More about Peggy

Peggy is a retired community college administrator who lives with her husband and two dogs in both Northern California and Central Oregon. Peggy possesses a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology. In addition to conducting Life Talks workshops, she is a frequent presenter for leadership programs throughout Northern California. Peggy is available for workshops and presentations. Learn More.

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Sample Pages

Selections from both Life Talks - A Guide to Bringing Back Conversation and Life Talks - The Conversations Continue


Because of all my experience with graduations, you’d think I would have created the perfect set of questions for this occasion long ago. But you’d be wrong. I didn’t, and I’m ashamed. But this book and my son’s nearing completion of his bachelor’s degree next year (praise God) gave me reason to remedy this omission. I have to admit, though, that I went to the source for some of the questions below by asking my son for some ideas. The first six are his.


Graduation Questions

  1. What are you most afraid of regarding the next stage of your life? (I thought this was interesting because it was the first question that popped out of his mouth and probably one we don’t often ask but should.)
  2. What are you most excited about regarding the next stage of your life?
  3. What do you think will be the greatest opportunity you’ll have in the future as a result of your education?
  4. Where do you see yourself in five years?
  5. What have been your greatest successes in school?
  6. What have been your greatest failures in school?

Our Elders

Inform the interviewee as to how much time he or she will have to answer the questions and remind the person periodically of the time remaining so he or she can determine how much emphasis he or she wants to give a certain topic.

Finally, feel free to interrupt (when appropriate) to ensure there is no confusion or lack of understanding. After all this maybe the last time you’ll ask the person these questions or hear his or her answers.


Our Elders: Individual Interview Questions

Early Years

  1. What are the most cherished and significant memories and events of your life?
  2. What was your first memory?
  3. Where were you born? (Ask for the city, region, country, and birth location, such as hospital, home, etc.)
  4. Who was present at your birth?


My favorite time to use questions is when my husband and I celebrate our anniversary. We usually take turns asking each other questions and have done it often enough that we can be rather spontaneous and let the questions come as they may. For those who are more analytical and need time to think before responding, I suggest you provide the questions in advance. These questions, paired with a great meal and an adult beverage or two (though not necessary), are the best aphrodisiac I know! If you need additional questions, check out the “Romance and Sex” chapter later in this book.


  1. In the last year, what were the low point and high point for you? (We always start with this one!)
  2. In the last year, what thoughtful, kind, or meaningful thing did I do for you unexpectedly that you really appreciated?
  3. After ____ years, what still surprises you about me?
  4. What is your favorite part of my body?
  5. What is your wish for me this year? (Be careful with this one. Make sure you don’t use it as an opportunity to criticize or request that your partner change in some way.)
  6. What do you see as my greatest strength professionally, personally, and as a parent? (Ask each question individually.)
  7. What was your greatest fear about getting married, and did it come true?
  8. What was your greatest hope, wish, or desire about getting married, and did it come true?


This activity is simple. When the birthday girl, boy, man, or woman is ready, everyone sits in a circle. I usually ask, “Who wants to begin?” I do this because some people take longer to form their thoughts and ideas, especially if they’ve never done this exercise before. Each person, when ready, completes the following statement.

“What I appreciate about ____________ is…” (no sarcasm is allowed).
Note: I encourage everyone present, regardless of age, to participate, even if he or she can say only one thing. I’ve found this to be an excellent way for young children, teens, and young adults to learn the language of friendship and love and to be able to share it in a safe environment.

Next ask the person celebrating his or her birthday to answer one or more of the following questions.

Looking Backward

  1. What have you learned of significance in your ____ years that you want to share with us?
  2. What are you most proud of related to your life thus far?
  3. What abilities or attributes have you acquired thus far in your life?

Keep the conversations going!

Use these supplemental materials to continue the conversations beyond our books!


Life Talks Merchandise

Reader Reviews

Cathy Mattis, Hawaii

Cathy Mattis, Hawaii

Life Talks: The Conversations Continue was a wonderfully written book with a huge number of conversation-starters for a variety of life situations. Conversation is vital in relationships, whether it be with spouses, friends, family, or co-workers. This book provides a multitude of suggestions to get the conversation going and to help it continue. The starters are thought-provoking and allow for in-depth conversation. Some of the conversation starters were difficult for me to answer; they challenged me to go deeper within myself to attempt to answer them. I loved the author's introduction to each of the chapters. The introductions helped me to connect better with the author and to see her as a real person with real-life relationship issues like we all have. I look forward to using some of these conversation-starters with those close to me.

Cheryl Breen, Walnut Creek, CA

This book is a great reminder to all of us about the value of good conversation, especially in this day and age of all the electronic communications. The author has a warm way of writing and giving the reader loads of good ideas for connecting in a more meaningful way! This has become our ‘coffee table book’.

Cheryl Breen, Walnut Creek, CA
Mark Lopes, DC, Chico, CA

Mark Lopes, DC, Chico, CA

Once I started reading this book I didn’t put it down until I read the whole book. There are many conversation starters for every situation that will liven up and enlighten the interactions of any kind of gathering, big or small. I’ve experienced this activity in action and I think it’s something that will enhance relationships and make interpersonal communication more interesting and meaningful whenever you employ these suggestions.

Sue, Portland, OR

I love this book. I don’t understand why I haven’t been asking these questions all along. At some point, life became too busy to sit down with my family and be in the moment. I have children who will be graduating soon and you can bet I’m going to refer to the questions on graduation. I also purchased a laminated card with the birthday questions. I intend to use those for my daughter’s upcoming 21st birthday. I can’t wait to start the conversation with her.

Sue, Portland, OR
Emma, College Student, Boise State University

Emma, College Student, Boise State University

Life Talks is the perfect book we all should acquire in this technological age. Since communication with others frequently happen over text messages and e-mails, many people are now struggling with keeping face-to-face conversations interesting. The author does an amazing job at providing many engaging conversation topics and questions that will take you beyond the surface. No matter what occasion may present itself, the questions and activities this book provides will assist you in expanding and deepening your conversations with others.

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Interesting results from a longitudinal study about what contributes to creating happy, healthy and successful human beings. One ingredient is ongoing face-to-face conversations starting with parents and children!

Need some ideas where to start or how to continue with your conversations? Use Life Talks books - that's why I wrote them. I want everyone to feel connected and have a sense of worth and belonging!

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Even during our Mother-Daughter weekend in Reno last weekend, we busted out the Life Talks Books. My favorite question that we answered was "Where in the world do you consider to be:
the most peaceful
the most beautiful
the most exciting
the most different & exciting
the location of your best memories

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My friend and Book Club sister, Catherine Goggia, continues the conversation regarding loneliness on her blog, titled Do Leaders Get Lonely?. Check it out!

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Life Talks
Peggy Jennings-Severe