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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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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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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reminders. [two artists tuesday]

heart leaf

i stopped and went back.  i had to take this picture.  reminders are everywhere and right now, although, truly, as always,  i knew i wanted to capture as many as possible.

it feels as if we are surrounded by whirling hypocrisy.  those people who proclaim one thing and treat people in an extraordinarily different way.  i’ve been stunned into i-don’t-even-know-what-to-say-silence more than once lately.  people who demand respect but don’t give it, people who are unnecessarily controlling, people who go behind your back, people who list toward cruelty, people who declare appreciation but tear down, people who hide behind glossy words.  what is going on?  narcissism seems to be alive and well as we suffer the effects of those-who-believe-they-are-on-pedestals, pedestals that seem to exist on every step of the ladder.  it’s shocking and more than a little disconcerting.  we each have first-hand in-our-own-life experience.  what a disappointment.  we are humans capable of so much more.

and so, the reminders are incredibly welcome.  the heart leaves or rocks, the sun’s rays glowing through clouds in the sky, the presence of a cardinal or two blue jays crossing our path in the woods.  a text message or call out of the blue, beautiful generous raw-matte-finish words spoken to you.  all reminders.  a kindness extended by a stranger, an eye-contact smile.  the big initiatives, the little gestures.  not picking up the tug-of-war rope.  reaching out to offer the olive branch.  life-giving.  practicing.  we are truly capable of so much.  we need be reminded.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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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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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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choose kindness. [merely-a-thought monday]

kindness kerouac

we just chose the august movie for TPACWONDER seemed perfect.

“Starring Jacob Tremblay, Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson, it is a film with powerful messages about kindness, friendship and the embracing of those who are different. Based on the New York Times bestseller, WONDER tells the inspiring and heartwarming story of fifth grade student August Pullman and a community struggling to find compassion and acceptance.” 

with the climate of our world as it is, we could not think of any family friendly movie that would be more fitting.  we re-watched this movie, reviewing it for appropriateness, for its message.  it is filled with wisdom, reminders of how to be human, quotes that should be on the bathroom mirrors in everyone’s homes, or better yet, plastered to our foreheads.  afterwards, i downloaded the daily wonder app, a source of daily inspirational quotes.  even if you have little time to read, you can read a sentence.  i designed a gift to give every movie-goer that evening.  it’s just a little generosity, but it makes us feel good – and isn’t that what it’s about?

my sweet momma was dedicated to kindness.  she would have loved this movie.  she would wholeheartedly agree with the words of novelist jack kerouac, “practice kindness all day to everybody and you will realize you are already in heaven now.”  and she would love our in-her-honor ‘be kind’ buttons.  always her parting words, “be kind to each other. be kind.” gentle reminders.  lead with kindness.  filter with kindness.  lean on kindness.  “when given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.” (wayne dyer)

there are a plethora of wise, generous, kindness-oriented people in our world, both living and on that other plane of existence we call heaven.  perhaps yielding to their exquisitely eloquent words of guidance would join these planes together.  and we would, indeed, realize that we are – already – in heaven now.

#choosekindness (wonder)

be kind button

if you would like, purchase BE KIND buttons – for you, your friends, your family, your class, your workplace, your club, your organization, your religious community, your neighborhood, your whole entire town

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

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the power of words. [d.r. thursday]

Illustration 08 copy 2

and the wily old story fox told the pack, “words are like magic, misused they are tragic…”   (Lucy & The Waterfox – by David Robinson)

and the wily old story fox told the pack, “words are like magic, misused they are tragic…”

NOT ALL OLD FOXES ARE WISE LIKE THIS.

Lucy & The Waterfox

LUCY & THE WATERFOX, a beautifully illustrated story for children and grown-ups about believing, following your own path and the power of words.

click on the book above or here to purchase the book LUCY & THE WATERFOX on amazon.com

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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LUCY & THE WATERFOX ©️ 2004 david robinson


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kindness. every day. [two artists tuesday]

kindness day box

on this day, election day in the united states, i cannot think of a better antidote… er…aspiration than to embrace the upcoming world kindness day wholeheartedly, emphatically, honestly.

the mission of the world kindness movement and world kindness day is to create a kinder world by inspiring individuals and nations towards greater kindness.

the goal of the non-profit organization is “making kindness a greater part of everyone’s daily lives and increasing the awareness of the positive benefits of kindness to health and the overall well-being of society.”

“this day (world kindness day) aims to increase the value of kindness in society as well as increase the amount of kind acts that take place nationwide, making kindness a greater part of day to day life.”

i cannot help but think of my sweet momma as i write this.  she didn’t need a celebratory calendar-day to pledge to be kind.  she just was.  she would be disheartened by our current state of affairs, determined to make a difference one little moment at a time, one kindness at a time.  for as i look around, that is what is lacking.  basic kindness.  what i see in its place is ugly; anger and passionate division, fear and volatility, rudeness and a combative disrespect for humanity.

“on this day, participants attempt to make the world a better place by celebrating and promoting good deeds and pledging acts of kindness, either as individuals or as organizations.”

acts of kindness.  how about every day?

kindness mr rogers

our BE KIND reminders:

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be kind collage with color font copy 2

read DAVID’S thoughts on this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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BE KIND/BE KIN BE KIND products ©️ 2018 kerri sherwood & david robinson