UPLIFT CHARITY / SUPPLY DRIVE FOR SYRIAN REFUGEES IN ORANGE COUNTY

I’ve been seeing a lot of posts expressing disappointment, frustration, sadness, and anger today. If you’ve been feeling that way–or even if you’re not, I hope you will join me and turn it into/participate in an act of kindness. I recently learned about a wonderful organization called Uplift Charity through my wonderful friend Saira. They are based in Anaheim, CA and assist an average of 85 refugee families every month–most of which arrive from Syria and Iraq. Uplift Charity is collecting essential household supplies for these families and I hope you will join me in donating much needed items listed on the flier below. 
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I am collecting items for this supply drive throughout the next few weeks. Please take a look at the list and see if there is something you can provide–just one toothbrush or one pack of diapers can help! If you are in the Orange County area, you are more than welcome to drop off items at my house or I can come pick it up as well. If you are in the South Bay area or further, I am thinking of scheduling a day to do a pick up. At the end of the month I will take donations to UC’s drop off spot. From there, they will distribute the items to the families they are assisting. Please share with your family and friends–the more supplies we can get the better!
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I know many of us, myself included, were outraged and upset by all the hate speech and acts of racism and intolerance that have been happening lately. What better way to protest against that than by welcoming and supporting those who need our help? Many of us have read about the events happening in Syria and wanted to help–here is an opportunity to do that! I also know many of us can relate to being an immigrant or a refugee or have family members/friends who are. I’d like to think that if we found ourselves in that situation, there would be kind and generous people who would want to help us.
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We might not be able to change the way others may think or act–but we can choose to do something positive to show tolerance and support for our fellow human beings regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation. Thank you so much in advance!
Uplift Charity - Supplies For Syrian Refugees
Uplift Charity - Supplies For Syrian Refugees

FRIDAY FAVORITE / 5 YEAR DIARY

The Friday Favorite series features makers, projects, films, books, and other sources of inspiration I have fallen in love with. I hope by sharing them I will be able to bring something new and inspiring into your life!

Favorite Journal / 5 Year Diary by Shopsin’s General Store & The Ice Plant

Atiliay Friday Favorite / 5 Year Diary

This five year diary can be started on any day of any year. Just turn to the current date, fill in the year and write a few sentences about your day. When you get to the end of the year move down the page to the next section. As time goes by you will be able to read past entries as you write new ones.”

I am totally obsessed and in love with this journaling concept! I just learned about the 5 year diary through Rhea, the lovely lady behind @DevotedDiarist (she’s always doing all kinds of cool things)! She had completed her 5 year diary last year and talked about how interesting it was to see the patterns and cycles in her life. When I saw her post, I knew I had to get one!

While I am not always the best at being consistent (I have abandoned my gratitude journal half way through), I think jotting down a few sentences everyday is totally doable! As a teen I kept many diaries and journals and I hope to bring this way of record keeping back into my life. It just so happens that I found out about this diary a few days ago and mine arrived today in the mailbox–on my 32nd birthday! I am very excited to start this writing in it tonight and see where life takes me the next 5 years–and to be able to look back on it (which will be very helpful as I can’t even remember what happened yesterday these days)!

Here are a few more photos of the diary so you can see how the layout is like. The diary itself is covered in a cute pin stripe fabric and is about 6″ long and 4″ wide with 376 pages (there is a section in the back to write down books you have read). It’s a bit on the smaller size which I like, because you can easily take it with you when you are away from home or traveling. I also think it makes for a wonderful gift!

Have you ever kept a 5 year diary? If so, I’d love to hear your experiences! Leave a comment and let me know! For those of you who have not done this, I hope you will try it out with me!

Atiliay Friday Favorite / 5 Year Diary

Atiliay Friday Favorite / 5 Year Diary

Atiliay Friday Favorite / 5 Year Diary

FRIDAY FAVORITE / LOVE LETTER TO ADVENTURE BY SARAH SHOTTS

The Friday Favorite series features makers, projects, films, books, and other sources of inspiration I have fallen in love with. I hope by sharing them I will be able to bring something new and inspiring into your life!

Favorite Adventurer & Explorer / Sarah Shotts of Love Letter To Adventure

Sarah Shotts www.SarahShotts.com

I virtually met Sarah two summers ago through the amazing #randomloveletters challenge she co-created and hosted! I really enjoyed her #randomloveletter posts as well as as the other things she was sharing on her Instagram–recent projects she was working on, a line from a book she was reading, a recipe she had tried, or peeks of nature and her beautiful surroundings when she was out and about. I noticed the hashtags she was using, #MicroVenture and #LoveLetterToAdventure, and went on her blog, Love Letter To Adventure, to learn more about what she does.

Sarah helps women reconnect to their inner adventurer through daily micro-adventures. How awesome is that?

There was a line I came across where Sarah says, “Taking where you live for granted is universal. Whether in Mexico, D.C. or Great Britain the locals went about their daily lives largely ignoring what made their homes extraordinary.” That really struck me because it is SO true it’s definitely something I am guilty of!  Tourists who come to visit definitely have seen more and know more about Los Angeles than I do–even though I have lived here my whole life!

Sarah has really inspired me to look at my own backyard with fresh eyes and helped me realize that adventure is everywhere! I’m really excited to be able to chat with her and have her share her story as well as some great advice for starting some adventures of your own!

Map via www.SarahShotts.com

 Photo courtesy of SarahShotts.com

What inspired you to start Love Letter To Adventure? When and why did you decide to start sharing your adventures with the world?

When I first started blogging I was trying to fit inside the box of what I thought a blogger should write about. That all changed during the summer of 2014, when I took a course from Mayi Carles and April Bowles-Olin, that really helped me connect with my vision and break out of that box. I blogged widely about topics I was passionate about and didn’t worry so much about what “type” of blogger I was. After exploring with that freedom I began to see a theme emerge… adventure. Whether it was exploring my hometown, planting a garden, trying a new creative process, or cooking a new recipe all of my blog posts centered around this idea of new experiences or micro-adventures. And so Love Letter to Adventure was born.

Your website is composed of three different sections: the blog, the Facebook group, and your Etsy shop. Can you tell me a little bit more about each part and what we can find in each one? 

Love Letter to Adventure (my blog) is the home for stories, adventure prompts, and free printables. It’s where I like to start conversations and did deep about how we can all have more adventure in our daily lives.

My Facebook group is called The Venturer’s Treehouse and its where my community hangs out. We support each other’s quest for adventure, dream big, and share photos and stories within the group. My Etsy shop is the newest addition.

I created Plan Your Adventure when I fell in love with the magic of sticker making (was anyone else obsessed with Lisa Frank growing up!?!). I sell physical and printable stickers to help you plan your adventures and decorate your planner with adventurous watercolor designs.

Camping Planner Stickers by Sarah Shotts

 Yes! I loved Lisa Frank! :) How cute are these camping planner stickers by Sarah?

What has been one of your favorite adventure excursions? Why? 

My favorite adventure so far was the year I spent living abroad and earning my Masters degree in London, England. There was so much to explore! I remember once I had set foot in three different countries in a single day because they are so close together. You don’t have to travel far to experience a new culture in Europe. I also loved walking London on foot and visiting markets and parks and historical sites. I was surprised to hear from many of the locals that they had never been to the places that I was visiting. Many of my new Londoner friends were finding themselves inspired to explore their own city after hearing about my adventures. And that’s when I realized that absolutely everyone takes where they live for granted (even if they live in one of the most amazing places in the world.) That experience sparked my passion for exploring our hometowns and making adventure wherever we happen to find ourselves.

Sarah at Shakespeare's birthplace!

 Sarah visiting Shakespeare’s birthplace! Photo courtesy of SarahShotts.com.

For someone who may have limited time and / or funds–or just doesn’t know where to start–what are 3 easy ways for them to incorporate adventure and exploring into their lives?

First, it’s important to reframe your idea of adventure. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of world travel or expensive experiences and lose sight of the opportunity for adventure all around you. For me adventure is whatever is daring and exciting for you. That makes it something different for everyone. Start thinking on the micro level about how you can bring new experiences into your life.

