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the path back is the path forward


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the more grateful you are, the more grateful you are. [two artists tuesday]

gratitude blanks

it is easy to have a list of things we wish for.  a list of things we lack.  a list of ways we aren’t enough.  it is easy to perseverate over these things.  things that make us different from someone else, things that make us less successful, less wealthy, less chic.  it is easy to measure yourself against others.  it is easy to fall short.

in those moments, it is easy for someone outside of you to remind you of what you do have, the ways ‘it could be worse’, the ways you are rich beyond compare.  it is easy to push back against those words, against those admonishment-reminders.  it is easy to stay in the lists.  alone.  to wallow.

but in the new tide that follows the overwhelmed sobs, the tears that cleanse but don’t solve, the grief of wishing-it-were-different, there are deep breaths of renewal.  there are realizations.  there are glimpses of beauty, the seeing of kindnesses, winks of hope.

there were rocks planted along one of the trails we hike on, positive messages painted on them.  each one made us smile, made us wonder, made us look for the next.  life-giving.

gratitude is like that.  in a time swirling with negativity, personal challenges, darkness overtaking the sun, we offer these gratitude cards.  print and cut them out (PDF link below), write your thoughts, hide them somewhere as a surprise, tuck them into a nook or cranny, or give them to people who are unsuspecting, people who maybe need the spark of your expression of gratitude.

the more grateful you are, the more grateful you are.  it’s an amazing, wondrous cycle.

gratitude blanks

click here for gratitude blanks PDF

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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an independent dog. [merely-a-thought monday]

independent dog

jen pulled the sliding glass door open for the fourth time (within a short visit of potlucking time around the kitchen island) and we all laughed.  sweet henry and chester wanted out.  wanted in.  wanted out.  wanted in.  this is a familiar tune.  dogdog finds it irresistible to demand to go out and then not want to miss anything and want back in.  on repeat.

andrea and scott have two golden retrievers.  impeccably trained, they wait for a sign or a word to do most anything.   they are not the in-and-out-ers that dogga and henry and chester are.  i remember them as calm and happy and i vowed that one day i would have a dog as well-behaved.  this is not that day.

but dogdog is, yes, dogdog-ish.  his sweet face watches our every move, trying to anticipate to which room we might be moving, trying to assess why we are feeling what he knows we are feeling.   he doesn’t like conflict; he doesn’t like the sound of metal touching metal.  it took him a while to warm up to the ukulele (which he now loves and wishes he could play) and the piano draws him into the studio.  he won’t touch food on the counter or the table or really anywhere unless given permission, but his direct eye contact begs for a bite every breakfast.  he destroyed very few things as a puppy (well, the kitchen cabinet door and the table legs count) but de-heads every toy he is given and un-stuffings them.  he bows to all things babycat, yet loves to drag him around and taunts him until babycat asserts his ruling paw.  his aussie-ness makes him intuitively try to keep track of all people and animals in the house, a tiresome and difficult chore when one is peculiarly averse to going upstairs or downstairs.  he is quirky.

on island he was quiet.  here at home he is a barker.  i guess he knew the littlehouse wasn’t his.  he loves errands both places.  he ecstatically runs miles in circles in the backyard and certain names will make his eyes wide and his australian-shepherd-jumping-bean-dog-heart jump with glee. he clocks out of all responsibility late at night, content to quietly languish in whatever room we are in, happy to have pets and go sleepynightnight.  sweet, sweet dogdog emerges from constant-motion dog.

i don’t remember the story we were talking about around jen and brad’s island.  i’m sure it was one of tripper’s many idiosyncratic tales.  we rolled our eyes and laughed.  and brad said, “you should be proud that you raised an independent dog!”

riiiiiight.

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

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waiting. and waiting. [k.s. friday]

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on an unusual foray into facebook-scrolling, i came across a post by a friend that quoted tom petty.  “the waiting is the hardest part,” it read.  yes.  the hardest part.

i remember d telling me that arnie’s mom had an addition to the adage that when one door closes, another one will surely open.  she said, “it’s the waiting in the hall that’s hell.”

i feel like i am waiting.  just like this sunrise, there is a division of light and dark – a line you can see.  the hall.  it’s not still dark.  it’s not quite light.  it’s the in-between zone of co-existence.

i suppose we can co-exist with waiting.  we can co-exist with not-knowing.  not-knowing about tomorrow.  not-knowing where it goes.  not-knowing what will happen.  not-knowing if dark will linger or if light will overtake the dark.  not-knowing how the story turns out.

questions on the keys.  answers somewhere in-between the notes.  quarter tones of ambiguity.  i stand an arm’s length from creating.  i wait.  there is no sign, there is no clear indicator of any return-on-my-creative-investment.  the hall doesn’t provide a reason to write.  it is not a door.  it is full of question.  it is a gathering storm of hope.  it is a waiting place.

the hall is just for me.  jumbled and clear, both.  a stew of hearing all the old notes floating – thousands of them – and seeking the new ones.  lyric snatches appear on scraps of paper, waiting.  melodic gestures fall from my hands as yearning to keep-on-keeping-on falls from my eyes.

