Poem – What gets you up?

What gets you up?
You have to have a reason
for getting up in the morning
and for making it
through the day.

Children? Work? Art?

What brings you joy? Do that.
What does the world need? Do that.

Can you get paid for it? Even better.

But even if you can’t,
do it anyway,
because it will feed your soul
and that kind of nourishment
can’t be bought
in a store.

There is no nutritional supplement
for a soul deficiency,
like there is for scurvy.

Rumi says: “Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.”

Buechner says: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

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New Year’s reflections for the library.

It is a new year. What will this mean for the library?

It is looking good for the employees. Everything looks stable. Our jobs are affected by the economy, but it is all balancing out. We are slated to get a raise soon, after five years of hiring and wage freezes.

There is a new branch manager. She in one day has already impressed me. She wrote us all a thank you note after her first day saying that she is grateful to be working with us. She has shown appreciation for the innovations we have taken. She has worked in many departments of the system and actually knows how to do everything that everyone does.

This is already more impressive than the last branch manager who only managed to stay hired because the administration was afraid of her hitting them with a racial discrimination lawsuit if she got fired. We all still have a lot of resentment over that. We were abused by an incompetent bully for 12 years and they knew it all along. And when I say incompetent bully, please understand that she was both incompetent and a bully. As for being a bully she was a master.

Our circulation manager is leaving. She is moving to the Main library. This is a promotion for her, and a relief for us. Five years ago I would not have thought this. Five years ago I would have been terrified at the idea of her leaving.

Not now. Now we are all celebrating it.

She has changed. Or I have changed, and I can now see her for who she is. She was never empathetic. She is more interested in getting the job done than getting people to go along with her. People get in the way. She doesn’t understand that if she is going to get something to happen, she has to get all of the staff behind it. She doesn’t get that part of being a manager is actually dealing with people. She has said many times that she doesn’t like dealing with people, so it amazes me that she got a customer service job.

I’m sure a lot of how she thinks has to do with her upbringing. She didn’t really have a childhood. Her parents weren’t really parent material and she had to do a lot of the work. But she is in her mid 40s now, and it is time to unlearn a lot of bad habits. Not listening to your staff when they work up the courage to tell you that something is wrong is a good thing to unlearn, especially when you’ve asked them to give them feedback.

We are all glad she is going. We have noticed in the time she has been working at another branch to fill in that we are all more relaxed. I’m a little concerned now that she is going to spread her negativity not only there but also to the rest of the system. But then, that was their choice. She was hired for that job, so that is what they wanted. Perhaps they can’t see her the way we can. Yet.

As for the patrons, who knows? I suspect there won’t be a lot of change. I suspect we will still have the patrons who come in all day, every day, and play games on Facebook rather than deal with their problems. I suspect we will still have patrons who come in reeking of alcohol who check out the limit on DVDs for the same reason.

Plenty of people use the library to escape. The funny part is that escape works different ways. You can escape your problems by playing games or watching movies or reading the same fluffy fiction over and over. You can also escape them by self educating. With the first, you aren’t fixing the problem. You are just putting it on hold. With the second you are doing something about it.

Both are running away from your problems. It is just that the second one is running toward something.

So it will be a new year at the library. There will be some welcome changes. There will be some predictable consistency. But most of all there will be stories. And thus there will be things to write about. Sometimes I think that is why I stay here.

That, and the fact that I’m not sure what other marketable skills I have.

On quitting smoking.

Many people stop doing something bad or start doing something good for their New Year’s resolution. Why not combine the two? If you are going to stop smoking, I suggest you start walking.

Take the time you were going to use on your smoke break and go for a walk instead. Many people take a 15 minute smoke break. 15 minutes is a great amount of time for a walk – but even 10 or 5 minutes is good.

Walking does for you what smoking does, but better. It is calming. It is a mental break. It takes you away from your problems, both literally and figuratively. But while smoking takes away from your health, walking adds to it.

Walking clears out your head like nothing else.

You can walk anywhere. You don’t have to have a walking path around your workplace. You can go for a walk inside your building. While it is better to go outside and get some fresh air and sunshine, it is important just to walk. Walk up and down some stairs. Walk around the hallways. Get outside and walk around the building. But just walk. If you limit yourself to walking outside, 90% of the time it will be too hot or too cold or too wet. Rarely will it be just right. Savor those days when it is nice outside, but don’t just walk on those days. Walk every day.

