Somehow, it’s Wednesday again. This really shouldn’t be a surprise to me, though Monday holidays, like Memorial Day, tend to confuse things.

It feels a bit hectic around here!

There are goose necks roasting in the oven for a pot of broth.

I think every UPS truck in Georgia is going to show up here today.

The dogs are headed to Camp Jabula in a couple of hours. Tomorrow my contractor friend, Greg, is adding lights to my new studio space and to the hallway.

People on ladders playing with electricity and three enormous dogs have the potential for disaster.

Sadly, my beasties are just too smart. The Camp taxi is due about 3:00. I try really hard to keep them from realizing that they’re off to their favorite place because they get all bouncy and excited and our house is pretty small.

They also race to the window and bark at every car door in a three-mile radius.

(This is not usual behavior!)

They figured it out about 10:30 this morning.

I was trying to get a jump on the packing while Sarah and Luther were on their walk.

Phoebe ratted me out.

All I did was write their names on a zippee bag and put their pills inside it at a time of day that we don’t usually rattle the pills.

Game over!

Am hoping to sneak in the ice chest part of the prep while they’re outside about 1:30, though it probably won’t work.

These guys remind me every day about the power of pattern learning.

Something — whatever — happens, which “absolutely means” that something else will happen next.

Mom put pills in a bag which means we’re going to Camp.

(It usually does!)

Mom stood up from her chair which means it’s happening now.

(Not usually!)

People, of course, have been known to process things the same way.

Every time I try to paint eyes, I mess them up.

Well, not quite.

Often, I mess them up and do them again. And again.

Eventually, though, I get happy with them, which is kind of the opposite of messing them up.

And I’m pretty sure that, when I pick up a brush to start eyes, it might work better if I was thinking that I’ve learned to paint eyes I really like — which is something of a miracle right there — than if I was thinking that every time I do this, I mess it up.

Now, Newfoundlands are smart dogs and they tend to have pretty large working vocabularies.

In fact, there are lots of words we have to spell to avoid enthusiasm riots. R-i-d-e is a good example.

C-a-m-p is the biggest one.

D-i-n-n-e-r is also a major deal.

Naming things is hugely powerful.

So is the perception of cause and effect.

Even better, though, is the notion of possible outcomes.

Whatever happened before. Then something else happened. Yes.

But, today, something else might happen. There might be new opportunities!

Today, the dogs are right.

I put pills in a plastic bag and, in a couple of hours, they’re going to C-a-m-p. 

Hopefully, the wiring will get safely done tomorrow and on Friday they will come home.

(Bill and I are going crazy and having date night Thursday evening!)

It’s helpful though, at least to me, to remember that we not only have more options than what’s been true in the past, we can create more options just by remembering that we have them.

I’m not sure the dogs will buy it, but I appreciate all their reminders that it’s true.

At least I don’t have to sew their names in their underwear before they leave!


Be-ing Have

You know how most kids have funny things they say that aren’t anywhere near standard English but the family all gets it?

Dave had quite a few.

I had seizures when I was in labor with him.

We were blessed that a few vision and language challenges were the major things we had to deal with.

He wrote and read backwards for quite a while.

He also said things backwards. Some of my favorites were shake milkfix car, and cut hay which was Dave for hair salon.

The best of all, though, was I be’d have!

This was his way of assuring me that he had, in fact, behaved at school or Grammie’s or wherever.

We’ll save for later the possibility that I may have overused my go-to question in these moments!

I was laughing about these memories on Friday.

Our herd of Newfie rescues aren’t too good at staying home alone. It’s complicated and there are lots of reasons for it and challenges in changing it but the short version is that since Luther got here about 15 months ago, I’ve stayed home a lot.

The last time Bill and I went crazy and went out to lunch on a lovely weekend day, we arrived home to find that the four-footed kids had eaten the pantry. Literally.

Someone (Sarah!!!) had swiped half a dozen chia seed muffins off the top of a big stainless steel rack in our kitchen that came out of a restaurant.

I’m 5 feet 8 inches tall and we’re talking eye level.

It was kind of her to share which meant that everybody got really sick.

I had to use a paint scraper to get the slimed kale and kelp powder off the floor.

It was not a happy day.

Lately, we’ve taken to carry out wings from our friends at The Corner Pub.

On Friday, though, a friend of mine was in desperate need of a soup delivery. I’ll spare you the details. Let’s just say half a gallon of turkey broth was in order.

