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wrinkles. [two artists tuesday]

barney spring 2020

in the last year of my sweet momma’s life, at not quite 94, she would say astonished things like, “i looked in the mirror and i look like an old woman!”  we would laugh together when we mentioned her age and that she had earned every last wrinkle, every age spot, every grey hair.  never have i seen a more beautiful old woman.  in a life that spanned from 1921 to 2015 her hazel eyes saw vast changes, world hurdles, family loss and strife, wild technological advances.  and love.

barney was born around the same time as my momma.  i wonder about the life he had before he arrived in the basement boiler room.  was he a honkytonk piano, a barroom upright, a sunday school accompaniment, the instrument in someone’s drawing room?  he was headed to the scrap guy when we met him and we intervened.  i suppose as he has lingered in our backyard these last five years he would wonder about the reflection in the mirror, his outer shell, those wrinkles, that peeling laminate, the keys that no longer play.  does he realize that chipmunks perch on his brow and snack on acorns?  does he realize that birds land, patiently in wait for their respective and restrained turns at the birdfeeder?  does he realize that his soul remains rich, his exterior beautiful in its aging?

i laid awake for hours in the middle of the night last night.  i looked in the virtual mirror in my mind and saw wooden stages and boom mics, big pianos and blue jeans.  i realized, suddenly, that i am older.  despite everything that would suggest to me, try to convince me of, the contrary, i have gotten older.

scrolling through social media during this time of distancing it is stunning to see all the ways people are incorporating posting with streaming, youtube, visiting with google hangout, facetime, videoconferencing with zoom, webex, as they try to be there without being there.  it’s exhausting.

my 1970s-lingering-self puts on readers and starts to read the directions.  the chipmunks are perched on my brow and i resource apps to stay in the loop and do my part to help keep people connected in a time where connection could easily fall away.

i take a deep breath and remember the day that my sweet momma’s iphone facebook status read (from her assisted living facility in tampa) that she was checked in at a miami dolphins game in miami.  i quickly and quietly fixed it for her.

and then i giggle and think, ‘heck.  if she can do it, i can do it.’

it is the symbiosis of peeling back the layers, honoring the wrinkles, relying on each other’s strengths in the mirror and working together, the virtual birdfeeder our community.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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winding trail. [two artists tuesday]

winding trail

the road from here to there is oft not straight.  the way the crow flies is irrelevant.  “the only way there is through,” joan told me quite some time ago.  we were talking about grief.  i had lost my sweet momma and it felt brutal; at any age the loss of a parent is profound.  i was talking to joan about it – about getting to the other side of the grief.  and she told me that the only way there was through it.  a winding trail it was, with switchbacks and no guardrails.

that has happened for me with each encounter with grief.  there is nothing easy about it, nothing straight.  the grief of loss, the grief of instability, the grief of anxiety, the grief of fear, the grief of insecurity, the grief of aging, the grief of failure, the grief of change, in all its rampant forms.

and yet, out hiking, winding trails are my preference.  a hike that takes me past hidden-treasure-vistas, a hike where i cannot see the end from the beginning, a hike that surprises at each turn.  these winding trails are gifts in the woods, in the mountains, in between red rock formations high in elevation.  there is much to see, much to learn about.  they are journeys of not-knowing.  they are journeys of wonder, of revelation.

we are not crows; no flightpath in our lives will be straight, no endpoint clear in our sight, no one thing all the way from here to there, no vector traveled without veering a bit off-course.  even reverse-threading our lives will not reveal a straight path; instead it will reveal a vast horizon of ping-ponging and circuitous route-making.  we will most definitely wind around, through decisions and opportunities, missed marks and challenges at the goal line, defining and re-defining.  living.

which winds me back to joan’s wise words of years ago, which i can still hear her saying.  the only way from here to there is through.  winding trail and all.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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improving. a little every day. [two artists tuesday]

wine

but the real question is – do WE improve with age?

yes, lush red wine, dark chocolate, bold roast black coffee – all have risen on my list of chosens.  i remember the days of sugar and cream in coffee.  i remember the creamy milk chocolate days.  and i remember the 1980s and 1990s days of ‘white zin’, the go-to wine of that age and time, a staple of the culture.  but those days are past and we have moved on to rich red blends or old vine zins, 85% dark chocolate with no milkfats, and the boldest of the bold coffees with no sweetener or added dairy/non-dairy product.  all improved (in my opinion) with my age.

me…on the other hand…i’m not so sure.

i read a brief article which proposed that your thoughts are less important than your feelings.  it reminded the reader that, in light of everyone’s hard-to-speak-of mortality,  there is no time more important, nothing more important than feeling the present moment.

