School Visit, DNA, and Thanksgiving

Back in August, a librarian at a local high school asked if I’d visit her class, and I immediately accepted. They were working on a unit dealing with fear and what makes a nightmare, and she asked if I’d discusss my books and writing process. The visit was scheduled for the week before Halloween – a perfect time to discuss fear and nightmares. The problem? It’s been several years since I’ve done any kind of public speaking – more like a couple decades when I did HR training at a hospital – so saying I was nervous is an understatement. But I told myself it was a group of teenagers, and I’d be discussing books. Honestly, I could talk to just about anyone when it comes to books. Several days before the visit, I began working on my presentation. I emailed the teacher and asked about the number of students – thinking I might take some bookmarks to hand out – and figured the number would be somewhere around thirty. Wrong. Two hundred fifty-six. The whole sophomore class. I wish I’d had a picture of my face when I read that email – no doubt it was a look of sheer terror.

I prepped and prepped that week – then threw out 80% of my presentation and started over the day before the visit. But guess what – the dread of speaking to that many people was worse than actually doing it. Since we were talking about fear, I confessed up front how nervous I was speaking to them. Afterwards, four students who were genuinely interested in writing came up and asked me questions. I was thrilled to speak to them one on one about books and writing. It turned into a fun day, and I’m glad I set aside my fear of public speaking and did it.

A couple months ago, I mentioned Son #2 and I did the Ancestry DNA test and promised to update you. Our results came in, and some were pretty surprising. Fifty percent of mine was England and Northwestern Europe, which I’d expected, but 28% was Scottish. Didn’t see that one coming. My son’s showed both of those, but the surprise was the 26% Sweden and Denmark that came from hubby’s side. He had no idea. My MIL has claimed for years there was Italian on her side, but it sure didn’t show up in the DNA. I know over time these percentages can change, but we had fun doing this. If you’d like to try it, Ancestry regularly has the kits on sale.

We’ll have both sons and a couple friends who we consider family here for Thanksgiving on Thursday. Hubby always fries a turkey – if you’ve never tried it, I strongly recommend correcting that oversight ASAP. To all my American friends, hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

38 thoughts on “School Visit, DNA, and Thanksgiving

  1. That’s a big crowd. It’s been a while since I’ve done public speaking, but talking about writing seems to come naturally.

    Cool about the DNA. I’d like to try it sometime. Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t get the number of students until a few days before the presentation, lol. But it did help that it was about writing and books, and I loved talking to those students who had a genuine interest, Joan. You should try the DNA test! I bet they’ll be on sale around the holidays. We got ours half price during a Labor Day sale. Happy Thanksgiving!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love that your talk went so well. And that four kids are considering writing. So nice to see the next generation looking up from their phone screens.

    I always wanted both my kids to do the DNA test to see how similar their results are. I did one several years ago and was surprised by a few things, too.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Their assignment was to write a short story featuring some element of fear. A couple of them told me what their story was about, and they were really cool ideas. And yes about the phone screens!

      Maybe you could get them DNA kits for Christmas – just an idea.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh my, word, Teri! 256!?!?!
    I would have been a nervous wreck with that many peeps, and KNOW I could have never pulled it off. I’m delighted it went so well. Good for you!!!

    And DNA Ancestry is fun. We had a couple of surprises tucked in ours too, but both hubby and I are mostly Italian.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! πŸ¦ƒ

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Believe me, Mae, backing out crossed my mind, but I’d already been booked for two months and refused to disappoint them. At least I know I can do it if I’m asked again – but that doesn’t mean I won’t still be nervous!

      I’m so glad we did the DNA tests – loved those surprises that showed up. I’m also a little bit Irish, so I plan on celebrating more on St. Patrick’s Day!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It was a look that would have inspired laughs all around the world, I’m sure, Sophie! I’m all for you taking the Ancestry test. The worst part is spitting into that test tube. Pretty gross.

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    1. It was such a huge relief when it was over, Shari. A big weight off my shoulders. And we really had fun with the DNA kit. Now we need to go back and review the family tree (we traced back to the 1500s on one branch) and figure out these Scottish and Swedish roots.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Teri, your visit to the school sounds like good fun. I have not presented to teens about my books, but I have done a few fondant art and other baking classes for primary school children and I have presented to adults several times. I don’t mind it at all. It is easier than lecturing my colleagues on the stock exchange’s listings requirements. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s very cool about the HS presentation. Did you field questions from the audience or just do a presentation? I’m so glad it went well – it’s so easy to get nervous about stuff like that. Charlie and I did the a DNA test thing some years back. It was interesting to get some of the results…but we kind of want to try a “different” one, just to compare. Have a groovy Thanksgiving!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No one was brave enough to ask questions when they were all in the auditorium, but the students that talked to me after had plenty. I really enjoyed getting to speak to them and hearing them talk about what they were writing. I’m thinking I’ll get hubby a kit to let him give it a shot since some surprising result showed up. Should be interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I know I’ve seen pics of you with the school kids, Darlene – you look like a natural! I’d love to spend more time with the kids that are really interested in writing. I may contact the librarian and see if there’s any interest.

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