Retrace Your Steps [on KS Friday]

We completed the first loop and, rather than continue in the same direction as we usually do, we turned and walked the other way, retracing our steps. It was remarkable. Walking in the opposite direction seemed like a different trail altogether.

It is the way of memory. Take a walk backward in life through places you’ve already been. It is a different trail. Often unrecognizable. In fact, with each backward stroll, the path is surprisingly different depending on the reason for retracing your steps.

This is the season for retracing steps. Remembering people and places, tastes and smells. Kerri asked how we celebrated Thanksgiving when I was a boy. We spent the next several hours roaming through our forgotten lands. Some were delicious. Some painful. Some made us laugh.

I’ve been talking with Horatio and emailing with Rob about next steps. Where to go from here. This seems like a well-worn path: sudden job loss. Their advice is clear: do not walk the same path. Do not do the same old thing in the same old way. “My advice is mundane,” said Horatio.

As we set our eyes on a new trail, we also walk old paths in our minds. In order to avoid doing the same old thing -again – we must first see the loop that we’re on. Turning around and walking in the opposite direction seems prudent.

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

read Kerri’s blogpost about STEPS

figure it out/right now © 2010 kerri sherwood

KS Coming Through [on KS Friday]

Last night, in one of the great shocks of my life, Kerri began humming the theme song from The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. My dedicated Hallmark movie watching wife, deep in a story of snowy-christmas-romance, the predictable kiss impending, out of nowhere, hummed as if it was her favorite tune, the theme from a spaghetti western. Clint Eastwood flipped his poncho, bit his cigarette, crinkled his eyes.

For a moment I thought she was possessed. Ennio Morricone was coming through.

Humming, she never looked away from the screen, her eyes misted over with the inevitable conclusion. Two lonely people found each other against all odds in the final minute of the movie. Squeaky clean romance to the tune of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

“Where did that come from?” I asked

“What?” she replied.

Moments later a new song hummed to the surface. I asked her to recall the spaghetti western tune but she couldn’t. Apparently she is either a mystic-music-channel or a human radio station.

Life with a world-class musician is never dull. Since I was born without the music gene, I generally find her either magical or mystical. The other day we emerged from the woods to find a thongophone. Yes. A thongophone. Without a moments hesitation, she approached this mountain-that-I-cannot-climb, picked up the thongs, and began to play the pvc pipes with ease. Her tune was whimsical and bright. I sat in the sun and enjoyed the concert she played for fun.

When she was done, she bowed. I applauded and asked, “Where did that tune come from?”

“What?” she replied. “I dunno. I made it up.”

Kerri Sherwood. Coming through.

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

read Kerri’s blogpost about the THONGOPHONE

galena/released from the heart © 1995 kerri sherwood

Do The Important Thing [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

These are the short days of the year. The moment I’m finished with work, we head out the door for a walk before the sun disappears. Sometimes, like this week, when the weather is gorgeous, we walk the neighborhood during my lunch break. We are walk-opportunitsts.

It’s easy on the weekends to fill up the days with the-things-that-need-to-get-done. The gutters need cleaning. The leaves need raking. Winter is coming. Generally, we build the list around a walk but occasionally there is an inversion. The walk goes on the list.

I know we have our priorities straight. Even on the days of inversion, even if the list is lengthy and incomplete, we recognize that the most important thing is not the door that needs fixing or the deck that needs repair. The most important thing is to hold hands and take a walk. Together.

It’s how we appreciate our moment of life. The list can always wait for another day.

read Kerri’s blog post on this saturday morning smack-dab.

smack-dab. © 2022 kerrianddavid.com

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

Give Over [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

In the world of price comparison, label reading, expiration dates, coupons, and ingredients review, I am a loser. In these matters I have a Teflon brain. Nothing sticks.

When I shop, I take something from the shelf and toss it into the cart. When Kerri shops, she reads. She scrutinizes. She weighs the relative value of each item against the recent past and possible future items. She questions and considers every detail. Percentages spill from her mind. She remembers the price of pasta – and everything else – from 1992 to the current day. She can tell me the history to the minute when the volume of a box or can dropped from 16 to 12 ounces, “Yet the price stayed the same,” she grimaces.

