Hello from the Jolly Librarian!

The Mayfield Library is always looking for ways to let you know what’s going on with us, so we can serve you better. To better achieve that aim, we’re starting this library blog.

As we communicate with you, please keep in touch with us. We welcome all feedback.

After all, the Mayfield Library is here for you!

Monday Motivator: Don’t Ride the Drama Llama

After I wrote about resolutions, I heard from a couple of friends about their own hopes for the year. They were similar in nature, although they varied in the amount of salty language used. (I will paraphrase here for sensitive readers.)

My first friend, who is a sensitive soul, has decided to simply say, “forget it” to the things outside her control. It’s a smart idea. Last year, I read several books on Stoic philosophers, and that is a basic tenet of the philosophy. Work on what you can control, and don’t worry about what you can’t. It’s easier said than done. But there are some ways.

Which brings me to my second friend who proclaimed that she will no longer ride the drama llama. It seems that we’re being asked to have an emotional (over) reaction to everything these days. But we don’t. Now, I am not saying that we should be stony-hearted and not care about people. However, I am saying that you are under no obligation to get into fights or screaming matches that tear up your insides or leave you seething for days.

I watch a certain reality TV show. (I’m not going to tell you which one because, yes, it’s embarrassing.) There was a family fight going on. About every two minutes, someone would say that they were going to have a good time and not care about the person who was throwing the tantrum. And then immediately the family resumed complaining about that person and not having a good time at all. We’ve probably all been there.

Yesterday, someone shared something on social media that I found pretty repulsive. I thought about making a comment or at least reading all the other comments about it. Then I realized I wasn’t going to change anyone’s mind, and the angst and anger would benefit no one. I simply deleted the post and went about my day doing more positive things.

  The drama llama might come in the room, but that doesn’t mean we have to get on and ride it.

Monday Motivator: Let’s Have a Good Year!

For me, this was a slow start to the new year. There were storms, illness, and a record-breaking snowfall here in Nashville. To be honest, I’m giving myself a do-over and starting the new year this week!

I don’t really make yearly resolutions. I have a set of goals that I’ve kept now for several years. So usually, it’s just a re-commitment to those goals. I examine my activity and see if I’ve fallen into slacker mentality, just doing the least amount possible to check off the activity for the day. (Spoiler alert: I have!)

Other people set an intention for the year. Often, it’s just one word that they want to have more of in their lives: courage, enthusiasm, generosity, kindness. They write the word in their planners or put on their screensavers to remind themselves of what they need to do.

Whatever your method is, make a quick commitment (or recommitment) to making this a good year.

Monday Motivator: Get Some Rest

For those of us in the education world, it’s time for the winter holidays. Faculty and students have already been gone a week, and staff members will have from the 24th to the 3rd off. Believe me, most of us realize how fortunate we are to have such a break from work. With the challenges brought on by Covid, I think most of us are looking forward to it, even if the latest variant is making us rethink some of our holiday plans.

Of course, holidays bring their own types of stress: shopping, cooking, traveling, visiting friends and relatives. Even joyful activities can be overwhelming at times. So, no matter how much time you have off or how many things you need to check off your to-do list, at some point, just give yourself a break and rest.

Rest can take many forms:

  • a nap
  • a walk
  • a cup of coffee
  • a good book
  • a break from the news

However, you spend your holiday, I wish you all a happy and safe one. I’ll see you back here in 2022.

Monday Motivator: Sing a Holiday Tune

Before any of you chastise me for saying ‘holiday’ tunes instead of Christmas songs, let me just say that some of my favorites are actually Hanukah songs. And if you work retail where you have had to listen to Christmas songs for going on three months now, you may need a break. You should play whatever makes you feel happy.

I have a couple of songs that I have been trying to learn on piano, and, although I have accepted I will never get to performance level (or even other people recognizing what they are), they always cheer me up. They are “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” and “Good King Wenceslas.” I often find myself humming one or the other as I take my lunchtime walk or go to another building.

So, this week, just sing a song that puts you in a good mood, no matter what holiday you’re celebrating. (For those of you just finishing up final exams, “Happy” by Pharrell might be a good one!)

Monday Motivator: Stressed? Stop and Think.

Last week, I was talking to someone who had walked out of a skills test. To clarify, the person had not finished the skills test but found it too hard and just left. Stressed and angry, the poor student could not see any other alternative.

As someone who has spent most of her life either going to school or working at one, I immediately saw alternatives, but then I wasn’t the one taking the test.

Of course, you don’t have to be a student to let stress affect your decisions. It happens to all of us. We lash out at people. We eat too much. We cut off someone in traffic. We take it out on family and friends. And often, we haven’t even realized we’ve done it until the effects of our behavior come raining down on our heads.

One of the most useful things we can do is recognize when stress is getting the best of us and come up with a plan to deal with it. Sometimes, just taking a quick timeout to  take a few breaths and think of at least one alternative can help get us back on track.

And even if those steps don’t make us feel better, they just might prevent us from burning bridges.

Monday Motivator: Be a Patron Saint of Small Kindnesses

My colleague recently adopted a cat.  A 20-year-old cat. It belonged to a couple who had to go to a nursing home, and their friends were looking for someone to take it both to ease the minds of its owners and also because an old cat is not going to adjust well to life in a shelter.

And my colleague did. And one of the very first things she had to do was take the cat to the vet to have its teeth removed because they were badly decayed and preventing it from eating.

