reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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frames et al. [d.r. thursday]

bruce said, “i like what you do with frames.” he and ben were visiting from california, having dinner with us on the deck, passing through on their way to the northeast. i haven’t really thought lately about all the frames around our house, but, after he said that and they left, i walked around noticing. big glass-less window frames around small cards, frames around paint on the wall, frames around paintings-in-frames, empty frames. he commented that he even liked the ones outside on the fence. i laughed. the neighbor’s vine is starting to wrap its tendrils around the frames out there and surprised chipmunks bump against the one standing on its corner on the piano, knocking it over. i guess i like frames.

for the longest time – years, really – i carried the frame of a kodachrome carousel slide in my wallet. no film in it, just the simple two inch square white frame.

in times of overwhelm, if you take the slide out and hold it at arm’s length, focusing your attention through it, you will see that it limits your vision to the tiniest picture. instead of looking at the whole scope of the big picture, you can move the slide around and simply take in a morsel, one at a time. as you get comfortable, as anxiety eases, you can move the slide in closer to your face, little by little. and little by little, the perspective will change, until you are back to seeing the big picture. sometimes, you need to dissect things and view all the ingredients of the moment one by one.

i’d forgotten about this tiny frame in my old wallet until the other night. i think i’ll dig it out. you never know when you need to be reminded to take one thing at a time.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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ghrelin’s fault. [saturday morning smack-dab]

here’s something to consider:

“as estrogen declines in perimenopause and menopause, appetite ramps up. … hormone weirdness can impact your sleep (night sweats, for example). insufficient sleep can further elevate sensations of hunger.” (gennev.com)

and this additional news:

“the decline of sleep-promoting hormones including estrogen and progesterone is one big reason for disrupted sleep. and the other symptoms of menopause—from mood swings and anxiety to night sweats—also contribute to sleep problems for women. production of another critical hormone for sleep—melatonin—also decreases with age, which can compound sleep problems for women during menopause and beyond.” (psychology today, m.j. breus, phd)

shocking, isn’t it? it makes you want to sign up, doesn’t it? huh?huh?

as one who is smack-dab in the middle of this estrogen/progesterone/post-peri-full-blown-meno fun, i know i am not alone. there is nothing like lying awake in the wee of the night, filled with swirling angst-filled thoughts and lists and no shut-eye, listening to david gently snoring and dogdog running in his sleep, blanket on-blanket off-blanket on, grateful-for-each-moment-crabby-as-all-get-out, melatonin-deprived and starving. i can’t count the vast number of bananas and bowls of cereal we have eaten smack-dab in the middle of the night.

“levels of the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin increase, a reason why many women find themselves frequently hungry during this phase.” (psychology today, m.j. breus, phd)

i blame ghrelin.

and david. of course, david.

during menopause and beyond.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING SMACK-DAB

SMACK-DAB ©️ 2021 kerrianddavid.com


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first-world pressure. [flawed wednesday]

i found an october 2017 edition of the magazine real simple in and amongst the catalogs in our magazine rack. paging through, i cringed when i saw an article about how to work from home, thinking how inadvertently prophetic that was. there were articles about kitchen makeovers, healthy habits, quick recipes and how to finance renovations. the second to last page was a faux program agenda for what was named by the author (ashley lefrak grider) the 32nd annual symposium of the american society for the investigation of contemporary fashion indignities. it made me laugh aloud, so i extracted two of the ‘session’ titles to share:

the morning ‘breakfast with the thought leaders’ was titled “low rise jeans: a plan to spread self-loathing among women who eat food.”

the ‘policy workshop’ held in the afternoon was titled “who bears the bulk of moral responsibility for pretorn jeans made of elastic and what is the appropriate punishment for this person?”

seriously, the experience of purchasing new jeans imperils most women’s senses of humor, not to mention self-image. styles change and jeans change and, each time, many of us are left wondering whose idea it was for women to wear skinny jeans or jeans that ride below a tummy that has had some serious childbirth adventures.

