Grieving an Identity

Image of a stenciled girl in black letting go of a red heart balloonPhoto by Karim Manjra on Unsplash

After three years at the University of California Merced, I returned to Merced College in August, though to the main campus in Merced instead of Los Baños. It has not been an easy transition. My work / life balance is much better (I get winter, spring, and summer break again), but the problem is that I don’t what to do with myself. When folks ask me what I’m up to, I, frankly, don’t have much to say because, for so long, work has been my identity. In trying to make peace between the life I thought I wanted and this new trajectory, I haven’t been the easiest person to be around. Managing my anxiety and depression has been difficult. I am grieving.

I had imagined a life where I would be working on research and writing articles and book chapters, maybe even co-editing a book or two.  Even though research wasn’t necessarily required at UC, I knew I would be part of a network of librarians engaged in this kind of work. When I was a solo community college librarian, I got involved in ACRL committee work, and it exposed me to folks doing great things in the profession. I felt less isolated. Slow but sure, my confidence grew. I continued this work at UC Merced. I finally got the courage to submit lightning talk proposals, and I actually presented at a few conferences, even though I didn’t feel like what I was sharing was groundbreaking. I even wrote a couple of short trade pieces.

In early 2018, as I was preparing for a two year review (for 18-months of work), I felt, strangely, unaccomplished. I was doing things but not THE THINGS. I was constantly busying myself and worrying about my review. Honestly, coming across Abby Flanigan’s blog post, “Vocational Awe and Professional Identity,” which was about Fobazi Ettarh’s article, “Vocational Awe and Librarianship: The Lies We Tell Ourselves,” made me realize that I had turned my job into a lifestyle. I had pushed myself, and I got the standard merit increase, which is the norm at UC, but when I learned that a colleague who wrote a book also got a standard review, I knew I couldn’t continue this pace. Ultimately, I had to ask myself whether this professional activity was actually that important.

But I am sad. I was able to grow as a teacher at UC Merced, and I learned a lot from my colleagues and from various professional development opportunities. I enjoyed our instructional brown bag sessions and various projects. I’m a better librarian because of my time there.

I know this change doesn’t mean that I can’t do some of those things I had previously imagined, but I also know that I want a life that isn’t consumed by the next best thing in academic librarianship. Though I will probably always be a bit of a workaholic, I want to lead a healthier life.

I’m currently on winter break, so I’ll be taking time to figure some things out.

Lifelong Learning, but not a Library Post

Image of black and brown metal fabric scissors resting on top of assorted swatches of fabric

Photo by Karly Santiago on Unsplash

One of my intentions is to write a little more often here, and although I tend to keep this blog as a work journal more for my own benefit, I was smart not to do any specific branding, so I feel safe straying from time to time.

My husband and I just celebrated 10 years of marriage on January 3rd. We chose to get married the first Saturday in January to mark our new start in a new year. My husband’s birthday is also the 6th, the official last day of Christmas, so we’re all about stretching the holiday season to the last drop, it seems. During the first week of January, one of our traditions is making a list of shared goals and individual goals and intentions. We just finished our kitchen remodel in December, so, this year, we have some smaller home improvement goals. We need to install a new fence, add rock to our front yard and backyard, paint some rooms, and finish personalizing our house. We’ve been homeowners for nearly six years, and I’ve really enjoyed making it ours.

In the spirit of (home)making, one of my personal goals is to learn how to use a sewing machine. I want to the freedom to make curtains, table runners, and pillow covers using fabric I actually like versus hunting forever or just settling. This is a big deal for me because I am terrible at sticking to hobbies. (I actually got motivated to do this from a HuffPost article. Number 7, which is “Learn something new,” stopped me in my tracks: “What have you always been interested in learning but felt either too busy or fearful to prioritize? That’s what you should focus on.”) I registered for a sewing class through our local community college’s community education classes. I’m really looking forward to it, though I will most likely have to miss the third class due to a conference.

What’s something you’ve always wanted to learn how to do? I’d love to hear.

2019 Reading Challenge

Happy 2019!

I took two weeks off, and, I, unfortunately, ended my staycation with a gnarly head cold, which threw a wrench in the plans I had leading up to going back to work, but I’m thankful that I’m finally feeling better. I was actually supposed to go back today, but NyQuil did me in.

