See Anew [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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It seems that everything during the pandemic is a study of circumstance-driven-change. For instance, I am a painter of people. I’ve never been interested in still life studies. Even in school, I cringed at the bowls of fruit placed before us by the instructor. Shape, shade, blah-blah-blah. Give me figure drawing any day! Suddenly, to my great surprise, I am photographing big bowls of fruit. They are gorgeous. I’m thinking about a painting featuring fruit.  What’s happening to me?

The devil is in the pandemic detail. We used to go to the store everyday. We used to buy what we needed for the next 24-48 hours. There were no big piles of fruit, no explosions of color in the fruit bowl or waves of color rolling across the counter. Now, in the time of pandemic, we stock up. We are – like you – buying massive amounts of bananas and oranges and apples and pears. They are, to an artist’s eye, when assembled, simply beautiful. They are, I suspect to an accountant’s eye, also beautiful, but my thoughts stray beyond merely eating.

Beautiful.

We are also in a fit of food experimentation. To delay our need to go into the wild COVID world and shop, we comb the empty larder, asking “What do we have? What can we make with what we have?” We throw our random ingredient list into the Google pool and voila! Yummy options emerge. Bacon wrapped pears. Oh. My. God. It never would have occurred to my bear-brain to wrap a pear in bacon. I savored it. I moaned. My eyes rolled back in my head.

Beautiful. Delicious.

When you study change processes, you bumble across something akin to a rule. It goes like this: if you know where you are going, then it is not really change; it is controlled reordering of what already exists. It may look new but is really the same old wolf in new sheep’s clothing.

Change is what happens when you step into unknown and strange lands, when all of the old points-of-orientation are gone. Only then will you step into something new and surprising. Only then will you see without the old dulling filter. For me, apparently, change looks like a big bowl of beautiful fruit.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about BACON WRAPPED PEARS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rise [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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Signs of the the times. 1) The salutation in almost very email I send, every email I receive, is this: Stay safe. Stay well.  2) The most common response to”How are you?” is some variation of this: Staying more or less sane.

More or less sanity.

I expect a revival of Salvador Dali, a new wave of surrealism. What was solid melts and drips. What was fluid is frozen. None of the rules of normality apply. “So this is what pandemic feels like,” Chris wrote.

The hat we call “normal” has been knocked off our heads. Nothing is normal. Or is it? In our house we have an ongoing socio/political conversation about whether things have always been this way and, in the severity of the moment, we are now seeing it. The ugly politics. The gaping disparity. Or, is this madness new?  Are we more or less sane now?

We’re taking our afternoon walks in the cemetery at the end of the street. It is the only place we can walk without having to be constantly vigilant about bumping into other people. “It’s weird that, in the midst of a pandemic, we have to go to a cemetery to safely walk.” Kerri noted.

Yes. It is weird. Is it more or less sane? The only thing we can know is that all measuring sticks are broken, all of the old navigation points have gone missing. We are standing solidly in the midst of the unknown. What will be true next week? Anything is possible.

And, that is the point. The sword of possibility cuts both ways. Right now, anything is possible. If we get caught in the sticky notion that our circumstance defines us, then we are hurled to the side of less sanity. Panic. Chaos. Fear. Every man/woman for themselves. If we hold fast the notion that we are creators and are experiencing but not defined by the present pandemic fire, then renewal and re-imagination pull us in the direction of sanity. We stay centered in the midst of the fury. People helping people to survive, to thrive. The best rises in us. Brother’s/Sister’s keeper, and all of that. More sane. Not less.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about MORE OR LESS SANE

 

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may you….[be healed]

Step Toward The Center [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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We had this quote in the melange line up long before there was a pandemic. Now, it is impossible to look at this phrase without pressing it through the lens of COVID19. What might we have written in a less chaotic context?

One of the best lessons I was taught, is that we cannot control our circumstance but we can control who we are within our circumstance. The hurricane will come. The pandemic. It is possible in the midst of the storm to panic. To hoard. To blame. To resent. It is also possible to stand in a center, to share, to support, to reach. You are not your circumstance.

Sitting in his study that smelled of instant coffee, book dust and cigarettes, Quinn and I used to talk endlessly about chaos theory. Within the seeming chaos of a dynamic complex system there exists pattern, repetition, self-organization. Pattern, repetition, organization – these are words of order, not of disorder. Chaos. Order. We only know order relative to chaos. We only know chaos relative to order.

Within the Hermetic laws (and Newtonian physics, equal and opposite forces) there is the law of polarity. Everything contains its opposite. Or, said another way, what might appear to be opposite, is, in fact, two ends (poles) of the same thing. Order. Chaos. We cannot know light without the contrast of darkness. We live on a continuum. What we experience is simply a matter of degree on the continuum. There is always a bit of chaos in my otherwise orderly day. In times of chaos, we become very clear about what matters and what does not.

Out of chaos we self-organize. In the throes of social distance we are finding ways to reach and connect. We are prioritizing connection. I’ve spoken with or texted more people in the last seven days than I have in the last seven months.

