On summer FUN and how to get it, with Catherine Price in the mid-July issue of TYSN

July 2023 Vol 5 Issue 7

Tell Your Story Newsletter (TYSN):

Specializing in Entrepreneurial and Linguistic Communication

Let me teach you to tell your story!


ARTICLE 1: On summer FUN and how to get it, with Catherine Price 

STORYTELLERS’ CORNER:  The case of “lit” and “lighted” from American “Grammar Girl,” Mignon Fogarty




Welcome Mid-July 2023!

When meeting newcomers and visitors to Saskatoon each summer, I often refer to how the full summer days of July are precious in our province. “Do please get outdoors,” I urge those who have just deplaned from China, Pakistan and elsewhere. As I said to a group of newcomers at Saskatoon Open Door’s conversation circle, recently, “Summer helps us to be mindful of such times when we feel fully alive.”

Those born and/or raised in Saskatchewan, often recall the halcyon days of childhood summers. Many of us–likely including you, good reader–do indeed try to get outdoors, between June and September. I walk as much as I can (often ditching sneakers for sandals), take some weekend hours to read the fiction of Saskatchewan authors, eat local produce, teach and tutor English outdoors and slather on sunscreen and bug spray, to keep these times healthy.

Summer often feels like the easiest season of the year in which to live–and one when we can pause long enough to feel fully alive.

And yet, much in the world is not right. With the war in Ukraine; political unrest in multiple world hotspots; extreme weather, due to climate change; and with soaring interest rates and inflation at home . . .  can we be mindful of the gift of life–and grateful for it?

In Article One this month, I re-visit (from November 2022’s issue) journalist Catherine Price’s TEDTalk on the topic of FUN. Price suggests that experiencing some degree of fun preserves our experiences of joy in life, through which we find the resilience we need to cope through challenging times.

And in what better month could we find fun, than in July?

And as I write, good reader, many of us are enjoying some fun this summer, even if we’re limited by our economy and the cost of living. There are movies to watch (even if  summer “blockbusters” let us down); eScooters to try (preferably not on the sidewalk, thank you); camping; cycling; hiking; kayaking; and swimming, to name a few pursuits. . . . And perhaps most importantly, we can always curl up with some great summer reads, with new titles appearing from local authors like Tony Bidulka and Ashleigh Mattern.

But how can we find fun on a regular basis? After defining what the term means, Price gives us some hints.

And in “Storytellers’ Corner,” I visit the sometimes troubling tension between two different past tense formations of the verb “to light.” Should it be “lighted” or “lit,” you might ask? (Which lights you up more?!)

While Covid-19 will always remain with us,  (many of us will queue up for our next vaccination this fall), our fleeting  summer in Saskatchewan still provides some much-needed days of relaxation, even if it’s simply to recline and daydream in our province’s backyards, balconies, parks and patios.

May you have much FUN this month, good reader, to store  in your mind the pleasure and peace that summer can provide! They will help us to complete the next five months of our collective orbit around the sun.




Storytelling Communications



Article One: From the Archives (2022): On summer FUN and how to get it, with Catherine Price

In her recent TEDTalk, American science journalist Catherine Price observed something that should make us all pause:  “It’s harder than we think it should be to actually feel alive.”

Consider that statement: We’re so busy constantly scrolling (and often “doing” things) that we forget how to live! We forget that life should consist of more than days filled with frenetic activity.

Price says: “We keep ourselves busy to the point of exhaustion. But we’re also languishing. We feel a little bit dead inside.” She thinks we’re living close to despair, staying busy because we know that we are not truly living and we simply don’t know what else to do about it.

Her answer? “We need to have more FUN!”

But what does that mean?

Price argues that our confusion over what actually constitutes “fun” arises from the sloppy way in which we use the term: we often use it to describe leisure activities (e.g. “We had a fun weekend with my in-laws at the family cabin”), when the activity may not be enjoyable–or worse, may even be “a waste of time” (present family, excluded, of course).

Price gives as an example our scrolling through social media, an activity we might assume is “fun,” but which she says often “makes us feel bad about . . . everything.”

Even our best English language dictionaries have trouble defining the term “fun”: According to them,“fun is amusement or enjoyment, or lighthearted pleasure,” and refers to what children “have in the play area.”

Fun seems to be, as Price observes, “frivolous and optional.”

When she was working on her project about fun, collecting stories on the topic from people all over the globe, Price says they would “tell you about some of the most joyful and treasured memories of their lives.”

But such memories are not simply “lighthearted pleasure, not just for kids and . . . definitely not frivolous.”

Price suggests that fun is, in fact, “the secret [to] feeling alive.”

Clearly the term deserves a new, “more precise” definition!

Fun is a feeling, she asserts, not an activity, although when asked to describe “fun,” most people list “dancing” or “skiing,” or “pickleball” as examples.

Some “serendipity” (or downright chance) is involved in the word, since activities or events we expect to be fun often disappoint us, while those we don’t expect to enjoy can become “ridiculously fun.” Sound familiar?

Price says that it’s easy to tell someone who is having fun, because they look as if “they’re being illuminated from within.” True fun “produces [a] visceral sense of lightness and joy.” People can radiate fun.

From her interviews with dozens of people from diverse cultures, Price says that “three factors are consistently present” when we experience fun, yielding a much more accurate definition than what the OED or Webster’s tells us.

These three terms are “playfulness,” “connection” and “flow.” Where these experiences overlap is the space of “true fun”(see the venn diagram below, provided by Price).

Playfulness,” she says, is not playing games or make-believe but “having a lighthearted attitude, of doing things for the sake of doing them and not caring too much about the outcome. Letting go of perfectionism.” Playfulness means not being defensive and “not taking ourselves too seriously.”

“Connection” refers to “the feeling of having a special, shared experience.” It is possible to be alone when this happens (and so to feel connected to oneself and/or to an activity), but most often, another person is involved—“even for introverts.”

Flow” is a state where we’re so intensively engaged and focused on what we’re doing that “we can even lose track of time.” (e.g. “in the zone” as a musician or athlete).

Price argues that “it’s possible to be in flow and not [to] have fun, like if you’re arguing with someone. But you cannot have fun if you’re not in flow,” she says.

Each of these three factors is enjoyable on its own. “But when we experience all three at once, something magical happens: we have fun.” And that “doesn’t just feel good, it is good for us.”

(i) She says that fun is so beneficial that it “ is not just the result of human thriving, it’s its cause.” For instance, fun is “energizing,” so that when people describe such moments, “they glow: It’s like a fire has been lit inside of them and the energy and the warmth they give off is contagious.”

Whereas “so much of life drains us . . . fun fills us up.”

(ii) Fun requires us to be “present,” or in-the-moment, but doesn’t require meditation, yoga, etc. Apart from presence, there’s no other way that fun can arise.

(iii) Fun also unites us in a “really polarized world.” When we have fun with others, “we don’t see them as having different ethnicities or religions from ours. We connect with them as human beings.” She adds that such a connection is the first step whereby we can begin to solve the world’s problems.

(iv) “Fun also makes us healthier.” Isolation and loneliness can cause hormonal changes in our brains and bodies that increase the risk of disease. But when we have fun, we become “relaxed and more socially connected,” both of which are health-giving. So, Price argues, “having fun is a health intervention.”

(v) Finally, fun is “joyful.” While we read books or listen to favourite music, the truth is that “when we are in a moment of having fun, we are happy.” Price says this: The “secret of long-term happiness may be simply to have more everyday moments of fun.”

In order to have “more fun,” she says, we should do all we can to increase our everyday moments of playfulness, connection and flow.

Here are some ways:

(i) Reduce distractions in order to increase flow. Distractions disrupt flow. The chief source of distraction in 2023 is our smartphones. (Act accordingly!)

(ii) Increase connection by interacting more with other human beings in real life. This is easier and less scary than we (huddled over our phones) tend to fear.

Interaction starts by making eye contact with someone. “Say ‘Hello,’” Price advises. If that goes well, introduce yourself. From there, ask an interesting question (e.g. “What’s one thing that delighted you today?”)

(iii) Increase playfulness “by finding opportunities to rebel.” This doesn’t mean becoming a total iconoclast, but to show “playful deviance,” to “break the rules of responsible adulthood” and “give yourself permission to get a kick out of your own life.”

(iv) Finally, Price recommends that having fun should be a “priority.” Try to reproduce the circumstances (including other people’s presence) that have created fun for you in the past. Make some time in your schedule to have fun. “Treat fun as if it’s important, because it is,” she enthuses.

Fun brings “more creativity, more productivity, more resilience,” Price says. Fun can make us, as she claims,  a better spouse, parent and friend.

