Sometimes I Sort for Same!

There’s a concept in the field of Neuro-linguistic Programming that says that some of us sort for same and others sort for different. 

All boiled down, it basically means that some people prefer things they way they’ve always been. Tradition. Routine.

And others prefer variety and novelty and things we’ve never done before.

At least that’s the way I learned it.

With all due respect to my learned teachers, I think there’s something they forgot to mention.

Most of us do both! Here are a couple of examples I know best.

When it comes to music, I sort for same. I’ve actually had the same CD in my car for about five years! And I have about three choices for painting alone times. All of which I’ve known for at least 20 years.

Bill, on the other hand, sorts for almost everything when it comes to music, as long as it’s loud.

Food is a whole different deal.

I sort for variety. Novelty. Local food. Ethnic food. Darn near everything except snake, octopus, or bugs. As long as it doesn’t come in a cardboard box with cartoon characters on the label.

The Legendary Husband sorts for same in food. Same restaurants. Same order. (The “Bill Special”!)

Recently, I’ve had a new experience with food. You see, right around Thanksgiving last year, one of my favorite restaurants was closed due to smoke and water damage from a nearby fire.

I’ve really missed them! Noodle Decatur. 

As you probably guessed, noodle dishes. Bowls. Soups. All really good. (If you leave out the tofu!)

And, even better, dumplings. Just a few, for appetizers. If we’re telling the truth, fried pork dumplings.

And, best of all, sushi. Really, really, really good sushi.

I’ve tried other sushi, of course, in the long months Noodle has been closed. Finally, I gave up. And took to checking at least once a week to see when “the permit problems” would be resolved and I could, once again, have the food I missed so much.

Same order. Every time. Which is extremely sort for same-ish for me!

You guessed it… they’re open again!

Lunch. Virtually unchanged menu. Some of the same staff. (And some new guys learning to fold napkins.)

New tables. A bit more pared down decor.

Dumplings, yes. And my favorite sushi roll.

And I am, kind of oddly for me, relieved.

Which is, I guess, variety of a sort!

I tell you this story today, in the middle of my happy dance, knowing that if you’ve been hanging around for a while, you may have heard some of this before. That’s okay, though. You see, I think there’s an important reminder in here.

First, to borrow a bit of language from Bill Harris, most of us have more than one strategy for handling things, like choices.

Last week, after my fall, my strategy for dealing with food was pretty much whatever hurt least to reach. Today, an excursion to the land of familiar and comforting. Often… as often as possible… exploring new things. (Italian, house-made pasta with fresh shaved truffles comes to mind!)

And food isn’t the only thing for which we have strategies. How to mow the lawn. Or pay the bills. If it’s working, great. (Until your bank changes its system!)

Have you had the same argument 27 times with the same person?

Or backed into your trash can once a month for 3 years?

It might be time for some new strategies.

The good news is that we don’t have to give up the old ones to add new ones. Sometimes we just need some more choices.

Just now, after about 17 coats of paint (!) I’m developing a new strategy for hair on one of  my paintings. It didn’t happen all at once, this new strategy. It happened by going back, again and again, and listening to the outcome from each attempt. By learning from experiences that didn’t quite work and not giving in to old voices whispering “failure”.

I’m headed back to the studio next. Some different. A bit more same. A lot more learning.

And, it’s entirely possible that when my friend comes for lunch tomorrow, we may be back at Noodle!

Context and Puzzle Pieces!

It’s been a week of big bruises and recliner chairs and a fair number of pain pills since my fall.

The good news is that I wasn’t hurt badly and am healing well.

The other good news is that I’ve had some extra time for pondering. This is especially helpful as there is a lot to ponder in my universe these days. Much of it has seemed like deja’ vu.

Back when I was doing full time pastoral counseling, retreats, staff development and other interesting things along those lines, I often felt like my job was to take a jigsaw puzzle with no edge pieces and no picture on the box and try to help folks fit them together in a way that felt true.

Turns out that those are handy skills for making my way through the lands of Intentional Creativity and the neighboring territory of Red Thread Circle Guides.

Time out for a footnote…

The Legend of the Red Thread is an ancient tale common to many indigenous cultures across the world. From Asia to ancient Greece (Think Ariadne’s thread and the labyrinth…) to native peoples from South America to Alaska and beyond, there are references to the red thread as that which holds us together in community and helps us support, and be supported by, those whom we were destined to know.

There are even biblical and sacred art references to the red thread.

There are lots of those stories running through my head these days.

Also lots of pondering about the Body of Work that so many of us are building in our lives, whether we’re aware of it or not which, according to Maestra Shiloh Sophia, has something to do with my CODEX paintings, though I haven’t quite gotten that far yet.

One of my favorite things about the Red Thread legend is that we each have our part to hold but we’re not responsible for everyone else’s part. I find that very comforting!

This week, The Legend of the Red Thread and the notion of a Body of Work smashed into each other in my head when I was chatting with my granddaughters on the phone.

My piece of the Red Thread is, to the best of my ability, to live as fierce compassion in the world. From my girls and our three Newfie rescue dogs and those I teach to the food I grow and the fact that I vote.

I imagine the Red Thread as this enormous spider’s web that connects us each to another, to another, to another. (I learned this at summer camp when I was about 12, with actual red thread. Back then, we were talking about the environment.)

And I can feel that call to fierce compassion woven all through my life and work ever since, though I didn’t really know it consciously until this week.

I still don’t have a complete picture of what the puzzle looks like but I know a lot more than I did. And I’m not, in this moment, entirely sure that there are supposed to be edge pieces!

I’d love to know what kind of wonderings these rather rambling thoughts are bringing up for you.

For now, though, a phone call with a woman trying to help heal the impact of child sexual abuse in our world. Which sounds a lot like fierce compassion to me.

Then, the canine fine dining experience and some more green hair for my current opinionated painting!


One of the things I believe…

First, Confession: I’ve spent a fair amount of time, since my fall on Tuesday, binge watching Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix and floating around  in pain pill heaven, while smearing my knees and left hip with the magic Hawaiian essential oil stuff for muscles and joints.

We’d been invited, in a generous act of hospitality, to the Passover Seder with our neighbors. Sadly, I wasn’t quite mobile enough to go, though we did send chairs and wine.

Saturday night involved re-heating Mod pizza and more Grey’s Anatomy. The pizza was excellent, complete with olive oil, asiago cheese, sweet sausage, arugula, and the figgy drizzle. (Trust me!)

Grey’s Anatomy was a bit harder. The 13th episode from season 3 involves 2 young women who had left their Amish community, one of whom was dying of cancer and the other, being shunned because she had already been baptized before she left.

I’d seen this episode before. More than once. In a reminder, though, of the extent to which art is contextual, last night was harder.

I mean no disrespect to that tradition, about which there are surely many things I do not understand, but last night I was watching with Easter eyes. And I believe one of the things Easter means is that nobody gets shunned.

More confession. It’s not easy. There have been times in my life when I have felt shunned. And times when I have shunned others. Not because of their beliefs, so much, but because of their actions. Use your imagination. I’ll bet you have some, too.

And there’s a rather (in)famous one, these days, who’s quite gifted at shunning. I’m still working on that. Again, use your imagination.

But shunning people doesn’t create change. It just creates more shunning.

And less peace.

Which is not an Easter sort of thing. Nor, in my opinion, a spiritual sort of thing.

So, having pondered Maundy Thursday with a moment for an organic, local Georgia sourdough cracker and a glass of wine, and more or less missed Good Friday and the Passover Seder, I woke this morning in time to see the sun rise and keep working on the parts of me that have, in the past, understood shunning.

Watching the sky behind our pine trees turn pink, I committed myself to shout Hosanna and celebrate this day of days, while doing my best to welcome instead of shun. (Or at least recognize that this was the lesson of the one who is risen again.)

The artwork I chose for today helps. It is one of my photos of an ancient stained glass window from the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella in Florence, Italy. Not necessarily Easter-ish per se, but an image of love that moves and encourages me profoundly.

May love surround you and yours, whatever your traditions.

Blessings, Sue and the furry studio angels (who have a  great deal to teach about love themselves!)

(The hymn quoted above is Christ is Risen! Shout Hosanna! Contemporary lyrics by Brian Wren and music from Hymn to Joy, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. Grey’s Anatomy was developed and is produced by Shonda Rhimes.)

Some words from a wise friend and a demo painting…

Yesterday I led a workshop called Holy Polka Dots for some students at Columbia Theological Seminary. Our topic was an introduction to the practice known in Intentional Creativity land as praying in dots.

We began with this poem, from the book, Tea with the Midnight Muse from the very gifted artist and poet, Shiloh Sophia McCloud.

Just Dare

Dare to re-invent yourself
when you don’t know what that looks like yet.

Dare to dream bigger than
you feel comfortable dreaming.

Dare to love unreasonably,
even if you have been hurt.

Dare to practice radical self-love
even when you aren’t sure how.

Dare to practice big compassionate love
for others, even those you don’t know.

Dare to say yes to your own self
when family or friends don’t understand anymore.

Dare to not let fear get in your way,
and when it does, dare to keep moving.

Dare to be the most you that you can be
while accepting yourself right as you are.

Dare to discover what beautiful means,
to you and only you.

Dare to call yourself an artist, a poet,
a dreamer, a thinker, a revolutionary.

Dare to take passionate action
so that your fire will be lit within you.

Dare to take risks that make you feel hopeful
when you don’t know how it will all work.

Dare be a colorful being, and dance alone.
Dare to live. Dare to love. Dare to laugh.

Dare to not get it right. Dare to get back up.
Dare to live in amazing grace.


The group was so touched by the reading, and I with them, that I just had to share it with you, today.

I, literally, dared to get back up yesterday after a fall on the steps, re-loading the car after the workshop. I’m sore and bruised but, as far as I can tell, basically intact. (Nothing making creepy noises!)

