An adventure that may, indeed, make me late for dinner!

Yes, the rumor is true. I have a thing for words. Big ones. Little ones. Private ones. National and global ones. I like them in English. In Greek and Hebrew. A few of them in Latin.

My traveling vocabulary is, admittedly, pretty small. I can introduce myself, order dinner, and ask for the bathroom in Spanish, Italian, Hungarian, and (more or less) in French.

Some of my favorites are very old words living, as it were, into new layers of meaning.

The word for the moment is Ritual. And, yes, it’s Shiloh Sophia’s “fault”! You see, there’s a new painting about to start. The journey has already begun!

I started by washing all the paintbrushes in my studio. This is a really big statement of intention! Next came journals. The one for writings and notes and reminders. The one for art journaling. Both all labeled and shiny.

Then, I started watching videos. And writing. Here’s a question that keeps following me around and appearing in my dreams:

What called me to this circle?

The first answer, which is already written in my journal, is sabbatical. I have been blessed by intense certification journeys through Color of Woman and Motherboard, one right after the other. So much new-ness. Now I need me-ness.

I am claiming this need, despite the fact that my tradition is skeptical at best about ritual. Especially those that are visual or kinesthetic. I’m here to roll around in Ritual, body, mind, and soul. And learn!

Which leads us to the photo.

One canvas. Size huge. (48×60″!) Blessedly, it was already warming up in the basement, bought with anticipation during a major sale.

A bit of, dare I say, holy water, carefully carried home from Italy.

Thirteen intentionally invisible circles, “drawn” on, if you will, with a clean paintbrush and that very water, holding space for the 13-moon journey, just beginning.

And an unexpected volunteer from my closet!

Each of us was invited, as we begin, to consider having a special shawl or scarf to wear when doing the writing and reflecting rituals along the way.

This invitation, kind of surprisingly, was a bit of a challenge for me. The fuzzy, handmade shawl our fearless leader was wearing in the video was lovely. It was also a decidedly impractical choice for one who lives in Georgia where some of those 13 moons will predictably be hot and then some.

I have a scarf I love, scattered with red roses. A stunning gift from a dear paint sister when we were in Italy. I don’t know if The Velveteen Rabbit has been translated into Italian but this particular option seemed concerned about getting quite as “loved” as seems likely on such an adventure.

At about that point in the pondering process, another need appeared. My right knee, which has been cranky of late, reminded me rather loudly that I really need a way to carry my cell phone around, just in case I need help.

For a person who lives in leggings and paint shirts, and is quite particular about being, in the words of Winnie the Pooh, just right when it comes to temperature, this presents a bit of a challenge.

Que inspiration! My collection of denim jackets was calling to me. You already know which one volunteered.

Easily washable. Perfectly sized pockets. Willing to bid the sleeves farewell. Great lapels for pinning things. Literally made of Red Thread. Excited about the possibility of being spattered with paint. It feels so right, I had to take it off for the photo shoot!

I have no idea what comes next. Except that I will be changed.

And the hope that, if I am able to be changed, the enormous challenges of our world are also able to be changed. So be it.

ps… The Ritual journey has already begun BUT there is still time to join in. Just click here for more information!

pss… Thanks to Bilbo Baggins for the reminder about adventures!

When Life Calls for New Strategies

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably noticed that some of your go-to coping strategies haven’t quite been up to life in our world just lately. And, if you’ve been hanging around for a bit, you probably know that one of my coping strategies is the alchemy involved in transforming a variety of grass-fed bones and some veg and herbs into the elixir of life known as bone broth.

Just between us, that hasn’t worked so well at our house lately.

The change started sometime last fall with a dead stove and the advent of a new, sexy, gas model. There was a bit of drama with the installation process. Now, though, it presides over our small but welcoming kitchen rather like a mythological goddess named Hestia. And it does a great many things very well.

There’s just one problem.

I, who grew up with electric stoves, have not been able to convince myself to put a pot of broth on there and leave it simmering gently overnight, as is my habit, while – you know – sleeping.

Then, as part of our New Year ritual, Bill and I cleaned out both freezers. No matter how I sorted and arranged, we were very nearly out of the magic comfort potion.

Then, I had an idea! You see, we also own an InstantPot which, in my opinion, doesn’t hold anywhere near a batch of broth. BUT I realized I could make broth in two steps. I was inspired and excited.