i detest the lighting in most store fitting rooms and the mirrors that surround you as you step out into the little hallway of curtains. were it to be my decision to make, i would provide soft lighting and beverages. a little asti/iced tea, perhaps. it’s painful. and jeans are my favorite thing to wear so you can bet that, once i have gone through this agony, through the oh-geez-these-make-my-butt-look-big-i’ll-just-wear-long-tunics-all-the-time enlightenment, i make jeans last a very long time and save them all in my overburdened closet. for years. it’s too anxiety-producing otherwise.

the worst is finding a new bathing suit. the hard plastic model mannequin wearing the darling suit in the swim, cruise and yachting department has not lived life and it is unfair to act like her little perfect shape is in any way relevant to the rest of us. ordering from a catalog is an option, but most of the same rules apply and make many of us wish that we could go back to the swimsuits of the 1920s, though these are also hardly ideal.

in the latest first-world news – just how does one keep up? – trends to follow include: luxe sweatsuits (named “almost-business-casual-take-you-from-the-couch-to-errands loungewear”), knit dresses and skirts (because who doesn’t want to wear form-fitting sweater-dresses!), leather coats pretending to be those oversized down coats, and, my personal favorite, puffy shoulders and sleeves, which makes me wonder why i gave away my bridesmaid dress from my niece’s wedding in the early 90s. what’s more, ultimate gray and illuminating yellow are the fashion pantone colors of the year, chosen for their “warmth and dependability”, but clearly not how they look on real people.

the tagline of real simple magazine is “life made easier”. and the heading on the page with the mock symposium agenda is “the struggle is real” with a sub-title of “clothes: we have a few complaints”. the closing session of the conference, with only an hour-long presentation – so little time, so much to say – was “to live is to suffer: was nietzsche wearing control-top pantyhose?” indeed.

women in our society have had an extraordinary and inordinate amount of pressure put on our ability to look fit, healthy, hydrated, well-rested, botulinum-toxin-injected and young. in the pickiest of picky new face-rules, lately i have noticed an emphasis on having eyelashes to end all eyelashes. as a blonde, eyelashes tend to be just laughable and definitely an investment in mascara. at a couple hundred dollars a lash extension application plus upkeep, costs seems like expenditures that would not fall under the ‘make a budget’ article guidelines, nevertheless it is a ‘thing’ and women everywhere are buying into it. at target yesterday, i wondered how the lovely young woman, waiting on us and trying unsuccessfully to type information into a device to locate our pickup order, functioned with her carefully manicured but insanely long fingernails. were these nails what she really wanted or were these nails a product of some sort of weird expectation that they were somehow elevating her already very natural beauty? the questions keep coming. so do the catalogs of new clothes, new swimsuits, new shoes, new products to trim your body, new trinkets, new dietary supplements. so much pressure.

too much pressure. good thing i don’t subscribe to cosmo.

i hear wide-leg-relaxed-fit-waist jeans are back. goodness and gosh, i can’t wait to go try some on. better yet, maybe there’s a pair in the back of my closet somewhere.

yes, friedrich, “that which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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an octopus and a hissy fit. [d.r. thursday]

in the outstanding documentary “my octopus teacher” craig foster forges a relationship with an octopus in the south african kelp forest. every day he enters the cold water to search for her and over the period of about a year he bonded an intimate friendship with this amazing creature. when she disappears after a scare, he spends days seeking her, commenting, “i try to think like an octopus.” his success reuniting with her shows he is at least somewhat capable of thinking how she thinks, of seeing how she sees. your heart is filled watching the mutuality of their connection and you wonder why this level of reciprocal respect cannot exist more easily between human beings.

