Thursday June 9th!

Thursday was a day of celebration in this house! After checking Lifetext every hour on the 8th, I finally decided to give it up and just wait for a notification that my ePortfolio had been graded. Here is the beginning of the email that popped up at 4:31 pm on Thursday:

Karen Kinsey (***************) has successfully completed the ePortfolio for the LIBS Program.

Congratulations, Karen!

I cannot begin to describe the feeling that come over me that afternoon. I was sure that my portfolio would be kicked backed for revisions. So, while I was relieved to have submitted it, my joy was reserved. I have a job as a school librarian for the next school year (whatever that might look like!) and I have three weeks left of my one last course, READ 680 – Reading to Learn Across the Curriculum. I will then have a two week break before I return to work in a new school district, Newport News Public Schools, as a “new teacher.”

The reason I used the picture of The Minimalist Home is because I pre-ordered this book January 1, 2019! I knew I would not have time then to dive into the book or our house, however I also knew that the light was coming . . . and now it is here! I sat down this morning and read Chapter 1 . . . finally. Then I looked around the house and noticed some of the “projects” that I have been patiently waiting to complete . . . collage picture frames that need pictures . . . a dishpan of silver that needs to be polished . . . the box of school papers that I shared in my second post May 20th. I can enjoy my family and friends more, go see extended family again, and take a little more time for some self-care. To say I feel grateful and blessed is an understatement.

I know that I have shared this before, but I feel that it is worth sharing. Returning to graduate school in 2018 (at 51 years old!) was the best decision I have acted on in a long, long time. As a result of working full-time, as well as part-time on and off, while taking two classes per semester, I am finally able to enjoy the rest of my summer without working part-time.

Please, please, please find the courage to act upon your dreams and desires. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way!”

Until next week ~ The Running Librarian

Plants, plants, plants

Kinsey, K. (4 July 2020). Pothos rootings. CC-BY 4.0

When your 16 (almost 17) year old daughter needs the kombucha jars you used and you have been meaning to add the cuttings to make your pothos plant more full, time to get busy! The good news is, I submitted my portfolio to for my ODU MLIS graduate program on Thursday!! So, luckily, this morning I had time for a 3 mile run, potting the pothos cuttings, and washing the dishes all BEFORE going down the street to the farmer’s market with Paige. Bad news, Maha Kombucha won’t take Red Mushroom’s kombucha jars . . . understandable, but worth a try anyway :-).

Kinsey, K. (4 July 2020). Maha Kombucha at Old Beach Farmer’s Market. CC-BY 4.0
Kinsey, K. (4 July 2020). Lamia’s Crepes Brunch Crepe. CC-BY 4.0

The joys of submitting the portfolio, only taking one (last!) graduate course and being hired already are increased family time! I went to the bay on Friday with Claire and the two children she nannies this summer, farmer’s market with Paige Saturday, and have helped Noah daily with sandwich or other food between jobs. It’s possible that my portfolio will be “kicked back” for some revisions for a passing grade, in which case I will have until August 7th to revise and resubmit. My summer class is also over August 7th. And my first day on the new school library job starts August 17th.

This is the first summer in four years that I will not work an additional part-time job. I am looking forward to truly enjoying my break between semesters with family time, visiting extended family, exercise, leisure activities, and household projects . . . let the minimalist decluttering resume :-)!

If you are like me and not fulfilled with your current work setting or feel you could be doing more, my advice to you is to go for it! I waited until my children were older and began graduate school at 50 years old! There will be challenges, such as finances, time constraints, exhaustion, and stress, but it goes by remarkably fast and the end result is well worth it. This fall, I will have a longer commute, but I will have a new, challenging, and fulfilling career that will bring with it more than double my current salary.

See you next Sunday ~ the running librarian

Light at the end of the Tunnel!

https://www.wallpaperflare.com/search?wallpaper=airstream+travel+trailer

I missed my blog last Sunday. It was Father’s Day and I enjoyed spending time with my husband since all 3 of our kids were working different times of the day. We went for a nice long bike ride, then stopped at a local brewery on the way home for a socially distanced IPA.

Today is a little different, though. Today I will be sitting at my computer with a plan. I have 3 more components to complete for my ePortfolio, which is technically due on July 15th, however I plan to submit it July 1st. This has been hanging over my head, as I have had plenty of time to complete it already. I’m not sure I can describe the feeling I will have once I submit and receive a passing grade on this. This portfolio is the comprehensive exam for the entire MLIS graduate program. This is it. I have been fortunate to land a job and I am finishing my last initial licensure course. This journey began with my acceptance into ODU’s graduate program in December 2017, then my first course starting in January 2018. I took one class the first semester to get my feet wet, then two classes per semester thereafter. I have worked a full-time job, and additional part-time jobs throughout the program. It has been hard work and I would not trade it for anything.