how often do we get caught up in the swirling mind games of reviewing all the past?  thoughts.  how often do we find ourselves double-clutching on the future because of something that has happened ‘before’?  thoughts.  how often do we hesitate as we ponder-ponder-ponder until it’s too late?  thoughts.  how often are those thoughts – skewed – which have accumulated all through these supposed improving-with-age years – ruling our moments, nonetheless ruining our moments, the ones right-now?  stick to the topic/don’t go backwards in time and drudge up old stuff/stay in the “i-feel” not the “you-did”…any counseling master’s program notes referencing ‘conversation’ (read:  heated conversation) with a significant other.  feelings.  do we actually improve with age?  do we learn?

i’m guessing the wine cork has it right.  the moments you are sipping wine are quieter moments sitting by the fire.  or moments of laughter with friends.  or moments with a good meal.  the older we get, it seems the more value we place on those things.  we drink-in the heart of these most important times, with or without wine.  feeling.

we gain perspective.  maybe like that glass of wine in the evening.  a little every day.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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

Barney

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

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

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

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

barney is retired.  but he is not silent.

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

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you are beautiful. [merely-a-thought monday]

you are beautiful (chicago)

i remember heidi telling me about a conversation she was having on a mother-daughter weekend with her sweet mom, among other mothers and daughters.  they were sipping glasses of wine and started listing some of the things that were disconcerting to them about themselves.

we women (and men) have all done it.  we are sitting smack in the middle of a society that puts great value on appearance and youth, rather than the wrinkles of wisdom, the not-perfect-shape of having children and nurturing families, the heart-showing-on-our-face that has learned great empathy through the years, the grey hair of hard work and compassion.  and so we complain about the obvious changes we are going through.

i have looked in the mirror numerous times and thought,  “wait!  hold on!  that is NOT how i look!”  followed closely by, thinking, “it must be the lighting!  good grief, why do they use these dreadful florescent lights?  where are the soft white light bulbs?  what about indirect lighting?!  haven’t they invented soft focus mirrors yet??  umm,  i prefer my photos over-exposed, thankyouverymuch.”  we are hard on ourselves.  understatement.

instead of recognizing the beauty, the light in our eyes, the smile lines on our faces, the brow of concern, we list to the negative.  we do not look like the photoshopped version in the magazine; we cannot measure up to the three-or-four-decades-younger version of even ourselves.  life changes us.  why is it so easy to minimize ourselves and so difficult not to maximize what those changes have brought?

heidi’s mom interrupted the conversation.  she gently stopped the flowing list of self-deprecating complaints.  and she said, “you will never be more beautiful than you are right now.”

we passed this spray-painted graffiti in chicago.  i grabbed the phone out of my purse and tried to quickly capture it.  my finger blurred part of the image and i ruminated after on how i had ruined the photo.  and then i realized that no, indeed i had not ruined it.  for that blurry flaw in the photo would remind me (much better than were it not to be there) that we were walking fast down the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street, trying to capture the photo inbetween lots of traffic, laughing and excitedly on our way to see The Boy.  that blurred sixth of the photo – a photo that was not perfect –  would remind me of that day, imprinting in my life right then, the reminder timely and empowering.

you are beautiful.  right now.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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sweet surrender.

#8 Held In Grace -Surrender Now  copy.jpg

“sweet, sweet surrender. live, live without care. like a fish in the water. like a bird in the air.” (john denver)

it’s the second time this week i have quoted john denver.  surrender.  sweet surrender.

this painting in david’s HELD IN GRACE series is called SURRENDER NOW.

giving it over, surrendering, relenting, succumbing, relinquishing.  all synonyms with slightly different connotations, slightly different surrenders.  within yesterday’s grey-ness and vulnerability, surrendering seems most obvious, most necessary.  the letting-go-of-control-and-trusting is difficult.  the barricades between you and surrendering a fortress of spider-webbed resistance.  we tend to fight surrendering.  we tend to forget that we will be held within that yielding.

columbus turns 86 today.  somehow, in his ever-joyous soul, he is surrendering to a changing journey.  somehow, he is gracefully surrendering to the anguishes of dementia that slowly, but surely, take over.  he laughs.  he is quiet.  he tells stories.  he has forgotten stories.  he doesn’t remember things.  he remembers things.  he knows how to do tasks he has done for years.  he has no recollection of how to perform tasks nor does he recognize the familiar around him.  he doesn’t remember us.  he remembers us.  we hug him and he surrenders to the tears he feels when we leave.  he is held.  by his wife jeanne, by his children and his family, by his friends, by those who love him.  he is held.  his surrender, whether intentional and thought-out or simply reactional grace, is like a fish in the water, like a bird in the air.

