Free Your Freedom [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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David sends photographs of his young son, Dawson, painting. Or playing. Or just enjoying the moment. I love them. They bring smiles and a Picasso-esque reminder. Paint like a child. Play-to-play and for no other reason. Wear a cape and fly!

Adults get enmeshed in all manner of weird issues. They come to think that things like wearing-a-mask-during-a-pandemic can be an inhibitor to their freedom when, in fact, they gave away their freedom ages ago. They grew up and forgot how to play, how to mush color around with their fingers, how to roll down a grassy slope and run back to the top to do it all over again. They forgot how to play with others. They muzzle themselves.

Adults give away their freedom when they come to believe that a brand of car or the label on their clothes gives them status or makes them sexy. They confuse their money with their morality. They give away 5 days so they might live for 2 or, worse, they suffer through thirty years of toil with the zany idea that they will live life when they “retire.”

Adults get lost in illusion. They snap towels and brag about their wild-side while pulling on their uniform-stiff-collar-suit and cinching up a tie around their neck. They somehow come to think that pushing other people down will raise them up the ladder. They create odd justifications: dog-eat-dog or business-is-business or divide-and-conquer. Play-to-win and for no other reason.

Let’s face it, adults fill themselves up with fear and judgment. They can’t paint with their fingers because someone might call them childish or stupid or worse! And, horror of horrors! What if their finger painting isn’t perfect in the eyes of others?! Shame is a great inhibitor especially when it is the imagined response to fun-and-free-self-expression. The only safe thing to do is put away the dangerous color, wash the paint from your hands. The only safety is to judge others! Establish some mask of authority; become the arbiter of right and wrong. Dole out the shame so as not to receive it. Phew.

Adults mistakenly believe that power is control, that power is something wielded over others. Every child knows that power has nothing to do with control. Power is something created with others, like painting with your dad. That is power-full! Even infants know that power is a relationship of mutual support, it crackles between people. Humans-of-every-age are never more powerful than when helping others grow.

Poor sad adults have it upside-down and backwards. As I used to tell students, “Any idiot with a pistol can take life, it takes a very powerful person to give life.” There’s no real power in the taking. There’s infinite power in the giving.

Just so, there’s no freedom in the taking. There’s infinite freedom in the giving, the free expression, the playing, the laughing, the sharing. Every child knows that.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about DON’T GROW UP!

 

 

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chasing bubbles ©️ 2019 david robinson

 

Reflect [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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A look in the mirror and something entirely surprising is reflected back to me:

I started writing because I discovered that I had something to say. The story goes like this: facilitating a group in a corporate headquarters in downtown Chicago, one of the participants asked a question about power. She was feeling powerless. I listened to the group discussion for a while. And then I surprised myself with more than a few things to say about power and empowerment. So, I went home and started writing this blog. The Direction of Intention. Move toward what you want, not away from what you resist.

Initially, I wrote as a challenge for myself. How many days in a row can I write and still have something to say. I thought I’d fizzle out in less than week. That was over a decade ago.

By my reflection in the mirror I can see that some things have changed. In fact, a lot has changed. This is from my archive; it was my 98th post:

My business partner and I have asked the group to do something akin to attempting to consciously create each moment of their day. We’ve asked them to place their focus on their immediate relationships (with others, with nature, with themselves) and to ask, “Is this how I want to story this moment? Is this what I want to create in this moment?”

It seems like an impossible request until you consider that it is what you are doing anyway. The pertinent question is not, “Can you do it?” rather, the question is, “Are you aware of how powerful you are at creating?”

The most potent recognition I have in doing this exercise (and I have it every time I do the exercise), is when I ask myself the question, “Is this how I want to story this moment?” Usually, my answer is, “No.” Usually I want to create something else. I do not want to create frustration or angst or rushing around. I do not want to attempt to control or manipulate or pressure an outcome. I do not want to invest in a fear or let loose the lack monologue to rage once again about my mind. I do not want to deflect or hide. And the moment I see it, I let go my grip on something I can only call a “story.”

I let go, my eyes clear and I become present. That is why I suspect that creating is a quality of being as much or more than anything I will ever do.

