Firsts (and a Last) and Lessons Learned

This month was eventful.

Foosball–the perfect post-Thanksgiving meal activity.
  • We had our first Thanksgiving in Quaker House.
  • This was also the first Thanksgiving with my daughter and her husband as a married couple. I loved every minute with them and was so glad they made the trip.
  • I got out my first large-circulation newsletter.
  • I went on my first Disaster Action Team (DAT) call with the Red Cross in Fayetteville! I had been active with the Red Cross Disaster Cycle Services in Alamance County, but I finally allowed myself to have this non-work activity. It was refreshing and reaffirming to reestablish that little protected niche for myself. The call itself was sad. They usually are in their own unique ways. But, I got to help in a tiny way and let them know that they are not alone.
  • Quaker House hosted its last meeting of  the Fayetteville Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW). They are a wonderful group of people and have been meeting at Quaker House for many years. They have simply outgrown our space and our available parking on the street. I am so glad I got to meet them here and will be able to follow them to their new and better location.

What I’ve Learned This Month

I am learning so much so fast in these early days at Quaker House, that I thought it might be nice to chronicle the lessons, both to look back on later and to provide a little camaraderie with other new and not-so-new nonprofit directors.

  • I figured out how to readjust a deadbolt lock that has gone out of alignment due to changes in temperature and humidity.
  • I have fumbled my way through a minuscule amount of Drupal (the content management software that our web site uses).
  • I have become more familiar with some of the creative and effective methods of nonviolent direct action through an excellent web-based course with Eileen Flanagan.
  • I laid out my first newsletter in Publisher for large-scale distribution and then sent it along a chain from the printer, to the folder, to the direct mail service–and then picked up the overruns.
  • From Thanksgiving dinner, I learned that I miss having leftovers. I need to start cooking again more often (which has basically been on hold since some time in August).
  • While working, I really love my noise-silencing headphones (no music input jack — just blocking out noise). I bought them while I was in law school because sometimes there was great music playing or such things while I was trying to study at home, and the headphones were the best solution for everyone. I still do my best thinking in silence, and Quaker House sometimes has other people working here. I am so glad that I held on to them, and that I knew right where they were after the move!
  • I need to continue working on work-life balance. This really hit home on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Technically, it was a holiday. I woke up thinking of all the things I wanted to work on. I had planned to get a very brief workout first thing in the morning. I thought, “I don’t have time.” Then, I realized that was ridiculous since it was supposed to be a holiday. So, I worked out. Next up was breakfast. “I don’t have time. I can just grab something to munch on.” Again, I realized that this was ridiculous thinking on a holiday. I got my breakfast. The next battle was the time I had planned to set aside for my own scripture study/prayer/silence. With unbelievable persistence, my mind said, “I don’t have time.” I sat down and spent the time I had set aside. It was incredibly difficult for the first few moments, though. I could feel anxiety pulling at my arms to reach for a pen, pulling at my legs to get up and walk over to my desk, pulling at my eyes to work on some editing I needed to do. Gradually, I relaxed into the quiet. Perhaps, if I insist on a more consistent morning routine, by mind and body will adjust and expectantly settle into those pathways–knowing that there will be plenty of time to work on the endless lists of tasks and projects.

I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving!

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Saturdays and Sundays

I used to dream of having “cottage meetings” in my living room. In my mind, they were unfettered religious discussions.

As I was applying to become the executive director of Quaker House, imagine how wonderful I thought it was that Fayetteville Friends met in the living room. There was even a short pew as part of the furniture!

I still think it is wonderful.

But, as I am settling into new routines, and this morning found myself catching up on dishes, doing laundry so that cloth napkins would be clean (today is potluck Sunday), straightening up, and sweeping floors, the words of a song from my childhood came to mind, “Saturday is a special day, it is the day we get ready for Sunday.”* The words go on to describe all the errands and cleaning that are done. As a child, I did not think cleaning was so special, despite the happy little tune. I still don’t. But, I don’t want to spend my Sunday mornings doing it — in the way that it gets done because people are coming over.

And, I have been doing it every Sunday morning since September 1.

I did all the regular running of errands and grocery shopping yesterday (Saturday), along with everyone else in the world, it seemed. I did some work, because what day of the week does an executive director of a small nonprofit not work at least some part of it? At that point, the last thing I wanted to do was the cleaning and straightening. Saturdays are the one day when other people are not actually scheduled to be in my home — usually. They are kind of special to me in that way. I felt I deserved a little downtime.

And, I don’t disagree with that assessment.

But, I also would rather go into Sunday worship not having had to first do so much housework. I think I will try to fine-tune that part of my new routines and life.

Because, while you still can’t convince me that doing chores in order to prepare for a future day is special, my quiet Sunday mornings are special. I miss them.

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*Children’s Songbook, No. 196, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1989. Words and lyrics by Rita S. Robinson, arr. by Chester W. Hill.