Library Card Blues

If I need to find B, she is usually sitting on the floor, immersed in her book.

She is the type of child who cannot walk past a book without sitting down to read it. Our living room, her bedroom floor, her bed…all covered in books that she is in various stages of reading.

I was the same way as a child, and the only reason this description does not continue to apply to me is that I made myself put down the book to do silly things like vacuuming and making dinner and reading a book to C, who prefers to be read to at age 3. I see her heading down the same path,  as she will sit and look at books for an hour, and her bed is just as covered with them as her sister’s. If I had my way, I would sit on the couch and read beside them all day. Sometimes I do.

The librarians at our main library know us well, and rarely give us issues with the amount of books we take home. They know we will be back in a week to exchange them for more. We have been frequenting the smaller library in our town for convenience sake the past few weeks, and they are not as familiar with our habits. We were preparing for our weekly trip, and I checked our library account to see the list of the books we had checked out, in order to round them up and turn them in. I entered B’s library card number.

USER BARRED. 

I chuckled to myself at the thought. She was 13 books over her 20 book limit, and had been barred for the second time at six years old. Not many children I know have that distinction.

I knew that she would not find this as amusing as I did, and it would most likely cause a serious issue if I did not resolve this before our next library trip. Later in the day, I turned in most of our books and picked up some new ones while she was at gymnastics, and spoke with the staff about her account. They set her card free again and all was well.

In the evening, as she sat among her new pile of reading material, I began to tell her the story. In my perception, it was a humorous tale, a testament to her extraordinary reading powers and a badge of honor to wear proudly. “I was banned by the library at age six for reading too much“, she could someday say with pride.

Photo credit: UTS Library, NSW

Unfortunately, I only got to about sentence three of the story, the one in which I said that she was barred from using her library card, and she collapsed in a hysterical heap of tears and anguish.

“No, no, no, sweetie! Please don’t cry! There is more to the story! It’s all fixed – your card is fine. You can check out all the books you want! You can use my card, and C’s card too, and all together that’s 60 books that you can take home! It’s okay, all fixed, please don’t cry!!”

Ten messy, tearful minutes later, she had calmed down, gathered all the books she could balance in her small arms, held them protectively to her chest and went to her room. She did not find me or my story charming, and grudgingly accepted my apologies as she walked away.

Lesson learned. Tell the end of the story first, even if it ruins the suspense, and never, ever get between that girl and her library card.

Stop Thinking. Start Doing.

I recently participated in a call hosted by Sara Yamtich and Jade Rivera on “multipotentiality” a.k.a. being interested in and wanting to go multiple directions with your life and how to make that happen.

I spent a good fifteen years of my life fitting myself into a little box, shrinking who I am to a minimum, ignoring hopes and dreams. I realized a few years ago that I don’t have to feel trapped in circumstance anymore.

I have found many treasures that I love and want to use, now that I have “unpacked the box”, so to speak, but it is difficult to remember how. I have also found that letting my emotions roam freely can be overwhelming and exhausting, and I struggle with how to manage them wisely.

A moment in the call particularly spoke to me – Jade discussed satisfying three things every day to keep herself in a state of peace: one for the mind, one for the heart, one for the body.

That sounds like an excellent starting point for me.

I  have responsibilities, and homeschooling two gifted girls is very time consuming, but I know I can do three things daily for myself.

So, what’s my plan?

image: flickr

For my body – I began running in April. I am not a very athletic person, but one day, I had just had enough of everything, and needed 15 minutes to myself. I downloaded the Couch25k app, and got on the treadmill. Within a month, I felt motivated to run often, and I began running outside, which improved the experience further.

It’s a soothing habit now. I run 1.5 miles 3-4 times weekly. It adds an element of  peace and nature and endorphins to my routine. It’s healthy for my whole self.

For my mind – I am enrolled in a Coursera class – Modern and Contemporary Poetry from Penn State. I adore poetry and much of the material for the class will be new to me.  I enroll classes often, but I rarely participate. I will make it a priority to engage in this class, and pamper my brain, rather than watch another Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix.☺

So far, I have taken 15-20 minutes in my day to watch the lectures and read the selected poems. B has been watching the lectures with me, and perhaps she will learn to love Emily Dickinson as much as I do.

For my heart – I need to help, to give. I tend to go all-out and give until I have nothing left for those who are most important to me, and then I come to an abrupt halt.

I volunteered at our local food bank/food center for a time, in the kids’ reading room. I read with children who came with their families for their one hot meal of the day, helped with homework, and played with the little ones. My emotional OE went into overdrive and I could not stop thinking about the children and their lives. I wanted to take them all home, feed them all, love them all. I would break down thinking of them during the day, and I dreamt of it at night. My family suffered in the mean time, and I had to force myself to admit that it was too much for me. (In my head, this still sounds horribly selfish – my emotions were too much? Their lives are too much.)

I had to accept my limitations, however selfish it made me feel.  I don’t know that I am able to turn my emotions to a lower gear, so I need to involve myself in productive endeavors that will satisfy but not consume me. My goal in this area is to give daily, in ways that are more sustainable for the long-term me. For now, I will engage in random acts of kindness, and look for small but meaningful ways to help in my community.

At the beginning of the call, Sara emphasized that “clarity comes from doing, not thinking”, and that is is just fine to be and do more than one thing. It sounds so simple when I write it.

Stop thinking. Start doing.

image: flickr