reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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an octopus and a hissy fit. [d.r. thursday]

in the outstanding documentary “my octopus teacher” craig foster forges a relationship with an octopus in the south african kelp forest. every day he enters the cold water to search for her and over the period of about a year he bonded an intimate friendship with this amazing creature. when she disappears after a scare, he spends days seeking her, commenting, “i try to think like an octopus.” his success reuniting with her shows he is at least somewhat capable of thinking how she thinks, of seeing how she sees. your heart is filled watching the mutuality of their connection and you wonder why this level of reciprocal respect cannot exist more easily between human beings.

tuesday i had a hissy fit. i have mostly recuperated. i’m not sure where it started but it definitely was a meltdown. anxiety coupled with grief coupled with worry and angst with a pinch of frustration – the ingredients du jour for many of us on a given day in these difficult times. i went on about a propensity for letting things just roll off my back, making things ok, not speaking up – for myself – as often as i would wish or as often would seem apt. in my wild and wooly meltdown, i complained that others can do this and often do this – speak up, push back, say things are not ok – without incident, without remorse, without punitive measures, without concern. i stated examples in that way you do when you are ranting; there are many words you speak asfastasyoucan to make sure the other person keeps listening and there are also many punctuation words you linger on, stretching out the sound of them on your lips, exquisite cuss words that seem fitting at the time. these are not necessarily pretty, but they are definitely handy at providing emphasis. i ranted about neighbors playing music at absurd decibels in a house-dense community. i ranted about the internet and streaming and ridiculously small music royalties, an industry for independents, flailing. i ranted about my right hand’s range of motion plateau. i ranted about speaking up for myself and my rights as a woman, my rights as a professional, my rights as an employee. i ranted about not saying “no”. i ranted about losing my job. i ranted about those who claim to be caring and compassionate not even entertaining having any kind of discussion or dialogue. i ranted about ill-suited leaders in leadership positions, seemingly not being held answerable. i ranted about hypocrisy. i ranted about people’s silent complicity. i ranted about wanting to retort to others about their stance on politics, on gender and racial equality, on the pandemic, on climate change, on gun violence and gun control. i ranted that, even sans retort, even in even-keeled, calm, cool, collected and researched manner, it would be next to impossible to navigate debate. i ranted about the abyss in our nation that makes it impossible to have an intelligent, thoughtful and respectful conversation without vile getting in the way. i ranted about the inability for people to see things together. i ranted about missing my sweet babycat. i returned to the top, taking a breath and again ranted that others seem to do and say whatever they please, despite fallout or impact on others, despite truth or consequences, without care and with agenda, without benevolence and with mean-spiritedness, without kindness and with a lack of sensitivity. i ranted that i could not continue this way. i ranted, “if i can’t at 62, when is it that i can???” can’t what? can what? i’m not even sure i know. ranting is like that.

it would seem that possibly a kelp forest off the coast, deep dives with a weight belt, times of holding one’s breath minutes at a time might aid in establishing some sort of common ground. it worked for craig foster and his fantastic octopus. he carefully, and without antagonizing her or scaring her or moving too quickly, watched her in her short life. he passively, without interfering or having self-serving agenda, watched her deal with day-to-day life, with adversity, with terror, with the pecking order that comes in the ocean. he watched her gracefully and intelligently co-exist with stunning creatures of the sea. he was saddened when she was hurt; he mourned her when she died. relationship. a kinship crossing natural boundaries.

we humans…we have much to learn. we have brains that refuse to look for new factual knowledge, hearts that refuse to respect all love as love, eyes that refuse to attempt empathy or fairness and see what others see. maybe we should spend some time immersed in the vast ocean, in a kelp forest. or maybe we should try harder. or maybe we should spend some time answering the important questions of our hissy fits.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

CHICKEN MARSALA ©️ 2016 david robinson & 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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the summit. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

don't worry

not being a real true climber, i’m not sure if the above statement is really true.  what about the “hit. climb.  hit. climb.” of ice-picking your way up?  what about crampons?  what about ropes and aluminum ladders perched against the icy pitch?

i do, however, know this quote has good intentions.

we are hikers.  trekkers.   i/we have never used a rope or crampons or ladders or ice picks to get from point a to point b.  and watching a mountainload of everest and k2 videos, documentaries and movies hardly makes us experts in the area of climbing.  we are not even novices.

but, in terms of the metaphor of this quote, i can relate.

