Play The Same Stuff [on Merely A Thought Monday]

string bass with frame copy“If you are a chef, not matter how good a chef you are, it’s not good cooking for yourself; the joy is in cooking for others – it’s the same with music.” ~will.i.am

I lived most of my life believing I didn’t have a musical bone in my body. I was convinced that I had a tin ear. I was afraid to sing. I carried a guitar (I named her Magnolia) with me for years – a gesture of hopefulness amidst my absolute commitment to my ineptitude – and finally gave it away to someone who could play it. An instrument needs to be played and I felt I was being selfish holding onto a guitar that I would never play. Oh, how I wish I had Magnolia today.

I didn’t just make up my fear of music. I had plenty of reinforcement, lots of shaming, before I committed to a story of I CAN’T. Over time, with more and more horror experiences, my story solidified into I WON’T. Ever. Close the door. Kill the desire.

When I met Kerri – a consummate musician – I told her this: “You have to know two things about me. I don’t sing & I don’t pray.” A few months later we were driving back roads in Georgia, windows rolled down, a James Taylor CD blaring, Kerri singing at the top of her lungs, I thought it was safe to sing along. She’d never hear me. But, she did. She burst into tears and pulled the car off the road. I shook like a leaf but we sang together and it was grand.

It took her about 15 minutes to identify my obstacle. I had to relearn how to hear. That’s it. It took a few months and a willingness to mightily miss notes and my scary story of CAN’T crumbled. I learned how to feel the sound. The music was there all along.

Here’s the magic for a beginner like me: when I am rehearsing with the ukulele band or singing in the choir, I am capable of so much more than when I am practicing by myself. Playing the same stuff elevates everyone. It’s as if we transcend ourselves. Actually, we do transcend ourselves. We sync up and the energy uplifts everyone. Even me. Especially me, a toddler in knowing that I CAN.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about PLAYING THE SAME STUFF

 

at jonathans with bear website box copy

 

 

 

 

Get It Done [on Merely A Thought Monday]

productive avoidance box copy

When Master Miller tossed this phrase my way I laughed out loud. Isn’t it often the case that the closer we come to an important moment the more we pour  our excess nervous energy into any and every distraction? And, isn’t it a bonus if our distraction of choice is actually productive? I’ve washed a lot of dishes in an effort to keep myself occupied! A younger version of me ran miles and miles in fits of productive avoidance.

In the years since Quinn helped me see that no one really knows what they are doing I’ve decided that almost everything is in productive and/or creative avoidance. No one wants to peer into the great not-knowing. Like everyone else, I want to believe that what I do matters, that I am imbued with purpose. I want to believe that I have chosen my destiny and am storming down my path. And, what might I see if I could step out of my all important story? What might I find beyond my grand narrative? It’s scary stuff! Productive avoidance makes for some great distraction!

Kerri and I have an ongoing conversation about things that matter. At the end of the day, there’s only a very few things on the list. The rest? Well…at least we are getting things done!

 

read Kerri’s blog post on PRODUCTIVE AVOIDANCE

 

arapahoe basin copy website box copy

See Sisu [on Merely A Thought Monday]

sisu box copy

Sisu is a unique Finnish concept. … Sisu is a special strength and persistent determination and resolve to continue and overcome in the moment of adversity…an almost magical quality, a combination of stamina, perseverance, courage, and determination held in reserve for hard times. [definition from The Sisu Group, Inc.]

Until I met Kerri, I’d never heard of Sisu. Her company is named Sisu Music Productions so I asked a lot of questions. What’s Sisu? What does it mean? She has Finnish roots so Sisu runs in her veins. Her family invokes it during difficult times. “Sisu, yes?”

When obstacles arise, Kerri gets this look in her eyes. It’s the same look her momma, Beaky, would get in the face of a challenge. It’s Sisu. I’ve learned it’s best to step aside when the Sisu tide rises. Sometimes I AM the obstacle and, believe me, there is no place to run, there’s no place to hide. No amount of resistance or self-righteousness will win the day. I have the Sisu tracks on my back to prove it. Now days, when I see the look, I simply step aside. Occasionally, self preservation and wisdom look a lot alike!

It is Sisu week at Studio Melange. A celebration of grit and determination. As I started to write this morning I made a list of the people I know who are teeming with Sisu. Chris and Janelle, 20, Horatio, Judy, Skip, Master Miller, Wendy, P-Tom, Jen and Brad, Kirsten, Heather, JimmySue, Craig, Dan,…. the list goes on and on and fills me to the brim with gratitude and awe that I get to walk life with these people.

It’s a good exercise. Focus on the Sisu that surrounds you. And then, consider putting yourself on the list. When have you drawn on your Sisu? In the face of adversity, when have you been surprised by the perseverance-spirit that arose with in you. Courage rarely feels like Hollywood defines it. Can you see it? Sisu, yes?

 

read Kerri’s blog post about SISU

 

moab edges with website copy

 

facebook logo copy 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Give To Life [on Two Artists Tuesday]

kindness day box copy

Today is voting day in these United States of America. Our election cycles are usually ugly and interminable affairs but this cycle has established a new low bar. These days my country’s narrative is anything – and everything – but kind. Anything goes, it seems, but kindness (or truth, but that’s a theme for another time).

It’s a complex challenge. People wrapped in an ugly narrative see an ugly world (of course). People wrapped in an ugly narrative respond with ugly actions (of course). As the saying goes, ‘If the only tool you have in your bag is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.’ Ugly narratives are a one-tool-bag.

An ugly narrative is never changed through another ugly narrative. Resistance will always create a fight.  Hammer, nail. Hammer, nail. It’s a great strategy for inflating the ugliness. Winning at all cost usually costs the things most valued: ideals and values. Decency. Division as a strategy works in the short term but the long game is, well, ugly.

Reach Through Time no wordsjpg copyIt is not a secret, though rarely put into practice, that bridging a philosophical divide is easy. It’s rarely practiced because it’s counter-intuitive: Reach.  Reaching is a distinctly different action than resisting and it generates a distinctly different response: reconciliation. It does, however, require a set of tools beyond a simple hammer:

  1. Listening.
  2. A dedication to truth, even if it doesn’t support the belief-of-the-moment. Reconciliation is impossible without leading with the truth.
  3. Operating out of a bigger picture – one that transcends self-interest.

Pie-in-the-sky you say? Why is it less possible to choose kindness than it is to choose violence? Why does reaching across the aisle seem more difficult than demonizing those on the other side? Demonizing is easy. Fear is easy. Planting a flag in the sand and casting yourself as victim is so much easier than stepping across the line and standing in the other’s shoes. Or, if standing in their shoes is too difficult, standing side-by-side is an option.

Many years ago, a student, a former gang member said it best: “Any idiot with a gun can take a life. Taking is easy. The real work comes when you choose to give to life rather than take it.”

World Kindness Day is a week away. Choose to give kindness. Give to life. In little ways. In small moments. And, if it feels good, perhaps consider choosing it everyday, rather than once a year. Kindness is a great addition to any tool bag.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about WORLD KINDNESS DAY

 

 

hands across tree WEBSITE BOX copy

 

be kind designs ©️ 2018 kerri sherwood

Expand Your Bubble [on Merely A Thought Monday]

alex honnold quote box copy

Everyone has their insurmountable mountain to climb. Everyone has their fear to face. Everyone bumps against the edges of their comfort zone. Everyone.

And, the beauty of this life is that the insurmountable mountain is different for everyone. What seems easy to you might be impossibly scary to me. You show me it is possible. I show you it can be done. We inspire another look at what’s possible.

In the film, FREE SOLO, Alex Honnold says that, for him, fear is not something to be conquered. Comfort is something to be expanded. And, comfort is expanded through exploration and practice. Through experiences and reaching. Testing and discovery. Trying again and again until what once looked like a monster becomes known. It’s remarkably practical. It is what education is supposed to be.

How we ask the question determines the paths we see or don’t see. It’s all in the language we use. “Facing a fear” is oh, so, warrior-esque. We are inundated with “going to battle” metaphors. Defeating a part of myself in a battle against myself seems…contrary to the bigger picture. Win by losing. Division as the only available route? Armor, armor everywhere.

