David Payne: Welcome to the Library Matters with your host David Payne. I'm here with two of my colleagues Lauren Martino.
Lauren Martino: Hello David.
David Payne: And Julie Dina.
Julie Dina: Hi, everyone.
David Payne: Lauren is children's librarian at Silver Spring Library and Julie is the Outreach Librarian and I am the Branch Manager, Davis Library and also the current Interim Manager at the Potomac Library. So here we are at the beginning of 2018, and want better time to talk about New Year's resolutions or lack of them. And Julie and Laura are going to join me in talking about resolutions and whether we've made any. Can we keep them? Why do you think people make resolutions?
Lauren Martino: I think we just all have things that we want to improve about ourselves and improve about the world, improve in general and this is the excuse you know. It's like you need a reason to push yourself.
David Payne: A fresh start?
Lauren Martino: Yes. This is just the yearly excuse that comes by to push yourself to do whatever it is you've been wanting to do.
Julie Dina: And I think typically everyone waits for the beginning of the year because it's traditional. New Year’s rolls up and everyone starts talking about what's something new that you are going to be doing? So I think that's probably why people usually set aside New Year's resolutions.
Lauren Martino: Maybe there's a little bit of help through just the fact everyone's doing it together.
David Payne: Right. Right. So you are starting off in theory together.
Lauren Martino: There's a little bit of accountability in there. Yeah.
David Payne: Yeah. The interesting thing, I think, is that statistically, you look at all the statistics that however many people start off with resolutions, very few of them actually stay the course. I guess it's all about willpower.
Lauren Martino: I've got an article by Psychology Today that says it's 19% two years later that say they've stuck with it. However, you are 10 times more likely to make a change if you do make a resolution than if you don't. So it's like you are not likely to stick with it however, you are much more likely to stick with it than if you never do it.
David Payne: That's right.
Lauren Martino: So that's the reason to make it happen.
David Payne: Do you think that there are other times in one night, I mean, we talk about the New Year typically the start of the New Year's resolution obviously, but we can make resolutions at other times in our lives I think. Would you agree?
Julie Dina: I think so. Well personally I know I've decided to make certain changes and it also depends on what's going on around you, or in your life, or in your family’s life. So when my mom fell sick, one of the main changes that I wanted to do was to eat better and to spend more time with my family you know, and also I was talking with my colleagues earlier about how my daughter you know, she does a lot of sports and she's constantly talking about the healthier foods to eat and based around that alone I've had to make changes. So I didn't necessarily wait till New Year's Day to roll around so that would be my reason.
Lauren Martino: I think I come up with a resolution just about every week or two. The problem is sticking with it. I'm always resolving to do something it's just a – yes maybe New Year's is the reason to stick with them a little longer than I otherwise might.
David Payne: I think for me I make resolutions not to make resolutions. But there was a very interesting article in the Washington Post magazine a few weeks ago which had a break down. They did a survey and had a breakdown of what kind of resolutions people make, and the top one was obviously losing weight, health and fitness, exercising more spending less money, eating healthy. But then they found that typically only about 8% of people actually make it.
Lauren Martino: It's really hard to change.
David Payne: It's very hard to change.
Lauren Martino: I mean we've got these habits and our habits are ingrained in us and our brains are wired to do things automatically and it's an uphill battle trying to change that.
David Payne: It is. It is.
Julie Dina: And not only that in the beginning of anything everyone is always excited. You know. Oh yeah we are going to do this. I'm excited to do that. But then following through is always the harder part.
David Payne: Have any of you made any resolutions? Care to share? I haven't.
Julie Dina: Well I don't know if I'll call it a resolution, but as I mentioned earlier I have said that this year I want to eat healthier and not only that. I do want to be conscious as to how much money I'm saving.
Lauren Martino: Saving. I like the new positive spin on that.
David Payne: Saving is good.
Julie Dina: And that's – in fact I'm always saying this every month that, "This month this is what I want to save." I want to start doing, or coming up with measures as to how I can save money in every aspect of my life.
David Payne: We'll check back in six months if that will flow.
Julie Dina: Actually six weeks. How about you Lauren?
Lauren Martino: Well I have a nice list of you know, probably half a page long things that I'd like to work on. I think the one I'm settling on is like waking up a little earlier in the morning just to pray a little bit, to spend some time in some silence and without – before I start like – everything starts crowding in and I'm like, "Okay. I have to do this and I have to do this. I have to do this. I have to do this." Just to spend a little bit of time in silence. And so far yeah the main barrier is the 4 year-old. Like so if you’re getting up early is always like dependent on whether she has crawled into my bed and you know is needs and has decided to wake up at that point.
David Payne: I'm sure the cold weather doesn't help either.
Lauren Martino: Oh absolutely. It's like, "I'm cold." So yeah but you know, a couple of times I've gotten there. I'm with my coffee and I'm like – I think things have gone better for that. It's just you know keeping it up and trying to be flexible. I read a couple of articles just trying to get a grip on this topic. I think it was the Psychology Today when it was going on about how – no. No. No. It’s about Washington Post. I don't know if we read the same article, but it talked about how it's like, you are going to fail. The people who succeed in their New Year's resolutions like 71% of the time they fail on the first month. So it's like, the difference is, are you going to fail and then see that as part of the process and keep going or are you going to fail and say, oh. I failed, and give up on it?
Julie Dina: Did the article actually mention why 71% of the people actually fail at doing this?
Lauren Martino: I don't know if it mentioned specifically. One of the articles I read talked about just how difficult it is to change a habit. Just rewiring your brain and your brain does not want to be rewired, because you've got your groove. You are surviving on it and your brain wants to keep you surviving, and it doesn't like to change what's not broken. But it seems like if you are going to succeed you need a strategy of some sort. So the people that succeeded in eating better were the people that didn't even go to the cookie party. Like you can't go to the cookie party and – you can't stop gossiping if you are going to hang around the water cooler that sort of thing. You are not going to stop spending money if you go out with your mother and your hobby of shopping. You got to make a change to what's going to allow you to do that. I think also having a very specific goal helps because if you just say, I'm going to eat better and you know, it's like, this white toast with butter on it is not as unhealthy as the doughnut I could be eating. Whereas if you say, I'm going to eat something with protein and at least one fruit or vegetable every morning for breakfast. It's a little bit more you know when you've gotten it when you haven't.
Julie Dina: That sounds more like a plan.
David Payne: Yeah. And that's interesting because actually the Washington Post survey I looked at, the top reasons for failure was 58% not enough willpower.
Lauren Martino: Not enough willpower.
David Payne: Which, as you said, you got all right coming up with a goal but think it through. Is it measurable? Is it doable? Because you do have to adjust your life and your brain. And 44% cited lack of a plan, 32% time management and 28% again, as you mentioned, goals weren't well-defined. So all very well coming up with a resolution but has to be measurable, has to have a specific outcome, and I think that's obviously where people are failing. When we look to renew ourselves at the beginning of the year, or whenever with our resolutions, often people turn to self-help books. Do you like self-help books? Some of them I'm drawn towards. Most of them I'm not, because I think they are so many on the market now, have to pick and choose. I think. So any thoughts about self-help books? What's a good self-help book to you?
Julie Dina: I don't particularly love self-help books. I've read some. The ones that I do like though are the ones that at the end of each chapter it has exercises. You know they are interactive and it depends on what that chapter is about. It asks you to do certain exercises, and I like the ones that mention step-by-step ways on accomplishing those goals. And I sometimes will refer to them just so I know what I'm suggesting for my customers mainly. But, will I really use them? Maybe in the future.
Lauren Martino: Maybe later.
Julie Dina: Maybe later.
