reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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bareback and honest. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

calm.

the mug calls for calm.

yet, in these times, calm is elusive. it is the floating dust glistening in sunlight. it is the golden ray through the cloud. it is the snowflakes silently falling in the woods. it is the sound of soft laughter, the sound of the dog’s feet running in dreams and the cat snoring in slumber. it is hard to hold onto, hard to touch; it is hard to find.

in these times, with coffee in our hands, we start the new day. we wake, wishes and burdens on our minds, both. the things that kept us awake in the middle of the night, the things that pushed us into sleep: exhausting, worrisome, celebratory, quietly reassuring, sleep-depriving, sleep-inducing. we start the morning, on the roller coaster, one of us holding the “calm” mug.

we have found that – the conversations over-morning-coffee, the conversations over evening-wine, the conversations on the trail, in the sunroom, at the kitchen counter – these conversations need a little help, a little preface, a tiny guideline. for him, a guy, though not a-macho-guy-type-still-a-guy-nonetheless, he is looking to solve. for me, a girl, well, i am looking to just talk, to just go on, to be redundant, to vent. we discovered early on that any talk-talk could easily dissolve into ugly if we didn’t clarify a few things, well, really one thing, first. was this a conversation where i wanted comfort or solutions? was this a conversation where i wanted him to listen or problem-solve?

i honestly can say these two questions – just this simple strategy – could have saved many a relationship moment dating back decades and decades. it took me way too long to realize this glaringly obvious simplicity – that men and women, women and women, men and men – any two people in relationship – approach from vastly disparate directions. i am riding my feisty mare in from the rising sun in the east and he is galloping on a sassy stallion from the setting sun in the west. meeting in the middle ground requires a little gps-ing, dispensing of the drawn word-swords and negotiating some clarity shortcuts. that simple. that makes all the difference.

in these times, though calm is illusory, we find that we can be in this world of unknowns mostly by just being. solutions are hiding with the calm, behind puzzling shadows.

but comfort, listening, empathy are right out in the open, in that field of possibility between the rising sun and the setting sun, riding a steady quarter horse, bareback and honest.

*****

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


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my momma and chicken soup. [two artists tuesday]

i wish i could sit with my mom right now. i wish i could be at her kitchen table with a giant bowl of her homemade chicken soup and a big glass of red wine. i wish i could be talking with her, really talking, not merely chit-chatting, but sharing all the stuff that we – very-human human-beings – go through. i wish i could feel that kind of comfort, that kind of never-ending fierce support, that kind of unconditional love, that kind of mothering right now. i wish she were here.

making my own homemade chicken soup will have to suffice. pouring a glass of wine and turning on the happy lights in the sunroom will have to do. sitting with david and pouring out my heart, tears and laughter intermingling, will have to satiate me. looking out over the backyard, staring at the lights strewn up between the trees, will have to be enough.

adulthood has its challenges. we race through our younger years at seemingly warp speed, our ever-widening circles further and further away from home. so much presses us. too much sentimentality is rejected; this world does not run on threadiness and success is not deemed reached with a collection of rocks, feathers, branches collected to remember times with beloveds. we are encouraged to push back against emotions that are confusing, that are overwhelming; this world does not reward our angst, our fear, our grief. instead it suggests that teflon hearts, insular, tough, impervious to the outside, will forward us down the road. we give less and less time to nurturing relationships; we are immersed in making a living, in getting by, in our own self-actualization.

and then suddenly, we screech to a stop. and we are there. we are adults. and, despite all the trappings, we are a little bit lost. we look around, we look back, down the disjointed path, and we realize it’s all fleeting and we, struggling, our hearts quivering, the gift of retrospect bright and shining, pine for simple. we wish we could sit and have chicken soup with our mom, or with our children, and listen and share. we wish we could say that we have learned, in all our human-imperfection, that most important of all, just as we might have suspected, are those rocks and feathers and branches. most important of all are those moments spent with beloveds. most important of all is the honest exchange of ideas and thoughts, choices good and bad, learnings and re-learnings. most important of all is the sharing of our emotions, the visceral, the belly laughs, the sobs, the mistakes and the forgiveness of our flawedness, our common denominator. and hopefully, if the world is as full of grace as we are told, most important of all is the giving and receiving of unconditional love.

i wish i could sit with my sweet momma right now and ask her…how did she make it to almost-94 without a broken-heart-from-life-stuff time and again. i wish she could, once again, reassure me that “this too shall pass” and remind me that moments in time are just that – moments in time. i wish she could tell me her coping strategies, the way she found her zen in this big old damaged perfect world.

i’m guessing chicken soup played a big part.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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“not the same.” [merely-a-thought monday]

the dog hides in the bathroom when there is even the hint of a disagreement, an argument, any kind of underlying tension he senses in his sweet and highly intuitive body. he slowly rises from the old wood floor in the living room or the tiled floor of the sunroom or sprawled on top of the raft and tiptoes down the hall to lie down out of the fray, even if it’s a quiet fray. he can feel it – the tension – and it makes him feel angst.

this year. angst. how can any of us be without angst this year? it seems that things in the universe have spiraled out of control, things are afire and we drop-roll in anxiety. we succumb, in pain, to the extreme pressures this year has presented and sometimes we direct it at each other. ptsd is alive and well and will likely prevail past december 31, rolling its tentacles into the new year.

“things will not be the same because we will not be the same,” 20 texted us, having stumbled across this quote. he captured, in his passing on of these words with no attribution, the truth of it. things will not be the same. and neither will we. we will not be the same. and neither will things.

so i guess the question is this – how do we all rise from the ashes of this year? how do we “live above the circumstances” as jonathan texted? how do we drag our tired bodies and minds and hearts into 2021 and have hope?

though, decades ago, i was granted a master’s degree in counseling and i try to incorporate the methods of communication i learned, i still fail miserably in the middle of spatting with d. i try to resist my and his laundry list of what-happened-last-times or i-remember-you-saids or i-remember-you-dids. it is to no avail. somehow we end up tiffing not-so-much only about now, but instead, about all the back-thens up to now. i don’t think we’re alone in this. and i suspect that this year has burdened us all with so much stress and insulated time together that it is inevitable. there has been so much; confusion and anger and grief and sadness wash over us all. we are all exhausted. we are forever changed.

but i hope we can also take away from this year that we survived it. broken wrists, pandemic fears, covid-lost jobs, a city stricken by violent social injustice, a country in chaos, chasms of relationship differences, isolation, suffering a firing, losing a community. we will not be the same. things will not be the same.

and yet, we are here…on the doorstep of 2021…in the tiny liminal space between the holidays, rapidly approaching the new year. the bootstraps call our names and, again, we bend, like rugged, ragged reeds in the wind, and tug them up. we try, once again, to remember that we have somehow gotten through 363 days – already. we are changed. things are changed. i heard myself saying to a dear friend, “yes. you are made of every single thing up to this very minute. but now you are here and your next step is in now, not in then, not in all that.” i need remember. we need be in now. in spite of and because of. looking forward, stepping forward. ever slowly, but doggedly forward. tripper would celebrate this phoenix-choice.

two wise women offer these words:

“the life you have led doesn’t need to be the only life you have.” (anna quindlen)

“tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” (mary oliver)

alike. and different.

things will not be the same, yes, because we will not be the same.

maybe that’s ok.

*****

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


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whittled. [merely-a-thought monday]

“we all travel the milky way together, trees and men.” (john muir)

the pandemic rages on, wreaking destruction; after 800 years, jupiter and saturn line up in the sky. and i cannot wrap my head around the absolute-insignificant-significance of each of us. in this moment, on this piece of earth, under this sky, we whirl through space and time, reaching out to grasp onto bits of life – merely air – and make a dent in the atmosphere where we stand.

2020 has been a year of whittling. it has whittled away at our safety. it has whittled away at our health. it has whittled away the physical companionship of our loved ones. it has whittled away relationships, through political divide, social justice mores, the pursuit of personal freedoms over community. it has whittled away trust, heaving it to the side as we watch, astonished, as untruths, gaslighting, even propaganda surround us both under the cloak of country and up close and personal. it has whittled away the security of our finances, our work suspended. it has whittled away at our shock gauge; each time thinking there has been enough and being surprised by yet more, the baseline of dismay ever-changing. it has whittled away the convergence of reality and logic and it has left confusion in its place; it has paralyzed us and it has frightened us. it has whittled away what we understand.

and yet, the trees stand steadfast. they continue to reach for the sun, arms held out to the light. they neither seek to understand as they grow nor question the storms that have battered them. they just are. their place in the milky way dents the atmosphere a tiny bit, just as ours does. we travel, in various rotational directions, hundreds of thousands miles per hour along with the trees. all of us, together.

