reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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past tommy’s house. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

99 cents:gallon cropped

20 years ago.  apparently the last time gas was 99 cents a gallon in wisconsin was 20 years ago.  i don’t remember that in particular; my children were young and things were busy.   how strange to now be able to purchase gas for 99 cents a gallon, filling up little-baby-scion for about $10, and not be able to go anywhere.

20 years before 20 years ago i remember gas being 79 cents a gallon or so.  on long island, i would go to the citgo station on the corner of larkfield and clay pitts road in my vw bug, filling up for well under $10.  they pumped your gas for you back then.  i had one of my first credit cards, a citgo card, in those days.  on one occasion, a couple days after i got gas, i received a phone call.  it was from the guy who had pumped my gas.  he had saved my information post-pumping and looked my last name up in the phone book.  he called to ask me to go on a date.  he was always nice to me every single time i got gas, so i thought it perfectly innocent to accept.  i don’t remember where we went, but i do remember thinking that i would absolutely not repeat the date – the somewhat unusual way he got my number (i’m thinking that would be against credit card protection acts these days) was befitting of his um, unusual-ness.  “she’s not home,” my mom would tell him time and again when he called.  after a plethora of calls over a series of days, i told him i  wasn’t interested.  i started going to mobil.

citgo, dairy barn, king kullen, genovese drugs, the card store – these were all around the corner, up the hill and turn right.  to get there you’d go right by tommy’s house on the hill.  and just today i found out that tommy, one of the absolute cutest-boys-in-high-school, has died.  a  man taken by coronavirus, i read the posts on facebook remembering him.  it seems, as we lose track of people in our orbit, that they freeze in time – i never knew tommy as an adult so he remains age 18 in my mind’s eye.  we lose track of them and we don’t know their successes or their challenges, things they struggled with or how their lives were shaped as they ‘grew up’.  we make assumptions and find out later that their lives were impacted in ways we never could have guessed, in ways we would have never wished for anyone.  it saddens me deeply to think of tommy, the cool-boy-in-school, struggling in his life, trying to get a firm hold on steady.  the things we don’t know, riding our bikes up that hill just to get a glimpse and maybe wave to him.

20 years go by. and another 20.

and we sit at the pump where it’s 99 cents a gallon.  there is a global pandemic.  we have a blank triptik.  as we drove away from the pump, we looked at each other and pondered without answering, ‘where would we go if we could go?’

but right now, there is no where to go.  were i to be on long island, i would go back to my growing-up house and sit on the curb for a bit.  then i’d go around the corner and up the hill.  and i’d wave as i’d pass tommy’s old house.

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

northport harbor website box

 

 

 


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that smell of horses. [two artists tuesday]

sleigh ride copy

so, i love the smell of horses.  i love the proud way they hold their heads and the sometimes-wild forelock that dances between their ears.  i love watching them cavort in fields together, free to gallop and play.  i love the warmth on my hand as i stroke under its mane.  i love the sound of leather creaking underneath me when riding.  i love the clip-clop of hooves.  i love the feeling i get up-close-and-personal talking softly to a horse, looking deeply into its eyes, pools of wisdom taking it all in.  it is no surprise to most of my people that i love really everything about them.

with the snowy quiet punctuated by the clip-clop of horses’ hooves and laughter, we rode the sleigh through the woods.  the sun was out and, with snowpants on and under a blanket, it was toasty.  perfect.  ace and bill carried us through the trails to a spot for a bonfire and cocoa and then back.  i didn’t want it to end.

there are people in your life who just know what you need.  we are lucky enough to have a bunch of these people close by and paying attention.  our little trip up north was perfectly timed.  a chance to just enjoy each other and the frozen-but-not-really-freezing outdoors.  the sleigh ride was wondrous.  the time together restorative.

the peaceful time in the woods and on the snow-covered frozen lake brought me out of storms i was withstanding.  the laughter, good food, conversation, pjs and coffee and games with glasses of wine helped transport my spirit and rejuvenated me.  i am grateful.  for a few days it didn’t matter that my wrists were broken.  my ernie straw was with me and i was surrounded by people who loved me.

and the horses.  ahh.  icing on the cake.

so now, i will wait till the next time…the next time i am near horses.  as someone who has had a lifelong wish for a horse of my own, those times feed me.  i imagine that maybe somehow one day sometime i might have a horse-of-my-own.  i imagine i won’t show this horse or ride around in a paddock practicing dressage.  i will ride my friend in the woods and in the fields, manes flying, both of us gleefully breathing the air and listening to each other.  i imagine silent conversations about love and respect and sweet moments of just being close by each other.  i imagine walking away, blowing a kiss backwards to this horse – my horse – the wind catching the scent on my hands and my clothes, and smiling.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

ace and bill website box

 


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a recap of the week [the melange]

smaller product recap copy

several people lately have asked us what we meant by “products”…the “products” we were designing to go along with our blog post images.  many of you may have noticed these product bars on our blogs each day.  we understand that not everyone has seen these or understood our intent.  we have been seeking the easiest way to present these products as options and so we listen to each suggestion we get.

there is sure a lot of fodder in our studios:  paintings, music, cartoons, graphic images, photographs, writings…a melange of our work.  it’s fun (and necessary) for us to turn all of this into a line of things that are purchase-able:  wall art, tote bags, mugs, leggings, throw pillows, home accessories. i love the design work and have learned so much in the process!

we thank each of you who have taken a look at the sites where these are available (we have five storefronts on society6.com.)  we have been told and have seen firsthand that our designed products that society6.com ship are of good quality and they stand behind them if you are not pleased.  if you have any questions, please let us know.  we appreciate you so much.

this week’s product line links are right below.  the link brings you to one of the products in that line on society6.com.  if you scroll down the page a little, it will say “also available as” so you can see the image in its varying iterations.

ROOT IN LOVE PRODUCT LINE (chicken marsala monday)

SHINE PRODUCT LINE (two artists tuesday)

SO MUCH POSSIBILITY PRODUCT LINE (flawed cartoon wednesday)

CLOSELY I WILL HOLD YOU PRODUCT LINE (david robinson thursday)

FISTFUL OF DANDELIONS PRODUCT LINE ( kerri sherwood friday)

and our blog sites:

my blog site: www.reversethreading.wordpress.com

david’s blog site: www.thedirectionofintention.com


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#MeToo

Screen Shot 2017-12-27 at 5.10.57 PM i believe in inherent goodness.  the inherent goodness of each and every person.  born in beauty, walking in beauty.  i blame my sweet momma.  she looked this way at every single person who crossed her path.
          but then, there’s the rest.  predisposed psychological genetics.  environment.  social prejudices.  bigotry.  elitism.  lack of empathy.  the inability to walk in another’s shoes.  the lack of wanting to try to walk in another’s shoes.  some kind of warped misinformed yet embraced caste system.  jealousy.  bitterness.  the web of ‘ugly’ has many faces.  and people twist.  and that inherent goodness seems to go underground.  we wonder if there is, indeed, any goodness left.  we are confronted with this question over and over again it seems, especially these days.
          we had a discussion about goodness recently.  it became heated.  the dog left the room and retreated to the bathroom.  we were intense.  too intense.  arguing for the same point, we came from two different directions, two different backgrounds.  but we were heading, actually, in the same direction.
          each of us carries our gift of inherent goodness.  we choose each and every day whether we access it or not. my momma’s adherence to the adage, “i shall pass through this world but once.  any good, therefore, that i can do or any kindness that i can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now.  let me not defer or neglect it for i shall not pass this way again.” often rings in my ears.  we all make decisions each day; some steeped in good, some not so much.
          as we approached the holidays and the end of the year, we were deeply diving into cleaning out.  seems right at the end of the year.  old boxes of random items that had accumulated in the years lived in this home, vestiges of life before, of life growing up, of goodnesses shown and received.  we had so much fun as we cleaned; i’d show d pictures or mementos from places or people or the children, every one of them an opportunity for a story.  some carried aha moments, some elicited sighs of where-does-the-time-go, some made me laugh or teary, some stopped me in my tracks.
          i came across things from way-earlier-life, the time i had spent growing up on long island.  my seagull collection, plastic seagulls suspended on wires attached to rocks or shells or pieces of cork, a 70s thing for sure.  my horse collection, which was, in my mind, massive, but when i unpacked it was more like 15 horse statues and ribbons from showing in horse shows, drawings i had painstakingly drawn, books i pored over and over and studied at a much younger age.  a doll collection with hand sewn or hand crocheted outfits made lovingly by my grandmother ‘mama dear’s’ hands.  books and notebooks and old calendars.  trinkets and rocks and feathers.  cards and letters i saved for decades.  artwork by the girl and the boy.  little notes they wrote to me.  an old electric typewriter and a case of 45rpm records we played the night we found them.
          and then there are the reminders from a time i don’t talk about so much.  a time when i became a #MeToo.  it takes my breath away to think of that 19 year old girl.  me – an idealistic, innocent, youngest-by-far child who looked at the world through poetic eyes and trusting-colored glasses.  my heart breaks now for this young woman who found her way through a terrifying -and life-changing- time pretty much alone, seeking little help for an act that drove to her core and was more than difficult to voice in a late 1970s judicial system.  because, you know, not everyone is good.  not everyone holds their inherent goodness ahead of their selfish, controlling, violent behaviors.  back then, counseling, and even prosecuting, was rare.  i didn’t experience either one.  the help of counseling nor the satisfaction of prosecuting this person who took away my belief and trust in goodness.  for a time, fear coursed through me.  my view of others became jaded and distrusting.  i sought refuge in varying ways, but never really explained why to myself or others.  i didn’t understand what caused this man to behave as he had, nor did i understand that it wasn’t mine to understand.  what i do know, is that i grew.
          and now, as our world opens their listening hearts to women and girls everywhere, i am grateful.  grateful for their collective voices and the deserved help extended to them. grateful that even in giving individual voice, they are moving through the processing of it, the reason for being a #MeToo becoming smaller than #MeToo survival.
          i was once told wise words from a friend when i was grieving my momma’s death.  joan said, “the only way to get to the other side is through it.”
          as i sort through all the pieces of life i have carried in boxes, in bins, in photographs, in my heart and soul, through all these years, i realize again that these words are so true.  in so many situations, so many life arenas. the only way to get to the other side is through it.  and then, you can find inherent goodness again.

 


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after the first half of the concert.

bcatForgetTheFirstHalfwe went to a concert a week ago or so. it was a group of us and we were all excited about going. the band we were going to see is creative, talented, sincere and full of energy. what’s not to like about that?!

we caravanned in three cars. well, we dan-a-vanned, actually, with dan leading the way. he is a GPS guru and, if you can keep up with him on the highway, a great person to follow going somewhere.

we got there, full of anticipation and excitement. sat in seats one row from the very top, able to look out at the whole audience. many of us have gone to concerts together before; we try to do fun stuff especially as the winter sets in.  we laugh a lot and that is a very good thing.

the concert started with an infomercial….on video and a live push as well. i thought perhaps that was it….one infomercial is plenty when you have purchased tickets to an event that is not a fundraiser. but that wasn’t the case. with the exception of two warm-up artists who played maybe 3 songs each, the whole first half of the concert was full of infomercial preaching and over-done talk-talk.

by the time we got to intermission, it was easy to be annoyed. the first half of the concert was over. we hadn’t seen the band we had come to see yet and now we had sat through what seemed to be agenda….i have yet to figure out why this was so. what symbiotic relationship is there between these infomercials and the band we were there to see? do these organizations host the whole concert tour? do they underwrite the concerts in venues of their choosing?  do they play the band’s music? no matter how dedicated the band is to these efforts, was it appropriate to take up most of the first half of this concert with this rhetoric? i was sitting in my concert-seat trying to figure out this stuff. is that where the band would want me to start?

so now, here we are, at the second half. and i have to say, i am not “feelin’ the love.” it took me a good portion of the second half to get back to open-hearted listening of this concert, to actually hear the music and embrace it.

because: the band concert i had come to see was colored by the first half of the concert.

and then – there’s life.

wow. i can’t think of a better metaphor than this concert.

