reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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my big sister and his big brother. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

and then, there were avocados.

the box arrived on the doorstep and, almost immediately, the text came. “delivered to front porch,” my sister texted, “hooray!!!”.

this was not a small box. this box had 17 avocados in it. and not 17 measly avocados you purchase at the local wisconsin grocery store. 17 that were grown lovingly on a tree in florida, some of which weigh over a pound. a pound!

beautiful golden-green on the inside, they arrived on a difficult day and were a welcome sight from my big sister. yes, ken’s words – “life’s vicissitudes” were wreaking a bit o’ havoc and my big sister’s avocados were a balm, like his big brother’s reassurances and caring and teasing on the phone later that week.

we don’t live close to either of those siblings. one lives in florida, with a beautiful home and pool in front of a lush swamp and lake and one lives in colorado in a lovely neighborhood with stunning peonies and a view of the front range. we don’t get to see them often. but they have a way of showing up. and, for that, we are grateful.

in this world today with broad radiuses of residence instead of the close-by of years past, it’s not easy to stay engaged with those you love. you wish to spend more time with them – the ordinary kind of moments – to see what life is like, to step a tiny bit into their shoes or at least have a window into their day-to-day. it’s hard to hear of other families and easy sunday dinners, errands with elderly parents, adventures with grown children. i’ve pined more than once to go browse at target with my daughter or have a pedicure with my sister or watch my niece hold and play with her toddler-boy or view a hallmark-extravaganza with my other niece or, even harder, coffeesit once again with my sweet momma. i’ve thought about all the time i spent at tennis courts or in baseball fields with my son and wished to again watch from the sidelines as he bats and runs and fields or lobs tennis balls over the net. i’ve thought about preparation for fall and pumpkins and apple pies and corn mazes. i’ve thought about the famous calzones made in my sister-in-law’s colorado kitchen, the sweet niece who would sip red wine with me and taking a walk around the lake with david’s momma. and then, the chance to see all the rest…our families, friends, newly-found cousins, wider concentric circles still connected but a little further out.

these years have taken a toll. though we have traveled a little bit, it’s not like pre-pandemic. and there is so much to miss when wisconsin is not where everyone is, so much yearning. i know Making Time for others is important and, with work and budget and covid restraints, we try the-best-we-can to do whatever-we-can. it doesn’t eliminate the missing.

today is a good day for guac.

*****

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blather. [merely-a-thought monday]

though the alpaca is considered to be a docile creature, it can get spitting mad. i suspect that if one were to flip “look, i get it” over to an alpaca, it could get a rise out of the lanky, fuzzy one. intelligent and observant, alpacas are known for their quiet. their nonverbal behaviors and the sounds they make belie what could be thought of as non-emotive. on the contrary, they communicate their concern and stress, affection and indignation. linda’s alpaca are a tiny herd among themselves and are magical to watch. i did not toss “look, i get it” over to any of them, knowing it would insult their intelligence and likely make them a bit snarly, as really anyone to whom that is tossed – in any way other than joshing around – should likely feel.

“look, i get it” is just like the expression “i’m sorry you feel that way”. neither is true empathy. both are dismissive. the quickest way to damage a relationship is to wing “look, i get it” over just as someone is telling you something deeply important. or, in a leadership position – let’s just saaaaaay – to flippantly respond “i’m sorry you feel that way” to an employee who has clearly been wronged by some circumstance(s) or policy-thwart. in their succinctly powerful way, inc. magazine has come through again in an article written by jason aten. he states when you say “i’m sorry you feel that way” (or “we apologize for any insensitivity” or any other variation on the theme) you are “trying to absolve yourself of any kind of responsibility or fault for whatever went wrong.” he adds that the (respectful, compassionate, mission-driven) company instead say, “i am really sorry that we didn’t live up to our promise. i know that is so frustrating. here’s what i’m going to do to try and make it right.” mmhmm. my personal experience would suggest that doesn’t always happen.

and “look, i get it”??? bill murphy, jr. in another inc. magazine column calls it a sign of “low emotional intelligence”. i would have to concur. just because they are words – individually and as a sentence: look, i, get and it – doesn’t mean they should come out of one’s mouth at a moment of import. there are a hundred ways to say everything we are trying to say. and sometimes – and we are all guilty of this, including me – we need to take a moment or two before the sentence hits the talk bubble outside our lips.

perhaps this is why alpaca are considered so intelligent. they are quiet, discerning critters who are affectionate and gentle but don’t spew emotionally-disconnected blather.

