reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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a dance in the night. [k.s. friday]

slow dance

to sit in the dark.  to watch the flicker of flame on the yard torches.  to stare into the bonfire.  to listen to the crickets.  to feel cool air brush your face.  to walk barefoot in dewy-damp grass.  to slowly swirl, in time to music, in time to your heartbeat, in time to deep breaths.

we all need a break.

instead of a mind racing-against-itself in the middle of the night, we need a dance with slow.  we need a dance of hope.  we need a dance of release.

do you remember how to slow dance…in the middle of the night?

even in the bleakest of times, even in the dark.  the tiniest pinprick of light through an inky sky will remind us of the trillions of stars that are always there.

 

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SLOW DANCE ©️ 2002 kerri sherwood

 


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a long while. [k.s. friday]

last i saw you

a long while.

since last i saw you. and you. and you. it is dizzying. the yous and the longwhiles.

it makes me want an RV, updated map apps and a little bit of time.

i’m finding myself talking to people these days – people who have gone on to different planes of existence like my sweet momma or my poppo.  i ask them advice.  i tell them tales of the day.  i bemoan the challenges of our world with them; i wonder with them.

twenty-eight years ago today my big brother crossed over.  the transition of here to there is something of great ponderance for human beings.  we don’t know.  we profess to knowing, but we hardly know.  we only know what it feels like to be left behind, missing and yearning.  i will forever-and-ever yearn to be within embracing distance of my parents, my brother, and loved ones who have no tangible form but whose silken threads-of-being are eternally wrapped around me, always reminding me.

it’s like that for people still here on this very planet, people who we have not seen, people who we pine about when last we saw them.

truth be told, i spent the last couple of days in tears.  not slow-motion-tears that quietly weep down my face.  but the kind of tears where your ribs and your back hurt the next day; the kind of tears that swell your eyelids and make mascara application undoable.  the kind of tears that remind you how much you love someone and how much you miss them.  for me, this time, this was about my children.  it’s impossible to really explain what this missing feels like.  i can say it is wrapped up in the act of breathing, in every aspect of living a day, in the darkening of light.

the pandemic has brought exponential pain to people in our world.  suffering its disease, we worry about those who have been diagnosed, we grieve those who have succumbed to its ugliness, we wrangle with the illogical, implausible, grossly inadequate response of our land.  we are floored at those who are picking fights over this monster that is on a path of destruction which has unfathomable fallout.  we cannot understand the division and the planting of flags-of-the-ridiculous when peoples’ very health and lives are at stake; what truly matters more than that? it’s insanity: how can so many people be so lost? we try to sustain good attitudes and do the right thing.  we try to protect each other.  we try to avoid being a reason that this pandemic is spreading.  and we miss everyone we love in the process.

we wonder:  when?  when will “last” be now?  when will we see you?

and we hope, with great desperation, that it is not a long while.

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LAST I SAW YOU ©️ 1997, 1999 & 2000 kerri sherwood


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starry tufts. [k.s. friday]

part of the wind dandelion fluff

magical.  the starry tufts of white floating on the breeze.  seeds from wild flowers, they are on a course not of their own volition.  white filaments of dandelions, designed to fly and leave a wake behind their path, fluff past, on their way to parts unknown.  part of the wind.  dandelions’ wispy seeds can be aloft over a half mile before parachuting their way to the ground.  no gps, no triptik, no maps or intended destination.

much like how it feels right now.  a part of the wind.

in this time of global pandemic, of racial protest, of economic strife, of political chaos, it feels as though the wind has taken me.  battered to and fro, it feels as it there is no determined destination, no way to avoid the headwinds, no escaping the jet stream.  the wind just picks me up and takes me, each day, to a different place.  never physically far from the place of origin, it makes me feel just enough of a lack of control that i am ill at ease, never quite settled, never quite sure, always a bit tentative, always wary.

and instead of letting the breeze blow and riding it like a standup board in a serene lake, i resist.  i find the need to know – where am i going? – too pressing, too unnerving.  i paddle against the current, seeking ways to see, to move in a direction that makes sense.  but it’s ineffective.  i tire and give it up to the myriad of air currents swirling around me.

it is what it is.  we are, indeed, a part of the wind.  just starry tufts.

