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jen-napkins. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

 

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these napkins make me think of jen.  it’s the reason we bought them.  at every single gathering with jen and brad, jen, who is an amazing creator of festivity, sets out fun napkins.  patterns and colors and images and phrases.  not the 300-1-ply-approx 6″ square-white-napkins-in-plastic-wrap kind of napkins, but napkins you choose that have some panache.  confident napkins.  napkins with personality.  napkins that celebrate.

i grew up with the other kind of napkins.  my sweet momma bought the 1-ply-approx-6″ kind of napkins all my growing-up years.  sometime in their retirement, beaky switched to vanity fair napkins, which are a bit more substantial and, in their substantiality, a bit fancier.  any sweetly patterned napkins were reserved for special occasions, parties, holidays.  because DNA is a powerful thing, our beaky passed all this down to me, and so, i haven’t yet reached the vanity-fair-napkin-stage.

we actually are cloth-napkin people.  because tight-budgeting runs through my veins, we seek out two cloth napkins as souvenirs when we travel, instead of chachkies.  we can tell you where all our cloth napkins are from and love to pick out which ones to use from the drawer in the dining room.

but there is something to these fun napkins that jen uses.  in the basement where we keep party supplies are several packets of fun, patterned, imaged napkins.  i’ve been saving them.  for company, for special occasions, for a celebration.

the other day i took out a handful and put them on the kitchen table.  the last couple of evenings, as we sit with a glass of wine, i have laid one at our spots.  this little napkin instantly makes me happier.  a simple napkin.  our moments of sharing a glass of wine at the kitchen table have become moments of celebration.

so, in this time of waiting and uncertainty, i have decided, even though it will require much pushing-back-against-that-nagging-stingy-voice-in-my-head, that we will use all those napkins.  i’ll go downstairs and get all the fun jen-napkins we have, no matter the season to which they are dedicated.  we’ll set them out and use them, making each time we are at the table together a celebration.

and i know my sweet momma, our beaky, will be smiling down at us.  “wowee!” she’ll say.

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

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tiny mica miracles. [two artists tuesday]

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it doesn’t matter.  anything could be happening.  any fire.  any storm.  and then, like glitter, the tiny miracles show up.  the mica.  and for a moment or two we are standing still, our focus re-directed.

this quote – “life is a series of thousands of tiny miracles…” (mike greenberg) – appeared in my facebook feed, re-posting from a decade ago.  a gentle tap, a hey-remember-this.

the post below (#TheMicaList) is from not-quite-a-year ago, published on my 60th birthday.  as i rapidly approach 61, i find that re-reading it reminds me.  to everything there is a season.  and a time to see mica.

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dear Life,

my sweet momma would often call me just as the time i was born would pass on my birthday. at the end of her life she didn’t do this anymore but i always remembered anyway. mid-morning i would know that this was the moment i arrived at this place, this was the beginning of my passing through, the time of my visiting.

today, this very morning, it was 60 years ago that i joined the rest of this good earth on its journey around the sun. spinning, spinning. every day.

it wasn’t long till i realized – as an adult – that we spin our wheels constantly to get to some unknown place we can’t necessarily define or find. we search and spin faster, out of mission, out of passion, out of frustration, loss, a feeling of no value or a sense of lostness. we spin. we seek. we try to accomplish. we try to make our mark. we try to finish. we try to start. we leave scarred rubber skids of emotions on the road behind us; we burn out with abrupt, unexpected turns, we break, wearing out. spinning. spinning. from one thing to another, our schedules full of busy things to do. often, days a repetition of the previous day. every day full. full of spinning. but we are still seeking. life is sometimes what we expected. life is sometimes not what we expected. and that makes us spin faster, our core dizzying with exhaustion.

the simplest gifts – the air, clear cool water to drink, the mountaintop exhilaration of parenthood, hand-holding love, the ephemeral seconds of self-actualizing accomplishment, the sun on our faces…we have images stored in our mind’s eye like photographs in an old-fashioned slide show, at any time ready for us to ponder. but often-times we fail to linger in these exquisite simplicities. the next thing calls.

this morning, as i stare at 60 – which, as i have mentioned, is kind of a significant number for me – i realize that everything i write about or compose about or talk about or hold close in my heart is about these simplest things, the pared-down stuff, the old boots on the trail – not fancy but steadfast, not brand new but muddied up with real. in our day-to-day-ness i/we don’t always see IT. the one thing. there is something -truly- that stands out each day in those sedimentary layers of our lives. it is the thing that makes the rest of the day pale in comparison. in all its simple glory, the one true moment that makes us realize that we are living, breathing, ever-full in our spinning world. the thing that connects us to the world. the shiny thing. the mica. that tiny irregular piece of glittering mica in the layers and veneers of life. the thing to hold onto with all our might.

that tiny glitter of mica. mica nestles itself within a bigger rock, a somewhat plain rock – igneous, metamorphic, sedimentary ordinariness. not pinnacle, it is found within the bigger context. sometimes harder to find, harder to notice, but there. and it makes the day our day, different than any other. it is the reason we have learned or grown that day. it is the reason we have laughed that day. it is the reason we have picked ourselves up off the floor that day. it is the reason we have breathed that day.

and now, at 60, i resolve to see, to collect those pieces of glitter. not in an old wooden box or a beat-up vintage suitcase, but, simply, since they are moments in time, in a tiny notebook or on my calendar. join me in #TheMicaList if you wish. as we wander and wonder through it is our job, in our very best interest, to notice the finest shimmering dust, the mica in the rock, the glitter in our world.

with all the reminders around us to remember-remember-remember that every day counts, we get lost in our own spinning stories, narratives of many strata. i know that in the midnight of the days i look back on the hours of light and darkness in which i moved about and remember one moment – one moment – be it a fleetingly brief, elusive, often evanescent moment of purity, the tiniest snippet of conversation, belly-laugh humor, raw learning, naked truth, intense love – those are the days i know – i remember – i am alive.

my visit to this physical place is not limitless. but each glitter of mica is a star in a limitless sky of glitter, a milky way of the times that make me uniquely me and you uniquely you, a stockpile of priceless relics. my time stretches back and stretches ahead, a floating silken thread of shiny. it’s all a mysterious journey.

and i am grateful.

kerri

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read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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what you do. [k.s. friday]

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“what you do will live beyond your lifetime.  it transcends the things of this earth.”

(YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE ©️ kerri sherwood)

when i think about my sweet momma and my poppo, my big brother, my godfather uncle allen, my grandmother-mama-dear, more beloved family and dear friends – all who have left this earth – i don’t think about their jobs or upward mobility, their income or the status symbols they owned.  i don’t think of the timeline of their school or work or whether they had finished a degree or if they had even gone to college.  i don’t ponder awards or certificates they received or resorts where they may have vacationed.

i think about what a difference they made in my life. my mom’s devotion to cheery kindness, my dad’s quiet and stubborn thoughtfulness, my big brother’s goofy humor and ability to tell a story in all its details, my uncle’s absolute commitment to his fun-loving smile no-matter-what-was-happening.  i think about the joy my mom experienced when my dad brought her grocery-store-flowers.  i think about big bowls of coffee ice cream with my brother, neil diamond playing in the background.  i think about my uncle generously paying for my very first recordings in ny, diligently holding me up and gently pushing me.  i think about simple moments with them.  in what could be a crowded-with-information-obituary in my head for each person, i hold a piece of their heart instead.  they have made a difference in this world.  they made a difference for me.  i remember.

(from THE FAULT IN OUR STARS)  “you know, this obsession you have, with being remembered?  this is your life!  this is all you get! you get me, and you get your family and you get this world, and that’s it!  ….  and i’m going to remember you.  …. you say you’re not special because the world doesn’t know about you, but that’s an insult to me.  i know about you.”

 

we live on an infinite continuum of opportunity.  chances to bring light and hope to others.  deeds we can do out of kindness, goals reached by collaborating together.  we face choice just as soon as the sun-peeking-over-the-horizon wakes us.  we innately or intentionally decide, we head in a direction, we live a day.

 

“We’re all traveling through time, together, everyday of our lives… All we can do is do our best to relish this remarkable life.  I just try to live everyday as if I have deliberately come back to this one day, to enjoy it… As if it was the full, final day of my extraordinary, ordinary life.” (from ABOUT TIME)

 

this song. i have performed it countless times.  in nyc’s central park for tens of thousands of people, in small medical clinics, in large oncological settings, in chicago’s grant park.  at a pharmaceutical conference in puerto rico, outdoors with the lance armstrong tour of hope.  across the country, in pajamas and jeans and all-dressed-up.  in theatres and at walks/runs, in schools and churches.  for organizations including y-me, the american cancer society, gilda’s club, young survival coalition, susan g. komen foundation, the annual breast cancer symposium.  and each time, heidi and i, working together in performance, fighting back tears.  the list is profound.  not because of the innumerable times i have sang this song, but because of all the people in these places and behind the scenes, joining together, remarkably touching the lives of others:  those they know and those they may never know.

we make a difference.  in every arena of our lives.  every place we go.  every interaction.  every gesture.  every assumption.  every conversation.  every every-thing.  every single thing.

what intention will we have?  will we be positive or negative?

“the truth is, I now don’t travel back at all, not even for a day.  …  live life as if there were no second chances.” (ABOUT TIME)

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read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

 

 

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YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE ©️ 2003 kerri sherwood

 


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butterfly moments.

wonder app quote

as we walked yesterday we were aware of how many butterflies were around us.  flying, flitting, dining on nectar-filled wildflowers, they swirled around us and seemed to be going along, hiking with us.  these amazing monarch butterflies during the summer breeding season will only live weeks.  some will live a bit longer, migrating south to mexico when fall tips the tree-green of leaves to fiery reds and yellows and oranges.

i remember a day sitting in an adirondack chair in our front yard at home.  many years ago now, it was mid-july, a sunny and warm day.  stunningly, as i sat there a monarch butterfly flew past, close to my chair.  it wasn’t but a few moments later that it landed on my knee.  gently opening its fragile wings, it basked in the sunlight as i basked in its beauty.  it was in no hurry to leave its perch on my knee and i was in no hurry to move.  it seemed unconcerned about next.  it seemed unconcerned about quantity of time.  it was present in now.  and now seemed enough.  time seemed to stand still, my breathing slowed down, my worry forgotten as i watched this tiny creature drink in this very sun-moment.

“the butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.” (rabindranath tagore)

time and again we are reminded of this:  that every single moment counts.  time and again we forget.

wishing you a day of monarch-inspired moments…drinking in the sun, gently fluttering your wings and flying unfettered.

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

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each new day. [k.s. friday]

each new day songbox

my sweet momma would start the day by chirping to me, “good morning merry sunshine!”  what a gift to consistently start the day that way.

i wrote this piece at a difficult time in my life.  the titles on this album somewhat tell the story:  boundaries. scattered. pulling weeds. holding on, letting go. it’s not black and white.  figure it out.  taking stock.  baby steps.  each one a descriptor of that time;  each title written for the album before the music.  i composed to each word.

but the most important title on the album, the arc that reigns over the gut emotion of the rest, i realize now is ‘each new day’.  for we are granted yet another chance….to choose to live the day well, to embrace the new, to walk in tomorrow’s grace, to love, to choose kindness, to say we are sorry, to recuperate from something that has hurt us, to work toward balance, to forgive, to model goodness, to help someone else in pain, to learn something new, to listen, to laugh, to hold someone’s hand or share a hug, to do better…

time really does move breathtakingly fast.  each new day counts.  good morning merry sunshine.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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EACH NEW DAY from RIGHT NOW ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood

 

 

 


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life. dust laughing. [merely-a-thought monday]

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every time you think you have it all figured out, life has a way of poking fun at you, pulling the rug from underneath you, making you re-evaluate, maybe roll your eyes, maybe cry out and push back, maybe giggle in abandon.

the island players performed a short at TPAC from spoon river anthology (e. l. masters), a collection of epitaphs spoken as monologues by the deceased residents of the fictional town called spoon river.  it is gripping.  a not-so-subtle reminder of our brief time on this earth and the absolute into-thin-air-ness of our lives.  perspective-arranging, yes, as you listen to the tales of each person, ephemeral, transitory, all fleeting moments in a deep milky way of vast time.

one of the characters, a finely and properly dressed older woman, brags of renting a house in paris, entertaining the elite, dining at fine restaurants, taking the cure at baden-baden, a spa town in germany’s black forest.  she returns to her hometown of spoon river, only to realize that no one really cares about where she dined or what she ate or who she entertained or if she took the cure at baden-baden.  a sobering moment for her and, if you let it in, another one of those lessons.  the kind where you realize that what you do and what you have is – not – who you are.

instead, the dust of us will later snicker, laugh, out and out guffaw at how invested we all were in the things of life that didn’t really count, the things that will disappear into the outer atmosphere of the universe, never to be retrieved.  instead, we should chuckle now, realizing that indeed the best-laid plans are only that.  plans.  that doesn’t make them life.  life has its own ideas.  perhaps we should just remember that, cut ourselves a bit of slack and recognize how funny it really is that each of us, formed of zillions of random cells, somehow ended up here, right here, right now.  for this time.

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

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extraordinarily ordinary. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

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we watched the movie ABOUT TIME three times this week. it’s one of those movies. well, that and we have no wifi, internet or tv, so movies we borrow from the little island library are our late evening entertainment. even then, we don’t usually watch things multiple times during a one-week span. but this one drew us in.

how many times have you been reminded to live life like this? to live a day like you have come back to live it – the way you should have lived it the first time around….enjoying it, making it full, recognizing its brilliance, knowing that jewel of day will never again actually be repeated. too many lessons along the way teach us these things.

if i could wish upon a star and know that it would come true, it would be to live each day the way i would live it if i could do it over and “fix” anything that might have gone awry. to live it with absolute certainty that it was extraordinary, particularly in its ordinariness.

days. there are none to waste. during those days with moments of angry words, minutes are washing out to sea. in those times of drudgery when you are hoping for time to pass quickly, the hours vanish into thin air never to be lived again. in those times of grief, when pain washes over you and the minutes seemingly creep by, the chance to find any iota of joy co-existing with anguish passes by as you crawl into the next day, exhausted, depleted from losing the day before.

ABOUT TIME was a reminder: live each day like it was the full, final day. how would we choose to live on the full, final day? how would we treat people around us? what would we say to those we love? what would we do?

i remember my dear friend richie at the end of his life. each day he spent on this good earth he was a shining example of this. like all of us, he woke up never knowing which day would be the full and final day. and yet he woke up knowing it was close. people asked him how he did what he did, how he lived his days without regret. he just said, “everything’s going to be ok.” and he believed it. extraordinarily ordinary. every day.

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

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