Online bullying- the post I never wanted to write

As many of you have noticed I’ve taken a pretty big break from blogging. This is mostly due to our moving adventure and a tiny bit due to events that happened in 2016. Every time I go to write a post or blog about a program or book my motivation disappears. I have lots of drafts sitting and waiting for me to post. Part of it is exhaustion and part of it is fear. Fear that I’m just starting to figure out. I know that there will be people who read this and think “good lord woman, get over it already.” This post is not for you. It’s part of the healing process and a way for me to pass on some valuable lessons I have learned about the world of online bullying.

Backstory – *Due to the nature of this attack I am not posting names or specific details

Last year (2016) I was working as a teen librarian in a midwest town. I loved finding ways to make the library an exciting place for our community and I loved programing fun events. Programming (in my opinion) is the best part of being a librarian! Unfortunately, during one of the programs I was helping plan, I became the target of a cyberbully that also took their hate and false information into the community.  The attempt to ruin my reputation and get me fired from my job was malicious. The attempt to bully me into doing what they wanted was also very scary. Because of all of this, I ended up filing a police report and staying off social media for several months.

This attack made me physically sick. It made me not trust anyone I came in contact with. It made me withdraw from social events that I had wanted to attend. It made me question every decision I made. Having your identity attacked and lies spread about your person is shocking and very overwhelming. However, in the midst of all the crazy there were good people who came alongside me and helped me navigate the mess. I also had great advice that I followed that made this a bit easier to deal with when all I wanted to do was all the wrong things.

National Statistics – 

We often hear about cyberbullying as it relates to kids. We don’t really think about it happening to adults or we think that adults are better equipped to handle incidents. Unfortunately that is not always the case. October is National bullying prevention month and the following link has some pretty eye-opening statistics when it comes to adult bullying:

Despite this information there are very few studies in regards to adults. I found scores of great articles for teens and children, but the scholarly information for adults was very thin or unavailable. I did find some advice from the Cyberbulling Reseach Center  and No Bullying that is specific to adults dealing with this problem.

Feeling all the feels-

I hope that you never ever have to go through this, but if you do be prepared for some feelings. I’ve heard that bullying has a few stages that you might go through. For me this was very true. I went through several: Shock,  fear/paranoia, anger, revenge, and distrust.

Shock- You are going to likely feel blindsided by what is said to you. Online bullying tends to be way more malicious than when someone confronts you face to face. It’s easy to hide behind a computer and say things that you would never say to someone in person. There is also a sense of detachment and a lack of consequences for bad behavior. It can completely throw you for a loop when an someone turns on you.

Fear- The nature of the attacks can be very hurtful and vicious. It is normal to feel afraid especially if you are unsure who the attacker actually is. NEVER let anyone try to convince you that your fears are wrong or that “it’s fine and don’t worry.” Especially if the attacks are threats against your safety. Involve the authorities if you are feeling unsafe in your surroundings. If the attack happens at work or is affecting your job, let your supervisor know and make sure that HR is in on the details.

Anger and Revenge– Trust me when I say this you are going to get mad. It’s human nature to get defensive when someone is attacking who we are or saying horrible lies about our person. You might even consider revenge or posting a nasty response. As angry as you are (I get it, I was in the same place) DO NOT post that nasty response. Online bullies expect to get a rise out of you. They want you to post that nasty comment back. Then they can use that as fuel to keep the attack going or twist your words to make it worse. As much as it goes against what you are feeling do not respond. I repeat do not respond. This was the best thing that I did.

Distrust– It might take you a while to trust people again. I know that I have periods still (a year later) where I don’t trust anyone I meet. My advice is to talk to someone. A  family member or friend can be a start. If the feelings are getting worse or you are finding yourself depressed please seek out professional help. This is a great site to find help in your area: Find a Therapist

10 things to help deal with Cyberbullying: 

This graphic from the Cyberbullying Research Center has great advice and tips on how to navigate this issue:

Other Advice that helped me-

One of the best pieces of advice I recieved was to get offline. I found myself constantly checking and rechecking every site that had things posted about me. I was getting stressed out and very upset. I decided to turn over all of my social media accounts to my husband and a trusted friend so they could monitor and screen shot any further abuse. I had them change my passwords so I could not log in to any of my social media accounts. I ended up taking a break for several months. Friends, this saved my sanity. It helped me work through the feelings I was having and helped me deal with the issue. It also got me away from all the crap that was happening online and away from the temptation to respond. Taking a break lets you think about things logically and make decisions that are not totally based on emotion. Taking a break also gets you away from the nasty and lets you focus on the good.

Responses that I was not prepared for-

Here is an ugly truth. You are going to get responses from people that just don’t care, don’t want to get involved, or just plain don’t believe you. It will hurt, especially if it comes from someone you thought you could trust. This is why you need to be careful who you talk to. Because my bully(ies)  took it to the community, I had many people approach me about wanting details. I did my best not to say names and to keep it factual or refrain from discussing the incident at all. But, I’m also human and few times the emotion and that need to defend myself won out. Especially when I got told that because I didn’t defend myself online then the rumors and lies must be true.

Look, you can’t please everyone and that sucks. It’s easy to want everyone to like us and believe us. Remember what I said above and the advice from the links. Attempting to defend yourself online can take an ugly turn and make it much worse. Plus, those people who don’t believe you or who are victim blaming don’t need to be in your life. It is much better for your heart and mind if you can limit their access to you. As much as it hurts you need walk away, set boundaries, or cut them out. If you have a counselor or therapist, discuss ways you can navigate these kinds of people. Remember you are worth protecting!

Final thoughts- 

After this incident I am much more aware of things that I post online. I also am working on limiting my consumption of social media. Especially the kind that is full of drama. I have deleted a few of my online profiles and walked away from Twitter and Tumblr to further distance myself from the constant negativity. I’m not saying that this is right for everyone. Social Media has its good points. However, it can also get ugly pretty quick. As a final note here is a link of ways to Prevent online bullying: Adult Bullying Prevention 

I hope that this never happens to any of you. If you are here because you have been bullied, I hope these tips help you get on the path to healing. Also, I am so sorry. Consider yourself virtually hugged. Finally, if you are at the end of your rope there are people out there who are willing to listen. Reach out. Your life is worth it and you are worth it.

 

Blogging Break

As I’m sure you have figured out, I am on a bit of a break. We have moved twice in six months and I have been dealing with my own health issues as well as a terminally ill pet. I needed to take a break from blogging. I will be back soon. Best wishes and thank you for being such patient followers! Until I’m back here are three blogs that I highly recommend:

The Green Bean Teen Queen: My former supervisor and brilliant blogger extraordinaire!

http://www.greenbeanteenqueen.com/

Tween you & Me: A fantastic blog dedicated to tween publishing and programming. Pamela is awesome!

http://tweenlibrarian.blogspot.com/

The Ramblings of a Jedi Librarian: Lots of wonderful geeky reviews! One of my personal favorites!

https://minavilly.wordpress.com/

 

Sincerely-

MsVal

Flame In The Mist: Book Review

Title: Flame in the Mist

Rating: 4 stars

Mariko is the daughter of a prominent Samurai. Her only duty is to marry well. When her family ships her off to become the wife of one of the Emperors sons, she feels that her future is over. Bound by honor, but cursed with a bright mind and clever spirit, Mariko is conflicted about her future. When her envoy is attacked in the forest by the gang know as the Black Clan her future suddenly takes a drastic change.
Determined to find out who is trying to kill her she dresses as a boy to infiltrate the clan. But what she finds is not what she expects as her loyalty is tested to its limits. A rich lyrical tale set in feudal Japan.

I confess that I was frustrated with this book. I had heard over and over in the publishing world and through bloggers that this was a Mulan retelling. I think that I spend half of the book being super frustrated because that is what I was expecting. I finally decided to view this as a new story with familiar themes and I ended up enjoying quite a bit more.

What I liked:

It took a long time for me to warm up to the story. I confess that I didn’t like Mariko for a long time. She is nothing like your typical Disney princess. (On that note: Stop comparing books to movies! It’s set the reader up for disappointment and frustration) She is logical, independent, and a bit naive. She spends much of the book asking question after question after question. She is also doesn’t spend the book in a romantic fog. Her actions are planned and plotted almost to her demise.! Which is exactly why she drove me crazy and why I ended up loving her story. She grows on you. It’s a nice change of pace from most fairy tale type stories. I love that she feels like a real character with legit flaws instead of a fluffy Mary Sue.

I also enjoyed the setting and the little twists and turns introduced along the way. There is a slight magical element that I hope, takes a more central role in the next book. The book also reveals itself slowly at a pretty comfortable pace. It isn’t an action packed page turner until the very end! (no spoilers!)

Bonus: NO LOVE TRIANGLES! This story is not romance centric. While there are some pretty steamy scenes, (PG-13) don’t expect this to be a hard core romance from front to cover.

Things that were a bit frustrating:

I love a good backstory and got it with “Wrath and the Dawn.” I felt like this element was missing throughout much of “Flame in the Mist.” There is very little known about the motives of the Black Clan. How did they start? What is their purpose? Are they really good or more a Robin Hood type gang? I think that the author may have done this on purpose to give them a mystical feel.. Unfortunately, it didn’t really work for me. I want to know more about the supposed bad guys before I love or hate them. I’m hoping that their story and backstory takes a front seat in the next book.

Final thoughts:

Once I got past the Mulan thoughts I really enjoyed this book. I’m am very much looking forward to the second. Renee Ahdieh is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors to recommend to readers at the library. I am very much looking forward to sharing this as a great summer read.

Added note: 
This book is pitched as Mulan meets 47 Ronin and I would love if you forget that you ever heard this. Why? Because these comparisons sell it short. This is a story that stands on its own and one that might disappoint you if you are expecting the Disney Mulan treatment. I encourage you to read this as a new story with some familiar themes and only a squint (and you have to squint pretty hard) of Mulan. I have not seen 47 Ronin so I cannot compare it to that movie.

The Glittering Court Paperback Release Day and Giveaway!

I am so excited to share this post with you today! I am part of Penguin’s Paperback Release Day Blitz. The romantic, sometimes scandalous, and often intriguing tale “The Glittering Court” is out today in Paperback. If you have not had a chance to read this one give it a chance. To me, it feels like a blend of historical fiction and fantasy. The second in the series “Midnight Jewel” comes out in June.

The best part about this post?!! There is a giveaway link below for a chance to win one of ten copies of “The Glittering Court.” Good luck!!

Description from publisher: 

Big and sweeping, spanning from the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training, and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.

When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise—first as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and then when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.

But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands…

 

Link to the Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

GIVEAWAY LEGAL:

Enter for a chance to win one (1) of ten (10) copies of The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead (ARV: $10.99 each).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on March 28, 2017 and 12:00 AM on April 5, 2017. Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about April 7, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

RICHELLE MEAD is the #1 New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Vampire Academy series and its spin-off series, Bloodlines. Originally from Michigan, she now lives in Seattle, Washington.

Leaving a job you love

 

Leaving a job that you love can be daunting. How do you say goodbye? How do you move on? I just left my Teen Library job in January and I thought I would share some things that I did to help me move on and to help the teens transition to a new librarian.

Some background: I worked at the library for 3 years. Two of them as the teen librarian. I had gotten pretty attached to the kids and I knew that it would be hard to say goodbye. I had worked hard to build a thriving teen area in our library and our Teen Advisory Board had grown quite a bit since I started. My teens were instrumental in helping me make positive changes in our branch and getting their friends to come to programs. I’m really proud of the TAB members and their dedication to making the library a great hang out spot for their peers. If I had to be happy about leaving, at least I was leaving on an upward trend.

Blogs and sites with great advice: 

I asked for some advice on Teen Services Underground and got some good ideas on how to start my transition. One of my favorite bloggers The Magpie Librarian has a great post about leaving your library. While our reasons for leaving are different (my husband got a job out of state), I still found her advice on point. Check out her post: On Leaving your Library.

One of my favorite points from her entry is to “create an “I’m Leaving” elevator speech. Trust me, you will need this. You will get asked by lost of people including patrons why you are leaving. It can become very exhausting to offer a lengthy explanation each time. My response varied depending on the person.

Patron Response“My husband got a job in another state. It’s a really great opportunity for him and while I’m sad to leave a job that I love, I think it will be a great fresh start for the both of us. Besides, Colorado is beautiful!” 

This response kept things positive and upbeat. I used this on adult patrons and parent’s of the teens I worked with. It summed up the reasons without giving too much away. If they had further questions I could respond or walk away as needed if I was busy.

Co-Worker Response– ” My husband got a job in another state. It’s a really great opportunity for him. I’m really going to miss working here. You have taught me so much (if this was a mentor). I’m thankful I got to work with such a great staff.”  (This is just a short example)

Be sure to thank co-workers who have mentored you. I worked for a huge system so it was hard to get to everyone before I left. Send cards or personal emails. Make a point to visit with staff that you are close with and have those “hey you’re an awesome person and thank you” conversations. I also sent a goodbye email to our branch and to the youth staff. If you want to stay in touch be sure to include your new contact information.

Here is another blog with great career advice and some good words about some of the responses you might need to prepare for when you announce that you’re leaving: Resignation After-Effects

Telling the Teens: Be prepared for the feels… 

So for this part I’m going to tell you what I did and what I wish I had done differently. My husband left for his job the first week of January. We knew in December that this was happening. I thought that it would be a good idea to tell my supervisors that I was leaving as soon as possible so they were prepared. Everyone knew I was leaving for about 2 months. If I had to do this again I would have waited a bit longer. While it was great for transitioning the teens (more later), it sucked having the “oh your leaving” conversation for 2 months straight. It wore me out emotionally and physically.

What worked:

I told my TAB kids in December. I wanted to wait, but one of the kids found out through social media. His sister had aged out of the teen program and we are friends on Facebook. (she’s now in her 20’s) He convinced me that it would be better to tell everyone now than wait until the rumors got started. It turned out to be a good thing.

Let me tell you this was the hardest conversation I have ever had with my teens. They were shocked and I did tear up a bit. I managed to not sob and I was very thankful that my volunteer was with me to help explain things and pass out Kleenex. I let them know that my hubby had gotten a job and we were moving to a new state. I told them that they were wonderful kids and that I would miss them so much. I also told them how proud I was to be their librarian. I listed all the awesome accomplishments we had as a TAB group and then let them ask me questions.

  • Be honest– They can handle things better than you might think.
  • Be prepared for a range of emotions– I was surprised by the sheer amount of tears from my teens. Totally not expected. A few were mad. One had to leave the room. Let them deal with their emotions as long as they are being mature. You might have teen that rages about never coming back to the library. Let them rage. Then remind them that there are other awesome librarians that care about them. You might also get a ton of hugs!
  • Tell them as soon as you can- I’m so glad I gave the kids 2 months to prepare. I had time to transition them to the new librarian. I also had a chance to ask them what they wanted from the new staff. They gave me honest and thoughtful answers and came up with a list of things they liked and didn’t like about the current program. One of my teens even wrote a letter of recommendation for one of the librarians applying for my position. It was adorable and I think it helped her get the job!! I also had time to visit my outreach schools and break the news. I was able to talk to almost all of my kids before I left so there were no surprises. I know that my transition time was pretty unusual and the typical time is a few weeks at best. Go with what works for you.
  • Let them throw a party– You might be shy or uncomfortable with parties. Teens are not. Having a going away party with your teens is a wonderful way to close doors and help them move on. It also lets them do something for you. My teens planned a snack night glitter fest. It was epic! We had a blast and no one left in tears. It was a happy celebration of my time with them and I love every second of it. (even though I’m still finding glitter in odd places)
  • Decide how to keep in contact– My teens knew that once they graduated from High School they could friend me on Facebook. By that time they are “adulty-ish” enough to make their own decisions. They can however, follow me on Twitter or Instagram since most of my posts are library or book related and not very personal. All of my TAB kids have my email and only 2 kids had my cell #.  This is because I helped them out at school functions and speech and debate tournaments. You decide what works for you. I got a ton of messages at first and now I only hear from 2 kids on a regular basis. I’m very thankful that they seem to be moving on. (only a tiny bit sad) Some kids need that connection, but it’s okay to say no or set up a side email if you are not comfortable.

Things I would change and things that surprised me:

  • Time- Honestly, 2 months was good in some respects and sucked in others. If I had to do it over I would have waited another month. There were some teens that were sad every time they came in during that time frame. They cried a lot. It was an emotional ride for everyone. I think it also got exhausting for co-workers. I got sick of having the “why are you leaving” conversation and I know they got tired of hearing it. After about a month I was ready to move on and unable to do so because I was packing my house and I needed the extra paycheck. Thankfully, I have some amazing co-workers who were super supportive during the whole transition.
  • My emotional responses– I was an emotional wreck and exhausted. My hubby was in Denver and I was dealing with the house and closing everything down alone. I barely cried and held it all in. IT’S OK TO BE SAD! Crying is not a weakness. Just pick and choose your moments carefully. Sobbing in the stacks in front of patrons might not be a wise choice. Go for a walk and let some of those bottled up emotions out. Take deep breaths. Get plenty of sleep. Transitions and moves are high on the stress list. Self care is critical.
  • Dealing with angry teens– While one of my kids came around and understood why I had to leave, another never came back. I wish I had stepped away from my group and had a conversation with them right then. I thought they would come back and I would get another chance to chat with them. I was not prepared for how angry some of the teens would feel. If I had thought about it sooner I might have been a bit more prepared for that response. I also realized that in the end I could not take it personally. You never know what it going on in their lives. Just knowing that anger and yelling was a possibility would have helped me prepare a response rather than standing there in shock.
  • Negative patron responses– I was pretty tied to the community through my involvement/creation of LibraryCon. I was not expecting that some of them would take it as a personal affront that I would no longer be involved in this program. In the end I had to let it roll off my back. You can’t make everyone happy.

Ultimately how you say goodbye to a wonderful job is up to you. I wrote this to share some of the things I encountered when leaving. Most of them were good and I only had a few moments of “wow.” Which is pretty much the joy of working with the public! I am thankful that my job was supportive of my long term resignation. I’m also thankful that my teens took it well and helped the library hire an amazing new teen librarian!

Final thoughts- Don’t forget to take care of yourself and let some of those emotions out. Leaving a job is hard even if you are ready to go. I hope this post helps. Is there anything that I missed? Do you have good advice for leaving? Please link me up or add comments below.

 

 

 

 

A Free Range Librarian in Denver

Welcome back friends! I have finally made it to Denver, Colorado after 2 long months of packing and selling our house. It has taken every ounce of brain power to leave one life behind and start another. I haven’t had a chance to blog or much less read. My life has been boxes, packing tape, contractors, and goodbyes. It’s nice to finally be a bit settled.

One of my first stops was the Arapahoe Library’s Castlewood Branch for a new library card. This is a smaller branch that reminds me a lot of the Schweitzer Brentwood Branch Library in Springfield, Missouri. The layout is open and welcoming with lots of seating for all ages. I am in love with their maker-space and looking forward to using it now that I’m in a tiny one bedroom apartment. It was really easy to find things and all the librarians have been very friendly. Bonus: You get to choose the color of your library card!!

I’m taking a bit of a break from job hunting right now. My hubby joked that I’m a free range librarian. I’m looking at my options and taking my time with the search. It’s hard to imagine having another library job that was as awesome as my last. I’m feeling a bit lost at the moment as I sit here writing this blog at the library. A huge part of me wants to be behind the desk helping patrons find books or planning a new teen program. For now, I think that I need some sleep and a few more weeks to get to know where I live! All good things are worth the wait.

So, what does this mean for Skipping through the stacks? I plan to do more book reviews and to revisit some of my library programs that I haven’t had a chance to blog about. I’m also going to add some book promos for upcoming titles that I think my readers would love. I also might throw in a craft project or two! I am debating on changing the look of the blog again or even going pro. It’s all up in the air, so be prepared for all of the above!

 

Finally here is a short list of books that I’m loving:

Read:

 

 

The Valiant By Lesley Livingston

Epic gladiator book featuring a kick butt female lead. Romance is a tiny bit predictable, but the twists and turns in this book kept me reading. Review to come.  4 stars

 

 

 

 

 

Currently Reading: 

 

Flame in the Mist vy Renee Ahdieh

Isn’t this cover gorgeous?!! I just started this one and I’m already hooked. It’s publish date is May 16, 2017. I’m so stoked that I got an egalley of this book. Thank you times a billion!! I loved Wrath and the Dawn and The Rose and the Dagger. Be sure to add this to your list of hot summer titles for fantasy readers.

 

 

 

 

 

TBR Pile:

 

Some Kind of Happiness- Book Review

Some Kind of HappinessSome Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Finley’s only safety lies deep in the heart of Everwood, a story that she keeps secret in her notebook. Her adventures there help her deal when the sadness and blue day threaten to overtake her life. When her parent’s send her off to visit Grandparent’s she has never met, the line between what is real and what is imaginary becomes blurry. Will she have the courage to save her story, her family, and most importantly herself?

This is a beautiful story about heartbreak, family, secrets, and what it’s like to have a sadness that you cannot explain. Finley’s world of Everwood is full of adventure and daring deeds, just like her real life if she can only stop long enough to see it.

What I liked:

This story hit me on a personal level that I did not expect. I could relate to Finley because at 11 I had those same overwhelming feelings that I couldn’t put into words. I created vast worlds and stories so I could escape from my real life and the dark thoughts that were always there. I wish this book had been written back then, because I could have used a story like this in my life. Finley is a great kid and I think middle grade readers who have depression and anxiety will connect with her story. I enjoyed how the plot was revealed within her made up world. It shows the world of depression and anxiety without overwhelming the reader. As a person who has struggled with both from a very young age, I felt it was true to what I experienced growing up.

Minor Issue:

This isn’t as much of a dislike as a quibble I had with the characters. It took me a long time to connect with any other people in the book. They were all pretty one dimensional until about halfway into the story. Later on I could see why the author chose to do this. It is really supposed to be about Finley. As a reader I like to have all the characters fleshed out pretty quickly in a story. For me, it helps me immerse myself in the world. Like I said, it’s more of a personal preference.

Final thoughts:

I really liked this one. It hit me in the feels in a way that I was not expecting because of personal experience. I think this is an important book for MG readers who struggle with feelings of depression and anxiety. It has a good message and a good ending that is true to life.

View all my reviews