reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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you can still do it.

dandelionsthe girl jumped out of a plane last week. i look at the sky and think about being 10,000 feet up and stepping out…..

skydiving was on my bucket list at her age. that and hang-gliding, a hugely-70’s thing. growing up on long island, i was hanging out with people who surfed and camped in the dunes, fished in the middle of the night and scuba-dove into wrecks off the beach. and so it didn’t surprise me when she wrote to me that she had ‘just jumped out of a plane’. i celebrate her adventuring spirit.

the boy bought a grill this week. when did he grow up enough to own his own grill? his adventures are all about his spirit – with an ever-growing circle of friends who support him and let him be in his own skin. i celebrate his adventuring spirit.

wasn’t it yesterday when the boy and i walked hand in hand to the girl’s school to pick her up from kindergarten? wasn’t it yesterday when he ran around the field and picked dandelions, dirt flying, and reached up to me with them in his fist, saying “woses for momma”? wasn’t it yesterday when she carried over big piles of books for me to “wead, momma, wead”? wasn’t it yesterday i rocked them to sleep at night after the perfunctory ‘good night moon’ reading?

so many adventures. it has all flown by. i talked to linda yesterday and she laughed when i said, “we realize we actually don’t know anything. time just flies by and we know nothing.” she is gentle and wise and an amazing adventurer, taking on new stages of life with grace and generosity.

every single one of these moments weaves into my heart – yup, that thready heart of mine. i hold them close to me and give thanks for adventures that are big, adventures that are small. adventures that have taught me patience, adventures that challenge me. i try not to have fear or hold on too tight, but…well, i’m human.

hesistantly, because moms just sometimes seem out of the running when it comes to children thinking about people adventuring, i wrote to my daughter that i had always wanted to skydive at her age. she wrote back, “you can still do it.”

you can still do it.

true.

itunes: kerri sherwood: fistful of dandelions

www.kerrisherwood.com

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the way home.

IMG_1794i stood on crab meadow beach, looked across the sound, and dropped to my knees to touch the sand on that very familiar place. i can’t count how many times i sat on that very beach…the wind has taken drifted waves of sand and moved them around, the waves and rain and erosion have changed the shape of the inlet, but i recognize it. deep inside me, i can feel it – from long ago. and still.

crab meadow is not the most beautiful beach by beach standards. (i know  – i talked about it a lot in my june 20, 2015 blog called ‘the gorgeous disorderliness that is life.’) it is rocky and pebbly and not vast and you can see the stacks from there when you look left, but i will always consider it my most important beach. so much time spent there. winter, spring, summer, fall. it is one of the places i call home.

and just a few weeks ago i found my way there. to my crab meadow beach.

my husband understood my need to sit and ponder and meander through my thoughts and memories. he was both appropriately quiet and conversational. he engaged in my memories, my musings and my relationship with that tide, and held me as i felt wistful. so much growing happened for me on that beach, since that beach. in that place. home.

i was always the kind of kid who got homesick. being thready does that to a person. i still get homesick. homesick for places, people, times gone by. my roots mean so much to me: climbing the fence to the beach pre-dawn, my dog missi in the well of my vw bug, sitting with notebooks in my tree….i can still hear the clanking of masts in northport harbor…. i remember childhood playdates with dianne, bike hikes and drives and countless overnights with susan, bobdylanjohndenver arguments with marc, joe-z lecturing me on driving too slow on waterside avenue…i can still feel the damp wind on my face fishing with crunch in the middle of the night, in the middle of the sound….i can still see my sweet momma and poppo, in our house, my brother skateboarding with me and strumming his guitar, my sister playing leonard cohen and doing my hair…a zillion thoughts….home…

my daughter stands on the top of a huge mountain and feels home. my son, in the midst of his big busy city, feels home.   i look west and i look south – toward them – and know that part of what makes home for me is now climbing a mountain or riding the ‘L’ train.

and so i stood on that beach and thought about life since…decades after the days i had spent huge slices of time there.

i felt like i had come there to pick up something i left behind, to reclaim something. but now i wonder if actually i needed to be there to leave something there…to leave that which i no longer needed.   i have yet to figure out the sudden burst of tears that came with my feet in that sand.

i just know that crab meadow, once again, came through for me. it will always be home. no matter how many other places or people i call home, i will always be able to find my way home. there.

www.kerrisherwood.com

itunes: kerri sherwood: this part of the journey: the way home


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319,954. first quarter 2015.

