reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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no way back. [d.r. thursday]

when i was little, going over bridges made me nervous. not because i was afraid of heights or because i was wary of infrastructure and thought it would fall down, but because i was nervous about not being able to get back. something about going over bridges made me feel like there was no way back, especially if we were heading in the wrong direction, taking a wrong turn. i did not like to feel lost.

texas is lost. they have traversed a bridge that appears to be a hellish dead end and, i fear, with no way back. the new abortion law in texas that the governor has touted is a despicable piece of legislation, currying to the favor of men and full-scale demeaning women. that the governor would couch this as concern for the “sanctity of life” elicits a visceral response, a sickened-gut feeling. that the governor would ignorantly speak to the six weeks of freedom-to-decide as plenty, as generous even, is a slap in the face of every woman in his state. that he would put a bounty on the heads of anyone helping in this situation is disgusting wild west gunfire into the crowd.

people have spoken since this decision with more eloquence than i might muster at this moment, but it would seem that every one every where needs to speak up. as more governors make moves to further control the rights of women, we need to – we must – speak up, speak out. the ironies stacking up are deplorable piles of dung as we sit and watch legislation and policy skewed against any kind of gender equality being written, being celebrated, being enacted. sanctity is not in the building.

i read an article about the use of words in statistics. number of girls and women raped. number of girls and women sexually assaulted. number of girls and women harassed. number of pregnant teenage girls. violence against women. the use of the passive construction – noting that these descriptors don’t state the number of boys and men who raped women or assaulted women or harassed women or impregnated women or were responsible for violence against women literally shifts the focus off the guilty parties, pretends that these things have simply happened to women.

it’s hard not to be hugely cynical, disenchanted, about a country that clearly measures women’s rights differently than it measures men’s, that cares about women differently than it cares about men. once again, that yardstick is two-headed and those wielding it speak out of both sides of their mouths.

cynical. disenchanted. yes. these words. from desiderata they seem so hopeful, yet… “neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.”

perennial. usually a positive word. perennial flowers. perennial love. yet, in the docket of these days, what is perennial is the absolute denial of respect and rights for women. it is tiresome to watch the constant lostness. instead of bridges to better times, better health, equality and respect for all, a lifting up of those oppressed, bridges are being built to places of continual control, to power unleashed over others, to inequity and doubletalking agenda – with no way back.

it’s no wonder why i didn’t like bridges when i was little. no-way-back is a terrifying place, for a little girl and for a country.

*****

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grasses and gratitude. [k.s. friday]

this morning i read a lovely piece about an elderly woman who made it a point to dress each morning by 8 and was ready for her day, looking fresh, put together and smartly attired. i instantly felt guilty. it gets better, though. the piece then went on to say she had just made the decision to move into a retirement facility and was waiting in the hall for her room (note: room, not whole apartment) to be readied for her entrance. an aide was describing the room to her and this generous woman’s reply was, “i love it!” the aide commented to her that she hadn’t yet seen it and the woman nodded. she said that she had decided to love it, regardless of how it was arranged or how it looked. she added that her happiness was a choice she made each day and, no matter her aches or pains or worries, she was going to choose to be happy in the moment she was in, in the circumstance she was in. so now i felt even more guilty.

how many mornings have i risen with worry in my heart, trepidation for the day, feeling dissonance or hurt or angst-ridden?

i read aloud the piece about this sweet woman to david over coffee. he said we should print it out and hang it somewhere. i suppose that i could do that. but instead, i’d rather just try to remember it. to do the best i can each day to rise and be smartly dressed by 8 with an ‘i love it’ ready at my lips. to not worry about the guilt of seeing that printed and any shortcomings i might have, any times i don’t measure up, i fall shy of the happy-choice.

as the cooler air filled our room early-early this morning, we pulled up the blanket. it made me sigh with relief to feel the gentle breeze blowing through the window and as i look out now, there are a couple monarchs flying over our deck. a few cherry tomatoes are ready and the basil and lavender are smiling. beautiful. a fresh day. everything is green, vibrant, healthy.

