Learning to Live in the In-Between

I woke early on December 3rd, unable to go back to sleep.  So many thoughts churning in my head. The proverbial to-do list of stuff to get dome before I leave my job for good.

(c) Thinkstock

(c) Thinkstock

One…two…and counting.  Counting to-do lists instead of sheep.

22 items in all, ranging from “turn final expenses in” to “complete performance reviews”. Some will take 5 minutes and some 5 hours.  A big list, considering that there’s only one full week of work left, and then scattered time before the holidays.  Oh, and I have a full calendar of meetings as well.

As I looked at the list, I began to feel overwhelmed.  And the fact that this was churning in my head was why I couldn’t go back to sleep.  At least now it was down on paper.

Then I realized something.  I was treating these weeks before I leave as the space between two lives – the old and the new.  I was treating it as if it was nothing but a series of tasks.  Preparation for my life.

When in fact, it IS my life.  Each day of this transition is my life.  It’s not simply a way to get to the next thing. Yes, there are things I need to do. But I want and need to be fully present in and with them. Not look past them to the finish line.

I want to experience all the emotions, whether frustration, bittersweet, impatience, joy. All of it.  Every. Single. One.  I want to connect with people while I can, even though I’ll be saying good-bye in only a few weeks.   I want to serve right up to the last minute; finish even stronger than I started.

It’s not easy.  Part of me wants to just melt away, fade to black, so to speak.  Not have to face the long good-bye, the tearing of my heart as I upend the life I’ve known for 36 years.

Yet I know I must.  Because that’s where real life is.  Not in hiding, disconnecting.  Real life is living right in the midst of uncertainty and in-between-ness.

Are you living in an in-between place right now?  If so, know you’re not alone.  Maybe you’re between sick and well.  Married and divorced.  Decided and undecided.  Maybe you’re about to graduate, or move.  Wherever you are, be all there.  All in.  Fully alive to what that situation, that place, has for you.  To teach you.

I know you want to get to the finish line.  Maybe like me, you have a hard deadline.  December 31st is my last day, and it’s coming whether I like it or not.  Whatever’s going to get done has to be done by then.  Maybe you’re facing that too.  If so, don’t let the deadline overshadow everything else.  In the midst of your to-do list, don’t forget to live.

How have you learned to live in the in-between places in your life?  Please share by leaving a comment


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Kathleen, I LOVE this post—one of my faves of the many superb pieces I’ve read from you. To fully inhabit each segue, to live fully: No treading water, no throw-away lines, no phoning it in (the number of cliches that rise to mind prove how often we choose the lesser path) . . . no living beyond the moment but solidly WITHIN each moment as it is entrusted to us.

    This quote in particular: “I was treating these weeks before I leave as the space between two lives – the old and the new. I was treating it as if it was nothing but a series of tasks. Preparation for my life.
    When in fact, it IS my life.”

    Simply profound, my friend. May I hold this truth in mind and heart all my days!

    Merry Christmas to you in the abiding, in-betweening, and leaving, the goodby-ing and hello-ing!

    • Thank you so much, Laurie, and a Merry Christmas to you. Just yesterday I called a friend because I was struggling with the in-between. Mostly feeling overwhelmed – not only with emotion – but also with no space in which to process it or say a proper good-bye. She asked me what I needed right then. I breathed, realized “This is my life – this right now.” And I realized I needed to create that space. So I skipped a few meetings in order to spend time with people who I won’t be seeing as much come the new year.
      In so doing, instead of an overwhelmed place, it became a sacred space of abiding within the moment.
      I still have so much to learn. This in-between space is helping me grow, even as it’s uncomfortable. Thanks for understanding.
      Blessings to you and your family.

  • Kathleen, I have been meaning to write to you for days. As I start writing I almost want to apologize for what will end up being a long comment but at the same. I realize you will not mind I have been listening to your podcast for some time and I have been enjoying them. I binge listen to my podcasts off of s flash drive that I have them downloaded to and then plugged in my car stereo while I drive to work or deliver pizzas at my part time job.

