Grammy Becomes a Cheerleader!

I was not a cheerleader as a girl. I was the one stalking the sidelines of whatever the event, scribbling frantically in a spiral notebook and nudging photographers in the direction of the pics I needed, glad that the attention was on the stars.

I was a yearbook and newspaper kid. Also student council. Not nearly as cool as a star, perhaps, but much more me.

This week, 40-some years later, I became a cheerleader. A cheerleader stalking the edges of a community pool, clutching my cell phone camera, and joining in on cheers echoing from my own school days.

I cheered for my girls, of course. And their swim team members. I also cheered for the visiting team. And I cheered especially hard for the ones who finished last and still rejoiced in cutting seconds off their previous times or trying really hard.

I cheered for all the good sports and for the shy kids brave enough to leap in and give their all, whatever the process at hand.

And I cheered for the young man with the neon yellow tutu, a vibrant image of all-in, though I have no idea whether he won his races or not.

I cheered for paintings of Cosmic Cat and Daisy Dog and for baking and a fabulous first guacamole lesson.

It was a week of good reminders for me that we can all do some cheerleading in our lives, even if we’re not the pleated mini-skirt or yellow tutu kinds of folks.

Sometimes cheerleading involves jumping around, yelling, and clapping our hands sore.

Sometimes it involves a quiet Way to hang in there! and the awareness that we all need to feel seen and heard and significant.

Sometimes it involves a bigger-than-usual tip for the kind guy with the wheelchair who got me safely through the maze of trains and elevators and ramps at Dulles Airport, while beaming about his son in college and the one in med school.

Here are a few more glimpses from our week. May you find chances for cheerleading in the weeks ahead, wherever you discover yourself!






Tea-m Time!

It feels a bit like the Olympics in Grammy-land this week!

Swim meets and practice. Soccer practice. Team pictures. All this activity has had me pondering.

When I was the age my girls are, there weren’t teams for girls to join. At least not that I knew about.

There was gym class which, frankly, I decided might not be my thing right about the time we were supposed to climb ropes.

Later, in my awful blue gym suit, early in high school, I convinced my teacher that it was remotely possible that I might be the exception to the notion that everyone can do a cart-wheel. (I’m pretty sure I was right!)

Frankly, I know a whole lot more about tea time!

This week, watching my girls, I’ve begun to suspect I might have missed a few things so I asked them if we could talk about their experiences as athletes. Here’s some of what they told me…

Both girls (ages 9 and 11), who’ve also done gymnastics, agreed that the best thing about being on sports teams is hanging out with their friends and learning cool new things.

Kenz says Field Hockey is her favorite team because the girls are really nice and it’s just a fun game to play. When asked about her coach, she grinned and said, “My mom is my coach so everything is awesome about my coach!”

Tay likes travel soccer best so far and thinks it’s cool that her coach helps with skills they want to learn. She also says it’s really hot if you play in the summer.

Kenz says it’s hard that sometimes everybody doesn’t get along and sometimes you wish you were a bit better at things like stick work.

Both girls are working hard at specific things and Kenz thinks it’s important to encourage other girls on the team. Tay says sometimes she plays defense when nobody else wants to and tries really hard.

I asked them what they’d say to other girls (and boys) considering team sports and the answer was a resounding, “Yes! Definitely do it!”

And, just for fun, here’s a pic of 3/5 of the family crab eating team!





A Visit to Roy G. Biv

Kleenex alert…

We memorized a whole lot of things in my 9th grade biology class.

You probably remember the one about the very educated mother who just served her crowd nine pickles, in which case I suspect you’re still missing Pluto, too.

The entire kitchen patrol company of Girl Scouts business by which we learned the classification of animals and plants wasn’t my favorite. Especially the part about spelling them all in Latin.

I was however, a big fan of Roy G. Biv, also known as the colors of the rainbow.

That was before I knew the legend of our dear fur kids crossing the rainbow bridge when they leave this life.

We had one of those episodes this week when our beloved Sarah passed on. And writing this is hard because Sarah never met a stranger. She loved everybody and many, many of you loved her.

Honestly, I’m not up to all the details just yet. The important part is that the fear and the pain are past.

And, because we live in a house built before the “discovery” of seasonal affective disorder, which we’ve attempted to solve with lots of filtered skylights, there have been what feels like even more rainbows than usual.

There are two things I’m counting on right now. The first is a vision of Sarah romping under the rainbows on a gorgeous beach with a whole tribe of Newfoundland friends.

The second appeared in some words of wisdom from the young man who lives next door and is a paint buddy and a big fan of the studio angels.

“I don’t think you should be sad,” he said. “Sarah won’t hurt anymore.”

“I think you should be happy because of all the people she helped.”

