When The Lesson Clicks

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There really comes a tipping point when you realize all the work you’ve done is clicking.  You move differently.  You feel differently.  You look at yourself differently.  In those moments when you may have felt like breaking down, suddenly you feel alive and clear.  The emotion isn’t the same.  You react differently.  You see the world differently.  Suddenly there is this possibility of moving the pieces rather than getting taken out like some pawn.  I’m not talking abut looking at the world as a game—I’m talking about responding to the world as it is as we are. 

I woke up the other morning feeling absolutely invincible.  I had no reason to—nothing special happened.  I didn’t do the workout I wanted to because my body ached, I was running late in waking up my kid, my mind wandered all over the place.  But I felt empowered to look at the morning differently.  I still worked out even if it wasn’t as hard as I wanted it to be.  I still had time with my kid even though it wasn’t as much as I wanted.  My mind wanders all the time anyway but I still manage to get things done.  I was proud to be present in that moment and to accept myself.  I felt like myself.

So many days I feel like I’m out of my skin, never quite who I am and always looking for the next thing I have to be doing.  I rarely feel settled.  The moments I do feel that contentment feel amazing.  But this particular moment was something else.  It was more than a glimpse of being settled.  It was a moment of standing rock solid in my foundation.  It reminded me that we don’t need to take over the world to feel powerful, we just need to take control of our world.  Talk about a release of pressure. 

We can never control the people or events around us.  All we can control is ourselves and our reactions, how we move, how we feel.  We can choose who we want to be.  I’m not the greatest at staying in that state of mind, but I constantly remind myself that I have the option to choose, and as long as that option exists, I am blessed.  And maybe that is part of why I felt invincible: I realized that I am blessed simply to exist.  I can make moves in my life and we are each at the helm—including me.  We have to appreciate what we can do over what we can’t because that is what opens up the possibilities to finding our way.  It feels good.    

Uvalde

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There has been another mass shooting in this country.  ANOTHER.  Words will do nothing to change the tragedy that unfolded yesterday and, quite frankly, I’m sick of having to preface any type of mass tragedy with the word “another”.  There should never have been a first, let alone time to allow for “another”.  I’ve shifted posts around in order to make this clear: it is time for action and that action isn’t going to be granted by any politician—this has to start with the families, with the people demanding better and identifying all sources of this issue.  We have to get to the cause and this which goes beyond politics and laws and who has access to weapons.  This is in conjunction with mental health issues, humanity, power, fear, and the politics that allow all of those pieces to simmer together until they boil over and we lose 15 people senselessly.    

Choosing to ignore any piece of this is going to perpetuate the issue.  We have sick people who are in desperate need of assistance, who often show warning signs of this behavior, who are treated as unworthy outcasts in this word.  They lack the capacity to make functional decisions for themselves but we expect them to pull up their bootstraps and fix themselves.  That isn’t how mental health works and I will scream that from any platform I can as I know first hand how overwhelming it is to deal with incessant thoughts in my head.  We are not designed to function in isolation and this society treats life like “every man for himself” until it comes time to collect taxes. PEOPLE ARE NOT MACHINES. We live in a system we created to protect those with means, and we have left behind those who cannot protect themselves.

I do not want to live in a world where I have to wonder if it is the last time I’m going to see my child when I drop him off at school.  I don’t want that for anyone.  No teacher should have to enter a building worrying about defending children against a gunman.  No one should have to worry about going to their religious organization and dying or going to the store and dying.  We cannot become desensitized to the fact that this is NOT normal.  IT IS NOT NORMAL.  We need to come together to stop these things from happening.  Regardless of how you feel about our “rights,”  I ask that you look at the entire picture.  We are dealing with a different type of pandemic entirely when it comes to mental health issues and we cannot allow a system that creates the opportunity for those issues to be taken out on innocent children.  Reach out to everyone you know because chances are, someone is not ok.  Chances are someone needs an ear, someone needs guidance.  Someone needs the light that you have and THAT is more important than any job that needs to be done.  Change is scary, it is uncomfortable, but I ask everyone deal with the discomfort and learn a new way instead of dealing with the pain of never seeing your child again because we couldn’t handle someone when they were at their lowest.

