This week, I am at coordinator retreat with 12 coworkers. We are blessed to be atop of Tomales Bay overlooking the green hills of Northern California. As blessed as we are to get away and collaborate in peaceful paradise, we all are dreaming about those “grass is greener” moments as we identify the hard and REAL issues for young inner city youth. We are uniting to bring awareness to and brainstorm solutions to the toughest issues facing youth success in San Francisco.
In the quietness of the foggy, wet morning the stillness invites time for me to contemplate. I see the deep seeded necessity for balance between the constructive, powerful time where energy is exponentially increasing and the time of rest, reflection and relief. No matter how hard our jobs are, we have to walk away at the end of the day knowing we tried as hard as we can. My staff is wonderful at creating space for both and this example is uplifting.
Amongst the high-pitched laughs and games, the focused discussions provide the necessary honesty to shaping brighter horizons in the future. After growing up in a relatively privileged area in small town Colorado, sitting back and listening to the intense troubles arising for the coordinators are enough to take my breath away. Not only is tragedy or violence or mistreatment happening, it’s happening on a daily basis. This sad but true reality gets me thinking…how do we walk away from conflict in our lives, especially when others need our support, knowing we don’t have the solution? How do we find the balance of providing healthy tools and resources, but without overextending ourselves? Can we continue to take care of our personal well-being when others are fighting against their circumstances?
Even beyond the constructive programmatic work, the personal stories of family, struggle, defeat, addiction, hardship, and growth brings another level to the authenticity of our human existence. The coordinators’ stories offer me the perspective of how we all individually come from diverse, shattering, yet enlightening and inspiring paths. No matter how hard or easy each upbringing was for a person, each story had the light and the dark. And when I look around at the motivated stares in their eyes and their exhilarated smiles, there becomes a sweetness to the bitter end. And the end begins to look like the beginning of possibility.
Being here at retreat makes me realize that there is truly a DEEPER meaning of life. By deeper I mean more meaningful and fulfilling. I am motivated by their dedication to exuding self-agency and the willingness to support those who have none.
That is…truly perfect, joyous and better than any yoga class, fashion bag, or electronic toy can provide us. The connections that we develop that are truly positive and satisfying are few and far between. I feel so blessed to work in a non-profit, REAL difference setting. Because the truth is that there is more hardship than comfort, and the happiness can only come when we relate, connect and thrive. The happiness does not come when we think that there is something more ideal out there that is impossible to achieve. Rather than putting all expectations on ourselves, the true solution comes to fruition when we collaborate; acknowledging that we are equal and imperfect despite where we come from. Sharing with these amazing individuals is motivating me to continue forward and find my balance not just for me, but so that I can serve others farther beyond my current capacity. Even though we are a non-profit, we make a real difference and for me, that means is priceless!
“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile” ~Albert Einstein