So, you've been through hell? Here's what's next.

Don't worry, it really does get better from here on out.

Last week, I wrote about the first part of the change cycle, which is all about the caterpillar going into its cocoon and dissolving into caterpillar soup. It's the first part of the process before it can become a butterfly. If you missed it, you can read it here

I shared the story about how I was on a road trip and sobbing in my car. Through the support of my coach buddies, I was able to get through the process fairly quickly. I think it helped that I was alone on a trip that was totally self-driven (ha! Pun not intended), I was able to give myself all the space and time I needed to fully fall apart and move through the phase. 

And that's exactly what I did. I fell apart at the seams. It felt like my life was crashing around me, like some kind of Biblical movie starring Charlton Heston. In my mind's eye, beautiful marble buildings I had built in my mind that had significance crumbled to dust, and there I was standing in the middle. Nothing was recognizable anymore. 

When I leaned into the complete collapse, I was able to relax a little bit. It was happening, there was no need to resist it. I could just let it be this thing. And somehow I satisfied a craving inside of me that I didn't even know was there. It let me move through this part pretty quickly. 

It let me move onto the next phase, which Martha Beck calls "dreaming and scheming." In this phase, a person begins to have vivid dreams (daytime and nighttime) about what they want their life to look like. It is no longer about what once was, it is about creating the new, and all options are on the table. 

This part of the phase feels like new openness. It is like constant inspiration. Ideas come flooding into your mind, heart, and soul and it feels life-giving. Especially after feeling like hopeless goo for so long, it is completely renewing energy. 

For me, this part of the process didn't really happen until the last three days of my trip. This was completely the opposite from my plan, and it made me feel disappointed that I couldn't take advantage of all the traveling I had done. This wasn't the way I had planned it.

When I set out on the trip, one of my secret intentions was to look around the country for a place I might like to live. I imagined myself on this trip getting to know towns and people to see if anything fit for me. I wanted to see if I could find my next move.

The change cycle had completely different plans. Everywhere I went felt unwelcoming and cold. No matter what great company I had, I felt disconnected. I wasn't able to think about moving and evaluating places. All I could do was focus on making it through one hour at a time. 

But this feeling didn't last forever. When I was in Asheville, North Carolina, I was welcomed into a friend's home to stay with her family. For the first time, inklings of curiosity about this place and this life creeped into my thoughts. What would it be like to live in Asheville? Could I be happy here?

This was the beginning of the transition out of Phase 1 and into Phase 2. I was no longer hopeless, without a light at the end of the tunnel. That speck of light was showing and growing a little bit more each day. 

This feeling of starting to think of the future expanded once I got home. I looked at my closet and none of my clothes seemed like "me" anymore. Too much black and grey. I still owned too much stuff that I never used or needed. I overhauled everything and got rid of even more boxes of stuff (even though I thought I had already done this.)

I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to stay at a house of a friend who had moved out but wasn't selling just yet. It was amazing to stay in an almost completely empty house and get to dream about how I wanted to fill my life. What did I want my next chapter to be? What do I want to fill blank rooms and walls?

It was like going through a detox. Everything gets evaluated and assessed compared to this new version of who I wanted to be. It feels like life is a big clean piece of white paper and I can design all the things I could ever want. Normally, white paper makes me freeze in terror because there are too many options. But in this part of the change cycle, it's exciting because there are no answers just yet, just possibilities. 

Just like that empty house, I had been cleaned out and left standing. Preparing for the right owner, but not rushing the process. The time of possibilities is incredibly fertile. Hope breeds. 

Nothing new can start without a vision. You can't rush out of phase one because it's painful. And you can't skip phase two because it seems airy-fairy. Creating that vision and dreaming about possibilities is incredibly powerful. 

What did it feel like the last time you gave yourself time to dream? To create a vision for yourself and your life? What did you create. Let me know in the comments or reply to this email. I'm looking forward to hearing from you.