Where I Belong

Have you heard of the Universe giving you three signs and when you see them, you need to listen? And listen hard.

Shorts, bathing suit, dress for formal night, heels, check, check, check, check. Travel toothbrush, um, ah, dang it! Okay, keep going. Lipstick, check. I reach for my cosmetic bag in which to pack my toiletries and groan. I cannot believe I forgot this!


‘Babe, I have to run out to Walgreens real quick,” I tell my husband.  I am driving and thinking of what else I might need for my trip tomorrow and quickly scribble a list while at a stoplight. By the time the light turns, there are six items on my list; so much for being prepared.

At Walgreens, I meet a cashier at the cosmetic counter who tells me she can ring my purchases up there. I asked where her toiletry bags were and she showed me some that were on sale and a few others. Funny that I started talking because I usually leave that up to my husband, but for some reason, I started to explain to her that I had forgotten my makeup bag elsewhere and I was going on vacation the next day. She asked me where I was going and I told her on a Caribbean cruise. I forgot my list in my car and was going by memory and she was kind enough to watch my things while I got the list. When I got back to the counter, for some reason I told her that we just moved to the area and that we love it down here. She asked me where I worked. I responded that I worked in Human Resources at a residential treatment center. Her eyes got big and she asked, “What kind? What do you treat? Drugs? Alcohol?” She peppered me with questions so fast, she could barely get them out of her mouth, so I ended up just nodding my head to every question because we do treat all of the above and more. Her eyes got red and filled with tears as she told me that her daughter was Marchman Acted that very morning and that she had been to treatment centers before but nothing was sticking.

I put my hand over hers and told her that I worked at The Refuge – A Healing Place in Central Florida near Ocala. That it was an amazing place where I was able to witness some of the best therapists in action. I reached for my purse to give her my business card (Argh, no purse. Note to self: keep business cards in wallet, too!), so we exchanged names and numbers. I told her who to ask for when she called The Refuge and the admissions team would see if her daughter qualified to admit. She was flabbergasted, dumbstruck that our paths crossed that day, but not more than me. I consider myself to be a supportive team player in Human Resources, enabling and paving the way for our miracle workers to do work their passion. Not once did I ever think that my impromptu trip to a Walgreens for forgotten toiletries might change and impact a life this way. Then it hit me: I was where I was supposed to be at that time. I was supposed to forget my toiletry bag, forget my travel toothbrush. I was to be at Walgreens at that time to catch her shift, not earlier in the day or the next day. I was to start that conversation and tell her that I was new to the area so she could ask me where I work. I do not know if there will be any follow up or admission, but for me, sign number one.

In a course of a day, I go through various tasks, including background checks for new hires. At the Refuge, I have learned to bend towards showing grace. Some candidates have backgrounds that are not stellar and while we do not hire anyone and everyone, I feel good knowing that there is a place that will accept you because you have done the corrective work and are ready create a new story. I am ecstatic that I can be a part of an organization that believes in second chances. While you cannot erase your past and it may come up now and again just to remind you, you can rise above and do better. Sign number two.

I just finished an audio, Where We Belong by Emily Giffin. Marion is a busy 36-year old TV executive and has a fab life with her fab boyfriend, Peter. She wants to get married and when she broaches the subject, Peter gets all weirded out. She is understandably upset and goes home. The doorbell rings soon after she gets in and she buzzes who she thinks is Peter without calling down. When she opens the door, a girl who will introduce herself as Kirby Rose, the daughter Marion gave up for adoption 18 years ago, rocks Marion’s world. It is a secret she has kept from everyone, including Peter. Without giving too much away, Kirby realizes she is right where she belongs. With the good, safe upbringing of the adoptive family she had and with the parents who gave her birth, she knows she has the best of both worlds. Sign number three.

I am listening with ears wide open, as the universe surrounds me with clues of where I am to be. I have 3 glaring signs, one of which was a fiction book that a friend found for $3.00 and I bought last weekend. Suppose she had not shown the book to me? Suppose we had decided to forgo the bookstore and opt for the Apple store instead (books trump electronics any day everyday)? And suppose I chose to listen to the other audio I had instead of this one? I would have missed this message altogether because it would not have been the three messages together. In this moment, I know that The Refuge – A Healing Place is where I am to be as well; a place where I am part of a much bigger story, and where I have the privilege of witnessing the miracles that happen there every day.

About Shirley Daniel, MA, SHRM-CP

Shirley Daniel, HR Director, joined The Refuge in August 2015 and comes with 15 years’ experience in Human Resources in the publishing, telecommunications and healthcare industries. While she worked in HR in Canada and Saudi Arabia, she is pleased to be serving the employees at The Refuge. With a Master of Arts in Organizational Management and certifications from SHRM and HRCI, she is focused on employee attraction, engagement and retention. During down times, you can find Shirley at the beach with a book and her journal. She is lives in Lake county with her husband, Nigel, and their feline fur-baby, Kaya.

View all posts by Shirley Daniel, MA, SHRM-CP