Not so much a cake girl!

This is what birthday feasts look like at our house. (At least when I’m choosing!)

It’s been a bit of a day, part of which involved my not remembering to put time zones in a link for a Zoom meeting.

That reminded me of something which always amazes me. My friend, Steve Glenn, helped me understand differences in the “old” days and the more recent ones.

The total volume of world knowledge, as Steve explained it, used to double once every 500 years or so. By the time my Dave was about 10, the best estimate was that we’d reached the point where the total volume of world knowledge was doubling every 5 years or so. Some current estimates suggest that world knowledge may, at least in some fields, be doubling about every 6 weeks!

Wrap your head around that!

During President Obama’s second election, I remember him saying that, of the children born that day, half of them would have first jobs that hadn’t even been invented yet!

And if you, by chance, have grandchildren, I’ll bet you’re not at all surprised at this. Just look at what they know that we didn’t. Or, in some cases, don’t yet!

So what do we do with all the changing and learning?

Well, the first thing seems to me to be realizing that learning used to be about memorizing stuff. Geometry proofs. The classification system for plants and animals. (And, if you’d met my bio teacher, you’d have learned to spell all those Latin words, too!)

These days, though, learning means knowing how to find what you need.

Or, as Steve once put it, to be learners at least as much as learned.

Those statements are not either/or options. They’re just a pretty significant shift in emphasis.

Which leads us to allow ourselves to experiment with the notion that different isn’t always bad. A little scary, maybe. But not bad.

And, once you’ve practiced a bit, experiment with newness in public! Like, you know, where kids can see you. They may be too busy with their own worlds to make a big deal about it but it will still shift reality just a bit.

Then, if an occasion presents itself, look for opportunities to practice with kids! Chances are, you’ll all learn new things. New is often good. And, if you’re doing it too, it feels safer for everybody!

For now, I’m off to one of my very favorite things. Time to chat with my kids!

Then, I’m going to do another new thing. I’m going to enter my second Legend painting, aka Chosen, Safe, and Loved, in an online museum show being organized around the upcoming 65th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, taking place in a largely virtual fashion in March. Here’s your sneak preview! I’ll keep you posted on the show.

ps… She is, as most Legend paintings are, a bit of a self portrait. But Luther’s right there to make this kind of newness feel safe!

If I Ran the Zoo…

In the land of neurolinguistic programming, where I’ve been known to hang out, my name tag would read:

Primary Kinesthetic with strong Auditory/Digital backup.

Translation: My go-to information processing system is based in feelings and movement. My next strategy is words.

(There are also people in the world who go first or second to visual information. I’m still learning that one!)

I wouldn’t be surprised if you were quietly wondering why I was telling you all this head trippy stuff when Texas is only barely thawing out and chunks of an airplane fell on suburban Denver and nobody can figure out how many doses of Covid vaccine there are, let alone whether – and how – to actually go about getting, you know, vaccinated.

There are two main reasons, I suppose. One is a larger than optimal dose of CNN. It seems the only thing my inner wisdom finds worse than being utterly overwhelmed with news is not knowing what’s happening. Who knows? It may actually be my Inner Critic trying to distract me from making art!

The second is the notion of vested interest. Why do I care?

And through all the pondering there is a fairly continuous loop of Dr. Seuss’s classic, If I Ran the Zoo.

Remember the auditory/digital thing I mentioned a minute ago? Well, it’s the reason that, despite not having encountered an actual copy of this childhood favorite since Dave was younger than my girls are now, I can still hear huge chunks of it in my head. Here’s the punchline:

But if I ran the zoo, said young Gerald McGrew, I’d make a few changes, that’s just what I’d do.

I’m with Gerald McGrew.

In fact, I might go so far as to suggest that young Gerald has changed his name to Joe Biden and finds himself faced with a zoo of epic proportions and some disagreement, shall we say, about just what needs to be changed.

This is complicated by the observation that last guy who ran the zoo doesn’t seem to have gotten the message that there’s a new zoo keeper in town.

In the meantime, here in the part of the zoo known as Georgia, I’ve been spending a lot of time and energy trying to help the critters in favor of voting rights get a lot more notice than they may have had lately.

Someone’s intern actually asked me why.

At this point, the zoo metaphor is in danger of falling a bit short, though the rhythm – the anapestic tetrameter Seuss was famous for – seems still to be running loose in my head.

Here’s what it all boils down to… I have a vested interest.

Everybody does.

Mine is simple. You’ve probably heard it before.

I have two girls growing up in this world.

One of them is turning 11 today. And I vote now for all the things I want for their future.

Not just their future, though. The future I want for all our kids.

Like Gerald McGrew, I know just what I’d do.

Voter rights. Not suppression. Clean air and water. Clean energy. Clean food. Choices about their healthcare. And their education. And who they love. Respect for diversity. Safety. And the chance to explore the world. Safely.

Yes. The list has gotten longer lately. As has my to-do list.

They’re worth it. So are yours. And everyone’s.

But, unlike Gerald’s zoo crew, I want them all free.

So, with thanks to Dr. Seuss, who taught us to see more…

When people see them, I know just what they’ll say. This new zoo, McSue zoo is really a wonder!

ps… Happy Birthday, Taylor! We miss you!!!

Same or Different?

I never went to Kindergarten. By the time I started the first grade, I was six and a half years old and a very eager student.

This was, of course, long before innovations like Sesame Street. I began my school career able to sing the ABC song and count to ten. Everything else was new.

My teacher had been teaching the first grade for 40 years and she didn’t put up with what she referred to as, “being a baby.” I was very careful to stay on her good side!

Sally, Dick, and Jane were my new best friends. The reading and writing came quickly for me. Other things, not so much.

A particular struggle was my teacher’s fondness for worksheets with pictures of objects in neat rows and the perplexing directions to mark which ones were “same” and which were “different.”

I had a particular challenge going with fruits and vegetables. I knew the difference between apples and grapes, but they were both fruits. Cucumbers and squash were even worse.

I knew nothing of botany at that time but, in my mind, they were “same” because they lived near each other in the produce department at the Kroger store where my Dad knew everybody. (And, yes, now that I know some botany, they are both “same” and “different”.)

And then there were dogs.

Neverminding for a moment that the Westminster Kennel Club show I was watching last night was a re-run, anybody “should” be able to see that, while they’re all dogs, there are 197 different breeds and I began relating to them very early in my journey. “Same”? “Different”?

Here’s part of the challenge… It’s not until kids are about 12 years old that the ability to think abstractly begins to kick in developmentally. And, like me, most of us have some pretty firm opinions by the time we reach our tween years.

And, Westminster is not the only thing on TV. There’s CNN. It seems there’s still Fox News because it somehow keeps leaking into my email. Then there are political parties. Run the “same” or “different” game on those!

If you’re hoping, about now, for a tidy answer, you’re probably going to be disappointed.

This is the best I’ve got…

Let’s change the questions! What if we went with something along the lines of “What do we/these things share?” And, “What might we learn from each other?”

If the news is to be trusted, break time, such as it was, is over and Georgia’s about to get even more complicated. I’m in.

I have two granddaughters growing up in this world and I am going to vote on the questions!

ps… Westminster, for which we’ve often moved Valentine’s Day at our house, will happen (Gasp!) in June this year in Westchester County, NY instead of the traditional Madison Square Garden site, because of pandemic restrictions. Same? Different? Both? (The stunning black Standard Poodle won last year/night, in case you were curious!)

pps… Phoebe and Luther, who aren’t much for running in circles, will probably just nap, while sending out their wondrous, peaceful energy. I hope they believe me when I tell them they’d win if those judge folks knew them!


Grammy said a swear!

You probably know that I have a thing for The West Wing. In the final season, when characters Matt Santos and Arnie Vinick are running a close election for the post-Bartlet Presidency, the time comes, as it inevitably does, for the debate between the candidates for Vice President.

Matt Santos watches, with his family, as his running mate, Leo McGarry, tackles a hard question about health care. (Imagine that!)

As Leo concludes his really effective response, Matt blurts, “Damn straight!”

His wide-eyed small daughter, Myranda, chimes in with, “Daddy said a swear!”

Well, Grammy has needed more than a few swears in the last few days.

You probably don’t have to guess very hard to figure out my position on the Impeachment trial which just concluded. And you may have other views.

That’s the way it’s supposed to work. IF everybody plays with good faith.

That doesn’t feel to me like the truth in this moment, which brings another memory to mind.

I was a 16 year old summer camp counselor, sitting on the back deck of the dining hall, listening to our director’s transistor radio (Really!) while Richard Nixon resigned.

I had no box in my head, at that point in my journey, for Republicans of bad faith. We didn’t talk about even the possibility of such things in my family.

And, yes, I’ve learned a few other things since then. And I know that, if you’ve been hanging around a while, you’ve heard me tell this story before.

I didn’t know it then, but I started learning something else that day, as well.

Jean, our Camp Director, turned off the radio as the news ended and invited us to join her in song.

Kumbayah.

If you like, you can click the button below, and join me. But, first, the thing I’m learning these days. The thing Jean lived but didn’t tell me, overtly, about. It’s this question:

What are we teaching our children by what we do?

In a few minutes, I’ll turn off CNN (probably) and switch to Iron Chef America while I warm up some leftover wings for supper. And remind you that there are lots of paintings with hearts hoping to find families in my Etsy shop. The sale goes on through the 15th for pieces in the section marked Hearts. The magic, secret code is HAVEAHEART

Which isn’t a bad place to be while we sing.

ps… Happy Valentine’s Day. We’re making those awesome little chocolate things next week. Recipe to follow!

pss… And, yes, Myranda, I put a quarter in my abundance bowl!

Wednesday, 2/10/21

Wednesday is usually a blog day at my house. Never before, though, has it been a day which also included being riveted to CNN‘s coverage of, “The 2nd Trump Impeachment Trial” and painting a canvas flag which will soon be covered in prayer dots.

A friend of mine asked me why I was watching when I already know what I think.

It’s a good question.

My answer – at least the primary one – is just this: One day, my girls, who live closer than I might choose to D.C., might ask me what I think about all of the news. I need to know as much as I can so I can answer their questions if they come.

And so I watch, spattered in paint, big dogs sleeping peacefully at my feet, because prayer is what I have to give. And new images for old.

You see, I’ve been other places before. I’ve been a survivor of domestic violence. I’ve helped surgeons sew injured, battered people back together. I’ve walked with people through trauma therapy. I’ve prayed for and with people burying loved ones. And I’ve stood on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol, feeling awed and safe.

And one more thing. I’ve voted. In Georgia, among other places. I’ve voted, knowing that my own Gramma Elsie was 31 years old before she had the right to vote and that I was 7 years old by the time voting rights were “guaranteed” for my brothers and sisters of color.

I grew up learning that Betsy Ross made the first version of the flag we know as the Stars & Stripes. Today, it doesn’t matter so much to me whether that’s fact or legend. Today I have been designing my own flag-inspired image as the trial evidence goes on.

I haven’t gotten far enough so that you can see how much of a challenge it’s been. (The stripes were harder than I planned!)

Here’s what I do know. You don’t get to do what the video footage shows people doing with such glee.

The therapist who lives on inside me suspects that not watching might be wiser. The preacher and grandmother and artist who share space with her need to know how to not wind up here again.

For now, the Impeachment Managers are showing security footage of insurrectionists hunting the Speaker of the House, and the first coat of paint is dry, and my brush is calling.

I’m pretty sure this is how we persist.

Tea with Many Muses…

I huddled late in a heap of bright golden flannel sheets and one of my favorite quilts, glad – I will admit – for the lack of crispy white stuff in the garden.

The paintings surrounding the room seemed to know I needed a blog post for they were whispering inspiration, as they are known to do.

A bit of this. A line of that. A scrap of something else, until I realized that my consciousness was busy quilting.

The voice of Anne Lamott, assuring her Sunday School kids (and the rest of us, I suspect!) that they are chosen, safe, and loved.

And from Shiloh Sophia McCloud… There are places between places where the true mind and the true heart connect. This is the only place from which to make choices.

My favorite from my Farm Gramma, Elsie: Doesn’t that just wonder you?

