“It still feels like a miracle,” I said to Frank this morning as I sipped my tea and stared across the sparkling water of Rich Passage, a section of Puget Sound that runs between our new island home and the distant shore of mainland Washington.
It’s been seven months since we made the leap to a new state, a new home and the myriad discoveries of island life. The sense of mystery and wonder is still palpable. Nearly every day, one of us exclaims, “We live here!” or “This is our home!” as if saying it a thousand times will somehow normalize it.
Were they simply fantasies, too perfect to be real?
The move wasn’t completely unexpected. On some level, we’d been talking about making a change for over ten years without a clear sense of destination. My heart yearned for deeper, sacred connection to nature, while my imagination danced with persistent images of water views, majestic trees, towering mountains, a balance of seclusion and community, with a charming town in proximity and a major city nearby for easy travel. Were they simply fantasies, too perfect to be real? Did the place actually exist?
A few years ago, in a psychic reading, I asked if the channel had any idea where we might find this new home. After a few moments of quiet, she laughed and said “Your unseen team is at work lining things up. They say it’s a very fine needle you’ve asked them to thread, so it will take some time, but just keep feeding the resonance… connecting to the way that future feels. Do that and you’ll be guided when the time is right.” Then she added, “It feels north of where you are, someplace with soaring predatory birds. We see eagles.” I tucked the image away, and continued to dream throughout the long Covid lockdown.
Last October, during an exploratory trip to Bainbridge Island, Frank and I went to look at a house for sale. That’s the mundane description, but in truth, we walked through a portal of magic and stepped into a dream. Elegant fir trees framed sweeping water views dotted with forested islands and mountains in the distance. I was instantly transported and secretly giddy. My Future Self held out her hand to me and whispered Welcome Home!
Now, I’ve never been great at hiding my enthusiasm, but I didn’t want to completely tip my hand to the realtor, nor did I want to overwhelm Frank with my strong will and passion. After all, we hadn’t planned to buy anything on this trip. We were just exploring. But room after room, my heart soared. Playing it as cool as possible, I checked in with Frank. “It’s pretty great, huh?”
What would it be like to wake every day to this paradise? To develop a relationship with the land and embrace a role as custodians to this enchanted plot of earth?
Stepping outside to the back patio, we were welcomed by gentle birdsong, the artful tilt of madrone trees stretching toward the water, and a sense of utter serenity. We strolled through the lovely garden, a tasteful combination of manicured and wild, and walked hidden woodland paths dotted with standing stones, Japanese maples, and rock benches. What would it be like to wake every day to this paradise? To develop a relationship with the land and embrace a role as custodians to this enchanted plot of earth?
Driving back to the hotel, I danced with the possibilities. Not only did the house and property check all the boxes on our wish list, the resonance of the place was deeply familiar. It was as if my dream had been lifted out of my meditations and into physical form. But was it also Frank’s dream?
Worry cut in, bringing his buddy Doubt. After forty-three years in Marin County, this would be a huge life change. Our Novato house wasn’t even on the market. Would we be foolish to make an offer? We didn’t know anyone on the island. Would we feel isolated? Lonely? Would we regret leaving sunny California during the long, dark winters of the Pacific Northwest? At a stage in life when most people are expected to downsize, we would be expanding, stepping into the unknown and taking on more responsibility. Would we regret an impulsive leap?
And yet another, more quiet voice told me this was our home, specifically tailored to who we are becoming, not who we’ve been. Was it the voice of Faith? Hope?
For the next few days, we dove into the exploration. We weighed external factors like market conditions, rising interest rates, and our shifting income levels as we entered semi-retirement. We shared our desires and fears. Was logic or anxiety telling us to wait? Was my clarity of vision soulful certainty or stubborn willfulness? Were the sleepless nights a sign of danger or simply the terrain of risk taking?
In some fundamental way, it felt like we’d been handed an invitation to give up who we had been, and everything that felt safe and familiar, to trust an uncertain future.
We found ourselves at a true crossroads and the stakes felt huge. Frank and I had made some big decisions in our thirty-five years together, but this felt different. In some fundamental way, it felt like we’d been handed an invitation to give up who we had been, and everything that felt safe and familiar, to trust an uncertain future.
I had to laugh. Wasn’t this the very thing I’d spent the last twenty years teaching? How many workshops and retreats had I painted a picture of an emerging new paradigm? How often had I spoken of the courage it takes to do the “Great Work” during perilous times, following our most heartfelt dreams as a way to seed a new world of connection and co-creation? I thought I understood the concept that chaos precedes all change, and how scary it can be to follow the soul’s call into the unknown. Had I expected it to feel like this? Icy fear and burning excitement made me nearly breathless.
After four days, we went back to the property. Once again, my eyes filled with tears. How could a house make me feel so fully seen and loved?
I just couldn’t shake the idea it was a gift, and it was our job to receive it graciously. Frank was filled with uncertainty, which meant I couldn’t be passive. I had to fight for it cleanly, without demanding, manipulating or bullying.
We had to love ourselves enough to speak up for our desires, and love one another enough to really listen, letting go of attachment to the outcome.
The ensuing days were heightened with intensity. I came down with a sore throat and nasty cold, while Frank suffered something akin to panic attacks. Through it all, we kept showing up, with attention to detail, and the patience to honor every thought and feeling. We sorted through the input from our intuition, our emotions, our bodies, our sense of guidance, and tried to respect our fears without giving too much power to them, doing it all transparently. We had to love ourselves enough to speak up for our desires, and love one another enough to really listen, letting go of attachment to the outcome.
There was a morning when it appeared that Frank just wasn’t ready to do it. And even though I could see my dream slipping away, I had to be okay with that. To put my love and respect for his needs ahead of my soul’s longing. I genuinely grieved the loss and made peace with that potential outcome.
Because when it came down to it, I trusted the power and magic of our relationship. Over thirty-five years, we’d done the real work of cultivating trust in ourselves and in each other. All week, I’d watched Frank stretch and rise to meet the opportunity and was dazzled by his courage and vulnerability. Whatever we decided, I knew we would emerge from the process more deeply in love.
The process was so rich, full of wonder and respect, the outcome would have to be remarkable, whether or not we bought this particular house.
I also trusted that however these circumstances turned out, this journey was leading us to a more luminous future. I remembered one of my favorite sayings: the steps of getting there are the qualities of being there. The process was so rich, full of wonder and respect, the outcome would have to be remarkable, whether or not we bought this particular house.
Late one afternoon, nine days after we’d first seen the house, we took a walk along the harbor front and found a park bench. It was chilly but clear, with the red and gold leaves of autumn shimmering in the sunlight. Gulls floated overhead. Boats rocked gently in their docking slips. We held hands.
“We have to do this,” Frank said quietly. “And by this, I don’t just mean the house. We are being called to something, even if we don’t know exactly what it is. It feels scary, but walking away from this just feels wrong.”
With a deep exhale, I squeezed his hand. It was exactly the same thing I’d been feeling. We couldn’t pretend this was just another house, or that we could pass on it and something else as perfectly suited to our preferences would come along in another year. There had been just too many magical synchronicities for us to ignore.
A sense of peaceful joy enveloped me. Yes, I was happy we were going to make an offer on the house, but what was more important than what we decided was how we had come to that decision—together, fully present, in a state of openness. We hugged, laughing and crying. If the house was meant to be ours, everything else would fall in place.
Four months later
The morning after we moved in, I woke before sunrise to see Mt. Rainier from our bedroom window. She had remained behind cloud cover on all our previous visits, but she now stood majestically, glowing pink against the soft colors of the dawn sky. I squealed to Frank, threw on a robe and ran downstairs to receive her welcome.
Later that day, a bald eagle soared past the living room windows. Another followed, and we watched as they rode the currents, higher and higher. Turns out, a mated pair makes its home in a tree visible from our living room window. Remembering the reading I’d had three years earlier, I stood in awe, moved by the sheer wonder of it all.
In the last seven months, I’ve felt a bit like those eagles. Frank and I are riding the currents, lifting higher and higher in an intimate dance of co-creating our new life. Nearly every day something happens to surprise and delight us. The reality far surpasses the dream I held.
Recently, I’ve been sitting in the mystery of everything that got us here, looking for a way to share the magic. For me, the heart of that mystery is embracing vulnerability.
It started with the vulnerability to desire something more, and to invest in that dream, not knowing where it would lead.
Once the dream seemed to show up, Frank and I had to be even more vulnerable with each other, exposing our desires and fears without controlling the process. It was challenging, but we were ready for it. We’d spent three decades cultivating emotional fluency, learning to trust the wisdom of our feelings.
But the deepest vulnerability came when we moved in and started actually living the dream.
The funny thing about realizing a dream is the expectation that everything will now settle down and you can just enjoy the dream life. No one seems to talk about the hard work of living the dream. Maybe that’s because it might seem ungrateful or selfish.
But for me, the biggest challenge is stretching to hold the joy of it all, and learning how to feel safe in the midst of so much happiness.
Of course, there are the usual challenges that accompany huge change. But for me, the biggest challenge is stretching to hold the joy of it all, and learning how to feel safe in the midst of so much happiness. I can see now that the fears we had about whether we would be happy here were a smoke screen for a deeper set of fears: Is it really okay to be this happy? To feel this loved? To bask in beauty every day? Isn’t there something more I should be doing to deserve it?
Having grown up in a home where happiness was routinely shattered by my mother’s rage and irrational bouts of punishment, uninterrupted joy still feels threatening. With each expansion in my life, I’ve had to recalibrate my sense of safety and worthiness.
Because when it comes down to it, a dream is a reflection of your own heart. And when a dream becomes real, it feels like a love note, a reminder of how cherished you are and always have been. It is a living invitation to be unabashedly happy, to receive love and respond with joy, to recognize the dream as a gift, and to let yourself be changed by gratitude.
I am finally learning how to be loved beyond my concepts of earning and deserving. To let myself be loved without pretending I can somehow balance the ledger.
Each day I receive another invitation to say yes to boundless love, to let it shape me into someone new. I may have dreamed it, and done the work of clearing out the resistance to it, but I cannot see this home as anything other than a divine gift.
I am finally learning how to be loved beyond my concepts of earning and deserving. To let myself be loved without pretending I can somehow balance the ledger. And this is vulnerability’s hidden magic. It shows us a new way to live: undefended, open-hearted, grateful and trusting. It is the experience of life in a friendly universe. And that, to me, is the ultimate dream.