reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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“you’re my favorite pain in the ass.” merely-a-thought monday

you're my favorite

we bought it on our honeymoon.  we knew, even by then, that we would need this sign’s lighthearted truth to remind us – some days – of what we even liked about each other.  in these days of isolation it’s front and center.

these are profoundly difficult times.  without the balance of getting out or having a little space, we are all finding ourselves in close isolation with the others in our home.  we two, here, are often together 24/7.  we work together in a variety of capacities, so we have gotten a little more accustomed to the dynamics than, say, some of you who have been thrown into the deep end with no feathering of getting-used-to-the-water time.  but…that doesn’t mean it’s always pretty.  so we are all here, separately together, figuring it out.

we wonder about the future.  we worry.  we stew.  we get excited.  we get scared.  we get weary.

the stress level is palpable.  you can feel the world out-there functioning at a completely different frequency than it had been.  it is like that high pitch in your ears, making you teeter on yelling, “make it stop”.  we all try to go with the flow, try to make the best of it.  we are fortunate to be here together, at home, in a safe place.  we seek ways to stay relevant and do meaningful work.  we follow stay-at-home orders.  we reach out to visit, virtually, with our family and friends.  we video-conference with colleagues.  we wear leggings and sweatpants on a daily basis.  my boy, in a city with ever-exponentially-growing-covid-19-numbers, said that’s a given – sweats, sweats, sweats and the perfunctory button-down shirt.  we know what’s visible and what’s not.  we desperately hope for the best.  we get in each other’s way.  we help each other.  we brainstorm new ways to cope, new ways to work, some with steep learning curves.  we sigh.  we take naps, tired and wrung out.  all are true.

we wonder about the future.  we worry.  we stew.  we get excited.  we get scared.  we get weary.

and we try to stay in touch.  we desperately miss our children, our family, our friends, the people in our day-to-day life route.

even in times of ‘normal’, if my daughter, whose home is in a covid-19 hotspot and whose work, like too many, has been decimated, texts me with no punctuation and clipped answers, i know i have either a) stepped past the edge of the chatting time limit b) asked too many questions c) said something completely too mom-ish or d) encountered her at a time she needs space for herself.  no matter which option, it’s smart (and in my best interest) to back up.  she, just like my son, knows she is loved beyond words and i know that, in order for me to stay loved, or, er, tolerated, i need to utter less painintheass words.  but i am their mom and it is an intrinsic part of my job.

we wonder about the future.  we worry.  we stew.  we get excited.  we get scared.  we get weary.

if david, the other artist in my two-artist-household equation, mentions an idea to me, i dig under the idea pile of leaves to find the base of it – to order the details of what the idea means, to parse it out.  i can’t start at the top and assume thebigidea will work.  i have to see how the ingredients of the idea will work, the steps to get there.  if the tiniest piece of the idea doesn’t seem plausible, i argue, how could thebigidea be possible.  i don’t mean to be a bigidea killer; i just need to see the practical details.  i’m sure he invokes the youareapainintheass eyeroll when i am not looking, but that’s ok.  he can’t see me rolling my eyes either.

and so, we wonder about the future.  we worry.  we stew.  we get excited.  we get scared.  we get weary.

in the biggest way we have seen in decades we have a challenge.  to stay healthy.  to keep others healthy.  what we do affects you and vice-versa.  we all have to be responsible.  we all have to work together.  we are not all favorites of each other.  some of us are the biggest pains in the ass to others of us.  we are learning, bending, flexing.  we are finding out that we are more resilient than we thought, we are capable of negotiating the bumps in the relationship-road.  we are gumby in the real world.

and we are all here.  separate and together.  despite our wildly differing stories, we have a common story.  we are here.

and we wonder about the future.  we worry.  we stew.  we get excited.  we get scared.  we get weary.

i, for one, am grateful for my absolute favorite painintheass even though he is totally a painintheass.  for what would i do without him?

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

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“even chaos has boundaries.” [merely-a-thought monday]

chaos copy

chaos (physics): ‘behavior so unpredictable as to appear random, owing to great sensitivity to small changes in conditions’

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we were at a meeting up north this summer when mona said this, “even chaos has boundaries.”  i jotted it down because it felt relevant.  in the midst of a contentious situation we were trying to keep our ‘do what’s best for the organization’ hats on, trying to believe that there, indeed, would be an end to the chaos.  committed to a peaceful forward-advancing plan, we kept both hands on the hats, guarding against a wave, a treacherous wave of onto-the-band-wagon-jumping, the aligning of two camps on different shores offering nothing of good import for the organization.

but there is a fine, fine line.  an infinitesimal line of crossover – where one tiny change, one more jenga block, one more pick-up stick, one more stone in the cairn, tilts the seesaw and chaos reigns.

we face, today, a seesaw of the greatest sensitivity.  like refraction, light passing through various mediums, the bend in light is dependent on the medium.  the slightest change in density yields change.

clearly, we must be sensitive.  the light we refract, our response, will determine what the next person has to work with.  if we refract less light and more darkness, darkness will exist, will be pervasive. and darkness, in the way of chaos, sussing out change and a hole in the dam, will become exponential.  where is critical mass, when the seesaw collapses, the cairn falls?

we must be sensitive.  we must be responsible.  we must respond in integrity, despite everything around us, despite the doubters, despite the rhetoric, despite the cavalierness, despite the political dogfight, despite the positioning of that ever-present caste ladder, doing what is best for each of us, for all of us.  what i do affects you.

in our own worlds, for ourselves, for all, we can strive not to pull the wrong jenga block or move the wrong pick-up stick.  choose your cairn-stones with care.

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

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what you do. [k.s. friday]

ymad

“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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“as surely as the moon affects the tides.” [d.r. thursday]

DawsonDetail copy

new mother – a morsel

“when we choose to be parents, we accept another human being as part of ourselves, and a large part of our emotional selves will stay with that person as long as we live.  from that time on there will be another person on this earth whose orbit around us will affect us as surely as the moon affects the tides, and affect us in some ways more deeply than anyone else can.  our children are extensions of ourselves.” (mr. fred rogers)

i simply cannot think of a more succinct way to say this but for the words of mr. rogers.

forever changed, i am sensitive to every little thing my even-as-grown-ups-children are experiencing, celebrating, enduring, adventuring, loving, suffering, yearning for, achieving.  i feel their joy as my joy, their sadness as my sadness.

parenthood, a profound honor, in all its diamond-facets is no small feat.  the vexing complexities, the moments of sheer joy, the heart-wrenching worry, the holding-on-letting-go-ness, the unconditional love.  all of it.

like the moon, their tide surely affects my tide.  and i would have it no other way.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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NEW MOTHER ©️ 2017 david robinson

 

 


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closed circle. [flawed wednesday]

circle

a closed circle.

i remember way back in elementary school.  the girls were brutal.  if ‘they’ decided you were ‘out’ you didn’t have a chance, regardless of your best efforts.  expressions like “she took away my best friend” were rampant and hurt feelings prevailed.  outsiders of the ‘cool’ inner (closed) circle were left feeling inadequate and lonely.

this was not contained to just elementary school.  junior high and high school were examples of exponential closed circles, the occupants ‘inside’ becoming more versed with age on how to inflict emotional pain on those un-included.  never being one of the ‘cool’ crowd, i have watched from the fringes as closed circles have stubbornly restricted access to people with much to offer.  and then, adulthood.  circles still exist.  you step lightly.  everywhere.

a closed circle.

in our work, in our communities, in our world.  are we aware of them, these closed circles?  do we make an effort to be inclusive, to offer our hand, to embrace the outsider and bring him or her inside?

or are we like those children in the early arc of learning, gathered around the tetherball court or the four-square game or the hopscotch drawn on the asphalt?  do we point out the differences?  do we turn deaf ears to ideas that are not ours? do we refuse to play together, work together, listen and learn together?  do we act like others – somehow in some way unlike us – do not belong in our club, do not merit our friendship, are round pegs in our square-holed world?  are we closed circles?  have we not left the elementary school playground?

