8-10 min read
I'm technically in staycation-mode this week: home with my son and loving it. We have a few local excursions planned - nature walks, eating out once or twice, we took a drive out East this morning, but mostly we'll be home. Sleeping a little later, doing the puzzles and games we don't usually get to. Reorganizing and sorting the Legos - yep, ALL OF THEM. And what's great is that he's a little older and asks for alone time, here and there. To read, watch a science show, watch a fun TV show, not-step-on-lava... and I oblige.
And rather than cram in chores, I'm learning to take my alone time, too.
So, here's a little more backstory on me. I thought I'd let you out of the foyer, and a little further into the house. Let's hang in the living room...
So, I've been mixing and mingling a whole lot more in the virtual world lately, (thanks COVID), and I thought I'd peel back the layers a bit more and tell you who I am... off Instagram, etc.
What I do for a living, how I got here, why I love it, and why it matters so much to me. This is a second career, not my first. This career is the sea-change that I made. The coming home, the ideal lifestyle, the bliss that I worked so hard for.
And I seek for little, these days... as opposed to my youth... my dreams are different...
I'd like to buy a nice house in the outskirts of town with a wrap-around porch, maybe. (I rent.) Hand-wrought rocking chairs set up, that I bought at some country flea market in Pennsylvania, or something, while we were out exploring the falls. Yes, we. I'm looking to date again, soon. Once this pandemic has said its piece. I'm ready to start again, in the romance area. As ready as I'll get, anyway.
But back to my house... I'd like to have a pool table inside and an old school jukebox with my favorite songs loaded on it, but also, it won't look like an 80s museum. Far from it.
Farmhouse - boho - chic. Country, classy, elegant, comfortable. A huge kitchen, with lots of light, plenty of counter-space, sleek storage, room to entertain - a big open concept into the family room. I chop here, my son plays there (where I can see him and not helicopter him), the music plays from over there. A fireplace in the family room. Ah. Perfection.
And a big dopey, intelligent dog or two, to bark at squirrels and nibble on pizza crust and know instantly where to rest his head when I'm blue. A great bedroom for my son, with a proper study area and a desk and storage and lots of sunlight and decorated with all the things that feel cozy and inspiring to him. A spacious bathroom with an enormous bathtub, that adults can fit their bodies in, not just children. A micro-spa, is what we're going for, here. A yard space made for entertaining: a huge patio and simple furniture, a playspace for kids, more and more gardens for growing. Flower beds. A swimming pool. A hammock or two. A fire pit and a sky full of stars. And electricity in the garage to hook up speakers for all the music...
I could go on and on, but suffice it to say, that my dreams are no longer about proving myself, or becoming a different "me," but about creating a better, more fluid and efficient, and more aesthetic and pleasing environment to enjoy the life that I've already made for myself.
To grow, prepare, and eat beautiful and healthy food - and share it.
To dance, sing, read, play, laugh, lounge, and splash with others.
To rest, to nourish myself, deeply, and live each moment more fully.
No, I don't want to become. I want to savor: life, health, family, friendships, art, music, and the great outdoors. I'm blissfully at a place where I've let go of the need to prove, and have embraced the desire to live - in all my sweet imperfections. Joy is a practice. It's a practice because we're taught the opposite, our whole lives - to chase, to prove, to exhaust ourselves into depletion and depression and worse.
I'm done with all of that. I've found the middle space and I love it here. I can take very good care of myself, and not do it on a rigid timer or to someone else's chagrin. I do it for me, for my life, for my son, for a healthy and vibrant future. And I do it in a way that works for me and my life.
See, I started on the other side... hustling in the business/marketing/retail world. I dreamt of landing a high-profile gig in advertising in NYC. Skirt suits, pumps, print ads, lattes, a loft in Chelsea or SoHo, clubs and drinks on the weekends with girlfriends, single for LIFE, no kids, ever. No car? No car insurance. No worries, more money for me. More money for Italy and the villa I would buy. The gigantic purple (yes, purple) Mercedes SUV I would one day own. (It would've been completely electronic/solar and had hover-capabilities. Get on that Musk.) I was a powerhouse, in hiding, waiting to break out. It was always just around the corner. One more course. One more step up, one more networking event. One more home-based business idea. One more workshop series. One more connection, at the right time. At the right moment, I'd ascend out of retail and into the corporate world, effortlessly, with the right idea and my big, bright, plastered on smile (and wildly unhealthy interior world.)
Or so I thought.
The truth was that I based this dream on cheesy movies from the 80s and 90s. I blame the following empowered characters in film: J.C. Wyatt in Baby Boom. Kate Mosely in Picture Perfect. Katharine Parker/Tess McGill in Working Girl. There were tons of examples...
I grew up inspired by a feminist grandmother who walked city blocks to work at and network with these huge firms: Estee Lauder, Helena Rubinstein, etc. She was a secretary, I learned later. It wasn't anything glamorous, it wasn't a CEO role or anything. But to me - she was a shining jewel in a sea of PTA moms and stained sweatpants and monotonous perms and brownie meetings and Avon ladies. This woman had color. Sass. Attitude. At the right time in her life, the brightest joy and laughter bellowed out at parties, because she was happy. Making her own choices, for herself. The women before her never had the choice. She was doing what she pleased, after a lifetime of dealing with what life dealt her - which wasn't so inspiring.
