What Stops You

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“Identify what stops you from being your ideal vision of yourself.  This is a core part of personal growth work,” Dr. Zwig.  The part of this work, this journey to finding self that isn’t talked about in the nitty gritty is the underbelly of what you feel when you find things.  You’ve/We’ve become so accustomed to shoving down everything we perceive as “bad” or “shameful” that we think we can ignore it.  Repression of self is the standard and that is why we often feel lost.  We are taught to ignore the things we feel.  We are taught that our sense of self is bad/wrong and that we need to conform to what we are told both to be accepted and to feel normal.  When we build our lives within the parameters set for us, it’s easy to lose sight of who we ARE and that creates anger because there is conflict between what we are expressing and what we really feel.

Humans aren’t designed to control emotion.  We are designed to feel it, express it, reconcile it, and move on.  What we are taught is to grab the emotion we aren’t supposed to feel, repress it, and express a flat façade.  Let’s be clear, I’m not professing that we all need to run around yelling and screaming at each other, or punching someone in the face.  No.  But I am suggesting we stop carrying the weight of what we are feeling by dealing with it in the moment.  Why on earth do we need “coping techniques”?  Why do we need to “release pent up anger”? Such things didn’t exist for a long time.  People duked it out and then had dinner together.  We started feeling like we had to control those emotions when we wanted to manipulate others to get a certain outcome.  Ah.  THAT is a different thing altogether.

We will never be able to identify what stops us from being our ideal selves if we continue to ignore or if we continue to teach that we need to ignore what our very soul is saying.  I have experienced ostracism for expressing the truth.  I have been looked at as a trouble maker for simply finding the middle ground and a solution over a band-aid.  For whatever reason we like to sit in our misery and bring others with us—it’s easier to create a scenario in our heads and bring others to be miserable with us than it is to take a situation as it is and be honest about it.  We are so engrained that honesty is dangerous that we don’t innately feel we can express it.  Why do we ever stop our children from telling the truth?

I’m not naïve, most people think it’s a terrible idea to be 100% honest all the time.  The conflict comes because it’s isolating to be honest but we know we need to express ourselves.  Call me selfish, but I would much rather bear the weight of isolation than not express what I need to (within reason).  For example, there is no reason anyone should have to tolerate blatant demeaning behavior or discriminating behavior anywhere.  NONE.  No one should have to jump through hoops for a peer because of a perception the other person has.  I will not be someone’s punching bag or live under their scrutiny when they have their own job to do.  THAT is something I will confront.  If my neighbor doesn’t like the outfit I’m wearing, I don’t care, that’s like water off a duck’s butt. If you’re taking every single .

None of this may resonate, and that is ok.  There are many things that we can identify that hold us back.  Things from a particular past experience and how we think about it, things like our perception of how people receive us, or just an engrained belief that we can’t do certain things.  In my experience, I’ve found I couldn’t express myself openly and that was one of the first things that held me back.  I hid who I was in order to be accepted and it still didn’t gain me acceptance—it made me a door mat.  As soon as I shifted out of that position, the people who were so happy with me playing their game disappeared.  There was no reciprocity or care for my well-being: if I wasn’t fulfilling their purpose, they had no use for me.  So my foundation consists of respecting and honoring what I’m feeling and expressing myself—even if I have to take time to think about it.  Don’t let your fear of anything hold you back from being who you are.  Get honest with what your soul needs.  Get honest with what you’re feeling and don’t be ashamed of it.  Once you stop hiding, that is when the real you shines.

Another Look at Honesty

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Let’s talk about honesty for a moment.  SO much of what I’ve shared over the years has been about embracing self and learning self-acceptance.  If we are going to profess accepting others, then we need to learn what that looks and feels like and the way we can do that is by accepting who we are.  I was listening to some music from my high school days and a lyric struck me.  “And you should know that the lies won’t hide your flaws,” Stewart, Humprhey, Weigemoed.  I feel like so often we are told things that are meant to help but can be harmful.  The whole premise of fake it ‘til you make it.  I 100% agree it can give you the confidence to go after something you may not have been comfortable doing before.  But if you are putting yourself in a situation that you’re not comfortable with or that you know isn’t you, then what’s the point? You will never get the results you’re looking for staying in a situation like that.

Staying in a situation that isn’t for you can lead to the belief that you’re not good enough when in reality, you’re a fish trying to fly.  It will never happen.  That has nothing to do with how good you are or the type of person you are, but the fact is a fish will never truly fly.  If you measure yourself in that manner, you will always be less than and never measure up to anything good enough. That requires a depth of insight into who you are and accepting that you’re a fish.  You can be the greatest fish out there and accomplish amazing things, but you can’t change the fact of what you are. 

Radical honesty isn’t about cutting yourself down or feeling bad about what you can’t do. It’s about working with what you have to get to where you want to be.  Using our friendly fish again, they can’t expect to move the same way an animal with legs does.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Putting on fake legs as a fish won’t get you anywhere because you have no context in how to use them.  But you can swim faster than anything else out there.  Don’t view who you are as a flaw.  Embrace and love that person with all of your being and see how much further you can go.

The point of radical honesty is also to create space for other people to do the same and deconstruct ideas of what is right based on what we were told.  We spend a lot of time believing what we are told and working in a framework that was created under different circumstances sometimes centuries ago and then we are told we are bad if we can’t make that work for us.  We can turn that around.  Accepting who we are and making that space for someone else to do the same creates a fire throughout the world.  We can get honest about what works and eliminate habits that don’t work because we held onto them for no other reason than hubris.  Be who you are meant to be and allow others to do the same.  It’s easy to go with what we’ve been taught.  It’s much harder to go with the beat of your own heart at times because we aren’t sure if we will be heard.  I guarantee as we ignite the sparks in everyone throughout the world, we will see that we are far from alone.  Don’t be afraid to get vulnerable and honest about who you are.  That is where the magic is.  Hiding yourself won’t do you or anyone else any favors.       

Not Working For Me

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“Get comfortable with saying “This isn’t going to work for me”,” Lisa Bilyeu.  People pleasers cringe simultaneously.  In a world where we all have expectations put upon us from how we should behave to the jobs we have to how many children we should have and by whom, it’s hard to know which way to go if you don’t have a solid foundation in self.  The idea of letting anyone down for any reason can be daunting because we fear that they will cut us off or that we hurt them.  I like this quote because it reminds us that it is ok to let others down every now and then.  There will absolutely come a point in all of our lives where we will have to make the decision to continue making other people happy in the hope of reward or if we will follow our own path into what we know works for us. 

In the piece on boundaries from earlier this week, I discussed the guilt I felt at both saying no to my child and in only taking on what I could reasonably do at work.  In the moment I felt like I let everyone down.  I felt like if I had shuffled things differently, maybe I could have done more.  But the more I thought about it, the truth is that these people haven’t stopped what they are doing to bring my teams up to speed so I have the time to help them.  That isn’t to say they haven’t helped me before—they absolutely have.  But I’ve respected their limits and this was a moment where they weren’t respecting mine.  The fact that they didn’t take the time to address the issue where it belonged (a mistake with IT), they assumed everyone would jump in to fix it. 

Now that a week has passed, I am more comfortable with what happened.  I am more comfortable approaching the group and letting them know that we need to look at these situations differently.  I am also more comfortable standing on my own two feet and letting them know exactly where I stand with my teams.  I was thrown into the fire with 2/3 of my teams because I was NOT hired to oversee them.  I had to dive in and learn their roles and learn how to lead them—and I did it.  I’ve learned these groups from the ground up and I don’t need to defend what I do.  If it isn’t logistically or physically possible, my peers can be angry.  That’s on them.  I will no longer seek to find the time that doesn’t exist in the day when I have other people who need my support.

We all know we are only human.  We also know the expectations placed upon us aren’t realistic at times.  I love the quote by Eleanor Roosevelt that says, “Shoot for the moon.  Even if you miss you’ll land among the stars.”  It’s beautiful because it reminds us to keep our aspirations high.  The problem is when those aspirations become standards that we can’t meet and, even worse, when that becomes someone else’s expectation.  We aren’t here to perform for others and we aren’t here to fulfill their expectations.  We don’t need permission to say that something is out of our scope and we need to remind each other that everyone’s experiences are different.  We also don’t need to continue to perform, trying to make other people think we can do so much with less.  I’m not diminishing our resourcefulness, but there has to be a monitoring of those expectations.  So set the boundary.  Admit what will and will not work and don’t be afraid to stick with it.  You will feel all the better for it and with more practice it will become second nature.

