Stuck at a Party? – 5 Sure-Fire Conversation Starters

conversation starters invitation
A moment of elation followed by fear

Every introvert dreads party invitations. We have visions of standing in a corner as we alternately hope that someone will talk to us and afraid they will. First of all, my big fear is that I don’t have good conversation starters. What will I talk about if someone comes up? While recently some “experts” have claimed that most introverts dislike idle chatter and crave deep topics, that is not me, at least at parties. I promise I will not be having significant discussions with people I barely know at a party.
However, I do accept that I need and want social connections, despite the emotional energy it requires. I have a trick, accept the invitation when it is offered from people I like, especially if the event is several days in the future.  I can do this, I think to myself as I agree to their offer. Naturally, I then worry and fret out loud until we arrive at the party, because I think I don’t want to go. Yes, I know it is always worth going. So, I just feel the worry and show up anyway.

Luckily, I have found that having a set of conversations starters in my back pocket can help me feel less stuck at the party. Here are some juicy questions that often lead to interesting exchanges so I can feel confident and will be entertained. (Yes, it is all about my comfort!)

5 sure-fire Conversation Starters

1. What was the last thing you checked off your bucket list?

This is a great way to get stories rolling. The anecdotes tend to be enjoyable because bucket list items usually have an element of adventure and almost always have some calamity attached to it. (I know. That shouldn’t be true but the challenges are what make the stories fun.)

2 What are you going to check off of your bucket list next?

conversation starters bucket list
My bucket list needs more ideas

I like this one because whether we call it a life list or a bucket list, we all have things we hope we get to do sooner or later. This is especially good in a group because one person’s idea will spark others. You may go home with new ideas to add to your own list. Bonus!

3. What is the most interesting job you ever had?

One of good things about this question is that it isn’t the usual “What do you do?” but still gives you an idea of their interests and skills. I would suggest having an example of your own in case it stumps your new friend. Sometimes we need time to remember that jobs can be interesting.

4. Do you have a favorite book (or movie)?

This lets them off the hook if they can’t think of one right away. It can also begin a dialogue. Many times it turns out we like the same ones and that leads to a connection. Once or twice I have met people who grew up where movies were not allowed or they never liked to read. Quick. Ask a different question.

5. Have you ever met anyone famous?

conversation starters hollywood
Hollywood is full of famous people

This often leads to convoluted tales of how they sat next to a movie star or how their parents bought Elvis Presley a drink (or whatever story they come up with). By the way, I would not suggest asking this if there is even a remote possibility that the other person IS famous.

A couple of other hints:

Be sure to add your own stories so it doesn’t become a one-way interrogation.

 When someone asks you a question, end your answer with “How about you?” Extra credit: If you are in a group, pick the one who hasn’t talked yet and ask them.

It is never a good idea to talk about politics and religion. After all, you won’t change their mind and they won’t change yours (no matter what they think). Come to think of it, current events right now are possible dynamite. Tread carefully.

– Join in when other brave souls use their conversation starters. There are lots of us out there and we need encouragement.

A final word: People are rooting for the conversation to be entertaining. You already are unique and remarkable. I promise it is worth the effort to engage with others.

conversation starters winne the pooh
I love Winnie the Pooh

 

You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” –A.A. Milne

Reconnecting to Joy -Watching My Favorite Movies

 

My favorite movie Lord of the Rings Ring
One ring to rule them all

I have several favorite movies that I can watch time and again, even though I have practically memorized the dialogue. While I clean house or cook dinner, I can listen to them while I work and run back to the television to watch my favorite parts. I don’t need to watch each minute. After all, I know most of them by heart.

Here is a list of my top favorite movies:

  1. The Two Towers (Lord of the Rings) – This is my favorite of the three Lord of the Rings movies. The story is moving along, we know the characters and adventure happens. What’s not to love?
  2. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – Harrison Ford and Sean Connery. Need I say more?
  3.  Juno – This witty movie has so many cute lines I have trouble not just sitting down and watching it start to finish. Who needs a clean house?
  4. Little Miss Sunshine – A dark comedy that I know not everyone appreciates, but I love how the family grows together through their mishaps.
  5. The Birdcage – I know. Cage Aux Folles was the inspiration for this movie and many like the original better. But I enjoy the story line of the American version. Besides, Robin Williams and Nathan Lane are perfect together.
  6. Top Gun – This is Tom Cruise in his prime, in my opinion. High action, fast jets, good looking actors all combine to make me forget to cook.
  7. Independence Day – Will Smith’s jump from television to movies works for me. I am a fan of science fiction, inspirational speeches and I like happy endings. This movie has it all.
  8. True Lies – The interactions between Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jaime Lee Curtis and Tom Arnold are priceless. I think it is the only movie Tom Arnold did that I like! (I believe I am not alone in this opinion.)
  9. Scent of a Woman – Chris O’Donnell and Al Pacino are amazing. The line “I’m in the dark here” comes in handy almost every night.
  10. The Princess Bride – The best lines are “As you wish” and “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

There are few Dave and I always agree on and watch together:

Our favorite movie Red October
Red October, Red October
  1. The Hunt for Red October – I watched it so much, my daughter gave a copy of it to me as a joke. The truth is I still watch it as often as possible. She rolls her eyes.
  2. Blind Side –Such a good movie. Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw make a great combination for this inspiring story.
  3. The Shawshank Redemption – I think this one is almost universally loved. (Is love too strong a word? I think not.)
  4. My Cousin Vinny – Joe Pesci cracks us up. But I think Dave’s favorite is actually Marisa Tomei. Just sayin.
  5. Blazing Saddles – So politically incorrect yet so funny. It is shocking how much they got away with when they made this movie.
  6. Young Frankenstein – A ridiculous movie that makes me laugh every time I see it.
  7. Trading Places – A cast of stars from the 80’s all together to play a Robin Hood story.
  8. Oh Brother Where Art Thou– A clever remake of Homer’s Odyssey and George Clooney. What a combination.

Dave has his own list of favorite movies:

Dave's Favorite movies War
This means WAR!

1. Outlaw Josey Wales
2. Saving Private Ryan
3. Band of Brothers

 

and
4. Super Bad 

 

I do not have kind comments for any of these movies so I will refrain. He watches these when I am out of town or otherwise out of the house. (I have romantic comedy ones that I watch when he is gone. I think that’s fair. Don’t you?)

Final thoughts:

As I look over the list, I realize most of my favorite movies were made decades ago. I have found that most of us prefer the music we listened to when we were in high school. I wonder if my favorite movies are the ones I watched when I was younger. With DVD’s and the internet, I can keep watching the familiar ones. I enjoy new movies but still retreat the old favorites more often than not.

Maybe you want to play the game. Are your favorites on my list? I would love to see your list!

Favorite Movies camera
Let’s go to the movies

 

“The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense, and life doesn’t.” – Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Reconnecting To Joy – Reading

Reading brings me one of the greatest joys I have in my life. There is nothing like opening a new book and beginning the adventure. I never know where it will lead.

Girl Reading
Leave Me Alone

Let’s be honest. Reading allows me to escape. Don’t get me wrong. My life is great. But it is so nice to dive into a different world, dive so deeply that my connection to real life gets fuzzy. When my kids were young and I found a good book, they would have to shout my name to get my attention. The word “mom” had no meaning to me. I was a dragon rider, a rich tycoon or Southern belle. It is easy to tune out everything else, living out an imaginary life rich with new experiences and interesting people. To this day, my poor husband has to say my name several times to get my attention when I read.

Finding new reading material with a vagabond lifestyle can be tricky. Traveling in an RV offers a bonus. Each campground has a lending library, mainly composed of well-thumbed paperbacks. Because we are all on the road, we bring our own used books. When we head out the next day with a new-to-me book in my hand, I have left one behind for the next traveler and it is an even trade.

E-Reading
E-Reading

Kindles and Nooks work great too, don’t they? They have the very latest novels and the most up-to-date non-fiction titles. One of their best features is that I can adjust the print size. It is large-print-books on demand. I can get service almost anywhere, which is unusual. One problem: They are thin enough that I will tuck them away and can’t find them. I often forget where I have put it. So irritating.

Libraries offer amazing benefits as well. The first thing I do when I arrive in a new town is locate the library. It is usually in the center of town, always has friendly, knowledgeable librarians and has free WiFi. Some towns only have funds to keep them open a few hours a week. Others have over-flowing shelves. They all give me a chance to browse the newest releases. I love libraries almost as much as I love reading. However, when I am passing through, I can’t check out the books. Luckily, my home town has an online lending library. I can check out books to be read on my computer even though I am far from Denver. What a luxury.

Reading Treasure Chest
Reading is a Treasure Chest

But the truth is I still prefer holding a book and turning the pages. I also like seeing how far along I am in the story and being able to flip back when I want to check something.  E-readers make that difficult. So I prefer real books. Still I find joy in reading, no matter where I am or what I am holding. I am grateful that I love to read. It opens so many doors and leads me down many paths.

 

“Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life.” –  Joseph Addison

Reconnecting To Joy – Good Deeds

Tin Man Good Deed Doer
Good Deed Doer

One of my favorite quotes from The Wizard Of Oz comes from the scene where the Wizard hands the Tin Man a heart and says: “Back where I come from, there are men who do nothing all day but good deeds. They are called phila-, er, er, philanth-er, good-deed doers!” It makes me laugh every time.

We all know that being a philanthropist is a great goal. It can be hard when it feels like time and money are tight, but it has big pay-offs. Studies show that being generous, as in doing good deeds, can lead to lower stress, lower cortisol levels, help you live a longer life, have happier relationships and increase our mental health. All good reasons to look for opportunities to take care of each other.

Good deeds do not have to be huge. A smile as you walk by someone, holding the door, picking up that blowing napkin (especially when it wasn’t yours) all count in my book.

