Imagine lying, curled up in the dark and freezing cold and all you have for protection is your cupboard box. You look at your watch and it is 2am. You hear the howling wind and the strength of it constantly rattles your home for the night. You hear a strange noise, shuffling. You wonder if someone is outside. Who is it? What do they want? You hold your breath and the noise stops. Your heart pounds up at your throat. You then realise that the noise was you shifting in your sleeping bag. Phew. The ridiculous thing is that you know that you have nothing to worry about. You are safe, surrounded by hundreds of people.
This was me last year and again this year when I am at the The Big Sleepout on 2nd December raising money with WeAreTrinity which aims to eradicate homelessness. Yes, the experience was was uncomfortable yet so worthwhile. Do you care to join me? Or if not, please do donate (even £5 the cost of 2 coffees would be great) at Justgiving.com
Thousands of people in the UK, most of them vulnerable, lonely and probably suffering from some form of mental illness, are also sleeping rough and not just one night. They are doing this night in, night out…including the freezing winter months. I am saddened at the growing number of people I see sleeping on the streets as I travel round the country; London, Colchester, Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh, Peterborough to name just a few.
Imagine your worse day – feeling depressed, you have no home and are penniless. What option have you than to sleep rough. You may not even have the privilege of having a cupboard box to sleep in and every noise you hear may be some drunken yob that thinks it’s funny to kick you in. You face fear – both physically and mentally. The charity WeAreTrinity not only provide safe housing they also provide coaching, training, work placements and support for people to move on in their lives.
Now you may be wondering why I have called this blog “Homeless and Happy”. Surely these 2 words can’t go together…That’s what I thought until I met Race C Calmer (Apparently this dude has changed his name by deed poll!)
I was walking north of Oxford Circus on a way to a Conference when I saw a lovely warm smiling man holding a placard. “Don’t Worry, Be Happy and Smile because you are AMAZING ~ Facebook Race ‘C’ Calmer – Homeless and Happy”. My friend and I grinned at him and walked past. We then pulled on our brakes and went back, had a quick chat, photo, donated and went on our way. I kept thinking of him and wanted to know more. How can he be homeless and happy?
I found him on facebook and connected with him. On one of the posts I read the following interview by Humans of London who met Race on Regents Street and chatted with him over a 45-minute Starbucks brunch:
“At first, when I came up here from Portsmouth, I was using my sign to try and get a job, but that wasn’t working. Then I had a dream where everyone was smiling, instead of looking miserable or staring at their phones, and I realised that this is what I should do, this is what I’m here for. So I did a new sign which said ‘Smile because you are you!’ Then, on my 61st birthday, some girls from an office round here got me some colour felt tips and my artistic manoeuvres came out. I never asked for money, I never begged in my life. I’m just showing off my artwork and the board always looks after me. I’ve never wanted for anything, I’ve never gone hungry, and I sleep in a little pop-up tent hidden in St James’s Park. Nobody knows I’m there and I respect the park because it’s St James’s Park – I could be at one of the spots where Henry the Eighth proposed to one of his queens or shot his first deer! I don’t have any friends, just acquaintances on the street and in the cafés, but I’m never lonely because I’m happy in myself. I’m a lone wolf and I’m fine with that because now I’m in touch with my soul and I’ve found my purpose in life.”
Much thanks to @humansofgreaterlondon and @Race C Calmer for giving me permission to share the above here.
WOW! How amazing is that! And when I reflect on this – Race has such wisdom. It’s not the outside environment that “makes” him happy / sad / lonely. He has realised that his feelings come via himself.
“Our feelings are a barometer of how our thoughts are being utilized” Sydney Banks, The Enlightened Gardener
It can seem that the outside causes us to feel a certain way; how a person has spoken to us, our bank balance, the road traffic and even the weather, however our feelings change depending on our moods. If we are in a low mood then everything seems negative, upsetting, hard. When we are in a light mood the world is our oyster. However the world has not changed – the variable is us – our moods, our feelings and these are all derived from our thoughts.
What is the impact of understanding that our experience of our world is purely inside out rather than outside in?
Interestingly I was sharing this with a friend recently and when she realised this – her initial response was that understanding that our experience of our reality is 100% from our thought was scary. It meant that she has full responsibility of her own life. Blame and being the victim goes out of the window. After reflecting on this a bit more, she realised that this gives her freedom.
She is so right. This understanding gives us freedom of thought, freedom of being a puppet to the illusion of the outside pressures, freedom from mind-reading what she thinks others are thinking about her, freedom from insecure thinking.
What a privilege to meet Race who is homeless and happy. I have a sneaky feeling that he understands the principles of our thinking, even if he doesn’t realise it. I do hope that I meet him again one day…coffee next time on me Race.
Lindsey Reed is an experienced international coach and trainer who enables people to have a happy life and be their best selves. If you would like to work with Lindsey, contact her either by email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01832 280168 for a chat to see if she is the right coach for you. (121 coaching is either face to face / telephone / skype)