reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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army green converse sneakers.

we took the train there. it was a glorious day and we had left extra time to walk around the little town, explore a bit, sit, have a glass of wine. the sun was warm and we were looking forward to hearing an author speak, one i have respected for many years. joyce maynard was at the book stall in winnetka, sharing wisdoms and her newest book, a memoir titled the best of us. IMG_0025

the sun warmed us on this early fall day as we sat and sipped, waiting for the time of the reading to begin. i told david stories about reading joyce’s work, way back even before the time when I lived in little bitty hillsboro, new hampshire and, from a short distance away, she wrote a column called domestic affairs. she has had impact on me for many a year and i was happy to be able to tell her that in person.

we haven’t started reading her new book yet. she inscribed it to us, “with the hope that our story inspires your own.” the best of us is a profound story of love and loss and growth and embracing Living.  joyce was honest and candid. she read sections of the book aloud. she shared real moments that were both excruciatingly painful and infinitely life-full. and she wore awesome army green converse sneakers.

seeing joyce was multi-layered for me, as it is whenever we attend openings or readings or concerts…as an artist it always makes me think about where i have been, where i am, where i am going. it was lovely to meet such a prolific author, inspiring to hear her words about her book. but mostly? mostly it made me want to write more, share more. words. lyrics. music. paintings. our new two-person play. medium doesn’t matter. it’s a spur that i could feel – deep inside.

as an artist couple, our spectrum of emotions is pretty wide. sometimes maybe too wide (yes, it’s ok to laugh here.) but as an artist couple we both feel the spur and we join hands and jump into the next thing.

…but not until after i order a pair of army green converse sneakers.

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my treasured pink hand-me-downs from the girl

 


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the view-master

a couple sundays ago i had the honor of speaking for a few moments to our church congregation.  normally, the hat i wear at trinity is a minister of music hat, but i was happy to speak a few words (ok, maybe more than a few…i am not the most succinct person on this planet) during that service.  the service was called “a joyful noise” sunday and it was day dedicated to a hymn sing.

taking into account the lessons to be read during the service and expanding on a recent writing, i prepared a few words on Joy.  a couple of  people have since asked me to publish this here and so, this is what i said:

IMG_0021This is a view-master. It’s pretty old-school.  Each time I push the lever a new snapshot is available to look at, to ponder. I recently realized that this is the way I write. And so, with respect, I’d like to offer a few viewmaster moments that make me think about joy.

It’s that time of year. There are pictures in the Kenosha News of students moving into campus at Carthage. Any day now there will be pictures of the first days of school at Unified. Nine years ago, right around now, i stood on the University of Minnesota campus. We had packed up the little Scion till you couldn’t even fit a Snickers bar into any of the spaces left. The entire car was glowing pink. The girl – that’s my daughter Kirsten – and her roommate were decorating in pink. Pink everything. Pink comforters, pink bins, pink rugs, pink shower pails. We unloaded into the dorm….traipsing with everyone through the halls, lugging huge futon boxes and armloads of clothes. Organizing the dormroom through the day I struggled to keep finding tasks, maybe to delay my leaving for just a little longer. We walked outside and started to stroll on campus when she turned to me and said, “I think I’m going to go.” “Where are we going?” I asked. “No,” she said, “I am going to go – to the union.” I realized it was time. Every word of wisdom I had wanted to relay to her dropped out of the synapses in my brain and I stood staring at her. I told her to go be her, to be amazing and I loved her. She walked away, with great anticipation, grace, excitement. With great joy. I stood and watched, tears in my eyes. My cellphone buzzed. There was a text from her. It read – “Don’t be sad, mom. Be ecstatic. I love you.” I drove home – alone. When I got there I put on laundry, cause that’s what my mom did when she was upset. In the putting on of laundry, I had to move one load into the dryer. I took out a dryer sheet and out of the dryer sheet box flew an index card. It read, “Thinking of you. With love from Minnesota.” The girl had hidden 31 of these around the house. Bringing joy.

Be ecstatic. Joy. Joy is our right. Joy is our responsibility.

