Monday, November 27, 2023

#GivingTuesday: Fund Intangible Moments That Last A Lifetime


Today is #GivingTuesday. 

BlackFriday, SmallBusinessSaturday, and CyberMonday are all about getting gifts for others or for ourselves. Over those three days of raucous retailing, we focus so much on having the things -- the tangibles. #GivingTuesday is all about, what my mother calls, the intangibles. Giving for the sake of giving, enriching someone else's life because you can. Enjoying small moments of joy with one another.

For instance, I watched my mother experience an intangible moment with her grandchildren on Thanksgiving. The three of them were playing a game, my creative Mom created, which involved putting everyday objects in old breadcrumb cans, and trying to identify the objects in the can without opening them. There was no cost to this adventure. Just whatever was laying around the house, and a bunch of giggles and guesses. Yes, we were in a warm house, after a big meal, and all of that costs money, but the unbridled joy that all three of them had in those moments together are something that will be remembered for the rest of their lives. 

At CCA, we create similar opportunities for individuals and families through our Annual Retreat and Educational Symposium. The Retreat, much like our thanksgiving feast, costs money, but the opportunities for moments, for memories that last a lifetime, are immeasurable. Running around the ballroom with a bunch of new friends that you will grow old with. Tittering in the corner of teen night with new girlfriends about the cute boy across the dance floor. Sharing a meal and an adventure out in the new city CCA descends on every year. These experiences are not quantifiable. Neither are the bonds created that endure across states, countries, and continents. You are never alone again. Never again! 

Friends and family frequently ask what I do for CCA, what is it, and why am I so passionate. I have my usual elevator pitch and personal story, but I thought it would far more meaningful to hear from others in the community this time around. Read and really look for those intangibles. 

"People should donate to CCA because people from all walks of life come together to find support and camaraderie in having a facial difference."

"Having a facial difference, you live every day in a world where you don't know how people will react to you. Nor how you feel about your appearance. Being a part of CCA, you discover the good to having a facial difference. If you never had the opportunity to experience life with a facial difference, then you wouldn't have had the chance to meet all these amazing people that are a part of CCA."

"CCA is such a blessing for me. Life hasn't always treated me well, but CCA is just so wonderful."

People should donate to CCA because it's a safe haven for so many families affected by facial differences. It provides us with a lifelong, ever-growing family that loves and supports one another through life's successes and challenges, especially those unique to living with a facial difference. Also, it's so important to donate to CCA so the organization can continue to do the important work of educating the world about differences and the importance of acceptance, kindness, and inclusion. 

Your donor dollars will last longer than any Apple Watch, or gaming system. Your donations represent hope, promise for a brighter tomorrow, and eradication of the dark clouds overhead. Bright skies and welcoming arms await. Children and individuals will be part of a community that will endure for decades to come. A donation today is an invest in inclusion, friendship, unconditional love, laughter, and a community that is simply second to none. Those are some of the greatest intangibles a human may be so lucky to experience. 

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Reflection: CCA Annual Retreat and Educational Symposium in Minneapolis

Editor's Note: Christine Clinton was kind enough to write a reflection on our 2023 Annual Retreat and Educational Symposium. This retreat is so very important to all our families, and adults like Christine, who wait all year for the last weekend in June when the CCA community comes together to relax and spend time with one another. Next year, we will be in Baltimore, MD, from June 28 - 30th, 2024. Keep an eye on our social media channels and website for more details.

By Christine Clinton

This year, the Children’s Craniofacial Association held their 33rd Annual Family Retreat and Educational Symposium in Minneapolis, MN from June 22nd - June 25th, 2023. I had never been to Minneapolis prior to the retreat, so I was very eager, and very excited, to be able to attend another retreat with CCA.

This was my eleventh retreat with CCA, so I was especially happy to be able to attend. Places of interest that I made sure to visit while I was there was the Minneapolis Queen River Boat Cruise, which my friend Bernice and I did on Friday afternoon, and the Basilica of St. Mary Church. I went to the Basilica on Sunday afternoon. We also went to the famed Mall of America too!

Some of the highlights of the retreat that I especially enjoyed was the educational symposiums. Bernice and I attended two of the symposiums, before I even got my retreat bag to see what special goodies CCA had for us. After a day of symposium sessions.Thursday night was the retreat kickoff and entertainment. We had fun watching the magician and enjoying some snacks.

