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the path back is the path forward


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rough cuts. [k.s. friday]

you're here songbox 2

rough cuts.  there are lots of them.  recorded on an iRiver or an iPhone so i don’t forget.  scraps of paper with lyrics and chord indications, rhythms jotted above the words, a few melodic notes scribbled in the margins or throughout the page.  songs that haven’t yet been recorded.  songs that may some day be recorded.  songs that will never be recorded.  rough cuts.

before the cantata i prepared for this holiday season i had carefully selected music – all contemporary pieces, all meaningful lyrics that i felt would resonate with those watching, making the experience touch their hearts.  but, as i mentioned in a past post, i’m pretty picky and there was this one song.  after playing around with it with the band, i deleted it from the line-up.  with a spot still to fill in-between narrative, i decided to write a new song to fill the slot.  this is the song i wrote –  YOU’RE HERE – and you can listen to a very rough cut of it recorded on my iPhone played on an out-of-tune church piano if you click here.

it’s been a long while since i recorded an album.  more time has passed than i ever thought possible.  i wonder which songs in my rough cut collection will make it onto the next album.  i wonder if there will be a next album.

in the meanwhile, i’ll keep paper by the piano and have my cellphone ready.  the iRiver is in the drawer, along with the microcassette recorder and a pile of cdr’s.  maybe the presence of at-the-ready songs will eventually tilt the earth and i’ll be back in the studio.  maybe people buying cds will come back into vogue.  maybe i will record on vinyl (again).  maybe it will all be virtual.  more to stream.  (note my tone of voice.)  maybe.

or maybe i’ll just put the piano at full stick, pull up a boom stand, throw on a mic and sing.

listen to the rough cut of YOU’RE HERE by clicking here or on the image just below:

you're here songbox cropped

view most of my albums on iTUNES

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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YOU’RE HERE ©️ 2019 kerri sherwood


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heart. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

heartlights

“and now.  you’re here. in a world of hypocrisy.  and your love can heal us all.”  (you’re here ©️ 2019 kerri sherwood – see this friday’s post)

day’s end is close.  today was christmas.  between last night’s eve and today we sang songs.  we played carols.  we lit luminaria in the backyard under an oddly warm midnight sky.  we hiked in twilight woods.  we gazed in the dark at trees we decorated and lit with strands of lights and glinting silver ornaments.  we cooked meals and sipped wine.  we watched as The Boy and The Girl opened gifts.  we unwrapped presents and cards sent to us, set aside, waiting for today.

and in all of that?  the common denominator?

love.

surely the spirit of the holiday season can help to mend all rifts, help to inspire goodness, help to heal us.  in this world of hypocrisy, we can be united.  it matters not which holiday we celebrate.  what matters is heart and the rich universal tenets that march hand in hand with love.

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

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merry! [two artists tuesday]

jingle johns

the upnorthgang gathered around the table.  the glasses were lined up.  multiples of alike wine glasses, aldi winking owl wine at the ready.  we had a keyboard for tuning, sharpies in hand and were seriously dedicated to playing christmas songs on wine-filled glassware.  jay had seen tuned wine glasses in a catalog, but at $245 a set, we thrifty upnorthgangers knew we could do better. plus, we all could play instruments – guitar, piano, clarinet, trumpet, cello, pipe organ, handbells, ukulele, violin…  i mean, we are a talented group of people! hours later, we had composed a new christmas song, which shall remain un-named in this post, and had realized that our songlist would definitely remain short, for indeed we needed at least another octave of wine glasses and, having sipped the excess out of the glasses while tuning, we were out of wine.  next up on the musical challenge list?  charlie’s pickle jars!

so passing the jingle johns at lincoln park zoo it doesn’t seem so out-of-the-ordinary to hear music emanating from the, er, portapotties.  The Boy groaned and begged me to not take a picture, but the wineglassperformingartist in me couldn’t resist.

why not take every opportunity to play some music, i say.

christmas eve.  a good reason to sing your heart out.  merry!

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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“it’s hard to keep things simple.” [merely-a-thought monday]

keep things simple

less is more.  enough is enough.  say no.  simplify.

we are all bombarded.  two days before christmas and we wonder if we did enough, bought enough, wrapped enough, entertained enough, baked enough, decorated enough.  we are surrounded by images – piles of presents under ornate christmas trees, horse-drawn sleighs on currier and ives backroads, families gathered at tables merrily chatting, churches full with congregations happily singing and the bells in the belfry ringing.  the kind of images that nag you into thinking, “more.  i must do more.”

the other evening, gathered around bowls of homemade hot thai soup, 20 said, “it’s hard to keep things simple.”  the three of us share some profound times of conversation, of life’s changes and choices, of simple togetherness.  he talked about soup and wine and chocolate and conversation, of appreciating each other’s company.

the catalogs arriving in the mail and the ads in the paper and the online streaming advertising all pander to the indulgence of our insecurity.  of not enough.  how do we respond and say no?

it’s hard to avoid.  it feels like we have to say yes to everything.  or we don’t quite measure up.  we search for meaning.  in things.  we are searching outside of ourselves.  holding ourselves to some sort of external standard of holiday-completeness.

how do we seek more centeredness?  more connectedness?  more moments held in the stillness of awe?

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

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joy. [k.s. friday]

joy songbox

the video from My Girl made me out and out cry.  it was just a little hello, sent from around a firepit in the high mountains after a long day of working.  and it was perfect timing.  to see her face and hear her voice was pure joy.

we walked and walked and walked.  miles from millenium park’s christmas tree and skating rinks, past beautiful ornate displays of lights and simple twinkling white branches.  in a rare opportunity linking my arm through My Boy’s as we strolled, i was filled with joy.  the loudspeaker music and dancing lights of the lincoln park zoo just echoed my delight.

as adults, the holidays carry a different set of qualities than they did as when we were children.  much pressure, oftentimes grief, maybe a slippery slope feeling of never-doing-enough, some disappointment, a measure of jealousy or envy perhaps as others-with-family-all-in-town gather together in big festive celebrations.  for those of us who work on christmas eve and christmas day, there is a yet another added layer.

we walked through the woods yesterday looking for the right branch laying on the ground.  we don’t yet have a christmas tree up.  we have other little trees – i have collected small trees through the years – but no true christmas tree.  each year in these last years, we have chosen that “tree” carefully, always something we found, something re-purposed into a christmas tree, something that had meaning.  there was the christmas-tree-on-a-stick – a christmas-tree-misfit – we cut down on the tree farm, a piece of the tree that fell into our backyard narrowly avoiding the house, a branch that had snapped off of our beloved tree out front, a star suspended over a straight trunk wrapped in lights to tease The Boy.

this year i thought about just going to a lot and purchasing a tree, thinking maybe, in the midst of the ending of a really tough year for many,  that might put me into the holiday spirit.  but i just couldn’t bring myself to do that.  we figured that the answer would become obvious, as it has done in the past years.  and it did. watching My Boy, clearly proud of the decorations of the neighborhoods north-of-downtown, agree with us about how simple, beautiful and truly elegant the white branches were, made up my mind.

last night we put the first coat of white spray paint on the two sets of branches we brought home.  we’ll finish coating them with paint later today and wrap them in white lights.  we’ll gently place silver ornaments as we play christmas music in the background.  i will miss My Girl and My Boy like crazy.  i will yearn for my parents, my brother and sister-in-law and sister and brother-in-law and nieces and nephew and all their families, david’s parents and extended family.  it isn’t the christmas of christmas-past.

but there still is magic.  those moments of joy – when everything else ceases to exist and joy eclipses it all.

download JOY on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

milleniumparktree website box

JOY ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

 

 


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“you are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” [merely-a-thought monday]

dream

i found a note the other day, tucked inside a book.  it was a jotting-down-of-a-memory and was a quote from The Boy.  he was five and he said, “look at how i can snap (my fingers).  at 5 years old!!  i could become a snap teacher and teach everyone how to snap!”  never too young to dream.

jen is zealous.  she is reallyyyy zealous.  i don’t think i have known anyone who is as zealous a learner as jen.  it is invigorating and inspiring to be around someone who embraces all she does not know with questions and a hope for understanding, as opposed to resistance or suspicion.  she actively seeks out ways to learn the new, the unknown, wholeheartedly jumping in and swimming.  she knows that vitality comes with opening yourself to new things.

pantene recently ran a new video series.  it’s referencing the holidays and in it transgender people talk about what it’s like to go home.  it’s breathtakingly sad the number of LGBTQ women and men who are not welcomed at home because someone cannot learn, ask questions, try to understand.  instead, resistance and suspicion and a whole lot of judgement fiercely reign and the dream of being all together celebrating is devastatingly dashed.  squelching another’s dreams is not the ultimate job of our job as humankind.

yesterday i conducted a christmas cantata.  ahead of time, i had, for hours and hours on end, researched songs to find the pieces i felt would resonate with people, the pieces that would be generously bestowing of spirit and not off-putting.  i looked for the language i thought would tug at their hearts and remind them of the light, the miracle of the season.  when one song didn’t quite fit for me after i had chosen it, i wrote a new one.   they were labeled ‘contemporary’ songs, with melodies, rhythm, chords, years of copyright differing from the hymns in the hymnals.  over thirty people participated:  a choir, a ukulele band, a worship band, a violinist, a violist.  the result was truly beautiful, the message clear and the music gorgeous.  our little church – a church that proudly purports to be reconciling and all-embracing – had moments truly holy in that service.

h is 93.  every week at rehearsal he is ready and willing to learn something.  he is steeped in traditional – after all, he is 93, his year of copyright long ago.  and yet, those new melodies, harmony, challenging rhythms he has learned to sing have brought a freshness of life to him.  never too old to dream.  he knows that vitality comes with opening yourself to new things.

but back to yesterday.  i remain unfulfilled in one way.  because the sad part about yesterday?  all the work and time that these dedicated volunteers had put into this cantata – with my careful choices based on over thirty years as a minister of music – was not seen by the first service folks.  the word ‘contemporary’ made it unfathomable for that service to host without complaint, relegating it only to the second service.  the spirit of camaraderie, the support of the efforts of others in their own church, the truly beautiful music that was made was lost on this first service.  i try to understand their dedication to traditional music, to choice, and i heartedly honor it in selecting music for every other week of the church year.  but i fail to understand their unwillingness to even try to embrace something else, something ‘new’.  i fail to understand any reinforcement of ‘different’, of divisiveness. especially as simply one day and a festive community celebration of the holiday.  especially when churches are constantly looking for relevancy and vitality is one of the necessary ingredients.  they do not know what they missed.  closing off.  what they are missing.

jen and h would like each other.  they both openly embrace new.  they both openly embrace others.  they both dream dreams, happily engaging in life, snapping.  what a gift to be around.

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

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the best present. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

being present box copy

we walked past macy’s in downtown chicago and i noticed a digital billboard as it transitioned into its next message.  “the best present?  being present.”  i couldn’t agree more.  as trite as that message may be, it is a truth that spans the ages, spans time, spans generations.  if there is one consistent thing i talk about, it is moments.  moments i’ve noticed.  moments i’ve memorized.  moments i’ve written down.  always – moments i’ve spent being present.  whether present for someone else or present in the universe for myself, it matters not.  it is the act of showing up….all-in….that makes all the difference.

the beloved moments on facetime with my daughter, son and his boyfriend.  the moments spent laughing on a phone call with friends or family.  the moments watching a dear one open a present or two.  the moments walking outside under a cold dark sky of stars.  the moments in the dark room alit only with twinkling lights.  the moments snuggled under a blanket.  the moments cooking or eating together.  the moments singing carols at the top of your lungs.  the moments sharing stories.  the moments making music.  moments where distraction would make you would miss it.

in this time of full-tiltedness…heading into the new year, i hope that you are gathering moments like this in your heart.   they are the best presents.

