Reflections on a Bit of Heaven

It’s Spring Break, day four at Grammy and Grampy’s house!

Phoebe, the wonder aunt, is doing a great job. I’m pretending I don’t know about the bed thing, which she’s definitely going to have to forget before the rest of the herd gets home.

The girls are making quilts and they’re doing great! They’re making all the design decisions and, with some coaching, learning to do machine piecing, make binding, and iron. Lots of ironing! With a bit of help they’ll each have a finished quilt to take home.

Grammy will probably need a nap!

I think the refrigerator door has been opened more times this week than in all the time we’ve had it! Popular choices include almond butter with raspberry jam, seaweed salad, tuna salad, olives, and a lovely pot of halibut broth with sea bass. The girls helped pick the greens for the soup. (And ate them!)

Crab claws are on the list for Friday, Farmers’ Market willing.

We did leave the dandelions next door as they don’t belong to us and are suspect for Roundup.

In the meantime, my Muse painting is coming along, helped out by moving an easel and some paint to the living room entry way so I can paint while they sleep.

The Aquarium was huge fun! The girls liked everything best. Including the gift shop!

My esteemed garden helper is outside putting down a new layer of wood chips so we can hunt eggs without wallowing in the mud later this week.

It is a miraculous 77 degrees and sunny, with roses blooming and the microgreens taking over their raised beds.

I miss my grandmothers!

Caution! Grammy learning new things…

It’s 11:00 Saturday night. Having finally caved to peer pressure, I am learning a new skill.

On the surface, it has to do with the shiny new thing that looks a bit like R2D2 parked on my kitchen counter.

Yes, I bought an Instant Pot.

There are several reasons for this adventure and one big one for doing it just now.

I hate to boil eggs.

Ok, boiling them isn’t so bad but peeling them is, well, let’s just say not my favorite thing. It’s even harder when you buy fresh, local eggs.

And I have a lot of eggs to boil this week!

Kelly and the girls arrive tomorrow morning.

The girls will stay for the week, their Spring Break.

We have big plans for painting and baking and maybe sewing and, if history is any indication, a nostalgic chorus or two of This Little Piggy!

We’re also having an Easter egg hunt. “The kind where you hide the eggs, Grammy,” said Taylor.

A few questions later I had established that they do, indeed, want to dye the eggs as well as hunt for them. “Lots of them!”

We also need brunch for tomorrow and, given our various food challenges and the variables involved in air travel on a rainy day, deviled eggs seemed like the obvious choice.

It took a while to figure out how to put the lid on the thing!

Tonight, brown eggs from our local farmer friends, complete with lots of beeping and timing coming from the kitchen.

Assuming that all goes well, white eggs later in the week, suitable for making pretty colors. Dave will be here by then and can help, too!

Their beds are made. Flowers are waiting in the kitchen to be arranged.

Phoebe is resting up for Auntie duty.

My head is spinning.

Have to remember the booster seat for the car. Crossed fingers that I can really count on them not to play in the paint in the middle of the night. Major questions about the weather. At least it’s not likely to snow!

I’m behind on my painting.

And yet, my heart is full.

Our kids and grandkids and the children of our hearts are hope for a world which desperately needs it.

They’re also excellent inspiration for learning new things!

And I am deeply aware that, despite all the things I imagine teaching them while they’re here, I will learn even more.

What a blessing!

 

 

 

Tea With Alice Walker

Today, I have become a book reviewer.

I’m not sure that particular designation will fit on the back of my business card along with Author, Artist, and Activist but that is a problem for another day.

In case you’re wondering how such a transformation came to be on a chilly, gray Wednesday when there are countless loads of linens to be washed before my girls arrive, I will tell you.

A new book dropped, like manna from Heaven, into my awareness.

But before that, I discovered — via the oracle known as Amazon — that my teacher, Shiloh Sophia McCloud, once illustrated a book of poetry for none other than Alice Walker, herself!

The title was enough to insist that I needed this book and needed it as closely as possible to immediately.

HARD TIMES REQUIRE FURIOUS DANCING

How could I resist?

A bit of button pushing later, and a couple of days worth of camping on the mailbox, it arrived.

As I sipped tea and eagerly flipped pages, tasting words like really fine dark chocolate, I knew I had to tell you about it.

But, of course, the copyright page insists, as even those in my own books do…

All rights reserved. This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means — electronic, mechanical, or other — without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review.

No worries!

Well, just one.

Which “brief passage” would I choose?

As sometimes happens, the right passage chose me.

It’s from the poem, CALLING ALL GRAND MOTHERS, which begins on page 30.

Step forward

& assume

the role

for which

you were

created:

To lead humanity

to health, happiness,

& sanity.

I call on

all the

Grand Mothers

of Earth

& every person

who possesses

the Grand Mother

spirit

of respect for 

life

&

protection of 

the young

to rise

& lead.

My apologies to Miss Walker for not having the technical skills to make this look just like it does in her book. WordPress blogs are opinionated about such things.

