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                                                                                          I have never, not once, considered myself a gardener, yet I have                                                                                           always grown plants. They are never anything fancy, and never The                                                                                               Most Thriving Plants You Have Ever Seen, by any means. Yet still: the small                                                                                 plants in my corner of the universe, while sometimes struggling, are happy,                                                                                   are blooming, are growing. I try, I really do. I don't always know what I'm                                                                                     doing, but I try.

                                                                                        I've noticed a slow building theme in my work and research in this                                                                                       MLIS program. The more confident I am in the information science-based                                                                                     subject matter, the more I use words like "grow" and "nurture" and "foster",  to the point where at this final point of the program, on the precipice of graduation and finalizing my E-portfolio, I think I have subconsciously used these gardening terms in every single competency in this portfolio.

          I have never had a particularly green thumb, but I have always felt happier, more at peace, more joyful, when I am around plants: when I am growing plants, when I am nurturing plants. I now recognize a correlation between my gravitation towards growing plants, and my natural predilection for providing informed, accessible, and supportive information to those within my orbit:

          It's kindness, and kindness can take many forms.

          Growing plants is a kindness to myself. It makes me happy. Gardening is something I know I'm not perfect at, but that I always try to do the best I can with. I learn, I adapt, I tend to my plants the best I can. As an information professional, that kindness manifests itself as a deep focus on providing information, physical spaces, communications, resources, deliverables, services, and programs that are equitable, diverse, inclusive, accepting, welcoming, joyful, and honest. Like gardening, I have always been drawn to information: to its nuances, it's biases, who it helps, who it harms, how it can be used.

          Last night I stayed up late. The midnight hour found me with an old coffee mug full of fresh potting soil and a teaspoon, slowly, carefully, adding a new layer of soil to my three houseplants. I put clean saucers under their planters, and a fresh towel under the saucers, to cover the table top. Then I added some water to help the new soil take. I have no idea if I should be doing any of this, but I’ve kept these plants alive this long, so they must be liking it. It just makes sense to me to do some basic things: put them in a place where they have sunlight, keep things clean, water them, trim off the dead parts, and occasionally add more soil. Much like I wrote about in Competency M, even if I’m not the best or the right person for the job: I show up. I have the ability to learn and a willingness to do the work. Moving forward with my career, I hope to continue learning and exceeding in the areas of research, writing, graphic design, website design, art, and resource creation. This MLIS program has been that soil for me to grow in, has provided me with windows and sunlight so that I can strive for new opportunities.

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