WE are colored by the first half, the first part, the beginning and middle of life as we step into the Next of life. “of course we are,” you say aloud to me. cognitively we totally get it. we shouldn’t bring into Next what colored us from Before. we have to draw the line in the sand. lessons – yes. anger, frustrations, disappointments, prejudices – no. each Next is a fresh start.  for that matter, yes, each new day is a fresh start.

d and i have been doing a meditation that was offered free with oprah and deepak. it has been about awareness and making every moment matter. now, i am all about moments (that whole thready thing and all.)  but awareness is a much bigger responsibility than we realize.  it’s so much easier to react than to stop for a few seconds (or however long it takes) and be aware. sometimes i find i should Stop longer than i stop.  awareness can be slowww in arriving, particularly if i stubbornly hold onto all the negative stuff.  we sometimes cling to that stuff as if it were a lifevest.

now…i am thinking:  in those moments, when i can feel myself reacting (strongly or negatively or angrily or with preformed disposition) to something, i realize (metaphorically) that i am at the (in-real-life) concert and i am looking at the second half through first-half-eyes. it is becoming an amazing tool for me to stop and think – what about the first half of the concert is getting under my skin for this Next?  am i aware that the second half can be even just moments after the first half?  it’s not always years or decades that separates Before from Next.  it can be minutes.   it’s shocking how blind we can be to what we carry forward, one minute to the Next.

the Next is full of good and hope and moments and not-what’s-lost-but-what-is-still-there-ness (thank you, ptom). stepping over the limen, the threshold, is necessary.  leaving behind the first half of the concert, the part that colors us and clouds our clear-eyed-hopeful-stepping-into the second half, is absolute.

holding on, letting go

itunes: kerri sherwood


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always an honor.

img_3625.jpgi played for a funeral today. the family celebrated the life of a beautiful young woman who i didn’t know, but who, through the stories told, sounded lovely. the sanctuary was full and boxes of tissues were numerous throughout the pews. my heart hurt for them; i was upstairs in the balcony, separated from this family, but joined in the feeling of what grief can do.

someone asked me if it was hard to play for funerals, if i would prefer not to. completely opposite of that, i am honored to play for a funeral. it is the last public celebration of someone’s life; it is sobering to think that you can play a part in maybe, just maybe, providing something that might be comforting to people in pain. as a minister of music i often play for funerals and for weddings as well; both are gifts, reminders of holding on to the people we love, letting these people know we love them. trite, maybe. but sitting in a balcony gazing down at those who have gathered to celebrate the coming-together of two lives or the time a person has spent in their midst cuts to the core of my soul and i always find myself weeping. i am fortunate to work with an amazing pastor whose extra-tall physical presence belies his soft heart. his voice cracks in emotional response in these difficult times. i feel lucky to be around someone who has so much empathy and compassion; our world truly needs more pToms.

years ago i played for my brother’s funeral. in recent years, my dad’s and my sweet momma’s. they were devastatingly hard to play for, but i wouldn’t have had it any other way. i chose music i knew my dad and my mom would want, hymns that were their personal favorites, melody and lyrics that have meant something to them. i played a song i wrote for each of them. it was an unbelievable honor to have this important role in the celebration of their lives.

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my big bro and me. way too long ago.

today is my big brother’s birthday. wayne would have been 67 today.  i have often spoken of him in my writings. i don’t think there is a day that goes by without my thinking of him. i miss him. i say that each year. it never changes. grief is like that. it’s just there. the desperate moments, well, they ease up. but the i-wish-he-was-here moments – they keep coming.

today i sat on the organ bench and, in a moment of overwhelm, dug my phone out of my bag. i texted d…that this young woman was so…young. and that it took my breath away. it made me want to hug both of my children that very moment. impossible, with the girl in the middle of a move from one mountain range to another, and the boy in the middle of a beautiful boston day. so i texted d, who i knew understood all the layers of heart that playing for this service today touched. hard. not my favorite thing to do. but always, always an honor.


