reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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sisu. [merely a thought monday]

sisu box

sisu.  perseverance.  fortitude.  stamina.  courage.  determination.  my grandmother mama dear used this finnish term all the time and passed it down to my sweet momma beaky who passed it down to me.  a philosophy of life, a mantra, “you gotta have sisu!” mama dear would say.  if up against the odds, if forging upstream, my sweet momma would say, “you gotta have sisu!”  and so it was without a second thought when it was time to name my own company, the independent recording label that has been sisu music productions for the last 23 years.  i can’t think of a better name for all the challenges that have risen – and continue to rise – as an independent artist.

any moment of fear, of uncertainty, brings me to draw on that sisu…digging in my heels and standing firmly in it.  it’s kind of a blind faith and has everything to do with that.  in the face of adversity, of the scales tilted not-in-your-favor, you just keep on.  in the face of fear…everyone has their thing…the thing that makes them afraid…the thing that makes them white-knuckled…you just keep on.   sisu.

i was flying back from telluride to denver a couple days ago – in a smaller plane.  there was a big strapping guy all dressed in camouflage who got on the plane before me.  he told the flight attendant he had been out in the middle of nowhere hunting (successfully) elk and mule deer.  he was a rough and tumble kind of guy and ended up seated just across the aisle from me.  when the plane hit turbulence, particularly over the front range, his face turned red and he looked over at me with a deer-in-the-headlights look and said, “i hate this part!!”  i started talking to him then, trying to ease his obvious fear, talking about the wind currents and the mountains…how i could see the airport…we are almost there…just a teeny bit further…wheels are going to touch down any minute….  he was gripping the lock on the little tray table and finally relaxed his grip and smiled.  everyone has their thing.

we can loan others the sisu we carry with us.  we can bank on the sisu we carry with us.  i often credit being-from-new-york for times i have just forged-ahead-anyway, but my sisu roots go way further back than that.

sisu.  i stood back from the edge of a deep deep canyon the other day, my beautiful daughter on another boulder a few hundred yards away.  i looked at the sky, the sunset playing over red rock.  thought about that very moment in time, this moment i was sharing with the part of my heart known as kirsten…this moment that wouldn’t be repeated.  and i heard the voice in my head, “you gotta have sisu.”  i stepped to the very edge of the canyon, stretched out my arms and laughed aloud.

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you can’t judge a book… [not-so-flawed wednesday]

HalloweenTree

this tree.  gnarly and twisted and wrinkly. it looks a little halloween-esque at dusk and could be downright scary in the dark of night.  it’s seen so much life, so many decades and its lifeblood travels throughout the healthy tree, bringing and sharing nutrients.  home to insects and small creatures, it provides shade for the vegetation beneath it.  it’s not just an old tree and it’s not the picture of what we think of when we think of a beautiful tree.  but it is.  beautiful.  you just can’t judge a book by its cover.  my sweet momma always said that.

momma would look in the mirror and talk about the wrinkles on her face and how “old” she looked.  in her wheelchair she could appear to be meek, wrestling with difficulties and just an old woman.  but that was so not so.  she had seen much life.  she was home to my dad, me and my sister and brother, our families, extended members as it fanned out the branches of our family tree, her friends.  she provided warm words and kindnesses to all around her, strangers among them.  she was beautiful.  every last gorgeous wrinkle.  you just can’t judge a book by its cover.

we had a black lab years ago, one of a few in our family history, when The Girl and The Boy were little. his name was hughie and he had at least 47 allergies.  he was treated for many of these and we tried to address the auto-immune disease he had as well, but he lost most of the hair on his body.  he looked gnarly and rough and wrinkled.  as a lab with little hair, he looked scary to those who did not know him.  he struggled and, even in his discomfort, was gentle and sweet, a learning for The Girl and The Boy, who were his and, despite his outward appearance, knew what was inside.  he was not the picture of what we think of when we think of a beautiful dog.  but he was.  beautiful.  you just can’t judge a book by its cover.

inside.  beautiful.  how hard is it to always remember that?  you just can’t judge a book by its cover.

read DAVID’S thoughts on this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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free solo. [merely a thought monday]

alex honnold quote box copy

while i laid awake, i tried to picture how i would react to someone literally placing me – without ropes – several hundred feet up a sheer granite wall, my hands gripping a crack and small outcropping, my feet perched on a slight deviation in the granite face.  it made my hands sweat and my heart race thinking about how paralyzed by fear i would be, unable to move either hand or foot.  THIS is out of my comfort zone. far out.  and i couldn’t get the image out of my mind.

