Learn: end of Summer reflections

For the first time in a number of years, I feel like the summer lasted the appropriate amount of time. Sometimes it crawls by, sometimes it flies by too quickly, but this summer found a steady, restful pace for me. While I worked almost daily Monday-Friday and enjoyed a very quiet academic library, I was ready for our academic year to begin on August 20. As I reflect on May-June-July, here are some encapsulations about Summer, inspired by Janssen from Everyday Reading and Emily P. Freeman.

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Reading (favorites):

Listening:

  • Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons
  • Yonder Mountain String Band
  • new Punch Brothers album All Ashore (we’re seeing them in concert this weekend!)
  • Billy Joel
  • Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, Winter

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Watching:

  • The heartwarming documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? How the world needs more people with the sort of kindness Mr. Rogers demonstrated.
  • We’re now all caught up with Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Blacklist and have moved on to past seasons of Doctor Who, finishing series 2,  3,  4, and 5.  I’ve began watching Chef’s Table and am loving it.

Exercising:

  • Morning neighborhood walks
  • Water rower
  • Lunchtime yoga

Wearing:

  • Letting my hair air-dry wavy (something I always wished I could have, now a dream come true, thanks to the ridiculous Oklahoma heat and humidity).
  • A “uniform” of mix & match separates (dressy tops & skirts), lightweight dresses, and sandals/flats/shoes without panty hose.

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Eating:

  • Ruth Reichl’s lemon pasta
  • Pioneer Woman honey soy salmon 
  • Enjoying using fresh herbs from our back porch to season dishes (cilantro, basil, stevia, and chives). After a few steady rain showers, I discovered how this amount of extra water allowed my herbs and other flowers to thrive…a good analogy for personal hydration and life in general.

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Traveling:

  • Pawhuska, OK – The Pioneer Woman Mercantile and Boarding House. Both are definitely worth the visit/stay!
  • Kansas City, MO – hurrah for a little vacation that included seeing my dear friend Megan!
  • Branson, MO – our tried-and-true favorite place to visit.

Regretting:

  • Not making the time to explore local museums.
  • Good intentions but no execution of tackling several “unread shelf” books with summer themes.

What have you learned this summer? Please feel free to share in the comments below.

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Learn: Spring 2018

Linking up with Emily P. Freeman and others, sharing the silly and sublime of what I’ve learned throughout this spring.

  1. Social media break

    Throughout Lent I made a conscious effort to pay attention to how I spent my free time and this meant abstaining from social media, especially Instagram, and let me tell you, it was freeing. Now that we are beyond both Easter and Pentecost, I find I am happier when I give myself more parameters to only check in periodically throughout the week.

    I follow a few in-real-life (IRL) friends, but a lot more are accounts of fellow readers I don’t know personally, which I hadn’t realized had begun impacting and overwhelming my bookish decision making. Taking a step away allowed me to not only spend more time reading, but tapping back into making more thoughtful decisions about what I read this spring and how I spent my time.

  2. Yeti to the rescue

    Ever since I was diagnosed with a cyst on my vocal chord in college and given a more stringent set of guidelines for vocal health, I’ve been a diligent water drinker. Over the years I’ve gone through my share of Nalgene bottles and a nice Lifefactory one, but after some hesitation about BPA in plastic and the tendency for glass to break, I had my eye on something a bit more easily cleanable and durable .

    Over Spring Break The Optometrist and I took a little road trip to Springfield, MO, to visit the Wonders of Wildlife Museum and Aquarium at Bass Pro Shops (highly recommend!). At Bass Pro he kindly bought me a Yeti water bottle, the 18 oz. “Rambler” in Seafoam. Sturdy, girly, and the ability to keep my water chilled throughout the day makes me realize why this brand has such a loyal following.

  3. Immunity to book allergens

    Over Christmas break my parents, The Optometrist, and I visited one of my favorite used book stores. After a little while they all began getting a tickle in their throats and had to step outside for a breath of fresh air, whereas I was just fine. After 8+ years of working in libraries, I find it ironic that I’m now more allergic to plants outside than books inside.

  4. Billy Graham and Queen Elizabeth were friends

    I’ve slowly been working my way through episodes of The Crown on Netflix. In Season 2, Episode 6, “Vergangenheit,” a plot point is illustrated that the Queen and Billy Graham met together on several occasions in the 1950s (story via Time), which was a complete surprise to me.

  5. Carry the big umbrella

    It’s thankfully been a rainy spring in our corner of Oklahoma and after realizing we own not just one, but three large umbrellas, I decided it was time to grab an unused one and keep it in my trunk for rainy days.

