Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Summit 2013: Content Preview

Click the image to enlarge it.

YA Readers' Advisory Panel 3 panelists will lead a discussion of the reviews of the newest trends in young adult literature and reviews of the most popular titles.

Helping Mentally Ill Customers Presented by Brook Lane. This is a customer service focused piece that will educate us about how we can best serve customers who experience mental illnesses and how we can best provide a safe and welcoming environment in our libraries.

Stretch Toward a New You Kirsten Hansen, Licensed Massage Therapist and Instructor at the Allegany College of Maryland presents, easy steps you can take to prevent stiff muscles and exhaustion. Feel energized and have a life after work.

Live Online Communication Marilyn Pontius (Manager, Hancock Branch of the Washington County Free Library) and Trina Panagos (Staff Development Coordinator for the Frederick County Public Libraries) will present best practices and logistical requirements for using Google+ Hangouts and Blackboard Collaborate to conduct online meetings.

Laura Gross & Tammy Gantz
Story Time Swap Presented by Laura Gross and Tammy Gantz (both of the Smithsburg Branch of the Washington County Free Library). This is a participant-driven workshop which means A meeting of the minds, where librarians share program ideas in order to prevent story time burnout down the road.  Participants will get to share some of their best story time ideas in a small group setting; these ideas will be compiled ahead of time in a jump drive that each attendee will receive at the completion of the program.

Ask Your Experts! Technology Panel For the purposes of this panel, your technology experts are: Tracy Carroll (Web Specialist for WMRL); Josh Linkner (IT Specialist for WCFL); Allen Dunson (IT Specialist for RELIB). If you register for this program you will be asked to submit your burning computer/Internet/technology questions. Panelists will review the questions in advance so they are prepared with rich answers! Panelists will also be leading the hands-on portion of the program where - based on your questions - we will have technology stations where you can get more practice.

Stephanie Anderson
Tumblr for Adult Services Readers' Advisory
Presented by Stephanie Anderson, Darien Public Library (CT). Whether you’re a tumblarian or not, come learn about the ways in which tumblr is being used for readers’ advisory, and share your own experience. We’ll discuss the nuts and bolts of using tumblr for RA, as well as how to make it part of your existing RA practices.

Emergency/Disaster Preparedness Presented by Mary Spalding, Program Coordinator/Medical Librarian for the Western MD Area Health Education Center.

Maurice Coleman's Top 5 Online Learning Resources Presented by Maurice Coleman, Technology Trainer for Harford County Public Library.

Ask Your Experts! Marketing Panel For the purposes of this panel, your marketing experts are: Renee Mason (ACLS), Bonnie Winters (RELIB), and Pat Wishard (WCFL). If you register for this program you will be asked to submit your burning marketing questions. Panelists will review the questions in advance so they are prepared with rich answers. Panelists will also briefly present their 'marketing best practices for non-marketing personnel.'

Monday, August 19, 2013

Intentional Leadership Model

This model was introduced to me at the ALA leadership Institute on day 1. I'll introduce it here and share some thought exercises that go along with it. Then I'll write a follow up post showing how I've applied this model to my role as a staff development coordinator for the Western MD Regional Library. 

Sara King, Robert Altman, and Robert Lee describe the Intentional Leadership diagram as a personal leadership model or framework but I am saying that we can extend this model to our current jobs/positions/employers, as well as to our professions. Below is now they describe the 5 elements of the model. Try to answer the questions for yourself as you read through them. 

Changing context and demands:
  • What is the context of your current or potential leadership role?
  • What special expectations or realities do leaders face today?
  • What views of leadership prevail in your current situation, and what assumptions about leadership do you personally hold?
  • What is your own personal vision, and is leadership a part of that vision? Why or why not?
  • If so, do you also have your own personal leadership vision?
  • Are your personal and leadership values based on your own core values?
  • What are your core values?
  • What personal qualities support your work as a leader and give your work its own distinctive style? 
  • What adjectives describe your authentic self?
  • Do you have adequate balance and focus in your life, resulting from a good integration between your leadership work and other aspects of your life?
  • When do you feel most balanced? What does your life look like when it is in balance?
Questions to ask ourselves:
These were gleaned from conversation at the institute. Feel free to add others. 
  • What can I/we quit? What can I/we stop doing?
  • Do I see myself as others see me? Or how do others see me? 
  • Do we see ourselves as others see us? Or how do others see us?
  • Where are my comfort zones? My safety zones? 

