Friday, March 30, 2012

From Rosetta Thurman: Take Responsibility For What You Love

I'm getting married on May 26 and planning the entire weekend wedding for 160 people, including accommodations, activities, food, carpools, childcare, etc. It's crazy - there is so much to do that I can't keep my head straight. My 100 year old grandmother is dying and angry that we've put her into hospice, but there is no other choice. I can't get her crying pleas to take her out of that place out of my head and haven't slept for two nights. I've fallen behind on my internship, which requires me to curate content and share it with nonprofits. I'm cancelling social engagements in order to keep up. I don't have time for yoga. I feel like my life is slipping by and I'm busy, but can't keep up. I realized that THIS blog needed a post for the month of March which is surprisingly almost over. Arghhh!!!

Imagine my relief when I found this blog post from Rosetta Thurman today - like a breath of fresh air about doing what you love. Although it might be crazy times just now, I love my fiancee and the community that will share our wonderful weekend with us. I love my grandmother. So much. I love that I'm learning about social media in order to help progressives and nonprofits further their agendas. I love that I quit being a litigator b/c I didn't like it. I love yoga and will make a point of squeezing in 30 minutes every day, if 90 is no longer possible. Ebbs and flows of time come, but loving what you do should be a constant.

Thank you, Rosetta Thurman, for the reminder. This post is copied without her express permission, but it's too good not to share.

Take Responsibility for What You Love

This month is my five-year blog anniversary. I just wanted to say thank you for reading and supporting my work, but then I ended up writing this post instead.

Last year, I was featured in JET Magazine because of a Twitter connection that I didn’t even know I had with an editor there. But this post isn’t about that.

This post is really about how I started this blog in April 2007 to share my thoughts about what I was seeing as a young professional in the nonprofit field, especially in the realms of leadership, diversity and social media. Over time, lots of people began reading and sharing their own stories and spreading the information, ideas and resources I post here with their colleagues.

I am so grateful for that.

Because of so many people reading the blog, I began getting invitations to speak at conferences and give workshops about the issues I write and teach about. After a while, the work that I was doing outside of my full-time nonprofit job became more aligned with my interests than the fundraising I was doing at the time. As I began to take on more speaking, training and consulting work, it became possible for me to leave my job and start working for myself, doing work that I was even more passionate about than fundraising.

Most of my speaking invitations still come through my blog and Twitter. Crazy, right? After being on the “social media scene” for five years now, it still blows my mind how our online networks can lead us to amazing opportunities to do meaningful work. There are (lots of) days when I feel overwhelmed by emails and tweets and phone calls inviting me to do things I only wish I had the time and capacity to do. This is when have to remind myself that I started this. I wanted this. But for a long time, I wasn’t even sure what “this” was. Now I know.

“This” is having the opportunity to say something and have people listen. “This” is being able to write something and have my words reverberate out into the world, never knowing exactly where they will go or who they will affect. “This” is getting the chance to teach people how to see themselves as leaders, not just in the workplace or in the community, but in their own lives. It is the real-life version of the dream I had in college when I wanted to become a professional poet like Nikki Giovanni. Now, my “poetry” consists of helping other people see new possibilities in their life and work.

This poetry keeps me up at midnight, in tears from some of the emails I get, like the note I received from a young woman who read the article in JET and now wants to start a nonprofit to help young women in her community. I cry because I’m happy I get to do so much. I cry because I feel like I’m not doing enough. Through it all, it is your emails and your stories that continually affirm for me the truth that I am doing exactly what I was put here on earth to do.

What I really want to say is that when you take responsibility for what you love and begin to show up with your unique gifts and talents, magic happens. People start to support you and help you in your quest to do meaningful work. You begin to see new possibilities for changing the world in your own way – whether that’s through writing or teaching or making art or feeding the homeless or taking care of babies or preserving the environment or making sure that we all have affordable healthcare.

If you are here to do good work and make a difference, DO IT. Do not trade in your passion and purpose for a job that makes you miserable. Do not let fear keep you from waking up with joy every morning, knowing that your work matters. Stand in the strength of your own true purpose and go where it leads you.

Because really, life is too short not to. You’re not doing anyone any favors by keeping the seat warm in your cubicle if you don’t really want to be there. If you’re not currently doing the work that you’ve been called to do, spend some time figuring out how you can change that.

Every day, I am learning more about what it means to take responsibility for what you love. The challenge for many of us is matching up the work that we DO with the work that we WANT to do. When those two things line up in harmony, life is incredibly fulfilling. And you know what else tends to happen?

In the process of living out your own true purpose, you will, in turn, encourage others to do the same.

Thank you, wherever you are, for reading my words and sharing them and taking action on them if they resonate with you. Although I may not always be able to respond to you directly, please know that I am wishing for the absolute best of everything to manifest in your life and work. I am honored that you choose to spend time here.

Here’s to five more years of living and learning and leading – together.