Knitting … and the peace it has brought me

17 Jul

I’ve just remembered it is Monday and I agreed to try

#glamblogweekly

and have now forgotten several times in one day to come up with a post.

This blog post should be about #VALATechCamp – which was amazing, and inspiring, and has given me a To Do list of 50 new things to try. However I have been going over my notes in between web meetings and my head is far too full at this stage to decant clearly.

So I’m going to talk about getting headspace back instead.

Anyone who has met me has probably been subjected to a bit of a rant on my obsession about work/life balance, and the work required to get to this harmonious and productive point. I have been a workaholic, still there after late night library closing, up sending messages again early in the morning. I’ve also been so disengaged with my work that days have passed without me being able to recall to anyone what I had covered in that time. Now I like to think I am achieving close to balance, and am always interested in new neuroscience research that talks about how to get there.

I signed up for Mindful in May this year, a repeat on last year, hoping to achieve real progression in my capacity to let thoughts go past my mind’s eye without grabbing them and developing each one into it’s own new docudrama or 10 year business plan. Some progress was made but not much.

At my CWA meeting in the same month we talked about learning new crafts, and someone mentioned that knitting was supposed to be good for depression, meditation and letting go anxiety. Then someone on my Mindful in May discussion group mentioned why a repetitive can assist in meditation, and I started to hope that a repetitive practice may help me.

I’ve now been knitting a little bit each day for a month. It has helped me calm down, focus and yes – achieve some mindfulness (for a few minutes or so). Like my pottery class, some part of your brain takes on the subconscious task of completing a known activity, and it’s enough to keep me anchored when other thoughts drift past.  In meetings, where after an hour I tend to get restless, where a part of my brain starts to focus on this as time lost, constantly straining to be doing something else; knitting has calmed that anxious voice. It may not be doing work but it is being used for something productive, and known.

At home knitting is creative, and has me thinking about the upcoming birth of a friend’s baby as I knit booties, rather than what I could be creating at work.

I’m sure it is also helping me that when I knit, both my hands are full and I cannot hold a phone or ipad …

End of another #blogjune

30 Jun

And now we are at the end of another #blogjune and once again, it seemed to move so slowly and take such effort to create each post for the first 10 days, yet then suddenly it was too fast and I haven’t covered everything I meant too and have unfinished thoughts in my drafts pile.

 

So what have I learnt?

  • that NLS sounds fantastic and I must stop worrying about being too jaded to be allowed near New Librarians and get to one of them
  • that @paulhagon can make anything sound enticing, even organising the metadata in my itunes files
  • I have remembered my first job, thought about what I should be learning in terms of management development and considered tips for new librarians
  • that I can write, and even enjoy writing, and I should use this blog more than once a year
  • that I am a part of a wonderfully interesting network of people with a range of hobbies and thoughts that are incredibly rich and supportive

What will I actually take away?

  • Slowly actually developing a management professional reading plan for us to share (platform still undecided)
  • Quite like the idea of #shyJuly and @paulhagon is going to help me; so watch this space for ideas on how to stay present online without being part of major platforms

 

How have you all found #blogjune this year?

Econobabble and #filthyrichandhomeless

29 Jun

I sat down tonight to treat myself to watching to in my warm house as the rain came down outside – and got drawn into #filthyrichandhomeless – to REALLY highlight just how much of a privilege this treat was. 

I hadn’t planned to watch it. I thought it was going to be poverty porn at the worst, or spoilt brats getting tv space at a minimum.  It wasn’t. @blackfellafilms have done an excellent job of exposing the pathways to homelessness. I cried. I was inspired by the kindness of those living on the streets. 

So if you are reading this tonight, before tax cut off, please consider donating to Launch Housing via https://www.launchhousing.org.au/donate-now/

The discussions around solutions were very good too. So rare to hear from support services workers and policy writers on our to screens, and there should be more of it. Conversations about why governments aren’t achieving more with our taxes, and the role of taxes to support those in society who need; these link into a great book I am currently reading.

Econobabble by Richard Denniss   (Find him as @RDNS_TAI on Twitter)   is about how economic jargon is used to hide the fact that as a rich society Australia could fund social needs, but currently chooses not to. It is an interesting breakdown of what we could be asking our politicians for, rather than tax cuts. 

A relevant article he wrote about housing costs is online here 

Time travel questions

28 Jun

OK today’s #blogjune post is thanks to @libsmatter who will make all these into a Storify

  • If you could go back and tell your 20 year old self one thing that was going to happen to you between then and today, what would that be?

Oh this is so easy. You’re gay, you’re gay, you are GAY! Sigh. The opportunities I missed not coming out at University.

I’m going back in time with Dr.Who, the TARDIS and Bill right?

Although as my friends who told me I was gay then would say
– I wouldn’t believe myself.

 

Maybe I would say “you are going to have a job, wonderful friends and your own house sometime in the future. Relax, enjoy the ride and stop worrying”.

I look at 20 year olds today (I work at a University, there are a lot around) and I wish I had a way to give this advice without sounding patronising. I wasted so much time worrying about the future, and it never led to anything changing; it just leads to time wasted on stress. Live every minute of the present if you can.

 

  • In 20 years time (presuming the world gets better, not worse) what do you think will be the biggest technological difference between your life now and your life then ?

 

Hmmm. Well I want the difference to be that capitalism is dead and the world revolves around people, the environment and supporting both of these.

However I know that 20 years goes faster than expected, so I think the real difference will be Artificial Intelligence. I assume we will be able to access larger and larger data sets more easily, that transactional jobs will have been handed over to AI and that work as we know it will have ballooned into creation of new things based on reusing  information.

Perhaps if this happens society will be heading towards my dream anyway, as social and intellectual capital becomes more important than physical manufacturing.

Tips for management

27 Jun

I was thinking about my career path after I wrote up last night’s (rushed) #blogjune about my first Library job. I have been lucky enough to have some amazing colleagues, and received real hands on mentoring from a range of senior library staff.
I’ve been trying to offer the same to my colleagues recently, as succession planning, general mentoring and engagement with people across management levels seems reduced in recent years.

I was considering what are the key tips I have been told. Below are a few, however keep in mind that the advice that most resonates depends on the context the listener has at that time. Often multiple people had given me the same advice but I only heard it from the one who told me when I was in the right space myself. 

Self care – setting a visible work/life balance standard is not only important for your own self care; it also means that your staff can feel free to do the same. 

Management is not supervision. There is more to it, and you need to educate yourself and study the areas you need to improve if you want to make it a career. 

Learn what your stress triggers are and then practice asking for help well before you reach those stress points. Be open with your colleagues about what your behaviours under stress may be, and how to manage you if they emerge. 

In change resistant culture remember that you may not see the results of a change, or acceptance of its implementation, for up to 12 months. Do not give up early because you think you have no results. Plan for long term implementation. 

My favourite: Incompetency is almost always more likely to be the cause than maliciousness. (This one has saved me from yelling at tired people, and also lowered my own blood pressure and assumptions a lot).

Today I heard a good one – when you meet new colleagues always make time at that point to build some trust and engagement. If you wait for a future less busy time that person may already have decided not to engage with you. I like that this advice gives a great rationale for prioritising people and networks building.  

What advice do you have for colleagues based on your own work experience?

My first job

26 Jun

Whoops. 6 mins to write a daily #blogjune piece.

Let’s copy @flexnib, who was copying ?? Who was responding to a call based on ALIA’s 80th

My very first library work (unpaid) was as some sort of school library helper. I don’t remember why, but I do remember using the library so much I was excited to be able to stamp my own due dates and waltz past any queues. And getting first pick of new books.
My first paid library job was as a student at University of Melbourne, needing cash, and landing a 20 hour/week library job in the Engineering branch.

This led to some funny culture sharing as I shelved in my student Arts uniform of protest tshirts, bright leggings, and on some occasions a tutu – amongst the older male dominated flanny wearing Engineering boys. 

One of their favourite tricks was to build bridges of books across two aisles in the “silent study area”  counterlevered in the air – so no matter how many I tried to hold when I took them down some had to crash to the ground.

5 years later when I graduated mid year without my own batch of Arts students, I was lucky enough to be sharing a queue with some of those same Engineering students, so I guess I gained a community. 

26 years later I’m still working in the University of Melbourne library system, having held a number of different positions. My current Manager role is in the area of Collection Access and Delivery: and through absolutely no planning whatsoever, my resume does trace this role back to that first one in terms of space management.
As the shelver over one summer I decided to take on a project to create  more space for our growing journal collection, by working out how much space we could gain with some new bays, working out what space needed to be left for each title’s growth and then backshelving (for months) with casuals to make it fit. I got it wrong by a couple of shelves in the middle and was helped out by my colleagues at the time, however overall did quite well, and had a Manger who formally recognized me for the work. A few years later this was known as a Space Audit, and became all the rage as libraries started losing collection space for seating, and I got a chance at another project which led to a promotion, which led to more skills learning, which led to another promotion and so on and so on.
But that’s enough for tonight if I am to get this up in time. Perhaps more another day. 
Would love to hear about other people’s work in libraries too … 

Lifelong learning 

25 Jun

I had a wonderful afternoon today in Thornbury, Melbourne attending a Women of Letters event. I heard beautiful performance as women read their own written letters, learnt that Rebecca Gibney has a strong fear of public speaking, was inspired to lose weight whilst holding onto my vices by Sue-Ann Post and was overwhelmed by the strength of real women in my community who have been through hard trials and survived to find a life of joy. 
I get a lot of these great options living in #Melbourne. I recently enjoyed a “How to draw monsters” class from a wonderful group called Laneway Learning. Effectively you get to explore a cafe/bar down a Melbourne Laneway, whilst also learning about something new. Classes are cheap and at handy evening times. Topics are very diverse, and if you’re looking for new friends you can stay on afterwards to discuss what you learnt over a drink.
Melbourne also has a wonderful writers meeting place called the  Wheeler Centre. They offer free or paid talks that cover a range of subjects around the theme of writing, authors, politics, religion, the environment etc. They try  different formats offering podcasts and online book clubs for those who prefer online, and country events for those not in the CBD.

Then yesterday I was introduced to a knitting group, held in the back room of a yarn shop Woolarium. The members talked about how wonderful it is to have a space to relax, work through issues, chat to people about the hobby they love or are learning.
I am so thankful to have these (and many other opportunities) to learn about a range of things. Lifelong learning is important to me in formats other than formal education. I will engage more creatively when assessment is more non existent or relaxed. 
What learning do you all undertake in your lives?