Have you ever thought about the importance of “seeing” your story in the world?
Last week I got to travel to Dallas, TX for the Texas Library Association’s annual conference. I was the keynote speaker for the Tech Camp and got to present sessions with my mum on LivBits and digital identity. The TxLA conference was one of my best conferences ever for loads of reasons, including the fact that I’ve NEVER been to Texas or been asked to take soooo many selfies with people before!
So, what makes TxLA the number one conference of my LivBit life? First, it’s a conference for librarians, and I figured out while I was there, that for SURE, librarians are MY PEOPLE. Maybe you’re surprised I didn’t know this already, because I call myself a book activist, but I’ve never been to a conference before whose main participants were librarians. Librarians “get” my message with no explanation, and we can also have loooonnnngggg conversations about our favorite books, and if you know me, you know, I LOVE to talk books! Next, I discovered everything really is BIGGER in Texas! They have the best hair flair, the most bedazzled clothes I’ve ever seen, and big hair that makes me soooo happy. I can also tell you there is NO city better than Dallas at night! Most buildings are lined with incredible lights, and it makes their height and beauty POP against the night sky. Big buildings make me soooo happy and Dallas has some of the best ones I’ve ever seen! But, the absolute BEST part of my Texas adventures were the PEOPLE! The people in Texas gave me sooooo many heartbeeps for books, life, and the world! I really feel like I found a big part of my story in Texas.
The day of my keynote was busy and fast paced. I love the energy in my body just before I am going to talk to a lot of people. It’s like my storytelling excitement is bigger than any nerves I might feel, and I just want to share big heartbeepy ideas with the audience. I’ve never started my keynote with a joke before, but I couldn’t resist sharing one my dad assured me would be a HUGE hit:
A duck walks into a library and says, “I’ll have a cheeseburger, fries, and a coke.”
The librarian says, “Mr. Duck, this is a LIBRARY!”
The duck answers (whispering), “Oh! Sooooo sorry! I’ll have a cheeseburger, fries, and a coke!”
Thanks TxLA for laughing so hard. I was worried it was one of those jokes only dads think are funny. But, I guess you can’t go wrong with a whispering duck in a library when it comes to an audience full of librarians!
I began thinking more deeply about my LivBit story from my keynote experience, and from something that was said to me while I was at TxLA. Someone said, “Liv, your librarian must LOVE you.” This assumption made me pause and think. The truth is my librarian doesn’t even know me. It’s not because I don’t spend time in my school’s library, because I’m there A LOT, but I’ve never really connected with the people in charge. My town’s librarian knows me because I spend time there reading loads of books for my Liv’s Lists. Still, no one has ever asked why I make them, and I guess, in some ways, I don’t want to assume the librarians I see weekly, will care about my LivBit story.
But, that’s why being connected is sooooo powerful! I know I have an ENTIRE state full of librarians in Texas who value my story and who have added meaning to it! I wish every kid had learning experiences outside of their classroom, school, and town. Every kid deserves to feel like an entire state is cheering on their learning!
Another person, who reminded me about the power of being connected, is Edward, the TxLA sound man. He made sure my mic worked well, and my video sound was loud enough for the massive room. Edward shared usually he doesn’t stay for the speeches, he just does the sound adjustments and heads out to other rooms to work on his daily to do list. But, when he heard the first few words of my keynote, including my “adorable” joke, he knew he had to stay.
I didn’t speak much to Edward before my speech. He was just working the sound, and I didn’t even know his name when he checked my mic. But, at lunch, he came over to me and asked if he could “give me an assignment.” I wasn’t exactly sure what he meant, but I was curious. As Edward spoke to me, he grabbed his waist length hair and explained his Native American heritage. He shared how recently he was in a bookstore and found 4 books about Native Americans and over 50 about dogs. As Edward spoke, his eyes glistened. He proudly whipped out his phone and I saw images of him in his traditional Native American gear. His pictures were stunning. His words were stunning. His love for his story was stunning. Edward showed me how powerful it is to see your story in the world.
Edward wanted me to have this assignment because he said I have a special gift. He shared how the words in my keynote touched his heart, and my passion for sharing my story reminded him of the power of his own story. He asked if I’d become a legacy partner. This means I can share the story of Edward’s tribe, who are known for their fierce fighting skills and their loyal hearts. I asked Edward if being a legacy partner means his story never disappears. He answered, “That’s your assignment, Liv. Find a way to share my story so it never dies and people can see how Native people’s stories are stitched into the earth. Then, your people become my people. Our people become one and our stories become forever stories Then, we can see my story in the world, the way you see yours.”
I can absolutely tell you this experience with Edward helped me to see my own story more clearly. Now when I think of my story, I’ll think of TxLA, and how I found my people. My mum told me some people search their whole lifetime just to find their people. She said maybe their people came to them, but they weren’t able to see them for one reason or another.
So, I hope today, you’ll think about your people, how they help you create your story, and how your story stitches you into the earth. Imagine if we could have a bird’s eye view of all those stitches! I think it would look like cool heartbeepy patterns connecting us together.
Finding your people helps you see your story in the world. Finding your people helps you know your story matters. Finding your people gives you heartbeeps for life.
Thank you, TxLA for loving LivBits, and most especially, a super special thank you to Becky Calzada, for believing in a kid like me and making TxLa possible! I feel so lucky I get to go back to Texas in June for work in San Angelo and November for NCTE because that means I get more time with my people.
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Hi, I'm Liv and I am super excited to share my thinking with you!