In-between Spaces

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the in-between spaces. By in-between spaces, I mean those spaces where we aren’t grinding towards some absolute conclusion or rushing to complete this or the other task on our list or agenda. I call them in-between spaces because these moments that likely should frame the bulk of our experiences, have become vestigial in our lives and, if they happen at all, happen in-between all the other stuff we’re *supposed* to be doing. My thinking about these spaces began with some journaling back in September. As mentioned in a prior post, I have been working with an interdisciplinary group of women to study community, care, creativity, and arts-based practice in academia. These meetings themselves are a sort of in-between space in the scope of my larger academic experiences. At the start of every meeting, we engage in a round of “check-ins” where we each offer an update before we dive into our work. In a newly published chapter about our collaborative, we explain check-ins as moments where we “create space to acknowledge the impacts of daily life on our meeting time as a means of community support and care” (Redmond, et al., 2021, p. 125). But even since this publication, the magic of check-ins is becoming clearer. What’s left out of the above explanation is that we not only create space to share, but also, we work to hear each other. Yes, I mean hear as opposed to just listen. I feel like when one listens, one processes words alone. But when one hears, one offers her attention to the words as well as to the spaces in-between the words. Hearing into these spaces becomes a kind of texture and is, as I am understanding, an essential aspect of community care and empathy.

In journaling, the in-between spaces are also important. Sometimes I feel pressure to engage in my journaling practice— whether it’s journaling focused on processing my research or simply exploratory making. But journaling shouldn’t be another thing on one’s “to do” list— it isn’t about grinding towards the artful page or a full book. Your journal can be reclaimed as an in-between space. For example, the repetitive process of laying down page after page of texture or color may invite meditation or peaceful reflection. No matter how many times I get interrupted by my kids or by my own wandering thoughts or stresses about what I should be doing, I can usually get back into the flow, finding balance in the unfolding textures and colors.

Below is a short video that shows how to use corrugated cardboard to make one-of-a-kind colorful pages in your visual journal. In just two simple steps, you can get lost in texture and color and the in-between spaces of your journal. Paint, print, paint, and repeat. Paint, print, paint, and repeat. The literal in-between spaces amidst the ridges of the paperboard hold opportunity for the figurative hearing and care we may not only offer to others, but also to ourselves.

Citation: Redmond, T. (2020, November, 12). In-between Spaces. Retrieved from

Redmond, T., Luetkemeyer, J., Davis, J., Hash, P., & Adams, T. (2021). Creating space for care: Sustaining the emotional self in higher education. In Ruffin, I. & Powell, C. (Eds). The Emotional Self at Work in Higher Education (pp. 120-145). Hershey, PA: IGI Global. doi: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3519-6.ch007 

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