My momma was rushed to the emergency room. Because we were there in Florida visiting her, we were able to meet her there at the ER. She had fallen and was in tremendous pain. At 93 a fall was dangerous and there was worry about her hip. For hours we were in the little examining room, waiting, watching, reassuring. It was the middle of the night and the attending nurse was obviously exhausted. She was a capable young woman, but had little patience and wasn’t friendly or smiling much. My sweet momma, in her pain, gazed up at her, smiled gently and said, “I wish I had your beautiful smile.” That moment. The moment that she brought joy to someone else, changed everything. The nurse was deeply affected by her words, which changed everything in the room, and, I suspect, in all the concentric circles that reached outward, including ours.

Joy. Our right. Our responsibility. Doesn’t one lead to the other?

When I interviewed for the job of minister of music here at Trinity they asked me several questions. Then they asked me if I had anything I wanted to add. (As you would suspect) I said that I did. I wanted to add that my mission as minister of music had formed through about 25 years of work in churches and with people volunteering to be a part of the music programs in those churches. The most important thing to me to tell them was that I feel deeply that the music and the music program in a church is about JOY. It is not about perfection. Like any musician (or anyone for that matter) I love when things go perfectly. But if perfection is the mission that they wanted at Trinity, I was not the right person. I have found if you expect perfection, you lose joy. If you expect joy, you find perfection.

We worship together and sing in community. Each of the songs we sing is a moment in time that we bring to worship, whether it is in a traditional hymn or a contemporary song. We offer songs of praise and songs of love and songs of yearning and songs of hope. We don’t come here expecting to get joy. We bring joy. And that? That begets joy. Our right. Our responsibility.

We were walking through Menards (like Home Depot, for those of you not in Menards-land)  and passed a sign that read “Happiness is not a destination. It is a way of life.” This immediately made me think of my best friend since the time I was three. This saying was what she had chosen to put in her yearbook under her picture. Somehow, forty years later, because I am ridiculously thready, I still remembered this. What was really funny was that when she and her husband visited this summer, she didn’t remember this at all. (I believe she just set about to live it.) These days we are surrounded by sayings and words of inspiration on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Menards. Sometimes they feel trite. But that’s only because they are so prevalent. They are no less real. No less worthy. They just flatten out because we see so much of them. We tend to not notice as deeply anymore. Happiness is not a destination. It is a way of life.

Sally’s momma’s farmhouse is for sale. Although, with a deep root there, she is able to find her way around the rooms, she doesn’t recognize it as hers anymore because she is in the throes of dementia. So when they were there, Sally said her momma saw the for sale sign and told Sally she’d like to buy it. Sally explained that then her momma would be far away – hours -from her grown children and they wouldn’t be able to be with her. She asked her momma what she would do all day. “Play the piano,” she said. “I’d play the piano.” Joy is not really complicated.

I read a striking CNN article about Hurricane Harvey and a man named Mr. Harding. I want to share part of it with you:
One of his sons is an avid piano player and was concerned the family’s piano would be destroyed by flood water. When Mr. Harding found the water hadn’t covered the piano, he sat down and began to play. “I decided to take a moment and play and take it all in,” he told CNN on Thursday. He posted the video of the moment on Instagram with the caption, “I think it’s all finally sinking in a little. What we used to have going as a city is gone. I really think God is going to do something completely new here. I am excited to see the new beauty in the suffering.” Joy.

Early yesterday morning we sat in bed, sipping coffee, early morning sunshine streaming in the windows, a cool breeze crossing the room. We could hear the birds, the squirrels, the sounds of our sweet neighbors John and Michele clinking silverware and plates, making breakfast. Babycat and Dogdog laid on the bed snoring. IMG_0024No matter the worries or sadnesses, challenges or problems that would befall us in the day or days to come, that moment was a picture of JOY.  A view-master snapshot of what is in our very fibre if we notice. Our God-given right. Our God-given responsibility.

 

 

 

 


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the back seat on the porch.

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monticello is a small town. there is a main road and a few arteries – small businesses dot these arteries a block or two off the main street. we’ve driven through there a time or two before, to see the place columbus talked about, but mostly to try and buy him a t-shirt. somehow, we managed to always get there after the shops closed, which is a little earlier than we were used to. so, no t-shirts.

this time, though, we were there to stay a few days. we picked up columbus and jeanne from the airport and brought them to an airbnb farmhouse we had pre-arranged. i knew that was the place to stay when i saw the porch.IMG_0020 i could picture columbus sitting on that porch, with the surrounding land to which his soul was ever-connected. i booked it, despite my mother-in-law’s wishes to stay at a motel in the area. now, it is dangerous to not listen and, even with my certainty about that being the right place for this pilgrimage, i was a little nervous about how they (read: she) would feel about it. they are dear to me and i don’t want to – well, let’s just say – tick them off.

