Walk With Shadows [on Two Artists Tuesday]

These are not the pine forests of Colorado. The trails in North Carolina are a crazy cross-hatch of roots and shadows. Rhododendron explosion and cedar. Kudzu. “This is a Hansel and Gretel forest,” Kerri whispers.

“Luckily for us,” I reply, “we are too old to taste good. No witch would have us.” She punches my arm. I laugh, but not too loud.

This forest is different than our ideal. That is why we come here. It opens us. It challenges our “should-be.” New experiences and unknown places dissolve expectations and elevate awareness of “what is.” It shakes the stone fortress of imagined security. Each step is alive and unexpected.

Renewal. It’s a special branch of the slow-moving-river called curiosity.

After many miles we arrive back at the car. We emerge from the Grimm Brother’s forest and step onto the comfort of paved parking lot. Exhausted, we are thrilled with our hike. The forest sprites retreat back into the dark recesses of our minds while the new shapes and smells and colors and sounds energize our spirits.

“We did it!” She is elated. Then, “Do you think that crashing sound was a bear?” she asks.

“Could be,” I lie, certain that we were followed – and rejected – by a hungry Ogre. Too boney. There are, after all, certain benefits to aging.

read Kerri’s blogpost about ROOTS AND SHADOWS

Welcome The Symbol [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

The daisy plays a central role in our story. And, not surprisingly, daisies represent, among other things, new beginnings and rebirth. When I first met Kerri, a friend, a wise older woman, told me that the universe was offering me a second chance.

At our first meeting, she waited for me in the concourse holding a daisy. Three weeks later I flew back for a second visit. She awaited me in the concourse holding a bushel of daisies. An abundance of renewal. At our wedding, daisies ringed the altar. Daisy cupcakes, instead of a wedding cake, were made special by our miracle-baker Susan.

Daisies are also symbolic of love, cheerfulness, hope, and affection. All are present in our second chance.

Unlike other people, Kerri doesn’t toss the daisies when they wither. She considers them beautiful and carriers of story. One of the daisies from our wedding sat atop the shelf by our bed and only recently passed beyond brittle into daisy dust. The dust made its way into the back yard, sprinkled with appreciation like a magic love potion.

During the pandemic-job-loss-broken-wrist epoch, there was a distinct absence of daisies in our house. Hunkering down and isolating brought a daisy void. A few weeks ago, I came down the stairs from my office to find a row of chipper daisies adorning the dining room table.

“I thought we needed some daisies,” Kerri said and smiled.

Yes. A thousand times, yes.

New beginnings. Rebirth.

If I could, I’d dose this sad discordant world with a hundred million daisies but, for now, it’s a great start welcoming home our special symbol of hope, beauty, cheerfulness, regeneration.

read Kerri’s blogpsot about DAISIES

Intend Renewal [on DR Thursday]

Context is everything. When we chose this picture for our Melange, I thought I’d probably write about renewal. Out of devastation, a phoenix rises. Or, perhaps the kind of renewal that doesn’t just happen but requires a bit of scraping, new soil, scattered seed, and hay-net to prevent the birds from feasting on the seed. Intentional renewal.

Context. Between the day we chose this photo and this cool quiet morning that I’m attempting to write about it, the mass shooting at Highland Park happened. I’m finding it nearly impossible to write about renewal.

Highland Park is not far away. We attend the annual art fair on their small-town Main Street. We’ve driven through 4 times in the last two weeks.

We were about to go out the door and walk to our local 4th of July festival when the news arrived. We looked at each other, no words necessary. We kicked off our shoes. We decided to stay home. Going to a place where people congregate – like grocery stores or elementary schools or places of worship or movie theatres or parades meant to celebrate our “independence” – seemed unsafe.

Context.

HIghland Park was one of three locations in the USA that experienced mass shootings on the 4th of July. No, check that. Four locations. Even as I type, Kerri brought news of the mass shooting that happened here – not so many blocks away – on the 4th. Staying home was a good choice. Oops. Check that. More news. There were eight. Oops (again). Check that. Eleven.

I cannot write about renewal but, for the third time this week, I am tapping out thoughts about interconnectivity.

It is a trick of language to say, “I broke my toe” and believe that only the isolated body-part called “toe” is injured while everything else is fine. Except it’s not fine. An injury anywhere to the body is an injury to the whole body. Everything is impacted. Everything adjusts. The pain-impulse you feel in your toe has already completed a round trip to your brain. Your posture adjusts so expect your hip or back to be sore tomorrow. Your spatial awareness goes on high alert: it’s best to avoid toe contact with any immovable object. If you desire to understand interconnectivity, consider how your whole body might respond if you happen to stub your seeming-isolated-and-already-broken-toe. Whole body response. Imagine it.

There have been over 300 mass shootings in the United States this year. So, the single most puzzling comment to come out of HIghland Park? “How could it happen here?” As if “here” is somehow isolated from Uvalde or Buffalo or Boulder or…it’s a long list and growing.

The whole nation-body is injured. It’s the illusion of isolation that underpins the mad-thought that more guns, unrestricted, are a solution to gun violence. Build a fortress? Isolate? Better doors? Arm yourself? It’s only the toe.

Where exactly is the boundary of “here?” And why would it be okay for “it” to happen “there”?

We’re all here. There is no “there” that is “safe.” Context is everything.

Perhaps I am writing about renewal. The intentional kind that requires some leadership scraping, new soil, seed, and a whole-body community united and relentless in their demand for proper protections from the insanity of guns.

read Kerri’s blogpost bout NEW GRASS

may you © 2015 david robinson

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.

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