On Friday, we had a welcome breakfast, and then Bernice and I went on the river cruise. After we got back to the hotel from the river cruise, we were able to enjoy the carnival celebration; that was fun, I was able to catch up with my friends from CCA, and meet new families who were there as well. Friday night was family night, with the hometown raffle baskets. It was so fun to see what everyone brought for their raffle baskets. The bag that Bernice and I put together, another friend had won, so that was awesome to see.

On Saturday we had breakfast again, and then there was a talent show, such great talent. After the talent show, we were able to relax a bit, before the dinner/dance. To me, the dinner/dance is a very fun night, but it is also a little sad, because it is the last night we are all together before everyone goes their own way to go home. I enjoyed great food, spending time with lots of my friends, awesome music, taking lots of pictures, and dancing the night away.

Sunday morning, we had our farewell breakfast, took more pictures, and said our goodbyes until next year. I always thoroughly enjoy every retreat with CCA, but for some reason, the retreat in Minneapolis was much more special for me. For me, the weekend of the retreats is the one weekend that I look forward to all year long, and the one weekend that I thoroughly and truly enjoy. I feel normal when I am on these retreats, and I feel like I can be myself. It is a true blessing to be able to be with others who understand the struggles of life.

Thank you to the Children’s Craniofacial Association for all that you do for families and individuals with craniofacial differences

Disability Reads: Ariel Henley's "A Face For Picasso" A Revelation For Those in the Facial Difference Community

By Kara Jackman

I waited two years to read this book. 


I avoided reading this book because I knew how close to home it was going to hit – a cannonball to the solar plexus. It was all going to be all too much, so I had to be ready for it. 

I was as ready as I would ever be this summer, and I am happy to report I enjoyed every bit of the book, “A Face For Picasso,” written by Ariel Henley

She spoke directly to the way many of us feel in and out of the hospital. Ariel Henley is a twin. She and her sister, Zan, were born with Crouzon syndrome. Not only did she experience these surgeries, she also had to watch her sister go through them as well. They were part of a large family with three older siblings, and a mother and father that loved and fought for them all along the way. 

This exquisitely written book chronicles Ariel’s life in beautiful prose filled with wit, love, and revelations that were very meaningful to me as a fellow craniofacial-affected person. The book is organized into three sections: Before, Finding My Voice, and Healing. She gets into the surgeries, watching her twin experience surgeries, addressing her time in therapy, school, and as a cheerleader. In between, she talks about art history with regard to Pablo Picasso. Her ability to fold in the research she did on Picasso was seamless, and easy to understand. If you are not an art history buff, be assured you will find this approachable. I certainly learned a lot about the man behind the paintings, and I was not impressed, which is why Henley titles the book “A Face For Picasso.” This framing is a way to talk back to his misogyny and the rules of art that govern beauty such as symmetry.

Ariel deftly named so many things that we all experience, but often are not able to explain. Often we chalk it up to trauma, but never explore the root cause of that trauma. Her descriptions of agency and bodily autonomy are truly where the rubber hits the road. She writes, on page 184 of the book: 

“When you grow up in a hospital, you learn that bodily autonomy is a myth. My body was not my own. It did not belong to me. It belonged to the doctors and nurses who shaped every part of me. It belonged to the hospital personnel and to my parents, who signed waivers, consenting to strangers touching, breaking, molding, the very essence of who I was. This was what I hated the most about surgery. It wasn’t the idea of my body being cut open or the pain I experienced when I woke up. It wasn’t even the terror I knew I’d experience during recovery. It was the oblivion. It was fading off into total nothingness. It was waking up and realizing I had no idea what had been done to me. I didn’t know who saw me, who helped me, who touched me. I was helpless. I had no control over my own body.” 

After reading this paragraph, I gasped, my jaw gaped, and I felt seen. Actually, Ariel saw right through me to my soul. The precipitating event that brought on this bit of introspection by Ariel was trying to figure out where her underwear went after a surgery… it had to be removed for the catheter. Her mother kindly reminded her. This very same thing that had happened to me, and has scarred me to this day. So many of us speak of this experience of having to remove our underwear during surgery and it feeling particularly violating. Only recently, have I been able to reconcile this feeling in my own life. 

Another part that stuck out to me was the positive and negative interactions she had with classmates. Usually this kind of book will focus on the negative interactions, but this book shared the special bond she had with friends at school, even allowing them to come visit her while recovering from surgery.

