Follow The Map [on KS Friday]

wait a while songbox copy

These days I am more interested in the rough draft than the finished piece. Recently, 20 gave me a great gift as we sorted through Duke’s old sketches and throw-away paintings. Duke was brilliant and his explorations were free and full of art-frolic.

When Kerri brings out the box of rough cuts I secretly clap my flippers. It means I am going to hear the story behind the composition. We listen and she tells me of the day she recorded the piece or about the problems she and her producer faced. The unforeseen, the discovery-in-the-moment.

My favorite days in this life happen when I am down in the studio and, upstairs, Kerri begins to noodle on the piano, when she allows herself to fall into composing. Our house fills with an enchantment, an invocation of all that is essential. A creative pilgrimage that has no leader and no follower, only the pull of the impulse.

WAIT A WHILE, a rough cut, will give you some sense of what it feels like to be in my studio when Kerri begins the pilgrimage. Like Duke’s free flowing sketches, this rough cut is a map to the sacred place.

Listen to WAIT A WHILE, the rough cut piano track here:


Kerri on ITunes


picnic table website box copy


wait a while: rough cut ©️ 1995 – 2019 kerri sherwood

Visit With Your Guardian

My Threshold Guardian at the Jelly Belly store.

My Threshold Guardian at the Jelly Belly store.

In addition to being a dear friend, Arnie is my personal threshold guardian. His appearances in my life always signal that change is a’comin’. The last time that I saw Arnie I left behind everything that I knew (literally and metaphorically). I began a long pilgrimage to the church of my self. It felt as if I stepped into my big wooden sailing ship and set a course for the edge of the known world and then, with great intention, sailed over the edge.

Two years have passed since our last meeting. In the interim, I have experienced Sirens and Cyclops, I lost my metaphoric ship and crew to the great whirling Charybdis, I was held captive on an island, I paid an extraordinary visit to the underworld and, at last, returned to the light with new knowledge. And, this week, as is his custom when I am ready to pass through the next portal, Arnie came to visit.

Saul’s voice roared in my head as Arnie and I debriefed my two-year journey: address your self to the field of possibility, not to the opponent. Possibility, I learned, becomes visible when we are vulnerable and available to it. It appears when we place our focus on it, when we seek it. Pushing and protecting and fighting and resisting obscures the field of possibility because our focus is on the opponent, not on the possibility.

And, of course, the greatest opponent is our self.

In the language of story, for great personal transformation to occur, we must leave behind everything we know and go on a journey into the unknown. That includes leaving behind who we know ourselves to be. In other words, we are required to let go of all the things we believe that we can control – but in truth cannot; we are required to release our insistence on keeping things “as they are.” In the end, we are required to face and then release the things that we are trying “to make work” but cannot – and let go of all the things we want to force into existence but cannot. That is the moment the opponent in our self disappears and we are at last able to turn our eyes outward and see the field of possibility that has been available for us all along.

title_pageGo here to buy hard copies (and Kindle) of my latest book: The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, Innovator, Seeker, Learner, Leader, Creator,…You.

Eve, by David Robinson

Eve, by David Robinson

Go here to buy fine art prints of my paintings.


Know Your Pilgrimage

Arnie owns this one. A watercolor from days past.

Arnie owns this one. A watercolor from days past.

I keep notes and short phrases to spark thoughts for future posts. The notes are scattered everywhere: scribbled in margins of my notebooks, written on Post-it notes stuck to the wall or in a helter-skelter line running the length of the table, or cryptic messages typed at the bottom of other documents. This morning I caught sight of this prompt:

Pilgrimages are supposed to be arduous.

During facilitations I used to tell groups that people without challenges create challenges. These created challenges are called hobbies. Or, really bored people create drama: drama is a unique challenge otherwise known as gossip.

People thrive when challenged. People grow when challenged. When I was a teacher I used to love the skateboarders. They’d dedicate hours and hours of repetition, broken wrists and ankles to master a move. Every athlete and artist knows the journey to their personal Everest is fraught with challenge and impossibility. That is why they do what they do. One of the people I admire most on this planet is John Kirschenbaum. He is a master woodworker. His criteria for taking on a project: it has to include something that he does not know how to do.

The idea that a good life is safe and easy is a marketing idea meant to sell you a suburban house in a gated community that includes a hot tub. It is also a recipe for boredom and frustration. It is also a lie. A good life is not without obstacles just as a good story is driven by challenges. A good life is not safe or easy. A good life is passionate. A life well-lived has a bliss-center that is focused on fields of potential and not fears of failure. A life well-lived does not avoid challenges; it embraces them. It courts them. It celebrates them.

Pilgrimages are meant to challenge you. They make your feet ache while they open your eyes and heart. They are meant to help you recognize what matters and what does not.

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A painting from the distant past. For some reason I wanted to reach deep into the archives for this post.

A painting from the distant past. For some reason I wanted to reach deep into the archives for this post.

The theme for the workshop in Holland is “team.” I’ve never been linear about how I think about anything and this time of planning has been exceptionally circular. I complimented Alan the other day; he has a genius for immediately reducing complex concepts into easily graspable models. I, on the other hand, have to circle and circle in an ever-tightening spiral in order to articulate what I see to others. I generally live in the stratosphere and have to grab ahold of a stone in order to touch the ground.

It’s been over a year since I gave much thought to the corporate world or any form of facilitation. I left it when I went on my pilgrimage. Walking away affords space and perspective. I wrote my book, The Seer, during the first months of my walk-about. It served as a shorthand story for all the things I’ve so far learned. It also served as a “letting go,” a release of all the things I thought I knew. All of my previously held sacred assumptions dissipated. What was known is now unknown. I am certain that I know nothing at all so it is the perfect time to begin a discovery process with a group of people. My worth to any group has been my perspective, my capacity to say, “I don’t know. Let’s find out together.” I need to be an outlier to be able to see. I need to stand on the margin to serve.

