Find Your Flower [on Two Artists Tuesday]

“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” ~ Lao Tzu

Lately I am learning that I don’t need to immediately accomplish every task. Our house has been an excellent teacher and I have gained the useful phrase, “delayed maintenance.”

Kerri and I have two different operating styles. Mine is a straight line and hers is a circle. She can start a project and leave it and think nothing about it. On the other hand, if I start a project, I can’t stop thinking about it until it is complete. I am only now learning that I tend toward the obsessive. I have a gift for the myopic.

I thought I was kind of a zen guy, easy going, and am shocked to discover that I can be a hot mess of fixation. Thus is the nature of self-discovery. Life is helping me loosen up.

We sat on the deck last night and talked of our childhood homes. The games we played. I drew pictures on typing paper with a #2 pencil for hours and hours. The world disappeared. I’d wait until the rest of my family was asleep and then I ‘d get up and paint on my wall. I thrived in the quiet of the night. I suppose myopic comes naturally to me. Single focus. Disappearing into my work.

I marvel that butterflies seem like drunken sailors, careening this way and that, yet they always clear the fence. They always alight on the flower of their intention. My career has been like the flight of a butterfly. I dare anyone to make linear sense of my resume. Drunken sailor. Yet, somehow, I clear the fence. I find my flower.

People ask me if I like my job and I tell them I love it. They, of course, want to know why I love it and I tell them that I never know in the morning what I am going to do that day. Each day the work is good. I fall into my myopic ways, sail into my conceptual universe, but have no expectation of completion. It’s like wrestling with a shape-shifter. And, so, to keep in the match, I, too, must shift my shape. I’m honing my inner chameleon.

There is a post-it note on the wall next to my desk. It reads, “Live as if the universe was tipped in your favor.”

Fly like a drunken sailor. Like Dogga, run in circles of delight. Learn to love your myopic ways, yet do as the Balinese taught: know that “it’ll happen when it happens.” What else? Sight – seeing the flower (myopic and otherwise) – is fully available when practiced without expectation.

read Kerri’s blogpost about WHITE MOTHS

Sing With Pooh [on KS Friday]

Why does a song suddenly pop-up in your mind and beg you to hum along? Yesterday, for no apparent reason, out of the blue, Loggins and Messina’s song, The House At Pooh Corner, washed over me and forced me to maul the lyrics. At the time I was writing a business blogpost about assembly lines (uff-da). House At Pooh Corner was released in 1971, it’s a bubble from the deep-deep archives.

It changed my day. I made such gumbo of the lyrics that I pulled it up on YouTube. I sang along so I might refresh the muddied words in my mind. In addition to word-recall, it lightened my spirits. Writing about spirit-stripping manufacturing processes, command-and-control structures, had my brows knitted and my brain squeezed. Maybe that’s why Pooh decided to visit. I had a honey jar stuck on my nose. I sang along and laughed.

By the end of the sing-along I was dedicated to taking myself less seriously. I suspect that’s the message and gift A.A. Milne released upon the world with Pooh and Piglet. None of it is as serious as we pretend. Will my knitted brow blogpost about new systems illuminate the world? Yawn. Probably not. Did it feel good to write? Absolutely. I love thinking about a better world. Pooh lives in one – and maybe that’s yet another reason he jumped a bubble and rode to the surface of my thinking. He came as a song. A lovely light-hearted wish. A seed pod of silly presence.

“…So I sent him to ask of the owl, if he’s there, how to loosen a jar from the nose of a bear…Help me if you can I’ve got to get back to the house at Pooh corner by one, you’d be surprised there’s so much to be done….” Kenny Loggins & Jim Messina

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

read Kerri’s blogpost about WISHES

i will hold you (forever & ever)/goodnight: a lullaby album © 2005 kerri sherwood

Sing The Song Of Simple Lessons [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

This is a song about the simple lessons. The amusing and eye-opening answer to “because we’ve always done it this way.”

As a budding young artist I was frustrated because my charcoal lines were not as alive or fluid as the masters I so admired. I wrestled and strained and struggled to achieve “alive” lines, doubling down on my technique, my personal bridge to nowhere, as if doing more of the same, rife with inner turmoil and tension, might achieve my aim of ease.

