Friday, August 01, 2008

Giving to Others, Giving to Myself

I'm going to be honest with you. I'm a little burned out on do-goodness.

August 19th is not only my 39th birthday, but also the 3rd birthday of when I started blogging about social change and nonprofit-y things, and I've hit a wall. All I want to do is read cookbooks, do yoga, and spend time with my husband.

To celebrate my birthday, I was going to start the 29-Day Giving Challenge again, but it didn't feel right. I thought about making it a 29-Day Give to Myself Challenge, but that didn't feel right either. Instead I might try a middle way: a 29-Day Giving to Others, Giving to Myself Challenge.

The first thing I'd like to give to myself is to learn about something new. It's time to set those books about green living, social entrepreneurship, and nonprofit technology aside for a little while. Michelle Murrain of the Zen and the Art of Nonprofit Technology pointed to an inspiring post this week in her Nonprofit Technology Link Love: Michele Martin's 10 Tips for Creating a Personal Learning Plan on the Bamboo Project Blog.

Michele recommends assessing the strengths you want to develop, the weaknesses you want to mitigate, and the skills you want to develop. Based on those lists, you brainstorm some goals you'd like to achieve, and then (this is my favorite part) 1. cross off any goals that don't make you feel excited or energized, and 2. reduce your list to just two goals.

So, my two goals for the next six months are:

1. Learn to cook one new thing each week. I just got Nigella Lawson's Feast cookbook out from the library. For all you fellow Nigella fans, Casey Ellis of Margin Notes posted a fun little 4 Questions 4 Nigella Lawson interview last month.

2. Do yoga 2-4 times a week. I used to be a yoga teacher, so I'm comfortable doing yoga on my own at home, but I would also like to try a class at the Berkeley location of Yoga to the People, and go on some kind of not too fancy, or expensive yoga retreat.

If you know of any activists, nonprofit workers, social entrepreneurs, or other changemakers who have learned to achieve a balance of giving to others, and to themselves let me know, I'd love to interview them.

Flickr Photo Credit: Father's Day Gift uploaded by Breibeest.


  1. Hi Britt! Good for you for taking time off to do something new.

    I think it's so easy to get trapped by our passions. We assume that because we're passionate about something now, it means that we should be passionate about it forever! At least, that's how it works for me.

    I heard a nun say once that she goes through periods of time when she doesn't pray! That her need for prayer comes and gos. This suprised me AND made sense. Sometimes you have to step away to step toward again.

    XO, Jocelyn

  2. Thanks for your encouragement, Jocelyn. It was kind of a scary post for me to write (:

  3. I'm with ya, Britt...some have called it 'founder flameout' but personally I think I just need some nature/nurture time off the grid and in a non-media state of peace and calm.

    I just picked up Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose" at Costco to take with me on my journey to the Rocky Mountains next week, where I, too will replenish and renew.

    Also just finished confronting some of this angst in 'Places That Scare You" by the Buddhist nun Pema Chodron...soothed me a tad.

    I think we all need to confront those 'what the heck am I doing' tidal waves of passionista angst that flood the senses now and then.

    Be gentle to yourself. You give so much. And we all want to see you nourishing and flourishing...My favorite saying is Latin, "ancora imparo" ---it means "I am still learning."

  4. i heard that all good-doers suffer burn-out. so just think that what you are going through is so natural. and taking time out for yourself is healthy and useful--almost like a tired mom who takes a break. . .

    way to go! and have fun with learning new things.

  5. Anonymous4:34 AM

    Hi Britt,

    I am continually encouraged and learn from your tremendous efforts. I appreciate you. However, as you know it is important for all of us to keep from getting "burned out." I just read a similar blog post by internet marketer Terry Dean at

    Enjoy some of your other passions such as cooking. It will inspire you (and make you even better) in other parts of your life including blogging on Have Fun Do Good.

  6. I completely agree with your other visitors, Britt! One thing I've learned as a compulsive multitasker: you've got to take care of yourself first. Enjoy! K.

  7. Anonymous9:12 AM

    I hear you. This is a feeling that so many of us are having. I decided last year to take a four week sabbatical and to unplug from everything... to see what would happen in a microsmic experiment if 'all i did' was focus on my family. wow. First two weeks I was out there feeling like I was lost. then I had an 'ah ha' moment that helped turn the next two weeks into a quest for rejuvenation. I returned to my work as a fundraiser in a social justice organization with more perspective and a deeper commitment to balance. I've spent the past 12 months working on keeping that balance and some days I succeed. I have heard the crescendo of this conversation throughout the workplace - and I'm very glad that you have added your voice to the mix.

  8. Wow! Thanks to all of you for your encouragment.

    Shaping Youth - I'll be interested to see what you think of, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose. I've picked his stuff up before, but have trouble getting into it.

    Minotte's Notes - This weekend I made homemade granola!

    Roger - Thanks for your kind words and the post. I'll check it out.

    Karen - I've put all of my nonfiction books away, and your book which you sent to me so long ago, is on the top of my "to read" pile!

    Jennifer Pelton - Along the topic of workplace balance, I just saw a listing for a conference put on by the Network of Spiritual Progressives, "Meaning in Your Life and Your Work: A Conference for Professionals Who Recognize the Need for a New Bottom Line in American Society and in Our Worlds of Work"

  9. Gary De Carolis, the founder of The Center for Community Leadership teaches leaders that protecting their "sanctuaries" (the other places, hobbies,
    passions, interests, etc that feed them) is and essential skill for successful leaders in 'doing good.' He says that those that don't, don't last.

    (My experience with lifelong activists and advocates supports this--the ones with sanctuaries survive, the ones without devolve into bitterness--or quit.)

    So enjoy your sanctuaries!!!

  10. Terri - What a lovely term/idea, sanctuaries. Thank you for your email as well. I will keep Gary in mind for future posts/podcasts.

  11. Maybe others have been reading your blog longer and/or know you personally (I just started reading recently and don't know you personally), but 39?! That makes a lot more sense given your experience but to be honest, the first time I started reading and I looked at your picture on the side, I was kind of amazed and confused as to how you could write with such knowledge/experience and be in your 20s!

    Really beside the point but anyway, it sounds like a great thing that you're doing. And thank you for sharing that link--definitely something I would like to look into doing myself!

  12. Aw, thanks, Janice. It's genetic. Check out this photo of my Grandma


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