Turn And See [on KS Friday]

grateful songbox 1 copy

Gratitude is a word easily tossed about in this season. It is often a nod to something that ought to be more present. It can be momentary, skipping a stone over the water. A commandment for how we should feel. Be Grateful.

Gratitude finds roots and deep resonance the day you turn around and realize beyond the abstract that this life is limited. These moments are limited. No longer an easy sentimental phrase on a Thanksgiving card, gratitude looks at what and who is present and loses all interest in what may-or-may-not-be missing. A sunset, each sunset, becomes a unique once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Last night, late, 20 came over. We sat at the table, told stories. Drank wine. Chocolate and raspberries. Heather and Brian Facetimed with Kerri. Her laughter in the next room, the enthusiasm of their conversation, made 20 and I smile. A long lost friend tossed a cryptic note into our ocean. We puzzled it deep into the night.

There has never been another evening like it. There will never be another.

Kerri’s GRATEFUL is not a Hallmark card. It is not a commandment or a should-feel. It’s not flowers and feel-good honey bees. It flows with the urgency, the power, and the recognition of that day when you at last turn and see an end to yourself. It is a love note to being alive, a meditation on the everyday priceless moments, a call to awaken to the unparalleled now.

 

GRATEFUL on the album AS IT IS is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about GRATEFUL

 

laughing website box copy

 

grateful/as it is ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

Realize It [on KS Friday]

i am alive song box copy

Years ago, at the retreat center on Whidbey Island, Kendy talked with me about her budding meditation practice. She was having difficulty quieting her mind chatter. To help, a teacher gave her a mantra to use in her meditation. The mantra gave her busy mind a focal point. It was a simple phrase: I Am. I Am. “It’s the craziest thing,” she said, “I feel like I need to add a description, I Am…what? I am happy? I am fulfilled? I am a loser? I am bored? And then it occurred to me that it’s the descriptor I’m trying to quiet! Why do I need to define everything? Judge everything? Assign a score to everything? Isn’t the whole point to realize how profound it is to be alive? I Am.”

There is a photograph of my uncle Al, just months before he died of cancer, fulfilling a dream of flying on a trapeze. At the moment of letting go of the bar, he reaches into space. The catcher is not in the frame. Al’s face, wracked with his disease, is shining with the joy of his moment. The simple pleasure of his moment of I Am.

There is a lyric in Kerri’s song, I Am Alive, that brings me back to my conversation with Kendy and the enormity of her realization. It makes me miss Al. The lyric goes like this: we are bonded by the power of this dream that is I Am.

Cut through all the chatter-of-the-day and it’s plain enough. It’s simple enough. Add the final descriptive word to the I Am. Realize, as Al did in that gorgeous moment of flight, of not-here-or-there. I Am Alive.

I AM ALIVE on the album AS SURE AS THE SUN is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about I AM ALIVE

 

pumpkinfarm website box copy

i am alive/as sure as the sun ©️ 2002 kerri sherwood

 

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See The Stars [on Chicken Marsala Monday]

youcansleepanytime WITH EYES jpeg copy

One of the reasons I like to travel is that it disrupts the ordinary. It breaks all the patterns that allow me to sleepwalk through my days. I remember standing on a street corner in London watching commuters hustle through the rituals of their day, lost in their ordinary. While, at the same time, their ordinary was a marvel to me. Everything was extraordinary, the sounds, the smells, the rhythms; it was all new and strange to me.

Hard times wake us up. Celebration days help us look at life anew. Pattern disruption. It’s all a miracle, easy to see, when we take off the story-lens of dull and habitual.

