In Beauty I Walk [it’s Two Artists Tuesday]

flower experiment jpeg copy 3

daisy and in beauty PRODUCT BAR copy 2

“I am only so beautiful as the character of my relationships, only so rich as I enrich those around me, only so alive as I enliven those I greet.” ~ Derrick Jensen

I know many many artists who do what they do for love; their motivation is intrinsic. Their work is beautiful. I don’t mean their finished pieces (although they, too, are beautiful). I’m referencing their relationship to their work. It is lively, mysterious, expansive and generous. And, in order to stay healthy, they’ve long ago abandoned the notion that they might make a living through their artwork. Some do. Most do not.

I know many many artists who no longer do what they used to love to do. In the absence of an extrinsic reward (money), they began to see their love-work as worthless. They reduced themselves to a monetary equation and found themselves lacking. Considering their love without value, their well went dry. Their muse withered.

In our confused times it is the fortunate person who understands value as something greater than dollars and cents. Love, beauty, joy, family, generosity, learning, community, surprise, mystery…all words of relationship, all valuable beyond measure. All defy easy quantification.

From studio melange on Two Artists Tuesday, a gentle reminder to look to the space between, to value the process of living, the right-now-relationships where beauty is always to be found. Walk there.

IN BEAUTY I WALK gifts and cool stuff

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read Kerri’s blog post about IN BEAUTY I WALK

www.kerrianddavid.com

‘in beauty i walk’ image & products ©️ 2018 kerri sherwood & david robinson

Take The Time

Yoga Series 7When the world says, Give Up, Hope whispers, Try one more time.

I am updating my website though I am no longer permitting myself to call it an update. To update implies (to me) something periodic. This thing requires constant attention. As it turns out, websites never sleep. Rather than an update I now think of it as a scheduled feeding. Our cat, Baby Cat (were he human he’d be a sumo wrestler or a bouncer at a biker bar), is the only creature alive that requires more feeding than my website. Baby Cat is much more vocal about his scheduled feedings so I’m mentally linking my Baby Cat and website feedings.

My current website feeding, let’s call it an appetizer, involves paintings. I’m including an archive that reaches back a decade or more. There are paintings that go back further in time (much further) and I will post my archeology as I continue the feeding. The remarkable thing about including an archive is that it has provided the opportunity for a life-in-art review. And, I don’t recognize the guy that did some of those paintings. I recall applying paint to canvas but the overall experience is akin to remembering a past-life. They are at the same time “me” and “not me.” A few years ago I went to a Picasso retrospective at The Seattle Art Museum and wondered if the man at 90 years old liked or appreciated the work he did at 20 years old. Like all great painters he grew simpler with age, he said more with less. With age, he had less to say so he was at once both free and precise (a great definition of artistry).

In my life-in-art review I’ve been most interested in the work that happened during transitional periods. For instance, shortly after I moved to Seattle (sixteen years ago) I took most of my existing paintings to a local beach and, over three consecutive nights, burned them. It was my version of a forest fire, a spontaneous conflagration that stripped my internal landscape bare. What followed was a slow revitalization. Renewal. I remember the faces of the people who helped carry my paintings to the fire. They thought I was engaged in a fiery self-sabotage. I knew otherwise. My work had become sterile and heavy. Hope was calling and I needed to drop some dead wood, shed an old skin,… (fill in your favorite analogy). It was hard, messy, scary, and, for me, necessary.

A few years ago I followed Barney and Skip around the Benziger Winery. They were giving me lessons in biodynamics. The lesson over and over again: it’s about the health of the soil. The health of the vine is an expression of the health of the soil; excellent wine cannot be pushed. It takes time. It takes attention to the whole system. Art follows the same principles.

 

Ponder The Pieces

Kerri's head exploding.

Kerri’s head exploding.

My beautiful Kerri’s head just exploded. I am currently surrounded by exploded head-bits and a dog-dog running loops around the house from the thrill of experiencing his first head explosion. Baby cat had the good sense to hide. There’s nothing for me to do but drink wine and write this post. And drink more wine.

