but it was like the sudden illumination of a light bulb. He had instantly recalled, then over the next minute recounted, an actual story of something that happened to him when he was young. Continue reading “Choosing stories wisely solves many speaking problems”

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The power of commitment

It’s not what happens to you but what you think about what happens to you that determines your experience. I preach this one all the time, and mostly remind myself about it. The stories we tell ourselves have a strong power to shape experience, and that is illustrated powerfully by the above video, which is the focus of today’s post, and I will just let it speak for itself.

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Include bacon in every speech


Have you noticed you can add bacon to just about anything and make it better? I scoffed at the idea of adding bacon to ice cream, but my wife has proven me wrong. Wouldn’t it be great if there were something like that for speeches? Something you could include that would make any speech better?

You can. Continue reading “Include bacon in every speech”

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