Living Outside the Stacks

Navigating through life away from the library


Book Review: The Gifts of Imperfection by Dr. Brene Brown

The Gifts of ImperfectionBOOK DESCRIPTION

Each day we face a barrage of images and messages from society and the media telling us who, what, and how we should be.  We are led to believe that if we could only look perfect and lead perfect lives, we’d no longer feel inadequate.  So most of us perform, please and attempt to be perfect, all the while thinking, What if I can’t keep all these balls in the ar?  Why isn’t everyone else working harder and living up to my expectations?  What will people think if I fail or give up?  When can I stop proving myself?

In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown, Ph.D, L.M.S.W., a leading expert on shame, authenticity, and belonging, shares what she’s learned from a decade of research on the power of Wholehearted living ~ a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness.

In her ten guideposts, Brown engages our minds, hearts, and spirits as she explores how we can cultivate the courage compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough, and to go to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging.


This isn’t one of those embrace~the~universe~and~it~will~send~you~warm~fuzzies kind of self~help books, this is one of those self~help books that demands that you relax and embrace yourself, warts and all, because you’re worth it.  And I think that’s a message we all need to hear.  Too often, books of this sort tell us how to make our lives better by adding more “stuff” to it to make it more fulfilling or to get more accomplished but sometimes we need to learn to sit back and say “What I’ve done is all I can do and that is enough.”

I’ve seen so many women wear exhaustion like it was the latest fashion trend. In fact, I used to be one of those women who proudly proclaimed that I was carrying on with my maternal and wifely duties with barely 4 hours worth of sleep.  I thought this added value to my day and, ultimately, to my worth as a woman.  Who was I kidding?  Seriously, the only thing I was proving was that I really didn’t care enough about myself or my family to take proper care of my needs and one of the most fundamental needs of all humans is rest.

Of the ten guideposts that Dr. Brown writes about, the one that resonated most with me was “Guidepost #7:  Cultivating Play and rest:  Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self Worth”.  She offers three tips for leading a Wholehearted life that embraces rest and relaxation, they are:

  1. Get Deliberate ~ make a list of conditions that are in place when your life is going well
  2. Get Inspired ~ do something you enjoy
  3. Get Going ~ take something off your to~do list and make room for a nap

The Gifts of Imperfection will be available for purchase on 1 October 2010 can be purchased at your local bookstore or through an online retailer.

For more information about Dr. Brene Brown, check out the following:

Blog:  No Ordinary Courage

Website:  Brene Brown

Twitter:  @BreneBrown

Disclaimer: This book was provided to me courtesy of TLC Book Tours free of charge in exchange for a review. This does not in any way influence my review. The book may be purchased by clicking on the picture.  I do not benefit from your purchase.


1 October is Follow a Library Day on Twitter

Tips for Library Patrons

  1. Don’t just follow your library, talk to them
  2. If a librarian does something well, tweet about it
  3. Offer suggestions for material
  4. Tweet about activities that you and your family enjoy

Following your library shows that you support your library.  Talk to your librarians on Twitter, engage other library patrons, use Twitter to set up book group meetings or to share movie suggestions.  Treat Twitter as an extension of your library’s services, because that is exactly what it is ~ reference help in 140 characters or less.

Tips for Libraries

  1. Follow your patrons back
  2. Respond to their concerns
  3. Update your status often
  4. Promote your events

These may seem like no~brainer tips but I’ve seen plenty of libraries that simply follow other libraries and don’t actively engage anyone.  Twitter is a quick and easy way for libraries to keep their patrons up~to~date on what’s happening in the library.  So don’t just ask them to follow you for one day, keep them engaged forever.

For more information go to Follow a Library and follow them on Twitter.


The UN Considers Appointing an Alien Ambassador

Welcome MatI had to create a whole new category called “WTH? Files” for this post.  I tried to squeeze it in to one of the other categories, but this story is so flippin’  bizarre that I couldn’t even fake it.  Seriously, this deserves a “WTbleep” but this is a family blog….

The UN (as in the United Nations that occupies square footage in New York) is thinking about appointing an ambassador to the alien world.  *blink*  According to CBS News, Malaysian astrophysicist, Mazlan Othman, will be named UN ambassador to extraterrestrials (pending approval from the UN scientific advisory committees and the General Assembly because, you know, that would legitimize the appointment).

Currently the director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), Othman is responsible for dealing with space~related issues, “ranging from international cooperation in peaceful uses of outer space to managing the growing problem of space debris.”  Hmmm, so I guess she ought to be the one to greet the aliens, then she can  explain to them why we’ve turned the universe into an inter~galatic garbage bin.  Othman offers as an explanation for her appointment a need to have in place “a mechanism for dealing with aliens should they ever make contact.”

Ummmm, why are we so gosh darned eager to contact aliens when we can barely be cordial to each other?  But forget about that, hasn’t anyone from the UN ever watched “Independence Day” or “V”?  Don’t they listen to Steven Hawking?  Hawking says that we should not make contact with aliens because they may not be the cute little peace~loving~leader~seeking aliens we’ve come to expect, instead he suggests they may be something a little more sinister.  Think Christopher Columbus and the decimation of the Native Americans due to disease and war.  Or the “Twilight Zone” episode called “To Serve Man.”

Hey, UN, E.T. was a trojan horse!

Of course, conspiracy theorists are having a field day with this news story.  Many believe that this is the UN’s way of admitting that governments from all over the world have already been in contact with the little green men, and this is some way of prepping us for their pending revelation.  Um, yeah

You know what, call me a “global isolationist” but I have enough to deal with just trying to grin and bear it with you humans on a regular basis, I think I’m gonna side with the smart guy and say “No” to putting out the global welcome mat.  But, hey, it’s good to know that the UN isn’t just interested in hosting short, weird looking humans (President Ahmadinejad, I’m looking at you).


Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read

ALA Banned Books Week Poster 2010Two days ago marked the beginning of Banned Books Week which is, according to the American Library Association, “an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.”  BBW is held during the last week of September and highlights the importance of free and open access to information while spotlighting attempts to ban or censor material across the United States.

It’s so appropriate that BBW would be celebrated at this time in my life ~ I’m teaching a course called American National Government and we just finished discussing the rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution with a specific focus on the First Amendment.  For those of you who don’t know, the First Amendment is part of the Bill of Rights and it protects the right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression from government interference.  Many people don’t realize that each year people challenge books in libraries for a variety of reasons and it is due to the commitment and vigilant efforts of librarians, teachers, parents and other concerned citizens that many books are kept on library shelves.

So what does it mean for a book to get “challenged”?  It means that someone in the community (a parent, a school board member, etc) considers something within the book to be objectionable and they want it removed from the school’s curriculum or from the library collection.  The motivation behind a challenge is often good, the individual simply wants to protect the community (specifically children) from difficult ideas, “inappropriate” sexual  material or “offensive” content.

While on the surface, this may seem like a great idea ~ no one wants to see children reading material that may be too sexually advanced for them, nor do we all agree with the ideas of promoters of racist ideology, but no one group has the right to demand that material be removed from public consumption.  One of the greatest advantages (and challenges) of living in this country is our right to freely express opinions, thoughts and ideas that may not appeal to everyone.

The American Library Association encourages people to celebrate Banned Books Week by reading a challenged book.  For a list of the top ten most frequently challenged books of 2009, click here.

Do you agree with censorship?  How do you handle material that you find objectionable?  Did you read the list of challenged books?  Do you agree or disagree with the reasons they were challenged?


Inner Mean Girl Cleanse: Ditch Your Inner Perfectionist and Achievement Junkies

Inner Mean Girl BadgeWeekly Wrap~Up:  Permission to Live Obligation Free

Last week’s IMG Cleanse assignment was to give ourselves permission to live obligation free and not take on more responsibility than we can handle.  I didn’t do so well with this challenge but it’s not because I didn’t want to, it’s because I had a windfall of good things happen.

As some of you know, I have been looking for full~time employment for a year now and was starting to accept the possibility that it really wasn’t going to happen for me.  Then I had an interview for a full~time position as an Technical/Public Services Librarian at Keystone College.  Have you ever walked into a place and instantly felt comfortable with the people?  Well, that’s how my interview was ~ I just knew that I belonged there.  The interview was on Friday, 10 September and on Monday I received a job offer. I started my job on Tuesday of this week and it’s been a wild ride, trying to adjust to a new schedule.

So I said all of that to say that my schedule has changed significantly and, for now, it’s a lot heavier than I’d like.  I work evenings at Keystone and then I teach two 4~hour classes at Misericordia University every Wednesday and every other Sunday.  And I still have to figure out how to spend time with my family and take time for myself.  Yep, a lot of juggling will be happening but I couldn’t be happier or more excited.

This Week’s Challenge:  Ditch Your Inner Perfectionist and Achievement Junkies

This challenge made me snort a little because I am a perfectionist, to the point where I may be just a tad bit OCD.  When I write notes (even to myself), I rewrite them until each letter is uniform and slanted in the same direction.  It drives me insane when I fill out forms and I notice there’s a difference in the way that I’ve written something.  I always have to resist the urge to ask for a new form (do you know how hard that is?).

My cabinets are hyper~organized.  All of my veggies are together and alphabetized (yes, I said alphabetized).  Boxed foods are organized by height and alphabetized.  I don’t ask my kids to organize the cabinets the way that I do but I do go behind them and fix it after they’ve put up the food from grocery shopping.

My clothes and shoes are also organized by color, purpose and heel height/sleeve length.  It really is a sickness, but on the good side, I can get dressed in the dark and come out matching.

The guidelines for this week’s challenge are to:

  1. Underpromise and Overdeliver ~ become aware of my need to over promise things to family, friends, co~workers and myself and how that adds stress to my life.  For this week, I have to step back and deliver only what I can within the confines of my abilities ~ as much as I like to think so, I’m not Super Woman.
  2. Go for the “C” ~ instead of always trying to give 100% of myself to everything, accept that there are times when I can only give 80% and that’s ok.  Being average doesn’t make me less than, it makes me human.

Want to know more about the Inner Mean Girl Cleanse?  Visit them on Facebook or follow the conversation on Twitter.

Are you a perfectionist?  Do you have a hard time accepting that being average is ok?  Tell me about it.

Disclosure:  I am participating in the Inner Mean Girl 40~Day Cleanse as a Self~Love Ambassador.  To thank me for my participation, I will receive a self~love gift from the founders of the Inner Mean Girl Reform School.

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