Read Where We Belong Online

Authors: Hoda Kotb

Where We Belong

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CONTENTS

Introduction

MICHELLE HAUSER

LAILA ALI

CRAIG AND KATHI JUNTUNEN

MARK BURNETT AND ROMA DOWNEY

NESHAMA ABRAHAM AND ZEV PAISS

MARGARET CHO

LINDLEY DEGARMO AND SARAH FINLAYSON

CONCLUSION

Acknowledgments

About the Authors


To Hala, Adel, Jenny, and Jill

INTRODUCTION

Maybe you did it today. You asked yourself:
What the hell am I doing in this job . . . in this relationship . . . in this city?

Most of us go there. We float around in the half-empty glass, gaze out into the world of possibilities, and wonder:

Is it too late to do that thing that made me so happy when I was little?

Could what matters most to me finally be the center of my life?

Can I really trust this yearning voice in my head and longing in my heart?

What we’re really asking ourselves . . . from the gut . . . is:
Do I feel like I’m where I belong?

Lots of us are asking. There are twenty-five times as many life coaches on duty around the world as there were ten years ago. More and more of us feel it is indeed okay to admit to ourselves—and to someone else—that we feel like we
don’t
belong . . . in our careers, our relationships, our overall daily existence. And we’re confused about how much control we have in making our lives better, and ideally, the best we can imagine.

Certainly, pinpointing exactly where you belong—where happiness awaits—is tricky.

When you’re young, it’s difficult to know what will make you happy. When you’re older, you finally know what makes you happy, but it’s complicated to redirect your many-pronged life. Plus, the head and the heart are such different decision makers. Often, one of the two is a sucker for distractions, excuses, and doubt.

The reaction is interesting when you share with someone the concept of this book. There is a tilt of the head. You can almost hear the mental wheels begin to turn:
Holy cow, I’m not even close to being where I belong in my life right now.
The topic is uncomfortable for some. For others, there is affirmation, a chance to acknowledge that their inner compass is indeed pointed in the right direction.
Well . . . yes. I am where I belong!

I’ve known for a long time where I belong, and yet I’m on the slow track to arriving there. I belong with kids, little kids who need guidance and love. Growing up, I thought I’d become a second-grade teacher, but in college, journalism caught my eye and has kept me interested for nearly three decades. I also grew up hoping to one day get married and have three children. That plan, well, had some unexpected snags—divorce, illness, and now, my age. Still, I’ll get there . . . to the place where what brings me the most joy brings joy to others, too. I’m thinking a summer camp for underprivileged kids. I can teach them, enjoy their silliness, and hit the pillow knowing I spent the day doing that which has delighted my head and heart for so long.

This book is my way of confirming—maybe even to myself—that it’s possible, no matter when, to create a life that’s both fun and rewarding. In the pages ahead, you’ll meet the extraordinary people who are the proof. These wide-ranging stories offer us all hope that it’s never too late, or early, to identify what brings us joy and peace. Some recognize it early in life—as early as grammar school; others need five decades. In this book, you’ll experience what it’s like for people to realize not only that they’re on the wrong path, but also that—yikes!—a leap of faith is the only way to get from Point A to Point Belong.

One story features a young girl who faced a vast chasm between her big dream and the small factory town where she grew up. Burdened by discouraging words and an impoverished upbringing, she worked hard and smart to courageously pursue what she knew she was meant to do. Regret was not an option.

Another story explores the delicate dance of relationship and marriage. When a husband created and followed a fork in the road to pursue personal happiness, his wife felt like their agreed-upon life plan had been knifed in the process. What happened to “us” and “we”? Their journey to feel content as individuals and as a team is compelling.

There is also a story of hope. If you’ve ever felt that something’s missing in your life, but you have no idea what it is, perhaps take a look back over your shoulder. A man in his fifties did and saw something he
never
thought he wanted. That second look changed his world, and now he and his wife work to improve lives around the globe.

You’ll also read the story of a woman who, in her thirties, found both love and her place in a community. The unique neighborhood she happened upon in life was rich in ways that the mansion she grew up in could never be. She was finally home.

Tucked in between these intriguing stories will be lovely little offerings from names you know—superstars in their fields. What you may not know is that they too had fish-out-of-water phases in their lives. Before the sparkle of celebrity, there were gray clouds of frustration and worry. What did it feel like before the road to success revealed itself? How did big fish change directions midstream? Each will identify the guideposts that led to a place of peace and fulfillment.

And so, please read on. These four words will lead the way:

Should.

Would.

Could.

Did.

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