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.

Normalizing Failure

Photo Cred: Amy Humphries

The number of times in my life that I have done anything at all, perfectly is approximately zero. I’ve done some things well, other things even better, but nothing in life have I executed or carried out perfectly. As a matter of fact, some things I’ve attempted in life… many things… I’ve absolutely failed in. I’ve failed to show up for friends and family when they’ve needed me. Failed in carrying out duties at work. Failed in my workouts and fitness life at times which I take pretty seriously as a lifestyle and habit.

And yet through my failures I’ve learned. Overcome. Transitioned. And grown. Through my failures I’ve seen things from a new perspective I didn’t know mattered. Through my failures I’ve been able to stand up and try again.

John Maxwell, a bestselling author and expert on leadership says, “A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.”

Applying this concept to my life, I’d like to introduce the idea of failure being quite normal even freeing. Because in failure we get the chance and opportunity to try again and overcome.

An example of this could be a child learning how to read or trying a sport for the first time. It would be insane to expect that child to perform a new task perfectly. The beauty of being a child is they are given the right (for the most part) to make mistakes in things, learn consequences if there are any, and get better.

I remember my first swim meet ever, I was 7 years old, maybe 8, and was supposed to swim a 25-yard breaststroke. I got to the end of the lane and popped my head up, thrilled to see I had won. For all of 3 seconds when the person running the timer in my lane said I was disqualified. I actually swam freestyle, not breaststroke. Oops! I learned the lesson and never made the mistake again I don’t think through all my years on a swim team. I had failed. But no one held it against me.

So why would we hold failure against ourselves as adults? Why do we take such considerable strides to HIDE failure on social media and with friends and family? I’m all about putting our best foot forward in life, but what if that is actually crippling us at the end of the day rather than living authentically with our stories of not being where we want to be yet that could be encouraging and helpful to so many people.

I submit to you now that failure is more normal than carrying out any task in life perfectly.

I’d like to see failure normalized, not hidden behind pretty social media posts and trying to hide our faults and failures to the enormous extent that we do.

Another example comes from my own life with working out and Triathlons. I used to compete in regularly 1 to 2 times a year in Triathlons around the northeast of the US in new cities and towns each race. My first year I had a HORRIBLE race time. I put so much effort into training and making a goal time for the race, yet I completely blew it the day of the race. I briefly thought to myself “I’m not made to do Tris.” I almost gave up this hobby and lifestyle because of a bad race. It took about two weeks until I missed the swimming, biking, and running and chose instead to say, “Well, it seems I have a lot to learn and become better in with regards to workouts and training. I can do better next time.”

I think giving into the first statement, “I’m just not made to do this” isn’t going to help me win and become better at the next thing I choose to focus my time and energy on. It isn’t going to help me succeed. It isn’t going to help me really at all. Though I failed in reaching all of my goals that first race, I chose instead to see my end time as a reason to adjust, get educated on workouts, include other people in my training by talking to a couple of other athletes who had done way more racing than I ever have.

I chose to realize that “failure” was just a matter of personal definition, not an absolute that determined an end to something that I really enjoyed— in this case swimming, biking, and running—despite my slow pace and poor choices in the race that really set me back.

Normalizing failure for any and all can be a way to rethink failure in general. If you personally “did bad” in something— could be anything from baking a cake that turned out horribly that you meant to give to someone for a special occasion, to showing disruptive and “bad” behavior at an event that in retrospect you realize you shouldn’t have acted that way—and you choose instead to learn grow and change based off of that perceived failure, have you really failed at all?

I don’t know a single person on planet earth that has done ANYTHING perfectly in life. But everyone I know has messed up in big or small ways around me my whole life, including myself, and the world still moves on.

Instead of getting caught up with our failures, beating ourselves up, ruminating on went wrong, what if instead we chose to focus on the positive that might be a result of that failure? What if that time we didn’t show up as we should for someone we learn the art of apologizing and making amends? What if we recognize that no matter how old we are, we are fallible human beings and failing is a part of life. Failing is actually… normal… and can bring about positive change including overcoming obstacles and achieving greatness in some area.

