Step Forward [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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In story terms, before leaving home, before walking into the dark woods, it is necessary to take a moment and wander from room to room to remember. One last time, to touch the life you are about to leave.  Just as ‘how’ something is done can only be known after the fact, so too, ‘who’ you are can only be seen at the moment of leaving.

Isn’t that why we look back? To put a period on the sentence before stepping into the unknown. Each run up to the new year, amidst the celebrations and hoo-haw, we review the traveled path. We touch it,  label it, put it on the shelf, let go, celebrate and grieve, and make resolutions based on who we want to become. And then, we turn and step into the unknown woods, the new year.

This week, Kerri and I have been wandering from room to room in the melange. Lingering in a spot, laughing about some of the things we tried to do, amazed at some of the things we achieved, letting go of the ‘should-haves’ and lingering in appreciation of the ‘what-is.’ In a year, we did not achieve what we set out to achieve. In a year, we discovered what we never could have imagined.

Last year, at this time, the melange was the dark woods that we stepped into. We had no idea what we’d find. We had intentions and dreams and ideals (oh, those pesky resolutions!). We started with some good advice. It came from Beaky and was our very first Two Artists Tuesday design. Live Life, My Sweet Potato. Step into that dark wood. There are bears and swamps and mountains to climb. Experience all of it. The celebrations and grieving, the lost-ness and found-ness. Life is not found on the other side. Life is found in living of all of it.

That’s what we found, touching back to the first week of the melange. An affirmation. Step forward. Live it all.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about MELANGE, WEEK ONE

 

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Find The Kindergartner [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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On a famous day, we drove the entire width of the state of Wisconsin to pick up the puppy that would one day become known as DogDog. On our drive back across the entire width of the state of Wisconsin, Kerri had a moment of panic. What if BabyCat and the not-yet-named-puppy-dog didn’t get along? What if BabyCat felt rejected? Replaced? What if the dog ATE the cat? What if the cat ATE the dog? The horror story variations of dogs-and-cats-living-together ran amok in her mind.

The flip-side scenarios never occurred to her. What if they love each other? What if they play together? What if they are the best of pals, share bowls, look out for each other? Well, there’d be no problem. Nothing to fret about. No horror story to captivate the imagination.

What is it in an adult mind that defaults to the worst possible assumption? Why, when cutting paper with a razor, do I always think, “I hope I don’t cut my finger off.” It could happen. Once, when my dad was pulling the cord on the chainsaw, I heard him say to himself, “I better not cut my leg off.” Sage self-advice!

We imagine. We assume. We project. It is a potent and powerful force, this capacity to story ourselves through imaging. We learn to imagine the obstacles. We learn not to allow the possibilities.

How many times in my life have I asked students or clients to imagine themselves fulfilled? Too many to count but the actual number is equal to the number of times students or clients have responded, “I can’t.”

What? Yes. You can. Dream in the direction of possibility. Remember that once you were a kindergartner and a teacher asked if you were and artist. Your YES was wild and enthusiastic. Your capacity to dream hasn’t gone away. It’s gone underground.

Guts and gore, dogs fighting cats, fingers flying off; the horror-story-imagination is more immediate.  Sometimes it takes a bit of archeology to find the kindergartner.

Oh, and DogDog and BabyCat? Best of friends. We often find them in the afternoon sleeping back to back. Who could have imagined such a thing?!

 

read Kerri’s blog post about DOGDOG & BABYCAT NAPPING

 

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What’s The Story? [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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Play The Same Stuff [on Merely A Thought Monday]

string bass with frame copy“If you are a chef, not matter how good a chef you are, it’s not good cooking for yourself; the joy is in cooking for others – it’s the same with music.” ~will.i.am

I lived most of my life believing I didn’t have a musical bone in my body. I was convinced that I had a tin ear. I was afraid to sing. I carried a guitar (I named her Magnolia) with me for years – a gesture of hopefulness amidst my absolute commitment to my ineptitude – and finally gave it away to someone who could play it. An instrument needs to be played and I felt I was being selfish holding onto a guitar that I would never play. Oh, how I wish I had Magnolia today.

I didn’t just make up my fear of music. I had plenty of reinforcement, lots of shaming, before I committed to a story of I CAN’T. Over time, with more and more horror experiences, my story solidified into I WON’T. Ever. Close the door. Kill the desire.

When I met Kerri – a consummate musician – I told her this: “You have to know two things about me. I don’t sing & I don’t pray.” A few months later we were driving back roads in Georgia, windows rolled down, a James Taylor CD blaring, Kerri singing at the top of her lungs, I thought it was safe to sing along. She’d never hear me. But, she did. She burst into tears and pulled the car off the road. I shook like a leaf but we sang together and it was grand.

