Take It In [on KS Friday]

The morning air was cool and crisp. When I let Dogga out I stood by the back door and breathed in the hint of fall.

I laughed as I lingered by the back door because I had the revelation. It’s the revelation I have every year, the revelation that signals not only the change in season but a truth I wish I could hold onto throughout the year. It’s simple: life is a circle, not a line.

It’s useful, when so much of our unease is about “getting there,” about being some place other than where we are, to realize that it is not a line we walk, but a loop. Hurrying to “get there” when looping is nonsensical. Life as a cycle is much more amenable to presence-in-the-moment. It cracks the hard bark of desire and allows space for insight, gratitude, and appreciation.

Yesterday I read that this year, 2020, has been a decade long. I reminded myself, standing at the back door awash in my yearly revelation, not to wish a moment of my life away. To stand in it – all of it. This is certainly a time of disruption and the fatigue that comes with loss of balance and the comforts of the known. This IS the experience. This is life. This is what change feels like. Pattern disruption is meant to be a slap into awareness.

And, as it turns out, for me, that hint of fall in the air comes as a gentle seasonal slap. Slow down. Do not rush to get through it. This is precious life – all of it – no matter the circumstance. As Chris wrote months ago, “So, this is what it feels like to be in a pandemic.” Yes. This is what if feels like. We are in it.

It is the call of Kerri’s Millneck Fall. Stand still. Take it in.

Dogga races with great zest around the yard, protecting us from marauding squirrels. The frogs in the pond sound out, morning roll call. The smell of coffee pulls me to the kitchen. There will be plenty of time as we cycle around to make meaning of these days.

Millneck Fall on the album Blueprint For My Soul is available in iTunes

read Kerri’s blog post about MILLNECK FALLS

millneck fall/blueprint for my soul ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood

Face In [on KS Friday]

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“…gentleness can be a greater force for transfiguration than any political, economic, or media power,…” ~ John O’Donohue

Here is my utopian fantasy: The protesters put down their signs, the police put down their shields, the militia drops their weapons, the citizens of all races, creeds, colors, political identities and economic stripes come out of their houses and hold hands facing into a circle of their creation. Nothing need be said. What are we protesting FOR if not this?

We are excellent at pushing against what we do not want. We are practiced at screaming in rabid reactivity. Finger pointing and blame is among our most popular Facebook pass times.  We like to make noise and bluster about the violation of our rights and ignite fearmongering fires warning of imagined assaults on our amendments. Propaganda and lie make for good reality television ratings. They provide permission to smash glass, loot, denigrate “others” and give cover to murder in all its forms, but are lousy foundations for a civil and civilized society.

Truth is intentional, not reactive. It steps toward an ideal. It provides a national focal point, a guide-star that will not cotton with lie and propaganda.

We seem utterly inept, absolutely incapable at walking toward what we profess. Our ideal is printed on our dollar bills and chiseled into the facades of our buildings: e pluribus unum: out of many, one.  Our division is chiseled into our history.

My utopian fantasy is not so hard to realize but notice it requires a common first step: a putting down of weapon and rhetoric and dedicated division. The  second step is also not difficult: reach out, take the hand that is closest. Circle up with those who you most disagree. The third step may be the hardest: say nothing. Defend and justify nothing. Prove or claim nothing. Face in, not face off.  The greatest intentions, like the most profound truths, are often silent. Step four: live the circle.

We can figure it out. It’s no greater matter than walking toward what we want, what we espouse, instead of forever pushing against what we do not want. Perhaps our first truth is to admit that there is a lie built into what we chisel in walls and what we actually live. We need to intend oneness if we are to realize our central ideal.

Doc Rivers, a black man and coach of the LA Clippers said this yesterday: “It’s amazing why we keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back.” Love. Love back. There is no better or simpler statement of intention. Walk toward it.

He also famously said, “Average players want to be left alone. Good players want to be coached. Great players want to be told the truth.” His dictum applies to nations as well as players: great nations want to be told the truth. Average nations want to be left alone.

 

FIGURE IT OUT on the album RIGHT NOW is available on iTunes

 

read Kerri’s blog post about FIGURE IT OUT

 

hands website box copy

 

figure it out/right now ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood

 

 

 

Circle [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

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Perhaps the most true phrase I’ve read about The Circle is that its symbolism is inexhaustible. It is universal and the ultimate cross-cultural sign. No beginning, no end.

Wholeness. Unity. Infinity. It points to the mystery. Cycles of life. Endless movement.

It also has a meaning-making-flip-side. It can be as vicious as it is virtuous. A closed community. The shape that distinguishes us from them. Loops of reactivity. An energy eddy. An inescapable whirlpool. A widening gyre.

Ask a circle, “What does it all mean?” and the circle will ask in return, “What does it mean to you?”

It is a radically different action to search for meaning than it is to make meaning. And, most likely, the search for and the assignment of meaning are dancing partners. All of us seek. All of us assign meaning.

We can’t help but ask, “Why is this happening?” A few curious scientists and seekers go beyond their circles of understanding and look for answers. They inevitably find more questions. Another loop.

The artists always live on the edge of the circle precisely so they can see in. When the community asks, “Why is this happening?” they scribble lines, make music, write poems, and dance. Communing with what is on the other side of the known. Making meaning. Perhaps incapable of approaching an answer to the question, “Why?” but certainly opening the circle of possibilities to what we might come to understand together. Creating a commons. Another loop.

 

HH heart in sand website box copy

 

 

 

Create A New Circle Of Thought

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

I am cleaning out old files and rediscovering some small gems. This one is useful for educators and the national non-conversation we continue to have about education. This gem is from the Circle Project years when Patti and I used Vicious and Virtuous circles with our clients as a way of clarifying their challenges. We also used them to clarify our challenges or to prepare for a training/teaching session. This Vicious circle came from our preparation to lead a train-the-trainer session. Imagine the phrases move clockwise around a circle so that the final phrase returns to the first. The challenge, of course, it to discover and change the premise of the vicious circle, transforming it into a virtuous circle:

I Am The Expert, requiring that I have all the answers

And when I must have all the answers, I can never say, “I don’t know.”

And when I can’t say, “I don’t know,” learners and questions become dangerous,

And when questions become dangerous, controlling the learner is my primary intention.
And when I need to control the learner, I train against surprise,

And when I train against surprise, my training becomes transactional,

And when my training becomes Transactional, I relegate the learner to a “passive receiver,”

And when the learner is relegated to being a passive receiver,

I am The Expert, requiring that I have all the answers…

Everything we need to know to revolutionize education: interrupt the loop OR do the opposite. Begin with this phrase and see what new loop you might create:

I refuse to be The Expert, requiring me to help my students find their own answers,

And because they must find their own answers, we begin by saying, “I don’t know.”

And when we can say, “I don’t know,” learners become questioners so there’s a reason to learn,

[the rest is for you to create – or go back and alter my start. Have fun revolutionizing a system badly in need of your new circle of thought!].

Feel The Possibility

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

I am in the backseat of Lisa’s car. It is night and we are driving one of those amazing highways that knows no large city. This road is a ribbon connecting the occasional community, none with more than 10 stoplights. It’s been several miles since we passed through the last town and it will be many more miles until we see another light. My face is resting on the window because I cannot believe how many stars are visible when not obscured by the glow of a city. And I am counting my great good fortune because on this night there is a meteor shower. It looks as if stars get so excited that they have to flame and run. “There’s one!” Megan calls. “Where?” Lisa says, peering over the steering wheel. “You missed it.” I rest my face on the glass so in love with this moment and my two companions that I can barely breathe.

We pull off the road so we can gaze at the stars without worrying about driving. We stand on the edge of a fallow field, shivering in the cold winter air, necks craned to the sky. It is not lost on me that we are returning from Kansas where we attended a Launch for presenters; a workshop that, when we are old and rocking on the porch, we will look back and say, “That two days with Kevin Honeycutt changed the trajectory of my life.” And on the way home from a life changing experience called a Launch, the universe decided with great humor to coordinate with Kevin and gift us with a meteor shower. “This is what love is supposed to feel like,” I think to myself, linking arms with Megan who gasps, exclaims, “Oh My God!” and points to the latest sky streaker.

Shivering, I remember Holly from my coaching class having an epiphany, saying, “I feel possibilities. I make lists of them, all of the endless possibilities! They are visceral, like stars! It’s like, constantly discovering a new star, feeling the possibility – the gratitude extends to the possibility and the possibility extends to helping someone and the helping circles back to me! It’s a cycle. It’s an adventure and I feel it!”

“OH!” Lisa, Megan and I gasp and point at the same moment. “Did you see that one?” we chime in unison.