There was some trepidation in allowing her friends to see her recovering, but once it happened, it deepened their connection. After receiving some water and an ice pack a friend brought Ariel after one of these surgeries, she reflects, “I couldn’t show this side of my life to the kids at school. I couldn’t tell them about what my experiences were really like. That was how I knew Nina and Victoria weren’t like our other friends. They never made Zan and I feel like we were different.” This moment, and others like it, detailed in the book, warm my heart.  

There is so much in this book to unpack, issues of control over one’s body; all the unpredictability of planning surgeries only to have them fail or not happen at all; school, college, and figuring out one's identity as one’s face and body change from year to year. Then, there are the triumphant episodes that family and friends of Zan and Ariel have around homecoming court and cheerleading which gave me great hope for society. I even appreciated when Ariel chirped back to her parents about things she hated about her life and experiences. Though I don’t believe I could ever do that to my parents, I am sure I did.

“A Face for Picasso” has something for everyone. Please pick it up and read it, or listen to sweet Ariel read the audiobook version (Oh my, yes! She also read her words for the audiobook version.) Again impressed is not a strong enough word to describe Ariel. Explore the many layers that she examines, and feel validated by this book, an authentic and relatable read. 


Ariel is currently conducting research for her next book. I look forward to it and anything else she plans on writing. I am a fan for life. And I am forever sorry that it took me so very long to pick up this excellent read. Fear and trauma are such tricksters. Thankfully, I seemingly always have the last word in their defeat.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Participate in ELSA Advocacy Day at Home or in Washington, DC Sept. 18 &19

Editor's Note: Our friend Becky Abbott from the National Foundation for Ecotodermal Dysplasias shared this update with us about their upcoming advocacy days on September 18 and 19, 2023 for the Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act (ELSA). You can participate from home or in Washington with NFED, other nonprofits, and friends supporting ELSA. Read more below to find ways you can spread the word and raise awareness about this legislation that "would require all private insurance group and individual health care plans to cover medically necessary services resulting from congenital abnormalities" ( website). Learn more in this interview with Becky on our youtube channel. 

Advocacy Update

We want to share some exciting news! We have made some additions to our Advocacy Resources webpage to help you advocate for the Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act both in-person and virtually!
  • Updated supporting documents like the ELSA One Pager, Patient Stories and FAQs.
  • A list of all legislators with links to their social media accounts to make it easier for you to tag your legislators in your social posts and ask them to support ELSA.
  • Download and print business cards to hand out to your contacts to encourage them to advocate for ELSA. The cards include a QR code that will take them directly to our easy-to-use advocacy web tool. We are currently updating the web tool, and it will be available to use soon! 

Advocate With Us From Home

Whether you are joining us in Washington, D.C. on September 18 and 19 or advocating from home, here are some action steps to take for ELSA.  Tell everyone you're advocating for ELSA! 
  • MONDAY - Take a picture with the "I'm Advocating for ELSA" sign(either printed or on your computer screen), post to social media, tag your legislators and be sure to use the hashtags #EnsuringLastingSmiles and #NFEDOnTheHill.
  • TUESDAY - Contact your legislators via the NFED web tool or your organization's tool and ask them to become an Original Cosponsor of ELSA for reintroduction in this Congress. We are currently updating the web tool, and it will be available to use soon!  
  • WEDNESDAY - Share the story of why you are advocating for ELSA with a picture of yourself and/or your loved one(s) who would benefit from ELSA's passage.


Share the graphic below on your social media platforms to ask them to join us on Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill from home and support ELSA. 

Use these hashtags when you are advocating:#EnsuringLastingSmiles #NFEDOnTheHill

If you are registered for Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill, it is important you attend virtual training on Tuesday, September 12 at 7:30 p.m. CT. You should have received the Zoom link to join the training at the email you used when registering. Please email Becky at [email protected], if you do not have the Zoom link. Thank you for your continued work for the Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act and those affected by congenital anomalies that would benefit from ELSA!

Check Out Our Day on Capitol Hill T-Shirt

Thank YOU Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill Sponsors!

Organizing and promoting an event like this takes tremendous resources, and we couldn't do it without you. Thank you to Peter and Julie Durand, The Gott-Scott Family, MyFace and Smile Train for sponsoring this fall's event! View All Advocacy Day on the Hill Sponsors.

Saturday, August 12, 2023

CAM 2023 Press Release: The Future is Inclusive: How We’re Celebrating Craniofacial Acceptance

For Immediate Release
August 9. 2023
Children's Craniofacial Association 

CAM 2023: The Future is Inclusive: How We’re Celebrating Craniofacial Acceptance

Children's Craniofacial Association celebrates its 19th Annual Craniofacial Acceptance Month this year and we want to highlight how looking different is a human rights issueFrom Discrimination and indignities are a daily occurrence for the facial difference community. This is a hidden community that has continued to be marginalized, abused and neglected, throughout history. To this day we do not believe the injustice experienced by this unique community has been adequately recognized or addressed by global society.