The getting up was hard. And I’m grateful for two friends helping. The biggest thing I noticed, though, was that I had to figure out how to do it. And believe that I could, even though none of it made much sense. That felt like amazing grace. (Even though it hurt!) And something to share with our beloveds.

Here’s one more thing to share.

What will you dare???

Storm Warnings

The local weather folks are having one of those days they live for. Tornadoes, it seems, are likely. Any time now.

The big dogs have been out and are safely back in, jockeying for prime real estate on the bathroom floors after an uncomfortably warm night in which our air conditioner decided to take a break.

The first rumbles of thunder are muttering in the background. The wind is picking up.

I have hot water in a stainless thermos, lest we run out of tea.

It is another storm, though, that occupies my mind for yesterday I took my Black Madonna painting to the amazing digital arts studio for her turn to be scanned so that giclee images on paper can be made.

black-madonna-boardmanShe was painted in a storm, that one. While my dear friend was in the hospital, hurricane Irma raged on and I couldn’t get to Florida. And so, I made dots.

Prayed, literally, in dots.

I do mine with the handle end of the brush. You’ve heard the routine before. Dip. Dot. Dot. Dot. Dot. Dip. Repeat. Lots.

And with each dot a prayer. A word. An intention. In this case, names. Friend. Daughter. Mom. Irma (for all the folks in the path of the storm.)

Friend. Daughter. Mom. Irma. Hours at a time.

And now, as we wait and watch, I am preparing to set my first ever painting, the Black Madonna, free into the world where, maybe – just maybe – she will help others through their storms.

It was actually a pretty big trip to see my friends at digital arts studio yesterday, for we were picking up as well as dropping off! I have, right on my desk, the first few museum quality prints of my work!

With lots of help from Barry and Bill, the paperwork is close to done and my online gallery should be open this coming week. (Watch for more information!)

In the meantime, I’m contemplating entering my first juried show. The timeline is pretty tight and there’s some potential overlap with dropping off and picking up and Luther’s upcoming eye surgery. There’s part of me that just wants to paint, which sounds like a Muse thing but may actually be whispering from the inner Critic. I’m sorting.

Yesterday, though, we did a bit of celebrating progress and stopped at Ponce City Market for lunch. I’ll bet you can guess what I ate. (The Muse was very happy!)

For now, more tea, and a painting who wants green hair! A few dots for my kids who are skiing out West and quite a few more dots of thanks.

We made it through the storms with a bit of water in the basement and no trees on the roof. May it be so for all.

Grammy’s Manicure

My nails, in this moment, are ragged and ridged and spattered in paint. Mostly purple, just now.

Along with some fabulous help from the kid next door, who is one of my painting buddies, we spent the day doing intentionally imperfect, texture-y backgrounds for a workshop called Holy Polka Dots which is coming up on Tuesday at Columbia Theological Seminary. The theology and physiology of a practice known as praying in dots. (No painting experience required!!!)

Depending on the weather the next few days, my hands will also be stained with organic garden dirt, for I have seeds to plant.

Today I was invited to a Passover Seder at my neighbors’. A rather large gathering of 30-40 people.

My first reaction was, What can I bring?

My second was, Do I need a manicure? 

The answer to the first question is still in conversation. Wine seems to be the answer. I’m also going to volunteer for chicken broth, assuming matzo ball soup, but I’ve never been to a Seder before so I’m not sure where that will lead!

As for the manicure, no.

I am an artist.

And a gardener.

A pretty talented home chef of the local, sustainably raised, food persuasion. (Which creates a truckload of dishes!)

And “mom” to three rescue Newfoundlands who eat raw food which means I spend a fair amount of time up to my elbows in beef hearts and other grungy things.

I haven’t had a manicure since my kids got married. Both times.

It’s not that I’m against manicures. Especially the massage part. It’s just that I mess them up way too fast to make it a wise investment of time or money.

And, I’m pretty sure G-d doesn’t care what my nails look like. (Though they may well be covered in India Ink and spatters of gold paint!)

What I’m excited about is joining together with our different (and not so different) traditions.

My granddaughters are Jewish.

I can do part of the prayers in Hebrew, which would be a huge surprise to my Hebrew grammar professor. I was prouder of that C- than all the A’s through all the degrees, and there have been lots of them!

On Thursday, the 18th, I will break the bread and dip it in the wine and remember Jesus, gathered in the upper room with his closest followers and friends.

On Friday, the 19th, I will gather with the Legendary Husband and my neighbors, including my  paint buddy, and a whole host of people I don’t know and eat the bitter herbs and listen to the stories and do my best to make the world a more united place.

The people of G-d have been on a journey for a very long time. There are candles to light and questions to ask and chicken soup to make (I think!). And when we do it together, I’m convinced G-d will celebrate.

Even if I did almost flunk Hebrew!

And, then, on Saturday, I will paint some more. Because art and chicken soup are ways to help change the world.

P.S. Thanks to the good folks at the Ace Hardware on Scott Blvd. for their generous discount on the paint! Eleven more canvases to go! Be sure to check back here for photos of our finished paintings!





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