 

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PART OF THE WIND ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood

 


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with abandon. [k.s. friday]

sing with frame

i warm up first.  the sound system is on and i wail through the building like a country artist on a flatbed.  the sound takes on air with the natural reverb of the room; it encourages me to sing more, sing louder, sing with abandon.

i’m recording nine pieces of music a week right now.  five of these are vocal songs.  i stand in the venue in front of the piano, boom mic in place and turn on the voice memo on our island-iphone-which-is-newer-than-our-other-iphones.  i play and sing from the beginning to the end, without stopping.  there is no tracking; there are no editing features, no going-back-and-fixing-this-or-that, no auto-tune, no equalizing, no other instrumentation, no balancing wavelengths, no mastering, no amazing engineer, no producer.  any ambient sound becomes a part of the recording. we listen afterwards and decide if i need to re-record, which simply means starting over from the beginning.  it’s more recording than i have done in-studio in a long time.  and it’s vastly different, this straight-up tape-it-with-the-phone recording.  in the last bit of time i have recorded over 90 pieces of music. that’s a serious amount of recording.  in album terms, it’s at least seven CDs worth.

it makes me want to stand -again- on a wooden stage in front of a piano and a boom and sing my heart out.  it makes me want to maybe get some of my own stuff – the stuff lingering in notebooks and folders of scrap paper – on tape.  it makes me think about rv’s and touring and the little voice in my brain reminds me that i’m 61.  “ONLY 61,” i retort.  it makes me wonder.

it’s a common story.  ask carole king or phil vassar.  they wrote songs.  lots of them.  and other people sang them.  until one day…and then they forever owned that boom mic over their pianos.

decades ago, i thought i’d just write songs.  i’d play all my instrumental pieces in concert – like george winston and david lanz – and i’d grant permission to ‘real’ singers to sing the songs i had written.  but then one day…and now you would have to wrestle that boom mic from me.  different stories, same principle.

we are singer-songwriters.  we are people who sing.

all warmed up, it’s easier to get from the beginning to the end without too much pitchy-ness.  it’s easier, warmed-up, to know what to expect from my still-healing-broken-wrists.  it’s easier to know what to expect from my voice.

and so i keep singing.  i wail through the building.  and the sound takes on air with the natural reverb of the room.  i sing more, i sing louder, i sing with abandon.

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the old file cabinets. [k.s. friday]

it's a long story

two old file cabinets.

the old file cabinets are in the closet in the studio.  at some point i organized all – well, most of – my music, lugged a couple metal cabinets up from the basement and spent a few days filing.  there’s overfill in a few cardboard bank boxes on the floor.  maybe someday i’ll get to those.

yesterday i was looking for a piece of music i thought i had.  i went to the drawer it should be in and starting rifling through the books and sheet music.  every title i looked at brought back memories:  “moon river” made me think of my uncle allen, who took voice lessons and sang that song beautifully.  “all i need” made me think of days at moton school center, comparing ‘general hospital’ notes with lois over lunches of peanuts and diet cokes.  “the rose” made me think of earlier years of promise and love.

i forgot about what i was searching for and dragged out a pile of music, sheets spilling out onto the floor as i struggled to pull them from their tightly filled drawer.  books – collections of artists or full transcribed albums – called my name, begging to see the light of day.  i whispered to them i would be back for them.   it has probably been decades since they were opened.

standing at the piano, not another thought in my head, i started shuffling through sheet music and playing.  it was no longer 2020, transported instantly back to the 70s, the 60s, the 80s.

had i opened a different drawer i would have found all my old piano books, my old organ music – tools of a student learning her eventual trade.  in those drawers are the books my children used for their music lessons, for band and orchestra.  in those drawers are the books i used as i attempted junior high oboe and college trumpet lessons.  in those drawers are the pieces that kept me on the bench for hours as a child and then as a teenager, practicing, playing, dreaming.

other drawers yield a plethora of more advanced piano and organ music, years of accumulated resources.  there are drawers of choir music, both sacred and secular, from years and years of directing and conducting work.  and still others house the scores of music i have written, staff paper and pencil, finished in calligraphy pen.

it made me want to just clear a day off.  liberate my mind from every worry, every task, every watching-the-time responsibility.  brush off the dust of the dark drawers from the lead sheets and scores and play.

i’d love to gather a whole group of friends around the piano and sing through john denver and billy joel songs, through england dan and john ford coley’s “we’ll never have to say goodbye again” and paul mccartney’s “maybe i’m amazed” and david soul’s “don’t give up on us” and the carpenters’ “bless the beasts and the children” and led zeppelin’s “stairway to heaven”,  through carole king and james taylor and pablo cruise.  through the ‘great songs of the sixties’ book and the ‘sensational 70 for the 70s’ book and fake books from all time.   just take a day – a whole day – and sing.  and remember together.

in light of the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic, this would have to be virtual, i suppose.  so that might not be such a good idea.  but maybe d and i could just take that day.  think of nothing else but music and where it has brought us, where it brings us.  our long stories.

a few things can instantly place you back in a moment.  songs, scents, pictures.  a whiff of my sweet momma’s favorite perfume has me immediately missing her.  john denver singing anything off any number of albums of his that i owned places me in my room hanging out on my beanbag chairs with my slick 3-in-1 turntable/8-track/cassette stereo or driving my little bug around the island.  wings’ “silly love songs” or elton’s “don’t go breaking my heart” and i can feel the hot sand under my beach towel at crab meadow.

two old file cabinets.  filled to the brim.

so many treasures.

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IT’S A LONG STORY ©️ 1997 & 2000 kerri sherwood

 

 

 


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irato.caesura.fermata.lento. [k.s. friday]

in transition

irato.caesura.fermata.lento

the chaos of irato.  a passage of angry, passionate.  a symphony of irate engaging us, challenging us, buckling us under in its fervor.

“take a break,” earth-the-breathless-conductor would admonish.  “hold and rest,” earth-the-counselor would encourage.  “slow down.  be deliberate,” earth-the-sage would advise.  caesura.  fermata.  lento.

acknowledging the rage.  listening.  resting in the questions.  conscious mindful steps.  measured decisive action.  slowly leading the way with goodness.

i suspect mother earth, in its mother-earth-wisdom, would hear the symphony as transition.  the space between before and after.  a time of growth and change and every possible note, every possible emotion.

we listen, as earthlings, imperfect-in-every-way, and we get lost.  to live in irato is uncomfortable.  a cliffhanger.

but mother earth smiles.  after all, she knows all about suspense and the big bang and butterflies.

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IN TRANSITION ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood

 


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give a flying flip. [k.s. friday]

every breath

i am imploring you to help keep my beloved daughter safe.

please.

enlightenment comes through unexpected channels sometimes.  this morning i read a post by a brilliant woman who was my piano student 40 years ago. she forwarded a writing by a young woman who is a server in a restaurant who detailed her experiences in just one of her shifts.

it’s bracing.

my friend-who-was-my-former-piano-student prefaced it with this:  “I know it will feel so good to feel normal again and go out to dinner. But please, read this WHOLE DAMN THING before you do. You BETTER tip your server like they are risking their life to bring you a drink, because they f*ing are.”

the server wears a mask and gloves, carries sanitizer with her to work, stands back 6 feet from her guests at the tables in the restaurant.  the guests?  they remove their masks, which were required to enter, as soon as they sit down and never put them back on, even while ordering, even while their server is present.  it is cavalier at its best.  her safety is compromised over and over, at every breath, and she is painfully aware, as you read in her candid outpouring.

is the safety of this server any less important than your own?  is she dispensable?  is your dining-out experience so important you cannot sacrifice a bit of comfort?  where has this message of it-doesn’t-matter-if-we-protect-each-other come from?  hmmm.  let me think.  might it be that the “leadership” of this country has made it a fashion faux pas to wear a mask?  might it be that the “leadership” of this country has made it seem unnecessary to protect each other?  might it be that the “leadership” of this country thinks everyone’s breath doesn’t matter?  might it be that the “leadership” of this country doesn’t really give a flying flip about the populace of this country?  if i sound pissed, it’s because i am.  enough already.

where do you stand?

i, for one, was breathless when i read the detailed narrative of this young woman’s shift.  with angry and worried tears in my eyes, i read it aloud to david.  i would love to read it aloud to you.

an expert at piecing-it-together during off-peak, My Girl, among other things, bartends and serves.  she busts her butt working hard in high mountain towns, waiting on tourists and locals alike.  she is a hard worker at everything she does and i have sat on her barstools watching her move in blurrying pace getting it done.  the last thing i want to have to worry about in the middle of this pandemic as it actually continues, despite the “leadership” and a percentage of the country’s population ignoring its steady presence, is whether or not the people who are sitting on those barstools or at the tables in her restaurant are (with sarcastic voice) oh-so-tediously pulling up a mask when they are breathing at my daughter.  i want to assume that they are.  i want to assume that the meager income she is hour-after-hour-after-hour trying to earn will not be dangerous for her.  i want to assume that the people who have chosen to go out, have a few drinks, eat a nice meal prepared by a chef, will generously, even at least appropriately, tip her.  i want to assume good although i fear selfish, unconcerned indifference.

the server ends her writing with a plea: “For the love of god..if you go out to eat please please please pull up your mask for the few minutes that your server is at your table. Why are you not already doing this?? And oh my god..tip your server like that burrito you are eating may cost them their life…”

have you gone out to dinner?  have you gone out for drinks?  did you ecstatically plan your outfit and put on your favorite shoes?  did you make reservations at your favorite restaurant?  did you pile into your favorite downtown bar?  did you wear a mask?  did you even bring a mask? or did you leave your mask at home because it’s not mandated by the local, state or federal government?  does respect have to be mandated?  does protecting each other have to be mandated?  can we choose respect and protection regardless?  there is still a global pandemic.  can we connect the dots?  can we think???

WILL you be going out to dinner?  out for drinks?  will you wear a mask?  will you carefully protect every breath of your server – someone’s daughter, son, mother, father, sister, brother, spouse, best friend, caregiver?  will you recognize their safety?  will you tip them for risking their life to bring you your margarita?  will you protect the others inside the restaurant or bar?  will you give a flying flip?

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EVERY BREATH from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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but there’s this. hope. [k.s. friday]

hope

ella jones said that it’s a time to “have courageous conversations.”  she is the first black mayor of ferguson, missouri and, as i listened to her speak, i wrote down these words.

have courageous conversations.

senator lisa murkowski, a republican from alaska, said, “perhaps we are getting to a point where we can be more honest with the concerns that we might hold internally and have the courage of our own convictions to speak up.”  i read her words, thought “it’s about damn time!” and took a screenshot.

the courage of our own convictions to speak up.

former president barack obama addressed a virtual town hall.  “every step of progress in this country, every expansion of freedom, every expression of our deepest ideals has been won through efforts that made the status quo uncomfortable,” he reassured a trembling nation.  i looked for these words so that i could remember them.

the expression of our deepest ideals.  uncomfortable.

as we all sit together, walk together, protest together, cry together, we are talking together.  in the last ten days of enlightenment, our conversations are asking necessary questions.  we are desperately seeking to reach way down inside and to be honest about what we are feeling.  we are intentionally trying to learn, to discern, to understand.  we are debating.  we are arguing.  we are admitting we are wrong.  we are listening.  we are uncomfortable and we are courageous.

yet donald trump tweeted a letter, in a clear display of vehement agreement with the writer who penned it, his attorney, that refers to the peaceful protestors as “terrorists”.

but there’s this:  “congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

and there’s hope.  absolute hope.  we can’t un-know what we know, un-see what we have seen, un-hear what we have heard, un-change what has changed, un-understand what we are beginning to, yearning to, understand, or un-hope for hope.

