For the first time since 2005, I am not working in a public library. As someone who runs a website called “Justin The Librarian” this is quite a big shock to my internal systems and professional identity, but overall I’ve been OK with these big changes that have happened over the past month. When these big changes happened I had two options in front of me: fall into a rut or use this time as productively as possible. I chose productivity because productivity leads to growth, and ultimately that is exactly what I need at this point in my life as both Justin the Human Being & Justin the Librarian.
You see, I got kinda stuck there over the last few years. I’m not going to pinpoint any specific things that got me stuck because honestly it was just a lot of stuff from all avenues of being alive in the modern world that got me there. It’s fine. We all get stuck from time to time, and luckily I was able to step back and go “hey this is not good, and I should figure out the path ahead so that the future is better”. It’s all tough and trying, but doing it is a lot better than becoming Brian Wilson staying in bed all day never coming out of my pajamas (although I do wear a pajamas a lot more now because of coziness). Just a few weeks of not working in a public library have given me the chance to step back, look at life a bit more clearly, and figure out how to get fully unstuck. I’m getting there, but these things take time and I know I don’t want to mess this moment up.
I spent a lot of time in 2021 watching Peter Jackson’s documentary of The Beatles from early 1969 titled “Get Back”. I think I watch that documentary series about 5 times total in the year. I found it fascinating to see the band working through their stuff in real time and often adjusting to news, ideas, and conversations on the fly. It gave me a lot of understanding about conflict, change, and growth. For a long part of my life I had thought these moments in time were often long and drawn out, happening over years and that it was really tough to change on the fly. The Beatles in early 1969 showed me the exact opposite. Their idea was to “get back” to their roots and play as a four piece band and that never changed, but the ideas surrounding it did from day to day. Ultimately, they did “get back to where they once belonged” and they performed music as a unit. They worked through so much stuff and while life wasn’t perfect they did overcome what held them back. In this time of change and growth I may have some ups and downs, but the downs don’t have to mean that the end of the world is right around the corner and the good days don’t mean that the journey is over. In fact, who knows when the journey will be over. I’m starting to think that it’s never really over and that it’s all just growth and forward momentum. And I’m up for that.
I’m pushing myself out of my comfort zone as much as possible. I’ve never seen myself as a teacher, but that’s what I am doing right now. I am the Homeschooling Father to these two wonderful tween/teen human beings. Aero is 11 and Finn is 14, and both humans are transforming into amazing adults that think on their own, have their own hobbies and interests, and so much more. For the holiday season they both got their own laptops. It’s been a joy to watch them connect with technology. They use Discord to keep in touch with their friends. They write and share emails, write stories and save them in Google Drive, and plan amazing Minecraft worlds with friends from all over the world. I may just have to break my “you’re not ready to stream live to YouTube” rule just so that the rest of the world can see their diverse multi-city world that they’ve collaborated on for months with friends from all over the world. I know that I’m their Dad and I’d be amazed by anything that they do but this Minecraft stuff feels on the next level. I dig it. To get the chance to spend this much time with Aero & Finn at this amazing time in their lives is a gift and I am lucky to have these times with them. I find so much joy in our day to day activities: learning math, reading, and writing together, preparing meals for them to enjoy, reminding them to brush their teeth or do some physical activity, or just connecting over a movie or TV show. This is a magical time and I am lucky to be given the chance to be with them.
In mid 2021 we welcome Darby into our life. Darby is a Coton de Tulear and we’ve never had a dog like this in our lives before. He’s a fluffball who loves attention and is super playful. He’s such a kind companion and I’m so thankful that he’s part of our family. It’s been really nice to establish a routine with him…wake up, bathroom, hang out, eat, bathroom, walk, relax, bathroom, hang out, and you get the picture. Here I am at age 42 and I am totally a dog person now. Darby will go everywhere with us and if there’s a time when he’s away we all get a bit anxious to get Darby back into our lives. I’m super thankful for this pup.
To end, I want to talk about my amazing best friend wife partner human being Haley. This past month has been a stressful time for us as a family, but thanks to her optimisim, her hard work, and her kindness we’re all getting through this tough patch. Haley’s heart is full of love and kindness, and because of that we’re doing OK. In addition to being everything that she is a (a mother, a partner, a homeschooing momma, a puppy mother, an artist) Haley has taken up an increased role working at the local food co-op. She’s running the day to day tasks, she’s making sandwiches & hot drinks, she’s increasing their social media presence and outward facing persona, and pretty soon she’ll be doing more events and community outreach for them. She’s been working a lot and has been working so hard. I can tell that she’s more tired than usual, but I can also see that this work is filling up her soul. Haley is a great worker…she’s reliable and she puts so much effort and love into what she does. It shows with everything she does at work. The co-op looks beautiful, clean, and reimagined. Haley makes soups and quiches for people to grab and go to eat on the run and the community seems to be digging them. I could go on and on. I guess you can tell that I’m proud by how much I’m talking about this so I’ll stop here! But to end…I am in love with Haley and everything that she is, and I can’t thank her enough for being the positive and hard working soul that she is for our family. She’s doing it for us right now and we are all so thankful.
The next steps? I don’t know. I am enjoying where I am at right now. But I know that change is constant and I welcome whatever comes next. I want to continue to work in a library, and I hope I get the chance to find a role that allows me to “get back” to connecting with invididuals and the community through direct public service and through creating/running programs & events. It’s who I am as a librarian. It’s what I do best in this profession, and I want to move ahead doing what I do best. I’ll also continue to write as much as possible, either here at this website, at my TinyLetter newsletter, at Information Today, or at any other places out there that want me to write for them. I’m open to trying out new things when it comes to writing, so if you’re intrested in me as a writer just reach out. Here’s the good ol’ LinkedIn page if you want to get in touch.
Be happy and positive, and fill your days with things that make you smile and that make your heart leap. Thank you for being in my life. Love always, Justin (January 2023)