Exercise: Creating Your Personal Vision

I challenge anyone reading this to spend the next  20 minutes reading the following prompt and answering these questions. I found it to be very revealing. 

Imagine that you have achieved an outcome in your practice (aka work, profession, etc.), one that you deeply desire. Envision what it would be like to be doing what you most want to achieve. Answer the follwing questions using the present tense, as if it is happening right now. 
  1. What does this look like?
  2. What words would you use to describe it?
Now answer these questions using present tense:
  1. If you were to be the kind of leader you've always wanted to be, which qualities would you exhibit?
  2. What is your ideal professional or work environment?
  3. What types of relationships would you have with colleagues, followers, etc? 
  4. What is your vision for the community in which you live?
  5. Imagine your leadership practice has a unique purpose - fulfilled through what you do, how you engage and work with others, and by the way you work and live. Describe that purpose. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Leadership by the Cup: Embody Greatness

Sigh. The ALA Leadership Institute is over. It went by so fast and was such an amazing experience. 

Now I find myself tasked with continuing the good habits I developed while there, such as writing about the leadership lessons my Yogi tea bag teaches me (or reminds me of) every morning.

It's only been one day since the institute came to a close and the tea is already holding up its end of the bargain - water has been boiled; tea bag acquired, opened, and plunked in and is currently steeping. 

Now for my part. 

Feel great, act great, and approve of yourself. 

When I first read the tag I envisioned feeling great as I remember feeling about Christmas morning when I was a kid - excited about the mountains of gifts Santa would bring to the point of not sleeping and only having one response to everything put to me (at least I remember it seeming this way in my head): a delighted squeal. It was just an overwhelming sense of joy for everything and everyone. 

It's sad to admit but this feeling is temporary. Or at least it is for me. I wish I could have those feelings of  squeal-worthy joy 16 hours of the day (not when I'm trying to sleep) but then I started thinking that maybe that type of greatness-the kind associated with an emotion or emotions-isn't meant to endure. 

Instead, embodying the qualities that define a great human being is a more reasonable goal because those qualities can be practiced, can become habits, can endure partly because these qualities are not identified with high emotion, unlike my squealing joy. 

Be great. What defines a great human being will differ slightly from person to person and culture to culture but for the sake of bringing this post back to my experience at the leadership institute, I'm going to posit that the same qualities we defined for a great leader are the same for a great human being. 

Feel great. Once we identify one-two qualities we specifically want to improve then it just becomes like practicing any other skill. You know how if you fake a smile for a few seconds by putting a pencil in between your teeth you eventually start to feel like smiling all on your own? I believe we can achieve the same effect with leadership qualities and I'm sure research has been done on this I'm just too lazy right now to bother to look it up but if you're reading this and you can quote some supplemental articles and/or books, I'd appreciate you commenting those!!

We can train our brains to behave in certain ways but as we learned in the institute, it has to be intentional. We have to do it on purpose. Let's say I'm a Negative Nelly and through conversations with colleagues and friends, and through self-reflection I realize that my negative outlook is impacting my interpersonal relationships and thus effecting my ability to be a good leader. So, I decide to make my first reaction - whether spoken or unspoken - to all situations to be, "hmm, this could be a good thing." I phrase it this way intentionally because, 1) the "hmm.." causes me to pause and I realize that when I say, "hmmm" my face changes to this:

My eyes look up and to the left which, if I remember my college psychology accurately, means that I'm thinking. I could be thinking about experiences I may have had previously, etc. But I am considering which takes time away from reacting.

2) In addition to the "Hmmm,,,", I say "...could..." because for me it's a word of possibilities. It's open and neutral and there's no ownership in it. Then I make the biggest change and flip my script and 3) say "...good..." because I'm trying to retrain how my brain thinks about situations. When my default is ...bad/crappy/negative/wrong... etc, I really just want to flip it 180 and go for the good/great/wonderful/positive.

Approve of yourself. When I'm doing great and feeling great, I find it hard to think of an example of when I wouldn't approve of myself but I think what the tea bag is alluding to is the topic of confidence. Confidence in knowing that what I'm doing is great. And that brings me full circle to having more conversations with colleagues and friends, and doing more self-reflection to check in. Awareness of what we are doing and how we are being (self-awareness) is crucial to, 1) developing confidence and 2) being able to approve of ourselves.

So, which leadership quality do you want to work on and how will you try to trick your brain into adopting that quality? 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Leadership by the Cup: Attitude of Gratitutde

Ok.  Enough.  Seriously. The tea bags are becoming prophetic.

Today is the last day of the ALA Leadership Institute and what does this morning's tea bag say?

An attitude of gratitude brings opportunities. 

What a nice leadership trait to have: gratitude. We must add it to the long list of leadership qualities I wrote about in my Twinkle Lights post. 

This trait not only embodies being able to recognize when I've received the generosity of others but also the ability to express my thanks to those individuals. Additionally, i think it is just as important to recognize when I've been generous to others and myself, and to thank myself as well. 

As I reflect on the past three days and four nights of the institute here is what I am grateful to others for:

- encouragement and support from colleagues to apply to this program
- financial support from my employer 
- a ride to and from the airport from my sister
- a ride to and from the resort from A1 limo
- a skilled airplane pilot who got me to IL safely
- friendly resort staff
- a spacious and clean room with bee friendly toiletries and a balcony with a screen door
- plentiful and tasty food
- Suzanna sharing with me a glass of her wine
- a patient boyfriend who didn't mind only talking but once a day
- inspiration and the time to write
- the time and solitude to meditate
- lots of laughing
- two skilled and dedicated facilitators who organized and lead a rich program, complete with a resource-filled binder and who didn't kill me with PowerPoint and who shared illustrative stories, exhibited patience, flexibility, humility, good humor, and an insane amount of expertise and knowledge. 
- 39 talented, passionate, diverse, self-disclosing classmates who opened up to share their stories and perspectives, listened to others' stories, walked us down their ladders, offered suggestions for solutions, recommended books to read, provided rich conversations, played bocci ball with me (and totally kicked my butt), offered rides to the mall, Ikea, and around Chicago in general, and who came together to create a wonderful and energizing first ALA Leadership Institute experience. 

- Also, the wifi - otherwise you wouldn't have the pleasure of reading this till I got back to the office. :)

I'm sure I've left off some things so, I guess I'm grateful for the ability to edit this post later. 

What are you grateful for?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Leadership by the Cup: Minimizing the Self

This Leadership by the Cup series is starting to get a little creepy.

I had a cup of tea yesterday morning which I didn't write about because it seemed more esoteric than I wanted to tackle at 6am so instead I chose to write about a cup of tea I had the previous day. As it turns out, yesterday's esoteric cup of tea predicted a portion of the content we covered in the institute. 

Creepy, right?

Here's what it said:
There is nothing more precious than the self.

How this relates to the institute.
Yesterday we were introduced to the Johari Window which is, in my interpretation, a model that can be used to understand group dynamics and it looks like this:

We talked about how it is important to slowly increase the size of the public self through self disclosure because the more I know about myself and the more I share what I know about myself - that's appropriate and timely - the better I'll be able to work with others and the better others will be able to work with me. A suggested phrase to say, perhaps at the first meeting of a newly formed team is, "here's what you need to know to work well with me." If each of the members self disclose how they function with most teams and share that info with the rest of the group then everyone has a better idea of how they can be successful and how they can help the team be successful. 

When we increase the public self through self disclosure we decrease the private self but only to the point where it's appropriate for the situation. I have come to view these frames and fluid and situation-dependent. I'm not sure if that's what the authors intended but that's how I see it. We can also increase the public self and diminish our blind spot through feedback. Since the blind spot is made up of things others know about me but that I don't know about myself, it's pretty simple to open that pane by asking questions about yourself of others. One thought I had jotted down in my notes was to do a public perception survey of myself with colleagues because I have had moments where friends have told me, "I don't know if you're aware of this but when you did X it appeared to me as though Y." And of course I was not aware in the moment of how my behaviors were being perceived. My Mom is great for pointing things like this out to me. And that's all I'll say about that. 

So, how does this relate to the tea?
My first instinct is to disagree with the tea bag. In my meditation practice and readings, I feel like the goal, if there is such a thing in meditation, is to diminish the self and the ego that's attached to its hip. But if I take one step back I can see more clearly how it applies to this situation: 

There is nothing more precious than the self because if we don't know the self then those four Johari window panes become nothing but a mixture of blind spot and the unknown. 

