Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Grant Writer Digging Pot Holes

Driving home from a holiday visit in Southern California with family, I was challenged to avoid the growing number of large pot holes in our  freeway system. I drove in Mexico all that way south of Mexico City once and that’s what our freeways reminded me of. I was also reminded of grant writing pot holes as my tires crashed through the muddy voids.

I created a few pot holes during my grant career. I dug a big one in the process of writing a grant for a government agency in Puerto Rico. I dug this one because I wanted to be someone else.

My business partner and I landed an interesting contract to write for a government agency in San Juan. The contract involved travelling there for planning so I was excited and I wanted to make a good impression. This was Puerto Rico, land of Latin intrigue and romance: I wanted to look romantic. The problem was, I had turned 40 recently and was feeling insecure about the growing numbers of gray hairs on my head. I went to the grocery store and I bought a box of “Just for Men” and decided I’d give it a whirl before my trip. I was digging my pot hole.

I’d never used a hair color before. The night before I was to fly to Puerto Rico, I followed the directions word-for-word to apply the color. When I washed out the color and got out of the shower, I could see that my hair came out almost JET BLACK. This was horribly noticeable because my natural hair color is light brown. In a panic I rechecked the box which was printed as “brown”. I thought brown was brown but I learned later that there was a “Light Brown” color too. In the morning, it looked just as black as it did the night before, there was nothing left to do but get on the plane.

I met my business partner in Chicago for the trip down and the look on his face when he said, “You colored your hair huh?” told me that I looked like as much of an idiot as I thought. Suddenly I was losing self-confidence with each plate glass window I passed. The hair color was mismatched to me, even my eyebrows looked odd. I was sweating before I even got on the plane. I decided that one of the first things I’d do was go to a beauty shop near the hotel and get it colored professionally. Or I’d get another box of coloring that was the right color and re-do my hair before our meeting the next day.

We arrived in San Juan and checked in to our hotel agreeing to meet later at the pool beside the beach. I hurried into town to find a new hair color and found a shop. I was advised that lightening the color was not going to happen easily. In desperation, I bought a new box of “Light Brown” at a drug store and went back to my room to “fix” my problem. The second box of coloring did nothing except make my hair even darker.

The group of women I met the next day with made no comment on my hair. I was tempted to do an “Oprah”-style confession since women notice that type of thing but I knew my partner would kill me. I created this pot hole myself by trying to be someone other than who I was. The only thing I needed to be was a great grant writer. I’m sure that the gray hairs would have been less distracting to everyone than the POOF of black draped on my head like a deceased badger.

I decided in San Juan, Puerto Rico that being me was a lot safer than trying to be a hot Latin romantic writer of grants. I quietly filled in that hair color pot hole and moved along with life.  It occurs to me that the most jarring pot holes I've encountered aren't the ones in the freeway but the ones I've dug for myself.

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About Creative Resources & Research

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Woodland, CA, United States
Creative Resources and Research is a consulting firm specializing in grant writing, grant seeking, program evaluation and professional development training. We have worked with hundreds of clients including public and private schools, school districts, universities, non-profit organizations, and social service agencies throughout California, securing over $155 million from federal, state and private foundation funding sources over the past decade. Our primary grant writers and program evaluators have over 50 years of combined experience in the education and social services fields. At CRR we prefer a personal approach to the clients we work with; by developing long term relationships, we are better suited to match client’s needs with available funding sources. We provide a variety of services to help assist you, including grant writing, evaluation consulting, professional development opportunities, and workshops.