reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


Leave a comment

the unreachable star. [merely-a-thought monday]

my uncle allen had a beautiful voice. my mom’s brother, he would stand in our living room, with me at the piano or the organ, and belt out songs with great love. he’d bring stacks of sheet music over and we’d page through them, choosing greatest hits from broadway musicals or the radio. sometimes my big brother would play along and the three of us would entertain my sweet momma and dad for hours. there is never a time i hear “the impossible dream” that i do not think of allen.

“and I know if I’ll only be true
to this glorious quest
that my heart will lie peaceful and calm
when i’m laid to my rest”

(the impossible dream)

i cannot think of anyone i have ever known who was as consistently happy – no matter the difficulty or challenge facing him, he was happy and smiling. his complete support of my earliest recording path is something for which i will always be grateful. my uncle always believed. in his wonderful wife, his adored children, his family, in me. allen was a gift to the universe. when i think about the movie “the fault in our stars”, i realize that he was an example of living this way – recognizing that it matters not how many people you touch or impact or inspire, no matter the tiny or giant legacy you leave in your wake – what matters is that there was one person…one person for whom you have made a difference simply by being on this good earth. anything beyond that is icing on the cake. allen was indeed icing.

the chipmunks are back and i have to say i am delighted. they are adorable and cunning and just really smart little guys. before the winter, they devised all kinds of methods to get to the birdfeeder, despite the metal plate that is supposed to keep them away. they managed to chock-fill their cheeks with seed and carry it off to their wintercondos. now they have returned and they are hungry. they’ve been practicing getting up the feeder, sometimes falling into the grasses below. they have been intentional. they don’t let failure get in their way. they literally jump from the ground up to the plate over and over until suddenly they are somehow balanced there and then they can jump up to the grazing edge of the feeder. they do what’s necessary, then what’s possible and then suddenly they are flying through the air, rewarded by a feeder full of birdseed.

i don’t suppose that’s unusual. everything takes practice. impossible is maybe a temporary matter. i also suppose that there is a certain surprise element to things. we start out with one plan, one path, one intention. we don’t bank on wavering off, we don’t bank on obstacles, we don’t bank on changing direction. impossible.

and yet, there’s possible waving at us from somewhere beyond the impossible dream. and we find ourselves in places unexpected, doing unexpected things, forging those impossible mountains.

there we are, flying through the air, the world in our hands, rewarded by a feeder full of birdseed.

“to reach the unreachable star.”

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY


Leave a comment

already. [k.s. friday]

“her mother told her she could grow up to be anything she wanted to be, so she grew up to become the strongest of the strong, the strangest of the strange, the wildest of the wild, the wolf leading wolves.” (nikita gill)

inscribed in the sidewalk in frisco, colorado right outside the door to next page books and nosh, this quote begged me to take its picture. even under the bluest sky, embraced in high elevation rocky mountains, in and amongst the most golden aspen, it stood out. my sweet momma giggled from the other dimension as i took out my camera, and momentarily blocked the entrance to this independent book store.

we wandered for a long time in the shop. like deb’s fair isle books on washington island, it was exquisite and welcoming and easy to sink into. we touched the spines of books, chose another set of prayer flags, read greeting cards, bought our girl a magnet. i wanted to sign up for many of the upcoming masks-on gatherings there, sip coffee, browse the ‘be kind’ stickers and study the hiking trail books and maps on a center display. i would have liked to have been at “not your mother’s book club” on the 25th. my momma thought that was funny and assured me she would have attended as well. yes, it would be easy to spend magical days there; i suspect chatting and being quiet would pass the time and suddenly the sun would dip behind the mountains and we would be gently nudged out the door, past the nikita-inscription and onto the sidewalk.

i learned on their website that october is conflict resolution month. back in wisconsin, unfortunately, we were unable to be present on the 19th for the event at the shop called “conflict resolution for holy beings” (joy harjo) but i know plenty of people who should have attended.

nikita gill, a poet and writer with huge instagram following, also penned: “you have been praying so long for the strength to outlive the pain they inflicted on you, that you have forgotten – you are already strong.”

my sweet momma nods in agreement and whispers “oh yes!” to nikita and me.

glancing over at me, she adds, “hang the flags in the wind.”

