I have a thing for questions!

Once upon a time…

I needed a business card. Brand new in private practice as a pastoral counselor, I debated over the usual alphabet soup after my name.

Office address and phone number, no problem. Color, no biggie. Paper, in those days!

It was the title that was the challenge. Pastoral Counselor was the obvious choice, but it didn’t say enough!

I fussed and doodled for a couple of weeks. And then I just did what I wanted to do!

A whole list of things. Counseling. Weddings. Liturgy. Couples. Well, you get the idea.

My talented friend did the typesetting. Different fonts. Different grey scales. Some bold. Some stealthy.

My favorite part of all was in the top left corner.

Questions that make all the difference.

These days I have wise teachers explaining the concept of choosing a niche and I get it.

It hasn’t gotten easier.

And I really have a thing about questions! Here are a few of my favs…

What are they learning from the decisions we make?

What are we trying to accomplish?

What might get us closer to that?

What haven’t we asked yet?

If we believe what we say we believe, what, then, shall we do?

That last one is the big one for today.

If I believe that my #Insight painting will help me see things I need to see, does she need me to listen deeper? To stick with the journey? To trust my heart to hear the answers when they come?

Apparently, all of the above.

And so, covered in paint, I use all my powers of knowing… kinesthetic, auditory/digital, visual, intuitive… and I stay on the path. About half an hour ago, we had a breakthrough, she and I.

And she gently suggested that I take a few minutes to tell you about it while the paint dries.

Just in case, you know, there might be something in your life that’s searching for one of those full-body yeses.

Nothing is all wrapped up with a bow just yet, but things that seemed separate now feel connected and, through it all, there is my Big Why!

I have two granddaughters growing up in this world!

I’d love to know what your Big Why is! You can leave me a comment, or email me at suesvoice@gmail.com

She and I have some more noticing and wondering to do. I can’t wait to see what comes next!

ps… Those swirly things shaped like honeycomb in the top left corner (!) are the things she and I are doing, together!

pps… If you’d like to see some finished work, come by for a visit at fierceartwithheart There are lots of great questions hiding in the corners there. You just have to listen. Looking is good, too!

Stormy Weather… in both the literal and figurative senses!

I suspect the Weather Channel peeps are feeling like essential workers this summer.

Floods. Tornadoes. Hurricanes. Unprecedented heat waves. Fires.

I’m all for a welcome dose of rain pattering gently on the new metal roof, but this has not been that. In fact, for a huge part of the world, it’s been terrifying. And it’s touched a story that’s lived in my heart for a while.

Since the summer of 1989, to be exact.

I was Camp Nurse and Director2 for the Presbyteries of Orange and New Hope in North Carolina.

On that particular day, the kids – 100 or more of them – were out doing what kids do at Camp. Volley ball games. Sail boats. Arts & Crafts.

And then, as some of my Southern friends would say, “There come a storm”.

A tornado, to be exact.

The staff scrambled to get kids to the closest shelters. For about half of them, that meant the dining hall. My assignment on the emergency plan.

About three quarters of the kids were terrified. The others wanted to watch out the huge glass windows which was, of course, no place to be.

Step one: Get them all sitting in circles on the floor, far from windows. The littlest ones, under tables.

Step two: Prayer. It was, after all, church camp!

Step three: Something to do. We sacrificed some apples and oranges from the kitchen to use as balls for tossing around the circles. (And passed out some of the disgusting pink stuff known as “bug juice” so they’d have something to drink.)

Step four: As they started to calm, songs and stories.

The wind picked up some more. Branches and trees started falling nearby. A lawn chair flew by a window.

We sang louder.

Goin’ on a Squeegee Hunt is especially helpful for such a time! Especially the line that goes, “I’m not afraid!”

If you’re at all like me, the world has felt more than a bit like that stormy day all those years ago.

And most of us have had scared kids we love caught in the middle.

Grammy Camp starts Saturday!

Why?

Because there are things we can learn from each other, and realize in ourselves, to help those littles we love so much to ride out the days when there come a storm.

I’d be okay if we skipped the bug juice, but some skills for listening, for taking their fears seriously, and for not shaming or blaming them for being where they are would be a great start!

A medicine basket, if you will, helping to get conscious of what you have to offer in the midst of wherever they are.

And, in order to help them with their fears, we need help with our own!

Bandaids and M&M’s are not enough for these days!

Journaling and painting and sharing in circle work better for the Grandmother-Elder-Teacher- types. Even very brave Grandfathers!

In a moment I’m going to ask you to take action. Even if you’ve done it before and decided that now was not the time.

Now is the time.

And, due to a gift from a generous donor who knows how much this matters, the price has become more affordable.

There’s not much time left to choose. Hobby Parent and I are ready with a plan. A plan to worry less and help more.

Isn’t that what you need???

So, here it comes. Our request…

CLICK THIS THING!

ps… The resident Studio Angels have their camp t-shirts ready and they’re so hoping you’ll come, too!

pps… The art is my Work-in-Progress for today. (Which is a lot like all of us!) It began a year ago, when Congressman John Lewis passed… the stormy weather in my heart and in our world. Let’s look these storms in the eye and help our kids!

“Raised Right” is not enough for this moment!

Once upon a Sunday morning, quite some time ago, 11:00 arrived as it almost always does, and it was my turn to preach. There were a few challenges, that particular day.

It was a Sunday in October. A Sunday for which the Lectionary (complicated calendar of which scripture passages are “for” which day) was utterly unprepared!

You see, in addition to it being the whichever Sunday in Ordinary Time, it was also Stewardship Sunday, on Pink Ribbon Sunday for breast cancer awareness, in National Domestic Violence Awareness month.

Yep! Money, sex (well some people think so) and power all cued up for Sunday morning.

The three things you learned, if you were raised right in the time and places I was, not to talk about!

But I did. Because I couldn’t have lived with myself or faced the Creator of my understanding if I hadn’t. I mean, those people were sitting in our pews and not talking about those things wasn’t going to help anything!

This time feels just like that, somewhere deep in my raised right heart which has learned a whole lot of new things.

One of those new things, since then, is Grammy-ness. Elder-ness.

I’ve also learned that flying our Real Me flags is the best thing for us as humans-in-progress.

And, it’s what I want for my girls!

So, Grammy Camp! There’s still time for you to join us.

We’re also to make it more manageable in a stewardship sense. (Less of an investment!) Give us a day or so, please.

And you don’t have to be a Grandmother in the traditional sense to join us. Elders, teachers, youth leaders, even Grandfathers, and folks who don’t necessarily claim any of those choices, whatever your faith tradition. If you’re even a little intrigued, Grammy Camp is the place for you.

(That was, indeed, the money and sex – well, gender – part!)

Here’s the power part…

Trade in the loneliness, the fear of being irrelevant in this world, the terror of watching or imagining your kids entering a world that that looks deeply dangerous and foreign.

Come, sit in an (online) circle with the Dangerous Old Women – in training, of this moment! Practice your GranAlly skills.

Practice teaching and living the empowerment our world so deeply needs – from the smallest grandchild to the global community – and create the life you long for doing it, whatever your gifts or mediums, for yourself, but also so they can see you doing it.

Raised Right is no longer enough, if it ever was. Intentionally, together, we can make a huge difference. But you have to show up. The table is set. Hobby Parent and I are ready!

So, in a moment or two, when you click the thing, you’re going to find a handful of really fun/helpful bonuses that come along with Grammy Camp. Everything from soup recipes to dots of hope! And you can bring a friend for half price!

This is one of those moments. We are up to bat.

CLICK THE THING!

ps… my YouTube music is providing background inspiration as I write. No joke. Kumbaya. Just now. It means come by here!

pps… the art is along the lines of something known as Metacognitive Drawing which helps people make the changes they most long for faster and more easily by trying less hard. (Really!) The one at the top is me on that Sunday morning back when. The one just below is me on this Sunday morning, complete with my purple feather boa! We’ll do some at Camp. And kids can do it, too!

What are you humming???

I was raised on Tony Bennett and Aretha Franklin.

Later, my dad branched out to Glen Campbell and Anne Murray.

