Tag Archives: gratitude

It’s Called Gratitude (And That’s Right)!

I can’t wait for Thanksgiving to express my gratitude, and I’m not organized to keep up with the Facebook post-of-thankfulness every day in November, though I do enjoy reading them – so keep it up, people! So I thought I might share a little of my thankfulness here.  Without further ado, and in absolutely no particular order…

Book Cover 1. Missy Elliot – If it weren’t for Missy Elliot, my work days would have considerably less glee.  I sit down at my desk, get my ear buds ready, and load up The Cookbook, Supa Dupa Fly, or a Missy-produced track like Let it Go and I breeze my way through emails, projects, and reports.  If you are walking by my office and see me grooving in my chair, don’t judge.  It’s science.

2. Library Staff.  The coolest people work at the library.  They make mustache displays, plant chalkboards with interesting questions, recommend books online and in the library, answer ridiculously difficult questions in the Reference Department, visit you where you work, play and belong.  This is an inspiring place to work everyday, and I’ll never tire of blubbering over the myriad ways my colleagues engage the community in literacy and learning.

After Hours @ the Library: Happy Hour 3. After Hours – Speaking of engaging the community, I am thankful to work at a library that throws such cool events.  After Hours is a chance for you to party at the library after we close!  The next one is this Friday, 6-9, at our Squirrel Hill location.  It is with much regret that I admit that I will be out of town for this weekend, because I’ve had a blast volunteering at previous After Hours.  I’ve dressed up as Grandma Nut from Candyland, and was one of many Waldos, all for your enjoyment.  The night always includes libations, tasty food, fun games and mildly educational activities!

http://vufindplus2.einetwork.net/bookcover.php?id=.b28331618&isn=067973743X&size=large&upc=&oclc=35840728&category=&format=4. Bury Me Standing – This is the book I read before bed each night, recommended by a colleague with excellent taste.  I am learning so much about Eastern Europe and the Roma people. It’s quite topical if you’ve been keeping up with the political issues in Europe this fall, specifically of the Roma in France, or the recent scandals with children in gypsy encampments in Ireland and Greece.


5. The Medieval Kitchen,by Hannele Klemettilä, is the book I have just finished.  I’ve been on a nerdy nonfiction kick lately.  There is a longstanding obsession with medieval times, spurred on in part by my literary crush on Chaucer and my affinity for anything written by the Gies, a husband and wife duo who wrote extensively about the period.  I recommend Life in a Medieval City and Women in the Middle Ages : both will enlighten you!  The Medieval Kitchen also discounts some myths around how medieval folks lived and ate.  Their diets were rich in herbs, vegetables, and seasonal fruits.  The poor unintentionally lucked out by missing gout, as that disease was preserved for the meat-gorging rich.  This book is filled with fascinating little tidbits, such as:  almond milk helped everyone get through fasting periods, when dairy and meat were prohibited by the church.

6. Dogs – It’s been well-documented that I’m a sucker for a big slobbery dog – so much so that we now have not one but two big slobbery shelter dogs (see above, MCA joined Frida in January).  And I am in good company, as other librarians have written of the joys of dog companionship.  No, we are not all cat people!  And yes, I do talk about my dogs all the time. Maybe I am a little obsessed.

Where is your gratitude going these days, Pittsburgh?  Please do share in the comments!



Filed under Uncategorized

Your New Year

Each January, many of us decide to change our lives. There are the usual things we want to do:

HungryForChange   ProcrastinationEquation   GetaFinancialLife   Chubster

Eat healthier: 

End bad habits:

Handle money better:

Work out and lose weight:

These are all good things to focus on, but here are some ideas for other changes you could make.

BookofDoing   BeyondRevenge   HowtoMakeYourOwnBrewskis   365ThankYous

Add some creativity to your life:

Forgive someone:

Make it yourself:

Show gratitude:

Whatever you choose to do with your new year, I hope you have a wonderful one.



Filed under Uncategorized

Pittsburgh Loves Its Libraries

We interrupt your regularly scheduled bookish goodness to offer our sincere thanks.

Thank you, Pittsburgh, for loving your library.  Thank you for caring enough to go to the polls, consider the library referendum, and make an informed choice.  Thank you for making it possible for us to continue providing books in multiple formats, quality programming for patrons of all ages, access to technology, and neighborhood library services.  You have demonstrated a great deal of faith in us and the work we do, and we couldn’t let another day go by without acknowledging how much that means to us.

In return, we promise to repay your trust with the high-quality service and skills to which you have become accustomed.  Have questions?  We’ll answer them, via whichever medium is most convenient for you.  Want book recommendations?  We can do that.  Help with your job search, resume, or cover letter?  Easy peasy. Quench your undying thirst for knowledge? Happy to oblige. If you can dream of it, the library has the resources to help you achieve it, whatever “it” might happen to be.

