Happy May to you! I don’t know about you but I am more than relieved that we seem to finally be across the threshold of the iron clad lock winter 2018 has had on our region. Every year my body laments the inconsistency of our weather patterns here in Upstate NY and even though we have officially entered into the spring/summer season of the year “the fibro monster” inside me now has to acclimate to a sudden spike in temperature, barometric pressure, and pollen!
Still I try to count as many blessings as possible and warmer temps and sunnier skies are a welcomed change despite the ills of chronic illness. For me the change in season means a change in mindset and understanding that my levels of productivity are as vaccilating as the weather. I try to roll with the punches as much as possible but would be lying if I didn’t share that it is extremely frustrating to be bed bound on the gorgeous days we have been experiencing. I haven’t really bed outside my house let alone my bed since this past Sunday.
Speaking of productivity the last few weeks have seen me more productive than ever; mainly due to my decision to finally and fully make substitute teaching my (extremely) part-time career and mentally focusing the bulk of my mental and physical energy on growing 540WMain. This process is one that has been on going and in flux since 2016 when I founded the organization and since then, I’ve battled with internal and external pressures to keep one foot on both sides of the fence so to speak. What do I mean you ask?
Well, being a very non-traditional person in more ways than one and living in a society and among people that do not fully understand the entrepreneur spirit or what it means to live with a chronic illness; I have found it challenging to stand up to family and peer pressure to work in a job and a career that I’ve been told is more stable and consistent than creating and building my own organization. Even though most of this feedback comes from a place of love and care; it created a tension and anxiety within me that has made me try to keep the best of both worlds. Teaching and educating is my passion and because of this I am very good at it. Working in the public education sector is in many ways more consistent and offers certain benefits that you just do not have when you are building a grassroots non-profit from the ground up. I could go on, but in an effort to keep the story on point; I made the huge step in mid-April to only substitute two days a week and give the rest of my energy to the sustainability of 540WMain.
On the outside this decision may look like a huge risk. Living with a small personal income while committing myself to an organization that is consistently growing but makes me no personal money (yet) takes a level of sacrifice, courage, and risk that most people will never understand. Still, the universe has blessed me with many signs over the past four weeks that have told me that this decision was one of the best I could have made.
As 540WMain’s leader, I’ve been able to engage in community events and networking that is vital to the sustainability of this organization. I’ve been able to have more mental and physical productivity in writing grants and reaching out to corporate funding streams. I’ve been able to hire a second part-time staff person; Jake Sell Hicks 540WMain’s new Community Organizer. I’ve been able to reassemble 540’s Ambassador Team (Board of Directors) and create a stronger internal infrastructure. All of this in addition to managing a chronic illness which is quite literally a full-time job by itself.
All the fruits of this labor have not quite come to fruition. But newbseeds are being planted and watered every single day and I look forward to sharing more of 540’s growth with you as we approach our 2nd anniversary in June 2018. Having the schedule and capacity to make myself more present allows 540WMain and the brick and mortar space to be available for last minute bookings like the Community Meet and Greet w/Jumaane Williams that was sponsored by RoCitizen on Friday April 27th. This event probably wouldn’t have happened at 540WMain had I not been available. This is just the tip of the iceberg of the work that I’ve been doing to maintain the 2018 focus and vision of “sustainability” and as always I thank you for all your support in helping 540WMain grow.
Calvin aka theglutenfreechef
Founder & Executive Director