*****

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tangible signs. [merely-a-thought monday]

there is never a time that is not the right time to be reminded and to remind others: “you are worth so much”. in these times – fraught with all sorts of difficulties – any and all positive outreach to each other is of value.

never should we take another for granted. never should we undermine another. never should we dismiss that others are in need. never should we forget that others are hurting. no matter their age, their race, their gender, their sexual orientation, their ethnicity, their religion, their socioeconomic ladder rung, their anything.

we spotted the first sign after hiking. on the side of highway 64, we passed a driveway and i exclaimed, “did you see that sign?” i pointed it out the next time past. and then we saw more. transylvania county in north carolina was responding to crisis they had experienced. three teenagers committed suicide since august and the community is reeling. but they are not just jolted into grief; they are jolted into action.

a retired physician with seven children, four of whom are still in the community’s secondary schools said, “the conspiracy of silence has to end, both in our community and elsewhere. the evidence is clear — talking helps and silence hurts. what we’re doing with this sign campaign is a love letter from our community to our kids. this is just a small expression of the depth of our concern…”.

organizations in the community are addressing needs and are trying to sort ways to raise awareness. people are mobilized. much like the way dontgiveupsigns became a thing, transylvania county has started a thing. because every person counts, every person matters. and without aligned action, mission is void of truth.

we didn’t get a photograph of the yard signs. you can see them in an article in the transylvania times. but when we decided to use this as our quote for this first merely-a-thought monday of the new year, it seemed right to pair it with this silhouette of a chandelier, crystals – a symbol of wealth, success, status.

for each of us is worth so much. each of us – rich in possibility, in ways we contribute to the whole, in interaction with the world, in love of each other.

and there is never a time to forget that.

as amy wolff, the co-founder of don’tgiveup said, “life is messy but we’re in this together.”

​*****

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


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fish-fry friday. [k.s. friday]

fridays are fish-fry days in wisconsin. if you want fried fish (or baked, to represent actual menu-inclusivity) you can find it practically anywhere. truly. any where.

it’s a year. tomorrow will mark a year. we didn’t go to a fish fry that day, though it was a friday. it turned out i was the fish du jour. and, in an unremarkably remarkable statement read on a zoom call, my eight years with my employer came to a screeching halt.

i have no false notions as to why. i know, from decades from experience, that i was doing an excellent job, at the time further impacted and expanded by covid, necessitating additional online skills and responsibilities. i had contributed in a big way to the place. i brought my best game and, sadly, my heart and big love to that place. the community had become my family. but the cloak of covid was hanging over it and no one in the community really knew what was happening; they still don’t. i spent an hour in the dog food aisle with a member of the community who asked me over and over again what i had done that was so wrong, so egregious, so as to be fired. it sickens me to think that there are unanswered questions out there, that there are slanderous statements made by leadership, that, without any transparency, this place – a church – allowed a small contingent of “leaders” to make a choice that the people who actually paid my salary had no idea they were making. even my own supervisor had no idea what was going to take place on that zoom. once done, there was no recourse. done. with no identification of conflict, no attempt to – together – mediate or mitigate such perceived conflict, no conversation, no communication, no resolution. and clearly, no truth.

and so, suddenly, it’s a year. and in a way like yesterday’s post and in a way not like yesterday’s post, it is way past time.

i had never been fired before. in all my years, in all my work, in all the places i worked, i had never been terminated. it is unlike anything else. and it takes a toll. which, i see now, is precisely the point. mean-spirited comes in many shapes and forms and people.

the loss of work and income are monumental losses for anyone, particularly in the middle of a raging pandemic, particularly after whole-hearted dedication, particularly at an age when new positions are fewer and farther between. the loss of community is a whole ‘nother thing. the phoenix doesn’t rise quickly with new relationships, new friendships, trusted alliances. these cherished people, who had spent great deals of time in our actual life and at our home, know the drawer where the silverware is kept, where to put their coats and their potluck casseroles, stood with me as my sweet momma was dying, know the moment we were married and surrounded us in a circle at our wedding singing “we are family”…these people are no longer a part of our everyday life. that has been a devastating blowback from a power move made by – mostly – people who barely knew me, had never been to our house or a rehearsal and obviously didn’t have any real investment in the joy that had been created through years of committed effort. so be it.

“new beginnings are often disquised as painful endings.” (lao tzu)

and so, today, a year-to-the-day-before, the ashes release from the scorch of the flame. time has taught me of those who are compassionate, those who seek the truth, those who actually care enough to ask questions. time has reminded me – once again – that no one should be put on a pedestal, that people will shock you and throw you under the bus, that others, in the busy of their own lives, will surprisingly not step up and advocate for you, that power and control are clearly addictive and snowballing agendas, that the health of a place will suffer at the hands of those agenda-driven, that hypocrisy is alive and well. i am weary of the painful.

“all that talk about what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger is so not true. do you know what makes you stronger? when people treat you and your art with dignity.” (lana del rey)

it is as it is. it’s life. it’s friday. a year later. i’ve got bigger fish to fry.

*****

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as it is


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old linoleum tile. [k.s. friday]

i’m generally a floor-noticer.

i, intimately, know the wood floors in our house. i know where they creak, where they are silent, where they are slightly uneven, where the floorboard gaps are smaller and where they are bigger. i know where the stains are and where there are holes that were drilled into the floor to install a christmas tree – a silly tale from decades before we lived here. i adore the wood floors in this house.

a year ago today i connected – for seemingly forever – with the floor at my place of employment at the time. i knew those floors well also, having been there for a full eight years…the stuff of old-building linoleum tiles, looking polished and shiny from time to time, committees always pondering the next waxing, the grungy it-needs-to-be-washed. we had a similar floor in our basement growing up, darker in color, but the same stuff. that floor at work used to bring me a sense of comfort, the recognition, the familiarity, the place.

that day was much the same. perfectly at home there and proud of the work i was doing, i was simply walking down the hall. it was unfortunate that someone had washed the floor and had not put up any signage to indicate that caution was needed, that the floor was wet, and, thus, i was unaware. i was almost at the office – where i was headed – when my feet slipped from underneath me and i fell, landing hard on my right hand. and now, that floor will ever be a part of me.

i’ve worked very hard to regain the use of my wrist since tearing my scapholunate ligament that day and i was up to 60 degrees of forward range-of-motion when they stopped covering treatment a few weeks ago. the mri, weeks after my communion with the floor, showed definitive tearing – a “high grade partial or complete tear” – and, just mere minutes into online research, the nih (national institutes of health) states “proper ligament repair is recommended within four to six weeks after trauma” which includes arthroscopic surgery, reconnection of torn ligament remnants and pinning. they continue, “….all intrinsic carpal ligaments tend to undergo rapid degeneration in as short a time as two to six weeks, after which primary repair may be difficult or even impossible and ineffective.” continued degeneration, serious arthritis, ever-decreasing range of motion are the hallmarks of an s/l tear gone untreated in a timely manner.

i suppose that there is a reason why the person-in-charge-of-the-paperwork just put the accident report in the drawer. i suppose that there is a reason why that form-in-the-drawer was a random incident form off the internet that the person printed and filled out without communicating with me about my fall, though there are specific proper-process official-wisconsin-employer forms also accessible on the internet. i suppose that there is a reason i had to do a little preemptive googling and let them know that sans-official-proper-process-timely-reporting there could be a steep fine for this [formerly] cherished place in which i worked. i suppose that there is a reason why they, then, a week later, decided to officially report my injury, ultimately pushing medical intervention coverage back and, also ultimately, in a snowball effect, delaying an mri until six weeks later. i suppose that there is a reason why the physician in my own town read the mri report and flippantly said, “i believe for the most part this should improve”, adding, “i do not believe i will be able to make her scapholunate ligament better than what it is right now,” and, though 3.6mm (my measured interval) > 2.0mm (normal interval), stated “i do not believe that these [results] are going to be clinically relevant.” i suppose that the froedtert hand specialist would disagree heartily with that local doctor when he told me, at a requested-second-opinion appointment, that this injury – the s/l tear (concurring with the mri) – should have been addressed at the very beginning, that lost time was irretrievable. he stated that these injuries are the bane of hand specialists’ existence and that months later – by the time of the second opinion – i had crossed over into territory where complete healing would be impossible. i suppose it would be naive for me to think that requiring an IME-outside-opinion-by-a-doctor-chosen-and-paid-for-by-the-insurance-company was on the up and up and designed for my health, well-being and long-term healing. i suppose abruptly ceasing treatment would, well, i don’t know; it can’t be anything good. i suppose it all didn’t really matter to the person-in-charge-of-the-paperwork back a year ago. i suppose it still doesn’t. it wasn’t that-person’s wrist. that-person wasn’t a lifelong professional musician. neither were those on the rest of the decision-making-committee. why would they care or be compassionate or concerned? perhaps those words were not in their job descriptions, though that seems preposterous considering the place of my employ. whatever-that-person’s-deal was, whatever-their-deal-was, it devastatingly got in the way of protecting me, their employee, from harm and from doing whatever was possible to aid me, their long-term-employee-aka-fired-employee-eight-weeks-after-the-fall-on-the-floor, to heal properly and to be able to normally use my wrist – an imperative for a musician – for all time to come.

