Bittersweet: Why Life is an ‘AND’ Word

I love the taste of excellent bittersweet chocolate on my tongue. It is complex in its flavor, a combination of opposites.  Life is that way too.

Bittersweet is an ‘AND’ word, holding the paradoxes of itself.

I recently met a young woman that had two children. She asked me if I had any children myself and I told her I had one son and that he mostly lived in China since college and traveled a great deal for the last nine years.  I told her he spoke mandarin, that he had been a shy child who liked staying in his room most of all and reading. Now he has so many friends from all over the world, and has become a visionary with courage, creativity, and the ability to appreciate his daily failures, its teachings and the magic of life. 

I could feel how proud of him I was, how far he had come AND how terribly I missed him, how the physical distance impacted me.  I remembered when I would have to travel when he was little and I would bring his unwashed baby undershirt with me so I could still smell him. I wish I had kept one of those undershirts.

The young mother looked at me with compassion and said “Bittersweet. I can imagine it’s bittersweet.”

The word pierced my heart like an arrow of truth.  I had not yet been able to roll the polarities of my experience into one word. But there it was.

Bittersweet. An ‘AND’ word.


  • Watching the sunset after a beautiful full day- celebrating the day AND its ending.
  • Holding my beloved friend’s hand as it is stiff from a neurological disease- the warmth of our forever connection AND the painful knowing of her discomfort and suffering.
  • My old grandma magnolia tree, scarred, vulnerable, ripped open in her trunk, now a home for aphids that are sucking at her own life blood AND how long I have enjoyed her presence in my life and the wisdom she imparts to me each day as she still strives to keep on living.
  • Each new line on my face that challenges my vanity AND allows me to value the life and passing of time that has earned all of them.
  • My clients who come with weighty challenges AND have the courage to face them and work to transform those challenges into opportunities.

It is easy to look at a problem and either be consumed by it or too quickly reframe it without experiencing through it. We want to live our lives one way or another. But LIFE is an AND word.

Learn more about how body-centered coaching can impact your joy in every experience!

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