Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I've resigned

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.


Maureen said...

I know this was not an easy decision to take, and you have whatever support I can give as you begin the next exciting part of your life. You have a great deal to offer and what you offer is always given with a full heart and much consideration of others. Hugs to you, dear friend!

Anonymous said...


Congrats on great service and on cutting-the-cord to allow yourself to flourish . . .

Best wishes for continued success separating us from our comfortable spots to offer perspective we all need.



Anonymous said...

you are going to be sooooo busy with new things!
i am sure that it will involve writing and asking a lot of questions.


S. Etole said...

Keeping you in prayer as you ask these new questions.

Glynn said...

Whoa, Louise! A surprise!

I'll be praying.

Claudia said...

this is really brave louise..think lots of people feel the same about their job but shrink back before the consequences..but def. there is a time to ask ourselves these questions..

Valerie Kamikubo said...

Working as a nurse case manager for individuals with HIV/AIDS (most who have been dual-diagnosed with either mental illness and or substance abuse) I have to say that your insights seem to be right on. I like that you have been thinking about these things Louise, because you make me ask those questions about the clients that I work with, too. Blessings to you as you perceive your new vocation.

Fi said...

OMG - well that statement has sure got us all hopping with comments.

Brave, strong, exciting, powerful, extraordinary. All words I would use to describe you.

You go get 'em girl - the world is at your fingertips. I look forward to reading about your next journey of 'amazingness'

Louise Gallagher said...

Thank you my friends. You know, it is when these decisions are made that I find my wings unfurling.

I had thought I was doing this gradually. I was going to work three days a week until Christmas and then, the Exec Dir and I were going to discuss next steps. and then, the decision was made and suddenly, I am completely cutting ties at the end of the year and I feel... lighter.

It's a nice way to feel.

Hugs everyone and thank you for your thoughts, your support and your prayers. You make a difference in my world.

Joyce Wycoff said...

What an amazing space you've just opened up for the Universe to fill. It is going to be so fun to watch what comes your way ... delightful, exciting, creative opportunities that have been tapping their toes waiting for you to have time for them.

Many hugs and kudos for your courage.

Anonymous said...

WOW...I am surprised, and yet not all at the same time.
I know you have much inner spirit and creative energy within you that will take you to new and wonderful horizons.
I would love to stay connected...I am currently in Toronto, and also exploring new horizons.

Kim C

Bev Pettigrew said...

Louise:I know what you have done for us in your job at the DI. I have mixed emotions with the thoughts of the next family that you may have been in the right place at the right time to be so instrumental in reuniting. But that selfish thought is just that. I know God has something amazing in store for you. You are a gift to all of us.We will be forever touched by you and will be forever grateful for all you do and will continue to do. Thanks and prayers go with you. Bev

Anonymous said...

Aww Louise, I will miss you! You will take your insights and gifts and I know you will continue to share your knowledge on your next adventure! Good luck to you!

Now I'll have to read this more often just to keep up :)


Ruth said...

Louise, I am so out of it! It's been too long since I've read your pages, and so I did not know about this decision. I'm glad to know you are listening to your soul/heart. I appreciate what you've written here. It's like something I read recently, about the Occupy protests. The person wrote that we don't want to change behavior, we want to people change how they are, on the inside. Then behavior will change. I think when we do what we are called to do, we model this. Bless you. I will keep reading subsequent posts to catch up.

Jennifer Richardson said...

oh brave you,
I'm cheering wildly in your corner:)

CZBZ said...

Wow, Louise. so much has happened in your life, I've been remiss in keeping up.

Good luck dear friend. I'm sure that no matter what, you'll land on your feet. You are a woman of energy and creative power, that is for sure!