Monthly Archives: December 2013

Monday Motivator: Start a Gift Jar for Next Year

If there is one basic truth about  me is that I’m a fortunate person and yet I often complain about not having enough (money, time, emotional support, you name it). So when I saw an idea last week, I decided that I would do this  as a reminder that, unless I have actually lost everything and am living on the street, I am indeed a lucky person.

The suggestion is the basic savings jar. Make a decision at the beginning of the year about what goes into the jar: It could be your change each evening. It could be dollar bills. It could be an automatic transfer into a checking account. Then at the end of the year, use that money to make a real difference in the life of a person or family that really needs it. 

I like the yearlong focus on helping other people. I like the reminder that if I can put money in this jar, then I am don’t need to be complaining. I even like the subtle push to choose between the grande latte and the account. 

So let’s start next year in a giving way. And for the rest of this year, I wish everyone a very happy holiday.


Our Favorite Books This Year

Favorite Book:

Colette: I think I’m the last person, at least the last one who works at the Mayfield Library, to read it, but in 2013 I finally got around to reading A Family Fang by Kevin Wilson.  The utter dysfunction and chaos in their family was great vicarious fun.

Emily: I’ve never considered myself a fan of historical fiction, however two of my favorite books published this year (that I  got around to reading) are Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler and The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell.  My favorite books I read this year are We have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson and The Dog Stars by Peter Heller. The reason: Page turnability.

Jolly Librarian: It’s always hard to choose a favorite book, so I’m going to break my list down into categories. My favorite novel was The Interestings by Meg Wollitzer. My favorite book of poetry was Open Shutters by Mary Jo Salter. And as I continue my reading of the presidents’ lives, my favorite biography so far has been John Quincy Adams by Harlow Giles Unger. 

Monday Motivator: Consider an Older Child This Holiday

My friend Alena was doing her Angel Tree shopping this past weekend when she noticed that most of the angels left on the tree were for older children. Sadly, this is often the case. Not out of any ill intent; most of us find it easier to shop for small children. Even with the children I know, it gets harder each year to find things they might like (within a reasonable price range and not involving gift cards).

Still, older children want to unwrap presents as well. They want to know their needs are important. So if you are  a person who does the Angel Tree or Samaritan’s Purse Shoe Box, please consider buying gifts for the teenager in need. While the deadline for giving to these charities may have passed for this year, some will still accept donations in order to buy for those children not chosen, and, as of Saturday night, Books-a-Million still had its book donation drive going. (Just tell them you want to buy a book for an older child.)

So please consider providing for an older child this year or next. Let them know that they have not been forgotten.

Monday Motivator: Overlook Something

Take the regular stress of the holiday season and then add taking exams and waiting for final grades, or, on the opposite end, writing, giving, and grading final exams, and you have the end-of-fall semester-blues on campuses everywhere. Some folks are anxious. Some are irritable. And all have a tendency to overreact.

So let’s give everyone an early holiday present. Let’s give everyone a free bad moment: We don’t snap back. We don’t hold grudges. We just smile and let it go.

  • Someone steals our parking space at the mall. Instead of simmering over it and replaying all the things we could have done, we drive on and find another one.
  • Someone snaps at us because we’re not helping them fast enough. We simply redirect the complaint into a useful question or comment. 
  • A student comes in late to the final. Assuming that this was a honest mistake and not part of a regular pattern, we don’t make him feel worse by pointing out how late he is. We just hand him the test.
  • A man in a crowded store that is already blaring Christmas music is having a loud and inappropriate conversation on his cell phone. Instead of ‘accidentally’ bumping into him, ‘accidentally’ knocking his phone to the floor and ‘accidentally’ stomping on it, we simply walk away.

So let’s start the tradition today: Overlook someone’s annoying behavior. Hey, someone might do the same for you!


The Quotophiles

Our words of wisdom for this week: Clogged with yesterday’s excess, the body drags the mind down with it.– Horace

So what sort of Thanksgiving excess did the Quotophiles indulge in?

Colette: It probably goes without saying that I overdid it on brown food items (turkey, dressing, gravy, pecan pie).  I much prefer the unhealthy tan food family to anything red or green or yellow.  Healthy foods just don’t give that Tryptophan rush so essential to the third quarter, Thanksgiving Day football nap.  We went to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving, so we cooked a second turkey and all the brown fixings on Friday, so we’d have leftovers.  Since Friday, I’ve been overdoing it on turkey sandwiches made with the kind of white bread little kids like.

 In addition to eating, I crafted my hump off over the break, spending probably 20 hours over 3 days with papers, soaps, wax, felt, clay, beads, etc…I have a craft sale coming up and needed to finalize my inventory.  My house is now packed to its Martha Stewart gills.

Emily: Okay, I confess. It was Thanksgiving. I ate a lot of food. All in one course. A lot of brown foods. A lot of butter. Then pies.

Pam: Mashed potatoes…My sister made the most delicious mashed potatoes this year. I had three servings. I told her about how it seems that here in the south folks make them more ‘watery’— “creamed potatoes” they call them – and they aren’t nearly as delicious as my mom’s and grandma’s, and now, my sister’s! I don’t know if the southern recipe uses water instead of milk, buuutt, may I suggest…if you are going to overindulge, go for lumpy, puffy delicious mashed potatoes whipped with milk and real butter, for goodness sake! This year I truly did not stuff myself to the usual miserable level, I am pleased to say. It seems that misery just isn’t worth it anymore. I’m sure it is many colliding factors such as being this ‘middle’ age (keeping in mind it is middle if I plan to live to be 107), along with and having kept the last 5+ pounds off for a year now. I just won’t go back…I’ve peddled up too many hard hills. Too, it is the lost health I see when I look at my overweight relatives, that it truly seems it is now or never that I stay on this road to trying to hold on to my health. Lastly, I would like to just say that MY WORST  over indulgence, sadly, IS ALWAYS HERE IN THE LIBRARY! I simply canNOT turn down cookies or little chocolate snacky things like bridge mix or M&Ms. So, thank God I was in charge of desserts at home this year. Granted, Costco’s coffeecake for breakfast EVERY SINGLE MORNING while up home (heated and topped with whipped cream) was a bit of a stray, buuuttt….Oh, good grief, God help us all as the holidays come on. I will leave you with this thought. It’s not so much what you eat that is bad, but what we DON’T, eat, I think. Just keep coming back to balancing with veggies and lots and lots of fresh water. And last but not least, I leave you with my now-cancer-free, handsome, slender 7- year old uncle’s advice to me as we walked a mile and a half after dinner last year at Christmas…”Eat less, and move more”. Perhaps that is simply the key, after all.

Sally: My Thanksgiving overindulgence is probably that I ride my bike too much (but it is so much fun and good exercise, too)!  The Thanksgiving food that I like the most is jellied cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.  My new favorite quote is, “Those who wish to control their own lives and move beyond existence as mere clients and consumers – those people ride a bike.”  ~ Wolfgang Sachs 

Jolly Librarian: When a person who doesn’t cook visits someone who does, then a certain amount of overeating will occur. For example, the non-cooking person will be sitting on the sofa and think that a snack would be just the thing. But how to choose? There’s some leftover pork roast; there are sausage balls; there is pumpkin pie; there’s homemade chili. The only rational choice is to have some of each. And repeat several times a day.





Monday Motivator: Avoid the Evil of Complacency

The Alabama/Auburn game is such a tradition in my home state that even people who pay no attention to football still use it as a reference to make that point, as in “I will not be watching the Iron Bowl. I will be solving the pesky world hunger problem this Saturday.” You may care deeply about the outcome, you may not care at all, but it’s impossible to be ignorant of the existence of the game.

Last week, I read an article about the wife of the Alabama coach, Nick Saban. (For those of you who don’t know, Saban has a reputation of not staying too long at any one place and has expressed his dissatisfaction with students who have left games early this season. This has made some fans anxious about his future plans.) While his wife was allaying those fears, she made a point about the complacency that can creep in when a team is just expected to win.

I think she’s right. I can just imagine the students at the beginning of the 4th quarter: “Well, we’re going to win any way, so let’s take a break from imbibing beverages here in the stand and let’s go back to our fraternity house where we can imbibe different beverages.”

Unluckily, or luckily, for Alabama, that complacency was smashed at the end of the game on Saturday. Perhaps they’ve not been knocked to the bottom of the mountain, but far enough down that the easy assumption of success has been shattered.

Having a lazy nature myself, I’ve always been a little in awe of the people who are always looking for new challenges, the people who, after reaching a summit, look and say, “My goodness, there’s a mountain over there as well. Let’s go climb it.”  Or “Well, I’ve climbed a mountain. Let’s see if I can now swim to the bottom of the sea.” Or even, “Well, I’ve climbed a mountain. Let’s see if I can do it again, faster and better.” 

Of course, we can’t all be the giant risk takers of the world, but we can all look at areas of our lives where complacency has set in. And we can shake things up a bit.