*****

SISU: a finnish concept described as stoic determination, tenacity of purpose, grit, bravery, resilience and hardiness.

listen to music on my little corner of iTUNES

stream on PANDORA

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY


Leave a comment

she-birds. [merely-a-thought monday]

“old birds have stronger wings.” (aarp magazine)

“but grace can be the experience of a second wind, when even though what you want is clarity and resolution, what you get is stamina and poignancy and the strength to hang on.” (anne lamott)

resilience. strength. sisu.

we have flown through many storms, we have weathered many droughts and much deluge. we have built nests from scratch and we have re-built them again. we have given birth through birth canals and through love choices. we have sought security and food for our young when security and food were scarce. we have attached wings to ideas and rube-goldberg solutions; we have made do. we have made piss-poor decisions and grandiose ones that have changed everything. we have broken treasures and fixed stuff; we have learned reverse threading. we have been emotional and we have necessarily let go. we have withstood fires of damaging words and we have recuperated from physical blows to our body, our sexuality, our hearts. we have tried to understand, we have been seekers of closure in times of strife. yet, even without understanding or closure, we have kept on keeping on. we are soon old birds and we have stronger wings.

because life, as life, presents gain and loss, winning and losing, achievement and failure, rich and poor, rising and falling, young and old, crepey and supple elasticity, as juxtapositions, as two sides of a pendulum ever-swinging, we have been measured in these competing narratives.

but we are aging birds with wings who have felt the sun of more than twenty-thousand mornings, the moon’s gravitational pull of decades, the grace of time and gardens through fallow and fruit. we are aging birds who have both soared and plummeted. we are aging birds who do not need the measure of others for our definition, for defining ourselves, continuing to learn, takes enough time and is complex enough.

we imagine unicorns in clouds, names in the stars of the galaxy. we catch the scent of sunshine on a wafting breeze and listen to the calls of mourning doves, wondering. we have come a long way. the path we have taken has not been straight. we have been courageous and we have been tenacious. we have flapped our way to here. we proudly wing our way forward, ever-forward. we are ever-stronger.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY


Leave a comment

“difficult” women. [merely-a-thought monday]

“it actually doesn’t take much to be considered a difficult woman. that’s why there are so many of us.” (jane goodall)

and because of just exactly this, i will tread lightly as i write.

for the rules are still different in this world – the rules for men, the rules for women. the word “difficult” – and arriving at the word “difficult” – should present its own debate. how does one get this label, one would ask. does difficult mean speaking up, speaking out? does difficult mean raising the bar on expectations? does difficult equate with uncompromising? is agile adaptability difficult? does talent or education or expertise or experience make one difficult? is difficult attached to success? does difficult mean not accepting discriminatory treatment? is difficult shunning a lack of respect or other indignities? does difficult mean pointing out the lack of transparency in an organization, an institution, a company? does difficult mean urging truth? does difficult mean following process? does difficult mean requesting financial equity between genders, between races? does difficult mean asking to be rewarded on one’s merits? does difficult mean asking hard questions? does difficult mean – heavens forbid – talking back? does difficult mean suggesting change? does difficult describe “good trouble“?

do those things applied to a woman make her difficult? do those things applied to a man make him difficult? is the measuring stick different? might there be a double standard? just where is the dividing line and why is there one?

if indeed those define “difficult”, i’d further suggest that a difficult man is considered a powerhouse, a strong leader, a go-getter whereas a difficult woman is considered, well, difficult, out-of-line, disrespectful, even egregious.

jane goodall is right. it doesn’t take much to be considered a difficult woman. not back in the day. not now.

and for that, i would hope that all women would get mighty difficult.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY


Leave a comment

go back and buy the towel. [two artists tuesday]

i should have bought the pencils.

i love #2 pencils – though, in an inane detail you are probably unconcerned about, i love mechanical pencils more – and it was a whole pack of ’em. plus each and every one was printed with the word “dissent”.

that’s why i should have bought them. i could have stashed reminders of RBG’s venerable spirit and dedication to equality and goodness and principle and ethics and probity in my purse, on the kitchen counter, at my piano, in our mélange-planning notebook, in my calendar.