We are like puzzle pieces. If we aren't aware of our shape and our design, how will we ever know where we fit in with the rest of the puzzle pieces that make up any given situation? 

How do we come to know the unknown?
This is where I believe meditation and mindfulness training can really take leadership to the next level. Leaders who are able to delve into the unknown more readily and more courageously than others are at an advantage especially if they can help others delve into the unknown in timely ways. 

I tweeted about the role meditation training (and beginner's mind) seems to play in leadership (it has had a huge impact on my leadership development for sure) but we seem to be dancing around the topic in the institute and I would guess that's because the act of meditation still has religious connotations for some folks. 

For me, meditation is not religious at all. It started out as a stress-reducing technique that got me through a divorce and a very challenging work situation; both of which just happened to occur over the same two-year period. But after the dust settled, I am still practicing and have continued to reap the benefits. It's helped me train my parasympathetic nervous system so I am not quick to react emotionally in difficult situations (like when my mom points out my blind spots lol) and I am able to take a couple steps back to say, "hey, can we pause for a minute? I'm starting to feel my blood pressure rise and my face is getting warm so, I must be getting upset by ________ which means I'm not hearing anything that is being said." This has worked so well for me but I got there through sitting and breathing and also by listening to a lot of Tara Brach's mindfulness podcasts. She gave me a lot of good language to use when in situations that initially make me clench and recoil (aka upset me). Her podcasts are free on iTunes or on her website (http://www.tarabrach.com/audiodharma.html). 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Leadership Qualities as Twinkle Lights

When we did our introductions yesterday we were asked to state a leadership quality that is important to us. Not surprisingly, the 40 of us came up with about 40 different qualities (see below) and during the debriefing someone pointed out that it seems an impossible goal to embody all of these qualities at once.

It occurred to me that our leadership qualities are like internal strands of twinkle lights. The lights twinkle which harken to the point that we don't necessarily want every single leadership quality to be engaged at the same time but just ones that make sense for the given situation. Sometimes it might look like the lights are moving in order, other times the lights look like they're flashing randomly. Sometimes they flash slowly, other times quickly. 

What is important is that we have all of the qualities on our strand so we can light them up when we need them. If they were to be lit all of the time...is that even possible? What would that look like?

(Ill edit these pics later)

My Personal Vision Statement: Connect, Effect, Reflect.

The first day of the ALA Leadership Institute was rich with new people, new ideas, new authors to read and it would take me all day to do it adequate justice in blog format so, I've decided to write about just one aspect of the day: my personal vision statement, which was almost the very last thing we did.

The exercise was framed like this:

Imagine your leadership practice has a unique purpose - fulfilled through what you do, how you engage and work with others, and the way you work and live. Describe that purpose. 

I don't know about you but the first thing that came to mind was Steve Martin in the movie, The Jerk, and his 'special purpose,' but that's not the kind of purpose I am talking about here but it's funny to think about. 

I went through a couple revisions and finally I decided that my leadership purpose (aka personal vision statement) is this:

C = Connect
E = Effect
R = Reflect
F = Fun

Didn't realize you we're going to need to remember your order of operations to read this blog post, did you? 

In more words, my purpose as of this writing is: to connect people with people and opportunities in order to effect positive change while reflecting on that process and doing it all with fun. 

I'm not completely satisfied with how that sounds so, I'll be changing it later and will let you know what the updated version is. Or better yet, why don't you tell me what your leadership vision statement is and/or make recommendations to how I can revise mine?

Leadership by the Cup: The Power of "Together"

Thank you, Yogi Tea, for giving me blogging fodder.

Yes, I'm still drinking my super green tea, and its a good thing, too. Yogi Tea keeps dishing out poignant leadership fortunes, one tag at a time. 

So that's how tagging started?!

Anyway, this latest cup said, 

"Together we can do what we can never do alone."

It's hard to argue with this one. Yes, in my younger and more salad days I remember feeling that it was easier to work alone but since 2010 when I really started to have the privilege and opportunities to work with well-run teams and committees, my thinking did a complete 180 and now the only things I work on alone are requests for statistics and monthly reports from my boss. So much else of what I do is people-centered and team oriented, and those other things are way more fun than churning out statistics and chronicling what I do on a month-by-month basis. 

Any thoughts on how I can turn stats and monthly reports into a team sport?

I suppose if I could talk to Julie 2.0 (I'm currently on version 3.1) would have pointed out that the apparent ease of working alone 1) is just a figment of my imagination and ego, and 2) does not correlate with effectiveness. Just think of how much more effect I could have had if I had taken a more team-oriented approach! 

In fact, it's hard to open any book that's even remotely about leadership and not find pages - if not the whole book - dedicated to the importance of working with people. Some examples:

- Seth Godin and his book on Tribes. 
- Chip and Dan Heath and their book, Switch
- Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs
- Guy Kawasaki's book, Enchantment
- Dan Pink and his book, To sell is human

Bottom line: we are human and in order to make better: change, progress, improvements, whatever you want to call it, we gotta work with other humans. And that's a good thing! Other people are at least as interesting and creative as we are, if not more so, and they help to provide a higher level of interestingness (i think Flickr coined this term a few years ago) to any project. 

I suppose one could argue that in order to make worse we need other people, too. As I heard in the first day of the leadership institute, it's all about balance. And values. And self awareness. And vision. If those four quadrants are aligned (or misaligned, as it were) with unhealthy and negative intentions, we  make worse. If they're aligned with healthy and positive intentions, we make better. 

So, go! Do! And make better!

Assumption Follow-Up

Yesterday I wrote in my Leadership by the Cup post about how I was going to take time to recognize any assumptions I had about the first day of the leadership institute, write those assumptions down, and then follow up today on how they were proven wrong.

The main assumption I had about yesterday was that were were going to send most of our time with getting-to-know-you exercises that build trust and practice self reflection skills.

I was wrong. We only spent about 45 minutes on introductions and then the rest of the day kinda followed a formula of 1) facilitators present a concept, 2) the class reacts to it which leads into a very meaningful conversation where everyone in the class is contributing to the content. We did get to know each other and develop trust but through more serendipitous ways - by sharing personal leadership successes and challenges. We were encouraged to reflect at the end of the day using a worksheet that was provided for us in the binder but for the most part we were attempting to be in the present moment. 

I don't have any assumptions today because I haven't looked at the agenda and this is ok because they told us yesterday that they just need us to: show up, speak up, look up, team up, never give up, me lift others up. So with that, I've decided to treat today's leadership program like a gift and by not looking at the agenda I'm leaving the wrapping paper on till someone else takes it off. Hmm, I wonder how far I can take that metaphor...

Monday, August 12, 2013

The 2 Most Important Things Libraries Should Focus on to Stay Relevant

I was reading over the essays I wrote as part of my ALA Leadership Institute application and realized some of them might make good blog posts. Here's one that asked me to write about what I thought was the most important thing libraries should focus on to stay relevant and to keep vibrant. What do you think we should be focusing on?


Authors, Daniel Pink and Seth Godin separately but equally identified the two most important things that I think libraries need to focus on in order to stay relevant and to keep themselves vibrant community entities in the future: 1) selling and, 2) art.

I am not saying that libraries should convert themselves into art stores or that they should even incorporate gift shops that sell community art (although, that might not be a bad idea). What I am talking about is: 1) embracing and nurturing our roles as non-sales salesmen, 2) utilizing and developing our skills as connection artists in order to then, 3) combine the two to redefine ourselves as community connection specialists, and our libraries as connection incubators.

In his latest book, To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth aboutMoving Others, Daniel Pink talks about how sales is not just for used car dealers anymore. In fact, we are all in sales nowHe conducted a study, during one part of which he asked the participants this question,

What percentage of your work involves convincing or persuading people to give up something they value (attention, effort, time, money, etc.) for something you can offer?

The average response given by participants was 40%. If librarians were to stop and ask ourselves the same question, I suspect we would report a similar, if not larger, percentage. It seems to me that the very existence of our libraries relies heavily on community members giving up their time, effort, money and attention to patronize our services and resources, to serve on our boards, to make decisions that reinforce the importance libraries have within our communities. If we don’t continue to sell our community members on the idea that libraries are a valuable use of their monies then we will see them fade away, our budgets will get cut, and libraries will close. It is imperative that we embrace and nurture our inner salesman.

