Growing up, whenever I imagined myself as a chic and sophisticated adult, I envisioned lavish dress-up dinner parties and parlor games. I've always held this one particular image of an evening party at a sumptuous table where guests passed around a silver tray of questions written on paper. At dinner, we would read the questions aloud and each person would answer them. This would, of course, spark fascinating conversation, thought-provoking dialogue, and witty repartee as we dined on fine food and sipped red wine. In my fantasy, I was not the hostess of the party, but rather a guest. I have yet to be invited to such a party, so I may just end up hosting one myself. Goodness knows, I'm prepared. Over the years, I've collected quite a few of those books of questions. I own a few of The Book of Questions series by Gregory Stock, and a few books whose titles escape me as I type. I'd also like to own Garry Poole's The Complete Book of Questions: 1001 Conversation Starters for Any Occasion, (his questions look like much better dinner party fare than Stock's which tend to be a bit too heavily focused on ethical and political dilemmas for my taste). But, since I have no plans to host this long-dreamed-of dinner party anytime soon, I cannot bring myself to buy it.
While I wait for that fabled dinner, I spend a little time each day with two women, whom I believe would make excellent party guests. Their names are Carrie and Danielle. They label themselves as "creative entrepreneurs", and they have designed a very successful business around words. It works like this: you lay out a sizeable chunk of cash, they interview you, they analyze your answers to their questions, and then they create your personal style statement, a two-word mantra that defines your essence and its expression. You can then use your Style Statement as a guiding light in making decisions about everything from your wardrobe to your vocabulary. It's meant to be a touchstone, reminding you of who you are and guiding you as you navigate through life. Being the new age-dreamer that I am, I am ALL over this idea. Therefore, I also fantasize about receiving the gift of a style statement one day! Until then, there's always the book: Style Statement: Live by Your Own Design.
Carrie and Danielle believe that "being true to your self is all about living the right questions", so they have created a Daily Q&A forum that is a great substitute for the dinner party/salon. Each day, they ask and answer a question, inviting their community of readers (mostly thoughtful and creative international women) to weigh in on everything from spiritual triumphs to wardrobe choices to career struggles. Their questions are good ones; the answers are even better, and you can subscribe to the daily email for free.
Here are some of my favorite questions asked by Carrie and Danielle in recent months:
What do you secretly desire?
In what way are you delightfully conventional?
What immediately comes to mind when you say the word, bliss?
What kind of award would you like to win?
What would you be doing today if you only had 37 days to live?
What do you collect?
What is the wish behind your biggest complaint? (I think this question is brilliant; what a great way of looking at complaints!)
What do you want to be thanked for?
What's your best travel tip?
What has been your most significant beginning?
How do you define waste? (I loved Danielle’s answer to this one: Repetitive whining. What a waste of precious energy!)
Here's my question: Girls, would you like to come to dinner?