reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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i am alive. [k.s. friday]

 

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the sun was shining in central park the first time i sang this song in public.  we were on stage and it was the conclusion of the “I AM” NYC revlon run/walk for women, an event where all the proceeds are used to help fight cancer, specifically women’s cancers.  it was stunning – tens of thousands of people gathered, unified by a yearning, to make a difference, to help women live healthier lives, longer lives, to help fight the fight.

every time i hear or sing my own song, i quietly dedicate it to a woman i know who is a survivor in the middle of this battle, in the middle of her path back to health.  my own sweet momma tops my list of women who have bravely and stalwartly walked this journey.  but i think of dear friends, relatives, acquaintances…devastatingly, too many to list.  all “bonded by the power of this dream that is i am.”

I’m different than you.

I am the same.

We are strong. We are courageous.

We are more than this disease; we are bigger than this fight.

United, we celebrate life.

it is raining here today as i write this.  the power and fortitude of the mantra ‘i am’ seems a little weaker.  it’s pervasive, this grayness.  for survivorship of disease is not limited to the blunt force blow of cancer.  survivorship spans the spectrum.  women, like me, who are survivors of sexual assault.  women who are survivors of marginalization.  women who are survivors of silencing.  women who are survivors of domestic, workplace, governmental limitations or abuse.

i listen to my own lyrics and i wonder…are we unified by a yearning?  are we truly trying to make a difference to help women live healthier lives, longer lives, fight the fight – whatever that fight might be?

download I AM ALIVE on iTUNES  or CDBaby  or purchase the album AS SURE AS THE SUN

read DAVID’S thoughts on this K.S. FRIDAY

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I AM ALIVE ©️ 2005 kerri sherwood

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#MeToo

Screen Shot 2017-12-27 at 5.10.57 PM i believe in inherent goodness.  the inherent goodness of each and every person.  born in beauty, walking in beauty.  i blame my sweet momma.  she looked this way at every single person who crossed her path.
          but then, there’s the rest.  predisposed psychological genetics.  environment.  social prejudices.  bigotry.  elitism.  lack of empathy.  the inability to walk in another’s shoes.  the lack of wanting to try to walk in another’s shoes.  some kind of warped misinformed yet embraced caste system.  jealousy.  bitterness.  the web of ‘ugly’ has many faces.  and people twist.  and that inherent goodness seems to go underground.  we wonder if there is, indeed, any goodness left.  we are confronted with this question over and over again it seems, especially these days.
          we had a discussion about goodness recently.  it became heated.  the dog left the room and retreated to the bathroom.  we were intense.  too intense.  arguing for the same point, we came from two different directions, two different backgrounds.  but we were heading, actually, in the same direction.
          each of us carries our gift of inherent goodness.  we choose each and every day whether we access it or not. my momma’s adherence to the adage, “i shall pass through this world but once.  any good, therefore, that i can do or any kindness that i can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now.  let me not defer or neglect it for i shall not pass this way again.” often rings in my ears.  we all make decisions each day; some steeped in good, some not so much.
          as we approached the holidays and the end of the year, we were deeply diving into cleaning out.  seems right at the end of the year.  old boxes of random items that had accumulated in the years lived in this home, vestiges of life before, of life growing up, of goodnesses shown and received.  we had so much fun as we cleaned; i’d show d pictures or mementos from places or people or the children, every one of them an opportunity for a story.  some carried aha moments, some elicited sighs of where-does-the-time-go, some made me laugh or teary, some stopped me in my tracks.
          i came across things from way-earlier-life, the time i had spent growing up on long island.  my seagull collection, plastic seagulls suspended on wires attached to rocks or shells or pieces of cork, a 70s thing for sure.  my horse collection, which was, in my mind, massive, but when i unpacked it was more like 15 horse statues and ribbons from showing in horse shows, drawings i had painstakingly drawn, books i pored over and over and studied at a much younger age.  a doll collection with hand sewn or hand crocheted outfits made lovingly by my grandmother ‘mama dear’s’ hands.  books and notebooks and old calendars.  trinkets and rocks and feathers.  cards and letters i saved for decades.  artwork by the girl and the boy.  little notes they wrote to me.  an old electric typewriter and a case of 45rpm records we played the night we found them.
          and then there are the reminders from a time i don’t talk about so much.  a time when i became a #MeToo.  it takes my breath away to think of that 19 year old girl.  me – an idealistic, innocent, youngest-by-far child who looked at the world through poetic eyes and trusting-colored glasses.  my heart breaks now for this young woman who found her way through a terrifying -and life-changing- time pretty much alone, seeking little help for an act that drove to her core and was more than difficult to voice in a late 1970s judicial system.  because, you know, not everyone is good.  not everyone holds their inherent goodness ahead of their selfish, controlling, violent behaviors.  back then, counseling, and even prosecuting, was rare.  i didn’t experience either one.  the help of counseling nor the satisfaction of prosecuting this person who took away my belief and trust in goodness.  for a time, fear coursed through me.  my view of others became jaded and distrusting.  i sought refuge in varying ways, but never really explained why to myself or others.  i didn’t understand what caused this man to behave as he had, nor did i understand that it wasn’t mine to understand.  what i do know, is that i grew.
          and now, as our world opens their listening hearts to women and girls everywhere, i am grateful.  grateful for their collective voices and the deserved help extended to them. grateful that even in giving individual voice, they are moving through the processing of it, the reason for being a #MeToo becoming smaller than #MeToo survival.
          i was once told wise words from a friend when i was grieving my momma’s death.  joan said, “the only way to get to the other side is through it.”
          as i sort through all the pieces of life i have carried in boxes, in bins, in photographs, in my heart and soul, through all these years, i realize again that these words are so true.  in so many situations, so many life arenas. the only way to get to the other side is through it.  and then, you can find inherent goodness again.

 


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women. we’ve got backbone.

wordswomenwevegotbackbone-jpegliving with an artist means you get to poke around inside their passion. you get to see the things that paved the way, that set the stage, that were behind the scenes. you get to hear the stories of mountains climbed and deep valleys (read: chasms) scaled. an artist’s story is not a straight line and an artist’s art is fluid.

it also means you get to go through the piles, so to speak. i’ll play songs for him that never made it anywhere, onto any album, nor any stage. he’ll show me paintings or sketches that didn’t get framed or hung or shown or even looked at. sometimes i will just go downstairs into the studio and page through the painting stacks, traveling in time through my husband’s work. color and space and frenetic movement and paintings that breathe air; all tell a story about the place he was in when he painted them.

in a recent stroll through paintings, i stumbled upon this one. i pulled it out and sat down – right there on the floor – to gaze at it. there is just something about it.

grace.  strength.  i was struck by the beauty of its simplicity.

it made me think of so many women i know. my beautiful girl kirsten, who made her first turkey after spending a day on a snowboard on mountains she had never even seen a short three years ago. linda, tossing hay to a horse with a pitchfork and hugging alpaca, never before retirement dreaming of such a thing. marykay who wisely makes brownies (gf!) for every occasion, creating inroads for people to talk and share and become a part of a whole. jay, who is zealous about the children she works with at schools, a social worker beyond compare.   jen, who stretches herself to learn new things at all times, while standing strong for her husband, stunned by changes in their lives over the last year. which brings me to randi, with a similar story and the same dedication and generous spirit. daena, who grades papers and reads elementary school novels in-between playing her handbell parts, because she is more than prepared every school day. susan, who, singlehandedly, day after day raises three young men and teaches them to see this very strength and grace in women. sandy, who quietly and fervently and proudly stands strong for the LGBT community. heidi, a writer who bravely serves up pizzas with a frantic pace, because it helps her family. dianne, who tirelessly works side by side with her pastor husband, keeping a full-time job and volunteering for, well, everything. beth, who posts a picture of her stunning chemo-bald self every time another friend is diagnosed with breast cancer. my sweet momma, who was kind every single time and didn’t see differences or lines, even in pain, even in dying.

the list is unending. and it made me think this: WOMEN. WE’VE GOT BACKBONE.

because it’s true. in this time in our world, who of you cannot think of a woman or women you know who are the picture of strength, the picture of grace. i want to celebrate these women. i want to encourage these women. i want to honor these women. i want to celebrate, encourage, honor each of Us.

with his permission, i’ve taken the liberty to redefine this painting and design it to be a print, a mug, a journal, a totebag, a pillow, a cellphone cover, cards…i felt that more people could see it this way. with only one original brush-to-the-canvas painting, more people could have it this way.

please forward this to women you know. not because there is a link to purchase Stuff – but because it is a Truth and as many women (and men) as possible need to see it…just to be reminded. add names to the list. in our herculean (and extraordinary) lives, let’s make this a herculean (and extraordinary) celebration.

i can’t think of a better time to further the celebrating, encouraging and honoring than right now. at a time when each of us WOMEN needs to be seen as strength and as grace.

we ARE women. and we DO have backbone.

 

 

if you want Stuff

(like prints, mugs, journals, totes, media cases, stationery, pillows)

browse here:

wordswomenwevegotbackbone-jpeghttps://society6.com/product/women-weve-got-backbone_print#s6-6261278p4a1v46

if you want to stroll around more of his paintings, go here:

www.davidrobinsoncreative.com

kerrisherwood.com

itunes: kerrisherwood

 

 

 


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it starts here: what were you thinking, LLBean?

i cried at 2am when the girl texted, “wtf is happening, mom?” i couldn’t answer her.

i was as stunned as she was that our country was choosing to support someone with vile opinions of others, with judgment and condescending attitude and open hatred. a man who, for one, openly objectifies women, scorning those who don’t fit into his opinion of ‘worthy’ of his attention, laughingly taunting and excusing himself with “locker room talk” excuses. not to mention ridiculing disabilities, holding contempt for people with different religious beliefs, ignoring responsible ecological decisions for this planet to survive, and deriding the LGBT community thereby undermining the right of choosing who to love, who to commit to, and, ultimately, who to marry.

what is happening? what is happening to the people we are choosing to look up to? what are we valuing in those people? what are we ignoring? and, in ignoring, what are we ultimately de-valuing about others? what is happening to all the progress we have made as a country, inclusive measures that have been finally put in place, opportunity for all people to live in free, respectful ways, supportive of each other, concerned about each other, our world, and our earth?

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one of the LLBean christmas catalogs came a few days ago. now, i usually love those catalogs – LLBean represents the northeast to me…the new england i love…a dedication to the outdoors. to being green. but this time? this time it reminded me of the catalog page i had just saved from the spring catalog.

i recently was going through the spring catalog because that is the one with all the bathing suit options. having not bought a bathing suit in at least maybe 10 years, the elastic on my favorite suit was doing that thing that elastic does when it gets old: stretches but doesn’t ever return to the ‘start’ position again…kind of crunchy…you can hear it as it stretches. and, in the hope of maybe heading to a beach or my sister’s pool one of these days, i had held onto the LLBean spring catalog. so I took out it out to shop for ideas.

i browsed through….

and this is what it said next to one of the $109.95 suits: “subtle shirring minimizes your hips and waist, while the draping helps camouflage figure flaws.”

what??? “figure flaws”???screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-2-02-44-pm

now i decided to take a closer look…and nowhere….nowhere…did i find mention in the men’s section of bathing suits that this suit would “help to cover your well-earned beer gut” or that this hat would “help cover your flawed hairline”….nothing of the sort. no references to a figure flaw or camouflaging cover-up.

what on earth were you thinking, LLBean? how did this make it through your editing? on what planet is it appropriate for your catalog to push judgment onto women, making being a woman in this country even harder than it already is?  why get behind goading us into thinking we must have the right body, the right look? and why are the “flaws” you so helpfully (read: disparagingly) refer to NOT the right body or the right look? why not celebrate differences in body, skin, shape….let’s bring that out further on the spectrum….life choices, truths….why not challenge the ridiculous and abundantly hurtful standard that actively –or passively- ridicules anything less than someone’s (whose??) idea of “perfect”? we must push back against this. in retail settings, in our homes, in our communities, in our country, in our leaders.

my sweet momma’s adage, that she lived by, reached across differences and embraced all. it reads, “i shall pass through this world but once. any good, therefore, that i can do or any kindness that i can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. let me not defer or neglect it for i shall not pass this way again.” (it is unknown who to credit this quote to.)

Goodness exemplified.

and now? more money, less waist (yes, this spelling), more stuff, less compassion, a bigger footprint on the earth, less mindfulness, more divisiveness, less unity, more self-absorption, less respect. are these the new adages? how can we be proud of these?

i guess I don’t need to be stunned by the presidential outcome, when our culture is out of balance. when companies like LLBean are making it entirely acceptable to hold women to a different standard than men. how many of those $109.95 bathing suits were sold?? how many women believed they were “flawed”? why did/do they believe that?  and what would the new president-elect say about these “flaws”? de-valuing indeed.

out of balance.

when superficiality is more important than any other characteristic. when the book cover doesn’t really reveal the book. it’s not a far reach to generalize this to all differences.  where does it go from there? where does it go from here? what are we ignoring?  when our children and our children’s children have a person to (supposedly) look up to who is prejudiced and harsh, disrespectful and just plain mean.

i ask you this: if your son or husband or brother or father said these things or acted in this manner, what would you say or do? would you stand by in silence? where does the line of speaking up start?

it starts here. how dare you, LLBean. you should be ashamed. the girl is right. wtf is happening?

speak-out-or-up

 

 


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what is going on??

deconstructedkneesit used to be we would walk into the mall and you could sniff your way to the abercrombie store. back then, my daughter – the girl – and i would waltz our way into the store, combing for the latest $24 or $30 t-shirt, the latest $78 pair of jeans with holes in them (“deconstructed”), looking for the sale racks in the back. it was important, at that time in her life, to wear the ‘right’ stuff, so we would invest in a few things. on occasion, i would find the perfect pair of jeans for me as well (was that too far out at the time??)

