Never Give Up!!!

A couple of days ago, I saw a Facebook post that read: “Do you trust [insert the name of the current occupant of the oval office here]?

I was instantly reminded of the first time I saw the movie, Steel Magnolias, as I nearly choked to death, simultaneously laughing hysterically and sobbing.

Then I was reminded of my years of training in Ericksonian hypnotherapy. Two things stood out.

One was a video lecture by a woman whose name I sadly don’t remember, talking about trust. I learned a lot. The gist of it was that we could trust the people in our lives to be who they are.

Bill, the Legendary Husband, provided a perfect example. Bill and I live with very different notions of time which results in my frequently perceiving him as being “late”.

When I was traveling a lot for the Office of the General Assembly, PC(USA), Bill was often “late” in meeting my flights home.

I will confess that it irritated me a lot.

Then, on my way home from hypnosis training after the weekend I watched the video, I realized I could totally trust that he would, in fact, come to get me.

Which reminded me that some of my issues about his being “late” at the airport had to do with a childhood trauma around being left in a huge hardware store by my family, but that’s a story for a different day.

What I noticed was that, having become more conscious about what was going on, I was considerably less irritated about time and grateful that I knew I could trust him to show up.

So what, you’re probably wondering, does that have to do with a Facebook post about trusting the politician-in-chief?

Power.

But first, another very helpful thing I learned in hypnosis land.

There are two kinds of power in our world. Power over others which means that in order for someone to have more, everyone else must have less.

And power in order to matter. To make change for the good. The kind of em-power-ment in which we can all have more together.

In the current political climate in the US, I can trust approximately 1/2 of the politicians to be doing a really good job of working for power over all manner of “others” and the other 1/2 to be, while admittedly fallible humans, at least standing up for power in order to matter. For em-power-ment.

(You can do the math.)

So, on the same day I saw the infamous Facebook post, I was busily hunting and gathering in my favorite hardware store when an older gentleman who works there, obviously noticing the opinions pinned to my magical denim vest, asked if he might ask me a question.

Curious, I assured him that he might.

“You voted,” he began. “How do you decide?”

I was a bit startled. Mostly because he seemed really sincere. So I explained what I’ve just shared with you about my view of power and two kinds of politicians.

Then I said what you’ve heard me say before: that I have granddaughters growing up in this world and that guides the way I vote.

Em-power-ment – vs – power over. Every time.

Then my new friend in the red vest asked another question.

“What else do you know?”

Well, that was a bit of a puzzle.

A deep breath bought me a bit of thinking time and, miraculously, an answer.

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

—  George Santayana  ( 2oth Century Spanish-American philosopher)

Today, proofreading and prayer dots. For the victims of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh and for hope that we might, indeed, learn from history.

So be it.

Pacing in the Waiting Room!

I wasn’t too good at being pregnant.

Part of that was, no doubt, context. Newly single. Stressed. Scared. No real idea of what the future held. The only thing I knew for sure is that I loved and fiercely adored the wee being growing inside me.

Another part of that was, by all accounts, genetic. There’s a long history, on my Mom’s side of the family, of what we used to call Toxemia, but now refer to as pre-eclampsia.

High blood pressure. Major food restrictions. And really, really, really fat ankles.

Timing Braxton-Hicks contractions every night for a week before I finally went into active labor.

Then, I rang the big red bell and had grand mal seizures in labor. I’ll spare you the details. Let’s just say that Dave and I made it and I feel hugely blessed.

I’m kind of back in that place just now, pregnant with a book and a new way of being in the world.

My ankles are better this time!

I’m reminded, though, of the Braxton-Hicks experience, in these days.

My Initiate Book, or graduation project, for Color of Woman is out of my control, in this moment, off in the land of electronic formatting.

Soon, it will be time for editing, which is when the next part of my labor will begin.

Well, not begin, so much, as actually result in a birth.

Until then, I am practicing the fine arts of asking for help and releasing the need for control.

For now, I am waiting. Waiting on a wise and talented friend to make her magic, even in the midst of several life complications of her own. Aided by a bit of pimento cheese!

Today, I have coped by binge watching Grey’s Anatomy and plotting Intentional Creativity workshop dates in my calendar. I’m also having occasional fantasies about video workshops, which seem, for now, to be shouted down by my inner critic reminding me that it hasn’t been a good week for me in tech land.

It’s been chilly and rainy, which makes the floors wet and the big dogs happy.

A couple of domestic projects have been crossed off the list.

I have a plan hatching for the first few weeks in November. Bookkeeping and connection building will be involved. And an exploration of the Colorful Scars painting workshop. And rest. And lots of bone broth. Somehow, the freezer is bare!

In this moment, my phone is feeling seriously empowered by my checking every 5 or 6 minutes for messages.

Tonight, some marathon dog grooming. And an Italy flashback, complete with local, artisanal Coppa, a very fine Italian Asiago raw milk cheese, and some Georgia organic sourdough crackers.

Next on my list… learning how to slipcover a wing back chair which I might just need to know shortly. There is a granddaughter involved!

For now, pacing in the waiting room!

Life is complicated. Making a difference is good.

 

 

Being Differently Able

Hi! I’m Luther, the most recent Newfoundland rescue dog in our family.

When I got here, in February of 2017, I didn’t know any words. I knew yelling and hitting. I knew having towels over my head so I couldn’t resist when people did things that scared me. I knew hunger and fear.

And I knew darkness, for I was raised in the dark so that the people who ran the puppy mill could save money on the light bill.

Now I know more.

I know love and good food and hugs. I know words like sit, and wait, and Okay, Peeps, which means it’s time to go out,  and, my very favorite word, dinner. Mom usually says canine fine dining experience instead of dinner but I’ve figured it out!

I know I am a good dog. So are my sisters, mostly.

Lately, I’ve learned a new word. Blind.

It’s not actually such a new word for me. It is a new word for my mom and dad. They thought I couldn’t see very well but, at least recently, it turns out I can’t see at all.

I think they’re more upset than I am.

Honestly, I don’t really know the difference. I’m just me.

When she’s not crying love tears, Mom says that we just know more now about how to help me. That sounds good!

I run into things sometimes but I’m strong and it’s not that bad. And I don’t get nearly so scared as I used to because I’ve learned that people love me and are gentle.

My sisters are really helpful. I can follow them by hearing them and smelling them. Sarah runs into trees sometimes, when she’s chasing squirrels, but mostly they use safe paths to get where we’re going.

There are stairs from the deck to the yard but they’re not really hard. Mom says it’s something called muscle memory, which helps me know where to put my feet and what it feels like when I get where I’m going. And, almost always, there are yummy treats!

Nobody knows for sure if I remember what it was like to be able to see. Mom says that lots of people, and dogs, are what she calls differently able, like I am. In fact, Mom is differently able, too. It has something to do with her knees.

She also says that telling my story like this is my way of being a therapy dog. She likes therapy dogs. And it’s pretty fun to be a writer!

Maybe we all have our own ways of helping the world to be a better place.

I know I’m glad to have a chance!

What are your gifts??? If you click on the big picture of me at the top of the page and then scroll down a ways past the end of this post, you’ll find a place where you can tell me all about them. Mom will read me your answers!

Hugs and love, Luther

 

A Bit of Back Story…

In 1990, I graduated from the Master of Divinity program at Columbia Theological Seminary, got married, and received a call to serve the St. John Presbyterian church in Fayetteville, TN as their solo pastor, all within one week.

Bill and I spent a fair chunk of our honeymoon with the Examination Committee of the Presbytery of Middle Tennessee, which was interesting, but not terribly romantic.

Then, we went back to Atlanta with just a matter of days before we needed to be ready to move.

Finding a mover was a whole other challenge. As they wandered through my apartment and Bill’s dorm room, the most frequent comment was, “Why do you have all these books??? Nobody needs this many books!”

Frustrated, and trying desperately to get sermons planned for my first few weeks in St. John’s pulpit, I finally told one of the movers that I didn’t need opinions about how many books we had. I just needed to know how much it was going to cost to get them to Tennessee!

When he burst out laughing, I decided he was the guy for us.

We rented a house, sight-unseen, for Fayetteville was not remotely a hot market for renters and there was what there was. On our first day in “town” we had a massive tire blow-out which resulted in Bill changing the tire on the edge of the road with commentary from the resident cows.

We were, as my old friend Dorothy exclaimed, “not in Kansas anymore, Toto!”

Now, it’s more than a bit possible that you’re wondering why I’m telling you this story today.

That’s easy!

You see, I’m back in just such an experience of quantum change in my universe, with graduation from Color of Woman galloping toward me.

And I’m certain of very little except that whatever comes next is what I am called to be and do and create.

Okay, I’m also certain that I have a wee bit of writing, a truckload of proofreading, and way more than the optimal amount of photo sorting to accomplish in what feels like the next 27 minutes.

And there are some things they forgot to tell me in school!

So yesterday, surprisingly, I painted. The CODEX painting which, thus far, looks very night sky-ish. (Also a lot like my favorite paint pants!) Dots and dots and more dots. Dots of gratitude. And, as I painted, I realized that it was the first time I’d really painted since before I left for Italy.