Then, at least where I live, the world went tilt. Tragic Covid statistics. Insurrections. Fear. Massive questions. And I went from inspired and excited to afraid and more than a bit angry. These are not the ideal mental states for creativity!

Today, though, that changed. Well, not all today. I think I just hit the tipping point of reclaiming my world even in the midst of all the external reality.

So, surrounded by the heavenly scent of Bird Broth, as I type these words, I have entered the recovery phase of 2021.

I used the InstantPot to do a good batch of bones and the water that would fit. It’s cooling now and will spend the night in the fridge. Then, tomorrow, I’ll transfer it to my prized enormous stock pot – the one with the little faucet so you don’t have to pick it up full – add all the veg and herbs and secret ingredients, along with several gallons more water, and do about 8 more hours of simmering when I can check on it as often as my inner Girl Scout requires.

I am comforted by even the process of comfort soup.

This is, by the way, a fine example of editing our strategies which is part of my new individual coaching program and quite possibly a free standing workshop in the near future. Though, with Zoom, everybody will have to be in charge of their own aromatherapy!

Oh, and just in case you wondered, a bit of Sister Act in the midst of all the CNN is not a bad thing!

ps… In case you might have some strategies that could use a bit of editing, just email me. suesvoice@gmail.com I’d be honored to ponder the possibilities with you!

A bring your own lunch Inauguration!

January has long been a big month for me.

On this day, in January of 1988, I was laying flat on my back on the couch, deep in the midst of my first major back attack. I was frustrated, trying to keep up with my first seminary class in preaching, which I was unable to attend. Reading was difficult. I couldn’t hold any of my sizable texts above my head.

A wise neighbor came to my rescue with a kid’s paperback set of The Chronicles of Narnia. I had never read them before. (Time out for gasping!)

Puddleglum became my favorite. He’s had a tendency to appear, in pivotal moments of my life, with one particular speech to make. And, yes, he appeared today, as I listened to Joe Biden become the 46th President of the United States of America, and make his inaugural address.

Biden’s speech was exactly right for this moment in time and I have no doubt that there will be reruns on CNN for days. C.S. Lewis, perhaps not so much. I feel led to help!

In the volume entitled The Silver Chair, Puddleglum, who, for the uninitiated, is a Marsh Wiggle, the Prince, and the two children are being held by the Witch, who is busy explaining why their journey to Narnia is juvenile and futile. Puddleglum isn’t having it. Let’s listen in…

“One word, Ma’am,” he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. “One word. All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder. I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things — trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say.”

C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair, book 4 in the Chronicles of Narnia

In this moment, as I share with you a story of moving forward, on the road to Narnia, even in the moments when we’re not sure how to get there, I feel, for the first time I can recall, that my vote mattered.

Here’s what I’m learning.

First, we’ll never know when our votes will make this much difference and so we need to vote. Every time. With eyes on the future.

And, Georgia friends, YES, WE DID!

Now the real work starts for President Biden and Vice President Harris and for all of us. But first, in my world, time to hang out with dear friends at the opening of a Musea art show tonight.

I’m bustin’ out the feather boa! My #MysticLegend painting is included.

That’s big fun, of course, but it’s something much bigger as well. We, all of us who have become part of the Intentional Creativity® movement, are helping to create a bigger, more conscious, more inclusive world with the images which come to life through us.

And that, like voting, is Good Trouble!

ps… The photo today is lunch. Homemade pork broth and left over greens from New Year’s, saved just for today, because a little luck is a good thing, too!

pps… The Inaugural Poet, Amanda Gorman, totally, utterly rocked! Find a copy…

Dreams of many sorts…

I know. It’s probably not exactly what you expected in this moment. It’s just that my work-in-progress paintings have been whispering in my dreams again.

This story will probably feel a bit stream-of-consciousness-ish to you, which is great, because that’s the way it happened!

First, context. Tomorrow, we observe Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. I’ve spent some time wondering what he might say if he were with us in this moment and I suspect it would be much like his famous speech, I Have a Dream.

Quoting from the biblical prophet, Amos, Dr. King called for judgement to, “run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.” Or, as another translation says, “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness as an everlasting stream.”

I can’t help but imagine that if Dr. King were with us today, he’d say the same thing now, though possibly more loudly. The time for needing justice and righteousness seems to go on.

Dr. King’s birthday is another type of holiday at our house as well. This weekend marks the liberation of our dear Luther from an awful puppy mill existence in Michigan.

Newfoundland rescue groups from across the US went into emergency mode to get about 25 abused, sick, terrified dogs to families who would love them back to health.

It wasn’t easy. Luther was terrified of everything. His one coping mechanism for noise or movement or a new voice was to dissociate and try to melt into the floor.

He’s been with us for four years now and the transformation is miraculous. Despite losing his eye sight, this big guy knows he is safe. (Also well fed!) His two favorite words are water and friend.

We’re still working on some of the fine points like nail trimming. And, I could do with a bit less of the barking-at-traffic hobby, but he is as good a preacher for justice as his namesake was.

I’m struck, though, by the context in which we are reflecting on these words and observing these holidays.

And I’m stuck between the 24/7 stream of words from CNN and the utter lack of sense around us. (Feel free to fill in the blanks.)

Here’s what I do know. I want for all people what Luther has both found and taught in his time with us. Safety. Respect. Love. Justice.

We have more work to do. And I have more dots to make. Dots for victims of Covid. And for victims of insurrection in our nation’s capitol. And for new leaders with enormous jobs to do. And for voting rights.

And, there, in the midst of the dots, and the prophets known as Amos and Martin… a bit of embodied healing. The painting known as #Artifact volunteered. You see, she has a new plan. So, with respect for all the hope and tears and prayer dots already lending their energy to the under layers, we did a new thing.

A big change, but not really. Just a reminder of what I’ve already learned, deep inside. And space for a new image in a new world.

Leonard Cohen, singing Hallelujah in the background. Phoebe tracking paint spatters across the floor.

And that is, indeed, Luther, in the painting on the wall, blessing the journey.

ps… Sending you and yours hope.

pss… I still have space for a couple of 1:1 coaching clients this Spring! email me at suesvoice@gmail.com and let me know if you’d like to chat. It’s time for all the Soul Expression Breakthroughs® we can create!

Daring to be powerful!

The art piece in the photo is not of my creation. It is of my collection… one of the treasures of my heart, hanging at the front door of our home.

It’s here, today, because I am struggling to find language of my own.

I am hypnotized by CNN. The words and the images. And, frankly, I am afraid.

You may recall my story of an idea I encountered as a seminary student, about to graduate, and take up – officially – the task of preaching. Just between us, it took me about 10 years to come around to the notion that language creates reality.

Then, I had to do some more learning to realize that images create reality, too. And, yes, I know that we’ve chatted about this recently, but, just now, it’s the best I’ve got.

Along, predictably, with a question.

What reality are you choosing to create? Or, to put it another way…

What does your soul most long to express in this moment? In this life?

I want to express hope. And peace. And justice. And so, along with my folk – some would say outsider – art flag, which is creating both linguistic and visual reality of these things I hold dear, I have a question to share with you.

Could you take the next four months to focus – not all day, every day, but with determination – on what YOUR soul longs to express?

What would that look like?

What would you need to learn, to do, to adjust, or to empower?

And what would the world be missing if you didn’t?

Plenty, I suspect!

I, myself, am amazed by the words that come next, and yet they are, in a very real way, proof of what they claim…

I can help you find your way!

Here’s what that would look like… We’d work together, with images and language, over four months, for the breakthrough you long for, guided by my 4 Step Soul Expression Breakthrough® process. (Translation… in four months, you get access to the most profound tools I’ve spent 40 years learning, all edited and organized just for you and your real life plan!)

If you’re still reading, I’m pretty sure you have questions and I’d love to spend some time answering them with you.

>>>Click Here<<< for access to my private schedule and find a time that will work for us to get together by phone or Zoom. Or, you can email me at suesvoice@gmail.com

You’ve already figured out what comes next:

This is how we build the future!

We interrupt CNN…

At just this moment, in 1989, I was in what was, at the time, the old Eastern Block nation of Hungary. I traveled there with a group of my classmates at Columbia Thelogical Seminary and one of our professors.

The stated purpose of our trip was to experience a context different from our own. That, we did!

With lots of translating from English, often to German, and then to Hungarian and back again, we asked many questions. One of my overwhelming realizations was that our new friends came from generations of good people who woke up every morning, wondering who would be in charge.

Sadly, I have a much better perspective on what that must have felt like in this moment than I did a week ago. Which is rather like the old notion that we don’t know what we don’t know, until we do. And CNN plays on.

It feels, for me, like 9/11 felt. And that tells me something important. We, those of us who are aghast at least, are experiencing something much like national post traumatic stress from the attack on our Democracy, and the Covid deaths are picking up speed again.

I’m grateful for the pastoral counselor with 30-some years of experience who lives within me, quite a bit more spattered with paint in these days. What she knows is that many of the things we thought we could count on feel shaky, at best, in this moment and we probably won’t be very successful at shaming or blaming ourselves out of it.

One thing that helps is to let the feelings out. Bake a loaf of bread and knead the daylights out of it if that works for you. Walk, if you safely can, swinging your arms, alternately with your legs. The cross-lateral brain movement helps! If walking isn’t a good fit, knitting is the same kind of helpful movement.

Brush a big, hairy dog if there’s one handy. Make prayer dots.

Make some soup. Or donate to a soup kitchen. Sing. Dance. Wail the daylights out of an old piano. Reach out to the ones you love. Safely.

My own hands are paint stained again after a Zoom workshop with my dear Red Thread sister, Natalie Moyes, in which we claimed some of the good in 2020.

Just between us, I’m pretty worn out after all the election drama in Georgia. And grateful that we did, indeed, cause some Good Trouble.

And I’m planning on causing some more! Here’s the thing…

The world needs you and your gifts! First, though, those gifts need claiming.

I’d like to help. (It’s how I cause trouble!) That’s why I’m opening a few slots in my private coaching practice. Over a period of about 4 months, we’ll use a bunch of my best strategies to clarify your vision and add what you need to be ready and to make the next steps.

Watch for details tomorrow. For tonight, consider taking a break from CNN. Turn on your favorite music. Dance “like no one is watching”. And, if you’re really feeling motivated, put paper and a pencil on your bedside table, tonight, and let yourself wonder, as you wander off to sleep, what gift might be calling you forward.

And, if you’re anything like me, you might also ponder who’s watching.

Raised Right…

On the Acknowledgements page of my dissertation, I wrote these words:

Ferrol Sams’ character, Porter Osborne, Jr., was “raised right” — a condition which he frequently invoked when he was about to do something contrary to his Southern Baptist upbringing while at the same time wishing to absolve his forbears of guilt by association. I, too, have been “raised right,” though by other families and traditions. If those who have gone before me wish to be absolved of the thoughts claimed here, so be it. They did their best.

Boardman, Will You “Do” Our Wedding?

Just between us, there are some days when I wish I were not a writer, deep in my soul. This day is, in some notably horrific ways, one of them. But then I remember that I get to say something which might be helpful.

It’s a lot like preaching.

But first a story…

I spent Tuesday pondering a shift in options for making my art available for adoption online. There were the obvious tech questions involved. And financial questions. And friendship questions. And even a few political questions. Kind of like life.

All that while watching the returns from Georgia’s Senate run-off elections.

Frankly, it was feeling like a sleepless night looking for a place to happen.

Then I had an idea. (Note: This is where some of the folks who raised me right may get a little anxious.)

A couple of minutes worth of hunting in the studio produced my set of Mother Mary Oracle Cards, by Alana Fairchild.

I learned of these cards from the amazing artist and author, Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy, aka SARK. And then, from the cards, I learned of the work of Shiloh Sophia McCloud, another amazing artist and author, who illustrated the work.

I could spend ages debating the theological traditions that crash into each other, at least in common perception, in this story but, instead, I’ll just tell you what happened last night.

I shuffled the cards, as I was taught, and then I passed them from hand to hand until I selected one. Magic? Energy? Inspiration?

I don’t know.

Last night, it was card number 24. Our Lady of Great Power

Here’s a bit of what I read:

It takes a truly great leader to be a great warrior for love on this planet. This leader does not give us false hope, or imaginings that all the problems that need solving will just magically ‘go away’ if we close our eyes and hope hard enough. Instead this leader inspires us with genuine encouragement and empowerment. This leader is honest about our healing light really being needed on this planetYet we also need that leader to inspire us with genuine hope and self-esteem, which helps us feel empowered to be able to make a difference. This will prevent us from collapsing into despair, believing that nothing can change – whether in our own life, or in the world around us.

Yes, I have taken these words out of context. And yet, wisdom comes where it will and the best we can do is to be willing to listen.

Or, to return a bit closer to my roots… from the Gospel according to Matthew:

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.

Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity® Color of Woman Teacher

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