“you are a child of the universe; no less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here. and whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.” (max ehrmann, “desiderata”)

*****

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


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the hands of community. fading to zero. [d.r. thursday]

HELPING HANDS

the hands around us changed with the zoom reading of a prepared statement.

suddenly, the community we had lovingly helped grow was gone. this group of people -from the very old to the very young- people we had stood with in their celebrations, their funerals, their births, their illnesses, their pinnacle moments, their weddings, their baptisms, their challenges, their laughter and their tears – was no longer my/our community. suddenly, in the zoom reading of one prepared statement, i/we became irrelevant. suddenly, it was as if i/we hadn’t existed, hadn’t invested our hearts in this place, hadn’t worked long hours dedicated to joy and a network of learning and caring, shared goals, the symphony of music of this place, hadn’t had dozens of gatherings with these people at our home, hadn’t stood in the middle of a large dancing circle of these beloveds – with the song “we are family!” playing at our wedding. suddenly. no hands. it’s bracing.

and so we fade to zero.

wine arrived on our doorstep. twice. so did frozen slushie and pumpkin desserts. i got a card or two, an email or two, a few texts, a phone call here or there. some hands reaching out. but i can see the fade.

there is no goodbye party, there are no thanks, there is no real [read: transparent] explanation. i/we just disappeared. erased. the community-family-tree decimated. it all runs roughshod over the very definition of community.

it just is what it is. where have i heard that before?

and so we fade to zero.

the hands in your life. we reach out to each other. we rely upon each other. the interdependency concentrics outward – people we would never recognize, will never meet, are part of the very foundation of our lives, our living. they play a part. they are a star in our shared universe. community.

the 1980s hands across america song lyrics: “see those people over there? they’re my sister and brother. and when they laugh i laugh. and when they cry i cry. and when they need me i’ll be right there by their side.” we would do well re-creating the human chain across the united states holding hands for 15 minutes on a may sunday in 1986. it’s what community is.

the brotherhood of man released the song united we stand in 1970. “for united we stand. divided we fall.
and if our backs should ever be against the wall, we’ll be together, together, you and i.”
community.

hands.

fading to zero.

it is what it is.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

visit this painting HELPING HANDS on DAVID’S virtual gallery

HELPING HANDS ©️ 2014 david robinson


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and we give thanks. [d.r. thursday]

“the north texas food bank distributed more than 600,000 pounds of food for about 25,000 people on saturday.” (cnn.com) thousands of cars were lined up at the mobile food pantry. “54 million people in america face food insecurity during the pandemic.” (aamc.org) and we give thanks.

on november 23, at the noon hour, over 12,175,921 million americans had contracted covid-19. the omnipresent global pandemic has killed 255,958 americans since january 21, 2020. (covid.cdc.gov) with a gaping hole in leadership it continues to rage. and we give thanks.

“of the roughly 20 million americans now receiving some form of unemployment benefits, about half will lose those benefits when two federal programs expire at the end of the year.” (apnews.com) layoffs will likely accelerate in the next weeks and months. and we give thanks.

“gaslighting is deeply rooted in societal structure and social inequalities. women are more likely to experience gaslighting both in professional environments and in their personal lives due to these inequalities.” the term “racial gaslighting” is used “to describe a way of maintaining a pro-white/ anti-black balance in society by labeling those that challenge acts of racism as psychologically abnormal.” “racial gaslighting maintains a pro-white/anti-black balance in society.” “so many of the examples of racial gaslighting we’ve experienced and looked at are embedded in the structure, history and culture of the united states.” (bbc.com) the ugly truths. social injustice. where does a country go from here? and we give thanks.

