Embracing the Next Step

wander

I don’t like large shifts and changes. I especially don’t like not knowing the next step in front of me. Waiting on the universe to unfold the next stair while my foot already dangles mid air. No thank you, sir. And sometimes. This general resistance toward change can lead to a not so great thought process.

In mid June my contract at my current position is ending and I’ve chosen to not attempt to renew it. I’ve known for awhile this season was passing through, but now that it’s coming to a close I’m wanting to stay on this page instead of turning to a new chapter. I want to write a few more pages into something already ending because choosing to stay means not having to feel stuck, unsure, or afraid the next move won’t present itself. My instinct as of late has been to avoid the uncomfortable nature of being stuck and the following changes.

I became frozen with the indecision of staying where I am or moving forward because not having it all figured out felt unnatural, irresponsible, and a wee bit nerve wracking (read: makes my heart clench cause PLANS ARE THE BEST EVER). I was ready to stay in a season that had passed in order to avoid feeling unsure and afraid of not being able to figure it all out.

But here’s the thing: You do not have to have it all figured out to move forward. You just don’t.

Let’s be honest: Change is hard. Even when it’s good change, it’s hard. Just like stress is a bell curve so is change. It’s good up until you hit your max and then it starts to wear you down.

And dammit. I’m tired of change. Since I began college it has felt constant. However many years later I am in grad school and change still beckons with it’s knobby old finger. People who think spontaneity is sexy are smoking something because consistency is the real head turner if you ask me. I like rhythms and familiar things. Knowing what to do when and where. But that just hasn’t been the road for me. I look to my left and right at friends who went to college and graduated to get normal jobs, and feel envious of the routine they already have in their lives. And then I look back at what’s in front of my own two feet. And I know they’re planted right where they need to be and I’ve been making the hard choices to move forward even when I’m not sure how it’s going to pan out.

Maybe you feel this too. Stuck. Not wanting to move forward for fear of what it will mean to take those next steps. And I really get it. But what scares me more than change and not knowing the next step is staying somewhere I’m not supposed to be anymore. Somewhere where I’ve learned my lessons and left behind my own good things.

All that said… Now I get to choose if I want to keep walking along resisting each tiny step forward. Or if I would like to embrace the new opportunities that I know are silently on their way. As stubborn of a person as I am, I think I would like to let go of the fear and say hello to the new good things on their way. I’m not saying I won’t feel the weight of the change because I know I will. I’m saying that I’m choosing to trust myself that this is for the best and I’ll be happy I didn’t choose to stay.

Blotting Out the Backdrop

blot pic

I’ve said this before, but I will always deeply deeply cherish the bonds I have with the women in my life. But lately, I’ve noticed something – we speak so highly of valuing ourselves because we are strong and we are sure of our fire. But then my eyes drift past all our actions and I see this story painted out in grey behind us. I’m not sure if it’s the real story, but it’s there setting the backdrop. A story we don’t want to give words to because we want to blot it out and pretend we’ve never been mumbling the words to ourselves all along.

Independent and kicking life’s ass as far as the world can see, but coming home to take your heels off and wondering, when you get to just chill at home and watch Netflix with someone by your side because you’ve never had to learn how to be alone with yourself. One more perfectly edited picture in that LBD and you’ll believe that you don’t care. But maybe if you stayed still long enough you’d remember how wonderfully weird and funny you are on your own. You’d find yourself enjoying the nights of lounging by yourself in the middle of the bed and sipping your favorite cuppa tea.

Maybe life spat you out this year.

Every last possible thing which could throw you into the mud did. And then life ground it’s six inch stiletto in deep just in case you missed the point. But you’re still here. You dug your nails in and clawed and clung with every last sinewy muscle in your tiny body. You’re tired and feel like you’re barely even crawling with no end point in mind, but darling, you’ve been swimming against the current for so long, when other people would have just given in and floated down, down, down. The end is so close in sight – it’s time you sing a song of change and hope because you are all the better things that are yet to come.

Held down for years you don’t know how to stop, and even the words slow down make your heart beat faster in a frenzy. All you know is the push, the drive, the will to overcome everything in your way. After all, it’s what has gotten you this far… But the hands reaching now? They aren’t looking to tie you down, or throw water over your fire. No, these are the hands of people who hope to kindle and blow breaths of life onto those flames, but their words will be honest and sometimes hard to hear. Will you let them help?

Your words come out like honey and you know just how to lift the dark veils on people’s eyes. How to reach into their dimly lit places and start a tiny spark. But what about your own dark places? The ones you won’t let us see. You’re afraid of the fallout, not being what people think you are, and worse the feeling after you let someone in. The dreaded waiting and hangover of a thousand feelings pushing you down. How do you know we won’t meet you there? The same place you’ve met us so many times and told us we are never too much, but just enough.

Yes, you are just enough to us friend.

So many paintings casting shadows on who we really are, where we are, and the journey forward. Turn around, take in this dark backdrop, and then look a little closer. The paint is flaking and tears litter the canvas, where you started to pull it down because heaven knows you’ve tried. Running a hand over the paint you can see the colors are fading because you’ve stopped dabbing new hues to give it life. Tug the corner and rip it down, or grab a bucket and toss a fresh coat over the whole damn thing, just know that you need to do the thing. The scary thing of doing a new thing to end up somewhere else. Turn the corner, turn around, run a little faster or slow down, make the choice to change so that you want to frame what’s behind you instead of blotting away the words.

New Beginnings

Do you feel it? The change sifting through the cold wet ground and heard in the squeaky sounds of life sleepily opening its eyes for the first time in months. The inhale of air and recognition of the subtle shift stirring around you.

I can’t help it. Every year this happens here in a land where seasons are so starkly contrasted and I feel the anticipation lace from my stomach and catch in my throat.

I am a child of the sun. I’ve always known this. Thinking back, I don’t have a single memory of winter as a tiny child, but countless flood at the thought of summer. Then during the worst years, the ones I look back at and am grateful I’m still here, I would remind myself things would get better if I could just hold out till that first breeze blew. Words that were paper thin, but I held them anyways. And even now in the midst of a beautiful even if hard year I still feel the excitement build as the light lasts a little longer.

The sun plays and so do I. Secret lovers with only so much time to spare. The heavy layers slip wayside and I can finally stand tall with my head thrown back just laughing, daring whatever it is to come. All the dead branches of winter falling away as green growth shoots into sight. I let my own dead things drop as well, hoping, waiting, expecting only the best in this sweet time. Winter may be held together with grit and clenching, but summer drifts past in a soft haze I wish I could grasp a little longer.

I feel bare feet scorch against the ground and smile against the heat. Here with waves of heat shimmering in the air I feel weightless and effortless all at once. The person I wish I could be year round, but only emerges with the rest of the summer things.

I almost feel bad for the ones who live in sun kissed spaces year round. They’ll never know the sweet relief of the sun dancing across your face after only ice and bitterness for so long. Or the strength of surviving the longest darkest season that exists. Or the thrill of rolling down that window and feeling the world open up all around you.

Tell me you can feel it now too. The new beginnings waiting to be poured out and painted across the page. The hope for something different something lighter.

Caitlynhummel.com

In Between Land

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in between

In between can happen at anytime.

You walk along with life making as much sense as it ever does, and then it happens. Your ankle bends a little to the right, and you wonder why the ground is giving way.

Looking down you realize the ground isn’t quite so solid after all, and your feet are quickly fading from sight. The descent feels slow though and you panic as you glance around. Ankles slide under as you take a breath, but now the sand is around your waist, and you’re flailing in your efforts to grab onto to just about anything. You fall through the hole with hands wildly reaching only to hit the ground in surprise with a thud.

Welcome to In Between Land.

Maybe you haven’t fell down the rabbit hole to this not so far off land yet, and no one has darkened your ears with what it’s like to be in a place where you aren’t really anywhere at all.

Well, let me be the first.

You’ll start out so assured. Assured of all you know and where you think you’re going. And then one day all those answers, which filled so many pages, don’t seem to fit quite right. The road in front of you doesn’t seem so straight anymore either. In fact, it appears to curve to and fro never settling in one certain direction.

Oh you know when you’re livin’ here alright.

You don’t care if you go backwards or forwards it doesn’t really matter because you aren’t sure you’ll even find your way out. There aren’t any signs or blinking neon lights to guide you home. No, it’s just you and all the surrounding space. Street lights and google maps don’t exist here, friend, so go ahead and put that phone down now.

You start to wonder where you were supposed to have turned in order to avoid this catastrophe of a place. Because surely, this land was never a part of the journey. A misstep. A bad turn. Nothing more than that. Could have been the turn at that old pine a few miles back. Yeah, that’s probably it. You finally see a sign in the distance and get closer only to realize it’s just mocking you with its blank face.

Flopping onto the ground in frustration, you think maybe you don’t even want to go where you had planned to go anymore. It’s not where you were meant to go after all. But then again, you’re half way there, and someone seems to have taken fire to all the maps going anywhere else.

And where the hell did this forest of trees come from? Trees so thick you can only see a few feet in front of your nose. They really aren’t helping matters. If someone, anyone, could just tell you where to go you would kiss their feet, and give them all you have.

You just don’t want to be here anymore. A place where nothing is clear, and you can’t seem to wrap your hands on anything before it just slips away.

Every step forward proves to be the wrong direction, but you keep trying anyways because there are only so many paths, right? Or maybe you’ve frozen. You’ve planted that ass in one spot like your mother taught you to do when lost, and you aren’t movin’ until you know where to go. Problem is nobody’s going to tell you. Because you’re the only one here remember?

You aren’t afraid of the journey. No, you would do anything to get where you need to be. But no one seems to know where that is much less how to get there. And so you sit in this place. By yourself. Waiting and hoping that something will give, and that you’ll be able to feel it in your bones when it does.

And even though it feels like forever in a sunless topsy turvy kind of world I promise you won’t be there always. The secret of In Between Land is in its name. It’s only in between. There really is another land to venture into in front of you it just hasn’t made itself known yet, but it will in good time. (I didn’t say in your time I said in good time.) So scour the land while you’re there cause I’m betting you’re learning and finding all kinds of things even if it isn’t what you were looking for.

Change Wears Many Faces

Change wears many faces. All of whom I’m beginning to know. Five months ago I knew somewhere deep and fierce that I wanted this, that this uprooting & planting of new seeds was good even as it settled amongst the hinting tendrils of anxiety.  But now change is slipping from an elusive idea to stone cold reality and the ground seems to tremble under the weight of the uncertainty and doubt. The unanswered questions hang heavy, while anxiety wraps slim fingers against my throat and threatens to take my air.

The doubts tangle one upon another until they’ve weaved a net that pins me up against my own mind. Do you really want this? Is this just another regret in the making? What if you’re wrong? The voice changes from questioning to accusations. You don’t even know what you want. Or how to get there if you did… Be practical already. Do you really think you have what it takes – that you’re smart enough, capable enough to do this? This is the old black tape with the broken edges and smeared scrawling handwriting labeling it fear, special guest appearance by doubt. The deep timbres of their voices trail along the edges of my every waking thought.

The tape scratchily plays & replays etching in the lie that no matter what I decide to do, I’m making the wrong choice – that I’m just doing it all wrong. The nightmarish loop seems to be stuck on play, round and round it goes. The echoes of the music rise and fall in my chest and my heart begins to wear it’s words.

But I’ve learned that fear & doubt raise their softly echoing voices whenever something big is knitting itself into being.

Even knowing this, the lyrics still loop in and out of my conscious thoughts like a pesky top 40 wannabe. Always demanding you to stay and to expect failure before you even begin. All the while condescendingly suggesting you fold and bend the pieces that make you up into the tiniest of spaces. I’m asking you to love yourself more than this. Do. Not. Stay.  Do not stay where you are, there isn’t life there anymore.

Darling, you were meant to face the quaking grounds of change and learn what it means to take up some space because what you have in that heart of yours is so very important.

So right now, while you are still in the deep, move forward with a heart full of fear and doubt. Neither can fade unless you are brave enough to move where the golden flow of hope & life stream into us and change us from the inside out.

Don’t give in to fear’s questions and withering words. Telling yourself that you’re playing it safe or I’m sorry, that you’re being ”smart,” when really you’re just scared as hell cause you only have a glimpse of what’s comin’ at ya – that’s not gonna cut it in this life. If you want to be knee deep in joy and resting in the achingly painful beautiful kind of happiness at who you’re becoming, then there are going to be days when the doubts and fears make their home in you. But I’m telling you a secret, they only do that to the movers. The ones crazy enough to want something more. So when doubt & fear sigh in disbelief and mutter of failure, pick your head up and move your feet because you’re in good company my dear.

In case you’ve missed it, I’m telling you that it’s time. Lovely, you know when it’s time to go. Even if you don’t know what you are opening yourself up to, just go. Go down this path even without the shimmering light of a dozen lanterns guiding your every step. Change often happens in the dark, while we follow the faintest glow that is pulling us.

I’ll meet you there,

C