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HOPE ©️ 2005 kerri sherwood

 

 

 

 


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with to without. [k.s. friday]

in a split second

it was but a mere second – nigh unto 4:30 in the morning – when my sweet poppo was on this planet and then wasn’t.

i said a wee-hours-goodnight to him, propped in a hospital bed at home in their house.  he whispered back to me.  i tried desperately to memorize his face, the love in his eyes.

and before the birds woke up in the morning, that morning eight years ago yesterday, i went from with to without.

three years later, we left my sweet momma sitting on the edge of her assisted-living-bed, grasping onto the blue-notebook-that-documented-their-moments-in-europe, her expression dancing with excitement, waving to us.  i tried desperately to memorize her face, the love in her eyes.

it wasn’t but a couple weeks later, on the road back again to florida, around the time the sun is highest in the sky, i went from with to without.

suddenly, i was orphaned.  suddenly i was without the two people who gave me life.  suddenly i was without the two people who could answer any question i had about my growing up.  suddenly – in a split second – nothing was the same.

100,000 families.  in the past few months, due to the global pandemic decimating our country, 100,000 families have desperately tried to memorize a loved one’s face.  they have held tightly to the memory of love shining in their beloved’s eyes.  they have moved from one split second into the next.  with to without.

and last night, on the solemn occasion of this number passing from 99,999 to over 100,000 – that one second – one person- one life – one with to without – i expected, foolishly, that something would change.  that there would be gut-wrenching acknowledgement.  that there would be communal nation-wide mourning led by the person in the highest seat in the land.  that there would be kind, generous, thoughtful words spoken, grief-filled heart-soaked empathy for all that the withs-to-withouts have gone through.

and nothing.

we need remember.  all of it.  these are our split seconds.

”…in a split second, our lives can turn around…”

they have.  they continue to.

this is real.

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IN A SPLIT SECOND from AS SURE AS THE SUN ©️ 2002 kerri sherwood


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virtual birthday. real love. [k.s. friday]

and goodnight

i went to sleep last night with a full heart.

i have spent the last two weeks gathering selfies from My Girl’s friends and family with birthday signs and wishes.  today is her 30th birthday and, with the pandemic restrictions, i can’t be there, out in those high mountains, to be the “return-to” information written on her bar-hopping balloons like i was on her 21st birthday or make her a special ariel or pocahontas or ballet slipper or happy face cake like i did every year she grew up.  like many of you, i feel sad and challenged by the inability to celebrate or be with each other.

so i decided to throw her a surprise party.  from all walks of life family and friends showed up and sent me selfies with signs they created or videos or photos they brilliantly photoshopped with greetings.  i facebook messaged and texted and talked with people i had never met, all generous and kind and wanting to help; every one of them a valued person in The Girl’s life and now in mine.  love at its best, i cried over and over receiving these and, after spending the entire day yesterday formatting all of it into a video, watched it again and again, tears streaming down my face.  it is an amazing thing to see how loved your child is.

so, today, i woke up refreshed.  my heart was full and i couldn’t wait to share this video and a gift video i made as well with kirsten.   i wish i was hiking with her this morning or having gnocchi and wine with her tonight.  but…

yes, it’s a virtual birthday – all of it.

but it is virtually impossible to not feel some peace in all this love.  and i know that tonight, when i lay my head on my pillow, i will rest easy.

 

 

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AND GOODNIGHT ©️ 2005 kerri sherwood