I have lots of plans for the new year, and not all are work-related  (yasss!), one of which includes reading more books. I read a ton of articles, but books are more challenging for me to get through. I actually read 13 books last year, which is one more than my goal of 12. To check out what I read, visit my 2018 Reading Challenge. I couldn’t have done it without my reading marathon during my break.

Image of 13 book covers with a caption that reads "2018 Reading Challenge: You have read 13 of 12 books in 2018."

This year, my aim is to read 18, and I’ve already read two. What was your favorite read of 2018? Do you have any book-reading goals?

If you’re on Goodreads, find me at goodreads.com/LindsayLib.

#GivingTuesday

#GivingTuesday is upon us! I’ve written about organizations worthy of donation before, and I wanted to mention some of these again, as well as other organizations/groups in my work and home communities that are worthy of your consideration.

Libraries

Earlier this month, my fellow community members voted to renew the 1/8 cent sales tax for the Stanislaus County Library system’s 13 branches. It will go up for renewal again in 12 years. The volunteers behind the Save Stanislaus Libraries campaign worked tirelessly to get the word out, and Measure S was passed with over 80 percent approval.

Say Yes to S yard sign

I encourage you to donate to your local library foundations and friends group or consider donating to EveryLibrary to help other communities’ libraries that are on the ballot.

Now, I haven’t talked to anyone about this yet, but I really want to take part in ALA and REFORMA’s new Adopt a Library program for the Caribbean. If you have a willing organization, this may be a good project to take on!

Colleges & Universities

Going to college was a big deal for me. I recently attended a reception as an alumni of the Rogers Scholars award, which has been in place at my alma mater since 1991. The students’ stories really resonated with me.

Rogers Scholars Luncheon & Reunion invitation

A couple of years ago, the plant my dad worked at closed down, so he took an early retirement. Up until my dad retired, both of my parents were cannery workers. As in they operated machinery. My dad was a dryer operator, and my mom runs a machine that covers fruit cups with plastic film. My mom is an immigrant from Mexico who received little education; she went up to the equivalent of the eighth grade. Growing up, I knew I needed to go to college to have more options than my parents, but I was so stressed out about the cost, I opted to go to school locally. I was able to finish school with zero debt by living at home and receiving scholarships and grants.

I know what a difference scholarships can make in a student’s life, which is why I give to my undergraduate alma mater’s One Purpose campaign. When I worked at Merced College, I also made monthly contributions, and now I give to student scholarships at UC Merced. I also need to start making donations to San José State University, my graduate alma mater, and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF). A very generous HSF donor contributed $11k to my graduate education, and I had also received a scholarship from HSF as an undergraduate. I feel passionately about investing in young people. I hope you’ll consider donating to your alma mater or a local college or university.

Information Sources

I also contribute to my local NPR station, Capital Public Radio; Creative Commons; and the Internet Archive. However, I also want to contribute to Wikipedia. I just love these sources that much. Do you donate to any information sources?

Faith-Based Organizations

When I worked at the Stanislaus County Library, I discovered our town’s local World Relief office, which works to house refugees. A volunteer was showing an Ethiopian man around the library, and I thought it was awesome.  (Bonus: If you’re interested in libraries and refugees, check out Libraries Serve Refugees.)

Hometown Gems

This could get long, folks, but I also wanted to share that a few years ago, a friend and her husband had a wedding anniversary party at our town’s historic State Theater, and, as gifts, we made donations to the theater. A friend of mine recently got married, and, in lieu of gifts, he and his wife chose two organizations where friends and family could donate in their honor–Merced County Courthouse Museum and the Humane Society of Stanislaus County. If you’re in Modesto, consider giving to the McHenry Museum. What are some hometown gems you can’t live without?

Do you have #GivingTuesday plans? I know not everyone is in the place to give, but if you can, do!

#WeNeedMixedBooks

Today is Father’s Day, and just last week, it was the 50th anniversary of the Loving decision. The anniversary gave me some time reflect on my mixed heritage. My dad is white and originally from Arkansas (he moved to CA in the 1970s), and my mom came to the U.S. from Mexico as a young adult. (My mom has been a citizen since the 1980s.) My parents got married in 1979. Here is one of their wedding photos.

