A new year. A fresh start. New possibilities. New hopes. New Goals. Lately, I’ve been hearing and reading about liminal spaces; those times when we’re in transition from what was to what is becoming. That seems like the perfect description of the time between the end of one year and the start of another.
Liminal spaces can be exciting as we anticipate all the glorious things we’re going to accomplish before the next New Years’ Eve. They can also sometimes feel like walking a tightrope between platforms, maybe even minus a safety net. The familiar is gone, but we do not yet feel at home where we are. I start most days with a brief devotional reading. This one from God Calling, edited by A. J. Russell, is a gem: “Fret not your souls with puzzles that you cannot solve.”
Fret Not, Instead Set Goals
Goals are hopes and dreams with an action plan and deadlines. Setting and tracking goal progress help keep fret away. Handwritten goals have a better chance of settling where our subconscious minds get to work helping us achieve them. Small goals become like stepping stones across the rivers of change that come with liminal spaces.
Friend and writing colleague Dr. Roger Leslie recommends this approach for establishing goals: “Set a first-person, positively worded, measurable and time-limited goal.”
One of my goals for 2023 is to make new friends in this wonderful new 55+ active senior apartment complex where I now live. We have a well-appointed “village” area where we can gather to meet and greet one another. Applying my friend’s approach, one of my goals for the first month of the new year is this. “I will spend at least a half hour in our village area each day for a month.”
Then I’ll decide if that was a good use of my time. I figure hanging out where other people pass through often greatly increases my chances of making new friends. Thinking about and writing down goals can be a powerful tool for navigating liminal spaces.
Other Tools for Traveling Liminal Spaces
Lists. Goal setting partners well with list-making, another valuable tool. Lists help mitigate forgetfulness. Writing down things frees up mental space for other things, such as coming up with solutions to problems and determining the next best use of our finite time on this planet.
Have Plan B. Another useful tool for getting through liminal spaces is to have a Plan B. Something will go wrong. Count on it. If we anticipate that something will go wrong, we won’t be so disappointed and frustrated when it does. Ask me about how I spent $6.75 in our village laundry room and ended up with a load of cold, wet laundry. That was definitely a Plan B sort of day.
We save ourselves much stress when we anticipate problems and think of them as opportunities to get creative in overcoming them. Somewhere in a box I have not yet unpacked, I have a needlepoint that reads, “Great opportunities are often disguised as impossible situations.”
Accept Help When Needed. Life is not designed to be a DIY project. Ask for what you need. Most people are generally eager to lend a hand. It makes them feel useful and important. For example, I knew driving from Texas with a dog was too much for this ole’ gal. I thought about recruiting a relative, but first, I invited a neighbor to do a road trip with me. She eagerly accepted, saying, “I’ve always wanted to see Cleveland.”
Two things about that. A) I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say that about Cleveland. It’s my childhood city, and I love the place, but I don’t think I have ever heard anyone else say that about my hometown. B) My destination was actually Columbus, not Cleveland. However, her response led to a fun few days as we toured the highlights of the city of my youth.
Pace Yourself; Give It a Rest
I’m pretty confident the sun will make an appearance tomorrow whether or not I cross off every item on today’s “to-do” list. One wise man (or perhaps he was a wise guy?) used to say, “Everything that has to get done, will get done. A hundred years from now, the rest won’t matter.”
Liminal spaces drain energy. The mental work required to navigate liminal spaces is enormous. Build in rest breaks. Balance work with other things such as a walk, a cup of something, a favorite program, reading a few chapters, a nap, or calling a friend.
Welcome, Welcome Brand New Year
I love the last few days of the last year and the opening ones of the new one. Whatever traumas and troubles disrupted our lives last year, we survived them and have a fresh new calendar to fill with whatever we choose. Whatever wonderful things we experienced last year are now a permanent part of our glorious memories. We can pull them out anytime we want and experience them in our minds again and again.
Thank you for coming along with me on this journey from what was to what is becoming. I’m excited to see how things unfold this year. May all your endeavors in 2023 be ones you will want to cherish and remember.
Happy New Year! Welcome 2023
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