there is something about green grasses i love. even out on trails i photograph grasses, on my knees at the level of chipmunks and daddy long legs. it feels somewhat dr. seuss-esque to say i love them on the trail, i love them in our yard, i love them in the mountains, i love them in our gard-en.

probably because of our proximity to the lake, our soil seems to speak to ornamental grasses. they grow really well in the gardens around our house. other people have many beautiful flowers and there have been times that i have wondered why i do not seem to be very good at growing various flowers. we have had a spot in the front that was blank. the plant we had planted years ago, despite any effort we made, was just not thriving. last sunday, in a moment of brilliance – preceded by much research that ended where we started – we bought an ornamental grass to go there. i took a peek at it out the front window while the sun was still low in the sky and it is happier than happy. and so, with my newfound wisdom this morning, i will choose to celebrate how well we grow grasses. not yard-grass, per se, for that is another one of those not-quite-there’s, but graceful ornamental grasses that send up beautiful plumes, that help with erosion control, that spread naturally and that make us look like successful gardeners…of a sort, anyway. celebrate what we do well. dressed smartly and looking fresh.

and i will remind myself, especially in these times, to rise gently. to hold this morning, tomorrow morning, that morning someday – any day – close to my heart. with gratitude. bowing to the sun and gracefully moving in the wind.

*****

THAT MORNING SOMEDAY from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL (kerri sherwood)

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THAT MORNING SOMEDAY ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood


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forget-me-nots. [k.s. friday]

A0, B0, C1 are missing. entirely. gone. they have disintegrated and have dissolved into the ashy dirt of the piano. it is likely that if we planted the forget-me-not seeds we received when our beloved babycat died, tiny blue flowers would grow, for this spot – the lowest on the keyboard – seems rich soil. though we do not see A-zero, B-zero, C-one, the tones are still there, the timbre of these lowest notes ever-present, the grounding of all else still grounded.

“wherever you are, that’s where i will be…” is needlepointed in an old black frame on the wall in the bedroom. in the way that notes forever linger in the air, that frequencies dance waiting for us to listen, i know that this is also true: those whom we love surround us any where we go, any where we are, they are a whisper away. i plant virtual forget-me-nots each time i speak of or ‘to’ my sweet momma, my poppo, my big brother, dear ones who have gone on. i plant virtual forget-me-nots each time i hold close in embrace or in mind those whom i love who are here, whether near or far. the garden is lush with these tiny blooms, the wind a symphony, even maybe a gentle cacophony, of harmonics, seeding my steps each day.

in the midst of it all – changes and challenges, absolute joys and abysmal sadnesses – all that has been whirls around us, all that will be beckons us. we pick and choose the bouquet each day…our words and actions, our intentions. we learn and grow and send roots while at the same time becoming tall and independent and resourceful and capable of blooming.

yet, the wisdom of the ages, the ages themselves, are where we are. the notes play and the harmonics ring. the flowers blossom and spread and the wind takes on seeding, propagating on breezes and stout gales, encircling us. the universe cheers for us. we try to believe it is, ultimately, on our side. as albert einstein encouraged, ‘the most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.’ we can bring nutrients or malnutrition to the garden.

the low notes swirl. still there. and all those who have loved us, all those we have loved, all those who love us, all those we love, the greater spiritual power in each of our lives – there. always with us. rich soil for our every single day.

*****

ALWAYS WITH US – from AS IT IS (kerri sherwood)

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ALWAYS WITH US from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood


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take out the i. [d.r. thursday]

from march 18, 2018:

it’s easy to look at this and think of my own daily-life eye-to-eye challenges.  but – i can’t look at this cartoon and stay away from the political climate in our country.  whether you prefer blue or red – or even purple – you have to admit, we are not in a state of blissful co-existing.  we have moved in together and have drawn lines down the middle of the virtual apartment, down the middle of the ever-increasingly important issues, down the middle of integrity, down the middle of people’s hearts.  and, with such strong big-thick-font-lines drawn, there seems to be no meeting ground, no where to go.  the “eyes” of wisdom and for-the-good-of-all-people have disappeared and the “i’s” have shown up, stronger and bigger and more powerful than before; superman without clark kent’s goodness.