“There’s nothin’ behind me and nothin’ that ties me to
Something that might have been true yesterday
Tomorrow is open and right now it seems to be more than enough
To just be here today, and I don’t know

What the future is holdin’ in store
I don’t know where I’m goin’ I’m not sure where I’ve been
There’s a spirit that guides me, a light that shines for me
My life is worth the livin’, I don’t need to see the end…”   

(john denver)

happy birthday sweet columbus. we love you. xoxo

view/purchase SURRENDER NOW on david’s gallery site here

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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SURRENDER NOW ©️ 2016 david robinson

 


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missing. [k.s. friday]

MISSING song box copy

it comes in waves.  in less than two weeks i will be 60.  i’m not a consumed-with-my-age-person, but this particular birthday is proving me different.  without any prompts, i find myself sorting through my life, the six decades that lead me to right now.   memories flow in and ebb out like the tide on a surfboard of emotions.  trying not to resist, i ride the wave as it brings me growing up times on long island…my nuclear family all together, all alive, gathered in our dining room on abby drive or up in the catskills in a rustic state park cabin….bike hikes and carvel….simple times of arguing for john denver over bob dylan….time walking or sitting or playing frisbee on crab meadow beach…late sunday morning mc-arnson sandwiches or waffles and ice cream around my sweet momma and poppo’s table in florida…the time of building the first home i ever bought, a big choice for us as a young couple…the sheep farm in new hampshire….moving to wisconsin away from family and the challenges that raised…celebrating the amazing birth of our daughter and son and watching them grow into the people they are….recording my first album and what that meant….letting go of the day-to-day mothering as my children became adults and still being an every-single-day mother….balancing the impact of good decisions and bad decisions….times of intense grief….choosing love….starting over….wondering what is coming next….

the inner monologue chronicles through all of these years…i sit in quiet watching the slideshow in my mind’s eye and ponder.  what was most important, what is most important, what will be most important.  what it all means.  and it’s clear most of the time.  the people who have surrounded me, who have loved me, who i have loved.  the people i am missing – and will always miss – as well as the people who are right here.  the times i am missing – as well as the times -moments- i could miss right now were i to be too engrossed in something else.

on the album RELEASED FROM THE HEART, the track that i selected to follow MISSING is called CONNECTED.  because it all stays a part of the vast ocean that is each of our lives.  the missing and the now and the wondering, all part of the whole.  all waves to ride.

theocean

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MISSING from RELEASED FROM THE HEART ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood

 


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living without fear. [two artists tuesday]

withouttfear copy

probably one of my favorite photos of graffiti i’ve taken, i found this sprayed on the wall of a building in tuscany years ago.  i thought it was kind of lofty then and i think it is lofty now.  living without fear seems next to impossible.  how can one be that brave?

there’s this song we sing in the band called only the brave (t.hughes, m.smith, n.herbert).  we just sang it a couple days ago along with our ukulele band.  the first line, “this is the moment, this is why i’m living to face the giants with you…”  who is the You in your life?  the vastly abundant magnificent Love you may call God?  your partner?  your best friend?  your mom?  someone of this earth?  a spirit-filled presence?  the song continues, “it’s now or never, and though my heart is racing, i’ll leave my armor with you.  your love makes us stronger, and your love sees us through.  only the brave will go where you go, into the fire but never alone.  we know you’ll always carry us home; only the brave….”

as i get older, i find myself in this sliver of a space between fear and no fear.  a quandary of emotion.  i look back at all the things that made me quiver, the things that ate away at time itself and i realize that maybe, just maybe i had been just a teensy bit braver than i thought.  i look at right now and worry; i look ahead and worry.  am i brave enough?  will i be brave enough?  life has a way of presenting challenges right alongside bliss.

i find that words i had written in a post three years ago – a post about being brave – speak to me now and so i’m just going to copy and paste them here:

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.

living without fear.

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flawed cartoon wednesday

MASTER turtlenecks jpeg copysisu sue swore by them.  turtlenecks.  she has them in every color, every kind of weave and fabric.  she looks fabulous in them and wears adorable chic jackets over them.  she is one cool and trendy lady and i adore her.

having already started the hot-flasharama-period of my life when we were working together, i would ask her how she could stand having a turtleneck on; it was (and mostly still is) out of my realm of imagination being able to wear a turtleneck and not ripping it off in the middle of -say- the choir room or the train to chicago or in the car while driving.  this oh-so-wise treasured woman told me that someday i would understand.

