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I am visiting my favorite place in the world, my ancestral home country, Croatia. I believe this place to be my place of power. I feel my best here. I feel whole here. Like my very genetics belong here. Technically, they do.
Yet, nine months ago, this place rendered me so ill and afraid that I lost all confidence. After speaking at a startup conference in Split, I decided to take a writer’s retreat on the island of Brač. Four days, all alone, isolated in the middle of the sea. Little did I know that I had contracted COVID while at the conference.
I was frightfully ill on an island alone, two hours’ travel by both bus and ferry from medical help. I ran out of ibuprofen on the first day of the illness, and had no one to make the trek to the single drug store was down a mountain and across the bay. I self isolated without any medicine or method for taking my temperature, no way to measure the fever chills or know if I was in the danger zone. I just knew that I was very very ill. My writer’s retreat had turned to nightmare.
It confused me. Frightened me. Had my place of power turned against me? Was my instinct completely off? My fever broke after five days, and five days later I dragged my still weak body to the airport and flew back to Berlin. For a while, I didn’t want to ever return to Croatia. A sour taste was left in my mind when I thought of the place of my ancestors. I mourned for what I thought of as home. I was heartbroken.
Now visiting again, I am faced with the experience and wonder about the meaning of power at its core. If this is the place of power for me, then could that power also mean that this is the place that presses me to evolve? I didn’t know it then, but that scary week on that beautiful island in the middle of the sea, without help or resources, turned out to be the catalyst for a chain reaction that showed my then existence in stark contrast against my dreams. I began noticing my own limiting beliefs and the ways I was holding myself back. I need new resources, new plans, and to regenerate who I was in order to match who I wanted to be.
Evolution is hard. It means letting go of old identities and what once felt safe. Braving that transformation takes power and bravery. Maybe a place of power is a place of alignment and reflection, like a magnet beneath carbon shavings, pulling them inward to make a more sustainable shape. Maybe this place taps into what I have within, and when it doesn’t match what is without, it pushes and pries, amplifies and grows those new, uncomfortable parts.
True power is about humility. Power does not lord energy over others, but taps into one’s true energy with raw humility. Reviewing one’s life, reviewing one’s dreams, and truly recognizing where the path has diverged. True power comes when one is willing to tear down old walls in order to find something new, no matter how frightening that may seem.
If, when you look in the mirror, you don’t feel powerful, then being in your place of power will ultimately shove you off the cliff of whatever is keeping you powerless. For some their place of power is meditation. For others it’s the yoga mat. Still others, like me, it is a place. Ultimately, one must be open and ready for what might seem like catastrophe when old beliefs fall away in order to accept the call to become something more. Yes, true power lies in humility. Croatia is simply my mirror. What’s yours?