Where I Come From

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Yesterday was the anniversary of my grandfather’s birthday.  He passed away when I was 11 years old and that was one of the single most impactful losses in my life.  I remember the profound sense of helplessness, the dropping through the hole, clawing at nothing to stop yourself from falling out of control.  I remember as a child believing that I would never lose him.  I remember feeling his quiet strength and just thinking he was somehow invincible.  When we lost him, that was the first time I saw my father cry even though it was my mother’s father we had just lost.  My grandfather had an incredible impact on people and a sense of security and certainty about him that just calmed the situation.  Loss is a tricky thing for kids to navigate and it’s traumatic so losing someone with that type of presence cuts deeply.

I started thinking about where I’ve been, especially amongst the unease I’ve been carrying for a few days.  It got me thinking about where I’ve come from.  I was incredibly close with my grandfather.  I believe in a spiritual and astrological connection (feel free to disregard if you don’t).  He was an Aries, I’m an Aries, and even my father’s father who I didn’t get to meet (he passed just before I was born) was an Aries.  It’s the symbol of the fighter and we are strong.  We are driven, we are leaders, we are visionaries.  And even though I don’t have these gentleman physically with me, I feel their presence loud and clear in my veins, in the things I am driven to do. 

I think it makes sense that I’ve been off kilter a bit lately, because the things I’ve been working on are incredibly focused and I haven’t taken the time to focus as I should.  I’ve been doing the work I can every day, but it isn’t the work that I know is going to move things forward.  I’m working to get myself stood up and clear on what I desire.  And that is something I know my grandfathers both had in common: there was no mistaking what they wanted to do.  There was no mistaking their goals or where they stood.  Not that they were ruthless or heartless in their endeavors, far from it. Just that they were clear in their boundaries and focused on their tasks.  Family meant everything to both of them.  Relationships meant everything to them. 

It’s hard to believe it’s been close to 30 years since I’ve lost him.  I look at his picture in my office and wonder what things would have been like if he had stuck around a bit longer.  I wonder what we could have done and what he would have said to me. It’s a strange thing to lose someone like this at a young age because your perception is that of a child, but their presence was so key. It’s easy to romanticize the idea you have of someone, but I feel good knowing that most of my stories were corroborated so the image I have of him is pretty right on.  

Sunday Gratitude

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Today I am grateful for a sense of unease.  I couldn’t tell you if my life depended on it, what started this feeling.  All I know is that I have a profound sense of discomfort and melancholy.  A sense of not belonging and what I want to do isn’t really what I want to do.  Perhaps it’s a sense of detachment.  But the truth is, I am grateful for this feeling because it’s forcing me to really examine what I’ve been doing.  I’m legitimately proud of what I’ve been doing with my projects, but it still feels like a lot of effort for no return.  Regardless, I’m grateful because it’s making me look at what I’m prioritizing and clarifying what I need to do. Having a sense of direction, no matter the cause is key, and often when you’re uneasy, you’re on ground that is about to challenge you or you’re not where you should be.

Today I am grateful for my son’s hugs.  As I mentioned above, I’ve been a bit off.  He woke up this morning and silently stepped into my office and he climbed into my lap and gave me the biggest hug.  It immediately grounded me.  The feel of his little body in my lap and his arms around my neck, the smell of him, the warmth.  It brought me right back to where I needed to be: rocking my son who just work up in my lap.  Not worrying about anything, just being present. 

Today I am grateful for turning a page.  I’m not a patient person and I constantly get messages from the universe that I need to be patient.  I need to let go of my expectations on timing and just go with it.  You’d think after this long that I would get it, but here we are.  Regardless, I admit that I’ve turned a page when it comes to understanding the importance of being patient.  Growth always takes longer than destruction and ironically enough, sometimes growth IS destruction.  It’s always a sacrifice of letting go of what/who you are to become who you are meant to be.  So being patient allows those facets to drop into place and allows for the honoring of who you are meant to be.  I’m grateful to accept this lesson in order to move forward.  You can’t hold onto the same thing forever and expect to change. 