It is an honor and a pleasure to work for you.  And if you haven’t visited us in a while?  Please consider this your invitation to come back and experience all the wonderful things we have to offer. You might be pleasantly surprised by what you find.  This is, and is not, your grandparents’ library: the 21st-century Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh combines the best of its traditional services with continual improvements and innovations.  Stop by and get to know us all over again.

—Leigh Anne, for the Eleventh Stack blog team

with a special tip of the hat to all the library workers in less visible positions, who make magic “behind the curtain.”


Filed under Uncategorized


One of my wildly improbable long-term goals is to win the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Given that, up to now, I’ve only written plays, I have some work to do before I’ll be able to cross this one off my to-do list. However, I already have the important part down pat:  the thank-yous. After repeat observations of past winners, I’ve mentally composed an acceptance speech that properly acknowledges all the people who helped me succeed as a writer, yet remains short enough that I’m not politely forced offstage. Really, after hammering that out, finishing a brilliant screenplay itself should be a piece of cake.

John Kralik would probably approve of my priorities.  His own gratitude journey, as detailed in the book 365 Thank-Yous, describes how Kralik devoted a year to consciously giving thanks by writing one note every day to someone who had been influential to him.  Brought to such a pass by desperation rather than inspiration, Kralik stumbled upon the idea for the practice during a walk in the woods, and stuck with it despite business difficulties, financial problems, and relationship struggles.  Mindfully practicing gratitude didn’t magically transform Kralik’s life into a sunny vista of unicorns and rainbows, but, more often than not, writing and sending the notes re-opened long-closed lines of communication and opened up new opportunities and adventures for him, which convinced him to make some changes to his attitude and lifestyle.

Reading Kralik’s book has inspired some of the library staff to start a similar project and see what happens.  I’m looking forward to making a trip downtown to Weldin’s to treat myself to some pretty notecards, but I will probably also make a fair number of them by hand as well. I’m brushing up on the art of writing letters, and mentally making my list of people who have changed my life for the better; the list is already fairly long, and includes family, friends, teachers and — no surprise here — librarians.

Other library titles on the practice of gratitude include:

Serendipitously, while writing this, I received a thank you note in library mail from a co-worker.  That was really sweet, entirely unexpected, and definitely day-making!  What are you most thankful for right now?  How could you best express it?  Whose day could you brighten just by being there?

–Leigh Anne
thirty-eight years young today, appreciating every second


Filed under Uncategorized

I’ll give you something to whine about!

I’m cold, I’m tired and I’m hungry.  It seems that I am in the mood to whine lately, and there’s just nothing to be done about it.  Or is there?  Perhaps it’s time to read about people who have it, or had it, worse than I do.  Let’s see how this works…

Strength in What RemainsStrength in What Remains, by Tracy Kidder (who is coming to the Drue Heinz Lectures this month, by the way!).  This is the story of Deo, who lives in a tiny village in Burundi.  He wants nothing more than to be a doctor, so somehow he gets to medical school.  Once he gets there, though, the violence in Rwanda spills over to Burundi, and he’s forced to run for his life.  From there, he manages to get to New York City, where he has to learn to survive all over again, since he speaks no English, has no contacts and only $200 in his pocket. 

My Stroke of Insight, by Jill Bolte Taylor.  She’s doing well now, of course, but Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain scientist at Harvard, woke up one morning to find herself having a stroke.  It took her eight years to recover from a complete state of no identity and non-functionality.

The Center Cannot HoldThe Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness, by Elyn R. Saks.  The brain of a schizophrenic tells its owner all sorts of things, often scary, violent and nonsensical.  Imagine having that going on in your head while you’re trying to go to law school and you’ll have a sense of what life is like with what can be a debilitating mental illness.

Ten Thousand Joys & Ten Thousand SorrowsTen Thousand Joys & Ten Thousand Sorrows:  A Couple’s Journey Through Alzheimer’s, by Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle.  It’s hard to say who has a more difficult time with a disease like Alzheimers, the patient or the caregiver.  For Ms. Hoblitzelle and her husband, who is diagnosed at the age of 72, it’s a chance to put all their understandings of psychology and meditation into practice.

I Remember RunningI Remember Running:  The Year I Got Everything I Ever Wanted – and ALS, by Darcy Wakefield.  Living with a terminal illness like Lou Gehrig’s disease could be such a downer – serious whine potential.  Yet so many quotes from this book sum up Darcy Wakefield’s attitude, such as “The real truth of my ALS is that it takes daily acts of courage to get up, live the day fully, be grateful for what I have, and to find the humor and grace and the pleasure, yes, pleasure, in not being able to clip my own nails.”