i suppose there must be reasons. i just, for the life of me, can’t figure out what they are.

maybe someday, when i feel less indignant, less disheartened and far less disappointed, i’ll forget about those old linoleum tiles.

*****

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UNTITLED INTERLUDE from RELEASED FROM THE HEART ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood


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i carry your heart. [k.s. friday]

i officiated a wedding last sunday. the bride and groom, their parents, twenty-one attendants and family and friends gathered on a venue patio under the sun on a stunning september afternoon in milwaukee.

reminding them to go slow and drink it all in, they celebrated in a ceremony i wrote for them, personal and intimate, with pieces of their romance and tidbits of what was mutually important to them. we had gathered together to talk, for them to answer questions and tell stories, and i searched for the right poetry, the right music, the right sentiment, the right words, and it was an honor and a privilege to stand in front of them and everyone there on this most important day for this most important ritual. i reminded those attending this wedding that their presence was not passive. they were witnessing this event and, in doing so, were promising to be there for this newly wedded couple, through thick and thin. to stand by them in all times, to help carry them through joys and sorrows, successes and challenges.

“i carry your heart. (i carry it in my heart.)”. i read the words of e.e. cummings as they stood, with tears in their eyes. it was hard not to weep with them. they danced down the aisle after the words, “the light will shine through your skin and they will ask, ‘what have you done with your life?’  and though there are many moments you will remember, in the end, you will be proud to say i was one of us.” life stretches out in front of them. they will be amazed at how their hearts will grow and hold the treasure trove of memories that will come. and, all the while, they will tenderly carry each other’s hearts.

i was supposed to fly that day. i had already purchased a kringle to bring to my sweet momma and poppo at the other end of my flight. but, just before i left for the airport, 20 called and told me to turn on the news. it was surreal and i dropped to the floor of the sitting room in front of the tv. i called my husband, called my beloved children’s schools to have someone tell each of them that i had not gotten on an airplane that morning and i watched the horror unfold that sunny september 11th in new york city.

a friend from yamaha in nyc sent me a picture of the world trade center location where i had just recently performed. it was destroyed. i stayed glued, watching, carrying the hearts of all those worried about someone in those towers, someone in the pentagon, someone on flight 93. it was terrifying to know this was real.

tomorrow is twenty years from the day of this tragedy. though i’m sure not a day goes by that survivors and surviving family members and friends do not think about this, it seems, in the middle of this pandemic and political chaos and climate-changed extreme-weather episodes on a grand scale and divisiveness in the nation, that the marking of this anniversary should remind us, should unite us instead of prompting the sneering that i am viewing on social media.

it would seem important to come together under the sun to do whatever it takes, sacrifice whatever is needed, to defeat this global pandemic and cease the loss of loved ones.

it would seem important to come together under the sun to do whatever it takes, sacrifice whatever is needed, to cross the aisle and embrace inclusivity and fairness and equality for all.

it would seem important to come together under the sun to do whatever it takes, sacrifice whatever is needed, to confront global warming and climate change and save this planet for the children of our children’s children.

it would seem important to come together under the sun to do whatever it takes, sacrifice whatever is needed, to turn toward each other, ask questions, have conversation, seek collaboration, surrender agenda, recognize truth, work together.

it would seem important – at the very least – to remember to carry each other’s hearts in our hearts. on wedding days and days of destruction of great proportion. it should all be the same.