    For years I’ve carried around a small-ish Totes umbrella, which has performed admirably, but anything hanging off my person (usually both a purse and tote bag) is inevitably left a little bit damp on my walk from the parking lot to the Library.

    This is one of those times where “bigger is better” certainly lives up to its moniker.

  6. I can get by with less than I think

    A few weeks ago The Optometrist and I performed with one of our local music groups and our call time was around 5:00, which is about the time we eat dinner. Due to warm ups and stage set-ups before the concert, we only had time to eat the granola bars we had with us, which surprisingly got us both through the entirety of the performance (but I was still glad to eat a bite afterwards).

  7. Duplicates come in handy

    In an ongoing quest to live a simple life, I’ve recently discovered having two of something is not redundant or wasteful, but can be helpful and a time saver. (Example: cleaning supplies in each bathroom). However, this idea was really “driven” home during a recent road trip through Oklahoma and Kansas to Missouri.

    After leaving home I discovered we didn’t have the atlas with us (in the other car) and while I had road maps for OK and MO, states where I’ve lived, we were going to be driving through Kansas with only our GPS. Of course, it was in Kansas when we experienced a complete road closure, as in the road had been ripped up for repairs and was a field of dirt, and a 10 mile back-track to a gas station resulted in, you guessed it, The Optometrist buying me a second atlas to consult during the rest of our trip.

  8. Yes, you should try to stay at the Pioneer Woman Boarding House

    As good fortune would have it, The Optometrist and I were able to book a room at the new Pioneer Woman Boarding House in Pawhuska, OK, the night reservations became available last month. And even though we live an easily drive-able distance away, we hadn’t had the opportunity to visit the Pioneer Woman mecca yet, but as soon as our room at the “BH” was confirmed (the Prairie Room), we knew the time was right for us to visit.

    Even though reservations are booked until March 2019 (yowza!), if you have the chance to go in the coming years, her staff will take very good care of you and it will be a restful, memorable stay.

    Look for a more thorough blog post about all things Pioneer Woman soon!


What noteworthy moments have defined your Spring? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Learn: Winter 2018

Linking up with Emily P. Freeman and others, sharing the silly and sublime of what I’ve learned throughout this winter.

  1. Dewey Decimal rock star
    Isaac Asimov
     is one of the few authors whose books are featured in almost every classification of the Dewey Decimal System.
  2. Classical music revelations
    One of my colleagues has done extensive research on Leonard Bernstein over the years, which piqued my curiosity into remembering more about this pioneer of American composition and conducting. Plus, 2018 is the centennial of his birth! In my own exploration of Bernstein on the Internet, I found this video that features Bernstein introducing 7 year old Yo Yo Ma as he played for Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy in 1962.
  3. Feed the cat when he’s hungry
    We’re typically home mid-afternoon most weekends and typically Sylvester begins begging for his dinner around 3:00 p.m. (But let’s be honest – I need a snack around this time, too.) Since adopting him almost 3 years ago we’ve tried to appease or scold him when he begins to either a.) meow pitifully or b.) become a holy terror.
    After returning home from our Christmas travels, we fed him a portion of his evening meal mid-afternoon and the rest around the time we eat early evening, which has made all the difference in his comfort and our sanity.
  4. Winter wardrobe and jewelry
    This winter I discovered I have a lot of mix-and-match items in my wardrobe that could be a uniform for Gryffindor house at Hogwarts -maroon and mustard yellow with black, white, and grey. This brings me secret pleasure to wear everyday Harry Potter outfits to work.
    I’ve also discovered that I stick to wearing the same 2 pair of low-profile earrings and bracelets due to the fact I often have a hand-knit scarf or shawl wrapped around my neck or body and don’t want to snag these stitches on protruding jewelry teeth or jagged clasps.
  5. Reading on a deadline
    While I have scads and scores of unread books in my home library, I’ve come to the realization that I would much rather read a book from the library and have a deadline for returning it rather than having it languish by my beside.
  6. Tell people what you need
    At the end of January I attended a mid-day yoga class with my favorite instructor and at the end of class she shared with our small group her birthday was coming up the following week. Without apology she shared her birthday plans for that day and wanted to open cards as a part of her personal celebration.
    She asked us to write down a thought, birthday wish, etc. and either mail it to her or drop it by the studio (she brought her own cards and stamps if we needed them). Not one person in our group batted an eye or said no when this request was asked of us and it reminded me I shouldn’t be ashamed of asking friends for something I need or something that will make me feel loved.