IMG_0013the first time we sat on the porch columbus had a lite beer and stared out at the corn and soybeans (at least we think they were soybeans.). he talked about his days working in fields, traveling the roads he wondered if he could now remember, his friends, his growing-up house.

i sat in the back row on the porch and listened and watched. although we all asked questions, no other voices were really necessary…just his. the back row is a good place to listen from and to watch from. IMG_0019 i could watch my husband listening to his dad, absorbing the details, sometimes patiently listening to repeated stories. i could watch my mother-in-law help with some of the details, talking about the history columbus had and their shared decades of life, some of it spent in this panther-highschool-football-team-land. i spent a good bit of time staring at the corn and soybeans too. and a good bit of time silently taking pictures of a sojourn that my father-in-law had talked about for years.

he had wanted to “go back home” for quite some time. he wanted to visit the cemetery where he “knew a lot of people”.  IMG_0009he wanted to go see and touch the home that his grandpa built, proud to have been raised in a house where he saw the toil that made it possible. he wanted to visit with his aunt joanne, a feisty woman just a couple years older than him. his list wasn’t long. not much else. he just wanted to BE there. and so we were. we followed his heart around his home town.

we sat on the porch the second day to greet the morning and later in the day to process the day. we seemed to have assigned seats, mine, once again, in the back row, a place i lingered in, petting the farm cat i had fallen in love with, listening, sipping coffee or wine. i watched the satisfied look on columbus’ face take hold, the longing of wanting-to-go-back sated by the being-there. he was surrounded by memories-he-remembered and by memories-that-were-slipping-away. he navigated trying moments of confusion in his talk-talk. he spoke of glorious times. he spoke of hard times. he talked -like we all talk about the place that was home- with deep love and a root that is unbreakable.

the next day we visited with his aunt, a couple other relatives, a few old friends.  we went and found a pork tenderloin sandwich for him. we drove away from town for the last time and back to the farmhouse.IMG_0010 it was a little chilly that evening. early the next morning we would be taking them back to the airport. we didn’t sit on the porch.

i went out to see sweetie (the name i gave the cat) and to look at the sky, to remember. i, momentarily, took my back seat on the porch and quietly gave thanks for this time. i know why columbus didn’t want to porch-sit that night. sometimes, it’s a little too much. sometimes, a porch can make you feel more emotion than you can handle. i think, for columbus, that last night on the porch was one of those times.IMG_0017

so this time we were there -in that little town- when it was open. and this time we got him a t-shirt.  he was planning to wear it the day he got back home.  and who doesn’t get that?


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something to pay attention to.

like so many others today, i paid attention to the solar eclipse. where we live in wisconsin, the sun was going to be 84% draped by the moon and, as it turned out, the clouds made that difficult – at best – to see. but there was nevertheless a couple of hours when i was aware that there were many others, all across the country, who were paying attention to the same exact thing i was.

now i am sure that there are many who could write eloquently about this day…a day when the celestial heavens all lined up, where the power of one celestial could, literally, overshadow another. so i won’t even try to put words into the science of it, the emotion of it, the mystic of it. what i was really aware of is that never once during this period of time did i look at the news app on my phone. i didn’t tune in to all the mayhem that is now our country, our world. i simply watched the sky (well, to be accurate, i watched the cardstock on the deck while david held a second piece that was pinholed. we didn’t have eclipse glasses. we don’t have stunning photographs to mark this time. i took a picture over the house of the sun-glow in a cloudy sky, just to remember.)IMG_2827

i wondered about my children, my family and my friends all across this beautiful country…whether or not they were watching the sky too. i held them each in my thoughts and pictured their homes or where they lived, where they might be.  i wondered if everything aligned so that they could see totality or maybe become swathed in darkness for a couple minutes, nothing shy of remarkable.

we watched a bit of the nasa channel and some reporting from a couple major networks – but only about the eclipse. we marveled at the footage and drew in our breath at the diamond ring that appears after the moon shadows the sun.  gorgeous.  it was amazing.

here in wisconsin the sky and the air around us got darker, like when dusk is setting in or maybe a storm is arriving. cooler breezes blew around us, a nice relief to the midwest afternoon humidity that had set in. we toasted iced coffees at the moment of peaking coverage and sat on the deck, trying not to look at the sun, even in its hide-and-seek mode. we took a walk and exchanged “happy eclipse day” greetings with neighbors and others we passed who we didn’t know.

for just a little while, the sun and the moon were the focus in our day. the yin and the yang…existing as inseparable and as contradictory opposites. not seeking to be dominant but living in relationship. interconnected. balanced.

