Monday Motivator: And Then Suddenly It’s August

It’s hard to believe that August is upon us, and, while some friends and colleagues are either on or about to leave for vacation, many of us are feeling the inevitable ending of summer.

To be honest, summer has always been something of a disappointment to me. As a kid, I remember waiting all year for summer vacation, only to find it mostly boring, and then missing it as soon as I returned to school. Summer was like a beautiful myth whose reality never quite matched up to its description.

And this summer has been no exception. I had hoped to take every Friday off to work on some personal projects. Then, due to unforeseen circumstances, we were short-handed most of the weeks. But even on the few Fridays I managed to stay home, I made little progress on those projects.

I think I’m just going to have to admit it: I’m not a summer person.

Still, my thirty-day projects were a success. I’m still writing every day, and my office has been totally decluttered (except for the stuff that Charles still has in my closet). So I won’t judge my summer as a failure. It’s just that, in May when the weather is cool and the days are pleasant, I overestimate my energy during the hot days of July and August.

Still, whether your summer has been glorious, boring, or disastrous, tomorrow is still an opportunity to begin again.

 

 

Monday Motivator: Everyone, Just Take a Breath!

Apparently, there were several cars stolen in my neighborhood last night.  This is a bad thing. It means calls to the police, insurance forms to fill out, and time lost spent in doing those things. It also means a basic loss of security in a part of town that prides itself on being safe. So I’m certainly not minimizing this.

I found out about the thefts because I joined a neighborhood Facebook group.  I wanted to learn whom my neighbors considered good plumbers, dentists, etc. And I have gotten some good information. But, unfortunately, there is also a great deal of complaining about, well, everything.

Take this morning. In the midst of people offering sympathy to those who had their cars stolen, there were others who were complaining about the lack of police protection. Some were loudly proclaiming that my part of town was becoming like another part of town that has a reputation for crime, although Metro stats don’t justify the bad rap.

Part of this is a function of social media. Years ago, I wouldn’t know about these stolen cars unless the victim was a friend, neighbor, or colleague. Now we have instant knowledge of every major and minor crime committed moments after it happens, and it makes us feel afraid and threatened, even when crime statistics don’t support that fear.

For those of us who have lived in our neighborhood for many years, we know that we’ve never been crime-free. My condo community had break-ins before I moved in. My apartment community had a rash of smash and grabs. (The joke among my friends was that the thieves came to the top of the hill where I lived and saw my beat-up car, decided other crooks had gotten there before them, and turned around.)

Nowhere is completely safe, but social media can make us feel like every place is a war zone. So the next time bad news starts overflowing your feed, take a breath. Things may not be getting worse; it’s just that our methods for communicating bad things have improved.

Monday Motivator: Public Service Announcement about Summer

If you are like me, back in May, you probably made several sweeping statements about this summer. Here are some of the things that I was sure I’d get done:

  • Appointments for my dermatologist, ophthalmologist, and dentist.
  • My deck pressure washed and stained.
  • Carpet cleaning.
  • An unspecified number of articles, essays, and stories submitted.

Well, there’s more, but you get the picture.

At this point, I am probably at .003% completion level.

So if you are like me, let me go ahead and give you the bad news. Summer is more than half over. In just three weeks, the summer term will finish. In a little over a month, we’ll be starting fall semester.

You still have time to get those summer goals completed. But the time to start is NOW.

So excuse me while I get on the phone and make some appointments.

Monday Motivator: Sometimes Don’t Trust Your Gut

Last week, I received a message to call someone. My reaction was immediate and extreme. I became quite upset, sure that something bad was going to happen. My heart raced. My stomach churned. I was sure that the day could not end in anything other than disaster.

Why was I so sure of this? Well, it had happened once before, and my gut told me that this had to be round two.

So how did it end? It took one visit and one phone call to solve the issue, and all was well. The entire disaster had occurred only in my mind.

We tell each other to trust our gut, and we recount the times that intuition saved us from some horrible fate. But what we forget are the times our gut is just plain wrong. Mainly because it’s part of us, with all our prejudices, wrong ideas, and impulses. Our gut often simply confirms our biases.

Maybe a better thing saying might be “Listen to your gut after giving it a thorough questioning.”

Unfortunately, that doesn’t fit neatly on a t-shirt.

 

 

 

Monday Motivator: Happy Independence Day

There is no doubt that America means many different things to different people. I was brought up in a “love it or leave it” town, during the Vietnam War. But as I grew up, I realized that I was more the “love it and improve it” type. Probably the reason I’ve spent my entire career in education.

I read this story when I was a kid. And it has stayed with me all these years. If anyone asked me what America means to me, I can give no better answer  than “Yes, Your Honesty” by George and Helen Papashvily.

The Library-Infant Connection

I have a secret theory about our IT department. When a young computer tech is thinking that perhaps it’s time to have a child, the director sends him/her to the office in the library to make sure that this person is ready for the responsibility and patience necessary for parenthood.