Consequently, in his latest book, The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?, Seth Godin talks about how, “we are all artists now,” and how we’ve been out of the industrial economy for years and that we’re now in the connection economy  but yet, so many of us are too afraid to make art and we’re too afraid to connect. We’re too afraid to fly high because we might get burned but we don’t stop to consider the reverse: if we fly too low we’ll drown.

This is important advice for libraries to heed on two accounts. First, library professionals need to recognize the art that is within them and then to give themselves permission to make their art in whatever it is they do for their libraries, whether it is doing story-times for toddlers, archiving local history, or configuring Polaris. It is through the art we make that will help us develop connections with others but it involves embracing vulnerability. We as professionals need to practice being more vulnerable with ourselves, our colleagues, our board members, and our citizens. We need to tear down the walls we build up in order to let our authentic selves and everyone else shine through.

Second, library professionals are in perfect positions to help our citizens, our community members learn to recognize the art that is within them, too. We can provide programs and safe spaces for our patrons to learn how to discover and express their art and their authentic selves without judgment. In turn, this will foster shared vulnerability which will then create connections.

When we have a connection with someone it is much easier to sell to them, yes? It is so much easier that we might not even recognize it as selling. When we are comfortable being vulnerable and expressing ourselves with others then communication happens at a deeper level, one at which important questions get asked and answered or are tabled because we don’t know but it’s ok to not know; risks are taken; mistakes become more acceptable. Library professionals are skirting this arena, some already have dipped their toes into this and perhaps are even ankle- or knee-deep but we’re not at the level where it’s game-changing. Once we start seeing the paradigm shift, then we know we’re making real art, real connections, real vibrancy.  

Leadership by the Cup: Be Present

I've been drinking a lot of Yogi brand green tea in the past 24 hours as part of a travel regimen I do to stave off fatigue and general unpleasantness that sometimes accompanies me when I fly. Combine that with the fact that I'm at the American Library Assn.'s Leadership Institute (http://www.ala.org/transforminglibraries/ala-leadership-institute) in Chicago and I start thinking about what tea has to teach me about being (and becoming) an effective leader.

If you've never had a cup of Yogi tea then you probably don't know that the little tag at the end of a tea bag's tether has a meditative or zen-like sentence on it. This morning's tea bag said, 
"Those who live in the past limit their future."

Not yet having adjusted to central standard time, I was wide awake at 5am and so I started to think about how this might be true for me right now. 

The question. How am I living in the past and thus limiting my future? 

The situation. The first thing that came to mind is how I've been through two other extremely positive and influential leadership institutes in the past 3 years: the Maryland Library Leadership Institute (http://www.mdlib.org/leadership/) and Leadership Washington County (http://www.leadershipwashingtoncounty.org/). As a result, I have caught myself guessing how this current leadership institute is going to be and what sorts of exercises we will do. 

The effect. This is limiting my future because if I keep thinking this way I won't approach and receive this new leadership program with fresh "beginner's mind" like eyes and heart. Assumptions will get in my way of having a truly new and fresh experience, one that has the potential to be "life changing," as Maureen Sullivan told me she is envisioning it to be. 

The solution. But how to do this? How to break free from those assumptions for the next four days and how to shed those layers of leadership residue* left over by previous programs? 

Well, you know what they say: admitting that I have a problem is the first step. My confession is above so, I can checkmark that. 

The second step will be for me to write about my assumptions in order to consciously identify them so, I'm going to identify and write down my assumptions before each session begins. To help me reign in that goal, I'll be more specific and say that before each session (each content chunk as outlined on the agenda) I will write - in this blog - one sentence that describes one assumption I have about the upcoming session. Afterwards, I'll finish the blog post by sharing what we did, what I learned, and how my assumptions were proven to be unfounded. I don't want to write about how my assumption are proven - if that were even to be the case - because that would reinforce my assumption-making and that's exactly want I don't want to do. 

Thirdly, I'll continue to do what has always helped me to stay in the present moment, and that is to meditate. Hooray for private hotel rooms! As much as I would have loved to have shared a room with one of my leadership classmates, not having a roommate makes it 100% easier to meditate. So, on that note, I'm going to go sit and breathe and be here. 

*I use the word 'residue' in the most positive way here.  I think of going through any type of professional growth and development experience as seasoning a cast iron skillet. You just keep cooking in it with only a mere wipe of a cloth in between uses. Can a cast iron skillet ever be clean? If it were to ever be clean would it cease to be a cast iron skillet?