We need to remember we are not alone, not ever.  To the families who just lost their children, no words will make this better.  Losing a child to preventable violence is not a group anyone should have to be part of.  But I choose to hear you and I choose to understand that pain and say something needs to be done. No one is alone.

For help with Mental Health, please contact the National Institute of Health Numbers:

Mental Health and Mental Illness **301-443-4513
301-443-8431 (TTY)
866-615-NIMH (6464)*
866-415-8051*

To reach your local politicians:

www.contact.mypolitician.com

www.washingtonrepresentatives.com

For grief and support counseling:

https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/online-grief-support-groups

Work is Done

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I read a brief piece by Jon Sweeney talking about a slightly injured bird he and his children were rescuing.  After they picked up the animal and began walking home, the bird suddenly flew up into the trees, seemingly healed.  He replied to his daughter, “You’re work is done.”  That really got me thinking.  Sometimes the work we do may not feel significant to us, but it can be life changing to others.  When we stop and take in the humanity of who we are, the gifts we are graced with shine through.  Whether it is the gift of listening, lending support, getting something someone needs, taking the time to check on someone when you are really busy, those are all gifts. 

We create this pressure on ourselves to achieve these massive goals and, in all honesty, for the longest time I thought that was the coolest thing.  Perhaps it’s naïve, but I truly don’t think there is anything we can’t do.  I’m not saying any of it is easy, but the human being is capable of some amazing things.  If we are able to come together with a common goal, I don’t think anything could stop us. The point is, I truly believe in the power of the human as guided by the universe and I believe no gift is too small.  We all have a purpose.  When we create certain goals as the pinnacle of human experience, suddenly anything else seems less than.  We can’t measure ourselves in the context of what is the greatest trend.  We need to measure in the context of what is needed in the moment and if we answered that need. 

Sometimes all it takes is holding someone in the moment to heal them, and that should NEVER be discounted.  I can’t count how many times I shied away from things I thought I could do because I knew someone could do it better.  That may have been true, but I never taught myself that they were better than me in that moment—I never gave myself the chance to try.  More importantly, I never taught myself that it wasn’t really about who was better than who at all: it was about how much joy the experience brought.  If we are able to release the pressure of “having to be the greatest or it isn’t worth it”, we open up a whole new world where we learn skills we can apply elsewhere.  The need to be the best narrows the view whereas learning to take it in opens a whole new world.

Our work may not be renowned by everyone in the world.  We may not become the most popular.  We may never be the most gifted.  But if we do the work, we still have the opportunity to touch lives and bring our experience to people.  We have to trust and allow all unfolds as it is meant to as long as we fulfill our purpose.  We have to see the gift in connecting with those who need our message the most.  It doesn’t matter if it is simply holding someone in the moment, allowing them to garner strength until they can fly again, THAT is significant to that person.  Be that person for someone else.  Be that person for yourself.  Unleash the subtle gifts you carry and allow them to turn into something life-changing for someone else.  THAT is our purpose.

The Joy of Standing Outside

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A quick note on reconnecting with nature.  Last week I spoke about my experience on Sunday morning, feeling overwhelmed and then going outside with the dog and feeling calm.  I want to reiterate how important it is to connect with nature.  The weather is changing here in the mid-west and it’s getting hotter and hotter, but it feels amazing.  The awakening is finally here.  The trees and flowers are blooming.  I’m about to plant my first garden (raised bed).  I felt that moment of overwhelm disappear as soon as I heard those birds last week.  The list of things I have to do isn’t life.  The things I DO are life.  Clarity is key.

Being outside for those few minutes, watching the dog, hearing all the different birds and the bees, feeling the breeze across my skin made me feel completely alive.  Those sensations completely brought me back to the moment and I realized that life happens because of what we do, not what happens to us.  The animals were just going about their business.  They don’t worry about the list of things, they just do.  And so did I.  The list always seems endless but it is usually the same.  I can shift things around and, the bottom line is, if I want to achieve certain things, I am the only one who can do them.  That last isn’t said with any malice or anger, it is divine acceptance.

