Miracles!

This season is always a reminder of miracles, for me.

Our Christmas tree is still lighting its corner of the family room, while Phoebe and Luther wander around searching, each in their own way, for the miracle of four much loved family members, now headed back to their more usual home.

Next door, our neighbors’ house is ablaze with a celebration of the eighth night of Hanukkah and the miracle of the light that lasted much longer than anyone could have expected.

The Legendary Husband and I have spent considerable time playing Furniture Yahtzee, as is our tradition.

And I’ve been reflecting on smaller, more personal miracles.

Take a minute to check out the photo at the beginning of this post. A miraculous gift from a dear paint sister, it’s a silicone thing originally meant to scrub pots and pans. Turns out, it’s the greatest paint brush cleaner ever!!!

And quite handy, given the fact that there’s been a whole lot of painting going on in the studio.

Here are three masterpieces by my talented and persistent girls.

IMG_6557

 

IMG_6555

IMG_6556

And a piece we worked on together… three generations of Boardman women.

IMG_6552It began, as my work so often does, with drips. Then a chance for everyone to try out a palette knife and some heavy body paints Santa brought.

Then, some wisdom borrowed from Jassy Watson’s Tree Woman process, inspired by things that grow where we live, at least when it’s not winter!

And dots. Stamped dots. Dots made with the bristle end of brushes, and dots made with the handle end, as I so often do.

I’d even go so far as to say miraculous dots, for they were made with intentions and prayers of healing for dear friends who could use a great deal of that just now.

And then one more masterpiece. You’ll have to help me with this one. I didn’t get a picture as we drove by, so a bit of imagination is in order.

Yesterday, Bill and I were headed home from picking up a print at Digital Arts Studio and lunch at my favorite local oyster joint, Stiles Fish Camp.

We stopped in the spitting rain for a red light at an intersection with a big church on one corner. It’s changed names recently and I’m not really sure what it is, these days.

That wasn’t the part of the sign I was reading.

You know the kind. The ones with the moveable letters behind glass doors.

About that time, the light changed, and I’m not sure I got this just right, but here’s the jist of it:

A brighter future does not lie in wishing for a different past.

If you happen to be near Atlanta, moving toward some miracles of your own, click here!

 

Amazing Peace

Greetings and Blessings, Dear Ones!

The sun is just up, this Christmas morning. The rest of the gang are still sleeping. I’ll post some pictures later. For now, Mama Maya’s poem, Amazing Peace,  which seems, in the way of all creating, like all there really is to say in this moment…

Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes
And lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.
Flood waters await us in our avenues.
Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to avalanche
Over unprotected villages.
The sky slips low and grey and threatening.
We question ourselves.
What have we done to so affront nature?
We worry God.
Are you there? Are you there really?
Does the covenant you made with us still hold?
Into this climate of fear and apprehension, Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air.
The world is encouraged to come away from rancor,
Come the way of friendship.
It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Flood waters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.
Hope is born again in the faces of children
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth. Brightening all things,
Even hate which crouches breeding in dark corridors.
In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now. It is louder.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.
We tremble at the sound. We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war. But, true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.
We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Peace.
Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you, to stay a while with us.
So we may learn by your shimmering light
How to look beyond complexion and see community.
It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.
On this platform of peace, we can create a language
To translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.
At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ
Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.
We shout with glorious tongues at the coming of hope.
All the earth’s tribes loosen their voices
To celebrate the promise of Peace.
We, Angels and Mortals, Believers and Non-Believers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at each other, then into ourselves
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation.
Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul.


Hailed as a global renaissance woman, Dr. Angelou was a celebrated poet, memoirist, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist. She passed away on May 28, 2014.
 
This is reprinted from Women You Should Know, with thanks.

Granddaughters Eve

Tomorrow the people census at our house will triple! Plus, of course, a couple of people-sized dogs.

I can’t wait!

My left knee is somewhat skeptical. Here’s what I’ve learned tonight…

It’s considerably harder to do laundry when I’m home with just the beasties, carrying my cell phone everywhere and trying hard to remember the walking stick. Think I’m down to just one more load. (Dog laundry goes last, for obvious reasons!)

Our Christmas tree is up, complete with lights, so the girls can decorate tomorrow. Their daddy, who is the unofficial family king of Christmas lights will no doubt help, too. And probably be sad that we’re not so much for outdoor lights.

From time to time, between re-hanging a lot of art and mixing up a snack mix of dried cranberries, sliced almonds, shredded coconut and, of course, dark chocolate chips, I’ve been pondering the Solstice.

