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.

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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.

Sisters&Tea
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.

yoga

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?

Learn: Fall 2017

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

  1. Bigger is sometimes better
    Did you know they make triple size cotton balls? My current eyeliner is a bit pesky to remove at night and these giant cotton balls have made my evening routine so much easier!
  2. Sometimes upheaval is necessary
    When we bought our home we knew we would want to start updating the look of things down the road. And now that we’ve been in the house 4+ years, we’re now firmly “down the road” and are taking baby steps to bring said changes to pass.

    In October we picked out new paint colors, Pratt and Lambert lambswool and china white, and tackled painting the walls (lambswool) and cabinets (china white) in our laundry room as a test area. We loved these colors in our friends’ home and also love the end result in our small trial space, but like most good things in life, a little cleaning, purging, and patience had to be expected, too.

  3. Sometimes a good thing isn’t the right thing
    Over the past few years I’ve heard glowing reviews about Tieks ballet flats from various bloggers and celebrities. Even though they are rather expensive, the quality of craftsmanship and comfort has been routinely applauded.

    Typically I wear either a size US 5 or 5 1/2, but Tieks only come in whole sizes, so I ordered a cute green pair of size 5 shoes. They arrived, I tried them on and thought, “Hmm, they are comfortable but they feel a little tight around my toes.” I investigated their return policy and saw they would also send another pair in a different size to compare the two, so I ordered a size 6.

    I must admit, I was disappointed when the size 6 was too big compared to the size 5 that was too small. It’s really hard to fit my tiny feet, so I wasn’t at all surprised with this discovery, and appreciated the kind customer service representative that helped me return both with free shipping and a full refund.

  4. Time and effort over time pays off 
    While I’ve played piano since I was 6 years old, I’m always thankful when I’m re-reminded of the gift of this ongoing skill I’ve maintained.

    Over Thanksgiving weekend, our church pianist (and my friend) took an impromptu family getaway on Saturday and texted me that morning asking if I could fill in for her the next day for Sunday morning services. I told her to enjoy her time and I would gladly cover for her.

    That afternoon I looked over the order of worship via our church’s online scheduling software, realized I knew all the songs, and was therefore able to sight-read the piano arrangements the next morning while enjoy worshiping with my fingers and in my heart (and without too many glaring mistakes, thankfully).

  5. 7 and 5
    Our nephew and niece are now 7 and 5 and these are such fun ages to be around! Hearing about their lives in 2nd grade and Kindergarten was a real joy over Thanksgiving and The Optometrist and I are excited about being more diligent to be a part of their lives, school, and church activities.
  6. Positive stress is still stress
    As Christmas approaches, I’m determined to not get sick this year (especially since I’ve already had enough with fall allergies over the past few weeks)! The past two years have found me missing out on social, civic, and church Christmas festivities because of “the crud,” and I’ve realized this is because I not only over-extend myself, but I become consumed with too much positive stress.

    My university’s human resources department recently sent an e-newsletter about managing holiday stress in which I was reminded to set realistic expectations and priorities – i.e. it’s okay to say no to attending ALL the Christmas events and parties. Thus, in the coming weeks of December I’ve already begun writing REST in giant letters in my calendar to not schedule anything else when a week begins to look full.

    The gentle reminder from my sweet momma, over a number of years, always rings true, “If you don’t take care of yourself, no one else is going to do it for you.”


    What have you learned this fall? Are you making sure you take time to care for your mind, body, and spirit with the Christmas season now upon us? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Saving My Life: Beginning of Fall Edition

As per the phrase by Barbara Brown Taylor, this is a look at the things saving my life as fall begins.

  1. Bath & Body Works Spiced Apple Bourbon hand soap with pumpkin butter

    During my last trip to Bath & Body Works, I discovered they didn’t have the Leaves scent in this year’s fall soaps, which is my all time favorite. I was so disappointed I didn’t take the time to try anything else new this season, but when a dear friend gave us this as a thank-you gift, I was excited to realize it is very reminiscent of Leaves. Washing my hands at the kitchen sink has been an extra special treat, thanks to this year’s new release!

    bbw

  2. Cross stitch

    Since mid-August I’ve been experiencing some consistent joint stiffness and occasional twinges of pain in my left pinkie finger. When you look at the sheer number of items I knit in July, it’s no wonder my joints and hands have needed a break! And while I know it’s in my body’s best interest to give my hands time to rest, it’s been so difficult to not reach for my needles and yarn (or sit down at my piano) during this stressful back-to-school time. But I’ve had to go through seasons of vocal rest in the past and have seen God bring about healing in His time, so I am making a concerted effort to trust His faithfulness once more.

    With this in mind, my patient mother-in-law recently gave me a refresher tutorial on how to cross-stitch. As a young girl I loved printed cross-stitch, but was always intimidated by counted cross-stitch. A few years ago I picked up this beginning kit from Cecilia’s Samplers in Branson, MO, determined to learn, so she showed me a few things, but after our visit I promptly went back to knitting. Now that I’m on the knitting DL, I figured this was the perfect time to devote my creative energies to a new craft, while not putting as much strain on my fingers. It’s been a fun, puzzle-like adventure to see take shape, X by X.

    This is “Simplicity” by Little House Needleworks.

  3. Adult coloring books

    As a child I wasn’t a huge fan of coloring. I loved activity books with word searches and dot-to-dot pictures, but the lack of precision of crayons was always frustrating to my small hands. Fast forward about 30 years and now that adult coloring books and colored pencils have arrived on the scene, this has been another way for me to decompress at the end of a long day. This is Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford, a past Christmas present from The Optometrist.

  4. Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan on Audible

    While coloring, I have frequently set my phone nearby and listened to this spectacularly performed (not just narrated) middle-grade story that spans continents and time frames, all connected to themes of hope and the power of music.

    It was highly reviewed by Sarah Mackenzie of Read Aloud Revival and it has lived up to her recommendation! Not only so, but it’s one of the best children’s books I’ve ever read and so far my favorite overall book of 2017.

    echo-cover

  5. NCIS 

    And when my brain has needed a vacation, it has often found itself escaping via Netflix to NCIS headquarters to hang out with Gibbs, Ziva, McGee, Abby, and company. The Optometrist and I are currently working our way through Season 10 and I realized the other day, the reason I watch isn’t for the mystery or murders they solve, it’s for the character development between cast members. (I consider them make-believe friends.)NCIS


What things are saving your life as fall finally arrives?