I am in awe of people who do these things. Like most people, I like to think of myself as noble and generous and altruistic. You know, an everyday hero. But in reality, I’m not. I would have a list of good reasons why I couldn’t take on an old cat: I would get attached only to have him die, it would be expensive to keep an older cat, my schedule would not allow it. And so on.

And none of the reasons would be wrong. But the same things apply to my colleague’s life, and she is giving the cat a loving final home.

Most of us aren’t going to be called to do big things: we probably won’t take a bullet for someone else, grab a ticking bomb and throw it in the river, saving the city, etc. But we can look around and see how we can make others’ lives a little better. And then do it.

Books I’m Thankful For This Year

Ever since I was a jolly child in a cardigan, I have loved books. They have been my escape, my friends, and my companions on adventures over the years. There is no way I could ever pick a favorite book, but, this Thanksgiving week, here is a very partial list of books that I’m thankful for this year:

  • The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman. (If you haven’t read the first novel in this series The Thursday Murder Club, do that first.) These quirky, spunky retired folks who are solving mysteries will quickly become your best friends.
  • Agatha of Little Neon by Claire Luchette. When a parish goes broke, four nuns are forced to move to a new town where their new job is to run a halfway house, with Sister Agatha, having to out in the world, to teach at a high school. This is a novel about belonging and finding your place in the world.
  • The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins is a retelling of Jane Eyre set in modern-day Alabama. While it helps to have read the classic, this is a fun book in its own right.
  • The Data Detective: Ten Easy Rules to Make Sense of Statistics by Tim Harford. Harford’s thesis is that we need to understand statistics, not dismiss them. And he shows us how to do that.
  • Quarantine Life from Cholera to COVID-19: What Pandemics Teach Us about Parenting, Work, Life, and Communities from the 1700s to Today by Kari Nixon. Nixon is an English professor, and her focus is on the conversations that have surrounded pandemics through history. It is a fascinating read.

Monday Motivator: Keep Running (the sequel)

Yesterday, I went to the Y. As I got out the car, I stepped in a large puddle, soaking my socks. Then I discovered that the plug that connects my headphones to my phone had rusted and was unusable. There would be no music on this run. I grumpily stood at the edge of the track and considered just going home.

Instead, I started running. I made it a mile and a half running. For the next mile and a half, I alternated running and walking. Then I walked the last mile.

I’d like to say that I enjoyed the exercise, that I achieved some sort of Zen moment.  But I didn’t. It seemed to take three times as long, and while I can usually run almost four miles with music, I barely made it to a mile and a half. There was no runner’s high.

So why I am writing about this? Because I did learn something: that I can achieve a goal even if it is tedious and not the least bit amount of fun. And as we come close to final exams, that is not a bad lesson to learn.

Oh, and I also learned that I need to keep a pair of wireless headphones in my gym bag.

Monday Motivator: Treat Yourself

I read this on Instagram the other day: “Once you realize that you don’t need a special occasion to buy a cake, the second part of your life begins.”  This kind of wisdom is why I keep my social media accounts.

Yep! Guess what? You don’t have to wait for a special occasion to get that cake, even the special ice cream cake. Even better, you don’t have to wait until someone decides to give you something. You can just go out and get it: flowers, jewelry, even the red car with heated seats.

Now, I’m not advocating a crazed spending spree. But I’ve known so many people who deny themselves things they really wanted because they didn’t have a significant other to buy it for them or ‘it wasn’t practical’ or ‘it would be weird to buy myself flowers.’

If you only have money in your budget for a Toyota Corolla, it would not be wise to treat yourself to a Porsche. But maybe that cheerful cherry red Corolla is just the ticket. If you think that flowers should only come from a romantic partner, then it won’t help to buy them. But if you just like flowers, then go ahead and get a dozen. Or two.

Occasionally, we all need a treat. And as we’re on the second year of a pandemic, I don’t think we need to argue about whether or not we deserve one.

This week, treat yourself.

Monday Motivator: Take Advantage of ‘Free’ Time

Unlike most of my friends, I love the weekend when the clocks fall back one hour. I go to bed my normal time. Then the next morning, I wake up and turn back all the clocks one hour. (Since my phone’s clock does it automatically, I hide it until I am out of bed.) Voila! I now have an extra hour of the day.

Of course, this only happens once a year. The rest of the time we need to find little pockets of free time when we can. And we have to be vigilant; it’s easy to miss them when they pop up. There are two steps. First, you have to recognize them. Second, you have to take advantage of them.

Last week, my writing group canceled. Suddenly, I had two hours of free time. First step- accomplished. But I failed in the second; I didn’t take advantage of the free time, instead binge-watching a series. (Note: This might have been a perfectly good choice for others, just not for me.)

One of my friends has a great recommendation for such times. Keep a simple list of productive and/or fun things to do when free time pops up. They should be of varying time lengths, so you don’t have the excuse of “I don’t have enough time to clean out my closet or go play tennis.” And then be prepared. (Things I have put on my fledgling list: read an article I’ve saved, practice the piano, do some crunches, go to the Frist to see the new exhibit, etc.)

For example, I always take a book or my Kindle when I have a doctor’s appointment, so I have some fun reading instead of just scanning the web to see what weird things people are getting up to. Because there is always going to be some waiting time when you go to the doctor. Instead of fuming about it, I get a few pages closer to discovering who the murderer is.

And if you’re wondering if I used my daylight saving time hour wisely, why, yes I did.