Here are three microventure prompts to get you going…

1. Take a different way home. We all get into our routines and pass the same places every day. Taking a different route as you travel home from work or school will expose you to a different area. Keep an eye out for someplace new that you want to explore.

2. Walk on foot. We Americans drive a lot. What I learned living in London is that its much easier to discover the uniqueness of a place if you’re traveling on foot. Find an area of town that you can walk around and explore. (If you already live in a big city you probably already do this so challenge yourself to explore an area you’ve never visited.)

3. Try something new. Expand your experiences by trying something you’ve never done before… this could be using a different art supply, taking a dance class, planting a garden, making a new recipe, or trying a yoga routine from Youtube. The key is to open yourself up to new possibilities.

Image by @SarahdShotts

One of my favorite things Sarah shares on her Instagram are scenes from her walks and around her neighborhood–isn’t this photo gorgeous? Photo courtesy of @SarahdShotts.

What are your favorite resources when planning an outing or trip?

I love how the internet puts everything at our fingertips! I always do a search on Google and Pinterest before a trip to find exciting places to visit. I’m also starting to explore Instagram for this. My last trip to Kansas City involved a special stop at #ThatKCStarWall just for an Instagram photo-op.

How has being an avid adventurer affected you and your life? Has it had an impact on your husband, friends, and family?

Having a passion for adventure means that you’re never bored! There’s always someplace new to visit, something new to try, or some new project to work on. There’s definitely something special about forming these memories with the people you love.

If there is one thing you’d like readers to take away from Love Letter To Adventure, what would it be?

Adventure is all around you. Just reach out and grab it.

Bird's Nest by @SarahDShotts

You can even find adventure literally in your own backyard! Sarah discovered this beautiful little bird’s nest in

her yard! Photo courtesy of @SarahDShotts.

I’d love to know a little bit more about you! Here are a few fill in the blank questions:

When I am not blogging and embarking on new adventures, you can find me: curled up with a cup of tea and a good book.

I am passionate about: slowing down and learning family heirloom recipes… our generation is so busy that we’re letting these important stories slip past.

A project, tv show, podcast, IG/Twitter account etc. I think you should check out is: Right now I’m really into the podcast A Playful Day where Kate explores the idea of putting a playful moment in every day. Listening to those episodes on my morning walk are such a great way to start the day. :)

Recipe photo via @SarahDShotts

 Photo courtesy of @SarahDShotts.

Where can we find you and connect with you?

Blog: http://www.sarahshotts.com

IG: https://www.instagram.com/sarahdshotts/

Venturer’s Treehouse (FB Group): https://www.facebook.com/groups/418730398288739/

Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/PlanYourAdventure

Who else is really excited to embark on a new adventure now?? I know I am! Thank you Sarah for taking the time to share your story, some great tips, and inspiring us to embrace our inner adventurer!

FRIDAY FAVORITE / WEDNESDAY SWELL DESIGN

The Friday Favorite series features makers, projects, films, books, and other sources of inspiration I have fallen in love with. I hope by sharing them I will be able to bring something new and inspiring into your life!

Favorite 366 Day Challenge & Artist / Wednesday Swell Design by Kim Haskell

Wednesday Swell Design - Pencil - @wednesdayswelldesign
Art & photo courtesy of @wednesdayswelldesign

The one word that always comes to mind when I see Kim Haskell of @wednesdayswelldesign‘s work is thoughtful. From the detail in her artwork to the captions sharing a story to her comments on other people’s work–I can tell a lot of thought and care goes into everything that she does. On top of that, all her pieces are extremely creative, beautiful, and inspiring!

Kim has been sharing her work through her Instagram account, @wednesdayswelldesign, where she has embarked on a 366 days of hand lettering in 2016 challenge! Born with a pencil in her hand, as her mom says, Kim has always been drawing or writing. Although she kept up with creative hobbies throughout her life, she somehow lost touch with the pen-to-paper connection. In her journey post, Kim explains how about a year ago, a trifecta of hand lettering influences came into her life: Lindsey of @thepostmansknock, seeing pointed pen calligraphy everywhere, and having a Copperplate instructor come teach a workshop in her city. After taking that workshop, her love of pen on paper was reignited and on January 1st of this year, @wednesdayswelldesign was born!

