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.

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Jewelry: Telling Stories That Last

There are a few things that I love about jewelry…

  • It lasts—at least the good quality jewelry does.
  • It can be passed on. I have a few pieces of jewelry that came from my mom and both grandmothers that have been in the family. And my own engagement ring from my husband came from the gold of his deceased father. Just amazing.
  • It makes me feel, beautiful!
  • It adds the final touch to an outfit.
  • It sparkles and shines.
  • Anytime I’m asked about the jewelry I’m wearing; I get to tell a story.

I have a few momentous memories from pieces of jewelry that were given as gifts, or that I myself purchased through the years, and when I put those pieces on now, I get to think back and remember.

I get to remember the people who were with me when I bought or received it. I get to think about how I felt in the moment and how it makes me feel now.

A few years ago, my Dad and I were traveling through Europe to Prague and Germany after I finished my master’s degree that I earned from a business school in Spain. I cherish the garnet stone earrings he bought me from a shop owner and learning that garnet is Czech Republic’s main gemstone.

Then, of course when my husband and I designed our engagement ring before we were married. The anticipation I felt when I saw it when he proposed—would it look the way we had planned and wanted? It did. It was perfect.

And then a few months later he gave me a matching necklace that he designed for our first Christmas engaged. Seven hearts for seven days of the week, so I would remember that he loves me every day.

I got to wear opal earrings from my grandmother in my wedding. She is gone, but I had a piece of her with me in the beautiful jewelry she once cherished herself. She was not wealthy her entire life. To have dainty opal earrings, they were probably one of the most expensive things she’d ever worn or owned, and now I wear one in my upper, cartilage piercing all the time. I remember my Grandma, and my wedding day every time I look at it.

I often get compliments on a shell necklace my mom gave me from a trip she took to Hawaii once. It’s special that she thought of me and brought it home. I just love that necklace.

And then on our honeymoon, my husband bought me a pair of coconut carved earrings from a rasta man. So fun being in his country of Jamaica, and interacting with a local, enjoying the fun beauty of his craft in carving coconuts.

Or my trip to Morocco picking out a turquoise ring. MY FAVORITE!

I could go on and on with jewelry that I’ve bought and received on travels and trips and for special events.

Jewelry is SPECIAL.

There is so much more than the sparkles and shininess of jewelry, but that doesn’t take away from the beauty of some types of jewelry either!

That’s why Written Jewels has decided to become a Brand Partner with Bellia. This jewelry company is about women becoming all they were and are meant to be in the world. They believe women can change the world. They believe that women have value. They believe in the power of beauty—both in the jewelry itself and the woman who wears it.

If you want to tell a story of jewelry that’s life changing and makes a difference to the world around you, check out the Written Jewels Bellia Shop and choose a gift for yourself, or someone close to you that you think would be blessed by the story of Bellia’s values.

You’re worth it. Be Bellia today and continue the story of amazing jewelry and its values that go beyond the surface.

{Travel Tuesday} Finding Awe

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ⓉⓇⒶⓋⒺⓁ 𝒯 𝓊 ℯ 𝓈 𝒹 𝒶 𝓎 : I was on a trip to Zambia, Africa with a group of students from my high school. We had heard about the Black Rhino at the preserve we were about to safari to, and I couldn’t wait to see it! He was exotic, and one of only a few left in the world as they were nearly extinct at the time.

Our one-day adventure tour—before starting our mission work with kids and youth for the rest of the 10 days in Zambia—was here and I was ready. Starting in the cool early morning, we jumped into jeeps that bounced through the dirt trails and grassland, on the lookout for giraffes, zebras, and the alleged BLACK RHINO.

Our caravan rounded a corner, and at this point we hopped out of the jeeps to go on foot to where our guide thought he could be. He was blocked from my view when our guide announced he was there. Then, when I did glimpse his grey body lazily munching on the grass, I was surprised at how un-intimidating he looked.

“THAT is it?!” I thought to myself a little disappointed. “He’s not even black! He looks like a normal rhino!”

Rhino

The only time I had ever seen a rhino in real life before this moment was at the San Diego Zoo. How spoiled could my reaction be, as if the fact I was standing yards from the beast wasn’t impressive?!

“Who wants a picture with him?” Our guide asked.

One by one, we got photos with the rhino behind us. As the photo shoot was going on, our guide talked about the power of rhinos, their speed and strength, and how the one way to possible escape a rhino charging you is to run in circles and curves since their muscles prohibit them from turning easily.

It was my turn for a pic, and I had absorbed everything our Zambian guide had said. Now, grazing the grass 80 ft from me, it was hard to turn my back to the beast, knowing his body of muscle could easily charge, top speed reaching 35 mph. I can run, what 2? On a good day? HA!

My trip to Zambia reminded me of how small I am in every possible way. Even the termite mounds we saw were ginormous… the smallest thing, a termite, could cause so much damage if weren’t out in the open plains.

Termite Mound

Victoria Falls, misty and loud, the spray in the sky could be seen for miles down the river.

I even felt small doing my part in helping teach classes to students during our days of mission work, and playing with swarms of kids from the compounds who just wanted to be seen, touched, and hugged for a minute.

Me with Kids

I had turned 17 years old two days before the trip began, and it was a great way to start another lap around the sun. Zambia gave me such new perspective on life. From the way people eat, to the land full of animals I had only seen in books and movies.

The craziest, wildest things in nature, like rhinos and waterfalls flowing at speeds of nearly 39,000 cubic feet per second, there for us to behold and appreciate.

The Black Rhino will forever be a lesson to the vastness of the world. That I’m not that powerful against… anything wild in nature. And though it took a minute to sink in, that seeing the Black Rhino in person WAS a big deal. I walked away in awe and inspired and hope to continue the lesson to today… Awe keeps me humble and reminds me of the great things in this world outside of my own bubble.

{Travel Tuesday} Travel Better With These 3 “To-Dos”

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Travel better with these three recommendations for your next trip!

Rather than make a post about a specific country, culture, and time of life, the simple “To Dos” on this Travel Tuesday post are things that I’ve learned through the 27 countries I’ve visited, that I hope will help you make the best memories the next time you venture out!

1. Do talk to strangers. Some of the best moments traveling have been the serendipitous conversations with passerby-ers, people staying in the same hostel as I, and strangers next to me on the bus or train.

I remember a time in Queretaro, Mexico striking up a conversation with a gentleman standing outside of a play I wanted to see. I was with a few other students and we all showed up late, without tickets. It was sold out. We ended up striking a conversation with a guy outside, having no idea he worked at the theater. If we hadn’t taken the time to chat, he wouldn’t have then snuck us in a backdoor so we could see the second half of the show… It pays to talk to strangers; you never know where it’ll get you!

Another time, a guy with blue hair, gauges in his ears, and wearing a leopard print shirt was traveling from Spain to Morocco on the same flight as I. From the looks of him, this guy was someone I wouldn’t have talked to on my own turf. However, he asked me a few questions about Morocco, namely why was I going, and then happily told me allllll about his vacation. From plane, to taxi, to train, we ended up sticking together through the travel process in making it to our destinations. Halfway through our 2 hour wait for the train, I heard him ask the people around us about phones and buying a SIM card and data. He turned out to be a huge asset as together we found a mall a couple of blocks from the train station with a phone store, got food, and he even carried my bags on and off the train for me. You can find great comradery in friendly travel conversation, even with someone who looks like they just rolled through their sister’s closet by accident.

With strangers I’ve gone rock climbing, dancing, out to shows, connected with over drinks, and like the guy from Morocco, even finding and buying phone data in foreign countries! Strangers, while keeping a close hold on my phone and wallet, make traveling worth it as we’ve exchanged stories and experienced life together. After all, my current fiancé was just a stranger on a ship at one point, before we started talking!!

2. Do travel alone. I LOVE group trips. It’s important, fun, and you come back with shared stories to talk about for years to come. BUT the times I’ve traveled alone, I’ve learned more about myself—what I’m capable of, what scares me, and how to stretch myself out of my comfort zone. I am more aware of my surroundings when alone, whether for safety reasons, or just to make sure I arrive on time to the next bus or train. It allows me to take in more with sights, sounds, and smells. I get to pull out my camera, and not feel pressured to hurry because I’m with people, as I capture the both the breadth and depth of life around me. I love a good solo trip, even if it’s just for a day to branch out in a new city.

3. Do what locals do. I’ve certainly stood out as a foreigner in many travels. Even just to NYC, 5 hours from where I live in Pennsylvania, if you’re not from the area, locals can tell. And with that comes the risk of being targeted for money, scams, pick pocketers, or worse. I’ve learned to research the customs of the areas I’ll be traveling to in advance and have gotten advice from people through Facebook groups, blogs, tour guides and even “safe zones” like hotels and Airbnbs. Doing the local thing, by researching in advance will save you money and harassment, I promise.

A small, but telling story of being naive in a new place was as simple as buying a gelato in Italy. You would think it was a simple thing, buying gelato in Florence. It’s everywhere. Street corners and plazas. Piled high in beautiful, colorful mounds. Luckily, I’m not much of a dairy eater anymore, or I would have fallen for the simple trap that those gelato stands have going on in most touristy places throughout Italy. I learned from a local that those tall, gorgeous piles of gelato aren’t real (artisan), and shop owners charge double, 6 euros, instead of 2 or 3, for a scoop like in true gelato shops. She said the real places with homemade, artisan, and authentic gelato keep it insulated in small containers. And she warned to not spend more than 3 euros for a dish. If the workers tried to charge more, she said tell them you know better and you’ll pay the local rate.

It doesn’t matter what country, city, or culture I’ve visited, I’ve been naive and have stood out many times. But through seeking locals’ and avid travelers’ advice, and by doing what they do and going where they go, I’ve always had a richer experience.

By the end of my Italy trip, I ended up trying gelato a few times and it was always the right price and quality, saving me a few bucks as a foreigner.

That’s it! My three “To Do’s” to making the most of your next trip. Drop a message/ leave a comment with your To Do’s when traveling; I’m always open to the advice of others!

