Play The Same Stuff [on Merely A Thought Monday]

string bass with frame copy“If you are a chef, not matter how good a chef you are, it’s not good cooking for yourself; the joy is in cooking for others – it’s the same with music.” ~will.i.am

I lived most of my life believing I didn’t have a musical bone in my body. I was convinced that I had a tin ear. I was afraid to sing. I carried a guitar (I named her Magnolia) with me for years – a gesture of hopefulness amidst my absolute commitment to my ineptitude – and finally gave it away to someone who could play it. An instrument needs to be played and I felt I was being selfish holding onto a guitar that I would never play. Oh, how I wish I had Magnolia today.

I didn’t just make up my fear of music. I had plenty of reinforcement, lots of shaming, before I committed to a story of I CAN’T. Over time, with more and more horror experiences, my story solidified into I WON’T. Ever. Close the door. Kill the desire.

When I met Kerri – a consummate musician – I told her this: “You have to know two things about me. I don’t sing & I don’t pray.” A few months later we were driving back roads in Georgia, windows rolled down, a James Taylor CD blaring, Kerri singing at the top of her lungs, I thought it was safe to sing along. She’d never hear me. But, she did. She burst into tears and pulled the car off the road. I shook like a leaf but we sang together and it was grand.

It took her about 15 minutes to identify my obstacle. I had to relearn how to hear. That’s it. It took a few months and a willingness to mightily miss notes and my scary story of CAN’T crumbled. I learned how to feel the sound. The music was there all along.

Here’s the magic for a beginner like me: when I am rehearsing with the ukulele band or singing in the choir, I am capable of so much more than when I am practicing by myself. Playing the same stuff elevates everyone. It’s as if we transcend ourselves. Actually, we do transcend ourselves. We sync up and the energy uplifts everyone. Even me. Especially me, a toddler in knowing that I CAN.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about PLAYING THE SAME STUFF

 

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Face The Wind [it’s Chicken Marsala Monday]

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Saul taught me to look beyond the obstacle and, instead, place my focus in the field of possibilities. How I experience my life is largely a matter of where I decide to focus, what I choose to see.

Life, I’ve learned (or finally accepted), never stops throwing new things at me – challenges & opportunities. And, when looking in the rear view mirror of my life , I am generally hard-pressed to distinguish between what was a challenge and what was an  opportunity. The challenges became opportunities, the opportunities brought a basket of challenges.

The winds of change blow all the time. As Chicken, like Saul, reminds me on this Chicken Marsala Monday, the winds of change are never an obstacle. They are a constant force (called life) moving you, moving all of us, to learn, to grow. They are an invitation to turn our faces into the wind, look to the horizon and appreciate the ride.

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read Kerri’s blog post on The Wind Never Stops Blowing You

www.kerrianddavid.com

the wind never stops blowing you/designs ©️ 2016/2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Embrace Your Obstacles [It’s Two Artists Tuesday]

A Tuesday thought-spark from studio melange.

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obstacles are merely challenges by another name

“Simple” was the single guide-star we followed when we started our Two Artists designs. “They should be very, very simple,” we chanted. With the wall of our dining room a vast fluttering field of post-it note phrases, we jumped in, quickly creating images that might illuminate the phrases. I’m a spontaneous-gesture-drawing guy. Kerri’s designs are swift and potent with color. In simplicity we created an obstacle for ourselves. We created a challenge.

Obstacle/challenge creation is what people do!  People create obstacles all the time and call them “hobbies.” We humans routinely fabricate wings and run at edges, we aim to solve unsolvable problems and create the unimaginable. Eliminate obstacles and there is no story. Eliminate obstacles and cloudy boredom descends. The absence of obstacles is what makes retirement so daunting for so many. The carefree life is only carefree with a select set of obstacles, a good garden or golf game.

From studio melange on Two Artists Tuesday, we wish for you a healthy selection of happy obstacles.

 

 

OBSTACLES MAKE LIFE INTERESTING reminders/merchandise

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read Kerri’s blog post about OBSTACLES

 

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kerrianddavid.com

 

obstacles make life interesting ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Obstacles Make Life

TODAY’S FEATURED PRINT FOR HUMANS

Obstacles Make Life

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Peel Off The Laminate

An illustration from my children's book, LUCY AND THE WATERFOX

An illustration from my children’s book, LUCY AND THE WATERFOX

Last week in a fit of frustration I climbed a ladder and scraped the damaged paint off the kitchen ceiling. The paint was compromised a few years ago and needed repair. The peeling paint was on my summer list of things to fix but we were traveling most of the summer. Autumn arrived and the to-do list remained. Scraping and sanding always leads to the necessity of new paint and Kerri said, “If you paint the ceiling it will make the walls look dingy. We better paint the walls, too.”

So, standing in the kitchen, fists filled with paint chips, discussing color possibilities, we realized that all of our color choices were defined by the fading yellow of the ancient kitchen countertop. The counter was at least 50 years old, laminate, and held in place by some well-placed packing tape. We’ve talked often of the day in some distant future when we could afford to replace it and that day seemed very far away.