We see it every year. The hurricane blows away a city and the greater community always shows up to dig in and help out. And rebuild. In chaos we organize to make sure everyone makes it to the other side of the storm. Initially, the coming chaos reveals the ugliest aspects of our nature. We hoard. We price gouge. We run to the far end of the continuum and hang onto the poles, mine/yours, us/them. But, sit in it long enough, and chaos always reveals the deeper truths. Interconnectedness is another way of understanding a continuum. We turn our focus on relationship. The space between. Your need is my need. We are not separate.

Order arises when we step toward the shared center and away from the chaotic extremes. We are not our circumstance so the question remains: who are we within our circumstance?

 

read Kerri’s blog post about CHAOS & BOUNDARIES

 

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*this photo of BabyCat is not doctored. I have no explanation for the ordered shape that our very large cat takes in the moments prior to creating chaos.

 

 

 

Eat The Cold [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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“Eat the cold!” the Buddhist monk said to the shivering novice. “Eat the cold.” It is” monk-speak for embracing rather than resisting the circumstances of your life.

Non-resistance. Detachment. Hold your self lightly. Presence. Make no assumptions. Be here now. Every spiritual tradition has language for the lesson. Eat the cold. Have the experience. Suspend your judgment. See what is there, not what you think is there. Feel it without condemnation or praise.

When I was a teenager I went on a trip with a school group. The bus broke down in the mountains. We sat on the side of the road bemoaning the state of our affair. The teacher laughed at us. “We’re on an adventure and this is part of it!” he exclaimed. “Rather than fool ourselves into thinking we are stuck, maybe we should fool ourselves into thinking this is exactly where we should be! What’s here? What can we do and create here?” I remember nothing about the rest of that trip but I do remember how much fun we had on the side of the road.

Kerri’s wrists are broken. We find ourselves on a metaphoric roadside. Our patterns are completely disrupted so we are experiencing the gift of mindfulness. Putting on a coat requires complete attention. Lifting a fork. Combing out her gorgeous naturally curly hair. Buckling a seat belt. We have abandoned all notion of rushing. It happens when it happens. When she plays the piano, she does it with full attention; nothing is taken for granted.

What’s here in this storm? Maybe this is exactly where we should be. Amazed at our friendships, our first walk since the accident with Jen and Brad, the sun and wind, laughter with 20, cooing at the meal Joan made for us, flowers, brownies and wine, crawling under the healing quilt that Janet sewed.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about EVERY STORM 

 

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Spin Off Center [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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I’ve always been a bit mystified by the hyper-charge surrounding the word ‘change.’ It doesn’t matter which way the word slices, it will either evoke great fear and trepidation [we’ve always done it this way!] or it will reach to the deepest depths of yearning and impatience [we need to be different!]. Guard the bastion. Explore new worlds.

Organizations try to manage change. Yet, organizations sell their products as cutting edge. They promote themselves as leaders of change.

We celebrate change-makers. Game changers. We also honor the keepers of the flame. Rule keepers. We pride ourselves on our innovative spirit while pondering the loss of tradition.

Creative tension. Push, pull. It’s a balancing act, yes? A continuum. Where exactly is the hard line between progress and tradition?

Stepping into the unknown is never easy though, isn’t it true that each day of life is, in fact, a step into the unknown? The wheel spins on and on and on.

Growing old is not for wimps. That’s what Beaky said. We all do it. Movement is life and life is change.

We live in an interesting time. Everything is recorded. Evidence of change is everywhere. Actors get old. Politicians vehemently defend the opposite of what they vehemently defended 20 years ago.

The question is not about change or not change.  It is more about what we desire to be  steadfast in the midst of change. Circumstances change. Opinions change. Beliefs change. Traditions change. But, what is in the center of the wheel? Values like ‘honesty’ and ‘truth?’ Agreements of decency? A constitution?

What happens when those hubs are manipulated and simply fall away?

 

read Kerri’s blog post about CHANGE

 

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Plan For Surprise [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

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The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men/Gang aft a-gley ~Robert Burns, To A Mouse

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. It is something we keep in mind as we wade into the planning phase of our next project [well, learning first. Planning, second].

Actually, in truth, the best laid plans always go awry. Life, circumstance, is a constantly moving and changing force that generally alters all well-conceived plans. Whether we acknowledge it or not. We plan but [you might want to sit down for this next bit of revelation]: we do not control.

The plan, at best, is an abstraction that assumes a perfect circumstance and completely ignores relationship dynamics. People are fickle. Everyone has a plan and many of the plans do not line up with my plan! There is weather. There are partycrashers.  Pick pockets. Tripping stones. The budget. The children get sick. The internet portals are tapped out. The bridge fails. There is a better idea.

If everything went according to plan there would be no happy accidents. No teachable moments. Most discoveries come precisely because the plan fails. It is a rule of change that if you know where you are going, you will recreate what you already have. The plan can only pretend to bring about change. Change comes when you veer off course. Change comes from time spent in the unknown lands. Oddly, so does learning.

