Needy and Honest and Awesome or, Too Many Hats

I am wearing my Arts Administration hat this week, and working on a grant application.

It’s an important grant, and there is a good deal of narrative to write, so even though I’m working with a great team of people, this project is pretty much consuming all of my resources at the moment.

Hence the lateness of this blog post (it was scheduled to appear this morning), and hence, also, the topic.

Like many of us who wear a lot of hats, I don’t seem to ever entirely take them all off. I aspire to the day when I can focus totally on one role at a time, but that day is not yet here. So even with my very serious Arts Admin cap on, I find it just happens to be sitting on top of some other headwear. Like the Priestess fez. And the Spiritual Growth Junkie beanie.

So while I’ve been writing this grant for an organization I work with, I have also noticed myself thinking: what if I wrote a grant for me?

Not me as an artist. Or scholar or scientist or activist or any of the perfectly normal things individuals write grants for. Not a grant from a foundation, but a grant from the Universe. Not a grant for something I want to do. A grant for something I want to be.

I know. This likely sounds odd. Or precious. Or even just a lazy attempt to write a personal-growth-style blog post while on a grant-writing break without completely switching gears. But bear with me a minute. Let me explain.

Grant-writing is one of those things that is both an art and a craft. It’s also a perspective. To write a good grant, you have to look at what you’re writing about in a kind of particular way.

You need clarity and respect. Overview and optimism. Honesty and compassion.

In the nonprofit sector, we write grants because we need something. Usually that thing is money, but not always. Tools, time, access, information. We need something we can’t provide all on our own. We need help. And that’s fine. Everyone needs help sometimes.

In fact, most nonprofits exist to help others. And need help themselves to provide the services that they do. This isn’t a problem. It’s business as usual. We like to help our constituents. Funders like to help us. It’s what we’re all here for. It’s a network. It’s mutuality. Everybody rides.

So that’s Number One. Hey, need a little help here. No shame. No apology. Compassion for the reality that everyone needs something. Respect for the fact that this is the way energy works. You give some. You get some. Nobody’s a closed system. Flow rules.

And Number Two is clarity around what is needed. Specificity. What help do we need, and what will that help enable us to do? Overview. Priorities. What is needed most? How will your help be most efficiently used in service to our passion?

Imagine just that much. I need help. I need this kind of help. No entitlement but no embarrassment either. Just that much is a very basic form of prayer. Or you could call it intention-setting. Or you could call it spellwork. You may already do this. Hey Universe, can you help me with this please?

But I wonder how much you do of Number Three?

This is why you should help me. This is how I’ve earned (not am entitled to, but earned) the right to ask for help. These are all the ways I have helped myself. Let me tell you about the support I’ve received, the commitments I’ve kept, the breakthroughs I’ve made, the ways I’ve helped others.

Can you take an honest, optimistic look at yourself? (I know it’s easiest for me to be a pessimist when I’m self-evaluating. If you don’t suffer from that particular neurosis, right on! But if you do, I utterly empathize.) The things that you would say about, and on behalf of, a person or a place or a cause or a community that you love? Can you say those things about yourself?

This is my history. These have been my challenges and my setbacks. These are the things that, given another chance, I’d really like to change. These are the lessons I’ve learned and these are the ways I’d do it over, do it better, next time.

I’m asking for a next time.

And…

This is my history. These are all the ways I got it right. This is what I know. This is what I love. This is what I offer. This is what I serve. There is a legacy that I carry forward, in addition to my baggage.

I need help. I need this kind of help. And I deserve it. I’m worth helping. I’m a good risk. Because I’ll pass it on.

Imagine that prayer.

I am. I’m imagining being able to ask for help from a place of honesty and strength. Clear about what I need and what I bring. Appropriate amounts of pride and humility. Acknowledging not my dependence, but my commitment and connection.

Hey Universe. Help me do that. Because that would be awesome.

So if you were writing a grant application to the Universe for what you need, what might it say? And if you’d be willing to share, I would love that.

Let’s be needy (and honest, and awesome) together.

Actually, I think we already are.

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