This past spring, I had a taste of how my life will change once I finish school. Due to COVID-19, we were all sent home and worked from home. Our kids are all older: 21 yr old sent home from college, 19 yr old figuring out life, and 16 yr old HS Junior. We didn’t have to homeschool or even monitor school work. My husband and I are both specialists in the school system and did not have the day-to-day classes/meetings/parent-student contact that classroom teachers had. We attended meetings, held office hours and were available as needed. This flexible schedule allowed for greater exercise and some much needed housework: tidying and decluttering. Things that I never thought I would have time to declutter now seem possible, such as photos and memorabilia, as well as paper clutter. Although I will have a longer commute with more traffic, I will not have the demands after work that I have had for the past two and a half years. Did you catch that huge sigh of relief just now?! Whew! And think of all of the books I will listen to on my commute!

So, as I prepare to work on one of three remaining components for my ePortfolio, I am distracted with laundry and watching videos about tiny homes and Airstreams! Aye, aye, aye . . . time to focus!

Thank you for taking the time to read and join me on my journey. Feel free to send some good vibes my way this week and I’ll see you next Sunday!

~ The Running Librarian

Perfectionism . . . not!

Ukuleles on the wall, 16 May 2020, CC BY

Well, one month in to starting my blog and I missed my Sunday post . . . oh no! And Sunday was the one day I did not work on my graduate class or my ePortfolio?! So, there is one lesson that I am learning in life. I have been learning this one for quite some time and have a feeling I will be learning it for life. It’s okay to make mistakes and not be perfect at everything.

I have had a rough week keeping up with new adventures . . . ukulele, Spanish, and this Blog. However, I am getting better at telling myself that it is okay. It’s okay to miss a day of practice. It’s okay to not work on school work one day or my portfolio. My ePortfolio, by the way, is like a comprehensive exam. It is the culmination of my entire MLIS graduate program. In other words, it’s a lot of work! It’s not hard, but takes time. It’s easy to go down a rabbit hole trying to be creative and unique. I am also guilty of overthinking components. I spent all day yesterday writing my philosophy of librarianship. This is a synthesis of what I have already learned and written and should not take that long. My due date is July 15th, however I have a self-imposed due date of July 1st. This way, if my portfolio gets kicked back for corrections, I have plenty of time to correct any errors and resubmit.

My other area where I need to keep reminding myself that I am not wasting time, money, resources, etc. is my garden. I need to remember that it is okay to experiment . . . this is how we learn! I decided to try some container gardens this summer and my husband moved our previous three raised beds (built for our three kids to use) into one larger bed. I have never grown much in containers and decided not to purchase money or new containers, but to use what I had. Well, I’m not sure they are big enough and not sure if I am doing things right or not. Again, my husband did a little research and purchase three bags of soil and something (I’ll have to check the bags) to mix together. I think the soil is fine, but the growth is slow. Meanwhile, I added six kale plants and one tomato plant to the raised bed and they have taken off! Again, learning experience; doesn’t have to be perfect.

I think one of my fears leads back to what I just mentioned about gardening. I do not want to waste time, money, or resources. Being a minimalist, I am very intentional about what I buy. Having worked full-time and part-time for the past four years and attending graduate school the past two and a half years, I also guard and value my free time: I am very intentional about how I use this time. Finally, I believe in being a good steward of my resources, reusing things when I can, making resources last longer, recycling. I like to minimize trash and waste. I do not buy new things for two reasons: one, I haven’t had the discretionary funds to do so, and two I believe in buying used for many things. However, when I realized that I was finally going to learn to play the ukulele with my son this summer (thank you COVID-19 and quarantine), I decided we needed a convenient place to store them. And since we do not have a lot of art on our walls, I decided to support a small business on Etsy and purchase decorative hangers for our three ukuleles: son’s, daughter’s, and mine. My next purchase will actually be a “new” ukulele!

So, I hope you enjoyed reading and maybe relating to or learning something from my fears and mistakes. We are all human, just remember to be kind to yourself and forgive yourself. His mercies are new every morning!

See you on Sunday :-)!

Courage

I don’t surf, but this wave reminds me of a time that I tried coming in to the beach on my paddleboard . . . post-hurricane. I’m pretty sure I almost died and the lifeguard was seconds away from jumping off his chair to save someone!

Running has taken a back seat these past two weeks. A backseat to what you ask? I’m not even sure. I think it was a combination of school work, lack of sleep, heat if I didn’t run in the morning, then finally a tumble in the street while walking the dogs. I ran 3 miles on Monday, then focused on adding some more yoga this week. I am following Yoga with Adriene’s June Courage calendar and playlist.

Once again, I will start fresh tomorrow and go for 3 miles! I could use a new pair of shoes. Sure, I could slap a pair on the credit card, especially since I have a nice raise coming in a few months. However, I have been working so hard to maintain or reduce debt while in grad school. I’ll hold off on buying new shoes for now and stick with short distance runs.

Running and yoga both require courage. Both activities have been instrumental in my adult life. I experience less stress when life gets crazy. I also feel stronger and more flexible. I have enjoyed companionship in both activities, however I prefer to do both solo. I run through my neighborhood, to and along the boardwalk, through parks, but always by myself. I do yoga at home, and again, alone. Every now and then my kids have joined me and I have welcomed their company. After learning the basics and attending many classes at studios and the rec center, I discovered Adriene. At that time I had the courage and confidence to go solo at home. And, bonus . . . it’s free! I don’t have a fancy or high quality mat, or a room full of beautiful plants. Sometimes I do light a candle or diffuse essential oils during a relaxation or meditation practice. I either practice in the living room with the larger screen of the tv, or in my bedroom, with my laptop or iPad. I often close my eyes during the majority of the practice and trust, so no big screen needed.

I would like to close my post this week by saying that the true badge of courage goes out to each and every person taking a stand against racial injustice in our world today. While I have supported these efforts through social media, I feel like I could step it up, for sure. I could definitely show greater courage in my actions to fight for justice for people of color, as well as all marginalized populations.

Until next week, please be grateful, mindful, intentional, kind, and courageous.

Gratitude

My heart is hurting today over all of the injustice in our world, in our country. I have so much to be grateful for and sometimes feel guilty about that. I’m struggling with what I want to write about today, but it’s Sunday and my day to post on my blog. I do have news to share this week as I decided to accept the job offer! My husband and I made a test drive Friday morning at 6:45 am, knowing of course that traffic is not as heavy as normal right now due to COVID-19. However, it still gave me some idea what this commute would look and feel like. I am excited about this new adventure.

I would like to switch gears and share a little about my running. I have always been athletic, played team sports in high school and college, but never really liked running. In 2008, the same year I returned to work, I began running. Our youngest of three children was about to turn five years old. I remember calling my husband one morning and telling him that I would be a little late because I was going to the running store . . . the what?! This turned out to be a life changing moment for me. A good friend of mine and I began running together and signed up for a Rock ‘n Roll 1/2 marathon. We used J & A Racing’s beginner 16-week training schedule. Our long runs became an opportunity to talk and share life’s ups and downs with each other. We both had young children and often took turns sharing. It was healing to be able to unload on each other things we would often burden on our spouses. As we progressed, it became stressful at times, because we both felt like we had to follow this schedule to a tee. Twelve years later, and after some ups and downs with running, I decided to follow this 16-Week Half-Marathon Training Schedule and train for my own personal 1/2 marathon. I have decided that I do not like to pay for races anymore. There is a huge difference between my running today and my running twelve years ago. I embrace a much greater degree of grace and mercy today. If I am not able to make a long run, for whatever reason, I let it go and just repeat that week’s scheduled runs. Thus, my 16-week plan might run a little loner than 16-weeks. The important thing for me is just to maintain the habit. I have also added a regular yoga practice, which I have trouble balancing with the running. I am still working on this. My Post-Run Yoga with Adriene keeps me flexible and injury free.

I am grateful for both running and yoga. I’m grateful for my health, along with indoor and outdoor spaces to enjoy both activities. While I prefer to run alone today, in the past running was a great source of much needed companionship and accountability. I am certain that it mentally prepared me for returning to work and greatly reduced any stress related to that life change. As I approach a new life change in the fall, it will take discipline to maintain the habit of running and yoga, a challenge I will embrace.

I began this post with a heavy heart. I haven’t figured out how to be actively against the injustice, how not to be neutral, how to outwardly express that I am against racism. I know where I stand and I am trying to show that: black lives matter, love is love, kindness is everything. I’m working on it!

Until next week ~ please be grateful, mindful, intentional, and kind!

Decision-making Time!

Photo by Designwebjae JLRHarrington from Pexels

Last week was a big week and this week might be even bigger. You already know that I am finishing graduate school. I will earn a MLIS (Masters in Library and Information Studies) in December of this year. I began this program in January 2018 and it’s been quite an adventure! This past week I have been added to the eligibility list for my current school district. That was good news. I was also told that there are no anticipated openings for school librarians in the next year. That was the bad news. I received a text from a friend, informing me where I was placed for student teaching, which entails taking 10 weeks off from my current position, without pay. I have been hoping all along that I would be offered a position and the opportunity to do a mentorship, as opposed to student teaching. Knowing there was a possibility of no openings in my district, I have been applying to neighboring school districts. I applied for two jobs and later found out that both schools had hired librarians with more experience. I applied to another school district that, further away, and received a call Thursday with a job offer, one week after my interview. This was very exciting and had my tummy all jittery! This is great news and the district library supervisor for that school district is the current president of VAASL (Virginia Association of School Librarians). There are a couple of drawbacks here, though. It is a long commute, at least an hour each way. Also, once I accept the offer, then I hear from the schools with openings. I do not actually get to choose the school where I work. The pros, of course, are finally starting the job that I have been training, studying, and waiting to do and more than doubling my current salary. While the commute does not seem to align with my lifestyle choices, the results will likely offset the commute. I will have more free time when I am home: no more school work or working part-time. This is certainly not an easy decision. And before I make this decision, I have one more interview coming up on Tuesday. This one is with another school district, not quite as close as neighboring, but closer than the long commute.

Next week, I look forward to sharing my decision with you! Also, I’ll share how my running is going and the impact it has had on my decision making this week and throughout my life.

See you next week ~ running and learning (and making decisions!)

The Never-ending Clutter

It’s Sunday . . . Blog day! I mentioned in my Introduction that I began simplifying my life and embracing minimalism in 2016. This is not an easy task. I am the only one in our family of five who lives a minimalist lifestyle. In fact, my oldest daughter has been known to call herself a maximalist. Living this lifestyle has been quite frustrating at times. My family has often disagreed with me when they see me tossing items in a bag that I feel are no longer needed. I learned the hard way that while this might be a way of life for me, it does not apply to the entire family. Therefore, I need to be mindful not to toss someone else’s belongings without asking. I enjoy playing the#minsgame even though I never complete an entire month. However, since COVID-19 closures and quarantine, I have come as close as ever. Each day, I give up or declutter that number of items. For example, today is the 17th, so I would declutter 17 items. I don’t stress if I miss a day; I just jump in on the next day. 

We have a large room in the middle of our house with a pool room and a couple of chairs. Junk seems to sneak into every corner and every surface, including a 3-basket cart, with school papers and memorabilia for each of our three kids. I mentioned to my daughters that I would like them to go through the baskets and let me know what can be scanned and tossed and what they would actually like to keep for now. The oldest (21) responded enthusiastically, “Let’s do it now!” As I picked up my jaw off the floor, I wheeled the cart to the middle of the floor and watched my daughters start on their baskets. I took a picture of them, sent a text with the pic to my son (19) upstairs and invited him to “join the party.” I was shocked when five minutes later he was in a chair next to them going through his papers. It was fun watching them recall school days and now I have one rubbermaid bin to sort, scan, and toss. I was able to vacuum the entire room without moving a thing today. 

I embrace minimalism because it gives me time to enjoy learning news things, like speaking Spanish and playing ukulele. I also do not want to have to move a bunch of stuff that we do not want to keep in the first place and certainly do not want my kids to have to deal with it when we die. Living a life of minimalism has helped me appreciate what I have during our stay-at-home orders these past two months and focus on activities that I truly enjoy. I would like to give credit to the early influences on my road to minimalist: Joshua Fields Milburn & Ryan Nicodemus, Joshua Becker, and Courtney Carver. Thank you!

See you next week ~ living & learning!

The Running Librarian

Introduction

Today is Mother’s Day and a great day to start a blog, something I have tried in the past and have been wanting to try again. Why? I began using a bullet journal a little over a year ago and love it; it combined my journal, planner, and to-do lists all in one place. Now I want to go public and share my story with others, anyone who cares to read it. Twelve years ago, I returned to work outside the home. Our youngest of three children started full-day kindergarten and it was time, after seven years to go back to work. I also started running a few months before returning to work and ran my first half-marathon the weekend after returning to work. Four years ago, I began minimalism. Two years ago, I returned to school and entered a master’s program to become a professional librarian. In future posts, I will be happy to share what the other four members of my family were doing during these years, too!

My intention with this blog is to share my story with you. I will share what a huge impact running, minimalism, and grad school have had on my life. Hopefully, there will be others out there engaging in the same activities, or wondering, “am I too old to start _(insert activity here)_?” My answer to that question, of course, is no. You are never too old. Will it be easy? Probably not. Will it be worth it? Absolutely!

I have yet to write a consistent blog and hope that I am in a time and place in my life where this will happen. If so, I simply hope to share my goals, successes (and failures), challenges, and experiences with you. So, thank you for being here. I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you. I have started this blog on a Sunday with the hopes of being able to post something interesting or thought-provoking each Sunday.

Have a great week ~

The Running Librarian

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