The only plan that makes sense? Plan for surprise. You’ll never be disappointed or frustrated because everything will go according to the plan.

 

read Kerri’s blog post on THE PLAN

 

 

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Reason The Random [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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It’s cold and getting colder. Alaskans might call us namby-pambies but the wind chill is racing for -52 degrees, so I’ve decided warmth is a much more valuable commodity than pride. DogDog agrees. He’s definitely more interested in a belly-belly than his usual Rin-Tin-Tin backyard run-around fantasy. Usually when I say, “Do you want to go out?” he jumps and yips and races me to the door. A few moments ago I asked and he rolled on his back and yawned. Never underestimate the power of circumstance to influence your choices and change the arc of your day/life!

We chose this image of snow on Sedum long before we knew that the next ice age would begin today.  After last week’s big snow, Kerri called to me from the porch, pointed to the Sedum and said, “Doesn’t that look like ice pops?” Pour Kool-Aid into Tupperware molds and put them in the freezer. The popsicles, ice pops, are shaped just like the snow on the Sedum. A good treat for a hot summers day. A good image to invoke good memories. A good image to invoke even more powerful yearning for a hot summer’s day! From snow on Sedums to ice-pops to the desire for summer sun on my face! I delight in how mind works! Random associations. Color my life rich.

Right now, as I write about the randomness of life and the power of circumstance, Kerri  is sitting next to me. She’s snickering, using a Snapchat filter to send a message to her niece, Wendy.  Amidst a sudden blaring polka, she just smiled and said to her phone in an impish little voice, “Here’s what I look like with a nose ring, lipstick and pink hair!” She laughed, sent the chat and showed her new pink doppelganger to me.

Cogito, ergo sum. Yeah, right! Someone should have told Descartes that thinking has almost nothing to do with it.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about ICE POPS

 

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Enjoy The Puddles [it’s Chicken Marsala Monday]

 

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Puddle is a fun word to say. Try it. Puddle. Muddle. Fuddle. In fact, when fuddled or muddled, there is only one thing to be done and that is to find and jump gleefully into a puddle. Essentially, become puddled.

Chicken has a decidedly Buddhist side. If he had three simple rules for spiritual growth, one would certainly involve puddles and play. Speaking to we too serious adult-types, he might say: you can never control the rain, but you can most certainly control how often you play in the puddles .

On this Chicken Marsala Monday, from studio melange, leave behind your muddle and go to the puddle side of life [begin by reading this post out loud to someone you love – puddles are more fun with friends].

ENJOY THE PUDDLES gifts and cool things to remind you to play

read Kerri’s blog post on ENJOY THE PUDDLES.

www.kerrianddavid.com

enjoy the puddles nugget & designs ©️ 2016/2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Stand Rooted

I awoke this morning with this phrase hanging in my dream space: you can’t control your circumstance but you have infinite control over who you are within your circumstance. It is a well-worn phrase for me, like an old sweater, relevant to much of the teaching, coaching and facilitation I’ve done. It is useful to remember when the hurricane hits or the job disappears or life seems to be a festival of obstacles. The ability to discern between circumstance and personal center is of great value. It is a skill that lives atop of Maslow’s hierarchy.

A work in progress: K.Dot & D.Dot See An Owl

A work in progress: K.Dot & D.Dot See An Owl

We have these words in our canon of health: centered, grounded, rooted, conscious, present…. They are all terrific metaphors, earthy with eyes wide open. Flip them over and you get a good sense of what happens when you confuse your self with your circumstance: off center, uprooted, ungrounded, unconscious, not here; up in the air with eyes squeezed shut.

There is a Buddhist phrase that I appreciate: joyful participation in the sorrows of the world. It is necessary to know the difference between self and circumstance to really grasp the meaning of this phrase. Life is going to bring you trials, tribulations, and lessons. You can never know what is just around the corner. As Kerri often reminds me, it is what you don’t know that makes you grow. So, when the storm comes, participate. Stand in it. Love life in all of its forms and textures.

So many times when working with business clients I’ve had to say, “Don’t eliminate the wolf from your story.” In the story of Little Red Riding Hood, the wolf moves the story forward. In fact, without the wolf, there is no story. In business as in life we attempt to protect ourselves from the wolf. We resist the very thing that can bring growth and renewal. Circumstance is often the wolf. The storm comes. The relationship suffocates. The wolf always creates movement where the energy is stuck. It is uncomfortable. It hurts. It is scary. Yes. So, participate. Engage. Be-with-it. Within the circumstance, within the storm, learn to stand rooted, centered: earthy with eyes wide open.

The circumstance will pass and you will remain. You will know more. You will have grown. This simple understanding, that you are separate from your circumstance, allows for the joyful part of participation. Joy lives at the choice point. The world is and always will have plenty of sorrows to help you grow. Things happen. The question is, “How do you choose to participate?”

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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