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

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full tilt. [merely a thought monday]

2legstiredhearthappy copy

she sent us a video of her snowboarding with friends.  it was a crazy-good-full-tilt-snow-flying amazing video of them on a magnificently majestic mountain.  my heart literally sang watching it; you could feel the rush, the joy!  and then….there was this spoken line…at the end…My Girl, breathless from an outstanding run, with a laugh said, “my legs are tired; my heart is happy!”  this is how she lives.

i could stop writing right here, because that really says it all.  as we go full-tilt at these holidays, full-tilt at the end of this year, full-tilt toward a new year, full-tilt toward our goals and dreams and wishes, we believe that giving our all – and then some – brings us ever closer to that elusive place of “getting there.”

but at the bottom of that powder-run there were no medals; there was no bonus, no ribbon or gold watch.  there was something more precious.  and kirsten knew it.  there was the moment of running it, of sharing it, of living it.  the absolute euphoria that comes with just doing the best you can, and putting your body and soul into it, capturing the moments you soar.

may this holiday season – and really, all your days – bring you those moments.  at the bottom of the slope, on christmas eve when you are in a dark room with a lighted tree, on a day you gather with family and friends and look around grabbing a few seconds to store away for later, on a facetime with those most beloved to you, when you’ve put away the last dish or driven the last couple hundred miles, when you have gone full-tilt, i know you will be a little tired.  but it is my hope your heart will be happy.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY A THOUGHT MONDAY

oversizedjoy copley place website box

©️ 2018 kerri sherwood & david robinson


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oversized joy. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

copley place - back bay, boston copy

we spent a wonderful day thanksgiving friday in boston with craig and dan.  taking trains here and there, we had brunch at the greatest little dietary-restrictions-aware-diner called the friendly toast, walked through a magnificently decorated copley place, had drinks together and went bowling, a tradition that has been established now for a few years.  it would have been hard not to feel the holiday spirit; carols were playing and everything was decorated…and we were together.

copley place had enormous decorations.  i mean eNORmous.  everywhere you looked there were oversized ornaments and lights.  now, normally i might find that gauche; in this case it was stunning.  they really made you take notice.  i wanted to sing carols and skip through the mall.

i keep carols on pretty much non-stop in this season.  in the house they play on a boombox booming out of my studio.  we drive with them on in the car.  i sing in the shower.  i make up new words to old standards and sing LALALALALA really loudly when i can’t think of the lyrics.  joy joy joy!  big joy!

thank you to copley place for the reminder that THE JOY of the season – those moments we are together – is enormous.  it is oversized.  it is stunning.  take notice.

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

oversizedjoy copley place website box


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luminaria. [two artists tuesday]

luminaria box2 copy.jpg

with snow on the ground and visions of sugarplums and reindeer, late-at-night we would gather together on christmas eve in the neighborhood i grew up in.  luminaria bags lined the streets, you could hear people caroling, children excitedly running around.  my sweet momma and daddy held this tradition close each year, even bringing it forward a few of their first years in florida.  back on long island we would walk around the block, singing, talking, debating white-lights-vs-multi-colored holiday lights, dreaming about what would be under the tree the next morning.  it was magical and time was suspended.  midnight seemed early after everyone’s late church service.

a few years ago, missing my sweet momma and poppo, holiday tradition with extended family and not always having my own children here to celebrate, i felt an emptiness and a yearning for something more.  reaching into bright memories, i asked david if he would like to host a luminaria party, to start right here…on our street…with these sweet bags of sand and candles spaced on the sidewalks, a couple of firepits in the driveway (thanks to john and michele we have more than one firepit!), an abundance of wine and snacks on tables set up with christmas carols playing on a boombox.  we invited our neighbors, friends, our church community.  they stayed till a time-suspended-magical 2am and a tradition was born.  this year is our fourth.

it starts at 10:45.  you are welcome to come.  just rsvp, bundle up and bring a beverage and snack to pass.  come share in the magic of tradition…yet another wondrous thing.

read DAVID’S post this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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