FullSizeRendermaybe this event in our day, this yin-and-yang-sun-and-moon-experience, was a reminder of two distinctly different halves that form wholeness. maybe that is why it was so striking – the day-sky and the night-sky together at the same time, impacting us. maybe it is a starting point for us. a starting point for change. the realization that if these magnificently opposite celestial energies can co-exist, we earthly beings can do the same. not seeking to be dominant but living in relationship. interconnected. balanced.

maybe it’s the something to pay attention to.

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moon and water horizontal


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lemon meringue pie

a few days ago it was official lemon meringue pie day. now i don’t know who decides these things, but a day (especially right now in our world) dedicated to confection doesn’t seem like a bad thing.  and, seeing that in the paper made me think of my momma.

photomy sweet momma loved lemon meringue pie. no, that’s too mild….she adored lemon meringue pie. in the days prior to chocolate ganache cake (thank you, publix!) she would, sometimes, allow herself to have a piece of this bright yellow unicorn/rainbow/bubble sort of dessert. now, to be fair to other fruits, she also loved all other fruit pies. a piece of blueberry pie and a cuppacoffee made her smile; a piece of lemon meringue could elicit giggles. i mean, really, when is the last time you had that whipped confectionery sugar stuff stuck to your chin and the sides of your lips? you can’t help but giggle. such joy.

the book next to our bed is titled ‘the book of joy’ and it is next up on our read-it-aloud-together list. maybe we’ll start it sitting in adirondack chairs out back. maybe we’ll start it on a blanket on the beach. maybe we’ll start it sitting in the breezes that cross our bedroom, filled with soft light and treasured mementos, our favorite quilt, dogdog and babycat snoozing sounds. just the thought of reading this aloud together brings me joy. joy.

where do we learn joy from? is it something that we are taught? is it something that is inherent in each person on this good earth? is it reachable even by those who are in distraught times, in times of darkness?   is it a right? is it a responsibility?FullSizeRender(1)

my sweet momma was one of those people who was filled with joy. she woke me up every morning with the bright words “good morning, merry sunshine!” or “good morning, my sweet potato!” even in my grouchiest mornings i found it hard to resist smiling to that. i have no idea what she might have been dealing with at those times – her own life stuff with her parents, financial woes, words with my dad, a leak in the basement, personal disappointments or victories, worries about something in our family, what to cook for dinner, menopause or physical challenges, or a plethora of big or little things that were happening. regardless of whatever was in the docket in her mind, she made an effort (without making it look like she was making an effort) to bring joy.

momma’s level of excitement was contagious. she definitely leaned toward full spectrum on the positive side of the emotion band. her reaction to plans you talked about with her always met with enthusiasm…and often glee. the way she met life has set the bar high for me, making me cringe when there are others around me who don’t enthuse or act excited. i remember how she could make a bike hike even just to the dairy barn to buy milk sound like an adventure. joy.IMG_2785

today i am grateful to my sweet momma for teaching me how to lean into joy. this doesn’t mean i am always joy-filled. like everyone, i have my moments when i can be a raving …ummm… or i can feel sadness or grief with every fiber or i can be worried or disgruntled or fed up or overwhelmed by the details of life. but i truly think it was my momma who showed me, by her lifelong demonstration, how to pluck a joyous moment from a day and memorize it. IMG_2784how to write it down or pick up a rock (or a feather or a stick or a leaf) to remember it. how to notice joy and how to save joy. how to be thready about joy. how to lead with joy…in anything. how to own joy. how to be. joy.

there are too few days, i now know, over and over again, for each day not to be find-the-joy-in-today day.  it may be the smallest of things in a ridiculously complex, sometimes-driving-you-to-your-knees challenging world, but it’s there somewhere. i know it’s so. my momma taught me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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andrea’s song

