The sunsets have been stunning, the colors bold and breathtaking. Likely, the forest fires raging in Oregon and southern Washington have a part to play in the way the light and pollution come together to create art in the sky as the day comes to a close, a reminder of how beauty can come even from endings and destruction.
As the summer comes to a close, I have been reflecting on the beauty of both the season and its end, and how the close of summer enhances my desire to embrace and enjoy every last moment. The sunsets have called me to pause and appreciate the beauty of a day’s end. These reflections around endings and destruction have also led me to again recognize how endings give way to beginnings, destruction gives way to new creation, and the importance of savoring the journey and the bittersweetness of these moments.
It is also in this transition from summer to fall that I reminisce on the butterfly migration in the Los Angeles area I was so privileged to witness while living there. While we were in LA this past April, we went to the butterfly gardens at the Natural History Museum. One of my very favorite experiences in LA was the mass migration of butterflies. They were so thick in the air everywhere; it was as if we’d been invaded. So unexpected and such a pleasant surprise, these beautiful butterflies even surrounded us on the traffic-jammed highways! I arrived in LA for what would be a 2+-year sojourn, angry to be there, and left quite transformed by the colorful experience and deep friendships I gained. Our LA experience provided a new reference and definition for me of bittersweetness. Only at the end could I see the beauty of the personal transformation I’d undergone as the sunset on our time there and the butterflies undertook their journey.
As the sun sets on this day, on this season, both literal and metaphorical, what is ending for you? What do endings mean for you, and what emotions do they trigger? What is beginning? What beauty do you see in the finale? When and where have you experienced beauty in the breaking, in the ending? As you reflect on your life experiences, where do you see moments of bittersweetness? How have they shaped you? How have you shaped and made meaning of these moments?
Quote I’m pondering:
Perhaps the butterfly is proof that you can go through a great deal of darkness and still become something beautiful.
~ Beau Taplin ~
What I’m reading:
Bittersweet by Susan Cain
I just finished listening to the Audible version of this book and absolutely loved it! As someone who has been accused of being Eeyore, of being overly sentimental, of feeling a deep appreciation for the character, Sadness, in InsideOut, and as someone who walked down the aisle to Moonlight Sonata, this book spoke to me on so many levels. I have come to feel great frustration with our cultural insistence/mandate to “be happy, just be happy,” ALL OF THE TIME! I believe what we so often think of as the “negative emotions” have a very important place and purpose, and at the very least, allow us to really know what it feels like when happiness comes within.
Thinking about sunsets, beauty in endings, and the breaking down involved in metamorphosis, makes me also consider my time living in Los Angeles, a time that truly allowed me to feel and experience bittersweetness. I showed up angry to be there and left changed and sad to say goodbye. The transformation was all the things – painful and inexplicably wonderful all at once, and to say goodbye was both excruciating and exciting.
I hope you will give this book a read or a listen! This book spoke to my soul. I felt a deep human connection and a new appreciation for my own life experience. I’d love to hear what you think!!
What Amazon has to say:
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Sadness is your superpower. In her new masterpiece, the author of the bestselling phenomenon Quiet explores the power of the bittersweet personality, revealing a misunderstood side of mental health and creativity while offering a roadmap to facing grief in order to live life to the fullest.
“Bittersweet grabs you by the heart and doesn’t let go.”—BRENÉ BROWN, author of Atlas of the Heart
“Susan Cain has described and validated my existence once again!”—GLENNON DOYLE, author of Untamed
“The perfect cure for toxic positivity.”—ADAM GRANT, author of Think Again
ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2022—Oprah Daily, BookPage
Bittersweetness is a tendency to states of longing, poignancy, and sorrow; an acute awareness of passing time; and a curiously piercing joy at the beauty of the world. It recognizes that light and dark, birth and death—bitter and sweet—are forever paired.
If you’ve ever wondered why you like sad music . . .
If you find comfort or inspiration in a rainy day . . .
If you react intensely to music, art, nature, and beauty . . .
Then you probably identify with the bittersweet state of mind.
With Quiet, Susan Cain urged our society to cultivate space for the undervalued, indispensable introverts among us, thereby revealing an untapped power hidden in plain sight. Now she employs the same mix of research, storytelling, and memoir to explore why we experience sorrow and longing, and how embracing the bittersweetness at the heart of life is the true path to creativity, connection, and transcendence.
