Two of my favorite participles…

Once upon a time… a really, really long time ago… there was a rather awkward high school student. She wasn’t ever quite sure where she fit in.

She was not, even then, flexible enough to be a cheerleader.

She believed, though it wasn’t totally true, that she was utterly tone deaf, so band was out, too.

She tried Drama Club for a bit but it was complicated by mostly mandatory family weekend fishing trips.

She did have a couple of skills, though. She was good at setting up science labs.

And, she pretty much aced the whole reading and writing thing which seemed, at least back then, to have some promise.

Thus, she was appointed the Grammar Police for the yearbook staff.

Please don’t tell, but she often gave herself permission to break the rules! Especially the one about not ending sentences with participles!

She had two favorites. Noticing. And Wondering.

And, yes, she turned into me. And I still love noticing. And wondering.

It’s a pretty useful strategy these days. I mean, there’s a whole lot of both that needs doing! And, since both of my granddaughters are in middle school, it seems like an excellent time to model a bit of each!

Doing a right brain – left brain cross lateral thing seems to help. Knitting, perhaps. And painting. Dog brushing doesn’t work quite the same way, but is also useful!

Yesterday, it was mainly painting. With a bit of company from season 18 of Top Chef.

As I focused on liberating a figure from all the layers and layers of background, I listened to a delightfully global mix of chefs trying to figure out how to put themselves on a plate, as it were.

Which I couldn’t help but notice sounded quite a bit like I was feeling, trying to put a version of me on canvas.

As the chefs chopped and chatted, one theme kept reappearing. The tension between what they grew up thinking they should be and do and even eat – vs – what they were discovering about their sense of what they hoped to create in that moment. Their intention, if you will.

Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!

It’s a feeling I know well, that tension. If you’re any older than the Gen X crowd, you may know it well, too.

Frankly, I suspect everybody knows it, even though it’s less cool than it used to be.

While I went on noticing and wondering and making dots, a phrase began repeating itself inside me.

The work of my hands…

Five dots and repeat. Each word with its own dot.

Noticing and wondering.

When I shivered, I remembered.

Cold. Hungary in 1989. The ninetieth Psalm, repeated aloud, by heart, in the Reformed Church. Every Sunday.

The work of our hands, establish Thou it.

What if that… whatever our spiritual traditions… was the question we helped our littles to ask?

Them. Their gifts. Their passions.

Just the way they are, free of expectations except, at least for me, compassion.

I know. It’s a leap for some of us. And I’m still not mobile or coordinated enough for literal leaping.

But there are still participles. And I’m still noticing and wondering.

How about you?

There’s still time to check out the year-long journey, Forest of Grandmothers. Just in case it’s calling to you. No paint experience needed! As with many journeys, newness awaits! If you think you might belong, you can!

ps… another glimpse at my Legend painting in progress. More details, soon. Let’s just say that the generations are gathering. And helping!

Today in my world…

Yesterday I had a really helpful meeting about things like consistent visual branding and a plan for social media posts. It was big fun!

Last night I slept. Even bigger fun!

Today we scrambled around a bit to get ready for a massage appointment that I wasn’t really betting would happen. I’m so glad it did.

We fed the big dogs who were sad after missing out on the massage party. I took a nap. Bill fixed dinner. It was really good.

The guy who’s been winning… and winning… and winning on Jeopardy won again, which is probably nicer for him than for us, but we knew lots of the answers, too.

Then, while we were planning for tomorrow, Bill said, “Did you write a blog for today?”

You guessed it!

Which was not, in fact, in the plan…

If I were going to “blame” someone, it might be CNN. Well, not really them so much as the convicted abuser of so many U.S. gymnasts. And, apparently, the FBI and DOJ guys who were “less than effective” in handling the reporting.

I watched those brave young women holding people they should have been able to count on – WE should be able to count on – accountable for negligence and the additional abuse of other young women.

And, yes, there were tears in some of their eyes as they testified before the Senate. Warrior tears!

Because it’s Wednesday, it’s Work-in-Progress day in the land of Intentional Creativity® and I do, indeed, have a painting in progress.

