Birds Eye View: Finding Healing and Perspective in the Liminal Spaces

Up here in the sky, it all looks so beautiful, simple. There are only about four or five things that really matter: the sky, clouds, water/land below, and the airplane that I’m safe in that’s headed somewhere new. That’s it. That’s all that matters when I’m looking down from these heights. I’ve made it to my flight and now, I’m just… waiting.

I forget the hustle and bustle of traffic; the drama of this morning’s fight between lovers seems pointless; that last message I wanted to respond to or post I wanted to create isn’t even on my mind because I can’t do anything about it while I’m on the plane. I’m right where I’m supposed to be for the moment anyway and here, now in the sky none of it matters. I’m in the liminal space between my starting point and final destination and at last it’s peaceful. I’ve made through the airport obstacles and I’m right where I need to be. At this point, I’m just… waiting for the next thing; the old thing is done and the new one has yet to come.

I like flying because it gets me out and up. Quite literally, but also mentally and emotionally. That in between space of here and there is a time to reflect on the past and maybe leave things behind, but also look forward to the next “thing” that’s coming. It’s a time to let my mind wander and wonder… It’s a time to ask questions like: “What if I had done things differently in the city I just left?” And “Will it be okay when I arrive in the next place?”

I like flying because it gets me out and up. Quite literally, but also mentally and emotionally. That in between space of here and there is a time to reflect on the past and maybe leave things behind, but also look forward to the next “thing” in life that’s coming. It’s a time to let my mind wander and wonder… It’s a time to ask questions like: “What if I had done things differently in the city I just left?” And “Will it be okay when I arrive in the next place?”

Flying (and I’ve sometimes discovered the same to be true when driving long distances solo) is like a purgatory of in-between and for me it’s cathartic. I get to choose how the next moments are going to go in life. The key is being alone in the process because when I’m with other people, friends, family or others, I’m not in a liminal space. When I’m with others I’m already in action doing something like entertaining/talking/connecting. But when I’m alone flying or driving long distances, it’s the in between of here and there and it’s a place where I can unpack “random” questions in life and things start to make sense.

This bird’s eye view for me in a plane offers perspective— was that last fight worth it? Is the rush the get from point A to point B necessary every day? What’s the point of all the hours of work I do daily anyway? Because like I said up here in the sky only a few things are truly important and I think the same is true when it comes to the daily down to earth reality we’re meant to live. Not everything we put our time and energy to everyday really does matter.

This in between of flying makes me realize: sometimes it takes getting OUT of a situation, especially a negative one, that things become clear and focused. I realize there are only a few basic elements that I really want and need in life. Relationships, financial security, joy in hobbies and work, my physical health, my Faith… Getting up and out by flying away helps me look at the things of life that are in front of me from a new space, the liminal space, and that waiting period in between is like a hard reboot/reset.

This in between of flying makes me realize: sometimes it takes getting OUT of a situation, especially a negative one, that things become clear and focused.

With my husband and with my Kingdom business mentors, “Reset” has been an ongoing theme I’ve been learning about for a number of months. Every day… no… every minute we get the chance to move into the liminal space of the in between moments of life and hit the reset button. We get to live between one event and the next and choose how to respond and think 1 by 1, by 1. That last fight doesn’t have to stay with you as you walk into your next work meeting. And your hard work day doesn’t have to take away from family time in the evening, for example.

I will say, I don’t think you have to jump on a plane (or take a long solo drive) to get there, to answer these questions, but for me today, it doesn’t hurt. The reality is I’ve been trying to fix things around me in my personal life hanging on for dear life on a borrowed raft that keeps hitting rocks and rapids I feel like I didn’t choose. I’ve fallen out of the raft a couple of times too. I feel like every time I wanted or could hit that reset button, bam! That raft would collide into another boulder and I’d spend that time barely recovering before another altercation, fight, dramatic event, or financial dilemma.

For me today, flying away means I get to hit the ultimate reset button. I get to get off THAT raft and onto a different one. This is the liminal space. In this transition I get to choose the things I care about most. Freedom, work ethic, safety, relationships, health. Like the air, plane, water, and land when flying in the sky, life gets simpler and easier to see with this perspective— what’s truly important to me today? I get to answer that question in this space.