IMG_2711the sound of the cicadas outside brought me back to my childhood home on long island.  we had woods behind our yard and the summer days and nights were a symphony of crickets and cicadas. i would sometimes sit in my poetry tree (a maple outside my bedroom window with perfect limbs for climbing and sitting) late into the day, writing or reading and, although i probably never appreciated the crickets and cicadas as i do now, i would listen as the day would softly pass by. my sweet momma would know where to find me; if i wasn’t riding bikes with sue, at the dive center, fishing with crunch or at the beach, i was likely in that tree.

i wrote a lot of poems in that tree, a lot of reflections, a lot of stories and maybe even a little music…the kind without the music. as i think about the people who encouraged me in writing, one of the first people i think of is andrea. andrea was my high school english teacher. she, along with kevin, were the coolest in the english department. andrea, with kerchiefs in her hair and peace sign necklaces, long skirts and funky glasses, was the epitome of hip. we, painlessly, learned from her teaching style, her quiet wisdom, her laugh, her smile.

andrea was the teacher coordinating the art and literary magazine ‘gemini’ at our high school. i was involved with this annual publication each year, but was the editor-in-chief during my senior year of high school, a job i adored. not only did i get to immerse myself in a lot of poetry and art, but i got to lay out the publication and handle many of the details, all the while hanging out with andrea and having conversations about life and writing and balance.

in the (aaack! many) years since high school i have thought about her often and finally, over the last eight years or so, was able to get back into contact with her.   not only did i want to know how she was, where she was, what she was doing, but i wanted to share with her where i was and what i was doing. mostly, it mattered to me what her thoughts were. during that time we shared snippets of life. i found i could still learn from her teaching style, her quiet wisdom and her smile, even without physically seeing her. at one point she wrote to me, “nothing is idyllic. i think we have idyllic moments. we have to take time to savor what is around us.”   yet another invaluable reminder. how often must we learn these things, i wonder.

when we were planning our trip to boston for this summer, i found myself hoping that we would have the chance to see andrea…meet for coffee, have a glass of wine together. i worried when i didn’t hear back from her; she usually answered email. i was anxious to visit with her, thank her in person for the influence she had had on me, hear what she thought about a project i had sent her. it was about a week before we left, when i was online pondering whether to send her another note, that i saw the very sad news that she had died. i was stunned and (what would maybe seem) inordinately devastated. the connection backwards in time was broken; the opportunity to sit with andrea now vapor.

i thought about extending my sympathies on social media but for some reason that seemed too shallow. there is a loss i feel when i no longer hear the cicadas in the fall…something visceral that i feel inside. the loss of andrea was intensely visceral.

IMG_2708all throughout our home you will find peace signs; each of these signs make me think of this beloved lady in my life, this positive force who, without knowing, kept me writing, thinking, writing.

in my mind’s eye, i can feel sitting in my poetry tree. the cicadas’ song was all around me. as i write now, i cannot help but think about andrea and the things i learned from her, most of which had nothing to do with grammar and punctuation, but instead, with honoring the words within, the emotions, things palpable and things we can’t see or touch.  and so, savoring that learning, in fact, leaning into it, her song is all around me. it’s idyllic.

…peace out…

 

 


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old navy flipflops

FullSizeRender68 miles doesn’t sound like a lot until you think about it all in flipflops. $2 on-sale-old-navy flipflops. in the last 19 days (5 of which were spent driving long-distance road trips) we have walked a total of 68 miles (this is the distance logged when carrying my cellphone….we don’t have fitbits so in-the-house or around the yard steps are not logged.). this doesn’t seem remarkable necessarily (although walking to downtown chicago – 66 miles from here – in flipflops seems a bit daunting); if you take away the road trip days and do the division it averages 4.9 miles a day. we are big walkers and will walk places instead of jumping in the car. but, if you remember (which is beyond the scope of your responsibility or interest) i had broken my little baby toe. this was right before we went out east to visit the boy and his boyfriend in boston.

although i packed numerous pairs of sandal-type shoes i was hoping to wear, the only pair of shoes i could wear was this one pair of flip flops. every day. black flipflops. (there are many women cringing right now, thinking of how flip flops don’t go with every single outfit, but as karen told me, “flipflops are my shoe of choice in the summer” so i felt better. i kept thinking about how much space i would have saved had i only packed that one pair. (ok, make that two pairs – i totally had a matching pair as a back-up in the case of flip-flop blowout disaster.). wearing flipflops every day on our trip (and literally every day since breaking my toe) has made one outfit decision easier. and we all know that the shoe thing for most women is stressful and cumbersome when it comes to packing. jay and i exchange laughing texts when we are packing for respective trips about how many pairs of shoes we are including. what is that they say? #firstworldproblems. that’s for sure.