Heads explode when the world ceases making sense. Beaky, Kerri’s mom, 93 years old, is no longer capable of crossing the room with her walker. Mobility is a problem and the source of Beaky’s despair. For months Kerri has been working to get Beaky an electronic wheelchair. Her doctor prescribed it. A physical therapist diagnosed it. A bevy of nurses recommended it. A mountain of paperwork was filled out and filed for it. Medicare did the expected and requisite thrice denial before begrudgingly approving a lesser model (apparently, Beaky looks like a reckless driver and can’t be trusted with too much speed). At long last, after hours of phone calls, pleading, cajoling and begging, the chair was ordered and scheduled for delivery. And then there was Jose. The man who measures aging bottoms to make sure the chair is a perfect fit decided that, while measuring Beaky, she was not yet ready, at 93 years of age, to have an electronic wheelchair. His reason: Beaky is too mobile.

Kerri playing for her mom and the other ladies.

Kerri playing for her mom and the other ladies.

I wish I had filmed Kerri’s head explosion. I’d send it to Jose, the man with the measuring tape and the power to explode heads. As I watched the pieces of her mind drift back toward the earth I couldn’t help but remember the statistic – relative to the rest of the developed world – of how much Americans pay for their health care and how little they actually receive. Our costs are astronomical. Jose just showed me why. I wondered how many man/woman hours of work that Jose just annihilated. As Kerri said to the electric wheel chair supply company representative, every day of Beaky’s life is an extra inning or like a dog year. It is a gift. To tell this woman that it will only be a few more months before she will be approved is cruel. It need not make sense. It is merely cruel.

On another related note, today was Josh’s first day of work as a nurse in an emergency room. He wrote that he had a very good first day. The highlight was extracting a penny from a young boy’s nose. Apparently, the boy tried unsuccessfully to swallow the penny and coughed it up and into his nose. A hole in one! What are the odds of such a perfect shot? If I ever have a penny up my nose I want Josh to do the extraction. He cares for people. He is kind. Mostly, I want Jose, the man with the tape measure, to meet Josh, the man who helped a kid with a penny problem, so that Josh can explain to Jose how to recognize a person in need and what it means to serve. Service often requires dropping the tape measure and looking at the person being measured.

I suppose this is yet another tribute to Doug whose wisdom is worth repeating: “Your problem,” he said to me, “is that you want it all to make sense.” The path to happiness, according to Doug, is to cease the expectation of sense. No mother can make sense of a penny lodged up the nose of her son and Kerri will never be able to make sense of the man with the tape measure. It was her attempt at sense making that caused her head to detonate. I’ll keep that bit of information to myself until all the pieces find their way back to earth. In the meantime, let’s have more wine!

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

Or, go here for a hard copy and Kindle.

 

Give Time.

Here's a watercolor study for a larger painting that has yet to happen.

Here’s a watercolor study for a larger painting that has yet to happen.

She said, “I can’t do it because it takes too much time.” I didn’t respond. I didn’t validate her inability to do what she said she desired to do. I waited. “There’s only so much time in a day!” she exclaimed.

“That true. That will always be true,” I responded. I didn’t say it but I’ve noticed that it is usually the things we say that we desire to do that get short shrift. Spaciousness takes time. So does relationship. So does physical health, mental health and a spiritual practice. It all takes time. I’ve coached a legion of people who’ve set up art spaces in their homes and then avoided them like the plague. Their excuse for establishing the physical location but fleeing from what they might do in it: it takes too much time.

She was silent and I could tell that she was caught in her web of justifications. She was swirling in a reasoning-eddy called, “I have no choice.”

“Listen to the language you use,” I said, seeing her distress. She wrinkled her brow.

“Everything takes your time. It’s like life is a pickpocket stealing your precious time and you never have enough. You are divided against yourself. Who decides where your time goes if not you? You lack because you pretend that you have no control over your time. Choose to do it or choose not to do it. It’s in your language.”

She was quiet for a moment and then said, “It seems too easy to just change the way I talk about things.”

I smiled. “I know but imagine who you might be if, instead of life taking all your time, you started talking about where you choose to give your time. If life takes your time, then you are a victim. If you own where you give your time, then you are a creator. The actions of your day might look the same but who you are within them will be radically different. A whole world of possibilities would become visible if you realized that no one else is in control of your time. Where do you choose to give your time?”

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

Or, go here for hard copies and Kindle.

 

Be A Team

can you see the team boosting the child? I have many of these and will soon begin intentionally pursuing this form

can you see the team boosting the child? I have many of these and will soon begin intentionally pursuing this form

Many years ago Judy gave me a book by African writer Malidoma Some. He wrote that, in the village where he grew up, there were no locks on the doors. In fact, there were no doors. The people of the community respected the possessions and privacy of others. Locks were not necessary. The community cared for the health of its members so its members cared for the health of the community. From his point of view, a society that needs locks on the doors is a sick society. Locks are sign of communal breakdown.

I’ve been thinking much about sickness and the need for locks as I prepare to do a workshop for organizations about effective teams. I’ve done too many of these workshops not to recognize that the need to build teams is a sure sign of an unhealthy community. In Malidoma Some’s community, people were aware of and acted from a consideration of the health of the whole. Loyalty begets loyalty. “Acting for the good of the whole” is a great working definition for a team. It’s all you need to know to nurture great teams: make sure everyone in the organization, from the top to the bottom, is caring for the health of all the members. Make sure the choices are made for the good of the whole.

An organization that needs to team build is like a society that needs locks: most organizational systems support a philosophy of “every man and woman for themselves” while the executive suite needs cooperation and compliance to get the job done. No amount of team building can transcend compensation for individual merit. Once, a CEO asked me, “How do I get them to do what I want them to do?”

The short answer: you don’t.

A healthy team, just like a healthy community, requires no leveraging to act. It requires no policing. A team is a not a “thing.” A team is a relationship and just like a sports team or a theatre troupe, everyone needs to feel safe to really bring their game. They have to know the team cares for them as much as they care for the team. Many years ago, while sitting in a jury pool, the judge asked us, “Why do people resent being called to serve?” A lovely older woman raised her hand and replied, “The government offices are inaccessible and unhelpful when I need information or support. Why should I be happy to serve a system that wants nothing to do with me until it needs my money or someone to sit on a jury.” The rest of the jury pool applauded. When loyalty is a two-way street, teams form naturally. When loyalty is a given, people quite naturally offer their service to something greater than themselves.

There are a few other elementary things necessary for the relationship known as, “team,” like a common story (a common center) and a clear intention, but they are not possible when the metaphoric doors need locks. “Team” is something we are, not something we build or do.

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

Or, go here for hard copies.

 

Feel The Music

852. 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 stood with my face to the sun on the patio outside of the training room. Barney came up to me and asked, “Why did you choose to stand here?” It felt good. There was sun and quiet. He called my attention to the tree behind me. It was ancient and I was standing just on the boundary – at the circumference of the tree’s limbs. He said, “This is about right, the perfect spot. This is how you address something sacred – never face to it but open the chakras in your back and feel it. You are feeling it.” And I was…and I could.

I wasn’t doing it consciously. The grand old tree was humming and I was drinking it in. It felt like a good back massage. I stood in that spot because it felt good. A few times in my life I have performed – telling a story with a symphony – and stood facing the audience with my back to the orchestra. The sound from the symphony vibrated my bones. It warmed me. It was a musical massage. Standing with my back to the tree was similar. The vibration was as potent but not as explosive as the symphony. It was even, deep base. It quieted my mind.

Over the next few days Barney called my attention to how I orient myself to and feel power places. This is not a trick or magic or voodoo. It is not a special skill. Anyone can feel the music of the world. It requires standing still. It requires paying attention – not with your mind but with your body. It requires openness to joining rather than the dedicated separation that we practice in our very busy urban world. It requires being in life rather than moving through it.

Stand in the river. Close your eyes. Stop listening to the “hurry up” story running through your mind. Beyond the story you just might feel the exchange, the dance of giving and receiving. As Barney said, ”Nature balances. It is all a matter of polarities and you have to know what poles you are working with.” Balance is not a state of achievement but a constant dance of giving and receiving. It is movement, pulse and vibration. It is the tide.