7 lessons Katie Spotz learned while rowing the Atlantic Ocean

Katie Spotz learned a lot while rowing across the Atlantic Ocean. She shares that knowledge in her new book, "Just Keep Rowing."

Katie Spotz learned a lot while rowing across the Atlantic Ocean. She shares that knowledge in her new book, “Just Keep Rowing.”

Katie Spotz is an endurance athlete, philanthropist, Mentor native and, now, author.

She learned a lot while rowing solo across the Atlantic Ocean and she shared some of those lessons when she visited Mentor Public Library earlier this week.

A Long Journey Begins with a Single Step

How did Spotz row 3,000 miles from Senegal to Guyana? As she explained it, she rowed one mile 3,000 times.

Spotz has swam the length of the Allegheny River, ran across deserts and biked across the country with a broken pelvis. All of those overwhelming tasks were made possible by breaking them into less intimidating chunks.

Wake up to Water

Every morning during Spotz’s record-breaking row, she woke up surrounded by water that she couldn’t drink.

That seems like a bizarre circumstance when you grow up near the planet’s largest freshwater source, but it’s reality for a lot of people. One in eight people don’t have access to clean water that’s safe to drink.

That’s why a portion of the proceeds from Just Keep Rowing go to H2O for Life, a nonprofit that develops service-learning programs to provide clean-water projects to schools around the world.

Spotz’s cross-Atlantic row also helped raise money and awareness for the global problem.

Experience Solitude, not Loneliness

Spotz spent 70 days by herself in a rowboat. She saw sharks, birds, dolphins and tankers but no people for more than two months.

She used meditation to prepare herself for that type of solitude but admits you can only prepare so much.

“It’s still a jump to go from not speaking to someone for a few hours to one or two days to 70 days,” she said.

Life Is a Team Sport

Spotz may have rowed alone but that doesn’t mean she did it by herself.

She had the help of trainers, experts—for example, a weatherman helped her plot a course that took advantage of prevailing currents—sponsors who provided tens of thousands of dollars because they believed in her mission, and, of course, her family.

Whenever you’re doing something difficult, assemble a good team and then trust them to support you.

See the Bioluminescence in Everyone

Spotz saw a lot of beautiful things while out on the water—the unhindered night sky, both the peace and tempest of the ocean—but nothing was more memorable than the plankton.

The tiny organisms were bioluminescent, meaning they glowed at night. Spotz compared passing through the plankton to rowing through millions of tiny, twinkling stars.

You don’t really think of plankton as pretty. Spotz said the ocean taught her that there’s beauty in everything and joy in finding that beauty.

What Does Not Kill You Makes You Stronger

Everything won’t always go right. Spotz had two fires on her boat during her row. She broke her pelvis while preparing for a cross-country bike ride.

Those setbacks didn’t force her to quit. Instead, she adapted her plans and overcame those hardships.

Scale the Mental Wall

Spotz doesn’t undersell the difficulty of running across a desert, swimming a river or rowing 3,000 miles; but she says the most difficult part of these challenges is mental, not physical.

Sometimes you have to convince yourself something is possible before you can do it.

These are just seven of the 70 lessons Spotz discusses in Just Keep Rowing. You can buy the book online or check it out from Mentor Library.

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It’s an artistic free-for-all at Studio MPL

Caleb uses an old hard drive as the heart of his mixed-media robot.

Caleb uses an old hard drive as the heart of his mixed-media robot.

Studio MPL, our art club for kids, had its first free-for-all contest on Monday.

The kids made anything they wanted, voted on their favorites and even designed the trophies the top vote-getters received.

The young artists followed their imaginations, creating robots, dress designs and even an oversized smart phone.

While not everyone could win the contest, all of these young artists are winners.

Feathers fall from above as Lynn brainstorms for her fashion project.

Feathers fall from above as Lynn brainstorms for her fashion project.