“the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of millions of people around the world.” (who.int) “capsized travel plans, indefinite isolation, panic over scarce re-sources and information overload could be a recipe for unchecked anxiety and feelings of isolation.” (adaa.org) the struggle is real. and we give thanks.

there is so much. so much overwhelm. we look to the stars. we reel, we grieve, we ponder. we wonder how we can withstand any more.

and we are resilient. more than we can ever really know.

we surround our brutalized hearts with the love of family and friends, with memories of times past and wishes for times to come. we keep on keeping on, just as our intrepid ancestors did. we recognize the utter fragility of the moment, the immense journey we are on and the tiny bit of space we actually have on that journey. we stand tall, in the waning sun of late autumn. together. we are grateful. and we give thanks.

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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CHICKEN MARSALA © 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

GRATEFUL from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood


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“transparent.” [merely-a-thought monday]

the headline from business insider magazine reads, “chris krebs firing from CISA (cybersecurity and infrastructure security agency) was evidence of his success.” the united states top department of homeland security cybersecurity official was fired this week after spearheading efforts to protect the democratic process of the election. he spoke to the truth; he exposed the falsehoods, the mismanagement of factual information, the peril to free and fair elections, his ignored answers to questions about an election that was “the most secure in american history.” he was removed. democracy is at stake.

defense secretary mark esper, apparently not loyal enough to a president who seeks not truth, but rather, compliance, was fired early in november, injecting uncertainty into an already perilous global climate. he was replaced. our country is destabilized, put at greater risk.

 lt. col. alexander vindman, a national security council staff member, raised his hand and swore to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  after speaking to the truth in impeachment hearings for the current president, he was fired by the president, the same man who was impeached. his error? speaking the truth, citing facts, about a man who demands only absolute alliance, disregarding truth. that man, along with those complicit to him, exacted revenge.

 dr. anthony fauci, the director of the national institute of allergy and infectious diseases since 1984, speaking to the truth, the inconceivable and unconscionable peril that this country is facing in the middle of this raging global pandemic, has been minimized and tossed off, threatened with being fired by a president intent on absolute control, absolute obedience. factual information needed to protect a vulnerable populace has been withheld, experts with words of wisdom have been held at bay. more people will contract this disease. more people will die.

 “transparency, in a business or governance context, is honesty and openness.”
“transparency is the open sharing of information from a business to its consumers. it creates brand trust, good communication and perceived good citizenship.”

transparency is not the utterance of pretty words. it is not relationship participating in hiding the truth, sweeping it under the rug. it is not silent. it is not intentionally deceptive. it is having hard and healthy conversations,
respectfully taking responsibility, navigating difficulty, meeting and addressing problems head-on, collaborating with maturity, eyes toward progress and shared authenticity.

our election process. our national security. the integrity of our leadership. our collective health.

lack of transparency. peril. potential collapse.

there is too much of that going around.

what a sad commentary on our times.

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


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cleaved. [flawed wednesday]

it was well-intended. the highland park library had a sign up with these words and i copied them down as we passed by. stay apart, stay safe and we will get through this together. a sentiment about the raging pandemic, it was momentarily reassuring.

but only momentarily.

for, really, we are more apart than together. we are more fractured. we are more divided than we ever thought. we are cleaved.

at this moment, each place i look i see the destruction of entities breaking in two, splitting. there is no reassurance for that. there can be no healing without truth, without compassionate, fair and decisive leadership. disparate sides will ultimately fight to the death, no eye to clarity, no ear to healthy conversation, no wisdom, no heart. just agenda, riddled with prejudice, with self-aggrandizing, with aggression, with inward nationalism-under-every-heading, surrounded by a protective cloak of complicity.

people put asunder. entities put asunder. the country put asunder.

if apart will bring us together, we are on the right track. if apart is just simply getting us through, we are beyond cleaved.

read DAVID’s thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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worried. [k.s. friday]

bridge box

i am worried.

in a tenuous time of fraying loyalties and the aggressive recruiting of followers, people are being indoctrinated into what they believe are the-cool-groups, welcomed with open arms, social-media “love-bombed” and, it would seem, encouraged to believe that which has not been proven to be true.

indoctrination (noun):  the process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically.

uncritically.  terrifying.  without critical thought.  without mining for facts.  acolytes of persons who gaslight, persons who claim absolute knowledge and power, persons who, like the scum on a glass of sour milk, rise from the acidification of true idealism, true tenets, the true basis of a society as a community.

i am worried.

the bridge between us as a country seems as crumbling as the infrastructure of old roads and bridges across this nation.  the fragile bridge sways now in the gentlest of breezes.  the bricks, mortar, concrete, steel are wearing thin, their veneers weathering storms of severed ties, storms of conspiracy over fact, storms of cronyism over love.  the bridge-slayers taunt, tempt with poison fruit, the oldest story of stories.  the ideologue-apostles forego conversation for testaments of belonging, baseless creeds.  the indoctrination devours relationships, forming unions useful only to itself, without heed to emotional ties or history.  crazed, yet measured, words of untruth and hatred blur clear vision to the other side.

the bridge ceases to exist.  it becomes but a shadow.

and i am worried.

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BRIDGE from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood


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the old file cabinets. [k.s. friday]

it's a long story

two old file cabinets.

the old file cabinets are in the closet in the studio.  at some point i organized all – well, most of – my music, lugged a couple metal cabinets up from the basement and spent a few days filing.  there’s overfill in a few cardboard bank boxes on the floor.  maybe someday i’ll get to those.

yesterday i was looking for a piece of music i thought i had.  i went to the drawer it should be in and starting rifling through the books and sheet music.  every title i looked at brought back memories:  “moon river” made me think of my uncle allen, who took voice lessons and sang that song beautifully.  “all i need” made me think of days at moton school center, comparing ‘general hospital’ notes with lois over lunches of peanuts and diet cokes.  “the rose” made me think of earlier years of promise and love.

i forgot about what i was searching for and dragged out a pile of music, sheets spilling out onto the floor as i struggled to pull them from their tightly filled drawer.  books – collections of artists or full transcribed albums – called my name, begging to see the light of day.  i whispered to them i would be back for them.   it has probably been decades since they were opened.

standing at the piano, not another thought in my head, i started shuffling through sheet music and playing.  it was no longer 2020, transported instantly back to the 70s, the 60s, the 80s.

had i opened a different drawer i would have found all my old piano books, my old organ music – tools of a student learning her eventual trade.  in those drawers are the books my children used for their music lessons, for band and orchestra.  in those drawers are the books i used as i attempted junior high oboe and college trumpet lessons.  in those drawers are the pieces that kept me on the bench for hours as a child and then as a teenager, practicing, playing, dreaming.

other drawers yield a plethora of more advanced piano and organ music, years of accumulated resources.  there are drawers of choir music, both sacred and secular, from years and years of directing and conducting work.  and still others house the scores of music i have written, staff paper and pencil, finished in calligraphy pen.

it made me want to just clear a day off.  liberate my mind from every worry, every task, every watching-the-time responsibility.  brush off the dust of the dark drawers from the lead sheets and scores and play.

i’d love to gather a whole group of friends around the piano and sing through john denver and billy joel songs, through england dan and john ford coley’s “we’ll never have to say goodbye again” and paul mccartney’s “maybe i’m amazed” and david soul’s “don’t give up on us” and the carpenters’ “bless the beasts and the children” and led zeppelin’s “stairway to heaven”,  through carole king and james taylor and pablo cruise.  through the ‘great songs of the sixties’ book and the ‘sensational 70 for the 70s’ book and fake books from all time.   just take a day – a whole day – and sing.  and remember together.

in light of the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic, this would have to be virtual, i suppose.  so that might not be such a good idea.  but maybe d and i could just take that day.  think of nothing else but music and where it has brought us, where it brings us.  our long stories.

a few things can instantly place you back in a moment.  songs, scents, pictures.  a whiff of my sweet momma’s favorite perfume has me immediately missing her.  john denver singing anything off any number of albums of his that i owned places me in my room hanging out on my beanbag chairs with my slick 3-in-1 turntable/8-track/cassette stereo or driving my little bug around the island.  wings’ “silly love songs” or elton’s “don’t go breaking my heart” and i can feel the hot sand under my beach towel at crab meadow.

two old file cabinets.  filled to the brim.

so many treasures.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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IT’S A LONG STORY ©️ 1997 & 2000 kerri sherwood