reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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our H. [merely-a-thought monday]

the last time i had an in-depth conversation with him, H said, “i have my hope on the generation coming up…that they will be a force for the good.” i cannot imagine a bigger force for good than sweet H.

the candle is burning now. we have had it lit many times in recent days as H has struggled with the fine line between living and dying. the image of his dear face in our mind’s eye reminds us of how to grow old gracefully, how to live into aging, how to participate, how to be in the river not on the river’s edge.

we just heard that H died last night and, as i write this on saturday morning, the sun bursting outside and the birds in full song, my heart is breaking. i have adored H – now ninety-something-something – since the first day he walked into the choir room in which i used to direct choirs, ukulele bands, handbells and be a part of all the joy and community mutually created in that room. his spirit entered before he did, flowing positive energy and a will to try anything, laughter his guide. his bass voice in our choir, in our ukulele band, in our lives was grounding and the gift of angels who had gone before him. H was intrepid. rain, sleet, snow or ice did not deter him or any adventure he took on. he worked harder than most in his earlier years and he played with childlike glee in his later years. mostly, he was not afraid. he wasn’t afraid to learn new things or take on technology. he wasn’t afraid to sing solo or rap in front of others. he wasn’t afraid to travel or to just simply be who he was. he was fiercely devoted to his family, each of them. he wasn’t afraid to love or to state how he felt or what he thought. he was more genuine than many who claim authenticity as their core. a faithful human being, he was.

the refrigerator magnets cluster together from places he went; he always proudly brought me back a magnet from his travels. at the end of the year he’d give me a multitude of those calendars you get in the mail – from all different organizations he had contributed to or of which he was a part – and i’d pick one to hang in the choir room, one to hang at home and one to use for notes. the charlie brown coffee mug in our mug cabinet, that he had carefully wrapped in its suitcase-journey from the peanuts museum in california, is a favorite treasure. he loved butterfingers. he was H.

our last conversation, just a few days ago, was a little disjointed. H couldn’t hear what i was saying on the phone but was trying hard to speak. unlike all our other calls, we didn’t really talk about anything that time. but one thing was clear – shared love and respect for each other and the absolute happiness we each felt having this special friendship. he was H and, oh, his heart.

in an earlier longer call he had talked about the dynamics of our country. he was worried and said that his concern was that current circumstances were like a snowball going downhill…getting bigger and bigger, worse and worse. while i would agree that our country, in big places and small, is in desperate need of a thawing-out of mean-spirited snowballs going rapidly downhill, i would offer that there are other domino effects as well, the kind that take frosty snowflakes and build magical snowmen and the snowforts of children’s imaginings. H is such snow magic, if you will – a trillion unique flakes joined together by infinite molecules of kindness. a snowball that gains in momentum and size – in every good way – each time he was around people. brilliant snowflakes attracted to a genuine and gentle man who would dedicatedly stick with you through thick and thin, persons drawn to each other like perfect individual crystals, stars together.

H lived his hope for the future – he was a force for good. there is no reckoning about this. he will shine in the stars and in all the bass solos. he will gather angels around him, singing, and create fairy-dust-snowflakes. he will be missed and he will be remembered. he was H and his heart was gigantic.

*****

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


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flourless chocolate cake. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

there are days when it’s necessary. last saturday was one of them. we drove out to the bakery in lake geneva specifically for one thing: flourless chocolate cake. we bought two pieces and drove home with them nestled in their little box, excited about the prospect of having such a treat two days in a row. (we share desserts, so this purchase was not merely one day’s worth.) in the middle of everything, a little flourless chocolate cake will go a long way.

there are a few things that fall under this category these days: a few vices, a few salves. strong hot coffee in the morning in mugs that remind us of favorite places, long hikes, glasses of wine, happy lights, texts or pictures or calls from my children, big pots of pasta sauce, being snugged by the dog and the cat. every so often, flourless chocolate cake makes the cut. because it is not inexpensive, these days it is a rarity. but last saturday we decided we could skip a meal if it was necessary in order to share some decadence.

soon it will be the solstice. the sun will seemingly stand still and the light of day will start to shift. we will, slowly but surely, start to welcome more light.

as this world, this country, our communities start to embrace the administering of a new vaccine to aid in the deterrent of the pandemic, we begin to see the beacon of light. it is farther off on the horizon, but it is rising.

as this country, our communities start to embrace the changing of this nation’s leadership, we begin to see the possibility of sanity returning to the chaos. we begin to see the promise of light. it is farther off on the horizon, but it is rising.

as our communities agree to distance and be safe, to work together in common goal, we begin to hope for a return of responsibility, of accountability, of respect, of kindness. we study the horizon, watching for light. it is farther off on the horizon, but we’re sure it must be rising.

as we stand and straighten up our 2020 bodies, aching but holding steadfast on our journeys, we begin to look for the paths of the future, paths of symbiosis, paths of goodness. we peer in the dark, catching glimpses of light, like fireflies in a summer backyard. it is farther off on the horizon, but the light is rising.

and we know this because flourless chocolate cake makes it so.

