Sticks and Stones

When I received my review copy of Ace Collins's book Sticks and Stones: Using Your Words as a Positive Force, I had plenty of time, I thought, to read the book, write my review, and have it posted by the deadline...April 3.   As often happens, life went in directions I hadn't planned, and my reading of the book was interrupted at the second chapter.   No problem, I thought this week...it's a small book, easy reading, I'll be able to speed through it in plenty of time to post.  

The only problem was, there *was* a problem...Collins's little book is too captivating to "speed through".  The premise of the book is certainly not new:  We use 30,000 words a day.  We have a choice to make them count, to have a positive impact on those around us...and ourselves.  But Collins has a way of taking familiar thoughts...the importance of saying thank you, the impact of a simple smile, the healing properties of laughter, the significance of "being there" for those who are grieving...and weaving  a fascinating blend of "simple action points and colorful stories" that urged me to take my time, settle into my comfy chair, and savor each chapter.

I found myself thinking back to words that have impacted me over the years, and the people who said them.  Words that have stuck with me long after they ever remembered they said them, I'm sure.  As I read Collins's chapter on "Greetings", I thought of a hospital janitor whose name I don't know, but whose smile and friendly greetings I remember 23 years later.   As I walked up and down familiar hospital halls during my grandfather's last agonizing hospitalization...when the news on his condition went from bad to worse as the days progressed...he would look up from his work with a big smile, ask me how I was, and then tell me, "I'm praying for your people!"  

The chapter "Should We Be So Forward?" (about email) made me think back to the days just before and just after my dad died.  A close friend and I did much of our communication by email in those days, and her emails were full of words of encouragement, scripture verses,  and things to make me smile.  When my computer crashed a few years later, those emails were the greatest loss I grieved.   

I was reminded of another close friend as I read the chapter "I Don't Know What to Say".  No matter how difficult the situation, she always has the right words...and she's not afraid to say them.  She puts her heart and her prayers into those words, and she has talked me through some deeply difficult days.  

As a sometimes-professional scrapbooker and scrapbooking instructor, I almost wondered if he had been listening in on some of my long-ago classes when I read his chapter "Write It Down". Powerful thoughts there on topics that are a "soap-box" for me! 

I laughed, I was moved to tears by some of his stories, and most of all, I was convicted to examine (and change!) the ways I use my words and the kind of impact they have on those around me.   I was also reminded of many who have blessed me with their words (and impressed that it's time to send a few thank you notes!)  


ace said...

Thanks for your kind words and the time it took to go through this book. I am so glad that it meant so much you. Your words and review have deeply touched me.

Ace Collins

Bo said...

I read this book for a book project in English and loved it. Like you, many of Ace Collins's words reminded me of of my own personal experiences. Noting it was a relatively easy-read book, I also thought I would speed through the text, but soon found that I spent a lot of time reviewing my life and changing positively as I finished each chapter in the book.

Good review!