Ask A Coneflower [on Merely A Thought Monday]

I was surprised to learn that Echinacea is a coneflower. Actually, the opposite is more correct. The coneflower is Echinacea. Filled with antioxidants, immunity booster, inflammation reducer, it is a heavy lifting herb. It’s also beautiful.

“I want to use the coneflower on Monday,” Kerri said. “It would have been Momma’s 100th birthday.” I asked if Beaky liked coneflowers and she smiled and said, “No. It’s just beautiful. And falling away. It just reminded me of my mom.”

Beautiful and falling away. I only knew Beaky for 18 months but felt as if I knew her a lifetime. She was rare and special. A gifted teller of stories. She was like the coneflower, filled with antioxidants, an inflammation reducer. I watched her more than once boost someone’s spirit, cool an angry intention. She was a dedicated see-er of the positive, a believer in the goodness of people. These days, those qualities are not easy to come by and even harder to cultivate.

On the morning that she was going into surgery, we wheeled her down the hall of the rehabilitation center en route to the ambulance. The staff lined the walls to wish her well, to cheer for her. It was a Beaky parade. I think the Beatles had it right: the love you take is equal to the love you make. She made people want to be better. She made me want to be better.

When taking your leave from her, she would always say, “Be kind to one another.” It’s a proper wish for all of us, a baseline expectation in a time of deep division. Beaky’s wish at age 100, I imagine, is the same as it was when she was 93 or 82 or 56 or 30. Be kind. One to another. The path to a better world is not so complicated after all. Just ask a simple coneflower.

read Kerri’s blog post about CONEFLOWERS

Do More Than Watch [saturday morning smack-dab.]

It’s short. It’s precious. Both/And.

Live Life, My Sweet Potato stuff on Society6

smack-dab. ©️ 2021 kerrianddavid.com

Finish The Race [on DR Thursday]

We are nearing the anniversary of SHAYNE. As heart projects go, high atop the list of projects that mattered, sits SHAYNE.

One night, Kerri’s mom, Beaky, called in tears. Nearing the end of her life, she wondered what she’d achieved. A brilliant woman born in the early part of the 20th century, many roads open to a man were utterly inaccessible to her. She wondered, as Kerri said, “What comes after the comma behind her name.”

Decades earlier, Beaky had written manuscripts for three children’s books based on the family’s dog, Shayne. She’d submitted them without success to a publisher. Kerri searched the earth and found the manuscripts. In a matter of days, we illustrated and published the first in the series. We constructed a website, set up and publicized an author’s reading. Over 70 people came, complete with the press and photographers, to hear Beatrice Arnson read and sign her new children’s book. Her first sale was in The Netherlands so I teased her that she was an international author.

Beaky passed away 18 days after the event. The word, “author” followed the comma after her name. She saw the cover art for the second and third books in the series but never saw them published. In fact, we published the second book posthumously but have yet to publish the third. It’s been too hard.

And, each year, on the anniversary of the book signing, we revisit publishing the third book. We simply need to a take a week, lay it out (the illustrations are complete), and publish it. The anniversary we approach is not only about the publication of the first book. It is the closure, the lingering necessity, of publishing the final book and complete the race that we started more than 6 years ago.

Resolution. Conclusion. Completion. More than just words. A symbolic mountain that is very difficult to climb.

The books are more than just books. The illustrations are more than just drawings and paint. They are a dream come true. A gift from daughter-to-mother and mother-to-daughter; the best kind of love-loop. They are a word that follows the comma after a name.

read Kerri’s blog post about SHAYNE

Borrow A Cup Of Belief [on Merely A Thought Monday]

The sun is streaming through the windows. It is an immediate spirit lift. We sip coffee and our conversation wanders in no particular direction.

We inevitably discuss of the absence of normal, our rolling wave of disruption. “I wonder what will happen this week?” We laugh, “Knock on wood!” For a moment we sit in silence. We’ve stopped asking, “What else can happen?” We keep the question to ourselves. We’ve grown superstitious.

For us, this pandemic time will always be known as the era of disruption. All recognizable patterns are shattered. New patterns have yet to find a foothold. Each day a tumbling unknown.

I often write about “not knowing.” It is the land where learning becomes possible. The first caveat: Have the experience first and make meaning second. The second caveat: Suspend your judgements and learn. Both are rooted in the intentional suspension of knowing. Open to life.

We are definitely having experiences. We are careful not to arrive too soon at meaning.

Yesterday I read that, when life tosses us the uncontrollable, we default to imaginary controls. We do the dishes, we vacuum the rug, rather than face what is out of our control. There is great comfort in the imaginary.

Sometimes belief in yourself is hard to come by. “Knowing” that you can do it. “Knowing” that you can stand firmly in the “not knowing” is never a given. Especially in times of continuous disruption. It is only after the fact that you “know” with certainty that you can do it. “One step at a time,” we chant.

