reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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play to play. [d.r. thursday]

0006a copy

when i asked d for a summary of this children’s book he wrote and illustrated called PLAY TO PLAY he told me that the gorilla teaches the little girl the value of playing simply to play, not to win.

my son played tennis.  after growing up playing competitive baseball and soccer he decided, as people who are gifted athletically can, to “take up” competitive tennis.  he didn’t just go hit the ball around.  he dove in.  he was persistent and worked hard.  i drove him to lessons, individual and group, to high school team practices, to tournaments.  when he was in college i drove to his matches, regardless of where they were.

not familiar with the psychology of tennis, i, too, dove in, in my own way.  i read articles and books, asked questions of his various coaches.  an individual sport, tennis is a mind game and i needed to understand a little bit of what was going on inside my zealous son out on that lonely court.  indeed, sometimes it was hard to watch, hardly breathing in the stands.  when wendy wrote to me the other day that she just wanted her son’s hardworking football team to win and that she was unduly stressed, i could totally relate.  it’s your heart out on that court, out on that field, out on that diamond.   so much pressure.

a couple years ago we had the opportunity to once again see the boy play softball.  on a league in boston, that team, and another he played on, traveled all over the place to play, including paris.  they were all adults, all working hard and playing hard.  the thing i loved most about watching him now was watching him laugh.  laugh.  teasing and laughter were a part of this ball-playing.  they were playing to play.  winning was a bonus – and they actually did that often – but playing seemed to be the point.  it did my heart good.

we often forget the point of play.  we often forget TO play.  in days of great stress, days of worry and sorrow, play seems so far away.  it seems unlikely and unworthy of our time.  but i suppose it would do us all well to remember how invaluable to our well-being playing is.  how giggling or fun and games, teasing and laughter make us feel.  and how they do our heart good.

the illustrations in this little book are dear and the lesson important:  just play to play.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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PLAY TO PLAY ©️ 2006-2019 david robinson


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play. [two artists tuesday]

hand shadow.jpg

we sat on schoolhouse beach, in the middle of the (figurative) storm around us, and made shadow puppets.  giggling, we fell back on the rocks, the healing beginning.

when i think back over the last decade or so, i am struck by how many things my menopausal brain can’t remember.  even though today, in a little shop, abba’s song Fernando came on and i sang along to every word, the last time i heard this song maybe 4 or 5 years ago….maybe, but i can’t recollect.

the things i remember over the years are the things that stood out.  moments of despair, of loss.  moments of confusion, of great pain as i sorted them out.  times of many tears.  times my stomach and the sides of my face hurt from laughing so hard.  times of hard work.  even more importantly, times of play.  ralph waldo emerson said, “it is a happy talent to know how to play.”

even in the midst of everything else, we must remember to play.  for that will carry us far.  further than grief will.  further than withstanding searing pain.  further than the sobs that make you lay on the kitchen floor.  further than hard work.

for in play comes laughter.  and in laughter, the release of great love.  love is everlasting.  it is patient and kind.  it does not envy or boast.  it is not proud.  it does not dishonor others nor is it self-seeking.  it is not easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs.  love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  it protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres.  love never fails.(I Corinthians 13)

so.  play.  and love.  together, those -in the rest of life-  will endure anything.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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play like there’s no tomorrow! [chicken marsala monday]

playlikethere'snotomorrow WITH EYES jpeg copy

for us, it’s easy to like chicken…our chicken marsala, that is.  we made him up; he is the (mutual) son we didn’t have together.  and so, he’s a jeans-wearing-black-shirts-mostly-flip-flop little boy.  he takes after david with his esoteric wisdom and me with his high forehead and sentimentality.  he has much more brevity than either of us, but he’s little, so give him time.

it’s easy for us to be invested in chicken’s antics, to laugh aloud at his shenanigans, to get a little misty at his emotional ties.  but we have driven across the country with david making up his little voice in the backseat; we have taken a three foot tall flat-chicken into welcome centers and family gatherings; we have taken pictures of our chicken at the colorado border and hanging out in the back of the xb.