Every month, the kids take on a new art project. They’ve created imaginary friendsmade sun catcherspainted sunsetsweaved, tried out pointillism and even garnered inspiration from Jackson Pollock.

Studio MPL meets on the third Monday of each month. If your kid likes art—any kind of art—they can join the fun!

Next month’s session will be Dec. 21 at our Main Branch. You can register for it here.

Our young artists!

Our young artists!

For more photos from Studio MPL, visit Mentor Public Library’s Facebook page.

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Unwrap a Book at Mentor Library

Unwrap a book at Mentor Library.

Unwrap a book at Mentor Library.

Get yourself a gift during the holidays at Mentor Library.

From Nov. 21 to Dec. 21, you can check out one of Mentor Public Library’s “Secret Gift” books; and, if you rate it, you could win a $35 gift card to Barnes & Noble.

That’s right! You can win a prize for treating yourself.

And how will you recognize one of our Secret Gifts books?

They’re wrapped so you can’t see the title—it’s more fun when it’s a surprise, after all—but you can see a short description of the book written on the wrapping.

They’ll be shelved on one of the main displays when you first walk into our Main Branch.

Check them out, rip them open and give them a good reading.

Inside each Secret Gift book is a rating card. Fill out the card and drop it off at our Main Branch. After Dec. 21, we’ll pick one rating card at random, and that person will win the Barnes & Noble gift card.

By the way, you can enter more than one rating card; so check out as many gift-wrapped books as you like.

Who knows? Your favorite gift this year might be the one you get yourself.

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Video-game tournaments for kids and teens during International Games Day at Mentor Library

Mentor Library is hosting Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros tournaments on International Games Day.

Mentor Library is hosting Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros tournaments on International Games Day.

Kids who come to Mentor Library on Saturday, Nov. 21, better be ready to play because it’s International Games Day.

To celebrate, our Main Branch is hosting not one but two video-game tournaments that day.

Kids ages six to 12 can play in our Mario Kart tournament, which begins at noon.

Teens can compete in our international Super Smash Bros tournament from 2 to 4 p.m. One lucky gamer will even win a $25 gift card to Game Stop.

Both tournaments are free to play in. However, we ask that you register beforehand. You can sign up on Mentor Library’s website—specifically at this link for Mario Kart and here for Super Smash Bros—or by calling 440-255-8811.

Want more? Mentor Library also has a monthly video-game tournament called Clashing Controllers at its Lake Branch. The next tourney is 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 18.

By the way gamers, Mentor Library circulates games for PlayStation, Xbox and Wii consoles, as well. Feel free to check them out.

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The best documentaries and videos for commemorating Veterans Day

Mentor Veterans Memorial

Mentor Veterans Memorial

First and foremost, thank you to our veterans from all branches of the military.

We cannot not do what we do unless we are first safe, and you are the ones who have kept us safe.

Secondly, all of Mentor Library’s branches will be closed this Veteran’s Day. But, with our digital services, you still have access to all sorts of movies, ebooks, audiobooks and music even when the library’s buildings are closed.

Also, Hoopla has several films and documentaries that are appropriate reminders of what Veteran’s Day is all about. You can stream the videos to your computer, tablet or phone for free if you have a Mentor Library card.

1) Where Soldiers Come From (91 min) Not Rated

This documentary follows three young men from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula as they receive their basic training and are sent to Afghanistan, patrolling roadways looking for improvised explosive devices. The film charts their evolving attitudes about the war and American foreign policy as they see how it works up close, as well as their sometimes tense relationships with their families, who aren’t certain the young men will ever come home.

2) You’re the Enemy—Welcome Back! (46 min) Not Rated

Forty years after the end of the war, a few brave American veterans have returned to the place their country devastated. The amazing forgiveness and optimism of the Vietnamese people as they welcome these former enemies with open arms is the most potent form of therapy for the Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and the guilt which made the lives of many veterans so difficult when they returned home.