During our very first shopping expedition, I knew I was in a whole new league. No more toss and run. No more quick trips to the grocery store. I was pushing the cart for the Einstein of food shoppers, the Yoda of coupons.

We’ve evolved. Or, I have evolved. While she reads, I gaze. While she compares, I ponder. While she weighs and considers, I daydream. For me, shopping has become a time to reflect. To abdicate all of life’s responsibilities. To give over to a better mind and push-the-cart merely.

read Kerri’s blogpost on this saturday morning smack-dab.

smack-dab. © 2022 kerrianddavid.com

Stumble Forward [on KS Friday]

I stared at the print in our Airbnb. It made me smile. A happy sloth sitting for a portrait. My children’s book-story-imagination ran amok with the possibilities. This sloth might be pals with Pooh.

The image is by Simon Te Tai. He’s a photographer and manipulates his images using other technologies. He alters the personality. He sometimes adds human characteristics.

I’m paying attention to the uproar in the art community over text-to-image software, like Dall-e. Type a simple phrase into the generator and it will produce an image. “It’s the end!” frightened artists cry!

It’s curious to me. A camera is a technology that, when first introduced, produced the same cry from artists. “It’s the end.” And then artists worked with it. The world would not have a Van Gogh or a Matisse without the camera. The camera freed artists from the necessities of realism. It opened paths to other vibrant explorations.

I remember the first time I saw Photoshop. “The end of truth as we know it,” I thought. A photograph was no longer proof that something happened. It was a shock. Disorienting. Now, I sit next to Kerri everyday as she manipulates our cartoons, produces our blog-boxes, and tweaks photos. It is common, everyday. Liberating.

There isn’t an art form that hasn’t been fundamentally altered by technology. Amplification of sound made it possible for us to attend a concert in a stadium of people. The swirling lights, the moving images playing behind Elton John were sophisticated and an integral part of the experience.

Our language is being altered by technology. The text. The tweet. The emoji. The pendulum is swinging back toward the image, the symbol, and away from the written word. Pictographs on screens rather than chipped into the walls of pyramids.

It’s a push-me-pull-you, this dance we do with technology. Something is rendered obsolete while something gained is not-quite-understood. Change is like that, especially the rapid changes introduced by technology. We stumble forward like a drunken sailor, never quite knowing where we’re going because we understand ourselves by where we’ve been.

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

read Kerri’s blogpost about THE SLOTH

bridge/as it is © 2004 kerri sherwood

Stop And Rest [on KS Friday]

At the height of the pandemic she recorded music on her phone and posted it for the community. It was a warm blanket, a comfort sent to people separated by the virus. Yesterday, she stumbled upon the recordings. There are hundreds. She played one for me. Pressing pause, she looked surprised and said, “These were good.”

I appreciated her honesty. I smiled at her surprise. Having been taught that it’s not nice to brag, she rarely acknowledges the scope and depth of her gift. Her pat response when I genuinely gush about her latest composition: “It’s okay.” It is good medicine for a gifted artist to say to herself, “My work is good.”

Also yesterday, she had a “talk” with me. She advised that I be less hard on myself. “Hold yourself softly,” she said. She was spot on. She can see it in me because she can see it in herself. She was telling me that, like her, my work is good. I swallowed my immediate response, “It’s okay.”

“Okay” is a hard word. It comes from a long road of vulnerability and a dedication to getting better and better. Minimizing is both armor and a practice. The path of artistic passion runs through, “Love what you do.” Yes, love it, but don’t get lost in it.

A life of mastery is built upon a mountain-range of mistakes and a dedication to never arriving. Keep walking. Keep growing and opening. Keep discovering ways to say more with less. Every once in awhile, it’s nourishing for the artistic soul to stop for a rest and crawl under the warm generous blanket of, “My work is good.”

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

read Kerri’s blogpost about QUILTS

and goodnight/and goodnight…a lullaby album © 2005 kerri sherwood

Imagine The Shadow [on KS Friday]

“I look out the window sometimes to seek the color of the shadows and the different greens in the trees, but when I get ready to paint I just close my eyes and imagine a scene.” ~ Grandma Moses

Among the many reasons I love autumn is the color of the light. Looking out of the kitchen window this morning I was bowled over by plants resplendent in orange and pink. I was so taken by the color that I forgot I was cooking and nearly burned breakfast.