and so, it’s easy for us to believe that chicken marsala would have an instant following – an ever-growing group of people who believe in him kind of like how they believed in charlie brown or calvin (well, maybe a teeny little bit like charlie brown or calvin.)  because we do.  we believe in him.  his snippets of wisdom, his goodness, his take on life.  i realize that, like any story, it’s possible that maybe it is hard to start in the middle.  (i am the worst at starting in the middle of any movie – i ask a million questions trying to catch up…)

so i just want to say this:  if you had a chance to have a little boy in your life, one whose wise words entered your heart and whose voice countered the narrative so prevalent in our world now, and, even if he was, ok, make-believe, wouldn’t you just love it to be a little boy like our Chicken?  this nugget is for you.  play.  with abandon.  like a little make-believe boy.  like there’s no tomorrow.

if you'd like to see more CHICKEN...

read DAVID’S thoughts on this CHICKEN NUGGET

CHICKEN MARSALA MONDAY – ON OUR SITE

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play like there’s no tomorrow tomorrow tomorrow ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood


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play together! [chicken marsala monday]

sometimesyouhavetobeapirate WITH EYES jpeg copy 2we have no problem playing.  take our sweet boy chicken marsala, for example.  you may remember this.  chicken was born when we were taking a roadtrip.  we had been driving for about 12 hours or so and were talking about what we would have named a child, had we had one together.  we laughingly agreed on “chicken”….”chicken marsala.”  don’t ask us why; neither of us has the answer.  maybe it was road delirium.  regardless, chicken has stayed with us since then.  we even carried a flat-chicken across the country a couple years ago, taking pictures of him with rest area personnel, at points of interest and with various family members.  we joke about chicken and me cantering in the fields and d uses his “chicken marsala voice”, making us go into fits of hilarity.

no matter the age, no matter the relationship – parent/child, brother/sister, husband/wife, boyfriend/boyfriend, girlfriend/girlfriend – playing adds moments of immeasurable treasure.

if you'd like to see more CHICKEN...

CHICKEN MARSALA MONDAY – ON OUR SITE

read DAVID’S thoughts about this CHICKEN NUGGET

sometimes you have to be a pirate to know where your treasure is ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood


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it just is.

photo the play is over and we move on…and i will be moving back to my piano. but before i do that, i have to think some more about this experience. standing on the stage as an actor in front of two sold-out audiences was…pretty amazing. it took me time to process entering this opportunity and it’s taking me time to process moving into Next.

one of the things david said to me the day of the first performance was something like this: it’s important to not look at the audience as the audience ‘out there’…instead stand here – on the apron of the stage- and invite them in, embrace them. i suddenly recognized this as not so much different than what i do in any of my concerts. i feel as if i am inviting people into my living room (or my home studio)…well, actually, my life…each time i play a concert. and there i was, on the stage as an actor, inviting them in….

i was nervous backstage waiting. i always have eager anticipation in the green room; i spend time pacing and praying and being quiet and internal. i will sip coffee and run through my program in my head. and i fuss with my hair. photo-1this was much the same. i paced. i prayed. i was quiet and internal and i sipped coffee while running lines in memory. and yes, i fussed with my hair.

i didn’t want to be thinking, thinking, thinking as i stepped into these performances. i knew that would detract from the moment. i found, like in concert, i just needed to be present. if i am performing a piece of music, it is to my detriment if i start to think too much. the preparation is done at that point…it is time to deliver, to share it…yes to invite them in. thinking, at that point, makes it plastic, measured, contrived. and raises the chance of getting lost. just being in it is what makes it fluid, what makes it permeable, what helps it to resonate with someone outside yourself.

and so i stepped out onto the stage, in a role that i am not well-versed in…the role of actor…and i quietly became the characters in the play. i could feel them. this play has a seven-minute long silent section near the end. i had the distinct honor of holding those moments as the audience watched me re-pack a hundred-year-old trunk- a trunk filled with momentos of a ten year old boy who had died from typhoid fever and in which his momma packed all of his belongings and plastered it into the wall of a house on a ranch in california. it was with slow deliberation, weeping, that i re-packed this trunk, in silence, while the audience joined me in these emotional moments. not so unlike telling stories on stage or playing or singing something that resonates with the audience that joins me on the bench.

hmm. i think i am finding a theme here. it’s not so unlike….

and yet, the moment that the stage manager said to me, “i was so wrapped up in what you were doing that i almost missed light cues…” i felt that i was doing good work. and, even more important, when he told me that i had “brought intention” i realized, for sure, that it was exactly the same. no piece of music is without intention. no action on stage is without intention. no breath is without intention.   it is to live. to honor. to share. it’s not trying to be convincing. it just IS.

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no piano here

musings from a few days ago…

and so here i am…inside the theatre, watching the setup….but this time it isn’t for a concert…it is for a play – ‘the lost boy’ – opening its world premiere performance in california. (oh, did i mention it is sunny and warm here?)

i was just sitting outside (did i mention it is sunny and warm here?) hand-sewing one of the costume fragments for this play. david is inside with some techs painting the platform. i am running lines in my head. it’s not unlike running my music in my head, and yet it’s totally not like running my music in my head. when you are the composer, you have a bit of a free-rein option (eh…who am i kidding? you have a lot of free-rein.) when you aren’t the playwright, you…umm…don’t.

this process has been…interesting for me. this play is an interpretive storytelling…a story of legacy with poignant moments as well as comedic moments. now, as a performing artist i am used to telling stories from the stage…it is part of every concert i perform, every keynote i speak. but the last time i actually acted (in the truest definition of that word)? well, that would be high school – i performed ‘the effect of gamma rays on man-in-the-moon marigolds’….i can’t even remember one line from that. prior to that? well, you need to skip a stone backwards to when i danced with (the infamous) kenny brook in ‘the sound of music’ in sixth grade. not exactly moments of brilliant acting, but please also refer to my exquisitely-portrayed sister bertha – in the same play – for invaluable experience (ok…that might be an exaggeration.) but it certainly counts that kenny was pretty darn cute and i got to dance with him.

the set is simple.  the set is profound.

the set is simple.
the set is profound.

i have spent many, many hours on the stage…as a performer…as a storyteller…as a solo artist…playing, singing, speaking. this project? this is outside of my box. there isn’t a piano here. no mics. no amber fresnels beaming down on me. i feel like i should offer up a disclaimer to the audience…something like, “by the way…this isn’t what i normally doooo. in real life i……” but no. and so now i am challenged with that very thing that i talk about….stepping outside our own comfort zone and trying on new shoes (speaking of which, i get to wear these great minnetonka mocassins for this production!)   stepping outside and making a mess. i get to work at something i am not good at….kind of like playing my cello, only a bit more public. and like we all tend to do, i immediately expect a lot of myself; so i must fight the urge to diminish my potential – what i think i’m capable or not capable of – to resist the learning. how many people around me each week are learning something new (in ukulele band? in the choir i direct? in workshops i lead?)

and so, my empathy button is ‘on’ and i see inside me the way we all try to default to the things we know, when the learning is actually outside of those things. especially the learning about ourselves. i, quite truthfully, find that i need to extend to myself some forgiveness for not knowing, and yes, forgiveness for resisting, forgiveness for feeling vulnerable, and grace in that forgiveness to just try. maybe i’m not sooo bad at this. maybe it’s actually fun. maybe i can actually learn something new…just like everyone else…and maybe, just maybe, i can embrace it. even with no piano here. at the very least, i can realize that, just like everyone else, i find comfort in the familiar. and in stepping into New?…well, i just need to take a breath and move full-speed ahead into that path. no regret, no judgement, no fear. just sisu. it’s all good. (did i mention it is sunny and warm here?)

did i mention it's sunny and warm here? :)

did i mention it’s sunny and warm here? 🙂

and the curtain’s up.

kerri’s music is available on iTunes

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