I have the blessing of going through a kitchen renovation right now.  I have to wash dishes in the slop sink in the basement, and microwave food on the window seat in my entry way.  I have to search for 10 minutes just to find my salt.   I have to wade through boxes of kitchen stuff in the guest room just to get a book off the bookshelf. 

 And… I had to empty my junk closet to let the contractors re-route a heating duct.  I’ve lived in my house 9 years and have added 3 children over those years.  So there was a lot of opportunity to stuff it full.  As I emptied it, I was embarassed to see what I had been “saving” for that perfect moment.  I had saved a ripped inexpensive raincoat that I thought I might need if I went caving again; the bridesmaid dress from my sister’s wedding that I would never wear again.  Throwing things out or putting them in a giveaway bin was painful, but once I got started, it was freeing.

This afternoon, I also met with a leader of an organization going through a strategic planning process.  We talked about the SWOT analysis and a MacMillan Matrix–a process to determine which programs fit the mission, have opportunity to grow (what needs to be done, and has funding to get done), what his organization already does well, and if there is passion or energy to get it done.  It gives him an opportunity to ask his board and community leaders–what is most important to them, and what is worth investing in.

I realize that although there isn’t much of a silver lining to these economic trials that families and nonprofits are going through, there is an opportunity.  It gives us the “pain” needed to make difficult decisions–to get rid of the less needed/past their prime/not working very well programs that a nonprofit may have. A chance to realize that your resources could be spent better in other ways. 

In the end, I will have a renovated kitchen. But an unintended benefit will be the newly organized,  half-empty closet– full of opportunity.

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