While I’m practicing his particular form of wisdom, I’m painting and then, blessedly, heading off to spend a few days painting and baking and gluing buttons to things with my girls. There will also be swim team involved!

For today, a rainbow for you. And huge hopes for whatever comfort and peace you might be seeking.

Phoebe and Luther will fill you in when they rest up after Camp.

The painting pictured above is a Heart of Gold process known as Our Lady of Flowering Earth, gone completely rogue. I suspect Sarah is in charge!



The Days of Game Shows and Nancy Drew

Back in the dark ages, when I was a kid, I liked passwords. I liked the game show on TV that was fun to watch with my Granny. I also liked the sleuth-y sense of the Nancy Drew books.

I do not like passwords these days!

A recent encounter with a phishing scheme and some overlooked need for updates found me, trusted laptop in hand, at the Apple Genius store last week.

My personal genius was a delightful young woman who knew lots of things and was willing to repeat them as often as I asked, all while asking me to put in my password about 97 times.

She pushed a lot of keys having something to do with making malware go away, showed me some photo editing stuff (which is actually useful!) and even showed me how to know what a particular update would change.

Or at least what it was supposed to change.

I was feeling oddly comfortable. Enough to cruise through Dillards and snag a few of my all time favorite paint shirts at the 66% off Fathers Day sale. Yay!

Then, as instructed by the Genius, Bill did the big update, because apparently it took too long for me to take up space in genius land.

And, to his credit, it seems to work great.

Except for the minor fact that it kicked out all my passwords and doggedly insisted that I change them. As I mentioned, I do not like passwords these days.

Fast forward 4 days or so, and I’m still not enjoying the password thing. I’ve grown to actively despise the tattered little spiral notebook that’s never worked really well but was at least a place to start.

I have, however, spent way too much time feeling frustrated and pissed at whomever thought up this whole evil system.

Then, a new thought appeared like a miracle in some distant corner of my brain that wasn’t totally occupied with being annoyed.

I could get a new book! One chosen for it’s rather cool, old-ish design that almost has a Hobbit-like feel to it.

And I could take it with me on my trip to Grammy-land next week. You see, I know some girls who would be delighted to pick 3 or 4 random pages each and color me some surprise pictures in my snazzy new book.

I will probably still find passwords annoying, but I won’t mind looking them up and writing them down nearly so much.

And, way better even than that, my girls will have a chance to feel significant because they will truly be helping Grammy with something they’re no doubt better at than I am.

Win! Win! Win!

For now, I’m off to feed the dogs and hope that my friends at Amazon have made my magical new book appear so I can take its picture for you.

Magic, of many kinds, abounds!

Including the kind where Amazon doesn’t bring your magic book in time to post the blog so you whip out your magic cell phone, take a pic off the Amazon page, edit a bit, and post that! 

An Unusual Topic Around Here…

When Bill and I were co-pastors of a new church development in the mid to late ’90’s, we had a deal. I preached on Fathers Day and he preached on Mothers Day. They’re not easy Sundays!

Ignoring for the moment that these are not technically religious holidays with biblical stories attached (especially Mothers Day!), they’re hard days for very many people.

I remember the stories so well. The parents who had lost, or never had, beloved children. Those who had lost parents since the last Hallmark holiday. Those whose children and grandchildren were struggling in the world. Those who lost children to HIV and violence  and drugs and cancer.

Today is, at least in the USA, Fathers Day.

My emotions run amok!

I am blessed with a husband who is a good and kind and caring father.

My son is also a good and kind and caring father.

I miss my dad.

I feel for the women in my family, and across the world, who knew or know men who are not good and kind and caring.

There is much to be done!

This year, however, neither of us is preaching, and as much as I cherish that part of my calling, I’m also called to admit that this is not entirely a bad thing.

Instead, a fast trip to the hardware store for (maybe, just maybe) a fig tree, and a gallon of white paint, as directed by my new buddy, Barry, at

Noodle for lunch, complete with fortune cookies!

Hopefully, time to chat with the kid-dad who just might find a break from coaching whatever matters to his girls this week and tossing something fish-y on the grill.

And the blessing of knowing that when we get a minute to talk about some hard stuff  in the next few days, that same kid-dad will take time to listen.

And hug the girls for me.

By next week, I’ll be there with live and in person hugs. It doesn’t get much better than that! (Well, maybe a heap of crabs on a table covered with newspaper, too!)

Not to mention red thread and sparkly paint and swim practice and a bit of really good chocolate wrapped in something gluten-free. Check back for the recipes!

For tonight, a few more buttons and Ana Marina (Our Lady of Living Waters) will be done! Watch for the update!!!

Blessings where you are!

(And the fig tree, it seems, will be happier planted in the fall. Maybe we’ll have another holiday!)





