Thoughts on Kindness

Kindness, I’m learning, is a powerful thing.

Working in a public library, people from all walks of life come through my door.  I love this because it gives me the opportunity to interact with people who are very different from me.  One of the joys of being a small town librarian is the ability to really build relationships with my patrons.  They aren’t just faces checking out books.  I call them by name, remember what books they like, and get to be part of their routines.

You find the most generous people in small towns.  My patrons, in particular, have shown great kindness to me over the past two years.  They know I have a long commute and I can’t count the amount of times I’ve been offered a place to stay on winter nights when driving conditions are hazardous.  A year ago, a family who knew I love cats surprised me by bringing in their litter of kittens.  Having a kitten party in the library was pretty much a dream come true and I glowed the rest of the day.  Recently, one of my regulars attempted to recruit my help in tapping maple trees and boiling syrup.  He’s a prankster and, when I said no, gave me a hard time.  A week later, though, he gave me a jar of homemade syrup anyway.

These relationships are one of the things I love most about my job.

One of my goals, and something I work very hard at, is to treat each person who walks in the door with dignity and respect.  I want people to feel seen and known when they visit the library–they aren’t just another faceless consumer.  I want people to feel like they matter.

This is no easy task and, so often, I fail to live up to it.  When people show you incredible kindness, it is easy to be kind in return.  When people are friendly, responsible, capable, and don’t argue when you tell them they have late fines, it is easy to show them love.

But people are hard.  They’re messy, complicated, and difficult.

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What I’m Reading: Early November Part 2

And… here’s part two of my recent reads list!  As always, let me know what you’ve been reading in the comments.

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Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Oh, what an absolute pleasure to be immersed in a John Green novel!  I’ve been a fan of his work for nearly ten years now and have loved watching his stories progress.  His writing, as always, is rich and deep and leaves me longing for more.  A lot of people criticize Green for creating overly pretentious and deep-thinking protagonists and Turtles definitely falls in line.  But I find it endearing.  This book explores sixteen year old Asa’s experience with mental illness.  The story takes you deep into her mind and I came out with better understanding of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  I feel like this is one of those books that will become richer each time I read it.

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

This book was sooooo hyped on bookstagram.  It had everything going for it: gorgeous cover, ACOTAR-like plot… but I was definitely underwhelmed.  The writing was good, but the story just didn’t suck me in.  The season-themed courts seemed used and the characters did nothing for me.  If there was chemistry, I missed it.  And, good grief, don’t get me started on insta-love.  How come supposedly smart, practical leading ladies constantly lose their minds the second an attractive man (or fairy) walks into their life?  I did love the cultural/biological differences between the fairies and humans.  Each longs for what the other has, in their own way.  Fairies long for the ability to create and humans long for eternal youth and beauty.  I did like that this book conveys that these human longings result in nothing but emptiness.

The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

This was such a delightful comfort read.  It’s my second book by Lord and I’ve been so impressed with her writing.  It’s the story of sixteen-year-old Paige, who is best known at school as the girl whose boyfriend tragically drowned a year before. It’s not a story of grief, rather a story of figuring out life after grief.  How to put yourself out there and begin anew.  Surrounded by her best friends, Paige goes through her junior year of high school.  Along the way, she meets Max, the nerdy Quiz Bowl captain with whom she becomes close.  I wish I had been able to read this book at the age of sixteen because Max is everything my high school self wanted in a boyfriend.  Sometimes, it’s a treat to lose yourself in a low-key high school novel, and Lord did not disappoint.

The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

Kaur is the darling of Instagram and… I don’t know.  I’m so torn when it comes to her poetry.  On the one hand, I adore the content.  It’s raw, realistic, and I appreciate the honesty.  I like the way the poems look on the page and love the art that accompanies them.  This collection addresses topics like heartbreak, immigration, and self love… all great subjects!  On the other hand, I don’t think the poems are actually well written.  They’re just thoughts on the page, spaced and formatted to look like poems.  There’s little rhythm, rhyme, or structure to them.  Call me a snob, but I’ve studied and read plenty of poetry.  Technical structures add so much depth and richness.  They’re challenging to implement, but almost always pay off.  I want to like Kaur’s work… but am always left wanting more.


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What I’m Reading: Early November Part 1

Hello, there!  I’m back and ready to share this past month’s batch of reads.  I’m running a bit behind, so this will come in two parts.  Keep a lookout for the next installment sometime next week!  Enjoy, and be sure to let me know what you’ve been reading in the comments.

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Staying Sane: A Grad School Update

I realize I’ve been neglecting my blog of late…  So hey, let’s chat.

In September, I started my first semester of graduate school.  I’m taking classes online through the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee to get a Masters in Library and Information Science.  Going into it, I knew that grad school would be a challenge.  But, of course, there’s a difference between knowing something intellectually and knowing it experientially.  As someone who has half a semester under their belt, I can attest that grad school is HARD.

It’s not the work itself that is challenging.  I mean, yeah, it’s hard.  But it’s grad school.  High standards are to be expected.  For the most part, I think I’m keeping up just fine.  I understand the coursework, participate in discussions with my classmates, and have pulled decent enough grades on my assignments thus far.

The most difficult part about grad school has been finding time to actually do the work and still maintain a shred of sanity.  I’ve already had two emotional breakdowns this semester, which is two more than my entire career as an undergraduate.

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Returning to Student Life: Hello, Grad School!

Goodbye, free time.  Hello, higher education.

Last week, I started grad school!  I’m pursuing my Masters in Library and Information Science through the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.  My classes are all online, which enables me to do school while continuing to work full time.

All week, people in my life have been asking how it’s been so far.  My reply has usually been a dubious expression and a weird, semi-coherent grunt. I knew that grad school would be a lot of work, but there’s intellectual knowledge and experiential knowledge.  And, boy, am I learning experientially!

It’s not that my classes are anything I can’t handle.  The workload is large, but definitely doable.  The challenge is adjusting to new pressures and a new routine.  Significant portions of my weekends and days off are now spent hunched over my laptop and pouring through textbooks.

As I learn to be a student remotely, I have to learn to be intentional about taking care of daily business.  I’ve taken for granted having time to cook, shop, clean, do laundry, exercise, etc.  I now have to think about when I’m going to get those things accomplished. Continue reading

Weekend Coffee Share: Orchard Opening, Grad School, State Fair, and more!

If we were having coffee, we’d likely be sitting outside on picnic tables overlooking my family’s apple orchard.  Please excuse my cat, Pip, who has no concept of personal boundaries.  He has most likely climbed on your lap and is demanding snuggles.  While you pet him, we look over the orchard to the St. Croix River valley in the distance.  Isn’t the view great?

At the moment, I’m enjoying a few days of calm before the craziness that is fall hits.  The library was absolutely dead this week, which (while boring) was a nice break.  My patrons are all getting ready for school, going on last minute vacations, and harvesting their gardens.

This week, I DID get to go to the Minnesota State Fair for work!  It was Read & Ride Day, put on by the library system in the Twin Cities area.  Fairgoers could get discounted admission with their library cards.  As a worker, I got in for free!  My shift was three hours long and I ran the game Plinko.  My coworker for the day and I were given a massive amount of prizes (color changing cups, temporary tattoos, pens, bags, flashlights, etc.) and told that they needed to all be gone by five.  So we were VERY generous to all who played our game.  “Everyone’s a winner at the library!” we told everyone who stopped by.  It was a lot of fun!  After my shift, I spent the rest of the day wandering around the fair with library colleagues from my own system, who had worked earlier in the day.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I start graduate school this week!  I’m pursuing my Masters in Library and Information Science through the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.  I’m kind of nervous about being back in academia and balancing school and work.  It really helps that everything is online and I can fit it in with my schedule.  I think I’ll be fine… I’ve always been a bit of a Hermione Granger when it comes to school and started reading one of my textbooks already.

