Marvel The Resilience [on Two Artists Tuesday]

The guys at the water utility told us not to bother replacing our yard until the fall. “The dirt needs to settle,” they said. After trenching from the street to the house, tearing up great chunks of the sidewalk and curb, blowing a hole in the foundation, throwing dirt into the moat and covering it with straw, ripping up the street and quickly tossing temporary asphalt over the hole, our front yard is a hot mess of destruction.

Our neighbor owns a landscape design business; he scowls every time he looks our way. It pains him that his pristine yard sits next to our ruin. “The dirt needs to settle,” I say and shrug as he looks in horror at his worst nightmare. To add insult to injury, I’ve threatened to park the truck on our ruin but Kerri gives me THAT look. If I want to stay above ground, the truck stays in the driveway.

Standing on the front porch, amazed at the hardy green shoots reaching up through the devastation, straw and lawn netting, I thought of Tom. He marveled at the resilience of young people, students in the schools that he stewarded. Some of the children lived in extreme circumstances or had suffered terrific injury, and yet, they consistently transcended their situation. Pushing through the wreckage and reaching for the sun. “The human spirit,” he’d say and shake his head in amazement. “Marvelous.”

Despite being trenched, torn, mixed with concrete and rock, thrown about, turned over and over again, covered with straw and netting, the Day Lilies have not only survived, they are thriving. Just as a fire brings renewal to the forest, it seems the destruction served to energize the plants. More than a comeback, this is a riot of Lily return. A reunion.

“The impulse to life,” I whispered to Tom. “Unbelievable.”

“Yep,” he smiled.

read Kerri’s blog post about RESILIENCE

Know The Poem [on KS Friday]

“Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.” ~Rainier Maria Rilke

“First robin!” she said.

“What?”

“First robin. That means spring is here!” she looked at me with “duh” eyes. I was new to Wisconsin so the rituals were not yet known to me. I did not yet understand that in this strange land a water cooler is called a “bubbler” and that cheese curds are sacred food. Before the week was out, I’d heard it three times from strangers. “First robin!”

Years ago, during my first winter in Seattle, after months of gray, the sun came out for an hour and all the people working downtown poured out of the tall buildings and stood facing the sun. They moaned with satisfaction. “What’s this!” I exclaimed. Weird behavior. The next year, after months of dreary gray, the moment the sun peeked from behind the drab curtain, I ran out of my apartment to revel in the return. Leaning against a brick wall, eyes closed, feeling the warmth on my face and the heat reaching my bones, I knew this was my passage to becoming a “local”. I moaned with satisfaction.

Poetry is visceral. It has it roots in the moans of sun drinkers and robin-seers. The green pushing up from dark soil. The smell of spring or the first hint of warmth on the winter wind. Words cannot capture feelings but isn’t it glorious that we try?

We were walking the neighborhood on a cold afternoon. She squeezed my hand and pointed. “First robin,” I said and she smiled. “Spring.”

Now, doesn’t “First robin. Spring!” sound like a grand start to a poem of renewal? Ahhhhhh, yes. A hint of warmth on the wind, harbinger of green shoots reaching. Someday soon, sun will call me out of hiding and color my pale face.

read Kerri’s blogpost about FIRST ROBIN

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

baby steps/right now © 2010 kerri sherwood

Reseed [on Merely A Thought Monday]

We pulled everything off the walls of the office. The photographs and posters of plays I’ve directed, Kerri’s first album, framed, a gift. Our poster announcing Beaky’s Books. “I don’t think the office should be about the past,” she said. “It’s time to make this space about our current work and the future.”

She chose a painting, Nap On The Beach, one of many created from our experiences together. She’s making a poster of Smack-Dab, our cartoon. Turning our eyes from what we’ve done, where we’ve been, who we were. We’ve changed. We want different things now. We work in different ways now.

She’s slowly cleaning out the house. I can’t help. This is something she must do by herself. Purging closets, the laundry room, the storage and work rooms. The year of water upended our house. Several times. It continues in the front yard, all the way to the street. When the ground settles, we’ll reseed the lawn. How’s that for a metaphor? When the ground settles, we will reseed.

It takes time for the ground to settle. It can’t be rushed. It should not be rushed. The same is true for cleaning out. We have new piles forming: what goes, what stays. I climb the stairs to the office each morning. When I come down again, she shows me the new space that she’s created from the day’s purge. It’s true on many levels. She’s creating space. Old baggage and burdens are going out with the old clothes and broken appliances. I can see it in her eyes. Space. Light. Like the house, she is beginning to breathe again.

She told me about the dream, her father was setting up microphones. “What are you doing?” she asked.

“Working for tomorrow,” he said.

I had to work hard not to weep. She’s had a rough few years. “Your daddy’s talking to you,” I said. “Sage advice.”

