Rules of Punctuation for the "Real World"
by Sue Monk Kidd


1. A question mark is your best tool for prying open new horizons. When I was in college I had a teacher who required us to keep a "Great Questions" notebook. "Every great discovery begins with a great question," she always said. I still remember the first question I wrote: "How can I make a difference in the world?" Punctuating your life with questions like that will keep you searching and growing.

2. Mark your declarations firmly with a period. When I was a teen, I asked my mother if I could attend a party. She thought about it and said no. I tried to change her mind, but she said, "My answer is no, period." "Mom, why are you being so stubborn?" I asked. "You're confusing stubbornness with conviction," she said. Search your mind and heart for what you believe, then have the courage to declare it, period.

3. Use commas to create pauses in your day. Years ago when I was rushing through life, a friend told me I reminded her of a long-winded sentence; I had no breathing spaces in my life. In the "real world" you'll need times to reflect, dream, listen, pray and nourish the soul. For instance, before you rush to the library to study the temperature on the sun's surface, first recline in the grass and feel the warmth of God's sunshine on your face. Ponder the beauty and mystery of being alive. Without such pauses, life gets confused and garbled.

4. Bend as many moments as you can into exclamation points. I once had a religion professor who brought a prism to class. As light broke through it into spears of rainbow color, murmurs of awe floated through the room. "You've just learned the most important thing I can ever teach you," the professor said, "the ability to say 'Wow!'" In God's glorious world, the greatest way to appreciate life is to live it with passion, wonder and emphasis!

Contributed by Deb Laswell

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