I have worked in the nonprofit world far longer than I can remember. My job began in the sector back in 1992 or so, when I became a grant writing intern for a local non-profit organization as part of my undergraduate work.
Little did I realize that some twenty plus years later, I would still be working in the sector. First as a professional at local non-profit organizations and now as an industry consultant. This week, I had cause to pause. I received a telephone call last Friday evening that a former client of mine had passed away due to cancer. I cried. And, I cried. And, I even cried some more.
Then, after a long season of constant deadline oriented projects, finally feeling a bit of downtime between clients, I became sick with the flu and was laid up in bed for several days, still weak as I write this article. While sick in bed, I received another telephone call, someone else in my personal life had passed on, again due to cancer.
One thing I do know is that our work is long and hard. And, we are often fighting for the lives of others in our sector. But, does that mean that we don’t take care of ourselves? Do we even stop a moment to breathe, to reflect, to take in the season that we are in, to spend time with our loved ones?
I am guilty of this. I admit it. I work tirelessly so that my clients can be the best that they can be.
This fall, I purchased a new book out by Beth Kanter, called the Happy Healthy Nonprofit. I have yet to read it, of course, time has not allowed. But, I am going to make it priority reading over the upcoming Christmas break. And, I suggest that you pick up a copy too. There are lessons in this book about self-care, taking the time to recharge, and not burnout out. Let’s face it; our sector is a sector of burnout.
If you can do one thing right now, stop, get up, walk around – thank your employees, take in the sights and sounds of the season, perhaps take the afternoon off, hug a loved one, give someone close to you a call just to say “hi!” There is more beyond our work than our nonprofit. Yes, I said it. And, if you don’t rest and recharge, there will be little else for you to give to others.
This week, I pause and remember my former client, Fr. Stan Kolasa of the Sacred Hearts Retreat Center in Wareham, MA, I take the time to honor his life and his legacy.
And, I take the time just to be – in the season and the moment. And, I urge each of you to do the very same.
Reflect on your life, and take good care. The fight always goes on, but it only goes forward when you are stronger.