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?

Saturday, June 3, 2023

Retreat 2023: Getting Out & Exploring Minneapolis

Your retreat in Minneapolis with all your CCA friends and family is just weeks. Let's get oriented with how to get around the Twin Cities. Once you arrive at Minneapolis St Paul airport, you can choose to take public transportation or an Uber to the hotel, Hyatt Regency Minneapolis. By car, the hotel is 19 mins away, and by public transit it is 30-50 minutes via the Metro Blue Line. Just hop on the Target Field stop and get off at Nicollet Mall. Learn more on the Metro website and purchase at these nearby metro service stations and stores

Nickelodeon Amusement Park at the Mall of America

Speaking of Malls, the Metro stops at the Mall of America, too! The largest mall in America featuring water parks, amusement parks (the Nickelodeon Park looks pretty cool), and what looks like one of the largest Lego Stores that I have ever seen. You will have to visit to confirm or deny this. I'll be happy to pick up the tab if I am wrong. I love Nickelodeon from the safety of my home, not big on rides, but if you are this looks like the spot for you. 

Now, if getting outside is more your style, I would highly recommend the J.D. Rivers' Children's Garden. It's described as a "one acre food and flower garden is nestled into Theodore Wirth Park along Glenwood Ave. It provides ample opportunity to catch frogs along Bassett’s Creek, wade in Wirth Lake, meander through the prairie to search for butterflies, and walk through Wirth woods" The garden is located at 2900 Glenwood Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55422. To learn more you can call (612) 499-9248. Looks like its a "Wirth" a shot to me.

A giraffe at the Como Park Zoo

Como Park Zoo Conservatory

Another fun free outing for the family is the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, which boasts that it is one of the last free zoos in the United States. "Como is home to a wide array of animals and plants." Explore the large conservatory filled with flowers, herbs, shrubs in this beautiful botanical garden. It's nestled right next to the Como Town Amusement Park, Cafesjian historic carousel, and Como Park. The Zoo is located at 1225 Estabrook Dr, St Paul, MN 55103. You can call (651) 487-8201 for more information.There is so much to explore in this spot. I love a botanical garden because I know I can't kill those plants as they are not mine. 

Mill City Museum
For a more educational experience head over the Mill City Museum. There you will learn a bit more about the history of the twin cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul. Enjoy the observation deck, experience the flour tower (Minneapolis is the number one city that produces flour in the United States), water lab, and baking lab. This looks like a good time and I heard they give out free pieces of bread, flour capital of the United States and all. P.S. For more recent history, I'm planning to check out the George Floyd Memorial located near Cup Foods, the site of the events of that devastating day, May 25, 2020. The famed mural and other memorial is located at the intersection of 38th and Chicago

Stone Arch Bridge

Don't miss the sites in Minneapolis. There is more than just the Mall of America, and Target Field (home of the Minnesota Twins). The Stone Arch Bridge and St. Anthony Falls are wonders of modern engineering that you should behold while you visit the city. The Stone Arch Bridge looks like a fun place to walk and take in the city on the water. You will be able to see St. Anthony's Falls from the bridge. The bridge is located at 100 Portland Ave. Minneapolis, MN 55401. Then after walking or biking over the bridge, you can head over to St. Anthony Falls featuring panoramic views of the city, and a visitor center, "that provides information about the falls and its place in Minnesota history. Rangers lead short walks from the visitor center out onto the lock walls and describe how the falls changed the course of history of the area and of the nation." The visitor center is located at 1 Portland Avenue Minneapolis, MN 55401. They are open from 6AM - 10PM daily. No admission is necessary.

Nicolett Mall

If you want to stay closer to home, the Nicolett Mall, just outside our hotel doorstep, looks to be a fun spot to roam and hang with your friends. There are stores, restaurants, and cafes to explore. At one point along Nicolett Mall is the number one attraction I am looking forward to in Minneapolis, the Mary Tyler Moore statue. The groundbreaking Mary Tyler Moore Show, starring the titular character plus legends like Ed Asner, Betty White, Cloris Leachman, among other exceptional comedic actors, was one of the best sitcoms on American television from 1970-1976. A TV addict like myself must make this pilgrimage. I owe it to all my fellow binge watchers, but mostly to my best friend Lauren, to get a photo with the great MTM. The statue is located at 1 Nicolett Mall. 

Well, there are additional suggestions on sites to see, places to go, and restaurants to eat at in the links you will find below. Surely, I am looking forward to a great time with all my friends. I hope to be able to get out to see a few things myself.