reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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a candle, lotion and a pair of mittens. [merely-a-thought monday]

one whiff of the good earth non-gmo soy wax cypress-pine candle and i was sold. the holidays in a mason jar with the added bonus of having spent hours of my life in many years past at shows near the founder of this absolutely-good-earth company, a place where brilliant science and creativity and big heart merge. it made me happy to see her products at the boutique shop and, in the way that this season does, makes me want to reach out to her with greetings.

we were in cedarburg on saturday, wanting to participate in the anticipation of christmas. the streets were cold, but the lights were beautiful and the holiday spirit warm and contagious. the wind was brisk so it was a constant cycle of earmuffs on-gloves on-walk-walk-walk-gloves off-earmuffs off-mask on-go into a shop-wander and browse and admire-exit shop-mask off-earmuffs on-gloves on-walk-walk-walk and repeat.

it was a perfect day. we stopped to have a bite to eat – a rarity in these past couple years. there was a giant outdoor tent with tall bistro tables spaced more than socially-distanced apart, fresh air coming in and tall propane heaters scattered about. with our coats on, though unzipped, we sipped an oustanding merlot and shared a burger laden with bacon and mushrooms and grilled onions and some kind of special sauce with a gigantic side of french fries. did i mention perfect?

our day-adventure took us through our favorite shops, the familiar a reassuring hug. in another rarity, we bought a few items – our new candle that tracy made, almond coconut hand lotion from a long island company that smells like an almond joy bar, a pair of fair trade mittens that fit over my finger splint from the everest corner of the world. treasures. we brought home ideas for decorating and fresh energy for the upcoming week.

sitting at the tall bistro table in the tent i glanced around. four girlfriends enjoying a chardonnay, a family surrounded by shopping bags and ribbons, two friends having a shopping extravaganza, an older couple perched on stools finishing lunch and sipping tall glasses of water, our server, delightful despite the busy. i appreciated the mix of the multi-colored and white lights strewn through the tent. the chatter, the joy, delicious anticipation that the rest of the day still stretched in front of us. there would be tiny expressions of graciousness and courtesies and we would see grandiose expressions of the season.

i looked at david and held my hand to my heart, saying nothing. he nodded.

“christmas is here, bringing good cheer. to young and old, meek and the bold. ding, dong, ding, dong, that is their song. with joyful ring, all caroling.” (carol of the bells)

*****

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


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the underwear moments. [d.r. thursday]

as you walk in the front door of the gallery, it is straight ahead of you. “unfettered” seizes your attention and the light streaming in the windows spilling onto a warm wood floor and white woodwork seems to embrace it in a cloud. i know how this feels. showcasing a piece is allowing it to come to full bloom, to let it breathe in the world, to share it. but showcasing a piece is not for the meek at heart.

in the way you would likely feel standing in your underwear in a town square, introducing the world to some new piece of your heart is raw. on old wooden stages with a piano and a mic, centered on a wall with a tiny price tag placed nearby, during poetry-reading night in the corner of the general store, sharing with the novel-writing club every first thursday, skating the first performance on ice, tapping “publish” on a blog each day … pieces of your heart float shakily about as you try to hold onto sisu and stay grounded. it matters not how many times you have done this. your heart has been unbridled and you are allowing others in. each and every time.

“unfettered” is gorgeous. it’s – coincidentally – exactly how i feel on wooden stages. it is how i feel on the top of mountain trails. it is how i feel dancing in the front yard. it is how i feel those moments i have been cantering on the back of an exquisite horse. it is how love feels. it is how the sun on your face feels.

“unfettered” is the epitome of its own hanging-on-the-gallery-wall boldness. the uninhibited freedom of expression – artistry come to fruition in the moment of utter sharing. terrifying and liberating. raw and real. the underwear moments.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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hearts in kansas. [d.r. thursday]

we broke down just past hays, kansas. big red just didn’t want to go uphill or accelerate without some violent shuddering and, as i drove, i worried it – in the middle of nothing-around-this-part-of-kansas or nothing-around-this-part-of-colorado – would refuse to go on. we turned around and slowly went back to hays.

the ford dealer service department was swamped. the manager talked to us for a few minutes and then he pointed us onward – to a privately owned service center on the other end of town, the one to which he assured me he would send his mother (who he likes) or his sister.

we limped over there, middle-afternoon turning to later-afternoon, crossing fingers, and dallas and casey listened to us describe, naturally in purely automotively-correct-terms or maybe some jibberish with automotive sound effects, what was happening with our old truck. we told them our plight so they knew time was of the essence and we needed to be across their fine state and to denver by early thursday, the very next day.

