Pick Your Star [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

pre joy joy copy

Mike Libecki is a mountain climber. He calls the necessary suffering of his sport pre-joy. “That way,” he explains, “I get to use the word joy in all of my sentences.” There’s joy at the summit. There’s pre-joy on the way up. It’s not a bad orientation to life, everything is relative to joy.

Skip’s meditation these days is on resilience. After a horrific car accident, he has more than a few tales of pre-joy. He has even more tales of joy. Human beings have a remarkable capacity to choose their stories, to orient to a path that is life-giving or to collapse their story into a state of no-joy. Skip chose resilience. The capacity to recover. To spring back in order to spring forward. Pick your star and sail toward it. That is Skip’s lesson to me.

Judy just wrote a book, Summoned By A Stroke. It is the blog posts she wrote to her community of support after her husband, Kim, suffered a major stroke. It is a remarkable testament to the invincibility of the human spirit when it intentionally orients to joy. It is also pays homage to the magnetic pull joy has on a community. There is  no attempt in Judy’s story to deny the pre-joy; there is a deep understanding that there would be no real joy without it.

During my Seattle years, when I was feeling blue, I would jump on the ferry to Bainbridge Island to visit Judy and Kim. This man wrecked by a stroke and, my friend, Judy, his wife, never failed to lift my spirits, to fill me up with laughter. More than once, on the return ferry, I would sit in utter amazement. I told myself that I should be bringing comfort and support to them but the opposite was, in fact, the case. What I experienced with them was beyond words. So much joy. If there is a place where pre-joy and joy blend together, Judy and Kim inhabited it. Today, this is Judy and Kim’s lesson to me:

“Kim and I are learning that happiness is not about what we do or where we go but how loving we are in relationships, how open and curious we are about where we find ourselves, and how inventive we can be with what we are given.” ~ Judy Friesem, Summoned By A Stroke

 

read Kerri’s blog post on PRE-JOY/JOY

 

 

slow dance party cropped website box copy

Invite Some Joy [On KS Friday]

joy songbox copy

David and Molly are taking their amazing young son, Dawson, home to Seattle for the holidays. Margaret, Dawson’s equally amazing grandma, adores them and will heap huge joy on them.

Quinn’s daughter wrote after his death that she is who she is in the world because her dad delighted in her. It’s true. His intense delight forged a joyful intrepid spirit.

We walked with our son in the bitter cold from Ogilvie Station to Lincoln Park Zoo to see the lights. Kerri threaded her arm through Craig’s and I could literally feel the joy, mother and son, walking together.

Last night we went to 20’s house and tried a new soup recipe. We laughed and drank wine and talked about…everything and nothing at all. Late in the evening 20 said, “People don’t get it. This is what the holiday is about. Being together. It’s not about the stuff. It’s about time together. That’s what makes life rich. Joyful.” Sounds like a cliche’, doesn’t it?  It will until you, for whatever reason, spend a holiday alone.

Kerri was missing Kirsten. The holidays come with a hot yearning to be close and Kirsten is far away. And then, a text binged in. Mother and daughter are deeply connected. It is a joke in our house that if Kerri speaks Kirsten’s name, inevitably, within a few minutes, we hear from her. It’s uncanny. With Kirsten’s text, a simple ”hello” to her mom, Kerri’s despair flared into huge Joy. I wrote to Kirsten, “Best gift ever.”

It’s true. What could be better than the gift of presence? What could be better than Joy?

Joy! on the album Joy! A Christmas Album is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about JOY!

 

 

by the fire in breckenridge website box copy

Joy! A Christmas Album ©️ 2004 Kerri Sherwood

Eat The Marshmallows [on Merely A Thought Monday]

lucky charms copy

I know it’s confusing. In my life there is H, also called Horatio. And then there is H, not Horatio at all, but a 93 year old man who is one of the few elders in my life that did not grow angry with age. H grew sweeter with time, and, therefore, wiser. He is my master teacher in how to age with joy.

I sit next to H in choir. He loves to sing. He has been singing his entire life and, so, he is easy in his voice. Ease of voice. I suspect that’s one of the main reasons he has such ready access to his humor. He isn’t trying to keep his voice down. He’s not editing himself or otherwise tying off his expression. He’s paid attention to keeping his creative channels open and free flowing. He wheels in with his walker, drops his coat, and teeters to-and-fro before dropping into his chair with a giggle. Even sitting down has become an oddity and rather than grouse about it, he smiles. “Made it!” he announces after hitting the chair with a thud.

‘Yes,’ I think to myself, ‘You made it.’ We should all make it like H.

I know H has had tragedy in his life. I know he had and continues to have a hard road. He sings in a church choir but I accuse him of being a secret Buddhist, so joyfully is he participating in the sorrows of the world.

Picasso famously said, “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” H has made of his life a great painting that even Picasso would enjoy. He has circled back to the child, the innocent appreciation of the great gift of living.

There are no lines of import in H’s coloring book and he inspires me to take out my great big Jethro Bodine bowl and fill it full with Lucky Charms. Pour the milk! Why wait.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about H

 

handshadowstones website box copy

 

Learn The DogDog Way [on Merely A Thought Monday

dogga end of day copy

DogDog is an Aussie and takes the job of herding his people very seriously. We are a tough bunch. Two artists (one A.D.D. and the other O.C.D) and a BIG cat are not easily collected or moved in a consistent or singular direction. It is not an understatement to say that DogDog was not given an easy task in this lifetime.

On top of the endless challenge of gathering the un-gatherable, he is a hyper sensitive boy; he knows what we are feeling before we do. He runs all of our emotions through his filters. The Dog Whisperer says that dogs are masters at reading energy and DogDog must have graduated at the top of his pooch class. Anticipating our every move is made more complex by his innate skill in surfing our full palette of turbulent and uninhibited feelings. Were he human, he’d be a nervous wreck.

His days are full, chaotic, and active. And so, at the end of the day, when we at last settle, when the perimeter is safe and we are secure, he collapses. It is almost as if someone disconnected the cable to his battery. He hits the floor. His sleep is immediate and sound (unless, of course, we move).

I realized, in watching his deep and peaceful sleep, the kind of sleep that I rarely experience, that he is teaching me to love the impossible task. In fact, he simply loves the task before him with no regard to its achievement. He engages the impossible with joy and a hearty wag-a-wag. He participates. He delights. He loves. He, therefore, has no need for either the possible or the impossible. Those are abstractions and he deals with the reality of the moment.

Neither does he resent the turbulence we toss in his path. He takes no ownership for how we feel and, so, is not compelled to control what we feel. He simple reads the color of our mood and loves accordingly. He does not deflect or dodge or manipulate. He does not ignore or pretend or deny. He stands without judgment in the daily bedlam of his humans as if there was no better place to be on earth.

I desire the peaceful sleep he experiences. He shows me the way everyday. Admittedly, I am a slow study but he is a patient and generous teacher. “Tomorrow,” I tell myself, “I will love the impossible task.” Or, perhaps, if I really learn the DogDog way, I will give up the notion of possible or impossible altogether and simply attend with joy to the task at hand.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about DogDog Sleeping

 

doggadeck website box copy

Feel The Joy [on DR Thursday]

Joy copy 2

joy, mixed media, 50 x 56IN

The 4th of July is DogDog’s birthday. Today he is six years old. He is generally nonchalant about his big day. No fireworks needed. No parade necessary. He was appreciative of the special rawhide bone. I suspect he’ll receive more than the usual amount of belly-bellies and a long walk is in order (his favorite thing in all the world). Mostly, he will hang out and love the world just as it is, just like any other day. He’s a happy spirit, a contented soul.

Six. That means he was two years old when I painted JOY. It’s a big painting. It is, in fact, the first painting Kerri named. It was a spontaneous naming, her initial response in seeing the finished painting. I was, at first puzzled by the name she chose. And then, I caught sight of two-year-old DogDog, relaxed in his pose. Quiet and fulfilled in his posture. Joy.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about JOY

shadow des plaines river trailwebsite box copy

joy ©️ 2014/15 david robinson

Watch Their Steps [on KS Friday]

BABYSTEPS songbox copy

In preparation for writing these posts I always begin by first listening to the piece that Kerri has selected for the melange. This piece, BABY STEPS, made me all mixed up inside; quietly happy and unbearably sad. Although I did not have children of my own, I’ve had plenty of pals who have. It has been and continues to be a great gift to me when they share their joy in all of the baby steps.

I am also of an age where many of my pals, like me, have aging parents. There is a return to baby steps on the other side of life that, although natural, although a part of the process of living, are impossibly sorrowful. My dad’s struggles, his return to taking small tenuous steps, break my heart on a daily basis.

I believe it is the gift of an artist to help us make sense of the untenable as well as the miraculous. My wife, Kerri, has an enormous gift. Listen to her BABY STEPS. It will transport you, like it does me, through the fields of joy and sorrow, to the heart-full side of life.

 

BABY STEPS on the album RIGHT NOW is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about BABY STEPS

 

cropped head kiss website copy

 

baby steps/right now ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood

Bring Peace [on DR Thursday]

PAX morsel copy

a morsel of PAX

Coming out of a deep sleep I pass through the flotsam layer at the bottom of consciousness. I call it the ‘garbage layer;’ the place where fears fester and worries lurk. It is the monster layer, the place where Grendel lives. When passing through the garbage layer I’m careful not to hook any of those thought-demons and bring them to the surface with me. Give them light and they will eat your day.

Just as I broke through the garbage layer, feeling the pull of a new day, my eyes not yet open, I was warmed by this thought:

Bring peace to your day and you will experience a bit more peace. Bring joy to your day and you will experience a bit more joy. Bring anxiety to your day and you will experience a bit more anxiety. Bring fear to your day and you will experience a bit more fear. Bring hope to your day and you will experience a bit more hope. What will you bring to this day?

My eyes popped open and I was floating on a raft of hope. A raft of my own choosing. A raft I could share.

This painting is called PAX (the kiss of peace). Like the thought that awaited me above the garbage layer, it is a meditation on the power of what you bring to your day. It is a meditation on the raft you choose to create.

It’s a simplicity. Bring peace. Experience peace. Bring hope to your day. Experience a bit more hope in your day. Share a bit more hope in your life.

 

PAXunframed copy 2

PAX, 24 x 24IN, mixed media

read Kerri’s blog post about PAX

 

slow dance party cropped website box copy

PAX/PAX morsel ©️ 2015/18 david robinson

Stand It Up Again [on Two Artists Tuesday]

OY copy

On the high shelf above our sink are 3 tin letters that spell the word ‘Joy.” They’ve lived up there for a long time and have, until recently, been faithful spellers of joy. Lately, the tin “J” has lost all sense of balance. Either that or it has developed narcolepsy. Either that or it has a drinking problem. Either that or it’s developed a dreadful case of self awareness and, like a shy two year old, is hiding behind the “O.” In any case, our “Joy” now routinely defaults to “Oy.”

We’re sailing through some choppy waters so it’s tempting to assign too much meaning to our “Oy.” After finding the “J” once again laying down on the job I said, “Maybe that’s the universe talking to us.” Kerri punched me in the arm. She said over her shoulder as she left the room, “You better knock on wood.” Apparently the universe listens but does not speak. To be safe I did as she suggested and knocked on the cupboard.

And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make. ~ The Beatles

Live by the sword, die by the sword ~ Aeschylus

Isn’t there is some truth to the notion that what you put out into the world is related to what you get back from it? Of course, then there is this little pinch of conundrum: bad things happen to good people. Also, true. In story terms, it’s called competing narratives. Many people have spent their lives attempting to reconcile or explain this beautiful opposition.

Kerri came back into the kitchen, grabbed a chair , jumped up and returned the “J” to its sober position. “Joy” once again reigned in our kitchen. Perhaps there is no connection at all between what you put out and what comes back to you. I am certain it is one of those great unknowable questions that make believers believe, professors write, preachers pronounce, and seekers seek.  I am also certain that, in the moment, the only thing that really matters is our capacity to see the “J” amidst the “Oy” and stand it back up again.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about OY!

 

laughing website box copy

Wait Here [on KS Friday]

waiting song box copy

Last night when we came out of rehearsal it was snowing, just barely. There is something immediately meditative about a gentle snowfall. We stopped and stood for a moment watching the flakes flutter like tiny feathers to the ground.

Sometimes snow stops time. Or, better, it interrupts the rush through life and drops us into time. It drops us into the present moment. No other place to be.  Nothing more important to do.

Kerri’s WAITING has the same power as a gentle snowfall. It calms the rush and quiets the noise. It opens the door into this moment, the present moment, and asks nothing more from you than be witness to the stillness, the silent emergence of those tiny flakes traveling through infinite space to the place on earth where, at just the right moment, you happen to be standing. Just in time.

 

WAITING on the album JOY – A CHRISTMAS ALBUM is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

 

 

 

read Kerri’s blog post about WAITING

 

bong trail, wisconsin website box copy

 

waiting/joy-a christmas album ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

ks designs/products ©️ 2018 kerri sherwood & david robinson

Get Ready To Bowl [on DR Thursday]

bowling primary image BOX copy

Kerri laughed when she made this morsel. “It looks like a bowling ball, doesn’t it?” she giggled. It is a slice from one of her favorite paintings, Joy. “I can’t believe I’m seeing a bowling ball!” her snicker bursting into a full laughter blossom. “Do you hate that I’m seeing a bowling ball?” she asked, struggling to stifle her chortle.

READY TO BOWL PRODUCT BOX copyBefore I could answer she had already launched into designing products. “Oh my god! It makes a cool pillow!” she turned her computer to show me  but before I could see the pillow she spun the computer back around and was already dropping the image into the next design possibility. “This is fantastic!” she declared. “This cracks me up!” Her chuckle was infectious and I began to laugh. “It’s a great tote bag!” she howled.

I love watching her design.

The painting is called Joy. It is one of her favorites. Watching her do this design work is pure joy. It is magic. It is one of my favorites.

 

 

read Kerri’s blog post on READY TO BOWL

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

joy ©️ 2014 david robinson

ready to bowl designs/products ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood