Friday, August 31, 2007

At my best: This moment leads to the next

I had to attend a barbecue last night sponsored by a radio station that had a drive to collect towels for the shelter where I work. The towel drive was a contest between three individuals, from different communities in the city. Their task: to collect as many towels as possible in four days and to deliver them to the Drop-In. Their prize: an enormous barbecue, complete with night lights and a year's supply of meats, a lawn make-over, and, their community will receive a legacy gift from a developer -- such as the landscaping of a green area into a kids play zone.

Pretty cool.

What was even cooler is the Drop-In received over 10,000 towels from the event -- and a lot of good publicity in the community.

Which we need. Homeless individuals make easy targets to blame for the rise in crime, the garbage on the streets, the persistence of pan-handlers and a host of other woes on city streets. Last week there was a murder a few blocks from the Drop-In. Several reporters called me to find out if this latest death was contributing to the plight of our clients by raising the perception of every homeless person being a lawless individual. The man who was murdered wasn't homeless. Wasn't a client. But, he was killed in our 'hood. Must affect us.

"Doesn't this make it harder for your clients?" one reporter asked.

Of course it does. But not because of public perception that the person was murdered by 'one of ours'. They live with that perception everyday. It makes it harder because these are the streets they walk. This is the area of the city they call home. When someone is murdered, their fear, their anxiety rises.

There is a spirit to the homeless community -- just like in every community. So when a community, or an organization such as CJ92, the sponsors of the contest for the towel drive, pitches in to help out, we are inspired by people's drive to make a difference.

The community spirit at the barbecue last night was inspiring. Tracy Wynne, the winner, invited her neighbours, friends and family to come along and celebrate with her. Every person there had played an integral role in creating Tracey's donation of over 3,500 towels. When a friend of her fifteen year old daughter asked if she could come to the party, her daughter said, "Sure. But you'll have to bring a towel."

I'm always asked, "What can I do," with regards to helping those without a home. Sometimes, its the little things that make the biggest difference. A fresh towel after a shower means a lot to someone coming in from outside, from a job, from a day spent pounding the pavements. A towel could be all it takes to change a person's state of mind, to convince them to drop the habit keeping them stuck and start making different choices.

Tracy collected 3,500 towels. CJ92 and Gerry Forbes created the contest that spurred Tracy and her two fellow contestants on. The contest was heard by people all over the city, who have been turning up independently at the shelter with bags of towels. A company that supplies linens to hotels arrived with a flat of 5,000 towels.

One small act can inspire greatness. At the barbecue yesterday every person had made a difference to Tracy's efforts. As she said when interviewed on air, I couldn't have done it without the help of my friends and family -- and the businesses whom she contacted who donated funds and/or towels to her campaign.

The city Mayor also turned up for the party. We chatted on-air with Gerry about the towel drive. I listened to the Mayor and was in awe of his 'politicking'. In that 5 minute interview, he was able to drive home 3 separate campaign issues on his platform. The civic election is next month -- and he used every opportunity to make each moment count.

Oprah Winfrey had it right, "Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment."

Listening to the Mayor yesterday, whether I agree with his politics or not, I have to admire his focus, his drive and his commitment to doing his best this moment to ensure he's in the best place for the next. His focus, and drive, have made a difference to his campaign. Does he support what we do at the Drop-In. Historically -- no. But, according to a recent survey, homelessness has become the second most important issue for Albertans. The Mayor is in an election. Homelessness is at the top of his agenda. Whether or not his heart is in it -- the fact he's involved will make things happen. Will make change possible. Gotta take this moment and create a platform that puts us in the best place for the next.

Just like in my own life. When I do my best in this moment, I am well-positioned for the next. When I am undermining myself with fear or anxiety, or letting my triggers of past events disrupt my peace of mind in this event, I am not at my best, I am not being all that I am meant to be. And it shows in the moments to come. Off-base, off-kilter, I react without thought, without being responsible for everything I do and say. I am not at my best.

The question is: Where do you undermine your next moments? How is what you're doing now inhibiting your ability to be your best in the moments to come?

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