It felt great!

Today, Bill and I unloaded 60 pounds of dog food into the freezer, accompanied by an enthusiastic chorus of tail wagging. More to come tomorrow.

Tonight, fabulous butternut squash soup in a base of homemade beef broth.

And gallons of the digital version of red ink.

Change is always stressful, even when it’s change that we long for with all our hearts. It’s also the only way to get where we’ve never been before.

I’m pretty tired. And in, all the way!

ps… Luther wanted me to tell you that he’s working on a blog post. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

Old Friends Whispering…

Many of you know, and some of you have been right there with me, that for about the last year, I have been deeply engaged in a program for certifying Intentional Creativity teachers, known as Color of Woman, or COW for short.

It has been, in the understatement of the century, quite the journey!

You’ve read my stories and seen at least bits and pieces of the images that have flowed from my soul to my brush to the world.

There is “one more” project left to complete.

“One more” is in quotes because there are still a few individual projects lurking within the enormous project known as the Initiate Book.

The Initiate Book is basically a digital journal, in words and images, of the vision quest that has framed this last year.

It has a great deal of structure in terms of what is required and a great deal of freedom in terms of how to meet the requirements. And, by the way, it’s due November 1.

Oh, and lots of mine changed — or grew, perhaps — while I was in Italy!

Which is, I suspect, why the freedom of this project has been freaking me out. Seriously!

(And that is rather an odd statement coming from me.)

There are paintings and journals and blog posts and photos and zillions of index cards everywhere I look and my job, in this moment, is to finish, organize and label ALL of them so that the dear friend who actually pushes the buttons to make it beautiful and get it uploaded doesn’t feel trapped in the mythical land of scrap quilts, as I do in this moment.

I had stacks of things on every horizontal surface in our house, which might have worked except that we played Furniture Yahtzee again last weekend and everything got moved, and re-stacked.

Imagine my delight.

And recall that I’m not, historically, a very fast learner when it comes to tech-y things like files and folders and the hypothetical miracles of Dropbox, which I still haven’t figured out but apparently need to. Now.

I’ve been bouncing about from this to that and back to this, color coding check marks on my magic sample table of contents, which seemed like a good idea but hasn’t turned out to be very clear.

My flow-y, creative right brain was getting frantic, so I took a leap of faith and asked for help!

After a lesson in sorting and organizing, along with tea and really good dark chocolate (Thank you, Leisa!) I had an idea.

I could do this in order. Top to bottom. Right off the list of requirements. (Which is not at all how it happened in real life or how it feels inside!)

Laugh, if you need to. I am feeling hugely grateful to my blessed linear left brain for flinging itself into the artsy and well written tangle of my universe with an actual plan.

I suspect more tea and chocolate will be required. And plenty to share with my Muse, as well, who nudged me out of bed at about 5:30 this morning with one of her trademark “next right thing” notions.

For now, it’s time to get back to work.

As my old friends C.S. Lewis and Julian of Norwich are whispering in my ear…

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well. 

 

An Exercise in Perspective

If you’ve been reading along you know that I’ve just been in Tuscany. It was fabulous!

Scenery, history, art, community, food, music, paint, wisdom, and the divine feminine.

Stunning. Amazing. Breath-taking. Insert your favorite over-the-top adjectives here…

Having wended my way back to my usual side of the wee pond, though, I’ve noticed a couple of other things.

Before I tell you what they are, you need to know that I had knee surgery, a lot, and I have a deal with my surgeon who yells when I fall down.

Wheelchairs in airports.

And, as I’ve mentioned, the extent of my knowledge of French and Italian comes mainly from Food Network. All of which is great if you’re ordering dinner and considerably less optimal if you’re traveling alone, need assistance, and don’t speak the language!

Brief timeout to report that it’s a lovely, cool-ish evening in Atlanta and my trip out to the deck with the big dogs suggests that this year’s high school tuba player is a huge improvement over recent years!

Which, obviously, reminds me, as short on news as I still am, that there are a whole lot of people on the northern gulf coast of the US who are not having nearly so pleasant an evening.

Which, in turn, reminds me of the old saying my therapist buddies are so fond of:

Perspective isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.

Which is, I suspect, the biggest reminder of wisdom I carried home with me from Italy for I have had a huge experience in releasing the illusion of control.

I began to learn, a long time ago, that we really don’t have control over much in the world.

On a good day, we have influence.

There were moments, mostly in the airport in Paris, when I felt I had very little even of that.

Frankly, I was pretty stressed.

