Enter The Sanctuary [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

This is an image of sanctuary. The back yard of dear friends, time spent together, taking precautions to be safe in a time of pandemic.

There’s more than one compromised immune system represented in this photograph. It is why we continue to meet outdoors. It is why, until we were vaccinated, we were careful to keep distance between us. How odd to honor the love of dear friends by inserting space between us. Our flip flops and sandals are stand-ins for a group selfie.

When our postal carrier came to the door to deliver a certified letter, she groused about the process for capturing the required signature, “We have to do this because of COVID,” she sneered, “even though there is no COVID.” We’ve learned not to push back on ignore-ance. I was reading about Brazil eclipsing the the over 500,000 deaths-mark when the doorbell rang. Kerri signed for the letter. She closed the door and we simply stared at each other. No words.

I delight in this photograph because, to me, it is slightly disorienting. If you had to guess which direction the photo was taken, you’d most likely guess blue. You’d be wrong. Perspective is just that – perspective. From my perspective, the photograph is upside-down. The photographer wears black flip flops.

We constantly locate ourselves in our stories. The location we choose is not passive or general. It is unique, dynamic. It gives us a point of view but does not afford us a lock on truth. Learning to question your unique perspective, to challenge your story-as-central, is an important growth step. It is maturation. Learning to question what you are told is an invaluable skill to develop.

As a lover of story, as a student of perspective, I am fascinated by the story-war raging in my nation. Politicians drape themselves in the flag, defending a violent insurrection on democracy, while demonizing and fearmongering BLM. Propaganda, hate-mongering and conspiracy theory is run amok and fueled by entertainment posing as news. Voter suppression laws, gerrymandering, stuffing the courts, all in the name of…what? The story of division. The dedicated maintenance of a half-story. A national story increasingly exposed as redacted. Why should a democracy work so hard to prevent a portion of its population from voting? To prevent its full history from being told? As we ask in the coaching world, “What’s underneath?”

Nations, like people, cannot grow until they look at the whole of their story, until all perspectives are voiced.

I’ve wandered back into the world of entrepreneurs and business. Each day I read or am shown the data on teamwork or the power of collaboration. The software-as-a-service world is dedicated to facilitating better communication, efficiency in sharing and collaborating, crossing disjointed platforms, and reaching into clouds where all are stronger as one than when in silos. I’m finding it intensely hopeful. Progress is calling us together. The economy is global as is the pandemic. We are in this together.

No one is healthy if all are not healthy. It’s the rule of the backyard, the honoring of dedicated friendship. My job is to protect you and yours is to protect me. It’s the story of the sandals and flip flops, the image of sanctuary, and, if not the yearning of this nation, it is the reality of this interconnected world.

read Kerri’s blog post about SANDALS

Do What They Do [on DR Thursday]

I’ve posted this painting more than any other in my stacks.

Some paintings serve as markers for new directions. This painting is one of those. What came before this painting was suddenly old. What came after was an exciting unknown path. Exploration and play. Big mistakes and messes followed by understanding. Materials can only be pushed so far. Bodies and shapes reveling in negative and positive space.

When I met Kerri, this painting did not have a name. I called it #7 in my yoga series. She called it “Iconic” and the name stuck. I liked the name. It seemed appropriate. An icon is a symbol. Something worthy of veneration.

Now, over ten years later, this icon, once the harbinger of the new, serves as the hallmark of what was.

I delight in this painting, Iconic. It is one of the few. And, although I am grateful for where it led me, I’ve come to realize that it no longer serves to locate me, except in a past chapter, like a yearbook photo.

Letting go. It is why I stand in my studio – I can’t even sit there of late – and look at the mess on canvas that sits untouched on my easel these many months. Somewhere, after this mishmash phase, somewhere, beyond the chaos and disorder and wiping away, there will emerge another marker. An icon. A compass.

Although I’ve written it many times in these past few months, it’s way past time that I admit – to myself – that I am, once again, in the wilderness. Someone once told me that we go to the wilderness to face our demons and find our gods. That seems a bit dramatic. Demons and gods are one and the same, like positive and negative space or comedy and tragedy. The lesson is always the same: stop taking yourself so seriously and the oppositions, the demons and gods, will stop pulling you apart.

Find a child and watch them play with paint. Do that. Do what they do. The wilderness is rich in sustenance if you know where to look.

Someday, in the midst of being lost, I’ll make an accidental mark that jolts me. I’ll turn it around, asking, “What’s this?” A new direction will emerge.

Read Kerri’s blog post about ICONIC

iconic ©️ 2010 david robinson

Blink [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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Yesterday was Father’s Day. 20 showed us a photo. His children when they were kids. “Where does the time go?” he asked. Thirty years. “That was the blink of an eye.”

