Category Archives: self-care

Tips from introverts for introverts on how to survive a conference

[Image description: A little tan chihuahua lying on a bed, its front paws on an open book. What a cute and studious little puppy. Image obtained from Pixabay]

If you are an introvert, attending a conference can be an overwhelming experience. The 12-hours of networking. The constant discomfort of trying to figure out where to sit. The intrusive icebreakers that involve disclosing to strangers things that even your own family members don’t know about you! (“Dad…there’s something I should tell you. My favorite ice cream flavor is chocolate fudge brownie.”)

If the thought of spending time with hundreds of other people at a conference for several days makes you want to run home and re-binge-watch all four seasons of “Battlestar Galactica,” you are not alone. (But you probably wish to be! #introvertjokes!) People think I’m an extrovert because I do so much public speaking, but the reality is that as a nonprofit leader I have learned to use extroversion skills for my job, but that I need a lot of alone time to reflect and recharge. This is why I like, and need, to write all the time…and why I’m fully caught up on most popular TV shows. Continue reading

Nonprofits, we need to talk about mental health and suicide

[Image description: A bunch of flowers with yellow centers and white petals, likely daisies, resting on a metal railing of some sort. Blurry brown and beige background depicting land and a small patch of light blue sky. Image obtained from Pixabay.com]

Hi everyone, this post is going to be a little serious, but I hope you will read it and discuss with your team. The recent suicides in the news have made me think about our sector and our responsibility to one another.

Ten years ago, a friend of mine took her life a day after calling me asking to hang out. I would learn later from her mom that she had been dealing with bipolar disorder for a long time, and hid it from her friends and coworkers. I wished that I had been a better friend, that I had known what she was going through, that I had supported her more.

My friend’s suicide made me realize that we have a long way to go when it comes to mental health awareness, even among those of us who are in the nonprofit sector and thus are supposed to be more attuned to the people around us. Because mental health conditions are mostly invisible, our colleagues, friends, and family members may be going through challenges, and we may not be aware of it. Or we may be unintentionally creating an environment where mental illness is stigmatized, leading to further isolation. Continue reading

Why I’m working less, and why you should too

[Image description: A grey and white dog asleep on the carpet, facing the camera. Image by Adam Grabek of Unsplash.com]

Hi everyone. Before we get into this post, a quick announcement: My organization, Rainier Valley Corps, is looking for two new team members: An Operations Support Program Manager and a Development and Communications Associate. Join the team, and pass the word. We have awesome snacks! 

Mother’s Day is coming up this Sunday. A while ago, I wrote a post called “The Myth of Indispensability,” which deals with the loss of my mother and how all of us need to spend more time with the people we love, because we never know how many more days we have left with them. 

Since that post though, I haven’t really been following my own words. Working for a nonprofit is all-consuming. I know you know what that is like. Our work is often not confined to a 9-to-5. It is often in the evenings, on the weekends, sometimes in the bathroom on the phone (hey, whatever it takes to get that online grant application submitted). Even when we aren’t at the office, we are thinking about work, worrying about clients and payroll and programs and reports. And we never feel that we are doing enough, that we ourselves are enough.

And while we work, the people we love change. Kids grow older, our parents grayer, our friends don’t call or drop by as much anymore. I had to contain my emotions one day when my then-four-year-old held on to my leg as I was leaving for the airport. “Daddy, I don’t want you to go on a work trip.” I didn’t know how it happened that my tiny, sweet little baby who was only eight pounds was now speaking full sentences. It reminded me of what a colleague once said years ago, but whose words I never absorbed until that moment: “Your projects will always be there. But your children will only grow up one time.” That was a difficult ride to the airport. Continue reading

10 creative tips for staying healthy while working at a nonprofit

[Image description: Two bowls of oatmeal or yogurt, maybe tapioca, topped with an assortment of colorful fruit and spices, including strawberries, raspberries, orange wedges, and star anise. Image by Brooke Lark of Unsplash.com]

Hi everyone. Before we tackle today’s topic, here’s some NAF logo merchandize! Apologies for taking so long. Now you can get a t-shirt or hoodie or mug and declare yourself #nonprofitAF. They make great gifts for nonprofit people, or whimsically confusing gifts for everyone else. 

It is the New Year, which means many of us are thinking of ways to improve ourselves. However, that can be challenging when all of us are so busy doing important stuff to make the world better. Stuff like binge-watching season 4 of Grace and Frankie on Netflix while eating an entire family-sized bag of wavy potato chips (Look, you have your way of making the world better, and I have mine).

So here are a few creative tips to help us be healthier while we do nonprofit work. Special thanks to the NAF Facebook community for all the inspiring suggestions, many of which I’ve combined into the ones here: Continue reading

How your childhood affects your self-care

[Image description: Silhouettes of an adult and a child flying a triangular rainbow-colored kite with three tails. The sky is orange-yellow with the sun near the horizon. Image obtained from Pixabay.com]

Hi everyone. Happy 2018! Before we begin today’s post: If you are in Seattle, there is a World Dance Party this Friday, January 12th, 6:03pm to 9:07pm at Southeast Senior Center!! Learn a bunch of cultural dances (Tahitian, Filipino, West African, Guatemalan, and other dances), and eat. It’s free and family-friendly. Bring a dish to share (And if you can fill that dish with food, even better!). This event has never failed to restore my faith in humanity.

I don’t write much about self-care, because to be honest I kind of suck at it. For example, it is Sunday night, and I am at my office working on this blog post. I just ate a peanut-butter cookie. That was my dinner. Then, the motion-activated office light turned off, so I stood up and waved my arms around to turn it back on…and got exhausted. Because I don’t exercise. Except maybe when a grant application is due and a colleague drives around the block and I run up to deliver the proposal package.

The worst part, though, is that when I do have some downtime, I can never relax. I get a weird sense of anxiety and guilt, like I need to be doing something productive instead of letting work pile up. I’m sure many of you can relate. So I brought this up to my executive coach. “I can’t relax!” I said, “My brain does not ever rest! It is always analyzing stuff and worrying! Even when I take a day off or am on vacation, it is constantly thinking about work!” I was expecting her to give advice like “You should do meditation to calm your brain, maybe use a mindfulness app, and can you please pay the last invoice?” Instead, she asked this question, “Growing up, did you your parents ever take a vacation?” Continue reading