She nodded. Her eyes turning from the pain and constraints of the injuries. Letting go of the past. “Work for tomorrow,” she smiled.

read Kerri’s blog post about WORK FOR TOMORROW

Go To The Mountains [on DR Thursday]

For Mike, it was the ocean that called. For me, it was the mountains. When Columbus passed, more than a service, more than any gathering, I needed a walk in the mountains. I needed the quiet of aspen, the smell of pine. A moment in time, time that keeps moving through the monumental and the everyday. The trees and stream were here before I was born and they will be here after I am gone. I went to the mountains for perspective.

I am working with brilliant people. We are developing something that we hope will help people. Our conversations are genuine. Our intentions are pure. And, yet, how easily do we get lost in the minutiae. How often do we spin out into abstraction. Right now I have a unique perspective on life. I am in no hurry to get anywhere. I easily let go of my end of the rope in any potential tug-of-war. Will what we create actually help others? That is like asking, “Will they like my painting?” That is not for me to decide. Mine is to paint it. All I know is that our conversations are genuine. Our intentions are pure. None of the rest really matters.

I’ve decided to put two paintings into a local show. I’ve only shown and sold online since moving to Wisconsin eight years ago. I was tired. Before I moved, I had paintings in galleries or office spaces or bars or restaurants every single day for over a decade. I was moving or mailing paintings all of the time (and my paintings are mostly large). Once, I took 15 paintings, loaded on a cart, on the light rail. I arranged for a truck that did not show up and I had to deliver the paintings that day, within a specified time-window. I wheeled 15 large paintings down the street, onto an elevator and maneuvered them onto the train. The train-police came to make sure I meant no harm. We had a nice chat and I showed them my work. We laughed heartily at my delivery method. I wheeled them off the train and through a neighborhood to the gallery. “I’ll never do that again,” I said to the train-police when I wheeled my empty cart back onto the light rail. It all seemed so necessary, important.

A specified time-window. We only have so much time. The clock is ticking. The funds may run out. Will we get there in time? Will our/my work matter? Is the message clear? What is the message? What am I willing to do and not do?

And, so, I went to the mountains for perspective.

read Kerri’s blog post about PERSPECTIVE

Chasing Bubbles © 2019 David Robinson

Emerge Changed [on KS Friday]

This moment “is the place of pilgrimage to which I am a pilgrim.” Paul Murray

Columbus’ journey into dementia has reminded me once again that time is not a linear thing. We cycle as surely as the tides, the seasons, the days that move into night and back again. Each and every moment a pilgrimage, as poet Paul Murray writes, in which we are both pilgrim and the target of our pilgrimage. We journey to discover ourselves. As Columbus moves deeper into his world, I know the separation, the distance from him that I experience is necessary. He must walk alone into this season of his pilgrimage.

Walking the snowy trail a few days ago I asked Kerri about the experience of losing her father, I asked if it necessitated a life review. She told me that, when she thinks of her dad, she is filled with the impression of who he was; she rarely thinks or even remembers events. She viscerally feels his love. She knows his spirit. “I never think about his achievements or how much money he made – all the stuff we get lost in,” she said, “but I fully remember who he was.”

We are in transition. All jobs lost. Broken wrists challenging artistry as it was. Every day it begs us to consider who we are within our circumstance. Who are we if we are no longer that? “Our spirits are high. We take one day at a time,” I just wrote in a letter. It’s true. That is who we are. That, at this present moment, is all we are. Pilgrims walking.

I am, like my dad, in a “winter” in the cycle of time. He pulls in. I am also pulling in. To rest. To reflect. To rejuvenate. Pilgrim and pilgrimage, both. Each moment an unbroken circle. Each moment in transition. The old shell is too small. Someday, it will of necessity split. Columbus will emerge changed into his new world. I will emerge changed into mine.

in transition/released from the heart is available on iTunes

read Kerri’s blog post about IN TRANSITION

in transition/released from the heart ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood

Take The Time

Yoga Series 7When the world says, Give Up, Hope whispers, Try one more time.

I am updating my website though I am no longer permitting myself to call it an update. To update implies (to me) something periodic. This thing requires constant attention. As it turns out, websites never sleep. Rather than an update I now think of it as a scheduled feeding. Our cat, Baby Cat (were he human he’d be a sumo wrestler or a bouncer at a biker bar), is the only creature alive that requires more feeding than my website. Baby Cat is much more vocal about his scheduled feedings so I’m mentally linking my Baby Cat and website feedings.