I’ve come to recognize that my pilgrimage is not over. It entered a different phase. It is not a path to a cathedral or holy land, it is the ascension of a summit. My lengthy walk took me to base camp merely. For many months I’ve been acclimating to the altitude and now it is time to travel toward the summit. For the first time in my life I am asking myself a better set of questions about my unique pursuit. I can see how my unique K2 is distinct from all of the other peaks. I’ve climbed other people’s mountains. I’ve helped carry lots of other people’s stuff. This peak, this summit is mine.

As I spiral in tighter and tighter, coming to understand what is so allusive about this simple word, “team,” I am amused to realize that what was once charted territory is now the outland. The wilderness into which I step is the very field I left behind. What was known is now unknown. I am certain of two things and recognizing both lets me know I am ready to move forward: 1) I know nothing at all. 2) No one summits alone.

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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Return To Life

Tripper-dog-dog-dog listens to birds

Tripper-dog-dog-dog listens to birds

I’m writing this from the choir loft. It’s gorgeous outside and I wonder what I’m doing inside on such a beautiful morning. Kerri is playing the organ for an early morning service. I’ve decided – just this moment – that the organ is an instrument for the dark days of winter. It is heavy and fills your belly like good hearty stew. Birdsong is the music of spring.

Before coming here this morning I was hanging out in the back yard with Tripper-dog-dog-dog. We were watching birds. We were listening to their worship service. He is mystified by them. They are a relatively recent discovery for him. He cocks his head sideways as he stares at them as if to say, “What the heck!” Then he looks to me to see if I’m having the same revelation. I say, “Pretty incredible, huh!” He nods in agreement (no exaggeration. really. no really).

My conversation with the stained glass window continues. The three panels of the window are, of course, the nativity on the left, the crucifixion on the right, and the resurrection in the center panel. It is the largest image. The focal point. The return to life is the center and perhaps this is the meta-point of my window conversation. Many years ago in a class on ritual and life cycles, the instructor said that each one of us would die and be reborn 12 times in the course of our lives. These mini deaths and rebirths were preparation for the main event. Energy does not die, it changes form.

The window is a perfect cycle of the seasons. Throughout the winter the window and I have been talking about the return to life. We’ve talked about birth and rebirth. We’ve talked about pilgrimages. Every life is a pilgrimage. There are long stretches of walking, rich with discovery, sometimes with achy legs and exhaustion. There are days of rest. There are arrivals and departures. Sometimes the weather is fair and sometimes not. The bad weather days make better stories; protagonists need obstacles to move things forward. Flow rarely requires lengthy recounting. Sunrise and sunset are, of course, our daily birth and death cycle, a solar pilgrimage!

Birth and rebirth is the mirror image of death and resurrection and, of course, this is the season of things coming back to life. Both are progressions, movement through the cycle of life. This cycle, punctuated by my first Wisconsin winter, is especially pronounced for me. Three weeks ago we were knee deep in snow. I can see and feel the return of life, the warmth of the sun’s return.

One year ago I was wandering, in the exhaustion phase of my pilgrimage, dropping the old knapsack; it was too heavy to carry any longer. I enacted and presided over one of my mini deaths. This morning I breathed in the cool air and watched the worship of birds. Nests are being built and I am enjoying the sweetness of life’s return.

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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Come Home

790. 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 generally tell stories about others and lately my pals have been asking me to turn the story mirror around and have a crack at myself. I am aloof. Tom once told me in frustration that I was the only person on the planet more aloof that he was. I wanted to deny it but couldn’t so my only recourse was to laugh and accept that I am often a balloon floating just out of reach. If you knew Tom this would be a profound statement because no one in the history of humanity was as aloof as Tom. That is, until me. I chose my mentor wisely. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about his accusation. I am not naturally aloof. No one is naturally aloof. We are pack animals. One of our strongest impulses is to belong. Perhaps “aloof” my way of belonging.

I sit comfortably at the edge of the village. I watch. I translate between worlds. I bridge without knowing it. I have deep diving conversations at the most casual dinner party. People I do not know betray their deepest secrets to me and wonder why. Balloons that hover just out of reach are safe. We balloons are conduits to the spirit world. We are transformers. Someone recently told me that I am a magnet to the island of misfit toys. And aren’t we – all of us – misfit toys?

During these past several months two words have repeatedly thundered down upon my head: 1) receive and 2) availability. These are big words especially when, like me, all established patterns come together in the word “aloof.” With so much thunder the message for me is clear: to grow, to fulfill this big voice, I must walk to the center of the village. I must sit and receive. I must open and become available to the community. This one-way communication is nice but two way communication is relationship and to thrive I must open the two way channel. I will always know how to do aloof. I will always be a transformer. Now I must learn to be accessible, too.

In Holland Chris guided us through a constellations exercise. The entire community gathered in a circle and I remained aloof. When I was beckoned and joined the circle, I quivered and quaked with conflicting desires: to belong and to run. To step in and step out. I have wandered my whole life. I am on a pilgrimage that, until recently, had no destination. And today, like a light turning on in my heart, I understand that “receive” and “availability” will be obtainable only after I finally arrive home. Home is the end of my pilgrimage. Home is a person. It is a place. It is a place inside me and outside me. I can see it from here. So, to my pals, I am soon to sit in the center of the village. Come join me there. I’m ready to come home. I have lots of stories to tell.