reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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brave.

raw-1heidi (also known as h) said, “all of life requires us to be brave.” such truth.

tonight, as i scrolled through facebook, i saw a friend of mine from high school who posted that it had been three weeks exactly since her mom had died and she couldn’t “stand it.” i so totally understand that. totally. so so hard. where is our ground? brave.

last night crunch called and we chatted for almost an hour. our friendship goes back forty years to a time of innocence and playfulness. we don’t get to see each other hardly at all, but the time inbetween calls or eye-to-eye contact drops away with our laughter and reminiscing on the phone, my long island accent rising to the surface as we talk. the first thing i thought of when i got off the phone was that i couldn’t wait to tell momma that crunch had called. brave.

scott wanted to bring his mom’s birdfeeders with him after emptying the sold-house and driving the uhaul truck away.  but the birds in that yard needed them.  he had to leave them behind. so he took the potted plant she last watered, the last living thing between them.  brave.

stress – everyday stressors, big stressors, teenyweeny stressors – wields a big punch. even with huge reminders about perspective, we still trod down the road of worry. what will happen, we wonder. brave.

kim posted a picture of kennedi going to pre-kindergarten, dianne posted a picture of charlie going to preschool, jamie posted pictures of the children eating corn dogs after the first day of school. all. brave.

my little girl -25- lives high in the mountains. my little boy -22- lives in the city and is at the starting gate of life. i am so proud. i adore them and i miss them. brave.

beth posts this amazingly stunningly tough and gorgeous photo of herself each time she learns of someone else who has to walk the track of cancer survivor. this photograph is beautiful and gripping and breathtaking. she is life itself in this picture. brave.

we face down our fears, we risk our dreams, we forgive without being forgiven, we acknowledge our disappointments, we are given grace in our mistakes, we plod on, we face the sun, we scurry through the rain, we feel our way through the fog, we celebrate the moment without investing in the whole day, we love without ceasing.

we’re braver than we know. every single day.

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hurdle through space.

TODAY’S FEATURED IDEA FOR HUMANS

hurdle through space2instead of wildly hurtling through space, go at life with intention.  hurdle the obstacles, challenges and difficulties.

jump.  one at a time.  or even one baby step at a time.

FOR TODAY’S FEATURED PRINT FOR HUMANS, GO HERE

BABY STEPS (from the album RIGHT NOW)

BABY STEPS (on itunes)

www.kerrisherwood.com


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in the pause with momma

photo-1sixteen days ago we celebrated with momma the release of her first published book. she is beautiful and fiercely independent at almost-94 and she was full of joy as she practiced ahead of time with a sharpie and then signed copies of books for all sorts of people who showed up at the signing of ‘shayne’ – the first in a trilogy of children’s books. at the end of this enormous day, we sipped martini & rossi asti spumante (momma and poppo’s favorite from days gone by) and we ate chocolate-covered strawberries in exultant glee.

fourteen days ago my almost-94 momma sent me a text message with her iphone that said she had mastered powering her electric wheelchair all the way downstairs to breakfast and again to dinner. she was amazed she did it and i know she was beautiful and fiercely independent as she made her way through the halls of her assisted living facility.

thirteen days ago my almost-94 momma was not having a good morning, but she was elated to see the diary notebook we brought her – we had searched for it and found it in a random bin in her garage. she gently stroked the notebook titled ‘europe 1971’ and i knew she would sit and read all the details, study all the maps, look at all the brochures and hold my dad’s hand and these cherished memories in her mind’s eye for hours and hours. she would envision her beautiful self and my handsome poppo in 1971 and their fierce independence to tour around europe for six weeks in the new vw bug they had purchased there.

nine days ago my almost-94 momma called to tell me that kelly had introduced her to new potential residents as “our newly published author” and momma was humbled and oh-so-excited to report this. i am positive she rose up in her wheelchair, beautiful and fiercely independent.

four days ago my almost-94 momma was found on the floor of her assisted living facility apartment and was rushed to the hospital. i am quite sure she was beautiful to the caring people who rushed to her aid, but maybe not so fiercely independent.

yesterday my almost-94 momma was just conscious enough in her hospital bed to look through my niece’s iphone to see me. tears were coursing down her cheeks and my sister wiped them away. she looked beautiful to me. her fiercely independent spirit is fighting seriously devastating infections. she is in a precarious place. i know she reaches in her mind to my dad in another plane of existence and yet, for now, she clings to this life here.

