reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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a run on “be kind” buttons. [merely-a-thought monday]

inc. magazine has surprised me time and again. in this period of marveling over the inclination of people in leadership positions around me making what-would-seem really questionable decisions, i have found inc. to be wise and thought-provoking and practical.

i have read articles about management, about good leaders, about equipping employees with confidence, about building people up and not tearing people down. i have read about innovation and support and equality. i have read about not taking things personally, about not ruling your workforce with fear as your greatest tool, about not undermining or being deprecating toward your workers. i have read about organizations working in collaboration, with communication, with transparency. i have read about creating places of compassion and constructive feedback and shared vision. i have read stellar writings about limiting leadership-driven agenda, about truth, about acknowledging discriminatory practices and addressing them. i have read about conflict in the workplace, about identifying it, qualifying it, mitigating it. i have read articles asking challenging questions, sparking maturation of companies and businesses and organizations.

inc. magazine has rocked in its simple approach. it makes me wonder why more manager and leader-types clearly don’t subscribe – in either print, digital or philosophical ways. it’s too bad. any measure of brutally mean dominion over employees does not seem to be a mission of goodness or of growth. organizations that participate in the mission of goodness do not fall into chaos or an abyss of hypocrisy. instead, they grow and change and fluidly adapt. they share ownership with the community they serve and they gratefully appreciate each spoke in the wheel, knowing they didn’t get there without each other.

so when inc. magazine had an article about thanksgiving, we clicked on it. again, a simple approach. instead of going around the table with the question “what are you thankful for?”, the writer suggested you ask the question “what will you do to make others thankful?”. an active verb. what WILL you do?

there’s been a bit of a run on our “be kind” buttons. maybe others are gifting them for the holidays. maybe they are challenging students or service groups to disperse them. maybe they are standing on corners and just giving them out. or, i hope, maybe them are giving them to managers who need be reminded. i don’t know. i do know, however, that we will likely be at the public market or ogilvie handing them out one of these days. or maybe we’ll leave wrapped bundles on the trail or at the check-out line or in the public restroom. free buttons. who can resist? it’s my hope it will make others smile, to concentric those circles out, to generously spread gratitude and kindness.

because inc.’s question is a good one. just like so many of their others. bravo, inc.

*****

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


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like it was. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

i honestly don’t think i can – or need to – add much to this. this is not uncommon.

wistful. melancholy. reminiscent. lonely. overwhelmed by a lack of the busy and social holiday celebrations portrayed nearly everywhere. drowning in comparisons.

life changes and, it appears (yes, yes) we need to change with it. the holidays are a tough reminder.

in the middle of the trail we hiked on thanksgiving we talked about this. we had decided a big pot of pasta sauce would be our thanksgiving meal. comfort food. i, especially, needed that. the day was overcast with snow flurries and a mist gently coming down around a few bends on the path. damp and cold but familiar and reassuring. three deer were startled by our arrival. we watched them as they gracefully bounded away.

we came home and lit all the happy lights in the house. poured a glass of wine and got to the sauce. lit candles, took out thanksgiving napkins, set the table simply. our pumpkin pie was vegan, plant-based, amazing.

yesterday someone ordered 40 “be kind” buttons. it prompted me to suggest that we take a hundred – or a couple hundred – of our buttons and go somewhere and just give them out. sometime in the holiday season. plant a new tradition. start a new ritual. we’ll see.

demographics have spread families out across the globe, work responsibilities make time off a challenge and the pandemic makes travel questionable. we age and lose grandparents and then parents and loved ones. the holidays take on more blue than iridescent tinsel-silver. so many reasons why people find themselves awake in the middle of the night, staring at the ceiling, wishing it was like it used to be. visions of large meals and preparation and trees and grand shopping and piles of presents and family-all-around and parties and fancy dress-up clothes all dance like sugar plums in our heads. things that used-to-be.

finding things to assuage the used-to-be’s might help, might fill in the gaps. gathering with others in like circumstances, empathizing, might be reassuring. having a little visit with dear next-door neighbors later in the night is a bit of fondant on a layer-cake day. planning an adventure or two for coming days brings sweet anticipation.

holding space for the wistful is truth.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2021 kerrianddavid.com


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the quiet. [k.s. friday]

the woods behind my growing-up house were an invitation. i spent hours in that little forest, planning routes and solving mysteries. at the other end of the woods, near clay pitts road, was a small goat farm, so if you traipsed through all the way – which, in retrospect, wasn’t really far – you would get to the fence where you could watch the goats. my next-door neighbors – there were eight kids in the family – and my across-the-street neighbors and i would devise all manner of woods-play. mostly, i loved the quiet.

the maple tree – my poetry tree – was right outside my bedroom window and provided safe limbs for writing in notebooks, reading, reflecting. long hours, my back against the strong trunk, sun filtered through thick leaves or branches ready to withstand winter. so many lessons with so little. mostly, i loved the quiet.

