Pondering the New Year

I’ve never been a huge New Year’s person.

In my hospital nursing years, I worked almost every New Year’s Eve, often putting back together the results of partying a bit more than was optimal. This was part of my deal with the establishment, as a single mom with a young child, that I’d work all the rest of the holidays but I needed Christmas Eve and Christmas morning off.

One of my more memorable New Year’s Eves happened when Dave was about four. We’d been to church and then came home and read three whole extra stories.

About then, my phone rang and it was a couple of friends from my youth group days wondering if I wanted company. I said sure, if they didn’t mind the flannel jammies. They brought the bubbly and I broke out some herb roasted cashews and we had a blast catching up on everybody we knew.

This year is a food year at our house. And some time for pondering food traditions.

My mom didn’t care for shelling beans or peas, or for cooked leafy greens. This was a perspective that worked fairly well in Minnesota. Not so much after we moved to Florida!

According to the old southern traditions, we may be in trouble when it comes to luck in 2018.

My hog jowls won’t be here until the middle of next week due to some glitches in local farmer land.

I don’t have any collard greens in the garden just now, but there’s gorgeous black kale in the fridge which will just have to do.

And, with a smidge of regret, we’re skipping the black-eyed peas this year. It seems I really do feel better when I don’t eat them.

So, what, then?

Well, my best ever pot of butternut squash soup with mixed bone broth from Saturday night. Bright, velvety, comforting little pint-sized gems in the freezer for dark winter days.

Gorgeous, local rib eye steak for Bill and stone crab claws for me on New Year’s Eve, along with a big bowl of very green salad. (There are advantages to not being able to leave home!)

And, for Monday, dry brined local pork chops and barely wilted kale with garlic.

At the very least, we’ll be ahead on vitamins!

We might be ahead on community, as well.

We’re helping to support our local foodie farmer and butcher friends.

We’re voting with our wallets on critical issues like health and the environment. It may take a while longer, but I have faith!

We’re stashing enough food in the freezer to help out friends and neighbors.

And, next week, I’m trying out a new recipe for making broth from crab shells. One of these days, I’m going to get it right!

It would also be ok if we won HGTV‘s dream home giveaway.

Which would, by the way, need to be big enough for a couple of freezers!

For this moment, know that you and yours are in our thoughts and prayers. And may 2018 be filled, for all of us, with a whole lot of loving our neighbors as ourselves.

Blessings and Peace from Sue, Bill, Sarah, Phoebe, and Luther

 

 

 

 

 

 

Come to the Table

Have you ever noticed how certain stories keep reappearing in your life?

Tales of experiences that changed you and change you still?

This is one of those stories for me. It was first written almost 20 years ago and it still has a lot of energy. In fact, it’s been whispering in my head for the last few weeks! Read on, and I’ll tell you why at the end…

Some folks collect coins or stamps or baseballs or shoes. I’ve got a thing for tables.

I painted a table not long ago. It has wild colors and quotes from many of my favorite folks all over it. It sits in the room where I write and pray and ponder. The coffee table in our living room is an antique claw-footed bathtub with a quilt draped in it and a piece of glass on top. 

My very favorite table, though, is one I don’t own. In fact, this “table” is actually a huge hunk of granite that sits deep in the catacombs of a Catholic church in Hungary. 

I “met” this table in the late ’80’s, just before the Berlin Wall fell. I was traveling with a group from Columbia Seminary. An English-speaking priest gave us a tour, taking us down flight after flight of steep stone stairs. It was cold, dark, and unfamiliar.

Finally, we gathered in a tiny room where the priest explained that the Eucharist had been celebrated there, on that table, every day for 1,500 years. Every day! It didn’t matter who occupied Hungary at the time, or what they called that nation. It didn’t matter whether religion was illegal or merely ignored. Still folks came to claim power beyond that which seemed to rule their world.

I just had to touch that table. It should have been rough and cold, but, instead, it was warm and polished by all the countless hands that had lifted bread from it and poured wine over it. Every day. For 1,500 years.

   by Sue Boardman,  Monday Morning, March 8, 1999

I suspect the reason this table has been whispering to me in these days is that I’ve just been invited to a new table.

