reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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reminders. [two artists tuesday]

heart leaf

i stopped and went back.  i had to take this picture.  reminders are everywhere and right now, although, truly, as always,  i knew i wanted to capture as many as possible.

it feels as if we are surrounded by whirling hypocrisy.  those people who proclaim one thing and treat people in an extraordinarily different way.  i’ve been stunned into i-don’t-even-know-what-to-say-silence more than once lately.  people who demand respect but don’t give it, people who are unnecessarily controlling, people who go behind your back, people who list toward cruelty, people who declare appreciation but tear down, people who hide behind glossy words.  what is going on?  narcissism seems to be alive and well as we suffer the effects of those-who-believe-they-are-on-pedestals, pedestals that seem to exist on every step of the ladder.  it’s shocking and more than a little disconcerting.  we each have first-hand in-our-own-life experience.  what a disappointment.  we are humans capable of so much more.

and so, the reminders are incredibly welcome.  the heart leaves or rocks, the sun’s rays glowing through clouds in the sky, the presence of a cardinal or two blue jays crossing our path in the woods.  a text message or call out of the blue, beautiful generous raw-matte-finish words spoken to you.  all reminders.  a kindness extended by a stranger, an eye-contact smile.  the big initiatives, the little gestures.  not picking up the tug-of-war rope.  reaching out to offer the olive branch.  life-giving.  practicing.  we are truly capable of so much.  we need be reminded.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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improving. a little every day. [two artists tuesday]

wine

but the real question is – do WE improve with age?

yes, lush red wine, dark chocolate, bold roast black coffee – all have risen on my list of chosens.  i remember the days of sugar and cream in coffee.  i remember the creamy milk chocolate days.  and i remember the 1980s and 1990s days of ‘white zin’, the go-to wine of that age and time, a staple of the culture.  but those days are past and we have moved on to rich red blends or old vine zins, 85% dark chocolate with no milkfats, and the boldest of the bold coffees with no sweetener or added dairy/non-dairy product.  all improved (in my opinion) with my age.

me…on the other hand…i’m not so sure.

i read a brief article which proposed that your thoughts are less important than your feelings.  it reminded the reader that, in light of everyone’s hard-to-speak-of mortality,  there is no time more important, nothing more important than feeling the present moment.

how often do we get caught up in the swirling mind games of reviewing all the past?  thoughts.  how often do we find ourselves double-clutching on the future because of something that has happened ‘before’?  thoughts.  how often do we hesitate as we ponder-ponder-ponder until it’s too late?  thoughts.  how often are those thoughts – skewed – which have accumulated all through these supposed improving-with-age years – ruling our moments, nonetheless ruining our moments, the ones right-now?  stick to the topic/don’t go backwards in time and drudge up old stuff/stay in the “i-feel” not the “you-did”…any counseling master’s program notes referencing ‘conversation’ (read:  heated conversation) with a significant other.  feelings.  do we actually improve with age?  do we learn?

i’m guessing the wine cork has it right.  the moments you are sipping wine are quieter moments sitting by the fire.  or moments of laughter with friends.  or moments with a good meal.  the older we get, it seems the more value we place on those things.  we drink-in the heart of these most important times, with or without wine.  feeling.

we gain perspective.  maybe like that glass of wine in the evening.  a little every day.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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frosting and connection.

network connections

cupcakes.

and frosting.

i would talk to my piano students about practicing.  i drew a comparison of the time they spent, the way they allocated their time to cupcakes and frosting.   i would start by saying let’s talk about practicing, whereupon most of my sweet students would roll their eyes, a common reaction to the word ‘practice’.  i would suddenly switch topics to cupcakes and they would happily skip down that path, thinking they were avoiding the ‘practice’ chat.  we would talk about our favorite cupcakes and the very best frosting that could possibly earn the top spot on those treats.  and once we discerned that very-important-information, i would pose a question:

let’s say you have a small cup of frosting.   delicious, fluffy, sweet-as-can-be frosting.  it’s just a small cup – like the tiny sippy cups you drank from as a baby.  and you have a choice.  you can either frost one cupcake with that sippy-cup-full or you can frost all 24 of the cupcakes that are waiting on the counter from the oven.  which will you do?

