All posts by Ann Riley

3 pounds of tofu between your ears

I love small books with big messages. Neuroscience, Buddhist thought, psychology, compassion, beauty, kindness…this book has it all. It’s organized in short, powerful chapters – each with a potent, instantly-usable message. Here are my random thoughts for today in random order…

Start with Chapter 2 and Chapter 17

Remember your GCC Library. We can get this book for you to check out.

Best Wishes to all the 6 x 6 writers. Thanks to all of you for sharing your stories and ideas.

 I believe: What is known must be shared, preferably for free…


Difficult daughters

On Children
 Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts, 
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, 
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, 
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, 
and He bends you with His might 
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, 
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

I love this poem. It sums up a lot of what I’ve learned in my 24 years as a Mom. My daughter and I are totally opposite in most ways. Since she was small, she has never ceased to amaze me with her contrasting attitude and I’m sure she feels the same regarding my differing ideas. Before she was born, I could have never imagined how unmatched a mother and child could be regarding temperament. I had rose-colored dreams of us being warm and fuzzy best friends. Where I got that idea, I can’t imagine – since my mother and I were certainly opposites as well. Is there a pattern here???

So this poem seemed to provide some clarity to this mother-daughter mis-match. All this unlikeness is OK…Jennifer is allowed to be Jennifer… I am allowed to be me…and my mom was allowed to be mean… uh…I MEANT…was allowed to be her

Actually, I feel liberated by the lessons in this poem. I am so much more comfortable with our opposing attitudes and choices. I wish my mom could have read this poem too. But then, she would have hated it…and I guess that’s OK too…that was her style…

(We were supposed to write about difficult people, right?)

This post is for you Mom! I Love You and I miss you,

Your Difficult Daughter who is the mother of your difficult granddaughter…

Lesson for Today:

Difficult Daughters…Maybe it takes one to know one…


Countdown to Reality

Last evening, a chance of winning the Powerball lottery prompted my unrealistic of dream of “What would I do if…??? 45 minutes was all that stood between me and some unimaginable amount of cash. I told my husband, “Enjoy the next 45 minutes because our life is going to change at 8 o’clock.”

During those 45 minutes, I basked in the dreamy thoughts of my philanthropic calling…starting an organization to fund the charity work of others. I imagined myself sitting at a board room table listening to the enthusiastic ideas of concerned people who want to make the world a better place. Wow…just think of the ripple effect…this is going to be awesome…

45 minutes later, the reality buzzer rang as the winning lottery numbers failed to appear on my ticket. OK. Whatever. It’s fun to dream.

My take away: What we dream today can create our reality tomorrow. Maybe yesterday’s dream is moving me toward explicit action to make a positive difference today and in the future. Maybe the lottery dream was just a warm-up for my real philanthropic future.


Collective Reckoning

I love Oprah and as usual, she hit it right on the head. I just re-read a January article from her magazine and it spoke to my heart. Oprah is my virtual mentor. I adopted her as my role model back in the 80’s. Oprah was the first person to send me a positive, uplifting message that changed my life. I’ve loved her ever since and adore her life’s work and attitude.

Today, I’d like to share some great lines from this recent article. By sharing her inspiration, I feel the joy of her words over and over again. Oprah gives me hope for the future. Here is a sample of her recent message to me:

Regarding our nation today – “We’re losing what it means to be civilized. We’re losing respect for lives other than our own.”

Now here’s the hopeful part of the message – “Everyday acts of goodwill and consciousness are what’s needed to restore our collective broken soul. Only a deep collective reckoning can bring us back from the brink.”

Don’t underestimate your power.

It takes only one candle to light a whole room of darkness.”

I agree that we need this “collective reckoning.” However, we can only control what we do as individuals. All we can do is add our own individual effort to the collective reckoning and hope that the ripple effect expands these intentions. “Be a balm of peace in a troubled land.” Thanks Oprah. You always know what I need to hear.

FYI – The Oprah Magazine is now available at the GCC Library for your reading pleasure. Stop in and say Hi and enjoy being surrounded by tens of thousands of books!


Wanna Dance?