Parents' wedding photo

Growing up, I didn’t know many mixed families, just mine, but that appears to be changing! It dawned on me recently that I have several friends raising children who are of mixed heritage. Here are some relevant articles on Loving, as well as the growing numbers of Americans who are mixed:

My sister and I started our school experience as Spanish-speakers; as the youngest, my brother didn’t have the same challenge. I didn’t realize we were “different” until elementary school, when kids didn’t believe some of my first cousins and I were related. Or worse, this woman who asked my mom if I was adopted. There is nothing wrong with adoption, but the question was to point out difference, and it was a terrible position to put her in, as well as for her child who was old enough to understand. I’ve seen and heard a lot from folks who are comfortable in addressing their fellow white person, as well as those who are comfortable speaking in Spanish as though I’m not there or can understand, not to mention the feeling that you don’t fit into neatly arranged categories. (This is just meant as a summary, and I’m also not going to get into my privilege as a very white and now graduate-educated Latina; I’m well aware.)

Books would have definitely helped with my identity issues, and, fortunately, times seem to be changing a bit. Prior to becoming an academic librarian, I worked as a bilingual (Spanish/English) library assistant in the children’s department of the Stanislaus County Library, and I about cried when I came across a picture called Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match. With the Loving anniversary, a friend of mine tagged all her friends in interracial marriages and partnerships, which prompted a very cool string of comments and photos. Our mutual friend made a special tribute about her marriage and family, and, from our exchange,  I found out that she had shown photos of my family to her daughter who is also half-Latina and half-white. I mentioned the Marisol McDonald book, and I let my friend know I would do a search for some more kids’ books. Although there is a disparity in representing children from a variety of backgrounds in children’s books in general (see the #weneediversebooks campaign), The Washington Post‘s “Where Are All the Interracial Children’s Books? points out that there aren’t many picture books that feature mixed children. I started doing some searching for pictures books about mixed families and children, and I was surprised to find a small but growing body of books (note that the lists below often share titles).

Now, this is somewhat of a side note, but I think Mixed Remixed, which is “a film, book & performance festival celebrating stories of the mixed-race and multiracial experience,” is so interesting! I had never heard of it before. I took a peek at some resources, I found this really cool list of TED Talks linked on the Mixed Remixed website, “6 TED Talks, By, For, and About Biracial and Mixed-Race Folks.”

I’m also glad to have found an online community of librarians who identify as POC that I can reach out to thanks to a librarian friend. Some members of the group mentioned that I ought to listen to The Mash-Up Americans podcast and the  Other: Mixed Race in America podcast. Code Switch also recently had an episode called A Prescription for ‘Racial Imposter Syndrome,'” which another librarian mentioned that she really identified with as a mixed person who grew up with her white parent. It has been great to hear about the multicultural families some of these librarians are raising, as well.

INFJ-T: “The Advocate”

This is not meant to serve as advertising for 16Personalities, but I really like learning about personality types. I have taken a number of personality quizzes, and all of them point to the INFJ personality.

Your personality type: “The Advocate” (INFJ-T)
Strength of individual traits: Introverted: 84%, Intuitive: 59%, Feeling: 75%, Judging: 55%, Turbulent: 83%.
Role: Diplomat
Strategy: Constant Improvement

What is your personality type? How does that fit with your work life and career? Librarianship, for all the jokes, is a very people-centered job. I enjoy teaching and outreach, but I do get worn out if it’s been a particularly people-heavy day. The job I had before this one was public services 100 percent of the time, so my new job is a much more balanced environment in that I am not at the reference desk all day (uh, we don’t have a reference desk at UC Merced…) I find that I am less drained at the end of my day and feel more social as a result. I also think no one in the library actually thinks I’m 83 percent introverted. LOL! Dancing and singing with preschoolers during story time for a couple of years at the public library helped me come out of my shell a bit more. The results of the quiz I took explain, “It makes sense that their friends and colleagues will come to think of them as quiet Extroverted types…”

Here is the full analysis of my personality profile. The section under identity has me pegged to a tee. Literally, the “T” in INFJ-T is for turbulent. “Turbulent individuals are self-conscious and sensitive to stress. They are likely to experience a wide range of emotions and to be success-driven, perfectionistic and eager to improve.” Sigh. It’s not wrong.

Take the quiz! What is your personality type?