regardless, these flipflops have seen great days. i suspect when they finally bite the dust i will want to add them to our special box….the place we store things that are mementos from, well, everything.

the 5 miles a day or so that these have walked have included time spent on the ball field watching the boy play softball, that batting stance i watched for years, the fielding and play where i can practically see the strategy wheels turning in his brain. what a joy to see him laughing in the field or loping around the bases. my amazing son.

these flipflops have prepared dinner together with the boys on a rooftop patio, toasting with red wine, talking and sharing and watching the rain come in over the boston harbor.

these flipflops went on a merry 7 mile (brisk, cause that’s how they roll) walk through the commons and the gardens, stopping to make the boys pose for pictures and totally play tourist.IMG_2147

they went on the crowded T train with david standing on my left, hoping to stave off people tromping on my little toe. the one time i didn’t have them on? – when we rented bowling shoes, mine two different sizes, one waay too big so as to fit this toe oddity.

these flipflops strolled on the beach by the cape, sat by the bonfire in rhode island, found their way to lots of coffeehouses everywhere along the way (starbucks and wonderful privately-owned cafes), walked along canalside in buffalo. IMG_2351they have since walked with my childhood best friend, the one who knows my mom, my dad, my brother, my grandparents on both sides, my growing up dogs, my old bike, my shag rug in my bedroom, probably still my locker combinations. they have embraced the farmer’s market every saturday, with cherished company and just the two of us. they have been there as we geeked our way cheering, eating, drinking and visiting through the kingfish game. they have walked our crazy aussie-dog. with them on, i have laughed, i have argued, i have tripped on uneven sidewalks snorting my own self-disapproval, i have cried (leaving the boy and the girl always always makes me cry.)

there is a quote on the side of the july 2017 edition of real simple magazine. It reads, “some of the best memories are made in flip flops.” (kellie elmore). I don’t know who kellie is, but i wholeheartedly agree. linda and i were talking on the phone just the other day. she said that she and bill once again agreed that it’s every single moment that counts; we must live every single moment. how many times i have re-learned this. how many more times i suspect i will re-learn this. i expect that i will live them in boots, in slippers, in heels, barefoot. but if every one of them were in flipflops i would be ok with that. these 68 miles have rocked.

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the faces of my life.

IMG_1991“…in the nighttime of your fear…” the lyrics of this hymn jump out at me. how many times have i been awake in the nighttime…wrapping my arms around fear of some sort. how many times have i been awake in the daytime with ‘the nighttime of my fear’? being awake with fear makes every muscle aware, every hair stand on end, every emotion close to the surface. and the fear doesn’t have to be physical…sometimes it is fear of the unknown, fear of change (no! really?), fear of differences that set you apart. any way you slice it, fear becomes visceral and, as carol used to always say, you can taste the adrenaline. in these moments, there are voices i pine for, people i want to be near, reassurances for which i yearn. how many times have i told david i wish i could just talk to my sweet momma. how many times have i asked my dad aloud – hoping for a sticky note to float down from heaven – for his words of wisdom. i’ve asked my brother wayne for car and fixing stuff advice; i’ve asked my friend richie for a tad bit of his sense of humor in a tense moment. the list of people on the other side extends out, in ever-larger concentric circles, as i realize how much i miss their words of wisdom. the faces of my life. and then, often in an awakening moment of grief, i realize that there is indeed wisdom and reassurance all around me.

the ukulele band rehearsals are at our house in the summer. most often outside on sometimes-warm-sometimes-cool summer nights on the patio, last night was inside with impending storms in the area. i had broken my little baby toe earlier in the day and was limping around a bit (and maybe whining also.) betsi and jay offered advice, carol and helen grimaced with me, remembering breakages of their own, david jokingly spoke of designing steel-toed flip-flops. a posse of people making my little toe feel better. there were conversations about dietary/lifestyle changes, inexpensive backyard solutions, growing herbs, new albums out, nitrate-free bacon, up north… really, anything you might want some solid talk-talk about was possible. the faces of my life. “…we are pilgrims on a journey, we are travelers on the road.   we are here to help each other walk the mile and bear the load…”