photo-2one day ago my almost-25 daughter was briefly in chicago and i had a wonderful opportunity to see her for a precious bit of time. she is beautiful and fiercely independent; she celebrates life on mountaintops and snowboard slopes and on hiking trails. yesterday i celebrated her life with her, a couple margaritas and a gluten-free pizza. life marches on. beauty and fierce independence are passed to the next and the next.

today my almost-94 momma continues to fight.   she is tired and her fierce independence is challenged. but i do know that inside of this beautiful woman is a person who will make the decisions that she wants to make. joan wrote, “…one of those times when there is no way around. only through….a transition each makes alone in the end.”

as tears ran down my face this morning after another difficult call with my sister about my momma and her prognosis, david read to me a paragraph written by pema chodron called ‘the power of the pause’ – “a momentary contrast between being completely self-absorbed and being awake and present.” he read another quote as well…this one by martha beck, “real power is usually unspectacular, a simple setting aside of fear that allows the free flow of love. but it changes everything.”

and so i hold in this pause my beautiful and fiercely independent momma.   i listen for her voice, i hold her in my arms and wait to feel her arms around me. i am awake and present and hyper-sensitive in my vigil with her. i do not know what the outcome of this huge physical trial will be. i try not to have fear. i am holding on and letting go. what i do know? before the pause, in the pause and after the pause i will always love her. her beautiful-ness and fierce independence. my sweet momma.photo


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no piano here

musings from a few days ago…

and so here i am…inside the theatre, watching the setup….but this time it isn’t for a concert…it is for a play – ‘the lost boy’ – opening its world premiere performance in california. (oh, did i mention it is sunny and warm here?)

i was just sitting outside (did i mention it is sunny and warm here?) hand-sewing one of the costume fragments for this play. david is inside with some techs painting the platform. i am running lines in my head. it’s not unlike running my music in my head, and yet it’s totally not like running my music in my head. when you are the composer, you have a bit of a free-rein option (eh…who am i kidding? you have a lot of free-rein.) when you aren’t the playwright, you…umm…don’t.

this process has been…interesting for me. this play is an interpretive storytelling…a story of legacy with poignant moments as well as comedic moments. now, as a performing artist i am used to telling stories from the stage…it is part of every concert i perform, every keynote i speak. but the last time i actually acted (in the truest definition of that word)? well, that would be high school – i performed ‘the effect of gamma rays on man-in-the-moon marigolds’….i can’t even remember one line from that. prior to that? well, you need to skip a stone backwards to when i danced with (the infamous) kenny brook in ‘the sound of music’ in sixth grade. not exactly moments of brilliant acting, but please also refer to my exquisitely-portrayed sister bertha – in the same play – for invaluable experience (ok…that might be an exaggeration.) but it certainly counts that kenny was pretty darn cute and i got to dance with him.

the set is simple.  the set is profound.

the set is simple.
the set is profound.

i have spent many, many hours on the stage…as a performer…as a storyteller…as a solo artist…playing, singing, speaking. this project? this is outside of my box. there isn’t a piano here. no mics. no amber fresnels beaming down on me. i feel like i should offer up a disclaimer to the audience…something like, “by the way…this isn’t what i normally doooo. in real life i……” but no. and so now i am challenged with that very thing that i talk about….stepping outside our own comfort zone and trying on new shoes (speaking of which, i get to wear these great minnetonka mocassins for this production!)   stepping outside and making a mess. i get to work at something i am not good at….kind of like playing my cello, only a bit more public. and like we all tend to do, i immediately expect a lot of myself; so i must fight the urge to diminish my potential – what i think i’m capable or not capable of – to resist the learning. how many people around me each week are learning something new (in ukulele band? in the choir i direct? in workshops i lead?)

and so, my empathy button is ‘on’ and i see inside me the way we all try to default to the things we know, when the learning is actually outside of those things. especially the learning about ourselves. i, quite truthfully, find that i need to extend to myself some forgiveness for not knowing, and yes, forgiveness for resisting, forgiveness for feeling vulnerable, and grace in that forgiveness to just try. maybe i’m not sooo bad at this. maybe it’s actually fun. maybe i can actually learn something new…just like everyone else…and maybe, just maybe, i can embrace it. even with no piano here. at the very least, i can realize that, just like everyone else, i find comfort in the familiar. and in stepping into New?…well, i just need to take a breath and move full-speed ahead into that path. no regret, no judgement, no fear. just sisu. it’s all good. (did i mention it is sunny and warm here?)

