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You Can't Have One Without The Other

Can you summon the tune to that old Frank Sinatra ditty 🎶You can’t have one without the other? 🎶 Sinatra was referring to love and marriage. That problematic lyric aside, it brought to mind a more reliable pairing. Change and grief. 🎶 You can't have one without the other. 🎶 My friend, author and artist Jenny Laden, balances her artistry with a decades long career in non-profit fundraising. Yesterday she shared something a colleague said recently about organizational change — Change, he said, “requires the processing of loss.” Jenny is publishing her first book of fiction,This Terrible True Thing, (Run to pre order NOW!) which draws from her own experience of losing her gay father to AIDS in the 1990’s. The book integrates her visual artistry with her personal story in a highly-illustrated, “visual novel,” told through sketches, journal entries, and first-person narration. Jenny is like us. She is in her fifties, she has two careers, she is an intentional solo parent of a now mature teenager. Right now many points of inflection are intersecting in her life— a lot of change is happening. Most of that change is the result of her own desire to grow. And yet, she can't escape her grief. None of us can.

Does that resonate with you? I dedicate a chapter in my book, "Braving Creativity," to grief because you can't talk about change without talking about grief. You can't have one without the other. I had trouble falling asleep last night. My daughter is away with friends and texted me at midnight that she was anxious. Then my dog got up and paced around - his paws click clacking on the wood floor all night- unable to settle. Supporting my daughter through her transition from high school to her freshman year in college this fall while planning to move from our home next month and launching my first book has every flavor of grief. That doesn't mean that certain big life change is often also exhilarating and empowering - an adventure willingly embraced. It just means that it isn't only that. Nor should we expect it to be. As we turn from change to face a new beginning, we will sense something is ending. We can ask, as Jenny did, “What am I giving up for this change to happen?” What beliefs, what identity, what familiar comforts? Today, tired from a restless night, the only step in the direction of growth I can take is to be gentle with myself and the people around me. Grief is present. More-so for my exhaustion.


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