they would have reminded me to stand courageously in dissent, to back it up with facts, to hold to integrity, to not waver in the face of any question or any fear or any threat. the thing about supreme court justice ruth bader ginsburg, though, is that she was intrepid – even without the pencils.

and so, with the sisu of ruth, the belief in “an opinion, philosophy or sentiment of non-agreement or opposition to a prevailing idea or policy enforced by a government, political party or other entity or individual in a capacity of contextual authority” (wikipedia), the steadfast commitment to the truth and transparency, we all batten down the hatches and ready ourselves for whatever things we care about for which we must fight.

at the very least, i should have bought the towel.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

PS. “despite the fact that the justices routinely disagree with each other, they never let it get personal, and have good working relationships with one another.” (dhruti bhagat, librarian, boston public library blog – ruth bader ginsburg and dissents: what’s a dissent?)


Leave a comment

women. you made it through. [k.s. friday]

made it through songbox

“i want women to see that you do not get pushed around.” (* attributed below)

this piece today is dedicated to all the women who have made it through, all the women who are making it through, all the women who will make it through.

your fire has brought you to the edge of the battlefield many times and you have still made lemonade; you have still prevailed.

you have made it through intensely emotionally abusive relationships.  you have picked up the pieces and you have moved on.

you have made it through physical or sexual abuse.  you have risen from the ashes.

you have made it through terrifying health scares.  you have pulled up your boot straps and determinedly plodded through with massive courage.

you have made it through society’s prioritizing of body image and appearance.  you have been measured by your cleavage or lack thereof, by the indent of your waist, by the clothing you choose, by your hair.  you struggle to remember you are beautiful.  you stand tall.

you have made it through vacuumous times, the middle of chaos, the middle of multi-tasking.  you have created.

you have made it through physical summit experiences.  you have scaled mountains.  you have boarded down untracked chutes.  you have trained your body with weights and exercise.  you have run.  you have skated.  you have pedaled.  you have breathed in and sighed an exhale.  you’ve run thousands of lengths of playing fields.  you took the next painful recuperating step.  you dove to the depths.  you have been on world stages.  you have risen with hungry or fevered children night after night.  you have competed.  you have given birth.

you have made it through falling.  you have made mistakes.  you have been human.  you have forgiven and you have been forgiven.

you have made it through an education steeped in gender-inequality and bias.   you have chosen to learn more, to actively seek the resources, rights and opportunities due you, to resist against the discrimination.

you have made it through a system that undermines your success and devalues your value.  you have fought for your place.

you have made it through financial challenges of single womanhood, of single motherhood.  you have been scrappy and, without complaint, you have layered onto yourself however much it took to get it done.

you have made it through work situations where you’ve questioned how you would be treated were you to be a man.  would you be yelled at?  would your professionalism be questioned?  you have asked these questions.  you have stayed, holding steadfast, or you have moved on; you have decided what is best for you and moved in that direction.

you have made it through the skewed-world fray into leadership roles where your every decision is challenged or thwarted.  you have overcome; you have triumphed.

you have made it through being-too-young and through aging.  and you are not irrelevant.

you have made it through.  you have spoken up, spoken back, spoken for.  you have written letters.  you have marched.

you have been pushed around.  but you have pushed back.  and, just like the tortoise, you have made it through.

download MADE IT THROUGH from THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY on iTUNES or CDBaby

(*this quote is attributed to nancy pelosi)

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

heart in sand website box

MADE IT THROUGH from THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY ©️1997 kerri sherwood

 


1 Comment

brave.

raw-1heidi (also known as h) said, “all of life requires us to be brave.” such truth.

tonight, as i scrolled through facebook, i saw a friend of mine from high school who posted that it had been three weeks exactly since her mom had died and she couldn’t “stand it.” i so totally understand that. totally. so so hard. where is our ground? brave.

last night crunch called and we chatted for almost an hour. our friendship goes back forty years to a time of innocence and playfulness. we don’t get to see each other hardly at all, but the time inbetween calls or eye-to-eye contact drops away with our laughter and reminiscing on the phone, my long island accent rising to the surface as we talk. the first thing i thought of when i got off the phone was that i couldn’t wait to tell momma that crunch had called. brave.

scott wanted to bring his mom’s birdfeeders with him after emptying the sold-house and driving the uhaul truck away.  but the birds in that yard needed them.  he had to leave them behind. so he took the potted plant she last watered, the last living thing between them.  brave.

stress – everyday stressors, big stressors, teenyweeny stressors – wields a big punch. even with huge reminders about perspective, we still trod down the road of worry. what will happen, we wonder. brave.

kim posted a picture of kennedi going to pre-kindergarten, dianne posted a picture of charlie going to preschool, jamie posted pictures of the children eating corn dogs after the first day of school. all. brave.

my little girl -25- lives high in the mountains. my little boy -22- lives in the city and is at the starting gate of life. i am so proud. i adore them and i miss them. brave.

beth posts this amazingly stunningly tough and gorgeous photo of herself each time she learns of someone else who has to walk the track of cancer survivor. this photograph is beautiful and gripping and breathtaking. she is life itself in this picture. brave.

we face down our fears, we risk our dreams, we forgive without being forgiven, we acknowledge our disappointments, we are given grace in our mistakes, we plod on, we face the sun, we scurry through the rain, we feel our way through the fog, we celebrate the moment without investing in the whole day, we love without ceasing.

we’re braver than we know. every single day.


Leave a comment

hurdle through space.

TODAY’S FEATURED IDEA FOR HUMANS

hurdle through space2instead of wildly hurtling through space, go at life with intention.  hurdle the obstacles, challenges and difficulties.

jump.  one at a time.  or even one baby step at a time.

FOR TODAY’S FEATURED PRINT FOR HUMANS, GO HERE

BABY STEPS (from the album RIGHT NOW)

BABY STEPS (on itunes)

www.kerrisherwood.com


2 Comments

in the pause with momma

photo-1sixteen days ago we celebrated with momma the release of her first published book. she is beautiful and fiercely independent at almost-94 and she was full of joy as she practiced ahead of time with a sharpie and then signed copies of books for all sorts of people who showed up at the signing of ‘shayne’ – the first in a trilogy of children’s books. at the end of this enormous day, we sipped martini & rossi asti spumante (momma and poppo’s favorite from days gone by) and we ate chocolate-covered strawberries in exultant glee.

fourteen days ago my almost-94 momma sent me a text message with her iphone that said she had mastered powering her electric wheelchair all the way downstairs to breakfast and again to dinner. she was amazed she did it and i know she was beautiful and fiercely independent as she made her way through the halls of her assisted living facility.

thirteen days ago my almost-94 momma was not having a good morning, but she was elated to see the diary notebook we brought her – we had searched for it and found it in a random bin in her garage. she gently stroked the notebook titled ‘europe 1971’ and i knew she would sit and read all the details, study all the maps, look at all the brochures and hold my dad’s hand and these cherished memories in her mind’s eye for hours and hours. she would envision her beautiful self and my handsome poppo in 1971 and their fierce independence to tour around europe for six weeks in the new vw bug they had purchased there.

nine days ago my almost-94 momma called to tell me that kelly had introduced her to new potential residents as “our newly published author” and momma was humbled and oh-so-excited to report this. i am positive she rose up in her wheelchair, beautiful and fiercely independent.

four days ago my almost-94 momma was found on the floor of her assisted living facility apartment and was rushed to the hospital. i am quite sure she was beautiful to the caring people who rushed to her aid, but maybe not so fiercely independent.

yesterday my almost-94 momma was just conscious enough in her hospital bed to look through my niece’s iphone to see me. tears were coursing down her cheeks and my sister wiped them away. she looked beautiful to me. her fiercely independent spirit is fighting seriously devastating infections. she is in a precarious place. i know she reaches in her mind to my dad in another plane of existence and yet, for now, she clings to this life here.

photo-2one day ago my almost-25 daughter was briefly in chicago and i had a wonderful opportunity to see her for a precious bit of time. she is beautiful and fiercely independent; she celebrates life on mountaintops and snowboard slopes and on hiking trails. yesterday i celebrated her life with her, a couple margaritas and a gluten-free pizza. life marches on. beauty and fierce independence are passed to the next and the next.