We get to steer our ship and it is reconnecting with nature that allows us to remember that.  The moments we feel too busy or overwhelmed with what we have to do, that’s more often than not the sign we need to slow down.  Taking a few minutes to breathe and center and get a different perspective are often all we need.  I didn’t ground or do any kind of elaborate ceremony (although there is absolutely a time and place for that), all I did was allow.  The act of allowing is transformational.  Sometimes it’s significant, sometimes it’s just allowing the breeze to flow around you.  You can’t change it anyway, so let go of any resistance.

Sunday Gratitude

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Today I am grateful for new beginnings and fresh eyes.  There are so many second chances we are graced with and I am grateful for every one of them.  The infinite patience of the universe while we figure out what is really important.  To see life develop and unfold and evolve before us.  Yes, there are so many things going wrong in this world right now, but if we really stop and look around, there is so much more beauty around us than there is sour.  We need to give ourselves the gift of relishing in the beauty a bit more so we can see the joy of what we really have. 

Today I am grateful for closure/forgiveness and boundaries.  I had a tumultuous relationship with some of my family for some time now.  I always felt the outsider—I was born far after my siblings and I’ve always been different.  I was more of the lone child, the one connected at the hip to the adults around me because my siblings were gone.  We spent some time with my aunt and uncle yesterday going through some of the things they are working on getting rid of as they clean their house and it was beautiful.  Sitting together and discussing things as they are now, reminiscing about how they were, and finding a middle ground of acceptance to get us where we need to be.  It feels like not so long ago I was the child sitting in their house, waiting for the party to begin and now I have my own child and we move on to the next phase of our lives. As we put the past behind us, we simultaneously plant the seeds for the future.

Today I am grateful to literally plant the seeds.  I spent time outside today planting our little raised bed garden.  I’ve never grown my own vegetables before and it may not turn out at all—but I am grateful to enjoy the experience and get my hands dirty with my son as we attempt to bring in nourishment to our family.  As we do so, we are also laying the foundation and planting more seeds for what we want our lives to look like.  We are taking steps to live how we want to live and make room for the experiences we want to have.  Sometimes things take time, but nothing will ever grow if you don’t plant the seed of what you really want.

Today I am grateful for my husband.  While things are not always easy (that can be said for any type of long term relationship), I am grateful to look at him with new eyes.  The conversation I mentioned last week about him coming to terms with his own growth has been a pivotal point for us.  I am more comfortable accepting his choices and he is more willing to help me lay the foundation.  It can’t be all play all the time and it certainly can’t be one person calling the shots for how things go.  We are learning, even after 21 years together, we are still learning how to work with one another.  I am in awe at the things he tries that come naturally to him and I am grateful for the inspiration that gives me to try different things on my own. 

Today I am grateful for peace.  I had a moment today where I didn’t know what to do next and I found myself overwhelmed.  So I went outside with my son and we drew on the driveway with chalk.  It was/is an absolutely perfect day out:  the sun is just right, the breeze isn’t too much, it is perfectly mild temperature wise.  And as I sat there, I smelled the breeze and I had an instant where I was transported back to my childhood, sitting outside of my parent’s house in the summer, feeling the light on my back at the same time of day.  And I felt safe.  For that moment, my mind wasn’t running between anything else I needed to do: I felt completely safe, and I know that everything is going to be ok.  All IS ok.    

Today I am grateful for the moment.  As much time as we spent going between the past and the future this weekend, I am grateful for right now.  I am grateful for finding that sense of peace, that acceptance.  For taking my child and giving him the support he needs.  For learning to love myself a bit more even if the day starts off rough.  For learning that there are lessons in the rough as well and that it is simply the natural ebb and flow of life.  For coming into my own and being the woman I want to be—knowing she was always there underneath.  This is all her unearthing.  This is the rise.

Wishing everyone a wonderful week ahead.

Living In Corners

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A quick follow up on gray thinking, I heard Jennifer Gray say, “If I had been putting myself in the corner, then I can take myself out.”  The mind is the most powerful tool we have, I’ve spoken about it many times along with the ability to harness it and develop what we want.  Most of the time, the cages we put ourselves in are create by ourselves.  We create these stringent requirements based on ideas we are told but never consider their truth and then we hold each other accountable to ideas that no longer serve.  We create boxes and corners all the time.

