Posts Tagged energizing

It Feels Good to be Running

Yesterday I rushed from lunch with a friend to a work meeting. Luckily the meeting ended early, since a quick check of my email reminded me that I still needed to prepare financials for the next day’s board meeting. I ran back to the office for 40 minutes, entered the latest set of donations into Quickbooks, and whooshed off an email before running out the door to a coaching appointment.

Traffic was heavier than I expected, so I arrived a few minutes late. Yet instead than feeling stressed and overwhelmed, I felt exhilarated and energized. After days of feeling lethargic and mildly depressed, it felt fabulous to be able to roll with so much action. I was in my flow.

I am learning that I have an optimal level of energy that I put out day to day. For the past several weeks, I have been operating under capacity in an effort to recover from a period of heavy stress. Instead of feeling rested and at ease, I was starting to feel depressed, unsure what to do, and unfulfilled. Yet I also know when I try to operate much over my capacity, I burn out from working at an unsustainable level.

I tend to err on the side of operating over capacity, so lately I have been practicing under doing it. However, it’s not working for me. When I am too far under capacity, my self care falls apart. I figure I will get around to meditation later. I can’t think of a good reason why I need to get off Facebook.

I know that operating over capacity can be a coping mechanism. Am I hiding from something? Am I avoiding hard feelings?

In this particular moment, I don’t think so. While running from thing to thing can sometimes be a way to run away, it can also be an efficient way to get things done. It’s efficient for me, as I get more focused and just get things done rather than fretting too much over how to do them. When I am busy, it’s easier to jump into rejuvenating activities like dance or talking with a good friend or writing or watching the season finale of The Voice. (Whoohoo Jermaine!)

I feel liberated, feeling into my natural capacity, feeling how the right tempo and flow unleashes my gifts of energy and motivation.

I know that my particular capacity is different from other people. And that my own capacity changes day to day, especially if I’m sick or been working over capacity for too long. But being present with my natural capacity, today, in this moment, I feel alive.

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Endurance + Precision

I am good at endurance. I am not a naturally gifted athlete, but in late 2006 I found myself signing up for the Iron Horse Training Class. At the end of six months, I would be prepared to ride my bike (which I didn’t own yet) up a mountain (climbing 6,650 feet) and if I was lucky I’d beat the train (or finish in 6 hours before I got swept off the road).

I was terrified, but also excited about the possibilities. What wells of endurance would I find deep within my body? Who would I be if I was able to complete this Herculean task?

I was going through a tough breakup and dealing with funding challenges at work. It was easy to get down on my life and focus in on all that was frustrating. I knew I needed a big anchor to keep me focused on what was still amazing in my life, and training for the Iron Horse provided that.

Sure, it was hard. Physically and emotionally.

I still remember the terror I felt the morning of our first outdoor ride after four months of training on indoor cycles. I came to work and felt the ever increasing dread in the pit of my stomach. My coworker who was also my teammate in training asked if I was ready to ride and I burst into tears and sobbed for a solid hour.

Or the training day when we climbed a ridiculously tough hill, a 10%+ grade all the way up for 6 miles – tougher than anything we would face on the actual ride. We rode up the hill as the April snow started to fall, and I WISHED it was uphill both ways as my sweaty gloves were actively working to freeze my fingers as I coasted down and tried not to crash on any of the tight curves.

I was already hurting just 10 miles in to the actual ride, during the “easy” flat section that had given us a vicious headwind all the way through the valley. As we entered the remaining 40 miles of rolling hills and steep mountains, I was already ready to quit. But I had told everyone I knew that I was doing this race, so I thought I’d just go a little farther and maybe quit when I got to Purgatory, the aptly named ski resort that marked the bottom of the steep climbs. And by the time I got to Purgatory, my thighs were burning and my lungs hot. But I thought I could go a little further and at least say I tackled part of the mountain. So I rode on.

And so it went. Just committing to a little more each time. Even as I was about to summit the final pass, I was watching the clock. There was a chance I would not make the 12:40pm cutoff to continue. At the time, I was READY for the van to come pick me up. Sure, I was just a mile from the summit, and it was then just an easy ride in to town. I was so close! Yet I was so ready to be done. But not so ready that I would get off my bike and just stand there waiting to be picked up. I rode on.

I came around the final curve, saw the stately mountains ringing Molas Pass and started to cry. I could see the top. It was 12:39. I was going to make it. I was going to finish the Iron Horse. I had endured.

Endurance is awesome. I’m glad I have it in my skill set.

But sometimes it’s not awesome. Like when I know grad school is not right for me, and I stay for five more years. Or when I know a job isn’t the right fit, but I feel like I should try to make it work.

Then endurance is being sentenced to twenty years of hard labor. It’s putting my limited energy straight down the drain. There is no flexibility to gather new in-the-moment information that might change my mind.

Do I throw out endurance?

No. I just need to add something. Precision. Endurance for the wrong reasons is painful. It is precision that helps me know what work is right for me, what activities bring me energy, or whether my body is hurting but feels okay enough to keep riding.

Sometimes these energies feel at odds. I am good at endurance, so sometimes I am imprecise in stating what I need. I’m pretty good at putting up with less than ideal conditions, and it often feels easier to go with the flow rather than asking for change. Precision takes a lot of internal tracking, a lot of attention and mindfulness, a lot of care. It’s usually not something I can know for sure ahead of time. It takes trying something out before I can even do the internal tracking necessary to know whether it works for me or not. Precision requires experimentation, trying something and adjusting on the fly.

I want to be more precise.

I’m entering into a period where I want to be clearer about what I want, about what will work for me and what just won’t. I keep waiting for clarity to descend into my brain, the fog lifting and everything to be obvious. But it seems that what is more called for is a mountain of experimentation, with detailed tracking and attention to what works best.

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Torn to Shreds in that Oh So Good Way

I’m surrounded by a pack of epiphanies. They won’t let me go unless I surrender to their deeper knowledge.

Things I learned today when I let the epiphanies tear me to shreds:

  1. My THING (or at least an important component of it): I love to work together with a fantabulous team to create a space where people feel like they finally BELONG. Like when we raised the visibility of rural queers or found ourselves a home in the dharma or made ourselves the safest space we could imagine to heal our own and others’ trauma.
  2. Since my THING is a team effort, what the hell am I doing trying to become a pro blogger? Yes I love writing and it needs to be a component of what I do. But when given the choice between writing and community organizing … if you’ve seen my schedule lately or my lack of blog posts, you know who wins this battle.

So what am I doing here, if I’m not trying to become a pro blogger? First, phew. What a load off my shoulders that I don’t have to learn about search engine optimization or feel guilty that I’m not building a mailing list. Now that we can dispense with that boringness, what fun do we I get to have here? I want this to be a space where I process what I’m doing out in the physical world, where I develop my thoughts so I can become more of a thought leader on nonprofit leadership, and put my fabulous self out there so I can connect with other fabulous people with whom I’d love to be building spaces together where we belong.

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A highlight to be highlighted!

Happy happy joy joy! I’m a featured highlight on Rosetta Thurman’s Week 1 Wrap-Up of the 31 Days to a Brand New Blog Challenge. It’s great encouragement to catch up on the challenges I missed during last week’s laser focus on work & projects. After rejuvenation from this weekend’s meditation retreat, I’m ready to be present here!

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Scarcity vs. Abundance

Does your nonprofit operate from a belief in scarcity?

Scarcity: There’s not enough money, not enough time, not enough resources to get everything done. We’re competing with other nonprofits for money and volunteers, so we have to be careful to make sure we don’t give away all our secrets. We need to keep accumulating more money, more volunteers, more power to make a difference. That’s the way the game is played if you want to make a difference.

The visionary fundraiser Lynne Twist says: Scarcity is a MYTH. As she raised money for over 20 years at The Hunger Project, she spent time with people with plenty of money – three-plus generations worth of money – she saw that they still felt there was not enough money, that they needed more. They still bought in to this belief in scarcity. There was never a point at which they said, “Ahhhhh. Enough.”

What would take for us to say we have enough? When we start looking, there really is no particular dollar amount that allows us to rest in having enough. (If you have one, I’m curious to know what it is!). Instead of waiting for that perfect dollar amount to come in, what if every day we started to cultivate a mind-state that we have “enough”? That by sharing our strategies and our resources, we don’t limit our share of the pie. We make the pie larger. What if started treating money like water, as Lynne Twist says, “a current, a carrier, a conduit for our intentions”? We may or may not raise any more money, but we would certainly work with more ease.

If you ever have the opportunity to attend a Fundraising from the Heart workshop with Lynne, DO IT.

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Activist Stretches!

Too many of us sit in shitty-ass chairs at work. Our nonprofits are too poor, and we hate to spend money on chairs when we could be spending it on our amazing projects that are going to SAVE THE WORLD!!!!! We blame our aching shoulders and backs on the stress of our work – but perhaps we should take a closer look at what’s supporting us (or not supporting us) all day long.

At the very least, you need to move around during the day. So stop surfing the internet. Get out of your crappy chair and off your ass – it’s time for Activist Stretches with Bevin & Taueret of Queer Fat Femme! Enjoy some activist inspiration while stretching out your body!

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