our river trail is not out in the wilderness. it takes us through woods and past meadows along the river, but is just a hop, skip and a jump from our home. it is restorative. last saturday, a white-tailed deer jumped across our path, bounded through the waning underbrush. hawks flew over us, chipmunks scampered, squirrels chattered from trees, admonishing us not to interrupt their work. there’s that the smell of pine and decaying leaves that even the best scented candles cannot capture. mostly, i love the quiet.

and those trails up in the mountains. for days i am breathless, adjusting to altitude, me: sea-level-raised with a mostly almost-sea-level-adulthood. i hike anyway, stopping often, sipping water. though i am a big lover of deserted beach walking and have logged plenty of time especially on long island and beaches of the east coast, the dirt under my feet through forested mountain is a salve. i agree with john muir: “and into the forest i go, to lose my mind and find my soul.”

as i write, the neighbors behind us are installing conduit all along the chain link fence, preparing to provide electricity to yet more spotlights high in the trees, a big yard full of stuff-to-do like a full-size batting cage, swingset and fort, soccer nets, battery-driven atvs, bikes, large plastic-ware toys, trampoline, zipline, loud outdoor speakers, and – i suspect – a revisit of the ice rink. the tallest trees have been wired with the brightest lights and i know that will mean later evenings where quiet at the end of the day is not valued. no longer the “sanctuary” others used to call the yard beyond ours, it makes me kind of sad thinking that so very much is required for this young family to be happily entertained. it makes me sad thinking that it is possible – these days – for people to forget that they live in community with others. we are not islands upon ourselves. what we do impacts those around us…even in our very own backyards.

fred rogers said, “i wonder what some people are afraid might happen in the silence. some of us must have forgotten how nourishing silence can be. that kind of solitude goes by many names. it may be called “meditation” or “deep relaxation,” “quiet time” or “downtime.” in some circles, it may even be criticized as “daydreaming.” whatever it’s called, it’s a time away from outside stimulation, during which inner turbulence can settle, and we have a chance to become more familiar with ourselves.”

so much to learn in the quiet. so much imagination, exploration. so much searching and so much finding. so much growth, no matter the age.

i’m grateful for the tree that was outside my window. i’m grateful for the tiny woods behind my house. i’m grateful for the beaches of my years. i’m grateful for the river trail and the hush it grants me. i’m grateful for the mountains and the pine forests and stands of quaking aspen, moments by running streams and tiny lakes tucked into the corners of beauty. i’m grateful for the symphony of quiet.

“peace and quiet.
peace, peace, peace.
peace and quiet.
peace, peace, peace.”

(excerpt from mr. rogers’ “peace and quiet”, 1968)

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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the old brick wall. [d.r. thursday]

they saved the old brick wall.

the sign we have in our yard out in front of that brick wall is a proclamation of things we hold to be true. a few phrases down is: water is life.

yes. water is life. and for the last few days, we have been dealing with yet another water issue…this one seemingly the culminating water issue, though just writing that makes me want to knock wood. suddenly, the underground water line from the curb to our house was leaking, gurgling up through the muddy grass, puddling and icing on the sidewalk and down the neighbor’s driveway and into the street. we blocked the walk with our old rickety adirondack chairs that featured signs that read “sidewalk closed”. and we called the utility department, which labeled it “an emergency”.

the water utility folks came out monday morning and the week’s upheaval started. the engineer who came and gave us all the information about having the service line replaced was kind and patient and reassuring. i have spoken to this man at least thirteen times over the past couple days and we are considering him (and his wife who we haven’t yet met) – and all the participants of what seemed like grand central station in these last days – members of our new friend group.

though there are less invasive options to replacing the get-out-the-lead old service line, it would seem that the universe was having a good ole time and made those options impossible for our situation. when the boss came inside to tell me they had to trench the yard, i could tell by the look on his face what was coming. already working for about four hours, they were unable to “pull” the pipe through our old line and so it was back to ground zero.

they left about six hours after that. back hoes and dump trucks, pickups and extra scoops and other large equipment lined the street, the front yard was dug up, big slabs of sidewalk by the road and by the front door removed, bushes gone, our big old tree limbed to accommodate the equipment, the basement floor jackhammered, the closet wall along the front of the house removed and a new hole installed in the foundation for accessible water line placement. shiny copper was laid in the five foot deep trench from curb to our home. and the number of very hardworking people through our house or out front during a very long day was at least a dozen.

dogdog was in the bedroom having a hairy snit all day, eliminated from the fun. we were in the midst of it all, alternately working on stuff and pacing. it was a lot.

