Activities, Books, Library, People

ALA 2015, Day 1: My Happy Place

  
Today felt epic. 

Not only because it started out with this news, but because I got to spend it with the best people on earth: librarians!

I began by watching a panel of comics creators speak on Diversity in Comics put on by GraphiCon and weneeddiversebooks.  The main theme I got out of it is that the tides are turning. The creators, the market, librarians, etc., are pushing for change in the publishing industry and it’s happening exponentially. Corporate gatekeepers are opening up the doors to new voices and progressive themes. There are so many more books out now with strong female protagonists (some even with breasts proportionate to the rest of their bodies), characters of color, and of different sexual orientations and abilities. The panelists expressed the hope this isn’t a fad, but a reflection of true change and recognition of the need for people to see themselves reflected in the books they read.

  

From there, I went to the opening of the Exhibit Hall. Librarians swarmed to get free swag – posters, pins, bookmarks, tote bags, even Its-Its! But best of all books! Some advanced reader copies of books not even available yet, and some hardcover new releases, free for us librarians so we can read ’em and spread the word. Oh, the joys of this job! 

  
(My swag!)

Some authors were even there signing. I got to meet the lovely Thanhha Lai (of Inside Out and Back Again) and have her sign a copy of her new book Listen, Slowly. 

  
(Terrible picture. I was too excited to hold still.)

I ended the night at the Michael L. Printz Award reception. What a fantastic bunch of authors and books were honored this year. Getting to hear winner Jandy Nelson (for I’ll Give You The Sun) give her speech was inspirational. What a gift for words this woman has. She thanked us librarians and called us lightkeepers, the ones who hand out the light, the ones who work tirelessly to get the right books in the right hands at the right time. “We are rewriting the world, people.”

Yes, today it truly feels like we are.

Library

ALA came to me this year!

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What better way to kick off the new blog kick than with posts about ALA 2015? In my town! Got my badge today and helped three lovely librarians from Nigeria take a picture in front of the Moscone Center. The fun starts tomorrow! Stay tuned.

Library

Back to the Blog!

Four years have passed since I’ve posted on this blog. Four years. In that time I earned a Master of Library and Information Science degree, plunged into my first school library jobs,  went on a year-long adventure in Taiwan and Southeast Asia with my family, and watched as Little Man went from toddler to kindergarten graduate (he just lost his first tooth! What?!). While all of that would have been interesting to document, I just did not have the time.

Now feels like an auspicious time to start back up. I will begin a very exciting new job this Fall as the Middle School Learning Commons Coordinator at a brand new space at the Chinese American International School. As Dr. David Loerschter has proclaimed this The Year of the Learning Commons, it seems like it might be helpful for other librarians to see my process – so they can learn from my experiments and avoid the inevitable failures, as well as have a place to cheer each other on.  I will also have a monthly blog spot over at Knowledge Quest featuring other librarian folks and their Learning Commons adventures.

I am so ready to hunker down and dive into this career. It really is my dream job and I cannot wait to meet my new colleagues and students and start imagining ways to use the Learning Commons resources to help make learning fun, relevant and connected to their passions – to start creating wonder! Please follow along and join in the conversation.

 

Uncategorized

New year, new direction

I have had this blog for over two years now. Originally, it was a place to get in the habit of writing articles and posting illustrations regularly, but it morphed into whatever I needed it to be at the time – a pregnancy log, a place to meet other new moms, a way to stay creative while surviving my son’s infancy – and once again it will be shifting its focus down a new path.

I am still on a campaign to create wonder, the emphasis I made in the blog last year. I always thought that would be through writing and illustrating books or teaching art, but I have decided to pursue a master’s degree in library and information science because I believe librarians play a huge role in creating wonder in the world as well, and in a way that may better suit my personality. Over the next few years as I slowly chip away at the program, while also working and raising my son (now 18 months old) this blog will probably contain thoughts about what I’m learning in the San Jose State MLIS program. Please check in from time to time if you are interested in libraries, their role in preserving and sharing information with the larger society, how they create wonder, or how I might incorporate my interests in art, children’s literature, and education into a meaningful library career.

Here’s to a great new year!

Activities, Uncategorized

Action #9: Be Still

Life has been far too noisy for me lately. For whatever reason I am built to thrive with frequent doses of silence and solitude. I used to think this was just a freaky thing about myself I could choose to ignore, but I can’t. Too long in the city and I can’t even hear myself think. I get overwhelmed by the hubbub that assaults me as soon as I set foot onto my busy street every morning. The din follows me in when I turn on my computer, which is full of competing voices shouting for attention. And speaking of shouting, my toddler seems to only have two settings: Asleep or Loud. I have been long overdue for some quiet time.
Here are some ideas on how to incorporate stillness into your life, to make room for wonder.

Ample Time and Money: Retreat! It turns out some of the people I respect the most have also needed this time alone to recharge. Jesus, for one. Another is one of my favorite authors, Madeleine L’Engle, who wrote, “Every so often I need OUT; something will throw me into total disproportion, and I have to get away from everybody – away from all those people I love most in the world – in order to regain a sense of proportion.”

