It’s still the apocalypse, let’s give ourselves and one another some grace

[Image description: Five purple crocus flowers with orange pistils, looking like they’re coming up from the ground. Image by Nennieinszweidrei on Pixabay]

Hi everyone. It is spring in the northern hemisphere. It’s my favorite season and love it as much as we all love MYGOD (multi-year general operating dollars). The days are getting longer and the crocuses and daffodils and tulips are popping up and the cherry blossoms will explode like balls of pink snow and it’s all magical.

The last several years have been one long, bitter winter. With the pandemic, the worsening climate problems, the open embrace of fascism, the rise in hate and violence, the banning of conversations about race, the rolling back of abortion rights, the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the potential for world war 3, and so many other horrific things, we’ve been living through at least six consecutive years of end times without much of a break.

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I love you, nonprofit colleagues. Please give yourselves a break.

[Image description: A bulldog, dressed in a Santa suit and reindeer antlers, lays sleeping, facing the camera. Floor and background are bright red. Image by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash]

Hi everyone, this will be the last post of 2021 (I’ll be back on January 3rd), and it might be a little more personal and disjointed than other posts, apologies in advance. As the year ends, I try to find time to reflect back on what happened these past 12 months, and what lessons we could glean so that we can improve ourselves and our sector. But I am very tired. I don’t want to learn anything, except maybe that sweat pants and pajama bottoms should be perfectly acceptable to wear to the office from now on.

This year was hell. The last several years were hell. A weird, surreal sort of hell. Amidst this pandemic, I was going through a divorce while supporting loved ones dealing with addiction and various mental health challenges. Rifling through my brain brings random memories, one of me trying to figure out how to help my seven-year-old with his remote math assignment while his four-year-old brother was standing on our porch screaming at strangers, “You’re not wearing your masks! There’s coronavirus! Put your masks on!”   

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I’m taking some time off to recharge, and you should too

[A bright full moon rising over a city skyline against a teal/aquamarine sky. We can see the silhouettes of a dozen or so birds flying near the moon. Image by Thula Na on Unsplash]

Happy Monday, everyone. It’s 100 degrees in Seattle (and may reach 110 today), so I am kind of loopy and not in the mood for editing. I want to let you know that I’ll be taking the entire month of July off from writing, most meetings, and most social media, so this will be the last NAF post until August 2nd. Except for a couple of speaking engagements, I’ll be spending time with my family, catching up with a few friends, tidying up the house, and melting into the couch with some cold coconut water while playing Earthbound or Final Fantasy III/VI. It’ll be glorious!

I hope that you will find time to rest as well. Let’s face it, our sector sucks at doing this. And because we are self-deprecating, we make light of it all the time, for instance this post “Vacation tips for nonprofit professionals who suck at vacationing,” including, from colleague Cheri Kishimoto, “Set SMART goals that align with your vacation strategic plan to keep you focused on relaxing and sustainable vacationing practices. Take lots of notes and be prepared to do a 10-15-minute presentation to your coworkers on what you learned about relaxing on vacation.”

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We need to talk about our toxic obsession with productivity

[Image description: Two doggy, or possibly tiger, paws on the keyboard of a laptop. On the screen are eight other animals (cat, giraffe, tiger, dolphin, horse, sheep, dog, cow), each in their own square, as if they’re on a video conference. There’s a logo with the words “zoo conf” in the lower right corner. Surrounding the laptop is a cup of coffee, cell phone, and notebook with pen. Image by Brian Cragun on Pixabay.]

At the beginning of the pandemic, I texted a friend, an executive director, to see how he was doing. “I share this in confidence,” he texted back, “current sitch, watching Frozen 2 in bed with [my daughter].” He sent over a picture of his TV, on which Anna was huddled against a rock, despondent, about to launch into a song about doing the next right thing. When everything was chaotic and stressful, it was nice to imagine my friend spending time with his little one.

It’s been more than a year since the pandemic started. All of us are overwhelmed and traumatized. And unfortunately, I still see many of us falling into the same terrible habits we had during the Before Times, when we met for lunch and dinner, orchestra music swelling as we embraced one another in slow-motion, golden sunlight burnishing our eyes into twinkling coins. (At least, that’s how I remember it).

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Survivor’s guilt and other ways the collective trauma we’ve endured may show up

[Image description: Some type of tunnel, with an opening at the end leading outside and light streaming in. It looks industrial, old, and metallic. Image by PixLord on Pixabay]

A few years ago, I discovered a personal pattern: Anytime that I had five or more consecutive days off, I would immediately get sick the first three days. Talking to other nonprofit leaders, I found out it was not unusual. It’s as if our bodies were so busy dealing with one crisis after another at our jobs that we just didn’t have time to get sick, and it catches up to us all at once when we have a moment to breathe.

Last week was the inauguration of US President Biden and Vice President Harris. I don’t think any of us believe that having a new US president will instantly solve everything. White supremacy and injustice will not end just because there’s a new administration. But this change at least allows us a moment to catch our breath, to take a break, and maybe get out of survival mindset long enough to assess how to best move forward.

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