This new year, let’s embrace our “failures” as we might call them and realize that as Maxwell said, “The only guarantee for failure is if we stop trying.”

As long as you admit the mistake, change the course, make a new decision next time you’re faced with a problem or dilemma that you “failed in” then truly failure isn’t the end of the story.

I’m sure many people are making new year’s resolutions and vowing changes for 2021. Let’s not see 2020 as a failure, but a year of learning and growth. Let’s choose to walk into 2021 refreshed for amazing opportunities that if we keep going, don’t give up, and try again in we can have the greatest personal success imaginable, no matter what our goals are be them relational, financial, spiritual, physical, or any area of life that you may be holding onto failure in.

There is always hope. There is always room for growth and change. There is always a new time to keep the faith and change the course for better next time. At the end of the day, without failure we will never fully understand the deep feelings that success brings.

When Skin Tells a Story

I was rubbing my sun burnt legs down with lotion and noticed not only the hot feeling of a surface burn, but also felt an itch with a cluster of mosquito bites on my left calf. Scratching only irritated the burn, but if I didn’t scratch the bites were impossible to handle. Then, I noticed the nick where I had cut myself with a razor blade down near my ankle; blood was starting to trickle down my foot. I had rushed my shower, obviously, to have not noticed my beat-up legs and allowed myself to be so careless in cutting myself. Cuts, burns, and bites made my leg looked like it had been to battle.

I studied my other leg taking in an old scar down by my ankle. Fewer bites, but still uncomfortably burnt and a giant bruise on my shin.

All of a sudden, I felt a wave of being proud of my legs. I think typically my mind would rumble through thoughts of frustration having to dress a certain way to cover up the mess that was my legs in that moment. But not this time.

“Look at that.” I thought. “My skin. Taking the heat literally for all I go through and put it through.” My skin protects me from all kinds of elements just by walking the daily ins and outs of life. And look at all it can handle. The sun. Insects. Scrapes. Scratches. Bruises. Cuts that lead to scars. Though imperfect, my skin was beautiful to me in that moment. Is beautiful. And I don’t give it enough credit.

Skin is the biggest organ of our bodies and gets treated the harshest. Do we thank our skin for all it protects us from? Do we take care of it as we should? Do we drink enough water or eat high nutrient foods that hydrate and feed it properly? I try to. But besides the physical necessity that skin is by providing our bodies protection, there is so much more depth to understand.

My skin told the story of a woman who loves the outdoors— bug bites and sunburns. The bruises point to someone who is active, jostling around, and bumping into things. The scar on my ankle showed something of adventure or an experience that might have been rough in the moment, but ended with me being more resilient and now it’s healed. The razor cut by my ankle points to a personality of getting things done quickly, maybe too quickly and even rushing at times.

And what about you? What does your skin say to the world? What stories can people gather beyond the surface from that tough outer layer?

Some people have tattoos. (I love asking people about their tattoos! Sometimes the stories of a person’s tattoos are deep and meaningful. Others say they got a tattoo on a whim because of a bet or a preference. “I just like stars!” someone responded when I asked what the array of stars on their shoulder stood for.)

Some people have unique birth marks.

Some people have freckles.

Some people have stretch marks or wrinkles.

Some people have callouses built up from work and play.

Some people have more or less melanin, making them “black” or “white” or somewhere in between.

Think of the individual fingerprints you specifically were born with.

It’s pliable and soft. Growing with you. Stretching with you. Unique to ONLY you.

You can get skin wet and dry it off in a matter of seconds. Sometimes when it’s rainy and I need to run outside to the mailbox or take the trash out, I would rather go in my bare feet knowing that shoes will take forever to dry compared to wiping my feet off.

Skin gets dirty and it’s never a problem knowing you can then get it clean in the next shower.

Whatever your skin says on the outside about you, your life, your story—know it is absolutely beautiful and deserves appreciation and care.

Be proud of your skin. Be proud of what it says about you. Be proud of the first cover people see to the story and book that makes your life. And live your best life knowing your skin is beautiful even if it’s imperfect.