Embracing Rest as an Act of Resistance-A letter from LIFT-CEO Michelle Rhone-Collins

Dear LIFT community,

As the daughter of Jamaican parents, I received ample and formative messages to ‘work harder than and perform better than’ to achieve the elusive American Dream. So, when notions of rest and self-care became popular, I initially balked. I publicly admit I actually said, “self-care, schmelf schcare” (insert eye roll) in a meeting. But, when I reflected that my ancestors did not have any choice around rest, my perception changed profoundly. Even today, so many do not have access to time off without jeopardizing their salary or employment. Today, I maintain that rest is an act of resistance. 

Accordingly, at LIFT, we prioritize rest and self-care, offering generous PTO and extended dedicated holidays, including a full week off during both the winter and summer holiday seasons. We understand that rest is not work’s adversary; rest is work’s partner.  

When I assumed the CEO role 5 years ago, I couldn’t have predicted the extraordinary challenges and opportunities that lay ahead– racial unrest, a global pandemic, political volatility and polarization, going remote/figuring out hybrid, taken-for-granted rights being stripped away, traumas experienced on a personal, national, and global scale. I know, firsthand, the toll of stress and burnout that is particularly immense for BIPOC women leaders where the exhaustion of working non-stop on behalf of their communities is compounded by the multigenerational trauma of systemic racism.  This exhaustion is palpably shared in safe spaces when we are in community together; and yet it does not behoove us to be burned out when the world needs our fire! And so, again, my perception is transformed. Rest is radically necessary to create the radical change needed to meet the moment.  

There is, indeed, change ahead for LIFT as we deepen and grow our vision to transform lives and alter systems so that all families can thrive. As we celebrate our 25th anniversary, we are charged with figuring out how to leverage and amplify our accomplishments thus far through the building of a strategic plan.  

To get ready, with the full support of LIFT’s Board and team, I am happy to announce that I will be taking a sabbatical from the end of November to the beginning of February. I look forward to returning re-energized, with a fresh perspective, fresh fight, and perhaps even a few new ideas for the exciting work that lies ahead with my best self.  

Embracing rest and self-care is foundational in the work toward racial healing and social justice. It is critical for innovation and change. At LIFT, we want to see our members go beyond surviving to striving and thriving. Likewise, by promoting rest as normal and necessary, I hope to model that we don’t need to merely survive the challenging work of changing systems but can thrive in the process. 

Rest assured (pun 100% intended), we have planned intentionally to ensure that we achieve our ambitious goals for the year. Because of the stellar LIFT team, I am confident that while I take some time away, our work will continue to flourish.   

With Love and Gratitude,

Michelle Rhone-Collins