We will!

It’s been a bit of a day. Kind of a walk the talk kind of day.

Deep breaths and dog training when about 350 pounds of rambunctious Newfoundlands bounced through the door, energized by a sunny, cold morning and hopes of treats.

Frustration was tempting.

Using a quiet tone of voice to help them calm down works better.

That and a couple of gallons of water with a handful of dehydrated liver!

Preparing a soup delivery for friends. And thanks to Bill for making it happen.

The usual thrills of the dog walking drama amidst a delivery from one of my favorite farmers.

Big bird has landed and I am reminded that local farm shopping has its challenges.

One of those challenges is that food comes when it comes and sometimes a bunch comes at once.

A bunch came today. (On top of the stuff that came yesterday!) That meant putting on the oven gloves and rearranging two freezers so that I will actually be able to find what I put in there, all with the “help” of said 350 pounds of Newfoundlands, who are experts on the notion of groceries.

Eating real food means there is what there is when it’s ready.

It’s a good thing we like turkey!

(Now thawing in the bottom of the fridge.)

All the while, checking my phone obsessively, looking for news from home on a day with a bit more adventure than might be optimal.

And remembering that leaping over dogs is good exercise.

And taking time out from calculating the magic timeline from here to fabulous roast turkey to make some more prayer dots.

It’s a paint thing that’s so much more than paint. Today, prayers of thanks and prayers of petition.

Spiritual and neurological magic.

A bowl of soup for lunch.

Things to thaw for dinner. Real food is a challenge, for people and dogs!

Lots of homework. Some of it kind of scary. Today is the day to “glaze” over about 10 layers of meaning in the beginning of my Legend painting, which basically means making those layers visually disappear despite how hard I’ve worked to get them there.

It’s a process thing and I believe, but I need a bit of reminding on days like this.

Along with more checking the phone.

And more laundry.

And more soup.

And even more dots.

And a reminder from one of the true oracles of our time, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes:

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Kind of a walk the talk kind of day.

We can walk together!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Economics 101

When Dave, who turned 38 this week, was a little guy he spent his days hanging out at a fabulous child  learning center while I went to nursing school. Blessedly, he loved it.

I did, too.

Most of the time.

They did have one tradition that drove me nuts.

Every day at nap time each child had to lie quietly on a cot.

Wisely, sleeping was not required.

Somewhat un-wisely, to my mind, was the sleep alternative popular among little boys Dave’s age which, at the time, was probably about three.

Apparently they all laid on their cots and pulled the little elastic strings out of their socks. Quietly.

One thing led to another and I wound up buying socks. A lot of socks.

And, frankly, we didn’t have the money to spare.

I explained. And explained. And explained.

Then, one day, inspiration struck.

Dave loved french fries. The kind from the place with the golden arches. He didn’t just like french fries. He begged for french fries.

(Please don’t judge. We don’t know until we know and I didn’t know then.)

In any event, after a nifty bit of math on my part, I told Dave that he had to have socks that didn’t slide down in his shoes and put blisters on his feet.

Every time, I explained, we had to buy more socks because he’d pulled the little elastic strings out, that was whatever number of bags of fries we couldn’t buy.

I could actually see the light bulb come on!

Suddenly, Dave was a believer.

For a couple of years, his most frequent question was, “How many fries could we get for this?”

I got adept at the math and the French Fry Economy was born.

(Laugh if you want. It made way more sense than anything the Econ guy in the gorilla suit said while I was at Florida!)

Feel free to find whatever exchange rate works for you.

When my girls were small and we played a lot of This Little Piggy, our little piggies ate frozen yogurt. The girls didn’t know what roast beef was!

Oddly, I discovered this week that I’ve just developed a new personal economy.

IMG_2075I was flipping through the daily haul of catalogs and, attentive to my internal dialogue, laughed myself silly when I noticed I was calculating the number of bottles of paint I could buy for the price of a necklace featured at a phenomenal sale price.

The necklace is probably still available and The Paint Economy is born!

Just between us, I think it has some advantages over fries, though it’s complicated by the fact that all the bottles of paint have different prices to learn.

My girls mostly don’t wear socks. They don’t much eat fries, either. I’m not sure how they’re going to learn about money…

Dave and Kelly will figure out something.

It’s all just making choices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dave-day!

The resident herd of big dogs, believing they were doing their job, launched into the whole danger-barking thing when the mail carrier dropped a couple of packages in the carport.

No amount of rationalizing can convince them to hush.

And yet, finally, they do.

Hopeful, but ever-learning, I waited until we were back to the big dog snoring routine before venturing out to investigate.

I was not disappointed.

Paint.

And a very sexy veg cookbook.

Gifts. For me. From me.

You see, today is a big day in my world. Or, more accurately, the anniversary of a big day.

Thirty-eight years ago, I was having seizures in labor, waiting for Dave to be born, to the extent that I was conscious.

It wasn’t the journey my birth doula friends work so hard to empower.

