reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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in KC’s family. [two artists tuesday]

just past the eyelash phase, in a tightly woven and protected calyx of green sepals (leaves), the gardenia bonsai flower waits. a little research reveals that it will take about two months of growing to reach the point of a cracked bud, hopefully flowering after. KC is reportedly “one of the most loved and challenging plants in the bonsai world” and i hope that i am up to the task. these beautiful and somewhat-difficult-to-grow plants offer “a unique opportunity for anyone who wishes to take the time to attend to their needs.” they are particular about sunlight, particular about direction of window exposure, particular about temperature, particular about humidity, particular about watering, particular about feeding with fertilizer, particular about shape and pruning, particular about training, particular about insects and mold, particular about repotting, particular about touch. they do well without any negative stressful environmental factors. it occurs to me that perhaps i am in the bonsai gardenia family.

KC sits together with some other lower-maintenance plants (read: succulents you can’t really mess up) and is clearly different than them. its leaves are rich in color, two whorls protecting promising buds, and its presence demands to be noticed. i talk to it every day, encouraging it, paying attention, hoping i am tending to it properly. i truly cherish this little bonsai; my beloved daughter and her boyfriend sent it to me for my birthday and it was a joyous and glittering moment to receive such a beautiful gift. i want to do my best helping this little gardenia along. and, in light of the last year, the last couple years, i can understand and relate to its eccentricities. mmm, can’t we all?

in the evening KC is bathed in the sparkle of the sunroom’s happy lights. proudly in the spot it has claimed on the table, it sits, basking. it is one of the sparkles of the year. there have been many, despite the difficulties, within the difficulties, despite the challenges, within the challenges, despite these times, within these times. if it were possible, i would set each around us in the sunroom, also bathed in happy lights, like laundry clothespinned to a clothesline, reminding us of the best times, the memorable times, the happiest snapshots, the most poignant moments, the yin-yang of relationships, reassuring love in trying-to-stay-centered, the times we balanced stress and the times we succumbed to it, successful and unsuccessful zen, and exhausted times of rest.

i would place the clothesline in the middle of the room so that you could not help but see each item, each old wooden clothespin, memory-laundry crowded onto a timeline, reminding us that the minute does not stay. that whether the minute is feverish or beauty-laden, it moves on.

we are all particular; we are all particularly needy. our lists and our baggage surpass that of the little bonsai gardenia. we are all up to the task. we do our best in each moment, whether it is dark or sparkling. and we remember we can try again. we can help each other; we are “most loved and challenging”. KC already knows that.

i am excited to see KC bloom. i wait patiently for this amazing flower to arrive. in the meantime, i light the white gardenia candle, talk to my plant and drink in the glow of the happy lights, trying. each day. living just past the eyelash phase.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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peeled back. [k.s. friday]

time continues to peel back the layers. barney is vulnerable and is, thus, exposed.

artistry is like that. we share our vulnerabilities. we write, we paint, we compose, we lyricize – we peel back the outer shroud of mystery to reveal that which is inside. we take chances at judgement, at others’ opinions, at evaluation. we are exposed. and time goes on. winter turns to spring which turns to summer and then fall. the seasons take their toll; the seasons enrich us. both.

the first album i released felt earth-shaking. the notes – white and black keys tumbling from deep within – flew out into the world on a piece of polycarbonate, aluminum and acrylic plastic. what could be a coaster contained fifteen deeply-excavated emotions, musings each released into the light. exposed. the scraps of paper that gave birth to these were soon filed in a binder with invoices and order forms, designs and ups tracking numbers. one season. one album. done.

each original album since is no less an exposé. each still holds pieces of me, permission by me to be peeled back. a little less scary than the first but still risk-taking. vulnerability does not recede from the sandy beach as the big waves come and go. but it stands a little more stoic, with a little more sisu. the albums, like seasons, arrive when it is time. and they, in some way that albums might, tremble with anticipation and that tiny bit of fear that remains, even after many layers have been peeled. soon there will be no more black and white at all.

now i wonder if i will need shrink-wrap again. i wonder about recording. and i don’t know. yet. i do find that i am thinking of wooden stages and boom mics. i also find that i am thinking that all this writing – these written words on the page – have been feeding me and that hunger for polycarbonate, aluminum and acrylic plastic.

each day, barney and i age. the veneer blisters and the shell reveals our hearts. we are both emotional, barney and i. we are conscious of our craggier look, the wrinkles and the age spots. though we wonder about how we resonate with the rest of the universe-out-there, we take the dusty road together anyway and we hold hands, vulnerable together. though laminate no longer hides our souls, we are standing in the sun this season, new growth springing up.

