Friday, April 17, 2009

Get a smile on!

We are defined by the way we embrace the opportunity to serve others. Smile and

Every day I work in an environment where the opportunity to serve is front and centre. Yesterday, as I walked towards the stairwell on the second floor, our Day Area, a client approached me.

"S. says I have to talk to you about coming up to the art studio," D. said. "I thought we already had a talk."

"We did," I replied. "And you agreed you would come into the studio and any art program with your behaviour at a 9. I understand you were very disruptive in a workshop last week."

"It wasn't my fault," he quickly responded. "Well, I mean, I'm not blaming her. But she [the staff member] was in my face the minute I walked in. I didn't even get a chance to tell her you and me had a talk. She made me get angry. And I admit, my behaviour never got close to 9. It was more like a 4. And there was a moment where I yelled. I saw her flinch. I apologized the next day."

"I know you did, D. But from what staff told me something similar happened at another session too."

"I just get so frustrated sometimes," he said. "I want to do my art. I know it will help me. You know, I'm like a fifteen year old. That's how I behave. People look at me and see a grown man. But inside, here," and he touched his head. "I'm 15. I try really hard. Do you know what April 10 was?"

"No, I don't."

"It was my fifth month anniversary. Crack was my drug of choice and on Good Friday, I was clean for five months. I'm trying really hard."

I took a breath. How could I be of service to him and the staff member who was frightened by his behaviour.

"I don't want to make life any more difficult for you than it is D.," I told him. "But to be in the art studio, I need to ensure that the client supervisor is onside with monitoring your behaviour so that you can be successful and achieve your 9."

"Please help me."

"Tell you what. On Saturday, we're filming on the sixth floor. We're shooting the video for Stand by Me. How about you come and volunteer and we'll work together to ensure you find a way to be a 9, or even a 10. You'll have to do what I say and not indulge in any inappropriate behaviors. It will be a lot of standing around and waiting, and you'll need to be quiet during those periods. Are you willing to do that?"

"Yeah!" His smile lit up his face. "And guess what I'm doing tonight."

"I don't know. Tell me."

"I'm signing up for the Ride to Cure Cancer. I'm going to ride my bike to California as part of the team to raise money for cancer. I need to pay $75 for the registration fee and then I have to raise $20,000 by July. I know I can do it. I've collected enough bottles for the registration fee and if I get busy I can raise the rest so that I can take part in the ride."

We are defined by the way we embrace the opportunity to serve others.

D has mental health issues. He has been living in shelters for 8 years as he struggled with his mental health as well as his drug addiction. He's clean and sober now. He will always have his mental health issues. His behaviour is erratic, and he's working on finding ways to raise the bar to a 9.

The '9' came from a discussion we'd had the previous week when we'd met to discuss his working in the art studio. I'd asked him to describe a time when he felt his behaviour was a 9 or 10 and then when he'd thought it was less than 5. He'd been honest and forthright in his evaluation. "I know what a 9 is," he'd said. "I know I need to be at least an 8 to be in the studio. I know I can do it."

He wants to help himself and give back. To give back he's embracing the opportunity to serve by riding his bike in support of finding a cure for cancer.

We could all be so inspired.

The question is: Are you focusing on your problems and missing out on the opportunity to serve? Are you frowning and stewing or smiling and moving through your day?

P.S. I invite you to watch the video at the Smile and Move link above. It's worth the 3 minutes -- and you could start a movement!

1 comment:

S L M Moss said...

Hi Louise,
How did it got with D? Did he show up for Stand by Me? Did he get his 9 or 10? I hope so!!