Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thinking good thoughts

I started this year fully committed to seeing a half-full glass, to accentuating the positive, to not sweating the small stuff, and in general to enjoying my life and my job even when faced with less-than-optimal circumstances.

While I will draw a veil over how well this resolution has served me in my personal life so far, it was working like a charm as far as work was concerned - up until last night, when I lay awake during the wee hours, heart pounding as I obsessed about the monumental tasks in front of me and the gigantic barriers in my path. And that was just the Summer Reading Program I was fretting about, merely one of the programs I am in charge of planning and coordinating for my library system!

Because my hours at work are so filled to the brim, there isn't any time for necessary planning and reflection, so it's natural that there must be some out-of-work-time ruminating; in fact, I get some of my best work-related thinking done while jogging. But when the thinking takes the place of sleeping or is accompanied by cold sweat and a racing pulse - well, that just ain't on.

In fact, I realized I had reached a nadir of Bad Thinking when, during my commute home, I found myself clenching the steering wheel and breathing too rapidly because I was stressing about the tiny details of - a staff karaoke night I've organized for next Wednesday. How ludicrous is that? I'm totally looking forward to yowling Shangri-La songs into a microphone in front of a bug-eyed audience of my colleagues!

Jeez, Eva - LIGHTEN UP!!!!!!!

During one of several meetings today, someone suggested that we "remember what excites us" about our jobs. And while what excites me about my job also stresses me out (because of the lack of time, staff, money; because of the impossibility of ever achieving the perfection I dream about), that is damn good advice nevertheless. Which I will now try to take.

What excites me about my job - the short version:
  • Being in a position to bring about positive change in my library system and by doing so, being able to bring about positive change in my community.
  • Working to strengthen the children's and teen summer reading clubs, improve the quality and quantity of our early literacy storytimes and parent workshops, increase opportunities for teen participation and leadership, offer first-rate children's and teen materials collections, and ensure that kids and teens have access to homework resources at the library and via the Internet.
  • Offering training, resources, information, guidance, good cheer, and moral support to all the children's and teen librarians at our 72 branches and Central.
  • Getting the word out to the community about the Library and its amazing, indispensable services, resources, and staff.
That boils my job down to some basic, very broad strokes - and yet, these are very tangible things that give me great joy. This is the best job in the world. And as I kept repeating to myself last night, "There is plenty of time; there is plenty of time." And as several wise folks have pointed out to me, this is not brain surgery. If I screw up, no one is going to die!

So - time to relish my job's opportunities, not dread the possibility of failure. Time to have fun doing a job I love.

Time to plan what ABBA song to startle my colleagues with this Wednesday!


  1. I just thunk some more good thoughts for you Eva! I hope you have fun with ABBA!

  2. Thanks, Charlotte! I had a good dream about our new children's librarians last night (the ones who used to be adult librarians) - so that's a good sign.

  3. Eva! You are phenomenal! If I were the Queen of California, I would knight you Dame Eva for all the work you do toward creating a better library system and for being a champion of highest order for the library arts. Your good cheer, your continuous efforts toward making LAPL the library system we all dream about (in the midst of a crushing economy, drastic cuts and low morale), your ability to hear and even address (!) a litany of complaints, all while reading, blogging, running, tweeting and oh yes, parenting and being someone's significant other, add up to quite a bit, and it's impressive. There's lots to be done, but as you said, there's time. I know I speak for many of us children's librarians when I say, we're all behind you and understand there are many roadblocks and minimal people to help you in your work. So please, please, please do take a deep breath, let it out slowly and find some inner joy in all this, Dame Eva. While it's hard to keep up all that you do...ever great lady deserves to cut herself some well earned slack!

  4. Maddy, I'm going to spend the whole weekend walking on air!! Deep breath in, deep breath ooouuut - whew. THANK YOU.

  5. I agree with Maddy! And let us help you. Let someone else organize the party next time.