Monthly Archives: April 2018

Monday Motivator: What I (Re)Learned This Semester

When I was a young instructor, I remember reading in an article about a old, tenured professor who had taught for thirty years, but as the author pointed out, he had actually taught the same year thirty times. This sounded horrifying to me, and it still does. When I was in the classroom, I couldn’t help but change up lessons each semester, not only for pedagogical purposes but also for the simple fact that I don’t like being bored. Plus, I always learned something each time I taught that needed to be incorporated the next time I taught.

At a college, I would have to be oblivious not to learn something new everyday. So here, in no particular order, are some of things I learned (or relearned) this semester:

  • Do stuff that scares you. We held a poetry slam this April. Students got up to read their own works. Voices cracked. Hands shook. But they soldiered through, and it was easy to see how proud they were when their poems were greeted with applause. (I am at a stage right now where it’s too easy to avoid things that scare me. It was a good reminder to get back out there.)
  • Don’t wait for the right time. We have two new library assistants who are eager to try new things. With the amount of change going on at our college right now, my initial reaction was to wait. But the young don’t like to wait. We did the Poetry Slam and the Long Night Against Procrastination anyway, and both were successful. And now we know many things to incorporate and to avoid when we put them on again.
  • A fairy godmother doesn’t always arrive. Sometimes there is no miraculous fix. We have to admit the mistake, accept the consequences, and then get on with things.
  • Even good changes come with some bumps, and it’s counterproductive to expect otherwise. It takes time to rebuild trust. It takes time to untangle old procedures and begin new ones.
  • People say the weirdest things to pregnant women. (Most of them are funny, although Librarian Emily might be the best judge of that since she’s the one who’s pregnant.)

Happy end of the semester, everyone!





Monday Motivator: Take a Breath. Take a Break.

(To be honest, it is hard to think of anything motivating as Nashville reels from a senseless shooting that, so far, has left four dead.)

It’s that time of the semester when everyone feels tense. Students are trying to finish up papers and projects while gearing up for final exams. Faculty are trying to get through the mounds of grading that must be done before final grades are turned in.

People can get a little edgy. A little grumpy. Sometimes very emotional. Tears, shouts, and banging of doors can happen.

So, here, in no particular order, are the Jolly Librarian’s suggestions for giving yourself a time out.

  • Take a walk. Every day (when it’s not storming), I walk over to our local Target to buy a Diet Coke. I get a little exercise and a change of scenery. And, in the twenty minutes the trip takes, I can think about other things.
  • Visit some friends. Today, I went to the English department and chatted with colleagues. Within five minutes, they had me laughing.
  • Read a poem. Okay, not everyone is into poetry. But, for me, just reading a favorite poem can cheer me up and put a new perspective on the day.
  • Listen to a song. Put on some headphones and listen to a song or two. There’s nothing like music to relieve stress. I suggest Snow Patrol. Or anything with a banjo. (And if you don’t mind people staring, dance.)
  • Remind yourself that this will end. One of the nice things about college is that there is a built-in deadline. When I taught composition and I looked at the stacks of papers in front of me, I would simply say, “No matter how bad the next fourteen days are, it will all be finished on the fifteenth.”
  • If you live in a town with a winning hockey team and a weird attachment to catfish, buy a stuffed-animal version of said catfish, move it around the library, and post pictures of it to social media.


Monday Motivator: Life Lessons

Last Friday, the college held a memorial service for Lance Woodard, the registrar, who died in February. It was an opportunity for his colleagues to share with his family and with each other what he meant to us at Nashville State.