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 5.12.43 PMbmi, one of the major music royalty companies, sent me a statement and a check which i opened today. happy to be a bmi artist, i was grateful to receive the check; i read it first, a natural human reaction. then i pulled up the statement.

my original music had 319,954 plays in the first quarter of 2015. that is: between radio, tv, internet, music program companies, my music has been spun over 319,000 times. in one quarter of a year. now…that sounds like a lot, doesn’t it. one of my big questions these days about my music is – is it relevant? well, apparently, it must be. and so this is reassuring.

now, you would think that would equate to a decent royalty check, the ability for an independent artist to make a living. this is what i made per spin (an average…i am a bit of a math geek)….are you ready? i made a whopping $00.00079 per play. that isn’t even NEAR a PENNY. so let’s see. that means that the total of 319,954 plays has NOT netted me enough to:

1. buy a decent basket of groceries
2. even pay half of my private health insurance premium
3. pay for my dog to have 3 months of heartworm preventative medication and flea and tick preventative medication
4. pay my one-month cell phone bill
5. contribute to half of the mortgage payment
6. pay the minimum payment on my master card bill
7. pay the amount of my monthly parent plus loans for my son’s college fees
8. pay an hour of an entertainment attorney’s time
etc etc etc

it would just cover the electric/gas bill.
it would pay for life insurance.
it would cover a month of car insurance.
it would cover the cat food.
it would cover the water bill.

but. it will not cover any combination of these bills. and, as i pointed out above, there are many it won’t cover at all.

and that brings me to value.

what is the value of music? and, if it is relevant, why is so little value placed on it? how many places have you been, events have you attended (weddings, funerals, dance parties…what would those be without music?), commercials you watched on tv, movies that inspired you, moved you, disturbed you – how would those be without a soundtrack? how many moments have you cherished that would have changed dramatically withOUT the music in that space of time? what does it do to your heart? and how can we place so little value on that?

there were a reported (mind you, this is what is reported, not what is the real total) 19,974 plays on the internet of my original music. this netted me (wait for it) a grand total of $3.61. yes, you read that right. $3.61. i could not even treat you and me to a starbucks for that. i couldn’t even get a happy meal for that. and yet, 19,974 people/entities listened to the music i conceived, wrote, recorded, paid for a recording engineer, mastering engineer, piano technician, miscellaneous equipment, yamaha had a piano delivered to the studio, purchased upc codes and copyrights, had a graphic designer design a cd format, ordered and paid for replicated cds and print art (jackets, tray cards), paid ups to ship boxes upon boxes to the office, paid for marketing materials, paid employees to market and distribute, drove thousands of miles and carried hundreds of pounds of boxes of cds to play concerts, perform at wholesale, retail shows and stores and do radio and tv interviews, uploaded over 200 tracks from 15 albums to itunes, and see that pieces have found their way onto the internet in ways i can’t put my finger on…..i needn’t go on….i’m sure you get the point…. in the days of physical cds and brick and mortar buildings, and even in the days of just itunes downloads that paid artists, there was a chance at treating you to BOTH a happy meal AND a starbucks. but now…..

and so. the music. it’s relevant. and it has value. but who is missing out in this equation??

a few weekends ago i performed for an important event. as with all work, it took preparation and commitment, practice and heart to make sure that my performance supported the event. after it was over, many people commented on how touched they were by this music. one gentleman asked me, “when you aren’t playing music, what do you really do?” really???

i am 56. there is a lot of music left in me to write, record, perform. how do i justify continuing to make this music when each piece that reaches the ears of another living soul pays me less than a penny? do i hope for sheer luck? for an overnight itunes download sensation? or a youtube that goes viral, heaping advertisers at my doorstep?

these are potent questions. what are the answers?

how can i (afford to) live and keep making music? how can i (afford to) live and not keep making music?raw-1

www.kerrisherwood.com

itunes: kerri sherwood


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magical – this tiny. this vast.

raw-3at 1am, we walked to the lakefront. away from as many lights as we could get away from, we laid on some old steps, bricks and mortar digging into our backs so that we could gaze straight up, watching the night sky for the meteor shower. the late air was cool, gentle breezes sneaking past us in our vigil. the meteor shower information site said that at 1am cst we would be able to see 50-100 meteors an hour, shooting across the night sky. now, how they know this is a scientific study that i am not familiar with. but it is magical. and it is vast.

the streaks of white light across navyblueblack make us draw in our breath. i’m wondering how far away this meteor is…how it is that we, here on earth, can see this amazing sight. such a big sky. such tiny bodies in contrast lying on the ground, waiting for the symphony to start, waiting for the downbeat, the symphony that has been continuously playing, the downbeat lost in centuries upon centuries of time gone by. like any good piece of music, it’s the rests in between the notes, the rests in between the meteorstreaks, that build the anticipation, that create the emotionflow, that bring tears to your eyes. each burst, each streak, of whitelight was a miracle, a tiny moment exploding in time, so far away, in vast vastness.

this morning over coffee on the deck i watched a bumblebee fly to the big jar of sunflowers on the table. photoit, with seemingly intentional purpose, landed on the sunflower’s large head. i studied this bumblebee and, as i did, it occurred to me that it, too, was a tiny being in the middle of its own universe. that sunflower, i come to learn, is not just one flower. instead, it is composed of a mass of hundreds of flowers, all growing individually and from where each sunflower seed will originate. the yellow rays of petals are there to protect the interior of the sunflower. the sunflower, before blooming, will track the sun through the day, leaning in to garner its energy, intent on its own purpose in its own universe. it is, indeed, its own little universe, offering nutrients and life to that very bumblebee, who pollinates the flowers within the flower…and the circle goes on. looking even closer, i could see small quarter-inch-inchworms inching their way around the brown center of the flower(s).   for that quarter-inch-inchworm this big brown field was such a big sky, and its tiny body was in great contrast. magical. vast.

time stretches out in front of us. and behind us. we are tiny and we are big. we gather in the moments, we breathe them, we rejoice, we worry, we ponder, we move. there is no downbeat and the symphony is already playing, has been playing and will continue to play. always. it is magical. and it is vast.vast tiny

for today’s featured print for humans, go here

transience (from the album RIGHT NOW)

transience – on itunes

www.kerrisherwood.com

itunes: kerri sherwood


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welcome, barney!

barney is in our backyard. he is holding clay pots with our herb garden and some beautiful white impatiens. there are a fewphoto candles in glass jars. and he is perfect.

i’m not sure i ever thought that someday i would have a piano in my backyard. barney is a very old upright. about a hundred years old, he is tired and worn from long years, decades even, spent in a basement boiler room, but i can see the life in him as the sun hits him. never ever would i have imagined the idea of wild geranium growing up around a piano tucked into a bed of day lilies, just a few feet away from our little pond. never would i have imagined the idea of water getting on a piano, without dashing to wipe it off. it rained yesterday and i had to fight the urge to run outside and wrap my arms around him. barney’s new life is to feel loved and not ignored, appreciated and smiled at and not relegated to a dark, piano-inappropriate place. he was slated for the scrap dealer.

photo-1each morning since his arrival i have gone outside and thanked him for all his good work in the world. i am grateful to have a spot for him to rest. he looks proud. and he truly looks happy.

i really am an acoustic girl. my big yamaha grand has a studio of its own. my growing-up-spinet has a spot in our basement (not an easy place to move it to in this old house.) barney has a place in the backyard.

and all have big places in my heart.

photo-2

www.kerrisherwood.com
itunes: kerri sherwood


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the gorgeous disorderliness that is life

photothere is something profoundly striking about a beach that has been newly combed. so fresh. so ordered. so manicured. absolutely stunning in its no-foot-has-stepped-here-ness. it is simple in its pristine beauty and can make you just sit and stare.

i have always loved the beach. crab meadow was my growing-up favorite. i could ride my bike there and, later, drive my little blue vw there. it was there that joe-z yelled at me for going too slow on waterside road. it was there, off-shore, that crunch and i fished in the middle of the night. i took long walks with my dog missi there. i spent many hours listening to AM radio under a hot sun on a big beach blanket with susan. i played frisbee with robin and, years later, making a pilgrimage back to the island, skipped stones with chris. about twenty years ago, many high school friends gathered at the new restaurant on the beach. about ten years ago or so, i returned to that restaurant for dinner, drinking in the familiar smell and sounds of that beach at low tide. many times i climbed the fence before sunrise to take sunrise pictures. many times i walked for hours on that beach – winter, spring, fall and yes, the obvious, summer. i thought on that beach. i watched seagulls on that beach. i wrote on that beach. i pondered and wallowed and figured out a lot of life on that beach. but i don’t remember crab meadow beach ever looking so neat and tidy. it was full of rocks and pebbles, seaweed and horseshoe crab shells, typical of a north shore long island beach. yet it spoke to me for years and years. and, were i to go there right now, i suspect would still speak to me.

