The In-Between

The In-Between

Navigating transitions – personal, professional, societal – can be tricky work.

So often when we find ourselves in that liminal space – the space in-between where we were and where we’re going – we want an answer. We want a clearly defined destination, proof that we won’t languish in the in-between forever.

We want certainty that everything will be ok.

Part of this is because liminal spaces are often filled with uncomfortable emotions; loss, grief, uncertainty.  Sometimes in-between spaces are also unstable, financially and socially, generating fear and anxiety.

It’s natural that we want a way through and beyond these experiences.

But another part of why we resist them is that we often think they hold less value than the spaces that come before and after.  That they’re a ‘holding point’, more than an alchemic space, and if we can just get where we’re meant to be going, the problems will be solved, solutions found and Hey presto! Everything is fixed!

But liminal spaces can’t be rushed.

Often in the liminal our old beliefs have been stripped away, we’re made to reckon with our identity and our views of the world.

They’re a time of gestation, allowing us to arrive to the other side expanded, renewed and hopefully with a larger embrace of the world than we had before.

The question better asked of liminal spaces is not how quickly we can exit them, but how deeply we can inhabit them.

How willingly we engage in the process of letting go, of holding lightly what is close to us, and accepting what is unknown, and unknowable.

Because we’re all navigating transitions; careers, relationships, landscapes, seasons, houses, bodies, identities, politics.

Societally, climate change has already determined that we will transition – whether we do so willingly or not, and whether to something more beautiful or not.

And what lays before us is born not out of the past, but out of how deeply and honestly we can inhabit the space in between.  

So if you find yourself navigating a liminal space right now, here are some reflection prompts to help:

  1. What’s asking to be held a little lighter?
  2. If nothing in my life were to change, what qualities would I need to develop to embrace and welcome the space I’m in?

Laura x

PS: Want support navigating transitions in your life? Learn more about my coaching work here. 

Hope in an age of despair

Hope in an age of despair

Hope is a practice.

It is the stubborn commitment to believe in possibilities that we cannot yet see.

And in times of despair, we need hope more than ever.

But I’ve had so many conversations this week about hope; hope that seemed impossible to find, or naive to believe in.  

Hope that lived slightly out of reach.

There was worry, what if I hope and things don’t turn out? What if I’m wrong? What if my heart breaks?

What if I’m seen as naïve or idealistic? What if people scoff?

There was despair; fear and pain pushing hope into the distance.  

Refuge sought in cynicism and armour.   

Guards at our heart to protect from disappointment.

The dull, bitter ache of apathy more tolerable than the sharp pain of life. 

But I believe in the power of hope.

Not a naïve positive thinking, detached from the pain of the world.

Not an innocent longing, that knows nothing of struggle. 

But a hope that is grounded in potential.

That knows there is a field with myriad possibilities; ones we may never see or touch but that nonetheless still exist.

I believe in a hope that is less feeling, and more practice. 

So, if you’re in need of a little hope this week, I invite you to explore these practices.

1. Beauty-Making: The practice of finding or making beauty wherever we are.

Maybe it’s in the clouds, the sky, the birds or flowers. Maybe you can help make it through art, an act of kindness, a delicious meal.  Maybe it’s a sunset or the lake at dusk. 

Hope and beauty are close friends.  Where can you find beauty today? How can you make it?


2. Imagine. Imagination is the lovechild of hope. If possibilities exist, what might they look like? What ‘third way’ can we find? Can we allow ourselves time to dream, play and create? 


3. Grieve. Hope is not detached from reality; we cannot feel hope without the fullness of our emotions.  And while hope often looks dark from the midst of grief, grief in an age of despair is a sign of our humanity.  It is the consequence of our love, and to offer it ritual and honour is part of what makes hope possible.  


4. Look backwards. We often think of hope as a forward looking thing – and it is.  But sometimes we generate most by looking backwards. 

Where in our lives has change seemed impossible?  Where has it happened anyway?

Where throughout history might change have seemed impossible? Where has it happened anyway?

Who have you thought to be impossible of change? How might they have changed anyway?

Life is made of possibility.


5. Surrender.  Part of our struggle with hope is our need to see the outcome.  Our need for things to be a certain way. Our need to not be wrong, to know with certainty that things will turn out – often with a nice, neat arc and ending.

We confuse hope with control, hope with certainty, hope with knowing, hope with a fixed ending, hope with utopia, hope with relief, hope with the end of anxiety… each time missing what hope really is. 

Because hope, at its most raw, is the willingness to live in a story that is not yet complete.

A story that we are not the only author of. 

And a story that never really ends.  

Laura x 

Gracious Limits

Gracious Limits

This is a Guest Post by Carol Wilson, the Founder and Transformative Conversation Guide for Table Grace which seeks to create space for life-giving, transformational conversations, story-sharing, and resourcing for individuals, families, small groups, congregations, and communities. For more information, contact CarolWilsonTableGrace@gmail.com.

Gracious Limits by Carol Wilson[1]Steve Hartman recently shared the story of 89-year-old Allen McCloskey in an On the Road segment for CBS News. Mr. McCloskey’s neighbors described him as a “special guy” who is “out there to help everybody.” Steve Hartman said he would make a great candidate for kindest American. 

In the segment Mr. McCloskey was surprised by his hometown of Galveston, Indiana with a dinner in his honor and the presentation of the Guinness World Record for longest career as a gravedigger as he is now in his 71st year.  He doesn’t want to retire because he wants to make sure that the graves are dug carefully with square corners and with care for the persons affected by his work.  In addition, Mr. McCloskey is known for doing thousands of odd jobs across the years and is especially known for never sending a bill.  When Steve Hartman asked him about this, he just laughed.  Steve Hartman described Mr. McCloskey as unassuming in persona and profession and yet a bold beacon for anyone in search of meaning.  One of his neighbors said it best: “Allen has figured out what life is about.  It’s not the money that makes him happy. I truly believe Allen has figured out where enough is at. He’s found enough.”

In a course on Cultural Wayfinding, we discussed the concept of internalized capitalism.  It’s the shaping of our way of being by the priorities of capitalism and is experienced as a sense of urgency, scarcity, and never being enough. In my small group, we discussed it as the air that we breathe that leaves us feeling exhausted, unsettled, and always pushing through life.  Our course members are seeking to identify the cultural systems that shape us so that we can name them, see them, feel them, and then make conscious choices about how we participate in them.

Long ago I was introduced by a professor to gracious limits, a phrase I have carried and shared with others across the years.  When I first heard this concept it was contrasted with complete freedom, which is often seen as the desire of the human heart.  Yet, this professor suggested, complete freedom is chaos.  Without limits, we don’t know what is enough, where we are safe, where to stop, and how to recognize consequences for going too far.  Gracious limits, by contrast, let us know the playing field, the boundaries that give us security to know that within the recognized limits we can move freely and without worry or anxiety.

Gracious limits is an image I’ve often shared with persons who were entering into a role of supervision or with parents who were seeking to guide their children.  Until our conversation on internalized capitalism, I had never applied it to the limits and grace we give to ourselves to thrive. It was an aha moment to recognize that naming the limits of my time, ability, and energy isn’t being less than I “should” be.  Taking time to breathe, to rest, to reflect, to replenish is what gives all of us the space we need to be able to maintain our sense of self, our freedom to make choices, and to reduce the anxiety that tends to generate a desire for control over our life circumstances or over the lives of others.

Internalized capitalism has led me to believe that our worth comes from productivity, our importance comes from busyness, and that even our personal experiences are defined in terms of limited resources. How fascinating, then, to meet Mr. McCloskey who has “found enough.” Here is a man giving generously to his community, who is beloved and generating good will, who chooses to continue his work because of its value to him and to others and who is known for his kindness. He moves slowly, he speaks deliberately, he is unassuming in his expectations of others.  This life he models is one of generativity, of breathing into the world a spirit that leads to compassion and connection. Mr. McCloskey knows what is his to do and the gifts he has to offer.  There is a grace in him that seems to guide his choices and shape his interactions. In stepping out of urgency and lack, he has found ways to give generously and joyfully. He embodies what gracious limits look like, not restrictive, but freeing to receive and share, to work and rest, to care and receive care. 

As Steve Hartman closed his segment over pictures of Mr. McCloskey receiving hugs and sharing laughter with his community, he offered this summary: “Strange thing about finding enough, you often end up with more than enough.”  Gracious limits set us on the path to the freedom of enough and recognizing what really matters, a gift to ourselves, our community, and all creation.

Carol Wilson

Table Grace

August 10, 2023

Reflection Prompts:

  • Share how you experience the internalization of capitalism in your daily life. Notice the “shoulds” that you carry with you and the stories and drivers behind them.
  • Share a time when you experienced rest or a sense of enough. What did that feel like in your body? What did it sound like in your way of speaking?
  • What is one step you can take that moves you toward the freedom of enough and recognizing what really matters?

[1] “Local Hero”, On the Road with Steve Hartman, CBS News Sunday Morning, August 6, 2023.

Seeing the Water

Seeing the Water

Have you heard this David Foster Wallace story? There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys! How’s the water?”

And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”.  

It’s great, right? I think we can all relate to it.

Most of us grow up in environments where we’re not taught how to see the water and yet, it’s one of the most valuable skills we can have.

The water, depending on context, can be many different things.

It can be as small as family dynamics, or as big as capitalism & patriarchy. 

One of the first ways I learnt to see the water was travel.  I spent a lot of my 20’s backpacking, and I was fortunate to go places as diverse as the Colombian Amazon to the Wakhan Valley to the Arctic Circle of Norway. 

My family could never understand my love of travel so much (particularly to more remote places), but as someone with a non-traditional education, it became a form of learning for me.

Travel taught me the many different ways of being human. 

It showed me patterns. 

And it taught me how to see the water. 

Because in each of these places I saw the patterns of our interconnection.  The shared love we all have for our communities & family, music and art, our shared questioning and searching for something divine. 

But also the patterns & interconnection of injustice.  