the wind was gusting about 35mph and there were tiny snow squalls on the way to madison.  we were on our way to a movie theatre for a national geographic release of the movie FREE SOLO, the documentary capturing alex honnold’s successful free solo scaling of el capitan in yosemite.  free solo.  without benefit of any ropes or safety gear.  just his hands, his feet, climbing chalk, and memorization, no – absolute physical retention – of the precise moves he would make on the way up this 3000′ beautiful monster.

alex doesn’t talk about his fear much.  he, instead, speaks of enlarging his comfort zone, little by little.  his somewhat unemotional approach to this challenge is daunting.  one of his support team said words to the effect that alex had this challenge:  like an olympic athlete he needed to win the gold.  no ifs, ands or buts.  it was the gold or he would fall to his death.  who does that?!!  the black and white of that makes my breathing pause.  but alex pressed on.  clearly his comfort zone is huge, that bubble around him.  at least when it comes to mountains.

i know, as fascinated as i am with mountains and climbing stories of all sorts, that this is not something i could or would do.  my mountains are different than that and my comfort zone bubble has more to do with my artistry, music, writing.  not necessarily less scary, but certainly less physically demanding and clearly, without a doubt, less treacherous.  but we are not limited to one mountain at a time.

each of us has this bubble and i picture pushing on the walls of the chrysalis, little by little conquering the fear of the outside – whatever the challenge or challenges – making our way, without ropes or safety equipment, into the next step of our lives.  we try to “dream big.”  we “go after it.”  we “just do it.”  but in reality, with no protective membrane around us, we first have to gear up, face fear vs comfort, garner courage and climb.  yes. we free solo every day.

read DAVID’S thoughts on this MERELY A THOUGHT MONDAY

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rogers park. [flawed wednesday]

Roger's Park Feet

on the platform at rogers park

we didn’t give it a second thought when The Boy told me that he was going to be traveling to the rogers park neighborhood of chicago. of course we were going.  we got out the metra train schedule and looked at the sunday trains from waukegan to rogers park, looking at our google maps to see where the restaurant we were meeting him at was located and how to get there from the train station.  we will literally trek anywhere if My Boy or My Girl are going to be nearby (or even far) and we have a chance to see them.

we jumped off the train at rogers park and made our way through the streets, enjoying a nice walk, through residential and commercial areas.  we turned down clark and then devon and had lunch at uncommon ground, a place known for its rooftop organic farm.   when he had to leave, The Boy suggested that we go tour loyola’s lakefront campus before we headed back to the station.  we were glad we did; the area was beautiful and we liked rogers park.

six sundays later a beautiful young man had flown out to chicago from new york to pursue his doctoral degree at northwestern university.  he moved into a place in rogers park and, four hours after he arrived, took a stroll on clark street to buy hangers at a local store.  this aspiring student – just 25 years old – the same age as MY Boy- got caught in the crossfire of two men.  he was shot and killed.  a mere four hours after his full-of-dreams arrival.  i don’t even know what kind of flawed earth we live on when a mom has to learn that her child, following the direction and hard work of his life, has lost his life.  my heart breaks for her.

indeed, my heart breaks for every mom, every parent, every human, who has been touched by needless, unwarranted, tragic violence in this world.  such despair.  where is it safe?

on google maps, there is a small exclamation mark with this caveat:  “use caution – walking directions may not always reflect real-world conditions.”  i never noticed it before.  it’s quite the understatement.

Sign at Loyola - Thoreau

painted on a wall at loyola university in rogers park, chicago

 

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rogers park. ©️ 2018 kerri sherwood & david robinson


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inspiration and crazy things. [chicken marsala monday]

inspirationmakespeopledocrazythings WITH EYES jpeg

i’ve never bungee-jumped or parachuted out of an airplane or ziplined across a gulch or dropped on a snowboard off the side of a mountain.  but i understand how inspiration can make you do crazy things.

i remember my first album, 23 years ago now, felt like a crazy thing.  it was scary stuff, putting my own music ‘out there’; it was scary standing on stage telling the stories that went along with those pieces and playing my first full-length concert.  i imagine the adrenalin i had standing in the wings of the stage before the lights dimmed was much like that of stepping off the platform in a body harness ready to fly.  now, the scary stuff would be not doing that which i know so well.

so many people who have stepped out – trusting their instincts, trusting their training, trusting their beliefs and values, trusting their resilience.  following a path that might look unlikely.  following inspiration.  seemingly crazy stuff all of it.  stuff that opens them to a wide spectrum of possible results, from wild success to something that looks like failure.

all inspired.  all crazy.  all learnings.  all life.  it may not all be safe, it may make you feel vulnerable; it may even invoke fear, but it sure is interesting.

