Sunday, October 1, 2017

Save the Best For...Now!

Save the Best for ….Now!

I’m a collector, a saver, a cataloger, a miser, an archivist, a curator and a steward of stuff. Notice that I made no reference to being a hoarder. Not even close. However, I save stuff for rainy days, a future size, hope that styles return, the next curbside collection, etc. I save for that number one student, favorite teacher, potential goodie bags, Teacher Appreciation giveaways, etc. In other words, I hold on to things with the intention of giving or rewarding them to me or others and as result, often forget what I have, where it’s located, who it was intended for or where I got it in the first place. This summer I was able to devote many hours to major re-organization of the stuff and ended up realizing I spend an awful lot of time on it! So with some radical purging, several bags of clothes went to the Salvation Army and countless school items landed on the free carts in the Media Center. Blessed were the teachers and others who happened to be there that day!

So as I basked in the glow of being semi-clutter free, a scary thought came. What if it creeps back in? After attending a district vendor fair, I toted bags of freebies with the plan to redistribute the wealth to my teachers at my school. But there it sits, in my office, rolls of posters, bookmarks, buttons, highlighters, etc. Maybe even a stray mint or 2! And with plans to attend our state Media Conference this month, I’m already swooning at the swag that will make it back to my car and beyond. And then what? What am I saving it for? Why not just walk in my first day back, freely strewing freebies to anyone within reach. “Pens for everyone!”  “Who needs a Love My Librarian Lanyard?” “How about a highlighter, kid?” What am I saving it for when I could make someone’s day right now?

One of my heroes in the writing world is Erma Bombeck. Her humor and insight into the human condition is brilliant. In her heyday, mid-1960’s through the 1990’s, she wrote numerous bestsellers and over 4,000 newspaper columns. Many were the days I’d call my mom to see if she ready Erma that day and we’d nearly wet our pants laughing together over them. But she also wrote a bittersweet column “If I Had My Life to Live Over ” after discovering that she was dying of cancer. That column provides just the antidote for my ridiculous collections for “someday”.   One of her observations, “I would have burnt the pink candle that was sculptured like a rose before it melted while being stored”, really resonated. Why am I saving the best for last? Who is it really for? What’s the harm in giving that stuff away now…for anyone who wants it? In fact, it’s often the very people who we don’t think deserve it, who actually need it or would appreciate it now. “No, these 3-D bookmarks should be for student X”. “Mrs. Y  would love this cloth-y cat bag from a vendor”.  “These posters would be perfect in Mr. Z’s class”. And all the while X, Y, and Z move on and you still have the stuff! And more besides.

So just for today, I’m going to sort one more bin, or shelf or cabinet and boldly go where this librarian has not gone before…straight to the teacher giveaway cart or freebie student basket to hand out when they check out their books. Why? Just because! I don’t have the room, tubs, or energy to keep saving the best for last. I’m saving it for now….and then passing it on! Go ahead, make somone’s day and give them the best of what you have now. If you’re not the archivist that I am, you might not have the stuff I have. So how about your best smile, listening ear, compliment, hug, lesson, effort? Your best 5 minutes to encourage? Your best planning time to spend with a struggling colleague? Your best lunch to share with a student? Most of our “bests” don’t cost a thing…yet are priceless to the recipient.
It's time to save the best for now! One more step to help you stay Grounded!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Get One More

 This is the time of the school year when some teachers have started doing assorted countdowns (X more Mondays, Y more Faculty Meetings,  Z more exams, etc.) as a way to get through to the end of the year. I usually don't start the process until May, but this has been an especially challenging year, not only personally, but for several of my Media friends. Somehow watching the numbers tick off, marking x's on a calendar, counting off the last of things helps us know that no matter how hard things have been for us personally or professionally, they will come to an end and we'll get a break before it starts up again in a fresh new way. But in the meantime, we have to get through each day...we have to "get one more".

I recently saw the acclaimed "Hacksaw Ridge" movie and as is usually the case in inspiring war movies like that, I am in awe of the courage, fortitude and strength that our soldiers have had in battle, from "The Patriot" to "Glory", from "Sergeant York" to "We Were Soldiers". I can't say I like all war movies, especially the more modern takes on them, but "Hacksaw Ridge" had something that put it in my "must see" movie list. No spoilers here, but the main character Desmond Doss, played by Andrew Garfield, struggled to save his fellow soldiers in a horrendous grueling at a time. And that became his mantra, "Please, Lord, help me get one more" as he rescued roughly 75 men. He says it was 50, witnesses claimed 100, so they settled on 75!

Now I know we're not in such dire straits as Doss was during the battle at Hacksaw Ridge, but I find his expression of "get one more" helpful, if not lifesaving in everyday situations at work and personally. My "get one more" at work has enabled me to prepare 100's computers for our computer based testing for our 1000+ students, have the patience for students who think vacation has already started, show another teacher how the copy machine works and/or unjam it after they leave, run copies for another unprepared sub, re-arrange furniture and equipment for another unplanned meeting, send the link for Reading Counts quizzes to teachers who finally realized the power of that for motivating their students, etc. In other words, my job! Just when I think I can't or don't want to do/guide/re-teach/connect/promote another thing, I'm reminded to do "get one more". This year there have even been days when "get one more" got me back the next day. Meetings where "get one more" helped me focus and contribute. Rowdy students who "get one more" got me to finally  hook one of them up with a new favorite book. 

Maybe your "get one more" is personal..."get one more" leg press at the gym, "get one more" step/block/mile in your fitness; "get one more" bedtime story for the kids, "get one more" season of "24" that I binge watch, "get one more" potato chip! Whatever your situation, those baby steps and small increments can get you a long way when they all add up. This year I've managed to lose 20 pounds with that "get one more" mentality. Lots of ups and downs and slow going, but faithfully attending  my 7:30 AM Weight Watchers meetings on Saturday mornings and sticking to the plan and "get one more" day proved a winning strategy.

So are you counting the days until the end of the year? Are you facing what you think is an insurmountable Media/Teaching situation? Is it a struggle just getting out of bed and off to work? Try to    get a "get one more" attitude and face it one hour/half-day/day at a time until it's over. Nothing is impossible. And if, like Doss, your plea invokes the help of the Lord, you may find a strength you didn't think you had. But if not, at least facing it in small doses helps turn what you think is impossible to the possible. 

Right now I'm watching "A Hard Day's Night" on TCM. Sometimes I have to NOT do a "get one more" when I'm watching old movies! But I'm having some serious nostalgic thoughts now...I was in elementary school when the movie came out and still remember going to see it with girlfriends, then buying our Beatles' trading cards at the drug store after the movie, hoping for pix of Paul. And also, striving for the perfect flip hairdo those cool English girls had! So after this "get one more" I'll  "get one more" meal for the weekend, and prepare mentally to "get one more" day of school. Fortunately, the good days far outweigh the bad, and I'm not in the countdown mode yet. There's still plenty of good stuff this year to enjoy and look forward to. That's what I'm focussing on, friends!

Have a happy "get one more" and Stay Grounded!