This is the liminal space. In this transition I get to choose the things I care about most.

The peace that comes from the in between… the decisions and mindsets you get to choose, knowing that the birds eye view IS a liminal space that you can walk into, while still being grounded to earth, if you can’t physically get above the fray, what would that look like for you? What peace do you need and desire? How can you get there?

From experience, doing the same thing over and over in a broken environment just doesn’t work. For me, I had to literally get above and beyond in order to start seeing more clearly even today by flying.

I hope this makes sense— that it’s okay and good to live in the liminal space between events in life and make new decisions and choices/ hit the reset button on the moment you’re in, especially if it feels like my out-of-control raft analogy. For me today a quite literally flying with a Birds Eye View to decide what matters— what makes sense to keep and what makes sense to leave behind as I do a hard reboot and press the reset button in my own life— and brings clarity in the liminal space I’m in on this travel day. Both myself and my family who loves me fully grasp that sometimes it takes a hard move to get there, but I know by flying out of the fray and getting the birds eye view, I’m already on the way of deciding how I’m going to live in this next chapter of life so that the five important elements of life that matter most to me stay with me and last.

So, to wrap up my dear reader friend, do you recognize the liminal spaces in your life that you get to choose how to respond and make decisions between events and circumstances? Are you like me and do you need to fly up and away from a situation to really get clarity? What do you need to do to press the reset button on today? In this minute even? What 4 or 5 elements of life truly matter for you? How will you get them?

These are supper open ended questions, but if you care to comment, go ahead! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

{Q&A} Why Counting Calories Never Mattered

{Q&A} Part 2: Figure Competitions With Rachel Mateo & Why Counting Calories Never Mattered

Part two of the two part Q&A Interview with Rachel Mateo, focused on her experiences doing Figure Competitions in past years, and the reasons why counting calories never mattered.

Rachel has 15 years of personal training experience and a B.S. in Exercise Science. She currently works for Juice Plus+ as a Qualifying National Marketing Director, inspiring healthy living around the world by teaching on nutrition, and she is a certified group fitness instructor with Body By Rachel online and recently Fitology. She loves her husband and their dog May. She spends weekends traveling from Pennsylvania, her home state, to Rehoboth Beach in Delaware where she gets the freedom to run and play with the dog in the water.

Q: You did figure competitions a number of years back—what made you want to get into that type of training? A: I had a few friends who had done some figure competitions, and in seeing their pictures online something definitely clicked in me that made me want to give it a try myself. I saw it as a fun opportunity to try something new and really challenge myself with my diet, exercise and commitment. I actually enjoy the thrill of being onstage, so it was exciting to think I could feel that rush in showing off all of my hard work!

Q: How often would you workout each week in those seasons? What types of training would you do? A: That kind of training is very different than what I do now. Because I would focus on strength training a different specific group of muscles each day, I was working out every day of the week. One day might be legs and shoulders, the next day might be chest and triceps, the next day back and biceps, etc. So while a particular group of muscles were pushed hard, they also got the chance to fully rest the following day to move onto the focus of another group. Because the focus was muscle development, I also limited my cardio (which was tough since I do enjoy running outside and had group fitness classes to teach).

Q: Did you have a favorite or most rewarding part of the experience? What was it? A: Most definitely! I felt such a huge sense of accomplishment and pride in the hard work I had put in to experience that end result. Then showing all of that off in front of the crowd, the other competitors and judges was extremely exhilarating and so much fun! (Putting yourself out there like that in front of lots of people may not be for everyone, but being proud of what you had achieved certainly helps to get you through any nervous jitters.) Also, I so enjoyed sharing my experience, lending advice and guidance to others looking to make some changes in their bodies. Felt great to have people notice my progress and results and trust me to help them too.  

Q: What were your daily calorie restrictions when training for a competition? How did you know you were getting enough? A: I honestly didn’t put my focus into counting calories. I was guided by a fellow trainer friend who had worked with figure competitors and bodybuilders to focus on counting/monitoring my “macros” (fats, proteins and carbs) in grams. I had some reservations about some of the extreme approaches and dietary choices my friends had made in their prep and process, so it was very important to me to do things my way and keep my health as my number one priority.

