reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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fluid. with wings. [k.s. friday]

“when she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. they wanted her to change back into what she always had been. but she had wings.” (dean jackson)

“trust the wait. embrace the uncertainty. enjoy the beauty of becoming. when nothing is certain, anything is possible.” (mandy hale)

i had an IME on tuesday. an IME is an independent medical exam. it is a brief exam ordered by an insurance company and the physician is both chosen and paid for by that insurance company. it is defined as an independent assessment of an injury or illness, in my case, my wrist, and the determination by the doctor-chosen-and-paid-for-by-the-insurance-company-paying-for-treatment will be placed next to the reports of the medical hand specialist and the occupational therapist who have been treating me consistently for the last five months. a basic review of articles about IME reveals that the insurance-company-paying-for-treatment will pick the report they wish to concur with and that will decide if there is to be future, in this case, my future, treatment. so be it.

there is nothing to do now but wait.

my OT is wonderful. she has encouraged me, pushed me, held me accountable and she has brought me from twenty degrees of forward right wrist movement to fifty-five. this is big news, since, at first, six degrees was all i could muster. brutus and my OT have caused me much pain, but what’s that saying? no pain, no gain. we have worked hard. and, in the way of hard work and healing, there are things i can do now that i wasn’t able to do a few months ago. and there are things i fear i will never be able to do again. uncertainty.

there is nothing to do but wait.

sometimes i wonder what life will look like in a year or two years. i wonder what i will be doing. if i looked back a year i would never have guessed back then what this year would have looked like. no, last july looked very different than right now. it just suggests that truly everything is uncertain, that everything is in the act of becoming, in the middle of the fire, maybe everything is ashes transitioning to riches over and over again. possibility, evidenced in tomato plants bearing fruit on an old barnwood potting stand, evidenced in a nest-home created in a birdhouse hanging empty for years, evidenced in the smell of the rain bringing cool on a summer morning.

there are times, when you are simply going about your business, going about life, that you don’t expect change. you don’t expect to be thrust into ‘different’. times when you find out the caterpillars were talking about you all along. after reeling from the surprise, after trying to grab the wheel to stabilize, after railing about the unfairness of it all – for life does not seem to be fair, you find yourself out of the deep, dark water – in the shallows.

and in the shallows there is abundant life, abundant food, abundant shelter. in the shallows we can rest and nourish and breathe. we can sit in uncertainty and the unknown. we can imagine new. because anything IS possible.

there is nothing to wait for and everything to wait for. it’s now.

i’ve written here about transition before. and again. and again. and i suspect i will yet again.

because life, i am learning over and over, is one transition after another. fluid. with wings.

*****

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

IN TRANSITION from RELEASED FROM THE HEART ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood


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messier. more color. [d.r. thursday]

sketch image

heart and strawberry

peter max, a pop-art-expressionist, popped into my mind when david showed me this sketch.  add bursts of color to this and it’s the happy full-spectrum pieces of the 60s and 70s, full of rainbow and light.

one of the presents i received for my birthday this year was a coloring book and colored pencils.  at the time i was unable to use it, but i put it aside for when my broken right wrist might cooperate and i might be able to lose myself in good-old-fashioned coloring.

i dropped david’s sketch into photoshop and started to peter-max it.

the more i worked on it, the happier i became.  it was so messy.  but it was just so – fun.

color – this infinitely wide range of possibility – fills the lines, goes out of the lines, overlaps and bleeds into the next, reminds me that life, even in these very times, times of chaos and unrest and pandemic and exponential worry, is not just black and white.  and, surprisingly, not just the blurry grey in-between.

life is much more peter max than that.  messier.  more color.

which brings me to this:  while it is easy, particularly right now, to sort to grey, perhaps an answer to the myriad of questions is to open the delicious tin of 50 premium artist pencils.  and just color.

yes. as dear jeff used to say, “that’s the ticket!”

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

colorized

early on…just a little bit of color…and infinite peter-max possibilities

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©️ 2020 david robinson, kerri sherwood


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“great minds discuss ideas…” [merely-a-thought monday]

eleanor roosevelt

 

i don’t subscribe to ‘inspirational daily’ but somehow this showed up in my email feed on thursday, a particularly good day to read the wise words of eleanor roosevelt.  an activist, the first lady regularly published her musings and views.  her accomplishments as a diplomat were far-reaching; her life story difficult and profoundly inspiring.  and she was wise. her words remind me of sue bender’s words (from ‘plain and simple journal‘) “to reconcile our seeming opposites, to see them as both, not one or the other, is our constant challenge.”

what would either of these wise women say about our current climate, i wonder?

would eleanor roosevelt pine for the fine-tuned, thoughtful, intelligent discussions of her lifetime?  would she abhor the fact-less, jarringly aggressive re-telling of stories, of narrative, all-dressed-up and skewed to one side?  would she shudder to hear of attempts to decimate human rights, to place limits, to undermine?  i can’t imagine that she would consider the display of indecency, of avenging and putrid name-calling ‘great-mindedness’.  i fear she would, instead, point a wagging finger at the players and implore them to be wide awake, to be thinking, to be discussing idea and possibility and wholeheartedly move forward with conscience.

i wonder, does sue bender, in her middle 80s now, feel a sense of deep disappointment in a society that does not attempt to reconcile seeming opposites, does not see them as both, does not cross the aisle but instead builds walls of hateful rhetoric, looks for the worst in each other, advances the ugly?  what would her kind soul say about the divisiveness, poisoning all in its rampant siege, a pandemic reaching unsuspecting venues, its toxic arrows out of the quiver and readied.  how would she parse out the arguments, the lack of concern for the victimized, the harassment of those on the other side than the leadership?

goodness knows, i suspect both of these amazing women, living in different generations, would be saddened by this climate.  they might weep in absolute dismay.   or, they might just whisper into the wind, to whomever might listen, “great minds discuss ideas.  average minds discuss events. small minds discuss people.”

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

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snowflake possibilities. [d.r. thursday]

Snowman BIGcopy copy

“one minute you’re a snowflake with possibilities and the next you’re wearing a scarf and goofy hat.”  that sounds like a statement of judgement.  a measurement of sorts.  and i suppose it is.  possibilities of profound impact on the world, on science or art, in music or film, medicine or education.  we measure ourselves in this society by our success; our merit based on what we reap financially, what we individually or collaboratively have contributed to the furthering of humankind, this good earth, the animal kingdom, worlds unknown.

but pay attention to the next snowman you see.  does his sweet nose make you smile?  does his crooked grin make you stop?  does his hat make you think of your dad, your brother, your best friend?  does the snowman make you happy – and do you carry that happiness with you after you pass him by?  of what value is that?

never underestimate the power of who you are.  your impact on the world will spread in concentric circles rippling outward.  whether nobel-prize-worthy or under-the-refrigerator-magnet-fame, your scarf-and-goofy-hat-ness counts.  your kindness is contagious. your good intentions affect the one closest and, in turn, and with a sureness of the way things truly do work in this world despite all efforts for the opposite, they will land in the heart of someone you may never meet but who will have been impacted by you, from way back in the middle of the concentric circles.  right in the possibility-filled-snowflake-heart of the snowman.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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FLAWED CARTOON ©️ 2017 david robinson & kerri sherwood


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contrast principle. [two artists tuesday]

contrast principle

we are living the contrast principle.  the elementary-school-workbook-page-which-one-doesn’t-fit principle.  that can actually serve you well or it can be the bane of your existence.  i’ll allow you to decide which one you think it is for us.

we are not from here.  we do not have roots that go back a generation, two or three generations, seven generations.  we weren’t born here, nor have we been coming here for decades on vacation.  this is a new place for us.  we chose to come here.  and we came here out of great and positive intention.

when i first saw the ad for the position we ultimately accepted, we got excited and were instantly full of ideas and possibility.  with our backgrounds, our education, our professional experiences, it seemed a perfect fit.  with our artistry, our passion, our zeal, our energy, our ability to facilitate positive change, it seemed a perfect fit.  but that assumes a “fit” and it assumes trust and it assumes the best of the contrast principle.

we work to create relationship, to mend the crevasse between arts organizations and between groups of people, to structure and build community and let the arts rise.  we brainstorm and read and study – new initiatives, data of the past, stories of success and stories of failure.  we strive to re-commit each day, choosing to step past the rifts, past the dysfunction, past the you-don’t-belong-here-ness of it all.

because we did choose it.  we chose to be the daisy in the field of black-eyed-susans.  we chose to be the new in the old.  we chose the contrast principle.  it would just be nice for it to be a tad bit easier.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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 the daisy in the black-eyed-susans © 2019 kerri sherwood & david robinson