tuesday i had a hissy fit. i have mostly recuperated. i’m not sure where it started but it definitely was a meltdown. anxiety coupled with grief coupled with worry and angst with a pinch of frustration – the ingredients du jour for many of us on a given day in these difficult times. i went on about a propensity for letting things just roll off my back, making things ok, not speaking up – for myself – as often as i would wish or as often would seem apt. in my wild and wooly meltdown, i complained that others can do this and often do this – speak up, push back, say things are not ok – without incident, without remorse, without punitive measures, without concern. i stated examples in that way you do when you are ranting; there are many words you speak asfastasyoucan to make sure the other person keeps listening and there are also many punctuation words you linger on, stretching out the sound of them on your lips, exquisite cuss words that seem fitting at the time. these are not necessarily pretty, but they are definitely handy at providing emphasis. i ranted about neighbors playing music at absurd decibels in a house-dense community. i ranted about the internet and streaming and ridiculously small music royalties, an industry for independents, flailing. i ranted about my right hand’s range of motion plateau. i ranted about speaking up for myself and my rights as a woman, my rights as a professional, my rights as an employee. i ranted about not saying “no”. i ranted about losing my job. i ranted about those who claim to be caring and compassionate not even entertaining having any kind of discussion or dialogue. i ranted about ill-suited leaders in leadership positions, seemingly not being held answerable. i ranted about hypocrisy. i ranted about people’s silent complicity. i ranted about wanting to retort to others about their stance on politics, on gender and racial equality, on the pandemic, on climate change, on gun violence and gun control. i ranted that, even sans retort, even in even-keeled, calm, cool, collected and researched manner, it would be next to impossible to navigate debate. i ranted about the abyss in our nation that makes it impossible to have an intelligent, thoughtful and respectful conversation without vile getting in the way. i ranted about the inability for people to see things together. i ranted about missing my sweet babycat. i returned to the top, taking a breath and again ranted that others seem to do and say whatever they please, despite fallout or impact on others, despite truth or consequences, without care and with agenda, without benevolence and with mean-spiritedness, without kindness and with a lack of sensitivity. i ranted that i could not continue this way. i ranted, “if i can’t at 62, when is it that i can???” can’t what? can what? i’m not even sure i know. ranting is like that.

it would seem that possibly a kelp forest off the coast, deep dives with a weight belt, times of holding one’s breath minutes at a time might aid in establishing some sort of common ground. it worked for craig foster and his fantastic octopus. he carefully, and without antagonizing her or scaring her or moving too quickly, watched her in her short life. he passively, without interfering or having self-serving agenda, watched her deal with day-to-day life, with adversity, with terror, with the pecking order that comes in the ocean. he watched her gracefully and intelligently co-exist with stunning creatures of the sea. he was saddened when she was hurt; he mourned her when she died. relationship. a kinship crossing natural boundaries.

we humans…we have much to learn. we have brains that refuse to look for new factual knowledge, hearts that refuse to respect all love as love, eyes that refuse to attempt empathy or fairness and see what others see. maybe we should spend some time immersed in the vast ocean, in a kelp forest. or maybe we should try harder. or maybe we should spend some time answering the important questions of our hissy fits.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

CHICKEN MARSALA ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood


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the tiny vibration. [d.r. thursday]

i can feel the fluttering. it is just a tiny vibration but it’s there. it’s pretty new. i don’t remember this feeling before, i guess, a year ago or so. though i suppose it could be one of those things that happened but which i never noticed, i’m noticing it now. it doesn’t hurt; there is no pain. it’s just this little vibration inside that speaks up every now and then, some days more than other days. in the way that most physical things are somehow connected to anxiety or stress, i am thinking there is a correlation and so when this silent little buzzing starts i patiently wait for it to cease. and i wonder about it.

it is astounding what stress can do. it is a statement, particularly of these times, to hear all the ways it exhibits in people, all the ramifications, all the fallout. in a world filled with self-help ways-to-find-zen books and videos and suggested practices and therapies, stress still abounds and people – its number one target – are subject to it. no matter your constitution, we are each vulnerable, a mere event or two away from feeling utterly pummeled by angst. we seek ways to alleviate stress and it returns, like this tiny vibration. no matter how many times i speak to the tiny buzzing, it seems to stick around.

perhaps an answer is in this painting surrender now. the holding of each other in this world, the intimate sharing of worry and humanness, the giving over of pain or grief or anxiety or stress. perhaps the presence of a little bit of grace. maybe then the tiny vibration – or however each of our bodies respond to the complexities of life – will ease.