Watching me struggle, amused by my absolute dedication to doing the same old thing in the same old way, as if I might accidentally squeeze out a new result, my art teacher, a wisened older woman full to the brim with laughter and humility, came to me, took the charcoal from my hand, and showed me how to hold it, not like a pencil, but like a flower. My lines were instantly alive. My teacher laughed at my amazement.

New ways – better ways – are rarely discovered on a tension path. Why is it that we look in the same drawer multiple times when we’ve lost our keys?

We have, for years, made lunches from yummy food wrapped in a corn tortilla. More often than not, our food falls to our shirt, our plates, the floor, because the tortilla splits. “We have to do something different,” Kerri says each day as her tortilla disintegrates. Dogga delights in the mess and recovers the spoils that hit the floor. Day after day, year after year, the tortilla struggle has been a part of our lives.

During a recent visit, Kirsten, watching our struggles, shook her head, sighed and asked, “Why don’t you use two tortillas?” It was a revelation. A simple change that never occurred to us, babies of depression era parents.

“Two tortillas!” Kerri exclaimed. “Yes!”

I nodded with satisfaction. A better life, a cleaner meal, was in reach! Less mess in our future!

Two tortillas. Hold the charcoal like a flower. Revelations born of ease and the obvious answer.

Someday we will learn (or not): No stress necessary. Relax. Insight sings the song of simple lessons.

read Kerri’s blog post about Two Tortillas

Gurgle On! [on DR Thursday]

I’m certain the first time I tried to walk I was not successful. A few stumble-steps and a return to the floor. My first attempts at speaking the English language did not receive a passing grade. As I recall (and I don’t recall), I made some gurgling sounds into which the adults surrounding me projected meaning. I’m certain they cheered and encouraged me to gurgle-on.

Learning is not a terribly difficult thing to do when 1) there’s a reason to do it, and 2) judgment, including words like “success” or “failure” are absent from the experience. Thank goodness my first art teacher treated me like an infant and, rather than critique my mess, she encouraged me to gurgle-on. Consequently, I associate my artistic impulses with fun and exploration instead of the thousand shades of rignt-and-wrong that most people are subjected to.

Recently Skip wrote and asked, “What’s the second rule?” Suspend your judgment and learn.

We just bought a mandoline. It slices and dices and chops and cuts. “The first thing we’re going to make is potato chips!” Kerri proclaimed. And, then, her brow furrowed. “What if we do it wrong?”

“We’ll learn something and make another batch.” Trial and error. Both “trial” and “error” are essential ingredients in the learning process and, since all of life is a learning process, you’d think someday we’d learn to value the “error” portion of the experience. We do ourselves a great disservice placing so much emphasis on passing the test and having the “right” answer. The essential ingredients of trial and error can’t breathe in brains fogged by so much right-and-wrong-ness.

Our first batch, like our first baby step, was a stumble. But more delicious. We stood over the pan eating our result and discussed second steps. What should we do differently next time? Less heat or more? Thinner slices or thicker? This is all I know. I love to learn, especially when food is involved and judgment is not.

read Kerri’s blogpost about POTATO CHIPS!

flawed cartoon © 2016 david robinson

Take Another Step [on Two Artists Tuesday]

old boots copy

During my corporate-facilitation-of-change-and-diversity phase, I learned that the best way to warm up my always-defensive audience was to enter the space and, before saying a word, take off my shoes. People have a surprising amount of identity-investment wrapped up in what they put on their feet. Inevitably, taking off my shoes gave people permission to relax, take off their shoes – remove one layer of identity armor – and take a tiny step toward vulnerability. Tough conversations generally require all parties to step out of their fortifications. If I ruled the world, my policy makers would have to take off their shoes before debating issues. Reporters would be encouraged to step out of their leather and heels before asking questions.

My foot-identity-investment required me to wear shoes without laces. I’ve never been at peace with things tied to my feet. Quick escape from shoes is among my highest fashion priorities. Clogs. Boots. Flip flops. Crocs.

Yesterday we retired two pairs of boots. Neither had been worn in years. My contribution to the footwear release party was my drug-dealer-boots. I loved them and wore holes in them. They were very comfortable. They took me to many countries and to many trainings. I could step out of them in a snap. I met Kerri wearing my silver-tipped, well worn, out-of-character-for-me drug dealer boots.