Best Seat in the HouseThe Best Seat in the House:  How I Woke Up One Tuesday and Was Paralyzed for Life, by Allen Rucker. Another title that tells you most of the story, but you’ve got to read it to get the full benefit of Allen Rucker’s humor, such as his idea for a daily flip calendar for people who are paralyzed, “flip” being the operative word.

To tell you the truth, I actually feel better.  Not so much because I’m glad that I don’t have a physical or mental disease, but that I’m grateful that there are folks out there who have had tough rows to hoe and were still willing to share their inspiring stories with me. You never know, though, when I will slip again and start whining.  What would you suggest to get me out of it?


Leave a comment on today’s post for a chance at today’s prize in the 29 Gifts giveaway.  Daily winners will be contacted by e-mail.


Filed under Uncategorized

Gifted: 29 Thank-Yous for Reading Eleventh Stack

Once a year, everybody in Allegheny County is invited to read and think about the same book, courtesy of the One Book, One Community initiative.  This year you’re invited to experience Cami Walker’s 29 Gifts: How A Month of Giving Can Change Your Life.  The official One Book website is filled with information that can enrich your reading experience via book club kits and discussion questions, related readings and resources on the themes of kindness and civility, and other ways to get involved, which will be updated as the official start date approaches.

The Eleventh Stack blog team has decided to participate in this countywide celebration of goodwill and bonhomie by giving away a gift every weekday for the next 29 days, starting tomorrow, February 1, 2o11.  At the end of each blog post, you will be prompted to leave a comment that reflects on that day’s essay.  A random winner will be chosen each day, and if it’s you, you’ll receive an e-mail with details on when/where to stop by and choose your prize.

Yes, I did say choose.  The blog team has assembled a prize closet of cool stuff for you to pick from, which includes:

  • copies of popular books, DVDs, and books on CD
  • $5.00 Crazy Mocha gift cards (good at any CM location)
  • $10.00 pre-paid fine cards (good at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh locations)
  • handmade items crafted by library workers and library supporters
  • fashionable black and gold “Pittsburgh Protect Your Library” tote bags
  • other whimsical surprises as we think of them

We’re even assembling a special prize package for the person who wins on day 29, just in case “the good stuff” is already gone. (It’s all good stuff, but who likes to choose last?  Nobody–that’s who.)

The only things we ask of you in return are:

  • Be an Allegheny County resident.  We love our expatriate readers, but postage is a wee bit dear these days.
  • Include your e-mail address with your blog comment. (Otherwise, how can we tell you you’re a winner?)
  • Add the e-mail address eleventhstack at carnegielibrary dot org to your list of approved senders. (So any mail from us doesn’t end up in your spam folder.)
  • Tell us what’s on your mind when you comment!  Responses like “Awesome, dude” make us feel warm and fuzzy, but don’t really help us become better writers.

On an even warmer, fuzzier note,  February 2011  marks the third full year the Eleventh Stack team has been blogging for the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.  When we started the project, we had no idea whether or not this method of communication would be a good way to reach out to our community.   Over 170,000 visits and 9,400 click-throughs to the catalog later–not to mention the lovely, thoughtful comments you’ve made–we can tell that you really, really like us.

 Of course, that makes us want to work even harder to demonstrate–via our sometimes serious, sometimes silly, but always heartfelt, essays–just how much the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has to offer.  Your attention to, and continued support of, CLP is a great gift.  Please stick around and allow us to continue to give back in our quirky, writerly fashion.

Leigh Anne
who would take you all out for milk and cookies, except that it’s been done


Filed under Uncategorized


Many years ago, I learned how annoying it was to some people when other people asked them what they were thankful for on Thanksgiving.  If you are one of those annoyed people, you might want to stop reading now. Really.  Go away. Click the little X in the top right hand corner. Because I am breaking out my gratitude list, and it is full of cute, happy, sweet, and positive things that will either make your heart sing, or make it blacker.

I am thankful for:

Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong, by Jen Yates.  I don’t think I’m the only one who is glad that cake exists, and that there are people who decorate them, even people who make mistakes. …………………………………………………………………………………..
Regretsy: Where DIY Meets WTF, by April Winchell.  I’m a fan of etsy, too, but to know that there are people who express their creativity despite themselves makes me feel proud to be human. ……………………………………………………………………………………….  ……………………………..

Four Word Film Reviews, by Benj Clews and Michael Onesi.  I am grateful to anyone who keeps an opinion to four words or fewer.   …………………………………………………………………………… 


I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar: A Collection of Egregious Errors, Disconcerting Bloopers, and Other Linguistic Slip-ups, by Sharon Eliza Nichols.  What wud I do witout peeple hu cot my misteaks?

Of course, what gratitude list would be complete without friends, family and library patrons? And since you’ve read this far, I know you know that love is what makes it all worthwhile.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized