Every New Beginning Starts With a Good Ending

by Julie Lieberman Neale on 07/09/2012

For the past few months, I have been consumed by “moving.” After finding out that we were pregnant and then determining that we wanted more space for our growing family, we took a leap of faith and put the house we’ve lived in for over a decade on the market. We were excited when it sold in less than a week, and even more thrilled when we bought our new dream home just a few weeks later.  All of our hopes and plans were coming together – in record time – and in a way that we felt was truly “meant to be.”

I wondered why then, after the movers had come and gone and we had successfully transferred our belongings from our old house to our new home, that I had begun to feel overwhelmed by sadness. I was certain that it was a combination of pregnancy hormones and exhaustion, but I had a sense that there was something else at work, too.

Chinese Wisdom on Packing Up

As I often do when things feel out of sync, I went to see my Chinese doctor and acupuncturist, Dr. Wu, for a little realignment. I laid on the table as Dr. Wu slid tiny needles into me, and she listened while I recounted the intense emotions that the move had evoked. She responded with ancient wisdom that struck a powerful chord. Dr. Wu explained that according to the Taoist tradition, when you move, not only do you need to pack your physical belongings, you also need to “pack up energetically.”

In all honesty, I didn’t know exactly what this meant. But the words hit home. The idea immediately helped me realize that although I had moved all of our possessions from our old house, I still felt as if a part of me had been left behind. I determined there was still more packing up to do.

I’ve since read a little about Taoism, a Chinese philosophy dating back over 3000 years, that offers enduring guiding principles about how to live a life of balance. I’ve taken one of it’s tenets to heart as my road map through this process: “the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” The first step for me in “packing up energetically,” has been to consciously say goodbye not only to my old home, but to what the time in that home had come to mean to me.

I realized that the decade spent in our old house represented the first phase of our marriage, the birth of our first child, and the first eight years of his life. We experienced tremendous joy and fulfillment while occupying that space, and also great heartache (and ultimately resilience) as we battled through our son’s diagnosis and years of infertility. Taking stock of all of this helped me to acknowledge that the first chapter of our family’s story was rich and multi-layered, and perhaps most importantly, that it has truly come to an end.

The Treasures I’m Bringing With Me

As we begin this new chapter, filled with both excitement and the inevitable fear of the unknown, I am consciously packing up and bringing along a treasure chest of experiences and wisdom. Through this process of closure, I am taking with me:

  • The knowledge that my inner strength and partnership with my husband can conquer the most intense challenges;
  • The ability to search for solutions when faced with great challenges, and the willingness to seek help when I can’t overcome them alone;
  • The belief that a powerful, positive vision, along with hard work, can help me realize my dreams; and
  • The heightened awareness to appreciate every blessing and not take anything for granted.

As a result of my recent experience, I now also take with me a secret; the key to a successful move lies not in the art of packing and unpacking boxes, but in the thoughtful process of ending well, in order to begin anew.


Though you may not be undertaking a physical move right now, this season, when your children are completing another year of school or graduating to the next phase of their lives, is a time of endings and moving forward. I invite you to contemplate…

  • What has this last year represented for you and your children?
  • What lessons and treasures do you want to pack up energetically and carry forward?

I look forward to reading your thoughts and comments here.

Much appreciation,


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Leslie Marden Ragsdale July 12, 2012 at 2:29 PM

Thanks, Julie! Very insightful, as always!!! What always amazes me about what my kids have “packed up” are the things that they remember that I barely can. Certain things I didn’t even realize we “always did” (apparently!) mean a lot to them. What I want to pack up are the memories of the little things with the kids (trip to the candy store at home, making pizza in Italy) and try to keep them vividly in my mind as they grow and change. Good luck with everything (and email me your new address when you can!!)


Julie Lieberman Neale July 13, 2012 at 7:08 PM

Leslie, thanks so much for your comments. It is amazing what moments and experiences have the biggest impact on our children and ourselves. It’s so often not what we would expect or the little things we might otherwise take for granted!


Rachel DuBois April 11, 2013 at 5:53 PM

Thank you for writing this, Julie. We’re moving soon to an entirely different part of the country (Scotland), and while I couldn’t be more excited to go, I feel like I’m grieving too. I feel I need to do some packing up energetically too :)


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