I promised to write a more light-hearted post, but it’s been hard to find humor and joy lately. The images of kids and families, the audio clips, the “tender age shelters” haunt me. I know these visceral feelings come from the fact that I am a father with two small children, ages five and two. This week, I also realize that I’ve been affected because of my own story as an immigrant kid whose family fled poverty and a difficult life for the promises of America. I am sharing it here, mainly because it helps me to process my thinking, but it’s also a reminder for me, and hopefully for you, of the America that my family and I have known and loved since we were welcomed to its shores. Continue reading
Two years ago, after the election, I wrote “I am fearful not so much for myself and my family, but for our friends who are Muslim, who are Latinx, who are Black, who are LGBTQ.” Since then, so much of that has come to pass as protective policies are rolled back to make way for a wave of policies based on fear, racism, and xenophobia.
I never once thought, though, that we would reach a point in our nation’s history where children as young as 18 months old or even younger are ripped screaming from the arms of their crying, desperate parents, after they have made grueling treks to flee from poverty, violence, and death. We now have an administration that defends the abuse and torture of innocent children. Continue reading
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
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
I was in Oakland for the Art of Transformational Consulting, a training led by the legendary Robert Gass of the Social Transformation Project. (Thank you, Haas Jr. Fund for sponsoring my participation). It was an intense one-week program, where the days often went from 9am to 9pm. During these hours, I and 29 other participants, mostly consultants or nonprofit leaders, learned from Robert and from one another. We examined the deepest corners of ourselves, we analyzed case studies, we worked in pairs and triads and groups and sat in large circles. I was constantly pushed out of my comfort zone, encouraged to do things that I never thought I was capable of: Meditate, communicate without words, exercise. Continue reading