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a beautiful world. [merely a thought monday]

desiderataquote

my dearest daughter and son,

it is monday morning and i suddenly realized that this blogpost posted without my finishing it.  there is so much i wanted to say, too much.  my heart breaks, thinking of this world you are inheriting.  and my heart soars with wishes for you.  both of these.

and so, rather than speaking of vast and chaotic brokenness as well as hopeful and inspired possibility, i’ll take it as a serendipitous sign to let desiderata say it for me.  this really sums it up, better than i could.  it IS still a beautiful world.  in the middle of glowing aspens or the front row of the ballgame.  in the high mountains or on the shore of boston harbor.  anywhere you are.  anywhere you go.  you bring it – beauty – and you are standing in it.  remember that.

i love you,

mom.

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read DAVID’S thoughts about this MERELY A THOUGHT MONDAY

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

(Max Ehrmann, ©️ 1927)


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a painting is born. [d.r. thursday]

andthentheydancedprocess

i have a unique front row seat to paintings in process.  running downstairs to throw in another load of laundry or seek out a tool i need, i will glance at the easel in the studio to peek at what’s up next…this time, the sketch of two people dancing made me stop.  it immediately made me thinking of when we have danced in the front yard or the kitchen or out on the deck or on a mountain trail.  i got lost in the tango and wandered back upstairs, no new laundry spinning in the washer or tool in my hand.

the next time i looked at the easel i found these two people emerging and color exploding off the canvas.  i have learned, in this time of living with a brush-in-hand-artist, that this is the under-painting, a place that involves steps at which i often want to tell him to stop!wait!it’s perfect!  sometimes he does – stop.  other times he keeps going, for the vision in his mind’s eye is beyond what is on the easel and there is more to develop.

it’s a unique place in the front row.  maybe more comparable to back-stage or the green room or the recording studio before “record”…a place of preparation, a place of reflection, a place of swirling beauty, a place of possibility, a place where the-painting-someone-dreams-of-hanging-on-their-wall is being born.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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and then they danced ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 


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flawed cartoon wednesday #3

SNOWMAN BIG COPY Master copyi just asked david if he would illustrate a children’s book i wrote a long, long (did i mention long?) time ago.  naturally, he said yes, because, uhh, what else is he going to say?  so maybe one of these days you’ll see my snowflake-is-as-raindrop-does story in book form.  in the meanwhile, i’ll tell you the story…hopefully succinctly.

once upon a time (because all great stories start like that) there was a little raindrop.  after it had fallen out of the sky with a gajillion other raindrops it had a choice.  whether to drop-and-roll quickly down the street and be transported through evaporation back up into the sky to reform and do it all over again or – and yes, i am definitely personifying this raindrop – it could choose to roll over to a small plant or tree or blade of grass that needed sustenance.  the raindrop believed (had been taught by others?) that this sacrifice would end its journey…there would be no more going-up-into-the-sky-coming-down-as-a-raindrop-all-over-again if it made this choice.  but the little raindrop rolled over to a little flower anyway, curled up beside its stem and sighed.  what it didn’t realize would happen was this – that it still evaporated.  it still went back up into the sky.  it still reformed.  but this time it was chosen to reform into a beautiful, unique snowflake, an honor bestowed only on those raindrops who had made a difference, who had yielded to a different choice.

so you’re thinking, ok, what does this have to do with snowflakes and snowmen?  well, we just never know how our choices will impact our possibility or how we might be surprised by something different than what we perceive to be our intended possibility.  you have to admit, being a snowflake in a snowman with a scarf and goofy hat that makes people smile and children dance would seem way more satisfying than being a snowflake in a dirty pile of snow in a parking lot.  we learn to go with the flow.  sometimes the unanswered prayers -loss of the UNlimited possibilities- turn out to be the best.

