All posts by Ann Riley

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 Medium.com

Jonas,

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 http://www.stevenpressfield.com. 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:

 

 

It’s a Library Thing…

 

This 6X6 Writing Challenge is a great example of basking in the reflection of my culture on the GCC campus. I’m in love with the idea of life-long learning and the exchange of ideas.

GCC is the epitome of life-long learning. Specifically, my position in GCC Library Access Services offers constant opportunities to celebrate student and staff success in regards to providing access to information. My goal is simple: If you need information, I want to help you access it. If what you need is not housed in our library, I want to help you find it.

At times, I love to stand back and look at the BIG picture in library terms: Historically, the library is at the foundation of civilization. This is a powerful idea as I walk through our library…it’s a big deal to experience this academic setting and appreciate the limitless opportunities that might begin here.  I like to imagine that all the mental effort that takes place in the library is transformed into positive futures and a better world. I love to savor my BIG picture idea and realize that what I do today really matters.

Also, I love to lean in and appreciate the small, everyday moments I share with library patrons. It is almost magical to meet others who share my specific love for library books and learning. It’s an over-the-edge, possessive behavior. I totally understand the patrons who feel like 28 days is never long enough to keep a book…who have a hard time actually letting go and setting the book on the counter to return it. Don’t laugh, there are a few of us who clutch certain books and wish we could keep them just a little longer since we never seem to feel truly done. ( I know, why don’t we just buy it, you say…but that’s not how we roll…remember, the library is a cornerstone of civilization, Amazon is not…and some of us need to feel the pages in our hands…electronic words don’t feed our souls)

When’s the last time you walked through our library? Stop in and experience the sheer joy of 90,000+ books – all in one big room. It’s old-school awesome!

Information helps you to see that you’re not alone. That there’s somebody in Mississippi and somebody in Tokyo who all have wept, who’ve all longed and lost, who’ve all been happy. So the library helps you to see, not only that you are not alone, but that you’re not really any different from everyone else.                                                                                                                                                                                     ~Maya Angelou

 

 

My Inspiration: Writer’s Block

I love this 6X6 Writing Challenge. So why can’t I write anything? Each time I begin, I read it and it stinks. I just read Jeffrey Sanger’s post and he reminded me to think about my audience. Everything I’d written up until this point was written for me. I was my audience. Who wants to read that kind of stuff? Not even me at the moment… So here’s a thought for our 6X6 writing community regarding an inspirational person I met online thanks to NPR. Don’t you just love NPR?

Check out this video or his website. I hope you’re inspired…

Alain de Botton 

Writer, modern-day philosopher, founder of

The School of Life.   https://www.theschooloflife.com/

 

de Botton’s The School of Life and  http://www.thebookoflife.org/  offer free, relevant, intelligent information.

 

 

 

Reason, Season, Lifetime…

Maybe you’ve read the Reason, Season, Lifetime piece. It’s a rather cutesy idea about why certain people come into your life. When I thought about work relationships, the Reason, Season, Lifetime thought came to mind.

Let me start by saying that I don’t buy into the over-simplified idea that everything happens for a reason. But after re-reading the Reason, Season piece and thinking about work/friend relationships over the years, it is sort of a cool concept.

Read Reason, Season (click below) and then think about people in your life that fit each category.

Even more interesting – think about yourself and what categories you fit in according to your experiences with family, friends, coworkers, and students. In addition to all the great people who have impacted your life, think about those who presented a struggle. Sometimes difficult experiences move us to grow or change. At the very least, we can re-frame our intentions in tough relationships as an opportunity to practice patience, tolerance, or model acceptable behavior for others.

So now you’ve had your daily dose of sugar-coated philosophy. Best wishes to everyone for a fantastic spring break.

 

Simple, not easy

Since my hero Austin Kleon writes in bullet points, I think I will too. Here are a few thoughts about dealing with difficult situations in a positive way.

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

  • The Four Agreements is a tiny book filled with enormous wisdom.
  • Take Away Message: Don’t take anything personally.
  • “Personal importance, or taking things personally, is the maximum expression of selfishness because we make the assumption that everything is about me.” Great quote from Chapter 3, page 48.
  • Avoid the urge to be right and make everyone else wrong.
  • Bottom Line: In a difficult situation, don’t take it personally because everyone lives in their own reality. Their anger is about them, not you. Even if they say something ugly, that’s their ugliness. Don’t make it yours too.

Unconditional Positive Regard, a concept developed by the humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers.

  • Try to accept and support others without passing judgment.
  • Starting from a point of unconditional positive regard will probably improve any situation.

If all else fails, lighten your mood.

  • Imagine your current difficult situation is happening in a sitcom.
  • Think about a silly sign. Here are a few examples:

 

Steal Like An Artist

 

I don’t know how I ended up with this idea, but I love it. Thinking about dreams for improving my job led me to one of my favorite authors, Austin Kleon. I found one of his books years ago while browsing at Urban Outfitters and I’ve been a fan ever since. He writes about work and the creative process in a fun, meaningful way.

  • He writes short chapters.
  • He draws simple illustrations that make sense.
  • His books are fun to read and teach life-changing ideas at the same time.
  • He writes in lists and bullet points.
  • I love reading his stuff.

I flipped through his book, Steal Like an Artist to find inspiration for this post. So now, I’m stealing from page 108 with the following idea: Write Fan Letters. Here is a loose quote, “If you truly love somebody’s work, write them a public fan letter. Write a blog post about someone’s work that you admire and link to their site. Write something and dedicate it to your hero.”

  • Who better to write about than the author of this idea?
  • Austin Kleon, this post is dedicated to you.

Check out his website:

http://austinkleon.com

Watch a video:

Read his books:

steal like an artist Show Your Work

 

  • Whose work do you admire?
  • Write them a fan letter.