i’ve seen the yard ravaged before; when we first moved in, decades ago, we had an undisclosed underground oil tank removed. the oil tank surprisingly rotated on the front-loader and sludge spilled out, which they rapidly covered with kitty litter and then excavated it all out, digging inches below the surface, removing everything that resembled landscaping.

and so i know that there is a next day to what the yard looks like today. it will take a good long time for the trench-fill to settle and the city-guy recommended not sodding until next fall to avoid disappointment with the very large dimple that would invariably form in the yard. so…patience through the winter and the spring and the summer. i told him we’d have our neighbors call him if they wanted to complain about the aesthetics of our yard.

jen wrote, “it’s so hard to see bits of our life story destroyed.” pretty emotional in the middle of all the chaos, i agreed.

the guys in and out of the house were aware. we knew they didn’t want to dig up the yard and wreak any more havoc than we felt. we are grateful for their careful demolition, their problem-solving expertise and for the obvious camaraderie they all have, working together to a common goal. every spoke in the wheel counted yesterday, counts every single day. together is something for which we should all express thanks. none of us do this – life – alone.

before they left, most of these excavating, plumbing, mechanical, engineering specialists wished us a happy thanksgiving. thinking of everyone and everything we hold close and for which we have enormous gratitude, we wished them the same.

we’ll rebuild the yard and put in new flowers and bushes, new ornamental grasses, new landscaping. we’ll hope that the old tree will withstand the jostling and limbing and its root system backhoed into pieces. we have water again. in this world where so many do not, we are lucky enough, lottery-lucky if we really think about our globe, to have fresh, clean water … and now through shiny copper pipes.

and the old brick wall is still standing.

happy thanksgiving.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THANKSGIVING THURSDAY


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mike and arvo at dinner. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

mike oldfield played during our dinner on sunday evening. we hadn’t listened to his voyager cd in quite some time and put it on after arvo pärt’s piece “spiegel im spiegel”. we all sipped wine and chatted, catching up.

and then, in the way of surprise moments, i heard it. somehow i had forgotten. “mont st michel“. i jumped up to run into the sunroom, telling them, “wait! you have to listen to this. really listen. hear what happens!” i pushed the button on the cd player to go backwards on the track and found a spot before the moment. i went back into the kitchen to make sure they were listening. i pointed out the swell as it happened and my heart crescendo-ed with it, spilling into tears i could not help. stunning texture, orchestration that raises and tosses you around in mid-air, holding you up in the clouds, swirling around you, steadfastly not allowing you to fall. it opens you, gives you hope and elevates every single thing, and then gently, tenderly sets you back down again. words rushed out of me as i marveled – again – at this piece, a composer of impressive standing, mike oldfield at dinner.

because i had the floor, i put arvo’s piece back on – a definitive difference in texture and absolutely no less tantalizing, no less seductive as it draws you into the play between piano and cello. utterly gorgeous.

and then, because i had the floor – and they were encouraging me – i put on two of my own pieces: “last i saw you” and “peace“. i talked about composing and structure and the weaving of emotion, about ken’s orchestration and producing, about the rise and fall. i described the moment we slid the sliders forward on the mixing board during last i saw you – a moment i will never forget, ever. the lift.

and, then, as suddenly as it began, i stopped, realizing i had just talked nonstop for the last half hour or so. they sat quietly. so did i. the texture in the air was palpable and i was grateful to see tiny tears forming in the corners of their eyes as mine were not hidden and were threatening to overflow.

the path from dinner to dessert was full…our conversation deep with the fresh air only heartstopping beauty can bring. like this beloved path around dory lake, lined with aspen and pine, grasses and reeds, the path to pumpkin pie was lined with talk of cellos and french horns, piano lines and the effect of a crescendo on hearts hungry for a little release.

mike and arvo left after dinner, and i put away what was left of the pasta fagioli in the stock pot.

*****

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magic fluff. [two artists tuesday]

though we are not ‘good’ at many plants, it seems, we are ‘good’ at ornamental grasses. maybe it’s the soil, maybe it’s the sun, maybe it’s location, but grasses have given us a sense of garden-accomplishment that nothing else (shy of mayyyybe the cherry tomatoes and basil and lavender this year) has bestowed upon us.

we won’t cut them down. no pruning. they will stay through the winter, magnificent plumes golden against the drear, against the snow, reminding us of good fluff of the day.

i imagine tiny animals sheltering in their masses, dense bush allowing warmth and security and invisibleness. maybe tiny chipmunks, with pantries of birdseed they have stolen from the finches and sparrows, waylaid from intrepid robins and scarlet cardinals. we’ll just keep filling the birdfeeder. judging by the birds partying in our backyard yesterday, i think we may try and find another birdfeeder to hang as well. i have turned into my parents.

dogdog comes inside each day now, laden with seed pods. if wishes were granted on seedheads, we would have so many magical dreams coming true. he seems to not mind these tiny hitchhikers tucked into his very-furry fur. we pick them off, one by one.