A SNOWFLAKE WITH POSSIBILITIES MERCHANDISE

Flawed Snowman FRAMED PRINT copy Flawed Snowman MUG copy Flawed Snowman IPHONE CASE copy Flawed Snowman RECT PILLOW copy

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read DAVID’S thoughts on this FLAWED CARTOON

a snowflake with possibilities ©️ 2016 david robinson


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common ground. on this good earth.

yesterday i received a message of generosity.  i was struck by its kindness. it read, “dear kerri, though politically i am on the opposite side of the spectrum of you, i want to tell you i always love reading your articles. we are both wives, mothers, lovers of nature, animals and our families. i choose to take what you write in and love to live in it awhile…”

paper mache earthcommon ground. we have common ground, despite our differences. and we can meet there – on that good earth – to celebrate the ways we are the same. in generosity.

too often we cling to our differences. ptom talked about the icy grip of our own stubbornness and i cringed thinking of the times i had fiercely hung on with that icy grip. we believe it is our right to harbor resentments and hatred. we hold our deposits into a grudge bank tightly, haughty looks on our faces and in our hearts. there is a common ground there too, but no generosity enters that place and the soil is tainted with our own ideas of self-importance.

i was talking to d the other day and we passed a place in our town that always reminds me of a plethora of memories, some of which are not entirely pleasant. i am grateful to the menopause wizards who have somehow blocked the synapses in my brain making it impossible for me to remember all the details of the unpleasantness and difficulty that took place there. the details have become fuzzy; ok, who am i kidding? the details aren’t even fuzzy. it’s more like a very low dense fog. it makes it impossible for me to hang onto the grudges i’m sure i’m “supposed” to still have. i can’t remember them. for that matter, i can scarcely remember all of what happened. what a good thing. instead, with no credit to me or any intentional decision i made, i remember the positive things that happened in that place, on that good earth. i can’t help but wonder what might happen were i to intentionally make decisions that way…releasing the things i have felt that have made me cling to useless negative energy.

i can’t help thinking that our world would be radically transformed if we could release the grudges (and over-important-ized-memories of how we were somehow wronged and prejudices and bigotry and inequity and walls we have built) that hold us back from meeting together, from finding common ground. we could choose to celebrate the ways we are the same. in generosity.

it’s there. the possibility. the space around us could become saner, with grace for each other, a place of peace.  on this good earth.

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kavanah.

ever since the evening we were guests in the synagogue the word ‘kavanah’ has been haunting me. the rabbi used this word several times.  i’m not one who always remembers new words in other languages – that must be a product of my age lol – but this one stayed with me. much like the way ‘bashert’ (a person’s soulmate; the person who will complete another perfectly) wrapped itself around my memory after helen told us about it, this hebrew word did the same. (not to mention that it sounds beautiful to your ears and feels good to say (try it.))   in looking it up i read that it refers to one’s intention, direction of the heart, the ability to refrain from distraction, to stay in that moment…”directing the mind to the meaning of words uttered or acts performed.” that sounds a lot like presence to me. intentional presence in a moment, whether that moment is acting on something or speaking something or quietly praying something. i read that there is an 11th century moral philosopher bahya ibn pakudah who has been quoted, “prayer without kavanah is like a body without a soul.”

we’ve been taking long walks. through the woods, along the lake, traipsing through meadows filled with a combination of snow and ice and mud.   he calls me a ‘scavenger’…each hike i come back with something found – feathers, a branch, rocks, woodsseed pods that have dried on the vine. they remind me of the hike…so grateful…the stepping from one moment to the next. on these hikes, i am so aware of the fact that these moments are the only things we are sure of. one at a time. we revel in the air, the sun on our faces, our hands in each other’s, the sound of our boots breaking through snow and ice.   we ponder on our own thoughts as we walk, and we talk about our ponderings. we are aware of the newness of life that will happen soon – when the sun warms the earth enough, when the rains nurture the seed, when the wind gently encourages new life, when the elements intend.

relationship offers us this chance too – intention – to be warm, to nurture, to encourage, to intend – love. we can think we are about goodness, but we must intend goodness. for goodness, we have to choose goodness. in the moment. without distraction. joan wrote, in an amazing poem she penned for our wedding, of the restorative power of life, even in the midst of chaos and what looks like destruction, an amazing intention of our universe to bring life.  always Life.

in each of our precious moments we have this chance, i realize, once again. always once again. i wonder how many lessons we get in our lives to learn this. i believe that it is repeated over and over, for, as humans, we forget. we get lost. we are the body, sometimes without the soul. we are the words without the meaning. we are the forest, yearning for spring, instead of reveling in winter. we are the seed pods, wishing we were still the flowers, instead of drinking in the possibility of new seed. we are prayer without kavanah.

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revel.