Apra-IL recognizes and acknowledges the heaviness and anxiety that many are experiencing due to the pandemic, and is starting this new series entitled, The Prospect Development Professional’s Haven, as a calming and reflective safe space. We are providing a space for you to anonymously share questions and reflections during these difficult times, pertaining to your work and role because many can relate. In times like this, you have to know that you are never alone.
Disclaimer: The Apra-IL writer is not a licensed therapist or counselor, therefore, please seek professional guidance beyond this series.
A conversation: How to be good to yourself featuring Marissa Todd, Development Director
Marissa, I’ve enjoyed seeing how you have publicly shared the ways you are being good to yourself during such uncertain and tense times. You recently started therapy, playing the guitar, and you like to write cards to people.
Let’s talk first about being good to oneself. How do you define that?
Marissa: I define being good to oneself as prioritizing ones’ mental and physical well-being. I know I can’t be a good partner, colleague or friend if I’m not taking care of myself. I like the bucket analogy – I can’t fill others buckets if mine is empty.
When did, being good to yourself, become important to you and how did you decide that these previously mentioned ways were how you wanted to take care of yourself?
Marissa: Being good to myself has always been important – and that importance seems to go up when things are particularly overwhelming or stressful and I struggle to just get out of bed and face the world. I’ve tried many things over time: exercise, reading, and cooking. During the early stages of the pandemic, I struggled to read for about a month or so (like I would read the same sentence over and over for five minutes and then just get frustrated) and I also got really tired of cooking. Not being able to go to the gym, and just feeling worried all the time made me reconsider how best to fill my bucket and create some sense of peace and happiness. Taking a step back from social media has certainly helped.
How did taking a step back from social media help?
Marissa: Doomscrolling is real, and it takes a toll. When most of what you see is reminders of all the terrible things happening, it’s easy to get sucked into a negative place. Also, being connected to people who are not socially distancing or wearing masks can really amp up anxiety, especially if they are family or people you will have to interact with at work. Social media can take up a huge amount of time, so, I replaced that time with reading and guitar, which feel more positive and productive.
Why did you choose to learn how to play the guitar?
Marissa: I have wanted a guitar since I was 12. I grew up listening to rock and roll and dreamed of playing in a band. We never had the money for a guitar. Now that we are at home all the time and spending less on dining out, vacations, etc. I decided it was the perfect time to invest in a guitar. Also, I read a book about Digital Minimalism and one of the suggestions was to develop a productive hobby (using your hands) so that you were engaging your brain. The book gave me the extra push I needed to just do it.
You work in prospect development, and you know that there are days that can be overwhelming or stressful; With the world in chaos, how has your understanding of being good to oneself changed or perhaps stayed the same?
Marissa: I don’t know that my understanding has changed. More reconfirmed that self-care is SO important and if we don’t take care of our mental health, as well as our physical self, it is hard to function. I am hopeful that one good thing that will come out of this pandemic is there will be less stigma around mental health care and perhaps in a super ideal world, we would actually provide more financial resources for it. I’m lucky my employer has an Employee Assistance Program that provides so many free sessions, but many folks who are feeling stressed, anxious, overwhelmed, etc. and don’t have the resources to pay for mental health care, or even know where to start. Therapy comes in all shapes and sizes, and finding the best fit can be intimidating.
Can you tap into this intimidation alittle, why is it intimidating? And for us in this profession I think I’ve noticed difficulty in reasoning with equity while researching the ultra-wealthy. How do you reason with your job, societal inequity, and foster self-care?
Marissa: Regarding intimidation – I think because we don’t talk about mental health very publicly, it can be kind of daunting to figure out how to find a therapist. And every therapist has a different style. It’s important to find someone to talk to that you are comfortable with, but it can be difficult to know how to decide that and then walk away from a therapist when you don’t click.
Societal inequity is on my mind all the time. I have been very open with my boss that I am actually struggling with feeling like this is the right job for me at times. I have a law degree and over 15 years of fundraising experience, and often I feel like I should be using my skills to help advance social justice. She reminds me art is a source of comfort and solace, speaks truth, and reflects the time it was created. However, museums historically are not diverse in terms of donors and board leadership. We know we have to do better, and I am reading, learning, and advocating for ways to create inclusivity in the workplace and our donor community. I’ve gotten very good at being uncomfortable (and by extension making others uncomfortable by speaking up) because that is what is necessary for us to change for the better.
Thank you, Marissa, for allowing these valid feelings and experiences to be shared within The Prospect Development Professional’s Haven.
If you want to share a question or reflection at The Prospect Development Professional’s Haven, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org