reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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joey’s 20/20. [two artists tuesday]

we hang out with joey coconato every night. we hike out west with him on back-country trails, on high mountain ridges, in glacier national park and yellowstone, in the tetons and canyonlands. we camp in tiny tents and eat meals out of bags, filter our water and hang our food way up in trees. joey is easy in this world and he has inspired us day after day, taking us one more day through this pandemic, breathing fresh air into another evening when we turn off the news, the dessert for the odd buffet that is life these days. joey’s camera captures the tiny and the vast, things that become indelible in your mind’s eye – the beauty is astounding. we see glimpses of him hiking when his selfie stick leads the way or when he painstakingly plants his tripod and creates the chance to watch. otherwise, we see these trails through joey and we are grateful for his keen eyesight and his love of the outdoors. for him, the mountains and the trail seem to make all things 20/20; he is clear and committed and profoundly capable. joey sees the up-close and he sees that which is far away, both are part of his focus, the details and the big picture.

although he does not consider himself a guide, sometimes joey will have others join him on the trail. i’m guessing it is important to him that their goal for the potential of the hike would be similar, that their respect of mother earth and the basics of backpacking etiquette would be allying, that the bottom line of the trail would be the stunning goodness of being a part of the outdoor miracles of nature. it is clear by his grand hiking successes, alone and in tandem with others, that he values those around him, that he embraces sameness and differences. his generous spirit in his gorgeous workplace is not commanding nor controlling with his hiking partners. he has an overall intention, he has made all the proper regulatory reservations and permits, and he looks to his partners-on-the-trail, people he obviously trusts won’t put him in harm’s way, for input. he listens and he considers what they say, whether it is complimentary of his efforts or is critical or probing of plans he has made; he respects the dignity of each person he is with. if they push back or question him, he, without ego or agenda, looks for clarity and truth. he regularly features these trekkers and always speaks to their strengths. he films them as they hike, as they choose their own boulders on their way down the scramble-field. he encourages them. he empowers them. he takes a back seat and quietly goes about being the expert that he is and together they all get there – to the next campsite, down the next canyon, to the next summit. he is a natural leader.

my gaze alternatively shifts from the icicles in this photograph to the trees, back and forth, icicles, trees, icicles, trees. i can feel the cold air on my face staring at the sculptural ice and the changing color of the sky behind the trees gives me pause, makes me remember the day will soon end and a new day will again be upon us. it’s 20/20 this vision – clear that both exist, co-exist even.

20/20 vision is a funny thing. according to the aao, the american academy of ophthalmology, only about 35% of adults have 20/20 vision without corrective lenses. with correction, 75% of adults have this vision while 25% just don’t see very well at all. so, at best, what we see is somewhat subjective, centered on our own focus, our own viewing lens. i’m pretty certain that in life this pertains to all manners of vision. so many lenses.

these days our lenses have a pandemic-limitation as we respect the boundaries of what we should or shouldn’t do, where we should or shouldn’t go. we know that we don’t necessarily align with everyone else in our choices, but we are painstakingly figuring out how to go about life in this very difficult time, constricted and staying on the trail for the time being. now – with over 500,000 good people in our country who have died from this insidious virus – is not the time to split hairs over alliances. instead, it is the time to recognize the big picture co-existing with the tiniest details and to stay as laser-focused as possible on working together, in unity, in community, with love. now – in this time of the kind of extreme angst not seen in a century – is not the time to cease conversation, to cease looking to each other for input, to cease collaborating. it is not the time for commanding or controlling or invoking fear. perched on a cliffwall, trail transparency and accountability as guideposts, reality as his north star, joey knows all that. he is a natural leader.

so right now, if someone – in any arena, on any mountain – says, “your vision doesn’t align with ours,” i can’t help but wonder about their version of leadership. what does that really mean? whose 20/20 counts? is it the icicles or the trees? or is it both?

maybe i’ll ask joey.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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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.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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“hope.” so do not come. [merely-a-thought monday]

hope

do not come.  president of this aching, grieving, diseased, severed, chaotic country, do not come to kenosha.  for you have missed the glimmer of hope on our horizon.  you have ignored the pain of a family wracked with the police shooting of their son.  you have minimized the impassioned pleas to live in a world where black lives matter.  you have distorted the value of lives lost on the very streets of kenosha, lives taken by a little boy with a big gun.  you have stoked the flames of violence and are inciting division in all the ways your cold soul knows how.

do not come.  we do not need a rally for your ego.  we do not need your smug law and order wagon to come through.  we definitely do not need you to instill further tension and fear in the residents of this small city by touting approval of civilian militia groups or extremist patriots.  do not start fires so that you can take credit for putting them out.  we do not need your arson.

do not come. we have been through enough this past week.  we are trying to pick up the pieces from violence and injustice and unrest so that we might move into the winds of change, so that we might listen and, with all good intention, step forward into a place of unity, of healing.

do not come.  politicizing death and destruction and vengeance and ratcheted ferocity have no place on the streets of a community that wants more than that.  we the people desire a more perfect union and domestic tranquility and it is becoming clear that unity is not your ultimate goal and that domestic turbulence and divisiveness are your weapons of choice.

do not come.  for our city needs level wisdom, calm compassion, fair and candid conversation, truth, not your screaming vitriol, your punting self-agenda, your endorsement of hatred, your lies.

do not come.  for your intentions are not with hope in your heart.

and without you, in the heart of kenosha, there is the glimmer of hope.

do not come.

