Finding Joy in the Process

It is no secret to anyone who knows me that I’m not particularly built for “Stay at Home Motherhood”. I love my little nugget and he is a ton of fun, but I need adult interaction and intelligent conversation like fish need water. It’s an absolute necessity. On top of this, everyone in my industry knows that it can take a while to find positions in the academic world, especially when you’re fairly tied to geography. So, I’ve been substituting at a community college library and the public district where I worked full time before Auraria. I’m enjoying it greatly, but I struggle with the lack of schedule. A lot. In fact, the schedule has sent me into depression more than anything else so far!

So what do you do to cope when things don’t look like how you wish they would? Well, you find joy in the process. You have to find little things to fill your days with happy thoughts to balance out the challenges. What I have found that brings me joy came as a bit of surprise – writing. I even have trouble keeping up with this blog but I’ve found that writing gives me something to wrestle with.

Most of this summer I’ve been working toward my first peer-reviewed research article. I’d settle into the local library or coffee shop and work my way through comments, ideas, and snippets of lines that float through my brain. After all that work, it was finally published and I’m really proud of what I did. Here it is!

While working through this paper, some really awesome librarians came up with this really amazing idea of creating a professional blog called LibParlor that is dedicated to helping librarians either new to tenure track positions and need to publish or those simply interested in getting started in the research process. I submitted a few proposals and they were accepted, which I was excited about. Not everyone had the help I had. So, today, my first post was published! 

I also wrote a reflective blog on my research process and that will came out sometime soon as well on LibParlor. And earlier this week, I found out that a character analysis that I wrote (for fun!) is going to be published soon in a magazine dedicated to the works of JK Rowling.

I wouldn’t have ever thought that I would find writing so invigorating, especially since I was honestly a “B” writer in college. There was a particular professor who is solely responsible for pushing me to an “A” level. Dr. Wyman was a retired professor who worked for Lincoln University in Jefferson City, MO, where I got my teacher certifications. She taught a variety of classes but was especially passionate about British poetry. She would call me out in class if I hadn’t thought things through enough. Once, we were going around the table answering her questions (this was a typical teaching strategy she used) and she got to me, asked me a questions, and I stumbled a bit through it because I was tired and didn’t really want to think. She barked, “Not good enough! You can do better! We’ll come back to you!” While this might seem a bit extreme for a professor to say something like that to a student, we had that relationship. She knew it would work. And it did.

It was motivating, not shaming, because it sent a clear message – “I believe in you. You’re smarter than that.”

And that’s what has shot through my mind many times this summer. Dr. Wyman’s voice barking “Not good enough!” I believed her then and I still do. Somehow, writing papers for her class changed how I approached writing. I’m not even sure I could explain what clicked in my brain but she forced me to explain myself. It was liberating and wonderful.

Besides writing, I’m enjoying catching up on a few tv shows and rewatching my favorite movies. I’ve gotten to jump into a lot more books than I would if I was working full time and I’m loving hanging out with a crazy toddler and having regular game nights with friends. I’ve gotten to take a few trips and see a few some places and faces – old and new. “Unemployment” has its challenges but it’s so important (and fun!) to find those little joys!