***

A look in the mirror. There is a woman by my side! She is blonde. We wear masks?!! There is a really bad shirt hanging behind her. I look as if there is a tea kettle growing out of my head.  The person I was ten years ago would be mystified by this peek into the future. “Who’s the woman?” he’d ask. “And what’s up with the masks? Where are you, anyway?”

So. I ask myself now, how do I want to story this moment in time? In five years or ten, when I look back at this reflection in the mirror, will I be happy with how I storied myself in this precise moment? Will I be grateful for what I chose to create?

We live in a circumstance that we cannot impact. It’s true with or without a pandemic. But, within our circumstance, there is infinite capacity to determine the story.  I create the story I live. I create the story I tell. I create.

I am married to the blonde woman! Everyday, sitting side by side, we write together. Using the same image or quote, we write our thoughts. He said/She said. No peeking. Then, we share. We read what we’ve written. We talk about what we created. We edit. We reflect. And then, together, we publish.

A look in the mirror. A story to tell. A choice to make. A question to ask. A moment to craft.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about THE MIRROR

 

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pax ©️ 2015 david robinson

Check Your Reality [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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We parked the truck in the Kemper Center lot, far enough from the shore not to be hit by the flying debris, the chunks of seawall and pavement being hurtled from the impact of the waves. Kerri has lived here for over 30 years, “I’ve never seen anything like this,” she repeated as a towering wave engulfed the gazebo, took down a piece of the wall of the art center, a hunk of coastline disappeared.

Later, after the storm, we went back. Trees were down, encased in ice. Huge sections of the walking path were shattered and tossed into the flooded mess of the parking lot behind the center. Walking was treacherous. Like the trees, the ground, the rocks, the destruction was coated in a thick layer of ice. It was beautiful and inconceivable.

Words mask all manner of reality. We have a word, nature, that can’t even begin to touch the magnitude, the power of where it points. Mother Nature. I have been thrown out of bed in an earthquake that brought down freeways like they were so much satin ribbon. Go to Pompeii or Herculeneum, visit Mt. Saint Helens, watch with disbelief any of the news  footage of any one of the tsunamis that have wiped communities off the map. Wrap your mind around it, if you can.

We are cavalier in our conversations about global warming. We impact, we do not command. We reduce it to questions of business, of protecting the beef industry. Which economy will suffer most? We make up these strangely insignificant divisions. We imagine that we are the center, holding all the controls. We imagine that it is all about us. So small, a chihuahua yipping at a forest fire.

Sitting in the truck, feeling the boom of the waves in my chest as they tore off chunks of the shore, I felt tiny. I remembered a snippet of film I saw about a man who wore a superhero suit and stood in the face of an oncoming storm. He flexed and stomped and raged for the camera. And then the storm hit. The best he could do was run for his life.

 

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read Kerri’s blog post about THE STORM

 

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ice ©️ 2020 kerri sherwood

for prints of “ice” go here

 

UpLift [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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And, what is the opposite of cohesion? Incoherence. The lack of clarity or unity. Fracture.

For a period of time my work on this earth was essentially a meditation on power. Power with. Power over. After a while I understood that power-over was not really power at all; it was control. Control and power are two very different things. They are often confused.

Power is something created with others. Control is something done to others. The equation is simple: the more controlling a person is, the less powerful they actually are. A person who understands his/herself as powerful has no need to assert control over others.

A leader invested in control has only one sure route to controlling: to fracture. To divide. It is the way of the truly powerless. Incoherence and chaos are great tools if control is the aim. Destroy the unity. Play to the disgruntled. Feed the fire of those who are feeling powerless. Promise them control. Pushing others down to elevate the self can only end badly. Everyone drowns.

People secure in their power create cohesion. They unite. They uplift. Power is a force that grows between people. It cannot be owned by one. It is always the province of the community. A person secure in her/his power generates unity. What else? The power they feel within is an expression of the power they experience with.

Community is a word that implies cohesion. To commune. Common. And, what could be more common than a central focus, the intention to support and bring out the best in all.

What is the opposite of a powerful person?

 

read kerri’s blog post about COHESION

 

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Stand On Any Street Corner [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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For reasons that are beyond my pay-grade to comprehend, human beings are obsessed with seeing conflict and division. The news of the day is generally antagonistic and despair-inducing – and that is not unique to our day. Ancient temples and modern televisions alike are overrun with images of war and hostility.

One of the greatest powers a human being can achieve is the power of focus placement. ‘Seeing’ is, after all, a matter of choice.  It is not passive. In any given moment there are multiple points of focus, there are multiple stories, there are many interpretations to choose from.

Stand on any street corner and watch the world happen. Watch the overwhelming number of acts of kindness and generosity. The small moments of simple kindness and consideration. They are everywhere. People giving way, making way, helping. You will be surprised to find that the kindnesses by far outnumber the rudeness, the antagonism.

Stand on any street corner and watch where your focus goes. In the midst of a tsunami of kindness, if you are human and like all other humans, your focus will be captured by the angry guy honking his horn, the commuter shouting at the bus driver. “Such an angry world,” you think and close your eyes, despairing. Anger is so much louder than kindness.

Tell a story of discord, see a story of discord. Practice a story of discord, live a story of discord. Discord is easily leveraged. Division is easily sold. It is like selling candy to a kid. It is readily chiseled into pillars and hungrily read into teleprompters.  It is so easy to see.

Tell a story of kindness, see a story of kindness. Practice a story of kindness, live a story of kindness. Although it is more readily available it is, somehow, more difficult to see. It is less sell-able and, so, is discarded as trite. It requires choice and discernment rather than default. It requires opening your eyes and your story to what is actual, what lives beyond the thundering chorus of conflict-peddlers.

The angry shooters and tweet-happy presidents live on the far margins yet they garner the majority of the attention. Stand on any street corner and open your eyes. There is a sweeping quiet kindness that permeates the vast majority, that defines the middle ground. You can see it if you so choose.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about KINDNESS

 

 

 

 

 

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Invite Magic [on DR Thursday]

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We are going on an adventure. Our adventure comes with a house on the lake. It is work and although some people might not consider work an adventure, we are not those people. The challenge is great. The work seems oddly destined. It “fits.”

Among the first things we moved into our adventure-home was this painting, Nap On The Beach. One of the quirks of being an artist is investing in the belief (or, perhaps, the cultivated-and-embraced-delusion) that the art you make sometimes carries “power.” This painting is autobiographical. It carries a good memory. It evokes a way-of-being. An intention for living. Once, early in our lives together, we fell into a magic sleep on a beach. We were so comfortable, so at ease entering our new life together.

Magic.

We wanted to invite magic and this way-of-being-together into our adventure-home and our next phase of work. And, so, we hung this painting. There are other paintings poised to join Nap On The Beach. They invite a different spirit. Unfettered, free. But, for now, there is this: comfort. Ease. Peace. Giving over to something much, much bigger. An invocation. An adventure.

 

 

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read Kerri’s blog post about NAP ON THE BEACH

 

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nap on the beach ©️ 2017 david robinson

Fly Like An Artist [on Flawed Cartoon Wednesday]

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This Flawed Cartoon originally came with a caption. Can you guess what it was? In selecting this week’s cartoon, Kerri and I both loved the image and rejected the caption. “It says much more without the words,” she said.

Without really intending it, a common theme emerged from our picks for this week’s melange: Unleash the power of your crayon. Living without fear. Breaking away from the flock.  Together these might make a nice set of mantra-coasters for the artist’s path.

While you consider unleashing the power of your crayon have some fun and make up a caption for today’s Flawed. Send it to us. Who knows! You just might complete the coaster set with your submission. High Honor Indeed!

 

if you'd like to see FLAWED CARTOON copy

read Kerri’s blog post about BREAKING AWAY

 

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breakaway ©️ 2016/2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Unleash Your Crayon [on Chicken Marsala Monday]

unleashthepower WITH EYES jpeg copy“…art is a staple of humankind – never a by product of leisure or elitism – and so urgent, so utterly linked with the pulse of feeling that it becomes the singular sign of life when every other aspect of civilization fails.” ~ Jamake Highwater, The Language of Vision

Many years ago I was excited to move into a new studio. Many people in my circle responded to my news in the same way: “Oh God! That’s too much pressure! Now you’ll have to use it!”

