reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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what moms (i) want.

childrenarethebestwithframe-jpegdear moms everywhere,

i want what any mom wants. the moment that baby is born or you wrap your arms around your daughter or son, your heart catapults you through a lifetime with that child, your brain step-stoning through time.

my children are no different than yours. i want for them what you want – peace, relationships of love, learning and work that will make them responsible and open-minded, forward-thinking people in the world, good health and choices that will keep them in the best physical and emotional health, a community of friends that will support them, challenge them, engage them, play with them, a world that recognizes them with respect and that expects no less of them than to recognize others with respect as well, the willingness and desire to help those with less than themselves….the list is actually endless….

i woke up one morning recently (the Unbelievable and Jarring has happened in the last two weeks) and looked at my news app….suddenly i am addicted to this app. one of the headlines was referencing the “religious freedom executive order” which “signals major win for conservative christians”. it addressed, among other things, that, were this to be adopted, the government would protect the tax-exempt status of any religious organization or privately held company that “…believes, speaks, or acts (or declines to act) in accordance with the belief that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, sexual relations are properly reserved for such a marriage, male and female and their equivalents refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy, physiology, or genetics at or before birth…..”(draft titled “establishing a government-wide initiative to respect religious freedom” as quoted in huffington post, washington post)

i cried. and not just a little.

this would potentially cripple all the anti-discrimination protections and forward movement our country has made for the LGBTQ community in recent years. and that, in the heart and mind and body of THIS mom, makes me react with fervent opposition.

because i want what any mom wants. i want to share in the relationships that the boy and the girl, my beautiful son and beautiful daughter, have in their lives. i want them to feel free free free to have these relationships, no matter where they go. i expect them, as i would were their relationships to be heterosexual, to be respectful of each other, communicative and affectionate, gentle and loyal, involved and supportive and kind, compassionate and loving; i expect the same things you would expect your children to exhibit and have in a love relationship.

i want to, someday, attend their weddings, should they choose to marry….just like you. i want to ponder what to wear as the mother-of-the-bride or the mother-of-the-groom. i want to have a daughter-in-law, a son-in-law, families-in-law, just like you. why should it ever matter if the daughter-in-law is married to the son or the daughter?

i want what any mom wants. i want the opportunity to one day have grandchildren – are you two reading this? 😉  – should either the girl or the boy decide that they would like to expand their family to include a child. just as you have put time into deciding what you’d like a wondrous new baby or adopted child to call you as their grandma, i want to have this same chance.

i want my children’s world to be open-minded and accepting, two of the descriptors i would overwhelmingly use when asked what my faith is about. because my faith isn’t about exclusion. it’s not about fear of what’s different than me. i want the world the girl and the boy live in to be embracing and to find discrimination and unfair treatment of people – because of their race, their religious background, their sexual orientation, their financial status – egregious. just like you, i would think.

so I ask, what mom wouldn’t want these things? am i different than you? can you honestly say that you wouldn’t want these things for your children were you to be in my shoes? how hard would you fight for the right of your children and their choice of partner to not be discriminated against?

being a mother is being a mom. the definition goes beyond that of webster: mother: a female parent. that merely requires a contribution of DNA.

being a mom is everything from breast-feeding or waking in the middle of the night to warm a bottle, to tucking a toddler into a big-boy bed, to cutting the crusts off the peanut butter sandwich, to packing notes in the lunch, to kissing skinned knees, to listening to playground travails, to sitting, with great restraint, on the sidelines of the soccer/little league field, to last-minute making cupcakes to bring to school, to going to school administration to sort out issues of disagreement, to instructing small children to ‘sit on the steps’ in time-outs for improper or out-of-control behavior, to saying “no”, to letting them dye their hair red, to parent-teacher conferences that aren’t exactly what you wanted to hear, to behind-the-car-steering-wheel lessons, to hard conversations about cliques and even harder lessons about exclusion, to late late nights at the dining room table while projects are being completed last minute, to moments – just moments – when you revel in a hug or something positive this child has said to or about you, to waiting up to hear the front door open as they safely return home, to making decisions about college and packing up the dumped-out-onto-the-living-room-floor dresser drawers full of clothes to go while tears fill your eyes, to helping discern what interests really are, with no regard to what you might want them to be, to answering hard questions or simply listening when they call in the middle of the night with news of something that has happened in their world, to allowing them to separate out but still letting them know you are there Always, to being a fierce protector of their rights. AND the rights of the children of moms everywhere.

because what i want as a mom is really no different than what you want. if you can, and i hope you can, see that.

with love, respect and in mom-unity,

kerri

 

 

 

 

 


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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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be brave. make a difference.

brave-poster-jpegabout a year ago our church community made a decision to state in no uncertain terms that it is a “reconciling in christ” church. this was a momentous occasion, a brave declaration; the closest church of the same denomination that is also RIC is in the next town north, a location maybe a half hour away.

the language used to enter into the church bylaws was: “We acknowledge that throughout history the Christian church has at times condemned and excluded people because of race, culture, age, gender, economic status, disability or sexual orientation. While the church has made progress in being open to many groups, there continues to be condemnation of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons from the community of faith, or at least, a tolerance of such condemnation and exclusion through silence. We believe such actions are inconsistent with Christ’s teachings. Trinity is a community of faith-keeping and faith-seeking people who affirm that every person has worth as a unique creation made in the image of God. We recognize, celebrate and give thanks for the many diverse gifts of God among us. We declare ourselves to be a Reconciling in Christ congregation, welcoming into the full life and ministry of the church persons of every race, culture, age, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and economic status. We commit to model a community of faith and spirit that works toward openness and understanding, offering justice, healing and wholeness of life for all people. We believe that through our diversity, all can grow and practice a unity of faith that transcends our differences.”

and i am so proud.

but it brings to mind some questions for me. this inclusivity and acceptance that we are “officially” announcing seems like a no-duh (for lack of a better term; it seems incongruous to me to attach flowery language to something so very basic) for a church community. it IS my understanding of a church community. what else could be more important than acceptance? what are we Actually learning from any religious organization’s underpinnings? why does it require bravery?

before i took the job of minister of music at our present church, i inquired about the attitude(s) around LGBT membership and involvement, within the church general membership and within staff and clergy. it was important to me – no, not important – it was vital to me that i would be at a place of inclusion where people did not draw boundaries because of race, sexual orientation, financial status… i would not attend a place where my own child would be looked down upon because of homophobic attitudes (read: fears.)   even now i find it incredible that i would have had to ask this question, but i know better than to think that all churches are about loving all people. why do you have to be brave to say this?

some of my friends will leave this week to march in the women’s march in washington dc, taking place next saturday. i am unable to go to this, although i will march in my mind with them. i do feel like i step in this march everyday, however, because i believe in the equality of gender, the equality of people’s sexual orientation choices…equality period. as the mom of an amazing son who is gay, (see previous post: the right place) i wholeheartedly embrace his happiness, his inclusion, his bravery to live authentically, anywhere he goes. i embrace this for both of my children. why would i not generalize this to all people?

carol suggested that i enter my design using david’s painting and the text “women. we’ve got backbone.” for poster usage at this march. (see previous post: women. we’ve got backbone.) although this poster is not among the posters that will be distributed at this march, i do believe that this backbone is what will help grow and change the world in times moving forward. the active pursuit of what we feel is right. the active pursuit of what we feel is just. as women and as men who want to be proponents of equality and opponents of hatred we need to stand up – with backbone – and make sure that we are not voiceless.

that starts at home. in our own families. in our communities. in our churches. in our states. in our country. oh yes. in our country.

you make a difference: iTunes: kerri sherwood

brave.  for products that reinforce your bravery, click here

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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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