Today I am grateful to get some rest and connect with a few things I needed.  Today felt like a real day of reprieve.  Simple rest and relaxation.  I spent the day yesterday cooking and preparing for the week.  I finished my cooking today.  I got to work out.  It felt good to simply unwind and read and connect.  I went to the cemetery to see my grandfather and then I went to the book store.  The book store is a special place for me and it felt nice to get back there after not visiting for so long.  We all need days to simply connect. 

Today I am grateful to learn what life is about.  I literally thought it was about doing as you’re told for the longest time.  I thought it was about being the same as everyone else, hiding the things you liked to do in order to do what you were supposed to do.  In taking some time off of doing the same thing over and over again, but I see that it’s more about connecting.  It’s about being unique and embracing what it is that makes you come alive.  See, I thought there was a way to straddle both worlds, to play it safe and to get what you wanted.  But the truth is you need to give up what you thought to connect with what you need.  It’s about that awakening, and even if you’re in the middle of your own awakening and involved in the process, it’s easy to fall back into your routine.  Do what you can to break it.

Today I am grateful to understand.  Simply to understand and exist and to decide what we want to do, who we want to be is incredibly empowering.  I am grateful to understand that we can let go of what we thought we needed and embrace what we actually need.  I’m grateful to understand that we always have the opportunity to try again or start over.  Every day is the opportunity to be more aligned with who we are.  Every day is another opportunity to try again and to get closer to your purpose. 

Wishing everyone a wonderful week ahead. 


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“Pain is inevitable, struggle is optional,” Buddha.  I think I just wanted to share a brief reminder that we can choose how we experience this world.  The more we are able to keep moving forward, the better off we are.  When we allow ourselves to get stuck and stagnant that is when we lose sight of reality.  Not all is as bad as it seems or as we fear it is.  I love this quote because it’s honest.  Living isn’t easy and we all have painful experiences.  We face loss, struggle, fear, betrayal, and heartache and that is just in the daily course of life.  But we don’t have to struggle with that.  We can learn to accept that the beauty of life is making a life in spite of the things that come our way.  We can accept that these are the things that make us appreciate life. 

I think I’ve actually written on this very quote before but I think after time and new experiences there is additional perspective to it.  Eventually you learn that there is sweetness in the bitterness and that we aren’t really alone.  I think we often forget how time changes things both for the good and the bad.  We want to move forward in the worst way but we look for security so we continue the same patterns we know expecting something different.  We forget that we have to give up what we know to get something new.  It is painful to let go of what you know but there comes a point where it’s more painful to hold onto it. 

Change happens whether you are ready for it or not and the sooner you embrace it, the sooner you will be able to move forward.  The sooner you will be able to adapt and move into what you are meant to.  It’s a decision, and I know how challenging that is as someone who desperately clings to the past.  Making a decision means that you’re letting go of something else.  The key, however, is that in every decision we make, we also have the capacity to decide how we feel about it, or rather how we perceive it.  We can choose to accept the pain or struggle against it.  The pain happens, but we can be brief about it and recover or we can sit with it and constantly cut it open.  I choose to move forward and allow the healing.    

The Opportunity to Talk

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I shared my experience at work and the guilt in setting boundaries yesterday.  I also spoke of how good it felt to express myself and be heard.  I wanted to elaborate on that with the follow up.  We have weekly team meetings in my 9-5 and the events of the week prior weighed heavily on my mind.  The saying goes something like, “If it still bothers you after 24 hours, speak up in 48.”  Well, I didn’t get to speak up in 48, but I still broached the subject with the group.  One of the two individuals was in the meeting and I simply addressed the group with the facts.  I informed them that there is a lot going on with each group that no one has a clear understanding of and that we need to stop jumping into action when we assume something is broken.  I suggested that if we see something broken we need to come together and have a conversation in order to avoid assumptions.  We need to address the wound, not band aid the solution because we see numbers going up.

