ae16ae12-d6a8-42a8-be3b-f31cd65b2090I am so discouraged. Deeply. Deeply. Discouraged.

It’s the early morning hours, I’m up before the sun, enveloped in a darkness that feels appropriate. I can’t sleep.

I feel heaviness all around me. It seems everyone I encounter has a deep weight dragging them down. There is so much sadness, struggle, challenge, heartache, loss, depression, and fear. The entire city seems to be in some sort of mourning, myself included.

2016 has not been kind to most people I know.

It’s October which means I’m entering the fundraising part of the year for Million Girl Army. It’s a time of year I dread. It is immeasurably hard to ask everyone you know for money to support your dream. Their answers determine both the future of Million Girl Army, and because I’m tied so closely with its failure or success, my sense of self-worth.

This year it feels especially hard.

2016 has brought personal challenges to nearly everyone I know. An election filled with hate, tough issues, hard realities about the world we are living in, and pettiness among leaders adds a dark layer on top of everything. Challenges that are hard enough on their own feel heavier as world leaders let us down and hope fades in the chaos of the election.

I enter conversations with larger donors at a significant disadvantage compared to past years. This year I don’t have to just convince them that my dream of Million Girl Army is worthwhile, I have to convince them that dreaming itself is worthwhile.

I have to convince them when leaders feel untrustworthy that they can trust me to lead well and spend their money wisely.

I have to convince them that though the economy is uncertain and the future of our country hangs in a balance, they should generously give money to Million Girl Army, a fledgling non-profit with little track record.

I have to convince them to invest in and have hope for the next generation when they feel hopeless we will make it past this generation.

Given the air of general distrust throughout the nation right now, this is no small task.

Those who gave freely in the past now hold tighter to their money, grabbing on to the security it gives them in an unstable world. Those who once loved the idea of helping to build a new dream that changes the world for girls across the globe suddenly question our lack of track record. They approach our meeting with skepticism and unrest, making an already difficult conversation nearly insurmountable.

I understand where they are coming from. I feel the same challenges, the same trepidation for our collective future. It isn’t that I don’t understand why they feel the way they do, it’s that I don’t know how to go forward and succeed for MGA in the midst of it.

We are about to launch our annual “Matching Funds” campaign. Historically in MGA’s short life, I have secured around $40,000 from larger donors as matching funds. This year I have $23,000.

I feel like a failure.

If I don’t find another way, a better way to tell the story, we will fall way short of what MGA needs financially to function for another year.

But I don’t know how to be persuade people to be brave when they are bombarded every hour of every day with evidence of why they should remain fearful. I don’t know how to create a wave of positive hope for the next generation of girls when the media is so determined to point out all the reasons we should despair. I don’t know how to convince people to be generous and give money away when holding tight to it provides the only security they feel in an uncertain world.

So I toss and I turn and I worry. I don’t sleep.

I don’t have an answer. Even now as I write, I don’t know what to do. The dream of Million Girl Army hangs in the balance. All its potential, all its beauty, all its promise for the next generation of girls stalled and uncertain.

I find I don’t know how to be brave in this situation. I don’t even know what brave looks like. I’m at a loss. Wanting to bravely soldier on and unsure what that means.

I simply don’t have any answers. And uncharacteristically, writing about it hasn’t provided any. So I’m left nearing the end of this post with the same dark, discouraging, weighty thoughts I had when I sat down to write.

Maybe being brave this time is simply finding the courage to post this blog. To put this messy package out in the world when I don’t have a rose colored answer to use as a bow.

Maybe it will find its way to people who share my hope for a brighter and better world for the younger generation of girls.

And just maybe they will be moved to act.


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Uncomfortable Moments

img_2106I’m nervous. So much of running a non-profit is outside my comfort zone. While in many ways it’s similar to running any other business, it has a key financial component that takes getting used to. A couple years in, I’m still not used to it.

Million Girl Army is a big dream. It has huge potential to change the world for the next generation of girls. The weight of that is both exciting and anxiety inducing in equal measure. I’ve blogged and vlogged often about feeling ill equipped to carry a dream this size. Primarily because while I find the vision inspiring, I don’t think of myself as inspiring. I’m not a great orator and running a non-profit successfully depends greatly on how well I can share the vision and inspire others to believe in my dream.

