Needing So Many Dots…

It’s been a week for dots. Lots and lots of dots. And dots, in my world, mean prayers. It has assuredly been a week for that, as well.

From the tragic festival shootings in California and New York last weekend, to struggling friends, to rainforests, to last night’s debate, to the need for some embodied prayer in my own world………………………………………………… Dots!

This is, as many of you know, a whole person way of praying, or holding intention, that combines verbal/auditory, visual, and kinesthetic processes in a powerful way. (In this instance, the kinesthetic part is the movement of making the dots, as well as the feel of the brush on the canvas. If you use the handle end of the brush, as I do, it almost becomes drum-like.) Music that moves you adds to the journey. And, of course, favorite paint colors!

In this case, I began with a canvas already holding the drippy under layers of another painting, only begun. (It volunteered!) The limey green, purple, and orange are some of my favorite quilt colors, comforting and familiar.

Generally I make prayer dots while holding a particular word or name or thought in mind and repeating it (silently) with each dot. This week, my dots were doing double/triple/quadruple duty so I needed a slightly different plan and, like my canvas, the Metta Prayer (Or Great Prayer of Compassion) volunteered.

This is an ancient prayer, common to a variety of traditions and different languages, which, for me, kind of says it all, despite the fact that it is not a prayer they covered when I was in seminary!

I begin my dots with the specific names or events or challenges that are in my heart, making a dot for each.

Then, the first “verse” of the version I know best:

May I be peaceful.

May I be happy.

May I be well. 

May I be safe.

May I be free from suffering. 

Then repeat, substituting all people for I. 

May all people be peaceful…

And repeat again, substituting all beings for all people. 

Now, just in case you’re wondering, no, I can’t do all those words and make dots at the same time. Yet!

Here’s what I can do. Metta… Metta… Metta……………………………

It’s a bit like emojis, I’ll admit, but if I set my intention and focus, it really works. And decreases stress at the same time! One of those both brain hemispheres at once things, kind of like knitting which, by the way, works for praying, too!

If you want your dots to stay in distinct colors, do one color at a time and then get a cup of tea while they dry. Add more dots, one color at a time, until you feel complete in your prayer.

Small children, especially those experiencing grief or stress, can learn to make dots with their fingertips, repeating a name or an emotion, like sad, or a petition, like safe. (This may be best done outside!) Always be sure to use non-toxic paints, please. Or crayons on paper!

IMG_5668As I write this, I’m sitting in my magic chair, with my Liberated Flying Geese quilt which is, for me, a symbol of the Holy Spirit. It is also, providentially, backed with these amazing swirls of gem-toned dots!

Phoebe, our chief studio angel, is dozing on the rubber mat below my footrest.

Suddenly, she stretched and reached a back foot up where it brushed the bottom of my own foot, softly, a connection to a loving, living being that was a blessing in itself.

So be it for you, as well. Amen.

 

 

Time Travel… Past & Future!

Are you ready for an adventure?

We’re going time traveling! (Never mind, for a moment, notions of physics and philosophy which suggest that past, present, and future are all present now and now is what there is.)

We’ll begin with a quote from a book that is an old friend of mine:

A man and wife are one person in law; the wife loses all her rights as a single woman, and her existence is entirely absorbed in that of her husband. He is civilly responsible for her acts, she lives under his protection or cover, and her condition is called coverture.

A woman’s body belongs to her husband; she is in his custody, and he can enforce his right by a writ of habeas corpus.

What was her personal property before marriage, such as money in hand, money at the bank, jewels, household goods, clothes, etc., becomes absolutely her husband’s, and he may assign or dispose of them at his pleasure whether he and his wife live together or not.

A wife’s chattels real (i.e., estates) become her husband’s.

Neither the Courts of Common law nor Equity have any direct power to oblige a man to support his wife…

The legal custody of children belongs to the father. During the life-time of a sane father, the mother has no rights over her children, except limited power over infants, and the father may take them from her and dispose of them as he sees fit.

A married woman cannot sue or be sued for contracts — nor can she enter into contracts except as an agent of her husband; that is to say, her word alone is not binding in law…

A husband and wife cannot be found guilty of conspiracy, as that offence cannot be committed unless there are two persons.

Which, depending on where you are and how you got there, may explain a lot!

Now, a couple of questions.

What did you notice as you read? What did you wonder?

I’m betting that one of the things you’re wondering about is the source of this quote. I learned it from Carolyn Heilbrun’s magnificent book, Writing A Woman’s Life. The quote itself is from a pamphlet, Married Women and the Law by Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon in the USA, 1854.

It’s true that many of us are in a different place, today.

But, just in case you think we haven’t quite made it to the world we’d like our granddaughters to grow up in… or our grandsons, for that matter… what, then, do we do?

According to Professor Heilbrun, we need to “write” new stories about women’s lives.

Thus, we’re traveling toward the Future which is, in language and people I’m only beginning to know, already possible.

In fact, I have a flock of new friends working together on moving toward what our fearless leader, Julie Steelman, refers to as Financial Sovereignty. And, yes, I’m in a new class! It’s called Blossom and Roar.

We’ve only just begun and yet the connections and ironies are firing in my head a mile a minute.

I’m learning to ask different questions about money than the ones history has deposited deep within the consciousness of many women, even women of privilege, who grew up in families who lived in the days when  Bodichon was painting a word picture of life in the USA.

I’m learning new definitions for corporate financial buzz words that never really worked for me.

And, I’m stunned, in light of recent media attention on child sexual abuse and trafficking, by the materialization of the movie, Pretty Woman, somewhere in my cable TV universe last night, while I was busy pondering these words. Suddenly, a film I’ve appreciated for years, mostly for the journey and also for the final line, feels profoundly more important in the sense of things that need to be conscious.

So why all this today?

Well, because I have two granddaughters growing up in this world. Because it matters. And because the way to change things is to gather together and talk about them and allow them to be conscious. And to set aside any  notions we might be harboring that it’s just too hard or we don’t get it.

And to vote. (Painting helps, too!)

I’ll admit that these thoughts are a bit babbly and not fully processed at the moment, rather like the glimpse of my CODEX painting, above, but thanks for being here anyway! And, for this moment, a slightly edited reminder from my hypnosis training:

Take a deep breath. Wiggle your fingers and toes. Shake off the journeys, keeping only what’s helpful. Come back to where you are and be with you!

 

 

 

 

 

Catching Up!

Hi! It’s me, Luther.

Things have been pretty crazy lately, but Mom told me I could blog again whenever I was ready. I think I’m ready, now. Mom’s happy to type for me, especially since there are lots more people like you these days who might wonder what we’ve been up to.

In the time called May, I had eye surgery. Technically, I already couldn’t see, but had my eyes removed because they were growing things called cataracts and they hurt a lot.

It wasn’t fun. Mom and I had to be very careful that I didn’t scratch or run into things before my sutures were healed. That felt like a LONG time.

Then, my Auntie Karen came one day and it took a whole lot of time to get black (!) sutures out of my face. It really wasn’t much fun.

I’m doing better, now. My family and friends are learning to help me by saying words I understand. Step is one of my favorites because it tells me a very important thing.

I have a new outfit. It’s a harness that has signs on the sides that say, Luther. Blind. Friendly. People read it and want to be my friend, which I like a lot.

I also like people coming to paint. Mom has lots of friends who come and do Intentional Creativity ®. Frankly, that’s hard for me to understand, except that I run into easels now and then, but it makes them happy and we all hang out together and I think that’s a good thing.

Mom paints the most. We listen to music and sometimes she dances and sometimes she cries.

She always reminds Phoebe and me that crying is not a bad thing. Sometimes it means that you just feel things a  lot.

We understand that. We’re Newfoundland rescue dogs. Being a rescue dog is hard in a lot of ways. We’ve both been through times when we didn’t have enough love or food. Sometimes we were hurt. And we’re still missing Sarah.

Mom says there’s a painting called Apothecary like that. It has to do with turning tragedies into remedies.

I think remedy means that now somebody loves you and you are enough and there are more good days to come.

At least, I hope so.

It means that our girls love us, too. And loving ourselves also counts!

Today is our first day of what Mom is calling Radical Self Care. She says that if she takes better care of herself she’ll have more choices about things that are important to her. Dad is in charge of something called moral support.

Phoebe and I are important. And Mom and Dad are working really hard to help me have fun, even if I can’t see, which may be kind of like what she’s talking about.

There’s also a rumor that it might mean more of the thing called grooming. I’m getting better at that!

Sleep is sounding good tonight. And, tomorrow, more paint.

May whatever is sounding good to you be true, as well.

Love, Luther

PS… Phoebe says I should say that we didn’t spill the paint on the floor!

We don’t know…

When you’ve spent as much time as I have with most of your friends being ministers, therapists, and hypnosis gurus, you tend to pick up a lot of useful quotes. This one, which popped up on Friday,  comes from an ancient Sufi teaching story I’ve loved for years.

We don’t know if this is good news or bad news!

Here’s the short-ish version…

On Wednesday I started thawing local, grass-fed, sustainably raised bones for a big batch of beef broth.

