Monthly Archives: November 2015

Monday Motivator: Manage Stress

This is the last week of classes before final exams. Basically, this means that last papers are being written and turned in. The final (or first) touches are being made on projects. And the last class speeches are being delivered.

For many students (and faculty), the week before finals can feel more stressful than the actual exam period. And an added problem with the fall term is that the end of the semester coincides with one of busiest times of the year.

So here are the Jolly Librarian’s strategies for dealing with stress:

  • Ask for help if you need it. No matter where you are in the research process, the librarians are more than happy to help. Math tutors don’t care if you haven’t been in the Learning Center all semester; they are willing to help. Your instructors have office hours for a reason: to answer your questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Knowing how to do something is one of the best stress relievers.
  • Let some things go. Decide what has to be done for the next two weeks and focus on them. Maybe the kitchen floor won’t get mopped. Maybe the family will eat out instead of your cooking. That’s fine. These two weeks are for school.
  • Make a plan. Write down due dates and what has to be done each day to complete assignments.
  • Follow that plan.
  • Remind yourself of the bigger picture. When I was working on my doctorate, there were many times when I was ready to give up. I don’t have to do this, I said to myself. Why not just get in my car, drive back to Tennessee, and do something else?  But then I’d remember that I always wanted to a doctorate. And that I would feel that I lacked something if I didn’t earn it. When stress hits, think to your major goal: becoming a nurse, having a college degree, etc.
  • Take breaks to relax. Go for a short walk. Take a fifteen-minute texting or web surfing break (only fifteen minutes, though!) Pet an animal.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • If you’re stressed because you haven’t kept up with assignments this semester, then, after finals are over, make a plan to remedy that in the spring.
  • Turn off social media while you’re studying. Seeing your friends having fun while you’re studying will only make you miserable. And if they’re all posting about how miserable they are and how hard their courses are, there’s a good chance all that complaining can make you feel hopeless.

And if all else fails, try this. One summer, I had to take a speech course (a course I had put off the other four years of my college career.) I very much feared speaking in front of the class. So on speech days, as I drove to campus, with my hands shaking and my stomach churning, I would repeat to myself, “No matter how bad this is, in two hours, it will be over and I’ll be driving home.” I’m not sure why it worked, but it did.

So remember, in two weeks, you too will be on a month’s break.

Monday Motivator: Be Thankful

This is the week to be thankful. Like most folks, I am grateful for the big things, like family and health. But I think it helps to also remember the smaller things that make our lives fuller and happier.

Here’s my list of such items:

  • Colleagues who are not afraid to challenge me and make me think through my decisions.
  • Friends who share my warped sense of humor.
  • Cats on the internet.
  • People who stay kind despite the fear rampant in our world right now.
  • Librarians with a sense of humor.
  • Finding new books that make me long for reading time each night, currently Death and Mr. Pickwick.
  • Jon Snow might be alive!
  • The fact that I get to spend my working days helping students.


Happy Thanksgiving to you all!



Monday Motivator: Give Up on Change (Changing Others, that is)

Psychiatrist Michael Bennett wrote that if you want a self-help book on how to change other people, the book you should buy is how to perform at-home lobotomies.

This makes perfect sense, but we spend way too much time wanting people to change to make us happy. Add in the fact that we also don’t want to tell them what to do to make us happy (they should just know),  we spend a lot of time blaming other people for our unhappiness and waiting for them to change to suit us.

At this moment, I want:

  • a friend to at least pretend that he has some interest in my life as he gives speeches on how everything in the world shakes him up.
  • certain  Facebook friends to not use the horrible events in Paris as a platform for (what I consider) cruel and heartless views.
  • at least three people to not give me an argument every time I make a suggestion.
  • Chipotle to play more soothing music.

I am not going to get any of those things:

  • My friend has been self-centered for twenty years now. He’s not going to change.
  • I have friends on all sides of the political spectrum on Facebook, and unless I block them, I’m going to have to see some upsetting things.
  • Unless I want a puppet government, I need people who question my decisions.
  • Chipotle does not make its musical decisions based on their one librarian customer who wants to read quietly in the corner.