Button Therapy!

How do you de-stress?

We all have our favorite ways. I knit prayer shawls and brush dogs and make quart after quart of bone broth. Watering the garden works. Binging on The West Wing works, as long as I avoid current news at the same time!

Turns out, gluing buttons to paintings works, too.

It would be a bit better if I didn’t have to keep stopping to clear out the little nozzle thing on the glue, but that’s okay.

I’ve loved buttons for years. I recycle them from Bill’s shirts when they outlive their useful lives. I buy pint Mason jars full in vintage stores. White and ivory, mostly tiny, I use them for quilts and glue them to lampshades. (Well, I did glue them to lampshades before I took all the fabric off the vintage lampshades and just went with the frames!)

These days, paintings. And, as I was in grave danger of running out, I actually broke down and bought spare buttons from Amazon. Two bags full. Wildly mixed sizes.

The first task, sorting. Tiny. Medium. Larger.

Then, practicing well-balanced randomness. Also known as randomesque. (Actual random is pretty hard!)

Non-toxic glue. A bit finicky but safe and it dries really clear.

I’m taking some to my kids. Buttons, glue, and picture frames. I’m about to be in charge of Grammy Camp for a week!

For now, it doesn’t solve all the problems, even in my world. It does have a fascinating mix of flow and structure. (Read that right brain – left brain.) And it’s just fiddly enough to be distracting. I could use a bit of distracting about now.

And a bit of sleep.

Tomorrow, about five hours of painting. Yay!!!

Some new photos for a MOO printing project.

Bill, blessedly, in charge of dinner.

And, according to FedEx, some fabulous pasture raised eggs and a big box of frozen dog food. (Sorting the freezer is not nearly as relaxing as sorting buttons!)

Along with a reminder that there are some things in life that we have to learn again and again. Some days I think I’d change that if I could. Instead, notes.

And hugs for all of you who are learning the hard things just now.

Sorting buttons helps.

Smart Dogs and Feng shui Teachers

We got our first family dog when I was two years old. His name was Charley Brown the Beagle Dog and what I remember most about him is that he was soft.

My mom remembered that trying to potty train a puppy and a two year old child at the same time was, shall we say, not quite sane.

I’ve been watching dogs, and learning from them, pretty much ever since.

One of the conclusions I’ve reached is that a big difference between dogs and people is that dogs don’t spend a lot of time fussing and fuming about the way things “ought to be”.

I have, occasionally, been known to do a bit of that fussing and fuming.

We’ve had more than a bit of a drought going on in the Southeast U.S. (I say this with compassion for all the folks in the middle of the U.S. who have been having quite the opposite experience.)

My baby collard greens have been crispy around the edges and there has been much wrestling with stubborn garden hoses involved. And a bit of playing drinking fountain for tiny green dragons.

Yesterday, however, it rained. Stormed, actually. A lot. And I was out picking up art.

I did a bit of muttering about what might have been more convenient for me.  The dogs just got wet which, being Newfoundlands, worked fine for them.

Lunch, on the other hand, was delightful, if more than a bit damp.

Then, the painting known as the Muse was apparently off duty last night as my dreams were way more nightmares than inspiration. (There are reasons for this but they’re not all that relevant just yet.)

Our internet and cable service have been out almost all day, presumably having something to do with yesterday’s monsoon.

Still, I had things to do.

I started with the next layer on a painting, which may become known as Our Lady of Flowering Earth (Visits Italy!).

Then I sorted buttons for the finishing steps of my first mixed media work.

All of which was useful, but left me restless and wishing I was napped out with the dogs.

Then I decided a bit of Feng shui was in order.

To the best of my understanding, Feng shui is the ancient Asian art in which energy and intention come together. (Which sounds rather like Intentional Creativity!)

In a very simplistic sense, the practitioner decides what she is trying to accomplish, generally in the areas like health, relationships, and abundance.

A compass and a dust rag generally come next.

Then, following a whole lot more tradition than I quite grasp yet, it’s time for rearranging art and accessories and so forth to make space for the desired outcomes.

Here’s what I do understand. It’s all about energy. And my favorite part of all the Feng shui I’ve learned is that it takes more energy to ignore things that aren’t working than it does to adjust things to get them to work better!

Today, lots of sketching of things I couldn’t quite manage alone. Serious re-arranging of books so that they’re now in parts of the den reinforced by their topics.

All with frequent breaks for gluing buttons.

It’s hard to say what will happen next. I just know that I’m spending less time muttering about what’s wrong and actually moving toward where I’d like to be.

I imagine the dogs are proud. Especially since I gave them wild salmon trim for dinner! I suspect I’m going to be clinging hard to this way of being for the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime… more dog brushing. It’s good Feng shui, too!

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