did i mention it's sunny and warm here? :)

did i mention it’s sunny and warm here? 🙂

and the curtain’s up.

kerri’s music is available on iTunes

www.kerrisherwood.com

www.bearay.com


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True to its Art and Not Prissy

yamahapianoThe piano at Northwestern University was a Steinway D…a beautiful old 9 foot instrument, with depths and trebles on which hundreds of artists had performed. The case had seen better days; the bench had raw splintering wood in a few spots, but the instrument itself was rising to the occasion as, i suspect, it always had. Its quiet resonance, its deep voice made it worthy of grand stages. I was exhilarated with the opportunity to record on this piano…I felt a synergy with it. And I was so ready. The energy around a first album is unparalleled. In short, you really have no idea how much you are going to feel..the anticipation, the fear, the excitement, the self-consciousness, the confidence, the pressure of playing, the joy of playing, the retrospective re-hashing of everything you put down on tape, the letting-go of the re-hashing of everything you put down on tape…

We had the foresight to hire an excellent piano technician to be present during the whole process in Evanston. This instrument had some personality – a little curmudgeonly to say the least. Zingers and thudding hammers and some intonation idiosyncrasies were the challenges of the moments there, but our tech was on top of it all. The result, after all those long hours, was a recording of a piano with great history, demonstrating its strengths and sneaking in a few weaknesses. (Hmm….not unlike ourselves, eh?)

I recorded two more albums on Steinway D’s…both in Milwaukee in a studio that didn’t have an air conditioner leaking into the space (although I wouldn’t have traded that experience for anything!) The studio was climate-controlled and quiet and I had no idea if it was day or night as we spent long long hours recording in a space with no windows. Once again I discovered a piano with a few quirks; once again we had our skilled technician with us.

The piano gods of the day were people like George Winston and Jim Brickman, John Tesh and Yanni, Suzanne Ciani and David Lanz. With the exception of George, all of these artists were Yamaha artists. (Many others (who are singer-songwriters as well as pianists) join their ranks: Elton John, Sarah McLachlan, Phil Vassar, Norah Jones, Barry Manilow… ) Many of them recorded on CFIII’s, which is Yamaha’s 9 foot grand, or the C7, Yamaha’s 7’6″ grand, both fantastic instruments.

It was time to record the next album – THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY – my fourth.

THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY my fourth album

THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY
my fourth album

And by that time I was really honored to be on this same exclusive Yamaha Artist roster. There are a mere 88 contemporary piano recording artists on this roster. I am truly proud of this association; I have had wonderful relationships with the pianos and with some remarkable people. There have been unexpected and warm gifts of friendship. There have been pianos I have fallen in love with. My Yamaha fills my writing studio; it fills me with inspiration…

I have to say that I haven’t encountered a grumpy Yamaha…they are reliable in the studio (and on stage) and have a personality so worthy of this emotional, evocative style of music. Yes, the tech was around, but not 24/7 anymore and the piano responded with the consistency of a workhorse. Each piano that has been transported in for me, each piano that has been housed in a venue or recording studio, that big grand in my own writing studio…these are instruments I am aligned with….that perseverance, that dependability, that…sisu! Yes…these pianos have sisu! A fortitude that is authentic and not high-maintenance, true to its art and not prissy. And ohmygosh, with such a richness…

My sweet sixteen(th) album will, of course, be recorded on a Yamaha. It will be a compilation of songs with an organic layer cake of piano, voice, cello, consonant-timbred stringed instruments, and the kind of hand percussion that you can feel keeping beat inside your body. I feel great anticipation as I write for this album. And fear, and excitement. And self-consciousness and confidence. And pressure and joy. And I will hash and re-hash and re-hash again. But, along the way now, arriving here, I have learned the art of letting go…the art of setting free Art..the moment you say to yourself, “It’s enough. It’s time.”

kerri’s music is available on iTunes

www.kerrisherwood.com

www.bearay.com