This weekend I am tuning out and turning off technology and will try to not think about business. My family will celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the start of the New Year on Friday evening through Sunday night.
How will I celebrate? I am very sad to say not with my children or grandchildren who have returned to a quasi-normal life. We are still only limiting our exposure to a few neighbors who are also limiting their exposure to others. We missed our daughter’s wedding in August, a grandson’s wedding last week and have not seen our newest granddaughter (all would have required airline travel, rideshare, and exposure to new communities).
That being said, we are inviting these same few couples over and turning our open space layout (missing furniture because we moved a week before the pandemic) into a dining hall of sorts, with 4 tables spread 6 feet apart. We will celebrate the first and last meals together, one just the two of us and another at the neighbor’s home. We have all promised to cook with gloves and a mask. When not eating, we will wear masks. This is the best we can all do with our new family for the four Rosh Hashanah meals.
Once the pandemic was announced, I closed all GrantWatch offices and we went fully remote. The demand for GrantWatch and GrantWriterTeam has been so great during this economic crisis for businesses and nonprofits that we hired additional research and customer service staff. We work until we can no longer see the screen. Riding my bike, taking walks and the occasional video chats with grandkids help a great deal.
My daily morning work hours these last three weeks are pleasantly interrupted with the sound of my husband blowing the shofar, at which point I stand and meditate and reflect.
And with the holiday fast approaching I am filled with loneliness, and guilt, as I think most mothers of adult children and grandchildren are feeling, having to be separated from their children since March. I have been thinking of how I will help my children get through the holidays this year while apart but most definitely in my heart. We do not have antibodies and have a greater responsibility to not be reckless. Once I know everyone is happy with their plans, I can move on to reflection.
When I start to take stock of my priorities, I think how I can find that elusive balance between life and work and feel hopeful for the new year. It is fine to be deeply involved in work during the pandemic, but what happens in 3 to 14 months when we have a vaccine – when the world comes out of it? That age-old dating question, “Where do you see yourself in X number of years?”
Where do you see yourself?
Where do we all see ourselves? Forget politics! Forget the election! Where do my husband and I want to be personally and where do I want to be professionally?
First, our resolution when this is over is to spend one full week per month alone with each of our 10 children and married grandchildren and really get to know them better, in their home state or on a distance vacation. I want to affirm and validate their accomplishments and stop criticizing!
I also want to travel the USA and then the world, to see all the good that has come from GrantWatch. I want to see first-hand the new nonprofit programs and business projects. We plan to meet and greet, elbow bump and photo journal our subscribers who applied for grants that they found on GrantWatch and personally distribute our brand new coffee 12-ounce coffee mugs being designed only for the writers of these newly funded programs.
But for right now, after Rosh Hashanah, as the pandemic is still at our doorsteps, my resolution is to give my children more of my time in this New Year. I want to become more available and less critical.
Last night I was watching a movie. In one scene there was a father whose phone and workday never ended (sounds like me), but he had an 8-year-old son. The child asked his father how much he made per hour and emptied his piggy bank to buy 8 minutes. And even then, the father had to take another call.
I am going to start after Rosh Hashanah giving each of my children and grandchildren a scheduled time each week when I will take only their call. Not to be too regimented, I will allow them to swap with each other.
And for right now, until we can travel without restrictions, we are going to ask our subscribers to be our photojournalists, or appear in video interviews with us and I will mail the coffee mug gifts to anyone awarded a grant with a personal note. Writing a grant is hard work. Grants are mostly ghostwritten, and recognition and affirmation are important.
My message and I hope to lead by example with the affirmation of my staff this week, the affirmation of my children before the holiday, is to affirm the good in the people around me and really try to hold back on the criticism. It is best to allow employees their own discovery through self-evaluation.
I will leave you with this thought. When you validate someone’s feelings, you are not saying you agree with them. You are saying that you recognize their right to have those feelings and you understand that they are feeling that way. It is a form of listening and finding yourself in their place as best as you can – and how they got to that place is not for you to criticize. It is their own journey of moving forward. And when you affirm their journey, affirm their baby steps you validate and help them on their journey.
As I write this, I begin my own journey of affirmation.
I remember back to a time when I was a new young public-school teacher and a colleague let everyone know she was counting her days to retirement. She was berating her students for making noise in the hall during a shelter in place drill. Noise during a shelter drill was pretty serious.
I am not sure how the thought came to my mind but I started affirming students who were quiet and standing in line and by the third name I mentioned in a whispered tone, I had to compliment my entire class with a WOW! Look at my class.
I am starting my journey of affirmation with my staff. GrantWatch is about technology and people and I am forever grateful to my staff who really want to help nonprofits and businesses succeed. I am approving the coffee mug design sample for our subscribers to be ready to send to those nonprofits and businesses that were awarded grants and I am sending this article to my family, to let them know that in the New Year, their mother/grandmother will be very present, even during the pandemic!
Happy New Year and may you all stay healthy and find your journey.
About the Author
Libby Hikind began her grant writing career while working as a teacher in the New York City Department of Education. She wrote many grants for her classroom before raising $11 million for a Brooklyn school district. Throughout her professional career she established her own grant writing agency in Staten Island with a fax newsletter for her clients of available grants. After retiring from teaching, Libby embraced the new technology and started GrantWatch. She then moved GrantWatch and her grant writing agency to Florida to enjoy her parents later years, and the rest is history. Today more than 120,000 people visit GrantWatch.com online, monthly.