reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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that smell of horses. [two artists tuesday]

sleigh ride copy

so, i love the smell of horses.  i love the proud way they hold their heads and the sometimes-wild forelock that dances between their ears.  i love watching them cavort in fields together, free to gallop and play.  i love the warmth on my hand as i stroke under its mane.  i love the sound of leather creaking underneath me when riding.  i love the clip-clop of hooves.  i love the feeling i get up-close-and-personal talking softly to a horse, looking deeply into its eyes, pools of wisdom taking it all in.  it is no surprise to most of my people that i love really everything about them.

with the snowy quiet punctuated by the clip-clop of horses’ hooves and laughter, we rode the sleigh through the woods.  the sun was out and, with snowpants on and under a blanket, it was toasty.  perfect.  ace and bill carried us through the trails to a spot for a bonfire and cocoa and then back.  i didn’t want it to end.

there are people in your life who just know what you need.  we are lucky enough to have a bunch of these people close by and paying attention.  our little trip up north was perfectly timed.  a chance to just enjoy each other and the frozen-but-not-really-freezing outdoors.  the sleigh ride was wondrous.  the time together restorative.

the peaceful time in the woods and on the snow-covered frozen lake brought me out of storms i was withstanding.  the laughter, good food, conversation, pjs and coffee and games with glasses of wine helped transport my spirit and rejuvenated me.  i am grateful.  for a few days it didn’t matter that my wrists were broken.  my ernie straw was with me and i was surrounded by people who loved me.

and the horses.  ahh.  icing on the cake.

so now, i will wait till the next time…the next time i am near horses.  as someone who has had a lifelong wish for a horse of my own, those times feed me.  i imagine that maybe somehow one day sometime i might have a horse-of-my-own.  i imagine i won’t show this horse or ride around in a paddock practicing dressage.  i will ride my friend in the woods and in the fields, manes flying, both of us gleefully breathing the air and listening to each other.  i imagine silent conversations about love and respect and sweet moments of just being close by each other.  i imagine walking away, blowing a kiss backwards to this horse – my horse – the wind catching the scent on my hands and my clothes, and smiling.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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“it’s hard to keep things simple.” [merely-a-thought monday]

keep things simple

less is more.  enough is enough.  say no.  simplify.

we are all bombarded.  two days before christmas and we wonder if we did enough, bought enough, wrapped enough, entertained enough, baked enough, decorated enough.  we are surrounded by images – piles of presents under ornate christmas trees, horse-drawn sleighs on currier and ives backroads, families gathered at tables merrily chatting, churches full with congregations happily singing and the bells in the belfry ringing.  the kind of images that nag you into thinking, “more.  i must do more.”

the other evening, gathered around bowls of homemade hot thai soup, 20 said, “it’s hard to keep things simple.”  the three of us share some profound times of conversation, of life’s changes and choices, of simple togetherness.  he talked about soup and wine and chocolate and conversation, of appreciating each other’s company.

the catalogs arriving in the mail and the ads in the paper and the online streaming advertising all pander to the indulgence of our insecurity.  of not enough.  how do we respond and say no?

it’s hard to avoid.  it feels like we have to say yes to everything.  or we don’t quite measure up.  we search for meaning.  in things.  we are searching outside of ourselves.  holding ourselves to some sort of external standard of holiday-completeness.

how do we seek more centeredness?  more connectedness?  more moments held in the stillness of awe?

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

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birds on a wire. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

birds on a wire

hundreds of them.  birds galore.  all sitting on the wires.  one by one they flutter and change places.  but they all manage to sit on the wires together.  they adjust.  they move over.  they change wires.  they allow space.  they allow other birds in.  and they sit.  (although technically, i suppose they are standing.)  they don’t seem to be exclusive.  they don’t seem to be judgemental.  they don’t seem to be laden with agenda.  they seem to be working it out – this being-in-community-together thing. refreshing.

and then it occurs to me.  they are all the same kind of bird.

what would happen if a different sort of bird showed up and wanted to sit on the wire, to be in their community?  would they react like people?

 

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

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practice makes perfect. [merely-a-thought monday]

the world will treat you royally

“live generously and the world will treat you royally.” (crown royal commercial)

“practice makes perfect,” it says on an index card in the piano bench of my old piano downstairs in the basement.  written in the careful-penmanship-printing of me-probably-as-an-8-year-old,  i have kept this card in my bench for over 50 years.   i’m sure there were multiple times i rolled my eyes at this, as i opened the bench to take out and work on lesson music.  i still roll my eyes.  everything takes practice.

everything.  including living generously.  there’s always that moment when you have to decide to either take up the rope, as they say, and tug back or let the rope lay still.  so much easier to pick it up and tug, letting it lay there and not touching it requires sheer grit-your-teeth-restraint sometimes.  it’s too easy to tug, to even wrench, and too royally hard to let a sleeping rope lie.

but in those moments, the really tough ones and the little ones, that you actually and intentionally choose to mother-teresa your way through, your generosity spins outward in concentric circles and goodness spreads.  goodness has a way of coming back, returning to center, with centrifugal force and your heart in the middle.  gravity draws back goodness and keeps close the spirit of all with whom you have been generous.  kindness bestowed upon you is royal treatment; it is the world treating you royally.  we are all so fortunate.  we are already receiving lavish unconditional love.  what would happen if we practiced living generously even more?

after all, they say, practice makes perfect.

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

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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.

download GRATEFUL on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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GRATEFUL from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

 

 


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frosting and connection.

network connections

cupcakes.

and frosting.

i would talk to my piano students about practicing.  i drew a comparison of the time they spent, the way they allocated their time to cupcakes and frosting.   i would start by saying let’s talk about practicing, whereupon most of my sweet students would roll their eyes, a common reaction to the word ‘practice’.  i would suddenly switch topics to cupcakes and they would happily skip down that path, thinking they were avoiding the ‘practice’ chat.  we would talk about our favorite cupcakes and the very best frosting that could possibly earn the top spot on those treats.  and once we discerned that very-important-information, i would pose a question:

let’s say you have a small cup of frosting.   delicious, fluffy, sweet-as-can-be frosting.  it’s just a small cup – like the tiny sippy cups you drank from as a baby.  and you have a choice.  you can either frost one cupcake with that sippy-cup-full or you can frost all 24 of the cupcakes that are waiting on the counter from the oven.  which will you do?

my students, all brilliant cupcake-lovers and bright lights in the world, would sit and ponder for a second and then reply that they would frost the one cupcake.  otherwise, they would explain, the frosting would be so thin that you would barely know it is there, you would barely taste it, and it would be like there was no frosting at all.   and besides, if they got to eat the one cupcake, they wanted the one rich with frosting.  who can argue with that?

contrary to their belief that the ‘practice’ talk was over, i would clutch and shift gears back to the piano.  “if you have a little bit of time to practice and pieces of music that might be difficult to play, would it be better to hurry through every piece spending a few moments on each OR would it be better to spend that little bit of time on one or two?” i would ask (in student-age-appropriate language).   invariably they would frost one cupcake.

i believe the same applies to connection.  with the advent of the vast array of social media choices, we have applied an ultra-thin layer of frosting to our connections.  we have thinned out the time we truly spend on relationship – pure individual relationships.  we have, oddly, chosen to spend easily-addicted quantities of time and emotional energy on social media “relationships” with people we do not know rather than being in real touch with the people closest to us.  we expect those people to learn of things on outlets and from posts instead of simply telling them, picking up a phone and calling or texting them.

we are not connected to a network.  we are connected to a network.  both of these are true.

the question for me, one that i must look at as well,  is – how much time are we spending on that network, on individual people we love and care about?  is there any frosting at all?

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

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flax brownie bites and no h8. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

hate has no home here

hunter doesn’t look surprised when we walk into greens and grains in egg harbor.   it’s really his fault.  he showed us flax chocolate brownie muffins.  we bought them.  we ate them.  we are now addicted to them.  yes, we blame hunter.  in all good ways.

truth is, though, we love the feel of the store as well.  a natural food store and healthy alternative grocery and cafe, the signs you can see on the windows tell a story about its purity.

hate has no home here and NO H8 both align with our thinking, just as the flax brownie bites align with us.  we will always choose a shop, a business, an organization, a community that is embracing over one that is not.  i wrack my brain and my heart for reasons shops, businesses, organizations, communities, and, yes, governments, are not embracing, not inclusive, not compassionate earth-dwellers.

abiding in hate-filled rhetoric, prejudicial about anything and everything, hypocritical in obvious holding-both-ends-of-the-spectrum philosophies, demonstrably unkind, gleefully vengeful, inequitably elitist.  i just ask why?

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

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the thunder of the silence. [merely-a-thought monday]

TPAC empty seats

“…a silence like thunder…”

“no distinction is made between the sacred and the everyday.”

“our attitude toward the world resonates in the objects around us.  they reveal our intention.”

(from plain and simple, sue bender)

the first day i walked into the tiny lobby at TPAC i wondered why the table holding brochures was light blue.  it matched nothing there and was a statement of a kind of thoughtless we-need-a-small-table-does-anyone-have-one thoughtfulness.  all season long i kept thinking that it should be painted black.  the very last day in the theatre, outside in the chill air, surrounded by golden and crimson leaves, i painted it.  it dried fast and we placed it back in the lobby.  still the same little table doing its job, but its new distinction mattered and it fit in the space.  it did my heart good.

with multiple bags of old mayonnaise and mustard, an old container of kale and a moldy loaf of some kind of unidentifiable home-baked bread, i finished cleaning out the fridge, an appliance i had never opened for an entire season.  clearly, others had, and the accumulation of old-ness was ripe.  i scrubbed it out and stood back to look at how neat and tidy it was.  the whole kitchen area looked neat and tidy, a new keurig replacing an old coffeemaker and broken carafe.  shelves cleaned, toothpicks that had poured out swept up, a welcoming backstage entrance for staff and artists.  moving that space up to sacred-everyday from messy-everyday did my heart good.

the last couple weeks have been nesting weeks at TPAC, moments when d and i have had the space to ourselves.   having now passed through the shoulder season, it’s empty and it’s quiet.  the 250 seats wait for the next event, the off-the-shoulders season, the next new high season.  i can feel its curiosity, its expectation.

we sat in various seats around the theatre, talking about the dreams we had when we first saw it.  getting mired in the muck of being the you-aren’t-from-here-newbies had slowed things down.  it had paused our ownership of the actual space.  eh, who am i kidding?  it brought most of that to a screeching halt.  drama, three board presidents and a reticence to consider change from people hired as change agents (us) brought the gate down before we could even start.

we discovered the word ‘glacial’ and applied it generously to the direction we were going.  we didn’t try to change a space that didn’t feel like ours yet.  we didn’t try to change too many processes.  we stopped trying to change mindsets.

instead, we embraced people.  we listened; we learned.  we set out to weave relationships where they had eroded, where tattered feelings were wrung out, where we were told no relationship could work.  we befriended those we were told would never like us.  we struggled to understand allies who weren’t so much allies.  with deep roots of experience, we led with intention, with the questions of what would be best for this space, what would be best for the artistry on this little island, what would be long-lasting and truly make the making of art – whatever the genre – foremost?

and so, it was in the last days, when it was quiet and empty that we were able to take the time to really listen to the thunder of the silence of that really beautiful space.  we strove to honor the sanctity of this art-making place.  and we intended, with every move of cleaning and straightening and re-arranging and planning and yes, dreaming, all the best things we could.  it did my heart good.

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

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old friends. [k.s. friday]

old friends songbox2

my sweet momma used to quip, “make new friends, but keep the old.  one is silver and the other’s gold.”  i believe it came from her girl scout leadership days.  a song, those are wise lyrics.

OLD FRIENDS appears in two versions on my first album RELEASED FROM THE HEART.  as track 3, OLD FRIENDS is a longer composition, a wide passionate spectrum of emotion.  as track 13, OLD FRIENDS REVISITED is shorter, quieter, more reflective, even wistful.

about my very oldest friends i feel both ways.  i am passionate about remembering (always remembering) my long island friendships, susan and marc and crunch and joe-z, especially.  times spent growing, talking, arguing, debating, adventuring, laughing, camping, driving, beaching, traveling, listening to music, frisbee-ing, making apple pies, biking, boating, scuba-diving, fishing, living life.  i look back in my mind’s eye wistfully and am filled with love for them.

about my old friends and my new friends i feel both ways.  i am passionate about how they stand in it with me.  they each know who they are reading this.  they will recognize themselves when i thank them for times spent together.  for the times they supported me when i needed it, for the times they supported me when i didn’t need it.  for the times they have listened and talked when i needed it, for the times they have listened and talked when i didn’t need it.  for adventures, laughter, good food, coffee and wine.  for playing music, scouring around for fun stuff to do, antiquing, dancing, pontoon-boating, playing games, potlucking, sharing opinions and challenging assumptions, giving and receiving words of wisdom, and the telling of our stories.  so much life; i know it would be impossible to do without them and i am filled with love for them.

we are fortunate, we human beings.  we are aware of our friends, the ever-giving gift of  friendship. remembering.  always remembering.

and we know the value of silver and gold.

purchase the CD or download on iTunes or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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OLD FRIENDS from RELEASED FROM THE HEART ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood

 


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when we all do better. [merely-a-thought monday]

we all do better when

blank.  it’s blank.  this book i carry with me.  it’s a journal, but i’ve never ever written in it.  created by sue bender, the plain and simple journal has photographs of amish quilts and the shortest snippets of writings, many gleaned from time that sue spent in an amish community.  i’m not sure why i haven’t written in it; perhaps it is a very-prolonged beaky rule – to save it.  i do know that its pages have both comforted me and made me think.  perhaps my own writing-on-these-pages would distract me or, once the pages are filled with scribble, it will detract from the printed snippets and fall out of i-carry-it-with-me grace.  either way, it’s blank.  and it’s profoundly wise.

“an amish woman told me, ‘making a batch of vegetable soup, it’s not right for the carrot to say i taste better than the peas, or the pea to say i taste better than the cabbage.  it takes all the vegetables to make a good soup.” (sue bender)

+

“to reconcile our seeming opposites, to see them as both, not one or the other, is our constant challenge.” (sue bender)

=

“we all do better when we all do better.” (paul wellstone)

for where is it that we can not glory in another’s success, mourn with another’s failure, weep with another’s grief, dance with another’s bliss?  we share the space.  in community.  not division.

we share the ride – we are all vegetables in the soup – we are not one or the other – and yes, we all do better when we all do better.

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

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