let's write a new story. a story about leaving well.
In life, leaving is a given. We leave in big ways - relationships, jobs & careers, communities, religions - and we leave in small ways - patterns, ways of thinking, behaviors.
But we are trapped by a cultural resistance to quitting. We think the discomfort we experience always means we need to try harder, to buckle down, to give it our all.
So, we work harder. We give it more of ourselves. We sacrifice our health for jobs we barely like to please bosses we barely tolerate. We lose parts of who we are to stay in relationships that hurt us and keep us small. We stay in faith communities long past the time we believe - because we don't know how to move forward. We stay to survive.
What we don't realize is that leaving is often the most honoring choice we can make for ourselves - and for others. What we don't see is that by staying and waiting for someone else to make a choice for us, we still make a choice. We choose to give our power away because we are afraid of the unknown.
Leaving is a chance for transformation.
But it will only do the work of transformation in our lives and the lives of the people, places, and causes we love - if we allow it. If we work through the process of leaving with a whole heart and a willing spirit.
It isn't easy. But it is simple.
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Over the past three years, I've left just about everything I once thought defined me as a person. I left my nonprofit career, my marriage, my faith community, my religion. I left behind every concept of myself I once held. I let go of all the externals and allowed my true self to emerge from the ashes of what I had burned down in my life.
In this experience, I observed the phases I went through. I recognized them as something universal - an opportunity to transform, and a way to become our complete and lively selves as we allowed the process of leaving to do its work.
I made the choice to leave - finally - and soared with joy.
A few months later, reality set in, and I was jolted back to real life - the coldness of loneliness and uncertainty...I thought it was rock bottom.
But it wasn't.
Rock bottom wasn't the bottom at all - it was just hitting the water. It was the cold, hard splash of my new reality, and it was only the surface of the transformation that awaited.
What happened next, I came to call "finding the bottom." It wasn't a rock I hit when I jumped off the cliff of change - it was the surface of the water. For months, I found myself in a slow, steady floating - down, down, into the depths - while I patiently awaited reorientation. I realized I could thrash and swim and fight it - but if I did, I might drown.
So I let the water do its work.
Eventually, I found the bottom. I found it, but not before my entire being was reformed. Not before I lost everything I thought mattered. Not before I was able to find joy and gratitude in the most mundane things - from data entry, to nature, to learning to receive.
Slowly, I emerged from the biggest changes my life had endured thus far, and I made my way to the shore. The swim back was still a struggle. It was long, it was challenging, and sometimes, the waves threatened to overtake me. So I learned to move with the flow of the water. I learned to let the waves that pummeled my back open my heart to receive more love and more grace. I learned to use the momentum of the water to move me closer and closer to my home - wherever that was to be.
When I finally burst out of the water, I thought I must be done. But I wasn't. I was resurrected, but I was still in need of rest and a safe haven. I was still on my way to the next place, and needed to be well and relaxed in a place of healing and restoration.
Eventually, I was ready to move forward in a real way. I called it the "hitching a ride into town to start a new life" phase. It felt like a completion of something that had been started long before. It felt like the beginning of a new journey.
And it was.
It was during the phase when I was finding the bottom of the proverbial river I had jumped into, that I realized that my next book was to be about leaving. I was going to capture what it meant to Leave in Love.
It was also clear to me, two years ago when it arose, that it would take some time. This story isn't just my story. It's your story too. It's all of our story.
I need your help.
If Leave in Love is a story for everyone - if the experience of leaving and transformation extends far beyond just my life and my experiences - I need to get your input. I need more stories from you, and your friends, and your loved ones. I need to hear what you've experienced in your journey.
When have you stayed too long?
When have you made the choice to leave in love?
What happened when you felt left behind? When you were kicked off the edge of the cliff instead of getting the chance to choose to leap?
Join me for an event, or leave your contact info for me if you're interested in doing an interview for this project.
If you want to write your story, that would be lovely too.
Along with writing books, I also provide coaching, consulting, and training for passionate people who want to change the world. See my website for more information.
MY NAME IS Sarai Johnson
I'm a human person who loves other human persons. Label-wise, I'm an author, speaker, consultant, and coach. I've written two Amazon best-selling books, and managed small businesses and nonprofits for the past fifteen or so years.
I'm a chronic oversharer, sailor-tongued change-agent, and lover of nature and life.
You can see more of my work here.
Leave in Love events showcase the concept I'm working out, and feature an opportunity for audience members to privately share their leaving stories through writing, art, video or voice recordings, and other medium as they wish. They're full of laughs, aha moments, and the chance to connect with people over our shared human experience of leaving.
I want to hear your story - if you'd like to set up an interview, or share your story, please sign up here and I'll get in touch directly. Thank you for sharing your experience so somebody else's experience can be healthier!