in conversation with susan or linda or jen or heidi, we talk about loss of a parent or we talk about children growing up and away or we talk about where we are in life…they have been there when i’ve cried…they have shared tears with me. they have laughed with me till it hurt. powerful moments of empathy. with david, the sharing of raw emotion, the frustrations and the bliss of being “too close”, the tears and the laughter are full spectrum. the faces of my life. “…i will weep when you are weeping; when you laugh i’ll laugh with you…”

we were standing on the opposite side of a stream from where we needed to be. three times while we were in the mountains this was where i found myself.  (well, metaphorically, i suppose that would be countless times, but who’s talking in metaphors?) the first time, david crossed over, using stones and a wayward log that had fallen. even now, my feet tingle thinking about it. he quietly told me that i could do it and reached out his hand to me so that I could grasp it as soon as i was within reach. his eyes, unwaveringly gentle and reassuring, convinced me to work with the fear i felt and move forward. “…i will hold my hand out to you..” IMG_2744one of the other times becky, david and kirsten (the girl) had already crossed the stream. it wasn’t a huge chasm, but it was enough to make me think about going the “other way”. and yet, it was their faces on the other side that helped the nugget of fear i felt go away.   the faces of my life.

” …i will share your joy and sorrow till we’ve seen this journey through…” our time on this beautiful earth is forever and fleeting. both. this journey is filled with design of the universe and gorgeous wisdom and warm reassurance. the faces of our lives. on this side and on the other side. they will hold us in ‘the nighttime of our fear’. they will hold us in the moment.  we are never alone.

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the mountains are calling.

there is a spot when you are driving to colorado that – all of a sudden – the mountains come into view. they are far away, on the horizon, but their presence hits me to the core. every single time i catch my breath. every single time i get tears in my eyes. every single time i anticipate the air i feel there, the space, the vastness, the greatness, the majesty of those ever-present giants.

we come over the rise of the pass and i instantly weep. there in front of us are these incredible soaring heights of rock, dotted with gorgeous green pine trees, verdant aspens. every single time i catch my breath. every single time i weep. every single time i anticipate the air i feel there, the space, the vastness, the greatness, the majesty of those ever-present giants.

we sit in adirondack chairs in the snow, midway up a-basin, soaking in the sun, eating baradirondackchairsAbasinbecue, listening to a band. in front of us, hundreds of spring skiers and boarders go past us – we virtually have front row seats. we watch the girl approach from the heights of the ski mountain…she gets closer, closer. her ability on that snowboard astounds us. she is one with it; her passion for the snow obvious in her huge laughter as she stops abruptly in front of us, deliberately and generously spraying us with snow and slush. leighonsnowboardi catch my breath as i look at my beautiful daughter, the mountains behind her, intense sun. i laugh, all the way from my heart, as i celebrate with her. this air, this space, this vastness, this greatness, this majesty.

one of our hikes was about 6 miles, half of that all uphill. not uphill like the little hill that used to be at the end of the road i grew up on, where you could not pedal all the way down and the momentum would take you all the way around the corner and beyond. no, this uphill is serious. i’m not sure of the elevation gain, but, after the hike, i would swear it paralleled everest.  …ok, maybe not so much… regardless, it was uphill in snow. snow! we were hiking well into june and there was snow on this trail. lots of it. feetinsnowhikingthe air was clear and crisp. the sun dappled through the trees. (haven’t you always wanted to write that? “dappled through the trees.”)   when you are on the mountain hiking, you aren’t as aware of the mountain, if that makes sense. (i remember one time out in the colorado mountains when i was heading to a concert venue and they gave me directions through high elevation plains.  i drove along, wondering where the mountains had gone.  when you are up on them, you don’t see them.  so much like life, eh?)  but when you are hiking and you come up to a clearing kdotatclearingand there is a break in the trees and you can see beyond where you are standing, beyond the trail, beyond limitations, you can see that the mountains out there go on and on and on. we came upon such a clearing and i caught my breath. i didn’t want to turn around. i wanted to keep going and going. to see more of this space, this vastness, this great majesty.

we were driving down the mountain and came upon a lookout with a trailhead. stopping to get out and stretch our legs on the trail we took a few pictures. (this is a never-ending thing…there is an incredible photograph every other second. you have to be careful to not get lost behind the camera – sometimes you miss the moment that way.)  the photographs looked not “real”  –  the beauty so …….what word is bigger than astounding? i stand and look out in amazement.   tears of gratitude and joy and sheer life make me catch my breath.   once again, that air, that space, that vastness, that greatness, the majesty. all right there.