We put together a video collage for my dad using images dating from the time that Kerri first met him. Seven years. “Doesn’t that seem like yesterday?” We had a hard time remembering the order of events; what visit came first? We looked for clues. The length of my hair. The color of stripe on my dad’s shirt.

In one of the photo sequences we are in Iowa, the little town where my dad grew up. In the photos he is showing us the house his grandfather built, the house where his father grew up. It is tiny. Today, it is someone’s storage shed. To my dad, it is holy ground, the place where as a child he ran free. This was his last touch. His final visit.

We  had a phone conversation with my sister. Her pandemic experience is vastly different from ours. To her, it is a minor inconvenience. “People just can’t stay in forever!” she exclaimed. “I’m worried more about the suicides than this virus.” Time, 100 days, to her community, is an eternity. “People gotta live!” she says.

Eternity. “What day is it?’ I ask. Kerri looks off into space. Weird calculus. “Thursday, I think.” she says from some far off place.

Locating ourselves is not so easy in these times. The landmarks are covered over. The geography is changed.

“What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Mary Oliver asks.

What did you do with your one precious life? With this day, this time, pandemic or not?

We look at each other and laugh. “I’m getting old!” We cringe. Look at me!” We wear our age and it surprises us.

“Time,” Kerri sighs, looking in the mirror. “It is so strange.”

 

read Kerri’s blog post about TIME

 

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Create A Ritual [on Two Artists Tuesday]

flip flop parking copy

The deceased horseshoe crab was the perfect marker. It was the place we could leave behind our flip flops and venture onto the sand. And, like all actions that become repetitive, the horseshoe crab parking lot became one of our rituals.

It became assumed. Known. We leave our flip flops at the horseshoe crab. To the horseshoe crab we will return. There is comfort in knowing the leaping point. There is even more comfort in knowing the landing place. Home is just beyond.

Our ritual began like many rituals began – out of necessity.  From the house to the dunes and the beach beyond, it was necessary to cross the land of sand spurs. “You have to step with intention,” Kirsten instructed us. “Otherwise you get stabbed.” And, so, we put on our cheap flip flops and stepped with intention all the way to the dunes. The horseshoe crab marked the safe zone. To park our flip flops meant we were out of danger. It meant the armor required to cross back over to the house was waiting for us when we needed it. After several crossings and returns, the horseshoe crab became a location ritual. And then, the crab grew into a symbol.

Once, late at night, we stayed out too long and the houses in the distance blended into shapes without distinction. For a time we were lost. The only way we found our place, located our path, knew home was just over there, was finding the sentinel crab standing guard over our footwear.

It all sounds silly, doesn’t it? Consider how carefully we protect our holiday rituals, our morning rituals, our rituals of identity (what’s in your closet? Why do you wear your hair that way and not this way?). How vigorously we defend our rituals of location (‘This is where I belong!’). Our known paths. The repetitions that give us comfort. The expectations and the stories we tell. The beliefs we embrace despite all the evidence to the contrary. You are not broken. Nothing needs to be fixed. We, humans, create rituals. And then embrace them as story.

The horseshoe crab, for us, will forever mark the leaping place. It will, forever, be a symbol that home, that safety, is just beyond the dune.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about FLIP FLOP PARKING LOT

 

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Enjoy The Hallway [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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Arnie’s mom was wise. She used to say that when one life-door closes another door will always open. But, the time in the hallway sucks. There’s nothing to do but enjoy the hallway.

Once, in a seemingly endless period in the hallway between life-doors, I wrote my friend Rob and complained that I felt like I was completely lost in the forest. He told me to sit down and enjoy the forest.

Sometimes it seems that life is one big location joke. Doesn’t it strike you as odd how much time we silly critters give to trying to locate ourselves. Who am I? What is my purpose? Where am I going? Life as one long episode of House Hunters. Gut job! In looking for location, in trying get somewhere else or be someone else, we miss the obvious: I’m right here.

At a seminar I heard a participant complain, “I thought I learned that lesson! I thought I was done with it. It keeps coming back!” The facilitator laughed and said, “That’s why it’s called a life lesson.”

Have you ever noticed that all of these life-doors only open into other hallways? No one promised that this maze would be easy. If I were me (and I am), I’d listen to Arnie’s mom.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about TUITION.

 

not our best morning minturn website box copy

 

Enjoy Your Ride [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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Navigating a transit system can be confusing. The skill is knowing where you are relative to the end-of-the-line and which end-of-the-line is the direction you wish to travel. It’s a process of orienting. Here I am now. There is where I want to be. Inevitably, learning the system comes from of getting on the wrong train a few times.

It turns out that navigating life requires the same skill. Knowing where you are relative to where you want to be. Getting lost, getting on the wrong train is a necessary part of the process. Who hasn’t looked out their window and thought, “This isn’t where I wanted to go.” Or, “I’m not doing with my life what I wanted to do.” The real challenge, so I’ve  been told, is not in the knowing of where you want to go but in being honest enough with yourself to recognize where you are now.

Recently, climbing the stairs to catch a train in Chicago, we saw this helpful guide. Loop. This train will take you to the downtown loop. I laughed. Transit-Life-Lesson #2: whether you recognize it our not, learning lessons in life happens in loops and not lines. They call them “life lessons” because they come back around again and again and again…. There is no wrong direction in a loop. So, I suppose, whether you know where you are going or not, it’s best to enjoy your ride. Your unique life lesson will most certainly come back around.

Of course, in any case, in every case, asking for help is always…helpful. So, if you don’t mind, please tell me again, where am I?

 

read Kerri’s blog post about LOOP

 

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Know Your Name

548. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

On the corner of Beach Drive and 63rd Street is William Stanton Jr. park. Each day I pass the sign with his name and I wonder who he was (or is); why does this park carry his name. It was meant to be an honor, certainly, a commemoration.

I used to consult with the Lincoln Unified School District in Stockton, California and one of their elementary schools was named after Claudia Landeen. She was a pioneer of the district and an inspiration to many educators. I met Claudia once before she died. She was a mentor to my mentor, Tom. I met her at the elementary school that carried her name and when she was introduced to the crowd as “thee” Claudia Landeen, she rolled her eyes. She whispered to Tom, “Be careful, they name a school after you when they want to put you out to pasture.” Tom, closing in on his own retirement, said, “Oh, god! There’s talk of to sticking my name on the men’s room door.”

In Seattle, we have Edgar Martinez Blvd (he was a player on the Mariner’s baseball team for a very long time), we have Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, our state is named for George Washington; I know because his picture is on the state flag. I have several times visited the Vietnam Memorial in the other Washington; it is a wall of names that we do not want to forget; names that we hope to honor far into the future.

We are masters of naming things. Isn’t that how we locate ourselves? Don’t the names we put on things also carry a history? Don’t they serve an intention? The name gives the place an association, a meaning. I grew up in Jefferson County, Colorado and there is no doubt in my mind which Jefferson the county is named after; his name links me to a tradition, a value set, and an origin story.

Political seasons always make me perk up my ears to the names we place on other people. Like the names we stick on places, the names we stick on other people are not passive; these names carry history, intention, and many levels of meaning; and they also serve to locate us. The candidates call each other names, the parties name each other, the media adds a name or two; there are so many pundits telling me what I just heard and interpreting for me what it all means – apparently they must name my experience for me; it is a veritable circus of name calling and interpretation of the name that was just called. Often, I ask myself, “Given these names and with so many people dedicated to telling me what I just heard, working so hard to locate me, how do I locate myself?” How many of us are truly locating ourselves and how many of us are outsourcing our point of view (location)?

I just heard about a study showing that where belief is concerned, party affiliation trumps education every time. In other words, we’ve stopped thinking critically (and independently – despite what we like to believe of ourselves) and will swallow any name the party asks us to swallow. Perhaps we are lazy or too busy to think for ourselves; either way in the absence of a questioning mind the name we give to others carries a dangerous kind of power: locating “them” also serves to locate “us” and since the name we stick on “them” has little or no substance, the location we give ourselves will also be void of substance.

It is no small question when I ask, “How are you locating yourself?” Who is naming your experiences for you? To what are you sticking your name?

Tell A Better Story

485. 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 am preparing my notes from Seek The Bear class and thought this might be useful to share:

We are hardwired for story. We can’t help it; it is what we do. We interpret, we judge, we speculate, we remember, we ponder, we investigate, we justify…we story. Meaning making and interpretation are processes of story. Even hard data is a form of story—when we story ourselves we locate: where are we now, where are we going? How we locate ourselves is a process of story.

The story you tell yourself about your self is often hard to see because you don’t see it as a story. It’s your life and you are so used to the inner-narrative that you stop recognizing your self as the narrator/interpreter of the events. You assume that your story is truth; you assume that your story is “normal.” Your thoughts are your story.

The language you use to tell your story determines the world you see or do not see.

Recognizing that you are the storyteller of your life is one of the most potent paths to transformation available. When you recognize that you narrate and interpret every experience, every moment, every day of your life – that your memories are not passive, your imaginings betray a specific narrative point of view; then you can begin the path of creating. What you believe is possible, what you see as a limitation is unique to you: it’s your story and you’re telling it through your thoughts and how they drive the actions of your life. When you recognize this you come to a simple truth – and this one is ancient: you can change your story and in doing so you can change your world.

People have for centuries understood that wholeness, power, and creativity are immediately available once they recognize that life is not happening to them, rather they are actively creating the story of their life. They told stories, not for entertainment, but as guides for the next generation: a map for powerful living; a map for navigating the unknown.

Ask yourself, “What is the story I tell?” And then ask, “Is this the story I want to tell?”