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the path back is the path forward


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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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ladders. [two artists tuesday]

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gay pointed to the ladders in the backstage of tpac and said, “see those ladders?  the front silver one on the right is where you are.”

this is true.  we are clumsily perched on that front silver ladder.  there are people scattered about on the other ladders, many of whom are on the top of the tallest orange ladder up against the wall.  our view, on the shortest ladder, affords us the opportunity to look out, to look up and still to be able to easily see the ground.  the view from the highest ladder, extended well up the wall, is a view of vast height, a view without a cluster of other ladders, a view more singular.

it has been our experience as artists that we must explain our livelihood, we must fight for acknowledgement of experience, we must advocate for our own fiscal equality.  our work is not easily measurable, our effort not easily defined.  we bring to every experience all we have learned about what touches the hearts of others, what resonates, what we can do to lift a message, how we can craft a concept, how we can build a program and forge a community, how we can help others see what is inside each of them.  from our rung, we can still see the ground so we know that there are others less fortunate than us and we remember pretty clearly the route up this ladder, each rung a step, each rung a gratitude.

it has also been our experience that, in a world defined by financial success, there are many on those tall extension ladders, firmly grasping the tippy-top, who have lost the story of getting there.  it is my belief that, too often, there are those who, each rung they clamber up, have forgotten what it is like to be on the rung below.  the climb to success foregoes memory, it exempts empathy, it elicits a sense of superiority; it is not kind.  the naysayers poke at those who are on rungs below, prodding them but, alas, with no reality for where those below-climbers are.  assumptions are unfairly made about ability, intelligence, budgetary decisions, effort.

in this world of bills and responsibilities, work and play, absolute joys and deep sorrows, brilliant hopeful sunrises and exhausted sunsets, i wonder about the tippy-top.  i wonder if it is possible to be clinging to that tippy-top and still remember.

as much as that tippy-top sounds like a world without worry, i don’t mind being on the silver ladder in the front.  and every step we step, i want to remember the silver ladder in the front.

i know that each day there might be someone who just may need me to understand, without feigning it, where they are.  to be able to really grasp how they feel, despite not being in their very shoes.  i don’t want to be the person who looks back at them, fear filling their eyes with tears as they tell me they don’t have enough to make it, and condescendingly ask them if they want me to point them to a budget counselor.  instead i want to understand their frustration in poverty, be complicit in their growth – real growth, empathetic in their fear.  i want to hold their hand on the rung they are on and remember what it felt like on that rung.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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underpainting. a solid foundation. [d.r. thursday]

underpainting

when we moved into this house 30 years ago the kitchen floor was an old green and orange linoleum.  needless to say, this was not my favorite color combination nor was it my favorite floor.  we laid a clean white tile floor on top; a temporary fix to hold us over.  a couple years later we chose to put hardwood down,  mimicking the rest of the house.  that required stripping off the old floors – the white one and the green and orange one.  weren’t we surprised at how many layers we found!  but below all that mess was the sub-flooring, a solid foundation on which to lay new hardwood, a new start for the little kitchen.

peeling back the layers to expose what’s beneath it all can be exhilarating.  but it can also be intimidatingly revealing.  we are nervous to find what is below the surface.  we feel  trepidation about the underlayment; should we rip out and replace? what will we need to do to shore it up?  can it withstand this?

it’s the same for each of us.  we feel vulnerable letting others know what is underneath it all, this positive front of ours.  the complexity of sedimentary-life-layers is confusing and we seek ways to not feel them, not acknowledge them, not share them.

but the firm subfloor is there.  we are resilient and fluid.  we have been shored up by the obstacles we have climbed, by the challenges we have surmounted and we are surrounded by others who all can relate, were we to tell them.

the orange and green linoleum of our lives is still there, underneath, but it is now serving us, either as the underlayment of our ever-learning-ever-growing-future or part of what we found, dealt with, ripped out and replaced.  either way, there is room for the hardwood.  the foundation is solid.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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©️ 2019 david robinson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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the icefall. [two artists tuesday]

ice castle 1 copy

the icefall was in front of us.  we had our crampons on and the ropes were secured.  ladders were stretched across the crevasses and we had weighty backpacks filled with dehydrated food, protein bars and water.  we were ready.

ha!  in our dreams.

we climb mount everest regularly.  now, don’t get all particular about whether this is literal or not.  i am a giant fan of all-things-everest so we lose our breath watching others climb on video clips, movies, in books.  we are soooo there.  but, no, not really THERE.