*****

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SURRENDER NOW ©️ 2016 david robinson


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the glowing orange ball. [k.s. friday]

the sun was setting over the mown hayfield. i pulled over to capture it, to watch. the heavy cloud cover was passing and the glowing orange ball owned the horizon. day was ending. night would bring rest. and a new day would dawn.

in this world where we rotate ever-in-motion, there is assurance of a new day. there will be another dawn. and then, after a day of time-spent, there will be another dusk. and then, after a night of time-spent, there will be another dawn.

as we wake these mornings now, we look to the horizon for little bits of hope, little bits of new-day reassurance.

we grasp onto the transition to a new administration for our country, compassion and decency and brilliant minds guiding us.

we clench onto the way out of the pandemic raging across our country, across our world. we double-down on our decision to choose safety over the overwhelming desire to be done-with-it.

we try to feel a little less tired, a little less exhausted by it all. we try to refill our meager energy with the adrenaline of new.

we all seize tiny pieces of sun as we struggle with the anxiety of these recent days. we crawl out of the shadows bit by bit. so many of us have much to try and comprehend, much of which to try and make sense.

all of our personal stories include the loss of loved ones, the loss of good health, the loss of stability, the loss of basic needs, the loss of movement, the loss of community. all of our personal stories bring shade into places we yearn for sun.

i grapple with the grief of losing a career, with hypocrisy and isolation, with no real understanding of what-just-happened. i have conversations in my mind with people who turned a blind eye, who collegially turned their backs, who refused to have any conversation, who never asked questions, who alluded, who made assumptions, who never reached out, who seemed to care less, who would not even look at me. i squeeze closed my eyes tightly to try and forget and look to the glowing sky of a new day and take a step.

we grapple with starting the story of a new beginning. in the middle of all this, new beginnings are elusive, like trying to catch a ray of light in your hands.

we all grapple with this time of darkness. we know we are waiting for the sun to touch our faces and bring hope.

we know it will show up each new day – in people who love us, in kindnesses and care we receive and offer to others, in reaching out, in honest eye-to-eye contact, even over our masked faces, in generously listening to each other, in asking questions and learning, in working together, in the glowing orange ball on the horizon. and each new day we take it in, just a little bit more.

*****

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

EACH NEW DAY from RIGHT NOW ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood


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comfort you. [two artists tuesday]

van morrison said it: “i want to comfort you. i want to comfort you. i want to comfort you. just let your tears run wild like when you were a child. i’ll do what i can do. i want to comfort you. you put the weight on me…i want to comfort you.”

how is it that, in the middle of feeling low-low-low, these sweet animals know exactly what to do? tucked under an old quilt, dogdog and babycat jumped up on the bed, searched my face and snugged up tightly right next to me, bookends on either side.

there are days – in these times – we must all feel the anguish of mental health exhaustion, of wide-awake anxiety, of worries too steep to climb, struggles, fears to which we close our eyes, wincing in pain.

there are days we reach out to others, extending words of reassurance, tiny tidbits of humor, virtual hugs, care packages, texts of love.

there are days we can only lay under a quilt. we sort and sort through the stuff-in-our-brains, listing the realities of our angst, wondering, reeling, succumbing to lonely early winter darkness.

if only it were so easy as to be dogdog and babycat. with no hesitation, they simply comfort. their response is pure. their compassion is the stuff of unconditional love. they don’t make assumptions or have judgement. they don’t assail with questions or platitudes. they don’t slough it off or explain it away. they don’t ignore it.

instead, they show up. and it is absolutely clear to me that they are saying, “i want to comfort you.”

