The fear and sadness of letting go

Jul 4, 2017

(this is my home, all gussied up for a winter solstice women’s circle)

For the past seven years or so, I’ve been following a plan.


It hasn’t been a linear path, but it’s been intentional and focused nonetheless.


It all started as I sat in the sunshine in front of a sparkling harbour on my lunch break from a job that I couldn’t believe I had (and not in the good way).  My journal was open on my lap and I was grappling to accept what had become of my life.  It was here that I began to let go of how I thought my life was going to be, and could finally place my solitary focus on what I wanted to have happen next.

What began as a completely blank slate and a good dose of blue-sky thinking started taking shape.

I wanted my work to be meaningful to me.  I wanted a “cool job.”  I wanted to work with women.  I wanted to work 1:1 with people rather than in an office all the time.  I wanted to write.  I thought it would be amazing to find a way to make money in my already-thriving doula practice.  I wanted to be outside more.  I wanted to create my own schedule.

The plan continued.  I had no idea how to accomplish these things, and so I started researching. 

The idea of life coaching appeared in my periphery.  I was serendipitously connected with a woman who just so happened to train life coaches.

I became a life coach.

I created a business that allowed me to pursue my diverse and far-reaching talents and curiosities, with one common, driving purpose in mind.

I quit my government job and started working at a small non-profit as a prenatal educator while I continued to build my business.

Most of the steps I’ve taken along the way have felt incremental, well-thought-out, and doable.  Anyone who knows me knows I love a tiny-steps approach to accomplishing mighty things.


But now we’re at a Big Step.  I knew it was coming, and now it’s here.


We’re selling our house.


When we bought this big, beautiful place in the suburbs, we had a different life plan in mind.  I was going to continue to climb the corporate ladder (and eventually out-earn my hubby; that was my goal!), and we would start a family.  We needed a bigger space, and our salaries at the time allowed us this.  Even though we wanted to travel lots and live by the ocean, buying this house was pragmatic and reasonable.

And the thing is, even though it wasn’t quite what we dreamed, it’s been a lovely place.

My kids fill our sidewalks with chalk drawings.  My daughter has friends in the neighbourhood, and she’s learning to bike or walk around the cul de sac all by herself.  We’re minutes away from parks and amenities and, indeed, the ocean.


I became a mother in this house.  I birthed my son in this house.


These four walls have borne witness to the tears and joys of the past six years of our lives.  We became a family here.

But we’re leaving.  Our decision is a part of a massive re-prioritization that involves freeing up a lot more of our personal resources for playing and travel and writing and raising our kids.

And so even though we’re moving to a tiny home on the ocean, where ospreys circle and you can hear the surf pounding the shoreline at night, even though this has all been according to plan

I can’t help but be sad right now.


It’s complex, and it’s hard, even though I’m usually pretty comfortable with complexity.

What I find most difficult is that others can’t relate to my feelings.  When we announced we would be moving, people expressed their joy and excitement for us.  At that point, a lot of my excitement had already passed, and I began to grieve as I drove home to see a “for sale” sign in front of my not-quite-right-anymore but dearly beloved house.  And so others’ excitement for me was met with some hesitation on my part.

And because people wanted to see that this decision was exciting and bold and brave for us – and because most folks have a lot of discomfort with difficult emotions or even the complexity of feeling opposite emotions at the same time – it was hard to do anything other than smile and wanly say “yes, we’re very excited!”

But I am sad.  Because with this new beginning is an ending.  A life that I love for many reasons, given up for a life that I hope I love even more.  But I’m not living that life yet, and I don’t know that it will be even better yet, and so I’m scared.  I’m unsure.  I am full of hope, but I am grieving, nonetheless.

And I can hold all of that, because I am strong, and because I know that this complexity is a part of what it means to grow a nuanced understanding of myself, and because it’s what I’m feeling right now, and I’m okay with that. 

The Becoming Podcast has been on a short hiatus while I focus on writing my book, but oh what a comeback episode I have for you!

This month, I spoke to Toko-pa Turner, who many of you may know as the unofficial patron saint of many of my circles and gatherings because of the sheer number of times I’ve quoted from the wisdom of her book, Belonging.

Toko-pa is a Canadian author, teacher, and dreamworker. Blending the mystical teachings of Sufism in which she was raised with a Jungian approach to dreams, she founded The Dream School in 2001, from which thousands of students have graduated. She is the author of the award-winning book, Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home, which explores the themes of exile and belonging through the lens of dreams, mythology, and nature. This book has resonated for readers worldwide, and has been translated into 10 different languages so far. Her work focuses on the relationship between psyche and nature, and how to follow our inner wisdom to meet with the social, psychological, and ecological challenges of our time.

Here’s some of what Toko-pa and I talk about in this episode:

> The dream that changed Toko-pa’s life, causing her to question her career and, ultimately, her identity

> How we can court our dreams to support us during times of radical transformation – and the reasons so many of us have a hard time remembering and working with what shows up in our dreamscape

> Toko-pa’s perspective on the message of Belonging after the divisiveness our society has experienced in the years since it was published

> What happened for both Toko-pa and I when we fell out of belonging from the ideologies of the “wellness world”

> How to build community when you’re under-resourced

> “The Big Lie” when it comes to belonging, and how we can reclaim a sense of belonging to the greater family of things, as Mary Oliver so famously wrote

Listen to the episode on iTunes


Show Notes

Toko-pa’s Website

Belonging:  Remembering Ourselves Home, Toko-pa’s book

The David Abram video about animism mentioned in the interview

Toko-pa’s self-guided program, Dream Drops

Companion, the program that accompanies Belonging


Also, while you’re at it, if you enjoy The Becoming Podcast, I would be so grateful if you would rate and review, and even subscribe to it on iTunes.  That goes a long way to helping more and more people find and benefit from hearing these interviews!  Thank you so much!