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This was originally going to be the background to my 31 Days icon. I look sneaky. I like that, but I couldn’t get the right color of text that would show up in front of the books and the dark space. The writing group at Andilit helped me in my hour of visually challenged need to pick a better picture, a better font, and better spacing.

Large Icon With Text 2

Ah, yes. Much better.

I also received a lot of encouragement from my other online writing group, the Coterie at Awake the Bones. We had several people participating in the 31-day challenge, so we had a thread every day to help us keep up with each other’s posts.

I am thankful for my friend Michelle, my librarian friend and star of my Fandom Friends post. She will read anything I hand her, and she’s done so for as long as we’ve known each other. I need to clear out a place on my shelf where her books will go someday. You’re all going to love them. Also, I am pretty sure I got the idea of taking shelfies from her. I distinctly remember a picture of her with library shelves in the background, and I thought, “Shelfies. That would be a cute series.” So I’m officially giving you credit, Michelle.

Dear Maggie – here is another post where you are mentioned. It happens so often because, even though you are far away, you are still one of my main sounding boards for rants and stories, and a lot of those turn into longer rants and stories of book-ish length. Thanks for loving my rants and reading my stories and for being my partner in crime for NoHoNoPro (No Honor, No Problem) that one time.

I love being friends with Margarett, and I love that this series is sprinkled with stories from our friendship, from our one shelf of sanity to our obsession with Ethiopian food to our compulsion to acquire large numbers of books in a single bound. Thanks for never telling me I have too many books.

This month has made me especially grateful for my parents. My earliest memory is my mom reading Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer to me. She took me to libraries, encouraged me to read anything I could get my hands on, and made me look up answers for myself. My parents insisted that I go to college, and that experience was instrumental in forming me into the person I am today.

Thank you, dear readers. Thanks for your likes and your comments and your emails and your encouragement. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this series as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. You make me make this face:

Excited party face

I wrote 31 Days of Shelfies!

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Obsession

You know those days when you are so stressed out that you just want to curl up and sleep, binge-watch TV, read fashion magazines, and eat your feelings, and you’re mad because it’s impossible to do all those things at once?

That has been the last two months for me.

So when I woke up this morning, and one writers’ group is asking what I need to dismantle in my life to leave room for artistic goals, and another writers’ group is asking what is keeping me from achieving the weekly goals I set, the answer came almost immediately.

Job seeking.

I have been saying forever that I want a better way to earn income – specifically, one job/career that is well-suited to my skills and qualifications and that covers all my expenses. And then I resolved to make finding it a priority this year. And I have definitely made it a priority.

But.

Sometimes when my mouth says, “Make this thing a priority,” my brain hears, “Become possessed with making this thing happen tomorrow.” And that’s not the same thing. One looks like keeping my eyes open and not avoiding opportunity out of fear. The other looks like feverishly searching keywords and applying for anything for which I am remotely qualified without stopping to think about whether it would actually be something I’d want to do. One is freedom; one is obsession.

I’m stopping the obsession.

This goes against everything I’ve been taught about productive job seeking. In seminar after seminar, workshop after workshop, it has been drilled into me that, until you find the job you want to do, the job hunt is your job. You make ten thousand copies of your resume (or ten thousand versions, because a good resume/cover letter will be tailored to the prospective employer) and you send it out to all the places. This method seems like it exhibits a nice, can-do spirit. It certainly looks like good advice.

One problem with this method is that I already have a job. Two, if you count everything I do to earn money. Three if you count everything I do to earn money and the writing that (I hope) will bring in money some day. At any rate, I don’t really have the time or the energy or the sanity to take on another “job,” even if it ultimately helps me to tame my schedule.

Another problem with this method is that my entire professional experience defies it. I have never gotten a job I liked enough to stick to it for any length of time by acting like a go-getter. Every job I’ve ever gotten where I did well and where I thrived? An opportunity arose, and I fell into it. More specifically, I got it by performing well at whatever I was doing at the time and by networking. A professor who led the teaching team for the basic course while I was in grad school was impressed by the way I ran my recitation sections, so she hired me to teach my own course at the community college when she was promoted to department chair. She also enthusiastically recommended me to her colleagues at other schools, and they hired me based on her recommendation. A friend with whom I had planned a conference was in a position to hire someone, and she thought of me. Our interview started with her saying, “So you got the job – fill out this application.” I often joke that I don’t interview well, but the truth is that I’ve never really had to interview well (I’m sure if I had to, I’d be fine). I am most impressive when I am in a position to allow my work to speak for itself.

So I’m looking for the opportunities, but I’m done with hunting them down and wrestling them to the ground. Just saying that makes me breathe more easily.

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December

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We are in the final two weeks of the semester.  I had grand plans for grading, decorating, writing, and art journaling last week that just didn’t happen. I had plans this year to get it together, to focus on beauty, and to read 100 books, and I feel like all of those have fallen short of expectation as well. It would be easy to be discouraged. It would be really easy to power through and forget about Advent for the next two weeks, but I am pretty sure that doing so would have the exact opposite of the intended effect.

So I am engaging in intentional reflections. I am reading, journaling, and poetry-ing my way through Isaiah. I am joining Susannah Conway’s community project called December Reflections, and I am finishing up my year of beauty by looking for beauty in the ordinary through Awake the Bones. They will mostly be found on Instagram, but I’m sure they will make an occasional appearance here.

Right now, I’m just going to mind the mug and drink my coffee in peace.

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