and today:

it’s easy to look at this and think of my own daily-life eye-to-eye challenges. but – i can’t look at this cartoon and stay away from the political climate in our country. whether you prefer blue or red – or even purple – you have to admit, we are not in a state of blissful co-existing…

from march 18, 2018:

perhaps we all could work on seeing eye to eye (er, i to i) if we made conscious and generous life-giving decisions with every choice-we-are-faced-with that take into account a weighing-in of how it might impact others.  we don’t have to agree.  but we have to respect each other in the process, try to walk in another’s shoes, see another perspective, see what someone else’s eyes see.  see i to i.

and today:

perhaps we all could work on seeing eye to eye (er, i to i) if we made conscious and generous life-giving decisions with every choice-we-are-faced-with that take into account a weighing-in of how it might impact others…

2018. 2021. then and now. and nothing has changed.

the narrative, the rhetoric, the ramrod-personal-agenda-driven behaviors…nothing. on the global front, on the national front, on the local front, on the personal front. what is it they say? “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

we must choose a different path. globally, nationally, locally, personally. seeing eye to eye doesn’t just happen. it is cultivated. through good intention, compassion for others, asking questions, truth-telling and transparency, listening, negotiating fairly, dropping power and control mongering.

by taking the “i” out of eye to eye.

*****

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FLAWED CARTOON ©️ 2016 david robinson


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back the **** up! [d.r . thursday]

i have hugged exactly two people since the pandemic started.

two people. one is my husband, who i’ve been hugging daily. and, this past wednesday, finally, at long last, after seven months of not seeing him, and with great forethought, i hugged my son. that’s it. no best friends. no dear friends. no sweet neighbors. no co-workers. no one else. just two. matter of fact, i had an extended conversation a while back with my daughter and, in the middle of a discussion about possibly having a long-long-long overdue visit out in the high mountains and the absolute need to hug, even mask-on-face-turned, her admonishment to stave me away from the rampant numbers there at that time, “how will you not hug me, mom?”

so walking in front of the neighborhood store, about to put my mask on, imagine my astonishment when someone i haven’t seen in almost a decade called out my name, ran up and hugged me. HUGGED me.

this was an adult! an adult exhaling cigarette smoke. an adult exhaling cigarette smoke with no mask on. an adult exhaling cigarette smoke with no mask on and no acknowledgement that i was in the process of putting my mask on but hadn’t completed the motion. an adult exhaling cigarette smoke with no mask on and no acknowledgement of my incomplete-mask-putting-on-action who completely ignored my stepping-back-hand-out-clear-non-verbal-please-back-the-****-up behavior.

daaaaaaamn. i was shocked. it’s a freaking pandemic. my hug-quota is sorely lacking and yet, it is i who should choose who i would like to sacrifice my safety for in order to hug. did i mention? it’s a pandemic!

when i regained my composure on the sidewalk a few blocks away, i reviewed my actions. david, who was clear i did not want to hug this person, said i sent all the right signals. i reviewed it all again. i mean, i am a huggy person and this person would likely remember me as such. this wasn’t a cold reaction to the person; it was a reaction to the social distancing guidelines that we have been encouraged to follow in order to not spread or contract covid-19. i mean, it’s a pandemic!

what would YOU do?

i suppose next time – if this happens again – i could, as fast as my mouth could manage, say, “it-would-be-nice-to-be-able-to-hug-you-but-right-now-in-the-pandemic-i-am-not-hugging-people-sorry-don’t-take-it-personally.” only this wouldn’t have worked. she came at me in a warped speed tunnel…she went directly from the curb to hugging in seconds flat without stopping, without exhaling the cigarette smoke, without donning a mask, without passing go, without collecting $200, without stopping to think, “oh yeah, it’s a pandemic! i shouldn’t be hugging her.”