What have you learned this winter? Or maybe there are some lessons still in progress? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Saving My Life: February 2018

As we officially reach the halfway point of winter, today I join Anne, Allison, Katie, and many others to share a handful of things saving my life right now.

Morning tea & crossword puzzle

The Optometrist and I have lived in our pretty little town for several years now (~10 for him, ~8 for me), but we have never had a subscription to our local newspaper. So for Christmas I decided a 3 month subscription would be a gift we could share (online for him, print for me). Lately we’ve found ourselves awaking early, feeding the kitty, fixing a cup of tea, crawling back in bed with the previous day’s paper, and enjoying a few quiet moments to have our bodies and brains awaken with local news and a mental challenge.

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Photo via my Instagram.

Covered tea cups

Speaking of tea, the quotation, “Where there is tea there is hope” is a mantra by which we live. And while we have a lot of mugs, we didn’t have any that were particularly “Christmassy,” so when we found this little beauty at our local grocery store, it just had to come home with me. “Peace on Earth” is found on one side, a little bird on the other, a loose tea strainer inside (removable), and pine boughs create a ring around the lid and on the saucer. It’s adorable and brings me joy.

I wasn’t specifically looking to find a mug with a lid but, since I’m such a slow tea drinker, the ability to cover my tea and keep it warmer longer has been such a help! (And we’ve also found one other stray lid (my mom somehow still has the mug) so now we interchange these two every time we fix two cups of tea.)

Lit candles in the evening

It started during Advent when we made sure to place tea lights into our Christmas tree and angel crystal votive holders (see covered tea cup photo above). These on our dining room table along with two tea light wall sconces, created a gently flickering reminder of the birth of Jesus being the embodiment of light out of the darkness. Even now, as the days stay lighter longer, the routine of lighting our evening candles continues to bring me comfort.

Daily journaling

Most nights before falling asleep The Optometrist and I ask one another, “What are three good things that happened to you today?” As 2018 began, I ventured on a more thoughtful approach and began journaling these three things (before bed), along with what I read, knit, and any other noteworthy moments of the day (quotations, blessings, prayer requests, etc.)

At the end of January I filled up this compact journal from Inkwell’s Press gifted to me by the artist’s sister (my dear friend Brooke) a few years ago, but also love the new pack of Rifle Paper Co. journals I picked up at World Market over the weekend to continue these daily reflections.

 

 

Roomba

For Christmas, our big gift to one another (that actually came in October because it was on sale) was a Roomba. We have appropriately christened our vacuuming robot “Scoop.”

With two humans and quite a large cat living in our home, the ability to vacuum the house, keeping it consistently cleaner than it’s ever been before, while doing something else a few times a week (i.e., fixing dinner, taking a shower) is worth every penny we spent.

Brené Brown – Washington National Cathedral

A few weeks ago researcher, author, and speaker Dr. Brené Brown spoke at the Washington National Cathedral and the conversation with her via this Forum afterwards spoke deeply to my heart. A few takeaways:

  • “God, give me the courage and strength to delight in your will and walk in your way with gladness and singleness of heart.” (adapated from The Book of Common Prayer)
  • Am I choosing comfort over God? Am I choosing my own human comfort over making a decision that is aligned with our beliefs?
  • Choose courage over comfort.
  • More vulnerable, less venerable.
  • Contribute more than criticize.

It’s also been interesting to look back on what was saving my life in 2016 and 2017, all of which remain a constant.


What are some things saving your life right now? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Learn: Lessons learned from yoga

Photo I took of my local yoga studio

As a very young child my parents enrolled me in gymnastics classes, which I’m sure my educator mother knew was a great way to develop gross motor skills for my little arms and legs. After winning a few competitions in our town, my 5 year old self imagined being the next Mary Lou Retton. However, the next year my mom gave me the choice: gymnastics or piano? I chose piano and three decades, plus a degree in music later, I’m thankful I made this choice since playing for pleasure at home and at church is a part of my identity. (Yet because I’m so petite, I might have made a pretty good gymnast…)

Maybe it’s because I honed my sense of balance and flexibility at a young age, or maybe it’s just the way my body was designed, but when I discovered yoga in my early 20s, I naturally took to this practice.

When I accepted the offer to become an academic librarian in Oklahoma, I met a knowledgeable yoga instructor, also the nurse practitioner at our university, and began attending her classes at the local studio. Eight years and a series of teachers have come and gone but the studio remains a safe haven for me as I roll out my mat, smile or say hello to others in the class, and allow myself an hour weekly to breathe, stretch, and practice some quality self-care.

Last week I attended my first yoga class of 2018 and it prompted me to think about the lessons I’ve learned and why yoga remains an important part of my life.

