December 2020–Tell Your Story Newsletter (TYSN)

December 2020 Vol 2 Issue 12

Tell Your Story Newsletter (TYSN): Specializing in Entrepreneurial and Organizational Storytelling

Let me tell your story!

Welcome Mid-December, 2020!

Winter in Saskatchewan came “fast and furious” with November’s storm and heavy snowfall. But after several weeks of mild temperatures, this week ushered in unseasonable cold, as if to reinforce our socially distant,  pandemic friendly, Christmas plans!

If the media’s obsessive coverage of Covid-19 (excluding so much other, important news) threatens to overwhelm you, or if this time of year is difficult for other reasons, please visit to the American Hospice Society’s menu on “surviving Christmas,” which I featured in the past two December issues of this newsletter (2019 and 2018).

In this month’s issue, I visit some of the teachings of Buddhist monk, Pema Chodron, whose insights help me cope with pandemic fatigue.

In “Storytellers Corner,” I visit the perennial grammatical issue of whether or not we can end sentences with prepositions (with a nod to “Grammar Girl,” Mignon Fogarty).

While it feels painful to miss seeing those outside our immediate “bubbles,” I hope that this Christmas/Hanukkah season allows you time to rest and recharge body, mind and soul. And that this time renews our awareness of the many blessings we do have, that are so easy to forget.




Storytelling Communications



ARTICLE 1: Pema Chodron: Some insights for pandemic times


Should you end a sentence with a preposition? 




Article One: Pema Chodron: Some insights for Pandemic Times

When the world seems most off-kilter, vulnerable to the force of this international pandemic, Pema Chodron reminds us to turn inward, befriend our inner selves and let go of what we do not need.

The Buddhist nun (b. 1936) has been cited by people as diverse as Oprah Winfry and Seth Godin, as an “essential life-force” of human experience. I recently recovered Maria Popova’s notes, from a month-long meditation session some 20 years ago, held at the monastery where Chodron is a founding director. Chodron trains others to practice mindfulness through meditation, “to remain wholeheartedly awake to everything that occur[s] and to use the abundant material of daily life” as a “primary teacher and guide.”

In times of crisis and stress like the one we are in (where the media provide a far-too-steady diet of Covid-19), combining solitude, nature, meditation and a monastic life enables us to reflect on how to “be oneself without embarrassment or harshness.”

In such books as When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times (2016), Chodron says that rather than seeking human perfection in thought or argument, we would do well to recognize that “our neurosis and our wisdom are made out of the same material. If you throw out your neurosis, you also throw out your wisdom.”

Instead of judging ourselves for our shortcomings, Chodron says, we should “make friends with ourselves” and so find “a sense of warmth toward oneself.” Self-criticism is not purposeful. Self-acceptance, befriending ourselves and our world involves acknowledging “not just the parts we like,” but all of us, seeing that we can learn from all of it.

In one meditation, Chodron explores how precision, gentleness and letting go are related graces: “If we see our so-called limitations with clarity, precision, gentleness, goodheartedness and kindness and, having seen them fully, then let go, . . . we begin to find that our world is more vast and more refreshing than we had realized before. . . . The key to feeling more whole and less shut off and shut down is to be able to see clearly who we are and what we’re doing.”

Simple applications could be putting down all of our screens and taking long walks in nature and the outdoors. (In some ways, pandemic life has forced us to do such things.)

Chodron urges us to avoid aiming to please other people, and that we should not try to improve ourselves by exposing our own “ignorance, unkindness and shut-downness.” When plenty of business gurus endorse changing oneself, she observes: “The problem is that the desire to change is fundamentally a form of aggression toward yourself. . . our hangups, unfortunately or fortunately, contain our wealth.”

This is not license to be self-indulgent or settle for mediocrity, but an injunction to “gently let go” of our imperfections, rather than forcefully trying to expel them.

When we face fear or depression, such as in our current pandemic, Chodron finds freedom lies in “getting to know [that feeling] completely,” accepting it, without judgment and “learn[ing] how, once you’ve experienced it fully, to let go.” No, we do not want today to die of Covid-19, or for our loved ones or friends to die. But Chodron wants us first to sit with the limitations of human life without trying to deny them.

We can learn to view ourselves with “loving kindness,” such as through breathing practices that help us to “let go” of our ruminative lives, our epidemic of hurrying and our efforts of getting and spending (especially in the Christmas season). The “4-7-8” breathing exercise, developed by Dr. Andrew Weil draws on Buddhist meditation (see article one of  last October’s issue, “Remember to breathe”).