One night, just after Chicken popped onto the scene (fully formed like some wacky Greek cartoon god) there was a meteor shower. As we struggled out of bed in the middle of the night I felt like complaining. Sleep beckoned me back to my warm bed. That’s when I heard the thrill-call of my little-live-life-monger, in an enthusiastic sing-song, Chicken hailed, “You can sleep anytime….”

if you'd like to see more CHICKEN... copy

 

read Kerri’s blog post about STARS SHOOTING ACROSS THE SKY

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

you can sleep anytime… ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Focus On The Important Stuff

an offer from TwoArtistMakingStuffForHumans

an offer from TwoArtistMakingStuffForHumans

A note from the temporary site of TwoArtistsMakingStuffForHumans:

The waxing moon was muted with fog. It made the air shimmer. Avalon was near. Although it seemed too soon, there was a hint of autumn in the air. We sat next to a chiminea talking to friends. Monica told us of her daughter working in villages in South America. She told Monica that, by our standards, the people there have nothing. They are possession poor. But, they were happy, genuinely happy. They didn’t have much money or stuff but they had the essential thing that many of us lack: peace of mind. They focus on different, more important stuff.

It brought to mind my experiences in Bali. When I arrived all I could see was the poverty. By the time I left several weeks later, I’d have given everything I own or will ever own to have what they have: presence. Ease of mind. They weren’t looking for fulfillment, status, or living for retirement. They were living. Life was fulfillment. In a world where all things are sacred, status is gained by the quality of your giving and not by the size of your piece of the limited pie. It is a different focus.

There is a hidden cost to what dominates our focus, the things that take our attention…as opposed to the things we pay attention to.

As artists, both Kerri and I believe the work of our lives has been, one way or another, to help people focus on the important stuff, to see the extraordinary in the ordinary moment, to find inside what people seek outside. We’ve both worked across the boundaries of business, art, and the fine art of living everyday, there is no lack of necessity to refocus the eye, mind, and heart.

In a few weeks we will be launching our business (details to follow). All the many aspects of our work – if you can call art a product and performing a service – are intended to support, exercise and pay forward a focus on the important stuff, the important moments…sometimes the teeniest things that in the chaos pass unnoticed.

We want to do for others what we do for each other. Check out our pre-launch coaching offer. Take us up on it! Or, if you know someone who might benefit from working with us, pass it on, pay it forward.

Sleepers Wind Up With Nothing But Dreams

TODAY’S FEATURED PRINT FOR HUMANS

Sleepers wind up with nothing but dreams

FOR TODAY’S FEATURED PRINT FOR HUMANS, GO HERE.

Sit By The River

photoThe back deck of the Minturn Inn overlooks the Eagle River. We sit in the sun and are mesmerized by the sound of the rushing water. It is liquid peace. In this moment I believe that people seeking to develop a meditation practice should begin sitting by a river. The water easily carries away all thought and worry.

The river is a great giver of perspective, a great deliverer of presence.

I am struck by this power of the river – and it is a power. We easily grasp nature’s power when a tornado levels a town or an earthquake devastates a city but forget that there is a flip side, a quieter side to nature’s ominous power. There is a vast quiet. In our world peace seems nearly impossible to achieve yet in less than a minute, sitting by the river, I am steeped in peace. That is an awesome power!

I once read (somewhere) that we have a vibrant internal compass capable of ringing true from false, right from wrong. If we make a choice that is out of our integrity, the compass spins wildly out of control, setting off an unstoppable inner monologue, a great inner debate. If the choice is in alignment, the moment passes unnoticed. True north is known by the absence of spinning. Inner quiet is an affirmation. Nature – including our inner nature – doesn’t lie.

Sitting on the deck, breathing in the mist and peace of the rushing water, I know that what’s most important in this life, the real art, happens in the quiet spaces, the moments that thought cannot penetrate, the spaces that require no definition or justification. They are the moments ripe with gratitude. They are the moments dripping with appreciation. I know that all the debates and disagreements and defenses are paper tigers. I also know that this peace is not the province of the river. It is, in fact, available all the time. The river simply reminds me to hush up and listen.