The first glimpse of Luther is becoming visible. The lioness spirit animals have just begun to appear.

And I went back to the studio just now and added the teardrops that are a part of my own coding for Legend paintings such as this one.

They, too, are warrior tears!

Not warriors of violence and oppression and abuse.

Warriors for children’s safety. For peace. And justice. And equality. And civil rights. Warriors for voice and art and decency.

And, yes, they’re rolling down my cheeks, too, as I write these words.

It’s not there, yet, but before my painting is done, the Hebrew word pronounced tzcar – which means both to remember and to remind – will be there, too. A mark of power. And promise.

ps… just in case you’re wondering, this post fits the plan after all. Me, showing up, real and as close to fiercely compassionate as I can manage on any given day.

pps… there’s still time to join us for Forest of Grandmothers! If you relate to this story, it’s so worth checking out! The details are just a click away

Whispering Walls & Grandparents’ Day…

A counseling client from years gone by has reappeared, searching for some help with, well, trauma.

We started with lots of listening on my part. It’s harder to do the tea & Kleenex part via Zoom, but eventually we reached the point when I could say, with a great deal of professional confidence, that I absolutely agree with the current therapeutic movement to drop the D from PTS_, recognizing that much of the world is dealing with traumatic stress and it’s part of being human, not disordered.

Then, before our next time together, I began to hear the walls whispering. Well, metaphorically, at least. You see, our walls are literally covered in my Intentional Creativity® journey. And, I’ve been doing a whole lot of what Bill refers to as hatching, lately.

Hatching as both a coach and as a Grandmother!

You’ve probably noticed, too, that all that stress and trauma is not just a thing for professional debates. It’s a deeply personal thing for many of those we love the most.

That meant a whole lot of chatting with The Muse painting. Here’s a glimpse:

Her job was to help me recognize the wisdom I carry and to lend me some courage for sharing it!

It’s hard, though, to hang with The Muse without also pondering her partner-in-concern, The Critic.

Apparently hating her hair at the moment, The Critic is not available for a photo op. She did authorize me to remind you that she says No! No! No! about a whole lot of things because they’re new and scary, not because she doesn’t love me.

Kind of predictably, in stressful times, The Critic tends to be more emphatic than ever about not doing things we’ve never done before, or even things we have that have become more scary, lately.

Thank goodness for my Medicine Basket, which seems to whisper, too, even as a supposedly inanimate object!

Together, we all got busy with a plan for empowering.

Then, The Muse remembered that, while The Critic assuredly loves us, she was absent on all the days when my old friend and teacher, Dr. Steve Glenn, proclaimed that, We don’t rescue people from opportunities to learn… only from things beyond their capabilities.

That last bit was frequently followed by the example of two-year-olds in traffic. Them we rescue.

And the walls whispered on while I (sort of) slept until I woke with a new question in my head…

How do we, as Grandmothers and Elders and like-minded folk, juggle the muses and critics inside us?

And help our beloved littles to do the same???

These days, that probably feels even harder than usual to many of us!

And, quite possibly, more important than ever!

So, one of the things I’m doing is guiding some folks through a rather ramped-up Medicine Basket process. (Details coming soon!)

And, I’m helping with the teaching team for Forest of Grandmothers, the exciting new year-long Intentional Creativity journey about to start in the tradition of Red Madonna.

You, wise one that you are, have already figured out that if you click the pretty colored link, lots and lots of juicy details about this amazing journey will magically appear, curiosity being one of those things that belongs in all our Medicine Baskets!

Here’s the thing…

Safety is enormously important in the literal sense.

The quest for safe (read that familiar) can also hold us back from our greatest gifts if it becomes the only option we consider!

It’s a bit like dandelions! Noxious weeds? Or hopeful, nutritious gifts???

Gifts, I think. And pretty good ones for Grandparents’ Day!

ps… if you haven’t yet, please click the annoying pop-up thing and sign up for the list so you’ll have all the newest info!

pps… I have room for just two more individual clients interested in exploring some of these issues 1:1. You can email me at suesvoice@gmail.com for more information!

Food and Families…

Yesterday, my first granddaughter turned fourteen. (Gulp!)

I sooooooo want to hug her!

I also want to feed her. To bake something she loves with her.

For now, we’ve agreed to put that on the list for Christmas. Here’s what we chose… from my book, We Gather Together…holiday feasts with the family you have! complete with variations, just in case feeding your family is as complicated as feeding mine!

Authentic Key Lime Pie with a Gluten-Free Variation

This is the real deal – yellow colored – Key Lime Pie. Better yet, with the Oatmeal Pie Crust shell, it’s gluten-free! And Kenzie loves it! This is the recipe right off the Nellie & Joe’s bottle of Key Lime juice. You can order it from Amazon or try Whole Foods or Publix depending on where you are. Did you know that the pie has sweetened condensed milk in it because the recipe was developed before Key West had dependable milk delivery or refrigeration? Really! Would I eat this once a week? No. But it’s a favorite in my family and celebrations are even more precious these days!

MAKES: One 9 inch pie, about 8 servings

Equipment Note: You can use a food processorhand or stand mixer to do this, but a wire whisk will do. A mixing advantage is handy if you opt for homemade whipped cream. I often use an Eco-foil disposable pie tin with the domed plastic crust when I make this. 

Arrange oven racks so pie will bake in center of oven.

Preheat oven to 350 F. 

In a suitable mixing bowl, combine and mix well:

            One 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

            3 good egg yolks. (Reserve whites for another use.)

Add and blend until smooth:

                        ½ c. Nellie & Joe’s Key West Lime Juice

Pour filling into:

                        One 9 inch prepared Graham Cracker pie shell

Bake for 15 min. Remove from oven and place on rack. Allow to sit 10 min. before refrigerating.

Chill several hours or overnight.

Optional: Add to mixing bowl, preferably metal:

                      1 pint organic, heavy whipping cream

                        1 Tbsp. 10x powdered sugar, if desired. 

Whip cream rapidly by hand or with mixer, until soft peaks form.

If not using immediately, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. 

Just before serving, top pie with whipped cream. 

Fabulous Gluten-free Oatmeal Pie Crust with Vegan Variation, for other days…

Equipment Note: food processor or Vitamix-type blender is used for this recipe.

Depending on how high your pie will get when finished, allowing for whipped cream or meringue, you may want to purchase an Eco-foil pie pan with a plastic cover. 

I found this on an old, yellowed index card, in my mom’s handwriting when I went through her recipes. I don’t remember her ever making it. What a gift for Bill, who’s gluten-free! See how many ways you can find to use this like you would use a graham cracker crust, but better!

Into the bowl of your food processor or carafe of your blender, place:

            1 c. gluten-free rolled oats

            ½ c. brown sugar

            ½ c. flaked or shredded coconut

Pulse until ingredients resemble a fairly fine meal. Add:

            1/3 c. melted butter 

Continue to pulse until all ingredients are evenly mixed.

Press into bottom and sides of a 9 inch pie plate.  Cover with plastic wrap or lid to pan. Chill.

Variation – Vegan

Replace butter with 1/3 c. melted coconut oil

Enjoy!

ps… you can also make whipped cream in a Mason jar. As soon as I hunt up the girls to tell me how, I’ll let you know!

pps…Kenz and me! Feeling Grandmother-ish??? There’s still time to join us for Forest of Grandmotherscheck it out!

When we need a new way…

If you’ve spent any time at all hanging out in churches in the southern USA, or even hanging out with people who have, you are probably familiar with the pervasive notion of the way we’ve always done it!

(There are, of course, other people harboring the same notion, but I’m trying to speak from my experience. In fact, a few of you may have heard this story before but context is, as they say, everything and our current context is begging for this story!)

Once, when I was an MDiv student at Columbia Theological Seminary, a neighbor in the class ahead of me needed someone to preach for him on Sunday in a tiny church in West Georgia. I, fresh from my summer internship with 5 actual sermons under my belt, said I’d be honored.

