Family Game Night

When I was growing up in the 1950s, Charades was a favorite game in our family.

We played in the living room. Mother was one team captain and Daddy was the other. Each captain “acted out” the book, movie, famous quotation, person place, or thing and scored points when their team correctly guessed the right answer in 2 minutes or less.

I especially loved “sounds like” clues. My brothers and I would get so excited sometimes that one of us might blurt out the song title or famous person’s name even though we were on the other side’s team. No telling what happened next. Either we’d roll off the couch laughing ourselves silly, or scream “No fair!” and try to pinch the culprit.

Years later Pictionary came on the scene. Instead of acting out, we attempted to draw a person, place, animal, action or something “difficult” (meaning the word was difficult to represent in a drawing) in a minute or less so our team could correctly guess what it was. The rules prohibited you from drawing pictures that contained any letters or numbers (such as a yellow car with “Taxi” written in the door) or using verbal clues about what you were drawing.

There were a couple of spin-offs–Fast Draw and Win, Lose or Draw. Or were they precursors?  I don’t remember.

My sweetie and I are going to visit my brother and his wife at their get-away place outside of Dallas. I heard Hasbro brought back Pictrionary a couple of years ago, and I’m going to look for the game at Walmart, take it to my brother’s ranch and see if Mark still has his artist’s touch.

If Ronnie blurts the answer out of turn, I may pinch him. But more ‘n likely, I’ll just laugh myself silly.

Writing for the future

I’m always encouraging people to write the stories from their lives so future generations will learn about life in the “good ol’ days” and maybe learn a thing or two from our experiences. If you’re finally encouraged to try your hand, here’s a little additional advice.

Take some time tomorrow to go by a stationary shop, art supplies store or Hallmark retailer and peruse the writing instruments and writing paper.

Choose a pen that fits in your hand, not too heavy, not too fat, and one with a writing tip that you prefer, resulting in bold, medium or thin lines. The color of ink covers the spectrum. Popular choices include blue, black, purple and green.

Next, choose an acid free paper that will last the passing of time. The paper serves as your canvas so let it complement your ink color choice.

I prefer black ink on white paper, but my dad preferred green ink on ivory-beige paper.  You might even decide to mix it up, depending on the type of letter you’re writing. White ink on black stationary makes a daring statement. It may not be your taste, but again, it may be just the right choice for a letter that speaks of regret. A word of caution: Don’t let your pen and paper choices be so audacious that they overwhelm your words; your words are what count.

Why am I suggesting that you invest in a pen and paper when we’re in the digital age?

There are benefits you’ll receive by hand writing your letters. For example, the physical movement of the hand pulls on another muscle (the brain) to conjure its cognitive processers to release memories. Also, humans cannot write as fast as they can type. Hence, hand writing forces you to slow down and focus.

Yes, most people’s handwriting is messy, but so is life. Engage in the messiness for self-awareness and self-discovery. You’ll cultivate the integrity of emotional truth in the process. Many of us have the handwriting of a physician writing a prescription (translation: almost illegible), but there is something heart-warming about seeing correspondence in a person’s own scrawled handwriting rather than in immaculate word-processed computer type.

But, of course, the choice is yours. You may decide, after you’ve written a few pages, that your intended reader(s) need the legibility of computer text over your scribbling. But even if you write your final draft on the keyboard, I urge you to explore the benefit of writing your quick draft by hand, even if it’s with a number 2 pencil and ruled notebook paper.

And I’ll let you in on a secret: While I care dearly about all the written correspondence my father left, I treasure his handwritten notes the most. There’s just something about his tiny, cursive handwriting in that green ink on ivory-beige paper.

Digital storytelling

I’ve been thinking about the power of story and how we seem to be losing family histories. I’ve always claimed we have world history, American history, Texas history–but that family history is being lost because we don’t seem to be writing down those stories.

But I”ve been wrong.

Last night, I met a new friend at the Navasota Theater. She told me about her interest and decade of work in digital storytelling. Yes, since the 1990s, there’s been a movement that began at the San Francisco Bay Area-based Center for Digital Storytelling, located

Through digital storytelling, communities, organizations and schools have been using technology to capture 3- to 5-minute stories that focus on the heart’s core of a story. Most stories emphasize partricular themes that run the gamut, e.g., from personal stories to historical events, from exploring community and social issues regarding personal views on family relationships, racism and social justice.

The methodology is simple: merge tradtional storytelling with contemporary digital tools, such as photography, audio, video, text and/or voiceover. The way to formulate the script is by asking such questions as:  How do I find meaning in life?  What do I think?  How do I feel?  What’s meaningful in my life?

Is this cool, or what?

If you want to explore this dynamic, modern, creative way to tell your story, you can find a FREE webinar on creating digital stories as a “first step of your storytelling journey, and a gateway to further explorations of image, sound and digital media” (

As I’ve said many times: we are natural storytellers–it is in our DNA. What is the story only you can tell? You can write it, podcast it, video it, draw it… You’ve so many choices. You need only to choose one and share your unique narrative so that we can connect. So, take your first step and in the words of that famous athletic shoe company: Just do it.


Talent vs. Attention & Intention

10 Things that Require Zero Talent, according to a FaceBook post from my nephew Drew Murray today:

  1. Being on Time
  2. Work Ethic
  3. Effort
  4. Body Language
  5. Energy
  6. Attitude
  7. Passion
  8. Being Coachable
  9. Doing Extra
  10. Being Prepared
While it is true the things on this list require no talent, they do require attention and intention.
I used to be late to almost everything until someone pointed out that being tardy is a sign of disrespect. That is, when I am late to meet a friend for lunch, I am disrespectng her and disregarding her time. From that perspective, I could see clearly that I was being a selfish, arrogrant twit instead of a friend. I began setting my watch 10 minutes fast and solved the problem (#1).
My work ethic (#2) came from my father. He told me repeatedly: “You are going to spend more time working than anything else your in life, with the possible exception of sleeping. Choose work that you love and you’ll not only be happy, you’ll be very good at it.”
He was right, of course. I love my career choice as a teacher, writer and storyteller. As a result, I put effort (#3), energy (#5), and passion (#7) into my work. Additonally, I am always coachable (#8) to adding new skills and strategies (#9) to my repertoire.
My friend and mentor Jackie Crowley taught me about body language (#4). When we were young adminstrators at Houston Community College, she suggestd we begin answering the phone with a grin. Try it, and you’ll see what I discovered: it creates a friendly attitude (#6) and encourages the person on the other end to mirror your pleasantness. An added value to grinning is that, as I’ve grown older and my face has begun to sag, the grin is like an instant face lift. Nothing quite like it to put a spiring in my step!
Being prepared (#10) has a great deal to do with paying attention to my life,.. embracing opprtunties to engage, sidestepping pettiness and prejudice, learning from my errors in judgment, taking on challenges that surprise and delight, and remaining grateful for the blessings God has bestowed upon me and mine.