reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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here. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

joey coconato has an undying love and appreciation of this place – earth – in all its constant beauty, in all its ever-fluid beauty. we have hiked with him many, many late nights of this pandemic, breathing easier because he is trekking, climbing, scrambling. we are ready to rest at the end of his journeys, the end of videos that have fed our souls. his spirit is inimitable and he is a completely understated positive force in the world. he is a leader led, himself, by a willingness to not-know, to focus on what’s up-close and to focus on the big picture, to see more, to adventure into knowledge. he looks for the good. despite some extreme circumstances, we have not heard him, out on the trail, speak negatively nor have we heard him crabby. not one iota. his life-view seems to simplify it all into gratitude for every step. his point-of-view seems to simplify it all into a peaceful co-existence with all that is natural, all that is living. he does not participate with the same measuring stick that others wield. and for that, he is in calm harmony with the world.

he stood in the vastness one day, mountains and canyons all around him, surrounded by trees he loves and lakes the colors of which cannot be found even in crayola 64 boxes, and with awe in his voice uttered, “it has been here every single day of my life.” he looked around; we looked around with him.

every single day of my life. it has been here.

the days he backpacked the maroon bells were particularly close to us. my daughter, with her adventurer heart, took us on a hike up into the maroon bells area. to see joey hike there was to relive the moments we, with her, stood at lake’s edge or caught glimpses of the towering red rock through the trees of the trail. precious time. treasured. his days in canyonland national park brought me right back to moments with her, just us on the edge of the precipice, laughter echoing across the canyon walls. unbelievably vivid in my mind’s eye, i am beyond grateful.

it has been a source of amusement for david and kirsten to speak of the moments i well up and cry – those first moments of seeing the mountains in the distance, the approach into the canyon, the arches of sweeping rock. i am overcome in these times as i stand on dirt that has been there forever and, with our dedicated efforts to mitigate climate change, will be there forever. it’s overwhelming. the sense of timelessness, of vastness, of my tiny-ness. i realize i cannot presume anything but the moment at hand, but i am reminded we are each part of the big picture, no matter how many moments or how few we are a part of them. we are each part of the change that takes place because we breathe. this earth would not be the same without us…we are dust of its dust.

so when joey stands still and is awestruck remembering, i draw in my breath with him.

every single day of my life. it has been here.

*****

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


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peeled back. [k.s. friday]

time continues to peel back the layers. barney is vulnerable and is, thus, exposed.

artistry is like that. we share our vulnerabilities. we write, we paint, we compose, we lyricize – we peel back the outer shroud of mystery to reveal that which is inside. we take chances at judgement, at others’ opinions, at evaluation. we are exposed. and time goes on. winter turns to spring which turns to summer and then fall. the seasons take their toll; the seasons enrich us. both.

the first album i released felt earth-shaking. the notes – white and black keys tumbling from deep within – flew out into the world on a piece of polycarbonate, aluminum and acrylic plastic. what could be a coaster contained fifteen deeply-excavated emotions, musings each released into the light. exposed. the scraps of paper that gave birth to these were soon filed in a binder with invoices and order forms, designs and ups tracking numbers. one season. one album. done.

each original album since is no less an exposé. each still holds pieces of me, permission by me to be peeled back. a little less scary than the first but still risk-taking. vulnerability does not recede from the sandy beach as the big waves come and go. but it stands a little more stoic, with a little more sisu. the albums, like seasons, arrive when it is time. and they, in some way that albums might, tremble with anticipation and that tiny bit of fear that remains, even after many layers have been peeled. soon there will be no more black and white at all.

now i wonder if i will need shrink-wrap again. i wonder about recording. and i don’t know. yet. i do find that i am thinking of wooden stages and boom mics. i also find that i am thinking that all this writing – these written words on the page – have been feeding me and that hunger for polycarbonate, aluminum and acrylic plastic.

each day, barney and i age. the veneer blisters and the shell reveals our hearts. we are both emotional, barney and i. we are conscious of our craggier look, the wrinkles and the age spots. though we wonder about how we resonate with the rest of the universe-out-there, we take the dusty road together anyway and we hold hands, vulnerable together. though laminate no longer hides our souls, we are standing in the sun this season, new growth springing up.

*****

that first album – 1995

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

someday?


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tacet root vegetables. [k.s. friday]

ritenuto: an abrupt slowing down of tempo

tacet: silence of instrument

fermata: pause of unspecified time

and, suddenly, a prolonged tacet. no notes. no instrumentation. no expression markings. no crescendos or decrescendos. just silence. the baton is laid down. there is no beat pick-up. there is no rest. it is silence. issued. written in the music. a ritenuto – screeching to slow, a subito tacet. suddenly still.

the reassurances are generous, heartfelt. they are reflexes, like putting out your hand when you fall. they are meant to help in the silence, in the sudden slowdown, the sudden stop, the fermata holding the tacet. they make my heart quiver, these well wishes. but they don’t change the composer’s notes in the music: the ritenuto. the tacet. the fermata. those are printed in the music; those are decreed. they are unquestionable, immovable, indisputable, final.

i was voted off the island, in “survivor” talk. it was not an island, but, nevertheless, i am not a survivor. not there, anyway. i am forever tacet-ed there. the fermata above my tacet-ed head reminds me.

it, too, reminds me to be still. to step lightly. to be gentle with myself. i run the scores in my head – scores of scores in that place. i emoted each expression marking, each twist of the music, each gradual shaping, each change of tempo, of timbre, of voice.

and now.