I was also excited! And, it turned out, there was at least one question I didn’t yet know that I needed to ask.

On the morning in question I arrived, sermon manuscript in a snazzy folder along with my Bible, and robe neatly draped over my arm.

The organist met me in the parking lot and welcomed me warmly. She volunteered to introduce me and make a couple of announcements, showed me where to find the bathroom, and brought me a small cup of water. I was good to go!

With all the business stuff out of the way, I led the call to worship and then announced the first hymn. Amazing Grace. Safe and familiar.

The organist played a couple of measures for the intro and I raised my hands in the popular preacher signal for “y’all stand, please.”

They did.

Then we heard the organist magic which means “start singing”.

They didn’t.

After two more repeats of the not singing thing, the light began to come on. There was no choir. They were waiting for me to open my mouth and start singing.

Me, who heard my whole life long about my grandfathers who could sing and my grandmothers who could not. I, it was made clear to me, was more like my grandmothers!

But, what we were doing wasn’t getting us anywhere and so I did.

I sang. By myself. In front of a church full of strangers. And, after the longest two words of my life, they sang, too!

And, just in case you’re curious, I lived!

I’ve felt like that a lot this week.

If we’ve learned nothing else, I suspect a great many of us are having a new experience of just how much the way we’ve been doing things isn’t working.

A great many more of us, those our pundits might term less privileged, are undoubtedly way ahead of the curve on that!

Our planet is crying out for healing.

Women, and intelligent men, are crying out for civil rights and bodily dominion.

And the enormous damage to a huge part of the USA is going to make legal, safe access to abortion a tragic survival strategy for many, many families who cannot imagine how to raise a child in the midst of all they’ve lost.

All this in the midst of the ongoing pandemic.

If you’re still reading, my choice to leave behind generations of good girls are quiet and polite and don’t rock the boat is worth it!

That hasn’t worked for a very long time. If you haven’t read Alice Hoffman’s The Dovekeepers, now might be a good time.

Well, right after you call whomever your particular lawmaker-types might be and tell them what you need. Believe me, my gang in Congress are on it!

Honestly, I’d rather be sharing my favorite bone broth recipe with you. This has got to come first.

Now is the time!

ps… the Legendary figure in the painting-in-progress has her hand raised in a gesture of blessing. That’s for you!

pps… in Hebrew, the same word means both hand and power!

What one thing will you choose?

Well, it happened again. I overdosed on CNN.

Fires. Hurricanes. Flooding. Covid. Political infighting. You name it… no more would fit inside me.

I seriously contemplated crawling into bed and staying for a month or so. Sadly, my back is in a bad mood and I suspect we need a new mattress so that was a no go.

I gazed out at the garden, seriously in need of its seasonal change to fall, but given the back situation, plus the rain and heat and humidity, that was a no go, too.

Then one of my favorite Intentional Creativity® Coaching tools began to tap on my consciousness. Just in case you, too, are feeling overdosed on news and other sad, challenging things, this adventure might just be helpful!

It goes something like this… get a marker or three and a handy sheet of big-ish paper and a bit of quiet time.

This part is important… for steps one and two, we are not drawing an image. We are just thinking about thinking and moving the marker.

  1. Divide your paper, mentally, into approximate thirds, left to right. (No actual lines needed.) In the left third, let yourself feel into the hard things and while you’re feeling, just let your marker do what it does. Watch. (Judging, while tempting, is not part of what we’re doing right now!)
  2. Moving to the right third of your paper, and choosing a different marker if you like, let yourself feel into what better would feel like and just let your marker do what it does. Watch. (Ditto, not judging.)
  3. See what you notice.
  4. Now, in the center, sketch your version of a bridge between the hard things and what better would feel like. A path. (You can’t get this wrong!)
  5. Then, the wondering! What is one step you could actually take to begin to cross the bridge??? (Yep, just one!) Write it down. Make an image. Sit with it a bit.
  6. When it feels settled (and probably a bit obvious!) there are three more questions… Could you? Would you? When?

Here’s what happened for me…

I could add some new energy to my studio. Energy in tune with what I see in the near future…

I would. (Oh, yes!!!)

When? Well, as soon as Bill could help with wiring a couple of paintings and then help hang them. (They’re big canvases and there’s – you know – the back thing…)

And then, one more question… What could I do (while waiting for Bill’s help) to value and express what I learned?

That one was easy!

Prayer dots! (And a few Celtic spirals and swirls!) Just me and the paintings… no CNN!

As you can see, the paintings are up. A Tree Woman adventure created by three generations of Boardman women!

Another #WIP which decided, a bit ago, to rest where it is for now and help out as a background for Zoom time.

Both keeping company with The Fiercely Compassionate Artist whom you may have met on Sunday, and Bella Mama, whom we need now more than ever.

And, while all that was in the works, Our Lady of Guadalupe is very nearly finished, complete with her message for this moment.

And, Legend #4 has made huge progress. And – huge fun – when I looked at last night’s photo of her this morning, I saw her face! Already there, waiting for me to find it!!!

It has been just the journey I needed! All from a few questions, a scrap of paper, a couple of markers, and a bit of trust in my own voice.

Holler if a guide to bridges might be helpful! suesvoice@gmail.com

ps… Peter, Paul & Mary are singing away, the big dogs are napping, and I have more dots to make!

pps… Fun, new gift items in my shop…

In the image of the Divine, I create.

Yes. It’s a pretty big statement. And it generated a whole lot of Who am I to say that? when I painted it into the quilt worn by my Artist/Taliswoman painting from about 3 years ago. She was part of my Color of Woman certification process, and she insisted.

These days, she is known as The Fiercely Compassionate Artist and she’s had a lot to say lately!

This morning, I was adding the stars to the Our Lady of Guadalupe work-in-progress who’s been keeping me busy lately. Tonantzin, as she is also known, wanted lots of stars. She also wants a North Star, or Polaris.

How old, I wondered as I spattered, is Polaris? Some research was in order.

According to the founts of knowledge who live in my phone, a good guess is 70 million years!

And suddenly there were tears streaming down my cheeks as I heard the words from my Artist painting, again.

In the image of the Divine, I create.

And, as the book of Genesis proclaims… It was good!

I began to imagine about one-zillionth of what it must have felt like to create the sun and the moon and the stars, all of which are here, too, made by my hands and my brush in paint, on the canvas where I was spattering the night sky.

The North Star isn’t there yet. There are lots more individual prayer dots to make first. I wondered, though, as I went on spattering stars, about our personal North Stars in this moment. Yours and mine. Our touchstones nearest the true North of our hearts. And souls.

Personally, I’m still in Astronomy-kindergarten. (Well, maybe pre-school!) Here’s a bit more of what I learned in Wikipedia-land:

Polaris is currently moving closer to the north celestial pole. It will come closest on March 24, 2100, and then begin to move away. Another couple of thousand years later, another star will be closest to true North.

The very fact that we know how to predict such a thing blows my mind!

For this moment, though, I’m more obsessed with wondering what our personal true Norths are.

This is mine, if you’ll pardon the run-on sentence!

In the image of the Divine I create and what I choose to create is part of a better, kinder, safer world, because I have two granddaughters growing up in this world, and grandmothers need all the empowering we can get and I can share!

It feels like a really big statement to me, too.

And one I can claim with my whole heart.

Me. An ordinary grandmother with creaky joints and much, much more to learn.

Love, really, with a paintbrush. Or a quilting frame. Or a stock pot. Or a crochet hook. Or an abundant garden. Or buttons, even! Or whatever empowers you to create…

I’m so hoping you will!

For this moment, the paintings are satisfied and I have more prayer dots–more stars of hope–to make. The Forest of Grandmothers starts soon and there’s lots to do!

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE!

Blessings to you and yours from Phoebe and Luther and me!

ps… We really ARE stardust!

pps… Can’t wait to introduce you to the angel at the base of this painting!

Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity®
Color of Woman Teacher & Coach

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