{Q&A} Lauren Takes Study Abroad to a Master Level

I was bit hard by the travel bug when I studied abroad 3x in my undergrad days. But when I found out my dear friend Lauren, whom I met in Spain 5 years ago on one of these trips, was going to get her Masters in Columbia I was inspired by her love for adventure. She took study abroad to another level and learned everything from how Colombian’s put cheese in their hot chocolate to how medical interpretation is a way to help native Spanish speakers.

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1) What school are you at in Columbia? Why did you choose that school?

I am in grad school at Universidad de La Sabana. It’s a peaceful, well accredited campus right on the outskirts of Bogotá, Colombia. I would mostly say God is the reason I ended up there.

2) What are you studying exactly?

I am studying “Pan-hispanic Linguistics” which is the fancy term for diving into the different dialects of Spanish spoken around the world in a certain pluralistic and inclusive approach. The extensive geography of Spanish speakers around the world calls for a certain tolerance and respect for those with different dialects. Without going too deep into the politics of things, basically Spain is not the norm to follow for “correct” Spanish, but rather each country has their own norms and nuances that should be equally accepted. This is a new direction of thought, but it is changing the politics of the language in beautiful ways.

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3) For your thesis, what was the process of deciding that different Spanish dialects could be an issue for medical translation?

I saw the issue of medical interpretation between different dialects of Spanish and American English while I was an intern at the Colombian Medical Academy… There are essentially endless amounts of Spanish dialects once you delve into the different regions, countries, cities, neighborhoods, and households of native speakers… Many countries in South and Central America are not up to the technological ease of access of info we have in the states. Since the vernacular greatly varies, we are doing a disservice to patients when we try to fit them into one box of Spanish speakers.

4) What do you hope to accomplish in the future with your new degree? Where do you see your Spanish medical translation taking you?

There is something very special about bridging the gap between cultures and languages that I absolutely cannot get enough of and I simply want to be an advocate for those who may struggle getting that help due to the language barrier. So for me, it’s simply an empathetic intention to serve others by relaying information between different languages. That is the kind of stuff that gets me excited.

As far as where I see this taking me, with more experience I would love to participate in mission trips or programs such as doctors without borders to help interpret in predominately Spanish-speaking countries.

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5) Were you surprised by anything you learned during your 2 years abroad?

I was surprised by how I learned things. Though I think general knowledge is great, I loved being able to dive deeper into different aspects of the Spanish language, pragmatics, dialects, and so much more. I remember times when I would get teary eyed because I truly was so moved and excited about what I was learning!

There were a few surprising cultural things as well: people will not eat wings if they do not have plastic gloves on; they love cheese and put it on almost everything (even in hot chocolate) there are so many holidays, sometimes 3 a month; it is normal for people to interrupt someone being helped in line to get help faster.

6) Did you live with a family of other students? How did living with a family help your adjustment to Colombia?

I lived with a family my first year in Colombia and with other students my second year.

Living with a family definitely was a blessing in my adjustment because I got to learn some of the nuances with Colombian Spanish, cultural habits, and how to navigate in a big new city. The lady who owned the home was maybe 5 feet tall and 100% a firecracker who skipped lines and spent a long time getting ready. I got to try many authentic Colombian dishes while living with the family. Home cooked meals are always the best. The family I stayed with was my first community so I leaned on them a lot.

After being more established, I moved into a cheap place with 2 other girls I met at school in my program. I missed living with a family in a squeaky clean apartment, but I also enjoyed more independence living on my own.

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7) What was your biggest struggle in moving to a new country and culture?

Community, connectedness, and patience in the process were my biggest struggles in the beginning. I lived abroad in Spain for 5 months so the culture shock process was not foreign to me. First you love everything, then you feel kind of sad and homesick, then you start to adjust. I do not put it lightly that I deeply struggled at first and often called my mom asking her what in the world was I thinking. What made that adjusting period the hardest was my lack of community at first. Before moving I felt bold and courageous for going to a place where nobody knew me, but whether it was a dose of humility or not, I quickly realized, shoot, I want people around and I don’t have to be courageous and bold all of the time. I struggled with not knowing anyone more than I thought I would, because I didn’t have anyone in my same frame of reference to relate my struggles with.

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8) What is one way that your relationship with God has grown during this time?

Anytime I am out of my comfort zone God seems to feel more present in my life; it’s part of the reason I seek to be uncomfortable. I don’t like getting so settled and forgetting about leaning on God. Columbia was an amazing experience, but sometimes a lonely one as well. I had to invite God back into the role of being my best friend, my redeemer, and my strength.

I started practicing grace and forgiveness towards myself for little and big things. I tried to not worry so much about how my day would unfold, how exciting it would be, how unique it would feel, and I focused on living. I am still working on this last part (that seems to be a tough one for me!).

I am pretty good at being alone, but sometimes I just want people around. I think God showed me that my life won’t always be full of solo time, so it’s good to soak it up and learn about myself. I guess you could say I really tried to slow down and invite God into the nooks and crannies of my soul—some needed to be dusted off and shined, and some needed to be reorganized, but the beauty of cherishing alone time (even if it was too much sometimes) and inviting God into even the most simple days helped me grow stronger and closer to Him.