Wednesday Swell Design - Journey - @wednesdayswelldesign

Art & photo courtesy of @wednesdayswelldesign

I always look forward to seeing what Kim creates everyday and wanted to learn more about her, her process, and this amazing challenge she has taken on! I am very excited to share with you her wonderful story, advice on the creative process, and more below!

Please tell me a little bit more about the name Wednesday Swell Design–what is the story behind it?

The task of choosing a name to represent yourself can certainly be a daunting one. When I was contemplating what to name my creative venture, I started to reminisce about my early childhood experiences with creativity. From the moment my hands could hold a pencil, I was a child who derived pure joy from writing and drawing. Because these activities came so naturally to me, my mom often commented about me that I was “born with a pencil in my hand” and I always found that sentiment endearing. I was born on a Wednesday. Over the last few years I simply wasn’t making time to put pen to paper and I felt as though I was in a creative slump. I needed a project to get me over the hump and reignite my creative spark so the day known as “hump day” seemed perfectly appropriate. Wednesday therefore has a twofold significance in that it represents where I started in life as well as where I started in my hand lettering journey. The term swell is a tip of the hat to my ocean-loving roots. I have lived near the ocean my entire life and some of my happiest memories are set against the soundtrack of rolling waves. Since I am so fond of ocean swells, I was delighted to find out that downstrokes in pointed pen calligraphy can also be referred to as swells. Swell, then, binds together the idea of a lifelong love of the ocean with a newfound love of calligraphy while also implying a sense of rhythm that I strive to achieve in my lettering.

It’s always so fun to see your posts because each one is very unique and you have shown us such a wide variety of techniques! Where do you find inspiration / what gives you the idea for each post? Do you have any favorite tools and / or resources?

As of right now, my lettering journey can be described as learning through experimentation. I have dedicated my lettering time for the entire year to simply learning the craft of lettering at my own pace. As a result, I’ve given myself the freedom to try every style and every material that I possibly can, which explains the variation throughout my feed. As a learner, this makes the most sense to me because it allows me to find the tools and styles that I like the best, while also highlighting what I may need to work on for improvement. When it comes to inspiration, the number one resource for me is to simply look through the amazing work of others on Instagram. The lettering community there is incredibly generous with sharing tips and techniques and I absolutely love to participate in the lettering challenges that are hosted there. I follow up to a dozen challenges each month and when I’m trying to decide what to letter, I will usually read the given prompt of the day from each challenge and there is almost always one that resonates with me. By having a pool of options to choose from, I rarely get stuck for ideas. Outside of challenges, as a huge music junkie I will often turn to song lyrics for inspiration and you should never underestimate the power of a good motivational quote as lettering material. As for tools, I do find myself most often reaching for an oblique pen fitted with a Hunt 101 nib as I am working on my copperplate script technique. I most often write with sumi ink and am especially fond of vermillion sumi for its pop of colour. My other favourite tool currently is watercolour. I have been finding that the organic and flowy nature of watercolour provides a fun contrast to the exacting standards of traditional copperplate style script. For anyone interested in either pointed pen or watercolour techniques, The Postman’s Knock is a phenomenal site. Maintained by Lindsey Bugbee, it is an absolute goldmine of information and tutorials and in addition to the large amount of free materials available, she offers lettering worksheets and courses for very reasonable prices.

Wednesday Swell Design - Sigmund Freud - @wednesdayswelldesign
Art & photo courtesy of @wednesdayswelldesign

I am so impressed by your dedication to this project and your consistent posting. How do you find time to make sure you create and post everyday? Do you have any advice for someone who is taking on a year long challenge of their own and struggling to keep up?

