Lately I've been talking about Threshold Seasons, mainly because I'm living in one. During Threshold Seasons, we find ourselves operating out at the edges of our capacities, in one way or another. Our limits for things like patience, perseverance, courage, compassion and more are tested and stretched beyond what we previously knew ourselves capable of.
Often, Threshold Seasons are marked by shrinking margins, those extra spaces that leave room for the unforseen or the unexpected, both large and small. Think: the morning that's off to a slower start than usual, or the accident we didn't see coming.
This is what I know about surviving Threshold Seasons:
When the margins grow thin, it's imperative to create new ones.
A big part of this is sending a message to our body, which feels the impact of Threshold Seasons acutely. We tell our bodies through every small act of rest or restoration: I Got This, because if we don't, our bodies will shut us down until we do.
In a Threshold Season, try these moves for creating new margins:
Send your expectations on vacation. Whether you're up against expectations about time, productivity, or even how good of a mood you should be in--it's time to reevaluate and let go. Threshold Seasons are NOT Ordinary Times, and trying to force them to look the same is only a recipe for frustration.
Understand that The Little Things matter more. It's counterintuitive, because one would think that it would be the other way around, but things like having clear surfaces to cook, eat or work on, or clean clothes that feel good--what is a mere annoyance in Ordinary Time is what sends you over the edge in Threshold Seasons. The Little Things need more of your attention right now, not less.
Know this: a little novelty goes a long way. When slower, longer and more aren't an option, try something different. One way I'm doing this is with a new breakfast I came up with for the girls: the May The Day Go Gently With Us breakfast. It's comprised of a slice of peanut butter toast, a small (6oz) hot cocoa, and mini-marshmallows, as the day requires. (It's for Emergency Mornings--don't judge.) Changing things up can feel good to your body and soul.
Notice the margins you still have. We're always so quick to fill open spaces of time when they pop up unexpectedly or naturally appear during the rhythm of the day. What if you took notice and sunk into those spaces deeply? I'm usually one to wake and roll right of bed, but lately I stay there. Just soaking in a few moments of being held and supported by the earth, and my building and bed, of being covered with soft, warm layers is one way to notice that margin that I still have.
Hold your attention. One thing that sends me to my threshold quicker than anything is having my attention fragmented and interrupted. (This made the early childhood years a real challenge for me.) When disruptions outside of my control are high, I pull back on the ones IN my control. This can look like setting aside whole days for each aspect of my work, instead of trying to do a little work on everything every day.
It also means curbing the multi-tasting. When I'm editing and waiting for files to import, I do better staying offline and using the space for something more presence-friendly, like sipping tea, looking out the window, or listening to records. I've found that the back-and-forth multi-tasking is never as productive as we think.
Focus on the work at hand. The way I'm wired, one part of my mind is always working about three projects out ahead of what I'm actually on right now. And in a Threshold Season, there's just not enough margin for that. Last week Jolie said to me, Could you just make your movie and take care of your husband? As soon as she posed the question, the twenty other things whirling around my head and pouring out my mouth just fell away. Yes, I said, I can.
When I focus on the work at hand, it returns me to the sufficiency of this moment, and I can see that while what I have may feel small in comparison to Ordinary Times, it's still enough.
I'd love to hear from you: How do YOU survive Threshold Seasons or create new margins?