Wisdom’s Table. 

It’s a two-year long program in which women will gather from many cultures and faith traditions to explore Wisdom and the Divine Feminine.

Frankly, I have no idea what will happen!

I do know that the notion of Intentional Creativity, as I am just beginning to experience it, has sparked new questions and new understanding within me.

Part of the invitation to Wisdom’s Table reads:

Prayer. Painting. Poetry. An experience using our Ancestors’ Stories and the mystical teaching of the Tree of Life to explore our relationship with the feminine mysteries.

We start January 1, 2018 and there’s still time to learn more…

I’m excited about this new table in my life and those who will gather around it.

For now, though, there’s a pot of soup to make and a painting of a very special tree, which found me in Key West, to begin.

We’ve never done it this way before!

For many of us, this is a season for the way we’ve always done it.

When I was growing up, it went something like this…

Frantic housecleaning.

Three kinds of cookies. Always the same. Just like Granny.

Church, when I got old enough to insist.

Gifts on Christmas morning.

Most years, leg of lamb and, later, wild rice pudding. A wrestling match over who stirred the gravy.

Ed Ames and Andy Williams singing versions of carols that still run through my head.

(Feel free to adjust the details so they feel familiar to you!)

This year, though, has been different in our world and, just now, it feels like much farther than an hour and a half long flight from the deck of a ship wandering the western Caribbean, rocking my dearest ones gently.

And I, who generally “sort for” different, am oddly undone.

I’ve spent much of the day looking for words. It hasn’t been a wild success!

Just before brunch, I spent about an hour playing with a riff on Clement Clarke Moore’s A Visit from St. Nicholas.

It started something like this:

’twas the day before Christmas when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

No stockings were hung on the bookshelf this year. Our gifts had come early. Our people most dear.

The beasties were settled, all snug in their beds, while memories of Camp friends danced in their heads.

And Bill in his hoodie and I with my scarf were plotting and planning a long winter’s nap. 

Well, you get the drift… And then, just a bit later… out on the lawn there arose such a clatter!

Literally.

Red winged blackbirds, 100 or so, fluttering from ground to trees and wires, some of them pausing on the roof of the house across the street.

A dark cloud with flashing points of fire. Like the recent flock of crows but decorated for Christmas! Up and down. Swirling and arching in a perfect ballet.

And then, just two, in the skeletal dogwood, just beyond the roses.

A sign, says my book of symbols, of a very large gift.

Come to encourage all who are open to draw out from each self the beautiful being aching to be born.

Which is, when you think of it, quite a huge thing that started long, long ago and lives within each of us and keeps growing and growing until all the world will glow with love.

Unlikely angels, those blackbirds, but singing peace and good will all the same.

May it be so for you and for those you love, however it is this year, now and forever.

Love, Sue

 

 

 

 

 

 

And some celebrity interviews…

We’re a bit over half-way along with our big adventure. Here are a few things we’ve learned…

The accupressure bracelets for motion sickness help a lot!

The tiny house craze might be a bit of a stretch for some of us!

One cup of green tea, after a year of no caffeine, is ok if you have puffy feet. (Still!)

My favorite cruise buddies had some things they wanted to mention, too, and agreed to an interview…

Me: What are some of the cool things you’ve learned on the cruise?

Kenzie: You can make a bat out of towels! And try not to get stung by jelly fish!!!

TaylorYes! Try not to get stung by jelly fish!!!

Me: What are some of your favorite things so far?

T: Snorkeling and seeing really cool fish!

K: Being with everyone and snorkeling!

Me: What would you bring along next time if we went on another cruise?

K: Scuba gear!

T: One of those neck pillows for the plane and bug spray!

Me: What are you hoping might still happen on this trip?

T: We get to go to the beach!

K: More snorkeling!

Me: Is there anything else you’d like to say? 

K: Go on a cruise and try snorkeling!

T: Nope!

And, a few more thoughts from Grammy…

If you bring along a 7-year-old princess who happens to be gluten-free you get lots of attention from the fabulous dining staff. These folks have done an amazing job!

Christmas at sea was fun! Lots more focus on doing than having. Much painting and coloring to do and tomorrow is a long day sailing.

Sadly, not even a floating theme park with ice cream all day long makes us immune to tragedy. There was a serious tour bus accident in Costa Maya, involving 30-some people, four of whom were passengers on this ship. One of those did not survive.

So, we hold each other even closer and file away snapshots of this adventure in our hearts. Which, I suppose, if you’re a New Years resolution kind of person, is a pretty good place to start.

IMG_1777In the meantime, I just wanted to mention that Anne Lamott was right! Reflecting on an adventure of her own, Annie reminds us that it’s time to be kind to the cellulite “Aunties” and let them enjoy the sun and the breezes of cruising. Which is, perhaps, another option for New Years resolutions!

 

(This particular image of the Divine Feminine is courtesy of the art collectors at Royal Caribbean International.)

I didn’t know I could bring the dogs!!!

 

 

Of Hope and Puffy Feet…

Thirty-eight years ago, in this particular moment, I was sitting, hugely pregnant, with the ankles of several elephants, feet propped on a coffee table wondering if the restless, opinionated child within me would ever decide to make an appearance.

It had not been an easy pregnancy. I was experiencing pre-eclampsia, which we used to refer to as toxemia. It’s a tradition in my family! My blood pressure was high. I gained 10 pounds of water weight a day and spent each night running to the bathroom, exhausted and, frankly, scared.

Add to that the whole single, food-stamp mom thing…

And the salt free p-nut butter on salt free bread…

I was not, I suspect, anybody’s inspiration for madonnas on Christmas cards.

This year is much different!

This year, that “kid” and I are rocking gently along on a big boat with the ones we love the most, playing in the pool and having new adventures and pausing, now and then, for some quiet time in a deck chair for the ankles which seem to be remembering.

David, well mostly Dave, has lived up to his name which means Beloved in Hebrew, though I didn’t know that then.

IMG_1695He, and Kelly and the girls, are equal parts inspiration and motivation in my life.

They call me, constantly, back to the best in me.

Back to my hopes for the world.

We all have a lot of hoping to do, these days.

And a lot of work, as well.

We won’t do it all the same way and that’s ok. It seems to me, though, that the reminder of this season is that we are hoping for Peace and Light.

In a few short days, this boat is going to dock and it will be time to join the herd of souls racing back to the real world and remember that, while hoping is important, acting is too.

It’s time to bring Light and Hope to the darkness in our tiny corners of the world. There are lots of things we can’t fix. And quite a few that we can.

I’ll be starting with chemo soup for a friend. And help for a whole bunch of huge, fabulous dogs. And art as a signpost to Love. What will you choose?

 

 

Love (and art) will save the world.

A handful of rustic, folk-y clay figures form the center of our Christmas decorations every year.

You know the players. Mary and Joseph. The baby Jesus, also known in our family as the Beeji-weeji.

A cow. Some shepherds and kings. An angel. And, in this particular collection of witnesses, a Puli dog from an artist with a sense of humor, somewhere in a village called Szentendre, in Hungary.

Sure signs of Love for my heart.

Love will save the world. Ultimately, if not by tomorrow.

Art will help save the world. It’s ancient wisdom that feels true to me.

Art as a way of carrying Love through the ages.

Today, we’re not talking about modern artists in Hungary or Gothic and Renaissance masters. At least not primarily. Today we’re talking about a story of Love and a 10-year-old kid with a big heart and some colored pencils.

Today, we’re talking a really big dog named Otis and all the things he learned at his first Christmas.

And a chance for you to be part of the Love.

It’s easy! Just click on the pretty book title and get your copy of the Kindle book called Otis and the Great Christmas Adventure! 

I learned this story from a friend who loves Newfoundland dogs too, and wants them all to be loved.

Then, as is the way with stories, I told it to Kenzie, my older granddaughter.

Kenzie made some amazing pictures.

Leisa pushed some buttons.

A whole lot of other people added their help and encouragement.

And, today, there is a book! An electronic book, to be specific.

And a great story for helping kids learn about making and being friends. About being kind and helpful. About having a whole lot of fun along the way.

Sarah and Phoebe and Luther are hoping you’ll want one of the fancy electronic books today. It costs just $2.99 and a little more than half of that goes to help Newfies in need, just like they once were. (And your dog can’t chew it up!)

There are a lot of amazing dogs who need this kind of help.

There are also a lot of kids who need help learning to be kind and confident. Learning what it means to have empathy.

Newfies are really good at teaching about that!

And, it’s easy to give one of these books as a gift. Just click the title link, above, and then click the link on Amazon that says “give as a gift.”

When I was a kid, my family had this unwritten rule about stocking presents for Christmas. They should cost less than $5.00.

Just think! You can almost get two whole books for $5.00 and help more huge, hairy, kind dogs!

And, since we know each other pretty well, may I say that it would be a big help if you clinked that link today and got your book…books? It would!

It’s a complicated thing which winds up meaning that the more books that find homes today, the more people there will be who know about Otis and his story. And more dogs will be helped.

Then, while we’re helping people, go get some art supplies for the kids you love. Encourage them to be who they are and, when they’ve practiced a bit, encourage them to make pictures of Love.

It may take a while, but it’s bound to save the world!

Thanks for being here!

Oh! Please share this post far and wide. If you don’t have your own process, just scroll up and click the little blocks to the left. They’ll make it easier!

And Kenzie will be pretty excited, too!

Much Love, sue

p.s. New to e-books? No Kindle reader? No problem! Just ask the nice folks at Amazon to send yours to your laptop. Or your grandkids!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Blanket of Peace

A bit of a southern snow storm and, perhaps, the fact that my latest book project is done – well, not entirely but we’ll get to that later – seem to have calmed my busy goddesses last night. We slept.

And woke to the silent falling of more snow.

Not enough to be a real problem, but enough to allow for my filters to shift just a bit. For my eyes to remind me that change is both inevitable and possible.

And so I have spent a couple of hours staring out at the garden, watching the snow flakes drift hypnotically toward the ground as a weighted blanket of white transforms the landscape around me.

At least most of a couple of hours.

I can’t help noticing that, in the midst of these quiet moments, I keep reaching for my phone, searching, I suspect, for assurance that my usual world goes on.

Watching for an email about my Amazon order that did not, in fact, arrive by 9:00 last night. (Which wouldn’t be such a big deal if it didn’t include the canvas for the painting class that starts today and gifts for my girls which need to go with me when Christmas starts early in our lives…next week!)

And a message from the awesome guy who delivered most of the dog food on Thursday and is supposed to arrive with the rest in the next hour or so. (Can’t send the beasties to Camp without groceries!)

And a couple of book reviews I’m hoping for.

With all that noticing going on, like the narrative sort of therapist I am, there must be a bit of wondering as well.

Am I electronically addicted? No.

Am I a bit anxious about the number of metaphorical plates I’m trying to keep spinning in the air just now? So it would seem.

Am I tending space for change, knowing that even the most longed-for of changes are inherently stressful? Yep!

Now, here’s where things get tricky!

For what changes, specifically, am I tending space? Who knows???

Or, as the old Quaker saying goes:

In order to learn, we must be willing to be changed.

We must open ourselves to the advent of newness. It’s a good time of year for that.

So, I keep setting the phone back down and reaching, instead, for my mug, comforting with hot water and lemon, while I huddle under my own magic weighted blanket and take deep breaths, watching the snow flakes drift hypnotically toward the ground.

And mentally orchestrating a book release for next week!

Stay tuned…

Should your goddesses, like mine, have a tendency to keep you awake, click here to check out the Mosaic weighted blanket thing.

And, lest you be worried, the dog food has appeared!

Peace!

 

 

 

Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity® Color of Woman Teacher