I had a short stay in the hospital a few years back, and I was feeling well enough to write so I pulled out my netbook and started revising a manuscript. A nurse came in to see how I was doing and told me I shouldn't be working. So I quickly explained it was a story I was working on. Purely for fun.

She paused on her way out the door and asked what the story was about. And so I started to tell her about the magic but I didn't get far, because by the gleam in her eye, she had a story to share and I was curious. "Do  you believe in magic?" I asked.

Of course she didn't...
                                But she did.

She came back in and told me a story about a magical fairy that haunts her cottage. A fairy?!

I snapped my netbook shut to listen. She was excited to have my attention and told her story with an incredible passion that drew others in the room.

Another shared a story bordering on the paranormal.

And another.

The afternoon passed and I was told several very interesting and unusual stories. For example the patient across from me knew my grandmother and Dad. She had stories to share about them that were real and magical in a very different way.

I didn't do much revising until later that night, because each time I tried, a new story presented itself. Each one was magical, and each one came from someone different. I was captivated and entertained all day.

When I left a few days later, a nurse called after me, that they couldn't wait to read MY stories. And I realized, I hadn't shared a single tale of my own, yet... everyone everywhere was still sharing stories! It was an epidemic!!!! (a good one.)

We love to be entertained, but there's something in us that just loves to entertain. We are all storytellers, because we all have a story to tell. So go... share your stories and watch the magic.

Who told you the last good story you heard?
Have you ever witnessed the magic of how a good story gets others to share one too? Love it!

Are You Safe Online? Part 1- PICTURES

During the teen technology workshops we talk a lot about things that put us in danger, especially on the Internet and with Social Media. We creep around these sites and find things people are doing that are putting them at risk so we can talk about them; how to avoid making these mistakes and how to help others be safe.

We discovered a bunch of good ways to use these sites, but the ways that put up red flags made us really nervous because... well, we were all doing them!

The trouble areas are all grouped in a few places I decided to dedicate a post to each of these places. So let's look at pictures first.

They are so easy to post online. I can do it from my phone and put it on several different types of sites. I can email them from my phone, and one day (if someone wants to show me how) I might be able to text them. Cool. Handy. But if I don't stop and think about what is in that picture, I might be putting myself at risk because they aren't so easy to remove. Once a picture is online, it can be stored in the archives forever. It can be shared via various social media, saved to other computers, phones... and basically take on a life of its own. It doesn't mean it will, but it can.

This is our list of things we found that put us at risk:
  • Anything embarrassing to anyone. (anyone includes our friends, our children, our teachers... EVERYONE) They are SOOOO funny! But! They stopped being funny when I asked what a future boyfriend or a college would think about these pictures? What if they wanted to run for mayor or their children found it one day? Or what if it became a Meme!?
  • Inappropriate pictures of  anyone. 
  • Parents posting pictures of their children. This one really annoyed them, and these teens were born after parents started doing this. I'm not so sure how these babies who we follow taking their first step, first pee, first big boy pants are going to feel in fifteen years about those pictures of them with their names over them and the date stamped on it. One teen commented, "I know this is funny, and so cute, but if it was me, I would be pissed that my parents posted this and it went viral."
  • Tags. Being tagged in a photos is fun, except when you don't want to be. We found all sorts of examples from being caught at a party you were not supposed to be at because a friend tagged you, to being linked in a Google search to someone negative because they tagged you in a photo.
  • Not asking permission to share, but worse, sharing things you don't want public. This happened to me; I found a neat picture, I asked the host if I could share it and suddenly the picture vanished... hmm. A good rule is to never post things in public you don't want shared. Please stop. Please ask. 
  • Viruses. We did not know that liking or sharing a picture was leaving a digital trace that exposed us and everyone we were linked to through this share. Think before you click. A good example was the picture of a celebrity promising cash to someone who shares this photo. 
  • Sharing personal data. We spent an entire class learning how to protect our reputation and then we learnt that with each Like or Share of those pictures, we were helping to create a personal data base of our preferences. We tested it out and I'll share the results in a different post.
  • Leaving geo-location on them. Heck we even met someone who was using a pen name but left his real life name, date, and location stamp on the picture. Handy for stalkers like us.
  • Personal information. Taking a look, a good look at what is in a picture. Names of churches, schools, street names, house numbers, little brothers peeing it the back. Ohlala. 
Do you have any pictures of yourself out there you wish you could take back? Any pictures that made you cringe? Do a search of your name and images that link to it... surprised? Any other feedback is welcome.

The Tombstone Game

Ever hear of the tombstone game? I read about it in a book.

How it works is that you ask someone randomly what they want on their tombstone. Tell them to really think about it because these are the words they will be remembered by forever. Their answer is apparently their goal or belief in life and it's what they aspire to be.

So one might say, "A fun guy."

Regardless of what they say, it probably won't surprise you and will be easy to remember. I look at my friends with this info in the back of my mind. He wants respect. She wants friends. She wants to be happy. He wants to be remembered. She wants to make a difference. He wants to touch lives.

Now what do you do with this information? Lots. My fav is to bring it back up to make their day. In the case of my example, when this "fun" guy does something fun, you toss the compliment out, "Wow, you are so much fun to be with." and bang! It's amazing how they beam and warm up to you!!!

So I use this a lot... sometimes to get my way. Sorry, but magic works that way. My own little magical whispers.

And this week I started using it on my characters. I know each one well, I thought he'd want this or that, it would be easy. But it wasn't. Because this goal we set ourselves is deep and this is what we really want but it's like an impossible goal only we know how to live by. So here are a few examples I pulled from my WIPs:

  • My guy who lost his memories said all he wanted on his tombstone was "lived a happy moment". I was shocked because he runs around helping everyone and is nuts about finding out about his past... yet knowing what his own goal is, changed the ending because now I know why he does that, and I just have to give him one happy moment to remember. I can do that. 
  • My one character born into a dark family, well, I knew he didn't want to be evil, but what would he put on his tombstone? "You only have to save one." And really, it made sense. He believes he will save himself by saving his father. 
  • So the father? He's just nasty. What did he want? "Finally Free." Wow. That's right, the entire book his goal is to die. (immortals are weird that way.)
I learnt so much about my characters-- about as much as I learnt about my friends-- with this little experiment.

So what would you like on your tombstone? Think about it, because it might change what you do today.