I Write as Myself
I write as myself
The pros and cons of authentic writing and sharing.
It’s been 17 days since my last post and 34 weeks since losing my sense of smell. I did smell dirt a couple of days ago, otherwise no new scents. At times I think a scent is close to being in my senses, and then it’s gone, or it’s wrong. Mind travel is fantastic visually, however I haven’t quite figured out olfactory-mind travel to bring the smell of coffee to my mug.
And life goes on.
It’s been a little over two years since I started writing regular reflections. As I wrote more often with deeper authenticity, less filtering, and then started sharing these writings more broadly, it became clear to me that I was practicing a bit of Brene Brown with publicly opening myself up to vulnerability. According to an online dictionary, vulnerability is the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.
My silence the last couple of weeks is due in part to shying away from vulnerability, to retreating to keeping my thoughts to myself. I haven’t been physically threatened or attacked. I have received some feedback that led me to crawl into my introverted shell.
As I have shared in this space before, I write primarily for selfish reasons. It allows me to release ideas, words, thoughts, commentary, knowledge, and experience from my brain into this communal space. Because I received support, encouragement, and gratitude for sharing, I continued to write and post. By sharing via the organization I am employed by, Human Services Campus (HSC), we have expanded our base of supporters, champions, and advocates. I don’t say that to brag. I say that because my internal struggle of late is weighing the pros and cons of my continued authentic writing and sharing as a representative of HSC.
This “work,” my vocation, is a role that I hold with honor and privilege. I would never want to harm the organization, its mission, its employees, or most importantly the people it serves.
Tonight my assessment of the scales of pros and cons weigh heavier on the side of pros. I write as myself. I share in my role as Executive Director of the HSC. My worlds are clearly blended. I ask that anyone reading not hold my views, opinion, ramblings against the HSC organization. My vulnerability is a risk that I will take.
And at the HSC, on the front lines, we continue to adapt to endemic mode; masking up indoors with clients as positivity for COVID continues. Effects of heat are more threatening to the unhoused and unsheltered. The mix of extreme temperatures, substance use, natural causes, and violence is a blend that unfortunately has led to multiple deaths of people who have been living on the streets. Last week the HSC Outreach Team counted 899 unsheltered individuals in our neighborhood (while on Campus nearly 900 people are sheltered). We do not have the spaces to bring everyone indoors overnight.
Our community also lost one of its own. A special woman named Jayne. I remember first working with her when I was at United Way. We partnered with several organizations on a 50-person Permanent Supportive Housing program. Jayne would come to the partner meetings where we talked about process, how to identify 50 people that would “win” the chance to receive housing. This was really a case conferencing before there was a coordinated entry system. Jayne was a compassionate, fierce, smart advocate for her assigned clients. I learned a lot from her. Shortly after I started working at the HSC in 2018, I was crossing the street and in my awareness I knew that a vehicle was approaching. Just as I was about to step up on the sidewalk, I could tell the vehicle had stopped behind me. A woman’s voice yelled at me, “Hey lady, what are you doing?” I turned to look, with a small knot in my stomach wondering who was angry with me. And it was Jayne with a big grin on her face. We hadn’t seen each other in quite a while. And there we reconnected in the middle of Madison Street. Her sudden passing has me again counting my blessings and reminding myself how important it is to tell people now what they mean to me. My deepest condolences go to Jayne’s family. And may she rest in peace and power.
About the Human Services Campus
Founded in 2005, the Human Services Campus is a collaborative force of partner organizations united on one campus to end homelessness. Located just west of downtown Phoenix, 16 independent agencies on the Campus see nearly 1,000 individuals every day, offering a holistic range of client services including: reunification with family and friends; mental, physical and dental health; shelter; employment; meals; legal services and housing. Having all of these resources in one location with intra-agency communications makes it more feasible to provide a customized engagement for each client to help end their homelessness. For more information, visit www.hsc-az.org.