It is, in these times of disruption, that we borrow belief from each other. You tell me that I can do it. I tell you that you’ve got this. Others “know” what we do not. They see our fortitude. We see theirs. It is why human beings are a herd animal; we come to know ourselves through the eyes of the other. We go next door to borrow a cup of belief.

Beaky’s note now sits on Kerri’s bed stand. A treasure newly found in a long forgotten purse. One of our imaginary controls, cleaning out the closets, produced this gem. Beaky, no stranger to disruption, reaches across time and the threshold to offer timely encouragement, “I know you can do it.”

“Momma says we got this,” Kerri says. If I’ve learned anything, it’s to never argue with Beaky.

read Kerri’s blog post about KNOWING

Listen To Beaky [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

good morning sunshine copy

Today we turn our thoughts toward Beaky. A bright light. Five years ago, on this day, she passed away.

Not only does it seem impossible that she died five years ago but it seems more impossible that I only knew her for 18 months. If you were to ask me how long I knew Beaky I’d say, “Forever.” Some people are just like that. Kindred.

She and I were co-conspirators. We plotted strategies – all unsuccessful – to convince Kerri that her natural curls were gorgeous and did not need straightening. She gave me a lesson in applying lipstick and rouge, standing next to her walker, looking into the mirror, popping our lips. After being catheterized, she cautioned me to be careful what I wished for. “When I was young I wished I could pee standing up.” she said. “MOTHER!” Kerri blushed as Beaky winked at me.

Time and again, I was moved by her kindness, her generosity to others. After taking a fall, rushed to the emergency room, writhing in pain, she looked up at the attending nurse and said, ‘You have a beautiful smile.” The role of nurse fell off, the woman flushed pink and was transformed by the compliment. Beaky did that a lot, she hit people with a dedicated kindness when they least suspected it. Her kindness was not manufactured, it was matter-of-fact. It was sturdy,  genuine.

The night before we saw her for the last time, we scoured her house for a blue notebook, the journal she’d kept during a long ago trip through Europe with her husband. Beaky was a recorder of life’s events. Not merely notes, her journals and calendars were threads to a vital time, to living memory. She thought the notebook was lost. When Kerri gave her the journal, Beaky hugged it to her breast and rocked it like it was a long lost child come home.”Oh, you found it! You found it!” she cried.

As we left her that day, she said, as she always did when we departed, “Be kind to each other!” Much more than a salutation, it was an invocation. Be kind to each other.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about GOOD MORNING SUNSHINE

 

 

momma, d & k website box copy

 

Step Forward [on Two Artists Tuesday]

MelangeWk1 copy 2

In story terms, before leaving home, before walking into the dark woods, it is necessary to take a moment and wander from room to room to remember. One last time, to touch the life you are about to leave.  Just as ‘how’ something is done can only be known after the fact, so too, ‘who’ you are can only be seen at the moment of leaving.

Isn’t that why we look back? To put a period on the sentence before stepping into the unknown. Each run up to the new year, amidst the celebrations and hoo-haw, we review the traveled path. We touch it,  label it, put it on the shelf, let go, celebrate and grieve, and make resolutions based on who we want to become. And then, we turn and step into the unknown woods, the new year.

This week, Kerri and I have been wandering from room to room in the melange. Lingering in a spot, laughing about some of the things we tried to do, amazed at some of the things we achieved, letting go of the ‘should-haves’ and lingering in appreciation of the ‘what-is.’ In a year, we did not achieve what we set out to achieve. In a year, we discovered what we never could have imagined.

Last year, at this time, the melange was the dark woods that we stepped into. We had no idea what we’d find. We had intentions and dreams and ideals (oh, those pesky resolutions!). We started with some good advice. It came from Beaky and was our very first Two Artists Tuesday design. Live Life, My Sweet Potato. Step into that dark wood. There are bears and swamps and mountains to climb. Experience all of it. The celebrations and grieving, the lost-ness and found-ness. Life is not found on the other side. Life is found in living of all of it.

That’s what we found, touching back to the first week of the melange. An affirmation. Step forward. Live it all.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about MELANGE, WEEK ONE

 

SWEET POTATO copy

Screen Shot 2019-02-12 at 10.01.03 AM

if you'd like to see TWO ARTISTS copy

 

momma, d & k website box copy

 

two artists designs ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 

Recognize It [on Not-So-Flawed Wednesday]

beaky text copy

I love this text. It is from 93 year old Beaky to her daughter. The specific context is not important. What I love is the universality of this sentiment, a text  every mother across the ages might have written to their children. It is a text Kerri could write to Kirsten or Craig. What mother does not know more than they say, think more than they speak, notice much more than their underestimating children realize?

I’ve learned, as I watch Kerri not-say things to her children, letting them make their own mistakes and untangle their own webs, that the effort involved in not-speaking is herculean.

Sisu sometimes requires silence. When every impulse in a mother’s body is to reach, Sisu sometimes demands stillness.

