To Be or Do, or Not to Be or Do: Is That the Question?

Bandit

One of my all-time favorite treats:  quietly sitting on my back porch gazing at the beauty of nature.  The mist rising over the lake and glazing the sun.  The colors of the garden I have lovingly crafted.

The birds are chirping and busily hunting for breakfast; it’s early enough that the tree frogs are still serenading me.  Bandit, our manic little hummingbird, is  jealously guarding “his” feeder, perched either on the pool fence or in the crepe myrtle tree that overhangs the deck.

This is “being.”  I have not done enough being this summer.

Instead, I have been busily doing. Doing helps me prepare for the next school year. Having a strong school library program is paramount to me.  I want to be able to offer my teachers and students the resources and assistance they need to be successful.  I want to be well read in current YA lit so that I can suggest possible reads when students seem to be wandering aimlessly around the shelves. I want to be knowledgeable about the latest technology and online tools so that I can suggest the most appropriate ones for teachers to incorporate into their instruction.

All those “I want to be’s”….

Wanting to be knowledgeable has led to endless hours of “doing” this summer.  I finally completed my 2010-2011 Annual Report, I participated in the SCASL Summer Institute, I attended and presented at the Upstate Technology Conference.  I have read countless blogs, played with new-to-me online tools, skimmed through part of a backlog of last school year’s professional journals. I have devoured many YA titles (and found several gems) and collaborated with other SC media specialists to create Readers’ Advisory tools to promote our South Carolina Young Adult Book Award 2012 nominees.

All in preparation to craft the best school library program for the 2011-2012 school year.

And yet….

How ironic that in my summer quest “to be,” I have not enjoyed just being.

I love watching Bandit; each year I almost giddily anticipate his spring return.  His bright colors and passionate antics fill me with an inexplicable “everything is right with the world” feeling.

However, this morning as Bandit gallantly protected “his” feeder, I saw myself:  always poised to be alert and to act, and never just allowing myself the time to enjoy the scenery.  What if other school librarians learned or did something that I myself overlooked?

Inspiration

The question is not “to be or do, or not to be or do.”  No, both are necessary.  The question for me is, “When am I going to allow myself to be?”

This morning as I was savoring the peace in my own back yard, I remembered:  it is often in quiet contemplation that I receive inspiration.  What other excuse do I need to pour myself another cup of coffee and head out to my sanctuary?

Being.

Garden serenity

2010 in Review

Today, WordPress.com provided me with information concerning this blog’s 2010 status.  I thought readers might be interested in some of that information as well as how I hope to use it to improve this blog.

From WordPress.com

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 10,000 times in 2010. That’s about 24 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 43 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 142 posts. There were 69 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 24mb. That’s about 1 picture per week.

The busiest day of the year was March 15th with 269 views. The most popular post that day was Warning! We Filter Websites!.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were Google Reader, schoollibrarywebsites.wikispaces.com, librarystuff.net, google.com, and mail.yahoo.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for building blocks, informania, edward cullen, questions, and word collage.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Warning! We Filter Websites! March 2010
1 comment

2

Promoting Books July 2009
7 comments

3

Advocacy: Annual Reports June 2010
6 comments

4

Discovering New (to me) South Carolina Talent November 2010
6 comments

5

Advocacy: Monthly Reports November 2010
6 comments

Thoughts

First, how readers discover this blog amazes me at times.  I often check to see what search terms drive people here.  They usually include the title of this blog but the other terms change with time.  Point:  Edward Cullen.  One post mentioning his name seems to have driven quite a bit of traffic here;  I’ m sure those searchers were a bit disappointed.

Since this blog concerns school library matters and educational technology uses I would have expected more readers to use terms concerning those fields to locate information here.

Lesson learned: Perhaps the tags I use need tweaking.  I need to study the tags other school librarian bloggers are using.

Second:  It’s very interesting to  me that although 269 people viewed the post “Warning! We Filter Websites!,” the only comment on it was a pingback from a mention on another site. Looking back at the post, though, I noticed that I didn’t invite comments on the illustration.

Lesson learned: Because I value other educators’ opinions and enjoy conversations that challenge my views and encourage me to see a topic from other vantage points, I need to remember to invite readers to comment.  I am indebted to those in my personal learning network for their inspiration and encouragement.

Finally, can I get even 10% of the ticket costs for those 10,000 Boeing travellers?

In what others ways can I use this data to improve the conversation?

Analyzing Shelf Life

Spice Cabinet: Tins with Spices

Tired of having spice bottles fall off the shelf when I was trying to extricate one from the bunch, I decided to weed through the shelf contents.  Embarrassing to say, I had not one, but three, old bottles of chili powder.  Even more embarrassing to say, I uncovered bottles that had to date from the early part of this century. (At least I can almost certainly say none were from the 20th century as I have reorganized that shelf within the last few years.)

Why would I have two bottles of orange peel  when I rarely use that spice?  What is the purpose of hoarding spice bottles when each spice loses its potency over time?

Shelf Life?

Whether common or exotic, spices are meant to enhance food’s flavor.  Stating the obvious here, but to work, spices must be applied.  Purchasing the spice and displaying it in your spice cabinet adds nothing to the intensity of your meal.

I must admit I have not only hoarded spices, but also ideas.  I look forward to reading journals and scouring  the Internet for new ideas to incorporate into my library program. I’ve created various folders on my computer to store the treasures I find.  But if I am just storing these ideas on a “computer shelf,” then I am doing no better with them than I am with the spices I have accumulated.  These ideas cannot help my program unless I apply them.

I must make a conscious effort to break the information cycle (seek, read, store) I have created.  Although there is nothing inherently wrong with  seeking, reading, and storing information, if the purpose I am doing these tasks is not being satisfied, then I am no different than a hamster endlessly running on its wheel.

Have you found yourself in a rut lately?  If so, what steps have you taken to break out of the routine?

“We judge others by their behavior.  We judge ourselves by our intentions.” Ian Percy


Image Attribution:

“Spice Cabinet:  Tins with Spices” by Chris Martino

Used through a Creative Commons license