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inspiration makes people do crazy things. ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood


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living without fear. [two artists tuesday]

withouttfear copy

probably one of my favorite photos of graffiti i’ve taken, i found this sprayed on the wall of a building in tuscany years ago.  i thought it was kind of lofty then and i think it is lofty now.  living without fear seems next to impossible.  how can one be that brave?

there’s this song we sing in the band called only the brave (t.hughes, m.smith, n.herbert).  we just sang it a couple days ago along with our ukulele band.  the first line, “this is the moment, this is why i’m living to face the giants with you…”  who is the You in your life?  the vastly abundant magnificent Love you may call God?  your partner?  your best friend?  your mom?  someone of this earth?  a spirit-filled presence?  the song continues, “it’s now or never, and though my heart is racing, i’ll leave my armor with you.  your love makes us stronger, and your love sees us through.  only the brave will go where you go, into the fire but never alone.  we know you’ll always carry us home; only the brave….”

as i get older, i find myself in this sliver of a space between fear and no fear.  a quandary of emotion.  i look back at all the things that made me quiver, the things that ate away at time itself and i realize that maybe, just maybe i had been just a teensy bit braver than i thought.  i look at right now and worry; i look ahead and worry.  am i brave enough?  will i be brave enough?  life has a way of presenting challenges right alongside bliss.

i find that words i had written in a post three years ago – a post about being brave – speak to me now and so i’m just going to copy and paste them here:

we face down our fears, we risk our dreams, we forgive without being forgiven, we acknowledge our disappointments, we are given grace in our mistakes, we plod on, we face the sun, we scurry through the rain, we feel our way through the fog, we celebrate the moment without investing in the whole day, we love without ceasing.

we’re braver than we know. every single day.

living without fear.

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living without fear ©️ 2006 & 2018 kerri sherwood & david robinson

 


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trust where you’re going. [two artists tuesday]

TRUST this one.jpg

so if you are an over-thinker like me, this is tough – to trust where you’re going.  there are too many details that get in the way of the overall picture.  d is a global thinker…he looks at the bigger picture, he calls it “from 30,000 feet”.  i need to be able to envision each foot to get there….ok, maybe not EACH one, but i need a few more details lined up in order to believe something is possible.  that disparity gets us in trouble sometimes.  we talk about something and are having two different conversations within the same conversation.  mostly, we usually agree on the ultimate Thing, but getting there is, well, sometimes cloaked in a tad bit of disagreement.

who was it that said, “everything will be ok in the end.  and if it’s not ok, it’s not the end” ???  such brilliance! and optimism!  i suppose we gauge so much of what might happen on what happened Before.  we have pre-judgments about how something will turn out; we have reluctance to start; we think, “i’ve already DONE this and it didn’t work.”

i am at a crossroads.  after 15 albums, i haven’t recorded an album in 8 years, haven’t recorded a new vocal album in 16.  16!  where does the time go?  albums are very expensive projects, not only financially, but emotionally.  as i have already talked about numerous times, there is financial pressure on independent artists now like never before.  streaming and illegal downloading has lead to a literal trickle of income, despite millions of “listens”.

so – where do i go from here?  songs have been waiting; the piano beckons.  something in me resists, afraid of not recouping even what it costs at the front end for something new to be released.  part of me wants to believe – believe that it’s time to release something new, in this new time of my career.  put it out there and not be concerned with how it is received, how many cds are purchased, how many paid downloads vs how many times it is streamed or pirated.  but that won’t pay any bills, won’t afford a living.  i am having trouble seeing the 30,000 foot view.  not to mention all the feet in-between here and there.

like you, in some arena of your life, i am trying to trust.  that whatever decision i make it will be ok in the end.  and, if it’s not ok, it’s not the end.

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trust where you’re going ©️ 2016 kerri sherwood & david robinson