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ferdinand. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

ferdinand

i distinctly remember my sweet momma talking about FERDINAND THE BULL.  she would refer to him from time to time, a twang on the third syllable slipping into her new york accent.  i am wracking my memory for her other wise words about him.  my guess is that, despite not remembering her exact words, her message isn’t lost on me.

FERDINAND is a book published in 1936, the story of a gentle bull who loved to smell flowers (aka “flowuhs”).  he spent his time sitting under a tree, daydreaming, sniffing flowers.  upon finding himself in the madrid bullfighting ring, he sits calmly in the middle, refusing to take the bait.   the grace of a mashup of “i want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.”  (oriah mountain dreamer) and “when push comes to shove, don’t.” (unknown)  we have much to learn.

FERDINAND was performed by the Washington Island Music Fest this past week and was among my favorite moments of this two week music festival at TPAC.   it was sweet on many levels, read aloud, depicted on violin, slides of the original illustrations on screen.

and my momma, in my mind’s eye, reminding me to be like FERDINAND.  a bull, by definition fully expected to want to fight, presumed to fight, just like all the other bulls – and yet, brave enough to be different, to sniff the flowers, to turn away from participating in dissension or violence, to be at peace being true to oneself.

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

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

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“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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welcome sign. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

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the first time we went to the tiny farmer’s market on island we ran into a few people we had just met.  new friends, they stopped to chat for a time and tom said, “the whole island is a welcome sign.”  that seems to be true.  a welcome sign.

yesterday we heard about people standing in line in the little grocery store.  the clerk and the customer checking out were having a chat.  no one in line interrupted.  no one shuffled their groceries.  no one shifted from one leg to the other, impatiently sighing loudly.  they just waited.  and then, when it was their turn, they had their own chat with the clerk.  the grocery store is a welcome sign.

we were walking down the road arm in arm, a few miles from home, and an old light blue pickup truck pulled up next to us.  a sweet old man leaned out and said, “you two lovebirds want a ride?”  we laughed and said that we were out for a stroll.  motioning to the bed of the truck, he told us he had plenty of room but added, “it looks like you are doing just fine.”  we chatted a minute more and he pulled away.  a welcome sign.

we were obliviously riding our bikes on the road, looking for deer in the woods.  talking quietly and laughing at my attempts at no-handed riding (which, by the way, came back after a try or two), i suddenly realized there was a car behind us.  i motioned quickly to d to pull over in front of me and get out of the car’s way.  as it passed, i called into the rolled-down window “sorry!”  the driver called back, “no worries!  enjoy your ride!”  no horn beeping, no revving of engine, no grumpy voice, no gesturing.  just a “no worries!”  a welcome sign.

it’s a sweet thing, this welcome.

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

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morning lake. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

two birds and an island

the lake wakes up different every day.  our little bay is moody and this pensive morning was not willing to add much color.  water morphed into sky which morphed into water and, were it not for hog island and two birds, it would be hard to tell where they each started and ended.

every day we are on island i will take a picture of the morning lake.  its hues, its movement, its message for the day.

today, as i look at this photograph with two birds and an island, i am quieted into thinking about the day.  in looking at the date, i note that 27 years ago today i lost my big brother.  i wonder if he is gazing out at this morning lake with me.  i wonder if he looks out on the day, its hues, its movement, the message of this good earth’s day.  i wonder if he has snapshots of every morning from heaven.

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

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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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look in the mirror. stand up straight. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

 

red cup mirror

successories built a business on reminders. powerful, thoughtful, inspiring words that encourage us, motivate us, reassure us, remind us. we hang them in our offices, in our homes; we have daily mini posters on our calendars or our apps; we have mugs with words. we need reminders. in this world of challenges, worries, failures among the triumphs, our tender hearts need to see snippets that keep us going, keep us moving forward, keep us in grace.

i walked into the restroom at the red cup, a sweet coffeehouse on washington island. on the mirror were these words: “you are so cool and intelligent and strong and fierce.” my face stared back at me, right next to these words. a reminder. stand up straight.

to be honest, i suppose the first thing i thought was, “i’m not really cool,” a leftover from high school a million years ago, where i was definitely not in the cool crowd. (i never cut a class. i always did my homework. i practiced the piano. i rode my bike or drove my little vw bug to the beach all year round. i wore lots of hand-me-downs. i never smoked or attended a high school drinking party. i didn’t run with the cool group.) interesting how i still react to that ‘label’ and how it still plays inside me. this stuff hangs on; images we have of ourselves long-haul stick with us.

my next thought – in the restroom – was that we need these reminders. you and i. we ARE cool – in our own distinct ways. we are intelligent. we are strong – stronger than we know. and we are fierce…ready to stand firm for our children, our families, our friends, our beliefs, our selves.

it doesn’t hurt to be reminded. every day accosts us with new problems, complex seemingly unsolvable gordian knots, new reasons for our self image to take a blow, to feel less-than, to fail in this competitive world.   every day presents with a new chance to remember all we have done, all we have risen above, all we have helped accomplish. a chance to see how cool we are, how intelligent. a chance to, yet again, be strong and fierce.  look in the mirror.  stand up straight.

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

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the tide giggles. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

coffee cup dance

plan ahead, you say?   well, we thought we did.  we wanted a photograph to document our shore-sitting-sipping-on-bold-coffee moment that last morning on hilton head.  we carefully watched the waves and placed our mugs in the wet sand.  i stepped back to take a couple photos and voila!  the tide is a funny thing…something of which we have no control.  and so, the coffee cup dance became the moment and our laughter sated our need-for-coffee.

life, i suppose, is like that more often than not.  when i moved away from family to kenosha, the conversation went something like this:  “3-5 years and we will be moving on.”  it is now 30 years later.  30 years!  where did that time go?  what about the plan?  the tide seemed to have its own way and waves of joy and challenge, growth and grief, and simply TIME have washed over me.  the tide laughs in glee.

we try to plan.  my sweet momma had a great sign.  i wish i had it.  but it was something like this:

plan ahead

yet, despite our measuring, our strategizing, our calculating, our PLAN, life seems to take unexpected turns.  the waves roll in and the tide giggles.

why not giggle with it?

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

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