surely, climbing a mountain with nothing to grip onto would be nearly impossible.  all organic.  all analog.  i’m sure alex honnold would agree that if there is nothing at all to hold, with either his hand or his foot, that would make free-climbing such a face a feat of the imagination.  there has to be something.  some overlap.  some crevice.  some tiny blip of rock.  something.

so.  enter the rough.  or, in the case of the metaphoric quote, rough times.  how would we ever get to the top without them?  would we actually recognize the top?  would we appreciate the top?  would we scale the uphill were it smooth?  could we?

or did some smart-ass mountaineer quote this just to mess with us?

clearly, the men and women who have climbed everest with all its personality traits, its twists and turns, its icefalls and crevasses, its sharp ridges and its deep snow have dealt with all of it.  they have not turned away as it was too smooth.  they have not turned away as it was too rough.  they have persisted.

and maybe that there is the point.  despite the rough, the smooth, the easy, the hard, the oxygenated, the death zone, the chilling cold, the sun heating the seracs, the avalanches, the perilous altitudinal affects, the glorious summit stands ready.

the mountaintop.  it’s there for anyone who just keeps on going.  through it all.

and isn’t that all of us?

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

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may you be. [d.r. thursday]

2mayyouBEpeace jpeg copy

the things i know to be important.  the things on my list to strive for.  each day a new day to try.

may you be peace.  may you be kindness.  may you be an expression of gratitude.  may you be fair.  may you be a good listener.  may you be curious.  may you be inclusive.  may you be communal.  may you be always learning.  may you be always giving.  may you be dedicated to truth.  may you be forgiving.  may you forgive yourself.  may you be affectionate.  may you be generous.  may you be loyal.  may you be present in the moment you are living.  may you be questioning of darkness.  may you be protective of others less fortunate.  may you stand up to inequality, inequity, violence of any sort.  may you be complimentary.  may you see the simplest of things.  may you push back against ignorance and the desire to not see.  may you choose health.  may you resist wastefulness.  may you trust your intuition.  may you be calm.  may you embrace entertaining thoughts different than your own.  may you be able to discern the difference between aggressive and forward-moving.   may you say thank you.  may you abstain from comparison and competition.  may you be honestly empathetic.  may you stand in your shoes and give wide berth to vanity.  may you be resilient.  may you avoid yelling at others.  may you try not to ignore others.  may you be understanding.  may you softly care for living creatures.  may you be suspicious of agenda and may you speak into it.  may you be clean and tidy in your space in the world.  may you breathe easily.  may you help those who need help.  may you lift others up.  may you teach good things to little ones.  may you be with voice.  may you be filled with spirit.  may you be excited.  may you leave things better than you found them.  may you be creative.  may you worry about the earth and those who follow you on it.  may you be responsible.  may you be progressive.  may you be a bright light.  may you love.  may you be gentle.  may you be a good human.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

click here & scroll down the page if you wish to see MAY YOU BE PEACE products

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click here or on painting above to see where this morsel originated

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MAY YOU BE/MAY YOU BE PEACE ©️ 2015 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 


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joy. [k.s. friday]

joy songbox

the video from My Girl made me out and out cry.  it was just a little hello, sent from around a firepit in the high mountains after a long day of working.  and it was perfect timing.  to see her face and hear her voice was pure joy.

we walked and walked and walked.  miles from millenium park’s christmas tree and skating rinks, past beautiful ornate displays of lights and simple twinkling white branches.  in a rare opportunity linking my arm through My Boy’s as we strolled, i was filled with joy.  the loudspeaker music and dancing lights of the lincoln park zoo just echoed my delight.

as adults, the holidays carry a different set of qualities than they did as when we were children.  much pressure, oftentimes grief, maybe a slippery slope feeling of never-doing-enough, some disappointment, a measure of jealousy or envy perhaps as others-with-family-all-in-town gather together in big festive celebrations.  for those of us who work on christmas eve and christmas day, there is a yet another added layer.

we walked through the woods yesterday looking for the right branch laying on the ground.  we don’t yet have a christmas tree up.  we have other little trees – i have collected small trees through the years – but no true christmas tree.  each year in these last years, we have chosen that “tree” carefully, always something we found, something re-purposed into a christmas tree, something that had meaning.  there was the christmas-tree-on-a-stick – a christmas-tree-misfit – we cut down on the tree farm, a piece of the tree that fell into our backyard narrowly avoiding the house, a branch that had snapped off of our beloved tree out front, a star suspended over a straight trunk wrapped in lights to tease The Boy.