Fun is needed during every month of the calendar, but reading Price’s insights on it may help you enjoy summer even more!

Fun, she concludes, for anyone still puzzled by it, is “a distillation of life’s energy. And the more often we experience it, the more we will feel that we are actually alive.”

Now what would be better than that, this summer?

And now it’s your turn: do you agree with Price’s definition of fun and why it matters? 

Please write in; I’d be delighted to hear from you!



STORYTELLERS’ CORNER: Words, stories, riddles and articles on speaking, listening, writing and editing . . .

The case of “lit” versus “lighted,” with America’s “Grammar Girl,”

Mignon Fogarty

In a recent blog on modern English usage, American wordsmith, “Grammar Girl” Mignon Fogarty, observed that there are now two forms in use of the simple past tense of the verb “to light.” Have you noticed this?

I overheard someone in a local cafe recently, commenting that the smile of her (undisclosed) partner “lighted up the room.” That form of the simple past tense was grating, and I thought to myself, “it should be ‘lit up the room!’ ”

But Mignon Fogarty suggests otherwise. In her blog this week, she writes that “to light” is a “regular verb,” so that we can write its simple past tense by adding “-ed.” Therefore, we can correctly say and write “lighted.”

However, we can continue to use “lit” for the past tense, which remains the more common form.

Fogarty says that in ancient times, “people said they lit candles.” Over time, people started saying they “lighted candles.” Unusually, “around 1900, people switched back to using ‘lit’ as the past tense.” While “lit” remains “the more common form today,” “lighted” is not incorrect.

Has this usage tip enlightened you? Which form best lights you up (Ha ha!)?

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



My candidate for “Entrepreneur of the Month” was unable to share his information in time for press, but no matter.

Special thanks go out this month to Lisa Focardi, Community Development Worker at Saskatoon’s Open Door Society (SODS). An Italian-Canadian immigrant, Lisa capably organizes (amongst many programs) the volunteer-led conversation circles, throughout the calendar year.

Her organizational efforts and generosity with others make sharing conversation skills with newcomers a great pleasure. Thank you, Lisa!

Are you a native speaker or are you otherwise fluent in English? Do you have 60-90 minutes each week to share your skills with others? Please drop me a line and I will connect you with Lisa, who is always glad to have more volunteers on board.


And hearty congratulations to my colleague and friend, the multi-talented writer, web designer and athlete, Ashleigh Mattern, who recently launched her first novel, a young adult fantasy, called Magicked Born. Reading to a packed room at McNally Robinson on June 28th, Mattern spoke about various aspects of writing fantasy, including how journalism has contributed to the process.

I recommend Magicked Born highly (it’s a page turner!) and congratulate Mattern for not abandoning the project (which was under development over some 15 years), even when other work and life seemed to move in non-conducive directions. Congratulations, Ashleigh!


And special thanks this month to Professor Emeritus, Bob Calder, and fellow writer, Paula Jane Remlinger, who recently shared a lovely, very FUN two-hour visit with me, over summer refreshments.

We reminisced a little about our past studies,  favourite writers and current projects, thereby bridging the gap between  Calder’s extensive academic career and the non-academic writing that Remlinger and I (former students) now do.

Catherine Price would have approved of flow, connection and simple playfulness of our conversation.

Remlinger writes and publishes poetry and fiction, while also penning reports for a living, for the SK Human Rights’ Commission.

Calder (“Bob” to us)  has just completed the editing of a scholarly book on the film adaptations of  W. Somerset Maugham’s novels, which is forthcoming from the U of Wisconsin Press. He is also deeply involved in writing a memoir of his 40+ year career as a university English teacher.

I  cannot imagine two more engaging  interlocuters than these two, on a quiet July afternoon. All three of us left the table energized to return to our reading and writing!

Thank you, to both Bob and Paul Jane. And let’s meet again before winter returns . . . .


There are always new businesses, people, non-profits and entrepreneurial programs to promote.   

Please write me to share your success stories!

I’m excited for what’s ahead in our entrepreneurial and literary community.

But for now, this is a wrap for mid-July!


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 help local newcomers to secure better jobs by improving their language skills; I help SMEs close more sales by communicating more effectively; and I tell the legacy stories of major companies.

Interested in learning more? Please contact me through my CASL-compliant website (www.elizabethshih.com).

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

Please visit my website for more information (also to be found at  www.storytellingcommunications.ca).