Liminal Space

Is anyone else having a hard time naming this space that we are in right now? We’re a month into 2021, and it’s pretty clear that 2020 wasn’t the problem. We’re 11 days into a new presidency, and while we can all take a collective deep breath now, our deep wounds remain unhealed. As the pandemic drags on towards the one year mark, we have vaccines, but I’m still having a little trouble seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.

Liminal is defined as “of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition”. Liminal space is said to have the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs during a transition. The latin root of liminal – limen – means threshold. Birthdays, graduations, marriages, death, all familiar thresholds. They are new beginnings, bridges, experiences in which we, sometimes quite literally, cross from one place in our lives to another.

So here we are, standing on the bridge, and we can’t quite see the other side. As we stand on this threshold, there are things we are leaving behind, some by choice, some painfully torn away from us. We also have some choice about what we want to carry to the other side with us.

So tell us, what are you leaving behind? What are you carrying with you that you hope will serve you on the other side? What questions are you struggling with in this liminal space?

Leave us a comment below, tweet at us, or drop us an audio message by email for a future podcast.

4 thoughts on “Liminal Space

  1. I like the idea of incorporation as opposed to leaving behind. I could possibly leave behind certain aspects of my identity in previous times of my life, but I am not convinced that is a good idea. I think it is important to incorporate my current and developing experiences and synthesize them with my history, whether that be personally or professionally. I will never leave the things I have learned behind, and while I might leave workplaces, locations, and things, I do not remove the memories and connections I may have had with them over time, any more than I would remove connections to people.

    Some relationships end and contacts no longer have a context or place, but that again does not mean the memories of the times with those people need to be left behind as much as it has a context within the past that is still a part of who I am.


  2. Thinking more about this since the podcast recording! And came across this passage:

    “As Indian author and activist Arundhati Roy describes, we are in a portal, a gateway between two worlds. Roy offers, “We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”

    View at

    I love this. And, can we free ourselves from “big data” once and for all?!


  3. Libby (and Maddy and Chris and other reflective practitioners!),

    I really appreciated the topic for reflection this month being around the liminal space.

    I fancy evaluators as “liminal space facilitators” or “liminal safe space creators” or something like that. We want to show people the evaluative process and space of not knowing the answers. We sit in this transitional space, or at least we try to.

    The problem I see is around change aversion every time. Why are (the proverbial) we so caught up and scared by change? It is what makes life exciting. It is what makes tomorrow fun. Not embracing the need for change results in oppression, subverting meaning, and further hurt.

    Evaluators being in this liminal space… how do we navigate it? How do we become catalysts for the beauty that liminal spaces can create? Thoughts?

    What am I leaving behind? Still learning to leave behind certainty. Prescriptiveness. Putting things and people into boxes. What am I bringing with me? The affirmation that my authenticity and critical processing is essential for seeing change in others.

    “What we learn from understanding evaluation as a liminal activity is that it is a wonderful object of sociological analysis. In evaluation, society seeks to reflect on itself while showing what it subliminally really thinks is important–important to maintain, important to believe, important to change, and important to avoid. No wonder evaluation is difficult. And mysterious.” — Peter Dahler Larsen, 2012, p. 17


  4. This month presented an opportunity not just to learn a new word (liminal!) but also to reframe what I’d ordinarily chalk up to being ambiguous. Although I’m not disagreeing the space we’re in IS ambiguous and stressful, the in-betweenness is more than that — it’s a time for redefinition, reflection, and I daresay, radical reimagining.

    As a collective, we’ve been forced into change that ordinarily may not have taken place (or done so at bureaucratically ladened pace). That is no different at an individual level — both for myself and my company.

    I’ve felt it more necessary than ever to leave behind what feels comfortable and engage myself in more of what brings me joy. Ultimately though, none of these conversations mean very much if I’m not living values first. I feel like if there’s something I’m bringing forward, it’s my focus on values…and the ongoing reflection of how my resources are dedicated and whether there is alignment or not. Admittedly, it feels like a broken record, but when I’ve been able to live congruently with my values, I find joy…I’m spending time in spaces that make sense versus because I’m supposed to or for reasons lodged in scarcity. The end result is I feel engaged versus performative. I’ve had a taste of that, and I want more.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: