I’ve gotten stuck. One post into my re-imagining myself as metta-librarian: an academic librarian exploring the transpersonal, I find myself unable to press publish on my latest post. The truth is I’m scared. I’m scared people will say oh my god, what right does she have to talk about that stuff, she doesn’t own that, she doesn’t have her act together, she hasn’t been mindful once and really sometimes she is a bit of a bitch!
At least that’s what I tell myself.
So, I gingerly poked my fear with a stick, I turned it upside down to see what was underneath. And of course it was a nasty case of vulnerability! Here I am wanting to explore and share all this beautiful stuff that makes my world a better place but exposing myself to the judgement and opinions of others is so frightening.
So I found and watched this excellent Brene Brown TED talk on vulnerability. I thought, I can see being vulnerable is necessary for me to make meaningful connections with others, but I’m 49 already, I don’t want to do a year of therapy to deal with this stuff… How can I establish a feeling of safety now?
There is no deep and meaningful answer. I used humour: I reminded myself that I have been blogging more than 15 years and my average post gets 8 views and 4 likes. Only one person I know in real life regularly reads this blog and she is my daughter. And the excellent folk who regularly like and comment on my posts have tolerated a variety of ramblings from me without complaint. *Feeling much better now, I continued: Furthermore, if and when I do get an audience of librarian-types, or transpersonal types, I will have posted heaps, got my act totally together and just generally be awesome! That made me laugh too. Ho ho ho!
Even though I still feel a little scared, I hereby give myself permission to press ‘publish.’
*I am not being sarcastic. Introverts reaching out are always a little relieved by an underwhelming response. (According to the results of my self-case study 🙂 )
My liaison librarian role has a learning/teaching focus, so the following exploration is a bit of a mash-up between the learning/teaching component of an Australian competency framework and an essay on transpersonal education…
Learning and Teaching: Academic librarians working in learning and teaching should have a strong understanding of and competence in the following:
Client relationships – building and managing relationships and partnerships with researchers, faculty, students and professionals, and communicating information and resources to a range of clients within a holistic, expansive, growthful, transformative process that involves a both/and rather than an either/or attitude; that is experiential and reflective, inclusive and integrated.
Information services – providing advice and instruction to enhance access to relevant and reliable information; knowledge of core finding tools, databases and resources at a level appropriate to the position to encourage an individual to find his or her unique, authentic nature, potentials, and voice, and to express and apply this knowledge and wisdom to the greatest possible extent, for the benefit of self and others.
Teaching and learning – knowledge of institutional curriculum to effectively embed information literacy as appropriate; knowledge of learning models and strategies, pedagogy, current educational technologies for the academic environment, and learning analytics to provide scaffolded training and skills development opportunities for clients; awareness of new developments in learning and teaching and potential for library services and programs to nurture an experiential learning that is fully and deeply lived, immediate, embodied, particular and concrete, with the potential to provide service to a community.
Learning management system (LMS) – knowledge of the structure and the use of campus learning content management system to allow full expression of not only conventional forms of intellectual functioning, critical thinking, analysis, and synthesis but also the many forms of intelligence (emotional intelligence, spiritual intelligence, and the multiple forms of intelligences), oral dialog, pluralistic ways of knowing, and the informative and educational value of personal experience, the wisdom of the body, the great spiritual and wisdom traditions (which are really world psychologies), real philosophy, poetry, myth, story, the arts, contemplative inquiry, and all forms of creative expression.
Digital content creation – developing, creating and implementing online learning modules to facilitate exploration, expression and celebration of the embodied values, qualities, and practices key to transpersonal education. These qualities and values include appreciation of differences, appreciation of others and of the Universe at large, attention, authenticity, compassion, creativity, deeper levels of meaning, discernment, empathy, expansiveness, gratitude, insight, inspiration, intention, interconnectedness, intuition, mindfulness, self-observation, spirituality, spontaneity, and wisdom.
Literacies – knowledge of current terminology, principles and practice relevant to sourcing, using, evaluating, creating and sharing of information in an academic and digital environment; nimble, flexible, and efficient selection and use of appropriate technologies to read, search, evaluate, organise, create, connect and communicate to develop transpersonal and knowledge practices from diverse wisdom approaches, to inspire direct knowing and insight specific to learners’ education and lives.
Ethical use of information – awareness of copyright law, contract obligations and plagiarism in the learning and teaching context to facilitate awareness of self in relationship to a larger whole and often awaken learners to a sense of wonder and awe and connection to the cosmos.
Rowe, N., & Braud, W. (2013). Transpersonal education. In H. L. Friedman & G. Hartelius (Eds.), The Wiley Blackwell handbook of transpersonal psychology (pp. 666-686). Chichester, United Kingdom: John Wiley & Sons.
Gemma is small and brown. She is part Corgi (her legs) and part Joy. She loves to run around and around in great circles over the grassy hill and back again.
Dooley is my Mum’s fool of a poodle. He is tall and thin and black and he chases after Gemma, barking. She runs around him, leaping at his throat when he gets too close.
After the chasey game, they lie in the cool grass and I sit with them as the stars start to come out. There is slobber on my leg and my foot, but Gemma is lying on her back in the grass with her tongue lolling out, smiling up at me.
When I was little, I found a dead toad and took it to Mum and she said wow! and took it from me and put it in a brown paper bag and we buried it at the foot of a tree and a while later (almost forever) she let me dig it up and inside the bag was a beautiful creamy white toad skeleton and some bits of brown crusty stuff and a little gore stuck to the bag and mum said see the ants ate the rest and she let me take the skeleton to school to show my teacher and all the kids.
Once, I had been waiting in the car a long long time at the Karana Downs Country Club and I finally got out and walked around the back and peered into the doorway and there was Mum, leaning on the bar and she said something and all the worker men started laughing and she started laughing and I was shocked because my Mum had like actual friends.
Long ago we used to drive to Sydney to visit my grandparents. Road trips were the best and there were many best parts. Driving through the night following a big truck emblazoned with lights because Mum said he has a birds eye view and it’s safer to follow behind him. And she would tell me her growing up stories. Having breakfast at a road stop and Mum laughing with the truckies as if she was one of them as she ordered our breakfasts: a miniature box of cereal and if we were hungry bacon and eggs on toast with real butter. Driving under the New England mountains as the sun rose, luminous green looming above us as we sped on past.
Perhaps her growing up stories were the best – about Newcastle and the Indigenous shanty that grew up beside it because the Indigenous people were not allowed into the town at night. About running free through the bush, climbing trees, playing in the creek. About taking her brother on the bus on a Saturday and going to the movies and having enough change from a penny (or whatever the money was back then) to get some yummy treat and the bus home. About the times my Granny Vik (Mum’s mum) was in hospital with TB and she and Poppy were sad but at least they got to eat their favourite food: tinned braised steak and onion!
One time we were driving home and got pulled over at Warwick for speeding and the copper discovered Mum’s license was a few years out of date and Mum was really mad but she calmed down and waited for Dad to come and he didn’t even bring someone to drive his car so she ended up driving home anyway.
Mum used to help out at school. We had a big station wagon as there were so damn many of us and she would arrive at the school, pile a dozen kids in, including many of us loose in the boot, and take us to the pool or local sports ground, museum or wherever. And she did reading help and was grossed out by one boy’s wrist to elbow snail trails of glistening green. Not that she told us about that back then. And she’d cook really cool nut loaves in a cylindrical tin for the school fete. Till she compared the cost of ingredients to the profit made and started donating money instead.
And the kids at school were jealous because now and then Mum would pick me and my sisters and brothers up from school on a Friday lunchtime and the car would be packed for camping and we’d get dad and the whole family would go camping at Christmas Creek and get to hang out in the water making and unmaking dams and later sitting around a campfire watching the smoke go past the treetops and join the stars.
And her crying one evening because she was all ready to go to her basket weaving course and dad hadn’t come home from work (again!) and it was one more thing that she had to put aside for his work, for all us kids. Which was why she snorted when he got nominated for Senior Australian of the Year, though she went with him to the various ceremonies, and the trip to Canberra and loves going with him every year out to some country town that everyone always means to go to one day but never does. And they have a good old time together.
Mum loves her garden. When I was a teenager and she had blessed me with seven younger sisters and brothers I said to her hey you never talk to me and she said well I’m not going to sit around inside all day come out to the garden with me. And I put on one of her straw hats and a pair of stiff gloves and she set me to work pulling out cobblers’ pegs and packed up her wheelbarrow and took off to a different acre.
Mum loves her craft too. Despite dad’s early lack of respect for her creative time, she has learned to make quilts, beautiful quilts and leaves dad behind from time to time to travel far away and buy exotic fabrics or learn a new skill and takes the time to see the world a bit while she is at it. Once we went to a quilt show together at the Ekka and marvelled at the artistry. And then we went to look at the chooks and Mum whispered loud enough for everyone around to hear that the roosters wattles look like balls and suddenly we were surrounded by bright red wobbling, twitching testicles and we were laughing raucously and had to get out of there.
Well, Happy Birthday Mum. It’s been quite the ride, and I’m sure there are many adventures to come!