photo 2Fall has come to the Northwest and with it the sweet-sad knowing that summer is officially over. Leaves are dropping, the rains are starting, and I have to let go of our beautiful Indian summer.

 It makes me think about how I can deal with the little losses that are always a part of life – the griefs that aren’t big enough to interrupt work – but still want and perhaps need to be acknowledged. Do I run from them? Get busy so I’ll forget? Wallow? Or find another way.

This week I experimented.

Thankfully, I haven’t experienced any big losses recently – the kinds of trauma that fill up the news, stop you in your tracks, and lead you to recast your life. But loss often shows up in small ways. There are good losses that open your heart…but still hurt.

A great assignment concluded on a high note, and because the facilitation I did turned out well and the group with whom I worked was really fun to work with, my sense of accomplishment was mixed with a sweet sense of loss. It was over.

A close friend came to visit and stayed two days. I took time off to just be with her – walking, talking, going to concerts, visiting museums, and, of course, eating. I was relishing the magic of being together – until it was time for her to go. As she left, my gratitude for her visit was colored with sadness; our house felt quieter and emptier.

Despite the big projects begging for attention, I couldn’t work. It was time to take a pause, breathe out, reflect, and talk a bit with the Muse, my personal in-house consultant. She had a timely message for me.

“Forget doing a big blog post today.
It’s time to go gentler. Slower.
Give yourself an afternoon to take stock and do something small. Just clean up your desk.”

(I’d been ignoring my desk in the heat of more urgent projects.)

She was right. Small was good. Cleaning up slowly, carefully, was just the ritual I needed. I put on some music by a Catalonian singer I’d just discovered: Maria del Mar Bonet. I made my way through the piles of papers on my desk listening to the sound of her haunting voice and lyrics I didn’t need to understand.

By the morning, I could go back to my project work.

What do you do when it’s time to feel the small, maybe difficult feelings of loss or grief – whether they’ve come in a happy or unwanted way? Do you have a ritual that helps you navigate? I’d love to hear what you do.

Can you give yourself space, at times, to slow the action and for a time – go small?