The Odd
Uneven Time

books and a fall leaf on wood

August is a month of transitions – from hot, sultry days to nights with a whisper of chill; from languid summer evenings and sleeping in late to hurried (and harried) early mornings. In fact, Sylvia Plath, the dynamic and incisive poet, wrote: “August rain: the best of the summer gone, and the new fall not yet born. The odd uneven time.” And, for most of us, August is a month that ushers in the rituals of “back to school time”.

During the “odd, uneven” month, we may experience sticky, persistent thoughts like how am I going to get all this done?! Whether you’re the parent of a preschooler or high school senior, a grad student entering your final year, or a seasoned professional well into your career journey, you’re inevitably thinking about new pencils, papers and schedules this month. That back-to-school rush is everywhere, and it seems we can’t escape the excitement and nervousness that come with it – even when we’re decades out from being students ourselves.

Back-to-School Budgets

For industry folks: As of May, 2022, the US Department of Education (DOE) has allowed up to 18-month extensions for those that have designated Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds for specific projects and contracts but have yet to use all the funds by the September 2024 deadline. Most recently, over $1B was recently slated towards school safety and student health for fiscal year 2023. For those of you who are interested, the entire proposed DOE 2023 budget can be accessed here. Another useful resource is the FAQ sheet published by the DOE on how these funds can be used.

With this new extension, we are likely to see an increase in RFPs related to school safety and student health. And as we in the proposal world know, it takes a village to develop effective proposals and to raise healthy kids!

It Takes a Village

And that has us thinking: If the eternal question for busy professionals is “how am I going to get all this done,” then the answer is probably some form of, “It takes a village.”

We contend that no one understands the vital importance of a village more than our own team and, particularly, Dr. Lori Coffae (especially during the back-to-school months). We spotlighted Lori recently on LinkedIn, and as promised, want to share a bit more about our resident writer and strategic communicator here too.

Having spent 25 years in the classroom, Lori felt herself feeling stagnant within the confines of a traditional classroom and decided to join the exciting world of corporate writing. About six months ago, when she realized her time no longer belonged to her, Lori made the leap from Director of Proposal Writing for a global IT company to writing consultant extraordinaire – quickly becoming a valued member of the Theme Team and achieving the balance she required as Working Mom.

Recognizing the village she had been searching for in her Theme Team, Lori has been able to leverage her previous experience as a professor, in combination with her writing prowess, to create inside a range of client projects: from winning proposals to successful grant applications, and from thought-provoking white papers to strategic and compelling business plans. Our clients recognize Lori as an enthusiastic and passionate communicator who goes the extra 26.2 miles to create powerful content that gets results. She’s able to take even the most complex, technical topic and make it interesting and engaging for readers, connecting disparate audiences and concepts through words.

Insight from the Trenches

So what advice does Lori offer to help others achieve a sense of balance and satisfaction?

Take off the cape! Lori realized that “feeling needed” was her toxic trait; once she began reaching out to her network for help – and outsourcing those pesky housekeeping tasks that made sense – she was able to extinguish those long-held feelings of being overwhelmed and off kilter. You, too, can tap into that “village mentality” and allow others to feel needed and appreciated for their gifts and contributions. As Mr. Rogers so succinctly put it, “Look to the helpers!”

As for that back-to-school drama that can creep in when we least expect it, Lori adopts a “bird by bird” mentality. Bird by Bird is a phrase coined by American novelist Anne Lamott to emphasize the qualities of patience, faith, and tenacity. If writers write with discipline, she asserts, they will be able to accomplish great things. The same is true, of course, for any person undertaking any endeavor – moving forward one step at a time, with patience and care, is the way to achieve fulfillment and equanimity.

Here’s to a happy and safe 2022-2023 school year!