To the computer tech, I’m sure that there are many similarities between his new library colleagues and infants:

  • Infants cry, but they have no way of telling you what’s wrong. While we can talk, I’m sure much of what we say sounds like babbling to our tech. “Jeff, the printer’s mad at me.” “Jeff, the computer is blinking.” “Jeff, there’s a message. I couldn’t read it all before the computer shut down. But I think the words ‘zombie apocalypse’ were there.”
  • Infants cry when their toys break. In the library, there may be tears when the printing system goes down, and we have to have students save documents to a flash drive and then we print them at the circulation desk.
  • Toddlers love saying the same thing over and over. While our purpose is different, we tend to do that as well:

“Jeff, my computer’s not working.”

“What’s wrong?”

“It’s not working.”

“Can you tell me exactly what happened?”

“It was working and now it’s not working.”

  • Toddlers/Infants can throw tantrums. (Umm, will say no more here to protect the guilty.)
  • Infants love you unconditionally. We adore Jeff. He is always patient. He never talks down to us. He’s willing to answer our questions, even if it’s the 300th time he’s been asked.  We think he’s pretty much perfect.

Last year, Jeff and his wife did have a baby, and he’s a good parent. And luckily, so far, he has chosen to stay with us.

Monday Motivator: Another Month, Another Challenge

For June, I chose the challenge of writing every day. So far, so good. I certainly have not created anything Wordsworthian, but I have written something each day. So I hope to make it to Friday and keep going.

For July, I decided to go a different way. I’ve been in my office for fifteen years and have gathered a massive amount of STUFF: books from my teaching days, knick knacks that have mysteriously appeared on my bookcase, notebooks from long-forgotten committees, food that could be eaten in case I’m trapped in the Zombie apocalypse but, otherwise, shouldn’t be touched, and so on. So I am undertaking a massive decluttering project, using Jason Manning’s 30 Day Minimalism Game.

This challenge adds a bit of a twist. On day one, you get rid of one thing. On day two, two things. All the way to Day 30 when you throw out 30 things. I’m already feeling a twinge of anxiety in my stomach as I think of that last week. But it needs to be done.

So here goes.

Who’s with me for the July Challenge?

 

 

Monday Motivator: Try Before Complaining

This post comes courtesy of my colleague. When I came back from a meeting last week, she was sitting disconsolately in her cubicle. Working on a website for a committee, she’d been asked to make some modifications, changes she didn’t know how to do. She was sure that, even if she could learn how to do this, the process would take a long time.  She was one unhappy librarian.

Thirty minutes later, she appeared in my office.

“How’s it going?” I asked.

She gave a sheepish grin. “It’s done.” She had looked up how to do it and completed the project in less time than she’d spent complaining about it.

It was, we agreed, a good lesson. So I’m sharing it.

When the Network Goes Crazy

Let me say this: I know nothing about how computers and the internet work. For me, it’s a magic box that tells me things I need to know. So I may use wrong terms here.

It seems our computers are on different networks. So there could be a problem on a student computer when the same database or program is working just fine on the staff ones. Except for mine. My computer does not like to be a snob. So it shares the problems of the student machines.

Yesterday, we noticed that our links to ebooks were not working. But because problems can never be simple, they were working on some pages and not on others. The links worked only on one browser. And to make matters more confusing, they worked on some machines and not others.

Today, when I came in, a colleague told me the problem had not been fixed. I checked on my computer, and sure enough, the link led to a virtual abyss.

I check with another staff member, who said, “It’s working on my machine.”

“But it’s not working on mine.”

“I tried it a hour ago, and it was fine.”

“But I just tried it, and it’s not working at all.”

Then there was a stare-off between the person with working links who’s pretty sure that the other person is having user-error problems and the person (me) who is sure she knows how to click on a link.

I demonstrated that the links did not work on my machine. Then I checked the student machines and discovered that they did not work there. Now the  problem is in the capable hands of our beloved IT department.

It occurred to me that today held some pretty good life lessons:

  1. Don’t assume that because something has happened to you, it is universal.
  2. Know the cause of a problem before trying to solve it.
  3. There are some things that are beyond your understanding. To delve too deeply into them will only lead to madness.

 

 

Storm!

I’m willing to bet that there is one constant among libraries all over the world: If a storm hits and the power goes off, all the patrons stare at the library staff as if they turned off the electricity on purpose.

Today lightning struck somewhere nearby. The electricity was off for only a couple of seconds, but long enough to cause the lights to go out and the computers to shut off.

The lights came back on, and we were confronted with faces staring at us with a mixture of despair and blame.

Quick-thinking Amy yelled out that all might not be lost, and she went out among the students to see what could be saved. She also used this as a teachable moment, reminding students to save their work, that reliance on auto-save might not be the best of ideas in bad weather.

Luckily, everyone seemed to get back to what they were doing with a minimum of effort.

All’s well, although we are hoping for a break so we can go to lunch without getting drenched. Or struck by lightning.