Peel Open [on DR Thursday]

The pods peel open at just the right moment. The fine fluff catches the wind and carries the seed. Nature’s dispersal system. Hope on a sail. The destination is determined by the direction and strength of the wind, not the intention of the seed.

In the United States of America, today is a day of thanks giving. Families gather. Traditional recipes prepared. A pause in the fast moving river for a moment of gratitude. Stories shared; recipes, smells and tastes like seeds are planted in the next generation.

Sitting at a card table with cousins, the adults packed around the kitchen table. Cranberry in a dish, shaped like a can. Blue blue Colorado sky. The crisp air dancing with the sun’s warmth. Coffee. Pumpkin pie. My memories rise from my senses.

Last Thanksgiving, Covid kept us isolated. Our families are far away. Despite our best plans, we will, once again, give our thanks together yet alone. We will walk a trail. We will love on the Dogga. We will make a special meal and tell stories of gratitude. Rob came through for a visit. Dwight called. Mark remains a rock. We heard from Kate. There is no lack of love or laughter in our house.

This pod will peel open at just the right moment. We are burgeoning with hope. In the meantime, we prepare our fine fluff, knowing full well that, despite our best intention, our destination will be determined by the direction and strength of the wind.

read Kerri’s blogpost about THE SEED

Tango With Me, 39x52IN, mixed media

tango with me © 2018 david robinson

Embrace The Flaw [on Merely A Thought Monday]

Every week in our website inbox, I find an ominous message: “There are some serious flaws in your code.” No kidding. If they only knew half the stuff that runs through my mind!

The message also warns that the serious-flaws-in-my-code are making it hard for Google to find me. Suddenly, I’m not so sure having flaws in my code is a bad thing. Maybe I don’t want Google to find me. In this brave-new-world, I like the idea that my every move isn’t easily tracked and translated into data miraculously transformed into personalized advertisements.

I realize that the flaws in my data will probably mean that I am less successful than I otherwise might be. I will accumulate less “likes” and my pool of “followers” and “friends” will not reach as wide or deep as it otherwise might. I’m regularly chastised about my flawed code. My shallow success is possibly attributed to my inept working of the social net.

The goal is to gather the audience, with no regard whether or not there is anything worthwhile to say. I’d say that’s a fair summation. It’s a popularity contest sans rules or decorum. It’s the same thin philosophy that confuses a test score with learning or a banana-taped-to-the-wall as meaningful art. We are the story Jane Goodall tells: the monkey banging the garbage can is leader for a day until the pack recognizes that his noise is just that: noise. Not leadership.

I’m more than grateful that I have serious flaws in my code. I may or may not have anything worthwhile to say. That is not for me to decide. As Sam once advised me so many years ago, the quality of my friends matter. Not the number.

Google’s divining rod might have trouble finding my well but I’m comfortable knowing my well is plentiful either way.

[Happy Halloween, by-the-way]

read Kerri’s blogpost about Explore Beyond

Drop The Veneer [on KS Friday]

It was common during coaching calls, for clients, especially at the beginning, to self-diagnose. Essentially saying, “This is what is wrong with me.” It was an odd start to a process that is about fulfillment of intention or creation of desire. A coaching relationship isn’t therapy and a good coach – one that knows what they are doing – is careful not to let the relationship become about fixing-what-is-wrong. Moving through a creative block or clarifying a fuzzy vision in not an indication of a character flaw. The post-it note on my desk read, “Nothing is broken. Nothing needs to be fixed.”

The self-diagnosis was a veneer. A protective layer, like armor. People have innumerable strategies for hiding their fire, for blunting their passions. Succeeding or creating often implies exposure. Being seen. Stepping into the light can be scary business.

Rather than deal with the diagnosis, a useful and often surprising question to ask is, “What’s beneath that?” What’s beneath the protective layer?

It was also common, after taking the time to take off the armor, after dropping the I’m-broken-veneer, to hear a voice whisper, “You know what I really want? I want to be a writer.” Or a painter. Or a dancer. Stepping into the light is scary business and hearing your voice say what you really want, even in a whisper – especially in a whisper – is powerful stuff!

I loved those moments. Their world spins. The eddy of “fixing” slips into the current and there’s no turning back. Their path forward may be gnarly and steep but that tiny whisper clarifies the picture, releases the desire.

