reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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above the clouds. [two artists tuesday]

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we left florida in the rain.  it was a tad bit bumpy as we climbed and i was grateful to come out above the clouds into a clear sky with soft early morning color.  as we flew at this altitude i could see glimpses of what was below us, spaces quickly filled in by soft puffy clouds blocking the view.  i strained to see what terrain we were flying over, curious if i could pick out landmarks and know a little bit more about where we were, wondering about people living in those tiny dots of towns and cities and farmland below the clouds that we were flying above.  it was easy to forget that it was raining down there.

i feel like life is like that.  it has become more telling to me in these times of divisiveness.  we are each at a different altitude…we have different starting points – our backgrounds, our education, our financial status, our various orientations…the starting point list is lengthy; all things combine to make us who we are and all things weave us a different starting point.  at any given moment we are at yet another one; life is fluid like that.  we live above our own clouds – or, at times, in them – either way our view blocked.

here above my clouds – for my clouds are different than yours – my questions are these:  how curious are we about the people who are not at the same place as us?  how much do we strain to see what might not be where we are?  how much do we want to know, to empathize? how much do we forget what is happening someplace else, for someone else, in the places where it is more difficult to see through the clouds?  how engrossed are we only in our narrow bandwidth of sky?  can we see the experience of others?  can we try?

we can either think it is a soft-morning-sky kind of day for everyone or we can actually realize that it’s raining down there.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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common ground. on this good earth.

yesterday i received a message of generosity.  i was struck by its kindness. it read, “dear kerri, though politically i am on the opposite side of the spectrum of you, i want to tell you i always love reading your articles. we are both wives, mothers, lovers of nature, animals and our families. i choose to take what you write in and love to live in it awhile…”

paper mache earthcommon ground. we have common ground, despite our differences. and we can meet there – on that good earth – to celebrate the ways we are the same. in generosity.

too often we cling to our differences. ptom talked about the icy grip of our own stubbornness and i cringed thinking of the times i had fiercely hung on with that icy grip. we believe it is our right to harbor resentments and hatred. we hold our deposits into a grudge bank tightly, haughty looks on our faces and in our hearts. there is a common ground there too, but no generosity enters that place and the soil is tainted with our own ideas of self-importance.

i was talking to d the other day and we passed a place in our town that always reminds me of a plethora of memories, some of which are not entirely pleasant. i am grateful to the menopause wizards who have somehow blocked the synapses in my brain making it impossible for me to remember all the details of the unpleasantness and difficulty that took place there. the details have become fuzzy; ok, who am i kidding? the details aren’t even fuzzy. it’s more like a very low dense fog. it makes it impossible for me to hang onto the grudges i’m sure i’m “supposed” to still have. i can’t remember them. for that matter, i can scarcely remember all of what happened. what a good thing. instead, with no credit to me or any intentional decision i made, i remember the positive things that happened in that place, on that good earth. i can’t help but wonder what might happen were i to intentionally make decisions that way…releasing the things i have felt that have made me cling to useless negative energy.

i can’t help thinking that our world would be radically transformed if we could release the grudges (and over-important-ized-memories of how we were somehow wronged and prejudices and bigotry and inequity and walls we have built) that hold us back from meeting together, from finding common ground. we could choose to celebrate the ways we are the same. in generosity.

it’s there. the possibility. the space around us could become saner, with grace for each other, a place of peace.  on this good earth.

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it boils down to respect.

right now i suspect my daughter is high on a mountain, hopefully in fresh powder, celebrating her decision in life to be up on that slope, living her life the way she wants to live her life. i couldn’t be more proud. her courage to live and to be who she is will not always be easy. it’s not the most financially or socially rewarding choice, but it’s hers and she’s being real about it. it’s not the first time i have written that she is living fiercely and i know it won’t be the last. she is snowboarding fiercely, coaching fiercely, hiking fiercely, expressing fiercely, loving fiercely. i am awed. and i will always have her back.

right now i suspect my son is high in an apartment in the big city, hopefully looking out over the harbor, celebrating his decision in life to be up in that city, living his life the way he wants to live his life. i couldn’t be more proud. his courage to live and to be who he is will not always be easy. he has been living fiercely too, and he’s being real about it. as he contemplates and gets excited about a new job, he challenges himself to do work to which he can contribute, from which he can learn and grow.   these days i am often stunned by his words, awed by his moving from boy to man. i will always have his back.

i believe that each of them, the girl and the boy, have learned along the way about respect. often they have learned this because they have experienced a lack of it, a way that many of us learn about it. they are both learning more about open-mindedness than some adults-who-have-been-adults-longer-than-them i know. i believe that they will be zealous as they move forward in life, continuing to make choices that will reflect their respect for themselves and their respect for others. and the amazing thing? they will both continue to learn, their minds and hearts will continue to open, they will be citizens with voices based on experience and learnings and thought.

today, friends of mine are driving to washington dc to be in the women’s march; other friends of mine are posting messages of hope, reminders to stay in one’s integrity, issuing pleas to speak up. our 44th president encourages us to be active citizens of this country and to take part in its day to day and in its future.

our country has come so far, embracing differences, upholding rights for those marginalized, pursuing the growth of measures of inclusion and equality, encouraging, no, demanding respect for others. respect.

so many people are reeling from the disrespect shown in the last months. i cannot honestly say that i am excited today, inauguration day of the 45th president, because i’m not. truth be told, i’m glad that the girl and the boy are grown now, so that i don’t have to teach them to respect someone with so little regard for anyone out of the “norm”, with vast and sweeping (voiced) generalized opinions about people who he has never met, people he would never uphold or regard as equals. to say that he was so far off base of what is important when he announced that his new cabinet had the highest iq’s of all cabinets is an understatement. iq does not automatically beget compassion or common sense or an understanding of what it means to be part of a whole, as opposed to floating above everyone else. neither, might i point out, does fortune.

i’m glad that my momma and daddy don’t have to see this day, for my dad would never stand for the kind of disrespect that has been displayed. even in his worst, most-angered moments, he wouldn’t denigrate women or those with less than him. and my momma would be appalled, plain and simple. she hardly ever uttered profanity; if she did you knew that there was some passion behind what she was saying.   but she would have been sickened by what has transpired in recent months, and would have trouble finding trust, struggling to move past the basic personality characteristics of a person she is, as a citizen, supposed to regard highly in the most esteemed position in our country. and she is someone who is kind to EVERYone.

so what now? we talked about it when we woke up. what do we do now? i guess we are vigilant. we speak up. we help. we march, we hope, we act on that hope, we continue to be who we are, only we do it a little louder. we look beyond ourselves and realize that there really is no “normal”… people’s lives are what they are. we have different situations and different challenges, different purposes in this life. but we are all in it together. and if we cannot see the forest for the trees right in front of us, we are missing the ultimate point of community. we have to seek and see that forest. being reactionary is being stuck on the tree right in front of us; it is not ok (read: forward-moving) to be reactionary without some forethought, without mulling over the possible consequences, without looking beyond the foreground. what does our reaction set into motion?

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the sky right now

early this morning, on a grey and foggy day in the midwest (for even mother nature is confused), with hot coffee in our mugs, we wanted to ask if everyone could just think it all through. the worst decisions i have ever made have been when i didn’t think it all through. taking a breath would have changed my world. taking a communal breath would change THE world. we figure it out ourselves.  we figure it out together.  it all boils down to respect.

FIGURE IT OUT on itunes: kerri sherwood – track 2 on RIGHT NOW


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it starts here: what were you thinking, LLBean?

i cried at 2am when the girl texted, “wtf is happening, mom?” i couldn’t answer her.

i was as stunned as she was that our country was choosing to support someone with vile opinions of others, with judgment and condescending attitude and open hatred. a man who, for one, openly objectifies women, scorning those who don’t fit into his opinion of ‘worthy’ of his attention, laughingly taunting and excusing himself with “locker room talk” excuses. not to mention ridiculing disabilities, holding contempt for people with different religious beliefs, ignoring responsible ecological decisions for this planet to survive, and deriding the LGBT community thereby undermining the right of choosing who to love, who to commit to, and, ultimately, who to marry.

what is happening? what is happening to the people we are choosing to look up to? what are we valuing in those people? what are we ignoring? and, in ignoring, what are we ultimately de-valuing about others? what is happening to all the progress we have made as a country, inclusive measures that have been finally put in place, opportunity for all people to live in free, respectful ways, supportive of each other, concerned about each other, our world, and our earth?

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one of the LLBean christmas catalogs came a few days ago. now, i usually love those catalogs – LLBean represents the northeast to me…the new england i love…a dedication to the outdoors. to being green. but this time? this time it reminded me of the catalog page i had just saved from the spring catalog.

i recently was going through the spring catalog because that is the one with all the bathing suit options. having not bought a bathing suit in at least maybe 10 years, the elastic on my favorite suit was doing that thing that elastic does when it gets old: stretches but doesn’t ever return to the ‘start’ position again…kind of crunchy…you can hear it as it stretches. and, in the hope of maybe heading to a beach or my sister’s pool one of these days, i had held onto the LLBean spring catalog. so I took out it out to shop for ideas.

i browsed through….

and this is what it said next to one of the $109.95 suits: “subtle shirring minimizes your hips and waist, while the draping helps camouflage figure flaws.”

what??? “figure flaws”???screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-2-02-44-pm

now i decided to take a closer look…and nowhere….nowhere…did i find mention in the men’s section of bathing suits that this suit would “help to cover your well-earned beer gut” or that this hat would “help cover your flawed hairline”….nothing of the sort. no references to a figure flaw or camouflaging cover-up.

what on earth were you thinking, LLBean? how did this make it through your editing? on what planet is it appropriate for your catalog to push judgment onto women, making being a woman in this country even harder than it already is?  why get behind goading us into thinking we must have the right body, the right look? and why are the “flaws” you so helpfully (read: disparagingly) refer to NOT the right body or the right look? why not celebrate differences in body, skin, shape….let’s bring that out further on the spectrum….life choices, truths….why not challenge the ridiculous and abundantly hurtful standard that actively –or passively- ridicules anything less than someone’s (whose??) idea of “perfect”? we must push back against this. in retail settings, in our homes, in our communities, in our country, in our leaders.

my sweet momma’s adage, that she lived by, reached across differences and embraced all. it reads, “i shall pass through this world but once. any good, therefore, that i can do or any kindness that i can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. let me not defer or neglect it for i shall not pass this way again.” (it is unknown who to credit this quote to.)

Goodness exemplified.

and now? more money, less waist (yes, this spelling), more stuff, less compassion, a bigger footprint on the earth, less mindfulness, more divisiveness, less unity, more self-absorption, less respect. are these the new adages? how can we be proud of these?

i guess I don’t need to be stunned by the presidential outcome, when our culture is out of balance. when companies like LLBean are making it entirely acceptable to hold women to a different standard than men. how many of those $109.95 bathing suits were sold?? how many women believed they were “flawed”? why did/do they believe that?  and what would the new president-elect say about these “flaws”? de-valuing indeed.

out of balance.

when superficiality is more important than any other characteristic. when the book cover doesn’t really reveal the book. it’s not a far reach to generalize this to all differences.  where does it go from there? where does it go from here? what are we ignoring?  when our children and our children’s children have a person to (supposedly) look up to who is prejudiced and harsh, disrespectful and just plain mean.

i ask you this: if your son or husband or brother or father said these things or acted in this manner, what would you say or do? would you stand by in silence? where does the line of speaking up start?

it starts here. how dare you, LLBean. you should be ashamed. the girl is right. wtf is happening?

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