the other day i was pondering summer. the weather was getting warmer and i texted susan that summer needed to wait – that i had nothing to wear. well, let’s be real. i had nothing to wear that fit or that (i felt) looked good. sheesh. once again, menopause rears its head. what is going on?? HE says that all the things i tried on look “lovely, beautiful, cute…” (and some other perfectly-supportive-husband superlatives.) but the mirror tells me different.

so i started to go through my entire closet and drawers. i pulled out everything. i brought a mirror into the bedroom (wow – people actually have standing mirrors in their bedrooms – sooo convenient!) i started to try on everything. and i mean everything!  there were still abercrombie jeans in the pile on the top of the closet. and, except for the fact that the blue color wash is the wrong blue now, they still fit. they don’t, however, look the same as they used to. what is going on??

i came across a pair of hollister jeans i had bought many years ago (at least 12!…is hollister even still a brand??) they were a pair of my favorites. they had great holes in them, a button fly, were a dark wash and have stitching on them that says, “follow the sun wherever it takes you”. i am reticent to let these go. maybe i should make a tote bag out of them? regardless, it is unlikely that i will wear them again. what is going on??

so i plodded on through an entire day (no, i’m not done yet) trying to figure out what makes the cut and what doesn’t. i am a total jeans and boots and black shirt person, so some things were easy to put in a give-away pile. but, once again, i found myself lost in thought and memories as i sifted through all this… aztecsweaterhere’s a wrap that was my sweet momma’s. here’s a top my daddy bought me because he told my mom it looked like me. tucked away is a 1970’s wrap aztec print sweater my dad came home with for me when i was in high school. (i recently saw a remake of this very sweater at a store in chicago on the famous miracle mile.) here’s a ‘peace’ shirt the girl got me. here’s a livestrong tshirt with the word ‘hope’ the boy got me… my ever-‘gets-it’-husband said we should be sure to have a place where i can put items of clothing that are steeped in memory. thank goodness he gets it. that mushy-mushiness, hyped-emotions menopause. what is going on??

anyway, i am determined to make it through the summer with the things that are left. i am no longer a big shopper – i can’t think of the last time i went to an actual indoor mall. i haven’t smelled abercrombie from afar in quite some time, though i still recognize the scent ‘fierce’ if someone walks by me wearing it. i just feel like, with maybe the addition of one or two little things, i can get dressed each day this summer, thank the universe for a body that, although changing, works and celebrates life in walks by the lake, hikes out in state parks, dances in the kitchen, standing at the piano, following the sun….followthesunand i can do it without all the latest fashion, without new deconstructed jeans (i have plenty of those that i have organically deconstructed myself), without judging or comparing or being wistful.

all that can be impossibly hard work for women in a society that challenges us with perfect-body/hair/life advertising. but i’m up for it. what is going on anyway??


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ravioli in the moat.

easiestwaydownwith the grocery list in my hand, i stared at my husband. he looked back with a question in his eyes. he asked if i wanted to add something to the list. i continued to stare blankly and then said, “yes….umm…those square pasta things with stuff in them…..whaaaat are those called???” “ravioli?” he asked. “YES!!!! that’s it!! ravioli!!!”

menopause strikes again.

i told this story in the middle of directing a ukulele band rehearsal. suddenly similar tales were surfacing. jay talked about how she called kleenex “little blankets” not able to remember the word ‘kleenex’. sally said for the life of her she couldn’t remember the word for “those things you sit on at football games”….(that’s easy, you quip….bleachers!)

what is it about menopause??? or is it aging? i swear that there is a moat surrounding my actual brain and every so often things just fall into it. i am completely incapable of getting them out – at least for the moment. ask me at 3am and i will have no problem remembering what it is i forgot earlier in the day. ask me at 3am and i will list more things i am thinking about then i have thought about all week. these synapses aren’t firing as they used to….and yet there are some things i am really grateful for in this middle age. (no. hot flashes are not one of those things.)

it seems that prioritizing becomes a different animal at this age. it seems that you reach the point where you are not ‘striding’….instead, you are ‘strolling’….not really from a literal point of view, more of a figurative thing. even just ten years ago, there were things that were so much more important than they are now. i like this new time, this new age.hopscotch copy

even with the hot flashes, the seemingly overnight fluctuations in the size clothing i wear, the memory lapses, the i-have-to-be-goofy moments, photo-4the mushy-mushiness, the menopausal attention-deficit. i love when i am at rehearsal, surrounded by amazing women (and men too, but they have their own menopause and can’t have ours!), and i say “i’m hot!!!! are you hot???” and they all reply – in girls-who-have-your-back-tribal-fashion, “YES!!! we’re hot!!!”

and now i have to go make dinner. maybe we’ll have those square pasta things with stuff in them.growingoldisnotforwimps