“What part of you must be fed?”
This was a most thought-provoking question to be asked while gathered over coffee and delicious morning provisions, feeding our physical bodies, and surrounded by 40 women social change leaders, feeding our energy and souls.
On a Tuesday morning when you’d typically be driving into work thinking about the leftover from Monday’s to-do list, we gave 40 women from the Mid-Atlantic region the opportunity to take a break from the norm and gather for breakfast, meaningful conversation and some mid-week self-care.
We hosted the first, but definitely not the last, Women in Social Change Breakfast on Tuesday, March 19. An initiative we’ve been working on that we were excited to launch this year during Women’s History Month. After extending invites to women in the region who are working to improve the world around us, whether through non-profit, corporate social responsibility or passionate volunteer work, we were thrilled to experience a full house at local Annapolis social enterprise restaurant, The Light House Bistro.
Throughout the morning, inspiration came in many forms, from reconnecting with familiar faces and meeting new female leaders in this space to listening to the words of our guest speaker, Dr. Diana Jackson-Lovett. She challenged us to think about the gap that can emerge between our soul and our role and also to remember that sustaining ourselves means nourishing ourselves. Something we don’t always make time for, but that we’re so honored to have prioritized and provided an outlet for, through this breakfast.
We’d like to extend a huge thank you to all of the women who joined us, to Dr. Diana Jackson-Lovett for sharing her wisdom with us and to Beth Rocca and the team at The Light House Bistro for their exceptional service, support and the gift they are to our community year-round. This is just the beginning of the Women in Social Change Breakfast, we hope you’ll stay tuned and check back soon for more details on the future of this event.
A summary and resources from Dr. Diana Jackson-Lovett’s talk can be found below.
People in Social Change work often have the following characteristics:
- You think “bigger”, meaning you can envision a world or environment beyond the one we currently live in, a world that doesn’t exist yet
- You are values-driven
- You are engaged mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, as well as physically. Typically, you bring all of yourself to the work.
- You are both a realist and an idealist; you recognize the parameters of the current situation, but you don’t allow them to diminish your vision of a different and better future.
These amazing characteristics are desperately needed in the world, and they fuel your passion for the work! They can also be a detriment to your work, your health, your life, in that – if we are not careful – the work will begin to manage us, instead of us managing the work.
Some “telltale” signs: Resentment, emotional disengagement, cynicism, feelings of ineffectiveness or lack of accomplishment, physical, emotional and/or mental fatigue.
The result: a painful gap can emerge between your soul and your role.
How do we avoid these symptoms?
1. Check your motives: Get clear about why you are in this work. What underlies your commitment to the work? Is there still a soul- connection to the work? Be mindful of the reality that our “why” can change over time; as our lives change, our priorities may change.
2. Embrace your strengths AND your struggles as integral parts of what make you YOU! Embrace the reality that there is work that YOU can do – that you are meant to do – that no one else can do quite like you. Strengths show us where and how we can be most effective: honor them. Struggles show us where we may need to delegate or defer; honor them as well. Avoid the temptation toward “Type E” Behavior – believing you can and should do EVEYTHING for EVERYBODY1
3. Accept responsibility for your own well-being; be intentional about supporting you! Social change work is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s critical to get and maintain whatever support we need in order to keep going! And remember, we show others how to treat us by the way we treat ourselves. When you ignore or downplay your needs, others will too.
- Practice sacred rhythms of work/recreation/relaxation/rest – they build your resilience!
- Honor commitments to yourself
- Establish and maintain boundaries around your time, your energy and your heart. Not everyone merits a front-row seat in your life.
- ASK for what you want. Most people – especially those closest to us – are NOT mind-readers.
- Nourish Your Soul: Identify the practices and sources of joy, inspiration and peace for you and intentionally and consistently make them a part of your life!
4. Check your Alignment: The gap between our soul and our role(s) happens slowly – we don’t jump away from ourselves; we drift…
- Write a short Personal Mission Statement, based on your values, priorities, dreams; 4-5 one-line bullet points.
- Share your Mission Statement with someone close to you.
- On a regular basis – weekly/bi-weekly/monthly – compare your actual schedule to your Mission Statement. If it lines up – great. If it doesn’t, what will you do about it?
- The Type E* Woman: How To Overcome The Stress Of Trying To Be Everything To Everybody by Harriett B. Braiker, Backinprint.com April 21, 2002
- The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown | Hazelden Publishing Aug 27, 2010
- Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown | Avery; Reprint edition Apr 7, 2015
- Acts of Faith: 25th Anniversary Edition by Iyanla Vanzant, Atria Books Dec 2018
Dr. Diana Jackson-Lovett / Coach/Consultant