Goodbye Pt. 1

Last Friday was my last campus faculty meeting for the school year and Los Banos Campus‘ Merit and Awards Ceremony. A couple of weeks before the official Merced College graduation ceremony, we honor Los Banos students who are graduating (this was my second and last year to read the names), scholarship recipients (I was on the committee in 2014/2015 and 2015/2016), and Student of the Month and Year winners (I was on the committee in 2014/2015 and 2015/2016). We also honor a staff member as the Los Banos Campus Classified Staff Member of the Year, and one of my good friends, our Student Services Assistant, won the well-deserved honor.

What I didn’t expect was a little going-away recognition. Our faculty lead presented me and a colleague who is moving to the main campus with lovely matted photos of the Los Banos with nice messages written by our colleagues on the mat. We have wonderful staff and faculty members in Los Banos. I am going to miss this tight-knit team. I will definitely be hanging this in my new office.

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But it’s not goodbye quite yet. We still have graduation at the end of the month where I will don my Masters hood one last time with my colleagues as we celebrate our students’ successes. I’ve had months to process my move, but I think I’m going to need waterproof mascara.

#instalibrariancloset

Over the last few years, I have been getting to know a great group of women in the Central Valley who are interesting, vivacious, funny, and passionate. One of these ladies posted this video this past summer.

It struck me. I saved it. I watched it several times.

I have struggled with body image since middle school. I was always chubby. I had awful glasses, braces for years, and I never had nice clothes. When I was 19/20, I lost a lot of weight, about 70 pounds, with diet and exercise that got out of control. I was skinny. I only felt pretty because of compliments from other people. I really struggled with some of the attention I got because I was still the same person I had always been. As awful as it sounds, people do treat you better when you’re thin. I have been on both sides and everywhere in between.

I was in a good place with my weight between ages 22 and 25. I gained a little weight due to life changes and stresses, but it was nothing major. I felt great. It wasn’t until I went to Washington, D.C. for a graduate school fellowship that I started feeling uncomfortable. I gained 10 pounds. And then I sprained my ankle when I got back. I couldn’t walk for a month. I never gained all my weight back, but I was no longer comfortable. I didn’t really recognize myself in the mirror a couple of years ago. I felt terrible. I hid at home a lot.

But watching the video one of my new friends posted really helped me feel a lot better. I’ve always enjoyed clothes, and the video  made me realize that over the last couple of years, I’d gotten into a funk because of my body image. You can be stylin’ at any size or shape, and I should know because throughout the years, I have been a size 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, and 16.

This past fall, in an effort to reclaim my body and clean out my closet of too small clothes, I started documenting my work wear outfits on Instagram with #instalibrariancloset. These are mirror selfies in regular bathroom lighting–nothing fancy. My Instagram is a private account, so I wasn’t looking for followers or anything like that, but it really helped force me to wear all of my clothes and to spend a little more time on myself. I was really not comfortable doing these pictures. It was hard. I did these because I felt myself falling into the “gaining weight is not beautiful” mindset. Facing yourself in the mirror everyday helps you accept yourself.

One of the more surprising things about doing this was a message I got from a longtime friend who I don’t see very often.

I’m so proud of you. I see that you take pictures and you share your style/outfits. A few years ago I wouldn’t have ever thought you’d be posting pictures, sharing them. You used to not want to take pictures or share them. I’m really glad to see you out of your comfort zone per se and sharing you!! It’s encouraging to see!! I see them every now and then and I’m like wow… I don’t even feel comfortable to take pictures of myself and post them often. So, I like that and proud of how strong you’ve become over the years!

My last #instalibrariancloset post was yesterday.

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There were only a very few things that I didn’t wear this academic year, but I am going to do one final clothes and shoes purge. Not only did I clean out my closet by doing this, but I discovered new combinations, wore more of my jewelry, and I was even able to be better about my exercise and eating. I am actually down a jean size.

I intended for all of my IG posts to be on Pinterest, but I only pinned a few. I am planning to pin the rest. I am also in the process of creating a “Bodyful” playlist to be a source of encouragement when getting ready in the morning, and I also started following body positivity accounts on social media.

What things do you do to help you make peace with your body?

31

It’s been a while. March and April are busy months for me at work, and there was a stretch of time where I was feeling pretty disorganized on top of it. And maybe distracted knowing that I am heading to a new job in June, but, as always, I eventually come around. I bounce back. I turned 31 last Friday, and I can tell you that “bounce back” is my 21-31 theme.