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this is us.

and now painting i don’t think i’ve ever binge-watched anything before. not even repeated viewings of my favorite movie my big fat greek wedding or even when harry met sally. ever. (oh wait. one time in minneapolis while waiting for the girl at her apartment, her roommates convinced me to watch a few hours of big bang theory, which i loved. but that was merely a few hours, so i’m not sure it counts as total binge-watching.)

but yesterday? yesterday was different. d and i celebrated our second wedding anniversary, sitting on the raft binging on a show we hadn’t even been aware of till recently. despite its emmy award-winning status, we were mostly unaware of this is us. But then everyone at ukulele band rehearsal was talking about it and we thought, “ok, ok…i guess we should watch an episode and see what they are talking about.” daena offered us her netflix account (or was it her hulu account?) but we ended up just streaming it on nbc.com, which meant we watched commercials over and over and over. these not only gave us time to talk about the show, but also to breathe in-between the segments of show. the punctuation gave us a moment to rest. just like in music. yeah, just like in life.

we started the day on the rocks watching the sun rise over the lake. it was cloudy and windy and the waves were just about splashing us as we sat on a flat rock clutching our thready-breckenridge-plastic-travel-mugs filled with coffee. (coffee tastes better in real mugs, we discussed on the rock. coffee aficionados that we are, we are experts on mugs and double-experts on thready mugs…ones that make us remember moments, places, people, events, simply breathing.)

a fresh pot of coffee later, with rain in the offing, we all four (dogdog and babycat too) got on the raft and started what ended up to be an out-and-out-major-binge of this show. i was reticent ahead of time to think i would get tied into it…a disbeliever of sorts. i knew that the girl and the boy have binge-watched shows of choice and, yet, didn’t think i could sit and watch for that long.

but as the day wore on and the snacks on the raft changed, my husband’s hand firmly in mine – all day – i began to see that this was indeed a show that drew me in. excellent writing, good acting, lighting that spoke to me, a music score that resonated….it all drew me in. well done. very well done.

we talked about the show as we watched, particularly after episodes as we pondered the next snack on this celebratory day, a day we had put aside to do whatever-we-wanted. the real-life-ness of it was painful sometimes. we could relate. we couldn’t relate. mostly, we could feel it. the sign of a good show.

somewhere in there i looked at d and said, “life is just messy all over, isn’t it?” nothing is neat or tidy or figured-out. nothing is really as it looks. nothing is easy. it’s all complex and layered and muddy and…stunningly beautiful.

a few nights before this anniversary we gathered at dear friends’ house with other friends. we drank wine, toasting our anniversary and john and michele’s as well. we had appetizers, looked at flowers in the garden, took pictures in golden sunsetting light on the lake rocks. we filled ourselves with dinner and conversation and laughter and, yes, dark chocolate. d and i spent a lot of yesterday reliving the days before our wedding, when our children and our families and friends came together to help us marry…in a church community we treasure, in an old beach house where we all danced and gathered for the food truck and wore glow necklaces around a bonfire. we marveled at the relationships with all of these amazing people. we marvel today at the same.

late last night we read our service together. we listened to the music we chose for the service…and we remembered. we honored that day. the song d walked down the aisle to – and now – made us have tears and gabriel’s oboe – what i walked down the aisle to – made us weep openly. 11:11 – the time of our wedding – is a sacred time for us. we notice it as often as possible. yesterday was one of those days.

david painted me a painting as a wedding gift. it hangs in my studio. it is called and now, same as the song i wrote him.  we are joined by hands in this stunning-heart-painting, our bodies touching, reaching forward toward the future. and now close-upeach moment in that time stretching forward will not be without stress, without things that are difficult or painful. but each moment THIS will be us. getting there – together.

this is us appeals to us. not just because it is truly a riveting show. but because this is us reminds us that THIS is us. THIS is life. THIS messy, complicated, incredibly blissful, excruciatingly painful life….IS us.

and now – on itunes