Lauren Martino: I'm a little bit the opposite. I think it's one of those occupational hazards of working in a library. I feel I'm surrounded all the time by books promising me a better life. It's like I'm waiting for the elevator. There's an entire cart of non-fiction books there and it's like, I could eat better. I could eliminate sugar from my diet. I could be more assertive. I could –
David Payne: Be rich.
Lauren Martino: Yes. I could be rich. I could learn how to use the 20% of time that I'm using at work goofing off to better my performance. It's just the library promises everything and it's finding the willpower to say, "Okay. I'm going to focus on this one and give it my attention." And usually that breaks down for me right around the time of those exercises, because then I'm like, Oh men. I have to get up and get a piece of paper and a pencil. So yeah. Willpower at least that much.
David Payne: But I should say that MCPL does have a tremendous array of self-help books in all subjects.
Julie Dina: They sure do.
David Payne: The most popular ones were decluttering, finance, relationships. Yeah.
Julie Dina: Oh yeah.
Lauren Martino: And I was just talking to Beth Chandler and she's like, "Oh yeah, I'm ordering more." They are on the horizon as well.
Julie Dina: Beyond the lookout.
David Payne: We have something for you.
Lauren Martino: Just in terms of self-help books. Some of the ones I like are almost more of the overarching ones like the, you know, "How to Help Yourself." There's one by – I'm going to totally slaughter his name - I think he is just known on Being Mortal Atul Gawande
David Payne: Oh yes.
Lauren Martino: Yes. But he wrote this lovely I mean short little book. Short little book about the checklist manifesto. I have to say if there's one self-help book and I'm not even sure it was written as a self-help book, because it's almost more his journey of like how he discovered, oh, yeah. They started using this with surgeries and it works. At some point while they were developing like airplanes and they were starting to use them in the military, they discovered that the planes they were building were just way too complex for any human to use. And they are like, oh well. These are too complicated for people and sort of giving up on them. They are like, oh. We can write down this list of steps. Everything you need to do before you take off and before you land. And at some point he came to this conclusion, "We should really be doing this when we cut people open."
Julie Dina: That would be a good idea.
Lauren Martino: Checklist: Are all the surgical instruments out? Check! And it was kind of a breakthrough and I'm like, "Oh yeah. Getting out the door in the morning.”We had a small baby at home. It's like, yes. Pacifier. Check. Everything I need for the breast pump. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check.
Julie Dina: Formula.
Lauren Martino: Yeah. Formula. Check. Yeah just this way of making a complex world a heck of a lot less complicated. Has to be my number one that I've actually gotten something out of.
David Payne: Yeah, I really like for me, Getting Things Done by David Allen it's now a classic, has really transformed my way of trying to keep order with my workload. It's been a book that's been around for a fair while now. But I definitely recommend it. It's a great book for thinking about what the word done actually means and he breaks it down.
Lauren Martino: That's where I struggle too. So what does the word done actually mean?
David Payne: Well, it encourages you to define what it means for you because as we talked about, the problem with setting goals and plans is people don't think, "How are you breaking it down so it's actually achievable?" And he makes you think or realize a plan has to have a beginning, and an end, and the component parts. And people get stressed because they are over ambitious with their plans, with their management, their time management skills, desires, and that's where it all gets lost. So he's very, very good at breaking things down and making you think and coming to your own conclusion of what done means for you. You think about it in a way that makes it sensible for you. That's why it's a great book. It really helped me thinking – in my thinking of arranging my clutter and workload. Definitely recommend it.
Lauren Martino: Okay, Getting Things Done.
Julie Dina: Done. Check.
Lauren Martino: Done. Check. Because I have this lovely – okay. What I've been focusing on recently and this has been maybe my downfall with the number of goals I have. But I have this lovely app on my phone called Habitica. It's essentially a role-playing game/to-do list. So you get like okay, this is ridiculous and I feel a little embarrassed about it. But if anybody thinks this is a good idea, please join our party because we need more people. But yes, it's like every time you do something you can assign how hard you think it is and you know it's like the longer it takes you to do it the more points it's worth, but you get experience points and you get coins and you could buy gear with your coins and then you can go battle monsters. You do damage to them based on what you do.
But part of this is also you've got habits you want to develop for yourself and of course you know every time I do something wrong it's like, okay. There's another habit. But what I get to is like, okay. Well I checked all these off. I did exactly what it says here. Now I need to make another item because it's like, well. This isn't really resolved. I asked my boss about this and now I need to act on what he just said. So yeah. It's like I don't know if we humans are really equipped [inaudible 00:16:33] involving to do, I think
David Payne: I think so. Yeah.
Lauren Martino: Into the world we have created for ourselves.
Lisa Navidi: And now, a brief message about MCPL services and resources. Love is in the air. February is Library Lovers Month. Think of all the ways you love your library. It's a place to check out books, attend programs, learn new skills, and so much more. Join us for the Library Lovers' Month kickoff event. A family-friendly STEM program at Aspen Hill on February 3rd at 11:00 am. You can find a link to this and other Library Lovers Month events in these episode show notes. Now back to our program.
David Payne: Julie you talked about money savings earlier. I read a very good book on personal finance, money management which is a great read, Broke Millennial by Erin Lowry. Came out last year. It's actually a book for the millennial generation which I'm afraid I'm past. But it's a very easy to read book, straightforward book on money management.
Julie Dina: What are the highlights, or what are major things in the book that will actually help me?
David Payne: Well, I think the parent who's looking at university costs, tuition, they talk a lot because it's geared to that age range.
Julie Dina: I'm glad you brought that up. My daughter starts –her last year is actually this year.
Lauren Martino: That's terrifying isn't it?
Julie Dina: Yeah it really is.
David Payne: They talk a lot – she talks about student loans and the whole business of applying for them and then paying back. Which is the parent of a student who's just graduated and its payback time. Very interesting to me. But no it’s very, very good book. Very straightforward. Written in very clear language. I'd definitely recommend that for readers of all ages. And it's on our library shelves.
Julie Dina: I will take heed.
David Payne: Take a look at that one.
Julie Dina: Yes.
Lauren Martino: Speaking of financial self-help and financial matters, I was going over this with all of my colleagues and Michelle Halber who will also be on our podcast about romance novels mentioned Michelle Singletary, who's got a column in the Post, she's got a number of books too, and I think she just came out with like a 20 day financial fast book that, if we don't have it we have it on order.
David Payne: And in fact this Broke Millennial was actually recommended by Michelle Singletary last year, so that's how I got hold of it.
Lauren Martino: She's got so much common sense.
Lauren Martino: Yes. You are so right.
David Payne: But for looking ahead for the person who wants, let's say, to learn something new in 2018, what are some of the great MCPL resources that can help a person do that? I know we got some exciting new resources that we can tell everybody about?
Lauren Martino: Looking at the outreach person who –
Julie Dina: Well I know we've recently just got into our system something called lynda.com.
David Payne: lynda.com is a great resource for learning new things.
Lauren Martino: There's a lot of different computer skills on there.
David Payne: A lot of computer skills.
Lauren Martino: Very technical things that I don't think we have anywhere else.
David Payne: Right.
Lauren Martino: And a lot of people have been asking for it.
Julie Dina: Yes.
David Payne: The good thing about it they cover these things at various levels. So it can be for the beginner who wants to learn about word processing, or the basics of computing to a higher level of, let's say, Excel or PowerPoint. And they have a whole selection of videos to go with each course, so that's a very powerful database that can be accessed from our website.
Julie Dina: Also Gill courses. They are bigger and bigger each year and every event that I go to, actually the fliers usually run out. It seems like people already know about them. In the beginning I would have to talk and tell people about them but now they ask me, "Why are the classes filling up quickly?" So Gill courses, I mean we have over 300 courses. So you can imagine. Ranging from Nurse's Assistant courses, we have accounting. We have cooking, photography, anything you can think of.
Lauren Martino: American Sign Language.
Julie Dina: Yes.
David Payne: Yes.
Lauren Martino: Books. Things for teachers.
Julie Dina: And people love the fact that it's actually free. I mean you are not going to get this anywhere else and sometimes you have to pay a lot of money to get certification for some of these courses, so once they know it's free and now that a lot of people know it's free, the classes fill up quickly. I like them.
Lauren Martino: And they are demanding. Like they are not just like you watch a video and that's it.
David Payne: No. No. You have to keep up.
Lauren Martino: You've got exercises and it has a time frame. I think that kind of helps you like feel a little better –
Julie Dina: Exactly.
Lauren Martino: You got a deadline. You got to do this.
David Payne: Yeah. We've also got another fairly new resource, Learning Express, which has – I don't know whether all of you’ve used it already, sample tests for students, but also courses on basic computing as well, I think.
Lauren Martino: There's things in there for people with IP courses and also basic things like if you want to become a better writer at work. Like better just adults, workplace English skills. Things like that.
David Payne: Yeah. And I think the great thing about Learning Express is that it addresses younger students, teenagers, perhaps students with the SAT, ACT, and then adults in the workforce as well. Looking for vocational tests and then general skills like computing. So great resource.
Lauren Martino: I've been playing around a lot with ArtistWorks.
Julie Dina: Oh my gosh. That's my favorite. Everyone – that's all I talk about. That's how I start any conversation at any event that I go to. It's the best.
Lauren Martino: So tell us about ArtistWorks.
Julie Dina: I'll tell you.
Lauren Martino: Give us the low down.
Julie Dina: I'll give you the low down. So imagine you've been trying to learn a particular instrument for a while. And we all know how much costly it could be. ArtistWorks all you need to do is create an account with us with your library card, and there is an array of instruments that are actually offered.
Lauren Martino: And it's a big array.
Julie Dina: Any instrument that you can actually think of. Actually I think the ukulele is even one of them.
Lauren Martino: They didn’t because I was looking for that. And they didn't have it at first. And then it was recommended and it came and then we were all like, "We have a big ukulele culture here.” I don’t know if you are aware of that.
Julie Dina: Exactly.
Lauren Martino: And all of us were like, "When are you getting to ukulele?" And they are like, "It's in production. We are getting it." And then, “It's available now."
Julie Dina: Yes and we do have it. So when I go to a lot of the back to school nights, I talk about it so that parents know and sometimes parents actually are excited that they can actually sign up too. And best of all MCPL always brings the best for their customers. Guess what? The instructors are actually Grammy and Emmy Award winners. So imagine you are getting the best to teach you the best. And what they do in the beginning is you take a test in the beginning, so that they know if you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced. In that way they can set aside how your courses would actually be. But I think it's the best thing. They offer graphic drawing in there, voice lessons, piano. I've always wanted to be a rock star so.
David Payne: There's a chart. There's a chart there.
Julie Dina: I mean I could be a rock star for free.
Lauren Martino: Provided you’ve got the commitment.
Julie Dina: Exactly.
Lauren Martino: I learned a nice little ukulele act.
Julie Dina: Oh have you?
Lauren Martino: Yes. Yeah. I was amazed because it was like something that I don't think you come across in just like a standard book. But yeah was this really like innovative way of trying to get your fingers to move like, apart from each other. It's like, "Take your index and your ring finger and try to touch them at the same time to your thumb. And then take your middle finger and your pinkie.”
Julie Dina: I tried.
Lauren Martino: It's hard.
David Payne: It sounds hard.
Lauren Martino: It's hard and they are like, "Yeah, yeah. This is hard but do it every day."
David Payne: You'll get sore fingers.
