Sunday, October 1, 2017

Extraordinary Ordinary Choices

by tlc nielsen

Meet Lindsy 

I had the privilege of working alongside Lindsy Henigman for almost a decade, meeting her fresh out of college and seeing her develop and grow through the years. She brought structure and creativity to our team in the youth department of the public library, providing calm problem-solving and creative energy as the assistant manager.

Welcome, Lindsy!

Q) How did you end up choosing the job as Youth Services Assistant Manager in town?
A) It was fairly unusual, but I chose to be a librarian as a senior in high school. Most people come to it as a second career. I had taken the tests from the book Discover What You’re Best At and was surprised to see several different types of librarianship come up as career choices. I grew up in a very rural area and didn’t even realize librarianship was a profession. This opened up a whole new world for me, as I explored all the different ways I could employ my natural skills and way of thinking.
Taking the job at Grayslake was not unlike what most students look for their post-grad plan. My then-boyfriend, now-husband and I were both set to graduate at the same time and were making long-term plans. We decided the greater Chicago area (foreign to me) was our best shot at finding jobs and whoever landed one first would determine our future. I applied for every library job that interested me: some academic, some public, but my plan had always been children’s services in a public library. Grayslake was my first interview, and I got the job.

Q) Since you took the job, Lindsy, how did life change?
A) I took the job as a twenty-three year old new graduate. Since I went straight from my undergrad to library school, this was my first full-time, permanent job. I started one week after I finished school! Needless to say, I was learning a lot about growing up, office politics, and my actual profession, all at the same time.

Personally, I got married and had two babies in my nine years on the job. This taught me a lot about work-life integration and I developed a great deal of empathy. Suddenly, I could feel the emotional toll of others and better understand children, parents, and my coworkers.

Q) What have been some of your proudest accomplishments at work? I personally loved the Baby Café  you designed that allowed families with infants to hang out and chat.
A) The movements I made toward better serving millennial parents are by far my favorite accomplishments. When I became a parent, I saw our library through a completely different set of eyes. Things like comfortable areas to play or chat with friends, secluded spots to nurse a baby, a place to let your kids play with different toys and get a little messy...those are all important. Baby Cafe was a small inroad to what I ultimately wanted to achieve, which was basically a glorified playdate: let the kids go crazy with toys while the parents enjoy a cookie and a nice cup of coffee.

There was still so much more I wanted to see happen, but those things are probably still years in the making.

Q) Is there a particular time you remember where your ninja problem-solving skills came into play at work?
A) Oh, I have no idea. I can’t remember things like that anymore!

Q) How about the one I remember best, which still amazes me. There was a family storytime you did last year, when you were 7 months pregnant with your 2nd child….
A) Oh! I don’t think of that as problem-solving, but it is a good story. I regularly did toddler storytimes on Wednesday mornings and turned up for business as usual. This meant setting things up right as I came into work, and then going right into the storytime. I had been having some funky back pains that morning, but made it through the storytime all right. After all the excitement, I sat down at the reference desk and realized the pains were stronger and ooh, they were coming exactly five minutes apart. So, I left work and called the doctor. It was six weeks early, but we weren’t too shocked since my firstborn was also a preemie. Anyway, my husband met me at home. We made it to the hospital in time and I had the baby about four hours after that storytime. So maybe that’s my proudest accomplishment. I led a storytime while I was in labor!

Q) How did you develop the knack to put a positive spin on all that you solved and created?
A) I had always been an optimist growing up. One of my life lessons after graduation was how easy it is for negative talk of others to bring down positive vibrations. It took a long time for me to learn how to live with my own ideals and block out the toxicity of pessimism. In the end, I think it helps to remember that attitudes are catching, whether good or bad. Bad attitudes never win, though, and they don’t help anyone. But positivity, that is always the right choice.

Q) How did your solution-oriented positivity help you at work and at home?
A) Even when there is no clear answer, having a positive attitude and an open mind somehow brings a solution. It might not come right away, but it will come at the right time. I have no memory of anything specific, but that is something I have found to be true always.

Q) So the choice to leave work and stay home with your children – what led you to such a powerful decision?
A) After I had baby #2, I was operating on full-throttle. In my first month back from maternity leave, my husband had two, week-long trips to Europe. Then, only six weeks after my return, our manager left via retirement. That put me in the temporary front seat of our department for three months. I worked hard and ingested a lot of caffeine. After the new manager came and I had some time to think, I realized I was pretty off-kilter. I went in search of solutions and found many. I started with meditation, then tweaked my already-pretty-good diet and quit caffeine. All of this led to a rabbit hole of breathing exercises, spices and supplements, and then I learned how to listen to my intuition, or the Holy Spirit. It was a place I remembered knowing as a teenager, but had lost touch with as an adult. I started to feel great and was getting better at going with the flow, trusting gut feelings.

One night, my husband brought up the idea of me staying at home with our kids.  This came up periodically and I always shut it down. I did not want to do it, for lots of reasons. However, I was open and at peace, so I was happy to discuss it this time. Strangely enough, everything seemed to have flipped. All of the pros and cons remained the same, but the benefits seemed like the only thing, and I wasn’t at all worried about the negative aspects. I got tingles in my arms! That’s when I knew this was the right thing. We made the decision and never looked back. Ration and logic made it clear it wasn't the best choice, but we had set that aside.  Even now that I’m living it, seeing the rational reasons at play, there isn’t a doubt in my mind (or gut) that it was the right choice.

Thank you for reading this month's Extraordinary Ordinary adventure. Follow this blog to learn about more folks with extraordinary adventures. 

1 comment:

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