I know today’s title is not actually a movie title, but it IS related to a movie. This song was actually song by Marilyn Monroe in the 1953 movie, “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”. But the song title was so appropriate to today’s blog, that I went with it.
Today I was honored to have been invited to speak to the 6th grade “Diamonds” at North Pocono Middle School. I was invited by Ethan’s homeroom and English teacher to speak about why writing well is so important, and to specifically highlight my blog and how writing helped me deal with my cancer.
Being an introvert, I have really tried to look for public speaking opportunities since it pushes me out of my comfort zone. As I have done more and more of this over the years, it gets a tad easier each time, but it does require a lot of thought, a lot of practice, and a lot of preparation for me. My first major speaking engagement was actually at the grand opening of the Astrazeneca Hope Lodge in Philadelphia, where I spoke to over 300 people about the benefits of facilities like Hope Lodge. I was even interviewed for the Philadelphia evening news. (Talk about nervous!)
At any rate, when the invitation came to speak to Ethan’s class, I jumped at it. Here was one more opportunity to get speaking experience, and an opportunity to perhaps positively influence some young minds. I should note that the 6th grade class is divided into two sections: Diamonds and Emeralds. I spoke to only the Diamonds — about 130 students.
I do speak in front of my staff, coworkers, and executives on a fairly regular basis, but have never before spoken to a group of 12-13 year old kids of this size. I wasn’t sure which was would be harder, since I certainly worried that the students wouldn’t find me remotely interesting. At work, at least people are paid / required to listen to me! 🙂
When I arrived at the school, they were very prepared for me. The podium and microphone were all set. The laptop was connected to the big screen, and all I needed to do was plug in my flash drive to display my PowerPoint presentation. The students arrived shortly after I got set up, so there was no time to panic, pace, or worry. (Good thing I practiced in the parking lot before I went in the school!)
Ethan’s teacher made a very lovely introduction, which actually brought tears to my eyes. (Must not cry before presenting….) And then it was off to the races! I spoke of how I use writing every day in my job — emails, presentations, performance reviews, resume’s — and talked about how writing well is an essential job skill. It may not seem like a big deal sitting here in 6th grade, but it will be critical in the future.
I spent the bulk of the presentation talking about cancer and my blog: What type of cancer did I have? What type of treatments did I go through? What exactly IS a blog? Why did I decide to write it? Who reads it? What do I write about? How did it benefit me during my cancer treatments? The presentation just seemed to go so fast. (One of those situations where you get done and wonder what you said.) I read a few samples from my blog (it was fun re-reading all my blogs looking for suitable examples) and then opened it up for questions.
At first, no hands were raised, but with some encouragement from the teacher, the floodgates opened! I was so surprised and pleased with the questions. They were very thoughtful and demonstrated that they really were paying attention!! (Whew!) The questions ranged from “who is your favorite author?” to “how did it feel to have cancer?” to “how can we find your blog on the Internet”? There were so many questions, and the best part was really interacting with all the students during this portion of the presentation.
At the end, the teacher announced that I was the mom of one of the students sitting in the auditorium (this had been kept as a surprise), and Ethan was called up. He also got to speak a few words, and he presented me with a beautiful bouquet of pink/peach hydrangeas. I figured they had something up their sleeves with this part, as Ethan had been worried about “embarrassing himself to death”, but he did great and his words were touching.
I am so grateful for having had this opportunity and am so humbled by the questions and the support of the students and teachers. I only hope that I have inspired one student to understand the importance of good writing or of a healthier lifestyle. Anything more would be too much to ask.