A few of them were slightly taken aback because no one has addressed them like that before.  Normally there is passive aggressive “confrontations” followed by weeks of speaking about each other behind our backs.  But this isn’t something I was going to sit on any longer.  I’ve never been one for unproductive work.  I’ve also never been one to try and plug a dam with my fingers.  It never made sense to me.  If there is an issue, I want to address it at the root.  Going after the symptoms isn’t going to stop the problem from happening.  I may be a people pleaser to this day, but I will not jump if there is something I know doesn’t make sense.  If there is a better way that is what we should be doing and I advocate for it.

I’m not naïve enough to believe that this will change anything with this group, but I am proud I took the chance.  I am happy I stood my ground and that I took the opportunity to express what was going on.  There is no way that anyone can say that I didn’t voice the concern when it came up.  People sometimes need time to digest a message and they sometimes don’t know how to address a crisis when it comes up.  My previous traumas have taught me when to react and when not to react to a perceived crisis.  Death is a crisis.  Severe injury is a crisis.  A miscommunication that leads to a few more accounts in a work queue is not a crisis.  So, now the information is out in the open and I can wait and see what happens.  You never know, maybe this is the moment that awakens some of them.  It set a boundary for myself on what I will and will not tolerate with the group and I’m glad it came from a place of authenticity.  Keep speaking up.

Setting Boundaries

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I had a moment in thinking about boundaries because I felt lonely.  It feels uncomfortable to set boundaries because we are afraid that they won’t be received or that we will end up alone.  We are afraid that boundaries mean we are cutting ourselves off.  The truth is boundaries are simply the limits within which we operate.  They are ever changing but they help clear up that definition of who we are as well as the alignment of what we will and will not tolerate on our paths.    

This past week I’ve had to set boundaries both at home and at work—and I had an intense moment of guilt with each of them.  But part of setting boundaries is learning to let go of that guilt.  There are moments in our lives that we need to be ours and ours alone and there is no reason to feel guilty about that.  There are moments when we can no longer support the behavior of others in our lives and we set the boundary.  Either they will respect and accept that or they will fall away.  Anyone who was comfortable crossing your boundaries doesn’t have respect for you and they were more concerned with getting what they needed or wanted from you than building a relationship with you.

So when it came to setting boundaries at home, I never really considered how much guilt I carried.  I mentioned in my gratitude post that I was upset the family wasn’t helping me clean this past weekend. I had a learning opportunity that I had to attend and I also had some writing to work on and the house was a mess.  I had things I wanted to get done prior to starting my work.  I made my husband and son get off their butts to help me and then I had to yell at my son to get out of my office. I normally let him play but I couldn’t afford any more distractions so I told him to get out.  He was upset and bored and even asked what he was supposed to go do because he didn’t know how to entertain himself.  I told him to go use his toys and his imagination because I couldn’t help him in that moment.  It hurt because I’m used to giving him what he needs, but I know that in order to get where I need to be, I need to focus on my work. 

The other boundaries were at work.  Our boss was out of the office this week and I am onboarding two new team members while monitoring an action plan for one of my other teams as well as their new module and work queues.  Two of my coworkers have been primarily involved with another project regarding some state legislation and there were tweaks made to their queue that caused it to populate erroneously.  Instead of calmly looking at it and realizing the settings were off and making IT fix it, they demanded everyone jump in and help them.  I’m already divided thinly and working on limited time.  I did what I could for them and then I had to hop out.  For these two, that wasn’t enough.  I told them that I had done what I can and it escalated into an argument about what my team does.

I simply informed them that it’s very clear they don’t know what work I do and they actually agreed.  When my boss returned, I told her what happened and I asked for some time in our group management meeting to further discuss this.  I let her know that I’m tired of having to defend myself and my operation to my team and that perception isn’t always reality.  She also agreed.  So while the conversation started off with some challenges, I think this is a time for us to clear the air and make sure that they aren’t making judgements on what they think they see. 

This is something I’m proud of because none of this was in an effort to prove I’m right or anything like that.  This was about not letting people dictate my day.  My coworkers came in with the expectation that I would drop the work I was doing and jump into their role.  They weren’t happy when I did what I could do but I didn’t jump.  I kept the course for what I needed to do.  The universe jumps to support us, sometimes when we least expect it and in ways we may not expect.  For boundaries to matter, we have to up hold them even when it feels uncomfortable.  From this last week, it felt amazing.  It is something I will continue to do. 