In that moment, hands filled with paint chip possibilities, we realized that the countertop had became a metaphor. We were defining our choices based on a limitation. Or, said another way, we were limiting our possibilities based on our belief in an obstacle; what we could or could not do.

How often is that the case? What self-imposed limit defines the choices we see? How often do we unwittingly shrink our field of possibility? How often do we allow the things we don’t want to define our actions?

It took less than 30 minutes to pull off the old laminate, break it into pieces, bag it, and get it out of the house. As I wrote in an earlier post, the spontaneous kitchen remodel began when we realized we had the power to remove the limit. We had the capacity to make choices based upon a different set of criteria. Before the spontaneous remodel we believed we couldn’t afford to change the kitchen countertops. The moment of paint-chip revelation made us understand that we couldn’t afford not to change them.

Life is great at applying belief-laminate to us: what we think we can and cannot do. Something profound happens when, in a moment, we understand that we are capable of challenging the limit, of pulling off the laminate, of being forced to step into a greater field of possibility (known from henceforth as the “Now What?”)

It is worth noting that our new countertop, the old plywood support and made exceptionally beautiful with chalk paint and wax, has transformed our kitchen and our actions. We hang out in the kitchen. The colors we are considering using for paint are now based on what we want to create and not on what needs to go with the old yellow laminate.

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Take The One Action

a work in progress. I'll call it "Salutation"

a work in progress. I’ll call it “Salutation”

It is true that, at the end of the day, we are our own best obstacle. Nothing is better at blocking meaningful action toward a dream than our personal story of doubt and fear. It comes in many forms, like, “Who am I to think that…,” or “If I only had some time I’d…,” or “If I only knew how to start, I’d….”

Lately, I’m fascinated with a specific form of the best-personal-obstacle canon: why do we take any action EXCEPT the one action that matters. For instance, I hear often statements like this: “I want to be a writer, but….” Anything following the statement of desire is a self-generated obstacle. There’s not enough time. No one will like what I write. Fill in the blank. The single action that matters is to write. Sit down and write. That is how one becomes a writer. And, if the writing happens everyday, one will become a better and better writer. Anything else is a well-placed, self-generated obstacle.

The question is, “Why do we need our obstacles?” What does placing a boulder in the road do for us? There is an obvious answer: it keeps us from the scary prospect of fulfilling our dreams. Fulfilling a dream requires showing up and expressing a personal truth. Personal truth is, well, personal, and will always meet resistance because there are billions of personal truths walking around out there.

The refusal to take the single-action-that-matters applies to the everyday. How many times have you swam in a pool of overwhelm rather than pick up the phone and make the call that you know you need to make? Once, when I ran a theatre company, I knew I needed to fire an employee but I didn’t want to do it. She was a nice person. She wasn’t doing her job. We had countless meetings discussing why she wasn’t taking the one single action that mattered (doing her job). And, so, I didn’t take the one single action that mattered (letting her go). When I finally mustered the courage to fire her, she thanked me. She wanted to do something else with her life but didn’t have the courage. When I fired her, I pushed her out of the nest. I became the circumstance that pushed her into the one action that mattered.

I think that’s the point of not taking the one action that will actually matter. We allow circumstance to decide for us. We delay until the bill collector comes or until the boss fires us or until we are sitting in a rocking chair telling the story of why we never had time to write. If only….

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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Write! Right!

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

5 times this fall I have been asked, “So, how can I get your book?” My inner high achiever wiggles when I say, “It’s still in my head.” That’s actually a lie. I have hundreds of journals, reams of notes, several hundred blog posts and 3 ebooks that constitute the armature for a book; it needs some organization and a bit of connective tissue but the pieces are all there.

“The trouble with my book,” I tell myself, “is that it is about too many things.” Is it for educators or business people? Is it for all people (I call people “artists”)? Megan rolled her eyes and told me that I was being dense. “Maybe,” she said, “Just maybe it is more than one book. Write the first one, choose the door, and later you can make it accessible to other audiences. Get out of your own way.” Right! Write. As I have blogged in the past, it is fire-aim-ready and not the other way around.

Diane offers courses in divine mastery and I just proofed her workbook. In it she asks a question: how will you match your greatest gift with the world’s greatest need. I thought, “Oh, that’s easy.” I think the world’s greatest need is a new narrative. Truly, the power-over narrative is miserable and is killing us. The new narrative (which is actually a return to an ancient narrative) is power-with. My greatest gift and my work for the past several years has been to help people live power-with narratives. Right! Write. Could it be any clearer?

Recently Alan said, “You really need to write a book.” I said, “I need time. I have the pieces and just need the clear space and time to assemble and connect the dots; I can’t afford it right now.” So last week, wielding the hammer of the universe, Judy said, “Do a Kickstarter campaign and buy yourself some time to write. I’ll help you!”

I am a slow study and really good at constructing obstacles for myself. What I recognize in my obstacle construction, if I hold it to the mirror, is a very specific path to writing the book: clear some space (I call it my “cabin in the woods), ask for help, and get out of my own way. Write. Right. Aiming and readiness will come after I fire the intention.