Pick A Pillow [on Merely A Thought Monday]

chicken marsala throw pillows copy

Merely A Thought Monday was a progression, an evolution of our single panel cartoon, our imaginary child, Chicken Marsala. Chicken used to show up with simple phrases like Assume Awe or Love Needs No Words. We called them “nuggets.” One day we realized that folks liked the words but were barely conscious of the drawing of Chicken. So, Chicken retired to Maui. His words remain.

Along with Chicken we also developed product designs, lines of merchandise inspired by the day’s cartoon. Prints, tote bags, laptop sleeves,… one for each day of the Melange….a remarkable 80 different designs/lines by the time we realized our product lines were as invisible and/or overwhelming as Chicken. So, we retired them, too.

Last weekend, like an old couple looking at pictures of good times past, we revisited our designs. Shifting in my rocker, pulling my cardigan up on my shoulders, I sighed and said, “Some of those designs were darn good.”

Kerri sighed, adjusted her spectacles and said, “Do you have a pillow for my back? I need a pillow for my back.”

So. That’s how pillow week at the Melange came to be. Nostalgia. And necessity. It’s all we’ve got. It’s the best there is! [just count your blessings that we’re not showing you slides of our trip to the coast]. Follow the link. Get Kerri a pillow. Or, just pick up one for yourself. Or a friend. If you see Chicken, tell him to write.

THE LINK

 

read Kerri’s blog post about THROW PILLOW WISDOM

 

bong trail, wisconsin website box copy

 

chicken designs and products ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

rootinlove WITH EYES jpeg copy 2

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laugh Together [on Merely A Thought Monday]

pt barnum quote copy

 

“Why don’t people care?” I frequently loop back to Stephen’s question – asked so many years ago – about art. He’s a prolific and gifted painter. I have so many responses, mostly contradictory. Everything from ‘People do care, it’s just inaccessible,’ to ‘Why should they care, it’s so personal to the artist (not communal, not inclusive) that it’s not accessible.”  The common word in all my inner-Stephen-musings is ‘access.’

My pot was irrevocably stirred during my time in Bali. There, the arts are practiced in the temple – a place, the central focus – for everyone and everything in the community. Every aspect of life is rooted-in and practiced-through the temple. That is to say, all things are still considered sacred – even and especially ‘the arts.’ As sacred, the arts belong to everyone, not just the artist or the elite who can afford it. They are accessible because they are not a possession, they are a sacrament. Additionally, the temple does not stop at the end of the compound. The whole world is the temple. In this temple, the arts serve as the binder, the carrier of the story that holds the treasure of the community: its identity.  The arts are not only accessible, they provide access. They affirm belonging.

In this temple, through this sacred story, laughter is highly valued. Laughter, foible, whimsy, – all reminders that, 1) we should not take ourselves so seriously, and 2) laughter is a potent force, like gravity. It joins us. It cuts through division, turns fear into powder. It provides perspective. Laughter is the sound of appreciation, the music people make together when worshiping the great mystery of life.

read Kerri’s blog post about THE NOBLEST ART

 

 

laughing website box copy

 

Reach The Other Side [on Merely A Thought Monday]

lifebelowzeroquotesueaikens copy

Nope. This is not a political comment. Though it could be. Context is everything though I couldn’t blame you for assuming this is a statement of ideological division. Simple statements are rarely friendly in divided environments. They are meant to reinforce the division, to broaden the divide. We are inundated with divisive simplicity. We are drowning in out-of-context sound bytes.

No, this saw concerns the simplicity of survival. It’s quote from an episode of Life Below Zero. Sue lives above the arctic circle. She measures and ties guide ropes on to  her buildings so she can find her way around her compound in white-out conditions. If she reaches the knot in the rope – a knot that marks the exact distance to the door she seeks –  and hasn’t yet reached the door – she knows she must hang onto the rope and scribe an arc. Left is always left. Right is always right. The door will be there. If it’s not, if things go awry and she can’t find the door, she can follow the rope back to the safety of the place she just left.

Sue is a font of simple maxims born of the harsh necessities of her environment. Her rope is a statement of preparation. Her rope ups her odds of survival. No rope, she dies. Her simplicity is not ideological. It is necessary. It is meant to cross divides, to help her reach the other side.

On second thought, maybe this is a political statement after all. Or, perhaps an appeal in our harsh environment. Maybe Sue will come down to the lower 48 and teach us how to use a rope and give us a few simple suggestions for how to reach the other side.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about LEFT AND RIGHT

 

hands across tree WEBSITE BOX copy

 

 

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