*****

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and nature strung up prayer flags. [k.s. friday]

and the universe glanced down at planet earth.

and grimaced to see raging wildfires, upending people’s lives, destroying towns and homes and forests and tiny creatures racing to stay ahead of flames.

and the universe glanced down at planet earth.

and wept at floods sweeping over land, drowning dreams and crops and families, sweeping away livestock and animals trying to escape mudslides.

and the universe glanced down at planet earth.

and, wincing at the pain of what it saw, questioned why brilliant science could not prevail, why habitats were being destroyed, why climate change and global warming were not on the lips of all its people, why something so vital seemed so controversial.

and the universe glanced down at planet earth.

and pondered its resources, its clean water, the fruits of its ecosystem, the sustainability of food and drink for each and every one of its beloved inhabitants on its crowded globe.

and the universe glanced down at planet earth.

and grieved the ramifications of a raging pandemic, sickness and suffering, lives lost, security decimated, together slashed into separate and distant.

and the universe glanced down at planet earth.

and wondered about the division of its people, wondered about deep disagreement, hatred and the brash spewing of vitriol, wondered where truth went.

and the universe glanced down at planet earth.

and wondered about all manners of inequality, wondered about all manners of discrimination, wondered about ill treatment of its dear ones, wondered about cruelty.

and the universe glanced down at planet earth.

and saw anxiety and angst and surging mental health challenges in its own, fear and instability, exhaustion, unassailable peace assailed.

and the universe glanced down at planet earth.

and wished the most basic elements would rise to the top, tending the needs of clean air, food, clothing, shelter, education, healthcare, sanitation, protection, communication, belonging, caring about and for each person.

and the universe glanced down at planet earth.

and hoped for a better time, a better way, a resurgence of compassion, a renewing of a world commitment to collaboration, and a rebirth of what it had given each person: a heart.

and nature, well, she strung up prayer flags.

*****

HOPE (kerri sherwood)

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HOPE ©️ 2005 kerri sherwood


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shoes and stones. [merely-a-thought monday]

brazen. how many of us have been this brazen? to make an assumption, to form an opinion, to decide to dislike, with no information, having asked no questions, having had no real conversation, having chosen sides under the dark cloak of one-sided story. we have all heard the idiom, “before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes.” yet, our perspective often remains stubbornly in one camp and we cling to the sideofthestory we heard, professing our disdain, without even a mere effort to understand, to measure, to even hear the other side. and then we haughtily hold tight to our narrow-scoped opinion and aim our arrows of brazen judgment. it’s shocking. and completely not shocking.

guilty. how many of us have been guilty of this? to not care enough about someone’s reputation, someone’s livelihood, someone’s word, with no information, having asked no questions, having had no real conversation, having chosen sides under the dark cloak of one-sided story. we have all heard the proverb, “those in glass houses should not throw stones.” yet, we forgo our own flawedness, our own misdeeds, our own obvious hypocrisy, to hurl pebbles and stones and out-and-out boulders at others, efforts to raise ourselves up by pushing someone else down, guilty of power-mongering in places where that should be more closely examined. it’s shocking. and completely not shocking.

sad. how many of us feel sad, having lost friendships, relationships, potential lifelong allies, colleagues, having aligned ourselves with people who have brazenly been guilty of gauging someone else simply because they did not know the othersideofthestory? we have judged, forgetting our own flaws. we have pummeled, forgetting our own vulnerability. we have turned our backs, forgetting our own need for fairness and truth from others. it’s shocking. and completely not shocking.

devastated. how many of us have been at the center of the firing squad, muzzled and treading water, stuck in inertia, unable to give voice to the othersideofthestory, in the center of misinformation, incomplete information, an absolute lack of information, opinions and dislike forming from the dust of others’ untruths, others’ prejudices, others’ agenda? devastated that there is so much collateral fallout, so much loss, simply because they didn’t hear your side of the story. it’s shocking. and completely not shocking.

but it is most definitely this: brazen.

and we all, at some time or another, are most definitely this: guilty.

and it feels most definitely this: sad.

and it causes most definitely this: devastation.

perhaps we need put on shoes and lay down our stones.

*****

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