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

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this world needs you. [d.r. thursday]

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all of us.  we will all need to participate.

this world will never be the same.  we need to ponder, we need to dream, we need to imagine:

a better place, a more fair place, a place that is based on equity and equality, kindness and compassion.  a place that assumes virtue and intends the same.  a place that protects its peoples, that encourages individuals to care for each other.  a place that doesn’t incite rancor, celebrate the weapons of violence, or create enmity and spite.  a place where the downtrodden are lifted up and those with excess are generous.  a place where inhabitants don’t self-aggrandize or strategize to find ways for more-more-more, ways that take from those with less, ways that undermine those in need.  a place that doesn’t normalize language of vitriol, hatred, and antagonism.  a place where all races are equivalent, all genders are respected, all ethnicities are indistinguishably included.  a place where the environment counts and sustaining it beyond our own time on this good earth is a priority.  a place that recognizes the sacred in the out-of-doors, the borrowing of this dirt, this water, this air for the short span of time we are here.  a place where we are always seeking ways to better life for each other, to enhance daily living, health, happiness.  a place of truth.  a place of goodness.

yes.  this world needs your good imagination.  or we will never get there.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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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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practice makes perfect. [merely-a-thought monday]

the world will treat you royally

“live generously and the world will treat you royally.” (crown royal commercial)

“practice makes perfect,” it says on an index card in the piano bench of my old piano downstairs in the basement.  written in the careful-penmanship-printing of me-probably-as-an-8-year-old,  i have kept this card in my bench for over 50 years.   i’m sure there were multiple times i rolled my eyes at this, as i opened the bench to take out and work on lesson music.  i still roll my eyes.  everything takes practice.

everything.  including living generously.  there’s always that moment when you have to decide to either take up the rope, as they say, and tug back or let the rope lay still.  so much easier to pick it up and tug, letting it lay there and not touching it requires sheer grit-your-teeth-restraint sometimes.  it’s too easy to tug, to even wrench, and too royally hard to let a sleeping rope lie.

but in those moments, the really tough ones and the little ones, that you actually and intentionally choose to mother-teresa your way through, your generosity spins outward in concentric circles and goodness spreads.  goodness has a way of coming back, returning to center, with centrifugal force and your heart in the middle.  gravity draws back goodness and keeps close the spirit of all with whom you have been generous.  kindness bestowed upon you is royal treatment; it is the world treating you royally.  we are all so fortunate.  we are already receiving lavish unconditional love.  what would happen if we practiced living generously even more?

after all, they say, practice makes perfect.

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

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holding steadfast. [k.s. friday]

holdingsteadfast songbox.jpg

it is against the odds that this tree clings to rock and doesn’t topple into the lake with a great splash and float away.  instead it stubbornly holds on, a steadfast intention.  the rock, the basso ostinato.

at a time when holding steadfast seems mightily important, i wonder about the questions we have been asked.  will you stay?  will you leave?  will you love it here?  in the midst of all the infighting, are you going to give up? will you hold on?

the answers may not be directly related to the actual intent of those questions.

will we hold on?  yes, we will hold on.  we will hold steadfast to our integrity.  we will hold steadfast to the reasons we came here in the first place.  to make a difference, to bring ideas and change, to apply that which we have learned, studied, experienced over at least 80 combined years of work, higher education and profession.  to be honest and transparent and collaborative.  to try and instill a sense of working together into a community divided by narratives too numerous to list.

will we hold on?  yes, we will hold on.  we will hold steadfast to our belief that people should be kind to each other, that people should not work around others nor should they undermine others, that people should instead lift each other up, not drive stakes into another.

will we hold on?  yes, we will hold on.  steadfastly.  to honoring art, the driving force behind this initiative.  to honoring creativity and the blossoming of beauty and wisdom, staunch tenets of artistry.

will we hold on?  yes, we will hold on.  steadfastly.  to believing all is possible.

but, in answer to the real intent of the question asked us….will we hold on?

we will not hold on if others cannot join us in what is real, what is truth, what is most important.  we will not hold on in the fire of pettiness or shameful self-serving underhandedness.  we will not hold on, holding still while others take turns throwing rocks at us, at the real goals of this place, if those are indeed about art.

the answer to the question is not up to us.  we can either cling to the rock, holding steadfast or we can topple, with a refreshing splash, into the lake and float away.

download HOLDING STEADFAST from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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HOLDING STEADFAST from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood

 


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slow. slow. [two artists tuesday]

deer in woods copy.PNG

slow. slow.  when we drove home the other day, we realized how very slowly we were moving here on island.  the comparison began the instant we were on the mainland.  we hadn’t driven over 40mph for a couple weeks; suddenly we could feel the push, the frenzy to get somewhere, fast, faster.  it’s pervasive, that frenetic energy, and the closer we got to milwaukee, the more we could feel it.  our heartbeats raced as cars darted in and out of lanes, as horns beeped and drivers gestured impatiently.  no one noticed each other.  they just drove, destination their only intention.

slow. slow.  we walked home the other night.  after porch-sitting and having a short meeting, we ambled down the middle of the road.  no one was coming; no one passed us.  the interruption in quiet would have alerted us to any oncoming car.  we shared the woods around us with a deer, who was still, watching us for signs if we were going to approach.  our pause on the road and our slow movements convinced the deer to not run, but to stay and just be still.  to watch.  an eagle flew above us.  looking up, there was a moment we recognized that this eagle saw us.   the deer, the eagle, noticed us.  we were in the world together in those moments.  no intention but to breathe the same air.

slow. slow.  we are learning, slowly, about this community.  connecting the dots, discerning the culture, perceiving the nuances.  we are studying this place that is our job – a performing arts center with 250 seats on a tiny island you can only get to by ferry.  a step away-away.  a place in which we want to elevate artistry and growth.  we move slowly, thoughtfully.  our intention, our work, the maturing of this place that has been germinated and cared for.  a rich garden, a rich forest of verdant adolescence, waiting to flourish.  slow.  slow.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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peace marbles. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

peace marbles copy.jpg

we were in cedarburg and on our way out the door of one of our favorite shops there – leap of faith.  i go way back with this shop; during the years that small boutiques sold cds they carried mine and i would, from time to time, play a live performance, hand in hand raising awareness about my music.  the silver peace ring i wear at all times is from this shop.  i have meandered many a time through this place, breathing a little easier as i peruse and read their cards, signs, gifts, positive messages all, open to all.

as we walked out, i spotted this small bowl of blue marbles and the words “take one”.  a symbol for our planet.  a prayer for peace.  i didn’t need another invitation.  the song lyrics accompanying this blue marble hummed in my head all the way home, even after wendy and i loudly sang  “i believe the children are our future…” while striding down the sidewalk after hearing it in another shop.

“let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” if we each made that our intention how powerful…Screen Shot 2018-11-03 at 12.35.18 PM

our blue marble, our good earth, tiny in the vastness, might thrive.  we might thrive.  if not for us, then for the children.  our children.  they are our future.

 

 

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

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be kind. [two artists tuesday]

be kind collage with color font copy

we have a new frog in our pond! two actually.  this feels like perfect timing for us; we needed the good sign of a frog in our midst.  both of these frogs are different than previous pond-frogs we have had in past years; these two are leggier, less body and more frog-legs.  we’ve named the bigger one ripple and the little one pebble.  neither comes when we call their names, but ripple is not as shy as pebble.  we’ve advanced toward the pond and pebble will dive right in before we get close, but ripple sits quietly on one of the rocks and waits.  when he (or she) eventually dives in, it’s with a flourish and we get to see the concentric circles that spread outward, which is where it got its name.

it’s where we sit in our belief – as artists, as people – that the concentric circles spread outward from the center.  the only place from which we can really make a difference.  any difference.  it hearkens back to my sweet momma…her very core believing that all should start (and end) with being kind.  on her website www.beakysbooks.com is quoted mr. fred rogers, “there are three ways to ultimate success.  the first way is to be kind.  the second way is to be kind.  the third way is to be kind.”  it’s how she lived.  she would point to her life and asked what she had accomplished.  greatness.  she accomplished greatness.  because she spread kindness.  out and out and out it went, the ever-widening rings into the world.

it doesn’t seem that complicated.  it doesn’t take wealth or a super pac or any kind of grandeur to accomplish.  it is simple.  basic.  in the words of john wesley, “do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”  or my sweet momma’s favorite verse, ” i shall pass through this world but once.   any good therefore that i can do or any kindness that i can show to any human being, let me do it now.  let me not defer or neglect it, for i shall not pass this way again.”(stephen grellet)  or from the dalai lama, “be kind whenever possible.  it is always possible.”  right at the center, right where ripple quietly sits before the great hop – right before we move or speak or rebel or undermine or chasten or deflate or insult – is the place where we can choose to be kind.

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