Every morning when I write here, I imagine myself sitting in a coffee shop, sipping brew, chatting with friends. At my table are you, my friends in this virtual world, who have supported, challenged, and applauded me as I've journeyed through this space.
Over the past almost five years that I have written here (I know, can you believe it? 5 years!) I have shared with you many of the stories of my work at the homeless shelter. And you have shared your thoughts and feelings and hearts. And in our sharing, we have shifted perceptions, moved perspectives, embraced broader vistas, narrowed issues down into clear view.
My work at the shelter is coming to an end. As of December 31, I have resigned as Director of Public Relations & Volunteer Services to become...
Well, technically, unemployed.
In reality.... free!
I know. I know. Surprise!
I have thought long and hard about leaving. I love my job. Love the people we serve and the people I work with.
But, time as always, moves on and in this time I see the space where I must take this leap if I am to continue to grow and thrive and be of service in the world.
Resigning was not an easy decision. My role has given me a high profile in the community. It has established me as a woman of compassion, thoughtful intelligence and commonsense ideas on what to do -- and what not to do -- around homelessness and poverty.
In this time, it has become clear to me that my value to the agency is of little value to the people we serve if I am not aligned in my heart and being.
And I am not aligned. I am tired.
Not of the work. I could never be tired of having an opportunity to make a difference as I have been given the opportunity to do working there.
No, I am tired of what it takes to actually 'do' this work. To speak out constantly against ill-conceived ideas on 'ending homelessness' and our own arrogance that says -- we have all the answers.
We don't. Have all the answers.
In my experience, I have learned that the answer isn't about what we do for the person who comes to our door, it's how we make him/her feel. How we treat them, how we open up a space where the possibility for them to explore what they can do to change their world, to find their own answers is awakened.
We do not have 'the answer' for anyone. And in our belief we do, we disempower the very people we say we are empowering.
Ultimately, homelessness is about more than just housing. Homelessness is about what ails society. It is about the fracturing of our family units, the breakdown of our communities, the falling apart of our society. Homelessness is about the human condition. And when we look at it as being only about housing, we limit the questions we ask and narrow the scope of the box in which we ask those questions.
At a conference I was at on Monday, speaker, author and just general amazing guy, Stephen Shapiro said that thinking outside the box isn't the answer. The answer, he suggested was to design a better box. We need to be asking better questions. Ask better questions and your answers will be more focused and construtive.
In fact, he suggested that if we spent 90% of our time defining the problem, the answer would only need 10% of our effort. (What he said was to spend 59 minutes defining the problem and 1 minute solving it.)
It's time for me to ask better questions. To move beyond the shelter door to that place where the box I'm in has no sides that I don't question. Where having the answers is not my focus. Where knowing there are better questions to ask -- and being willing to ask them, is most important.
As General Rick Hillier said as the last conference speaker on Monday, we have to stand up for what we believe in. We have to stand up for each other. We have to stand up.
I'm standing up now. Getting ready to walk out the door. And I'm scared. And I'm excited.
Leaders, said General Hillier, do what they're afraid of doing because they know it's the right thing to do.
This is, the right thing to do.
PS -- I'll be back to tell you more of the questions I'm asking.