Don’t forget that “No” is a really, really complete sentence. – Dita Manelli

The skill of intuitive listening is powerful because in truth you are accessing your divine intelligence channel. – Julie Steelman

A problem cannot be solved by the same level of consciousness that created it. – Albert Einstein

Run my dear from anyone and anything that does not strengthen your precious budding wings. – Hafiz

The words of the prophet, H. Stephen Glenn, which you’ve heard from me before… “If a teenaged child has 5 adults who will listen to them, take them seriously, and not shame or blame them for their questions, that child is practically immune from ever committing suicide.”

And, from Sam Bennett, a fabulous quote that begins… I CAN DO IT. I WILL DO IT. WITH INFINITE COMPASSION FOR MYSELF AND OTHERS… and ends a while later with… I AGREE TO GRACIOUSLY ACCEPT SUCCESS, LOVE, HEALTH, PROSPERITY AND OVERALL WELL BEING FOR THE GREATER GOOD OF ALL CONCERNED.

Then, some slightly dusty words of mine… Many things are true. They don’t always get along so well. I’m OK with that. Complexity is what there is. This is true. Trying to hate it all away will never work. You may say that I’m a dreamer. This is true. A dreamer, dreaming still. This is also true.

And, with thanks to Dr. Kayleen Asbo, the one that is changing my world with words of Yeshua/Jesus, from the extra-canonical Gospel of Thomas: And if you make… an image in the place of an image, then you will enter the Kingdom!

I can’t wait to find out what your consciousness makes!

ps… The lovely lady at the top is the original Muse in my world. She whispers a lot! Today, she’s inviting you to check out the fun at the Valentine’s Day special in our Etsy shop. (Hint… discounts are in the Hearts section and the magic coupon code is HAVEAHEART

pss… I encountered several of these quotes in the amazing book, OUTRAGEOUS OPENNESS… Letting the Divine Take the Lead by Tosha Silver.

What We CAN Do!

It’s a hard time to be a person who believes in justice, and feeding people, and re-uniting families torn apart by walls and cages.

It’s hard to be a grandmother who so deeply wants to hug her kids.

And it is undoubtedly even harder to have lost loved ones and jobs and hope to a global pandemic that was desperately mishandled by a person formerly known as the leader of the free world.

Yes. I’m pissed. And heart broken. And, just between us, frightened.

I’m also determined. And inspired.

So, today, we sent some food and some grocery money to a young woman I care about who got caught in the midst of the Covid crisis in a place where she can take classes online, but not fix dinner online. (And, yes, there was bone broth in the bag!)

I knit, and Bill delivered, about 20 prayer scarves to a program for homeless people. The groundhog saw his shadow yesterday, so I’m still knitting.

We voted. And contributed. And encouraged. And, yes, the signs are still in the garden!

Last night I sent an email thanking a neighboring Congressional Representative who has hired a body guard in order to live more or less safely in what is essentially my neighborhood and do her sworn work in Congress. And, no, she’s not blonde.

Sometime this week, the solar panels for our roof should be delivered. I figure we’ll have learned how it all works by the time there’s useful sunshine again.

(And, just in case you need a roof, too, did you know that if you put a metal roof on top of your shingle roof, they don’t have to tear the old toxic stuff off and dump it in a landfill?)

If you’re still reading, I’m guessing you’ve known me long enough to realize I’m not bragging, or telling you what to do. I just believe, with all my heart, that there are things we can do even when it doesn’t feel like it and, if we all do some of them, we’ll get to a world that works better for all of us sooner.

For this moment, though, there are hungry, hungry Newfoundlands drooling on my feet and some serious moving-on-from-planning-and-into- actually-doing ways to work with me on your dreams.

Visioning. Coaching. Painting. Leading.

It’s going to take a whole bunch of us! I’ll keep you posted…

ps… Please join me in being thankful for a guy named Claude who used to feed my kid when I was a broke single mom/Seminary student. He’s at the top of my Black History Month list!

pps… Which has more juice for you right now… personal or professional visions? (Leave a comment, email me, text, respond to this post, whatever works!) suesvoice@gmail.com

Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity® Color of Woman Teacher

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