It took her about 15 minutes to identify my obstacle. I had to relearn how to hear. That’s it. It took a few months and a willingness to mightily miss notes and my scary story of CAN’T crumbled. I learned how to feel the sound. The music was there all along.

Here’s the magic for a beginner like me: when I am rehearsing with the ukulele band or singing in the choir, I am capable of so much more than when I am practicing by myself. Playing the same stuff elevates everyone. It’s as if we transcend ourselves. Actually, we do transcend ourselves. We sync up and the energy uplifts everyone. Even me. Especially me, a toddler in knowing that I CAN.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about PLAYING THE SAME STUFF

 

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Long And Stand Still [on KS Friday]

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It’s been a week. How’s that for a non-statement statement? It reminds me of a phrase Roger taught me years ago. It’s an emergency phrase to pull out when the play you’ve just seen is rotten and the director wants to know what you think. He said, “Simply smile and exclaim, ‘Now that was a play!'”

We write posts everyday. Sometimes the real story we are trying to tell is found in the overview, where the posts are juxtaposed. For instance, the difference between what I wrote Tuesday: a nod to all the special people willing to help, and what I wrote Wednesday: routinely checking for exits, not feeling safe in a gun crazy culture, reads like a study in opposites or the ravings of a schizophrenic. And then, to ice my polarity cake, yesterday I wrote about the universal wisdom of finding the middle way. This is the moment when you would smile at me and exclaim, “Now that was some writing!”

Competing narratives. Seeing the pervasive kindness in a culture saturated in violence. We want things to be one way or another and it rarely is. It is both/and. We want Hollywood endings and Hallmark predictability all the while yearning for a life of unpredictability and excitement. We story a past that we claim was better than today, forgetting or editing, the hard parts, the ugly parts. “History repeats itself,” we caution out of one side of our mouths while, in the next breath insisting, “Things were better back then.” Competing narratives.

Sometimes I long to go back and make different choices. Sometimes I am intensely grateful that I’ve walked this rich and broken path; I wouldn’t change a thing. Longing is like that, I think. And, Kerri has caught perfectly both sides of longing, the collision of narratives in competition, the desire to go back in time, the utter appreciation of standing right here.

 

LONGING on the album AS IT IS is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about LONGING

 

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Chicken Marsala Monday

Chicken Marsala thoughts from the melange to help you start your week:

MASTER assumeawe WITH EYES jpeg copy 2.jpg Almost every spiritual tradition offers a form of this thought: make no assumptions. Sometimes it is called ‘detachment.’ Sometimes it is called ‘the middle way.’ Often, it is referred to as ‘presence.’

It sounds so simple. Be where you are. Be here now. Aspirations always sound easy but are never easy to realize.

In my past life as a consultant/facilitator I regularly issued two “caveats” prior to beginning the work of the day. The first was, “Have the experience first, make meaning of the experience second.” The idea of opening to an experience, that they might actually be capable of stepping out of their roiling story of assumptions, was a revelation to my clients.

And, that’s the point. The revelation, the insight, the heaven-that-you-seek is just on the other side of the story-fog that obscures your experience of life. That is why it shows up so often in all-practices-spiritual. Quiet your mind. Make no assumptions. Open to what is there beyond what you think is there.

However, we are human. That fast running inner monologue, that incessant storying of experiences, pre-and-post occurrence, is what we do. So, a good first step toward the quiet mind, toward the suspension of assumptions, is to make life-giving assumptions. Our runaway minds chug down a track so why not put that train on a generative track: assume awe.

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read Kerri’s thoughts about Assuming Awe on Chicken Marsala Monday

 

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Chicken Marsala Monday

thismomentunique WITH EYES jpeg copy 2“What do I see?” It is, perhaps, the most important and fundamental question any person can ask. Seeing is never passive. It is never pure. Interpretation begins the moment you open your eyes. The ‘see-er’ stories – gives meaning to – what is seen. It is a simple truth: the very act of opening your eyes is a creative act.

Every moment of our lives is new. What else? You have never lived this moment before. You will never live it again. We blunt ourselves when we tell ourselves the story of ‘same-old-same-old.’ We dull ourselves when we weave the belief that this day is routine, that this moment of life is nothing new.

We blur our seeing and muddle our moments by asking the wrong question(s): how do they see me? what do they think of me? These are impossible crazy-making questions to answer. They generate a directional challenge. It is not your superpower to determine what the world sees when IT looks at YOU – mostly because you can’t. The world is not looking at you. You are seeing it.  IT is not giving meaning to you. You are giving meaning to IT. That is your genuine superpower.

The thought for today from the melange: open your eyes. See the new-ness. Create this moment as unique in every way.

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read Kerri’s thoughts about this Chicken Marsala Monday

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this moment unique in every way ©️ 2016 kerri sherwood & david robinson