Tomorrow, for my Toastmasters meeting, I will be giving an invocation to our group of public speakers.  Have you ever written or spoken one of these?  It is a terrific way to tap into our best selves and reach for something higher than “let me survive today” thinking.

What Is An Invocation?

Pic of pencil and writing

How do you write an invocation?

Some people call this a euphemism for the word “prayer,” but I think it’s more than that.  When people are responsible for invocations in a public or business group, we’re challenged to say something “spiritual” without denomination entering the moment.

Another way to think of an invocation is to think in terms of an affirmation, but again, we do more than just generate self-affirming messages.

To me, then, an invocation is a short speech (usually less than a minute long) that acknowledges our community, inspires our best selves, and motivates us to be in an open, receptive frame of mind for the event that is about to begin.

Are there required phrases or elements to writing an invocation?

I don’t think so.  At least, in my limited experience, I haven’t noticed a consistent word choice or point to make.  People do tend to avoid some words in a nondenominational gathering–words like God, or Heavenly Father, or Buddha, or Mohamed.  No, let’s try to stay away from religious specifics unless we’re doing the invocation for a church/synagogue/mosque event.

Then, where do you start?

I have seen and heard several invocations start with a favorite quotation.  I personally like to draw from those quotations without necessarily reciting them word for word.  This gives you another opportunity for a collection–a collection of quotes that help you in your daily life will also be a great source of inspiration for an invocation.

For example, one of my favorite phrases is, “Today, you are somebody’s reason to smile.” How cool is that?  I might try to use it tomorrow as the closing to my invocation.  The theme of our day is “getting organized for the holidays,” so I’ll need to weave that thought into the invocation too.

And a quotation is a great way to both open or end your invocation

If I start tomorrow by reminding people that in this holiday season we’ll have our lists, our plans, and our social obligations. But we are the people, and this is our time, to make the traditions our children’s children will enjoy for years to come. Lastly, I can remind everyone that we are the reason for others to smile, and aren’t the holidays a great time to remember this?

What do you think?

Do you write affirmations, prayers, invocations or inspirational essays?  How do you approach this opportunity to connect with others, heart-to-heart?  I’d love to hear your suggestions and successes.

Wishing you an inspirational week.

How to Set Up a Crime Scene

Please note: Mac issues this morning.  Sorry for the lack of photos.  They won’t load. Grr!!!

Friday night at Colorado DanceSport, we Halloween partied the night away.  Costumes and snacks, pizza and performances were all to be found in great quantities.  In short, we had a ton of fun.

One of the entertainments was a crime scene I set up and had people demonstrate their powers of observation and deductive reasoning as they wandered through a full scale scene of murder.  Even as adults, I think there is a need for play in our lives, and acting on our instincts to be good detectives is a great game.

If you’d like to set up a crime scene, here are some things I learned as I built this project:

  1. START WITH A STORY – In order to be able to plant clues and create victims and suspects, it’s important to have a fully-fleshed out story.  It can be as wild as you want, but needs to follow a level of logic that makes your mystery solvable.  We started by murdering poor Len Goodman (he’s left Dancing With the Stars, you know), and making three of his real-time friends the suspects.  Here’s a tip: make each suspect’s story plausible, then remove either the weapon they would choose, or some other piece of evidence that would definitely make them the killer.  ONLY the killer’s clues remain in tact.
  2. KEEP AN INVENTORY LIST – This is crucial if you want all the clues in the right place for your amateur sleuths to find and follow.
  3. DO USE CRIME SCENE TAPE – I was able to find this Online at a reasonable price.  This both helps to set the mood, and keeps people from touching clues, so that everyone has a fair chance of solving the crime.
  4. MAKE A CLUE PACKET AND ANSWER SHEET – This will be part of your friends’ “detective kit.”  In our packet we put in a preliminary medical report, witness statements from four witnesses (the 3 suspects and a red herring), a crime scene inventory sheet, and my own “You the Sleuth” investigative sheet.  The last item had approximately 10 questions, some with multiple answers for a total of 24 points possible.
  5. BUILD THE SCENE – I used 4 X 8 insulation boards and some heavy stands to create the walls, and from there begged, borrowed, and small shopped to create a scene that had an office, gift shop, weight room, and ballroom dance floor within the dance studio’s smaller ballroom.  Check out Colorado DanceSport’s Halloween photo album on Facebook, in order to see the results.
  6. REMEMBER WIIFM RADIO — That’s the station that asks, “What’s in it for me?”  I put together this scene for the fun (check), the challenge (double check), and the opportunity to let more people know I write mysteries and would like to add them to my mailing list (check, check & check).

If you’d like help with planning your own murder mystery scene, please contact me.

And remember, Halloween doesn’t always have to be scary. It is a great time to play with being someone besides yourself.  Dress up and play games to keep the ghouls away.

Wishing you a fun, and creative week.