We hiked yesterday. The trail was steep and rocky but, thankfully, the trail wound under the canopy of the forest. It was a hot day and the shade made our path bearable. We stopped often to breathe and enjoy the remarkable shadows cast by the trees. The leaves glowed and waved, backlit by the sun.

Imagination. The capacity to make images in the mind. It is the most basic of human capacities. We spend our lives imaging ourselves in tragedy and in triumph. Yearning and fear are both shades of imagination. “What if…?” is a question borne of imagination.

“Wait!” Kerri suddenly instructs, stopping me in my tracks. When the sun is low in the sky and our shadows make us skinny giants, she likes to capture our distortion. Shadows do not resist the curvature of the earth. They do not try-to-be. They simply conform to the circumstance and, inevitably, moving through a festival of color changes, blend into the purple dusk.

While she focuses her camera on our shadow, I appreciate the glow of the negative spaces, the yellow-autumn warmth heightened by our grey-blue silhouette. I giggle imagining we are as skinny-tall as the shadows we cast. “Hold still,” she whispers, not realizing my giggle is making the shot impossible. While stilling my shadow, in my mind, we reach and pluck the reddest of leaves from the tippy top of the maple tree.

Waiting (from Joy)

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

read Kerri’s blogpost about SHADOWS


waiting/joy © 1998 kerri sherwood

Modify The Plan [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

When you are an artist, you begin your career with the understanding that retirement is not really an option. You will work as hard or harder as any of your friends. You will have satisfaction in your work that few people can imagine. And, you will, most likely, unless you are very lucky or have a surprise trust fund, never experience lasting financial security.

Also, when you are an artist, you can’t imagine not making art so “retirement” generally means the-big-dirt-nap.

We have, since our great-double-wrist-break-and-financial free-fall of 2020-21, changed our approach. It’s less easy to improvise when the world perceives you as old-and-should-be-retired (non-dirt-nap-variety). Your networks collapse. Your mask obscures your capabilities.

We’ve modified our plan. We’ve modified our expectations. Now, we need only live long enough to break the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest living artists. Anything is possible! That belief, a hard-core dedication to abundant possibility, is what makes us artists in the first place!

Retirement (non-dirt-nap-variety), here we come!

read Kerri’s blogpost on this saturday morning smack-dab.

smack-dab. © 2022 kerrianddavid.com

See Beyond [on Two Artists Tuesday]

Breck, the small aspen tree in our backyard, is beginning to change its colors for the season. Although we have yet in our neighborhood to smell autumn in the air, Breck is giving us a heads-up.

A decade ago I wrote that, in order to see beyond preconception (thought), artists and entrepreneurs need to master two skills: pattern recognition and metaphor. Look for patterns and you will eventually see beyond them. See beyond the pattern and, as Ash Bhoopathy said, “The familiar will become strange and the strange will become familiar.” What an amazing definition of metaphor.

In this pattern cycle, the green becomes brilliant golden yellow as Breck turns her summer attention from the sun and sends her focus into the root for winter nourishment.

Kerri’s photographs are often extreme close-ups. She has a bit of Georgie O’Keeffe in her artist’s eye. Often, when showing me the latest photo, she pulls the-already-close-up-image into a detail. I am always amazed at the pattern beneath the pattern beneath the pattern. The plumes of the grasses are a festival of pattern. The many feet of the caterpillar, perfect suction cups.

Despite our dedication to our perceived differences, we, too are a festival of pattern. The operative word is “perceived.” Pull the lens close-in and our divisions disappear as rapidly as our skin color. Pull the focus farther out and we move together in a sweet-and-sour ballet. Koyannisqatsi. History repeats, a pattern, like the cycle of the seasons. Order moves to chaos to order to chaos…mainly in our minds. Order is what we crave, so purblind are we to seeing the ubiquity of pattern.

The plumes explode pink and red on the grasses The chipmunks have picked up their foraging pace. The geese have reappeared. The miracles are in the familiar, strange and surprising when seen again for the first time. The feel of the hand of the one you love. The moon on a clear cold night. The yellow rim reaching through the green quaking leaves.

read Kerri’s blogpost about BRECK’S LEAVES