  1. Fuel up

    Eat a light snack a little while before class. There’s nothing worse than the distraction of thinking about food when you’re in warrior one.

  2. Practice routinely

    The more often I go to class (and practice at home), the more comfortable I am with being able to naturally understand the directions and be in the moment, rather than having to watch the instructor the entire time.

  3. Judgement free zone

    There’s no room to judge myself or others. I’m only there for myself, so I don’t have to be concerned about the person beside me. And unless I need correction from the instructor to not harm my body, if I make a mistake, chances are I can just do the opposite movement the next round.

  4. Breathe

    It’s easy to forget the restorative nature of a deep, cleansing breath. Not only does this provide necessary oxygen to the body, but the simple pattern of breathe in…breathe out creates a calming, centering rhythm to focus solely on this one thing.

  5. Listen to my body

    I am a living human being, so my body is going to respond differently each time I practice. Only I can judge when I need to push myself versus be okay with the basic or modified version of a certain pose.

  6. Don’t give up

    There are times my body screams to release from a strength-building pose (chair, anyone?), but muscles and determination are built when the going gets tough.

  7. Christian perspective

    Sometimes the instructor shares a more universal thought or passage, but as a Christian I often take these broad sentiments and apply them with Scripture I’ve committed to memory, or turn my thoughts to prayer for deeper spiritual growth.

  8. Make the choice

    Like a lot of things worth doing, it’s sometimes hard to pull away from whatever is pressing, but after class I never regret the effort it took to choose yoga over something else that will still be waiting for me later.

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Image source


Is yoga a routine part of your life? If so, what lessons have you learned from your series of practices?

My word for 2018

Adopting a word for the year isn’t a new idea, nor is it original, yet I’ve found it empowering to enter 2018 with a touchstone I can return to time and time again.

Last year, the word ENOUGH seemed to hover in my consciousness quite a bit.

Two years ago it was the Old Testament scripture Isaiah 41:13 (NIV),

For I am the Lord your God
    who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
    I will help you.

A week or so before Christmas, a series of conversations, eventful changes, and the song Stay by This Hope propelled me to begin hearing the Lord beckon…

Lean in

(Okay, so it’s really two words, but you get the idea.)

Throughout this new year, I hope LEANING IN looks like:

  • being bold and unafraid
  • being aware and paying attention
  • being patient but taking action when necessary
  • being diligent
  • being intentional
  • being a good listener

And yes, there is a book called Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, which I am currently reading. Even though the specific focus of the book is for women to embody strength,  confidence, and leadership, this overall theme helps inspire personal applications in my personal, spiritual, and professional life and is the perfect tie-in for my word of 2018.


Do you have a word or phrase you’re carrying with you into the new year? Please feel free to share in the comments below.

Embracing being an “expert”

What do you think of when you hear the term “expert?” Maybe it conjures images of a computer technician, a wizened professor, or someone wearing a lab coat.

According to Merriam Webster, an expert is someone “having, involving, or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience.”

Notice it doesn’t say anything about age, gender, or having to wear any kind of regalia. So in that case, I’m an expert!

I’ve been a member of the American Library Association since beginning library school in 2008 and for the past year or so the organization has adopted the theme of  Libraries Transform and have called on members to state their area of expertise.

At this time I would say that my main areas of professional expertise (“training and experience”) are teaching students how to search and manipulate results within EBSCOhost databases and assisting students with their research in our children’s and youth collection. I’m still very much a student in the areas of academic assessment, open education resources, and a whole lot more – but I’m learning!

LibrariesTransform-Expert


You might have heard about Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule from his book Outliers, in which he claims this is the “magic number of greatness.” However, in this online article, Rob Nightingale from Make Use Of  debunks Gladwell’s theory (and takes a closer look at the research upon which Gladwell stated this philosophy) and looks at other important characteristics and traits of how we can be an expert.

This, no doubt, includes how teaching is a tactic to faster learning. But boy howdy – if I made $1 for every time I taught EBSCOhost or lead a student through the process of finding the perfect children’s book for their assignment…well, I would probably be the wealthiest librarian west of the Mississippi!

Part of me still balks at the connotation of how being an expert might come across as having “arrived” or “knowing it all,” when I obviously have not and do not. And while I desire to be a lifelong learner in so many areas, on this last day of the Fall semester it gives me a bit of satisfaction that I can be proud of what I have learned, and how it is my goal and ongoing responsibility to share this knowledge with others.


In what area(s) would you consider yourself an expert? Or in what arena would you like to strive towards being known as an expert?