i opened this book randomly, hoping to arrive on a page that might offer me wisdom. i read: “upheavals in life are often times when the soul has become too smothered; it needs to push through the layers of surface under which it is buried….it reminds us that we are children of the eternal and our time on earth is meant to be a pilgrimage of growth and creativity.” (john o’donohue)

it doesn’t feel like a platitude. i’ve read it over and over and over again now since the morning i was fired. i wonder, each day, when the baton will be lifted, when the pick-up beat will come. i remember the all-engulfing power of change works both ways – to decimate and to breathe new life. i – try – to trust the dusty trail i am reluctantly set upon.

upheaval. sudden arrival at prolonged silence. not much more upheaval for an artist than silence. yet, as i sit in this silence, deemed as fitting by the composer, i feel the root-vegetable-of-my-soul gathering energy. with no idea and no preconception, i await as it will push through the earth one day, steeped in nutrients, rooted in rich soil.

my sweet momma said, “live life, my sweet potato.” oh wise woman, you must have known.

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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the soul of barney. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

Barney

as barney ages in our backyard, he clings to his original form – he is a piano, first and foremost.

barney has spent the last four years in our backyard.  his presence is inspiring.  rescued from the dark church basement boiler room he had been in, the light of the sun and weather he now endures have brought nuance to his life as a piano.  no longer serving his original purpose, he has a new destiny.

but barney’s soul remains the same.  you look at him and you know he is a piano.  no ifs, ands or buts. and he is cherished.

there is a different kind of power in his spot in the backyard.  it’s not one of crescendo-ing music.  instead it is now one of steady quiet.  it is one of a history of service and workhorse reliability.  it is one of a history of the dawn of creative moments and the dusk of amens sung in sunday school classrooms or weekly meeting rooms of committees or choirs. his piano-soul now resounds in the chirp of every bird or chipmunk, the sound of the wind and the rain, the glint of the sunlight deepening the wrinkles of his keys.

barney is retired.  but he is not silent.

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

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where i’m from. [k.s. friday]

where i'm from songbox

it’s circuitous…the way i would define where i’m from.  you have to be prepared to listen a spell if you ask me this question.

just like anyone, i have taken pieces – absorbed – every place i’ve been, every community i have shared in, every experience i’ve had, everyone i’ve met or been influenced by; indeed, those have become where i’m from.  in jeans and boots on stage i talk about where “home” is and try to differentiate by referring to wisconsin as “home”, florida as “home-home” and long island as “home-home-home” which sounds semi-ridiculous, not to mention annoying for people who cringe at redundancy.  plus it doesn’t include time living on a sheep farm in new hampshire nor profound moments i’ve had visiting places that have sought space in my soul.  but it might give you a place to listen from; with your eyes closed you may hear your own story.

when i wrote this piece, 21 years ago or so, i knew it needed to swirl around the theme, travel from one key to another, return to its theme…have continuity yet have places where it started again.  in celebrating my sweet momma and dad this week with the introduction of my song YOU’RE THE WIND it brought me back to my deepest roots, transplanted time and again though they may be.  no matter what, i will always be a northeast girl.  new york is in my blood and long island is ever a part of my heart.

where i’m from…it’s time ago…it’s now…it’s what’s to come.

if you listen you can hear the tide.  in and out…like day, like experiences, like finding home.  it changes.  it’s the same.

download WHERE I’M FROM on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts about this K.S. FRIDAY

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WHERE I’M FROM from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL ©️ 1997 kerri sherwood

 


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two artists tuesday

it is well with my soul FRAMED ART PRINT copythe hymn “it is well with my soul” makes me think of the hymn “be still, my soul” which makes me think of mama dear, my grandmother (my sweet momma’s momma.)  (are you still keeping up?)  these two strong women, so alike and yet so different – were both anchors in my world, quietly (and sometimes not-so-quietly) shaping my ability to walk in this world and have faith.  my sweet momma, for my growing-up years, went to church most every sunday.  she and my poppo got dressed up and we would go to christ lutheran church on burr road in east northport.  i got to hang with my best friend sue and we went to youth group and sleepaway camp (cool as it was, those days i was never a really big fan of sleepaway camp) and, together, we memorized the books of the bible in order (i still have no idea what the purpose of this was.)  i can’t remember mama dear going to church as much; she went on some weekends, on holidays with us or to special events.  mama dear had bright red hair, taught me how to sew and adored going to las vegas to play the slot machines.  she was obstinate and somewhat opinionated and one of the loves of my early life.

during the time i went to suffolk county community college, mama dear’s house was within reach and i would go there for lunch or tea.  we’d eat rye-bread-toasted-with-melted-butter and i’d tell her everything that was going on in my life.  she’d listen and, every now and again, she’d say a few words of wisdom.  i could tell her anything.  she let my soul breathe.

i’d come home from school during junior high and high school and my sweet momma and i would sit on the couch and have tea and chips ahoy chocolate chip cookies, my way-back-then favorite store-bought cookies.  we’d talk about my day, the challenges that face girls in high school, cute boys who might have said a word or two, the kids smoking on the bus.  she would listen and, every now and again, she’d say a few words of wisdom.  i could tell her anything.  she let my soul breathe.  matter of fact, she let my soul breathe the whole time i had the privilege of having her physically in my life.  she still does.

we need that.  a place for our souls to breathe.  people with whom we can let our souls breathe.  a faith in this universe that opens us and simultaneously holds us gently and anchors us.  then – we can say:  it is well with my soul.

IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL – products: prints, leggings, mugs, beach towels, pillows etc.

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TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY – ON OUR SITE

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IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL ©️ 2018 kerri sherwood & david robinson

 

 

 


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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.