*****

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


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wowza. [geez. donkeys are people too.]

guess.

guess what name i was called. it doesn’t require a knowledge of rocket science or even a working articulate vocabulary to come up with this one. “asshole.”

i thought about retorting, “is this a conversation starter or a conversation closer?”

or “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.”

or “did you skip kindergarten altogether?”

or “why is it that anytime facts are presented and conversation is possible the choice is made to resort to ugly name-calling instead?”

or – nothing.

the really hard thing here is that my own beloved sister “liked” that this third person called me this name. wow. i must say i would never publicly call my sister or any relative a derogatory name. there are some things that being related stops you from doing. well, at least in my opinion.

and so.

and so, what?

i don’t know.

i guess it is time to stop worrying. it’s time to stop encouraging fact-checking and critical thinking. it’s time to cease pointing out discrepancies, inequalities and bigoted, prejudiced sways. it’s time to no longer attempt to ask questions, have conversation, communicate about differences. it’s time to turn a deaf ear to the vitriol, rhetoric and hatred spewed in the name of patriotism. it’s time to step back and let the chips fall where they may and then not step in them.

or maybe not.

i don’t know.

but i guess it’s time to realize that, yes, it could have been worse. i could have been called a cupcake or a snowflake or, worse yet, infantile. oh. that’s right. been there, done-been-called-that.

yup. intellect and intelligent discourse are at a premium these days.

read DAVID’S SATURDAY SLEW OF WORDS

donkey photo credit: linda t.


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make us all instruments of peace. [d.r. thursday]

InstrumentofPeace copy

it is what it is.

where has this country come?  we need so much more.  for survival.  understanding, compassion, commitment to unity, justice, truth, equality, equity, love of one another, peace among peoples.

the last days we have watched the democratic national convention.  we have connected with the real-ness of regular folks, politicians, celebrities across the country who have had something to say.  we have listened.  we expected words of encouragement, words of hope, words of comfort, words of healing, words of promise to unify and not divide, words we could trust, words of truth.  and we have heard them.  our hearts swelled with a bit of optimism; our pulse slowed and calmed.

we heard the poignant words of michelle obama, speaking about the promise of this country.  we heard the tenderness in jill biden as she spoke about the empathy of her husband, about the import of love and understanding and kindness in this nation.  we watched people from each state and territory, on their own stomping ground, cast their delegates for the democratic presidential candidate.  we listened and teared up and, mostly, we hoped for these instruments of peace to rise above the noise and the furor of division in this country, slobbering all over itself with rabid foam, inviting ultimate disaster.

we will watch next week as well.  the republican national convention will be different than the democratic national convention, for sure.  in a climate where i’m not sure everyday republicans even have a grasp of what the party means anymore, it will be important for us to glean that for ourselves.  in an effort to attempt to understand the position of others we know and love, it will only be fair to watch both conventions.  we will expect words of encouragement, words of hope, words of comfort, words of healing, words of promise to unify and not divide, words we can trust, words of truth.

we live in community.  this country’s backbone is the melding of many peoples working to form a “more perfect union” together, to build together, to grow together, to share a common purpose.  we shall never arrive as instruments of hatred.  we shall arrive, however, as instruments of peace.

it is what it is.  what will we choose to do?  who will we choose to be?

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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INSTRUMENT OF PEACE ©️ 2015 david robinson


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this world needs you. [d.r. thursday]

thisworldneedsyour WITH EYES jpeg copy

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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CHICKEN MARSALA ©️ 2017 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 


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“it matters not.” [merely-a-thought monday]

we all fruit

i never let it stop me.  it didn’t matter to me the title someone held or the notoriety they had.  i always reminded myself that this person i needed to call or meet with or contact was human.  “this person breathes in and out, just like i do,” i would think.  i felt this person – whoever it was – must have some human quality in common with me, regardless of a possible overly-amplified ego or the protected life bubble they might live within.  “it matters not,” my momma, a lover of language, would say.  in the end, nothing really separated me from this person, him or her, human-wise.

and so, my slightly-dialed-back-new-york chutzpah would dial the phone and expect nothing less than speaking with the person i was calling, no matter what rung on the ladder that person clung to, no matter how high the ladder, no matter the pecking order or the person’s perception of self.

because:  people.  we are all people.

now there’s a starting point.

but you wouldn’t know that looking at this country these days.

my sweet momma would be 99 today as i write this.  99.  even in her time on this planet – which devastatingly ended five years ago now – she had seen a lot of change.  “it matters not,” she would say.  we are where we are.  she read, she researched, she asked questions.  and she always arrived at the same place:  people are people and should be – in the crux of all things – equally treated as such.  period.

empty words ticked momma off and she warned me of people who would talk the talk but not walk it.  her sixth sense of intuition was often caution enough in friendships and relationships where people would get all virtuous and principled and, yet, be the same people who could clearly not see the irony in their supposed loftiness, the empty in their words, the do-as-i-say-not-as-i-do-ness, the falsity in their stance.

my momma, our beaky, subscribed to kindness.  it would be to her horror to see the hateful rhetoric nowadays.  she would have no patience for it.  she would point to the horrors that hatred had produced in years past.  she would state in simple terms:  “it matters not,” she’d say, “be kind to each other.  in all things, be kind.”