The Click

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I just want to add a short post about the click.  I mentioned yesterday about an electricity I felt in a recent encounter with a friend of mine.  It was almost a magnetic feeling.  It was an instantaneous feeling in my stomach of “Yes, what they are saying is right,” along with, “They get me.”  I just wanted to elaborate on that so it’s clear we know what we are looking for.  I can’t guarantee it’s the same for everyone, but I can guarantee we all have our tells for when we know when we feel that “it.” 

I’ve been afraid to follow that feeling before because it opens a lot of uncertainty.  You don’t know what comes next if you go for it.  But I know how good it feels. It suddenly feels like freedom, like the chain isn’t slipping on the gear any longer.  There is flow.  We are meant to be in that state.  We are meant to click into place and let life be easy.  I can’t reiterate enough that we are not all designed the same way so we are not all meant to desire the same thing and we are not all meant to go about the same path, trying to reach the same outcome.  It simply doesn’t work like that.  We are meant to find what drives our gears and let it go. 

Those feelings aren’t meant to be ignored.  They are meant to be seized and they are meant to change our lives.  They are meant to show us the ease that we can choose.  My gratitude post alluded to that feeling as well.  We don’t need to be doing all things all the time.  We don’t have to be everything to everyone.  We all need to take a break and have some fun.  We all need to be seen and heard and accepted.  We all need fulfillment.  So if you feel something, if you feel the spark when you are with someone or when you’re doing something. If you have a nagging thought of, “Wouldn’t it be cool if…,” then that is your sign.  That is for you to follow with abandon.    

The Moment You Know

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I felt something last week. I felt a new electricity, an aliveness that came to be when I saw a friend of mine.  I’ve been denying this feeling for a long time, the need to be seen and heard and understood.  Honestly, it’s pretty obvious that’s what I’ve been looking for.  Everyone wants to be acknowledged.  I’ve been telling myself I’m learning lessons from my current state when the reality is I’m just stuck in this pattern and tired of repeating the same day over and over again. When I saw my friend, there was simply a connection, an understanding that I hadn’t felt in a long time.  It made me question where I was in that moment, the things I’m going for, and the type of person I really am.  I had a moment where I knew I needed to sit and simply be with myself.  I know I need to find who I am.  I’m trying new things.  I’m working on myself.  I’m doing what I need to do and I understand now that it isn’t a destination.  The identities we cling to are really good guide posts to help us determine what we want to do, but it shifts.   

With that being said, learning who we are is one of the most difficult things to do.  Our behavior is predicated on the identity we create and that creation comes from the environment we are in as long as a genetic component.  But learning who we are requires an openness we are not taught because we are given the construct from the moment we are born.  Humans are certainly not comfortable with being open because we risk exposure or being “attacked”.  The truth is it takes time to figure out what is the right path for us and sometimes it takes seeing someone to remind us of who we really are.  I’ve read before about how sometimes we can know people forever and we can be screaming what we need at them and not be heard. And then there are times we can meet someone and they understand us like no one else ever has.  Time has nothing to do with it. 

Seeing this person helped me realize that, in searching for ourselves and in laying the foundation, we have to have some flexibility.  What worked for us years ago may not work now and that is ok.  So much of finding who we are is creating a fundamental building block of what I want my life to look like—it’s the same for you as well and it’s what we’ve been talking about for a long time now.  Yes, it helps to have someone understand us because they can give us support that we may not even know we need.  But it’s more important to be aware of yourself so you recognize those people, and you form relationships with those people who know who you are.  It’s about setting up a clear guide of what you will and will not do, what your day looks like, what actions you need to take that are aligned with who you are. 

In these moments, it would be easy to spiral out, but we need to find gratitude and grounding.  We need to be grateful that there is something in us that resonates with other people and that we aren’t alone.  We have to be grateful that we grow.  If we were to stay the same our entire lives, we wouldn’t progress and neither would those around us.  We are meant to shape each other.  And that dynamic changes with those around us.  I guess at the end, it’s really just to say that we need to pay attention to how we feel.  We need to know what makes us come alive and what alive means to us.  We need to know those things that spark the fire in us so we stay in that alignment we’ve been looking for.  Pay attention to the people who make you feel that way and go toward them.