Beginning of the End

I love fall. No, really. I LOVE fall. It’s my most favorite season – even if it doesn’t quite exist now like it used to (or like I wish with all my might it would).

I still love it. And yes, I raised a literal “It’s Fall, Y’all!” flag promptly on September 23.

As my Ford Focus took me from Atlanta back to Nashville today, I noticed something different in the trees outlining Nickajack Lake and hovering over the winding lanes through Monteagle. I had driven through them only three days prior and in that short time, they had changed. Reds, yellows, and browns were cutting through green canopies and for the first time all week, I felt myself exhale.

Someone recently said that fall is the start to a 3-month exit. My birthday falls around Thanksgiving so I tend to not think of it as an end, but as a beginning for a new season, a new year, new lessons, new opportunities. But it is an end, isn’t it? Even the colors I marvel at — the yellows and browns on the crunchy, fallen leaves — that’s death in nature; an exhale to green life well-lived.

Of course, I see the necessity in this. Just as you have to shed skin to generate new cells, you have to leave old wounds behind for new growth. In our own unique ways — just like the trees — there’s a lot of beauty here.

I spent a couple of days last week at a creative conference where we dissected liminal space: the tension in the transition between no longer and not yet. I don’t think I’ve ever put words to it, but the concept resonates so much it almost feels like home – a weird, scary sort of home, but home nonetheless.

One of my favorite speakers (okay, I had more favorites than not), was Gillian Ferrabee. She spoke right to the heart of my fear in liminal space where my individual narrative becomes so loud and confident at times that I mistake it for truth. Believe me when I tell you: this is dangerous.

Gillian recommends practicing Fear Melters® which are helpful, but what really knocked me upside the head were four simple words:

What else could happen?

Stopping the downward spiral long enough to ask the question, parse the facts, and look logically at the situation is the best thing to flip the narrative and get back on track.

Having access to this tool now, is it still possible to feel stuck in liminal space? I think so. Here’s my best advice: savor this. The good, the bad, and the sad are all rich moments of feeling that signal life. When we first met, my counselor said that depression is a void of the highs and lows in life. The fact that we’re feeling anything means we’re actually doing great.

And (some continued advice to self) when life feels too heavy to see the joy, remember: left foot, right foot, breathe.

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