My current website feeding, let’s call it an appetizer, involves paintings. I’m including an archive that reaches back a decade or more. There are paintings that go back further in time (much further) and I will post my archeology as I continue the feeding. The remarkable thing about including an archive is that it has provided the opportunity for a life-in-art review. And, I don’t recognize the guy that did some of those paintings. I recall applying paint to canvas but the overall experience is akin to remembering a past-life. They are at the same time “me” and “not me.” A few years ago I went to a Picasso retrospective at The Seattle Art Museum and wondered if the man at 90 years old liked or appreciated the work he did at 20 years old. Like all great painters he grew simpler with age, he said more with less. With age, he had less to say so he was at once both free and precise (a great definition of artistry).

In my life-in-art review I’ve been most interested in the work that happened during transitional periods. For instance, shortly after I moved to Seattle (sixteen years ago) I took most of my existing paintings to a local beach and, over three consecutive nights, burned them. It was my version of a forest fire, a spontaneous conflagration that stripped my internal landscape bare. What followed was a slow revitalization. Renewal. I remember the faces of the people who helped carry my paintings to the fire. They thought I was engaged in a fiery self-sabotage. I knew otherwise. My work had become sterile and heavy. Hope was calling and I needed to drop some dead wood, shed an old skin,… (fill in your favorite analogy). It was hard, messy, scary, and, for me, necessary.

A few years ago I followed Barney and Skip around the Benziger Winery. They were giving me lessons in biodynamics. The lesson over and over again: it’s about the health of the soil. The health of the vine is an expression of the health of the soil; excellent wine cannot be pushed. It takes time. It takes attention to the whole system. Art follows the same principles.

 

Let Yourself Dance

'Dancing In The Front Yard' by David Robinson

My painting, ‘Dancing In The Front Yard’

It is the season of the light’s return. The Equinox is only a few days away. The dark days bode of new light. It is the literal, solar-lunar cycle-dance of rebirth, the return of the sun.

The great theatre artist, Jim Edmondson, spoke of all life as a dance of giving and receiving. To give and receive are energies similar to the tides or the intake and exhale of breath. The dance requires both giving and receiving and, in truth, they are not separate but are one action, one continuous connected cycle as is chaos and order, birth and death, winter and summer, boredom and breakthrough.

All stories lead back to this dance, this source of light’s disappearance and return. Frodo wrestles with the pull of the ring, Orpheus descends into darkness to bring Eurydice back to the light, a too-early-death affords a healthy heart and new life to a stranger, a baby is born and down the hall Hospice is called, lost love leads to new love, we wrestle with our limitations and someday transcend them (or not); we dance the dance every day because, in truth, we never know what the day brings and learn that this life sparkles when with clear intention we bring our light to the day. What else?

With all of our talk of transformation and renewal, we pretend that the dance is something new, something we must intend, when it is a dance as old as time and as ordinary and extraordinary as the sun setting and rising again. It is new when we pay attention and greet each day as a new step in a very old dance, a new opportunity to give and receive. To live fully, to transform, requires nothing more than to pay attention and let yourself dance.

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.

Johnny crop copyJoin the campaign to fund my play, The Lost Boy

 

 

 

 

Tell The Story

"...and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes..." e.e. cummings

“…and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes…” e.e. cummings

Three hundred and sixty six days ago I met Kerri. What I thought was going to be a casual meeting, the beginning of a new friendship, was much more than I anticipated though I didn’t really understand the scope and depth of our relationship until three hundred and sixty five days ago. On that day, exactly one year ago, I went with her to experience a Taize service. Taize is a meditation service and she was guiding the music. I sat with her during the Taize and, in a single moment, on a specific word of the Lord’s Prayer, we had an experience so potent, so mystical that a year later I still am unable to explain or comprehend it. Our lives changed in an instant. The moment was so powerful that we sat in the church for hours after the service. We couldn’t move. We couldn’t leave that space.

Yesterday, we both cleared our calendars and spent the day telling the story of our year. Our telling was not for reminiscence. It was not like a new year’s review of things past. It was not a measure of how far we’d come. It was elemental. It was the kind of telling that communities used to tell when they renewed themselves. It was the kind of telling people used to do to define themselves. It was story as a sacramental act. We visited the fire and the transformation, the earth and the necessity of rooting, the water and the miracle of flow, and the wind of inspiration and ancestry. We generated by regeneration.

So, I offer this as an exercise: give yourself a gift, take some time, and tell the story of everything you experienced on this earth, in this life, over the past three hundred and sixty five days. Visit the awe, the disappointment, the hurt, the joy, the boredom, the loss, the discovery, the exhaustion, the wonder, and anything else that affirms your life as unique and gorgeous. No one else walked the path you walked. No one else can or will walk the path you walk. See it. You’ll be amazed.

Go here to get my latest book, The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, title_pageSeeker, Learner, Leader, Creator…You.

Or, go here for hard copies.