Still I suspect you will recognize the amazing truth of these words as you read them. The book is full of such truthful words.

Enough so that, today, I became a book reviewer.

The art is fabulous, too!

For now, though, the Beasties are insisting that it is dinner time and then some.

Here’s the link in case you’d like one of your own:

HARD TIMES REQUIRE FURIOUS DANCING

 

The Wisdom of Pooh

The other day, I was chatting with an old friend about the challenges of our childhoods.

About the stories we learned from well-meaning parents in a world new to parenting manuals.

And about how ingrained those stories can become in young children who conclude, without benefit of abstract thought, that pleasing the tall people keeps them from starving and makes the sun come up in the morning.

And ultimately about how, 40 or 50 or 60 years later, some of those stories about self and life may not be working too well.

Somewhere during that conversation, a thought popped into my mind, rather like the missing piece of a puzzle.

Many of us were raised to survive, but not necessarily to thrive.

It makes sense, when you think about it.

We were raised by people who lived through or grew up in the aftermath of the Depression and World War II.

Surviving was a strategy they had to depend on.

And, because they loved us, they passed it on, often not as one possible strategy available to us but as the only strategy.

The difference between surviving and thriving is rather like the difference between living out of scarcity or living out of abundance.

I’m about to wander out to the center of the pond where the ice is thin and suggest that the struggle between the worldviews of surviving -vs- thriving, between scarcity -vs- abundance, may well be one of the biggest challenges in our society at this time.

If you’re still reading…and at all like me…you’re probably wondering how we raise our kids and grandkids and great grandkids and students and even ourselves in the inherent abundance of thriving.

Winnie the Pooh and I have some ideas about that!

Don’t just practice believing that you’re braver, stronger, smarter and loved more than you know… believe that they are, too!

Value them for who they are.

Believe passionately in their capability.

Don’t rescue them from opportunities to learn.

Encourage curiosity. (This means resisting the temptation to solve all their problems and tell them all the answers. All your answers.)

Model What might happen if… exploring.

Invest more in art supplies than “devices”.

Value process, and learning, over outcome.

And, insofar as possible, offer the same grace to yourself!

I hear you. None of these strategies are nearly as efficient as directing and expecting, but we’re talking about our beloveds. The dearest people in our world. Including ourselves!

So, if you’ll hang in there for one more thought, while we’re out in the middle of the pond where the ice is thin, and with apologies to all my clergy and therapist friends, let’s listen for a moment to some words from Carl Jung, via a brilliant author named Gregg Levoy,  which I am only beginning to comprehend…

 …people rarely integrate anything told to them by others…even those they pay dearly for their advice. “It is the things given them by their own unconscious that make a lasting impression.”

Now, on the off-chance that Uncle Carl was right, the way we move from surviving to thriving, from scarcity to abundance, is to engage experiences that counter our old, limiting beliefs, whether we’re six or sixty!

Look on the faces of the people with whom you share this world and experiment with believing this…29314237_1788187544820505_9185891725573357568_o

 

And, just in case you’re up for more… check out Gregg Levoy’s fabulous book, Callings… Finding and Following an Authentic Life.

Or maybe even my Grandmothers Are In Charge Of Hope !

Let me know how it goes!

 

 

 

 

 

A Day for Action

Yesterday a visiting friend requested a tour of the garden.

That’s kind of funny when you realize that there’s nothing much to see yet this year, at least to the casual observer.

The buds on the grape vines are still almost invisible. The fledgling greens in the raised beds are still to small to peer over the edges.

The asparagus is still working its way toward actual production.

I ate the dandelion leaves for dinner.

The plant that joined us as a gift from a friend, which I know as an Egyptian walking onion is, frankly, the only really assertive sign of edible life.

I know, though, that there’s some volunteer cilantro and parsley off in one corner.

There’s one small-ish rose amidst a huge hedge of bushes.

And, in a sure sign of spring, there are fiddleheads, standing there bravely on a day that’s still more than a bit chilly.

Standing for what will be but isn’t quite yet.

They remind me of the students standing up across America today. Walking out of class for 17 minutes in symbolic memory of the victims of the school shooting at Marjory Stonemason Douglas high school in Florida, one month ago today.

Standing up for effective gun safety regulation in the nation where far too many of them will not live to become adults.

Standing up in the nation where taking a stand, where speaking out, feels increasingly dangerous.

I’ve spent much of today praying and wondering what else I could do to help.

The first thing that I thought of was the fact that I can vote. And I do.

I can also speak out. Even though somebody, somewhere will read this and decide they don’t want to hang out here anymore.

The third thing that I remembered is, perhaps, even more important.

I can be one of those five people and help others to learn to do that as well.

If you’re a more recent friend in this conversation you may be wondering exactly which five people.

Years and years ago I listened to a brilliant psychologist named H. Stephen Glenn explain to an auditorium full of people who cared about kids that if a teenaged child has five 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 attempting suicide.

I decided, then and there, that I wanted to be one of those five people.