When I bought them, they had taps in the heels. I took the taps off because I don’t like making sound when I walk (hmmmm, yet another revealing foot identity characteristic) though the taps were slippery and great assistance in my predilection for public pratfalls.  Falling down with great intention is also a good way to loosen up  a defensive crowd.

Kerri wanted to sing a song as we wrapped our old boots in plastic and prepared them for the dumping – but we couldn’t pull up a single appropriate song so a strange cascade of laughable lyrics sent our boots on their way.

But, here’s my bet: before the trash truck arrives, the boots will be retrieved and de-shrouded. They will have a resurrection, another life. They will sit on the edge of the deck, filled with dirt and basil plants. There is still one more road for these old boots to walk.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about OLD BOOTS

 

kdkc feet website box copy

 

 

a day at the beach ©️ 2017 david robinson

Forget About Time [on Chicken Marsala Monday]

forgetabouttime WITH EYES jpeg copy 2

Ticking clocks make people uptight. It’s summer. Take off your shoes. Feel the grass between your toes. Throw a Frisbee. Have a water fight. Fall asleep in a hammock. Swim in a lake. Someday, in the fall, you can wonder where time went. Don’t worry, it can take care of itself.

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

 

read Kerri’s blog post about FORGET ABOUT TIME

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

forget about time ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Stop Pushing

633. 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 love when lessons come in clusters. Sometimes it seems the week has a theme that will keep coming until I pay attention.

This morning, Saul-The-Chi-Lantern gave us an article from a magazine about yoga injuries. “It’s never good to push too far, to try and be a super person,” he said. He asked us to face the mirrors in the room and guided us though a series of minimal movement exercises. “Find the edge of your movement and learn that edge.” As we moved through the exercises he told stories of dancers and martial artists that left their center, that strained their bodies beyond what was natural and sustained career ending injuries. He told us of a doctor he once knew that treated joint and spinal injuries with the minimal movement exercises we were doing in class. “The edge moves. You gain flexibility by finding the edge, working with it, and not by forcing yourself past it.”

“Power comes from relaxation, not through resistance,” he said as he demonstrated a martial arts move. “If someone punches, I am most effective with the least amount of energy,” he said, showing a simple twist of his arm to deflect a blow. To meet the force with force will knock me off center. It will hurt!” he laughed. Power is not resistance. Power is relaxation.

Earlier this week I worked with a class of entrepreneur’s preparing for their investor pitches; they were working really hard to be memorable. They were tense, pushing. I told them that in a past life I used to audition actors, sometimes I’d see dozens of people in a single day. I told the class that I’d never remember the actors who worked hard, who tried to get me to remember them; the actors I remembered where simple, honest, centered, and clear. The actors I remembered were relaxed. Minimal effort. Easy. Powerful. The actors I remembered were honest.

Yesterday, Judy-Who-I-Revere, after listening to my tale of woe said, “You don’t need to work so hard. You already have everything you need. Relax; you can stop pushing.”

When Saul started his lesson this morning I smiled, thinking, “Alright already! I hear it! I’ll stop pushing. I will relax.” I am a slow study and sometimes it tickles me that I make the universe work so hard to teach me….

A Word From The Rejuvenation Fairy

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

With a puzzled look on his face, Saul the-chi-lantern stopped our tai chi practice in mid form and said, “I have never understood why people willingly engage in activities that deplete them.” We returned his puzzled look with one of our own. He laughed, recognizing that he’d once again given voice to a remnant of thought-trail and although he had the full conversation available in his mind, we only had the bit that leaked out at the end.

“Let me put it to you this way, “ he said, “I used to practice many forms of marshal arts and after most days I would return exhausted, battered and bruised. One day, after returning from a tai chi class, feeling refreshed and invigorated, I asked myself why I wasn’t pursuing refreshed and invigorated all the time?” He paused, deep in a memory before continuing, “I see people everyday choosing to be battered and bruised. They are oriented in their lives thinking they have to kill themselves to achieve something. I don’t know. What is so attractive about killing yourself when you could choose to refresh and renew yourself? It makes no sense to me.” He smiled, adding, “Now that I am 70 years old it makes no sense. What takes so long?”

(note: This message for Lisa goes for all of you. Relax. And mean it; no pretend relaxation. Fairies can see through that stuff.  You never know what a Rejuvenation Fairy will do to support your relaxation and rejuvenation. They can be brutal. Seriously.)