today my almost-94 momma continues to fight.   she is tired and her fierce independence is challenged. but i do know that inside of this beautiful woman is a person who will make the decisions that she wants to make. joan wrote, “…one of those times when there is no way around. only through….a transition each makes alone in the end.”

as tears ran down my face this morning after another difficult call with my sister about my momma and her prognosis, david read to me a paragraph written by pema chodron called ‘the power of the pause’ – “a momentary contrast between being completely self-absorbed and being awake and present.” he read another quote as well…this one by martha beck, “real power is usually unspectacular, a simple setting aside of fear that allows the free flow of love. but it changes everything.”

and so i hold in this pause my beautiful and fiercely independent momma.   i listen for her voice, i hold her in my arms and wait to feel her arms around me. i am awake and present and hyper-sensitive in my vigil with her. i do not know what the outcome of this huge physical trial will be. i try not to have fear. i am holding on and letting go. what i do know? before the pause, in the pause and after the pause i will always love her. her beautiful-ness and fierce independence. my sweet momma.photo


Leave a comment

no piano here

musings from a few days ago…

and so here i am…inside the theatre, watching the setup….but this time it isn’t for a concert…it is for a play – ‘the lost boy’ – opening its world premiere performance in california. (oh, did i mention it is sunny and warm here?)

i was just sitting outside (did i mention it is sunny and warm here?) hand-sewing one of the costume fragments for this play. david is inside with some techs painting the platform. i am running lines in my head. it’s not unlike running my music in my head, and yet it’s totally not like running my music in my head. when you are the composer, you have a bit of a free-rein option (eh…who am i kidding? you have a lot of free-rein.) when you aren’t the playwright, you…umm…don’t.

this process has been…interesting for me. this play is an interpretive storytelling…a story of legacy with poignant moments as well as comedic moments. now, as a performing artist i am used to telling stories from the stage…it is part of every concert i perform, every keynote i speak. but the last time i actually acted (in the truest definition of that word)? well, that would be high school – i performed ‘the effect of gamma rays on man-in-the-moon marigolds’….i can’t even remember one line from that. prior to that? well, you need to skip a stone backwards to when i danced with (the infamous) kenny brook in ‘the sound of music’ in sixth grade. not exactly moments of brilliant acting, but please also refer to my exquisitely-portrayed sister bertha – in the same play – for invaluable experience (ok…that might be an exaggeration.) but it certainly counts that kenny was pretty darn cute and i got to dance with him.

the set is simple.  the set is profound.

the set is simple.
the set is profound.

i have spent many, many hours on the stage…as a performer…as a storyteller…as a solo artist…playing, singing, speaking. this project? this is outside of my box. there isn’t a piano here. no mics. no amber fresnels beaming down on me. i feel like i should offer up a disclaimer to the audience…something like, “by the way…this isn’t what i normally doooo. in real life i……” but no. and so now i am challenged with that very thing that i talk about….stepping outside our own comfort zone and trying on new shoes (speaking of which, i get to wear these great minnetonka mocassins for this production!)   stepping outside and making a mess. i get to work at something i am not good at….kind of like playing my cello, only a bit more public. and like we all tend to do, i immediately expect a lot of myself; so i must fight the urge to diminish my potential – what i think i’m capable or not capable of – to resist the learning. how many people around me each week are learning something new (in ukulele band? in the choir i direct? in workshops i lead?)

and so, my empathy button is ‘on’ and i see inside me the way we all try to default to the things we know, when the learning is actually outside of those things. especially the learning about ourselves. i, quite truthfully, find that i need to extend to myself some forgiveness for not knowing, and yes, forgiveness for resisting, forgiveness for feeling vulnerable, and grace in that forgiveness to just try. maybe i’m not sooo bad at this. maybe it’s actually fun. maybe i can actually learn something new…just like everyone else…and maybe, just maybe, i can embrace it. even with no piano here. at the very least, i can realize that, just like everyone else, i find comfort in the familiar. and in stepping into New?…well, i just need to take a breath and move full-speed ahead into that path. no regret, no judgement, no fear. just sisu. it’s all good. (did i mention it is sunny and warm here?)

did i mention it's sunny and warm here? :)

did i mention it’s sunny and warm here? 🙂

and the curtain’s up.

kerri’s music is available on iTunes

www.kerrisherwood.com

www.bearay.com