Thursday afternoon, I roasted some of the bones and seared the well seasoned chuck roast for a rich, healing, satisfying stock. I soaked the raw bones in filtered water and organic apple cider vinegar, with “The Mother”, to help release the important minerals and collagen from the bones. Then, just before my paint buddy arrived for bonding over CODEX, moon 10, I fired up my biggest, most prized cauldron and started the magic.

Bones, meat, big hands full of herbs from the garden, bubbling away like the world’s best aromatherapy.

And bubbling on through the night.

About lunch time on Friday, we drained off a gallon or so of broth via the magic spigot at the bottom of the pot for my FODMAP diet friends. Then it was time to add heaps of Vidalia onions and organic garlic, along with some celery, parsley stems, and a dried Mexican pepper.

And more bubbling. And big dogs camped out in the kitchen.

Before dinner, we got things strained and cooled and into the fridge.

I was feeling like it was really good news! In addition to about three gallons of bone broth, I had figured out the next step on my painting, written descriptions for the new ones going up in my shop and made progress on the plan for an upcoming workshop.

Then, after dinner, I heard a bang and a bunch of #%*@* from the kitchen. It took a minute to extricate myself from the laptop and magic chair, while Bill yelled back that he was sort of okay.

When I got there, he was clutching a huge garbage bag, standing in  pool of broth, and picking up a bunch of big bones from the floor.

Ooops!!!

Garbage finally out, along with a roll of soggy paper towels, I started with the wet Swiffer magic.

Suddenly, there was the sound of glass breaking.

Somehow, the cauldron lid crashed into a wine carafe and a very useful measuring cup resulting in glass everywhere and more #%*@* from Bill.

Obviously, lots more cleaning ensued.

And laughing.

We don’t know if this is good news or bad news!!!

If I had to pick, though, I’d go with more good news than bad.

We have healthy, delicious, inexpensive food headed for the freezer and for our friends.

We just bought a new garbage can last weekend so nothing should leak out.

And, laughing is way better than yelling!

Mostly, though, we’ve had teachers who’ve helped us learn that good or bad isn’t always the most helpful question.

Often, it’s what do we do next?

Which is, by the way, an excellent notion to teach the littles in your world. It works for art, too!

According to the plan, the answer to that is to go pick up some more paintings from the magical scan land and add to my book of options. That’s pretty exciting!

So, by the way, are oysters!

Old Days… Good Times I Remember!

The year I finished 6th grade, I went to summer camp for the first time. I thought I’d found Heaven in a Florida state park with a bunch of women who were passionate about community and ecology. And singing One Tin Soldier.

Just now, my girls are at “sleep away” camp for the first time. They’re a little younger than I was. Their mama is a bit anxious. I am crossing all my fingers and toes and hoping that they have as profoundly important an experience as I had.

I had counselors I looked up to. And a director who taught me a lot about following what she believed. In many ways, it was my very early introduction to the Divine Feminine, before I ever knew the words. I also had a crush on the gentle, encouraging guy who drove the camp bus and chased off obnoxious dudes from across the river.

Being Florida, it was really hot. The mosquitoes were everywhere. I got poison ivy. And heat rash. Jean, our director and head bugle player, French braided my hair every day to keep it off my neck.

I learned, when it was my cabin’s turn to sweep the dining room after a meal, to pick the trash out of the dustpan and put the sandy dirt gently back outside where it came from.

I learned ghost stories and camp songs.

Not much of a singer, I found my place, which went on for about six years more, as the one who remembered all the words to all the songs from one year to the next.

(I still remember most of them, though I have a bit of trouble in the middle of Rathbone the Ogre!)

There were no iPads or cell phones in those days, though we got pretty excited about postcards at lunchtime mail call.

And we learned to macrame!

I suspect things are a bit different at Camp these days.

I hope, though, that my girls are having a blast. I hope they’re making new friends that they’ll stay in touch with until Camp next year.

I hope that they’ll feel stronger and more self-sufficient because of what they’re learning.

And I really, really hope that they’ll learn at least the sense of  One Tin Soldier even if they don’t quite know the words.

Yes, the world is a very different place than it was 50 years ago. And yet, the things that were important then are still important now. Probably more so.

Relatedness. Respect. Interdependence. Peace on Earth was all it said…

And s’mores!

I can’t wait to hear all about it!!!

 

 

 

 

Old Stories, Trees, and Hope!

Remember, for a moment, learning to ride a bike. Probably your story includes an adult with lots of advice. It might go something like this…

There you are on the bike, perhaps without training wheels for the first time.

Probably, as you’re reading this, without a helmet. (So glad we know better, now!)

In my case, on a suburban street, somewhere in the midwestern USA. (Please feel free to substitute accordingly!)

So, kid, bike, driveway, and the concerned adult mentioned above.