a short diagnostic and dallas told us that a couple of the cylinders weren’t firing and that they were both on the same coil; he suspected that coil was the culprit. because hays, one of the few towns in that neck of the woods, is big enough to have a few auto part stores, they were able to get our new coil and install it right away. dallas said we should give it a go on the highway, though he wished he were able to do a more overall diagnostic to determine if there were other problems.

a few hours after it all started, we were back on the road, with every appendage crossed. we held hands on the first hill we encountered, climbing elevation not far from the hays exit. i literally held my breath. big red was a champ on that hill. we cheered – aloud – and waited for the next one and the next.

the first couple hours post-coil-replacement went like that. waiting and then climbing and then breathing. and repeat. big red accelerated with no problems across the rest of kansas, through a weather front with 50mph winds into colorado and in front of a threatening thunderstorm from the south. a few challenges today in roadtripland.

and so, though i would have suspected that this post would have been about something different because of the prompting photograph we had chosen, i have found that it actually prompted me to write that the people we encountered today in kansas had heart. i – no, we – really appreciated it. ever so much.

and so did big red.

***

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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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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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

HOPE ©️ 2005 kerri sherwood


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the bow. [k.s. friday]

the bow: sculpture – duke kruse **

at the very end of a concert, out on the apron of the wooden stage, as close up and personal as can be from a proscenium, head tucked down and adrenaline coursing through your body, the final bow is sheer gratitude. it is a humble thank-you. it is an exhilarating release. it is a moment when time dissipates into slow-motion and suddenly you realize that it is over. it is full of you-are-exactly-where-you-are-supposed-to-be. it never ceases to amaze me. and then, it is the moment to tuck back behind the curtain, head to the green room, breathe a prayer of thanks, and start the running review in your mind’s eye.

it matters not the size of the audience. a few people in folding chairs, a park filled with thirty-thousand, a few hundred seated in upholstered comfort. you bring the same program, the same dedication, the same commitment to your art, no matter how many people are there. the give and take of audience energy makes a difference, yes, but any performing artist can tell you that delivering the work is the same, regardless. one must actually work harder with a smaller audience.

you can feel it. the minutes your delivery resonates. you can feel it. the minutes you know you need to rapidly move on, change the course. you can feel it. in the perfect pause between lines of a story you tell, laughter waiting in the wings. you can feel it. the heart of a story falling into the hearts of those gathered to watch. it is a dialogue without dialogue and your bow at the end of the concert acknowledges their participation in it.

i would say that the things i miss most about the-job-i-no-longer-have are those moments of resonance, the moments that don’t find a place in a job description, the moments that cannot be measured. they are the moments birthed through expansive experience, through study, through empathy, through intuition, through gifts given to you that have no names, no deservedness; instead, just the compelling imperative to be used.

the times in the choir room when, in the middle of starting to rehearse a piece of music, a story surfaces and i must tell it. that laughter opens everyone; the piece of music has four-part heart. the times when i direct others performing together, joy on their faces, their breathing different because of that which they have created together, that which we have rehearsed together, the spirit which we have sown in the music. the times in the chancel, in the middle of a particularly poignant song, standing at the piano and singing into the boom mic, glancing at jim playing guitar and singing harmony and telling him with my eyes to make another go-round, looking out into the gathering, eye contact, and seeing the song fall upon them, touch them, engage them, speak to them, tug at them. those are moments when music connects faith-dots, moments of doing the work, moments of shaping a journey, moments in which i bow internally to that which guides me.

there have been many: many prosceniums, many aprons, many black boxes, many chancels, many flatbeds, the floors of wholesale, retail, television studios, the creaking floor under my piano, the patio out back. they each bid to the imperative. they each elicit my gratitude.

the stage echoes under my boots. as i walk to the center, take the bench at the piano, place my hands on the keys and my face up close to the mic, it is always with great anticipation. it is the culmination of planning, designing, writing, practicing, rehearsing. it is lighting and sound and balance. it is storytelling through song with lyrics, through song without lyrics, through song without music or lyrics, through narrative and through rests. it is the forerunner of a deep bow i will hold onto until the next time.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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** this stunning sculpture’s home is next to my piano in my studio


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exit. stage right. [merely-a-thought monday]

exit

metaphorically speaking, the gravel hadn’t even settled after we pulled out of the parking lot and our newly-created-recently-released website had already been changed.  david warned me about this, telling me how tom m used to tell him this very thing about the moments – even just mere moments – after you leave a position.  you are forgotten, your ideas are left behind in the dust; you are the person who used to do the job.

i had spent hours and hours and hours and weeks and months designing, branding, carefully trying to portray this unique place in a fresh, interesting, vital-to-the-community way.  i painstakingly chose fonts and always included “xoxo” in posts.  i pored over hundreds of pictures i had taken there, looking for the right imagery to represent this performing arts center to which, just over a year ago, i had felt an instant attachment.  TPAC, a beautiful 253-seat theatre on a tiny island.  i added a small heart to advertising, social media posts, communications.  my heart was attached and it seemed apropos to subtly include love from TPAC in everything to the residents who have shared their island with it.

for the last year – until the end of the day yesterday – we, two people with lifelong immersion in the arts, have been the co-managing directors of this theatre.  on this island-you-cannot-drive-to, across death’s door from the mainland of door county, we weathered our way through waves of challenges.  we were brought there to create, to bring TPAC into next, to carefully elicit change in a place that pushed back against change.  we made dear new friends; we gauged our days and our progress by the greetings at the grocery store.  my fondness grew.

managing a performing arts center is not for the weak of heart.  it is not, as some would think, simply about booking performers into the space.  instead, it is weaving the place in which it exists into its very fabric, acknowledging the importance of the local arts organizations and forging relationships with their people, listening, working together to make the theatre accessible and intrinsic – necessary – to all.  it is fundraising, addressing personality issues, graphic design, ad sponsorship, strategizing, gently and firmly guiding.  for us, it was seeing the infinite details (i’m the detail one) and the arcing scope into the future (he’s the big picture one).  it was sitting-on-the-edge-of-the-wooden-stage-dreaming at its best and cleaning-the-backstage-refrigerator at its most practical.

we lived in the littlehouse on the water, a place we still cherish.  every morning i took a photograph over the lake; every night we marveled at the million stars in the sky.  we walked on quiet roads and hung out laundry to dry.  in the middle of enacting progressive forward-moving dreams, we had also returned to a simpler place, a simpler time.  washington island is indeed away-away and the ferry that makes it possible to come and go dictated our few comings and goings.

there were moments, as you would suspect, of difficulty, for no tiny place is immune to that, to agenda or powerplay.  indeed, no dense urban city is immune, so a somewhat homogeneous island with generations-long-standing residents proves no different.  when we accepted this position we put on our ‘what’s best for TPAC?’ hats and, with more objectivity than those who have been immersed in the politics and life of a place for most of its tenure, we were determined to leave those hats on, despite all odds, regardless of any pressure to bow differently.  we brought heart to TPAC and we leave pieces of our hearts behind in it.

every journey has meaning.  today i grieve the inevitable exit from this place.  they will continue on, outsiders-be-gone, with one of their own at the helm to take them into next, the island way.  TPAC will continue to grow and change; there is so much potential there.  we can see it.

and today, as i close my eyes and see the traditional red-cushioned theatre seating of the house and feel the wooden stage under my boots, i know my heart will mend a bit as the dust settles.  and the key sticks in the lock of the backstage door just as it always has.

(a farewell video post to TPAC)

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

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©️ 2020 kerri sherwood & david robinson

 


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relics. [two artists tuesday]

stop sign quarter

we stopped there every time we rode our bikes past on the way to the beach or the harbor.  north shore outdoor recreation center & school of skindiving was a shop downtown east northport, a couple blocks from the railroad tracks and across the street from the old auto parts store.  our high school biology teacher jim owned it and we’d stop in and visit, looking around at gear and flirting with the just-slightly-older-than-us-guys who worked there.

when i was 17 i started working there after school and on weekends.  i’d do office work, the newsletter, and sell scuba, archery and other outdoor-related sporting equipment.  the fill tank, a pool of water in which oxygen tanks are immersed in order to fill them for use while diving, was just outside the office and i can’t tell you how many times i ended up sitting in it.  until i got smart and carried extra clothes to work with me in the car,  i had to drive home to change, sopping wet and glorying in it.   i was the only girl there and these boys were brutal teasers.

the basement of the shop was formidable, dungeon-like; at the top of the stairs were a sliding chain lock and the light switch.  the gestetner machine (a copy machine that invariably spewed purple stuff all over you during use) was in that basement which meant i spent some good time down there wrangling this obstinate office contraption.  from way down in the depths of this concrete cavern, i could hear the chain sliding and the click of the light switch, leaving me in the dark to feel my way back up the steps and stand at the door, pounding to be released from yet another prank.  yes, brutal stuff.

crunch was in charge which left jimmy and ollie and i under his thumb.  much more a rule-follower, crunch was a task-master and was the one who turned down the blasting stereo of ‘heart’ singing ‘barracuda’ in the workroom.  he wagged his fingers at us to sweep or organize regulators, but he was right-in-there, shortchanging me with the growing-boy deli orders they sent me on, leaving notes on my little vw about town-noon-whistle-blowing-timeliness, not setting me free from the front sidewalk window when i, during christmas-eve-day last-minute-shopping-hours, dressed as an elf and, coerced to fix something in our christmas display, was locked in, forcing me to grin and bear it and stand with plastic-santa, waving at people walking by and the crowd that gathered at the auto parts store.  but we all did good work together, the dives were organized, people had the right gear and the shop was a place customers loved to come and linger in.