3) Comedy Warriors (84 min) Not Rated

Four professional comedians (Zach Galifianakis, Bob Saget, B.J. Novak and Lewis Black), work with five wounded veterans (Stephen Rice, Darisse Smith, Rob Jones, Bobby Henline and Joe Kashnow) to hone their stand-up acts. This documentary shows healing power of humor.

4) The Ghost Army (60 min) Not Rated

From PBS: War, deception and art come together in this astonishing true story of American G.I.s who tricked the enemy with rubber tanks, sound effects and carefully crafted illusions during World War II. This remarkable tale of a top-secret mission that was at once absurd, deadly and amazingly effective is told through the stories of the veterans, many of whom—like Bill Blass and Ellsworth Kelly—would go on to have illustrious careers in art, design and fashion.

5) D-Day: The Price of Freedom (54 min) Not Rated

Five D-Day veterans return to Normandy and revisit the locations they landed on June 6, 1944, sharing their own very personal stories of war. This documentary won Emmy Awards for writing and photography.

6) The Battle for the Midway (50 min) TVPG

One thousand miles from anywhere lay a lonely outpost of coral and sea called Midway. It was here in 1942 where the U.S. and Japan fought one of the greatest naval battles of World War II that changed the course of history. And it is here again where Titanic discoverer Dr. Robert Ballard now leads a team of experts and four World War II veterans on the voyage of their lives. They’re on a race against time to do the impossible: find at least one of the five downed aircraft carriers. Join them as they pay their final respects to their fallen comrades.

7) World War II: Saving the Reality (55 min) Not Rated

This documentary tells the story of an individual who owns the largest private collection of World War II artifacts in the world. More than 50 interviews with veterans and survivors of the war help tell the story of the meaning of the over 7,000 individual items in the collection of Kenneth W. Rendell.

8) A Perfect Soldier (56 min) Not Rated

An extraordinary and inspiring documentary about one man’s journey from child soldier to international hero. A Perfect Soldier tells the story of Aki Ra, who as a young boy was taken by the Khmer Rouge and forced to plant hundreds of landmines in the Cambodian countryside. As an adult, he has devoted his life to removing them, one landmine at a time. In 2010, he was named one of CNN’s Top 10 Heroes of the Year.

9) Ken Burns: The War (seven episodes, each 120 min) TV14

Ken Burns’ seven-part documentary series directed and produced by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, explores the history and horror of the Second World War from an American perspective by following the fortunes of so-called ordinary men and women who become caught up in one of the greatest cataclysms in human history. Six years in the making, this epic 14-hour film focuses on the stories of citizens from four geographically distributed American towns—Waterbury, Connecticut; Mobile, Alabama; Sacramento, California; and the tiny farming town of Luverne, Minnesota.

10) The Winning of World War II: The Road to Victory (16 episodes, each 60 min) Not Rated

Join General John Eisenhower as he retraces World War II. From the rise of Hitler to the historic battles and the eventual involvement of U.S. forces, witness the Allies’ road to victory. Then, discover the top commanders who made this victory possible.

11) Crusade in the Pacific (26 episodes, each 30 min) TVPG

Experience the epic television documentary event that chronicles all the bloody land, sea and air battles for the Pacific, produced by the legendary March Of Time newsreel unit and featuring never-before-seen footage from the archives of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, as well as film captured from the Japanese government.

12) Vietnam: 50 Years Remembered (seven episodes, each 50 min) TVPG

This 7-part documentary series tells the history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Featuring personal stories from veterans and detailing the battles, strategy, and politics of a war that consumed multiple U.S. Presidents. Vietnam: 50 Years Remembered is a chronicle of the tragedy that tested the strength of our country and forever changed the social and political landscape of the world.

Here’s a link to all of Mentor Library’s digital services, all of which are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Also, if you’re not sure how to use Hoopla, we’ve created an explanatory video.

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