You set off, wobbly and, perhaps, more than a little anxious, with the concerned adult jogging along, holding onto the back of the bike, who finally lets go.

Your plan is to proceed down the driveway, turn at the sidewalk and make your way in triumph next door to show your friend how empowered you’ve just become.

One tiny problem. The concerned adult, who is totally focused on the very large tree off to the side of the driveway.

(Nevermind that the tree has been standing very still, just there, for 80 or 100 years!)

“Watch out for the tree,” yells the concerned adult. About 8 times.

And, you, finally liberated, in an entirely predictable fashion, smash your precious bike right into the tree.

Or, as some of my meditation friends would say, Where the attention goes, the energy flows

Which is to say, that if you’re totally focused on the tree, you’re probably going to hit it.

Now, I’ve known this story for years, in its therapeutic sense. Focus your attention on what you want, as opposed to what you don’t want.

Frankly, it’s harder than it sounds.

And, just between us, I’ve been having a bit of a cosmic reminder lately. You see, lately I’ve been focused, not for the first time, on Don’t be in pain! 

There are lots of reasons for that.

Frequent flyer miles with the knee surgeon. A couple of falls that weren’t quite serious but came pretty close. Some losses in my life. More than my average amount of stress, lately. And a bit of fear, here and there.

And, you guessed it, I hit the tree. Anxiety. Difficult dreams. Trouble sleeping. The kind of loss of strength that comes from the notion that being still is being safe.

Frankly, it hasn’t been working very well.

So, I’m making a different choice. A choice I’m calling, with thanks to the amazing Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy, Radical Self Care.

A choice like this takes a bit of preparation.

A bit of inspiring reading. Some pantry weeding. An uncomfortable amount of self-disclosure and asking for support. And, a bit of shopping. Organic fennel tea, local grass-fed soup bones, and my most essential colors of paint, along with a painting called Apothecary.

I begin, officially, a week from today.

Except for the fact that I’ve actually already begun. You see, my eyes are already on my friend’s driveway, instead of the big, scary tree.

I’m headed for where I want to be instead of where I don’t.

It won’t necessarily be an easy trip, especially the part that involves NO dairy or wheat for at least 2 weeks.

Today, though, when we had lunch at Stiles Fish Camp in Ponce City Market, after picking up a couple of my paintings from their adventure with the magical scanning machine, I practiced eating fabulous oysters without crackers!

(This is not something that we folks raised in Florida are accustomed to, but it actually worked!)

And, I have granddaughters watching. And paintings to paint. And prayer dots to make. And hope to share. So, eyes on where I want to be!

May it be so for you, as well.

From Ghoulies & Ghosties..

and long leggetie beasties and things that go BUMP! in the night, good Lord deliver us!

Let me start by saying that I am allergic to bee stings. (Wasps, too, for that matter. Yellow jackets.  Ants. The whole nine yards.) The Epi-pen carrying kind of allergic.

And, for many, many years, I was very, very afraid of the whole crowd known to my biology teacher as Hymenoptera. 

Then, I became a gardener. I began to be very concerned about the growing global crisis of rapidly dying colonies of bees.

I read Braiding Sweetgrass (recently) and The Secret Life of Bees (about six times!) and, slowly, I’ve begun to have a much more vivid appreciation for the pollinators among us.

(Honestly, I haven’t quite worked it out with fire ants, just yet.)

Today, though, I had a close encounter. I was out in the garden, trimming back some rogue grape vines which were attempting to take over the porch and picking some cherry tomatoes.

A bee came to visit me. As instructed by Sue Monk Kidd, I sent her love. I actually thanked her for her presence in my garden and all her hard work.

And then, as she buzzed back to where I’m allowing some of the arugula to bloom, and hopefully re-seed, I took three slow breaths, inhaling deeply of the scent peculiar to tomatoes on a hot summer morning, and went to greet Auntie Maren who is the official chiropractor for the studio angels.

I’m glad to know the ancient Scottish blessing about ghoulies and ghosties. It seems that they abound, in many forms, in our world these days.

I would imagine it has always been so. And there are, indeed, a few lurking in my world just now.

And yet, the one thing I know for sure is that fear is rarely our most effective way to meet them.

Thus, the question for today, courtesy of the wise and ever-amazing Shiloh Sophia McCloud comes from a Zoom meeting yesterday about what I’m learning to call metacognitive drawing, which is kind of like changing things by drawing while thinking about thinking. (Stay tuned!)

What, I’m wondering, are the next steps in allowing creativity to bloom in my life? 

If you don’t have a question of your own for today, I’m happy to lend you mine!

PS… the art today is a snipet from Honey in Your Heart, coming soon to Sue’s Shop!

 

 

 

Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity® Color of Woman Teacher