So the choices are all mine. I stay friends with certain people because they are more than their annoying habits. I hire people who will ask questions and challenge me because I believe that’s the way an organization stays strong. And Chipotle serves a fine chicken bowl.

At some point, I might make a different decision, but once again, that will be on me.

Unless that self-help lobotomy books becomes a reality.




Monday Motivator: Seeing the Better Angels in Our Opponents

On Friday night, after a group dinner, four of us stood outside the restaurant chatting. We were discussing a recent controversy, and as one person was expressing an opinion, another asked, “What do you mean by they?” And her tone strongly indicated that she was not terribly happy with him.

“Why are you mad?” he asked.

So she explained how it sounded as if he was blaming two or three people for having an agenda when that’s not what happened at all because she was part of the group that made the decision.

I stood there listening in amazement. Because here’s what happened next. The two people did not yell at each other. They didn’t run to their respective cars and not talk to each other again. They did not call each other names. Instead, they listened to each other’s opinion. And at the end, one said, “I didn’t know that. And I need to apologize.”

It’s not that one convinced the other over to the ‘right’ side. It was just that they understood that they were both decent people who happened to see the issue in two different ways. And they both agreed that almost everyone involved in the conflict was a decent person who thought he/she was doing the right thing. And while they were not going to agree on this issue, they were going to continue to respect each other and remain friends.

I watched in amazement because, unfortunately, this is not usually how the story plays out any more. If someone doesn’t agree with us, we tend to jump way too quickly to the conclusion that there is something fundamentally wrong with them. On my Facebook page, my liberal friends are quick to label those who disagree with them as racists or uneducated buffoons. My conservative friends are just as good at labeling, although they tend to choose words such as anti-American or socialist.

I suppose that when we care about something deeply and see clearly how things are supposed to be, it is hard to even comprehend that others can’t see it. So we, perhaps without thinking, assign a reason to that: a reason that has something to do with their intelligence (or lack of) or with their evil intentions.

It happens everywhere. One only has to read the various comments on social media to see that the hasty judging and closed minds are on all sides of various political issues. But sadly, it can also be found closer to home. And it’s sad when friendships and working relationships become frayed. (Coincidentally, as I was writing this, my Timehop app reminded me that six years ago, two of my best friends stood in a parking lot yelling at each other about Sarah Palin.)

But Friday night was an example that this doesn’t have to happen. It reminded me that we can disagree, even get a little snappy with each other, and stay friends. We can actually talk through our disagreements. We can disagree strongly and still see the angels in our opponents.

Well, if not angels, flawed but decent  human beings, just like ourselves.

Monday Motivator: Five Reasons to Love November

Today I noticed that everyone seemed to be in a bad mood. Maybe it was that Halloween was over, and we were all suffering from a sugar overload. Maybe it was that daytime savings time has ended, and people are dreading the early nights. Maybe it was because the Commodores, the Titans, the Packers, and the Mets all lost this weekend.

At our college, November also starts the most stressful time of the semester for both faculty and students: papers to write and grade, tests to make, take, and grade, worry about grades, worry about grades getting turned in on time, etc.

So it may be that none of us started this month in the best of moods. But there are many reasons to love November. Here are five:

  • November 7 is Book Lovers Day. With the early nights, what would be better than making a cup of tea, snuggling under a blanket, and reading a book on your to-read list? Here are some books on our recommended and to-read lists.
  • Maybe you don’t just want to read a novel, but write one. Well, November is National Novel Writing Month. Take some time out each day and finally get started on that mystery, bodice ripper, or THE Great American Novel that’s hiding inside of you.
  • In these stressful times, it’s always good to practice kindness. Luckily, World Kindness Day is November 13. Sure, we should be kind everyday, but sometimes we need a reminder.
  • November is also Native American Heritage month. Let’s celebrate the cultures of the first citizens of our country.
  • And, of course, Thanksgiving. Enjoy the time off, appreciate your family and friends, and cheer on your favorite football team. And take some time to consider the times good fortune has come your way in 2015.

Happy November, all.