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it’s funny how when i write about these mountains, this place, i can’t seem to stay in the same tense. if she reads this, andrea will shake her head and wonder if i remember anything she taught me about writing back in high school. but there is something that dominates my need for tense-correctness in this writing. it’s the holding-on-feeling-it-still-ness of these moments. it confuses the tense use, but helps me – viscerally – like goose bumps on my skin – remember. so i will forgo correctness for anything to burn these golden moments – like a kiln with raku pottery – into my memory bank, open to draw upon any time i need to.

i cry a lot in the mountains. it’s always good. it’s Divine Intervention reminding me to breathe, touch, taste, see, feel each and every moment. they are vast and great and majestic. every one is our own mountain. and yes, they are calling.

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itunes: kerri sherwood

 


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#yougolittlescion

FullSizeRender(1)in 414 miles our little scion’s odometer will read 195,000 miles. i have driven in it all but 250 miles of that, having bought it used-brand-new. every time we get in it for roadtrips, we pat the dashboard and say, “you go, little scion!” we tell it we believe it will easily travel to 300,000 miles, its little organic self saying, “iknowican, i knowican, i knowican.”

i have two cars. one is this little scion (the 2006 model that looks like a toaster.) the other is my 1971 volkwagen super beetle. i treasure both. my sweet momma and poppo ordered the vw new before they went to europe back in 1971 and drove it around europe for weeks, before shipping it back to the docks in ny (i still remember driving there to get it and bring it home.) in 1976 it became mine and has been a thread since then.

which brings me to our little scion. the xb is one of the un-fanciest cars out there. you had to pay extra (which i didn’t) to have armrests. there are no maplights; there are, however, blue lights which light up your feet – which makes me wonder in amusement what the good folks at scion were doing when they decided that was an important feature. these lights generally come in handy when you have new shoes and like to look at them a lot. or if you like the color blue. the radio display has various colors you can choose from – early mood radio, i’m guessing. regardless, i carry a handy-dandy flashlight, cause it’s pretty dark with few dashboard lights and no maplights.

so two cars. neither of them new. we are surrounded by people who are in retirement or planning ahead to retirement or are in a position to purchase new vehicles. all of them are lovely, with conveniences and style. yet, right now, we choose to padiddle along in our little scion and i can’t help but think about how this little car has been a part of my life, has served me, and now us, through the years.

it was there when i drove back and forth across the country, wholesale-ing my cd’s at shows, rascal flatts and phil vassar music blaring. it was there the day i took the girl to college, glowing pink with dorm-room-stuff. more importantly, it was there when i drove home, tears streaming down my face. it was there, but not glowing any particular color, when i took the boy to college and each time i drove all over the midwest to watch him play tennis.   it was there, somehow getting me home from the airport in the early morning i flew home the day my daddy died; i have no recollection of that drive. it was there in every drive-straight-through to visit momma in florida, to be there in times of sickness, to celebrate her book release. it was there the day i got a text message while driving to florida that my sweet momma had died, keeping me safe as i steered to the shoulder. it was there bringing our adopted babycat home and it was there when dogdog became part of our life. it was there driving from the church to the beachhouse on lake michigan to celebrate our wedding and driving to the mountains of colorado for an amazing honeymoon. it was there when, somehow unnoticed prior to 186000 miles, the spark plugs and rings imploded right at the exit to a rest area, not too far from a dealership that immediately set to work on it so we could rush home to see the boy before he moved out east. with only five windshields (it has this propensity for attracting breakages), four sets of tires, and three sets of brakes, (and yes, new plugs and rings) it has moved the kiddos in or out of minneapolis, appleton, indianapolis, chicago, the high mountains of colorado. it looks a little worse for wear, a few dings and scratches, but who among us doesn’t? it was there in the snow, in ice and in sunshine, dutifully doing its little-scion-job.

so, talk about thready… i am attached to this little car. its un-fancy-ness makes me proud. it’s a workhorse, packs better than most vehicles its size, and has protected me and us for almost 200,000 miles. thready indeed.

300,000 here we come. #yougolittlescion