September 09, 2020

POV: Let Your Well-Being Take the Wheel

Temperature check—how are you really doing? As for me, I am a hot mess most of the time. While my actual temperature this morning was 98.0 my literal temperature is off the charts.

I oscillate between having it all together and then ‘losing-it’ while on the phone with close friends (you know who you are), or slipping up with my staff and crossing some boundaries (the other day I offered my job to any member of the UNA team). My sleep is inconsistent and at a best case scenario I sleep maybe 1-2 hours each night.

I am not at all embarrassed to admit these things publicly because it has occurred to me that I am likely not alone in either the way I am feeling or the way that my body is reacting to everything right now. Most of you know me as the consummate professional, someone who is calm, strategic and, most importantly, authentic. Because of that authenticity, I feel compelled to say that I worry that we, as nonprofit leaders, are not checking in with ourselves enough to make sure that our figurative temperature is OK.

In the event that it is needed…this is me giving you permission to not have it all together and to admit it to yourselves, your family, and your team. It is OK to be vulnerable. It is OK to cry. It’s OK to feel overwhelmed. Instead of pushing for ‘normalcy’ perhaps we should embrace what normal has become. Normal is face masks while in public. Normal is the public fight for social justice. Normal is navigating the very challenging economic crisis that is plaguing our communities. Normal is also (apparently) weathering hurricane winds in a valley surrounded by mountains and days long power outages. I am not saying that any of this is acceptable nor am I saying that we need to just ‘get on board’ with it. Rather, let’s recognize it, absorb it, and weave it as part of how we operate, so that we can make better, more just, and safe communities for each of us. And perhaps lessen the stressors of the day.

We are being tested in ways that I am certain we have never imagined. I’ve done hard things in my life and I am still overwhelmed and frustrated and I desperately want reprieve. As I reflect on all the things I am juggling I both want to laugh and cry because it all seems a bit unreal. But I also think that one of the best gifts I can give the people in my life—that means you, my friends, family and Team UNA, is to be honest and to recognize the many ways people are helping me stay afloat and focused. Personally, my family and friends have shown up for me in incredible and supportive ways. Professionally, I may be this organization’s CEO but I must profess that Team UNA has been my rock. They keep me grounded and engaged. They question decisions when they feel like it’s necessary. They pick up the pieces when something has fallen through the cracks (even when it is me who dropped the ball). They always reply, “It was a team effort” when I thank them for a project, press release, fantastic meeting, etc. As their imperfect leader they are supportive when I am operating at minimum capacity, am sleep deprived, and even cranky. I will be forever grateful for all the circles of support I receive. We should all be so lucky to be in environments that are truly people focused.

I know that in some fashion every one of us is managing more than feels humanly possible. Hang in there, you are not alone. Do what you can. Don’t let anyone (especially yourself) make you feel guilty for pumping the breaks when you need to. These are tough times. We can do hard things, we do them every day and I believe in you.

Oh and here’s my other PSA for the month… The DMV will no longer be mailing out car registration reminders/notices. I support paperless, I really do, but this seems like the wrong time to add yet another thing for us to remember. So do your future self a favor and sign up for email reminders.