Category Archives: self-care

12 dating tips for nonprofit professionals

[Image description: Two red and black ladybugs standing on a leaf, their heads touching. Awwww. It’s about time we featured some bugs on this blog! Image from Pixabay.com]

Hi everyone. Valentine’s Day is coming up this week, which means many of us are thinking about love, relationships, and, for some of us, culturally-responsive organizational capacity building strategies. The nonprofit sector is full of amazing individuals. But we all tend to work really hard and focus on others, so love and relationships are often put on the back burner, along with exercise and, for some of us, personal hygiene. If this area is relevant to you, however, make time to focus on it as part of your overall well-being. Here are some #NonprofitDatingTips that may be helpful if you are looking for love (If you’re not, the final season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is now on Netfllix):

Now, some of you may be asking, “Vu, what exactly do you know about dating?” To which I would reply that after being married for a decade, I have no understanding whatsoever of the modern dating scene. However, I do know a lot about nonprofit work, and I am sure dating and nonprofit are very similar:

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How to quiet your overthinking brain enough to enjoy your holiday break

[Image description: Close up on the face of a sleepy light brown chihuahua that’s lying down. Their eyes are half-closed, looking at the camera. This looks like one tired puppy who needs a break. Pixabay.com]

Hi everyone, before we begin, check out this delightful video made by the Human Services Council in New York City. Similar to this NAF post, the video envisions a for-profit, here a pizza place, being treated the way nonprofits are; it brings to light the absurd stuff we have to deal with (NAF gets a shout-out in the end credits).

Many of us are preparing to take some time off for the holiday break. I wrote about the importance of giving your team and yourself some time to recharge in “A Call to Inaction: Nonprofits, Give Your Staff a Break.” Giving people time off, now or later in the year, is a relatively inexpensive way to boost morale, increase effectiveness, and make it more likely that you’ll get one of those coveted “Best Boss in the World” mugs that I’ve only heard about. 

For many of us though, even when we are not at the office, we’re not exactly on a break. This is due to several reasons. Our field tends to attract people who care a lot about others; nonprofit work does not end when we go home; and the complexity of the work combined with the fact that we care about people means we’re always trying to read up on the latest research or model or thinking of new strategies or whatever. There are always more things we could and should be doing. Continue reading

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