*****

that first album – 1995

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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i agree. we agree. [flawed wednesday]

the train quickly passed by us, first in line at the crossing, as i snapped the pictures. graffiti adorned most of the cars and i randomly pressed the shutter as they blurred past. we’ve seen some insightful messages spray-painted on the side of boxcars and this day was not an exception. “agree” it read. timely.

there are things in the night that are reassuring. for my sweet momma, it was trains. she could sink deeper into sleep when she heard the trains in the distance, the whistles of arrival, departure, crossing. i share that with her. we can hear the trains from our house. and many times, in the middle of the night, as the 2am hour passes by, so does the train, its loud whistle echoing on empty streets. i wonder, in the fog of sleep/no-sleep, why it’s blowing its whistle, where it’s going. the lumbering of freight trains slightly shakes the house, even blocks away from the tracks. it’s lulling. i agree, momma.

“i agree.” “we agree.” powerful words. beyond simply concurring, granting acceptance to another’s idea, another’s conception, another’s opinion. it’s easy to agree that trains in the night are the stuff of of sublime entry into dreams. it doesn’t cost anything to agree to trains-in-the-night. there is no research involved, no fact-checking, no questions, no real critical thinking. you can’t lose anything by agreeing about the melancholy of train whistles.

it’s the other stuff that’s harder. the stuff where you have invested – in a big way – in your idea, your concept, your opinion. where you have not necessarily done the research, checked the facts, asked the questions or critical-thought your way into your opinion, but where you are stubbornly attached to it. it’s mind-boggling how this happens and yet it does. each of us has experienced being leeched onto something come-hell-or-high-water and not really knowing why, not really being able to give voice to concrete reasons. we wonder about others so feverishly vested and we gently and generously excuse ourselves for the same unrooted behavior. none of us are innocent.

this holiday season we received many greeting cards. i love getting mail. we’d save the cards and open them at special times so we could read the enclosed letters, the personal notes to us. this december one of our cards disturbed me. it felt like an attempt at absolution. it came from someone who had been dear, who was surprisingly so ensconced in their opinion – before the big disagree – that they did not even attempt to research, to check the facts, to ask questions, to use critical thinking. the pre-printed card spoke of love, hope and peace and they wrote inside, “you are in our thoughts and prayers.” while these words sound like the meat-and-potatoes of agreement, of accord, my heart begs me to wonder aloud – to them – why on earth they would include us in their thoughts and prayers – after the big disagree – when they didn’t include us in their research, their questions, their fact-checking, their thoughts and prayers – before – at a time when it was vital.

i store away in my mind, now, once again, the ever-important repeating lesson that it is much easier and more bottom-line-decent to do the research, ask the questions, check the facts, think-it-through before taking action than it is to attempt to absolve from it after.

the foghorn, another favorite of my momma’s, is not too far, in the other direction. its melancholy blast is also the stuff of sublime entry into dreams. i hear the foghorn and sink into my pillow, the long-island in me relishing the sound of coastlines, reassured by the cozy of being inside on a foggy night. it’s lulling. i agree, my sweet momma.

“i agree.”

“we agree.”

easy. and so hard.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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a good old chinwag. [merely-a-thought monday]

you speak. i speak. you speak. i speak. conversation. back and forth.

conversation: (noun) a talk, especially an informal one, between two or more people, in which news and ideas are exchanged.

conversation – synonyms: discussion. gabfest. heart-to-heart. dialogue. conference. confab. exchange. chinwag.

chinwag??

probably one of the most frustrating things in human community is the willingness for people to forego hard conversations and, instead, accept things as-is, invest in misinformation and make assumptions. toxic in almost every situation, assumptions are the stuff of poison apples and they will destroy everything in their wake.

a good old chinwag would do wonders for forward movement. people – together – back and forth – who are candid and honest, forthcoming and steadfast, who ask the hard questions and demand straightforward answers, who don’t leave out pertinent details, who expect truth and speak up, speak out, speak for, speak against, freely upfront.

a good old chinwag is a mature opportunity for growth, for learning, for progress. silence is the opposite – it is a wound that will fester, a mistake that will become exponential, an injustice that will become a wart, a carbuncle on the integrity of a community.

a good old chinwag is not easy. it is the stuff of bravery, the stuff of guts, of risk-taking, of fortitude and perseverance. it is the stuff of dedication to the bigger picture, to progress, to being proactive. it does not yell or scream; it is quietly respectful, using language of negotiation, of reconciliation, of courtesy, a deference to thoughtfulness.

a good old chinwag may lead to tears. it can be the stuff of renewal, of healing, re-establishing relationship, correcting wrongs. it can be the stuff of granting forgiveness and the stuff of receiving forgiveness. it can be powerful and it can be most tender. it can bring weeping into the back and forth, drowning out toxins and harvesting hope.

a good old chinwag can never be a bad thing. it can forge or strengthen mature friendships and dig deep foundations with honesty and candor. it can elicit change. it can revitalize and reinvigorate. it can rebuild.

a good old chinwag. simply caring enough to have a conversation.

you speak. i speak. you speak. i speak. back and forth.

*****

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


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irato.caesura.fermata.lento. [k.s. friday]

in transition

irato.caesura.fermata.lento

the chaos of irato.  a passage of angry, passionate.  a symphony of irate engaging us, challenging us, buckling us under in its fervor.

“take a break,” earth-the-breathless-conductor would admonish.  “hold and rest,” earth-the-counselor would encourage.  “slow down.  be deliberate,” earth-the-sage would advise.  caesura.  fermata.  lento.

acknowledging the rage.  listening.  resting in the questions.  conscious mindful steps.  measured decisive action.  slowly leading the way with goodness.

i suspect mother earth, in its mother-earth-wisdom, would hear the symphony as transition.  the space between before and after.  a time of growth and change and every possible note, every possible emotion.

we listen, as earthlings, imperfect-in-every-way, and we get lost.  to live in irato is uncomfortable.  a cliffhanger.

but mother earth smiles.  after all, she knows all about suspense and the big bang and butterflies.

download IN TRANSITION on iTUNES

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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IN TRANSITION ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood

 


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love > fear. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

love greater than fear

change is imminent.  we can feel its rumblings.  we try to tether to something solid, something reassuring.  as when fierce winds swirl around us in the woods, we scan the limbs of trees above us, waiting for the inevitable crashing-down-bow.  we are unsure.  we are afraid.

because change is here.  we sense it all around us; we know things will not stay the same.  they cannot.  for this time is a time of transformation.   the transition time will be full of the unknown.  the re-shaping will be disorienting.  we are agnostic.  we are nervous.

because change is like that.  it undermines our normal, throws our predictable into a frenzy, propels us past the lines we color in.  it’s a metamorphosis like a kaleidoscope, ever-different, ever-rearranging.  it pulls, it pushes.  we resist.  we dig in.  we argue with the wind till we are hoarse and weary.

because change makes us fearful.  we ask for guarantees that this evolution will be better, that we will feel settled in it, that it will improve things.  but life comes with no guarantees and there are few among us who have not heard the words of nelson mandela:  “courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. the brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” 

and change delivers.  courage shows up and partners with strength and perseverance.  belief peers from around the corner.  and hands reach out to us.  we see we are, indeed, not alone.  we step.  and step again.

and we learn to know:  love > fear.

we look change in the face and say, “ok. let’s do this.”

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

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the photograph for this post is taken of a shirt i purchased in a tiny magical bookstore on washington island.  it is available – click here or on the photo above – if you would like to virtually visit fair isle books and order one in long or short sleeve for yourself or as a gift. 

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“not too chicken to change.” [merely-a-thought monday]

not too chicken copy

too old. too young.  too busy.  too tired.  too apolitical.  too rabid.  too conservative.  too liberal.  too artistic.  too left-brained.  too analytical.  too kinesthetic.  too emotional.  too opinionated.  too apathetic.  too uneducated.  too educated.  too poor.  too rich.   too believing.  too agnostic.  too manipulated. too manipulative.  too confident.  too tentative.  too work-engrossed.  too free.  too lofty.  too basic.  too orthodox.  too unconventional.  too open.  too closed.  too rigid.  too fluid.  too not-from-here.  too down-home.   too much.  too little.  too far-reaching.  too little impact.  too intentional.  too haphazard.  too unknown.  too anticipated.  too cavalier.  too afraid.

d’s master’s degree embraces the organization of whole systems; when i recently read this it felt like everything he has said in a nutshell (and i, not being a nutshell person, embraced this nutshell with the glee of change).  here is what i read about systems theory:

systems theory(©️2020 narrative lectionary resources)

‘our family systems.  our work systems.  our neighborhood and community systems.’  our country.  our world.  the system reeling inside ourselves.

too trouble-making.  too resistant.  too dysfunctional.  all good reasons for a system not to be too chicken to change.

life.  too short.  too fleeting.  too few golden opportunities to learn.  too few possibilities to stand tall and face down adversity.  too few windows to be kind.  too few chances to say ‘i love you’.  too many people to laugh with.  too many places to see.  too many moments to miss.

all good reasons for us to be “not too chicken to change”.

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

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improving. a little every day. [two artists tuesday]

wine

but the real question is – do WE improve with age?

yes, lush red wine, dark chocolate, bold roast black coffee – all have risen on my list of chosens.  i remember the days of sugar and cream in coffee.  i remember the creamy milk chocolate days.  and i remember the 1980s and 1990s days of ‘white zin’, the go-to wine of that age and time, a staple of the culture.  but those days are past and we have moved on to rich red blends or old vine zins, 85% dark chocolate with no milkfats, and the boldest of the bold coffees with no sweetener or added dairy/non-dairy product.  all improved (in my opinion) with my age.

me…on the other hand…i’m not so sure.

i read a brief article which proposed that your thoughts are less important than your feelings.  it reminded the reader that, in light of everyone’s hard-to-speak-of mortality,  there is no time more important, nothing more important than feeling the present moment.

how often do we get caught up in the swirling mind games of reviewing all the past?  thoughts.  how often do we find ourselves double-clutching on the future because of something that has happened ‘before’?  thoughts.  how often do we hesitate as we ponder-ponder-ponder until it’s too late?  thoughts.  how often are those thoughts – skewed – which have accumulated all through these supposed improving-with-age years – ruling our moments, nonetheless ruining our moments, the ones right-now?  stick to the topic/don’t go backwards in time and drudge up old stuff/stay in the “i-feel” not the “you-did”…any counseling master’s program notes referencing ‘conversation’ (read:  heated conversation) with a significant other.  feelings.  do we actually improve with age?  do we learn?

i’m guessing the wine cork has it right.  the moments you are sipping wine are quieter moments sitting by the fire.  or moments of laughter with friends.  or moments with a good meal.  the older we get, it seems the more value we place on those things.  we drink-in the heart of these most important times, with or without wine.  feeling.

we gain perspective.  maybe like that glass of wine in the evening.  a little every day.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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before and after. galena. [k.s. friday]

galena songbox

your toes curl.  your breathing is shallow.  adrenaline rushes.  your legs are a little shaky. your hands feel tingly.  butterflies in your belly.  you are on the edge.  in that tiny place between before and after.

i gingerly walked to the edge of the canyon, my daughter encouraging me.  at the moment i stood there, feet firmly planted, no guardrail, nothing between me and canyon wall, my heart slowed down and i breathed in both the enormity of the moment and the taste of both before and after.  my girl and i laughed, loudly, the sound echoing across the vast canyon.  and then, it was after.

i sat at the piano, ready to record this first piece GALENA of the first album, 24 years ago, savoring the safety of before but ready for after.  at the edge of the put-it-all-out-there canyon, i walked onto the stage, brand new cds in the lobby, ready, with quivering knees and boots that gave me confidence.  and then, in what felt like a minute, it was after.

now, many album and stage edges later, many life and love moments later, many work and play split-seconds later, i wonder what the next after will be.  i can feel the edges; i can see them.  i’m aware of my toes curling.  my breathing is shallow and adrenaline rushes.  my legs are a little shaky and my hands feel tingly, butterflies in my belly.  there is a canyon beckoning.

moab edge locator

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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GALENA from RELEASED FROM THE HEART ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood

 


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in the gray. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

stripes of grey

grey/gray rarely has such a line of demarcation, rarely has distinctive texture such as in this picture beyond our littlehouse yard.  grey is simply gray.  it is the zone of not right/not wrong.  it is the living in-between-ness of doing life this way/that way.  it is the space of not-knowing, asking questions, learning, being vulnerable.  it can be uncomfortable.  but it is necessary.

the most growing i have done has been in the grey zones.  the times when i did not know, the times i made mistakes, the times choices were confusing, the times devastated by life events, the times moving forward meant tiny baby step by baby step, the times i was vulnerable.

last night there was an artist, an author, at TPAC who spoke of vulnerability.  he said that vulnerability leads to gratitude.  it is the path to grace and mercy.  i agree.

i would add we can never know, or even approximate, what someone else is feeling without being unguarded ourselves.  we can never know the unanswered questions, the struggles, the amorphous-ness of life without the grey.  we can never create without the grey – for an artist languishes in grey, if for no other reason than to seek the color within himself.

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

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