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!”
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.”
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).
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.
Hi everyone, before we get into today’s post, I’ll be having a conversation with the amazing Crystal Hayling, executive director of the Libra Foundation, next week November 10th at 1pm Pacific. We’re calling it “2020 Philanthropy Debrief AF” and will be discussing the good, bad, and ugly of foundations’ response to the pandemic, protests, elections, etc., as well as what we hope to see in 2021. It’s FREE and it’ll be fun and informal. Register here. [Updated from earlier link]
The elections culminate this week, and if you’re in the US and care about democracy, chances are you are as anxious as I am. I’ve been unable to sleep. I’ve been eating way too much chocolate while doomscrolling on Twitter. I’ve been picking at my face! There is just so much at stake. If you’re feeling the same way, you’re not alone. So here are a few tips to endure the next few days, combined with pictures of baby animals. This is not to make light of what’s in front of us. I just can’t focus enough to write something more hard-hitting, and I’m not sure anyone wants a serious post.