and now, i sit on the side of lake michigan and stare at this beautiful crisply renewed shoreline. it’s totally different than crab meadow. and, it’s a different time. and this beach? it appeals to me too. years ago, when i moved here, i was surprised at how many seagulls were here. these gorgeous stripes of sky and water and sand speak to me. even manicured. hmmm…especially manicured.

i don’t think anyone would describe me as manicured. ever. ok, well, maybe during my employ at the state attorney’s office in florida. i had this amazing boss named debbie whose style was flowing and just really lovely. and so, it was probably during that period of my life that i came the closest to ann taylor suits and accessorized scarves, with etienne aigner pumps that exposed the ever-important toe cleavage. but since then? there have been a real variety of clothing styles, most all falling under the headings of blue jeans, black shirts and boots or flipflops. back in high school my incredible english teacher andrea wore bandanas in her hair and peace sign pendants. she inspired us to embrace being sensitive and aware and to write poetry. she inspired us to be alive.

i think i am more andrea than debbie. i think i am more crab meadow than lake michigan. most of the time i paint my own toenails. and sometimes i don’t blow dry my hair. as an artist, my life is not pristine or ordered; as a human, my life is not neat and tidy.

but every now and then, i love to sit and stare at a pristine, ordered, neat and tidy beach that is waiting for the gorgeous disorderliness to come.

www.kerrisherwood.com

itunes: kerri sherwood


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it just is.

photo the play is over and we move on…and i will be moving back to my piano. but before i do that, i have to think some more about this experience. standing on the stage as an actor in front of two sold-out audiences was…pretty amazing. it took me time to process entering this opportunity and it’s taking me time to process moving into Next.

one of the things david said to me the day of the first performance was something like this: it’s important to not look at the audience as the audience ‘out there’…instead stand here – on the apron of the stage- and invite them in, embrace them. i suddenly recognized this as not so much different than what i do in any of my concerts. i feel as if i am inviting people into my living room (or my home studio)…well, actually, my life…each time i play a concert. and there i was, on the stage as an actor, inviting them in….

i was nervous backstage waiting. i always have eager anticipation in the green room; i spend time pacing and praying and being quiet and internal. i will sip coffee and run through my program in my head. and i fuss with my hair. photo-1this was much the same. i paced. i prayed. i was quiet and internal and i sipped coffee while running lines in memory. and yes, i fussed with my hair.

i didn’t want to be thinking, thinking, thinking as i stepped into these performances. i knew that would detract from the moment. i found, like in concert, i just needed to be present. if i am performing a piece of music, it is to my detriment if i start to think too much. the preparation is done at that point…it is time to deliver, to share it…yes to invite them in. thinking, at that point, makes it plastic, measured, contrived. and raises the chance of getting lost. just being in it is what makes it fluid, what makes it permeable, what helps it to resonate with someone outside yourself.

and so i stepped out onto the stage, in a role that i am not well-versed in…the role of actor…and i quietly became the characters in the play. i could feel them. this play has a seven-minute long silent section near the end. i had the distinct honor of holding those moments as the audience watched me re-pack a hundred-year-old trunk- a trunk filled with momentos of a ten year old boy who had died from typhoid fever and in which his momma packed all of his belongings and plastered it into the wall of a house on a ranch in california. it was with slow deliberation, weeping, that i re-packed this trunk, in silence, while the audience joined me in these emotional moments. not so unlike telling stories on stage or playing or singing something that resonates with the audience that joins me on the bench.

hmm. i think i am finding a theme here. it’s not so unlike….

and yet, the moment that the stage manager said to me, “i was so wrapped up in what you were doing that i almost missed light cues…” i felt that i was doing good work. and, even more important, when he told me that i had “brought intention” i realized, for sure, that it was exactly the same. no piece of music is without intention. no action on stage is without intention. no breath is without intention.   it is to live. to honor. to share. it’s not trying to be convincing. it just IS.

photo