I’m back from my whirlwind vacation. I returned Monday night, but I’ve been so exhausted since then that I haven’t had the energy to post (and yesterday was my birthday, so I had to devote lots of time to eating pie). It was a physically and mentally exhausting trip. Lots of hiking, lots of driving and flying, lots of speaking. Scattering my grandfather’s ashes was really a lot harder than I thought it would be. I hadn’t been back to the Catskills in years and seeing their old house, the pond where I used to feed the ducks, the creek I used to fish in… it just brought back a flood of memories. I still miss him like crazy.

Most of the trip was very fun. Adam and I had a great time. New Mexico is an absolutely amazing place to visit and the AISTI Conference I attended was really unique. I was the only speaker that day from a library. The others were involved in motivational speaking, business consulting and workplace technology design and they offered some really neat insights into innovation from their perspectives. Not really practical talks, but I definitely had the sensation that my horizons were being expanded. I also had the pleasure of meeting Five Weeks to a Social Library participant, Dell Bayer and Carolyn Dunford, co-author of this month’s brilliant D-Lib article, “Using Wikipedia to Extend Digital Collections”. How smart to use the Wikipedia to provide links (and draw traffic) to library collections instead of worrying about it taking interest away from your collections! I would definitely like to visit New Mexico again and it’s now on my list of “places I could live in the future.”

At the ENY-ACRL Conference, I gave the keynote talk, Driving the Technology Bus with Social Software. I think I finally understand what the difference is between a keynote and a regular talk. :) It’s amazing to me how much easier it gets to speak each time I do it. I even enjoy it! At this conference I got to meet another of our excellent participants, Josalyn Gervasio. I get warm fuzzy feelings every time I get to meet someone from Five Weeks to a Social Library; they’re all doing such cool techie things at their libraries now! Almost makes me forget how discouraged I felt reading some of the responses to this post at ACRLog. Sigh… maybe one day organizations will see where the demand/need is (I get e-mails constantly asking me to reprise Five Weeks) and will realize that member benefits that people actually want will attract new members.

I really do love all the work I do. I love speaking, I love writing, I love creating wikis and online courses. But I’m wiped out. I just feel so busy ALL THE TIME. And I’m not happy. Stress at work really hasn’t helped things, but most of the sense of business has come from my extra-curricular activities. Karen Coombs’ post about picking your battles really touched a chord with me:

It seems to me that it is often the same people who pick up the torch and fight these battles for change in librarianship. It is the same people who get asked to do more, and to take leadership roles over and over again… In my mind, this pattern has extremely dire consequences. Burn out of active and enthusiastic librarians for one. But burn out is the tip of the iceberg, because burn out can result in ineffectual leadership within our libraries and library associations to the point that we fail to be effective and as a result, alienate users and association members.

I’m not complaining, but sometimes you get to feeling like the more you do, the more you’re asked to do. And I hate saying no, but lately I’ve had to do it more and more. I love this work. I love helping other librarians. It’s one of the things that really makes me feel like I’m doing “right” with my life. And yet, it’s also the thing that’s making me insanely stressed. And it’s no one’s fault but my own. I make these choices.

My wonderful friend partner-in-crime, Michelle, is traveling the same road of reflection right now. And I think we’re both on our way to a better balance and a better way of living our lives. Today when I read her post and saw “I define my own success, it does not look like yours, and I am ok with that” I had a moment of clarity. I think I’ve taken on so much because I want to achieve some impossible measure of success; and I keep raising the bar higher and higher every day. Two years ago, I would have never thought I’d write a book, and now it doesn’t feel like enough. It’s like I’m looking for some sort of magical approval that never comes and I don’t exactly know why, but I have to get over it, because I’m beginning to suspect that there will never be an “enough.”

Thank you Michelle, for giving me some very excellent mantras (other than the slobbering dog part!) to keep telling myself next time I wonder if I can take on one more speaking engagement in an already packed month. We’re on the right track!