and now i think, who’s gonna stop us from wishing on each one? these grasses grace us in more than one way. let the magic commence.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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the blank slate. [merely-a-thought monday]

we are incessant trail-watchers. even after a fascinating show seeking life-in-some-form in some other part of the universe, we took to the trail. with our mind’s eyes full of scientific wonder, we hiked along the pct with the wanderwomen and headingsomewhere and followed redbeard and checked to see if joey coconato posted anything new. on our hike yesterday, somewhere in the middle of our six miles, we talked – again – about hiking the pct. we figure in a few years it might be something we would truly consider.

the pct has plenty of obstacles; many people start this hike but fail to finish it. we read a blogpost (by mac) about some of the challenges. but, the bottom line, as he pointed out, was that “the unknown should instill you with excitement, not fear.”

this week is a time to acknowledge gratitude. with thanksgiving merely a few days away, preparations are a gathering storm. and, though there is a specific day that has been deemed ‘the day’, yesterday as we walked together we talked about our gratitude. we are reminded that there is nary a day that goes by that one shouldn’t be grateful.

yesterday i suddenly realized that i was also actually grateful for the unknown.

the blank slate that is in front of me stares at me. it makes me ponder. it makes me squirm a bit. blank is uncomfortable.

the blank slate that is in front of me beckons me. it makes me step. it makes me put a toe in the water. blank is tentative.

the blank slate that is in front of me challenges me. it makes me yearn. it makes me stretch. blank is exercise.

the blank slate that is in front of me encourages me. it makes me think outside the box. it makes me dream. blank is generous.

the blank slate that is in front of me urges me. it makes me yield to the new. it makes me let go. blank is learning.

the one thing – now – at last – that the blank slate that is in front of me doesn’t do…is scare me.

and for that, i am grateful.

*****

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the used-to-be’s. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

in the land of used-to-be, i used-to-be able to wait entire days before having to find a restroom. back in the day, i could drive in, set up product and play an entire wholesale show, all day, chatting, drinking coffee, playing, selling cds, without having to leave the booth space. thirteen hours after starting the whole process, my body would remind me that the ladies room needed to be a stop before getting back in the car to drive again.

but now…

these days are a tad bit different. i would laugh when my sweet momma would complain about this. i’d reassure her and stop and look for a restroom whenever she needed to stop and find one. i’d lightly toss off, “we’re in nooo hurry! no worries!”.

i have become my mother.

and – in the way that the universe is very, very fair – so has david.

our bladduhs are just not the same as they used-to-be.

and so, it is a given that t-h-i-s a-g-e comes with challenges we didn’t have to deal with when we were younger. it is a given that timing out a roadtrip will need take into account pitstops along the way. it is now a given that walking in the ‘hood will sometimes mean having the key ready-and-aimed for the doorknob.

and it is not a joke. i am NOT kidding.

laughing? yes. kidding? no.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2021 kerrianddavid.com


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fish-fry friday. [k.s. friday]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

as it is


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way, way past time. [d.r. thursday]

“whenever you see a successful woman, look out for three men who are going out of their way to try to block her.” (yulia tymoshenko)

i read this quote on instagram. i hesitated to use it and then wondered why. it stated truth. it is a fact of life. i have lived it – exactly it – just as many other women have. so why hesitate?

the answer seems obvious. because that kind of blocking still exists, that kind of dominance is still valued, that kind of discrimination still squelches lives and careers, that kind of smothering effort – particularly with leading roles by older white men – is still not – really – questioned, nonetheless challenged in a big, broad way. it’s asphyxiating and it’s way past its time. way, way past time.

“it’s 2021 and we are talking about THIS!” they rolled their eyes and so did i. it is beyond the scope of reasonableness that we are – still – dealing with the devastating blows that those who lean into … or out-and-out embrace … the prejudice of white supremacy, suffocating gender bias, ruinous economic inequity, insufficient healthcare, deficient educational options, the loss of multitudes of innocent lives at the barrel of unnecessary weapons, exclusive immigration…

but here we are. 2021.

we came upon the hot-pink lighted ball of yarn in the garden and laughed. then we followed the string, the yarn that was unrolled over the tree branches, under the bushes, along the sidewalk edge, up the fence, down off the fence, and ultimately, to the end of it, the frayed edges.

it occurs to me we can trace the strings back and back. we can see the frayed edges of injustices, the repeating pattern of silencing, of stifling, of deliberate lack, of unacceptable levels of violence, of obstructive intention.

what now?

we need be stewards of worth, of mending, of healing, of forward-movement, of equal opportunity. we need to find ways – now – to weave an inclusive, equitable, generous, safe, egalitarian story for all. ungrudgingly and with abundant kindness and good will. it is indeed way, way past time.

2021. what are we doing?

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY