Rested, Reflective, and Ready to Reconnect: A message from LIFT-CEO Michelle Rhone-Collins

Dear LIFT community,  

I have officially returned from sabbatical rested and filled to the brim with gratitude!  My time away was a 10 out of 10. I highly recommend!  As I return to work, there is also a sense of emptiness tinged with curiosity as I seek to learn from what occurred while I was away and how I can add to new activity, patterns, and dynamics.  

During my time off I did all the things. I traveled to Jamaica, Sedona and the Grand Canyon; got my mom’s health insurance taken care of; took art classes and dance classes; made a plethora of health appointments; took my dad out on special excursions; hiked; saw a lot of friends; and had some time to do nothing at all. I got bored (which was a goal) and savored the boredom like a warm chocolate chip cookie with cold vanilla ice cream. I reconnected to the things that I value—the continued quest to be a good mother, partner, and daughter; affirmation of my cultural identity and heritage; the joy of being creative; the pursuit of learning and to making an impact; and finding inspiration from family and friends. 

I also learned that there is a lot of living that happens when you are not working, and work can be a welcome diversion to challenging moments because #LifeDoesntTakeSabbatical! While having the energy and willingness to take on the things that were on the planned to-do list, I also found a profound spaciousness in tackling the unexpected with the gift of time. 

I received planned updates (only 2!) while I was away. To be honest, I was filled with anxiety upon receiving the reports and was left with so much joy and pride upon reading them.  I am so impressed with this LIFT team and all of the activity they moved forward— from showing up at public hearings in support of the Child Tax Credit with members, team retreats, strategic plan working groups, a transition of board chairs, values clarification, unexpected fundraising wins, onboarding new team members, and so much more! I also took a sneak peek at our All-Staff meeting Teams chat and loved the fly-on-the-wall experience of the connectedness, humor, and care that the LIFT team generates.   

Beyond those reports, I was able to unplug uninterrupted.  When moments of LIFT crossed my mind, like a mediation practice, I would notice them and let them pass on. Don’t get me wrong, it does not mean I did not miss the mission, the people, and the work—I did very much. This was a needed and deliberate practice of emptying so that I could truly be off and return a vessel to be filled up with my team’s brilliance. While I am ready to jump back into upcoming Board meetings, strategic planning, and 25th Anniversary plans, my hope is that my absence has enlivened our leadership, mission-driven purpose, and decision making in ways that will continue to evolve. 

There is so much ahead for LIFT in the near and long term, and I learned about the importance of rest in the midst of it all. As I headed off in November, I received a thoughtful gift from the Leadership Team of a Rest Deck based on Tricia Hersey’s work that reminded me that rest is indeed necessary for creativity, for radical change, for sustained fight against inequity. With that, I recognize that I do not want to get to the place again where I need to take two months off in order to get into a restful state. How do I incorporate the stillness, spaciousness, time, and potential energy, and self into the day-to-day?  How do I ensure that, as a team, we are creating these spaces and moments into a high-performing, hard-charging organization? 

I hope to continue to integrate the learnings and reflections from my time away as I try to answer these questions, knowing that more realizations will certainly occur in sharing with and hearing from others.  I look forward to being on this journey of discovery with you all and happy to share more if there is curiosity.   

With deep gratitude and big love,  

Michelle Rhone-Collins