or, since that likely wouldn’t work in the warp-speed version, i could say in a loud assertive outdoor voice, “back up!” or i could use 20’s spicier version of that (only i won’t print that here.)

either way, it’s alarming to be put in a position like that.

david’s momma told us about a woman who spontaneously hugged her when jeanne gave the woman tomatoes. it horrified my mother-in-law, who then went home and showered and washed all her clothes. at the time i wondered how that could ever happen. well. silly me. s**t happens.

this is such an odd time. it’s scary all the way around. we have been inordinately careful, like many of our dearest friends. we are making choices based on what are the safest behaviors. the fact that someone can just arbitrarily take away your choice – during a pandemic (don’t know if i mentioned that yet) – is bracing.

i will have to have a plan of action for the next time. practice it. evaluate it. practice it again. make it a reflex. and make it flipping obvious.

in the meanwhile, i want my hug back. i need it for people i have actually been dying to hug.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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BACK UP! from PIETA ©️ 2010 david robinson


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oblivious. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

to bee or not to bee

“deliriously oblivious,” i thought as we passed the bees buzzing the dandelions on the trail.  with no real idea of the state of the pandemic-battered world, these bees were just going about their bee-life.  in some silly way, i was jealous.

much of the time right now i feel as if we are living in an alternate reality than others.  we shop with masks; many wander about fresh-faced and seemingly unaware.  we distance from others; we pass gatherings of people, clearly not related, all not even a smidge apart from each other.  we walk in single file on the side of the trail as we approach others; groups of people swarm the trail, passing right by us, unmasked, unconcerned.  we yearn to travel a bit, see our children, our families; others post about their gatherings or even trips.  we patiently work by videoconference, technology reigns supreme these days waiting for a time when it is safer to venture out; crowds protest and push for heedless immediate re-opening.  our hearts break for families losing loved ones to this dangerous virus; deaths are reported as cold numbers sans empathy.  the weighing of losing more lives vs ‘opening up’ is posed as an actual question.  it feels like we are on another plane of existence watching the world, abiding by different rules.  truly.

and right here, in the middle of it all, the bees buzz from dandelion to dandelion, and soon flower to flower, seeking nectar.  migratory birds return to the skies above and animals return to prowl about in warmer temperatures.  in other parts of the country and the world, wildlife is enjoying a reprieve from people.  in what must be a breath of fresh air for them, animals are freer to roam, freer to linger.  their curiosity is taking them off the beaten path, out of their norm.  i wonder if there is some kind of intuition that informs them; i wonder if they are somehow conscious of this looming threat to humanity.  i wonder what they are thinking as they watch this play out, the impact of a pandemic on health, relationships, mindfulness, neighborliness, working in community together.  i wonder how they, in the infinite wisdom of instinct, would decide if someone placed the words ‘health’ and ‘economy’ in front of them and made them choose just one.

there are moments i am convinced that dogdog and babycat know.  i’m sure that they can feel the anxiety we hold.  dogga, in particular, watches our faces for cues, his gaze is eye-to-eye-contact riveting.  they hover about us, close by.  perhaps unmindful of the pandemic, but certainly conscious of our emotions.

and as bumblebees begin to buzz in our backyard, the dog chases them.  the birds begin to discover there is water in the pond again.  the squirrels dance across the wires.  the turkey lands on the roof.  the sun rises earlier.  the lettuce starts to grow.

read DAVID’s thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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“even chaos has boundaries.” [merely-a-thought monday]

chaos copy

chaos (physics): ‘behavior so unpredictable as to appear random, owing to great sensitivity to small changes in conditions’

Screen Shot 2020-03-23 at 9.48.45 AM

we were at a meeting up north this summer when mona said this, “even chaos has boundaries.”  i jotted it down because it felt relevant.  in the midst of a contentious situation we were trying to keep our ‘do what’s best for the organization’ hats on, trying to believe that there, indeed, would be an end to the chaos.  committed to a peaceful forward-advancing plan, we kept both hands on the hats, guarding against a wave, a treacherous wave of onto-the-band-wagon-jumping, the aligning of two camps on different shores offering nothing of good import for the organization.