My family’s apple orchard is open for the season!  My parents and brother worked really hard to get everything together.  Dad has been overseeing the harvest and getting the outside presentable.  Mom organized the store and is training all our new seasonal employees.  I’ll be helping out on Sundays this fall during the peak of our season, but with grad school and having my own job, my involvement will be fairly minimal.

That’s enough chit chat from me.  How are you spending your last weekend of the summer?  Anything exciting going on this fall?  What would you share over coffee?

Weekend Coffee Share is hosted by Part Time Monster. 

Be sure to check out the weekly Link Up to see what everyone has been up to.

Weekend Coffee Share 8/27/17

If we were having coffee, I’d be curled up in a heavy sweater drinking lemon ginger tea.  I’ve been fighting off a cold for the past few days and, today, it took a turn for the worse.  You might not want to get too close.

It’s crazy that we’re in the final gasps of summer!  Where did the time go?

I missed the coffee share last weekend due to being out of town.  My mom and I attended a retreat with a church we’ve been attending recently.  In a lot of ways, the retreat was really awkward.  We only knew a few people and neither of us are good in large groups of people.  In other ways, though, it was a really great experience.  It was really nice to get away from home–the retreat was held at a camp by a lake, which was lovely.  They brought in a Bible scholar from a university in Chicago do lead the teaching.  He talked a lot about the original Hebrew version of the texts, which was fascinating!  Through forced group games and breakout sessions, I did get to know a few people.  And, this past week, one of their pastors texted me and invited me out for lunch!  I’m meeting up with her tomorrow, which I’m looking forward to.

Work this week was busy.  On Tuesday, I had a programming double-header, which was absolutely exhausting.  In the afternoon, I hosted a class on genealogy research, which was taught by some of my library colleagues.  It was a full group–every computer was taken.  Then, I had about an hour to turn the room around for this month’s Lego Club. Continue reading

Weekend Coffee Share 8/12/17

If we were having coffee, we’d be meeting at my library.  I’d be sipping on a mocha with an extra shot of caffeine that I picked up on the way to work.  It’s a slow morning… I’ve been here over an hour and only five people have come and gone.  Thank goodness, you’re here to divert me!

It’s crazy that summer is almost over!  It always goes by way too quickly.  My August is turning out to be very busy.  Between weddings and out-of-town commitments, my weekends are almost all booked.  When I get off work today, I’m heading down to Rochester to spend the weekend with L’Abri friends.  I’ve wanted to visit them all summer, but haven’t had the chance until now.  Next weekend, I’m taking off work to go on a retreat with the church my family has been attending.

I’ve had multiple cousins get married this summer–one was last weekend.  Is it just me, or are family weddings the most awkward of them all?  I’m not close with my dad’s side of the family, so it’s always uncomfortable spending time with them.  I’m one of the youngest and was painfully shy as a child, which didn’t help forge good relationships with my cousins.  Despite that, the wedding was really nice, there was an open bar, and fantastic cake.  And I learned that some of my cousins (and their significant others) are actually pretty cool!  So that was a win. Continue reading

What I’m Reading 8/7/17

Since I last did one of these, I’ve started writing short, one paragraph reactions in a notebook every time I finish a book.  I do so much reading that stories often blend together and, when I come to do these kind of posts, I forget details.  I’m finding that I really enjoy processing books in this way–it helps me express my opinions and give the experience closure.  In addition, I’m also adding star ratings, just for fun.

I hope you enjoy my list of recent reads!  Have you read any of them?  What did you think?  What have you been reading lately?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments!


Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

5/5 stars

When I reached the end of this book, I didn’t know what to do with myself.  I wasn’t ready to say goodbye.  I rarely give books five-star ratings, but this series was absolute perfection.  All six main characters are distinct, fully, fleshed out, and deeply relatable.  They feel like real people–deeply flawed and broken and beautiful–and I love them all so, so much.  I can’t help being in awe of Bardugo’s planning skills–there are so many character arcs, schemes, plots, and back-stabbing… how does she juggle it all?  And given how complex it all is, how the heck does she manage to pull it off?!  This book sealed the deal: Bardugo is a top-notch writer and I will gladly read anything she publishes.


Geekerella by Ashley Poston

4/5 stars

This YA book has been on my radar for months and I finally got my hands on a copy.  It combines two of my deep loves: fairytale retellings and fandom.  I found the story delightful and endearing–the plot familiar, but a comforting kind of familiar.  More than anything, I was reminded of the movie “A Cinderella Story” with Hillary Duff–only with more cosplay and a pumpkin-themed vegan food truck.  It was a clever, fresh retelling of one of my favorite fairytales.  And, oh, how I wish that Starfield was a real show–it sounds like something I would love to watch.


The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

4.5/5 stars

This was easily one of the best YA contemporaries I’ve read in a long while.  Lately, I’ve found it harder and harder to relate to that corner of the genre.  This book, though, hit home in so many ways.  It’s about a Christian girl who, after discovering that her mom’s cancer has returned, spends her summer as a counselor at a camp for troubled youth.  There, she wrestles with her faith and learns about life, love, and friendship.  The book is about growing up, discovering yourself, and allowing your worldview to grow and change.  Although our circumstances are different, I deeply related with Lucy.  I spent several summers camp counseling, so the exhausting pace of her days was familiar.  What I love about this book is that, while Lucy questions and struggles with her faith, she doesn’t walk away from it.  It’s really hard to write about faith journeys in a way that doesn’t come off as preachy and Lord handles Lucy’s journey so, so well.  Her faith shifts into something new, but it doesn’t go away.  The book also features a rich array of diverse characters and I adored the friendships Lucy forms.  They reminded me of the friendships I forged in my own camp years.  This is a book that doesn’t shy away from life’s biggest questions–it leans into hard questions, tough situations, and embraces the challenges of life.  I’m thankful for books like these–books that act as mirrors to our own experiences.


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Weekend Coffee Share 7/22/17

If we were having coffee, we’d be meeting at the library.  Things are slow–no one usually rolls in until around ten, so I’m taking advantage of the quiet by prepping for my programs next week.  I just made a cup of tea (cranberry and raspberry)… would you like a cup?

We’re in for a dreary Saturday–with scattered thunderstorms this afternoon.  My grandpa is passing through town early this afternoon.  He called earlier this week and asked if he could get a tour of my library and then take me out to lunch.  I said yes, of course.

The rest of my weekend will be spent traveling.  I’m visiting family in Southern Minnesota, which should be really fun.  It’ll be nice to get out of town for a while–even if it’s only for a night.

Over the past month or so, a construction crew has been hard at work redoing the road I live on.  This week, they began the section in front of my house.  They’ve ripped up the entire thing and we have to keep our windows closed to keep the dust out.  It’s really interesting, watching them solidify the foundation and widen the shoulders.  It’s also been annoying–they begin work at 6 AM and the roaring of the machinery wakes us all up.  Still, it’ll be worth it to have a nice new road.

The highlight of my week was hosting a Stuffed Animal Sleepover at the library.  Kids came in on Wednesday night wearing their pajamas, clutching their animals.  I read them a few stories, gave out a midnight snack, and then they tucked in their pals and said goodbye.  When they returned the next day, I gave each of the kids a little book filled with pictures of what the animals got up to.  Much mischief ensued!

Anyways, that’s all I’ve got for today.  How has your week been?  Any fun plans for your weekend?  What would you share over coffee?

Weekend Coffee Share is hosted by Part Time Monster. Be sure to check out the weekly Link Up to see what everyone has been up to.