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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weddings. [k.s. friday]

my best friend with frame

we are watching.  two lovely young women, the daughters of dear friends, will be married this year.  we will be attending each of these weddings.  i will have the honor of playing at them.  they are excited, immersed in the details of their ceremonies and their receptions, the times that people will gather around them and celebrate their joining of lives, of families.  it is a time of immense joy for them and it’s certainly fun to be included, hearing about gowns and venues, songs and vows.  they are amazed at how quickly these days are approaching.  it’s that life thing.  it keeps moving. faster and faster.

when my niece got married on the beach, she had her dj play instrumentals of mine as her bridal party, including me, walked across the sand.  but a couple weeks ahead, when we were talking about all the tiniest details, she asked if maybe, just maybe, i could write her and her husband-to-be a song, something that would be solely hers as she walked toward him over the warm beach, bright sun low in the sky.

this is the song i wrote for them.  no time to run to nashville or even chicago, i ran to a studio in town and quickly recorded it, just piano and voice, nothing fancy.  i was moved to hear it broadcast over the sound of waves, watching as she walked into a new chapter of her life, directly to her best friend.  and now, there’s so much more.  life keeps going.

i wore a pink dress with puffy sleeves (yes, shockingly, a color) for my other sweet niece’s wedding.  twice as long ago, i was touched at being included.  i have watched her grow (she’s amazing!) and have watched as she and her husband have built a home together and lovingly raised their two boys.  life.  keeps moving on.

i recently heard from a nephew of mine after a pretty long time of silence.  he sent a picture of he and his husband together and i was thrilled to see him looking so content, so in-his-life.  it keeps moving.

we are at the age when many friends’ children are marrying.  each time we attend a wedding or send off a gift we watch as two people decide to be together, through thick and thin.  we wish them more of the best than the challenges, but we know that the challenges are also the glue.

each story is not as simple as it sounds.  we know that.  moving in together, whether post-wedding or no wedding at all, sharing a sink, worrying about life’s constant worries, dividing up household responsibilities, traversing family dynamics, navigating gigantic decisions, choosing which direction to put the toilet paper on the roller…life as two is both more difficult and less difficult than life as one. and, in the way of how it all works, the time of life both moves in slow motion and flies by.

it helps when you choose it with your best friend.

 

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

 

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MY BEST FRIEND ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood

 


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zag. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

in the woods

we bought snowpants.  on sale for only $7 they are a wise investment for two people who hike year-round out in the woods or wherever we are.  it’s a big deal for us to buy anything new so, this time, instead of looking at them every day and saving them for good (ala beaky)  we celebrated our good deal by putting them on, going out in the snowy woods and hiking.

we were pretty much silent.  you could hear snow falling from the trees and the crunching of our boots on the trail.  but we didn’t talk much.  with so many things to talk to about and the woods being our best meeting room it was unusual.  but sometimes, it is silence that is most needed.

our path, like this stream, has zigged and zagged.  it has brought us past jagged rocky times and through sweet gentle lapping pools.  it has been lit by warm sun and darkened by the deep worry of late night.

but one thing is always consistent in the inconsistency of life.  no matter how we arrive in the woods, no matter the angst we bring.  arm in arm, because it is our habit, we walk through the woods.  arm in arm on the trail we silently hike toward quieting our hearts and minds.  under trees older than our troubles, arm in arm walking reaches past even anger-inspired words, things spoken in frustration.  arm in arm we remember all that is good, all that is certain.  the day’s hurdles and fears and unease fade as the sun sets.  and we zag.

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

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