Dreaming of Frogs!

I didn’t spend a whole lot of time sleeping last night, but I know I must have slept some because I woke in the midst of a dream full of frogs!

Bright green frogs in the snow, to be specific!

This is not quite as random as it might seem.

First of all, I have kind of thing for frogs. In fact, last August I went to hang out in the Frogyrinth with some friends from Learning Strategies in Minnesota.

It was a pretty amazing experience!

And recently, the frogs helped me out with a workshop at Vista Yoga where we explored the connection between Intentional Creativity and Intentional Movement.

The little guy in the picture is a homegrown Georgia frog which he’s pretty happy about just now since his northern cousins are no doubt spending the winter swaddled in double layers of bubble wrap to protect them from the snow.

I wouldn’t be too surprised if you were wondering what might have triggered the frog dreams.

I think it’s the Moon Gate. The Moon Gate is the portal through which one enters the Frogyrinth and then, eventually, returns to the regular world.

There are, of course, magic words. This is my version, patched together like a quilt from wise things my Intentional Creativity and Qigong teachers have said.

I am in the Universe. The Universe is in my body. The Universe and I are one. All my channels are open. I am fully healed and healed enough. I have the energy and strength to live my passion in generosity and abundance. I welcome this change. 

But, why now?

Well, there might be a Moon Gate, of a sort, in my future. In fact, there are undoubtedly many of them. In this moment, though, there is one in particular looming, as it were, before me.

So, after I abandoned the froggy bed for my magical comfy chair and a fragrant cup of jasmine tea, I wandered a bit through the internet seeking the dream symbolism of frogs.

Someone named Aunty Flo, who seems to be a bit of a frog fan herself, says that, generally speaking, dream frogs symbolize rebirth, transformation and renewal… possibly inner transformation, personality transformation, professional transformation, or major life changes, especially if the frogs are green.

I know. It sounds a bit fringey to some of you. (It feels a bit fringey to me!)

But, there’s that Moon gate parked in my path. And the need to seriously clarify my intentions.

And the welcome reminder that I am healed enough. (At least most days!)

So, I suspect, are you!

You can borrow my froggy friend, just like I’ve borrowed the big guys from the land of the hardy vikings. Turns out they’re great traveling companions on the road to whatever is calling you.

I’m thinking my girls need stuffed frogs!

PS – One more sleep!

 

 

 

The Really Important Question

With profound apologies to my teacher, Shiloh Sophia, and sincere hopes that the Intentional Creativity Guild won’t revoke my membership, I must confess that I don’t eat cake.

I was very popular at children’s birthday parties. I like icing even less than cake. Especially the blue play dough blue roses! Everyone wanted to sit next to me.

When I was small, I chose apple pie for my birthday. After we moved to Florida, where seasonal fruits are vastly different than in, say, Minnesota, where I was born, I chose strawberry shortcake.

The kind with the Bisquick biscuits, as opposed to those little round cake things, floating in just a bit of half and half. Yum!

I’m telling you this, of course, because it’s birthday season in my family. Five of them between January 24th and March 4th.

Somehow, the food thing used to be less complicated!

The Legendary Husband, who deserted me for the frozen land of Iowa, fixed the fabulous dinner pictured above.

Locally pasture raised rib eye steak, perfectly teetering between rare and medium rare. Roasted organic asparagus, the first of the farmers market season. And tiny roasted organic potatoes, flash finished in the hot iron skillet while the steak rested on a platter.

I didn’t miss the cake!

Soon, a joint celebration, probably at Decatur’s Iberian Pig, because we’re still raving over our Valentine’s Day feast.

Some spare roasted asparagus will find its way into a frittata, along with herbs from our garden, which will reappear shortly for snacks with paint. The extra wee potatoes are, predictably, headed for a pot of soup.

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All of which means that I can paint more and cook less during my single parent week.

The very big dogs are delighted that we’ve foraged for them, as well.

We do, however, think of more than food around here.

Health.

Healing the planet.

Space for a bit of comfort and celebration.

And, perhaps most importantly of all, gratitude.

Gratitude for enough. For clean. For sources we trust. For sharing. And for self-expression.

And, in the midst of giving thanks, we long, also, for justice. For an end to hunger and food insecurity, which is totally possible if we grow more and manufacture less.

It’s about time to plant the garden out front. And time for our own asparagus to begin to reach for the sun. The grape vines are already beginning to bud, which I really hope isn’t overly optimistic of them.

I’m not a huge fan of fundamentalism in any of its forms so I should also admit that I was glad to see the shortbread Girl Scout cookies that followed Bill home today. I’ll probably even eat one with a cup of tea tomorrow.

Life is complicated. Our needs and our choices are complicated. And, if you’ve been hanging out a while, you’ve heard me claim one of the more amazing things I’ve learned in my journey.

Language creates reality.

One of the things that means is that labels aren’t always all that helpful when they define us by what we aren’t rather than helping shape what we hope to be.

At the same time, it is part of being human to name things and our world is running over with names for who eats what.

We have lots of those in our family! I’ve had a bunch in my day.

Recently, I’ve chosen a new one.

I am an Intentional Gratitarian ©.

Judging from the way the paint brushes are twitching  and my inner critic is grumbling, I suspect there’s a workshop hatching somewhere deep inside. I’ll keep you posted.

Here’s where all the really important stuff starts for me…

What are you trying to accomplish? 

I’d love to hear your answers! Just scroll down a bit and leave me a message.

 

 

 

Hearth Tending and a Birthday Girl!

Drum roll, please! Today is my first day of hearth tending.

No, we don’t have a fire-place, nor even a grill at the moment. This is a spiritual food kind of thing.

Wednesday is Work In Progress day in the Red Thread Cafe Classroom. Intentional Creativity members post what they’re working on, ask questions, and cheer each other on, sometimes even through the tears.

Hearth tenders are Color of Woman Graduates (Yay!!!) who mingle in the group and offer support. We answer questions (when we can) and give hints about how to make things appear or disappear, and ponder next steps. Mostly, we hold the circle of women working together to help people (and the world) heal through self-expression.

I’ve had lots of good teachers.

Two of them aren’t technically old enough yet. They’re my granddaughters. Kenzie is eleven.

Tomorrow, Taylor will be nine.

(How is this possible???)

We’ve had quite the debate about birthday gifts. Taylor is into science things and Bill thought a plastic robot that has something to do with computer coding would be a great idea.

(This is not my department!)

I was in favor of amethyst earrings but her Mom and Dad beat me to the jewelry counter.

We ended up with a soccer warm-up suit. Taylor’s choice, actually. She plays on a travel team already and seems to love it. And if she wants black soccer pants and a jacket with a very tasteful white stripe and a recognizable logo, I’m good with that.

I bought lots of paints at Thanksgiving!

I want them to be who they are. To know they are enough. To experiment with new things and be comfortable with trying hard and occasionally missing.

Which, coincidentally, is a lot like Intentional Creativity.

Honestly, if I had a choice, I’d be in Virginia making yet another attempt at gluten-free pecan pie, which was not my best effort at Thanksgiving.

But I’m also grateful to be here, with Sarah on the floor sleeping off her chiropractic adjustment, a meeting to get ready for, some editing to finish, and some painting to do, even if it’s only a bit today.

The coughing, sneezing, and sore throat suggest that a nap might be a good plan.

There will be soup for supper and a Zoom meeting for dessert, topped with a generous dollop of fierce compassion.

And, perhaps, a spot of chocolate. The Muse is in favor.

If you’d like to know more, scroll down a bit and leave me a comment. Or sign up for the blog. If you like being here, you’re welcome.

And, if you have a moment, wish Taylor a happy birthday. She’s awesome!

For the moment, though, it’s 10 after one and the big dogs are all asleep. I should be, too. Blog posts, like paintings and granddaughters, often have other ideas.

Tomorrow, though, remember to do what wonders you!

 

The Day Our World Changed

Two years ago, on a Sunday morning, Bill and I headed off to North Pointe Mall to retrieve our newest Newfie rescue from his short-term foster parents. I had met Luther once before, very briefly, and knew to expect anxiety.

I also expected discomfort as he had been neutered two days before.

What we got was, in so many ways, so much more. You see, Luther was one of 30 or 40 adult dogs rescued from a puppy mill in Michigan over Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend  2017 and scattered to Newfoundland rescue groups around the country. (Huge gratitude, Bart!)

The poor boy was terrified by anything new and he was living in a world where all the things and people were new. It took Bill and me both to get him into our car. He didn’t know how to take treats from our hands. He didn’t wag his tail or respond to petting. He just laid in the back of the car with his security stuffed chicken and waited to see what happened next.

Bless Sarah and Phoebe who did what sisters so often do and, after the predictable amount of sniffing, just moved over and made room on the floor.

My Gramma Elsie used to say, of an unruly cousin, He’s not bad. He’s just busy!

Luther was neither bad nor busy. He was dissociative, which in psych terms indicates only one coping strategy. Trying to melt into the floor and disappear.

There were urgent teaching issues, as well. House training. (Thank you, Jana, for all you did in the beginning!) Leash walking. Surviving a crate long enough to eat without creating a dog fight nobody needed.

Even at a best guess of 2 – 3 years old, he was underweight but very, very strong. And a master, as his name suggests, of passive resistance.

Slowly, we made progress. He attached himself to me first. After a few weeks he could lie, leashed for his sense of safety, on the rug during a client appointment, doing his best to be invisible.

It took, literally, more than a year before I could leave the house, even with Bill sitting in the room with him. I think they watched a good bit of Dr. Who! It hasn’t been easy.

Today, our big guy is healthy, gorgeous, and one of the best greeters I’ve ever known.

He’s also blind. And coping really well. Sarah is his security sister and goes along on walks. Phoebe is, in many senses, the reincarnation of his stuffed chicken. Cuddly and always there. (Also self-appointed eye washer!)

Luther is an excellent studio angel. And, if we do the math right, Bill and I can actually go out for lunch!

We’re still working on the grooming thing but we’re making progress. He actually likes bath time these days, though is still a firm No thanks! on the hairdryer scene. And a tentative maybe on towels.

Life at our house is different, for sure.

And yet, when I’m feeling anxious about something like, oh, showing somebody my art, I look at the big brave guy making his way through a world he can’t see, safe in his family, happy to drool and shed on his many friends, and a lot of things seem different in perspective.

Do-able, even.

And when they all curl up at my feet and snore in that comforting way dogs have, I remember that the best love goes both ways.

 

Let’s Hear it for Harley!

No, not the motorcycle kind.

(I used to be a surgical nurse and spent way too much time trying to put people back together after adventures with those!)

In this case, Harley is a dog. A new friend from this year’s Westminster Kennel Club show.

The resident 4-footed kids and I watch every year. Well, I watch. They mostly sleep.

Bill deals with dinner. In this case gluten-free pizza.

It’s a real deja-vu thing for me. I started showing the summer I was 17. English Mastiffs! The first time I entered a ring, I was drafted from the sidelines when a professional handler didn’t show. We needed to get one more dog in the ring to hold the major which is dog show lingo for getting more championship points.

The owner of the enormous dog in question said, “Just hold on tight and stay on your feet!”

Much to everyone’s amazement, we took first in our class. I was hooked!

I’ve spent a lot of time in the ring in my day. Mastiffs. Great Pyrenees. English Springers. Newfoundlands. Even a Scottish Deerhound, once, for a friend.

My day, however, was quite a while back, before lots of knee surgery, so these days, we watch. Bill’s still trying to figure out how to make money off my consistently good eye for the winners!

Oddly enough, on my first day in the ring, all those years ago, one of the professional handlers in the same ring was a great guy named Peter J. Green. Tonight he judged Best in Show at Westminster. (This is another one of those true stories that actually happened!)

Congratulations to “Bono”, the Havanese,  who went Reserve and to “King”, the Wire Fox Terrier who went Best in Show. And to the adorable Sussex Spaniel named “Bean” who made the short list.

I have assured my herd of fabulous Newfoundlands that they would, of course, have won if only the judges had met them. (OK, they wouldn’t really. It’s a rescue mom thing!)

This year, though, my number one favorite was the winner of the 24 inch agility class. (That’s 24  inches tall at the shoulder, which is a pretty good sized dog in most places.)

His name is Harley.

Harley was introduced as an “All American Dog” which is apparently a recent attempt on the part of the AKC to be politically correct and include dogs of more diverse backgrounds in some of the sport competitions that run along with the breed judging.

Harley is 10 years old and a cancer survivor. He had surgeries to remove several masses from his legs a couple of years ago. And there he was, leaping the jumps and racing up and down the teeter totter things and dashing through the tunnel with a huge, silly grin on his hound-ish sort of face.

My guys were a bit concerned about why Mom was crying at the dog show.

Harley didn’t win the overall agility championship. That prize went to a fluffy little bitty critter that moved almost fast enough to win the Indianapolis 500. (This is a matter of reality we big dog fans are accustomed to.)

Harley got all my votes for inspiration, though.

I was probably just about to turn four the first time I remember watching Westminster. A black and white English Springer won. Our own Maude got up and licked the rounded edge screen on the  little black and white TV in our living room. It was the only time all night she paid any attention!

I’m still watching. And, yes, I know there are lots of folks who consider Westminster to be an expensive beauty contest without the college scholarships. By and large, though, I think the world could do worse than a family reunion for a whole bunch of people who love dogs.

Harley didn’t go home with the big silver bowl but he went home a huge winner in my book. And so did his mom.

And his vet. Whomever she or he might be.

 

How are you?

It seems to be the question for my day.

How are you?

Bill. The server at lunch. The guy behind the counter at our favorite local butcher shop. Friends on the phone and online. My sister.

(I’m guessing this sounds familiar to you, too!)

And the honest answer is, I don’t know.

I’m tired, after a long and rather stressful week.

I’m thrilled to have received a check in the mail for my first Intentional Creativity partnership workshop.

I’m grateful for having had much of yesterday to paint what moved me in the moment. Including big, free circles in both directions.

I’m sad and frustrated and utterly blown away by the news.

I’m blessed with food in my belly and in my freezer.

I’m deeply, deeply sad for the friend who lost a beloved dog.

I’m glad that Sarah is feeling well enough to go chasing some varmint around the back yard in the dark and pissed that, given her tendency to stubbornness, I had to go get her.

I’m hopeful and anxious about new things beginning in my world.

I’m sad that my kids feel far away.

And I’m blown away by a crazy new idea I’m just about going to have to make happen if I can talk the relevant folks into agreeing.

Well, you get the drift…

I learned one time in school that some famous therapist type said we could only feel one thing at a time.

I beg to differ.

Instead, I suspect that life is much more complicated than that and the assumption that we feel this way OR that adds, somehow, to the angst of paying attention.

(I also suspect that being tired complicates all the rest!)

So, what do we do?

Well, there’s soup on the menu for lunch tomorrow. Bird broth and lots of veg and a bit of local smoked chicken sausage.

A sprinkle of stardust certainly wouldn’t hurt!

A few things to cross off the list. The kind that just up the stress when they feel avoided.

And time for creating.

Quite possibly a nap.

Frittata for supper. Yummy and complete with leftovers. And maybe time to hatch up a plan for Valentine’s Day.

It won’t solve all the problems in the world. Or even for the people I love. And so I will add, along with my rather more traditional Presbyterian sorts of prayers, my personal version of the metta, or Prayer for Loving-Kindness:

May I, and all beings, be safe, healthy, happy, free from pain, and at ease. May we be filled with loving-kindness and at peace. 

It’s probably going to take a while longer. And it is, if we’re being honest, rather a lot to live in to. And yet, for me at least, it shifts a bit of my focus from how I feel — which may have a lot to do with weather fronts and weird dreams — and reminds me of what I intend.

That seems like a pretty good place to start.

You’re welcome to join me. I think we’re going to need all the folks we can get!

 

 

 

 

A New Holiday!

Hi! It’s me, Sarah.

We are celebrating a new holiday at our house… National Grateful for Dog Aunties Day!

Let’s be real… it takes a flock of Dog Aunties to keep a herd of Newfoundlands like us loved and cared for. (I suspect this may be true for your crowd, as well, be they 2-footed or 4-footed!)

We have lots of Aunties. Auntie Barb, who goes on walks with us. Auntie Karen who helps us stay healthy. (And sometimes sticks needles in me and hooks them to the little buzzy box.) And Auntie Kate and Auntie Gill who run the magical place called Camp.

I’m not always so thrilled with the needles business but it’s much nicer on my very own rug with Mom giving me treats than it would be otherwise.

Today we got a new Auntie. Well, I did. Phoebe and Luther were a little jealous.

Auntie Maren came to visit and she got down on my special rug with me too. She hugged me a lot and made things move in my bones that needed something called adjusting. I really, really liked the hugging part and Mom did her job with the treats so I think this could be a good thing.

We had to give Luther and Phoebe treats, too, when we were done, even though all they did was lay in the hall while I did all the work.

Mom’s trying to help me move around better without giving me too many of the things called pills. I’m not sure what pills are. I do know they come inside chicken hearts, which is cool, but Mom says I can still have chicken hearts with fewer pills in them.

If she thinks that’s good, she’s probably right.

Then Auntie Maren asked Mom about some of her paintings. Mom said that the thing she calls Intentional Creativity is kind of a way to adjust feelings and thoughts and dreams, just like Auntie Maren adjusted me.

Also, we’re supposed to keep eating really good food, which I totally agree with! Our supper is warming up on the counter right now! (Phoebe and Luther heard this, too, and were very excited!)

I also like blogging and I’m so glad I got a turn today. Mom says it’s cool that even though the Hallmark people (whoever they are) don’t have cards for National Grateful for Dog Aunties Day yet, we get to tell lots of people about it because I’m such a good blogger!

Mom also says she has to go watch CODEX paint videos before she can fix supper so I’m supposed to tell you about the special link she’s adding at the bottom of my blog so that you could find an Intentional Creativity Teacher near where you live. I think that’s a good idea. We like helping people paint! And Mom’s in the directory, too!

For now, though, I’m going to get a nice nap before supper. Getting adjusted can make you sleepy!

Love to you all, Sarah

Special Link! 

 

 

Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity® Color of Woman Teacher