i can’t imagine climbing everest actually.  the perils, the training, the cold, the cost, the crowds (!) all point to the fact that i won’t be climbing everest.  but we can climb other mountains, literal and figurative, and stand at the summit shooting selfies with a triumphant expression, realizing a dream.  on our way back down we pass others on the way up; some linger on the ropes, unable to move.  we offer encouraging words, but, in our conquest, we have already forgotten what it felt like to hang, even momentarily, on the rope, paralyzed.

we all have icefalls in front of us.  they are insurmountable.  they are surmountable.   perhaps some crampons, ropes, ladders and a backpack filled with food and water will help.  believing we can realize a dream, overcome an obstacle is the first step.

and, even more,  remembering that bit of humility toward others, vulnerable on their way up while we are on our victorious way back down.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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no one can really tell us. [d.r. thursday]

no one can tell us copy

NO ONE CAN TELL US mixed media 24″ x 32″

“…no one can tell us because life is not something which can be understood from a book…” (krishnamurti)

when my big brother died almost 27 years ago, my world tilted, never to return to the same again.  i struggled to understand that this amazingly smart, talented, witty man – someone i depended on my whole life – was no longer going to be in this world.  losing him left me with a lot of questions.

ever since then i have not been able to wrap my head around how the world keeps going if you cannot feel it anymore.  and yet, each loss i have experienced is evidence that is exactly what happens.  the world keeps going. it’s all a mystery.  no one can really tell us.

there is no handbook available to explain all this.  life’s complicated layers and sideroads, the junctures where we choose left or right, the places we decide to stop or go…it’s all a mystery.  no one can really tell us.

nearly every day there is some world-tilting reminder to wholeheartedly embrace the moment you are in; nearly every day we forget.  it’s not as easy as just remembering.  it’s not easily understood.  your shoes are not my shoes and, although it is easy for me to sense all the concurrent emotions in a room, i still cannot grasp what you are actually going through.  my sun could be your rain.  it’s all a mystery.  no one can really tell us.

so we try.  we try to understand, without instruction, the strands and tattered fragments and shiny-mica-bits that weave together into life.  mostly, we keep feeling life.  and the world keeps going.

read DAVID’S thoughts on this D.R. THURSDAY

to view NO ONE CAN TELL US on DAVID’s gallery site, click here

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NO ONE CAN TELL US ©️ 2015 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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above the clouds. [two artists tuesday]

in the clouds copy

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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as you is. [two artists tuesday]

THIS AsYouIs copy

spoiler alert to the girl, the boy, family and friends:  do not be surprised if one of your christmas/holiday presents from us is a shirt or sweatshirt or hat that says “AS YOU IS”.

we encountered michael at the farmers’ market one beautiful saturday when the sun was warm and the yellow jackets plentiful.  i was drawn to the simple stand of breeze-fluttering t-shirts, the saying AS YOU IS on the banner and the byline “big boned or small featured. thick-haired or bald-headed. married or single. A or C student. white or black or in-between. male or female. or in-between.”  we stopped to talk. i’m so glad we did.

michael was disarmingly charming and honest and zealous and positive – a breath of fresh air in a world that seems to be full of negativity and judgment these days.  he spoke of the origins of his cottage business and his simple philosophy, arrived at through years of painful learning and experience and after a long career outside of this new mission.  we could relate to him.  he told us the point of AS YOU IS:  “As You Is” is a rally cry for anyone and everyone that has a good heart, regardless of race, color, faith, age, gender, nationality, physical or mental limitations, or appearance. 

the pull to stay and talk was strong, but that would have precluded michael from introducing others at the market to his new line, his new business.  and so, we grabbed business cards, asked him to design some sweatshirts as well and continued on our way.  but AS YOU IS has remained in our conversations together.  his AS YOU IS.  our (sweet momma/beaky-inspired) BE KIND.  twinsies.

i suspect we will seek michael out to talk some more.  because chatting with someone about acceptance and hope and goodness is, as michael says, one hella gift.

AS YOU IS

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click here or on the box above to visit ASYOUIS website

As You Is® was created to start conversations…to cause total strangers to smile…to make people think…to get others to feel so accepted they break out in impromptu dance…and to put a serious chink in the armor of racism.

Our hope is one day children can embrace being uniquely themselves, where they feel safe being different and where old people – like our founder Michael Fornwald – can age gracefully or ungracefully sans self-contempt.

Please join us by infecting others with hope one hella cool t-shirt or cap at a time.

BE KIND

be kind collage with color font copy 2for our BE KIND products click here or on product collage box above & be sure to scroll down for the whole product line

“Be kind to each other. Always.” (my sweet momma/beaky)

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BE KIND designs ©️ 2018 kerri sherwood & david robinson