Report date
January 2022
Learning Log

My time as a Bush Fellow patiently spurs: immense growth, reflection, examination, deep understanding and compassion of my leadership, myself, and of the world I imagine is possible. This once in a lifetime gift continually allows me the space and time to “be”, not just “do, fix, and get my work-a-holic on”.
I started my leadership journey encumbered by what other people, institutions, and systems thought and taught. If I followed their demands, rules and judgment, I was good. If I did not, I was unworthy. I was leading from the outside in. Now, I am learning to lead, live and give from the inside out.
I am listening, I am breathing, I am becoming. Every morning I consider Mary Oliver’s question, “what is your plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Never did I imagine the Bush Fellowship would allow me to finally STOP running, doing, exhausting, repeating. Never did I imagine I would learn to lead in the spaces in between. The space between the words, the busyness, the noise. It is a universe I’ve never experienced, it is a precious gift. I am continually learning, experiencing, and growing into a whole hearted, flawed, accepting, wonderful, leader.
Within the brokenness of our systems, our politics, our country, our world; there remain indelible reasons to believe, to hope, to repair, and to heal. It comes down to who we want to be when we grow up; as leaders, as community members, as human beings. For me, it always comes back to thinking globally but acting locally. Poverty, inequality, generational trauma, racism, extremism, hate, unsustainable practices are destroying our chances for a just future. I am anchored in believing that things can be different. Sometimes I feel delusional. Sometimes it feels hopeless.
Perhaps that is part of becoming, to accept that sometimes things fall apart, sometimes it seems impossible, that we are too far gone as a country, as a world. Yet, somehow deep within the mess, there is a quiet knowing that anything is possible-that we can reimagine: ourselves, our communities, our country, our world, our future. If…we take care of each other, ourselves, our systems and our planet. It is a bumpy learning curve.
As I write this, I am grieving the death of my father, Knut Hagen. My father was two when the Nazi’s invaded and occupied Norway and eight when the Nazi’s where defeated. He experienced horrific trauma. He lived on rancid food. He watched his father weep each night in fear for his family. He taught us from a young age that we are responsible to remember, to make sure it never happens again. He taught us that a small injustice is equally abhorrent to a global injustice. He broke on January 6, 2021. The insurrection was too much for his psyche. On January 7, 2021 we admitted him to a geropsych unit, where he remained until we could find him a place to heal. He spent the rest of his days in a locked memory care facility. He spent the rest of his days reminding, debating, encouraging and sharing. He told me how proud he was of my leadership, my kindness, my resilience and of my mothering. He told me that love always wins. That is what I choose.
Now is the time to create a just society that seeks to dismantle the capitalistic extractive economic practices that place profits before people and sustain a society of accumulation rather than equality. Now is the time to create a just society that aims to eliminate prisons and punishments; but also wealth and greed, because they reproduce exploitation. The objective is not to expedite the next system of oppression, but to combat the punitive society that allows it to happen. If we do not keep our focus on reimagining, we will merely replicate our current crises and unsustainable practices. It means overcoming and getting beyond our current forms of our extractive, punitive society that places privilege and accumulation over the equal well-being of humanity and our planet. A just world where no one is left behind. A just world where all human beings are safe, cared for, educated, loved and free. That is what I choose.
I understand now that my leadership journey is taking me places that I didn’t know I needed to go. I’ve alway been drawn to people, places and things around me. My family, my friends, my community, my world. Anything that was suffering. Me, the fixer was there to save the day. Somehow, I skipped the leadership skill of nurturing, accepting, loving, understanding and advocating for me. That has changed. Now, I feed my healing, my soul, my growth and my leadership by spending time inside myself.
I am focusing on flipping my “selflessness” mantra, which was never sustainable. I know now that I can do good in the world without committing my entire existence to the self-defeating, often self-harming concept of having no concern whatsoever for “me”. In order to get my “selflessness on”, I am building strong, self care practices. I am generously making space and time for recharging, for creativity, for whimsy, for healing. I had no choice, I got sick, inside and out.
So, with my commitment to radical self compassion and self care, I will learn from this experience. It is okay to slow down. It is okay to be human. It is okay to be imperfect. It is okay to say “no”. It is healthy to say “yes” to me.
My deepest gratitude remains for this once in a lifetime fellowship gift that is helping me become a sustainable, holistic leader. So, for today, I am resting.
I am getting out in the fresh air. I am allowing the tears to come. I am saying “yes” to me.