Thursday, March 29, 2012


Audacious hopers hope for things no practical person would dream of hoping for, things we are certain can never happen, given the current circumstances. Audacious hopers have led the way to change throughout the history of humankind, and they are, thankfully, here with us today.
One of my favourite audacious hopers is Lenora M. LeMay, a long-time colleague at the Hope Foundation of Alberta. It is to her that I turn when I need to catch a case of hopefulness. It is from her that I often borrow hope to tide me over when my own supply gets low.
That said, the process of hoping that happens between Lenora and me is rarely a simple unfolding of positivity. I often try to convince her that things are impossible. I try hard and I ought to be able to succeed at this. I can be very persuasive when I make up my mind to be. But Lenora has a way of refusing to take “no” for an answer. If I say a thing can’t be done, she says it can. If I say: “Tell me how,” she comes up with some idea that has at least 10,000 flaws when I count them. That’s the thing that makes Lenora my hope hero. She sees possibilities where I don’t.
The results of Lenora’s hope-motivated persistance combined with her boundless energy can be seen in so many accomplishments credited to the Hope Foundation over the past dozen years. Because of her, Norquest College started a program of hope studies embraced by many health care professionals. Because of her, there is a book of strategies and practices for doing hope work in classrooms. Because of her, the work of the THI, arguably the most important research project I did at Hope Foundation was finally documented—eight years after I finished working on it. Because of her, the administrative structure of Hope Foundation has functioned through hard times without sacrificing any of the program areas.
Even as I write this, I can hear Lenora reading it. I know what you are saying, Lenora. You are saying, “Oh stop! I didn’t do any of this alone. All my colleagues helped, and so many people from outside as well. Board members helped me. Kids helped me. Teachers helped me. My husband helped me.”
This, Lenora, is definitely true. But I hardly think that you can seriously deny that your steadfastness is the common factor in all these examples. Audacious hopers inspire others and make room for them to help when there’s work to be done. There’s probably no limit to the number of things that can be accomplished if you decide not to care who gets the credit.
Over the years I’ve learned, usually later than I wanted to, to step back and watch you in curious wonder. I have noticed how, at some point, I then find it impossible to stay back. Compelled by an irresistible force that can only be labelled as hope, I find myself joining you in trying to make possible the thing I wanted all along.
It’s scary to work with audacious hopers. They test our courage. They dare us to disappoint them. We are constantly challenged to position ourselves in relation to them, to search ourselves for that which matters most. Sometimes audacious hopers make us want to hide. Hiding seems easier than facing the hard stuff.
My years at Hope Foundation have exposed my ears to the stories told by thousands of audacious hopers in the heady days after success—large or small--has been attained. These stories challenge me to wonder what I would have done if they had asked for my help during the trying time. From this has come one firm conclusion. When audacious hopers tell their stories, about the people they met on the journey, I’d rather be listed with the ones who supported than named as a barrier that had to be thwarted.

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