Tight connections. A sprawling, unfamiliar, not at all accessible airport teeming with equally stressed beings who don’t even notice a person in a wheelchair while they’re yelling into/saving the world with their cell phones and counting their kids.

People, intended to be helpful, adamantly declining to speak English even though they clearly understood me.

Elevators. Buses. Time ticking by for the last flight home of the day. And enough luggage to be a major lesson in packing light. Not enough hands for the walking stick. Well, you get the drift.

And the realization, many hours later, that I made it.

Thanks in large part to the driver in Florence who asked wise questions about US politics on the terrifying trip through narrow, crowded streets to the airport.

A true global citizen, he shared some of his observations on politics in Italy and inquired about the Stacey Abrams button on the collar of my treasured denim vest.

Then, when we arrived at the airport, he helped me out at the curb, parked the car, and helped with my luggage — and translations — until the Air France folks were on board with my requests, checked my bag, and summoned a wheel chair.

When I offered to shake hands in real appreciation, he kissed my hand instead and wished me safe travels.

The world got just a bit smaller in that moment. And a bit more united.

I spent much of the trip home pondering the large and diverse refugee community nested around my neighborhood.

Quite apart from my frequent hunting and gathering excursions to the DeKalb International Farmers Market, filled as they usually are with sign language, bowing, and waving at babies, I suddenly have a much deeper perspective into what it must be like for recent arrivals to the US to shop and work and find home here.

You might even suppose that I have become, rather than simply the artist, one of the beings who appears above, sheltered in the embrace of Bella Mama.

Which may just be the beginning of wisdom.

Next year’s trip will be the south of France, in Mary Magdalene country. It will, apparently, be a bit more challenging in terms of exertion.

I’ve decided to frame my massive sense of the calling to go by seeing this past week as the beginning of my “training” for next year.

My guiding inquiry has become, What would need to be true in order for this to be possible for me?

Some of the answers, of course, will be external. Most of them, I suspect, are entirely internal.

 I am, even now, doing my part, encouraged by the affirmation newly applied to the front of my  journal from this trip.

TUTTO E POSSIBILE…………………..All is possible 

So be it for me, and for each of you.

For now, praying with dots for determined wisdom and fierce compassion in the world.

ps… Please vote!

 

Wandering in the Wayback Machine!

Do you remember the Michael J. Fox film, Back to the Future?

I am there!

Lost in the vast living, breathing past of so many centuries of history, a sensation somewhat uncommon for many North Americans.

Seeing with eyes and heart and hands the gracious communion of this tiny sliver of the present moment.

It is not the present of all people, surely, for there is much more present going on in the world.

And yet, it is just as true, for it is mine and I am here.

It is also, in some quantum way, the future which is being created in ways I, and we, cannot yet comprehend.

Let me tell you a story.

Yesterday, I stood with my sisters in this journey, on the steps of the ancient church of Santa Maria Novella in Firenze, Italy surrounded by a great many beings having wholly other experiences.

For a brief moment, we stood in the sunlight and gawked at the sculpture and architecture and beauty around us.

Then, we leaped a bit further out of our comfort zones — well, I suspect I wasn’t the only one leaping — and, led by a gifted teacher with a frame drum, we sang Psalm 150, there at the entrance to the basilica.

Actually, we chanted the Psalm in Hebrew. Out loud. In public.

(And yes, those of you who’ve known me since our seminary days, may gasp in surprise that I, of the Hebrew learning challenges, might tell such a story. Turns out Hebrew is easier to sing than to read!)

I would imagine that people stared but I do not know for sure for I simply sang.

(More gasping in surprise permitted…)

The confluence of histories and cultures and belief systems and personal journeys was stunning.

And in ways too soon to know, the future has already been changed for — and here I will speak only for myself — I have been changed.

I have a great deal of hope, though. You see, one of those standing with us was a mighty woman-growing on the day of her ninth birthday, reminding us what it is to view the world with wide eyes and endless curiosity.

Eventually, of course, the time for singing ended and we went on to witness wonders like Botticelli frescoes and one of those ancient miracles of marking time that involve a tiny hole in a rose window and a line of gold ever so precisely inlaid in a marble floor. And, perhaps my favorite, the garden in which Michelangelo’s David was carved, for that is another story I know.

Then, too, the obligatory visit to the gift shop and an admittedly rather surprising encounter with a gender-fluid toilette in so ancient a place.

IMG_4271It’s been a long time since I watched Back to the Future. Or Pleasantville, for that matter.

Oddly, perhaps, in this moment, they’ve both become part of my story, too. And our story, if we’re listening.

Let everything that breathes, sing praise! 

 

 

 

 

 

Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity® Color of Woman Teacher