Feel the loss, embrace the freedom.
Updated: Oct 10
Imagine for a moment you are standing in the centre of an empty house. Your home. Your sofas and coffee tables and bookshelves are all gone. Your kitchen drawers and cupboards gape naked at you. Your lamps and rugs and pictures are all conspicuously absent. This is the new blank canvas of your life.
Beside you is a medium sized suitcase, a laptop bag and a handbag. This is all you will be taking with you.
This is the point at which you take a deep breath... and try to really feel the overwhelming sense of loss and freedom that this situation presents. Loss and freedom. My two constant companions since that day. From the moment we stood in our empty home, toasting to the future with tear-stained cheeks, ready to abandon our happy, comfortable life.
A major life shift in your thirties is a fight against every urge in your body and mind that really just wants to nest like hell. Your brain is saying ‘buy a townhouse with a Khoi pond!” Your body is saying ‘make babies!’- or in our case, ‘move to the mountains, adopt a truckload of cats and live off the land’. (This is still the long-term plan). Instead, we decided to become gypsies.
When we made this decision, I was sick for weeks. I couldn’t fathom how I would untangle myself from my life. My work was all-consuming. I saw more of my colleagues than my closest friends and family. My team depended on me. What about our families? How could we say goodbye, not knowing when we’d see them again? Our cats? The idea of leaving them behind was horrifying.
Day and night my stomach churned wondering how I would extricate myself from it all. But my churning gut also knew instinctively that this was the right path.
Soon, the universe began casually steamrolling obstacles from our path. Signs abounded. Every day there were little gifts that made our process easier and reminded us to keep sticking to our guns.
That did not mean I wasn’t scared shitless. It took a full year to prepare for our departure and I spent the first 6 months in a constant state of knee-quivering fear. Thankfully I am blessed with a rational mind, and a wise husband (complete with wizard beard). One day after he’d heard me wailing ‘I’m terrified!’ for the hundredth time he asked me to list the worst things that could happen:
1. We have to come home (not so bad? Family, friends, kitties… I can live with that)
2. We lose a bunch of money and have to start again (well, at this stage, we are living in debt anyway, so that wouldn’t be a major change. We have a support system of family and friends and guaranteed work if we came back. Again, not the end of the world)
After this simple exercise, every time I felt the terror rising up again I would stop and ask myself, ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’. Family. Friends. Work. Kitties. And fear would slink off back to its dark little corner.
Eventually we made a conscious decision to banish fear from our vocabulary and to approach any and all potential obstacles with the calm indifference of stoned Hindu holy men. When you embrace fear (or discomfort) and surrender to joy, it's incredible what happens.
This was lesson number 1: Commit to your course with conviction and positivity, and the universe will have your back. Or, put more simply: Believe.