Wake Up To Your Dream

a detail of my latest painting

a detail of my latest painting

Oscar said, “I’m way too busy. I have too much to do.” He’s a junk guy, a scrapper and we’d just pulled a piano out of the back of his old truck.

“”That’s better than the reverse problem,” I said. “Too much time and nothing to do.”

Oscar smiled. “My grandfather always told me that sleepers wind up with nothing but dreams.” He added, “I’m trying to teach that to my son.” His son, a strapping young man, rolled his eyes.

It was a nice sentiment, a worthy lesson, and like all sticky-note wisdom, the flip side is usually also relevant. Sleepers wind up with nothing but dreams. People without dreams wind up walking through life asleep.

Once long ago I walked through a house with a realtor named Hans. The place was crammed with piles of stuff, stacks of books and mountains of magazines. I felt claustrophobic and couldn’t wait to get outside. Standing in front yard, having escaped, I said, “I don’t know how people live like that.” Hans replied, “Everyone has their heaven. What looks like hell to you is heaven to them.”

Everyone has their heaven. Everyone has their hell. Isn’t it a good bit of sticky-note wisdom to remember that heaven does not look the same to all people? And, to some people, depending upon how present they are, heaven is here and now. The same sticky-note applies to hell in the here-and-now.

Flipping to the weather channel I found, instead of the weather, an episode of Why Planes Crash (answer: the weather!). A flight attendant who’d survived a crash said, “When the plane is going down, people get religion really fast.” I thought, I bet the opposite sticky-note is also true. Religion is rule bound and usually comes with an in-crowd, a right way, or a chosen people. When the plane is going down I’ll bet all the rules go out the window (so to speak), the divisions become meaningless, and what people get is how precious, unique, and vast is their life – and all of life, for that matter. They don’t get religion, they “get” life. Ric Elias was in the plane that landed on the Hudson River. For him, going down in the plane served as instant clarity. He left the plane knowing without doubt what mattered. He no longer needed to be right. He no longer had time for negative energy. He no longer had time to be too busy. He woke up to his dream.

 

 

Stay Open

Illustration from Play-to-Play

Illustration from Play-to-Play

It’s very late. I was deep asleep and am suddenly wide awake. That is happening often these days. My inner light switch is tripped and there is no going back to sleep.

I woke up thinking about something Judy told me yesterday during our phone call. Judy is wise. She told me that she believes the real work in a life is never achieving a goal or arriving at a destination. It is not something with a direction. The real work is to learn to stay open. Stay open to possibility. Stay open to choices. Stay open to feeling. Stay open to changes. Stay open to experiences. Stay open to surprises.

It is not the kind of advice that children generally get in school but it is exactly the kind of advice an elder might impart if asked – and only if asked. Learn to stay open. Life has a way of making us want to close, to armor up, to dull our selves, to turn our backs and whisper, “There’s nothing I can do.”

It sounds too simple, “Stay open to life.” It’s not. What is simple is sinking into the easy chair and falling asleep in front of the television. Simple seems like a good idea until you realize you’ve been doing it for years. That is, of course, the point of the easy chair. The easy chair is a destination. It is a direction.

Staying open is a practice. Turning toward life and facing it with all of its force, heat, and pressure is not simple. Opening to the grief as well as the joy, feeling the pain as well as the pleasure, requires intention. Opening to the full spectrum of living engenders liveliness. Life begets life.

In a recent post I included a quote from Carlos Castaneda that just popped to mind:

“Oppressors and oppressed meet at the end, and the only thing that prevails is that life was altogether too short for both.” Carlos Castaneda, A Separate Reality

 

Spin A Web

from the Yoga series by David Robinson

from the Yoga series by David Robinson

Quinn’s study smelled of cigarettes and books. There was always a red felt tip pen and a yellow pad for note taking or for his latest composition. Quinn didn’t type and I doubt that he ever touched a computer. He had to feel the pen move across the paper. He was a sports writer though, in truth, he was more a poet philosopher. For Quinn, sports were a path to illumination. He filled his articles with haiku, analogies to chaos theory, Michael Murphy, and George Leonard.

