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You could probably guess from my previous post that I’m a wee bit depressed right now. Have to love the chemical imbalance roller coaster! It’s hard to function when I hit a low like this.

What I’d really like to do is crawl back into bed and sleep until this passes.

What I have to do is teach a class today. Help a newer colleague with his tenure portfolio. Do a bit of prep work for the panel discussion tomorrow. Work on some weeding in our reference collection. Clean my apartment. Pick up some groceries.

Most of this will be done in a haze. It’s just how it is. I don’t feel sorry for myself. What I feel is aggravated that I’m this way.

Some of what I learned at the meditation retreat is helping. Doing more observing and less reacting makes me able to function at least. And I know that this will pass. Which gives me some hope.

But when I can, I will den up in my apartment this week to give my rather battered spirits a chance to mend a bit. And I do need some sleep. My schedule has been out of whack over the past couple of weeks and I need to get back into my more regular routine.

Stress mess

Posted on: October 16, 2008

Wow. Do you ever have one of those moments when everything just hits you all at once. I’m having one of those right now. It sucks.

First, our dog Maddie had a weird looking thing growing on her back leg. It got even weirder looking. We joked that she was going through some sort of asexual reproduction process and we were going to end up with a mini-Maddie. Didn’t seem to bother her, but it changed, so DH took her to the vet. Maddie has a sarcoma. Won’t know until next week if it’s benign or maligned. (Yes, I know that’s not the right word.) Had no idea how much this actually worried me. (I was out of town while most of this was going on this week.)

Went on a job interview. Don’t think I’ll get the job. But it made me realize how horrid things really are where I am even though generally I deal pretty well. (Except when I’m complaining here or pondering leaving.) Top it off with the fact that I’m torn about changing jobs right now because it would likely mean another big move. Which means weekends at home would be out because it’d be too far to travel. This isn’t the best time to be contemplating that. So I’ve got to figure out some way to deal with this crap as it is in a way that will allow me to stay sane and not get sucked into the petty silliness. Maybe I’ll start my own committee of silly walks to ease my tension.

And LittleU screwed up my retirement pay. It was supposed to have started coming out of my check back in June. We are required to contribute 5.5% of our gross. Not a huge deal until you double that for three months to get caught up. At a time when we’re now facing vet bills. Not to mention Christmas. This financial fiasco is the main reason I opted not to go to CA for a conference. Not a good time to have a huge outflow of cash. They were apologetic about it, but an apology doesn’t come with money attached. Ah…

Add all this to the stress of two upcoming conference presentations that I’ve had little time to prep for, unexpected travel that ate up my relaxed time off, and a failing friendship with someone and you get one messy, teary J. You know it’s bad when I look forward to my next dental appointment because it means I have a whole day off. (I take whole days when they’re going to numb my face because it takes me hours before I stop biting my cheek and drooling. Not a pretty sight to share with other people. And I’m always super-cranky because I’m biting my cheek and drooling.)

Thanks for allowing me to rant. Meditating is helping me keep it together more than this shows. And heaven knows that my problems are really quite small compared to people with real problems like illness and true poverty and war. On occasion, I lose perspective. (I’m working on it.)

Despite this stuff, the week has had good points. I got to see my in-laws again. Always enjoy spending time with them. It’s another home away from home. The drive back to KS was beautiful today with all the fall colors popping out. Found a couple new pairs of jeans that fit well (length and other places) which is almost miraculous. Came home to dog and DH love after my trip. Get to teach tomorrow. The weather is finally cooling a bit so it feels like fall is here. The interview helped me get a few things in perspective in terms of what type of job I’m really looking for. And I get to be on a panel this weekend for one of the library school classes.

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Today is Open Access Day. I will attempt to answer the questions posed at that this blog, A Blog Around the Clock:

* Why does Open Access matter to you?
* How did you first become aware of it?
* Why should scientific and medical research be an open-access resource for the world?
* What do you do to support Open Access, and what can others do?

As someone who works in academia, Open Access is becoming more important. As a librarian in academia, it’s becoming a hot topic. As publishers continue to increase subscription costs while library budgets flatten or shrink, it’s becoming more important to find other options for scholarly research. Open Access is allowing students and faculty easier access to an increasing array of information. As a librarian, I am encouraged when I see more researchers and universities supporting the concepts behind Open Access.

I first become aware of Open Access over a year ago when I started at LittleU. Although I’d already benefited from it in my own research, I didn’t realize precisely what I had stumbled on. Over the past year (and a few months) I’ve been researching Open Access to understand what it is and how I can help spread the message.

