reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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“it matters not.” [merely-a-thought monday]

we all fruit

i never let it stop me.  it didn’t matter to me the title someone held or the notoriety they had.  i always reminded myself that this person i needed to call or meet with or contact was human.  “this person breathes in and out, just like i do,” i would think.  i felt this person – whoever it was – must have some human quality in common with me, regardless of a possible overly-amplified ego or the protected life bubble they might live within.  “it matters not,” my momma, a lover of language, would say.  in the end, nothing really separated me from this person, him or her, human-wise.

and so, my slightly-dialed-back-new-york chutzpah would dial the phone and expect nothing less than speaking with the person i was calling, no matter what rung on the ladder that person clung to, no matter how high the ladder, no matter the pecking order or the person’s perception of self.

because:  people.  we are all people.

now there’s a starting point.

but you wouldn’t know that looking at this country these days.

my sweet momma would be 99 today as i write this.  99.  even in her time on this planet – which devastatingly ended five years ago now – she had seen a lot of change.  “it matters not,” she would say.  we are where we are.  she read, she researched, she asked questions.  and she always arrived at the same place:  people are people and should be – in the crux of all things – equally treated as such.  period.

empty words ticked momma off and she warned me of people who would talk the talk but not walk it.  her sixth sense of intuition was often caution enough in friendships and relationships where people would get all virtuous and principled and, yet, be the same people who could clearly not see the irony in their supposed loftiness, the empty in their words, the do-as-i-say-not-as-i-do-ness, the falsity in their stance.

my momma, our beaky, subscribed to kindness.  it would be to her horror to see the hateful rhetoric nowadays.  she would have no patience for it.  she would point to the horrors that hatred had produced in years past.  she would state in simple terms:  “it matters not,” she’d say, “be kind to each other.  in all things, be kind.”

if momma were here today, she’d wear a mask.  not because she would be in a high-risk category, but because it is the kind thing to do.  a lover of math and science, she would point to the words of scientists, researchers, epidemiologists, medical professionals and she would insist on listening to them.  “it matters not what you think,” she’d point out.  “what matters is what they know.”

if momma were here today, she might protest.  she’d point to inequity and ask what we could do about it.  she’d not draw lines of color or race or gender or sexual orientation or economic status.  “it matters not.  people are people,” she’d insist.  she’d wonder at a country, with so many smart people, continuing to head down such a dark road.  she’d question, she’d challenge, she’d debate, she’d be stalwart and she would hold steadfast to being kind.  period.

it may be oversimplification, but gus had it right in my big fat greek wedding.  “apple and orange…we all different, but, in the end, we all fruit.”  he and my momma would have been grand friends.

because in the end, we are all human.  we breathe in, we breathe out.  we can reject hate; we can choose to love.  nothin’ wrong with a little oversimplification.

BE KIND MASKS – in honor of the wisdom of my sweet momma ❤️

FACE MASKS

BE KIND small print face mask

BE KIND large print face mask

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

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this morning. [k.s. friday]

that morning someday 1

i unfriended someone today.  i was so shocked at his response to the vital importance of continuing to social distance in this global pandemic i found it reprehensible.  his crass “everyone will die eventually” was deeply disturbing.  he actually used the term ‘survival of the fittest’.  i, in browsing for how my family and friends are doing, found no peace in his words, only a shortfall of empathy.  i shudder to think of anyone who read or who will read these callous words who has been ill, has had a loved one ill, who has lost a life in their circle of life, who has been deemed unemployed, who has missed paying their rent and who stands in line for food, who is frightened.  anyone with a heart.

i’ve unfriended a few people along the way these last few years.  this hasn’t been because i merely disagree with them.  i am open to disagreeing with you if you are open to discussion.  but these have been folks who have been closed.  closed to facts, to truth, to research, to conversation.  closed.  to me, it feels as if their hearts are closed.

for what is the importance of the next morning if what you care most about in the world is copious amounts of money or holdings?  my sweet poppo used to say, “you can’t take it with you.”  what is the importance of the next morning if you will throw others under the bus to elevate yourself?  my sweet momma used to say, “be kind.  be kind.  be kind.”  what is the importance of the next morning if everything is measured by black and white, an excel sheet of differences, all listed and highlighted.  my big brother used to play his guitar and sing, “there’s a new world coming…”  what is the importance of the next morning if you only measure yourself against others, their net worth, their houses, their jobs, their wardrobe, their vehicles, their exotic trips, their success?  in high school i recited these words from desiderata, “if you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”

instead, what about that morning someday?  the one that presents you with the challenge of a lifetime, the one you have worked on honing your whole life.  the challenge to accept who you are.  the challenge to stand up straight in your integrity, to freely and generously love, to do your work, to look out into the world with open eyes.  the challenge to not compare yourself, to believe in the betterment of humanity, to be kind, and to know that you can’t take any of it with you.  the challenge to surround yourself with goodness and live now.  this morning.  tomorrow morning.  the next morning.  heart open.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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THAT MORNING SOMEDAY ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood

 

 


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what you do. [k.s. friday]

ymad

“what you do will live beyond your lifetime.  it transcends the things of this earth.”

(YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE ©️ kerri sherwood)

when i think about my sweet momma and my poppo, my big brother, my godfather uncle allen, my grandmother-mama-dear, more beloved family and dear friends – all who have left this earth – i don’t think about their jobs or upward mobility, their income or the status symbols they owned.  i don’t think of the timeline of their school or work or whether they had finished a degree or if they had even gone to college.  i don’t ponder awards or certificates they received or resorts where they may have vacationed.

i think about what a difference they made in my life. my mom’s devotion to cheery kindness, my dad’s quiet and stubborn thoughtfulness, my big brother’s goofy humor and ability to tell a story in all its details, my uncle’s absolute commitment to his fun-loving smile no-matter-what-was-happening.  i think about the joy my mom experienced when my dad brought her grocery-store-flowers.  i think about big bowls of coffee ice cream with my brother, neil diamond playing in the background.  i think about my uncle generously paying for my very first recordings in ny, diligently holding me up and gently pushing me.  i think about simple moments with them.  in what could be a crowded-with-information-obituary in my head for each person, i hold a piece of their heart instead.  they have made a difference in this world.  they made a difference for me.  i remember.

(from THE FAULT IN OUR STARS)  “you know, this obsession you have, with being remembered?  this is your life!  this is all you get! you get me, and you get your family and you get this world, and that’s it!  ….  and i’m going to remember you.  …. you say you’re not special because the world doesn’t know about you, but that’s an insult to me.  i know about you.”

 

we live on an infinite continuum of opportunity.  chances to bring light and hope to others.  deeds we can do out of kindness, goals reached by collaborating together.  we face choice just as soon as the sun-peeking-over-the-horizon wakes us.  we innately or intentionally decide, we head in a direction, we live a day.

 

“We’re all traveling through time, together, everyday of our lives… All we can do is do our best to relish this remarkable life.  I just try to live everyday as if I have deliberately come back to this one day, to enjoy it… As if it was the full, final day of my extraordinary, ordinary life.” (from ABOUT TIME)

 

this song. i have performed it countless times.  in nyc’s central park for tens of thousands of people, in small medical clinics, in large oncological settings, in chicago’s grant park.  at a pharmaceutical conference in puerto rico, outdoors with the lance armstrong tour of hope.  across the country, in pajamas and jeans and all-dressed-up.  in theatres and at walks/runs, in schools and churches.  for organizations including y-me, the american cancer society, gilda’s club, young survival coalition, susan g. komen foundation, the annual breast cancer symposium.  and each time, heidi and i, working together in performance, fighting back tears.  the list is profound.  not because of the innumerable times i have sang this song, but because of all the people in these places and behind the scenes, joining together, remarkably touching the lives of others:  those they know and those they may never know.

we make a difference.  in every arena of our lives.  every place we go.  every interaction.  every gesture.  every assumption.  every conversation.  every every-thing.  every single thing.

what intention will we have?  will we be positive or negative?

“the truth is, I now don’t travel back at all, not even for a day.  …  live life as if there were no second chances.” (ABOUT TIME)

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read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

 

 

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YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE ©️ 2003 kerri sherwood

 


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the power of social…anything. [flawed wednesday]

think before you share

“think before you share”

SOME IDIOMS TO CONSIDER:

a two-edged sword.

it cuts both ways.

he said, she said.

off the record.

rumor has it.

the power of words.

heard it through the grapevine.

spill the beans.

the telephone game.

a little learning is a dangerous thing.

have your head in the clouds.

go on a wild goose chase.

dish the dirt.

add insult to injury.

can’t see the forest for the trees.

idle gossip.

baldfaced lie.

in bad faith.

stoke the fire.

trash talk.

get out of hand.

snowball effect.

jump on the bandwagon.

no love lost.

damn the torpedoes.

burn bridges.

a perfect storm.

boil over.

go down in flames.

AND THESE:

an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

a penny for your thoughts.

it doesn’t hurt to ask.

the fact of the matter.

through thick and thin.

even keel.

those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

hold your tongue.

don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

call off the dogs.

leave no stone unturned.

heart to heart talk.

change your tune.

blow the lid off.

know which way the wind is blowing.

straight from the horse’s mouth.

a stitch in time saves nine.

look before you leap.

bury the hatchet.

do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

love makes the world go round.

live and learn.

yes. “think before you share.”

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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converge. [two artists tuesday]

deer tracks converge

“i shall pass this way but once. any good that i can do, any kindness i can show to any human being, let me do it now, let me not defer nor neglect, for i shall not pass this way again.” (etienne de grellet)

this saying is tucked into my wallet.  it hangs in our kitchen.  it was my sweet momma’s favorite and she lived by it like a mantra. she did not procrastinate kindness until it was convenient; she lived it.

we pass the deer tracks at bristol woods.  often we are first after the deer.  i wonder what they are like as they pass each other, as their paths converge and diverge.

bold black prayer flag converge framed

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

 

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CONVERGE. ©️ 2020 kerri sherwood

 


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“not too chicken to change.” [merely-a-thought monday]

not too chicken copy

too old. too young.  too busy.  too tired.  too apolitical.  too rabid.  too conservative.  too liberal.  too artistic.  too left-brained.  too analytical.  too kinesthetic.  too emotional.  too opinionated.  too apathetic.  too uneducated.  too educated.  too poor.  too rich.   too believing.  too agnostic.  too manipulated. too manipulative.  too confident.  too tentative.  too work-engrossed.  too free.  too lofty.  too basic.  too orthodox.  too unconventional.  too open.  too closed.  too rigid.  too fluid.  too not-from-here.  too down-home.   too much.  too little.  too far-reaching.  too little impact.  too intentional.  too haphazard.  too unknown.  too anticipated.  too cavalier.  too afraid.

d’s master’s degree embraces the organization of whole systems; when i recently read this it felt like everything he has said in a nutshell (and i, not being a nutshell person, embraced this nutshell with the glee of change).  here is what i read about systems theory:

systems theory(©️2020 narrative lectionary resources)

‘our family systems.  our work systems.  our neighborhood and community systems.’  our country.  our world.  the system reeling inside ourselves.

too trouble-making.  too resistant.  too dysfunctional.  all good reasons for a system not to be too chicken to change.

life.  too short.  too fleeting.  too few golden opportunities to learn.  too few possibilities to stand tall and face down adversity.  too few windows to be kind.  too few chances to say ‘i love you’.  too many people to laugh with.  too many places to see.  too many moments to miss.

all good reasons for us to be “not too chicken to change”.

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

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practice makes perfect. [merely-a-thought monday]

the world will treat you royally

“live generously and the world will treat you royally.” (crown royal commercial)

“practice makes perfect,” it says on an index card in the piano bench of my old piano downstairs in the basement.  written in the careful-penmanship-printing of me-probably-as-an-8-year-old,  i have kept this card in my bench for over 50 years.   i’m sure there were multiple times i rolled my eyes at this, as i opened the bench to take out and work on lesson music.  i still roll my eyes.  everything takes practice.

everything.  including living generously.  there’s always that moment when you have to decide to either take up the rope, as they say, and tug back or let the rope lay still.  so much easier to pick it up and tug, letting it lay there and not touching it requires sheer grit-your-teeth-restraint sometimes.  it’s too easy to tug, to even wrench, and too royally hard to let a sleeping rope lie.

but in those moments, the really tough ones and the little ones, that you actually and intentionally choose to mother-teresa your way through, your generosity spins outward in concentric circles and goodness spreads.  goodness has a way of coming back, returning to center, with centrifugal force and your heart in the middle.  gravity draws back goodness and keeps close the spirit of all with whom you have been generous.  kindness bestowed upon you is royal treatment; it is the world treating you royally.  we are all so fortunate.  we are already receiving lavish unconditional love.  what would happen if we practiced living generously even more?

after all, they say, practice makes perfect.

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

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not. [two artists tuesday]

kindnessSCHITTSCREEK.jpg

granted, schitt’s creek is not a shining example of serious shows.  nor is it the apex of intelligent, thought-provoking viewing.  but we had run out of parenthood (still sniffling over the bitter end) and this is us and everest movies and documentaries and decided to try on something new.  we chose schitt’s creek.

it quickly became apparent to us that the humor in this show was not necessarily in alignment with our sense of humor, but we watched anyway.  we decided it was a study.

the stunning moment came when one of the characters looked at another and, in complete candor, said, “kindness is a sign of weakness.”

we sat and looked at each other, the glow of the moon on water out the window.  we dove deep into those words.  after much debate and a search for profundity, we realized that in this country, at this time, with these circumstances, it was a true statement.  kindness is not where it’s at, not what gets you ahead.  it is without power and control.  its calmness is terrifyingly missing in national goings-on, in international goings-on, in dealings with people even close-up and personal with agendas that serve only themselves.  kindness has left the building in more places than we would care to think about.  but a weakness?  not.

beaky, my sweet momma, said, “be kind.  be kind to each other.”  and she damn well meant it.  it may not have served her as well as being arrogantly demanding might have.  it may not have served her as well as being haughty, nasty, biting might have.  but it leaves a legacy for her that i am proud to speak about.  it is a rare treat to see someone not take sh*t from someone else and do it with strong backbone in a kind way.  my sweet momma was well-practiced.

and, i might add, she was not weak.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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because they are them. [merely-a-thought monday]

not salmon quote

this doesn’t really need any more words.  these words are succinct and clear.  and i appreciated them more than jay could know when she sent this message to me.

d always repeats to me  ‘don’t take anything personally’  but, at the times he says this, i am ready to jab back with examples of when he has ‘taken it personally’.  we are human, after all, and things people and say do affect us.  were we to be teflon, we could avoid most hurt, but people are made of cutaneous cells that absorb, not the stuff of good frying pans or the feathers of cold-water ducks.

once i heard an interview with a woman who was 95 or 96 years old.  she was in excellent fitness, no plaguing physical difficulties, with a robust view of life and living and a quick laugh.  she was asked to what she owed this phenomenal overall good health.  she replied, “i don’t take anything personally.”  after a moment she added, “or seriously”.

it’s a part of me to wonder why people have said barbed or snarky, malicious or unkind things to me, why they have been ugly or hateful.  if i sit back and look from afar, i realize that they are, at the very least, consistent.  their behavior has been the same, their bite has become predictable.  regardless of my action or inaction, they are hurtful.  remembering it is ‘because they are them’ is helpful, especially in the path of not-taking-it-personally.

but it’s not so easy.  i guess i still have to work on this.

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

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kind of awesome. [merely-a-thought monday]

your day

when packages arrive here, you get either a phone call or a text from the ferry dock.  you are told that a package will be arriving and that you can pick it up after 4:45 at the ferry dock office.  it’s pretty exciting, especially when you don’t know what it is.  you arrive, curious.  if you are in the back room of the dock office, you are likely surrounded by amazon prime boxes, because amazon prime is definitely a thing here on island.  with a $53 round trip ferry price tag for the two of us to go shopping off-island, paying zero for delivery on items you can’t buy here anyway makes total sense.

last week we got a call.  it was the thursday of a for-various-reasons-really-rotten couple of weeks.  david had been having high fevers for over a week and we had to go off-island to a clinic for some bloodwork, which eventually revealed that he picked up lyme disease in the previous weeks here.  exhausted and shocked, we attempted to stay patient and treat his painful, confusing and somewhat scary symptoms while we waited for those results.  jen and brad knew we were waiting and they knew we were having some heftily trying days.

we left for the ferry dock at 4:30, our pace slow, watching for the sweet leggy deer that wander into the road.  david went in to get the package.  he came out with a big box, from wine.com, with the words: “fact:  your day just got kind of awesome.”  six bottles of our favorite friday-night-potluck wine were inside with a note of love.  you can bet that as early that evening as was acceptable, we opened one of those and toasted our dear dear friends and our gratitude for them.  kind of awesome.

we have wonderful friends at home.  we consider ourselves very fortunate.  20 was just up here for a couple days, replenishing groceries for us, sitting and talking and having the kind of conversation only people who have known each other for years have.  it was kind of awesome.  the up-north-gang is coming this week and we can’t wait.  they will bring snacks and laughter, hugs and listening ears, perspective and big heart. they asked for a list ahead of time, of things we might need that we don’t have access to.  our days with them will be kind of awesome.  back at home, our friends help take care of our home, assisting us from afar.  michele and john mow our lawn, loan their bike to my girl, ask how they can help.  linda and jim make us food and pour generous glasses of wine at the drop of a hat.  dan brings a new dehumidifier.  kind of awesome.  there are too many people to list.  there are too many people to thank. which is, in and of itself, kind of awesome.

today, with a deeply sombered heart, i am aware of a young woman who is losing her grasp on life.  with the thinnest of thread she clings, struggling against a plethora of sudden medical emergencies.  i don’t know the whole story.  i just know that this young woman, with a huge life force, may be moving on to a different plane of existence.  and it very well might be today.  today.  i think about that.  today.  toDAY.

every day we have the opportunity to help make someone’s day kind of awesome.  we can choose that or we can choose to perpetuate something different.  we can gift someone with kind words, kind deeds, or we can be, well, rotten.  we can ignore people’s hearts or we can tend to them.

it’s a choice every day.  fact.

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

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