He listened, leaned back in his gold polyester Lazy-Boy recliner, drumming on the wooden arm rests.

I’ve been playing a bit of chair lately, myself.

Songs of my journey. Most of them, campfire songs from all the years of Camp!

I was in awe of the older counselors who could sit on a stump, play a guitar, and lead the singing for 100 or so girls.

And some guys, too, when I started playing Camp Nurse/Pastor for outposts of the Presbyterian Camp and Conference Committee.

I remember all the words to all the Camp songs. It was part of my job!

The ones that live in my heart, though, are songs paired with particular times and contexts.

Lots of Peter, Paul & Mary. James Taylor. Simon & Garfunkel. One Tin Soldier. All the songs from the March on Washington.

I don’t remember it, first hand, but, by 1968 when my school system (and my parents) were freaking out about de-segregation in Florida, it seemed like the video footage was everywhere.

Forest Gump probably had a lot to do with that, too!

Viet Nam. Peace protests. The Women’s Movement.

It wasn’t always okay to say what I thought in some of those times, but I could sing along.

(Not well, by the way, and often with tears.)

Context has been heavy on my mind, these last few years.

And I suspect, especially in light of the pandemic and so many other tragedies, we’re going to need some new music.

Our kids are going to need some new music.

While we wait for it to emerge, I’m working on the playlist for Grammy Camp!

Lots of guitars. Things real people could actually sing. Grandmothers. Elders. Aunties. Teachers. Even, as you’ve noticed, some very brave Grandfathers.

And, in between singing moments, we’ll be working through some of the ways we can most help the littles, and not-so-littles, we love most. They need us!

I suspect our paint journey will be more helpful than macrame’ lanyards of old! I didn’t really learn much or invite my feelings out where I could converse with them tying scratchy rope into knots. (Though I’m all for prayer knitting!)

Here’s the thing, though. We can’t help our kids if we can’t process our own stuff. In a (virtual) circle.

So, send me some suggestions for the playlist. (Count on Blowin’ in the Wind!) And CLICK HERE to check out all the details. (Even if you’re not sure about this whole adventure, check out the info. You might know somebody who needs to hear it, too!)

And, if you’ve never been to Camp, Hobby and I have got you!

ps… in honor of Work-in-Progress Wednesday, the painting is my Medicine Basket which began in our workshop last Saturday. The Muse is in charge. I’m just holding the brush on this one! Here’s a close-up…

My 1st, 2nd, and 3rd First Red Thread Circles…

Yep! You read that right!

The year I finished 6th grade, I went to summer camp for the first time. What a lot of learning and growing there was in that week!

Insert your camp memories here…

One of the biggest things from that week has gotten even bigger in my universe over the last four years!

Jean was our Camp Director. It was Florida, in the mid-summer we thought of as hot as blazes, back in the day. I had shoulder length hair and a bad case of poison ivy. Every morning, I went to the office and Jean French braided my hair so I would be closer to comfortable.

I was beyond grateful! That wasn’t the big learning, though.

One day, our counselor announced it was time for something new. She led us to one of those open-air pavilions with a floor and a roof. (Less chance of fire ant bites!)

Jean appeared with a mysterious box and asked us all to sit in a big circle. Curious, we did.

Then, each camper received an index card with emphatic directions not to trade. Curious and curiouser!

The next thing to appear from the box was an enormous ball of red yarn. Like the size of a basket ball!

Jean joined the circle and, holding the end, tossed the ball of yarn across the circle. That camper held the yarn and tossed it across to another camper.

Back and forth the red yarn went until we had, essentially, woven a huge red thread spider web.

Then came the challenge. Each (very) young woman was asked to name the connection between the element of the local Long-leaf Pine and Turkey Oak eco-community in which we were camped to the element held by the camper at the other end of her piece of the red thread.

How does the ant depend on the pine tree?

How does the rain depend on the rattle snake? (Florida, remember!)

How does the gopher tortoise depend on the poison ivy?

Well, you get it…

From that day to this, I have never looked at the world the same way. My first Red Thread Circle, though I didn’t know it then!

Camp is like that.

Then, just exactly 4 years ago, I made my first Intentional Creativity® pilgrimage and I learned about a different, but oddly same, notion of Red Thread Circles.

We all hold the circle, but each of us are responsible for only our piece. (Which works way better when everybody understands!)

Creativity is like that.

And then, not even a year later, I led my first Red Thread Circle. I had just begun my Color of Woman training. It was one of our first challenges. And my kids were here for Spring Break!

I invited Kelly and the girls to wander around the house and bring something they felt was beautiful to our circle. We sat around the kitchen table and shared.

The girls both brought their stuffed owls, Sophia and Hoot-Hoot, who live at our house. (Most of the time!)

Kelly appeared toting my 36×48″ first Legend painting, She Follows Her Heart, right off the wall!

I explained a bit about the Red Thread Legend and we passed it around. Grammy, the former OR nurse, was designated to tie knots!

Then, the girls blew my mind by explaining that they’d recently been guests at a Vietnamese wedding that included a Red Thread Circle!

Being a Grammy is like that.

And, now, in an amazing way, all of that feels like, if you’ll pardon the pun, it’s coming full circle. It’s time for Grammy Camp!

Four weeks of virtual community, creativity, Red Thread, and lots of powerful ways to be true allies for our kids going forward in the world where we are. And NO fire ants or rattle snakes!!! There will be lots more info coming. (Don’t hate my brilliant side-kick, Hobby Parent, and me for the mail… this is the work of our souls and we believe!)

For now, even if you think you’re not quite ready to decide, CLICK HERE to be magically transported to the answers for many of your questions so you can ponder. And, if you want to be with us… Grandmother-Elder-Teacher-Very Brave Grandfather… you’re invited and welcome!

ps… the Critic and the Muse have already signed up!

Quite possibly my strangest blog post ever!

It has, as the old saying goes, been a bit of a day!

We’ll skip the early morning tree surgery next door and move on to the the fact that I had a massage appointment today. First time in 3 or 4 years! Part of the healing formerly scared muscles plan in Sunday’s not-quite-as-bizarre post.

This adventure occurred at home as I haven’t been driving much lately. (The whole brake thing feels really tricky!)

Fortunately, my new buddy, Jessica, had a Newfie when she was a kid and was thrilled to meet the official greeters. They, of course, were thrilled to meet her.

We did the brief history of all the scars, the allergies, and the positioning challenges with Phoebe sulking outside the door because there wasn’t room for her and the massage table.

Then, complete with aromatherapy, bird music, and some insights about Intentional Creativity®, I was reminded why massage can be a very good thing.

THEN, for reasons completely unknown, we wound up locked in the room where we’d been working.

Yep, locked in!

I didn’t even know there was a lock on the door.

Texting Bill brought no immediate rescue attempt from the basement and Jessica had more appointments scheduled.

Fortunately, there’s a drawer in that room with an odd collection of household tools that don’t have another place to live.

Hammer and screw driver in hand, I managed to get the hinge pin out of the top of the door. Bill arrived about then and somehow forced it open.

And, yes, I’ve already notified Greg, the fix-it-wizard, that his list just got a bit longer.

Here’s the thing, though, amidst all the weirdness.

While we were working, Jessica asked me about my girls and I told her that since the first moment I found out that the first granddaughter was on the way, my life has been changed.

Changed as in, I have two granddaughters growing up in this world and it could use a bit of work.

These days, more than a bit.

So, I had a chat with my Grammy-Sister-Art-Buddy, Hobby Parent, and, as part of our plans for Saturday’s workshop, we’re going to squeeze in a bit more really useful information and reduce the price.

You see, Saturday is the first anniversary of Congressman John Lewis’ passing, after serving 34 years in the US House of Representatives (D, GA-05). Lots of concerned Grandmothers, Elders, and other wise people are planning events across the US to encourage some Good Trouble, Lewis style.

And our workshop, Healing the World… starting with the Ones You Love is Good Trouble with paint!

Our kids… especially the teens and young adults, are facing unprecedented challenges and way too many of them are not making it. We can help. So, among lots of other cool things, we’ll be learning the three most crucial I amstatements we can help our kids learn. And we want you to be able to join us.

That’s the reason the new price, which is even lower than the early bird price was, is $134 for one or $234 for two.

Here’s the challenge!!!

I don’t know how to make the price change in the checkout process. I’ve emailed Veronica, the tech-wizard, and she’ll fix it as soon as she finds out I’m messing with the world again.

For now, CLICK HERE to read all the good stuff about when and why and what you’ll need. Share this with a friend. Maybe wait until Thursday morning to sign up. I promise we’ll make the money thing work!

Comment on the post or email me at suesvoice@gmail.com if you need help.

Our kids are counting on all of us. And Good Trouble is a good way to be!

ps… That’s Phoebe, up there, right under my feet, helping with the webinar last week. (Complete with toe licking!) She likes to help. And she’ll be sad if you’re not there! (Yes, I’m that committed!)

Watching the Pen Move…

I have a rather bizarre story for you, today. One many of my medical and therapeutic – type buddies might actually declare, “not the way we’ve always done it”!

Frankly, I do too.

A year ago I finished my Motherboard certification which translates into Certified Intentional Creativity® Coach.

This was a journey which involved a whole bunch of a thing called MetaCognitive Drawing, as I learned it from Shiloh Sophia McCloud and a talented team of folks open to new things.

The operating definition is something pretty close to thinking about something while moving a pen and watching the pen move.

The process allows one to notice things which are “beyond” our day-to-day patterns of thinking.

There’s more, but first, a pause for a bit of history.

If you’ve been reading along for a while you will no doubt have noticed that I have rather more frequent than optimal challenges with joints and muscles and pain.

I won’t bore you with the details except to say be kind to your knees! I will say that I’ve spent a bunch of time, energy, and money trying to get things to hurt less.

Things have been different, lately. (Which is great if you’re into optimism… and not so good if nothing much is helping.)

Then, while working on some workshops about helping the teens and young adults we love, especially in this pandemic-impacted moment, I had a new thought!

I did such a good job of sheltering at home – read that isolating – that, in addition to not catching Covid, I lost a good bit of muscle strength. (Not that I had a whole lot to spare in the beginning…)

That new thought led – as new thoughts often do – to a few more new thoughts with a batch of questions tagging along.

I wrote out, like a story, what I was experiencing. I looked a bunch of things up online. (Really!) I called my doc and made an appointment.

He listened. And didn’t laugh… even when I explained that I had come to the conclusion that my muscles were afraid.

We checked some wild card things out and adjusted a few other things and made a plan, last Monday.

I called a dear friend and got a referral for a massage therapist.

Somewhere along the line, I mentioned to a Grammy buddy and Motherboard grad from this year, what I had realized about my muscles being scared. We did a short review of all the surgeries and falls, etc., etc. Then she offered to wander with me if I wanted to do a bit of MetaCognitive Drawing to see what else I might learn.

I did!

You kind of had to be there but here’s the punch line. After drawing a me out of a bunch of spirals, I was feeling way more hopeful. Then, I knew. I need to be as patient and hopeful and compassionate with my muscles as I was with Luther when he came to us so abused and terrified and then lost his vision. I needed to see me with my heart, just the way he sees the world.

Time out for tissues. For me.

And an update.

A med shift Mark and I hatched up is helping. My new massage buddy is coming to the house on Wednesday. (She’s an artist, too, and loves Newfies!) And, she’d heard of Intentional Creativity®

It turns out that, before Covid, she had plans to go help an old friend of hers with an IC retreat in Mexico.

My response was an immediate, “Emily Grieves”! And I was right. Emily is an amazingly talented IC sister.

Que the chorus of, It’s a small world, after all!

I can’t wait to see what happens when I explain to my new buddy that my muscles have been scared and my goal is to help them be less scared…

For this moment, back to workshop planning… you’re invited!

And let me know if you’d like to talk about drawing yourself a miracle…

ps… That’s Luther in the glimpse of my 2nd Legend painting, above.

pps… Many, many thanks to Gail Simon Darlington, Red Thread and Motherboard sister, extraordinaire!

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

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