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY






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i wish. but i can’t. [flawed wednesday]

calm

it wasn’t just because of the font.  i’m sure he poured my coffee in this mug because i am anything BUT calm.  perhaps he was hoping for the power of suggestion working on me.

i wish i could write something heartening about calm. i wish i could wax poetic about sitting on a rock next to a cool mountain stream or in an adirondack chair on the back deck.  i wish i could write about the hush of rain or the tranquility of a sunrise.  i wish i could narrate moments of sustained serenity – meditative and centered.  i wish i could chronicle days of relaxation and a giving-over of worry and stress.  i wish i could report on ease of mind and a stillness of spirit.  i wish i could relate stories of soul-replenishing time shared with loved ones.  i wish i could recount adventures and goings-out without anxiety.  i wish i could write of a quiet, peaceful heart.

but right now, i can’t.  calm is elusive these days.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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triad-ic coping. [d.r. thursday]

IMG_4607

the aarp article addressed ‘dyadic coping’, in brief, the way a couple together handles the stress reaction of the other spouse.  the edition is dedicated to the pandemic so this bit of writing is not a surprise.

in my rant yesterday about every-little-thing david very calmly started to talk about a plan – ways that i can lower my level of anxiety, ways that i can process without taking it into my body.  ugh.  i just wanted to rant.  for a little bit of time.  his let’s-solve-for-this guy approach was lovely dyadic-ly, but made me want to roll my eyes.  letting off steam, regardless of the lack of any linear thought, is helpful.  five minutes later i felt better.  nothing was solved, stress still existed, but i could breathe better and move on to the next thing until the next time.

these are somewhat sleepless nights.  even if i drift off after our mountain-climbing adventure of late night fare, i awaken.  and, like you, i suspect, i start to think.  everything from wondering when i will see my children to finances to work to why the kitchen sink is draining slowly filters through my brain.  although i would definitely label david more daytime singularly focused, my obsession is in the middle of the night with angst.  serenity is elusive.

perhaps this painting is so very appealing to me because of the quietude.  the surrender to rest, beloved pets conceding to the gravity pull of being together, of repose.  an eyes-closed moment.  triad-ic coping.

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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©️ 2020 david robinson


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winding trail. [two artists tuesday]

winding trail

the road from here to there is oft not straight.  the way the crow flies is irrelevant.  “the only way there is through,” joan told me quite some time ago.  we were talking about grief.  i had lost my sweet momma and it felt brutal; at any age the loss of a parent is profound.  i was talking to joan about it – about getting to the other side of the grief.  and she told me that the only way there was through it.  a winding trail it was, with switchbacks and no guardrails.

that has happened for me with each encounter with grief.  there is nothing easy about it, nothing straight.  the grief of loss, the grief of instability, the grief of anxiety, the grief of fear, the grief of insecurity, the grief of aging, the grief of failure, the grief of change, in all its rampant forms.

and yet, out hiking, winding trails are my preference.  a hike that takes me past hidden-treasure-vistas, a hike where i cannot see the end from the beginning, a hike that surprises at each turn.  these winding trails are gifts in the woods, in the mountains, in between red rock formations high in elevation.  there is much to see, much to learn about.  they are journeys of not-knowing.  they are journeys of wonder, of revelation.

we are not crows; no flightpath in our lives will be straight, no endpoint clear in our sight, no one thing all the way from here to there, no vector traveled without veering a bit off-course.  even reverse-threading our lives will not reveal a straight path; instead it will reveal a vast horizon of ping-ponging and circuitous route-making.  we will most definitely wind around, through decisions and opportunities, missed marks and challenges at the goal line, defining and re-defining.  living.

which winds me back to joan’s wise words of years ago, which i can still hear her saying.  the only way from here to there is through.  winding trail and all.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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