This isn’t to be critical, this is actually incredibly hopeful.  If we can create those types of boxes and confines, then we can break them.  We can create new ways of being.  I truly believe everyone is inherently good at heart.  We have pretty simple needs at the core—support, love, food, water, shelter, etc.  We also have the need to fulfill a purpose and that is where we lost sight of it.  The purpose we have today is not the same as it was a millenia ago, it is not the same as it was 200 years ago, or 100 years ago, or even 50 years ago.  As we have evolved what we can do, we have shortened the distance to anyone in the world to a keyboard.  We are still learning how to use that type of connection. Until we know who we are and what we are really here to do, that connection will be surface level.  We will never get to the point where we can actualize into who we are unless we do the inner work first.

That starts with seeing the walls we’ve created for ourselves.  That includes obstacles we create through our beliefs and things that aren’t really ours to begin with.  It starts with recognizing what is really ours and what we want to do.  Seeing what we can do outside of the walls we create and then expanding and incorporating what others can do as well.  It’s the ability to let ourselves evolve that gives us the ability to accept and encourage that evolution in others as well. We learn the truth: there never was a corner. 

Living In The Gray

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There is a middle ground in everything we do.  The middle is not motivated by comfort or seeking ease, it is motivated by flow and the way things are meant to move.  I have a tendency to form opinions very quickly in order to make decisions.  I’ve spoken many times about how quickly my mind moves and that it changes directions just as fast—it is something I really need to work on harnessing, but at the core it is also human nature.  That’s a piece for another day.  But in all seriousness, there is a time to slow down and really evaluate what you’re thinking.  Not just the content of the thought but the quality and they why.  It’s easy to allow our emotions to dictate the course of the day.  But if we are not careful, that can dictate our lives and those initial feelings aren’t always accurate.

I read a quote about letting things fall like rain rather than diving into it entirely.  In contrast to the black and white of thinking in extremes, we can go gray.  We can’t allow ourselves to drown in one side or the other of what we are feeling when all we have to do is float, find our direction, and start swimming.  At the same time, there is little space for compassion if we are thinking in black and white.  When we think in extremes, anything that doesn’t align with our personal belief system is deemed bad and anything that serves is good.  But there can be too much of a good thing and sometimes what is “bad” is exactly what we need.  We need to gain perspective.

We’ve been operating under the same social paradigm for centuries and it is safe to say that many of the founding principles are no longer applicable.  We often take what we are taught and think that is simply how it is.  We are never taught that we have the power to change it.  I’ve had so many conversations with people and I see the fear when I talk about changing things and taking the power to move forward in a way that works for them: I’m guilty of it myself.  My fear of stepping out and not being supported often outweighs my ability to just do what I want.  But I have also seen the amazing freedom and know the feeling of that weight dropping once you step into who you are.  Those little glimpses are enough to keep me going.  The point is we CAN change.

Finding the middle is a Buddhist principle as well and it makes sense (at least in my mind).  Our perception can’t always be trusted because it is clouded by our experiences and preconceived notions.  So taking the time to find the middle ground is super important because it shows us something closer to the truth.  There are multiple ways to get up the mountain—some are easier than others—but regardless, it is the person’s choice and we all get to the same place in the end.  It isn’t for us to tell people what is right or wrong, it is for us to go our way and understand there is space for others to do what they need to as well.  It’s tempting to judge because we feel we know what is right and because that is what we are trained to do.  What started as needing the ability to discern what is safe turned into a layered game of social climbing—and we don’t need it anymore.  If we operate in the grey, we honor that everyone has value.  We honor that everyone has a place and a purpose.  Honor that in yourself first and give yourself the gift of a new perspective. 

Universe and Your Back

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“The universe is always a yes for you always, A yes the moment you send a desire out to the universe the universe responds with yes and in our daily practices we have to become conscious of what those desires are that are putting out because we are always being responded to,” Gabby Bernstein.   Following up on the conversation about relationships and appreciation, I feel this is appropriate and timely.  It’s been said that we need to hear things seven times seven different ways before we understand them and I’m working through reading a book on the Law of Attraction.  I never really understood what the Law was telling us.  I initially took it as some form of karma.  Then I took it as if you believe it, it will happen.  Then I stepped it up to if you believe it, it will happen immediately.  As I work my way through the material, I see it doesn’t work like that.

The only blocks we have to achieving what we want is ourselves.  That is the bottom line.  The Law of Attraction isn’t an ATM where we get the immediate return.  Sometimes it takes a minute for the universe to see what we are really looking for because we aren’t clear on what we are looking for.  If the universe is always a yes, it can’t be a yes to fifty things a minute.  Just because our mind operates that fast, it doesn’t mean we actually do—and neither does the universe.  The key is clarity and that is what Gabby means when she is talking about becoming conscious of the desires are when we put them out into the universe.  There needs to be intention in the thought. 

I love the idea of this type of communion, this relationship with the universe because it is truly the alchemy of creation.  It isn’t a restaurant (although I’ve seen some people compare the process to that) where you put in your order.  You have to place that order, yes, but you also have to do the work required to get it.  The universe will give you all the ingredients, you just need to figure out how to put it together.  My boss and I were talking the other day about goals and adaptability of the teams and how people should be able to shift.  She made a comment to the effect of, “We are all baking the same cake.”  And she had a point—we all have the same ingredients and we are all working toward creating that goal, but if we don’t know if we are making chocolate or vanilla, it’s still going to be a different cake.  Some people will say it’s still a cake, goal checked, while others will say, it’s the wrong flavor, start again.  And that is the message of the universe—you have to clarify if you want chocolate or vanilla otherwise you will end up with something you don’t want or something half-baked.

The universe isn’t a place for half baked plans.  It seeks intent and clarity because the goal is to fulfill our highest purpose so we can serve the greater purpose.  It follows that if the universe is always a yes, then everything that has happened is the result of someone’s request.  What we see is what we get and if we want something else, we need to shift direction of our thoughts and intentions.  There is so much hope in the idea that we are able to create what we want and even more in the idea that the universe is always conspiring to get us what we want at all times.  We don’t need to put the qualifiers on anything we want (ie, if I’m thin enough I will get x, or if I work long enough hours, they will think y) because it is already there.  We just need to harmonize with it.  THAT is frequency.  So let all the excess fall away and understand what it is you truly want.  Then start practices that align with that and watch how the rest comes into reality, and watch how quickly.  It’s just about deciding.

A Dose of Humility/A Double Take

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The other day I spoke about my frustration with people not looking at the big picture and how that turned into a moment with my husband.  I want to add more to that conversation and take away some of the high-horse attitude.  When I say these things about growth and change and knowing our place in the universe, I genuinely mean them.  If we are ever going to truly create a space, create a world where people are truly aligned with each other and the universe, and we all understand the miracle nature of this existence, we HAVE to stop solely thinking of ourselves.  Ironically, we need to make sure our individual needs are met before we are able to pour into anyone else’s cup.  I wrote that piece about my husband and I because I love him and the growth we experience seems to be awakening things in both of us that are incongruent and the thought of not being with him should those things become too different terrifies me.  I’m human. 

Sometimes it takes seeing someone in a new light to really appreciate who they are.  I’ve said it a million times, growth/creation is destructive.  You give up what you were for what you must become because those people can’t exist together.  Pieces may come with you, but you can’t exist as that person if you want to do and be someone else.  A couple of days after that conversation, after marinating in an icky soup of not knowing who I was and remembering all the errors of the past, my husband and I spoke again.  I told him I don’t want to ever force someone to do things for me just to keep me quiet.  If we are going to walk the path together, I want that person to be there willingly.  One, for their sake, it is simply easier.  Two if we are walking the same path we can find the way together.  Three, it’s exhausting taking people where they don’t want to be. 

During that second conversation, my husband clarified that he does love our life together and he thanked me.  He said, “You make me a better man and the person I need to be.”  I know some may read that and call bullshit or they may think it was a romantic moment.  My immediate response to him was panic and that was what I tried to articulate during our last conversation.  You’re only doing these things to shut me up, not because you want to or because that’s who you are.  I replied to him, “But is that the man you WANT to be?  I don’t want to make you be this person if that is not you.”  I was proud I could explain the difference in motivation.  If that motivation is ever external, the changes will never be genuine.  I do not want to be resented for forcing someone to be who they are not, no matter the potential I see.

And in that moment, before he replied anything else, I realized the fear I had was about not being heard or seen for who I am as well as ending up like my parents—resenting each other after decades together for not hearing or seeing what the other one truly needed.  We have to have the capacity to give the other person what they need as much as we need it from them.  And then there are the things we simply must be able to do for ourselves because no one will ever be able to fulfill them.   So now the question becomes what can we do for each other.  Neither of us is owed anything—we just need to decide how we move forward.  I spoke about a similar instance between us several months ago, and I notice that this evolution is a bit circular—a struggle to climb up, then each acclimating a different way, then coming together.  I sincerely appreciate my husband and I see how much he does for us and I think that is a nice reminder that, simply, we just need to get back to appreciating each other.  Once that is right in our own world, we can take on the next.

Joining The Crowd

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I’ve always struggled to fit in.  Truth be told, I didn’t want to.  I had my own agenda from the time I was a kid and I thought I new it all and that the goal was to meet the goal as quickly as possible.  I dealt with a lot of loss, a lot of abuse, a lot of being taken advantage of very early on in my life so the walls came up and anyone who didn’t want to play the game clearly had designs on using me.  I never learned the social cues of working with people because I was the one who always ended up doing the assignment anyway.  If it was supposed to be a certain way, that is what we needed to do and I kept the ship right on course—for everyone.  After a time, that became the expectation: we can do whatever we want and screw it up beyond repair and Elizabeth will fix it.  It’s exhausting.

As I work through the journey of self-discovery and leadership, I’m learning a lot and it is humbling.  It isn’t about pulling the reins all the time.  It’s about maintaining course while allowing the other influences to shape and mold the course.  That’s a really fine line to walk at times.  I have a really soft heart and I have employees who genuinely have been taken advantage of and they need a lot of love.  But I swung too far and allowed them too much space to the point work wasn’t getting done—I was left holding the bag again.  I found myself angry and the old rigidity, not far under the surface, reared its ugly head.  We needed some course correction, that is true, but I didn’t see how it impacted the team.

I care a lot and I am highly sensitive.  I take a lot personally and I feel even more is a reflection of me.  I can’t control how people perceive me, no one can, but it still mattered to me what people thought especially when they thought I wasn’t doing my job.  Working like mad to get multiple teams stood up, doing it alone because no one else knew how to do it, but being told I wasn’t working because I wasn’t on the other projects nearly broke me.  I wanted nothing to do with my team then.  I was SO hurt and it left me unable to do parts of my job because I no longer knew what to do.  Even worse, the team all started having lunch together and leaving me out, not even inviting me and I felt like that little kid again, being left alone to do the work while they all had fun.

But after a while, I managed to get my teams up and running (they understood where I was coming from and they started pulling their weight) and my boss actually told me she never expected that type of turn around and she was really happy.  She saw the effort.  For me, it wasn’t about the recognition of getting the work done—it was about understanding what actually had to be done to get there.  It was about seeing the shit show I was given and how I had to wade out of that while the rest of them were already on a silver platter.  Once things calmed down, my boss asked one day if I would eat with them.  I accepted.  I stayed quiet most of the time and there were still things that didn’t sit right with me, but I sat back and listened.    

My boss made a comment about being happy I started eating lunch with them and learning more about them.  if I’m honest the ego still rears its head and I feel like I am owed an apology—which in most cases, I do think people would agree.  But I’m learning there comes a time to let things go and this is probably one of them.  It feels good to know someone actually understands what is going on because, again, this wasn’t about accolades or praise—this was about understanding and being seen for what was really happening.  All we need is to be understood.  Sometimes that isn’t about continuing to scream our stories—it’s about joining in and listening and finding a connection.  Sometimes if the path isn’t winding the way you want it to, you need to follow it any way.  Allow it to change you a bit.  Then you can end up in the place you were meant to be.