but there is a fine, fine line.  an infinitesimal line of crossover – where one tiny change, one more jenga block, one more pick-up stick, one more stone in the cairn, tilts the seesaw and chaos reigns.

we face, today, a seesaw of the greatest sensitivity.  like refraction, light passing through various mediums, the bend in light is dependent on the medium.  the slightest change in density yields change.

clearly, we must be sensitive.  the light we refract, our response, will determine what the next person has to work with.  if we refract less light and more darkness, darkness will exist, will be pervasive. and darkness, in the way of chaos, sussing out change and a hole in the dam, will become exponential.  where is critical mass, when the seesaw collapses, the cairn falls?

we must be sensitive.  we must be responsible.  we must respond in integrity, despite everything around us, despite the doubters, despite the rhetoric, despite the cavalierness, despite the political dogfight, despite the positioning of that ever-present caste ladder, doing what is best for each of us, for all of us.  what i do affects you.

in our own worlds, for ourselves, for all, we can strive not to pull the wrong jenga block or move the wrong pick-up stick.  choose your cairn-stones with care.

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

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what you do. [k.s. friday]

ymad

“what you do will live beyond your lifetime.  it transcends the things of this earth.”

(YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE ©️ kerri sherwood)

when i think about my sweet momma and my poppo, my big brother, my godfather uncle allen, my grandmother-mama-dear, more beloved family and dear friends – all who have left this earth – i don’t think about their jobs or upward mobility, their income or the status symbols they owned.  i don’t think of the timeline of their school or work or whether they had finished a degree or if they had even gone to college.  i don’t ponder awards or certificates they received or resorts where they may have vacationed.

i think about what a difference they made in my life. my mom’s devotion to cheery kindness, my dad’s quiet and stubborn thoughtfulness, my big brother’s goofy humor and ability to tell a story in all its details, my uncle’s absolute commitment to his fun-loving smile no-matter-what-was-happening.  i think about the joy my mom experienced when my dad brought her grocery-store-flowers.  i think about big bowls of coffee ice cream with my brother, neil diamond playing in the background.  i think about my uncle generously paying for my very first recordings in ny, diligently holding me up and gently pushing me.  i think about simple moments with them.  in what could be a crowded-with-information-obituary in my head for each person, i hold a piece of their heart instead.  they have made a difference in this world.  they made a difference for me.  i remember.

(from THE FAULT IN OUR STARS)  “you know, this obsession you have, with being remembered?  this is your life!  this is all you get! you get me, and you get your family and you get this world, and that’s it!  ….  and i’m going to remember you.  …. you say you’re not special because the world doesn’t know about you, but that’s an insult to me.  i know about you.”

 

we live on an infinite continuum of opportunity.  chances to bring light and hope to others.  deeds we can do out of kindness, goals reached by collaborating together.  we face choice just as soon as the sun-peeking-over-the-horizon wakes us.  we innately or intentionally decide, we head in a direction, we live a day.

 

“We’re all traveling through time, together, everyday of our lives… All we can do is do our best to relish this remarkable life.  I just try to live everyday as if I have deliberately come back to this one day, to enjoy it… As if it was the full, final day of my extraordinary, ordinary life.” (from ABOUT TIME)

 

this song. i have performed it countless times.  in nyc’s central park for tens of thousands of people, in small medical clinics, in large oncological settings, in chicago’s grant park.  at a pharmaceutical conference in puerto rico, outdoors with the lance armstrong tour of hope.  across the country, in pajamas and jeans and all-dressed-up.  in theatres and at walks/runs, in schools and churches.  for organizations including y-me, the american cancer society, gilda’s club, young survival coalition, susan g. komen foundation, the annual breast cancer symposium.  and each time, heidi and i, working together in performance, fighting back tears.  the list is profound.  not because of the innumerable times i have sang this song, but because of all the people in these places and behind the scenes, joining together, remarkably touching the lives of others:  those they know and those they may never know.

we make a difference.  in every arena of our lives.  every place we go.  every interaction.  every gesture.  every assumption.  every conversation.  every every-thing.  every single thing.

what intention will we have?  will we be positive or negative?