More than that, to actually function, I need to inspire people so much they will actually invest their hard earned money in my dream. At a time when there is little trust in non-profit leaders, I find this part of my job overwhelming on a daily basis.

Being humble enough and brave enough to ask others for money is incredibly hard.

So. Incredibly. Hard.

This is in the forefront of my mind as today I’m waiting for potential donors to arrive at my office to meet with me. I can barely sit still enough to type this. My heart is pounding wildly and my hands keep slipping off the keyboard they’re so sweaty.

This couple has traveled all the way from Seattle to hear more about MGA.

It’s a ten-hour drive one way.

Knowing that is creating extra anticipation. The weight of their time commitment and desire to be thorough has created mounting pressure. They are coming all this way to hear more about the ins and outs of MGA in order to have the information they need to make a decision about whether or not to support it financially. While I know MGA backwards and forwards, I still worry. I’m still not sleeping at night.

Will I say the right thing? Do I have the answers they are looking for? Can I inspire them on demand? What if I completely blow it? What if the success of MGA rests on my ability to have conversations like these and I learn I’m unsuccessful at it? What happens then?

The questions go around and around. Fighting back is true test of my mental capacity. How many times can I successfully talk myself off the ledge? It’s a game I play with myself.

It’s so much easier to believe the negative voice in my head that tells me I can’t do this, that I don’t have what it takes. That voice seems so real, so certain. To convince myself of the opposite takes incredible dedication to fighting back against that voice. And it’s so much harder. Exhausting in fact.

And now that they are moments away from arriving fear is closing in. My co-workers are distracted by my pacing back and forth. I can’t focus on anything they are saying to me. I’ve sat down to write because historically it has helped relieve pressure but I have no idea if anything I’m writing makes sense.

And yet I’m writing anyway. I’m having this meeting anyway. Because I’m on this journey to be brave not perfect.

I’m on a journey to face the fear that lurks behind each of these moments. In this case, a journey to do what I need to do to move Million Girl Army forward even when it feels far beyond my skill set.

So ready or not, here goes nothing.

They’re here.


Guest Blog – Kristina Munday

Iphoto_654500t’s true, I’m a young mom! I’m 22 and instead of staying up late studying for midterms at the college of my dreams, I’m spending my nights trying to get my tiny human to go to sleep. Instead of spending my 20’s touring the world, I’m taking my whole world on a walk around the apartment complex just to have a change of scenery. At 21, I wasn’t throwing up because of all the alcohol I could legally consume, I spent days and nights by the toilet with morning sickness. While my peers were out, worrying about grades and what to do Friday night, I spent two and a half months sitting by my baby’s bedside in the hospital.

You could say my life looks very different from most people my age. I grew up as a people pleaser, and my life plan was far different because of that. Getting married young was unpopular. Having babies before finishing school was a disaster. At least these are the things I was told, and so my life plan was to go to school, date, get married my last year of college, start the perfect career, then have a baby when we were financially established.

The day I decided to abandon the world’s perfect plan for me and follow my heart was the best choice I ever made. As a people pleaser, I actually felt a little embarrassed at what people would think! Looking back now, I can’t believe I almost let acquaintances, even strangers, keep me from the most love and happiness I’ve ever felt!

“The pursuit of excellence is gratifying and healthy. The pursuit of perfection is frustrating, neurotic, and a terrible waste if time.” Edwin Bliss

Even after letting go of the perfect plan the people pleaser in me held on to, motherhood held a whole new level of perfectionism. Especially in the social media world, there seem to be perfect mothers who have it all together. Perfect house, perfect marriage, perfect makeup, clothes, children, kitchen.. The list could go on and on. However I’ve realized in my pursuit of perfection as a young mom that nobody has it all together.

I now strive to focus more on just keeping myself and my family healthy and happy. As a preemie mom, that really has been an all-consuming task. But so worth it!

When I look into my daughter’s eyes I see so much promise, so much hope for the future, and not a care in the world about what people think. And in those moments I feel the pull to perfectionism I think about that same promise and hope I felt when I became a mother. My goal is to help her keep that light for as long as possible, and to be there to remind her of it in those moments she needs most.
I absolutely love being a mother. I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
Kristina M