The past is not the only avenue to the future.

When asked, “What did you fear most when you were homeless,” Gladys* answered without hesitation. “Dying on the streets.”

Recently, I met with the board of a community association where the foundation I work for is considering building a 25 – 30 unit apartment building for formerly homeless Calgarians.

It wasn’t an easy meeting. It wasn’t all sun and roses and welcome to our community.

There was openness. Curiosity. Awareness and a desire to be inclusive and supportive.

There was also fear. Concern. Misunderstanding and misconceptions present.

And there was possibility.

It is the possibility I want to stay with. To expand. To stretch out across the room, the community, the city so that every Calgarian can understand, fear of dying on the streets is real for some people. It is a constant grinding away at their existence. A continuous eating away at their experience of life leaving them to believe, there is no other way, no other street to walk. There is only this existence that is killing them.

Gladys no longer worries about dying on the streets. She is living in an apartment now. In her new way of being she is supported by people who understand her fears, and who believe that with compassionate care, she can thrive in community.

Her thriving will not look like yours or mine. It will be different. But then, mine is different than yours and yours is different than someone else’s. It is our differences that create the vibrancy of our communities. It is our diversity that builds strength into the intersections of our lives.

There is possibility in our differences. There is connection.

When I left the meeting, I marveled at the similarities of our perspectives and experiences.

One man at the meeting, in an attempt to ‘do good’ in a community in another city, had bought a building that was in receivership. He renovated it and provided low rent housing for individuals living on the margins.

It was not easy. It was not a good experience, he shared with the group. I will oppose this project 1,000 percent, he said.

I can understand his fears.

Like Gladys (*which is not her real name), his fears are built on an experience that did not meet his expectations. He set out to ‘do good’ and felt bad with the outcome. He felt abused. Betrayed. Confused. Why would people treat his property so badly? Why couldn’t they see he was trying to help them? To make a contribution to society?

Like Gladys, this man is stuck in his experiences and fears, in his belief that no matter what he does, or anyone else does, it can never be another way. The past dictates the present and determines the future.

My experience is different. My experience has led me to this place where I believe the past does not make the present a repetition of what happened then, again and again. My belief is that when we use our experiences of the past with the intent to inform our actions for the better today, we can create better, we can make a difference.

There are people living on our streets today, and in our emergency shelters, who have given up on believing there is another way. They live with the constant fear that dying on the streets will become their future.

In the streets they walk everyday, they have lost sight of possibility. They have lost hope for a new way of being present in the world.

There are people living in our communities today, who have given up on believing there is another way. They live with the constant fear that without high fences, without holding onto to what they have, they will be unsafe in their homes and in their community.

In the streets they walk everyday, they have lost sight of possibility. They have lost hope for a new way of being present in the world.

For my world to change, I must change how I see my world.

When I look at it through eyes of fear, I know fear.

When I breathe into possibility, when I open myself up to allowing possibility for another way to arise, my world becomes a reflection of what I want to create more of in the world around me.

We all know fear. We have all been touched by change and its constant hammering away at the walls of our comfort zones demanding we learn to stretch, to find new moves that will take us away from where we are into that place where anything is possible if we let go of holding onto to what we know and tell ourselves we cannot let go of.

Just as Gladys is learning to let go of street life so that she can embrace a new way of being present in the world today, the possibility exists for each of us to create the kind of world we want to live in. The kind of world our children can live in too. To find a new way of being present in the world today, we must we let go of believing the past is the only avenue to the future.





The Difference I’ve learned in month one is ME

It is month 2 of A Year of Making a Difference.

Looking back on what I learned in Month 1, there are three very obvious and important teachings this month has given me:

  1. Making a difference begins with me and within me. Our human condition is the difference each of us makes and we are each responsible for being and becoming the difference we want to make and see in the world.
  2. The opportunities abound, but if I am not willing to turn up, the opportunities evade me.   I must be present. Be conscious. Be in ‘the now’ to be open to the opportunities as they present themselves.
  3. Making a difference is easy when I let go of what I do, or what I have as being my difference and focus on how I am in the world. When I consciously choose to create a difference that leaves imprints as light as a feather on people’s hearts I am consciously choosing the way of peace, tranquility and  harmony. And in that way, I am being the peace, tranquility and harmony I want to create in the world. 

Making a difference is an attitude. It is a place of consciously embracing what makes us great, magnificent, divine human beings. When I fill my being with a servant’s attitude, I move ego out-of-the-way of how I am and what I’m doing in the world and become One with being the One I am meant to be in the world.

Yesterday, a man contacted me to ask if I could help him with a youth he is mentoring. It was easy. I knew a couple of names of people he could call to help the young man take the next step on his journey. I cannot ‘make it happen’ for anyone, but I can open the door for others to step through — should they choose.

And that is the lesson I am learning most — I am not powerful enough to change the world —  I do have the power to change how I am in the world which changes where I’m at. I do have the power to change my role, my place, my sense of what is possible. And in my power, I have the capacity to inspire others to step into their power to know and be the difference they can be in their worlds too.

And together, when we are all united in being the difference we want to create in the world without expectation of our difference being the only difference, of our difference being the only path or way to be, we create a world of acceptance, compassion, and Love.

And in Love, all things are possible.

One month experienced and I am excited to see what this month brings in broadening my awareness and teaching me how to be the difference I want to be in the world.