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The only people that have experience leading through a pandemic of this size are people that were adults during the Spanish Flu of 1918. So, my options for global crisis guidance is severely limited (and deceased). I have turned to my current mentor and major human crush, the one and only Dr. Brene Brown. In her new podcast, she describes a strategy she lovingly calls FFT, which is a strategy for staying in tough first times versus tapping out and shutting down. FFT stands for F***ing First Time. Or what we use in our house full of children, a TFT, a Terrible First Time. Link for her podcast where she discusses this at length here. She is magic and maybe the reason we all come out on the other side emotionally intact.

How do we sustain ourselves while enduring, serving and leading through a global crisis? Using the last 4 weeks as a road map here is what I have learned,

"We do not need to go all in. I repeat. We do not need to go all in."

This dull and persistent heaviness of anxiety, this is here for the foreseeable future. But it won’t end when the vaccine is released. The fallout of the already weak safety net this country has created will be worse than the health crisis itself. I am no longer preparing for 6 weeks or even 6 months. We are looking much farther ahead, knowing that the rebuilding, the rebirth, the healing is a much longer game. As we heal, another lesson I have learned is that,

"We go in bits and pieces. We go consistently. We go slow and steady. We stay in it."

I need you to stay IN this with us. This is not the time to tap out, numb, or shut down. It is also not the time to exhaust yourself to the point of burn out, trying to save everything and everyone. It is the time to do one thing, one thing, each day or week that tells the world you are in this with us. Stable housing means family meals, game nights, warm beds, and stability when everything else feels so scary. Donating and supporting organizations is really easy. In the past, I have chosen 3 nonprofits (outside of Open Communities) that I donate to on a reoccurring basis. $25/each month. I filled out the form, hit enter. It was that simple because I am staying in it with them.

Stay in it with us. I am asking you to sign up for a monthly recurring donation to support us. Support our people. Support our mission. Support our community. Because this is my TFT running an agency through a pandemic and I can’t do this alone. Donate here. Support us.

- Mary Ellen Ball



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