Last week I entered my 30's in Tahiti for a week long blip of rest, and promptly returned home to a whirlwind of new changes. I have always kept myself very busy with creative, career, and community based commitments, but a new wrench thrown has been starting a new (now almost 4 months) job and handling family health issues. I'm used to balancing different realms of my life by compartmentalizing, primarily because I've had the privilege of not being emotionally or mentally drained externally, but having my most dear family compromised has been a lot to handle. Something new and foreign to my balancing act. It has also helped me find a new gratitude that I think is more common with folks of faith, but I am so grateful the experiences, privileges I have in so many realms, and for the time being - my health. As I learn more about my DNA and what things I may now be at risk for, rather than slow down with caution, I am feeling almost frantic with a need to do things that bring joy. I've said that before, but this is a truly new inclination I'm acting on. I love my community and the network I've grown over the last few years, but I have finally started saying 'no' to things that while fulfilling, may take more than I have to give.
In September I stepped down from my role as Environmental Justice Committee Chair for the Portland NAACP and Parade Co-Chair with Good in the Hood. I feel so lucky to have had energy to work with both organizations and give so much of myself, but I've grown a lot by stepping down. I've taken the legislative action, programmatic management, and grant writing skills with me, which have opened up new doors for how I can serve my community, so it was 100% time well spent. I also constantly advocate for compensating BIPOC community for their time and energy, but I've seen so many projects relying on volunteer time or under compensated paid capacity- something that as BIPOC folks (statistically least compensated in our society) is just extractive. I've felt almost guilty taking on paid roles lately, but I know this is what practicing what you advocate means. Knowing what I'm worth outside of my engineering career has been a new skill in itself! I've had so many interesting opportunities in the last few months to expand the realm of 'J'reyesha Inc.' into public speaking and program management, which has been fun to imagine what stepping away from public sector engineering would look like. The holistic and layered self in a capitalistic society makes it hard to take risks. I'll always love problem solving and the satisfaction of completion that engineering provides - the things I hate about my job are unrelated to what engineering actually is (and I worked too hard on my P.E. license to ever abandon my career) - but that does not stop me from thinking what a full time creative or community career would look like.
Looking forward to what 2023 brings and my first year into my 30's! I could self reflect and monologue for too long, but below are some highlights of the last few months:
- Promotion at work within a new group - yay for the P.E. paying off!
- The Multnomah County Charter Commission I served on had successes in the measures we recommended. All but one passed! Thank you to voters who supported our recommendations!
- A new home! So looking forward to more space and being closer to family.
- Opportunities to share about myself with Energy Trust, Saturday Academy, and Lake Oswego
- Travel to Seattle, San Francisco, Washington D.C. and Tahiti (further and further each month!)
- COVID-19 finally got me, a negative highlight, but a huge part of last month's forced rest... it was good to see that things CAN and must stop to heal. Cancelling a week's worth of work, events I organized, and presentations really put prioritization in perspective.
- Learned Arc GIS Pro with Walle Plans and making progress on my Harvard Climate Justice Design Fellowship deliverable - I'm less than one week from finishing my fellowship and feeling college-like de ja vu with the deadline approaching.
- Joined Verde's 501c4 Board! Absolutely loving this healthy and supportive non-profit space where I can continue EJ work, while maintaining boundaries and joy!
- Organizing new programs related to geology, STEM, Superfund Environmental education, and more within community- so lucky to get to share my passions in so many different spaces.
- Two art shows - Uncommon Threads (virtual) and Kalayaan’s Anti-Fascist Community Art Showing (open until 12/10)
- Mom and I ended our 11 years vending with Found on Fremont after the store moved out to Gresham. Bittersweet, but we're starting new adventures at Antique Alley. Find us in space C-18 😀