everydaysparks

Stuff I see, which you might not.

How To Talk To Anyone

That’s right, my friends. ANYONE. It’s a guide book of sorts by Leil Lowndes, recently summarised by Maggie Zhang on the Business Insider website under the heading: 7 Body Language Tricks To Make Anyone Instantly Like You. Uh huh.

The post highlights some of the top tips of the book, many of which seemed a little creepy to me. For example, implementing The Flooding Smile when you first meet people. What’s that, then? Apparently, it’s when you make a “big, warm, responsive smile flood over your face and overflow into your eyes.” It’s meant to make you seem sincere. I think it sounds a bit messy.

Now THAT'S a flooding smile.  [image from Pixabay]

Now THAT’S a flooding smile.
[image from Pixabay]

Then there is something called the Big-Baby Pivot. “When you meet someone new, turn your body fully toward them and give them the same, undivided attention you would give a baby.” In her book, Lowndes says that “Pivoting 100% towards the new person shouts, ‘I think you are very, very special.’” Maybe don’t use this one in the office, as I am not sure that much good has ever come from shouting I THINK YOU ARE VERY, VERY SPECIAL at a new person.

I THINK YOU ARE A VERY, VERY SPECIAL PERSON. YOU BIG BABY.  [image from Pixabay]

I THINK YOU ARE A VERY, VERY SPECIAL PERSON. YOU BIG BABY.
[image from Pixabay]

Hang By Your Teeth is a visualisation trick that sounds more painful that it actually feels. I imagine. “To do this, visualise a leather bit hanging from the frame of every door you walk through. Pretend that you are taking a bite on the dental grip, and let it sweep your cheeks into a smile and lift you up.” It’s all about good posture. Giddy up.

And possibly my favourite – Sticky Eyes. “Pretend your eyes are glued to your conversation partner’s with sticky warm taffy,” and don’t break eye contact. “When you must look away, do it ever so slowly, reluctantly, stretching the gooey taffy until the tiny string finally breaks.” And wait for your warning letter from HR about leering at your colleagues, I guess.

Only imagine it was joining your eyes to another person's. [image from CupcakeProject.com]

Only imagine it was joining your eyes to another person’s.
[image from CupcakeProject.com]

You can check out the Business Insider post – please be assured that I haven’t included all of the highlights in this post. And if these points sound good to you, or if you would like some help in talking to ANYONE, you can check out Leil Lowndes book, How To Talk To Anyone.

You’re welcome.

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This time last year…

Sometimes I like to think back to this time last year/month/week and remember what I was doing. It’s hard to believe it, but this time last year, I was walking across Spain on the Camino Frances. My friend Steph and I were about one week into our journey and had already made some new life-long friends. These were the innocent days, before I got attacked (firstly by unidentified bugs and, shortly thereafter, by my own body trying to deal with the crazy looking bites). Ah yes, when all we had to worry about was being tired and a bit sore, the summer heat, blisters and washing our clothes by hand.

I do miss the guilt-free carb loading that came with 30 km days.

I do miss the guilt-free carb loading that came with 30 km days.

It has been nice to have a look back at my posts from this time. Such great days – beautiful places and people. And wine.

Sure, it wasn't always picturesque...

Sure, it wasn’t always picturesque… 

In case you’d like to reminisce about the Camino, or if you’re planning your own Camino adventure, I recommend this documentary by Drew Robinson: A Journey of the Mind. It brings back a lot of memories for me – undoubtedly, walking the Camino was one of the best things I’ve ever done. More for the people than for the bugs. But then the bugs showed me a different side of the people (myself included), so it really was all good.

We thought we'd need our rain gear for sure here. We didn't.

We thought we’d need our rain gear for sure walking into this. We didn’t.

The doco runs for 40 minutes, so maybe grab some sangria and tapas (bug spray is optional) before you settle down to watch it. Buen Camino!

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What Will Matter

My lovely Mom called me last week to tell me about this poem that she had seen. Apparently it was a favourite of Sister Philomene Tiernan, an Australian nun who was on board Flight MH-17 when it was shot down over the Ukraine, and it had been used at a memorial service celebrating Sister Phil’s life. By all accounts, she was a great woman.

It seems that Sister Philomene’s Irish friend – Sister Aideen Kinlen – had shared What Will Matter, by Michael Josephson,  as the two were on a retreat in France, towards the end of Sister Phil’s time in Europe. I think it’s pretty incredible that the two friends had reflected on this poem at that time, given what was to come.

I think some people may read it and feel sad at the suggestion that everything’s ultimately a bit pointless. But I guess I read it as a reminder to prioritise what’s important and try not to get caught up in the other ‘stuff’, which messes with our heads and doesn’t really matter.

[from charactercounts.org]

[from charactercounts.org]

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Happy Birthday Dad!

Today is my lovely Dad’s birthday. Here is a picture of him, drawn on one of those etch-a-sketch things by my fabulous niece Lauren (I think she was five at the time).

Dad / Dadoo / Dooey. Or you can call him Pat.

Dad / Dadoo / Dooey. Or you can call him Pat.

There’s a quote from the book that I wrote about yesterday that has stuck with me since I read it and it reminds me very much of my Dad and my Mom. And so, for the day that’s in it, I’ve included it here. Because they really do know that this stuff matters. What’s even better, they really do live like this stuff matters. And to me, that’s pretty amazing.

[from We Are Called To Rise, by Laura McBride]

[from We Are Called To Rise, by Laura McBride]

And here’s a photo of little Pat, with his brother Jim. Pat is the curly haired larrikin on the right. And although he hasn’t worn a tie much since this picture was taken, he still has a unique sense of style. Happy happy birthday to my amazing Dad!

All dressed up - LIttle Jim and Little Pat.

All dressed up – LIttle Jim and Little Pat.

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EverydaySparks Book Club

A while back, I thought it would be a good idea to write book reviews here as a way to encourage me to get back into the habit of reading. And to make better progress through the unread books piling up on my bookshelves, bedside table and patch of floor next to my bedside table. I tried to commit to not buying new books until I could at least regain some sense of control: maybe even a one-in, one-out sort of policy. Except I think I may have underestimated my addiction.

Whatevs, today’s book review is for a new book – one that I justified buying as I was recently HELD CAPTIVE by a delayed flight out of Brisbane. Trying to return home from a work trip, I was faced with a couple of unexpected hours to pass in the terminal. Oh, and a dying phone battery. No iPad. And no book. (And no chocolate, but that’s a tragic tale that’s just too sad to re-tell.)

[image from Simon & Schuster]

[image from Simon & Schuster]

We Are Called To Rise by Laura McBride caught my eye – partly for the tag line, “When the worst in life brings out the best in us” and partly because it features an ice cream truck on the cover. I can be easily pleased like that.

It is McBride’s debut novel – a unique perspective that is really well written and difficult to put down. I was going to describe it as ‘easy to read’, in that I quickly became invested in the key characters and their lives and finished the book quickly. But I don’t want to be misleading – I did not always find the concepts ‘easy to read’, a few of the chapters were quite dark and sad.

Yet the skill of the writer is in making the reader want to push through to the end. It’s thought-provoking, challenging and a reminder that all of us are struggling with something. In my humble opinion, it is a very good novel. Here’s the summary (from the Simon & Schuster website)…

In the predawn hours, a woman’s marriage crumbles with a single confession. Across town, an immigrant family struggles to get by in the land of opportunity. Three thousand miles away, a soldier wakes up in hospital with the vague feeling he’s done something awful. In a single moment, these disparate lives intersect. Faced with seemingly insurmountable loss, each person must decide whether to give in to despair, or to find the courage and resilience to rise. We Are Called to Rise is a story about a child’s fate. It is a story about families – the ones we have and the ones we make. It challenges us to think about our responsibilities to each other while reminding us that compassion and charity can rescue even our darkest moments.

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Hello, Chocolate Mug Cake

I had read about these magical sounding chocolate puddings in a few different places on the internets recently. Put a few simple ingredients in a mug, pop it in the microwave for a minute or so and – hey, presto – out comes a delicious cake. Can’t argue with that for a quick and easy dessert. Or morning tea treat. Or midnight snack. Or, you know, breakfast. No judgement.

A little smaller than a normal mixing bowl...

A little smaller than a normal mixing bowl…

As always, Google generously provides about a bzillion recipes for cakes and puddings in mugs. I tried a chocolate peanut butter version last night, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

And then there was cake.

And then there was cake.

The verdict? For a basic muggy dessert that microwaved in 1 minute 10 seconds, it was actually quite good. Definitely much better than I had expected. I have included the recipe that I used (from The Novice Chef blog) below – it’s well worth a try. Especially if you’re in rainy Sydney at the moment and need a bit of extra warmth!

When a cup of tea isn’t quite comforting enough, try a mug of cake, I say.

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[recipe from The Novice Chef blog]

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Hello again (with chimps)

Hi there. It’s been a while since I last posted. I’m not really sure why that is – time has been filled with stuff and things and to be honest, I haven’t really felt like writing. In the face of happenings in the real world, the silliness of finding and sharing everyday sparks sometimes seems so ridiculous. I mean, people are suffering and getting sick and breaking up and shutting down and doing mean things. Then again, people are also being born, getting healthy, having fun, making things, doing good, starting again, having adventures and laughing. Right?

I also know that whatever is going on, I am still noticing those everyday sparks – whether they’re funny, silly, weird, nice, scary or quirky. And now I feel like getting back into sharing them here. In case we like some of the same sorts of things and I’ve seen stuff that you haven’t. Because we could all use some sparks to make us smile or grimace or snort or make that tsk tsk sound from time to time, I reckon. While we’re dealing with all of those happenings in the real world.

To get back into the swing of things, here are some pics of the baby chimp born at our Taronga Zoo here in Sydney over the weekend. Some classic shots for the family album.

Shiba and her baby boy. [photo by Lisa Ridley]

Shiba and her baby boy.
[photo by Lisa Ridley]

The Fam.  [photo by Lisa Ridley, from the Taronga Zoo Facebook page]

The Fam.
[photo by Lisa Ridley, from the Taronga Zoo Facebook page]

And my favourite.  [image by Lisa Ridley, from the Taronga Zoo Facebook page]

And my favourite.
[image by Lisa Ridley, from the Taronga Zoo Facebook page]

You’re welcome!

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