i’m trying to be patient in it.  to reconcile all the other mysteries and issues and complexities before i step closer.  to do the ‘other work’ first.  to be solvent and steady.  for the time on the bench to be worthy.

why does a composer compose?  why does a composer wait?

download WAITING on iTunes or CDBaby

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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WAITING from JOY ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood


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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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happiness. freedom. courage. [merely-a-thought monday]

choir room calendar

my sweet poppo ended up in solitary confinement.  shot down over the ploesti oil fields in romania, he was a WWII prisoner of war and was being held in a prison camp in bulgaria.  he was courageously condemning the rat-eaten stale bread the prisoners were served, throwing it down, and he was hauled off to solitary confinement.  after months of imprisonment my dad, along with others, was able to escape this POW camp and find his way to freedom.  freedom.

each of us has our own freedom route, courage to summon up.  i look at both of my children as they make their way in this world.  they are courageously carving out their lives.  they are scrappy and they make sacrifices to seek happiness and freedom from fear of any kind.  my sweet poppo is cheering them on, both of them.

this calendar page hangs in the choir room.  the words seemed particularly timely to us, for many reasons, on many levels.  we looked up the person to which they were credited:  thucydides.  a studier of human nature, he:  “also has been called the father of the school of political realism, which views the political behavior of individuals and the subsequent outcomes of relations between states as ultimately mediated by, and constructed upon, the emotions of fear and self-interest.

we owe the freedom of our country to the veterans, like my sweet dad, who we honor today and to wise, thoughtful, inspired leaders of this country.  we have much to be grateful for.

and yet.  these savvy words of this ancient greek historian…”the emotions of fear and self-interest”.  this is relevant.

my poppo sat in a prison camp cell representing a country fighting against leaders filled with self-interest and the indiscriminate propagation of fear and atrocities upon innocent people.  his courage was buoyed by the courage of his fellow soldiers.  my father was staunchly determined to put others’ needs first.

i fear what is happening in our country today would sadden him; his response would be that our leaders are not acting out of courage, not out of a rallying call for equitable independence of all, but instead, out of bullying and grandiose self-serving.

and i believe my sweet poppo would throw down the rat-eaten stale philosophy of this current government.  with his great courage.  in true freedom.

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

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not. [two artists tuesday]

kindnessSCHITTSCREEK.jpg

granted, schitt’s creek is not a shining example of serious shows.  nor is it the apex of intelligent, thought-provoking viewing.  but we had run out of parenthood (still sniffling over the bitter end) and this is us and everest movies and documentaries and decided to try on something new.  we chose schitt’s creek.

it quickly became apparent to us that the humor in this show was not necessarily in alignment with our sense of humor, but we watched anyway.  we decided it was a study.

the stunning moment came when one of the characters looked at another and, in complete candor, said, “kindness is a sign of weakness.”

we sat and looked at each other, the glow of the moon on water out the window.  we dove deep into those words.  after much debate and a search for profundity, we realized that in this country, at this time, with these circumstances, it was a true statement.  kindness is not where it’s at, not what gets you ahead.  it is without power and control.  its calmness is terrifyingly missing in national goings-on, in international goings-on, in dealings with people even close-up and personal with agendas that serve only themselves.  kindness has left the building in more places than we would care to think about.  but a weakness?  not.

beaky, my sweet momma, said, “be kind.  be kind to each other.”  and she damn well meant it.  it may not have served her as well as being arrogantly demanding might have.  it may not have served her as well as being haughty, nasty, biting might have.  but it leaves a legacy for her that i am proud to speak about.  it is a rare treat to see someone not take sh*t from someone else and do it with strong backbone in a kind way.  my sweet momma was well-practiced.

and, i might add, she was not weak.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

click here for a link to BE KIND buttons

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the music waits. [k.s. friday]

wait a while songbox

there was not room on island for my piano, sheets of blank score paper, baskets of notebooks of lyrics, melody smidges, chord progression fragments.  they waited at home for my return.

consumed by many tasks and layers of work since we arrived back home, we are surrounded by boxes and bins still unpacked.  there is much to do.  we have many other things tugging at us and these packed boxes, although frustratingly in the way, have sunk to a lower rung on the list of things-to-do.

i have been in and out of my studio, grabbing music as i need it, playing through a piece here and there, reviewing music for work.  i have added a few notes to notebooks, to my calendar, a line of lyric here and there to remember on scraps i hope not to lose.

the other day i pulled out cds, finding a few with pieces that didn’t get tracked.  rough cuts of piano for under lyrics, rough cuts of piano instrumentals.  every artist has them…the cuts that didn’t get finished, the cuts that didn’t make it to the album.  scraps of paper, notebooks of ideas, rough cuts of beginnings.  they all eventually lead somewhere.  no idea, no melodic gesture, no lyric stands alone.

and so, my really beautiful big resounding piano waits for me as i am quiet.  pencils i’ve saved from The Boy’s and The Girl’s pencilboxes sit atop, next to blank score paper, notebooks and pa pads.  they all wait.  the muse waits.  the music waits.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THIS ROUGH CUT ON OUR WEBSITE

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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WAIT A WHILE ROUGH CUT et al ©️ 1995-2019 kerri sherwood