an older italian couple lived above the shop and luigi was not as loud as his wife.  without the benefit of air conditioning, the windows and lack of thick insulation in the walls made it easy for us to hear her rapid-fire italian admonishments of her husband, always punctuated by a shrill “luigi!”  in our first-hand innocence of marriage-challenges we’d voice, “poor luigi.”  i don’t think i ever knew his wife’s name.  i wonder about their lives.  where did they go?  their rows weren’t nearly as loud as ‘barracuda’ or the sounds of boisterous laughter coming from the back storage/workroom of the shop.  they were simply a part of the story, a part of the history of that place, a sound-artifact i can still hear.

during one of his college classes, crunch, who ended up one of my very best friends, for a psych class project, decided to glue a a few coins onto the sidewalk out front and hide in the tent displayed in the front window, capturing passersby reactions to money-for-free.  they always went for the quarter and it was predictable how earnestly they would try to pry this off this sidewalk, invariably stopping to rub at their fingertips, digging in backpacks or purses for pens or keys to pry with.  nevertheless, the superglue held and the coins remained on the sidewalk for a long time to come.  i don’t know when they finally disappeared.

for those of us who actually think coins count as money, it’s natural to stop and pick up coins when you see them, the whole find-a-penny-pick-it-up-thing.  the little jar at home fills up and is, surprisingly, a good sum of money when it’s up to the tippy-top.  so when we passed the two pennies in the UPS parking lot, david bent down to pick them up.  one heads-up, one tails-up.  i immediately yelled, “no!  don’t touch them!”  it was the very beginning of the pandemic and touching ANYthing without sanitizer nearby was a formidable act.  it was too late; david had picked them up.  so he brought them over to the sidewalk by the UPS store and laid them on the window ledge.  i wonder if they are still there.

the quarter was on the trail when we were hiking last week.  it made me stop; it’s a quarter, after all!  i looked at david, pondered, then shrugged, and, against every reflex, left it there and hiked on.  the not-picking-up-free-money-guilt set in but not enough to break the don’t-touch-it-pandemic-rule.  i wonder if it is still there.

in this time of so-much-change and the use of so-much-technology, i find myself thinking of those times, over four decades ago now, when things seemed simpler.  coins counted, ink-laden-copy-machines slowed us down.  i think about the relics that were left behind.

and i wonder, forty years from now, when i am 101, what will those relics from this time, this time of pandemic sweeping our world, look like?  what will they be?

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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this morning. [k.s. friday]

that morning someday 1

i unfriended someone today.  i was so shocked at his response to the vital importance of continuing to social distance in this global pandemic i found it reprehensible.  his crass “everyone will die eventually” was deeply disturbing.  he actually used the term ‘survival of the fittest’.  i, in browsing for how my family and friends are doing, found no peace in his words, only a shortfall of empathy.  i shudder to think of anyone who read or who will read these callous words who has been ill, has had a loved one ill, who has lost a life in their circle of life, who has been deemed unemployed, who has missed paying their rent and who stands in line for food, who is frightened.  anyone with a heart.

i’ve unfriended a few people along the way these last few years.  this hasn’t been because i merely disagree with them.  i am open to disagreeing with you if you are open to discussion.  but these have been folks who have been closed.  closed to facts, to truth, to research, to conversation.  closed.  to me, it feels as if their hearts are closed.

for what is the importance of the next morning if what you care most about in the world is copious amounts of money or holdings?  my sweet poppo used to say, “you can’t take it with you.”  what is the importance of the next morning if you will throw others under the bus to elevate yourself?  my sweet momma used to say, “be kind.  be kind.  be kind.”  what is the importance of the next morning if everything is measured by black and white, an excel sheet of differences, all listed and highlighted.  my big brother used to play his guitar and sing, “there’s a new world coming…”  what is the importance of the next morning if you only measure yourself against others, their net worth, their houses, their jobs, their wardrobe, their vehicles, their exotic trips, their success?  in high school i recited these words from desiderata, “if you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”

instead, what about that morning someday?  the one that presents you with the challenge of a lifetime, the one you have worked on honing your whole life.  the challenge to accept who you are.  the challenge to stand up straight in your integrity, to freely and generously love, to do your work, to look out into the world with open eyes.  the challenge to not compare yourself, to believe in the betterment of humanity, to be kind, and to know that you can’t take any of it with you.  the challenge to surround yourself with goodness and live now.  this morning.  tomorrow morning.  the next morning.  heart open.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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THAT MORNING SOMEDAY ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood

 

 


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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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read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

 

 

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YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE ©️ 2003 kerri sherwood