Receive The Message [on Two Artists Tuesday]

sleigh ride copy

It is my practice, when an animal crosses my path in a special or unusual way, to research the animal’s symbolism. I love story, mythology and the power of symbols (words are symbols, too!) – and, oddly, as a human, I am given to ask that most basic of human questions, “What does it mean?”

One night I had a very long eye-to-eye communion with a coyote. Two snakes crossed my path. Crows used to plague me on a daily basis. A white owl kept me company for a spell. Each was the impetus for me to dive into the symbol, the possible medicine or message of each visitation.

Kerri is horse crazy yet it hadn’t occurred to me until last week to spend some time with the horse as an animal spirit. We were up north on a brief get-away and Dan, in a fit of genius, arranged a sleigh ride. The horses pulling the sleigh were Bill and Ace. Kerri and Ace were immediate friends. They were more than friends. I watched a sweet magic swirl between woman and horse. There is no simple emoji for what passed between Kerri and Ace.

This past year has, for us, been a time of great upheaval and contention. Kerri’s broken wrists are only the latest-and-greatest slice in a year full of crazy pie. And so,  I stood witness to the immediate magnetism, the power of the horse to touch and raise Kerri’s spirits. In the sleigh, for the first time in months, Kerri completely relaxed. The tension and contention of these many months disappeared. She whispered excitedly about Ace and her love of horses. No doctor could have prescribed a better medicine for what ailed her.

Horses signify the overcoming of obstacles. They speak of how to carry yourself in the face of adversity. They appear to remind us to take care of our spirits, our minds and emotions and bodies. Above all, they symbolize freedom of spirit. Freedom. A horse can serve people but can never be fully tamed by people [I may as well have written of Kerri: she can serve but she will never be tamed].

A few days later, on our drive home, she was full of light and possibility. “I think we may have finally turned the corner,” she said. “Or, maybe, we should just live as if we’ve turned the corner.” Yes. What better way to address an obstacle, to carry yourself in the face of adversity, than to let your spirit run free, to live as if the hurdle was already cleared. No resistance.

I smiled and looked out my window. What does it all mean? Who cares. I whispered a quiet gratitude that a horse crossed our path and now my wife’s spirit is running free.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about HORSES & SLEIGHS

 

Horses FullSize copy

 

ace and bill website box copy

 

 

Look Before You Bite [on Merely A Thought Monday]

where you stand copy

When John said, “Penny wise, pound foolish,” I would always stop and reconsider my options. John was wise. John was concise. He was a master furniture maker and spoke like a man who necessarily made exact measurements.

If I could slap a label on this era of the USA, I’d call it the penny-wise-pound-foolish-age. Perhaps my label would also apply to the human world at large? I think so. Short term gain is rarely a healthy criteria for determining long term health. Anyone who’s ever experienced a hangover, lashed out in anger, dumped their waste into the drinking water, or jumped into a get-rich-quick scheme will understand.

I read this phrase the other day: Fox is feeding misinformation to an angry populace hungry to consume it. In most mythologies, the fox is a trickster and I couldn’t help but grimace and chuckle at the layers-of-veracity implied. A maker of mischief feeding misinformation to people hungry to gobble it down. Of course, there are two points of view in every fable and it is true of our fable, too: there is the fox and there are those who eat the gruel to fuel their angry point of view. The fox is never without agenda. Control of the point of view of the angry populace is the fox’s agenda. In other words, the fox is not a friend. The fox is like the witch offering the poison apple. Take a bite; it won’t hurt you. Really.

Reds and blues. Post fact era. Foxes in the hen house. Tribes eating tripe. Penny wise, pound foolish.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about WHERE YOU STAND

 

donnieandmarie uke website box copy

Bring Out Your Humor [on Flawed Cartoon Wednesday]

ChickenStress BIGcopy copy 2

…and wouldn’t the world be a better place if our stress-default-setting was laughter instead of worry? It would be an odd world but we’d be a healthier human herd.

Don’t get me wrong, if I were a zebra being pursued by a lion I’d want my adrenaline rush to help me skee-daddle! Some stresses are useful! But, in the absence of a real lion, laughter might be more useful than screaming, fretting, worrying, or general angst. Just imagine being stuck in traffic and rather than pounding the steering wheel, rather than sending your blood pressure through the roof, rather than honking your horn or screaming at others stuck in traffic, you laughed. And, your fellow commuters laughed, too! Pretty funny, huh?

if you'd like to see FLAWED CARTOON copy

 

read Kerri’s blog post about CHICKEN STRESS

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

stress brings out my sense of humor ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

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

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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

daisy tote bag copy

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.

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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.