Monday, February 25, 2013

February Intentions

I'm in a bit of a quandary, because I only found out yesterday that February, aside from being African-American history month (which I hope I acknowledge significantly both as a teacher and as a mother), has been proclaimed the month for all of these things:

Boost Your Self-Esteem Month 

International Friendship Month 

Library Lovers' Month

Now it's February 25, and I've lost a multitude of opportunities to feel better about myself, pay homage to my friends, and more passionately love my libraries. :)

Still, the month isn't over. Here are some of the ways I'll try to honor all of the things this month represents.

As a library lover, I must confess that I don't visit my local libraries (there are three, all beautiful) as often as I once did. I will also confess that I am pretty much tied to my computer--a victim of the age of technology. However, through some energetic networking, I managed to find my eighteen-year-old son a job at one of our local libraries last summer, and he has worked there every weekday since.

This is a boon to both my son and the library, since he is learning much about library science and about having a regular job (and getting his first paychecks to boot), and his employers are very happy with him and have declared that he enhances their work experience. These are brand new reasons to love the library, aside from the one obvious reason that all people should love libraries--THEY LEND OUT BOOKS FOR FREE! All hail libraries!

I've also donated several bags of books to the library this year; hopefully in winnowing out my own collection, I have allowed a library patron or two to discover new authors.

In regard to international friendship day--which I assume celebrates friendship worldwide, rather than just celebrating our overseas friends--this is an appropriate reminder that I shouldn't take my friends for granted, which, of course, I do. But I can certainly try to acknowledge them in this last week of February. Perhaps a burst of e-mails to some of them, and real snail-mail letters to others. Or maybe just a quick "hello" on Facebook to people I haven't seen in a while.

At work, of course, I can send bright smiles and how-are-yous that are more than polite, rote responses. A note in the box of my friendly neighbors might be nice, as well. Trained by my polite mother, I've always believed in the power of a well-written card, and I think it could do a lot of good in acknowledging the friends in my life. If I do so, it might go a long way toward boosting my self-esteem, the other thing I'm supposed to do this month.

I'm curious about the origin of this particular topic. Did it originate in the mental health industry? Are we a nation of depressed Americans who feel bad about ourselves? Recently I had to visit the emergency room for a minor ailment because my doctor's office was closed. When I was called to a room, the first things the nurse asked me were "Have you been feeling depressed?" and "Do you feel safe at home?" I suppose she was legally obligated to ask both questions, but they made me sad. How many people per day, I wondered, answered yes to the first and no to the second?

But of course self-esteem is a separate matter from biological depression, and it's not something one can obtain by simply wanting it. I think one's only recourse is to define what a good life is, and then to try and live it.

Whether or not you acknowledge monthly labels, perhaps you can share the ways that you acknowledge your friends, your libraries, or yourselves?

(Photo: from a moment of spring break peace: South Haven, Michigan, 2010).


Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Julia, as a mental health professional, I'd want to hear what the minor ailment was before judging whether the nurse's questions were appropriate or not. As for international friendship, the Internet does a lot to keep mine alive. Among the "likes" on one of my Facebook page posts this weekend were friends in Kenya, the Netherlands, and Germany. And yes, I know all of them personally and face to face.

Julia Buckley said...

Wow--how great to have such a geographical diversity of friends. I remember the days before the Internet when having a pen-pal was so exciting. In grade school I got a Swedish pen pal named Gunilla, and we corresponded for a year or two. I've tried to find her on Facebook, but there are actually quite a lot of Gunillas in Sweden. :)

Unknown said...

Ferguson Library in downtown Stamford, CT, is the heart of our community. I use and support it. It's not only a library, it's a center for many other community activities, from getting a passport, to bringing your autistic child to day care, book clubs, tutoring kids of all ages. People gather outside its doors each day waiting for it to open. Now, we're talking about me as a guest to speak about my new book. It's a treasure.

Julia Buckley said...

That's awesome, Dorothy! It's so great to hear about a thriving library.

The library where my son works also has people waiting at the door when they open in the morning. A really good sign for libraries in general.