I just spent a couple days at my family cabin with no electricity on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean just south of Big Sur (my family may not be rich in many material ways, but this little piece of heaven makes up for anything else we may lack). It is such a centering, grounding place for me. I immediately feel reconnected to the rhythms of the earth, to my past, to who I am and what my place is when I go there. There is nothing like watching the sun set in a spectacular light show with an unobstructed panoramic view and then seeing a gazillion stars revealed to regain a sense of proportion as just one tiny part of a great cloud of galaxies. I feel as L’Engle again writes, “I am created by a power who cares about the sparrow, and the rabbit in the snare, and the people on the crowded streets; who calls the stars by name. And you. And me. When I remember this it is as though pounds are lifted from me.”

Go somewhere you can be still enough to feel that. Get away from it all. Unplug, check out, and recharge before your battery runs dry. If you can go for a good long while, great, but even if it’s just for a weekend or 24 hours, it will do wonders. Mothers, in particular, need to treat themselves to a rejuvenating break, but tend to be the last to do it. Don’t feel guilty. The kids will survive. You need this! (As expected, my son was much more excited at the return of our dog than of me. His first words are “dog” and “Dude”, our dog’s name. Still no “mama”, dang it!)

Limited Resources: Observe some form of the Sabbath. Even if you are not remotely religious, practicing a day of rest, relaxation, and connection with community each week is a wonderful and much needed ritual we can all adapt to fit our circumstances. It doesn’t have to be done in a legalistic or rote way, just in ways that are helpful to you personally to be mindful and slow down from your hectic schedule. Check out sabbathmanifesto.org for inspiration.

Busy and Broke: Start a silence habit. Just like checking email has become a habit or bath time for our toddler is an anticipated part of the daily routine, I am hoping to incorporate some mindful silence daily. Before Little Man came along, I used to journal and read and pray in the mornings. Now, mornings are nonstop action from 6:30 on. It may require an adjustment of priorities, but if I retrain myself to take some time each day to pray or meditate or journal or read something soul lifting, I know it will become a habit that will benefit my mental, spiritual, physical and creative health.

May you all be able to create wonderful moments of stillness in your days. For those of you who check back here from time to time, you’ll notice I have not been posting twice a week as I had been. It will probably remain infrequent as I rearrange priorities to be present to a busy toddler and attempt to maintain mental health and good life balance and maybe even read some actual books. I haven’t quite decided to go the route of Yiyun Li, but I may be headed in that direction.

Activities

Action #8: Grow Some Wonder

It is still miraculous to me that you put a seed in the dirt and after a bit, it grows into something edible or beautiful or determined or tall as a redwood. I am not known for my green thumb. My greatest achievement to date in plant management has been to keep some bamboo alive, just barely, for the past ten years. But I am ready for more.

I mentioned awhile back that we signed up our backyard as part of an urban cooperative farm, but sadly, the organization went belly up. It was a brilliant idea, but somehow paying their farmers a living wage in San Francisco was not a sustainable business model (imagine that!). We were left with a garden set up to grow things, which my neighbor with whom we share the yard promptly took over, as I was busy tending to a newborn. Seeing what she has accomplished (tomatoes galore! kale, arugula, brussel sprouts, oh my!), and now that I have a toddler who can “help” me or at least busy himself in the dirt while I garden, I decided it’s time to try my hand at cultivating a small corner of our yard.

I have no clue if this is a good time to plant or if I am doing it right at all, but I planted green beans, strawberries, pumpkins, watermelon, cabbage, broccoli and beets. It’s only been a week and I’m already seeing little sprouts popping up. I helped to create life! Now, we’ll see if I can keep them alive.

What would you like to grow?

Ample Time and Money: Transform your yard into a garden. See how much of your food you could grow yourself, like Barbara Kingsolver did for a year (she wrote about this in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle).

Limited Resources: Start out with a few pots or an indoor herb garden. Get a hanging tomato planter. Plant a tree. Watch butterflies grow, then set them free.

Busy and Broke: Try putting a seed from something you ate into the ground and see if anything happens on its own. Or grow something you don’t have to pay much attention to, like a cactus, or bamboo. Just remember to stop and wonder at its tenacity every once in awhile for inspiration.

Activities, Books, Uncategorized

This World is Not Just a Little Thrill For the Eyes

Have you memorized anything yet for this week’s action?  I have not yet learned To Begin With, the Sweet Grass in its entirety (but recalling bits of it during the day reminds me to “look, and look again” and to forget myself and love the world).

I can, however, recite The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton in the dark while rocking a wriggling toddler. Like I said, my brain only has so much available space right now, and you can see who gets top priority.

For anyone who has a little more space or time in their lives for documenting their family’s stories so they will be remembered for generations to come, some interesting resources serendipitously found their way to me this week. The California Council for the Humanities has a grant program called the California Story Fund, which is seeking project proposals by November 15, in particular for stories that address the meaning of democracy. StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit that encourages everyone to share and preserve their stories. You can bring someone you would like to interview into a StoryCorps location to record it, or you can follow their DIY guide. Think of what an amazing keepsake it would be to have a recorded conversation with a beloved family member.

Go, learn wonderful things, and talk to people who matter to you about what matters to them.