This year our theme is “The Future is Inclusive.” We have asked the world to jump on board the #ChooseKind movement, but we want to be clear: being kind is not enough. We want our world to be inclusive.

Understanding our differences is the first step toward acceptance and building empathy for one another. Many of our kids and adults have shared their stories in schools, churches, and civic groups across the country. This year we hope to broaden these opportunities to meet people on playgrounds, in grocery lines, and even behind computer screensbecause advocacy is everywhere! We want to end discrimination and bullying based on visible differences through awareness and adopting the language of other disability advocates. To that end, please help us this month by setting aside a segment on your local radio or television news program for a story about a local child or adult with a facial difference or craniofacial condition. We can help connect you with an advocate near you! If you’ve ever been bullied or teased, you can find an empathetic friend in our community. Together, we can end bullying and discrimination, and teach the world how to truly be inclusive. It is not just enough to be friendly, our families want to be included in local activitiessocial campaigns, find representation in the media, and be accepted for who they are, not what they look like. 

Children's Craniofacial Association, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Dallas, Texas and founded in 1989, serves over 20,000 families per year and an additional 5,000 unaffected students in schools across the country. CCA's mission is empowering and giving hope to individuals and families affected by facial differences. CCA envisions a world where all people are accepted for who they are, not how they look.To request free educational curriculum and additional resources, visit

To learn more about CCA Kids and Craniofacial Acceptance Month, local picnics, and other happenings, go to our CAM website for details. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Disability Reads: "Love, Love" by Victoria Chang

By Kara Jackman

I took Victoria Chang’s “Love, Love” on my trip to Annual Retreat in 2022. (Yup, that was last year, and I am just getting around to writing about it this year.) I also brought my Kindle library along with me, too. I don’t know what I was thinking. When would I have time to read? Well, I thought, this was written in verse form, so how long would it take, right? Second, I always like to have a bunch of books around me for comfort when I am away from home. They are like my adult stuffies!

The story is about an Asian-American family told through the perspective of 10-year old Frances Chen. Her sister, Clara, mysteriously begins losing her hair. Her parents focus most of their time on the protagonist's sister, trying to give her vegetables and teas, purchase wigs, and otherwise keep up appearances as Asian Americans living in the midwest United States. This leaves Nancy Drew-loving, and worried, Frances to solve the mystery of why Clara is losing her hair.

Frances has her challenges, too. At school she is bullied, her friend stops spending time with her. She feels very different and very much "the other" in her mostly white elementary school. While times are tough for Frances, she does have one saving grace: tennis. She loves to play, and is quite good. A friend’s coach recognizes her talent, and she begins practicing at the bubble. Soon she must tell her parents about her interest in the game, after being offered an opportunity to play in a local tournament.

While all this is happening, Frances takes lunch in the school library, and begins reading with her friend about hair. They learn all about it, the science of it, what it is made of, and how it grows. At home, she keeps tabs on her sister, Clara, and eventually ventures into her room to learn, discover, and solve the mystery of Clara’s hair loss.

If you don’t want me to spoil the ending of the book, please stop reading here. Frances discovers that Clara has trichotillomania, by reading her diary. Trichotillomania, or hair-pulling falls under the umbrella of obsessive compulsive mental disorders. I, and many like me, some of whom are in our community, struggle with the compulsion to pull our hair. I have had many one-on-one conversations about my lifelong struggle around this issue. I feel this book is a great way to begin some dialogue about it among people in our community.

Frances handles learning about Clara’s trichotillomania in such a beautiful way, without words, but signing letters to her across the table, proving and demonstrating a way Clara can constructively use her body for connection, and to be seen. Frances signs “I K-N-O-W/ Y-O-U/ P-U-L-L O-U-T/ Y-O-U-R/ H-A-I-R.” Clara responds by telling her not to tell her parents. The last page of the book sums everything up nicely. “I still don’t know why Clara/pulls her hair out/I still don’t know/if she will tell my parents/but somehow/I know/it’s not/my secret to/tell/somehow I know that/not even the snow can/bruise us anymore/because somehow/we know/we are each no longer/fully alone.”