I wish I could say that I was dumbfounded by the common response but I wasn’t. As a coach, I wish I could count the number of clients I had who spent many hours and huge dedication of resources to fulfill their dream of having a studio – only to fear walking into it. They thought the lack of a studio was the obstacle and discovered that the real challenge was the banishment of their imagination, the leash they’d placed on their full expression.

Taking off the leash is a daunting affair. It means facing the reasons the leash seemed necessary in the first place. An imagination placed on a leash does not go away, it turns to dark imaginings. It eats itself. It separates. It isolates.

Art is not something that can be approached through reason. It is much more essential, much more primal than intellect alone can reach.  It is accessed through the heart door. The intuitive knowing. Yoda would call it the force.

So, thankfully, the leash cannot be taken off by thinking about it. Experience. Express. Follow. Listen. Feel. Breathe. Reach. Do. And, feel some more. In feeling, in an unbridled imagination, there is connection. There is possibility. There is expansion of spirit and capacity. There is – and this is the power of art – the force that creates community.

if you'd like to see more CHICKEN... copy

read Kerri’s blog post about UNLEASHING THE POWER OF YOUR CRAYON

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

unleash the poser of your crayon ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 

 

 

 

Flawed Cartoon Wednesday

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Who doesn’t like a good David-n-Goliath story? Who doesn’t identify and cheer for the little Hobbit facing insurmountable odds, Erin Brockovich, Luke Skywalker, Jason Bourne running at a system dedicated to killing him, Norma Rae,… It’s a ubiquitous story line giving us something to cheer for, someone who feels as small as we feel and yet has the gumption to pick up a rock and walk toward the giant. Students marching for our lives, every woman writing #metoo. There are inner Goliaths, too, that are surprised by the small rock of audacity.

Power rarely takes seriously those they consider powerless. Power is a great distorter of reality. The lavish spender, Marie Antoinette, famously suggested that her starving subjects eat cake. It never crossed her mind that those she underestimated, those she devalued, her powerless subjects, might someday be her judge, jury, and executioner. When power bloats and begins to taunt, when it feels untouchable enough to flaunt, it is a sure sign that there is a David out there, somewhere close by, stooping down to pick up a very small stone.

Goliath reminders/merchandise

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fearlessRECTPillow copy   fearlessSQPillow copy

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‘fearless’ leggings

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read Kerri’s thoughts on Goliath

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oh my! you are sooo scary ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

Two Artists Tuesday

A thought for your Tuesday from the melange.

it is well with my soul CANVAS copy

we call these pieces, “just words.” double meaning? perhaps!

If I had to write a how-to book on soul wellness it would be brief and could be summed up with simple phrases like, lighten up, or cease the practice of taking yourself so seriously [or, the inverse, practice not taking yourself so seriously]. Soul wellness and lightheartedness are companions.

Many southwestern native American traditions include a sacred clown. Don’t you love that phrase! Sacred clown. A sacred clown serves many purposes but usually they lob some light into the too-serious-ritual; they shock us out of our attachment to “how things should be” and spin our dials so we can see “how things really are.” Those wacky sacred clowns know that the path to center is more often found with the assistance of light than when stumbling through the heavy dark. Stephen Colbert is a sacred clown. Jimmy Kimmel is, too. John Oliver. There are many great clowns to help us laugh our way to soul wellness.

The jester, the sacred clown speaks truth to power when no one else can. Power rarely likes to hear truth so most often surrounds itself with sycophants. Power needs a mighty sacred clown to keep it honest. The same rule applies with inner monologues and the runaway stories that plague our minds.  A good inner-jester, the practice of not taking yourself so seriously, acts as a mighty dope slap, a necessary reminder that an alternate focus, beyond the insurmountable obstacle or the unsolvable incessant problem or the unshakable attachment to being right, is possible.

Feed well your sacred clown and you will invariably find the path to wellness with your soul.

 

IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL merchandise/reminders

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it is well TOTEL BAG copy

it is well with my soul LEGGINGS copy 2

‘it is well with my soul’ leggings

it is well with my soul FRAMED ART PRINT copy

it is well MUG copy

it is well SQ PILLOW copy

 

read Kerri’s thoughts about IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL

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it is well with my soul ©️ 2018 kerri sherwood