this year i thought about just going to a lot and purchasing a tree, thinking maybe, in the midst of the ending of a really tough year for many,  that might put me into the holiday spirit.  but i just couldn’t bring myself to do that.  we figured that the answer would become obvious, as it has done in the past years.  and it did. watching My Boy, clearly proud of the decorations of the neighborhoods north-of-downtown, agree with us about how simple, beautiful and truly elegant the white branches were, made up my mind.

last night we put the first coat of white spray paint on the two sets of branches we brought home.  we’ll finish coating them with paint later today and wrap them in white lights.  we’ll gently place silver ornaments as we play christmas music in the background.  i will miss My Girl and My Boy like crazy.  i will yearn for my parents, my brother and sister-in-law and sister and brother-in-law and nieces and nephew and all their families, david’s parents and extended family.  it isn’t the christmas of christmas-past.

but there still is magic.  those moments of joy – when everything else ceases to exist and joy eclipses it all.

download JOY on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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JOY ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

 

 


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reminders. [two artists tuesday]

heart leaf

i stopped and went back.  i had to take this picture.  reminders are everywhere and right now, although, truly, as always,  i knew i wanted to capture as many as possible.

it feels as if we are surrounded by whirling hypocrisy.  those people who proclaim one thing and treat people in an extraordinarily different way.  i’ve been stunned into i-don’t-even-know-what-to-say-silence more than once lately.  people who demand respect but don’t give it, people who are unnecessarily controlling, people who go behind your back, people who list toward cruelty, people who declare appreciation but tear down, people who hide behind glossy words.  what is going on?  narcissism seems to be alive and well as we suffer the effects of those-who-believe-they-are-on-pedestals, pedestals that seem to exist on every step of the ladder.  it’s shocking and more than a little disconcerting.  we each have first-hand in-our-own-life experience.  what a disappointment.  we are humans capable of so much more.

and so, the reminders are incredibly welcome.  the heart leaves or rocks, the sun’s rays glowing through clouds in the sky, the presence of a cardinal or two blue jays crossing our path in the woods.  a text message or call out of the blue, beautiful generous raw-matte-finish words spoken to you.  all reminders.  a kindness extended by a stranger, an eye-contact smile.  the big initiatives, the little gestures.  not picking up the tug-of-war rope.  reaching out to offer the olive branch.  life-giving.  practicing.  we are truly capable of so much.  we need be reminded.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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

wine

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

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

me…on the other hand…i’m not so sure.

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

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

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

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

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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frosting and connection.

network connections

cupcakes.

and frosting.

i would talk to my piano students about practicing.  i drew a comparison of the time they spent, the way they allocated their time to cupcakes and frosting.   i would start by saying let’s talk about practicing, whereupon most of my sweet students would roll their eyes, a common reaction to the word ‘practice’.  i would suddenly switch topics to cupcakes and they would happily skip down that path, thinking they were avoiding the ‘practice’ chat.  we would talk about our favorite cupcakes and the very best frosting that could possibly earn the top spot on those treats.  and once we discerned that very-important-information, i would pose a question:

let’s say you have a small cup of frosting.   delicious, fluffy, sweet-as-can-be frosting.  it’s just a small cup – like the tiny sippy cups you drank from as a baby.  and you have a choice.  you can either frost one cupcake with that sippy-cup-full or you can frost all 24 of the cupcakes that are waiting on the counter from the oven.  which will you do?

my students, all brilliant cupcake-lovers and bright lights in the world, would sit and ponder for a second and then reply that they would frost the one cupcake.  otherwise, they would explain, the frosting would be so thin that you would barely know it is there, you would barely taste it, and it would be like there was no frosting at all.   and besides, if they got to eat the one cupcake, they wanted the one rich with frosting.  who can argue with that?

contrary to their belief that the ‘practice’ talk was over, i would clutch and shift gears back to the piano.  “if you have a little bit of time to practice and pieces of music that might be difficult to play, would it be better to hurry through every piece spending a few moments on each OR would it be better to spend that little bit of time on one or two?” i would ask (in student-age-appropriate language).   invariably they would frost one cupcake.

i believe the same applies to connection.  with the advent of the vast array of social media choices, we have applied an ultra-thin layer of frosting to our connections.  we have thinned out the time we truly spend on relationship – pure individual relationships.  we have, oddly, chosen to spend easily-addicted quantities of time and emotional energy on social media “relationships” with people we do not know rather than being in real touch with the people closest to us.  we expect those people to learn of things on outlets and from posts instead of simply telling them, picking up a phone and calling or texting them.

we are not connected to a network.  we are connected to a network.  both of these are true.

the question for me, one that i must look at as well,  is – how much time are we spending on that network, on individual people we love and care about?  is there any frosting at all?

