Thursday Thoughts – Have I Been Enough?
Dear Safe Harbor,
Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I see that you’ve grown over night. The team has become amazing, the horse training has been phenomenal, the quality of the adoptions are amazing, and the community work is growing. A part of me is excited and in awe; I know you have so much ahead of you. Another part is scared because time is racing and I can’t slow it down. I wonder, have I been enough? Have I given the organization what you needed? Have I provided all I can to the team? Have we created a footprint that can have an unbroken legacy? Have I let you down?
I’m not always good at this. I’m not always as good as I want to be at being a volunteer executive director. I want to be great; and sometimes I am, but sometimes I’m not.
Sometimes I get it, and sometimes I don’t.
Sometimes I do it right, and sometimes I completely miss it.
Everyday I make mistakes.
Sometimes I snap when I should be sensitive. Sometimes I lecture and give requests to volunteers and totally miss that what they needed was a hug. Sometimes I completely and utterly miss it. I know that I do. Sometimes I misread a match between a horse and an adopter. Sometimes I miss on giving praise and gratitude that I feel. I forget that people can’t hear the joy in my head when I don’t say it out loud. I watch myself miss it, and later I grieve that I didn’t respond differently.
I miss it when I am tired, and you get my leftovers at the end of a long day. It’s the reality of having an all volunteer organization, and a job that has to take priority over the passion I have for saving the lives of horses. I wish all my priorities could be first in my life, but regrettably, other priorities have to be first—family and work being the prime ones.
I miss it when I am scared. I am scared of big things and little things. I thought after a decade of rescue I’d have it all figured out. I look at other rescue presidents and some of them seem to have it all figured out from the outside looking in. I get scared of making the wrong choice. I get scared of offending someone on accident. I get scared of doing something that could damage the reputation of this wonderful organization that over 100 people have committed their time to. Sometimes fear snatches my heart and I can’t seem to think of anything else. I forget to relax and and enjoy the ride. I forget to celebrate all of the successes. I forget that over 300 horses can put themselves in the “Rescued” category because of the dedication of this team. I forget to smile and to laugh. I’m working on that.
I miss it when I am lost. I’m struggling with my own demons and it has nothing to do with the rescue. Sometimes it’s anxiety, stress or sadness, but it’s not your fault. I will keep striving for wholeness so that when others in this team reach those obstacles I can help them do the same.
I know that it is easy to hang on to the negative things and forget all the positive, but I want to set the record straight. When I look at this team and this mission I am proud. I see an organization that is mighty. I wonder how I have been trusted with such a treasure. I do guard it fiercely.
I’m okay with making mistakes, but I’m never okay with losing our vision. The vision is what matters to me.
Some days I get up and I want to walk away. I want to quit. I want to spend time with my own horses, my own farm, and be able to walk away from the sadness, the despair, and the brokenness that we see in rescue. I don’t want to be the person that spends days and nights talking to veterinarians, experiencing more death, more inhumanity, and more loss than the majority of the world has to. Some days it all seems utterly and completely hopeless. But then the phone rings, something beckons, and I am reminded that this is a sacred calling, and though I am weak, I have the faith that God will see me through whatever happens next. I hope that my weakness teaches the next generation something. I hope that when others who lead you come upon their own brokenness, tiredness, fear, and confusion, that their team will be okay with it, and they will learn that this is normal. I pray that their imperfections won’t scare them as they have me. I pray that they won’t run from them, but that they will wrestle with them and you will keep showing up to save the life that needs them. I hope their faith will give them the strength and courage that it has given me.
We don’t always get it right and that’s okay.
We are all professional mistake makers, and we will make lots and lots of mistakes. But, even though life is racing by, sometimes we have a moment. Sometimes we sit quietly in a barn, listening to a horse chew hay that didn’t have a meal the day before and was on the verge of death. We grab time and we hold it. The world stops, all is quiet, and we really see the difference that has been made. In that moment when I glimpse the reality of this work, all I can think is…
To those who have been an integral part of this team for years, for months or even for a day. I want to thank you for putting your trust in me. I want to thank you for understanding that compassion fatigue is real and that there are days I may want to run screaming from everything we have taken on…but I won’t. I’ll keep going, and one evening, we’ll sit in the barn, quietly listening to content horses eat. There will be a rainbow across the back pasture and a shooting star in the sky at night. We’ll remember why we call this place “unicorn land”. It’s because it truly is magical. We see the impossible and we say it won’t be a problem, and we make it real. We dispel fear, we restore health, and we provide life changes. Every. Single. Day.
To this Safe Harbor Village, I do love you all and thank you for being part of this family in good times and bad.