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  • callielcarroll

Visioning the Future

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

This has been a year and a half of stress, heartache, loss, and re-examining for all of us. And like for so many others, it led me to a lot of self-examination and self-learning and to take a big transition step. I decided, again like many others, to leave my job (women in particular are doing this in droves[1]). I wasn’t unhappy -- in fact, I loved my work and my colleagues. But I was increasingly ready for a change and ready to explore the world and myself and bring some new ideas. My career has been in the nonprofit world -- first in fundraising for a housing and homeless service organization, then in operations and strategy for an education reform organization and finally in executive search (recruiting) consulting for nonprofits and foundations. In each job, I’ve worked hard and with long-hours and been able to feel a part of creating a better world to live in. I’ve made some career shifts, so I’m not unfamiliar with some level of reinventing myself -- or at least zigging and zagging a bit. But hitting almost eight years at my last workplace, going into another phase of the pandemic, and hitting my 40th birthday, I decided it was time for another change and time to take the vulnerable step of quitting my job to reinvent and see what was possible.

Multicolored zinnias in a handheld bouquet.
Multicolored zinnias in a handheld bouquet.

As expected, my ideas about what my future looks like continue to evolve. As part of my learning this year, I was part of a small group of white people examining and working to unlearn the ways in which we all embody racism (such as the ways we learned to disconnect our feelings and emotions from our bodies, which I know has left me feeling helpless and overwhelmed and frozen with inaction when confronted with news of mass suffering). This was a small group within a larger network of people who are committed to supporting liberation and justice movements and creating a beautiful, supportive community together. One of the things we talked about was the importance of finding joy and having a vision to sustain us in anti-racist work. Often we talk about fighting and are in the mode of working against unjust policies and systems and culture, but we talked about how inviting people into hard work without joy or a concrete vision for what is on the other side is not sustainable. Through this group, we were welcomed into imagining a vision for ourselves and invited into considering what are we willing to do, what are we willing to give up - and also what aren’t we willing to compromise on- to achieve that vision. So I invite you into my vision: a vision where people depend on and care for each other in their hardest moments, where each of us is allowed to live and share the work that brings us joy and still live in abundance without worrying about how to pay the hospital bill, or for food, or feel that our worth is tied to a salary or dollar bill. It's a world where I can care for my community by helping organizations and people connect around shared purpose and values and at the same time bring people joy through my passion for arranging freshly cut flowers or shared gardening tasks. In my vision, that all is valued equally to the person who cooks wonderful meals for their community or who brings joy and care to those that are sick or sparks the brains and curiosity of our children.

I know this involves a huge re-visioning, but we can start small and start somewhere. I recognize there are so many people not in a position to take this break and this risk, particularly this year. I am deeply grateful to be in a place financially and otherwise to have this freedom. There's much we're doing financially as a family to try to make that possible for others, but part of my hope in taking this step is to help better build a community in which this type of decision is not only accessible to someone like me, a white woman with wealth and systems privilege, but to everyone. In pursuit of that vision, I am taking a first step to bring my joys and passions and skills, and sharing all I can to build spaces where others can do the same.

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