About a year ago, my husband and I made a big life pivot. Maybe it was turning 30, or both of us reaching career crossroads, or just a moment of clarity about how something was off. We spent about 24 hours lying on the living room floor asking hard questions and entering into what felt like total emotional and spiritual upheaval.
What did we want the focus of our life’s energy to be in this season of life? Did we want to stay in this home, in this city, this country, this job, and this life we’d created for ourselves? Did we even want to stay in this marriage? Everything was on the table. We made space for and imagined all possibilities. We sat in the pain of uncertainty. We welcomed it, cried through it, and waited for our internal knowing to guide us toward the next right action.
24 hours later, we had decided on a hard reset. We wanted a period of time for ourselves, for personal growth, for spiritual inquiry, for asking ourselves difficult questions, and for honesty with ourselves and with each other. Now seemed like the right time, before our lives got too complicated.
“How about Japan?” he said.
“Yeah, I like that.” I replied.
The next day, I quit my teaching job, he applied for a leave of absence from his Ph.D program, and we began making “keep” and “get rid of” piles of all of our earthly possessions on the living room floor. We started making plans to live abroad. I felt clear, but far from calm. I remember calling my friend (and now business partner) Annette constantly and she reminded me to breathe and feel the grounding sensations in my feet.
Over the next couple of months while we finished out the school year, we gradually began letting go of it all. After several weekends of goodwill runs and sidewalk sales, we found ourselves spending our last night on the floor in our empty apartment, with two small suitcases filled with what we had deemed our most essential possessions, and said goodbye to the life we thought we had been building.
We spent the summer living in our converted camper van, spending time with my parents and taking camping trips here and there. Then, in October 2019, with one backpack each, we got on a plane to Kyoto, Japan, and began a new adventure.
It’s interesting to recall the almost crippling fears and questions I had when we left, and how much more easily they sit within me now. I don’t know that I have many answers, but I’m far less terrified of the questions.
Who am I without my attachment to a place, to a home, to material things, to my community, to my work, and even to my spouse? What and who remains in that laid-bare, spacious existence? What might happen if I just created space to be with myself, undistracted, without any intention or striving? What if my ability to feel stable and grounded was internal, and not depended on the external circumstances of my life?
Almost a year into this adventure and 4 countries later I am still sitting with these questions, but I have become much more comfortable in uncertainty. I’m learning how to feel calm even if I have no idea where I will be staying or even what country I’ll be in next week. I’m learning to trust my intuition as a guide, and to have faith in my ability to figure things out. I’m learning that I don’t actually need more than a backpack’s worth of possessions. I’m learning how to fully feel my feelings, distinguish pain from suffering, and turn toward discomfort. I have found new clarity, and also have a lot more questions.
It’s also astonished me how many aspects of my life are portable. A global pandemic actually turns out to be the perfect time to be a digital nomad. There’s something about the state of the world right now that allows me to relax into chaos and uncertainty. This period has also offered me time and space to grow my blog and launch our community, which has been such a helpful support for me around practicing mindfulness and staying nourished, connected, and grounded during this swirly time.
So that’s what I’m up to. Several people I’ve talked to lately have encouraged me to share more about my unusual year here on my blog, so here I am, sharing. I’m curious to hear your thoughts and responses.
Have you ever made a major change in your life that felt both scary and exciting? Have you ever intentionally carved out spaciousness in your life to get to know yourself more fully?
Comment below or you can e-mail me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. ❤️