Big Week for Us (and U.S.) Librarians!
Big news first and then some thoughts on self care, tango, and a story.
Why is it a big week for librarians? President Obama nominated, and his nomination was accepted, a new Librarian of Congress! And she is FIERCE! She is the first woman and first black Librarian of Congress. She was the Baltimore City Librarian who made the decision to keep library doors open during the unrest a few years ago after Freddie Gray's death, when most other public services were closing their doors.
I knew that the libraries are community resources. I knew that they are anchors in so many communities. In a lot of communities in Baltimore, especially challenged ones, we are the only resource. If we close, we’re sending a signal that we’re afraid or that we aren’t going to be available when times are tough. We should be open especially when times are tough. (American Libraries Magazine, 2015/5/1)
That in and of itself is huge. Her dedication to libraries and librarianship is outstanding. I legit got weepy when she was sworn in. She asked her mama to hold an Abraham Lincoln Bible, and has noted a number of times what an honor it is to hold this position. From her swearing in ceremony -
To be the head of an institution that’s associated with knowledge and reading and scholarship when slaves were forbidden to learn how to read on punishment of losing limbs, that’s kind of something." (NYT, 2016/9/15).
In the event you'd like to watch her swearing in ceremony, the Library of Congress streamed it live on youtube, and then posted this handy video! The actual ceremony starts at about an hour in. So excited to have someone from the library profession, and someone who advocates for libraries, and someone representing the 85% of women who work as librarians, and someone who represents the diversity of our country in this position. I cannot wait to see what she does.
Other stuff I've been thinking about this week...
On Self Care
Earlier this week, I ran across Audre Lorde's quote that self care, "is not self-indulgence—it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare." When I started thinking about what I wanted to do before this existed, I thought I wanted to focus on self care. Medusa's Garden - when you need every one and every thing to stop coming at you. Right? But the more I thought about it, the less well it sat with me, as I reflected on serious burnout (from which I'm still trying to recover and find my feet again), the more I realized that there is no product I could sell that would help women, in particular, to alleviate the effects of burnout. We don't need another bath that smells nice. We don't need a pretty candle. So instead, I thought I could combine the lovely things that do make me feel good (but without focusing so much on "self care") and the fact that I became a librarian to support my eternal curiosity.
I'm currently also doing some stuff with HiveQuest, an online learning platform and combining Medusa's Garden with Phix's Curiosity Camp (another precursor idea), I came up with the Mythic Librarian. I'm always a little apprehensive about claiming the title 'librarian' as I haven't worked in a library or doing traditional library work in a long time, but in my heart of hearts, I love the library and I am fiercely dedicated to the ideals that libraries stand for. I hope I do my chosen profession right with this endeavor. In any case, Phix's Curiosity & Medusa's Garden will be represented on my site as courses and curiosities. Which to bring this all back to the majestic Audre is... self-preservation & political warfare. Making use of my ability to learn, and then share my learning, to find and share my curious finds. In a way that lets my candle/s burn bright rather than the hot, painful flame of burnout. Thank you for showing your support in this venture so far as I am early in this process! I am so appreciative!
My ending thought for the moment is the other quote in the article that brought Audre Lorde to mind again:
The harder, duller work of self-care is about the everyday, impossible effort of getting up and getting through your life in a world that would prefer you cowed and compliant. A world whose abusive logic wants you to see no structural problems, but only problems with yourself, or with those more marginalized and vulnerable than you are. Real love, the kind that soothes and lasts, is not a feeling, but a verb, an action. It’s about what you do for another person over the course of days and weeks and years, the work put in to care and cathexis. (Laurie Penny, The Baffler, 2016/7/8).
Or, as Kurt Vonnegut might say, "There's only one rule that I know of, babies - God damn it, you've got to be kind."
I'm in the process of developing a HiveQuest course on Tango Life Lessons. I started tango in August and as a systems and process and patterns thinker, I drew some really immediate life lessons from it. It's a beautiful analogy in some ways. These have been slowly building and as I document them, I thought they might be worth sharing with you. Here is the blog post from prior to my idea of creating something for HiveQuest on what sorts of thoughts I've been having Messages from the Universe: Tango - possibly a part 1. I've since had thoughts on leadership, followership, and some other things too... Definitely in early stages of development, so I'll keep you posted on when it is likely to be released.
And finally because I've been meaning to do this for days now - a story inspired by @MythologyBot - D1385.19 Clothing protects from evil spirit.
There once was a small girl. She was out collecting pears in the orchard when a wisp of smoke appeared and said to her "little girl, little girl, what are you doing here all alone?" The only reasonable response she could think of was the truth. "My mama sent me to collect pears for breakfast later this week. Now be gone and let me attend to my task." And the wisp of smoke disappeared in a twist of the wind. The girl went back to collecting her pears.
After a while, a larger plume of smoke appeared and said to her, "Little girl, little girl, who's permission do you have to collect pears from this land?" The smoke spiraled and spun in the soft breeze, faintly mesmerizing her. Still it had asked a question, and the only response she could think of was to answer with the truth. "My grandmother owns this land, as was given to her by her grandmother, since time immemorial. She has given me permission to gather the fruits here." She watched the smoke shift and the changing blues and greys, then remembered, "Now be gone and let me attend to my task!" She had almost forgotten what she had come to do.
She went back to gathering pears. A little further into the orchard, she was startled to find a boy lazing about eating pears. He said to her, "Little girl, little girl, what are you doing here?" His eyes were grey, and blue flickered in them like the light catching the spirals and twists of the smoke. She replied, "I am here collecting pears. Who are you, and why are you here?" He said, "Oh, nevermind that, come and look further into the orchard with me!" As he said this he gently reached his hand out to take her arm, and drew back suddenly as his hand sizzled as if water had been thrown on a fire.
She snapped to attention. He quickly hid his hand behind his back, but she saw it appeared to be steaming. "No. I don't know who you are, but be gone and let me attend to my task." His face clouded over & he twisted up into a puff of smoke.
Running all the way home, she found her mama and related the story. "Mama, mama, why did his hand steam when he touched my sleeve?" "My dear one, my mama taught me, as her mama taught her, as I will teach you, that to finish all fine woven clothes we would wear with an iron mordant not only protects the dye from fading from the cloth, but also protects us from fairies who would take us away with them."
Snip, snap, snout, this tale's told out.
With fierce curiosity,