It was, I suspect, the biggest of all the stories that have shaped my life which seems more important these days than all the scary details.

Especially since I am much engaged in integrating some of those stories just now.

So, today is Dave-day in my part of the world even though he’s in another part of the world just now.

The part of me that still owns a rolling-pin wishes I could bake him his traditional birthday treat. Apple pie.

Fortunately, the girls are turning into quite the bakers and I know he’ll have all the carbs he needs.

In the meantime, I have painting to do and big dogs to feed and trees to watch out the window. (It’s homework!)

And I imagine Dave will be busy with his world.

I won’t presume to tell his story.

Only to say that he has been the greatest teacher in my life.

And, I suspect he isn’t done!

One of the things I learned from Dave was to listen for the wisdom where it finds me.

Some found me yesterday.

I was engaged in more homework sorts of things. Baskets to wash. Notes to scribble. Symbols to ponder.

In the midst of putting this here so that could go there, I picked up a fiber art doll. She’s a little darker and not as sparkly as her sisters.

Though she does have cool hair!

She’s never hung on the Christmas tree.

I don’t always know where she is.

Yesterday, though, she was where I thought I wanted to put something else.

And, for the first time in a long time, I really heard her message.

IMG_2041The secret of having it all… is believing that you do!

I do.

Which is not to say that paint and sexy cookbooks can’t be helpful.

Or that another 500 square feet of house wouldn’t be handy.

Just a vivid reminder that I do have a whole lot of what really matters.

Happy birthday, Dave!

 

Then the spider started whispering…

Imagine that you inherited a large box full of fabric scraps. One of those plastic boxes with the flaps that fold together to make the lid.

The box spends years sitting in a corner while you try to ignore it but it will not be ignored so, one day, you open it.

After the dust clears and the sneezing stops, you begin to pick out some pieces.

Soon you have three stacks of scraps.

Pretty. Ugly. And, I can’t decide.

You continue to explore and sort. Perhaps for a long time.

The more you sort, the harder it gets.

Some of the Ugly scraps look better next to some of the Pretty ones than they did on their own. Some of the Pretty ones are nice individually but don’t get along too well in the stack by themselves. And the I can’t decide stack gets larger.

My week has been a lot like that.

Except, I’ve been sorting stories.

Intentional Creativity homework.

The more I sorted, the harder it got.

Write said the teacher. Listen. Paint. Imagine. (Also, eat and sleep!)

I got stuck. More than once.

Then the spider started whispering to me.

Mostly, she seemed to have questions.

What if, she asked, we put this one next to that one?

What if that one came before this and after that?

What if we use more rather than less?

Suddenly, sorting stories got easier. And the stories began to become one story woven together by the unseen spider who had been weaving my story since that first summer at camp when I began to see that we are all connected. All part of the one story.

I got a job that summer. I was in charge of remembering all the words to all the songs until we gathered around the campfire again the next year.

I still remember.

And the spider still whispers while she weaves.

 

 

 

 

 

Once upon a time…

Our tiny Atlanta neighborhood is still reeling from a fire in an apartment complex about a week and a half ago.

It started with folks wondering about sirens and helicopters at 6:00 am and went on to news reports of babies being dropped from balconies into the waiting arms of fire fighters.

That was a lot of drama for Avondale Estates!

Sadly, the story is only beginning.

Together, we helped some elementary school kids get uniforms and winter clothes.

And then, today, an email about three sisters whose apartment was totally gutted. According to the message, they’re moving back in tomorrow with nothing.

Nothing.

A couple of phone calls and I had some more information.

One of the sisters was referred to as “challenged.”

All of them from “very humble beginnings.”

They had, literally, nothing. Except a kitchen table.

Which is an important place to start, but not nearly enough.

After a couple hours of a few folks raiding their basements, the sisters now have, in addition to that table, three chairs. Totally unmatched, but chairs.

Four place settings of dishes. Some miscellaneous flat ware. Three cooking pots and a few spoons. A mixing bowl and a pie plate. A handful of drinking glasses and a mug.

A collection of hotel toiletries. Three toothbrushes. A variety of paper products and a bottle of dish washing liquid.

A couple of pounds of rice. Some cans of tuna. A dried lentil chili mix and the tomato sauce that goes with it.

Not to mention, a quilt and a vintage chenille bedspread. A pillow and a handful of miscellaneous kitchen linens.

I expect there will be more by tomorrow.

Including, I hope, a few coats.

Will it be enough?

Of course not.

But when you look at what a handful of neighbors can do, in the middle of what is turning out to be a southern snow storm, there is hope.

Someone asked, while Bill was toting things up from the basement and I was washing linens, why it mattered to me.

The immediate answer is that, once upon a time, I needed people to give me stuff.

The bigger answer is that, as the old saying goes, “there are no others.”

And there’s an answer that’s even bigger than that.

We need to reclaim our concern for those around us.

Once upon a time, I needed people to give me stuff.