THAT DAY HAS COME.

i look in the mirror, a few steps of days away from 59, and stare at (you might want to stop reading now) my NECK.  what has HAPPENED?  suddenly, my neck (and chin, for that matter) have become O-L-D.  where has the time gone?  where did my old neck go?  and where did that new chin-under-my-chin come from?

my sweet momma, at 93, looked at me one day and said, “i looked in the mirror and (in a horrified voice) i saw an OLD woman.”  “momma,” i reassured her, “at 93, you are an old woman, but you are a BEAUTIFUL old woman.”  personally, i thought my momma was striking.  every last wrinkle told a story.  every last thing she saw as a flaw.  but my words fell on deaf ears.  she just stared back at me.  probably feeling much the same as me.  delusionally thinking that time would stand still in our necks and chins and -yup- everywhere else.  time and menopause take their toll.

the next time you see me try not to stare at my neck (although i have likely set you up for that.)  i may or may not be wearing a turtleneck.  the ironic part is that a real turtle’s neck really does look a lot like mine.  sheesh.

TURTLENECKS ARE IN – a link to t-shirts, art prints, cards, throw pillows, phone cases

 

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framed art prints, cards

 

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what is going on??

deconstructedkneesit used to be we would walk into the mall and you could sniff your way to the abercrombie store. back then, my daughter – the girl – and i would waltz our way into the store, combing for the latest $24 or $30 t-shirt, the latest $78 pair of jeans with holes in them (“deconstructed”), looking for the sale racks in the back. it was important, at that time in her life, to wear the ‘right’ stuff, so we would invest in a few things. on occasion, i would find the perfect pair of jeans for me as well (was that too far out at the time??)

the other day i was pondering summer. the weather was getting warmer and i texted susan that summer needed to wait – that i had nothing to wear. well, let’s be real. i had nothing to wear that fit or that (i felt) looked good. sheesh. once again, menopause rears its head. what is going on?? HE says that all the things i tried on look “lovely, beautiful, cute…” (and some other perfectly-supportive-husband superlatives.) but the mirror tells me different.

so i started to go through my entire closet and drawers. i pulled out everything. i brought a mirror into the bedroom (wow – people actually have standing mirrors in their bedrooms – sooo convenient!) i started to try on everything. and i mean everything!  there were still abercrombie jeans in the pile on the top of the closet. and, except for the fact that the blue color wash is the wrong blue now, they still fit. they don’t, however, look the same as they used to. what is going on??

i came across a pair of hollister jeans i had bought many years ago (at least 12!…is hollister even still a brand??) they were a pair of my favorites. they had great holes in them, a button fly, were a dark wash and have stitching on them that says, “follow the sun wherever it takes you”. i am reticent to let these go. maybe i should make a tote bag out of them? regardless, it is unlikely that i will wear them again. what is going on??

so i plodded on through an entire day (no, i’m not done yet) trying to figure out what makes the cut and what doesn’t. i am a total jeans and boots and black shirt person, so some things were easy to put in a give-away pile. but, once again, i found myself lost in thought and memories as i sifted through all this… aztecsweaterhere’s a wrap that was my sweet momma’s. here’s a top my daddy bought me because he told my mom it looked like me. tucked away is a 1970’s wrap aztec print sweater my dad came home with for me when i was in high school. (i recently saw a remake of this very sweater at a store in chicago on the famous miracle mile.) here’s a ‘peace’ shirt the girl got me. here’s a livestrong tshirt with the word ‘hope’ the boy got me… my ever-‘gets-it’-husband said we should be sure to have a place where i can put items of clothing that are steeped in memory. thank goodness he gets it. that mushy-mushiness, hyped-emotions menopause. what is going on??

anyway, i am determined to make it through the summer with the things that are left. i am no longer a big shopper – i can’t think of the last time i went to an actual indoor mall. i haven’t smelled abercrombie from afar in quite some time, though i still recognize the scent ‘fierce’ if someone walks by me wearing it. i just feel like, with maybe the addition of one or two little things, i can get dressed each day this summer, thank the universe for a body that, although changing, works and celebrates life in walks by the lake, hikes out in state parks, dances in the kitchen, standing at the piano, following the sun….followthesunand i can do it without all the latest fashion, without new deconstructed jeans (i have plenty of those that i have organically deconstructed myself), without judging or comparing or being wistful.

all that can be impossibly hard work for women in a society that challenges us with perfect-body/hair/life advertising. but i’m up for it. what is going on anyway??