You don’t have to walk fast. Just walk. Ambling is fine. A stroll is good.

Think you are too out of shape to walk? All the more reason to walk. Just get going. Do what you can. You’ll get stronger. People don’t walk because they are in shape. They walk to get in shape.

Some people use this as an excuse – “I’ll walk a mile and then I have to walk a mile to get back where I started.” Walk in a circle. Find a path and loop around.

You may be self-conscious at the start when you are walking. That is normal. You are doing something different. You are taking care of yourself. The shame you felt from sneaking away to smoke will be replaced with pride that you are doing something to help yourself. Try to recruit others to go walking with you instead of smoking. That way you have a group. You can cheer each other on.

Realize that every excuse you come up with is your unhealthy self trying to stay that way. Your healthy self is really weak right now and you can’t hear its voice very well. See those excuses as a sign that you have to stick up for your healthy self. Just go ahead and do it. The more you put it off, the longer it will be before you start feeling better. Every little bit you do towards the good will give you energy and momentum to do a little bit more.

Go walk instead of smoking. Your life will thank you for it.

Get moving. New Year’s thoughts.

I recently met a lady who said that she had to drop her books in the bookdrop just inside the door at the library rather than bring them up to the desk. She said they were too heavy for her. She uses a cane to get around.

I know another lady who needs large print but can’t hold it. Just one book is too heavy for her. She now is no longer able to get herself in and out of bed, or to the bathroom.

I’ve heard stories of women who have had breast cancer surgery who can’t use their arms to get up because of the surgery. They have to let the area heal and can’t use those muscles. So they have to use their leg muscles to get out of a chair, or off the toilet. But they are in such bad shape that they have to get friends to stay with them to pull them up.

It has to be terrible to be trapped in your own body. It has to be sad to get to the point that everything is difficult. It has to be embarrassing.

This is in part why I exercise. I don’t want to become this feeble.

I know a lady in my yoga class who is 72. I am sure the reason she is doing so well is because she goes to the Y. She works really hard to stay flexible and strong.

It takes a lot of effort to stay in shape. I’m not talking about losing weight. I’m talking about having the strength and energy to be self sufficient. I’m talking about muscles in good enough shape to live well. What does it matter if you are 60 years old but you are in a wheelchair because of something totally preventable?

Exercise is no fun. The first 15 minutes I want to be anywhere but
there. I’d love to have my week nights back too. All that time at the Y takes up a lot of my free time. But even without the Y, I walk at work. Even twenty minutes at lunch is good. And even though I’m not excited about exercise, I feel better after I do it. Some of the benefits are mental. I’ve come to see exercise as the same as dialysis. It gets the icky bits out, and it isn’t optional.

I think the key is movement, and understanding that these bodies have to be maintained. They degrade in slow motion. One day, you’ll realize that hunching over your computer all day and not moving has caught up on you.

Don’t let time slip away from you. Get going. Sure it is cold outside. Walk in your building. Can’t afford a gym membership? Rent an exercise video from the library. Just move. The life you save will be your own.

Resolutions

It just doesn’t seem fair to start a New Year’s resolution in the cold dark winter. Going to the gym is hard enough. I’ve been going for three years and even I don’t want to go right now. It will be even colder in January.

It will also be packed. It isn’t fun to work out in a small place with a lot of people. In the beginning of the year the pool is full of new people. A lot of them drop out early, even though there is no refund of the sign-up fee. $100 is a lot to blow. How many of them quit because it is too crowded inside and too cold outside? When you are in your warm house, getting out to go to the gym is the last thing you want to do. Getting there, when it is full of people isn’t that fun either.

If you have a desire to make a change in your life, just do it. Don’t wait unto the New Year. Adopt one from another culture. There are some that have their New Year’s Day in the spring, and some in the fall. Pick one. Or make your own. Every day is a new day. You can have that fresh-faced, new chance, clean-slate feeling anytime.

Strip away all that doesn’t serve. In fact, strip away all that does serve you well, beside the more you do the same old thing, the less you’ll discover. When you keep doing the same thing over and over, even if it works for you, even if you think it is the best way to do things, it prevents you from discovering new options and new opportunities.

If you eat the same food at a restaurant, you’ll never find your new favorite. If you respond the same way to someone, you’ll never learn new ways of thinking. Challenge and change are great opportunities.

Make every moment new. Pretend as if each moment is your first.

Welcome to your new life.