Dreamchaser Survival 101
A lot of you saw that a few weeks ago we made the top 30 finalists for consideration for a grant that would fund my non-profit for the next six months out of over 200 applicants and that they were giving away at least 12. WHAT?! Talk about opportunity!
It’s been a struggle to just look at Uphold things in this season, let alone drive them forward, and to think that it looked like God was opening doors was a huge relief. I felt like I could identify with what people meant when they said “Be still, the Lord will fight for you” and all the other classic Christian clichés about trusting God. It was like because my circumstances seemed to be changing a little bit, my faith got “cocky” and thinking “oh yeah, now I can totally trust God.”
I would pick us if I were them. We have a board of directors filled with such talented and capable individuals they shouldn’t even know who I am, but they do and for some reason they believe in Uphold and in me. We have relationships with many already established grassroot organizations who can quickly and effectively help these children. We have what these organizations need (connections to people with resource) and we needed the grant distributors to take a chance on us. And this fund is sitting there to be used by young entreprenuerers in the Minneapolis area who have an idea to change the world. Spot the connections.
Everyone I talked to that had been involved with this process in the past and knew our organization said we were shoo-ins for a winning a grant and I was fully expecting to open a congratulatory letter when I saw an e-mail in my inbox yesterday.
I didn’t. We didn’t win. We were so close, but not close enough. I had to re-read it about 10 times before it sank in that we actually weren’t picked. I didn’t get it.
This made no sense. I love these children more than I love anything on Earth and I am desperate to help them. Imagine if your child, niece, nephew, or close friend’s child were to have a 80% chance of being murdered before the age of 5 because they were born with a funky arm like mine…you’d get pretty desperate to help them too.
The thing with non-profit work is that you’re going to get doors shut in your face a lot. I’ve had it before, and I’ve been warned about it over and over. Thankfully, it’s usually followed by “but, if someone is going to do something about this, it’s going to be you because you don’t take no for an answer.”
Nope, I don’t.
However, these situations still impact me greatly and even I feel like quitting from time to time.
The reality is that there is a huge issue, I do believe we’ve found a solution, and I know it’s a God dream. This dream is so huge it terrifies me. Times like this require that I pull myself OUT of my feelings and focus on reality. I know that ultimately quitting IS an option that I could make, so I’ve come up with strategies to ensure that I don’t, and I've come to realize that is a very real and harsh reality for anyone chasing big dreams. So for seemingly dream-crushing blows like this, I employ the following buffering system to avoid tossing in the towel:
1. I take a shower: I’m going to cry anyways, better to do it in the shower and be clean and completely in private. Friends, family and roommates will be supportive and consoling. By all means I to talk to them later, but honestly I need to give myself a minute to be a hot, nasty mess and not worry about potential snot bubbles and raccoon eyes, so I do it in the privacy of my shower. Also, if you’re like me the scent of Aveda products makes anything better and your hair could probably do with a wash (yeah, my five days is a long time).
2. I remember I’m going to make it: My last boyfriend used to FREAK out about the tiniest things. Like the kind of melt downs 12 year old girls have when their phones are taken away by their parents for snapchatting too often over something as simple as not knowing if he should take a dance class or an African history class for his final college elective. Not joking. I would always reply in a both sarcastic and loving manner with: “Are you going to make it?” It became both an ongoing joke in our relationship and a form of encouragement to one another whenever we’d ask it to one another. So, I asked myself that after my hot mess melt down. Hint: the answer to this question is always yes. We’re all going to make it. It may suck, it may be tough, it may take years, or we may never see the “fruit” of us “making it,” but it’s going to happen regardless. Even people who don’t know Jesus know that you’re going to make it through life’s curveballs.
3. I talk to someone: now that I’ve gotten all my ugly crying out of the way, I talk to a trusted friend who I know will encourage me. I talked to a mentor figure, my roommate and my Fran (duh. I’m surprised she didn’t know through biffle telepathy). They’re going to remind you of the potential in your idea, the promises of God and the potential in you.
4. I spend time with my significant other: by this I mean curl up in bed with Jimmy Fallon (on Netflix, duh) and a glass of wine. Jimmy is so great, he always knows just what to say to make me laugh. Maybe you’re not into Jimmy? Book an appointment with a clinical psychologist because you’re clearly mentally disturbed, but also know that Psych and/or Ellen clips on youtube are a good laughing option.
5. I Sleep: Joy comes in the morning. I like to think about what’s next, what can we do, how do we move forward, etc etc. Sometimes I just need to stop and take an eight hour nap. Okay, so that’s a lie because I can’t remember the last time I even slept seven hours straight let alone eight, but sleeping is better than thinking sometimes because it forces your brain to shut off before it starts going down crazy roads.
6. I get after it: Set my alarm. Wake up. Stop hitting snooze. Drink my coffee from the biggest mug in the house (and end up drinking a whole pot…don’t tell my boss at the health and wellness center). Read my Bible. Continuing with life as normal even when I don’t want to is awful, but it is necessary. Step by step, day by day. The little things really do add up to big things, so stick to them.
7. I remember the basics: I remember what it was like explaining to my little Lupo that I was leaving, but how I would not stop until things changed for him and all the kids like him – that I would fight for this until the day I die. I remember that we have educated over 40,000 people in the last year about this issue through events, church speaking gigs, word of mouth and social media – all of which were not happening a year ago. Focus on what you’re doing right and why you're doing it, not what’s going wrong.
8. I get some fricking perspective: As I was sitting in a branding/marketing summit today I got a message from my Fran telling me how she handed out an apple from her window to a street child as she was driving home and he sprinted to her and ate it instantaneously. My roommates and I have bananas go brown all the time because we decided to not eat them. A friend figured out how to make sugar-free monster cookies for me seeing as I’m a health nut and used all kinds of organic and expensive ingredients. I do yoga like it’s my job (and soon it will be). I was given my favorite bright yellow daisies this week just for being lovely. I have a car, a steady job that I love, a church that is changing the world, a community of friends and families that love and support me unconditionally, an incredible apartment with two gorgeous and incredible roommates... and I was throwing a pity party. Sure, I was upset because I wasn’t given $34k that I thought we were great candidates for, and I still am bummed. That doesn’t change the fact that I’ve never run across the street for an apple or ate it in one big inhale, let alone both.
9. I surround myself with dreamers: Individuals in creative communications, ministry, marketing, PR, advertising and writers are my FAVORITE people in these times. They bring out the BEST in me and are willing to believe for the unbelievable alongside me.
Ultimately, this isn’t even my dream. God dreams are not our dreams. MY idea of a dream was living in SA as a missionary, but GOD’S dream for me was to launch this to be an innovative and creative movement to help more children. God cares more about God-dreams than we care about our God-dreams. If it’s His dream anyways, I might as well just forget about stressing and focus on what I can control: being diligent with what I have, remaining positive, encouraging, loving and obviously hilarious.