As I listened to his friends tell stories about him, I noticed several themes that might serve as useful life lessons:

  1. Use your time. Lance was only 37 when he died, but he had done so much in those few years. He made a mark in every office he worked, as the guy who was punctual, smart, and willing to learn. At every level, he made it his business to be the smartest person in the room. He was not only the go-to person at the college but also for the whole TBR system when it came to the intricacies of Banner. While working full-time, he continued his education, never letting his classes or his work slide.
  2. Have fun. Almost every member of the Records department had a story about how much fun it was to work with Lance. Everyone at Nashville State knew not to even try to compete with the Records office when it came to Halloween. They had a theme, they decorated the office, they dressed up. It was a production. (Once I sent him an email stating the library was ready to compete with Records for Halloween. His response: “No, you’re not. But it’s cute you think so.”
  3. Enjoy your life now. People recounted Lance’s love for fancy cars and fancy clothes. They mentioned brands of shoes I’ve never even heard of. I would not call him a materialistic person by any means, but he knew what added value to his life and did not wait until some future some day to enjoy them.
  4. Be loyal to your friends. Story after story told of Lance’s devotion to his friends. He showed up at lunches, weddings, funerals, and hospitals. He saved a place for a colleague who wasn’t as punctual as he for meetings. When he read about a defect on a car, he texted a friend to roll down her window so she wouldn’t be asphyxiated on her drive in to work. As one of his colleagues in Records said, “He saw something in me when I interviewed. And he continued to see something in me.”

As I listened to all the stories about Lance, I wondered if perhaps he had some subconscious inkling that his time on this planet might be short and that’s why he packed so much in. And I’m sure I was not the only one who made a promise to make better use of my own time now. So that’s why when there was an invitation for everyone to come down and dance the “Cupid Shuffle” (a dance that Lance had apparently perfected), I dragged my uncoordinated body down to the stage and danced my heart out.

Monday Motivator: Be Kind (Even on Facebook)

There was a horrible event here in Middle Tennessee this past week. A father reported his son missing. After days of searching, the father admitted that he had killed his son. Now the search teams are looking for a body.

The community was understandably outraged and horrified. According to a friend of mine who lives in the area, the community Facebook page and listservs were filled with hatred towards the father with suggestions of lynching, etc.

Disturbing but understandable. But then some folks found the Facebook page of the man’s mother and started filling her page with hatred and vitriol.

In many schools, you can see posters like the one below:


Obviously, the folks posting this weekend never saw the poster. They were understandably angry and let that anger lead them to some questionable behavior.

Social media can be a blessing. It can bring us together. It can provide support for movements that need publicity. But there is a dark side. Because there may not be an immediate response, we feel that we can write without consequence. And we post without thinking, letting pure emotion carry the day.

But there are always consequences.

I am pretty sure that the last thing that grandmother is doing at the moment is checking her Facebook page. But I hope she has a good friend who can go in and delete those posts.



Monday Motivator: Take the Long Way

On Saturday, after trying on every dress I own, I came to the sad conclusion that I would have to make a visit to the mall to purchase a frock for an upcoming wedding.

Now malls might be dying in general, but this one is always busy. At least, its parking lot is. The previous time I’d visited, we drivers resembled a bizarro amusement ride, going up and down the same lanes again and again in the futile hope that someone would choose to leave the mall. That time, I was the one who chose to leave–without setting foot inside.

But desperate times call for desperate measures. I drove there, drove through the full parking lot, and back out on the street. Maybe I wouldn’t go to the wedding after all.

In its never-ending expansion, right now one store is totally cut off from the rest of the mall. I pulled into its parking garage, and there were parking spaces. Not a few, but hundreds. In fact, there were so many that, at first, I couldn’t believe I had found open parking and thought that they had to be reserved for some purpose. And, let’s face it, the only thing worse than having to buy a dress the day before Easter would be having to buy a dress AND having my car towed.

Luckily, as I was wondering what to do, an employee walked by. She assured me that the parking lot was for everyone. “It’s just that if you want to get into the mall itself, you’re going to have to walk around the building.”

I thought about that as I did start my walk around the building. Were people not aware of all the parking spaces? Or did they prefer to drive around a full parking lot, risking their emotional equanimity and their bumpers, hoping to get a close parking spot?

After my walk to the mall (which was less than 10 minutes and added some steps on my Fitbit), I walked into a store, found three dresses, tried them on, and bought two. Then I walked back to my car (more Fitbit steps) and went home.

And, unlike during most of my trips to the mall, I was in a good mood. Taking the long way is sometimes the best way.