All of these influences in my youth drove me toward a deep yearning inside, for excitement, cities, commotion, productivity, endless creativity, lightning fast ideas, constantly studying and pushing myself to be the best in what I wanted to do - to get people to invest their time and money in ideas and products.
I played field hockey in school, and I got to be a scoring full-back (yeah, from way back there in defense, I'd get goals), by practicing - hitting balls against a brick wall - constantly, while the other girls made up cheers and talked about nail polish. I bit my fingernails into bloody stubs, I had no interest in nail polish. Our coach instilled that ambitious drive in me: "if you want it, you have to work hard for it. Sharpen your skill. Excellence comes with time, passion, and repetition." So, I did that. And I got very good. We were "undefeated," we never lost a game. Not one, and I was proud to be a part of that. I didn't play the sport after school, but I took the lesson with me.
And the truth is that we excel at what we truly love, if we allow it. It's hard to invest passion, time, and repetition into things that we feel are mediocre or not the right fit. It just won't come off right.
I gave my dream of being a hot-shot one more chance, when I moved to Boston in my 20s. I didn't have the credentials to level-up, in the Boston city scene - I needed a degree. All the bigger, more flashy jobs needed at least a Bachelor's Degree in some sort of business discipline. I had dropped out of school. I was broke. I had an eating disorder. I was becoming an alcoholic, drinking myself to sleep. I was unhealthy, deep inside. I was anxious and depressed and lost and always searching for something, late at night.
I can see it so clearly now, those days WERE my rock bottom. I've been healing and climbing back stronger and wiser and higher ever since.
After that moment, it all changed. I knew that I needed to live a life that opened more doors, that provided for a lifestyle that was healthier, slower, kinder, more abundant, and more beautiful and peaceful.
I was an artist at heart, but didn't have the cut-throat drive to go all-in for it. To turn my most precious heartfelt things into monetary goodies. That part of me had to stay wild and medicinal. I'm okay with it. So, I found libraries. There was something intuitive about it, for me. What I loved about retail was pointing people to what they wanted. Solving the dilemma. Finding the answer. Helping.
When I began working in public libraries, instead of persuading people to invest their time and money into products or services, I was encouraging them to invest their time and money into themselves and their dreams, their health, their curiosity, their education, their futures.
I scoffed at librarianship, early on, as a teen. I thought it meant being a quiet bookworm. I was loud. Passionate. I bounce a lot, I have high energy. And I didn't read all that much. I talked, I expressed, I organized, I lead, I learned. But would I fit, could I belong, in a library? Shhhhhh...
Even in that first interview, I remember being asked, "so...how are you with Reader's Advisory, do you read a lot?"
I was honest. My heart sunk, I felt bad about it, but I told the truth: "I don't read all that much. I love film, and I love story, in general. But I'm here for the people. I help people find what they want, when they need it. And I figure I don't have to read all the books in order to match people with the right ones to read. I can read reviews and summaries, and still find them what they're looking for...right?"
Well, spoiler-alert, I got the job. And to this day, I don't read that many novels. They really have to wow me, pique and keep my interest. And be available on audio. I read tons of self-help, personal development, creative genius, psychology, religion, some biography and memoir, spirituality, gardening, philosophy, and so on. I'm the non-fic girl. And I'm okay with that.
What I love about my career is that it's dynamic and multifaceted: the best librarians are not just avid readers. They're listeners. The greatest gift that we have to give, from behind that desk, is our attention. Our patience. Our understanding and interest in helping someone we've never met before to find whatever it is that they need. And sometimes, what they need is not even in the library. Librarians are listeners, among so many other things. Surrounded by eons of inspiration, motivation, rhetoric, facts and figures, possibilities, histories, and stories of wonder. Information. We sit within heaps of it, daily. If we're lucky. And it feels like home, to me - if I don't know, I can find out. There's so much hope, empowerment, and peace in that. And these days it's not just books - there is the digital landscape, as well.
And there are the fun, everyday parts, like recommending books, organizing stacks, reading reviews, giving computer tutorials, putting fun projects and programs together, hosting workshops and book clubs. True librarianship, in my opinion, requires empathy. We listen. We observe. We locate and provide and make someone's life a little bit better. We communicate. We hold space. We serve. And I really do love it.
I don't take job stress home with me, really, my work is a blessing. And I don't have to take my actual work home (with the exception of this year and quarantine...) I don't suffer long train rides and commutes. I work two minutes from my son's school and can be there in a moment if I need to. I get along with my co-workers. I work in a gorgeous and naturally beautiful area and can take walks to the water on coffee breaks. It's a great salary, the best benefits in the state, lots of paid time off. It's quite ideal, actually. I'd love a 4 day work week, but that's a story for another day...
Every career or business has its ups and downs, but I love what I get to do. Who I get to help. I love the pace. The steadiness. The integrity in it. The honesty. The purpose.
If you're curious about this field, in Public Libraries... here's what you need to know. It's way more than just loving to read books:
I'm grateful for where I'm at. What I've got. I used to feel as though I were behind, somehow, and I've seen - undeniably - just how good I have it. I'm happy. I want things, but I build slowly upon what I've got. My needs are met. It's a great place to be.
My priorities today?
Motherhood and work/life balance. Nutrition. Exercise. Aging gracefully. Budgeting wisely. Free and wild expression and meandering moments of bliss and wonder - whenever possible.