Cain shows how a bittersweet state of mind is the quiet force that helps us transcend our personal and collective pain, whether from a death or breakup, addiction or illness. If we don’t acknowledge our own heartache, she says, we can end up inflicting it on others via abuse, domination, or neglect. But if we realize that all humans know—or will know—loss and suffering, we can turn toward one another.
At a time of profound discord and personal anxiety, Bittersweet brings us together in deep and unexpected ways.
What I’m listening to:
I was so inspired by and resonated with Susan Cain’s Bittersweet that I sought out podcasts with her as a guest. I found one new podcast I want to investigate beyond the interview with her and one old favorite, The Tim Ferris Show, that I’ve found to provide consistent inspiration. Let me know what you think!!
Passion Struck is a show focused on exploring the mindset and philosophy of some of the world’s most insightful people. John R. Miles unpacks guests’ wisdom on creating an intentional purpose-driven life and turns it into practical advice that you can use to impact your work, life, and relationships.
Susan Cain is one of my favorite authors and completely changed the way I viewed myself and my own strengths. Susan is the author of the Quiet Journal, Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts, and Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, which spent eight years on The New York Times bestseller list, and has been translated into 40 languages. Her new masterpiece, Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole, is available now.
Susan’s first record-smashing TED Talk has been viewed more than 40 million times and was named by Bill Gates as one of his all-time favorite talks (and if you like that one, you should check out her most recent TED Talk with violinist Min Kym). LinkedIn named her the top sixth influencer in the world, just behind Richard Branson and Melinda Gates. Susan partners with Malcolm Gladwell, Adam Grant, and Dan Pink to curate the Next Big Idea Club. They donate all of their proceeds to children’s literacy programs.
Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make us Whole
In her new book, Susan discusses why sadness and the happiness of melancholy are key to achieving self-transcendence and the union between souls. As with the majority of people, you’ve probably been taught your entire life to look at the positive side and be happy no matter what. While there is a place for optimism and looking at the bright side, by burying your melancholy and sadness, you may actually be doing yourself a terrible disservice.
Additional Podcasts with Tim Ferris and Susan Cain:
You can sign up to receive my Three Thoughts for Thursday post as an email on the third Thursday of every month by clicking here.
Women local to the Seattle area, you are invited to attend Savor the Sweetness on September 17th. For more information and to RSVP, please click here.
Please check out my latest blog post, The Problem of Intentions, Also check out my post, Be Careful, Recipes and Inspiration Yield Different Results! and my August Edition of Three Thoughts for Thursday, as well. In light of my continued theme on process, you may also be interested in my series, Lessons of the Run – Endurance, Resilience, Rest, and Grit. And if you could stand to hear more about processes and patterns, stay tuned for an upcoming expanded post on Examining the Process – Behind the Drive.
If you are interested, or know someone who may be interested, I also offer leadership and emotional intelligence coaching and workshops. You can find more information on my website, or you can use this link to set up a free 30-minute introduction to coaching session.
Beginning last year, in April 2021, I have had the privilege of hosting the Emotional Intelligence Special Interest Group for ICFLA. Please join us for September’s session on Tuesday, the 27th of September, with special guest, James Garrett of BrainByDesign, who will offer The Brain Science of Overcoming Fear.
For more information on the next “EQ and WooWoo” workshop (Thursday, September 22nd) with my colleague and Spiritual Coach, Katie Kay, please email me or RSVP. This workshop series is designed to help you manifest action towards the year you want to live, the person you want to be, and the goals you want to achieve. We will be hosting quarterly sessions that intertwine the use of Tarot (and other Woowoo tools) and Emotional Intelligence to help you and your clients step outside the box in order to take your coaching and personal work deeper. September will focus on Relationship Management, harvesting what you’ve planted, and continuing to care for the relationships you are building and maintaining.
If you are interested in joining and co-creating these learning communities, please use the links above to find out more about ICFLA’s Emotional Intelligence Special Interest Group and the EQ & WooWoo Workshops. I hope you will come along for the journey!
I’m always looking for new inspiration, new books to read, and new podcasts to listen to, so please send your suggestions my way or comment on this post to offer some new recommendations!
As always, thank you for your continued support and readership! Stay strong, stay brave, stay true to you!
Wishing you a season of stunning sunsets, moments that take your breath away, and recognition of the beauty in the bittersweet!