every time i try to move on, people always ask me what i’m running from, but never thought to ask what i’m running to. there’s nothing wrong with closing doors that no longer lead somewhere.”
Have you ever moved across the country? left home? quit a job you hated? broke up with someone who was unhealthy? said goodbye to any ounce of familiarity just to begin again? If you said yes to either of these, then this blog is for you. If you answered no, then this blog is still for you. The bottomline is, it takes an incredible amount of courage to do any of the above- to leave, whatever ‘leave’ means to you. It also takes one’s entire self to stay. Leaving and staying offer two completely separate journeys and the next few minutes we share together, we’re going to talk about both.
If you’ve had a chance to read our “About” page, or follow Emma and I on social media then you have a slight idea about who we are and what our individual journeys entail. Emma has spent a great chunk of her life moving; from living in random places like JAPAN or Kansas (yes, all true), to going to school in Los Angeles, California to planting herself in Kalispell, Montana. I too have spent a great chunk of my life moving but this is where Emma and I differ; I moved around unwillingly. Where Emma gathered courage to say “YES” and not stick around like a tree–I remained paralyzed by fear at the shear thought of doing anything outside of my comfort zone.
I have met an array of individuals who have felt compelled to always leave, to never plant themselves or allow themselves to fully commit to one, seemingly “stagnant” life. For some it is for adrenaline, for others, it is about not missing out on the next best thing, and for a few it’s about running away and finding themselves. Whichever the reason may be, I have always admired these nomads at heart. They have to start over each and every single time, and that is just a daunting reality for someone like me, who is absolutely in love with comfort. I become fervently attached to every thing and every person in sight. I moved once, WILLINGLY a year after I graduated high school to chase my wildest acting dreams in Los Angeles – but the timing was terrible, and much like Tom in 500 Days of Summer, my expectations did not align with reality. I had to move back home after two short months. I was paralyzed with defeat…I never wanted to duplicate that mistake ever again. Because of this, any plan, any idea about leaving home indefinitely again was always just that, an idea… a plan without any intent of action. My fear of failing kept me planted at home, but I learned to fall in love with a place I once terribly dreaded. My stagnation and complacency was safe, comfortable, and effortless. I had a routine, I had a set schedule. I was OK. But deep down, I had been hungry for adventure, for risk, and to be taken completely out of my comfort zone.
When the fearless and the fearful come together, something quite special happens. The first nomad I met, Ashley Swinton – who is @WildFrolicker on Instagram made me get over my fear of flying and going on treacherous hikes. She is the definition of frolicker; She is a Canadian, born and raised in British Columbia but has seen a great chunk of the world. She’s a conservationist who cares deeply about nature, animals, and human connection. I followed Ashley on Instagram back in 2014 and grew in awe of her adventures. Our mutual love for the ABC show Once Upon A Time definitely played big factor too. Because of my admiration for this lifestyle she carried, and the genuine friendship that came to fruition, I saved all my money and decided that instead of going to Las Vegas for my 21st birthday, I was going to fly to Vancouver, Canada to spend a week with Ashley going on hikes, eating poutine, and drinking fresh glacier water straight from a waterfall in Joffre Lakes Provincial Park. This all happened in May of 2015 and my life has not been the same since. My fearful nature was gradually diminishing; I was falling in love with life, I was beginning to see that there was so much more outside of my comfort.
And then I was introduced me to Emmalee Dean Mclellan. A woman who not only embraced the very nature of leaving, but a woman who is not afraid to live. Emma intimidated me and still kind of does. We met on Instagram in 2015 and later, in real life, when she flew to California for her cousin’s wedding. You can find our short story of that interaction on our About page. Emma was living in Kalispell, Montana at the moment I received a text message from her saying, “We should move to New York!” I didn’t like the sound of that. “New York?! No..no..No….” I thought to myself. Living across the country from my community of family and friends terrified me. Any time Emma brought back that idea, I dismissed it with a change of subject. I wanted to be Emma’s roommate since the moment I met her, but NOT in New York. I don’t know what it was about New York that nearly made me sick to my stomach because in high school, as a 15 year old, New York is where I saw myself thriving. Thinking about it now, it very well could be because Los Angeles broke my heart and living in a city triple the size could break my heart further. I’m clearly still working through my fears and triggers. Baby steps.
New York just wasn’t going to be a thing for me, I assured myself. I’d remain comfortable and safe in my High Desert bubble. In January of 2016, Emma called me one night and said she was moving to Louisville, Kentucky and that if I wanted to move in with her, I totally could so we could save money together, and eventually make the trek to New York. I was like “Uhmmmm KENTUCKY??!!! what the heck is in Kentucky….” Kentucky was a state I totally forgot existed. Sorry, natives. I was very hot and cold with this idea, I didn’t feel right about it, only because I knew once I got comfortable in Kentucky, Emma might want to leave to New York suddenly and what then? My attached, can’t let-go soul couldn’t bear it. I just kept thinking I’d be alone, struggling, and living in the most foreign land possible. Emma moved by the end of January. Moving was the best thing she could have ever done for herself. It is very evident now that God wanted this for her at this moment. Emma, despite struggling in the beginning to find a steady job, quickly built a community and found herself growing in ways she wouldn’t have grown had she stayed in Montana. Emma, for the VERY first time in her life wasn’t feeling the itch to move anymore. Louisville was beginning to feel like home and planting herself became a tangible reality. I visited Emma in May that year and understood why Louisville held her heart. I met her friends David and Mylee Corona, who later turned into mine and eventually became family here. I attended the 10am service at Sojourn, their church and cried the entire service…something beautiful and terrifying and awakening was happening. I didn’t know just what at THAT moment, but now I see it ever clearly; The Lord was making way for a new chapter in my life. When I went home from my trip, I received a text from Emma saying David and Mylee believe I should move to Louisville.
For the first time in my life, leaving home felt like a possibility. I knew I’d have a church, a community, and a home. I prayed ferociously about this transition, talked to my loved ones about it, sought counsel from pastors and not one of them said anything negative about it. The doors were vastly opening and nothing was stopping me from walking through them. This was actually happening. The move happened in September- just 3 months after visiting. It all happened in the blink of an eye and here I am, 6 months later praising Jesus for His intricate plans. Sitting here, typing this out is interesting. I didn’t think I’d last longer than 2 months. I didn’t think this place could feel like home. I thought I’d be crying to go back to the desert, but now I can’t see life outside of what I have here. The Lord has me in the belly of confrontation with my fears, my skeletons, my emotions, my character and I am growing…growing immensely and drastically in ways that I couldn’t have in the desert. The Lord did what He needed to in the Desert at that point in my life. He did the same for Emma in Montana, and now He’s doing what He needs to do here, in Kentucky.
We can’t possibly know what leaving or staying will entail; we’re not that knowledgeable or wise and thank God for it. So wherever you’re at in your life, whether stuck or on the move or somewhere caught in the middle- know that your journey is a journey with purpose.
it is never about getting from point a to point b; it’s always about what’s in between.