I was determined to see how well I could do without consuming the synthetic, artificial “foods” that so many others ate in order to meet their daily macro numbers. I focused on eating as healthfully as possible (LOTS of vegetables, quality healthy fats, vegan protein powder, fish/seafood, eggs), while staying within the parameters of the amount of grams of each macro daily I was guided to start with. As the days went on, I payed close attention to how I was feeling, my energy level, my digestion, how my body was physically developing, etc and if something wasn’t feeling or progressing right I would tweak my numbers a bit by adding or subtracting some macros from one area or another.

Q: What would you recommend to someone trying to cut calories for a specific reason such as what you did? A: Since the monitoring of healthy, clean macros worked for me, that is what I would recommend. Calories don’t need to be the concern if you are focused on quality nutrition going in and listening to your body. The more nutrient dense a food, the more satisfied you’ll feel and the healthier you’ll be. Keeping within your allotted numbers of macros per day will ensure you’re not eating too much. Then use your intuition (as well as trusted guidance) to tweak what area you might need more/less of to keep seeing great results.

Calories don’t need to be the concern if you are focused on quality nutrition going in and listening to your body. The more nutrient dense a food, the more satisfied you’ll feel and the healthier you’ll be.

-Rachel Mateo

Q: What would you recommend to women when it comes to body image to find balance in dieting, working out, and pushing themselves to try something new, yet also honoring where they are currently at? A: That is a tough question, a lot of factors go into this for everyone. I think what it all boils down to is working on your mental state first and foremost. Figure out why you’re feeling the way you do about your body and hopefully come to realize that we don’t need to try to look like anyone else or fit into any particular size/shape box. Our bodies are individually beautiful and unique. I implore everyone to please focus on health first and then everything else can fall into place. If, like me, a particular goal of a competition or something similar is in your focus, then be very clear as to WHY you’re deciding to do it and then give yourself grace as you work through the challenges involved.

I think what it all boils down to is working on your mental state first and foremost. Figure out why you’re feeling the way you do about your body and hopefully come to realize that we don’t need to try to look like anyone else or fit into any particular size/shape box.

-Rachel Mateo

{Q&A} Fitness, Nutrition or Both?

{Q & A} Featuring Rachel Mateo on Fitness, Nutrition, or Both?

Part one of a two part Q&A Interview with Rachel Mateo which answers the question: should you focus on fitness or nutrition more? It also touches on mindsets when it comes to body image and overall health.

Rachel has 15 years of personal training experience and a B.S. in Exercise Science. She currently works for Juice Plus+ as a Qualifying National Marketing Director, inspiring healthy living around the world by teaching on nutrition, and she is a certified group fitness instructor with Body By Rachel online and recently Fitology. She loves her husband and their dog May. She spends weekends traveling from Pennsylvania, her home state, to Rehoboth Beach in Delaware where she gets the freedom to run and play with the dog in the water.

Q: Weight lifting vs Cardio: How often do you get each into your weekly workouts? A: I do some form of cardio about 6 days a week and like to have variety in modality and intensity. This may include online cardio classes, running outdoors, body-weight/plyometric exercises, hiking, etc. As for weightlifting, usually 2-3 days with a focus on total body training each time… also gets the heart rate up which I feel is a great bonus!

Q: What would you recommend to a novice in the world of fitness in getting started on a workout routine for the first time? A: When first beginning to exercise, I feel it is very important to work with a professional (or at least someone you know who is seasoned and knowledgeable) to assist you in proper form and technique. Begin with the basics to build a good foundation. Try not to overdo the duration and intensity and give yourself proper rest/recovery in between workouts.

Q: What’s the most important thing to you when it comes to fitness and nutrition? Why? A: To focus on more than just your micronutrition (carbs, proteins, fats). These building blocks of any diet first and foremost need to be quality: Limiting/eliminating highly processed foods and anything artificial, while focusing on whole food. Your body, mind, emotions etc… will notice the difference when you flood your bloodstream with good, quality, nutrient dense foods and cut out the stuff that is unrecognizable and unnatural. Energy goes up and therefore you can have better workouts, better recovery, better results.

Your body, mind, emotions etc… will notice the difference when you flood your bloodstream with good, quality, nutrient dense foods and cut out the stuff that is unrecognizable and unnatural.

Rachel mateo

Q: How much do you recommend women eat calorie wise to maintain health when working out? Are calories even important? Why or Why not? A: There is something to be said for being aware of your calories in versus calories out, but it certainly should not be the sole focus. When you focus on eating clean, nutrient-rich whole foods you’re feeding your body what it truly needs so you can feel satisfied and maintain good will power. There can still be “too much of a good thing”, so when it comes to even your healthy, quality macronutrition, be aware of portion sizes, eat slowly and mindfully, and do not eat too late at night. I personally like to leave a 14 hour window from my last meal/snack of the day until my first the next day. When you stay within this eating window making health your priority in your choices your body has the chance to utilize these quality calories when they’re needed during your daily activities and then fully rest/recover at night.

Q: How do you fuel your body to work out each day? A: I live by the “WFPB” concept (Whole Food Plant Based). Not to say I’m vegan or vegetarian, but I’m mainly focused on trying to take in the most high quality nutrient and antioxidant foods. My complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and quality proteins come in the form of fruits, vegetables, nuts, nut butters,oats and gluten free grains, beans, organic vegan protein powders, almond milk, nondairy yogurt, etc. I do add in some eggs, fish/seafood and chicken from time to time, but not daily. So as an example, before a workout I’ll enjoy a light snack of an apple with almond butter or clementine with a handful of raw mixed nuts, and then post workout I’ll blend up a big filling smoothie with things like berries, almond milk, vegan protein powder, flaxseeds, chia seeds, coconut yogurt and cinnamon. Good energy in, good energy out!

Q: Do you put more value on nutrition or workouts? Why? A: Both are integral parts of total mind/body health, but when it comes to weight management, disease prevention, mood, energy, etc. nutrition takes the front seat. Maybe you’ve heard the phrase “you can’t outrun your fork”? It’s basically to say that diet is about 80% of the equation when trying to lose weight. Same concept goes for when trying to build muscle or simply change the shape of your body. Workouts are certainly important for your metabolism and strengthening/building your muscles as well as creating a calorie deficit, but exercise alone could never get you there. At least not safely, healthfully and sustainably. We need the nutrition not only to repair the microtears in our muscles as we work them, but also play a huge role in recovery, neutralization of oxidative stress, decreasing of systemic inflammation, etc.

Q: How do you balance body image with being content with where you are and pursuing a certain look with being physically fit? What would you say to a woman struggling with body image concerns? How does mindset play a role in your own fitness and coaching? A: It’s not easy when we’re bombarded with images on tv, movies, social media, advertising… all putting labels on what is acceptable. We have to do our best to focus on our health and wellbeing first and know that our individual body type/shape is very unique. Instead of fighting an against the grain in an uphill battle to try to dramatically pursue a look that may not be the way your body is designed, try taking some time to really focus on the best YOU you can be. More intense/focused dieting and exercise routines (if done properly) may be ok for a short period of time, but it’s then more important to think of things in the long term. What is truly sustainable for real life? What diet and exercise routine will help you look and FEEL your personal best, physically and mentally? I recommend beginning and ending your day with some positive affirmations through meditation, prayer and/or self reflection. Then ultimately asking yourself: What is my motivation? Why do I want to look this certain way? If it’s centered around a positive, healthy result, go for it and seek professional guidance to help you in that direction. Also, choose an accountability buddy who also has similar goals as you. Having someone to talk to about your successes and struggles lets you know you’re not alone in your challenges and also makes it more fun to create your new healthy habits!

What is truly sustainable for real life? What diet and exercise routine will help you look and FEEL your personal best, physically and mentally? I recommend beginning and ending your day with some positive affirmations through meditation, prayer and/or self reflection.

Rachel Mateo

3 Tips for Hard Seasons in Life

PC: Ryan Christodoulou

For anyone that knows me well, I’m a pretty positive person with a lot of goals and fearlessness when it comes to moving, traveling, and trying new things. I’m also a pretty motivated person to take action and face challenges in front of me with motivation and a positive mindset.

That said, for about five months I’ve really fallen out of my norm and have felt pretty lost.

I’ve had a long five to six months of marriage/ life in my husband’s country. It’s been exhausting really. Culture shock, marriage shock, living with in-laws shock… Not to mention the behind-the-scenes extreme fighting between my husband and I—not what I expected when we would talk about life in his country leading up to my moving here!

Outside of social media I felt lost and confused. I questioned every life decision leading me to this point trying to figure out where I went wrong in making it here to this place.

Then, a few simple changes have pushed me in a positive trajectory in the last 30 days and I am in a MUCH better place now than before. I feel a little bit more like myself and every day I am getting closer to feeling motivated with life and work by running the course marked out for my life.

That said, I know we’ve all experienced hard days, weeks, months, and years. And I’m here to share three tips to encourage you. These are things I’ve been doing this entire season of stress and change, and I hope they can help you as well!

  1. Surround Yourself With People Who Care

Who is your team? Your tribe? Who loves you most? Who can you call on and open up to without fear or judgement? Bring those people into your circle ASAP because that is going to make the difference between feeling alone in the world, and feeling capable of conquering the world. Not everyone should know all the nitty gritty details of horrible things you are going through in life. But some should. Your relationships matter and I promise by calling the lifeline of friends or family who have your back fully, you will be empowered. Even if circumstances don’t change in the physical sense right away, by leaning into your community, you will notice things around you shifting and moving just in how you interpret and process life with others. Relationships matter so much to getting back to a place of motivation and positive change.

I opened up to a few people in my life and knowing they are praying, having them hear me, and accepting words of comfort, affirmation, and empowerment though we are countries apart. It is more meaningful than anything.

2. Diet and Sleep

Your diet and drinking plenty of water through the day has more of an effect on your mental emotional state than you may realize. See, your mood is actually enhanced by the good or bad bacteria in your gut; gut health matters and has a direct effect on your brain and the amount of serotonin produced. By keeping a healthy microbiome and by getting probiotics and even practicing intermittent fasting to help your gut health, you can help your general well-being and mood. Here and here are articles to start with that explains more on gut health and mental health, if you are interested in extra reading.

Along with that, is getting plenty of rest through the night. In a basic sense, your brain chemistry re-calibrates, heals, balances, and allows new growth through periods of sleep and rest that you cannot get any other way. Your hormones balance out and your long-term memory kicks in. Sleep is a vital part of letting your body recoup and regroup that no other action you take while awake can help you achieve the same results in order to feel and live your best. A really great, easy to read article on sleep and improved mental-emotional health is this.

3. Watch What You Watch

One huge thing that has made the difference of a “blah” day or a “worse-than-blah” day, during these months of confusion that I had been living is truly what media I was ingesting. Music, shows, news, books, and other entertainment—the power of healthy and uplifting messages in the things I was watching and listening vs not so healthy or uplifting truly matters. My husband, a big music person, at one point told me he got rid of all kinds of music on his phone with negative self-talk and negative messages on women and relationships. This action step was good and is something I can respect on his end. For me, I learned quickly news and can be turned off if its not adding value. The movies can be turned off if they aren’t adding value. The music can be switched out if it’s not adding value. Instead, I started picking up healthier books through personal recommendation and a Leadership Training Program I went through from October 2020 through December 2020 and the impact was huge.

In any event, these three steps are things that I am taking seriously to maintain as I get mentally stronger once more. By focusing on what I can control and letting go of what I can’t, I’m feeling like my normal self once more as I was designed by my Creator.

What tips do you have when you consider getting off track the course you want to be on when it comes to living a positive, motivated life? Anything you would add to this list?


For anyone interested in reading material that helped me during these months, here are some books that made a world of impact for me:

I also read The Heart Work: Declutter Your Past to Make Room for an Amazing Future by Jackie Dorman and You Deserve the Love of God by Stephen Hill, which are two books that are more God-centered and encouraging on a spiritual level.