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Friday, July 19, 2013

WHAT'S A BIRTHDAY REALLY MEAN

A link to my Women Thrive blog post on what turning one year older means to me in the context of Haiti.

http://womenthrive.org/blog/whats-birthday-really-mean

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Keeping it Real



It is hard to know when you are right and when you are wrong in this crazy, over educated, over professional, over experienced DC world. Everyone has the right answer, and yet, few people seem to agree. 

Take gender equality. What does it take to achieve it? How do you reform aid in ways that equally empower both women and men to take ownership of their community's development? Train both women and men at the ground level...in DC...or both? Fight some of the large contractors and businesses and government bureaucracy? Or create bridges between people and systems and companies, no matter how flawed they are? How do you stay true to mission and values - really prioritize and amplify the voices of women and men in the struggle and follow their lead - and build new alliances that have the power to advance real change? 

And the most important question: how do you stay human - human to the core, to the bone, to the marrow - as you try to stay professional and policy savvy? Is it even possible? I think so. I need to believe so. Because even more important to me than advancing certain policies, being right about an advocacy strategy or delivering on grant indicators is caring about people on a human level. There are no numbers, no data. Only individual, precious, valued human beings.

That's why I struggle in this job, in this field...intl dev policy. It
is so theoretical...so process oriented. It is all about what the
policy looks like on paper, how the log frame or results framework
holds up, how we deliver on indicators. And although part of me really
gets that...is even obsessed with that at times...it does not fully
satisfy. It seems to rarely be about individual human beings...their
stories, their priorities, their voices.

I guess advocacy, for me, serves as the  bridge. It connects the
individual, precious human beings on this planet - their needs, their
voices - to the decisions that get written down in laws, policies and
evaluations. It makes the theoretical real. It makes the statistic
human.

Until we can connect to this inside the beltway DC intl Dev work on a
personal level, on a human level, we will continue to miss our mark.
It is not just a marketing tactic to make it real for our
constituents. For me, it is an urgent marching order: see the human
side if this, connect your heart to ending poverty and injustice. And do it soon, before the theoretical world takes over.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Juggling It All


I have been wanting to write for so long now. But, there never seems to be time. Never time to sit a moment and process…what it means to be a VP, what it means to be a mother, what it means to be this new person playing so many roles at once. And so, I feel a little rusty, as I sit here with my computer on my lap, trying to squeeze in a quick entry on my metro ride home.

Mark had a brilliant idea several months ago. Each of us would get one night a week to do whatever we wanted to do and the other person would put Ellie to bed. And tonight is my night. I did something with it that I haven’t done in what feels like a long time, but that has always brought me such happiness: I played softball. I got one hit, made one or two plays at third base, but overall it wasn’t my best game. (I am 2 years out of practice, after all.) Yet, it felt so good to just be that old self yet again…free, fearless, with as much time in the world as I needed. So, even though it was cold, windy and rainy; even though we lost by at least 8 runs; even though I didn’t get to see my sweet baby girl tonight, I feel good.

It’s not easy having to make these choices. Do I stay at work and get even a fraction of my to do list done, or do I go home and have dinner with my family and then stay up late? Do I wake up early to work more on the grant, even though I’ll have only had 4 or 5 hours of sleep, or do I cancel a much needed meeting? (Because not doing the grant isn’t an option.) Do I go to my women’s group from church and have some desperately needed prayer and fellowship time in order to regroup spiritually, or do I nurse my daughter to sleep? Do I sneak in a work out for my physical/emotional health, or do I pay the bills? (for my financial health;)

It’s so difficult to figure out these choices most days. The days fly by. I’ve chosen to devote my time at home to Ellie and Mark. When I walk in the door, I try desperately to leave it all behind. I want to be present to them. I want to gaze into my daughters’ eyes and catch the small details of her growing up and know her on this cellular level. I don’t want to be distracted. But, it means giving up so much else…like cooking, cleaning, meditating, journaling, guitar playing, mowing the lawn, watering the flowers, cleaning out the fridge, doing the laundry, going through the mail or sitting down for a moment to ask myself, ‘what just happened today?’ I have to learn at the speed of light. I can’t sit around and focus on how I’m feeling about something that didn’t go my way. I have to let go, let go, let go.

In certain ways, this is a good thing. It means cutting out all of the dead branches in my life. It means only holding onto the parts that are blooming. Right now, that means my daughter. It means my husband. It means my family and closest friends. It means this job and important opportunity at Women Thrive. And it means my church, prayer and spiritual life. If I can accomplish that - if I can stay focused on what is really important and let go of everything else; if I can give myself grace, allow myself to make mistakes, grow, be human - it will be enough. Here's my prayer to God and the universe to help me accomplish this: I believe. Help my unbelief.