I have to admit that keeping up with a 365 (or in my case 366 project since 2016 is a leap year) project can certainly pose its challenges. I work a 40 hour week at my day job so lettering is an evening activity for me. If I know I have a particularly busy evening and think that my lettering time might be short, I do my best to prepare throughout the day. I select the piece I’m going to write while on my lunch break and maybe even make a quick sketch of my idea and make a mental note of the tools I plan to use. Preparation is definitely very helpful. Sometimes at the end of a month as I’m looking for challenge prompts for the next month, I’ll make a note of the prompts that really stand out to me so that I can have a rough schedule in place and don’t have to spend time deciding on an idea day by day. Also, on days that I’m busiest I also try to use tools that I am comfortable with that won’t require a lot of trial and error. For example, I find that Tombow fudenosuke pens are great on busy days because they are portable enough to toss in a bag when I can’t letter at home and they pose a much lower risk of smearing than tools like a dip pen and ink. Ruining a piece and having to redo it when the day is already stressful is a risk I certainly try to minimize. The most important factor in successfully completing a 365 project, though, really comes down to your own gumption. In the Joyous Health Cookbook by Joy McCarthy, I recall reading a quote that was attributed to Marie Forleo that says discipline is remembering what you want. I think that’s such a poignant phrase. For me personally, I want to become a better letterer, and a better artist. I want to explore my creativity and I want to connect with others who are interested in the same things. I’d someday like to be able to use the skills that I am learning to help support my family while being able to spend less time working away from home. These are the things that I know I can achieve if I put in the time every day to work toward them. Remembering these things is what provides me with the discipline to make sure I’m creating and sharing every day. I love lettering and creating so 95% of the time, it’s not at all a chore to spend time working on it, but it’s that 5% of time when it is most important to remember.

There are so many pieces I love from your challenge–which one is your favorite and why?

With over 200 lettering projects created this year, it is always a challenge to highlight a single piece. One that does come to mind, however, is the watercolour galaxy banner that I’d done on the last day of June. I had never before seen a galaxy painted in the shape of a banner so I was excited to try an idea that was a new concept to me. The piece incorporated a lot of different aspects that I really enjoyed from drawing the banner to painting the watercolour galaxy to spattering on stars and then adding the lettering. I was pleased with the result, but the response it received made it even more special. While I always appreciate any supportive comments from people who have taken the time to visit my feed and offer kind words, the real distinction with this piece was that there were people asking for information on how they could recreate it. I have learned so very much from other letterers that to suddenly have people look to me as a source of inspiration and tutelage was an incredible honour. I went on to create a video of the process for that piece and several letterers who tried the technique shared their work with me. I was so thrilled to feel that I was giving back to the lettering community that I had learned so much from. This piece marked a strengthening in my resolve to keep trying new things and it allowed me to connect to so many more artists and letterers in our community.

Wednesday Swell Design - Galaxy Banner - @wednesdayswelldesign
Art & photo courtesy of @wednesdayswelldesign

What do you hope your audience takes away from your posts and this challenge?

To be honest, my challenge started as an entirely selfish mission. I wanted to improve my skills and learn lettering. In order to be accountable to doing a piece daily, I felt I should post it publicly to Instagram. I was a brand new letterer with no formal training in art so I had no expectations other than that I would have 366 completed pieces at the end of the year. As the weeks passed, this quickly changed and I began to realize just how large the community of people that have a passion for hand lettering is. I had no idea that there would be so many artists and letterers from all over the world that would see my work and I was even more astonished that anyone would like it and downright flabbergasted that they would want to follow me. It’s not that I have a negative view of the work I was putting out in the early days, it’s just that I had a perception that the internet at large was not a place that you necessarily see the best in people. I didn’t expect to get the support of strangers so I was joyously surprised when I learned that letterers are some of the most wonderful people you will ever encounter. I have received nothing but kindness and am so happy to say that my project has connected me with so many new friends. For anyone who has graciously decided to follow along with my experiments in lettering, I hope the resounding message in all of my posts is the idea that you can do this too. For people who assert “I can’t draw” or “my handwriting is awful” I want them to realize that drawing and painting and lettering are all skills that can be learned if you’re willing to put some practice into them. Sure, some people might have natural aptitude for artistic endeavours but for everyone else, the power of practice is enormous. I have learned by doing, and you can too. I always list the materials I use and I post video demos of more involved processes because I want others to be able to try the things that I enjoy so much. It’s always scary to start something new but I’m a great example of how you don’t have to be a professional to put yourself out there and find yourself among a great community of like minded people who are all rooting for one other.

Wednesday Swell Design - Rr - @wednesdayswelldesign
Art & photo courtesy of @wednesdayswelldesign

What are your plans for this challenge once you have completed the 366th days?