As a child who routinely underestimates his mother, Beaky’s text gives sends chills up my spine. I’ve certainly made a mess of things and I can only imagine the fortitude (unrecognized by me) my mother displayed – and continues to display – by letting me fall down. Sisu. Sisu. Sisu.

Of course, the flip side of the coin is that the interruption-of-the-reach, the silence-in-the-midst-of-knowing, comes from a deeper mom-like-faith. Mothers know that the great trip-and-fall-down moments come with some necessary pain but will always end with a return to standing, a re-entry to the game.  It’s a cycle. It’s how moms everywhere awaken Sisu in their children. Like all good life cycles, it’s a paradox, to be sure.

The second thing I love about Beaky’s text? She signs her dope-slap to her daughter with ‘Mom.” This love-thing is tough!

 

read Kerri’s blog post about BEAKY’S TEXT

 

momma, d & k website box copy

 

Be Kind [on Two Artists Tuesday]

be kind collage with color font copy 2

Guitar Jim told me that he doesn’t trust this world littered with aphorisms. Words are so easy to say. Papering the walls with happy sentiments of love, kindness, community, teamwork,…, can mask the absence of those qualities.   I translated his adamant adage-doubt into a pithy phrase (just to torture him): actions speak louder than words. His point: if we tell ourselves often enough that it takes a village to raise a child we might just believe this village actually cares for its children. All of its children. Despite abundant evidence to the contrary.

He has a point. Adages are everywhere, placed in stores, office walls, kitchen shelves. Begin anywhere. This life is not a dress rehearsal. Life is short, break the rules. For fun, first take a quick scroll through Facebook. It is an immersion into Gandhi, Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King.  We’re all in this together. Then, open your news app. Fall from grace. Try your best to be a saint and see how far you’ll fall.

There is another side of this bleak coin. We live in the age of the sound byte. The short attention span. The eCommunity. Sometimes while rushing to the next thing I stop for no apparent reason and stand still on the street. Something divine intervenes and asks me to step out of the play and, for a moment, breathe and simply be the audience. Every time I step out I see more kindness than aggression. I hear more laughter than shouting. I see people wanting a different world but armored against the threat of the moment, the fear of the day. Lost in a story of division. And, so, on the walls and in the subways they (we) post aspirations. Yearnings for more experience of our better nature. Hopw wishes. Possibility mantras.

Beaky’s parting words were always, “Be kind to one another.” It was her maxim and she meant it. This powerhouse woman would look you in the eyes and send this phrase-arrow to the center of your being, “Be kind.” To one another. An action, not an empty sentiment.

“Yes, ma’am.”

 

be kind collage with color font copy 2this link will take you to the BE KIND large print t-shirt options. scroll down to see the entire line of good stuff.

 

read Kerri’s blog post on BE KIND

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

facebook logo copy 2

 

be kind product line ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Complete The Trilogy [on DR Thursday]

square shayne for melange 21 copy

 

Just before she passed away, Kerri and I rushed to illustrate and publish a trilogy of children’s books that Beaky had written years earlier. Beaky saw the first of her books published, Shayne. We held a release party and author reading of the first book. She was a rock star. Her first sale was to someone in The Netherlands and I teased her about being an international author. Beaky was both thrilled and ever humble.  She died 18 days later while we were racing to lay out the pages of the second book in the trilogy.  We published it, Shayne & The Yellow Dragon, soon after, for what would have been her 94th birthday.

photo-5

the author

It’s been three years. Today would have been Beaky’s 97th birthday and we are certain she is tapping her foot wondering what is taking so long. So, we decided that it was time to complete the trilogy. The illustrations and scans are back on the table. In short order, someday very soon, we look forward to announcing the publication of Beaky’s third book, Shayne & The New Baby.

frontcoverscreenshot

read Kerri’s blog post on Shayne

 

photo

the creative team

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

shayne/shayne & the yellow dragon ©️ 2015 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 

DR Thursday

EmbraceNow

[Held In Grace: Embraced Now, mixed media on canvas, 48″ x 36″]

Beaky showed me a photograph taken of Kerri and me early in our relationship. She said, “I like this one because your strong arms are holding my daughter.” I took her comment as a kind of blessing. It was her way of telling me, ‘This is right and good. In this embrace you two have found all that you will ever need.’

In the studio melange, Thursdays are for my paintings. I chose this painting as the first in our melange offerings because it came from Beaky’s sentiment. During this Valentine’s week, let this painting, Embraced Now, from my Held In Grace series, remind you, as it does me, that all is right and good. In this embrace you will find all that you will ever need. It’s not a shabby thought to help navigate through a Thursday!

HELD IN GRACE: EMBRACED NOW [art prints]

HELD IN GRACE: EMBRACED NOW [purchase the original]

kerrianddavid.com

 

held in grace: embraced now ©️ 2017 david robinson