Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Are you taking care of yourself?

With everything we have to do as librarians (and spouses, parents, siblings, children, etc!), sometimes the last thing we think about is ourselves. Ask yourself these questions:

1. Do I get regular exercise?
2. Do I make healthy choices when I eat?
3. Do I take the time to relax or do something to relieve stress?

First off, let me just say that I am not a certified personal trainer, nutritionist, or therapist/psychologist. But, for the last 8+ years I have worked with personal trainers on how to both exercise and eat. There is so much information out there that it really gets confusing! While I have tried lots of different diets over the years and done various exercise programs, I have finally learned what works and what doesn’t work for me.

Exercise is not always fun, but making it a regular part of my life has made all the difference. We’ve all heard that we need aerobic type exercise, but we need resistance exercise too. Walking is good, especially walking briskly and getting the old ticker going fast….and yes, sweating! But we also need some weights or resistance exercise; this is what builds muscle and bones. As we age, the stronger our bones and muscles are, the less likely we are to have serious injuries and broken bones. Personally, I need help with motivation and with someone keeping a close eye to make sure I do things correctly. I always recommend before you start some sort of exercise, you work with a professional to get the best information and to help develop the best program for you. The goal here should be to build muscle and reduce body fat. When I go to the doctor for checkups, I love the look on the nurse’s face when they check my blood pressure….it’s always great and they are surprised!?! Remember it’s not as much about what you weigh but what your muscle to fat ratio is….I wear a smaller size now, but at the same weight I was 10-15 years ago…..it’s the workouts that make a difference.

Eating…..well I’m addicted to food. I love everything and I love eating out! Nashville has so many great places to eat too! Here’s what works for me:

I keep a food diary and turn it in to my trainer every week. Find someone that will help encourage you and hold you accountable!

When I eat clean, I cut out most carbs (none after 3:00) and eat lean protein/fish/beans/eggs, and lots of veggies and fruits. My favorite healthy carbs are baked sweet potato, oatmeal, whole wheat pita and corn tortillas. I am crazy about cheese….so I really have to watch my serving sizes!

I eat every 2-3 hours….nuts, nut butter, dark chocolate, fruit for snacks. If I don’t do this I get really hungry and eat more when I finally sit down to eat.

I try to eat supper early (usually by 6:00) and don’t eat before bedtime

Plan ahead….if I know I’m going to a special even or restaurant, I look at the menu in advance and make a plan….i might not eat the bread but order a filet with a sweet potato and some broccoli.

Relax and pamper yourself when you can! Sometimes this is just a little catnap or maybe a nice walk or a fun piece of jewelry! I love a foot massage or a manicure too! But I try not to reward myself with food.

A few years ago my dad was very sick with congestive heart failure and I was going back and forth to Texas to be with him and help move him into a nursing facility. I would try to either walk or workout most days; this was just a great stress reliever and helped me handle things. We all have to figure out how to deal with stress because it’s everywhere!

Every day I fight those battles of what I’m going to eat and how much I’m going to move! I try to plan out ahead of time what the day will hold and when I can get in my snacks and exercise….but some days just don’t work out the way I planned. There are days when I just want to give up…but then I see my good friend who was born with spina bifida (who has difficulty walking along with many other things) I am inspired to take care of myself and do it for her!

If you ever need someone to talk to and give you some encouragement, please give me a call….I love helping others feel better!

(former) MNPS Librarian

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Surviving End of Year Book Collections!

It happened every time her class came to library. She was mad, or sad, tears streaming down her face with no words to express why. It finally dawned on me that this student was upset because she had lost her library books and could not check out anymore. I knew her family couldn’t pay to replace the books. Issues in her home life were what contributed to her losing the books in the first place. So how can we teach kids to be responsible citizens while ensuring that they love the library and don’t see it as a punitive place?

Well, the first thing I think we need to tell ourselves is to get over it. Yep, I said it, and yep, it goes against everything most of us hold dear. But, kids are going to lose and damage books. It is the very nature of a library collection to be ever-changing. And it is the very nature of kids to lose stuff, especially kids that are living in tough situations. I know these examples are far from the norm, but I have had students lose library books because their family was evicted and all of their stuff was thrown out on the street. Another child was taken into child protective custody and, of course, didn’t have time to grab her favorite teddy, much less her library books. One student this year told me his library books were blown to smithereens when his mom’s car caught on fire. I believed him, too! Like I said before, these are not normal examples, but we should keep them in mind and remember that responsibility is not always the first thing on our students’ minds.

In order to have our students learn responsibility, we must teach them how to be responsible and give them support in this area. At the beginning of every year, I teach my students that the safest place to keep their library book is in their backpack. We review all of the reasons why to not leave books on their book shelf, their bed, their dining room table, etc. We repeat the phrase (with hand motions), “Read, read, read, read, read… put it in your backpack!” 

I am considering using baggies next year for them to keep their books in within their backpack.
I have also written a song about keeping their books in their backpack… Anything to help them remember! It is to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It” and it goes like this: “If you want to keep your books safe, zip them up. ** If you want to keep your books safe, zip them up! ** You can keep them safe and dry, keep them safe and you won’t cry. You can check more books out if you zip these up!**” I remind them that if they have their library books in their backpack, they can read them whenever they are at home or at school, and they will always have them to return on library day since they bring their backpack to school every day! If they still have trouble getting their books returned, I will send home a reminder bracelet (or put it on the loop of their backpack). These are attached. 

Towards the end of the year we are trying to collect all of the books. This is a great time to make responsibility into a competition to add a little fun. Students could compete against teachers or grade level against grade level. Students should earn at least recognition for their responsibility, if not a reward! This year, I made a handy little chart that I show the students every morning so they see how many books they still need to return.

I am trying something new this year as I am wrapping up the year and trying to get all of the books returned. I am giving the students who have lost library books a choice. If all else fails and the books are still gone, students should be required to pay for or replace them in order to learn responsibility. We know that not every family is going to be able (or willing) to pay for lost books. So our parents are given a choice between paying in full, paying a portion, replacing the books, donating a gently used book, or donating food for our Second Harvest pantry. I sent home a parent letter that is attached. Feel free to use it or tweak it as needed!

Remember that we want the students (and parents) to associate reading and learning with fun! We want to build relationships, not damage them! And as Allison Barney from Limitless Libraries so succinctly put it, “we are here to create access, not restrictions.”

Happy book hunting!

MNPS Librarian