There is wisdom in putting down the swordplay. There is hope in choosing cooperation instead of conflict. Instead of picking a fight, instead of perpetuating the power of the fear, how much better might it be to turn and look. Really look. Study. To reach and test. To take a step. To try and fall down so that you might try again with a little bit more experience. Study. Open to possibilities.

It’s a pattern. Focusing on the obstacle, fighting the fear, is learned. It’s a great strategy for keeping yourself afraid and encased in armor. Other patterns are available and far more productive. It’s possible to climb like Alex: study your mountain, learn the terrain, practice the difficult moves over and over, internalize safety, and one day, when you are ready, when you have a relationship with something other than fear, climb your once insurmountable mountain.

 

read Kerri’s blog post on COMFORT ZONES

 

 

million dollar highway, colorado websitebox copy

Show Up [on Merely A Thought Monday]

lifebelowzeroJessiequote copy

Sometimes something is so obvious it actually needs to be said. The real difficulty in this life is not arriving at the finish line but showing up to the starting line. This phrase, a quote from our Life Below Zero addiction, encapsulates the essence and great challenge of many of my coaching clients – of most people. There is often a glass wall between yearning and action. I wonder how many times in my life I’ve offered this phrase: the actions you need to take are never the problem; the challenge is the story you wrap around the actions.

It comes down to this, yet another simplicity: starting brings change. Start the race and you will never be the same. Start the race and there’s no guarantee what you will learn or find. You may win or lose or simply not finish. You might learn that you are in the wrong race or that you care nothing for races. But mostly, there is this. If you take another look at the quote you’ll discover the crux of the matter is not about lines, it is never really about beginnings or endings. It’s about showing up. It’s about taking action on the thing that you most yearn to do. Or be. It’s about showing up, being seen. Starting requires a relinquishing of control.

Damn! There’s so much complexity in simplicity!

 

read Kerri’s blog post about SHOWING UP

 

shadow bristol woods website copy

Open The Time Capsule [on DR Thursday]

Morsel - Waterfall Dreams copy

Kerri calls this morsel ‘Waterfall Dreams’

This week some long lost paintings came home.

Nearly 15 years ago, an acquaintance opened a physical therapy office. She asked if I would hang my work in the reception area, hallways and therapy rooms. I was delighted and installed 8 paintings, all wildly colorful. I was in my phase of vibrant swirling color. The local galleries told me that my work was too colorful so I was delighted to have any opportunity to share my paintings. Over time, three of the paintings sold. I brought in a few more. They sold. Ownership of the office changed but the paintings remained. Years went by.

When I left Seattle, I left those paintings behind. I couldn’t get to them. I counted them as lost. And then, a few weeks ago an email popped into my box. They were looking for my address. They wanted to ship to me the paintings. Three remained.

Opening the box was like opening a time capsule into my past. A life I remember but am almost too far distant to recognize. They were a delightful abstraction like a TIME magazine from 1950 would be interesting, a curiosity, but intangible.  It was looking at the baby shoes your mom saved for you, the drawing you did in kindergarten.

Skip and I talked yesterday about points of orientation. We – all humans – story ourselves based on events. We orient according to the passages of our lives. Every so often life pitches an event so profound that it reorients everything you knew. It changes who you know yourself to be. The first stage of reorientation is disorientation. Getting lost. Struggling to know who you are. And, in being lost, the very first thing we do is try to make the old orientation points valid. It is deeply human to hang on to what you know, to try to fit into an old suit even after the body has forever changed. In the story, the knight takes off his armor. He weeps. He can never go back.

Leaving Seattle was one of those passages for me. Looking at these three paintings was like looking at the old armor. I had a double rush of appreciation. The first for having armor when I needed it. The second for being so far from the place where I stripped it off and left it behind.

hot springs copy

I can’t remember if I ever gave this painting a name so Kerri has dubbed it ‘Hot Springs.” acrylic on panel, 2′ x 2′

 

standing in vail website copy

waterfall dreams/hot springs ©️ 2018/2004 david robinson