We finished our unit on stress. And we discussed the usual steps one needs to follow to better deal with stress, all of them obvious but hard to follow: sleep well, eat right, exercise. I could have added my father’s warning: Everything too much no good. I asked if they had any peculiar and particular symptoms that arose after prolonged stress: the twitch at the corner of the eye (my left eye twitched as we talked about this; it’s twitching now); the irregular heartbeat (recently that lasted about a week for me); unusual aches, especially in the back and neck (how I’ve avoided this astounds me); the shakes, similar to what happens when you haven’t eaten in a while (I’ve avoided this for the most part; incidentally, in the past nine stressful weeks, I don’t think I’ve missed a meal. Hurried them, yes, but never skipped. My parents would be pleased.)
I showed two short TED talks, one by Shawn Achor that I’ll provide here. It’s about ten minutes, and I guarantee you’ll laugh and learn something.
Shawn Achor Ted Talk
WW letters to presenters started pouring in, several of them addressed to me. Here are some of my favorite lines from those letters. Please forgive me, colleagues, for omitting quotation marks. (By the way, during my own presentation, I performed a song I wrote, along with Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash, which inspired my song. Also, to honor me for being named Illinois Author of the Year, my good friends in the English department hosted a tribute during one of the periods.)
Top 20 excerpts:
There are always unique and unforgettable performances [at WW] which might teach me about life in general or coincide with something I’m going through.
WW is without a doubt one of my favorite weeks of the year and I will miss it.
I don’t think you will ever realize how important WW is to the thousands of kids at Fremd.
I know this week inspires many to pick up a pen and write.
Another WW, poof, flash, zoom, gone. Without a doubt, the shortest but best week of the year…I thought I might be getting to sleep at a reasonable hour tonight, but my pen had different ideas. See what WW has done to me.
The greatest challenge for me to write has always been having the courage to be truthful and meaningful in my writing.
If you were to receive a grade on your life I would give you an A+.
I didn’t know you were such a big deal here at Fremd! (I also have a big following in Turkey.)
Your ability to do something different and overcome your anxiety is something I will always admire.
I even preferred your song over Johnny Cash’s. (!)
You are by far the best Johnny Cash impersonator. (Double !)
(Before beginning my song, I apologized to all the guitarists and singers in the audience.) I am also not a good singer so I feel for you… I can’t believe anyone could be at this school for 18 years. I am already tired of it and I have only been here one and a half.
(Before singing, I mentioned I’d be trying out for Italian-American idol.) Your song…got stuck in my head for the rest of the day and it made me fee really optimistic about the rest of the week. I hope you make it on that show you were auditioning for.
I know you probably don’t have much free time, since you’re a teacher and all, and I want to express my thanks…
I never knew teachers could have talents speaking honestly but you changed my point of view.
You used the old fashioned Italian way of explaining things to show people what they can do to be successful in life while having fun along the way.
I am inspired by your inspiration.
I was…inspired by how well you were able to keep your composure throughout the presentation, as well as in the classroom, with the recent news of your father. I know many students, myself included, read your blog on a constant basis and we are very sorry to hear about it. (“Many” comes as a surprise, so here’s a shout-out to you if you’re reading: HEY! Did you hear that? In my head, the HEY came out in my low voice, so that’s how you should hear it, too. Thanks for reading.)
Le scrivo questa lettera per congratularmi con lei per la sua notevole performance a Writers Week. (I have an Italian exchange student who speaks and write English very well. She thought I’d get a kick out of an entire letter in Italian. I did. I’m still translating it. But I decided I want to learn Italian. Really learn. So this is a good start. She said that WW made the school seem more like a family.)
(And one of the letters was signed by a student with the same name as one of my characters. A little eerie.)