Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Gift of Alone Time

I've been playing catch-up all week. Every spring, my hubby and I work together to keep our garden in some semblance of order. This year, though, we'd both been busy working on our own pet projects. Weeds sprouted, willy-nilly, throughout our garden. Needless to say, my fingers were itchy to restore order.

As I stood in the hot sun, alternately rubbing my aching back and swatting away persistent horseflies, I had a moment of clarity. It's amazing how things become clearer when you step away from your daily routine and give yourself the gift of alone time.

I chose to weed so I could give myself permission to sit in silence, so to speak. To listen to my inner voice, and, hopefully, bring order to my life, in much the same way I was attempting to bring order to my unkempt garden. Like sticking to the same old exercises over and over again, I had created a set of daily tasks that no longer served me well. My creative muscle had become flabby.

I read somewhere that we need to "practice the discipline of periodic unavailability."

Susan Florence said, "Our lives are so busy - so full of people, and things to do. By spending time alone we can discover who we really are. We will see the things that are most precious and meaningful to our lives, and we will find a sense of calm and renewal."

As I weeded, I let my voice speak in the silence. It's as if clarity was waiting in the wings. Waiting for me to slow down... and listen. Ironically, it was in this solitary state that I thought a lot about the power of collaborating with others.

"The old saying "two heads are better than one" is most often true. I find collaboration not only stimulating to my own creative thinking but also empowering," said Bunnie Riedel in Nonprofit Conversation.

Over the past few years, research has focused on "improving the ability of the entire nonprofit/civil society to work together to achieve common social goals."

"For the first time, the Heart and Stroke Foundation joined with the Canadian Mental Health Association of Peterborough to host a charity golf tournament." "Homelessness charities that usually compete for funds are working together to help get their clients into jobs."

By coming together, providing the combined resources of many organizations, nonprofits can "provide a richer environment for the people they serve."

I walked away from my time alone fired up - and more than willing to work my creative muscle. A bonus gift was that I learned the power of gratitude. I’m grateful that more and more nonprofits are reaching out to other organizations of like mind, collaborating, merging, and sharing fundraisers. Our combined efforts will only benefit the intellectually disabled community.

Do you have any ideas on how nonprofits can more effectively work together?



Alistair said...

Sweet analogy that your escape into the mindlessness of weeding freed your mind of its daily clutter to liberate your creativity. Brilliant!

The inherently negative circumstance of weed removal turned into a positive. We can all learn from this blog’s always positive slant.

Chanelle Carver said...

How true! Spending time along often gives me clarity about the many things going on in my life and business, though some would argue I spend too much time alone...what can I say, I like my space. :)

I agree with Alistair in that we can learn from this blog’s always positive slant. It's definitely better to be positive than to attract negativity to your life...or blog.

As for your question, "do you have any ideas on how nonprofits can more effectively work together?" As a matter of fact, I do!

The nonprofit I have been building for the past two years (Literacy 'n' Poverty Project) puts heavy focus on collaborating with other organizations, businesses and professionals to share resources and more effectively serve our communities. Fighting for resources whether material or financial among the other 1.4 million and more nonprofits in the US just doesn't make sense.

What does make sense is that we all put our minds together and work as a collective to better serve our constituents and empower people to create better lives for themselves and their families. The Literacy 'n' Poverty Project's mission is to alleviate poverty and improve adult education worldwide. We most certainly welcome collaboration among other organizations, businesses and professionals that want to help make social change a reality. Feel free to visit our site and blog to find out more, get involved or just drop by to say hello.

Our website -

Our blog -

Great post, Maureen, and the site looks fabulous! Always a pleasure to stop by.

Best regards,

Jenjen @GottaLoveMom said...

What an inspiring post....

The outdoors are great for deep thoughts - more "zen-like"...

Maureen Lee said...

Alistair, thanks for your kind words - it's quite true, isn't it, that any inherently negative circumstance can be turned into a positive!

Chanelle, thanks for providing feedback on how nonprofits can more effectively work together. I always enjoy reading your blog, Make Social Change a Reality. And you walk the walk: your life's mission to change the world, thus making society a better place for all, has come to fruition in your startup nonprofit, the Literacy 'n Poverty Project.

It's interesting that IDEAL-WAY also embraces an openness to work with other organizations, and we focus largely on community education and relief of poverty amongst the intellectually disabled community.

Yes, if we fight for resources, whether material or financial, who are we benefiting? You have spoken eloquently on the need to work as a collective to better serve our constituents & empower people to create better lives for themselves and their families.

I encourage everyone to visit your blog and website. Thanks for your encouraging words, too, Chanelle!

Maureen Lee said...

Thanks, JenJen - I agree, "communing with nature" really encourages one to go deeper within oneself, and it's amazing the insights we receive when we take the time to merely listen.

Thanks for dropping by!

Fruitful Vine2 said...

The introvert part of my personality recharges in alone time. It's been almost non-existent for a while but lately I've been getting snippets here and there. I came over via the twittermoms Mommy Bloggers group to say hi and follow you. Enjoy the weekend.

Maureen Lee said...

Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. I, too, find that the more time I invest in alone time, the more clarity, and focus, I have at my disposal. When I don't invest that time, I receive mere "snippets" of what I need.

Doriana in Dundas said...

Thank goodness for "Just Show Up". Taking care of a child with special needs is not an easy task and your blog gives me the "alone time" that I need. I always look forward to reading your posts. It is one thing that I have given myself permission to do for ME.

btw, great feedback from your followers. Thanks Maureen, it is always a pleasure.

Maureen Lee said...

Thank you, Doriana, for your kind words - it's wonderful to hear that you choose to spend some of your downtime reading our blog. And the conversation that takes place in the comments section - thanks to loyal readers - is what truly makes any blog worth revisiting. Thanks for dropping by!

PinkNote said...

got you a couple of awards in my blog.=) hope you can grab it soon.^^

Maureen Lee said...

Thank you, PinkNote, for thinking of Just Show Up, and adding it to your list of awards! I'll add them to the sidebar. Thanks for dropping by!

PinkNote said...

Thanks for grabbing the awards Maureen! ^^

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