Although I can understand researchers and scientists reasons for wanting to control their findings, I applaud the ones who are embracing Open Access. By freely sharing information around the world, we may speed up scientific and medical discoveries. This can only benefit the world.

Although I’m a very small voice in the wilderness, I am attempting to support Open Access by information the students I work with of the availability of information that they likely wouldn’t be able to get to without this movement. As I continue to build relationships with faculty and researchers, I can continue to spread the message and encourage that they consider making their research available through Open Access methods. For those who are also small voices, if enough of us make a noise, we will become a big sound. I will continue to learn more and follow the developments.

Happy Open Access Day!

I’m writing this in response to a request on FriendFeed to talk about what DH’s upcoming deployment means to me.

This is the first deployment for him (and hopefully the last since he will retire when he returns.) We are still a over a year away from the actual deployment, which means a year to worry and prepare.

I want to say upfront that I do not speak for every military spouse. In many ways, I’m not the typical spouse at all living a typical military spouse’s life. So, I can’t imagine that I speak for the thousands of other families out there affected by deployments.

My husband is in the Army band. Sounds like a soft life, huh? But he knows how to fire a weapon, has went through basic training, and basically is a soldier just like every other soldier out there. When he deploys, he’ll be going where the troops are, providing entertainment and support. This is an incredibly important job because morale is a huge thing for all those soldiers so far away from home.

To me it means that every day he is away I will live with worry and fear. Not just fear for his safety, although that will be there, but also fear for his sanity. I know that our soldiers see and experience things that most of us will never begin to understand and I hope that we’ll both be strong enough to endure the consequences. That I’ll be good enough, compassionate enough, kind enough to deal with someone who may be changed in subtle ways when he finally returns to me.

For me, it will mean dealing with all the responsibilities of a household on my own. We don’t have children and I’m even more grateful at this point that we don’t. I have a great deal of respect for all the spouses that have to be both mother and father. But my husband has overseen our finances for most of our married life, a responsibility I was glad to hand over. I have to relearn things like balancing a checkbook and develop a system to make sure everything gets paid on time and whatever else needs to be done gets done, like oil changes, lawn care, etc. I’ll admit that I’ve been very spoiled to have someone take care of so many of the details of daily life while I’ve pursued my career.

I will have to live without easy access to my best friend for a year. My husband is the one person I trust completely in this world. By nature, I’m shy and it is hard for me to make friends and even harder to get to that deeper level of trusting, safe friendships…particularly when one moves as much as we have in the past nine years. I hope that I can find a way to move closer to family because I’m going to need their support and love while he’s away. This is hard for me to admit and accept, because I like to consider myself independent. But all the things that I enjoy doing with him – going to movies, eating out, going for drives, talking, etc. – will be put on hold. My life as I know it, will wait breathlessly for the day when he is home safe.

Nothing will be the same when he deploys. Yet, I would never ask him to shirk his duty to his country. I will bid him good-bye with tears, but also with pride that he has served his country for the past 18 years. It has meant sacrifice for both us, but I have never once regretted marrying an Army man. While the military doesn’t define him or our lives, it still has offered me opportunities that I wouldn’t have had if I’d never met him.

When I say the Pledge of Allegiance or sing our national anthem or stand when the American flag passes in a parade, I am reminded of all that has occurred in our history and I am proud to say that I am an American. You will never see me at a war protest or find me burning our country’s flag. There are too many good, honest, decent Americans who have given so much to this country. I could never be so disrespectful.

So while I will worry, have sleepless nights, live with my cell phone in my hand, I am glad to do what little I can to support my husband and all the others who want to make sure evil will not be allowed to continue. Call me idealistic, but there is true evil in the world and we cannot turn a blind eye to it or attempt to negotiate with it. Neither will work. I hope and pray that someday there truly will be a world where people live in peace with each other. We’re not there yet and until we are, we must do fight against things like genocide, terrorism, cruel dictatorships, etc. If we turn our back we are no better than those who engage in such activities.

I end this post with this thought. If you know where it comes from, leave a comment. Although it was said more than 40 years ago, it is still true today.

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans, born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Motivational

Posted on: October 2, 2008

Library Journal has an interesting article about what keeps Movers and Shakers motivated and happy. Somewhere else (I can’t remember where) Meredith points out that this is really relevant for all staff, not just the M&S’s.

Very true. In my experience in various jobs, there are at least a couple of people who tend to be the innovators with great ideas and fantastic drive to get things done. Sometimes these people have been really supported. Other times they haven’t been, and in those cases, they generally move on fairly quickly to somewhere where they will be supported.

