Not Good at Goodbyes

My bags are packed (not really)It is profoundly unbelievable to me that my next post will come from Florence, Italy.

I look at that sentence and the words just start to lose their meaning. It is as if it is a story I am reading about someone else instead of a sentence happening to me.


“I do not think that word means what you think it means.”

Oh, but it does. I can’t wrap my mind around the idea that I’ll be living abroad in 4 days… until faced with the realities of saying goodbye.

It is coming in waves. They break faster now as my time gets shorter.

I had to hug my brothers for the last time before departure the weekend and one hit me broadside. Dan said, “you’re still not good at goodbyes…” Nope. I get chocked up just thinking about the moment. No. I’m still not good at goodbyes. My brain absolutely short circuits when I think about kissing Little Miss for the last time.

Bidding farewell to those that we love shouldn’t be easy should it?

Saying sinara to stuff is one thing. To let go of people and face the reality of being a half a world away from them — that is something else entirely.

Under the excitement

I have no regrets about leaving of course. I absolutely know it is the right step for me to take I am extraordinarily grateful and anticipatory. I appreciate how lucky I am– even though I worked for this and am daring to take the leap — I feel very fortunate.

There is an underside to it though. Maybe not “negative.” There is the yin to the yang of the “amazing opportunity” and “so exciting” — two phrases that quite honestly I am a little weary of saying and hearing. Yes, it is both of those things as well as a number of bright quite, expansive, open, shining, clear, “positive” adjectives. It is also difficult, challenging, sad, lonelyy, isolating, scary, worrisome, and not a little crazy.

The latter are the feelings that I have trouble expressing because I should just be happy right? Oh those shoulds that nip at our minds and bite us in the butt at every turn.

To give voice to the yin somehow makes me feel guilty. As if I’m not grateful for the opportunity enough to outweigh the fact it is difficult to say goodbye to my friends, and family, life, language, home, and comfort zone for a year (perhaps more).

I don’t want to sound like I am complaining in the face of such a experience — a good problem to have and all that — yet it is unrealistic to deny that there is a darker, harder part of the process of flying away.

It would be disingenuous to deny I feel some yin along with the yang. Would I begrudge a friend those thoughts and feelings? No. They are true, valid and I would venture to say normal and natural.


I would say the adieus are the price I pay for the happiness but I don’t necessarily think that we have to pay for our happinesses. I certainly don’t think that “bad” events are a necessary consequence of having “good” experiences. It is that moments usually contain both elements.

In the yin-yang tradition, the shadow allows us to appreciate the light.

In my minds eye I keep going back to the moment I found I was appointed for the internship. I hold onto the feelings of running around with my niece in sheer happy abandon.

I use the recalled and anticipatory happiness as a balm when saying my goodbyes. It doesn’t erase the pain but it reminds me of the “why” and of my choice.

I can’t have the experience of being on my own, traveling across the world, and all that does for mind and spirit without, you know, being on my own.

The heartache reminds me of the great people and relationships in my life. I am thankful for the incredible souls I know and love, and support that I have to make this fantastic leap.

I will get a fair amount of practice at saying goodbye in the next 4 days. I just said addio to my kettlebells trainer and found myself on the brim of tears — this great person that I’ve known just a few short months.

I don’t believe it will get easier to make these farewells or I will– or even want– to get better at it. Through it all, I am reminding myself to embrace life in all its complexities and to…

Always be IN,

Jo Signature

PS – Knowing how connected I will still be (email, phone, FacebookTwitter, and Skype not to mention this blog, my weekly insiders’ email and APAD) makes a huge difference too. I realize how lucky I am to be going overseas in the 21st century and not the 15th— not even to mention 2012 and not 2002 or 1992 — how communication and connection will be that much easier. So even though I fly away, you can still be in touch and expect to hear from me each Wednesday here or via those channels.


  1. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can compare to traveling as an education. After this trip you will not see the world the same way or see yourself the same way. Travel changes us. The last time I got on a plane and said goodbye I cried my eyes out from Nashville to Pittsburgh. And I cried a lot more tears when I got where I was going. But I wouldn’t trade that trip for the world- it changed my life. I’m so excited for you, even though there is a lot of sad mixed in with the happy.

    • Thank you Sandy. I completely agree about travel – nothing opens our eyes, minds, hearts and souls like seeing a new part of the world and establishing connections there (btw did you see this cartoon recently by Zen Pencils? On of my favorite Twain quotes). I had no second thoughts about making this leap, tis just the sad mixed with the happy that is most prevalent right now. Thanks for your commiseration and words of encouragement. I hope you are enjoying your current journey either home or abroad. To travel!

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