One day while sitting in his study, talking about athletic achievement and success, he said, “You have to cultivate your serendipity.” What a terrific phrase! Serendipity is one of those paradoxical words that imply both coincidence and destiny. So, according to Quinn’s coupling of “cultivate” with “serendipity,” we must either promote coincidences or encourage destiny. Or both.

I responded, “So, in other words, the harder you work, the luckier you get.”

“It’s more than that,” he said. “It’s much more than that. Of course you have to do your work. But you also have to share your work. You have to show up, be visible, ask lots of questions, and seek the masters in your field. You have to show what you don’t know. In fact, you have to operate from what you don’t know. There’s always a better way to make a shot or shoot a basket. To cultivate your serendipity is to never stop learning, never stop improving, never assume that you’ve got it.” He paused and then said, “What you don’t know can be an obstacle or it can be connective tissue.”

Quinn watched me take it in. I knew we were talking about more than athletic achievement. He was trying to help me. At the time, I was an accomplished introvert and was wrestling mightily with sharing my work. I had no problem painting the paintings but telling galleries about my work seemed an utter impossibility. Sharing meant I would have to talk to people. It meant I’d have to say, “This is my work and it is good work.” It meant claiming my gift beyond the thoughts and opinions of others. Quinn was teeming with blarney and always seemed at ease in a crowd though I knew even then that we shared a similar demon. He doubted his gift. He recognized my struggle because it was his struggle.

After a moment he lit a cigarette, blew the smoke and continued, “It’s like spinning a web – and the silk, the connectivity, is spun from seeking what you have yet to learn. The more you share your gift, the more you ask others what they see, the more people know about your gift, the higher the odds that a path to success will open. You have to spin the web.” I nodded my head, taking it in. I remember being daunted by what he was telling me. He leaned back in his chair, his eyes filled with mirth, and said, “Success is really about letting yourself learn; always learn.”

I nodded and stared at the floor. He took a drag on his cigarette and as he blew the smoke he added, “No one does this alone.”

Go here to get my latest book, The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, title_pageSeeker, Learner, Leader, Creator…You.

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Run With Bodhi

721. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Bodhi the dog and I have bonded. He is my dog even though he isn’t. We talk shop. We swap stories. I tell him about my days and he listens as long as I keep petting him. Once, my hand stopped moving – so engrossed was I in my story that Bodhi popped my hand with his snout to remind me of my true purpose. Bodhi is not subtle where attention is concerned. Bodhi knows what is important and usually my stories of daily woe are not relevant in the face of “love me now.”

Before the snows came I took Bodhi for a walk and for reasons still unclear to me I decided he needed to run. So we ran. I was wearing my clogs, which are not the best shoes for running, and I can report without shame that Bodhi literally ran me out of my shoes. He was confused when I stopped. I was confused when I stopped; one moment I was shod and the next I was sprinting in my socks (I used the word “sprint” to try and impress you but the truth is that I was limping and wheezing by the time I lost my shoes. As a former distance runner I have grand notions about my capacity to run distance but I was smacked after three blocks. It is probably technically correct to admit that Bodhi didn’t run me out of my shoes, rather I staggered out of them).

The word “bodhi” means enlightenment or awakening; bodhi is knowledge of the nature of all things. When I am with Bodhi the dog I am with one who possesses bodhi. He never invests in my dramas or commiserates with my woes. Things that happened a moment or an hour or a day ago do not really concern him. Bodhi is concerned with this moment, this opportunity for loving. Tomorrow does not concern him at all. In fact, I’d be surprised if Bodhi carries the concept of future anywhere in his consciousness. Bodhi’s concern is with right now, this moment, and he has the uncanny gift of bringing me out of my future/past investments. He simply pops me with his snout and I am reminded that what really matters is right in front of me all of the time.