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

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the more grateful you are, the more grateful you are. [two artists tuesday]

gratitude blanks

it is easy to have a list of things we wish for.  a list of things we lack.  a list of ways we aren’t enough.  it is easy to perseverate over these things.  things that make us different from someone else, things that make us less successful, less wealthy, less chic.  it is easy to measure yourself against others.  it is easy to fall short.

in those moments, it is easy for someone outside of you to remind you of what you do have, the ways ‘it could be worse’, the ways you are rich beyond compare.  it is easy to push back against those words, against those admonishment-reminders.  it is easy to stay in the lists.  alone.  to wallow.

but in the new tide that follows the overwhelmed sobs, the tears that cleanse but don’t solve, the grief of wishing-it-were-different, there are deep breaths of renewal.  there are realizations.  there are glimpses of beauty, the seeing of kindnesses, winks of hope.

there were rocks planted along one of the trails we hike on, positive messages painted on them.  each one made us smile, made us wonder, made us look for the next.  life-giving.

gratitude is like that.  in a time swirling with negativity, personal challenges, darkness overtaking the sun, we offer these gratitude cards.  print and cut them out (PDF link below), write your thoughts, hide them somewhere as a surprise, tuck them into a nook or cranny, or give them to people who are unsuspecting, people who maybe need the spark of your expression of gratitude.

the more grateful you are, the more grateful you are.  it’s an amazing, wondrous cycle.

gratitude blanks

click here for gratitude blanks PDF

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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little-baby-scion sisu. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

scion sisu

for starters, i was raised by beaky and pa.  my sweet momma and poppo grew up in the time of the depression, born in 1921 and 1920, respectively.  so my propensity to turn the shampoo bottle upside down and squeeze the last ever-lovin’ drop out of it – till there are no more molecules left in the bottle – is something i come by honestly.  my momma may not have been the inventor of the soap sock or the wait-and-save-this-new-thing-for-something-special but she had it all down pat.

and so, it seems to run true that i do not easily replace stuff with brand-spanking-new stuff.  our stove/oven is over 40 years old; it still works and why fill up the landfill with yet another stove/oven?  i know that a new stove/oven would probably grace our little kitchen with more flare, but then the whole kitchen would have to be re-done around the new appliance.

among other clothing items i can carbon-date, i have, in my closet and drawers, clothing that was my girl’s or my boy’s – sport sweats or t-shirts, jeans or even shorts – not only do those connect me to memories with them, but, sheesh, why not?  i have shoes from waaaaay back, not hoarding…really.  the last time i bought a pair of shoes – other than my infamous old navy flipflops –  was a few years ago, the black suede boots with fringe were on clearance and i couldn’t resist.  i have worn the heck out of them.

and that brings me to little-baby-scion.  a 2006 model, this little toastermobile is scrappy.  equipped with few amenities, there is far less equipment to break on this little vehicle. (i turn to knock on wood as i write this.)  this scion has been a rock – taking me/us cross-country to see my sweet momma when she was struggling, to see our girl in the high mountains, our boy on the east coast.  it drove babycat home from florida, dogdog home from the other side of wisconsin and was our luxury vehicle of choice on our honeymoon.  it kept me safe driving cartons of cds to concerts and wholesale shows.  it has withstood ferry rides to and from the island.  through rain, sleet, snow and ice it has prevailed.  every time we get in, especially on a long-drive-day, we root, “you go, little baby scion!”

and so the other day i asked d to take a picture as it landed on this mileage.  no real reason, just gratitude for something that has been lasting and lasting.  i have no real drive (no pun intended) to have a new lavish car nor is it necessarily in the budget at the moment to replace something that doesn’t need replacing. little-baby-scion rocks and packs like a u-haul.  and is now joined by big red, our 1998 ford F150 pick-up.  we celebrate both of them, inanimate, yes, i know.  but still…

today i just want to say – way to go, toyota!  way to make a vehicle that is dependable and trustworthy.  it’s a sturdy little car, full of sisu.

and, the best part, around some design table at some point in the early 2000’s, i can picture some 20-something saying, “hey!  let’s put blue lights under the dashboard.  we can do away with map lights and light people’s feet.”  yes!  the real merits of our sweet scion.

keep goin’, little-baby-scion!

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

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