Dream [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

Sleep is hit or miss in our house. If it’s a miss for one, it’s a miss for all. Synchronized sleeping is rare.

Last night, Kerri woke me at 12:45. “I’m-up-you-up?” We ate snacks. We talked. Our midnight conversation lasted until 4am. In case you’re wondering, important stuff arises when talking through the night.

The downside of world-class-deep-night-chat is that morning arrives and it’s brutal. Coffee is not a luxury. I immediately invoke the no-power-tools rule. It’s important, when sleep deprived, to stay away from sharp objects or motor-driven-blades.

It’s good thing I don’t work in construction. These days I’d get very little accomplished.

read Kerri’s blogpost about DREAMS

smack-dab. © 2023 kerrianddavid.com

Laugh Your Way Into Slumber [on saturday morning smack-dab]

Once again, instead of peacefully sleeping, the mother-lode-of-comedy rolled through my brainpan. If I could only remember, after the lights go out, to order a drink, sit back, and play audience to the nonsense that takes the stage-in-my-mind, I’d laugh my way into slumber. Seriously, what I think is funny.

I’ve read that a mind needs to be occupied with something. It doesn’t matter what the “something” is as long as it’s sufficiently occupied. Without some parameters, that monkey-mind will latch onto anything passing through and then whip it into a full-blown stand-up routine. I suspect that the person who first said, “Don’t take yourself too seriously,” arrived at their insight after several sleepless nights.

I’m putting a post-it note by the bed. It reads, “The joke is on you.” No, really. It’s on me.

read Kerri’s blogpost about SLEEPLESS NIGHTS

smack-dab. © 2022 kerrianddavid.com

Witness [on DR Thursday]

It’s almost impossible for us to keep walking when the sun sets. We stop wherever we are. In quiet, we watch it descend. It’s as if we are full participants in the day’s end. Holy moments. Holding sacred space. It’s the role of the witness.

I feel the same is true now, at this year’s end. It’s not always true in December but this year is different, It’s almost impossible for us to keep walking. In quiet, holding hands, we are watching the year descend into the past.

I wonder what we are, in fact, witnessing? We stepped off the known path and are once again traveling the unknown trail. That is not new in our experience. It is actually more common in our lives to be stepping into new territory. To not know where we are going. This time feels different.

A few years ago I painted a picture that I like very much. It is simple. Kerri calls it Pax. Peace. The figure in the painting is satisfied. Present. At peace. I’ve not thought about this painting for a long time but it’s walking with me right now. It’s asking to be pulled from the stacks.

Witnessing is not passive. This painting will be our witness during the setting of the year. We will witness it as it daily reminds us to be at peace. Holding hands in sacred space. Not rushing to get out of the woods even as the light wanes.

I have sometimes wondered why I paint. Today I know without doubt the reason.

Pax, 24x24IN, mixed media

read Kerri’s blogpost about SUNSET

pax © 2015 david robinson

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

Renew [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

I’m not sure why it hit me with such force. It’s a simple thing. It happens every day. A business fails. This business has been, for years, the place where I catalogued my paintings. Artmoi.com. It is the platform I use to publish my art website. The email notification suggested we export our work. It came with suggestions for other cataloguing options and sites. Generous in their exit. Responsible to their customers. It’s why I signed on in the first place.

I felt it as the end of an era. I wondered if it was the end. It would be a good time to pull it down. Let it go.

For a few years I’ve been writing about my struggles as a visual artist. The time of pandemic has also been the epic of water in our basement, my studio. The subsequent shuffling and reshuffling of boxes and crates and books and clothes and furniture has left my studio filled with our life-stuff. No where to stand. My easel sits above the high water mark.

The disruption came at a good time. I was becoming bored with my paintings. I was becoming disgruntled with the growing stack of paintings. Showing on the web has not proven very useful. I was primed for some productive disarray. And, when it came, it came with a vengeance. Pandemic. Broken wrists. Job loss. Economic free-fall. A curious series of water events; water falling from the ceiling, water rising from the floors, water line breaking through the walls. Water, water, everywhere. Full stop.

I sit on the stairs and look at the easel standing tall above the boxes and bags. There’s a canvas clamped in, ready. Waiting. It looks like an art installation entitled “Wreckage or Relegation?”

In the meantime, I’m drawing cartoons. We write every day. My work remains a thrilling creative challenge and requires full engagement of both sides of my brain. I’m lightly rehearsing for a performance in May. There’s no shortage of creative energy expenditure in our house.

On the trail yesterday, surrounded by flowers at the end of their season, I recognized that the end of Artmoi will become the beginning of renewal. An opportunity for a new site, a next-identity, is an opportunity for new eyes. A new approach. One that is much more appropriate to this chapter of my artist’s life, this season.

read Kerri’s blogpost about HIGHER GROUND

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

Feel The Stir [on DR Thursday]

“It has bothered me all my life that I do not paint like everybody else.” ~Henri Matisse

The canoe glided silently through the lily leaves. I counterbalanced the canoe as she stretched over the side to take a photograph. Leaning, I stared down at the leaves. Vibrant color and pattern, Matisse might have painted them. They stirred within me the deep desire to paint, something I haven’t heeded for too long. Nature is a great artist.

The trees surrounding the lake signaled autumn’s imminent arrival. Crimson reds and yellows dotted the shore. Fall paints me melancholy and I felt the first whispers of the coming-sweet-sorrow. Deep quiet. Still water reflection. Hearing rhythms beyond sound. Nature, I am told, is a great healer.

Although I’ve painted all my life I’ve never thought of myself as a painter. For me, painting is not about the image I produce. It is about walking into the dark cave or soaring into the blinding light. Icarus. Nature’s call.

My sister remains confounded that I have not given myself over to the wealth and riches of pet portraiture. Early in my life I was paid-not-well to copy masterworks, alter the colors so they might match a client’s couch. I can paint anything. I can paint like anyone. I left that behind. It was soul draining. I paint to answer Nature’s call, to discover how to paint like myself.

Counterbalancing the canoe, staring at the Matisse leaves, the brilliant white lily, I acknowledged the stir. I promised myself, my easel, like autumn’s imminent arrival, “Soon.”

read Kerri’s blogpost about LILY

icarus © 2008 david robinson

Be The Feast [on DR Thursday]

This time of year, if you want to walk the Des Plaines river trail, do it early in the day. The mosquitoes come out in the afternoon. They are vicious little critters.

The Des Plaines mosquitoes are subject to one of the great mysteries in my life. At home – in fact, everywhere else on the planet – the mosquitoes prefer Kerri. I can be mosquito-free while she’s a mosquito-buffet. Not true at Des Plaines. Those wicked flying needles feast on me and give her a pass. Why?

Last week we started our walk a little later than planned. It’s as if the folks in the Des Plaines control room throw a switch. One moment, there’s not a mosquito to be found. The next moment, the mosquito dinner bell is rung and I am the main course. I run-walk, slap and silly dance my way back to the relative safety of the car. Kerri walks leisurely asking, “Are there any on me?”

It’s been a great equalizer in our relationship. For years, in the early summer evenings, writhing, she asks in desperation, “Are you getting bitten?” My smug response has always been, “No. Are they out?” Now, as I wiggle and swat my way through the forest, she strolls and smiles and asks, “What’s the matter?”

Equalizer. Compassion-builder. Though, now I understand why she suggested a later start for our walk in the woods. “What about the mosquitoes?” I asked.

She smiled.

read Kerri’s blogpost about MOSQUITOES

earth interrupted I © 2012 david robinson