It seemed like a pretty big job back then.

It seems even bigger now, especially since I have granddaughters growing up in this world.

And, while this is certainly a matter of perspective, the world feels even more complicated than it did back then.

I suspect, if he was still with us in this world, Steve would agree that having those five people is also a good start toward minimizing bullying and aggression in children who mostly just want to matter.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that all their behavior is acceptable.

It just means that the child and the behavior are separate and we can love the one while not tolerating the other.

And so, we listen to our kids. Take them seriously. Remind ourselves, as many times as it takes, that questioning everything is how they learn.

We model, and reinforce, kindness and confidence.

Some of us didn’t get enough of that ourselves and we may be wondering what it feels like and how to do that with others. You can read more about it in my book, Grandmothers Are In Charge Of Hope.

And you can ponder the words of songwriter, Jim Morgan, who climbed up a mountain in North Carolina with a bunch of us one week and taught us a song called Alright By Me. 

The chorus, imagined in the voice of God, goes like this:

Ooo, child don’t you walk away telling me its nothing at all when I can see those tears swimming in your eyes, sayin’ your self-confidence has had a great fall. It’s just natural to want to hide when you’re feelin’ that you just don’t belong. Why don’t you crawl up here and sit by my side ’cause when you’re sad I want to sing you this song. ‘Cause you’re alright, you’re alright, you’re alright, you’re just as fine as you can be. And you can stay right here as long as you like ’cause you’re alright by me.

Maybe Jim knew Steve, too!

Now you know them both. And maybe you’ll join all those brave kids, their parents and teachers, the fiddleheads, and me, standing up for what will be but isn’t quite yet.

It’s time to call together circles of those who will speak.

 

 

 

 

 

A Research Morning

My eyes tell me that it’s a dreary Sunday morning in Atlanta.

The big dogs, having dripped all over the floor, are curled in their beds, snoring gently, perhaps missing that hour of lost sleep.

I, personally, am missing more than one hour of lost sleep!

Once again, my painting dragged me from my cozy nest of flannel sheets and colorful quilts, insisting that we solve the latest batch of challenges at the easel.

As my brain doesn’t generate visual images so much as it recognizes them when I stumble over them externally, it’s been a research morning for me.

Complete with a mug of hot water with lemon and the comforting scent of bone broth bubbling on the stove.

In the midst of my research, I stumbled over the TED talk video you’ll find below and I just had to share it with you.

Many of you won’t watch. That’s ok.

Some of you will. Perhaps you who are open to newness!

(Due to some techy mystery I cannot solve, just click the pretty colored word “Video” below and you will be magically transported!)

My eyes tell me that it’s a dreary Sunday morning in Atlanta.

My heart tells me that it’s a hopeful morning for a world that needs the re-creation of water.

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Video

And, just in case you know a few other folks who might relate to the video, please scatter it like seeds in a damp and hungry garden. You can just share the blog post…

 

There’s a cardinal shaking rain from his wings in my garden just now!

For more information on the featured TED speaker, click here!

Cinnamon Toast & Soft-boiled Eggs

Yes. You guessed it.

I’m coming down with what appears to be a nasty cold.

Of the many things on my list for today, this was not one!

I stayed curled under my favorite quilts, soaking up the morning sun streaming through my window for as long as the dogs could be cajoled into the bizarre notion of quiet time.

Then, having herded everybody out back, I went on to my morning ritual of hot water with lemon.

Complicated by the fact that the water pressure was oddly low.

A moment for email later, I was in the know.

There’s been a large water main break in our county and it seems that “low” water pressure is the best we can hope for until further notice.

This resulted in a whole lot of gathering bottled water from all the places I stash it lest the water actually go out and I have to explain to the beasties that their bowl is, indeed, empty.

Consulting my calendar, I’ve made appropriate adjustments, delighted that none of my online events for today involve video calls!

The dog food is thawing which will be a relief to all concerned.

Clad in my favorite sick/paint clothes, I’ve started my ritual of wholistic plague avoidance techniques and am curled in my chair, red-nosed and snuffly, with a thermos of just boiled water and my tea cup at my side.

I’m kind of surprised to realize that I’m longing for cinnamon toast and a soft-boiled egg. My mother’s version of make-it-better food.

We have no bread. Or, for that matter, sugar.

And boiling eggs is more complicated than usual today.

Fortunately, there is soup in the fridge, which will actually make things better, sooner. Especially if I add a bit more garlic and onions!

Fortunately, Bill bought tissues last week!

For now, I’m reminding myself that, as global water problems go, this is a very minor one.

I’m about ready for prayer dots on my current painting in progress. Seems like a good day to remember the Earth and all those who struggle without clean water. We could probably also use a few (ok-many!) dots for wisdom and a perspective of world community.

Comfort and blessings to you and yours,

Sue, Sarah, Phoebe, and Luther

PS – I could make egg drop soup!

 

 

 

 

 

Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity® Color of Woman Teacher