Careful not to be too effusive, I’d say, “Good. Now, what’s the next step?”

Kerri’s albums are available on iTunes or streaming on Pandora

read Kerri’s blogpost on VENEER

holding on/letting go on the album right now © 2010 kerri sherwood

Put It On The Wall [on DR Thursday]

“What you think, you become. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you create.” ~ Buddha

I sometimes wonder what the Buddha might think about how words, attributed to him, are now available on Wayfair.com as posters or large decals for every living room wall. Does the ease and ubiquity of the message make it less meaningful? A decoration rather than a wisdom? Or, that we are capable of immersing ourselves in inspiration, a reminder-to-live-well in every room, are we meditating on the messages? Are we incorporating them into our actions and choices?

I’ve read that the only requirement when hanging prayer flags is to hold positive thoughts and intentions in the mind. Intend goodness and goodness will spread. That is, after all, the point of the flag. To spread on the wind goodness, peace, kindness,…

Kerri’s philosophy – her religion – is much the same as Dolly Parton: “You just try to be nice to everybody ’cause you know everybody’s got a dream.” Kerri’s version: “If it’s not about kindness it’s not about anything.” It’s simple.

Minds are powerful things. It’s why stories are so impactful; stories are the stuff that fills-the-minds. What you feel. What you think. What you imagine. It’s not passive. Although a trick of the English language, your thoughts, your feelings, your imaginings, are not really separate from “you.” They are you. The story you tell yourself about yourself in the world.

I suppose that’s why we rub the sentiment onto the living room wall. A desire to be better in the world. To tell a better story. Better about each other. Better for each other. What else?

read Kerri’s blogpost about PRAYER FLAGS

in serenity © 2018 david robinson

Be With [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

“When you love someone, the best thing you can offer is your presence. How can you love if you are not there?” ~ Thich Nhat Hahn

We attended the funeral rites via Zoom. It was moving. Intimate. We felt grateful to be included.

Kerri attempted to keep the ukulele band going. There was a delay in the signal so the group played gloriously out of sync, our rehearsals a hysterical cacophony. In the end it didn’t matter because we met each week and shared stories. We asked the most important question: how are you doing?

We Zoomed with friends across the country. The screen between us punctuated the distance, exaggerated the separation.

The pandemic put a new twist on the word “presence.” How do we – how did we – remain present for each other, with each other, when distancing was one of the few routes available to slow the spread of the virus? We learned both the expanse and limits of technology, sometimes giving us communication but not always the capacity for presence.

It certainly made us more intentional. Presence required scheduling time. Presence required confronting the line of can-this-be-in-person-or-not. It made us slow down and question. In the early days of Covid, Kerri and I had a heated debate en route to Colorado to see my parents: do we wear masks or not? After a few moments the masks came off. We needed to be present. Fully.

“Presence” and “going slow” hold hands. One cannot walk without the other. A slow walk will invite presence. An intention to be more present invites slowing down.

When I returned from Bali I was different. Changed. I understood the necessity of going slow, of being in my life rather than racing through it.

The pandemic years have been equally as profound. Like everyone, we lost jobs, lost identities, lost connections, lost security. Every possible pattern of life was disrupted. Isolation brought a new level, a different understanding of going slow. A two-dimensional and three-dimensional understanding of presence.

We are emerging as different people. I feel it. I can see it. I cannot place words on how we are different. I simply know that we are not in such a hurry anymore. We are much more intentional. We draw deeper lines in the sand.

There are people we want to see. There are people we need to see, beyond a Zoom or a phone call. To sit in the same room, laugh. To hold hands. To go slow. To be “with.”

read Kerri’s blogpost about GOING SLOW

Live It [on DR Thursday]

Paths cross. Spirits fed. Who knows when we will sit again at the same table, laugh and tell stories of our youthful foibles?

There is no better person on earth than Dwight. Every day he practices his belief and has, therefore, made his belief a practice – rather than an achievement or a trophy or a trumpet or a platform. Help others as you, yourself, have been helped. Be present for others as others have been present for you. Simple. Life as a meditation. How rare! He lives what he espouses.

We drove into Chicago to meet him for dinner. He was passing through. A conference. An opportunity to share a little bit of time. Our last face-to-face conversation was in 2018. As he said, “We easily picked up right where we left off.” We always have. We always will. That makes me a fortunate man.