“the truth is, I now don’t travel back at all, not even for a day.  …  live life as if there were no second chances.” (ABOUT TIME)

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YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE ©️ 2003 kerri sherwood

 


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the pink. [k.s. friday]

inasplitsecond song

there is a moment when the sky turns a delicious shade of pink as the sun sets in the western horizon.  each beyond-the-crayon-box-color doesn’t last long; they morph into the next color and then the next.  each second, as you watch, counts.

there is a moment when before-night turns into after-day.  crossing the pink.

“live in the present/grab onto this time/don’t look behind you/you gotta walk that thin line/of the future and the past/it’s all within your grasp/that second could come way too fast”

there is a moment – one that probably occurs multiple times a day – when you can choose how to react to things.  you can linger in the not-taking-it-personally-they-are-hurting-you-not-because-you-are-you-but-because-they-are-them zone or you can step over the line and bite back.  crossing the pink.  everyone in relationship recognizes this.  any relationship, be it spouse-spouse, significant others, parent-child, child-parent, colleagues, supervisor-employee, employee-supervisor, drivers stuck in traffic, customer-customer service rep, strangers in a long grocery line.  not biting back doesn’t render you powerless; instead, in the hardly-ever-easy not-taking-it-personally, it aids in your health and well-being.  you choose.  crossing the pink.

“you look in the mirror/today’s world stares back”

there is a moment – a split second – when you stand still and see all that was behind, all that is here and now.  it is impossible to see all that is possible, for surely if you were back many pink crossings ago you would not have imagined the now of now.

and so, this split second should tell us that we have no idea, that our imaginings of the future are both wildly over-feared and inconceivably understated, that with each split-second breath we take, we cross the pink into another split-second that is filled with hope of new.  but sheesh, we are human and we are worried, fearful, guilt-ridden, persistently trying to figure out what we did wrong to elicit ‘such a response’, repeatedly weighing everything, sorting, feeling powerless.

what if we stayed in the moment of delicious pink, watching the sun promise rest and a new day.

“take it slow/don’t let this moment go/it’s here and it’s now/use this gift somehow”

read more about this song IN A SPLIT SECOND here

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IN A SPLIT SECOND from AS SURE AS THE SUN ©️ 2002 kerri sherwood

 


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contrast principle. [two artists tuesday]

contrast principle

we are living the contrast principle.  the elementary-school-workbook-page-which-one-doesn’t-fit principle.  that can actually serve you well or it can be the bane of your existence.  i’ll allow you to decide which one you think it is for us.

we are not from here.  we do not have roots that go back a generation, two or three generations, seven generations.  we weren’t born here, nor have we been coming here for decades on vacation.  this is a new place for us.  we chose to come here.  and we came here out of great and positive intention.

when i first saw the ad for the position we ultimately accepted, we got excited and were instantly full of ideas and possibility.  with our backgrounds, our education, our professional experiences, it seemed a perfect fit.  with our artistry, our passion, our zeal, our energy, our ability to facilitate positive change, it seemed a perfect fit.  but that assumes a “fit” and it assumes trust and it assumes the best of the contrast principle.

we work to create relationship, to mend the crevasse between arts organizations and between groups of people, to structure and build community and let the arts rise.  we brainstorm and read and study – new initiatives, data of the past, stories of success and stories of failure.  we strive to re-commit each day, choosing to step past the rifts, past the dysfunction, past the you-don’t-belong-here-ness of it all.

because we did choose it.  we chose to be the daisy in the field of black-eyed-susans.  we chose to be the new in the old.  we chose the contrast principle.  it would just be nice for it to be a tad bit easier.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

tpac metal and feet website box

 the daisy in the black-eyed-susans © 2019 kerri sherwood & david robinson