Real Life: On Quitting My Job & Not Knowing What’s Next

Chinese Medicine, mindfulness, poetry, uncertainty, manifestation, life design.

As my final teaching term at (this) Chinese Medicine college comes to a close, I find myself reviewing the past three years…even as I sit in conversation with what’s next.

On the one hand, I’m exhaling with relief over leaving a work situation which was far from ideal. On the other, I’ve come to love teaching and treasure my past + present students. I also LOVE that so many of them have reached out to me and want to stay in touch. Yes, please! I will miss you!!

The past years in Nelson, BC, have been a blessing — even, or especially, the really tough parts.

As an introvert who usually works with clients one-on-one, doing so much extroverting at the front of a room changed me. So did learning to teach…and bringing my whole heart into the work. It is big, important work, and as I told students at last year’s grad:

I feel deeply grateful to have been your teacher…and to have each of you as my teachers. Thank you, from my heart.

Another place of change was learning to say No, declare my sovereignty and, well, stand up for myself.

This place of ongoing practice spans the professional and personal. It is still a work in progress and likely always will be. But the “me” who was here three years ago is gone…or, in any case, she’s transformed. I’m finally becoming a better custodian of my own wellbeing.

What comes next

I’ve been doing what someone else wanted for too long. Now, I get to decide…and I’m in no rush to figure everything out! This particular place of uncertainty and possibility feels like a relief and an exciting, welcome adventure. Plus, amidst the uncertainty, an anchor:

  • Devoting myself to taoist-buddhist-yogic ethics + practice
  • Acting from a place of integrity + kindness
  • Embracing my lifestyle preferences + choices
  • NOT choosing any path that leads to dread

I’ve also been revisiting David Whyte’s teaching in Victoria. Key places of exploration (me paraphrasing him, from my notes, with additions):

  • Change comes from finally deciding: “I don’t want to do this in this way anymore.”
  • As humans, we often create insulation and abstraction because we don’t want to feel the pain of loss.
  • Recovery and rebirth requires the capacity — and courage — to let go, say goodbye, and shed. This includes memories of the honeymoon period: We must let it go to see it come back around again in a new world — one where we’re given a new, different gift or the same gift in a different form.
  • Joy and radiance emerge from a radical undoing (not from trying to be happier). Many places we can’t get to through doing, strategizing and naming things. Instead: “What practice of undoing and radical letting alone can I take on?”
  • The names and stories we give the world — our world — give the illusion we know what is happening. And..we’re often forced into (or choose) a false kind of early knowing. We often name something — including relationships — far too early…plus give names to ourselves in the mirror. Instead: “What is my state of friendship with the unknown? How can I undo?” Pausing + silence is the start.
  • Don’t wait until the last moment. We will all have to give everything, everything, everything away anyway. Death is ordinary + universal. Don’t wait. Show up now.


As I make daily choices — and moment-to-moment choices — I’ve also been asking myself: “What am I preparing for? What am I practicing for?”

The Practice (and NOT scrolling social media, for instance, or otherwise numbing and distracting) is what prepares us for the really hard stuff. And there will be really hard stuff.

One place to start

When it comes to undoing, saying No, radical letting alone, declaring sovereignty, and being the caretaker of your wellbeing, daily life is the starting place.

Earlier this week, I shared simple, actionable tips around this sort of lifestyle design. That post explains how to radically edit your to-do list + focus on what TRULY matters. It’s a 3-minute read that will save you time ;).

I’d love to hear how you do with uncertainty, change and the unknown! Also, this week’s links…

Recipes + Links

Ode to arugula. And leafy-green justice.

On space and simplicity. Two short, important listens.

Why we procrastinate. It has to do with emotions, not self-control.

How often do you have sex? “As we wrapped, I told Emily that even though I went into this story with the assumption that every couple is different when it comes to sex, I was still struck by the variations. You know what Emily said? ‘Exactly. And they’re all normal. They’re all doing it right.’”

Speaking of partners. Fascinating read about co-parenting with two dads, one mom.

The case for grown-up slumber parties. Do we still get to streak and make prank calls?

Speaking of Girls Night In. I don’t get behind all their posts…yet still look forward to this newsletter as Friday evening dessert.

Soap up, dry off, get comfortable. And here’s my girls-night-in, grey-forward wish list (not sponsored, just dreaming of grey waffle robes ;).

P.S., What’s on your self-care wish list? What’s on your wish list for What Comes Next? If you care to share, meet me in the comments! xo.

Life by design.

When you’re making changes, caring accountability makes a world of difference.

I offer two avenues for customized plans + coaching:

The Foundation and The Deep Dive.

For free support, also check out my ebooks and newsletter.

In surrender + sovereignty, Dana



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Dana Leigh Lyons

Dana Leigh Lyons

Doctor of Chinese Medicine, Writer, Dean, Medium Top Writer in Poetry, Health, Travel, LGBTQ.