Both our paths through life have known hot fire. Dwight is not a saint or an untouchable. Like me, he knows the chaos and the pain of a broken road. The loss of illusion. The long walk back to center. The discovery of self, not where you thought you’d find it. He is solid because he’s been forged. He’s sound because he has roots from experience. He’s present and available because he no longer requires armor.

Our conversation, among other things, was how to live well this chapter of life. We have less years in front of us than behind. How do we live them well and with intention? I had no clear answer but I did have a north star example: the man sitting across the table with laughter in his eyes.

read Kerri’s blogpost about DINNER

canopy © 2007 david robinson

Find Your Flower [on Two Artists Tuesday]

“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” ~ Lao Tzu

Lately I am learning that I don’t need to immediately accomplish every task. Our house has been an excellent teacher and I have gained the useful phrase, “delayed maintenance.”

Kerri and I have two different operating styles. Mine is a straight line and hers is a circle. She can start a project and leave it and think nothing about it. On the other hand, if I start a project, I can’t stop thinking about it until it is complete. I am only now learning that I tend toward the obsessive. I have a gift for the myopic.

I thought I was kind of a zen guy, easy going, and am shocked to discover that I can be a hot mess of fixation. Thus is the nature of self-discovery. Life is helping me loosen up.

We sat on the deck last night and talked of our childhood homes. The games we played. I drew pictures on typing paper with a #2 pencil for hours and hours. The world disappeared. I’d wait until the rest of my family was asleep and then I ‘d get up and paint on my wall. I thrived in the quiet of the night. I suppose myopic comes naturally to me. Single focus. Disappearing into my work.

I marvel that butterflies seem like drunken sailors, careening this way and that, yet they always clear the fence. They always alight on the flower of their intention. My career has been like the flight of a butterfly. I dare anyone to make linear sense of my resume. Drunken sailor. Yet, somehow, I clear the fence. I find my flower.

People ask me if I like my job and I tell them I love it. They, of course, want to know why I love it and I tell them that I never know in the morning what I am going to do that day. Each day the work is good. I fall into my myopic ways, sail into my conceptual universe, but have no expectation of completion. It’s like wrestling with a shape-shifter. And, so, to keep in the match, I, too, must shift my shape. I’m honing my inner chameleon.

There is a post-it note on the wall next to my desk. It reads, “Live as if the universe was tipped in your favor.”

Fly like a drunken sailor. Like Dogga, run in circles of delight. Learn to love your myopic ways, yet do as the Balinese taught: know that “it’ll happen when it happens.” What else? Sight – seeing the flower (myopic and otherwise) – is fully available when practiced without expectation.

read Kerri’s blogpost about WHITE MOTHS

Extend The Peace [on KS Friday]

Most of my life I’ve been an apartment dweller. A studio liver. Since moving to Wisconsin, into a house, I’ve had a yard to tend. I’m not very good at it but I confess to enjoying the work. I like being outside. Pulling weeds has, I’m slightly worried to admit, become a meditation.

Since Dog-Dog is a gifted destroyer of backyards – digging holes, wearing multiple velodrome paths in the grass – tending the yard has mostly been reactive. My actions are determined by his actions. Let’s just say I don’t worry too much about winning the lawn Olympics. I doubt that I’d qualify.

In the past year, in addition to the inside of the house being wrecked by interior waterfalls and other surprises, outside our yard, front and back, has also been blown to smithereens. We are slowly digging out. We are slowly putting the pieces back together again. And, we’re doing it at a time that Dog-Dog is slowing down. These days he’d rather sit in the shade than cut a new velodrome.

So, we’re designing our space. We’re extending the peace we created in our sunroom into the yard. Last year, our peace spilled out onto the deck. Now, with the addition of the back fence, our peace is pressing the lot line.

I was surprised to learn that Kerri has hosta preferences. She’s not a fan of the variegated variety that lined our yard. Bert and Sue gave us those plants from their yard. We were trying to get something – anything – to grow. Sally gave us ferns and day lilies. We rolled those down third avenue in a wheelbarrow. Now, with everything in disarray, we have a blank canvas.

With tall grasses as the center of her design, she pulled me across the nursery to see “the right hosta.” There’s a certain shape of leaf. A certain color of green. “Look,” she said, pointing out the differences. “Don’t you love that?”

What I love is the specificity of her compositional eye. She tells me that the grasses will dance and pop against the white fence. The green – not any green – but the specific green of the hosta will sing next to the swaying grasses.

Hosta singing. Grasses dancing. Out of the ashes…design, and peace that reaches all the way to the fence.

read Kerri’s blogpost about THE RIGHT GREEN

Kerri’s albums are available on iTunes & streaming on Pandora

longing/as it is © 2004 kerri sherwood

Live Inside The Altar [on Merely A Thought Monday]

Dear reader, you have done me a great service. You’ve connected my past to my present.

I’m not sure why but, initially, I numbered rather than named my blogposts. My 623rd blog post was about a practice I’d all but forgotten. Building an altar of gratitude.

Someone out there read #623 so it popped up in my analytic. “This is old!” I thought, staring at the screen. A numbered post! Another era. “I wonder what I was writing about?”

2012. Thanksgiving. Among the darkest days of my life and yet, on that day, I was deeply, profoundly grateful. Life had chased me to a cliff. There was nothing to do but leap. I remember like it was yesterday wandering the streets of Seattle placing notes of gratitude in the cracks of walls, at bus stops, at coffee shops. I felt as if I was invoking. I wanted a better world. If I wanted it, I needed to offer betterment to the world. It was a prayer. A weaving. It was the last time I built my “altar of gratitude.”

A year later I lived in an entirely different world. Everything went to ashes.

2022. Kerri and I are walking our trail. We’re giggling because we just planted a painted rock in the elbow of a tree. “Do you think someone will find it?” her inner 5 year old asks, too wiggly with excitement to stand still. I expect her to skip in circles of enthusiasm.

“Yes,” I laugh. “Someone, someday, will find it.”

As I reread #623 I realized that, in rising from the ashes, I was no longer building my altar on a single day in a single season. I was no longer invoking gratitude. I was no longer hoping for a world that might someday come into being.

I am creating it. Not on a single day or special occasion. I’m practicing gratitude every day. I’m living gratitude every day. Painting rocks, making dinner, watching sunsets, buying groceries, writing blogposts.

Because you sent #623 back to me, a marker in time, I’ve realized I’m living inside my altar. All the world….

read Kerri’s blogpost about EXPLORE

Think About It [on DR Thursday]

Generosity works like blowback: offer support to others and you’ll find yourself supported. Offer kindness to others and you’ll overflow with kindness. Give courtesy, get courtesy. And, it’s not the response or reaction of the recipient that generates the blowback. It’s the act of generosity. The blowback is self-induced.

Of course, meanness works along the same principle. Hate and you fill yourself with hatred.

Often on our trail we find painted rocks. Symbols, messages and whimsy that someone planted for us to find. They make us laugh. They lift our spirits. We generally don’t take them home. We leave them for others to find or, sometimes, we move them to a new location. We re-plant them. Either way, we giggle. It feels like participating in the kindness.

“I want to paint rocks, too!” Kerri’s inner 5-year-old pouted. She went so far as clenching her fist and knitting her brow. Pouty mouth. I fell on the floor in delight after glimpsing the insistent child she was-and-still-is.

We gathered rocks. We bought crappy craft brushes. We brought out the paint. On a gorgeous Saturday evening, sitting outside in the summer breezes, we painted rocks. Compared to the clever rocks we find on trail, our first attempt was crude but inspiring. “We need better tools,” she said, hands-on-hips, admiring our gallery of rocks-ready-to-be-placed-on-trail.

She googled. She asked friends. Armed with information and the desire for better rock art, she’s in hot pursuit of the proper supplies to produce magical rocks that will evoke smiles from people we will never meet.

Someone out there – a person – one day on the trail, giggled and placed a colorful painted stone in the knot of a tree. It set off a ripple of trail giggles in us – and others. How many people, just like Kerri, found their inner 5-year-old, and exclaimed, “I want to do that!”

The, “I want to do that,” isn’t about the rock (though that’s great fun). It’s about the giggle it evokes in strangers. Think about it.

read Kerri’s blogpost about ROCK PAINTING

chasing bubbles © 2019 david robinson