Recognition (and recognition of recognition) is important. While it’s great to say that we should be motivated by internal satisfaction rather than external accolades, people do tend to get a charge out of that public recognition when they do something well or have a great idea. When you have administration that is aware of and shows pride in its employees, chances are you have a staff with high morale and a great work ethic. It makes a difference!

One of the things that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately goes along with the whole recognition thing. It involves knowing your employees and recognizing their unique talents and skills. Not everyone will be the most innovative or creative but that doesn’t diminish what they have to offer. Someone who likes and excels at something like authority control, for example, can have an important role and should be recognized and appreciated. I work with someone who wrote a grant to expand our ESOL collection and has since went on to present at conferences about how our collection has expanded (thanks in large part to her efforts) and how our library can help teachers around the state with the loans of materials. Maybe it doesn’t seem like a huge thing to some, but to the teachers in Kansas, this a fantastic resource. She has a talent and interest in this area and has offered something greater to the organization as a result.

Knowing your employees and recognizing their talents is one of the principles in the books The Three Signs of a Miserable Job. Sure, you might run into people who are jealous of others’ achievements. But I think this is a symptom of a larger organizational problem. If people feel valued and relevant, there is less of a chance for them to feel jealous of others. Jealousy is a sign of low morale and deeper issues.

So what do you do when the recognition isn’t there? I suggest modeling what you’d like to see yourself. Pay attention to what people let drop in casual conversation. We all have egos to some extent and will find a way to let people know when we’ve done something we’re proud of. When you hear something, find out more. You may not be a boss, but you can still send out an email to the library to let others know about a co-workers achievement. (You might want to ask if it’s okay first, but I doubt most people will say “no!”) Eventually your administration might start doing it as well. Even if they don’t, other staff might start reciprocating.

This leads into leading from the bottom. Which I’ll talk about some other time. I’ll say this though, we can still make small organizational changes even if we aren’t in administration. If you are unwilling to go with the status quo and are patient, you can be influential in ways you may not even have thought about.

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I haven’t been all that inspired to write much lately. Things are fine. Busy, but that’s a good thing. But busy doesn’t always equal interesting.

I did get a call about a potential job. Mostly they just wanted to let me know they were interested and to check to see if I was still interested. I am. They are looking for someone to help them establish more of a web presence using 2.0 tools. It’s an intriguing possibility to do something that I was hoping to do where I currently am. Fingers crossed that I’ll at least get to go and interview. It was a good feeling to know that people still find me interesting and want to talk to me.

Never heard anything about the AK job. It was a long shot anyway. AK is the dream. The more practical side of me is considering places like Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Iowa. I’d really like to get back to a place with snow all winter and cooler summers.

Again, for now, I’m happy with the actual work I’m doing. It’s rewarding and interesting. I’m dealing with the other stuff. It’s a valuable learning experience.

The tools I gained at the meditation retreat are giving me new insight into some problems I’ve been dealing with for awhile now. Yes, work-related problems. So much of my life is spent at work that I can’t really ignore it.

What would I really like? For things to change enough that I’m not struggling on a daily basis. This is happening on a personal level. I don’t find myself as affected by some of the issues as much as I was a month ago. This is a good thing. I’ve realized that I control my own reactions and actions. (I think I’ve rationally know this for a long time, but it was reinforced and now I am also starting to focus on how my body responds when I’m faced with stress.) Being able to respond – or not respond – appropriately is going to be key in how long I’ll stay. At this point, I’m not in a big hurry to leave although I’m still keeping the options open.

What isn’t going to happen…at least not quickly? External changes. I do not have control over other people. This fact isn’t as frustrating as it was. It’s just what it is. There are simply things that are wrong with how people are treated and how things are done. While I can make sure I don’t copy the negative stuff or add to it, it is there. I will continue to try to offer positive and helpful assistance (and not be miffed when it’s rejected.) That’s really all I can do.

The law that was stressed over and over at the retreat was that nothing is permanent. Nothing. Everything is always changing. I realize that this situation is not permanent. What that means exactly, I don’t know at the moment. Life has taught me that when you change often happens in ways you don’t expect.

Another thing I’m working on getting through my thick skull is that I can only work in the present moment. I can plan for the future, but there is no use stressing about it. And the past is gone with no way to change it. This moment is what we have. Right now.

Another perspective is that there are far worse things happening in the world. By comparison, mine are extremely petty. I’ve got food to eat, clothes to wear, a comfortable place to sleep, work to occupy me, people who love me, and so much more. I hope to start volunteering more so that I can keep life in it’s proper perspective.

Yes, things are constantly changing.

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