I’ve written about some of this before, but it’s good to reflect. I grew up in a small religious environment that was mostly built around immediate and extended family, and although I went to public school my entire life, I was shy and didn’t really live a life outside of school, home, and church.  When I was 19 and 20, I lost a lot of weight–almost 70 pounds. It started well enough, but by mid-2005, I was dieting excessively and addicted to exercise. I was finally thin and happy for a while, but in 2006, at 21, I was in a very sad, confusing period. I was unsure and insecure. Not that you can really tell in the photo below, taken on my 21st birthday, but I wore sweaters and blazers to cover up my thinness. (And I didn’t even eat any of that cake!) It took me a whole summer, fall, and winter to get out of my funk. I took off the Fall 2006 semester; I just couldn’t concentrate.

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I didn’t know just how much my life would change that following spring. Around my 22nd birthday, in 2007, I met my now husband online via MySpace. (Hey, now, it was popular back then.) We had our first date on my birthday, and we’ve been together for nine years now.

I graduated from college in 2008. I got married in 2009. I graduated from graduate school in 2011. We bought a house in 2013. I also got my first full-time librarian job in 2013, and now I’m headed to the library at University of California Merced, the first library I ever volunteered at, in June.

At 31, I am really pleased with where I am. I am happy about where I am in my career and in my relationship with my husband. This is also the best I have ever felt about myself. I have come to accept many things about my(INFJ)self. Here’s a little list. 

  • I have a little rebellious streak. I wish I were a Phryne Fisher, but I’m a Dot who is at least brave enough to team up with Miss Fisher. I did go to both D.C. and Vegas by myself, after all.
  • I am creative. I sometimes wonder if I followed the academic path because I didn’t know any other alternatives.
  • I am a reflector.
  • I am always going to be a little shy. For example, my little secret is that I enjoy singing. But I will die first if you think I will ever reveal that side of me. I have the worst stage fright. Comparable to my fear of heights; just ask my husband about when we went to the Grand Canyon.
  • Underneath my reserved exterior, I am actually a little funny. Like, honestly, I did not see that one coming.

Also, rather than hate myself for not living up to certain standards, particularly expectations of others, I just focus on what I can do with the time and energy I have to give away. Lately, that’s taking care of me, which means no longer saying yes to every project or opportunity that comes my way: I quit that OER adult learning MOOC I mentioned I registered for a few posts back, and I am rethinking my plan to go back to graduate school, also mentioned a few posts back, too. Life is too short to do things you think you have to do, though my little overachieving heart is breaking as I type this.

Here’s to 31!

Napa: Eats, Antiques, & Library Tourism

In October, my husband and I went on a romantic getaway to Napa. Neither of us had ever been to Napa, and we only live two hours away. I don’t know why we hadn’t done it before. While there, we saw traces of the damage the earthquake had done in August 2014, but we saw a community that was vibrant and confident.

Our hotel had a homemade chocolate chip cookie hour at 6 pm. Yum!

I really enjoyed the plant life. I don’t have a super green thumb, but I do appreciate nature and am okay with low-maintenance plants.

We ate at Celadon and at The Pear Southern Bistro, checked out the Riverfront, watched an Americana show, and got our antiquing fix at Antiques on Second where we picked up a theater-style bench for our front door area, a corduroy blazer for me, and a couple of vintage necklaces. We also made a quick stop to the Oxbow Public Market. I picked up some cranberry and white polka-dot (I am really into polka-dots) Keds at a chain department store when my feet were giving out from the flats and boots I brought with me.

We also went to Napa Bookmine.

I also, unexpectedly, came across a September 11th Memorial. I noticed a structure of some kind outside a store, and I didn’t realize what it was until I got close to the sign. I was looking at beams from the World Trade Center.

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We made an impromptu trip to the Napa County Library, and I was not let down. What a gorgeous, modern library! Study rooms for days, different seating arrangements, lovely signage, and it was busy! People reading, people browsing, and people finishing up activities from the first annual How-To Festival. The staff were above and beyond amazing! I introduced myself and one of the staff members (I am so sad that I can’t remember her name anymore; I meant to send an email about the spectacular customer service we received) showed me a project they did involving a succulent planter made out of a book. I love succulents, so I was very into this! She also gave me a book art example that she had made for the book art activity from earlier that day. You rock, Napa County Library!

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We had a really great trip! We did an epic Souhtwest adventure this past summer, so this getaway was just perfect. Short and sweet! We actually used the photo below for our Christmas cards this year. At the library, where else?

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