Here’s something great: I realized on Tuesday at RG Office Hours that it was my one-year anniversary with RG! Or at least, one year since I met Mike Gast for coffee and I really started thinking about diving into this work. I think often about what my life would look like today if I hadn’t gone back after that first meeting and decided that engaging with RG was something I wanted to at least try. I’m so happy I made that decision, and I’m so happy that amazing RG folks took the time to talk to me and support me in all of this!
I know that I don’t take a lot of time to think about what I’m doing right in my life—it’s so much easier for me, as I think it is for many people, to think about mistakes, what-ifs, and decisions I regret. But in that moment of excitement on Tuesday night, I thought, “Wait! There’s so much that has happened in the last year that has been so empowering and beautiful!” And if you don’t mind, I want to share it with you!
This year, I made it to two RG conferences, and felt crappy and inspired and angry and weird and excited and alone and supported—all at once (somehow). I am so grateful to you guys for creating these messy, loving spaces—I feel stronger, bigger, less alone when I’m with you all. I am overwhelmed that a place exists where I can take my messiness and the things in me that I want to change and other people will listen and hold my shit with me. I had never experienced unconditional caring and love from strangers before and sometimes I worry it will be too much, that I won’t be able to accept something so amazing into my life. But I’m trying to! And I think that’s important.
And I just made my first-ever gift! My family nearly talked me out of doing it at all, and I was afraid. I wondered if they were right, what would happen if I didn’t have enough, if I wanted to send my kids to college but couldn’t afford it. I worried I wasn’t strong enough, because so many folks in RG seem so assured in their giving—I thought I could never get there. And then I remembered that there are people who can listen, that I didn’t have to sit alone with this. And then I gave away some money! I’m still cautious, still a little nervous about it, but it feels like I am, so slowly, working to build a world I want to live in. Or committing to the world I want to live in, I guess, instead of talking about it and then shying away from difficult conversations and confusing feelings. Which is so tempting, oh man. But now it is as though I have started to prove something to myself: that I am strong enough and good enough to do this. That is so healing.
I think something else that has changed is my feelings about my family’s foundation. I came to RG angry and urgent and intent on making everyone in my family agree with me. I didn’t think of myself as a donor, I saw our foundation as the only giving vehicle, and I worried that I wouldn’t be heard and that decisions would be made that I didn’t want. I had never thought what it would be like to lead by example, to give on my own and show that I care enough about changing things that I won’t wait for my family to catch up. I will share what I’m doing and support what they are doing and keep them near me, and maybe we can grow together.
I am trying hard to challenge myself in positive ways—seeing what it is like to go to an RG event when I’m totally exhausted from a day of work and would ordinarily just go home, alone. It feels so warm and loving! What would it be like if I reached out to RG people in NY to hang out, just for fun? What would it be like for me to accept this community, one step at a time, and still hold all the things about myself and my family and my history that I know are true? I have no answers to these questions yet. I know this is a long road and I know it’s one I’m just starting on. But I am so glad I am tiptoeing down this path, testing it out, and being supported and challenged and encouraged by everyone in this incredible organization. I’ve made choices for myself in this last year that I wouldn’t have made if I hadn’t heard and seen others experience their own goodness and love themselves, and felt permission to try loving myself too.
This a tremendous space and one I am so honored to be a part of. I’m constantly inspired by the amazing people I meet, and I hope that we can continue to work to create a more loving world together.