my students, all brilliant cupcake-lovers and bright lights in the world, would sit and ponder for a second and then reply that they would frost the one cupcake.  otherwise, they would explain, the frosting would be so thin that you would barely know it is there, you would barely taste it, and it would be like there was no frosting at all.   and besides, if they got to eat the one cupcake, they wanted the one rich with frosting.  who can argue with that?

contrary to their belief that the ‘practice’ talk was over, i would clutch and shift gears back to the piano.  “if you have a little bit of time to practice and pieces of music that might be difficult to play, would it be better to hurry through every piece spending a few moments on each OR would it be better to spend that little bit of time on one or two?” i would ask (in student-age-appropriate language).   invariably they would frost one cupcake.

i believe the same applies to connection.  with the advent of the vast array of social media choices, we have applied an ultra-thin layer of frosting to our connections.  we have thinned out the time we truly spend on relationship – pure individual relationships.  we have, oddly, chosen to spend easily-addicted quantities of time and emotional energy on social media “relationships” with people we do not know rather than being in real touch with the people closest to us.  we expect those people to learn of things on outlets and from posts instead of simply telling them, picking up a phone and calling or texting them.

we are not connected to a network.  we are connected to a network.  both of these are true.

the question for me, one that i must look at as well,  is – how much time are we spending on that network, on individual people we love and care about?  is there any frosting at all?

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

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the more grateful you are, the more grateful you are. [two artists tuesday]

gratitude blanks

it is easy to have a list of things we wish for.  a list of things we lack.  a list of ways we aren’t enough.  it is easy to perseverate over these things.  things that make us different from someone else, things that make us less successful, less wealthy, less chic.  it is easy to measure yourself against others.  it is easy to fall short.

in those moments, it is easy for someone outside of you to remind you of what you do have, the ways ‘it could be worse’, the ways you are rich beyond compare.  it is easy to push back against those words, against those admonishment-reminders.  it is easy to stay in the lists.  alone.  to wallow.

but in the new tide that follows the overwhelmed sobs, the tears that cleanse but don’t solve, the grief of wishing-it-were-different, there are deep breaths of renewal.  there are realizations.  there are glimpses of beauty, the seeing of kindnesses, winks of hope.

there were rocks planted along one of the trails we hike on, positive messages painted on them.  each one made us smile, made us wonder, made us look for the next.  life-giving.

gratitude is like that.  in a time swirling with negativity, personal challenges, darkness overtaking the sun, we offer these gratitude cards.  print and cut them out (PDF link below), write your thoughts, hide them somewhere as a surprise, tuck them into a nook or cranny, or give them to people who are unsuspecting, people who maybe need the spark of your expression of gratitude.

the more grateful you are, the more grateful you are.  it’s an amazing, wondrous cycle.

gratitude blanks

click here for gratitude blanks PDF

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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little-baby-scion sisu. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

scion sisu

for starters, i was raised by beaky and pa.  my sweet momma and poppo grew up in the time of the depression, born in 1921 and 1920, respectively.  so my propensity to turn the shampoo bottle upside down and squeeze the last ever-lovin’ drop out of it – till there are no more molecules left in the bottle – is something i come by honestly.  my momma may not have been the inventor of the soap sock or the wait-and-save-this-new-thing-for-something-special but she had it all down pat.

and so, it seems to run true that i do not easily replace stuff with brand-spanking-new stuff.  our stove/oven is over 40 years old; it still works and why fill up the landfill with yet another stove/oven?  i know that a new stove/oven would probably grace our little kitchen with more flare, but then the whole kitchen would have to be re-done around the new appliance.

among other clothing items i can carbon-date, i have, in my closet and drawers, clothing that was my girl’s or my boy’s – sport sweats or t-shirts, jeans or even shorts – not only do those connect me to memories with them, but, sheesh, why not?  i have shoes from waaaaay back, not hoarding…really.  the last time i bought a pair of shoes – other than my infamous old navy flipflops –  was a few years ago, the black suede boots with fringe were on clearance and i couldn’t resist.  i have worn the heck out of them.

and that brings me to little-baby-scion.  a 2006 model, this little toastermobile is scrappy.  equipped with few amenities, there is far less equipment to break on this little vehicle. (i turn to knock on wood as i write this.)  this scion has been a rock – taking me/us cross-country to see my sweet momma when she was struggling, to see our girl in the high mountains, our boy on the east coast.  it drove babycat home from florida, dogdog home from the other side of wisconsin and was our luxury vehicle of choice on our honeymoon.  it kept me safe driving cartons of cds to concerts and wholesale shows.  it has withstood ferry rides to and from the island.  through rain, sleet, snow and ice it has prevailed.  every time we get in, especially on a long-drive-day, we root, “you go, little baby scion!”

and so the other day i asked d to take a picture as it landed on this mileage.  no real reason, just gratitude for something that has been lasting and lasting.  i have no real drive (no pun intended) to have a new lavish car nor is it necessarily in the budget at the moment to replace something that doesn’t need replacing. little-baby-scion rocks and packs like a u-haul.  and is now joined by big red, our 1998 ford F150 pick-up.  we celebrate both of them, inanimate, yes, i know.  but still…

today i just want to say – way to go, toyota!  way to make a vehicle that is dependable and trustworthy.  it’s a sturdy little car, full of sisu.

and, the best part, around some design table at some point in the early 2000’s, i can picture some 20-something saying, “hey!  let’s put blue lights under the dashboard.  we can do away with map lights and light people’s feet.”  yes!  the real merits of our sweet scion.

keep goin’, little-baby-scion!

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

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act well your part. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

act well 2

“act well your part.  there all the honor lies.” (alexander pope)

this feels like a life mantra.  a reminder that no matter what you do, where you find yourself, who you are…to do the best you can, to be the best you can.  no spoke is uncounted.

the moment i heard this line i took out a scrap of paper and a sharpie and wrote it down.  it so resonated with me that i could feel my heart beating in my chest.  i thought of all the times i tried to do the best i could, to be the best i could, in every role….partner, daughter, mother, sister, friend, artist, colleague, sharer-of-the-planet.  and i thought of all the times i didn’t do the best i could, i wasn’t the best i could be, in every role….partner, daughter, mother, sister, friend, artist, colleague, sharer-of-the-planet.

i wish, at every turn, someone had repeated this to me.  good turns.  poor turns.  turns that i can account for, that have intention and educated thoughtfulness.  turns that i shrink away from thinking about, that are spontaneous, ill-conceived moments, that have no grounding. turns that were reactionary, that stole safety, stole time to patiently stand in the fire and think.  turns that i did not make, that felt too scary, too risky, too alone.  and turns that i should have made, that would have tied me to the earth’s gravity and kept me steadfastly feet on dirt.

i wish, often now, as i look back over last week, last month, last year, the last decade, my whole life, that someone had repeated this to all human beings.  as we stand in the turns we make, the decisions we decide on, the actions we choose…were we to judiciously filter them through “act well your part.  there all the honor lies” we would be reminded that it all counts.  the ripples spread.  the pebble we throw will, indeed, touch others.

just as others will count on us to act well our part, regardless of any part’s so-called import, so too, do we count on others to act well their parts.  standing together.  thinking. recognizing.  choosing.  moving with wisdom.  every spoke counts.  there is honor in each one.  for a wheel without spokes…..

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

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when push comes to shove, don’t. [merely-a-thought monday]

civility 2 copy

my sweet momma always said that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.  although she stood her ground, she rarely pushed back.  well, maybe at my dad…i certainly heard her push back in that relationship.  she was a woman before her time, struggling to be seen and heard…in relationship, in work, in the world.  nevertheless, she lead with kindness and generosity.

recently i surprisingly found myself in a situation where i felt the kind of civility that is needed to accomplish anything was lacking.  instead it was aggressive, pointed, antagonistic.  “when push comes to shove” implies escalation and this, indeed, was the case.  instead of actual conversation, it was a push-shove back-and-forth.  instead of communication, it was a shining example of what-not-to-do.

we drove past a passiton billboard on the way up north that read these words:  when push comes to shove, don’t.  civility is in you.  what does a boorish push or a retorted shove accomplish other than an establishment of immaturity, a driving desire and play for power and an uncooperative non-collaboration?

civility is not that hard.  it should be what we lead with.  respecting others and their place in their world.  we each get the same air to breathe and we each breathe in and out the same way.  instead of escalating to shove or pushing yet harder, how might we fill our lungs with responses of peacefulness, thoughtfulness, fairness, appreciation, intelligent consideration, magnanimity, grace, even reconciliation.  why must push come to shove?  it needn’t.

just don’t.

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

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