I hope that 2017 will bring the opportunity for plenty of new lettering projects. I will most certainly still be lettering but don’t intend to do a 365 again next year. This means that I will likely be investing my time in some larger or more detailed multi-day pieces that will continue to expand on what I’ve already learned. Next year I also have a goal of learning about the business of hand lettering so that I might begin providing some of my work for sale. I have had some inquiries about whether I run an etsy shop, so that may be an option I will explore further. I’d also look forward to expanding into teaching. I certainly know I still have plenty to learn, but I get so much joy from passing along the tips and tricks I know to new letterers and getting more people involved in being creative. To that end, I would love to put together some learning materials, whether it be through a platform like Skillshare or launching a blog or YouTube channel.

I’d love to learn a little bit more about you! Here are a few fill in the blank questions:

When I am not creating for the 365 day challenge, you can find me:

Playing with my French Bulldogs Libby and Theo or walking the beach with my fiancé Jeff.

I am passionate about:

Travelling, naps and proper grammar.

A project, tv show, podcast, IG/Twitter account, etc. I think you should check out is:

More Love Letters. This is a fantastic project where letterers can use their skills while providing a little love to someone who can use a lift, all while engaging in the age old art of snail mail.

Besides @wednesdayswelldesign is there anywhere else we can find you?

For the remainder of 2016, I plan to keep all of my creative endeavours exclusively on Instagram via @wednesdayswelldesign. After that I’ll definitely be looking forward to exploring other platforms.

Thank you so much Kim for your thoughtful answers, great tips and advice, and time! Please go check out and follow @wednesdayswelldesign on Instagram to see Kim’s lovely work and get inspired!

Wednesday Swell Design - Dog Mom - @wednesdayswelldesign

Art & photo courtesy of @wednesdayswelldesign–how cute is this one?! :)

Wednesday Swell Design - Print - @wednesdayswelldesign

Art & photo courtesy of @wednesdayswelldesign

FRIDAY FAVORITE / TO WATCH : CHEF’S TABLE

The Friday Favorite series features makers, projects, films, books, and other sources of inspiration I have fallen in love with. I hope by sharing them I will be able to bring something new and inspiring into your life!

Favorite Documentary Series/ Chef’s Table

I have been absolutely mesmorized this past week by the incredible Netflix documentary series, Chef’s Table. Each episode of Chef’s Table tells the story of a world renowned chef–it’s amazing to be able to dive into the minds and lives of these extremely talented individuals.

Chef's Table Season 2 Poster

I actually watched parts of season 1 awhile back and recently rediscovered it because of this post by Sophia Bush (I’m such a huge fan of Chicago PD and the whole Chicago series but that’s a whole other conversation) about Chef Niki Nakayama. She mentions her Chef’s Table episode and I decided to check it out. I normally can’t help looking at my phone and going on Pinterest while I watch TV but I did not think about it–not even once–while Chef’s Table was on. I don’t think it’s possible to watch one these episodes without giving it your full undivided attention–the stories are inspiring, the cinematography is breath taking, and the food is incredible!

I truly think that anyone who creates can connect, be inspired, and appreciate each of these chefs and what they are doing with food. It’s so much more than cooking! It’s innovating, it’s experimenting, it’s exploring, it’s learning, it’s sharing.

There are 2 seasons currently available with 6 episodes each. I recommend all of them but my favorites are:

  • Season 1, Episode 4 – Niki Nakayama (N/Naka Restaurant in Los Angeles, USA)
  • Season 2, Episode 1 – Grant Achatz (Alinea, Next, and The Aviary in Chicago, USA)
  • Season 2, Episode 3 – Dominique Crenn (Atelier Crenn in San Francisco, USA)
  • Season 2, Episode 5 – Ana Ros (Hiša Franko in Kobarid, Slovenia)
  • Season 2, Episode 6 – Gaggan Anand (Gaggan in Bangkok, Thailand) *I watched this one twice

Chef's Table

All images are courtesy of Netflix Chef’s Table 

Season 3 is coming out in late 2016 and Season 4 in 2017–I cannot wait!