Do you see yourself? Would you feel welcome in this group?

Diversity: Being invited to the party.

Inclusivity: Being asked to dance

(My invented definitions based on the words of Verna Myers)

While reading-up on the topic of inclusivity, I came upon the words of two of my favorite people, Thich Nhat Hanh and Oprah. Here are some insights regarding the term inclusivity.

Thich Nhat Hanh described inclusivity with the verbs “accept and embrace.” This embrace idea connects with Verna Myers’ thought of dancing…close, personal, human…This made me think that inclusivity means not just letting someone in the door, but giving them a hug too. Also, these words suggest close, concrete actions and not just a “nice, far away idea.”

In a 2016 Time interview, Oprah revealed that she had dropped the word diversity from her vocabulary in favor of inclusion. She offered this reasoning, “the word that most articulates what we’re looking for is what we want to be: included. It’s to have a seat at the table where the decisions are being made.”

So, when you hear about the term inclusivity- think of asking someone to dance. Think about parties you’ve attended. The people on the dance floor usually seem to be having the most fun.  


Flying Books Deliver Daily Inspiration

This is my reality: All day…every day, books fly through the library and ultimately land in my hands. It’s as if these items take flight from the book stacks and land right on my desk… This experience of coming into direct contact with countless, random books every day inspires me tremendously. I wish I could track how much I’ve grown and learned, professionally and personally, since I joined the GCC Library family. Working in Access Services at an academic library is certainly a dream come true for a bookworm like me. A sample of our library’s extensive collection materializes each day. On every horizontal surface, books perch patiently, inviting me to take a closer look.

The written word speaks to my soul. Spoken words are fine, but reading words on a page transcends an auditory experience. Silent and deep, books change my life, one sentence at a time. Each book feels like a stepping stone. Or maybe more like shells on the beach…I ignore most, but certain gems capture my attention. In the same way, some books go unnoticed while others introduce me to a perfectly-timed message with lasting effects. It’s magical actually.

Momentary, random encounters can yield deep thoughts.
Recently I found the words of Octavia Butler and Brian Bilston.  In the library, inspiration is just a page away…

Refugees by Brian Bilston

They have no need of our help
So do not tell me
These haggard faces could belong to you or me
Should life have dealt a different hand
We need to see them for who they really are
Chancers and scroungers
Layabouts and loungers
With bombs up their sleeves
Cut-throats and thieves
They are not
Welcome here
We should make them
Go back to where they came from
They cannot
Share our food
Share our homes
Share our countries
Instead let us
Build a wall to keep them out
It is not okay to say
These are people just like us
A place should only belong to those who are born there
Do not be so stupid to think that
The world can be looked at another way

          (now read from bottom to top)



6X6 continued…

Since this is the final post for this round of 6X6, the next step is on my mind. How do I continue this writing challenge? How can I stay motivated to continue writing for an audience?

For now, I will continue to read the blogs of other writers and strive to respond to their work. Below is my comment to Jonas Ellison’s daily post with a link to his blog. His writing inspires me to keep writing. It’s a great cycle for me…read…write…read…write…

View at


Your words are not lofty drivel. And you’re never boring. I love your line Good writing comes from friction in daily life. To take it further, good writing also comes from pain in daily life, and humor in daily life and courage, and failure and uncertainty and the raw humanity in daily life.

Your line inspires me to draw ideas from daily life for my writing. I think I get caught up trying to express amazing new insights that will blow my readers away when really I just need to offer a small human connection. Because that’s what blows me away…when another writer perfectly expresses how I feel. I am always amazed and overjoyed when a total stranger and fellow writer “hits it right on the head” and brings clarity to my situation. Jonas you do this on a daily basis.

Thanks for sharing your work.


*******So, to all the GCC 6X6 writers- please share with me your recommendations for your favorite blogs that focus on writing, or art, or creativity, or any writing that spreads a positive, empowering message.  I believe in that ripple effect I wrote about last week.


