“Be like the bird who, pausing in her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing she hath wings.”

Victor Hugo, French poet, novelist, and dramatist of the Romantic movement

I type this right now, overseeing my second-story duplex rental. I woke up this morning and meditated—the calm before an energizing 2 mile run winding around the streets and the neighborhood park I always turn to (surrounded by trees and a bubbling creek). The October air was crisp today but refreshing.

Now I am back, enjoying a hot cup of coffee, sitting and typing on my personal laptop before starting my full-time contract job. I am grateful to have a desk overseeing 4 windows in a row before me, where I see trees, green grass, dog walkers, other a.m. runners. I also see backpacked kids walking to school with their parents across the street). All this. . .from the comfort of home. My home. And I feel at “home” for once in a very long time — in body, mind, and soul.

The picture of the blue sky and blue heron above? I actually took this on one of my last weeks of looking out the window at my former job as a landscape marketing writer/coordinator. Looks pretty, right?

Internally though, it couldn’t have felt more like a rainy day. Long story short, the job and environment was not a great fit for me as time continued there. . .and I started to feel more and more caged in and aimless to “what I really wanted to do” as the months spanned on.

And then,  I’d see this blue heron ALL THE TIME at work, especially as I started feeling more and more trapped and dispirited. I saw it constantly by the window I sat next to in my office  (there was a man-made pond to the right of my view, which obviously attracted it in the first place). Like I captured in this photo, I’d see the heron perched on this tree. Or I’d see it standing and washing in the pond. Or the best—soaring right towards or across my window view (wingspan was ginormous, let me tell ya).

Honestly, it started to become this symbolic game to me—and I looked forward to seeing its presence practically every day. The blue heron seemed so at peace, so in its element. I was feeling blue alright. . but I craved to feel free and in my creative/authentic flow again. I didn’t know how or what exactly I needed to do to step forward into something new—but I knew I had to do it. And stat—even if it wasn’t exactly what I dreamed of or expected.

As a former English Literature major in college, I’m still a sucker for symbolism. After thinking about this bird so much, I stumbled across this gorgeous post about the metaphor behind the blue heron from BeingBreath.com (check it out!)  Check out the full post for the long version, but in a nutshell, it reads:

According to North American Native tradition, the Blue Heron brings messages of self-determination and self-reliance. They represent an ability to progress and evolve. . .

Blue Herons have the innate wisdom of being able to manoeuvre through life and co-create their own circumstances. Blue Herons reflect a need for those with this totem to follow their on unique wisdom and path of self-determination. These individuals know what is best for themselves and need to follow their hearts rather than the promptings of others. . .

And, when they follow the promptings of the heart, they are one of the most magnificent when they choose to soar.

Ahhh. . .a co-creator of the life YOU deserve— I think that’s a goal you, I, everyone, should never stop striving for. Despite others giving raised eyebrows, I decided to take a long-term/ongoing contract job for an educational/office supplies company as an eCommerce Content Writer—back to my familiar grounds. I know now when I get overstressed and my daily energy becomes too invested in the nest of work that isn’t working for me. . .it’s time to get out as soon as possible (although easier said than done). I wanted to be that blue heron—in my element, whether grounded or reaching for the skies.

The even bigger attraction at hand? This role involved 3 days working REMOTELY (from home) and then 2 days on-site in Appleton (about a 1-1/2 hour drive, but still. . .only twice a week! Plus I spend one night at my parents’ to shorten the drive to 1 hour for the next day). One of my goals this year was to work remotely (or at least try it). Something in my gut felt right about this position. I had to fly now, and figure out the rest along the way.

As an introvert, I thrive in an environment all my own. Don’t get me wrong, I love genuine collaboration, too! But remote work is. . . liberating. I feel aligned. At this current job, I write detailed and creative keyword-optimized web descriptions for educational, art, office, or kid-friendly products. I get the freedom to be very creative yet still stick to rules and strict guidelines (as a student/school junkie, this is my jam!). Besides that, my manager and  coworkers are phenomenal and I feel a true connection with them—we talk all day remotely (or at the office if together); they say I’m “the best and most creative writer” yet for this team (*blushing* self-promotion moment here), but it sure feels good to slowly flex my writing gifts gain and feel a little bit more *at home* again within myself. ✨

Freedom: what does that mean to you? What are you holding back from? And what are you holding captive within you?

BUT—-despite the fullness of gratitude and freedom I feel now from working at home, I do admit—there is still a big world of dreams hidden inside me. I’ve been using the ever-famous excuse of life just happening, “getting in the way”— or so my conscious self tries to justify.

What do I mean? I mean that I have stopped writing for me. Great example: I have left this blog sit like a swamp, festering and bubbling with ideas and half-written posts in “Draft” mode (including this very post right here). . .turning murky and over saturated with guilt and disappointment in myself.

This month has been a steady rise in improvement, but this whole summer/start of fall, I admit I have not been refreshing my daily habits and mindset as often as I’d like. Instead, I’ve gone through a “good week” or 2 of being inspired, doing a daily meditation and writing practice, and then. . .start all the way back to ground zero — back to the murky swamp of partially unexecuted ideas and dreams.

SO. . .here are the 3 writing project stirring in my soul and I am slowly playing/working with in my free time. Three is a lot though, so I am trying to figure out which to prioritize and how to balance my time/energy:

  • A lifestyle blog with my sister (on the horizon)!! This one is really calling to me.
  • The book inside me (on my life journey as an inoperable brain tumor survivor for the past 18 years)– I have random notes typed up and so many feelings arising in this that I cannot let go of; just trying to figure out when or how much to focus on this.Time to leap and fly?
  • This blog–The Bright Steps. I have so many ideas on rebranding a bit and hyping up social media (with pictures of empowering book recommendations and pictures of yellow objects and nature images; have already started this privately with pictures of my cell phone or notebooks. . .but trying to figure out when, how, and if, to even prioritize this). I’ve thinking of potentially maybe putting this blog into INTENTIONAL hiatus, for now, to go full-force on my blog with my sister and nick away at the book inside me.

TBD on where this journey will take me, but I do know I want to strive to be more creative this year—and take true action on SOMETHING. Not sure yet if putting all my creative eggs in one basket is going to help or hurt me, but I’m willing to dabble until I find the right balance.

For those living in the Midwest or anywhere where you feel that shift in seasons and the chill in the air take over. . .NOW is the time to settle in, reconnect to your inner nature again, and get back to your true work. Let those wildest dreams and visions take flight. Get comfortable getting uncomfortable. “Wing it” ” and take the awkward first steps of trying to fly, despite falling down time and time again. Even if it takes every day of your life until your last breath, it’s worth it to keep pursuing an inner and outer world we each feel lit up by.

What areas in your personal or professional life do you wish you felt freer to explore and experiment in? What small steps can you maybe take this next week to spread your wings (and try something new and exciting)?

That being said, I’m going to end with a song that testaments this feeling (of course) from Lynyrd SKYnyrd (wink, wink) — happy fall, all!

Hannah Fredenberg

I'm Hannah - happy to meet you! I live in the (frequently chilly) Midwest city of Milwaukee, yet keep a sunny disposition year-round. I’m a corporate copywriter by day, creative blog writer by night (or morning). I light up my life with writing, reading, running, yoga & soaking in the Great Outdoors as often as possible. I'm here to help YOU dig deep and uncover your real roots (who you authentically are) so you can start to align your inner & outer worlds -- one step at a time.

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