After the dogs had eaten and were pretty much napped out, I snuck out the back door with my immune boosting magic and headed about six blocks down the road.

Hugs and drop-off complete, I hurried home, a bit anxious about what I would find.

They be’d have!

All was well with the full belly crowd and no paint scrapers were required.

I was hugely relieved.

I’ve also been pondering the notion of being have.

Specifically, I’ve been pondering those times when we behave according to possibly antiquated rules, instead of standing or speaking up when we need to.

Here’s an example.

Do you remember there being things we didn’t talk about in polite company?

Money, politics, religion, sex…

It reminds me of a particular Sunday in church when, according to the various calendars we live by, it was “the” Sunday for breast cancer, domestic violence, and stewardship.

I felt like there wasn’t anything I could say that would count for being have.

And yet, we need to talk about these things.

We need real, effective cures for breast cancer, and a great many other things, that are more about support for patients than profits for drug companies.

We need enforced laws for domestic violence and sex trafficking, and a realization that love is love.

We need accessible and accurate voting and the end to big money profit politics.

We need lots of things, but I’ll pause here for you to fill in a few from your list, too.

I know.

Some of you are thinking I haven’t be’d have just now.

And I’m going to do it one more time.

Maybe it’s not our job to simply behave according to outmoded standards that are mostly about not making anyone uncomfortable or keeping people in “their place.”

Maybe it’s our job to talk, calmly and respectfully, but clearly and with commitment, about the things that matter in our world.

Maybe it’s our job to say the things that desperately need to be said.

Maybe feeding the world is more important than knowing all the forks.

Maybe that’s what be-ing have is all about.

Dave was a pretty good teacher! My girls are off to a great start!



History Making!

My sister is a “social studies” teacher for middle school kids. Her favorite subject is American History. Especially things like colonial American trade and whether we might, in fact, fit in with the Daughters of the Mayflower crowd.

Her classroom is amazing. It’s like a little museum full of antiques and memorabilia. Things that many kids born in the age of Amazon and Facebook have no real frame of reference for.

We moved around a lot as kids and I vaguely remember learning the history of several mid-West states, which probably had a lot to do with taking my Gramma Elsie to see old log cabins and historic houses when she came to visit us.

Gramma was inevitably a challenge for the tour guides, wanting to know who made the quilts and what varieties of corn were growing in the garden.

(These did not seem to be things in the scripts!)

I learned a lot of history by reading.

I read everything I could get my hands on.

Lately, I’ve learned that, while I loved all those stories — especially the Broadway play, 1776 — there were other folks telling those stories in different ways.

Leon Uris’ Exodus is a good example.

One of the questions I learned to ask, rather late in my education, is “Whose voice is missing?”

It turns out that the answer to that question, historically, has often, sadly, been most of the voices.

There are lots of good people who’ve been working on that for a while.

(We’re going to zig a bit here for a moment to add in a bit of personal history and then wind up back where we are…)

I had knee surgery six times in nine years.

As a hobby, I don’t recommend it!

All things considered, I’m doing pretty well these days. I had a great surgeon, fabulous physical therapists, a Qigong master I cherish, a very helpful recliner chair and lots and lots of bone broth. Along with some new help from learning to paint, but that’s a story for another day.

One of those knees, though, still has a habit of buckling unexpectedly every now and then which causes me to fall down.

Falling down is not on the list of approved activities for people who’ve had knee replacements.

My surgeon yells when I fall down and wants me to do odd things like quit traveling.

We made a deal. I use a walking stick. One of those sporty looking ones that looks like I might spend my spare time hiking up Stone Mountain, but don’t.

The really cool thing is that it’s collapsible which is great for flying and also for granddaughters who like to make it their size and “play Grammy”.

The walking stick has led to another staple in my wardrobe.

A denim vest. (Well, it used to be a jacket but a good pair of fabric shears took care of that!)

It has lots of pockets. There’s room for everything from wallet and lip gloss and phone to tape measures and dog treats.

All of which means I don’t need a purse and, therefore, have an actual hand left over for car doors and other useful things, like shopping.

Why am I telling you all this?

Well, the denim vest also has lots of room for pins and buttons and purple ribbons and other statement sorts of jewelry.

One lapel has been empty for about a year now. It’s the one where my Bernie Sanders button lived for a long time. And, if we’re being honest, taking it off was hard. It took a while.

Last night, though, we made some new history in Georgia. Stacey Abrams won the Democratic nomination for governor with about 76% of the vote. Stacey Abrams is a black woman from rural South Georgia who worked hard for her education and experience. More importantly, she believes in things like health care access and education. She believes in the future for all of Georgia.

This morning I got online (More miracles of modern science!) and ordered a couple of Stacey Abrams buttons. It will take a few days for them to get here, but I suspect Bernie is quite comfortable with my new choice for his spot on my denim vest.

While I was at it, I ordered a couple of T-shirts, too. They’ll probably have paint spatters before too long but they could use a bit more color.

Our kids — all of them — are growing up in this world. We’ve got some more history to make!






More Dots and a Pot of Broth

A guy called Bill Harris, whose name probably means nothing to most of you, passed a couple of weeks ago from this world, where cancer exists, to the next, where it doesn’t.

I spent a weekend, years ago, in a workshop he was leading. I didn’t know him well. I might, at least back in the day, have been ok with that.

All of that aside, Bill Harris changed my life. And, just maybe, the lives of some of you who’ve known me a while.

You see, Bill Harris is the guy who taught me about filters and maps of reality and the ways people change.

He taught me some other stuff, too, but this, for me, is where it all comes together.

Bill made this chart that basically explained human perception — at least as much as we understand about it — and its relationship to the results we get in our lives.

I used to give my clients copies of the chart, with none of the words written in, and walk them through it so they could fill it in for themselves.

It has a lot to do with neurophysiology and quantum physics.

Here’s the link to Bill’s latest book, Thresholds of the Mind. It’s way worth the reading. The chart is in there and he explains it better than I do!

This is the short version.

There are 2 or 3 billion bits of information coming at us at all times.

On a good day, our brain can handle a couple of hundred in any given moment.

The way we survive is to establish a complex set of (mostly) unconsious filters to block out all the stuff we can’t manage.

What gets through the filters is, largely, what matches the map of reality we all have.

Which is a lot like seeing only what we expect to see.

That, combined with the choices we make and the context in which we exist, determines our experience of the world. The results we get in our lives.

And everybody we know is doing the same thing, all the time, and most of us have no idea it’s even happening.

This weekend is a good example of how it all works.

Ten lives were lost in a school shooting in Texas on Friday. Countless more were impacted in ways we can’t begin to know.

There’s been a wedding going on across the wee pond. A wedding that is, in many ways, groundbreaking.

The American political primary season is in full swing and many of us are wondering not only which candidates to support but what the odds are that our votes will be counted accurately and fairly.

And which of those things are getting through to us have a whole lot to do with our filters and our map of reality.

There’s no judgement here. Just hope.

I didn’t get up at 5 am to watch the wedding. I know a lot about weddings. And I was up late the night before making prayer dots on paintings for the victims in Texas, and for a very sick baby and his grandmother whom I adore.

Today, more dots and an enormous pot of turkey broth that will feed lots of people I care about and quite a few I don’t even know.

All the while hoping that the big wedding across the wee pond will somehow bring more tolerance and peace to a world that could use a whole lot more of both.

And a reminder that when we get conscious of some of those filters, and the fact that our maps of reality are maps and not concrete reality (Whatever that is!), things can, indeed, get different.

Bill Harris drew the chart.

The work is up to us.



The Way We’ve Always Done It…part 67

Yesterday, as you may have heard, Sarah went for her summer spa day.

She came home hungry, tired, and looking like a very large puppy.

The voices in my head were squabbling.

I, who showed dogs for many years, seem to still have a case of the way we’ve always done it.

I say this knowing that there are an awful lot of other folks with different versions of the way we’ve always done it who think they’re just as right as I think I am.

Take, for example, Poodle people. Their always and Newfoundland people’s always look pretty different!

And there’s part of me that still hates having Sarah clipped short.

IMG_2986It’s also true that Sarah has allergies and an odd, wooly coat that mats about half an hour after you quit brushing her, which she doesn’t enjoy much anyway.

And so we clip.

And she looks like something Dr. Seuss dreamed up!

The voices in my head squabbled louder, though, when it came to deciding what to do for Phoebe on her spa day, today.

She’s really lovely and has a gorgeous coat. In the winter.

Right now, she itches. A lot.

And she’s blowing so much coat she could be an entire ad for a vacuum cleaner.

I asked my Newf buddies and got lots of good advice.

I still felt a lot like I did when Dave got his first “big boy” haircut and the ringlets went the way of history.

Then I remembered something I count on. (You may have those kinds of things, too.)

It’s all in what you’re trying to accomplish!

And, oddly, the Poodle people and the Newf people are trying to accomplish the same thing, at least historically. Protecting dogs from cold water!

I’m trying to accomplish comfortable, relatively easy care dogs who think of grooming as a good thing instead of torture. (Luther, too!)

It would also, if we’re being honest,  be ok if I didn’t contribute quite so much money and energy to the Swiffer thing!

So, we’re letting go of the way we’ve always done it.

Also, I guess, we’ve never done it that way before.

I’m going with what I’m trying to accomplish.

I imagine it will be interesting!

As God is watering the garden today, I’m going to get really brave and start the next layer on my painting which is, when I think about it, another of those things I’ve never done that way before.

At least I’ll have less hair to pick out of the canvas!

IMG_2997Phoebe, as it turns out, is just right for her.

Sarah is a bit skeptical.

And Luther made it three whole steps into the new family room to find out what all the fuss was about.

Sometimes I guess right twice in the same day!




How will I know?

I watch a fair amount of HGTV.

I like the fix up a house for a family kind of shows rather than the flip options or the chain sawing through Alaska sagas.

We’ve been, as you may have suspected, playing HGTV at our house lately.

We’re making progress. Quite a bit, actually.

There’s room to paint and quilt and write.

A big chunk of our kitchen is rearranged according to the way we actually eat these days.

There’s even a table for gathering our beloveds around art and food, games and stories.

Somebody asked me, the other day, how I would know when we were done.

There are two answers to that.

The first is that we probably won’t be done. It really isn’t in me. Life keeps changing.

The second is that when I can sit in my fabulous new red chair with my feet up and a cup of tea, not feeling like I need to leap up and fix something, we’ll be pretty close for now.

When Luther gets up the nerve to hang out in the new family room, we’ll be right on target.

For the moment, Container Store loves me. Amazon is enthusiastic as well.

Shelves. Little plastic drawers in every size and shape. Rug pads. A shower curtain, even.

Better yet, though, is Kudzu.

Our local vintage and collectible place. Two book cases and an awesome library cart have followed me home recently, all from the budget department.

There’s even room around here in case a miracle happens and I buy another book or two.

It being Mothers’ Day, I can’t help but wonder what my mom would think.

Horrified comes to mind.

We don’t have “living room” furniture. Or “dining room” furniture, the way I grew up.

Nothing matches.

We have drapes but I’m going to have them cut off to the same length as the bottom of the windows.

The rugs, and pads, are to make the dogs comfy. (It takes up less room than a zillion dog beds!)

Vacuuming is a whole other issue!

And yet, with a lot of help, we are getting closer and closer to what we need.

The sheets are clean.

The towels are folded into the linen closet. (Which way needs a paint job!)

Tomorrow I’ll start paint-sketching the Talisman canvas.

There’s really good left-over soup in the fridge.

And parsley to plant in the morning.

Lots of this would seem weird to Mom.

And yet, somewhere deep inside, I think she might get it.

I hope so.

For now, though, a new pair of walking shoes. It’s a paint thing!

Blessings for moms of all sorts who remember and are remembered on this day, and Happy Birthday, dear Kelly!


Practice What You Preach!

Well, it’s one of those days.

Bill is running late.

Dinner is still cooking.

Sarah has a hotspot.

(Let’s don’t mention the do-nut thing!)

The “Do Not Disturb” signs on the doors have, shall we say, not worked too well today.

The paintings have been more than a bit chatty.

And the portions of my person that my beloved physical therapist refers to as quads are not in a good mood.

If you were to call me up and tell me your version of this story, I’d gently suggest that you take a deep breath or two, fix a cup of tea, and let it go.

Tomorrow will come.

It will still be Spring…at least where most of you are.

We won’t have starved.

Well, if you’re reading this, probably not. We’ll keep working on the rest tomorrow.

I’m squirting the dog with the colloidal silver stuff.

The bones from tonight’s chicken will turn into more food for tomorrow.

I’m making bigger signs for the doors.

And sleeping.

I hope.

Some days all we can do is practice what we preach.

This has been one of those.

There are, in all of our lives, days when those little Monopoly cards come in handy. This is one.

At the moment I’m just crossing my fingers that the whole chicken in the Instant Pot thing works!

I’ll keep you posted.


Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity®
Color of Woman Teacher & Coach