If you have already been watching Chef’s Table, I’d love to hear your thoughts and which episodes were you favorite! If you are going to check it out, I hope you find this docu-series as magical as I have!

You can find Chef’s Table over on Netflix and on Instagram.

FRIDAY FAVORITE / TED TALKS : CELESTE HEADLEE – 10 WAYS TO HAVE A BETTER CONVERSATION

The Friday Favorite series features makers, projects, films, books, and other sources of inspiration I have fallen in love with. I hope by sharing them I will be able to bring something new and inspiring into your life!

Favorite Ted Talk /10 Ways To Have A Better Conversation by Celeste Headlee

I wrote this post earlier in the week but in light of recent events, I feel like this Ted Talk is more relevant than ever. Without communication, understanding is replaced by fear, intolerance, and ignorance. There’s a part in this talk that stands out to me–Celeste says that she has had great conversations with people whose values and beliefs differ greatly from her own. It sounds like that is something we need to do now. Regardless of where we stand on politics, gun control, the police, or racism, it seems like it would be a good idea to listen to one another to come up with a solution so that we don’t need to continue waking up to news of another violent shooting or another senseless death. I think we can all agree we don’t want to live in a world where this is a daily occurrence. While there are major changes that need to happen, I think if we have better conversations in our daily lives and within our communities, we will be taking a step in the right direction.

I have found that when I feel stuck, uninspired, or blah, a great way to get out of that funk is to listen to an episode of Ted Talks on YouTube. I recently came across Celeste Headlee’s Ted Talk “10 Ways To Have A Better Conversation”. It caught my eye because who wouldn’t want to have a better conversation? I want to feel this way with people I interact with and I also want people to walk away from a conversation with me feeling connected and having enjoyed speaking with me.

Celeste Headlee has a lot of experience with communicating with people–she is a radio journalist, reporter, host, correspondent, writer, and professional opera singer.  She is currently the host of “On Second Thought”, a radio talk show on Georgia Public Broadcasting. Celeste has co-hosted the national morning news show “The Takeaway”, was the Midwest Correspondent for NPR’s “Day to Day”, and was the host of a weekly show on Detroit Public Radio. She also holds multiple degrees in music and is a classically trained soprano who performs quite often.

As she says in the beginning of her talk, this is not the usual “look into the other person’s eyes” or “nod to show you are engaged” pieces of advice we have probably already heard a billion times. And while you may hear some of the points and think they are pretty common sense, it seems many of us have forgotten these things in our busy day to day lives.

I ended up listening to this twice–after I finished it the first time I realized I wanted to write these 10 things down on paper so I wouldn’t forget them! I know I am guilty of many of the things on the list and I am looking forward to changing these bad habits immediately and adopt the new ones I have just learned. I truly enjoyed this talk and think Celeste is sharing such great knowledge and advice from her experiences.

Here is the Ted Talk and below are my notes on each point Celeste covers.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and here’s to better conversations!

10 Ways To Have A Better Conversation – Celeste Headlee – Ted Talks

  1. Don’t multi-task. Be present in that moment. Be 100% there.
  2. Don’t pontificate. The definition of pontificate is, “express one’s opinions in a way considered annoyingly pompous and dogmatic.” Set aside personal opinions. Assume you have something to learn.
  3. Use open ended questions. Ask who/what/when/where/why/how.  Instead of asking, “Were you afraid?” let them tell you how they felt by asking, “How did you feel?” or “What was that like?”
  4. Go with the flow. Let thoughts go in and out of your mind. Don’t hold onto a thought or story which takes you out of the moment and makes you stop listening (you end up thinking, “I got to remember to tell this story!” instead of listening to the other person).
  5. If you don’t know, say you don’t know. Don’t pretend like you know something if you don’t.
  6. Don’t equate your experiences with theirs. All experiences are individual. It’s not about you. It’s not a promotional opportunity.
  7. Try not to repeat yourself.
  8. Leave out the details. Nobody cares about the exact date or time or place. They care about you, how the two of you connect.
  9.  LISTEN! Pay attention. Listen with the intent of understanding, not the intent of responding.
  10. Be brief.
  11. Go into a conversation interested in the other person and be prepared to be amazed by them!