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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!!

100 blog post milestone!!

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Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen

Brene Brown

Having had a very loose plan when I created this blog almost two years ago, I have come to realize that this process has been less about what I initially envisioned and more about trying on the role of writer in my life. Transitions have been a part of everyone’s life since the pandemic began and although I can identify that I am still in the process of moving from one part of my life to another, I still haven’t landed on the other side of where I began.

Maybe I never will.

Struggling with the learning curve of how to blog, post short pieces and some epic design fails, these experiences all provided a challenge that until recently I didn’t fully appreciate. It is wonderful to stretch our learning and skill sets but typically the hurdles of motivation and fear of failure can limit beginnings to any dreams we might have. For some reason it seemed I needed to push through all of that. It would have been much easier to simply cave and give up.

Some people blog to collect followers and likes, or to backstop a business venture, or to process what happens in our lives and have others read and bear witness to what we are experiencing. I wanted to process retirement, the transitions that occur in life, and instead I found myself gravitating to writing weekly as a goal to develop “being a writer” and enhance my connection to creative process.

And to somehow hold myself accountable for doing just that. Once I had landed on a goal for a weekly post, I then decided to set an arbitrary milestone number of 100 posts. That distant goal setting exercise never really seemed achievable when I set it but here I am. Who knew?!

As my journey to understand life transitions continues it seems equally important to continue to reflect on the process of creativity and the writers path. It has been wonderful to share my journey with others and keep my motivation to write real. Many thanks!!

Stay healthy and safe!

How the concept of “Mattering” Matters

Approximately thirty years ago, Dr. Nancy Schlossberg, counselling psychologist at the University of Maryland, wrote a seminal paper outlining the impact of the concepts of “mattering” and “marginalization” on the lives of people during life transitions. Specifically her research looked at the impact of significant life change on students transitioning from high school to college or university and retirees who had left full time work. Dr. Schlossberg developed a theory of transition that suggested the importance of mattering to ourselves and others and illuminated the possible challenges that many of us may face during any life changing experience through marginalization.

Drawing on a concept that was originally developed by sociologist, Dr. Morris Rosenberg, “Mattering” could be described as being dependent on several aspects being in place:

1. Attention – Whether or not we feel that we matter to and are noticed by others;

2. Importance – A belief that one is cared about and that what we are doing is considered to be of some importance to others or ourselves;

3. Dependence – Feeling that we matter if we are needed by others;

4. Ego-Extension – The feeling that if we succeed or if we fail that others will notice and will support us;

5. Appreciation – That we are in fact, appreciated for what we do, whatever that may be.

The concept of “marginalization” results when some of these factors are not met and we may become marginalized when we transition from one stage of our lives to another. Schlossberg’s theory of transition and her research suggested that retirement could be a time when we feel like we continue to matter to others or ourselves or it could be a time when we begin to feel like we are resting on the margins of our lives. Any time we make or experience a significant change in our lives, we often feel somewhat off balance and need to devote time and energy to become grounded again.

Strategies that I have found helpful as I move through this time of transition have been to take advantage of having more time for friends, family, and making new acquaintances. I have been pleasantly surprised by a whole world of people who no longer work full time but take lifelong learning courses, exercise classes, and are available during the daytime. Continuing to work part time allows me to use skills that I have in new ways and with new people and allows me to continue to feel like what I do is important, meaningful, and matters.

Finally, learning what it means to experience being a beginner all over again as I learn new skills and pursue new interests. Being able to appreciate what others have done or are doing has enriched my experience as well. Perhaps most importantly, I have learned to be kind and patient with myself as I work to avoid feeling marginalized while I am building this new stage of my life. How about you? What strategies might you have used when experiencing life changes to continue to feel as if you “matter”??