Lauren Martino: You'll get sore fingers. Yeah. I mean you are doing this on the strings and yeah it was just really helpful and I got a banjo for Christmas too so I am like, "We are breaking up that banjo. ArtistWorks. And we are going to give it a shot too."
David Payne: That's great. So all those are available on our MCPL website.
Lauren Martino: Those are all available on our website with your library card.
David Payne: With your library card. So we traditionally end our podcasts with question to be asked our guests about what they are reading right now or a book that they recently enjoyed. Julie, any thoughts.
Julie Dina: Well, since I've been talking about money all day, it's to no surprise the book that I'm actually reading right now it’s entitled, Millionaire Success Habits by Dean Graziosi. I'm only in the beginning part of it, but so far I'm loving it and it's saying, "Why would you continue to do the same thing if it's bringing you results that you don't want?" So you've got to venture out of what you are used to doing and start taking risks. And he's saying this. He's obviously a millionaire and he hangs around millionaires, and he gives us secrets as to what millionaires actually talk about and actually do to produce results.
Lauren Martino: So you are the fly on the wall in the millionaires like clubhouse?
Julie Dina: Yeah. I mean, I could say I'm a millionaire. I'm reading their book.
David Payne: Pass all the secrets to us.
Julie Dina: I'll see what I can do. How about you Lauren?
Lauren Martino: Well I think somebody else said just like in a previous episode said this was an awesome book so I gave it a try. It’s Clayton Byrd, children’s librarian here full disclosure. Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Garcia Williams. I loved her – oh gosh. She wrote One Crazy Summer, and Gone Crazy in Alabama, and just a series about these lovely little girls whose mommy was a Black Panther and they went to visit her in California. Just her way of writing about relationships. Like sisters and brothers and mothers and fathers, and just the way of kind of portraying just how rich and loving they are in all of the flaws. Clayton, he's got his grandfather and his grandfather –he loves his grandfather and his grandfather loves him, and they are the closest in the world. And at the same time we've got Clayton's mommy who the grandfather was a blues musician. Left her behind all the time.
And so it's Clayton – it happens at the very beginning of the book, so I'm not spoiling too much. But spoiler alert. Grandfather dies. And so we've got the little boy who's mourning his grandfather and his mother. She’s dealing with it in her own way. But she's basically trying to get him out of the house. Getting him out of their life and the boy is like, "No. No. You’re getting rid of his guitars. Why? This is his guitars. Famous blues musician. Just getting rid of his guitars." So just how he's coping with that. He's a kid so and this is an adventure story so he runs away. Shenanigans ensue. But I just love how she writes about families and in this very believable nuanced way. And that's my adult take on this kids' book.
David Payne: Sounds great. And for me normally I don't read fiction. I'm generally a non-fiction reader but when John le Carre came out with his latest book, Legacy of Spies, I couldn't put it down. Johhn Le Carre I think, my fellow country man is a master storyteller and his latest book is a great read. We are not going to be spoilers, but it draws on two of his previous works, one of his very first ones, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold which I think came out in the early 60s and then Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and he draws on those two books and moves between the past and the present at quite a rate. And always a great read. That book is available, as I think the ones you mentioned, at MCPL. So thank you both very much indeed for sharing your resolutions and your hopes and –
Julie Dina: It's been great.
Lauren Martino: And next time I resolve to do something with finances, or something with productivity, I know where to go.
David Payne: And Julie, we'll check back and see if you made it.
Lauren Martino: No. We should do this again next year.
Julie Dina: Yes.
Lauren Martino: See where we are all at.
Julie Dina: That's true. That'll be fun.
Lauren Martino: One year from now. Here we go.
Julie Dina: We would like to say a special thank you to our listeners. Keep the conversation going by following us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Don't forget to subscribe to the podcast on the new Apple podcast app, Stature, or wherever you get your podcasts. Also please review and rate us on Apple podcast. We'll love to know what you think. Thank you for listening to our conversation today and see you next time.