It is 6:58am. I am sitting at my desk, still in my pjs, putting the finishing touches to my blog, getting it ready to publish.
The phone rings. I check caller ID. My youngest daughter’s name appears on the tiny LED screen. Why is she calling me so early?
“Aren’t you coming to the Keys to Recovery Breakfast?” she asks before I even say hello. Befor I even have a chance to ask, “What’s wrong?” (Why else would she call before 7am?)
I almost drop the phone. On no! I have completely forgotten to watch the time. I am due to be speaking at the Keys breakfast at 7:30.
“I’ll be there in 20!” I yell into the phone. I don’t press Publish. I don’t shut my computer down.
I am stripping off my pajamas as I race into the bedroom where Marley the Great Cat is still sleeping on C.C.’s chest. C.C. opens one eye as I fling drawers open, the closet doors and start rifling through its contents looking for something to wear.
“I need your help, please,” I say, pulling on a pair of pants. And I explain what’s happening. I don’t want to have to find a parking spot downtown during rush hour. Is he willing to drive me?
He doesn’t hesitate. He doesn’t miss a beat. “Of course,” he replies.
It’s a bit of a miracle! Twenty-two minutes after the phone rang, I am walking into the Petroleum Club ready to take on the day.
It could have gone two ways. My lateness could have left me feeling anxious, stupid, angry. Or, it could have left me feeling calm, prepared, open.
It was my choice how I chose to respond to the circumstances.
I chose Grace.
I chose to breathe into the anxiety that was mounting as 7:30 approached and C.C. was navigating rush hour traffic.
I chose to remind myself my speech was prepared as I greeted the wonderful Karen Crowther, Executive Director of Keys to Recovery and told her the funny story of my morning’s lapse in time keeping.
I chose to accept myself, exactly where I was at.
It wasn’t about my forgetfulness earlier in the morning. It was all about my being there on time, ready to give my best to inspire the 40 or so guests invited to this special Keys breakfast. That was why Karen had asked me to speak. To inspire the special guests in attendance to get engaged, interested and involved in supporting the important work Keys does in our community.
To have allowed myself to let anxiety, self-recriminations, or anger interfere with my purpose would have been to make it all about me. It would have been to expect perfection from my human condition, and given that I’d already messed up my timing, that was obviously not on the agenda!
I am grateful. My youngest daughter sits on the board of Keys and, like everyone there, was highly invested in making the event a success. She had the wisdom, and the grace, to give me a call.
C.C., recognizing my flight of panic, stepped in to also ensure I was able to turn up, without anxiety eroding my confidence.
I am blessed. I have a network of people around me, supporting me, cheering me on and shining their light so that I can shine mine.
It isn’t that way for those living in homelessness. Their light is darkened by the realities of living with no fixed address. It is dimmed by the weight of struggling each day just to stay alive. It is shadowed by the addictions, mental health crises and other factors that continually inhibit their ability to take a step away from that place where all they have to carry through the day is the label that they never imagined would be their’s – ‘homeless’.
That’s why Keys to Recovery, and all the other agencies who work together to end homelessness in someone’s life every single day, are so important to our community. It takes a community working together to build a way out of homelessness.
It takes people working together to create a community where no matter their circumstances, those who have fallen on the road of life, have a way to get back home.
And that’s why it’s so important we stand together with Karen Crowther and her amazing team and all the other incredible people who give so much to ensuring those who have not, have someone to stand beside them as they make the journey from the darkness of homelessness into the light of having a home where they belong.
It took a community of caring people to get me to my destination on time yesterday.
It takes a community to end homelessness.
Thank you Karen and all your team. In just one year, 129 people housed. 129 people moving out of homelessness, beyond their addictions into lives that they can once again be proud of.
And thank you Deb for sharing your story, for inspiring all of us to remember that ending homelessness isn’t just about ‘the numbers’. It’s all about the people. It’s all about ensuring that no matter where someone falls, they know there are people walking with them as they find their way back home to that place where they can wake up every morning, look into the mirror with clear eyes and say, Wow! What a miracle!