if momma were here today, she’d wear a mask.  not because she would be in a high-risk category, but because it is the kind thing to do.  a lover of math and science, she would point to the words of scientists, researchers, epidemiologists, medical professionals and she would insist on listening to them.  “it matters not what you think,” she’d point out.  “what matters is what they know.”

if momma were here today, she might protest.  she’d point to inequity and ask what we could do about it.  she’d not draw lines of color or race or gender or sexual orientation or economic status.  “it matters not.  people are people,” she’d insist.  she’d wonder at a country, with so many smart people, continuing to head down such a dark road.  she’d question, she’d challenge, she’d debate, she’d be stalwart and she would hold steadfast to being kind.  period.

it may be oversimplification, but gus had it right in my big fat greek wedding.  “apple and orange…we all different, but, in the end, we all fruit.”  he and my momma would have been grand friends.

because in the end, we are all human.  we breathe in, we breathe out.  we can reject hate; we can choose to love.  nothin’ wrong with a little oversimplification.

BE KIND MASKS – in honor of the wisdom of my sweet momma ❤️

FACE MASKS

BE KIND small print face mask

BE KIND large print face mask

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

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what you do. [k.s. friday]

ymad

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

(YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE ©️ kerri sherwood)

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

 

 

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YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE ©️ 2003 kerri sherwood

 


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the power of social…anything. [flawed wednesday]

think before you share

“think before you share”

SOME IDIOMS TO CONSIDER:

a two-edged sword.

it cuts both ways.

he said, she said.

off the record.

rumor has it.

the power of words.

heard it through the grapevine.

spill the beans.

the telephone game.

a little learning is a dangerous thing.

have your head in the clouds.

go on a wild goose chase.

dish the dirt.

add insult to injury.

can’t see the forest for the trees.

idle gossip.

baldfaced lie.

in bad faith.

stoke the fire.

trash talk.

get out of hand.

snowball effect.

jump on the bandwagon.

no love lost.

damn the torpedoes.

burn bridges.

a perfect storm.

boil over.

go down in flames.

AND THESE:

an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

a penny for your thoughts.

it doesn’t hurt to ask.

the fact of the matter.

through thick and thin.

even keel.

those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

hold your tongue.

don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

call off the dogs.

leave no stone unturned.

heart to heart talk.

change your tune.

blow the lid off.

know which way the wind is blowing.

straight from the horse’s mouth.

a stitch in time saves nine.

look before you leap.

bury the hatchet.

do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

love makes the world go round.

live and learn.

yes. “think before you share.”

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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“we should be wide awake.” [merely-a-thought monday]

we should be wide awake billboard

i sleepily rub the dreams from my eyes.  coffee helps.  and the snowy world outside comes into focus.  no longer immersed in the land of nod, all things rush back:  the casts, the worries, work task lists, bills to pay, the world around us.  before i peruse the news and the weather, though, i mind’s-eye blow my children a kiss and wish them good days, i hug the dog and the cat lying by my side, i thank sweet d for the coffee with the ernie straw.  it all starts.  the day has begun.

this past week has been extraordinary in so many ways; more on that another time.  i’m buoyed by a hopeful spirit, by connecting with people, by sheer love and the sureness-of-foot taking one step at a time, moving forward; the tide is predictable – it ebbs; it flows.  i am wide awake now, thinking.

“we should be wide awake.”  yes.  for all things.  we should have our eyes open.  we should monitor our response to the positive, the negative.  we should be mindful.  just as worry pervades our time, so does hope.  we need lead with kindness.  we need remember we are sharing this good earth with a hard-to-fathom 7.6 billion or so other souls.  we can’t avoid the reality that the narrative we each individually choose must be deliberately and painstakingly vetted with the truth, with awareness, with sensitivity, with fairness.   not sleepily, not uninterested-in-all-but-the-reactionary-anger-dramatics, not without due diligence.  we must guard against the bandwagon of lackadaisical; we must avoid the geared-down rhetoric of hatred.  we are human beings and we have a responsibility.

just as certain as the tide, it is predictable that the two factions in any division will aggressively forward their agendas.  it is up to each of us to stay informed, to discern, to ask questions, to speak up, to make intelligent, educated choices based on civility, impartiality and honesty, equality, democracy and freedom.  no matter the venue, no matter the place of division.

to be wide awake.

woke:  increasingly used as a byword for social awareness.

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

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converge. [two artists tuesday]

deer tracks converge

“i shall pass this way but once. any good that i can do, any kindness i can show to any human being, let me do it now, let me not defer nor neglect, for i shall not pass this way again.” (etienne de grellet)

this saying is tucked into my wallet.  it hangs in our kitchen.  it was my sweet momma’s favorite and she lived by it like a mantra. she did not procrastinate kindness until it was convenient; she lived it.

we pass the deer tracks at bristol woods.  often we are first after the deer.  i wonder what they are like as they pass each other, as their paths converge and diverge.

bold black prayer flag converge framed

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

 

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CONVERGE. ©️ 2020 kerri sherwood