In this book, there is so much suffering in silence, and extreme feelings of isolation despite living and being around people. We in the CCA community know how this feels when we are in our home communities, or at school among our so-called peers. Yet, when we are together at Retreat, let’s say, we experience what it feels like to be seen for who we truly are inside, and to know we will never be alone again. This is the message of this beautiful book by poet Victoria Chang. Perhaps, there is no coincidence in me packing this book for retreat last year after all.

Chang grew up in the midwest, too. Though she admits not being very good at tennis, she feels her experiences growing up were similar to Frances. As she writes in her dedication, “To all the bullied kids in the world: I see you. To all the kids who suffer: I see you.” Chang wrote a tremendously beautiful story in verse, about mental illness, family, and belonging. I am so grateful to have read it. I encourage you to do the same.

Many thanks to my colleague at Boston University, Megan Sullivan, for suggesting this book through a syllabus her sister created for a class at University of New Hampshire. You both are truly "my people!"

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Picnic Tips for Success This Craniofacial Acceptance Month

By Kara Jackman

Editor's Note: I am reposting this piece from 2021 on tips for hosting a CAM picnic. I'm planning my first this year, and really needed to review this article, so I figured why not share it again for everyone. Whether you are first-timer like me or  

Believe it or not, as you’re soaking up the summer sun, we are preparing for September! Craniofacial Acceptance Month is just a couple months away. Planning a successful CAM picnic should start now. Here are some suggestions for planning and hosting a top-notch event to raise awareness and celebrate our craniofacial families.

Find A Cool Location & Create Your Guest List

Location location location! As important for a party as looking for a new home, we suggest you find a great space. Consider a local park, beach pavilion, or set up in your own backyard. After a year and some change inside, everyone wants to spread out in the sunshine, so be sure there are plenty of spots for all your guests. It is wise to base the amount of space you will need on the number of people you plan to invite.

State or city parks are great because many are free to use, and provide cool amenities like grills, picnic tables, pavilions, and bathrooms. A playground for the kids is always a crowd pleaser. Be sure to check with your local municipality or recreation department to make a reservation (if that is required and/or allowed), get a permit, and/or pay a reasonable deposit or fee. If it is first come, first serve, you may want a volunteer to go early in the day and stake out the location with some signage and decorations to hold your spot. If possible, include a map and detailed instructions on your invitation, and include a day-of contact number, so people can reach you if they are lost or have something come up.

Invite Your AND Our Friends - Publicizing Your Picnic

CCA is happy to share your picnic location and details with friends in your area. Our database is filled with families you may or may not know. Let us help invite people and publicize your picnic. We are here to help! For instance, if you require RSVPs, you can count on 85-90% of your “Yes” RSVPs to show up. If you do not require RSVPs, it will be harder to estimate a headcount, but the rule of thumb is that roughly only 30-50% of your total invite list will most likely be there on that beautiful day in September.

Pick A Day That Works For All

Some may say the date may be just as important as the location. Choose a day that avoids federal, local, and religious holidays. September is also back-to-school month, so be mindful of fall school events, too. 


It can make or break a party! You have a few options here. For years, we had our picnickers bring their own brown bag lunches. It’s the easiest way to make sure everyone’s needs are accommodated, but you have to notify guests to BYOLunch on your invitation.

If you plan to provide food, first, thank you for your generosity! Make sure you have a wide variety of snacks from the savory to the sweet to keep your guests' mouths watering. Variety also allows your guests to decide what works best for their dietary needs and food sensitivities. (Just make sure you ask the location or look for signs that state what their policies are about bringing food to your picnic place! At the very least, you must assume you’re responsible for proper cleanup and disposal of all food and paper products.)

Another option is to have each family bring food in a potluck style. If you go this route, we suggest you create a Facebook event or Google form for your attendees to sign up for things to bring. You don’t want a party with 15 dips, and no chips! Don’t forget to have someone bring disposable cutlery, plates, and napkins!

Finally, many CCA families have had great luck contacting local eateries and supermarkets to see if they are willing to donate food from their stores. Bottled water is a popular donation item and will keep your guests hydrated on hot days. Many local BBQ restaurants are often amenable to this type of donation, and CCA is proud to have our local chain, Spring Creek Barbeque catering our picnic! (CCA can provide our tax exempt letter for charitable donations and sample request letters. Contact us for more information.)
Organize Entertainment & Activities

Entertainment & Activities

Entertainment is vital for a poppin’ party. From music and crafting to sports and games -- pick what works best for your family and friends. Wiffle ball, an acoustic concert, a talent show, cookie decorating, face painters, a DJ, or painting “Kindness Rocks” are fabulous ways to keep your guests engaged.