The burning of the Amazon isn’t an isolated problem of South America. It’s directly tied to a global economic system (ahem, #capitalism) that requires infinite growth, that is founded on our disconnection from the Earth and each other. 

The suffering of Afghanistan and the surrounds is not a ‘them’ problem. It’s directly tied to neocolonial policies and power politics of the global north (which are founded on the same belief patterns of patriarchy, capitalism & white supremacy). 

And the struggles many of us experience in day to day life, and consider normal – that’s right, I’m talking about burnout, perfectionism, shame-cycles, imposter syndrome – are not actually normal.

They’re a product of a toxic culture, that likes to individualise and otherise systemic injustice.  

As changemakers, I believe our work is in learning to see the water of our culture, and learning to recognise patterns. 

Travel’s one way, but it’s not the only one. 

We can all practice this by asking the right questions. 

Who benefits when I’m burnt out or exhausted?

Who or what goes unchallenged?

What pattern might there be here, where can I see this story in culture? 

Seeing the water is the first step to Getting Free. 

From there, we can learn to hand the story back. 

To steward our power.

And lead our communities from the world as it is to the world as it could be. 

Abundance Practices for Changemakers

Abundance Practices for Changemakers

I come back to the work of abundance because scarcity – like shame – isn’t a driver for a more just and regenerative world.

Capitalism will tell us that scarcity is a driver of innovation, a force behind creativity.

But I wonder where the stretches of our imagination and creativity could lie if we were to rest in being safe and satisfied? If our needs were met, what would still call upon each of us to be created or born?

Abundance is an experience we have not collectively felt for a long time. It was removed from our systems, the word branded as new age fringe, or woo.

Now is its time for reclamation.

So here are some simple abundance practices you can begin, designed by and for changemakers.

1. Share Resources.

Our world enforces scarcity in part by teaching us that everyone ‘needs to have their own’, and removing our shared common resources & spaces.

So let’s rebel. Join a:

  • Shared tool shed
  • A library
  • Community garden
  • A clothes swap
  • A co-op
  • A Pay It Forward group.
  • Stock (or use) a community fridge
  • Attend free concerts, lectures, seminars and webinars.

2. Beauty.

Find symbols of beauty, and place them everywhere.

Enjoy fresh flowers & art.

Fill your home with beautiful things (whether from a thrift store, travels or elsewhere). Beauty reminds us of what matters.

3. Money.

What makes you feel like there’s enough? What makes you feel abundant? How much do you need to thrive?

Consider practices like:

  • A certain amount of cash in your wallet,
  • A dedicated savings account & practice (regardless of amount)
  • Donating to people & causes that move you
  • Surprise gifts for friends & family
  • Spending money on what you actually desire.
  • Subscribing to papers, magazines & patreons you care about
  • Supporting the arts
  • Contributing to a pension fund
  • Ethical banking (divesting)

A note: Money is often wielded unethically in the name of capitalism or power-over structures, but is not the same thing as capitalism itself. Billionaires should not exist, and simultaneously struggle does not serve the you or the world. Much of our experience with scarcity relates to money, and so cultivating an abundance practice with money – ethically, with care, intention and honouring collective values – is not at odds with anticapitalism or changemaking.

4. Practice Pleasure

As the wonderful adrienne maree brown says, ‘pleasure is not one of the spoils of capitalism’.

The more we can practice pleasure the more we cultivate a sense of enoughness & satiety: requirements for true collective abundance.

This might be eating a blueberry, enjoying the sun on your skin, watching the birds, drinking a latte, enjoying touch & sex, a slow yoga practice, dancing, singing or dinner with friends. Take your pick.

5. Use the ‘special occasion stuff’

Light the candle.

Serve the nice glasses & plates.

Put the dress on.

Wear the sexy underwear.

Open that nice soap.

Drink that champagne in the fridge.

6. Ask for more.

This might seem counterintuitive, but many of us aware of the injustice of capitalism are conditioned to ask for less (this is doubly particularly so for women, queer folx and people of colour).

Asking for more (money, time, resources, respect etc) is about knowing what we need to flourish, and believing that it’s possible.

Because your thriving is not at odds with a more beautiful world. Indeed, it’s a requirement.

What would you add? Let me know on Instagram here. 

Self Work is Part of System Change

Self Work is Part of System Change

One of our greatest necessities in the age of climate change is to shift our focus from the individual to the collective.

From solo tweaks to widespread system change.

As changemakers, this means our work is two-fold: working at the external level of the system, and also at the level of self.

Because every system has a mindset attached to it.

A set of values and beliefs that perpetuate and uphold it.

Much of the time, this belief system is unconscious. It operates in the background, with the sole aim of its self-perpetuation.

I call this work the work of getting free.

Of understanding the ways we’ve internalised systems, and challenging our participation.

Getting free is what allows us to reimagine the world.

To move beyond shifting dials and levers, to transforming the system and paradigm itself.

History is only destined to repeat itself when the root has never been examined and healed.

So the questions I’m holding for you are:

  1. What system are you wanting to transform?
  2. What thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and values uphold this system?
  3. What would it mean to challenge it from the inside out?

Laura x