It doesn’t serve us to push down our negative emotions. Sadness, pain, grief, doubt, frustration are all part of our full human experience. These feelings can be beautiful in their own right.

In this episode, I talk about Ukrainian violinist Illia Bondarenko’s sad rendition of a Ukrainian folksong in a YouTube video. Illia was joined by violinists from around the world in support of fundraising efforts to help Ukrainians affected by the war. The beautiful sadness in this music takes us out of our heads and into our hearts. To hear this video and find the fundraising link for UN Refugee Agency promoted by Violonists Support Ukraine, go to

This video and world events got me wanting to explore the feeling of beautiful sadness. I wondered if there’s a word that precisely reflects this emotion. I found it and, ironically, it’s the Russian word “toska”. I found a perfect description of what this word means in a quote from an American who spent several years in Russia. Toska, he said, is a feeling where we’re “keenly aware of the terrible sharpness and intensity in a single moment in life…We feel utterly what it is to be human, to be pierced by loss, sadness, betrayal and all the myriad of things that can happen over the course of a single human lifetime… And yet, this very toska ties us intrincially to the very spark that give us life as humans and allows us to hold a small bright torch against the weight of that endless void…”. This quote is from Georgy Mananev’s article, “What is TOSKA, the Russian Despair?” in the May 6, 2020 edition of Russia Beyond.

Savvy Souls, we don’t need to push down the feelings we think are “bad”. We can stare at something beautiful and open ourselves up to the sadness the beauty inspires. We can notice ourselves feeling sadness, despair, grief, loneliness, frustration, and find beauty in that.

We can allow ourselves to feel the beautiful sadness of life. This will make our lives richer. This ability to feel whatever we’re feeling will foster our courage.


If you’d like help to move forward and learn how to apply what I teach in this podcast to your specific circumstances, schedule a free call with me by going to: https://gracedcanvascom/work-with-me. I’ll show you how to think about your specific issues in a way that feels safer, more doable, more expansive and easier. You’ll leave the call with a much better sense of what to do next.

To hear more from me, go to my website at or check out my posts on Instagram @gracedcanvascoaching, on Facebook under Graced Canvas, and LinkedIn under HYPERLINK “”e HYPERLINK “”atherkerr/.

You can also visit me at GRACE Studio to see my artwork or attend one of my workshops at 500 County Rd 18, Cherry Valley, Ontario, Canada K0K 1P0.

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I’m a former international tax lawyer and former senior partner of Ernst & Young. I left the law in 2014 to learn how to paint. After a couple years painting and selling my work, I became passionate about helping other people who feel stuck in their careers and lives and want to feel more personally fulfilled, invigorated and soul connected. I now spend my time painting, coaching, and creating live events at GRACE Studio (more formally, the “George Russell Academy of Creative Expansion”) in beautiful Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada.