reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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meander-er. [k.s. friday]

meander

“…Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”  (Robert Frost)

a product of sunday-drive-parents, i am a meanderer.  i’ll choose a backroad.  i’ll choose the woods.  i’ll avoid the six-lane interstate.  i’ll avoid the leader-led-coach-bus-travel tour group. i blame my sweet momma and poppo.

in an obvious life metaphor, choosing to be an artist of any medium -for the long haul- is choosing to be a meanderer.  it’s choosing to live life looking for and celebrating layer cakes – a layer cake of work.  it’s a continual wracking-of-the-brain for the next idea, the next project, next pitch, the next initiative, the next validation of your artistry.  it’s continual exploration and continual growth, surprises and intrinsic rewards of the heart.  and it’s continual worry: how will what you earn equal or be greater than that which you owe.

my parents encouraged my every musical moment.  neither of them was a musician, but their steadfast support reinforced the decisions i made that were more out-of-the-box.  their prideful applause inspired and fed me, lighting a fire even when the embers were falling to ash.  times i would rise and fall and rise again, i blame my sweet momma and poppo.

in somewhat recent days, when i was bemoaning the exponential cost of healthcare, someone asked me if i needed to see a financial counselor, someone who could ‘teach me’ how to budget.  i was stunned at the lack of sensitivity and actual empathy.  “no, thank you.” i responded, while trying to maintain the sound of calm in my voice, “i am actually quite good at budgeting and truly love math.  this is not rocket science.  it is simply a case of not having enough income, even from several jobs, coming in.”  a meanderer.  those sunday drives.

i’ve read plenty of ‘being the youngest child’ articles.  it seems that my profession, lean toward autonomy, artistry, careful rebellion are all because of my place in the sibling line-up.  so, once again, i blame my sweet momma and poppo.

the urge to be off-the-beaten-path, literally and figuratively, to quietly sit in the middle of the woods or i-wish-more-often the top of a mountain, to stand on a wooden stage with a piano, a boom mic, a few songs and a story to tell:  things that are part of my very soul.  the core.  i blame my sweet momma and poppo.

and i thank them from the bottom of my heart.

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MEANDER from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood


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two broken wrists. two and a half months. i kept playing. [two artists tuesday]

tendonitis

out of necessity it was only a few days after i broke both of my wrists that i played.  it seemed that i had nine fingers that were attending this event, and i, relieved to have these nine, worked with what i had.

in the last couple months, my left hand progressed faster than my right.  i had two breaks in my right wrist and, yes, i am older now than i used to be, so the doctor warned me that i needed to be patient.  make that NEED to be patient; healing will take six to eight months, she said.  but all five LH fingers participated in this early-on merrymaking and only my immobilized thumb was excluded on my RH.  and both wrists. they were excluded too.

they changed the cast on my RH from over-the-elbow to one a tad bit shorter; this was happy for me as it gave me more mobility. i kept playing, despite the wad of cast that ended in the palm of my hand.  i am a mom.  i am used to working around things.

later, they changed it yet again to an exos cast, which is removable but much less designed specifically for your hand; it was actually quite uncomfortable and made my hand hurt in places it hadn’t hurt with the ‘regular’ cast on.  i kept playing.

at the point when the coronavirus ceased all my regular doctor appointments, and after only one occupational therapy appointment, i kept playing.

finally, with the phoned-in blessing of my OT, i ordered a splint for my RH – the same one i wear on my LH, releasing my thumb from its cast-prison.  i kept playing.

and then i noticed that my pinky wasn’t responding properly.  nor was my ring finger.  nerve pain was shooting from my fingers up my arm.  and nodules in the palm of my RH were burning, stinging.  no professional pianist i know wants his or her hands to hurt.  i could draw hundreds of analogies here with other body parts and ways-of-living, but i will refrain from doing so and just say that this was disheartening and incredibly worrisome for me.  and i kept playing.

i emailed the doctor and then sent pictures i labeled in photoshop so that my worry would be clear, since i was unable to be there in person; social distancing had put aurora on the don’t-call-us-if-this-isn’t-essential status.  when she called me she said i really needed to come in.  she said that they would take some x-rays and the hand specialist would look at my right hand, in particular.  frankly, i was beyond nervous to walk into a medical center.  they have their hands full (absolutely no pun intended) and i was reticent to be privy to whatever germs were hanging around or to take any focus from the more essential.  but, because i am playing and because playing is what i do, i went.

although there is a slight chance that there is something else going on here, it looks like the palm tendons of my RH fingers are inflamed.  this is likely because i have been playing with casts on.  what’s the expression? damned if i do, damned if i don’t.

when i asked the specialist for a range of time this might last, his answer was ‘probably up to a few months’.  he didn’t ask me a lot of questions to discern what was happening and i tried like heck to fill him in on every-single-last-thing about my hands, but, in as-quick-as-a-flash fashion, he was gone before i knew it.  a-few-more-exercises-and-some-regularly-scheduled-advil advice later, i left the hospital, took off my mask and climbed, sighing, into big red in the parking lot.

and now, out of necessity, i will keep playing.

and worrying.

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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this morning. [k.s. friday]

that morning someday 1

i unfriended someone today.  i was so shocked at his response to the vital importance of continuing to social distance in this global pandemic i found it reprehensible.  his crass “everyone will die eventually” was deeply disturbing.  he actually used the term ‘survival of the fittest’.  i, in browsing for how my family and friends are doing, found no peace in his words, only a shortfall of empathy.  i shudder to think of anyone who read or who will read these callous words who has been ill, has had a loved one ill, who has lost a life in their circle of life, who has been deemed unemployed, who has missed paying their rent and who stands in line for food, who is frightened.  anyone with a heart.

i’ve unfriended a few people along the way these last few years.  this hasn’t been because i merely disagree with them.  i am open to disagreeing with you if you are open to discussion.  but these have been folks who have been closed.  closed to facts, to truth, to research, to conversation.  closed.  to me, it feels as if their hearts are closed.

for what is the importance of the next morning if what you care most about in the world is copious amounts of money or holdings?  my sweet poppo used to say, “you can’t take it with you.”  what is the importance of the next morning if you will throw others under the bus to elevate yourself?  my sweet momma used to say, “be kind.  be kind.  be kind.”  what is the importance of the next morning if everything is measured by black and white, an excel sheet of differences, all listed and highlighted.  my big brother used to play his guitar and sing, “there’s a new world coming…”  what is the importance of the next morning if you only measure yourself against others, their net worth, their houses, their jobs, their wardrobe, their vehicles, their exotic trips, their success?  in high school i recited these words from desiderata, “if you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”

instead, what about that morning someday?  the one that presents you with the challenge of a lifetime, the one you have worked on honing your whole life.  the challenge to accept who you are.  the challenge to stand up straight in your integrity, to freely and generously love, to do your work, to look out into the world with open eyes.  the challenge to not compare yourself, to believe in the betterment of humanity, to be kind, and to know that you can’t take any of it with you.  the challenge to surround yourself with goodness and live now.  this morning.  tomorrow morning.  the next morning.  heart open.

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THAT MORNING SOMEDAY ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood

 

 


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silence. below the noise. [k.s. friday]

silent days 6 feet

sometimes we are silent.  sometimes it’s better that way.  a fluid point, a fine line of balance, there’s so much to say; there’s so much we should avoid saying.  silent days.

we walk or hike outside, we take limited trips to the grocery store.  not a lot of interaction, the way it is supposed to be right now.  with varying cautions about distancing and asymptomatic spreading and aerosol molecules, the experts have my rapt attention. although i do not have the ability to make as much of a difference in this as those who are on the front lines, i need do my part.  responsibly and respectfully.

making do with texts, phone calls, work videoconferences, online hangouts with friends, it’s still much more silent than it ever is, normally.

there are reports of residents hearing birds again in wuhan.  the woodpecker is busy in our backyard, the mourning doves call, the frogs quip to each other in the woods.

and so we walk, quietly.  we cross to the other side of the street, we single-file on the other side of the path.  maybe here and there people answer to our soft hello as we pass.  we shop, rarely, pushing a cart, quickly assembling what we need.  we listen to the sounds that often linger unheard below the noise.

and even above the masks, even in the silence, i can see their tentative smiles.

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SILENT DAYS ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood


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and hope. [k.s. friday]

hope (spring) copy

“hope…it makes you breathe differently.  it makes your heart beat faster.  it makes your knees weak and your ability to wait strong.  it makes you weep with anticipation and holds you close with others who are also hoping.” (reverse threading, dec. 7, 2018)

i have done time on the kitchen floor.  like you, i have been brought to my knees with grief, anxiety, worry, pain, shame, fear, sadness, loneliness, anger, disappointment.  when you are on the floor, any movement seems monumental.  anxiety is crushingly powerful.  it seems unlikely you will rise.  and even as you go about your days, doing the things you do in life, it seems you will remain on the virtual kitchen floor.

but then, there is a moment.  it appears illusory yet it is luminous.  it is a mere butterfly wing, the slightest of silk tendrils, but it is there.  elusive and tiny, it asks for absolute focus.  like viewing through the eyepiece on binoculars, you slowly steady your gaze.  something inside you knows.  something tells you to reach for it and hold it gently in your shaking hands.  it is hope.

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HOPE ©️ 2005 kerri sherwood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“hope.  there aren’t many words like this…describing that which you can actually – viscerally – feel in your body.  it makes you breathe differently.  it makes your heart beat faster.  it makes your knees weak and your ability to wait strong.  it makes you weep with anticipation and holds you close with others who are also hoping.” (reverse threading, dec. 7, 2018)

 


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always. with us. [k.s. friday]

always with us prayerflags

my emotional well was full when i woke up today.  thinking of us, our children, our families, our dear friends, our community, this world.  i desperately want to gather our beloveds in, hold them close, protect them.

i have no words for all of this; i have too many words for all of this.  i fear that none of them are helpful, none of them are wise.  it’s just me.  and, like you, carrying the weight of the world one step at a time, one quiet minute at a time, staring out the window and wondering.

always with us

we are alone

 

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ALWAYS WITH US from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

 


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quarter rest. and the beat goes on. [k.s. friday]

quarter rest

quarter rest.  one beat of silence.

with these broken wrists i have moved from a whole rest to a quarter rest.  i have made progress playing my piano and my broken-wrists have told me when to be silent.  in the silence the earth keeps spinning, we trek around the sun, everything keeps keeping on.  but for a moment, i rest.

we are each granted rests upon entrance into this orchestra-of-earth.  sometimes they are chosen, sometimes they are not.  always they are necessary.  it is in your quiet that others make noise, that others speak, that other timbres color the muted.  the hush is yours to own; the rest is yours to take.  the silence both sometimes frighteningly deafening and sometimes a grand relief.  the metronome really never stops.

(a reprise of paragraphs from 8.13.2015 post): at 1am, we walked to the lakefront. away from as many lights as we could get away from, we laid on some old steps, bricks and mortar digging into our backs so that we could gaze straight up, watching the night sky for the meteor shower.

the streaks of white light across navyblueblack make us draw in our breath. i’m wondering how far away this meteor is…how it is that we, here on earth, can see this amazing sight. such a big sky. such tiny bodies in contrast lying on the ground, waiting for the symphony to start, waiting for the downbeat, the symphony that has been continuously playing, the downbeat lost in centuries upon centuries of time gone by. like any good piece of music, it’s the rests in-between the notes, the rests in-between the meteorstreaks, that build the anticipation, that create the emotionflow, that bring tears to your eyes. each burst, each streak of whitelight is a miracle, a tiny moment exploding in time, so far away, in vast vastness.

time stretches out in front of us. and behind us. we are tiny and we are big. we gather in the moments, we breathe them, we rejoice, we worry, we ponder, we move. there is no downbeat and the symphony is already playing, has been playing and will continue to play. always. it is magical. and it is vast.

and the beat goes on.

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TRANSIENCE from RIGHT NOW ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood

 

 

 


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treading water. watershed. [k.s. friday]

watershed the songbox

i don’t feel as much in-a-boat as i feel that i am relentlessly treading water.  but there was no handy treading-water bitmoji and i remember the exact moment that this bitmoji showed up on my snapchat mapping…in the middle of a lot of treading.

treading, treading.  guessing at why what-is-happening is happening – in wide concentric circles around us, tightly close to us.

i can only guess, as i type this with these two now-familiar broken wrists, that this is a watershed time.

watershed pronunciation

definition 2

and today, both valentine’s day and d’s birthday, i want to express gratitude for this man who is standing in the water with me – waves crashing over us, undertow threatening to pull us down, riptide ever present – and holding my fiberglass-cast-encased hand.  the person who is equally as perplexed at this time, who takes turns with me being alternatively flabbergasted, philosophical and soberingly pragmatic.

he continues to zip my jacket, buckle my seatbelt, paste my toothbrush, carry my music, pepper-mill my breakfast and dinner, put the ernie straw in my coffee.  he has learned the fine points of where-on-the-head to place hair conditioner, how best to tie plastic bags on my arms, what stool will work best at the piano, which wine glass i can pick up at the end of a day.  he has watched me learn how to hold mascara with two hands and pull up girl jeans by the belt loops.  he has been treading water with me as we look to the horizon.

maybe this watershed is the thing that elicits change.  at the end of 2019 i could feel it coming.  and i can now, with all authority and certainty, say that the change is not that i will, smack dab in the middle of middle-age, become a professional snowboarder.  nope.  but there may truly be things out there i just didn’t see or consider.  perhaps the things that are vexing us, stunning us, deeply disappointing us, are just the things that will propel us.  ah, if that just didn’t feel so pollyanna-ish.

this life is bigger than anyone can ever live it.  that includes us.  treading water in the watershed might be a time that forces dynamic change.  like everyone, i wish i had some prescient inkling of what’s-out-there, what-will-happen.

my perceived lack of control is maybe a misperception.  maybe that which has taken away control is conversely granting control, granting the creativity that comes with grabbing onto flotsam and jetsam in a sea that seems to be swirling.  maybe the grasping-at-straws is grasping-at-ernie, a touchstone that seems flimsy and unimportant, but which actually is grounding, rooting, and gives voice to more solid footing, less wave-action, more direction-choosing.

the watershed is here.  moment by moment we stare at it.  we roll our eyes, we yell at the angst-y details, we shake our heads in confusion, we stop and stand still and, yet hyperventilating from treading, we wonder.  we try to breathe, to center, to be in the eye of the storm.

holding hand-cast, we look forward and we guess that this ain’t the last watershed on the horizon.

 

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WATERSHED from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

 

 


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women. you made it through. [k.s. friday]

made it through songbox

“i want women to see that you do not get pushed around.” (* attributed below)

this piece today is dedicated to all the women who have made it through, all the women who are making it through, all the women who will make it through.

your fire has brought you to the edge of the battlefield many times and you have still made lemonade; you have still prevailed.

you have made it through intensely emotionally abusive relationships.  you have picked up the pieces and you have moved on.

you have made it through physical or sexual abuse.  you have risen from the ashes.

you have made it through terrifying health scares.  you have pulled up your boot straps and determinedly plodded through with massive courage.

you have made it through society’s prioritizing of body image and appearance.  you have been measured by your cleavage or lack thereof, by the indent of your waist, by the clothing you choose, by your hair.  you struggle to remember you are beautiful.  you stand tall.

you have made it through vacuumous times, the middle of chaos, the middle of multi-tasking.  you have created.

you have made it through physical summit experiences.  you have scaled mountains.  you have boarded down untracked chutes.  you have trained your body with weights and exercise.  you have run.  you have skated.  you have pedaled.  you have breathed in and sighed an exhale.  you’ve run thousands of lengths of playing fields.  you took the next painful recuperating step.  you dove to the depths.  you have been on world stages.  you have risen with hungry or fevered children night after night.  you have competed.  you have given birth.

you have made it through falling.  you have made mistakes.  you have been human.  you have forgiven and you have been forgiven.

you have made it through an education steeped in gender-inequality and bias.   you have chosen to learn more, to actively seek the resources, rights and opportunities due you, to resist against the discrimination.

you have made it through a system that undermines your success and devalues your value.  you have fought for your place.

you have made it through financial challenges of single womanhood, of single motherhood.  you have been scrappy and, without complaint, you have layered onto yourself however much it took to get it done.

you have made it through work situations where you’ve questioned how you would be treated were you to be a man.  would you be yelled at?  would your professionalism be questioned?  you have asked these questions.  you have stayed, holding steadfast, or you have moved on; you have decided what is best for you and moved in that direction.

you have made it through the skewed-world fray into leadership roles where your every decision is challenged or thwarted.  you have overcome; you have triumphed.

you have made it through being-too-young and through aging.  and you are not irrelevant.

you have made it through.  you have spoken up, spoken back, spoken for.  you have written letters.  you have marched.

you have been pushed around.  but you have pushed back.  and, just like the tortoise, you have made it through.

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(*this quote is attributed to nancy pelosi)

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MADE IT THROUGH from THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY ©️1997 kerri sherwood

 


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the people who love you into being. [k.s. friday]

grateful songbox 1

“all of us have special ones who have loved us into being. would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are….ten seconds of silence.”  (mr. fred rogers)

he brought it up on the trail.  the movie we had recently seen.  not an action thriller or a mystery.  just a movie about a man who changed the world.  mr. fred rogers.

quietly hiking on the trail, he broke the walking-arm-in-arm silence, “i’ve been thinking about all those people.  those people who loved me into existence.”

what could you possibly be more grateful for?  that trail of thought found us yesterday morning and wove its way into all day, skirting along the edges as we cooked, back into the center on facetime, at the table with wine glasses, in a late night text out of the blue.

the people who love you into being.

mr. rogers got more specific, ” from the time you were very little, you’ve had people who have smiled you into smiling, people who have talked you into talking, sung you into singing, loved you into loving.” what kind of legacy do you have to be known for this kind of wisdom?  it changes everything.

the people who love you into being.

we spoke of these people on and off all day and late into the night.  there was a moment i could feel shadows that were cast by any of those we talked about falling off, light covering the shadow.  reasons.  seasons.

the people who love you into being.

too many to list.  too many to remember.  we backtracked and stood still in our memories, telling stories and finding wonder as names – and the dear picture of that person in our mind’s eye – spilled out of us.  a wealth of being-makers.  every one of them a builder in the construction of some piece of us, like a giant box of tinkertoys or lincoln logs or even crayons.  so much  potential.  a wildly wide spectrum of color and characteristic, texture and depth. profoundly moving.  a tiny bit of shake-up.  both.

the people who love you into being.

ten seconds.  nowhere near long enough.

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GRATEFUL from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood