It Really Is All Of Us!

Ok. We’re going to try something new today.

More and more of you have shared with me that you have grandkids (Or kids or maybe even yourselves!) who need more help or different help than you imagined they might.

And some of you–old friends and new–have shared some thoughts about that.

So, today I want to share an article by a writing friend of mine. Lauren is an artist and author whose book, Studio Stories, Illuminating Our Lives through Art, is inspiring and comforting in just the ways I hope my quilts are.

This is a powerful story that was recently published in Autism Parenting Magazine.

Wait!

Before you say, “That’s not me,” I hope you’ll check it out. It really is all of us.

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Door Number Three

One of the big things that has changed in our high-tech virtual world is that we no longer need to wait for September to climb on a bus and go back to school. We can go at the push of a button.

I’ve pushed that particular button several times recently. (Which is no huge surprise to lots of you!)

Many students of brain function and human development hold that the most difficult thing people learn to do is to read. A large number of neuro “switches” are all required to click on before we are ready to read, no matter how eager we, or those around us, may be.

I was eager. Never having been to kindergarten, I clung to the promise that, in first grade, I would learn to read. Truthfully, I somehow supposed that meant on the first day of first grade!

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Each little bit helps!

This morning, Sarah and I went on an adventure. I had two quick errands to run and she loves to ride in the car. At 60 F. and overcast, it’s still cool enough for her to wait 10 minutes in a car with the windows down about four inches.

We ushered Phoebe and Luther out to the deck with a big bowl of water and a variety of rope toys. Sarah was delighted to go with me.

I went looking for provisions from my favorite butcher and a few more veg to pop into an already magnificent pot of soup. I found more!

All the spring flowering trees are in bloom!

The dogwoods are just getting started. The redbuds are stunning. There are some purple ones that look like wisteria but I’m not sure about that. Gorgeous, in any event. And brilliant, crimson Japanese maples which aren’t blooming but look like they are.

Our pinky-purple Loropetalum is dripping with blooms and, one by one, the azalea bushes are popping, too.

While Sarah was snuffling the breeze, I was on a sight-seeing tour for gardeners!

When we got home, I saw some early season bees, happily buzzing among the blooms I left on a few of the collard greens, and I actually felt tears in my eyes.

I have a history with bees.

I’m desperately allergic to stings. Bees, wasps, yellow jackets. You name it.

One day, years and years ago, I got stung on the knuckle of my ring finger in the parking lot of a grocery store. Within 20 minutes, my arm was swollen to my shoulder and I was having trouble breathing.

Enter my close relationship with Epi-pens!

Dave is allergic, too. I try to pretend not to know that he keeps his Epi-pen at home in the closet where the first aid stuff lives.

For a long time, I was pretty phobic about bees. Especially the buzzing. The usual anxiety symptoms. Avoiding anything with flowers. And then, one day, my phobia was gone.

It happened at a training session in Ericksonian Hypnosis. We were watching an ancient, scratchy video of Milton Erickson working with a client about her bee phobia. Somehow, I dropped into the trance experience of that moment and, when the video was over, my phobia was gone.

I’m still appropriately cautious. No floral or fruity perfume. Ditto, scented shampoos. No hairspray. I carry my Epi-pen, especially when eating outside.

Now, though, I can appreciate bees for the aerodynamically improbable, life-giving miracles that they are. I speak kindly to them in the garden. I plant things for their pleasure.

Sage and lamb’s ears are favorites with the local gang. Just about anything with purple flowers. And the funnel-shaped flowers. Check for recommendations in your area. Hummingbirds will like them, too. And butterflies.

It’s a chance to nurture our mother, the Earth. To feed the generations that follow us. To learn new things.

Like no GMO’s. No neonicotinoids. You really can grow a garden without chemical fertilizers and herbicides and insecticides!

And early indications are that feeding Phoebe small doses of very local honey is helping with her severe allergies. (And my sanity!)

Our garden starts with organic, heirloom seeds. And lots of compost. And barrels planted full of leafy green stuff,  right in the front yard, because that’s what I eat.

Or, if you don’t have the room, some potted herbs. This is one place where each little bit actually does help. Which is an encouraging thing to realize on a day when you’re juggling dogs and running errands or whatever it is you’re doing.

And then there’s the whole thing about the power within us to be healed of our fears and phobias. That’s pretty encouraging, too!

For the moment, though, time to dry-brine a perfect chicken for dinner. (Just click for the recipe!)

“May I ask you a question?”

I was wandering around Kudzu the other day. My favorite neighborhood vintage, antiques, collectibles, artwork, industrial, and so forth kind of place. I went for a much needed mental health break.

Bill was home with the dogs. (The new kid still needs quite a bit of supervision.) It was too cold and damp for a walk outside, at least for someone with vivid memories of chronic pain.

Kudzu is perfect. Heat, but not too much. Sirius 60’s on Six radio. (Yes, I sing along!) A few slopes and ramps in the floor but no potholes. Or traffic. And enough eye candy to forget that I’m actually exercising. I try to go twice around, faster, rather than once, slowly.

If you discount, for the moment, the trendy decorators and movie set designers, the majority of the shoppers are people like me. Local. Somewhere between nostalgic and out of the box. Environmentally concerned. Not fans of matching. I often wind up chatting with new friends.

On this particular trip, a woman asked if she might ask me a question.

Neverminding the old joke about, “You just did,” I said that she might, indeed.

(This happens to me a lot. Farmers’ Market. The paint department at my favorite Ace Hardware. Or Lowe’s. PineStreet Market. Intown Quilters.)

Bill thinks I have one of those old hobo signs that translates into ask this woman!

In any event, her question was, “What would you call your decorating style?”

It’s a good question. One I’ve been trying to answer for a few years now myself.

First of all, it changes a lot. At least the expression of it changes. Needs change. We move furniture. We re-designate the funtions of rooms. I need new colors.

If you visited just now, you might assume that my style was something pretty close to early Kennel Club. Or campy dog furniture showroom!

Or, contemporary quilt store.

Or, library wanna-be.

Or, folk art fanatic.

Not too long ago, I hatched up a label that works for me.

Eclectic Urban Nest.

That’s me!

Quilts and books and folk art angels. Dog beds, for sure. (And dog hair!)

Furniture I’ve built. (And some I’ve un-built!) Heirloom furniture. Vintage stuff. Rustic stuff. And an old stainless back table from the operating room at a local hospital!

Colors. Lots of them.

Light. As much as possible.

And wall outlets. More than the guy who built my house in 1962 ever imagined!

Someplace handy for a Sunflower yellow Fiestaware mug of hot water with lemon.

An improbable combination of memory, function, and hope.

Hope for a future unfolding even now.

Breathing. Snoring. WholeTones music. Aromatherapy.

(The new kid is still a bit anxious.)

Comfort in service of the future. Hope.

And room for my family.

Just like a nest.

There is a nest, by the way, in the fountain on the front porch. There was one a couple of years ago, too.

We’ll go around, again. And resist the urge to peek, trying hard not to disturb the mama, while praying that the babies are not too early given the wild swings in weather.

Nesting is an odd combination of comfort and risk. Of faith in the future despite the immediate experience of vulnerability.

Of flight, as it were, to a new land. Hoping against hope that someone has swept a heap of dog hair and a few scraps of yarn and a bit of cotton quilt batting out the door in a gesture of welcome, rather than a mundane task to be forgotten as soon as it’s complete.

Perhaps we are called to be an eclectic urban nest for the world. In any event, I’ll be back at Kudzu soon, eager to find out what the next question might be.

 

“That’s what it’s called!”

When it comes to birthdays, I fit into the exceedingly experienced 50-something category. I’m fine with that. Mostly. It’s been cold and wet lately and my knees are not so sure they’re fine.

Kenzie says, “Grammy has sparkly silver hair!” I actually like the sparkly silver look. Somehow it’s a more comfortable color for me than any of the natural or helped-along choices that have come before. (Though Bill was quite fond of the long, red, curly phase!)

These days, I dress for me. Well, me and the fact that I live with three huge, hairy, sometimes slobbery dogs which means that things that need to be dry-cleaned are less than optimal. (Which has its environmental advantages!)

I write what I feel called to say, quilt in the colors I love, and eat what I believe in. Mostly.

There’s a big part of my life, though, that I’m still struggling a bit to wrap my head around. That’s been true for a while.

Back in the ’90s, I noticed that the things that felt like bonding events with my friends had begun to change.

From concerts and chick flicks and late night phone calls about the latest Prince Charming/Schmuck we were involved with, somehow we moved on through potty problems and learning challenges and what-I’m-going-to-be-when-I-grow-up issues to going with each other for breast biopsies. Rides to and from a D & C. Divorces. Dying parents, or the kind with dementia. Dead children.

We’ve had quite a bit of experience with those things, my friends and I. You probably have, too. Just now, a good day at the beach, preferably with some raw oysters, sounds better.

And yet, another part of me knows that all those sad, hard bonding events have been working together to bring me to the point in my journey where I woke up one day and realized that I had become The Fiercely Compassionate Grandmother.

I got a bit crazy before my trip to Sister Giant and had some t-shirts made. Creating them was fun. Wearing them, and watching people react to them was even better.

Lots of thumbs up. Laughs. Applause. One woman who exclaimed, “That’s what it’s called!”

That people recognize part of their own journey in my revelation that this is my calling, at this point in my life, is pretty cool.

Grandmother, clearly and joyously.

Compassionate, because I’m grateful to have finally learned that love is what is true. The vast, perfect, never-ending love that created us and the universe. The love that changes everything when we take our stumbling baby steps toward it, moment by moment, knowing that it means love for all the world and that’s going to be a bigger challenge than we might originally have expected.

Fierce because fierce is what is required of us in this moment. Mama bear fierce. Maya Angelou and Clarissa Pinkola Estes fierce. Human rights fierce. 

Frankly, fierce is not what I learned growing up. It took my son to teach me that. Fortunately, as my neuro-linguistic programming friends would say, fierce seems to generalize. From my kid to all our kids. From one friend with a health scare to safe health care choices for all women. From justice to justice for all.

Somewhere in the later 20th Century, we began to hear about a bunch of brain-trust types known as post-modern linguists, philosophers and theologians. Several of them have been quoted as saying something pretty close to:

Language creates reality.

If you’re curious, one of them was George Lindbeck. Another, Deepak Chopra. Yet another, Desmond Tutu.

One of them, a guy named Steven Scheer, commented that, “Students resisted.”

I was one of those students who resisted. Now I know more.

Finding language for my experience–realizing that I have become The Fiercely Compassionate Grandmother–is, indeed, shaping my reality. I’m trying to live out of love. To make decisions out of love rather than fear. To assume that most of us are doing the best we can and we all need to be loved.

It’s a challenge.

But, if we believe in the way of love, what else could we do? And what would we teach our kids?

I’ve got more learning to do. You might, too.

For now, t-shirts.

Really!

If we walk the dog or go the Farmer’s Market or pick the kids up at school wearing Fiercely Compassionate Grandmother t-shirts, people will notice. Many of them will relate. Some will begin to think differently about what they’re doing. What they’re modeling for their kids.

And together we’ll create, bit by bit, a new reality. A fiercely compassionate reality.

I’ll keep writing. And wearing my t-shirts. You can join in, too. (Long sleeves. Short sleeves. Several colors and lots of sizes!) Just click HERE to get your very own Fiercely Compassionate Grandmother t-shirt. It’s easy! Honorary grandmothers of all sorts are joyfully welcomed, too. This world needs all the help we can give it!

 

Lots of things got different!

Hi! I’m Luther. The new kid.

I’ve been here about four weeks now. My new sister, Sarah, has been coaching me on the blogging thing. This is not something I knew about before.

There are lots of things I didn’t know about before.

Sarah says just say the things I’m comfortable with. I guess Mom will take care of something called spelling.

I came from a place called a puppy mill. It was a sad place. I think I missed out on a lot.

I didn’t know how to live in a house. I was hungry all the time but didn’t know how to let people give me treats. (Now I like treats a lot!)

I like people but I haven’t always been sure they’d like me. Or take care of me.

Then, lots of things got different. I rode in a van with some more dogs and a really nice man driving. We rode and rode and rode. We got to a place that wasn’t so cold. I stayed with some nice people in two different places called foster care. They loved me and fed me and started to teach me things and were patient with me.

One day, Mom and Dad came and got me. I didn’t want to get in the car because cars are scary but I got used to it pretty soon. And it smelled like other Newfies, which was nice.

I have a house. And a deck. A bed all my own. Something called aromatherapy that smells like outside and is supposed to help me relax. And two sisters. I like them both a lot. Phoebe has been getting better from something called surgery so she hasn’t been able to play much but I know she will soon. Sarah and I like to lay on the deck. (And bark at the dogs next door!)

There’s a lot to learn! Mom has a plan.

They love me, even though I can’t see very well. Mom has nice friends called Vets who will help figure out what I need.

Here’s what I know so far: Love is a good thing. I’m safe, here. They really will keep feeding me. Sometimes I’m still scared, and that’s ok. I can walk on a lead. And wag my tail. Those toys like big ropes with knots last better. My stuffed animals keep falling apart. I think Mom does something magic when I’m outside to make all the fluffy pieces disappear!

There’s a thing here called a TV. Sometimes, Mom laughs when she watches it. Sometimes, she cries. The other day, she cried when they were talking about something called refugees. She asked me to come closer and rubbed my ears that special way she does. Then she gave me a very gentle hug. Not too tight. Just nice. I wagged more.

Sometimes, all this new stuff makes me really tired. I just go take a nap when I’m tired, though sometimes I have to snap my teeth like I’m catching bugs and bark first. Mom says that’s ok, too.

I think everybody likes me just the way I am! And Sarah says I’m a good blogger. I think that’s part of my new job. Helping to talk about the things that matter.

I hope you’ll talk about the things that matter, too, wherever you are. You never know who’s counting on you!

Thanks for being here…

Love, Luther 

 

Babies Help!

Truth?

I really, really, really do not like paperwork. I do not like it one bit! (This is me trying to avoid the h#te word.)

Despite my firm grasp of the alphabet, filing is not one of my favorite pastimes. I put things where I’ll be able to find them again and forget where that was. And there’s just so much of it!

I like paperwork even less when official agencies and authorities are involved. I have noticed, though, that into each life, some of these occasions must fall.

Today was one of those days. The birthday gift that keeps on giving… a hot date with the Division of Driver Services, slightly overdue. It was easier back in the day when all of this driver’s license nonsense could be accomplished, at least in Georgia, at a local Kroger store. When fewer documents were required. Sadly, not so much any more. 

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Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity® Color of Woman Teacher