Ripple Effect

How cool. I found my inspiration for this post at the Library Circulation Counter…my happy place…LOVE IT! A student just checked out a few cookbooks. As he left, I said, “Enjoy those.” He stopped and turned back toward me and his face lit up as he explained his plans to transfer to a culinary college next semester. He elaborated on how his major has changed and his dream is to cook for professional athletes. His enthusiasm was heartwarming. This one-minute exchange totally underscores my mantra: What we do today matters.

I strive to celebrate everyday moments wherever and whenever possible. Daily interactions with students at the Library Circulation Counter provide a constant opportunity to live in the moment and just be present with the individual in front of me. I try to imagine the ripple effect of the learning that takes place every day in our library. Maybe the culinary student will get an idea from one of those cookbooks that will help him in culinary school. Maybe the medical students who check out the Biology and Chemistry textbooks will one day help me or a family member. Each time I check out a nursing or biology/chemistry textbook, I feel a sense of gratitude knowing that another generation of helping professionals are hard at work. Imagine how many people these students will help in the future.  I try to remember my intention to be present in the moment and look for a joyful moment.  Avoiding auto-pilot makes it possible to engage with the person standing in front of me and look for an opportunity to connect.

What we do today matters. Looking for positive and meaningful connections in everyday transactions allows me to feel joy. It’s my own version of Stop and smell the roses.


If you see something nice, say something nice…


Adding small doses of daily kindness to GCC and the world in general is a dream of mine. I’d like to offer some explicit, easy, painless examples of how we can all increase kindness on a daily basis. Imagine how a collective effort of small actions could impact our lives. Gratitude and kindness are powerful ideas. See if you can incorporate one of the following suggestions into your super-busy daily schedule and notice the win-win feeling.

  1. While walking on campus, make a daily effort to notice on a pleasant sight. Examples: “Wow, that display in the student union is amazing.” Or “The roses are beautiful.” Usually, we might just think this thought and forget it. Take it a step further and send a quick email to recognize someone’s hard work. Email the department or individual responsible. The key is to be mindful and have an intention to recognize the positive.
  2. Acknowledge the success of others. Congratulate a faculty member or student who has succeed. Acknowledgments don’t have to be mushy compliments. Just recognizing the effort or outcome is enough.
  3. Even a semi-specific question to spark a quick dialogue conveys kindness and caring. Ask someone while you’re waiting in line for coffee or lunch “So how’s your semester going?” You might be surprised at the amount of enthusiasm that is returned to your inquiry.

Try to find opportunities to be kind to yourself and others. It’s easy to walk around campus on auto-pilot. Experience the present moment. See if you notice anything that brings a split second of joy.



Please let me know if you hate this.



I feel like everything is inspired by something else. There is no 100 percent original thought                                                                                                                                                                                     ~Ne-Yo

From Best Selling Author  Steven Pressfield’s blog regarding a new project:

“The book is about writing.

I don’t have a title yet but the premise is that there’s such a thing as “the artist’s journey.”

The artist’s journey is different from “the hero’s journey.”

The artist’s journey is the process we embark upon once we’ve found our calling, once we know we’re writers but we don’t know yet exactly what we’ll write or how we’ll write it.”

I lifted the lines above from Steven Pressfield’s website I decided to share them with the 6X6 writers because I loved how honest Pressfield was…he admitted he doesn’t know exactly what to write or exactly how he’ll write it. He’s a professional, best selling author and he was brave enough to admit that on the world wide web. I LOVE THAT. I never thought I was really allowed to admit to things like that out loud, let alone in a professional community. But now I realize that by sharing his uncertainty, Pressfield just endeared himself to me as a writer and fellow human being. I admire him. I’m now more likely to read his blog and books…he offered a way to make a sincere connection. And now I’m quoting him and passing along his info in hopes that someone else might gain a spark of inspiration.

Since I’m on a roll about stealing and being honest, two topics that make good writing, I have to give credit for the title of this post. I stole that from Pressfield’s blog too. This line encouraged me to be brave. It’s like Pressfield is saying, “What do you think? Be honest… I can take it…”

So, let me know if you hate this. But, please be kind. I’m not as tough as I will be someday. This is my first day at being fearless…sometimes every day feels like my first day…

Check out Oprah’s interview with Pressfield: