It didn’t feel very long ago that it was September 21st, the very last day of summer. I was sitting on my couch and the beautiful Chelsea sun-sink (that magic hour!) was streaming through my big living room and kitchen windows from over the Hudson River, just a block or two west. I went to one and peered out, observing all the happy-seeming people literally walking or riding off into the sunset.
Summer’s ending, I thought to myself. A lot is ending.
On that night, alone in my apartment, not even reading outside on my stoop or having a glass of wine with a friend, I was still reeling from the closure (which felt to me more like a break-up or divorce) of my business Uplift.
I look back, still tasting that end-of-summer nostalgia, proud that I was (and am) resilient enough to get through the pain, fear, sadness, and confusion. I kept going despite all of that and live to tell the tale, all on the eve of yet another season, with the winter solstice coming up in another week or so.
I revisited an episode of Rob Bell’s podcast, appropriately called Seasons, which profoundly impacted my life and my thinking when I first heard it a few years ago. Then I had just gone through the very painful ending of a relationship and was wandering around like a ghost with no direction.
I wanted to see if it held up as I face yet another changing of the seasons here at the end of 2019.
According to Bell, life is a series of seasons—a.k.a, stages or periods of times of life—pertaining to love, marriage, jobs, family, kids, and everything else.
First, he acknowledges staying too long in a given season.
"When you you stay too long [in a particular season], what would've been a graduation becomes a divorce: you could've gone but it was safe and good and known and so you stayed and it wasn't the best."
That is exactly what happened with Uplift. I knew in my heart and gut at least an entire year before I closed the company that it was time to do so.
Then, as “seasons end and new seasons begin, sometimes what you have to do is grieve the end of the old season,” he says. Translation: mourn and then quickly figure out how to move on, even if you do it very slowly.
Bell continues, “…so many people hang on and keep trying to recreate OLD seasons. This is why so many people stay with the known—they’re stuck on the couch—they’re still in the same place they always were—because if you can just keep the season going you don’t have to face the HOLY TERROR of a new season…”
“You never would’ve planned on that thing ending, but it ended, which means a season ended. And if a season ended,” he concludes brightly, “it means another season is beginning…which allows for ALL sorts of new creativity and new possibilities. ”
Even though I was in a vastly different place and set of circumstances at the time (I remember listening to the podcast the first time early one beautiful LA morning as I turned from N. Hayworth onto Melrose Avenue, the only New York City walking-type in a city of drivers), it still totally applies today.
I probably stayed too long in the old season.
The end of yet another season is scary and uncertain.
It means I’m getting older.
It means I still have memories of how it used to be. How proud I was to be a founder of a successful business, taking it over from my former partners, totally rebranding it, watching my vision come to life.
It means I’m starting completely over. I know what I am doing but there is so much uncertainty, and no guidelines, and no one telling me or showing me what to do.
I am literally between two poles. Between two seasons.
And that, apparently, is where the magical growth happens: what Bell terms “the liminal space" (aka, the space in between the seasons, where we're floating a bit).
“Sometimes, “ he explains, “one season is ending/has ended but it doesn’t feel like the next one has started…but if you go through the Wisdom traditions, if you read the Mystics, if you read the Sages, the wise ones that came before us, they always talk about the interesting things that happen in the liminal space….Spirit does all sorts of healing/redemptive/creative work in the liminal space."
But, he notes, most of us don’t like the tension—we don’t like to wait.
So we “rush through the liminal space, we rush through the space that has the most capacity to actually transform us."
I can’t get over how much this has been me. I am chronically impatient and am not very comfortable in the time in between anything, big or small. When one thing ends, whether a book, business, or relationship, I historically (and sometimes almost too urgently) set out to find the next thing.
But this time feels different. For one thing, I think my burgeoning self-awareness (based on the first of my Nine Pillars of Female Empowerment) is allowing me to first simply observe that I am in this liminal space and that it's perfectly fine if I pause and recharge here for a minute.
That for me doesn’t mean sitting on my ass and doing nothing, of course. I am busy building my next steps and my next company. But what it does mean is recognizing that it’s okay, and in fact a very good thing, that it’s taking a minute and isn’t all here at my doorstep just yet. It’s okay to be patient with myself and also forgiving (a big part of Pillar #5, Resilience) of myself.
Sometimes slow growth is the best growth. Good things are happening for me every day. I am on my way.
Plus, there’s the simple fact that I have no choice—that luminous summer day, and summer season, is indeed over, and winter is almost here.
The Uplift chapter of my life--the basis of my identity for the better part of ten years--is over. And just because the next version of me isn’t fully baked yet doesn’t mean she isn’t right there at the ready.
“So, if this is you,” says Bell, “keep your eyes open, grieve whatever you need to grieve, and take your time, because it’s oftentimes that in that liminal space things open up in us that could only open up in us if we were in enough discomfort, if we felt the sting of unknowing. It’s uncertainty that pokes and prods us and creates all these new and interesting things in us.”
So today, as I was thinking about all of this, instead of over-thinking my next step and panicking that it isn’t here yet, or being sad and doubting myself and all my past decisions, feeling tempted to creep back into that dead-and-buried season, I was content to just sit in neutral, in the liminal space.
I looked around my happy space in West Chelsea and appreciated every square inch. I made popcorn for dinner. Then I took every one one of the hundreds of books off my shelves and rearranged them into different categories and new iterations. Grateful for how much I have and how much I’m gaining right now, as we speak. I feel wide awake, Alive.
Knowing that another beautiful summer will come around again eventually, as it always does.