To be “fully present isn’t something that happens once and then you have achieved it,” Chodron says: “it’s being awake to the ebb and flow and movement and creation of life, being alive to the process of life itself.”

Whether or not one follows Buddhist teachings closely, most of us can find value in expanding our capacity for self-acceptance and the acceptance of others that it allows, as ingredients for peace.

If you lack time for yourself and quiet contemplation in this crisis-weary world, please consider picking up one of Chodron’s books. Additionally, mindfulness meditations pertaining to her teachings are made accessible by the Buddhist teacher, Sam Harris, in his book, Waking Up:A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion (2014). These he has adapted to a website and even a cell phone app.

And now it’s your turn: Do you treat yourself with loving kindness, especially in pandemic times? Will our seeking spirituality find a way forward without fear?

Please share your insights with me on my “Contact” page. I’d be delighted to hear from you.



STORYTELLER’S CORNER: Ideas, Stories, Riddles and Jokes on Writing and Editing . . .

Should you end a sentence with a preposition, asks Mignon Fogarty?

Just as many of us were taught in grade two not to start a sentence with “and” or “but” (practices long ago overturned as pedantic), some writers and readers still believe that we should not end sentences with prepositions.

Mignon Fogarty, the American writing coach who brands herself as “Grammar Girl,” recently blogged on this very point.

To review (for non-grammarians), a “preposition” is a word that creates a relationship between other words, usually dealing with space (e.g.“above,” “by,” and “over”); and time (e.g.“before” and “after”).

Here are two examples of these, respectively: “The nightstand is by the bed,” and “We had dessert after dinner.”

So long as the preposition is grammatically needed (unlike in the phrase:“The diver jumped off of the deep end”), it can legitimately fall at the end of a sentence. So it’s acceptable, as Fogarty says, to write “What did you step on?” instead of “On what did you step?” (Note that the latter sounds stuffy and pedantic.)

Fogarty says that prepositions often fall at the end of sentences in which phrasal verbs are used—verbs that are made of multiple words that usually include a preposition. For example, “I wish she would leave it off.” Or “You should cheer up.”

Other sentences without phrasal verbs can also end with prepositions and are also valid: “I want to know where he came from” is much more readable than “I want to know from where he came.” Fogarty says that one exception would be when writing conservative documents like cover letters (i.e. job applications), when it would be safer to avoid ending sentences with prepositions.

However, in virtually all other cases, ending sentences with prepositions will make them easier to read.

Consider the story that Sir Winston Churchill famously refused the rule against preposition use, saying: “This is the sort of pedantry up with which I will not put!”

Do you have an idea, riddle or joke on any aspect of writing or communications? Please share it with me; I’d be delighted to use it in an upcoming issue. 



Attending last week’s virtual graduation for the Praxis School of Entrepreneurship’s 2020 students was inspiring! The graduation (on Zoom) allowed me to write copy behind-the-scenes, and so to collaborate with Little Ox Film Company (videography lead Megan Kent) and Christina Cherneskey Communications (podcasting and virtual event management).

Thank you to the alumni, friends and family who attended and shared their wisdom and experience. And thanks especially to the Praxis Team (Monica and Brent Kreuger, Deanna Litz, Elaine Mantyka, Silvana Cracogna) for spearheading this first-ever online grad for Praxis, with all of their ideas and effort.

I look forward to further collaboration in 2021, to continue to commemorate the achievement of 30 years in entrepreneurial education!


Special thanks also this month to entrepreneurial coach, facilitator and all-around amazing woman, Deanna Litz. Deanna leads Praxis’ “staySMART” online group that keeps  entrepreneurs like me grounded and supported through pandemic times, by group discussion and one-on-one coaching.

I highly recommend Deanna as a business coach: read more about her services on her “Powerful Nature” website.


Heartfelt thanks also go to the staff and owner/operator of Persephone Care Home in Saskatoon, who provide empathetic care and comfort to seniors during this pandemic-centred holiday season, when social distancing from family and friends is compulsory.



Between 2011 and December 2018, Elizabeth Shih Communications chronicled the stories of B2B marketing and communications on the Prairies and across the country. 

Effective January 1, 2019, I rebranded as “Storytelling Communications.” I now write to help small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) to secure more sales by communicating more effectively; help economic immigrants to improve their language skills and secure better jobs;  and I write the legacy stories of major companies.

Interested in learning more? Please contact me through my CASL-compliant website (

After I receive your message, I’ll be pleased to discuss projects with you!

Please visit my website for more information (