The ‘In-Between’ Moments

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A very close and wise friend recently wrote a piece on transitions that reminded me of the need for patience during times of change. It highlighted to me how, in the surge of change, I very often ask hugely of myself and, in an unspoken way, set unrealistic expectations. So often we are all facing huge change, huge requests, huge demands, and huge responsibilities. How often are we in turn expecting huge things from ourselves? I know that for myself, in the midst of change, I can leap towards expectations that go much beyond the current moment, that look toward weeks, days and months ahead. This leaves me with a certain sense of overwhelm, failure, worry, and exhaustion. My good friend reminded me of the need for patience, gentleness and grace. During times of change and transition what is most needed is firstly, acknowledgment and then, respect and care for that which we are experiencing. If respect and care are present then we can certainly find ways to be compassionate, gentle and patient with ourselves. With these qualities we are far more likely to meet change with grace, ease, preparedness, resilience and faith. And when we meet it like this then we are more likely to move through the transition rather than getting stuck in it.

I remember a beautiful and powerful poem that I found when I was 16 years old called ‘The Beads of Life’. In it the poet spoke of ‘the spaces between life’ as often forgotten moments. At the time I fell in love with this poem because it resonated strongly with what I was experiencing in my life. It offered me comfort even though I didn’t understand why. Now, all these years later those words are clear to me. Some of life’s most illuminating and significant moments, the ones that really matter and that set the stage for what is to come, happen in these in-between moments. Sadly, many of us fill the in-between moments with busyness. This busyness often denies and disrespects the beauty and importance of our in-between moments.

What are your ‘in-between’ moments? Without trying to change anything, what can you recognise and acknowledge about yourself in these times? Is there anything you’d like to be different about the way in which you are with yourself or with others during these times?

Transitions are often overlooked and ignored. I suspect this is because they feel undefined and because they often have no obvious outcome or serve no clear purpose. They are just kind of ‘grimy’. And so it sort of makes sense that so many of us place all of our emphasis on the past, on the lead up to change, and then on what will happen in the future. But transitions call for presence – a focus on and in the moment. I know for myself, during this current time of transition between Canada and South Africa, that it is tempting to focus either on what was – the extraordinary year we just had – or on the future – how we will return to our lives in South Africa, support the kids back to school, resume our careers, and settle in. And in this there is very little being in this very moment because the moment feels undefined, a space of both nothingness and yet also momentousness. It is a space that feels huge because it is filled with much feeling in my heart and in my body but it is also a space that feels hard because it isn’t defined yet.

So I wonder, if I’m feeling this, are you? Are you curious about your own transitional spaces and the ways in which you are in them? Do you avoid them? Hang out in them? Rush through them? Get stuck in them?

So what does this mean for Coaching?

Aside from personal transitions, I have worked with many people who have been in a time of transition. During all of these times I have felt incredibly honoured to be allowed in to these often private and usually emotionally heightened times in people’s lives. I can’t claim to have particular expertise in each of these areas but I do know that no matter what the change, there is a transition time that concurs.

Transitional spaces during which I’ve coached:

  • Change in career

  • New relationship

  • Move to leadership

  • Becoming a mother

  • Becoming a father

  • Changing role at work

  • The loss of a relationship

  • Divorce

  • Marriage

  • Pregnancy

  • The process of leaving a job

  • Approaching retirement

  • Personal illness or injury

  • Loved one’s illness

  • Personal questions and realizations about purpose and meaning

  • New boss or new ownership of business

  • New colleague or team

  • Moving city, country, or continent

  • Extensive travel for work

  • Older children leaving home

Are you in a time of transition? Do you foresee that you will be in a time of transition soon? The questions that follow are a start to bringing greater consciousness to times of change and enabling more presence for these in-between moments:

What do I want to be more present for?
How do I want to be different in transition?
What do I suspect I need to let go of?
What am I quietly hoping will emerge?
What can I have faith in?
What might be possible if I spend a bit more time in these transitional places?
What do I need in order to bring more patience, presence, grace and care to the in-between times in my life? What can I practically set in place? What can I ask for?
What support do I need?

My wish is that you honour yourself in your spaces and places of transition. If we can all do this then we are far more likely to respect the transitions that those around us are in. We may be merely observers, perhaps we offer our support, and maybe we are deeply intertwined in that transition. Whatever it may be, let it be held with acknowledgement, respect, and deep kindness.


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