Today, I can give stuff to people who need it.

Almost all of us can, if we think about it.

And I can vote. And protest. And write poetry and make art.

And soup.

I can share my blessings.

Someday, people will need what I’ve learned to give.

What we’ve learned to give.

We need each other.

We need hope.

Also, snow plows.

Many dreamers dreaming dreams!

I don’t remember my life before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Well, I do. Glimpses of this house or that puppy. Snapshots of my family. But not life as an American. Or life as anything other than a Boardman.

I’ve been sitting, these last few days, in the shadow of a tree and pondering the impact of this man on my life.

Actually, I’ve been sitting under a picture of a tree which is mostly still a sketch and, oddly, a revelation.

My nails are splattered in brown paint and the dogs are beginning to grasp the notion that they need to stay out from under my feet while I paint.

I am still learning.

My Intentional Creativity friends and I are painting trees of life.

Well, we’re painting lots of things but this seems to be where I am just now.

One day, back in December, the notion came to me that my tree would want to be a Banyan tree.

An enormous tree like the ones where I grew up in Florida, systems of branches and roots and trunks, communities of breathing life.

I visited a few of those trees in Key West and they kept whispering to me.

Kelly and I took some pictures. Mine were mostly roots.

Roots that reminded me of the ancient wisdom of elephants.

Then, we came home.

The time to paint came closer and closer, and the Banyan tree kept tugging at me.

Then, I found out why.

In the online newsletter, Aeon, Jonardon Ganeri, a contemporary philosopher whose work draws on a variety of  traditions to construct new positions in the philosophy of mind, metaphysics and epistemology, writes that:

…knowledge should be pictured as a banyan tree, in which a multiplicity of aerial roots sustains a centerless organic system. The tree of knowledge has a plurality of roots, and structures of knowledge are multiply grounded in the earth: the body of knowledge is a single organic whole, no part of which is more or less dispensable than any other.

Dr. King is one of those roots in my Banyan tree. Justice. Equality. Community.

His tree had many roots, as well.

The prophet Isaiah. Abraham Lincoln. A dream of what hadn’t been yet but could be.

And his tree is growing still.

Bernie Sanders, perhaps.

We need all the dreamers we can get!

For today, though, I’m sitting with my tree and recalling a wise old friend named Puddleglum who had a pretty big dream of his own. Taking his leave from the Queen of the underworld to search for Narnia, along with his young friends, the Marsh-wiggle said this:

…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 more thing 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 the Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think, but that’s a small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say (C. S. Lewis, The Silver Chair in The Chronicles of Narnia).

Many dreamers dreaming dreams. Justice. Equality. Community. Hope. Love.  All of them feeding the branches and leaves still to come.

I suspect Dr. King would approve. Our four-footed Luther does, too!

 

 

Danger!

I cut my left thumb last week.

It turns out that chopping kale stems can be dangerous.

I was instantly transformed from chef-y mode to nurse mode, grateful for the paper towels hanging just above the chopping block and the fact that Bill was actually home, slaving away in the basement.

Good news… a sharp chef’s knife and organic, washed kale stems.

Other news… lots of blood. About half an hour of pressure and elevation before I could even find out what, exactly, was cut.

Then some more good news… it was a good, clean, straight cut which would be easy to hold in place with some tension.

And the really good news… I could fix this, even one-handed. I wasn’t going to the ER anyway.

After a whole house search for bandage options, I washed it well, dried it all over again, and went to taping. (Bill peeled the Band-aids, which is hard with one hand.)

I won’t lie. It hurt.

The bigger issue was the need to keep it taped and dry for at least 48 hours.

Bill was despatched to the local purveyor of just about everything for more Band-aids and a box of disposable gloves.

The biggest challenge has been dog food of the raw meat variety.

Did I mention that it hurt?

Somewhere along the line I realized I might, just maybe, be over-protecting it a wee bit.

Rather like the time I was in fifth grade and tore all the ligaments and tendons in my ankle during gym class.

Back in those days, the casts were big and plaster and heavy. I learned to walk by swinging my foot out and around in a half circle to take a step.

It took about a month after the cast came off for me to find my regular gait again.

This time, it’s typing. Fortunately, my left thumb is one I can kind of do without but my whole rhythm is off-balance.

My hair is clean, though! In this moment, I’m choosing to celebrate that.

My thumb is clean and dry again.

I’m still not ready for chopping onions, but I am healing.

And reminded of a quote from The West Wing.

After Leo had his first heart attack, and was on the road to better, his nurse told him one day that, “Part of healing is going on.”

Wow, does that feel true!

Going on takes courage and some hope that what was once true will not always be so.

Sometimes it just takes Band-aids. Sometimes it takes some more help. Sometimes it takes a lot of help.

Clean and dry is generally good.

So is the (metaphorical?) wonder of clean hair!

For now, I’m going to be looking more closely at places where I might be being called to go on.

You could join me…

 

 

Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity® Color of Woman Teacher