What about doing a good deed anonymously? I think it gets extra karma points. It is surprisingly hard to do something nice and not look for acknowledgement. Yet those can be the most rewarding ones of all.

Santa's Sack of Good Deeds
Santa’s Sack of Good Deeds

I read about a family that talks in a wonderful way to their children who ask about the reality of Santa Claus. They tell their children that some kids think there is not a Santa. Then they continue “A lot of children think that, because they aren’t ready to BE a Santa yet, but YOU ARE.” The Distractify article goes on to say: “They have the child choose someone they know–a neighbor, usually. The child’s mission is to secretly, deviously, find out something that the person needs, and then provide it, wrap it, deliver it–and never reveal to the target where it came from. Being a Santa isn’t about getting credit, you see. It’s unselfish giving.”

I aspire to be that person, the one who makes a quiet difference. The one who can do the kind thing and not require a brass band flourish. It is a goal.

So keep your eyes open. I will too.  Let’s be Santa together.

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Mother Teresa

Blessings

A blessing of light
Sunset in Utah

December brings in wonderful  holidays. The sentiment remains the same for each of the celebrations:  time with family and friends. These are the true blessings in life. The gatherings are one way of reminding us we are bringing light and warmth into the darkness of winter.

Star burst
Light – A blessing for us all

This time of year invites each of us to be joyous and generous.  It is an opportunity to remember that there is more to life than our daily responsibilities.  Yes, of course this season also adds to the busy-ness of life, bringing a clutter of to-do lists, sometimes unmet expectations and can bring home that not everything in our lives is perfect. Still, it is also time to remember I have friends, family, sustenance and a warm place to sleep each night. I take a deep breathe and I am once again centered and grateful.

candles-1861915__340

 

“Having somewhere to go is home. Having someone to love is family. Having both is a blessing.” – anonymous

 

 

Distractions

My recent decision to blog has been wonderful.  Except when it isn’t.  I have found that I am susceptible to the most ridiculous urges.  Pretty much when I do not have pictures to post, I struggle with coming up with ideas.

Instead of brainstorming or being creative, I recognize I have 7 different habits that can distract me for hours.

  • The kitchen:  Why is it that when I want to avoid doing something, I get hungry?  Okay, not really hungry, but it seems that anything in the pantry is more interesting than the task at hand.  Even Triscuits.  And that is saying a lot.

tea

  • Hot Tea:  A sub-category of the kitchen trap.  Hot tea allows me to wait for the water to boil, gives me an opportunity peruse my tea bag collection and of course needing to wait until the tea is cool enough to drink.  It even has the added virtue of being calorie free.  This is a deadly combination when it comes to being distracted from my goals.
  • Social Media:  How many times a day can one human being check Facebook, Twitter and Instagram?  The number is staggering.  I finally turned off my phone’s notifications for email.  My phone would beep every time I sat down.  So one temptation is gone.  Three to go.

treble-clef

  • Songs I Know The Words To:  I find myself singing out loud whenever a song I like comes on.  When I have on my I-Pod I am doomed because I like ALL of those songs.  I have found that I have to put on instrumentals (Boring) or I can’t get any work done.

 

  • Television:  We have not had television for months so now that we have satellite television, it is a siren call.  It is especially hard to resist knowing that in 3 weeks we will once again be in a spot with no television reception.  This one is probably one of my biggest temptations.  Luckily daytime television is still terrible.  Remember that song: 57 Channels and Nothing On by Bruce Springsteen?  It is still true, except of course we are now past 57 and inching up into the thousands.
  • The Internet:  Isn’t it fun computerwhat you can search for on the world wide web?  I can follow any subject into a rabbit hole and eat up the entire day.  I always hope that I will find some scintillating piece of information that I can use at the next party I attend.  But I can never seem to remember the facts longer than a few hours, much less long enough for a party.

cleaning

  • Cleaning:  I know.  I only clean when I am avoiding something else.  Lately the house has been spotless.

 

Know that I did each and every one of these things today.  But I also am publishing this blog and accomplished more than I expected at the end of the day.  Thank goodness.  Now to go watch television.  Guilt free.

 

I begin again

Many years ago, I had a blog.  Life happened.  I let it collapse from inactivity and a feeling that my life was repetitive.  Then in 2010 Dave and I hit the road, living in our 1988 Jamboree RV while working at large RV parks.  We got paid minimum wage and a place to park the RV.  Sometimes we had wifi and cable, most of the time we felt lucky to have electricity and water.  We had many adventures while on the road, and met wonderful people.   We fell in love with traveling for a living, but found ourselves missing our families.  We made some changes. Now we live part time in Denver and do seasonal jobs, again doing our best to satisfy our love of travel and still be able to make ends meet.

This blog will be a chance to share my adventures, both past and present.  My life is no longer repetitive. I am pretty sure others would like variety in their lives as well.  This blog is an opportunity to invite others to join in the journey.   I can’t wait to see what happens next!