In past CAM picnics, friends invited special guests to their events. A local celebrity (sports figure, local TV news personality, high school mascot), or local government representative (mayor, councilman, state senator), first responders (firefighters, police, and EMTs) could really give your CAM picnic the draw it needs to make a bigger impact.

Meet The Press

Invite the press using our CAM press release, and don’t be shy! We encourage you to tell your story. Posters filled with pictures and definitions created by your family about craniofacial conditions will showcase your journey. For an added bonus, share how CCA was able to help your family embrace the craniofacial journey.

Info, Flyers, and Posters, Oh My!

CAM picnics intend to promote awareness and acceptance! Make sure your guests leave informed! Contact Annie Reeves for CCA brochures, signage, newsletters, and other printed material that we can mail to you, free of charge. Folks will be able to bring them home to peruse throughout the year and share with their own teachers and librarians. Craniofacial Acceptance Month does not end in September. If you leave an enduring impression with your picnic, these resources will increase compassion and reduce the amount of teasing and questions in the years to come.

You’ve Got This! Document it with Photos

Have a great time! Take as many photos as possible or consider asking a photographer to volunteer their time for the day! After the big event, please email Annie ([email protected]) with a short description of the day’s events, exciting special guests, the yummy food you served, and a few (or all) photos you took, so we can publish them in our next E-Network newsletter, and watch our CCA family advocate acceptance in action.

Friday, June 16, 2023

How To Start (And Have) A Conversation

Editor's Note: Retreat is right around the corner. We are all going to be among friends, new and old. I collected some advice at the request of one our long time Alums, around conversation starters. This blog post shares how to show up for a conversation and what before and during your chat. The two resources I used for this blog post are adapted from works by the inimitable Dr. Marsha Linehan, the godmother of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and Today Show online contributor, Sarah Fielding. Enjoy and happy reading. -Kara


GIVE Skills (adapted from Dr. Marsha Linehan’s Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills)  

G - Be (Gentle) - be kind, considerate, 

I - Interested - Make good eye contact, Focus on Staying in the moment, listening

V- Validate - Validating someone else’s story, experience, or emotions is powerful in creating and deepening connection between people

E - Easy Manner - Smile, be calm, light hearted, A light-hearted attitude can help to ease along a conversation. Try including a sincere compliment or giving a little special attention to the person.


What does starting a conversation look like (adapted from Sarah Fielding’s article on the Today show website)

Picture the conversation going positively or imagining you’re speaking to a trusted friend.

  • Tell yourself positive affirmations such as “I am enough” and “I am great” Do this in the morning before you head down to breakfast or before the next activity

  • Find common ground, our common ground: (why are you at retreat? Have you anything fun planned to see while we are in Minneapolis?) 

  • Just say it: “I was looking around the room for someone new to talk to and I got the vibe you might be a friendly person to chat with. I’m _____, nice to meet you.”

  • Consider: What is your intention in speaking to this person? Do you want to greet them, become friendly and create a lasting connection?

  • Once you have greeted the person, asked a couple of the above questions,  scan through this list, take a deep breath and go for more…

  • What did you think of X symposium session/panel/Retreat event earlier? 

  • How are you doing today?

  • What brings you to retreat? 

  • Who do you know here?

  • That’s a nice X you’re wearing.

  • I love your sense of style. Have you always been someone savvy with fashion or did you develop your style over time?

  • Your tattoo/jewelry caught my attention. Is there a story behind it?

  • What’s your most treasured item?\

  • Have you been to Minneapolis before? 

  • How do you spend your days? 

  • Where did you last travel to?

  • Where’s next on your list to visit? 

  • Have you read any good books lately?

  • Have you watched any good shows recently? 

  • Have you listened to any good podcasts lately?

  • Who never fails to make you laugh?

  • What books/ movies/ TV shows do you recommend?

  • Have you ever read X? I’d happily swap with you. 

  • Where did you grow up?

  • Where would you like to visit?

  • What made you laugh this week?

  • If you could be anyone else for a day, who would you choose and why?

  • What’s something you’ve always been curious to learn more about? 

  • What’s your favorite fun fact?

  • How did you get into doing X hobby?

  • What are your goals this week?

  • Have you ever tried doing X activity? 

  • What’s your favorite thing about yourself? 

  • What’s something about you that surprises people?

  • Are you a dog or cat person?

  • Who is the most important person in your life right now?