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Navigating liminal spaces

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Choose courage over comfort by vitally engaging with new opportunities to learn and grow, rather than passively resigning yourself to your circumstances.

Susan David

Liminal spaces are often uncomfortable places to be. You have neither moved forward nor will you be staying where you have been. So it can resemble walking a tightrope or being lost in a cavern. Transitions and changes of any type often present this type of liminal challenge.

This week presented one such struggle. I need to take a course to maintain a teaching certification but seemed to be having some reservation about returning to working with people face to face in a classroom format. The annoying voices locked in a fierce debate in my head had me up and down like children on a see saw.

Questions on this teeter totter ranged from, Should I bother doing this? to Yes, of course, this was something you used to be energized by. What about my writing goals? Would this knock me off course? Sitting down, writing through this process taught me that I had once enjoyed the process, the people, and sense of purpose. And that I could certainly do more than one thing.

But fear of having been away from this work for too long coupled with feelings about being concerned about how to step back into the path I had been on before Covid knocked the world off course kept me fretting. Rumination followed by more ruminations.

Reframe. Recognize resistance for what it is. Breathe. It is truly amazing how mind over matter really matters. This tendency to overthink things has only intensified during the past two years. So I just challenged myself to drop all preconceived notions and took the recertification course.

And was pleasantly surprised at how easily I re-engaged with the process and the people. And not long after the course, I was struck with a story ideas and cracked off a first draft of a flash fiction. Hah!

Liminal spaces are like way stations. The kind of thing that won’t last forever especially when you think it will. Choosing courage to embrace a new opportunity became the gentle push that nudged me along the path I need to be on.

Stay happy and safe!!

Flipping Fears

For the past two days, I have been wrestling with a number of seemingly random negative and fear inducing thoughts. One of my goals for this year has been to submit short pieces of my writing to various publications. My strategy was to create a spreadsheet to document all of the submissions and the subsequent rejections that I anticipate I will receive. My goal was to strive for as many rejections as possible.

Sounds a bit strange, doesn’t it?

But, it would mean that I am writing, and even more importantly, I am putting aside all of the fear that seems to co-exist with this vocational pursuit. At the time I created this goal and decided that I was going to send these pieces of creative work out into the world, it seemed innocuous. Really what is the big deal? All writers are subject to rejection, criticism, dismissive editors, and long waits before one may hear anything back from the publication they submitted their work to. Right?

Most writers know that this process is about moving forward, learning the craft, recognizing that the work may not be a good fit for a publication at that particular time but may in fact, fit somewhere else. And truthfully, how would anyone aside from you ever know whether or not you submitted something.

So with all of this knowledge firmly ensconced in my mind, as I began preparing to send something out for the very first time, I found myself in a strange twilight zone filled with fear. It was like an out of control hamster on a wheel was flinging chaotic thoughts around my head. I must have talked myself out of this submission process a hundred times.

Enough. I have taught others how to build resilience skills so why couldn’t I do the same for myself? I started by writing out some of the thoughts that had taking up a lot of real estate in my mind. They ranged from self-criticism to self-disgust to self-shaming and looked a bit like this:

Why even bother – this is an exercise in futility – there is no way I am as competent as other writers? I can’t even format these documents properly so why would an editor even bother to look at what I have written? How can you write a bio if you have never published anything? And really who sets a goal to to count all of the rejections they receive as a writer?

And so on…these horrible thoughts continually popped across my thought screen, and even occurred while I was sleeping, so yesterday I decided that was enough.

Time to flip these fears and really look at what the downside to not submitting my writing might be. At the end of this exercise, I realized that I would be left with paralyzing regret if I didn’t start somewhere. I would be missing out on all of the learning moments from the process and if I keep at this, eventually I may end up with a notation other than a rejection to enter into my spreadsheet.

So I flipped my fear around, and have just sent my first piece of work out. Regardless of what happens with this, I am in the process of reinventing my life and recognize that small steps will move me closer to where I want to go. And if I want to pursue writing as a craft, I will need to challenge those negative thoughts and keep moving forward.

What about you? How do you flip your fears and move forward in spite of all of the thoughts that may fill your mind with negativity and prevent you from doing what you really wish to do?

Rebooting Time Management skills and Learning to Conquer Fear

Last month I attended a workshop that focused on the practical aspects of writing and time management. The struggle with managing my time since I have retired and left the full time work world continues to catch me by surprise. Distractions abound in my day to day life and by day’s end I find that although I have been busy, I have accomplished little.

How strange is that? Activities that I firmly believe I am committed to seem to vaporize during the course of the day. Sure, there are many things that I actually do and have finished but what I wanted to do most in my heart of hearts before I retired was to reignite my passion for creative writing.

Developing a consistent writing practice seems to allude me and is often hit or miss.

When I worked full time, I was able to juggle a prodigious number of tasks easily throughout most days. Often using project management techniques I was able to ensure my goals were met and expected deliverables were completed.

But, writing on a daily basis, has proven more difficult than I expected.

So the course on time management skills for writers, revealed a world of time management strategies that I was not even aware of. The course instructor used an astonishing number of acronyms and provided a fascinating list of time management gurus, videos, software programs and apps.

I then devoted time to watching suggested videos, previewing software packages, and ordering time management books from our local library system but had a strong sense that I was missing the boat here. Digging deeper I began to reflect on the fact that I was in the throes of procrastination.

Why was I procrastinating?

Sure, I have written some pieces of poetry and short fiction, and I started this blog. I have joined a writer’s group for support and accountability but it was starting to dawn on me that I must be missing the bigger picture.

This is about Fear. Yes, the simplest explanation for all of this is fear. Fear of putting myself out there, being judged, not being a good enough writer – my list of fears was long. Fear accompanies anyone beginning a new career, lifestyle, or journey. It seems important to learn to coexist with my fear, become okay with my status as a beginner who is learning to write and to begin to identify as a writer.

Have you ever been held back by fear? If so, what did you do to overcome it. I would love to hear your comments about fear and if it accompanies you on your journey.