    I was confused the other day as I listened to the podcasts where you share about leaving your job and then talking in a later podcast as if you were not going anywhere. I later discovered that my car stereo plays podcasts backwards, not in numerical order! That was a surprise and explained a lot of confusion I was having when listening to podcasts.
    What really broke my heart Kathleen was the amount of effort that you put in your course and no one invested in it, the blog posts without comments, the feeling of wondering if you were making a difference. It was that podcast that I listened to over the weekend that told me that I had to finally reach out to you. Then the blog post of your transition as well. Kathleen I want to share a few thoughts with you but before I do, I need to share this first. I know you are at a slight disadvantage because we have never spoken before and you don’t even know what I look like (don’t worry though, you’re not missing much)…lol.

    On the other hand, I see you pic on the web site all of the time and hear your voice frequently. And that is why I need to tell you:
    That you are making a HUGE difference
    That you have so much more to offer
    That your podcast this July helped me through a VERY DIFFICULT situation I went through because of my own fault yet your words were so comforting and full of wisdom
    That even though you may not get a lot of comments, people do listen. Cliff Ravenscraft recently said on one of his Podcasts that someone that had followed him for over 5 years finally left a comment on one of his posts. Don’t give up.
    That you were told that the provision will be greater on the other side and SISTER I SAY A BIG AMEN TO THAT!!!!!!
    That your obedience will be rewarded far greater than you imagined
    That your purpose here on Earth has not been completed yet
    That you will have so much more freedom to do so many things
    That you have yet to discover even deeper talents and skills that were obscured all of these years
    I can go on and on but I know you get the picture.

    I am so excited to walk with you on your new journey that you are about to embark in. Why?
    Because I know I was meant to someday leave my government job and do the same… fulfill my
    destiny. So Kathleen press on sister, you are not alone and yes, you are making a bigger difference
    than you can imagine. To be continued…

    • Thank you so much for your encouragement, Edwin. Maybe you don’t feel as though you’re fulfilling your destiny at work, but you’ve certainly done it here with your heartfelt words.
      It’s exciting to know you’re on this journey too. I can press on knowing there are others walking this path. To use your words, your purpose has not yet been completed either. You have yet to discover even deeper talents and skills that are being developed even now. Won’t it be cool to see what happens?
      Do you have an inkling? A timeline? I’d love to pray for you as you continue your journey.
      To be continued, indeed.

      • Hello Kathleen. It’s amazing that after I wrote those words to you and even bigger door opened up. As far as a time line goes it’s interesting because I have 2 things going on at the same time (and I didn’t even plan it that way). I have a Foundational Life Coach course starting next November that I am already enrolled in.

        The reason it’s so far away is because it was the best option for my schedule. The other track I am on is that I will be part of a team through Crown Ministries where I will be doing Career Direct assessments for people either seeking to change careers, deciding what to major in school, employers wanting to have their employees tested for their skills set, etc. I’ll be starting that early in January and start rolling with that right away.

        This is so exciting right now but I also pray to God for wisdom, discipline and patience as I navigate this new season of leaving job number 2 and eventually my full time job as well. So I ask for payer in those three areas: wisdom, discipline and patience. I’m so excited to hear where you journey takes you as well.

        I’d like to leave you with some words from Dr. Seuss that I believe will help you during this time of transition and other things you are dealing with: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened”. To be continued… you’ll see why a few months from now. Have a great Christmas.

  • Thank you for your transparency, vulnerability and honesty Kathleen! I am excited about all that lies in store for you. Yes and so encouraging to hear how you are embracing the present moment – something I am also learning to do. I am also planning to do Michael Hyatt’s Best Year Ever. Are you going to do the same as well?

    • Thanks, Sunil. It’s such a challenge to fully embrace the present when our minds so naturally go toward the future, isn’t it?
      I hope you enjoy Michael Hyatt’s BYE. I’m not going to do it. Have done it in the past.