This is, apparently, one of the things I missed in nursing school and seminary!

I don’t know Solstice rituals, unless they include cleaning out the fridge and hanging a Cosmic Cow painting by my dear friend, Elizabeth Hudson, down low on a wall where it will keep the younger of the granddaughters company.

I’m also contemplating light and dark, especially this year. In my recent eye exam I learned that my left eye is just on the borderline of clinical glaucoma. All I can tell you so far is that the scan looks quite different from the right one. And, I spend a whole lot of time turning lights on in the house.

The latest news is that the insurance company has graciously agreed that it might be best to let me have the drops to which I am not allergic, rather than the less expensive ones that create all sorts of swelling and hives.

It seems to me to be the obvious choice but I’ve decided to be grateful nonetheless.

I’m looking forward to lots more light.

Especially the kind with two feet and big hugs!

I’m also looking forward to a 48×48″ painting in a colorful, abstract, experimental style that we can work on together. (I’m in charge of paint shirts!)

Also, perhaps, intention. At least mine.

By choosing your thoughts, and by selecting which emotional currents you will release and which you will reinforce, you determine the quality of your Light. You determine the effects that you will have on others and the nature of the experiences of your life.

-Gary Zukav, quoted by Flora Bowley

Tomorrow there will be more light! For now, last year’s Solstice painting!

p.s. They’re here!!!

St. Linus and the Bwankie

I can’t remember exactly where I saw this, so please hear me say that this is me telling a wise story I learned from someone else.

You probably know the brilliant, comforting saga of Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang at Christmas. (Some days it’s hard for me to believe that my girls are watching the exact same show I watched when I was their age!)

Well, the aforementioned wise person noticed, probably the umpteenth time they’d seen the show, that Linus, who resisted all attempts to part him from his beloved blanket, finally did the meta blanket drop, in the midst of that very show. It’s when he did it that’s the amazing part!

Through the miracles of modern science, and my friends at YouTube, here’s the one minute and 22 second clip you need to get on board:

Please watch so you can see it for yourself. (Santa will know if if you cheat.)

Fa….la….la….la…..la….keep watching….just a little longer….la…..la….la….la….

Consider the abundance of punctuation to be prayer dots.

Good job!

Yes! Linus let go of his blanket just as he said, “Fear not…”

Really!!!

Yesterday, I was so glad I’d been reminded of this miracle. You see, yesterday I did my first solo art market/holiday party. Planning. Packing. Unloading the car. Set up. The whole market deal. (Including trying to deal with a *?@$ new card reader!) Take down. Load car. Muster energy to drive home in cold and dark and traffic.

All of it. Except for loading the car beforehand, which the Legendary Husband was blessedly able to help with.

And, just between us, I was more than a bit anxious about the whole thing.

Having people see my art is scary enough. Especially people I don’t know. Needing to set it up all alone was scarier still.

For a few hours Monday night, tired and really sore from too many trips up and down the basement steps and more than the usual amount of long-jumping the Studio Angels, aggravated, I suspect, by a weather front, I seriously considered staying home.

I’m so glad I didn’t!

I set some art prints and cards (and hats!) free in the world. I also “accidentally” sold my hat-viewing mirror to a woman who explained, with tears in her eyes, that it reminded her of one her grandmother had when she was small. And a pink quartz heart that went along to be part of my Feng shui!

I heard some great stories and made some new friends.

I also re-connected with an old friend who laughed when she read my business card and promised to send me information about a local group of grandmothers who are, “all activists”. Sounds like my kind of crowd!

Most of all, though, I learned that if I pack really intentionally (!) I can do this market thing almost all by myself.

The tent is a different issue!

Somewhere, I hope Linus is grinning. The whole “Fear not” thing feels pretty good in the ways that matter most.

Knees and back, maybe tomorrow!

Oh, and just in case you missed the market, or are an online sort of shopper, you can find my work at the Wild Oats and Billy Goats gallery on the Decatur square or at my virtual collection.

For this moment, it’s tea and feet up while the washer and dryer do what we pay them for!

Big Block of Cheese Day

Yes, I’m still among the top 10 fans of The West Wing! You’ll never guess where those mythical American leaders showed up this time…

Friday, I was watching the opening livestream for a new Intentional Creativity ® class called World Soul. Led by Adriana Medina and Shiloh Sophia McCloud, it has to do with cultures and perspectives and how each of us views our place in the world.

The opening Red Thread Cafe conversation was both fascinating and moving in the sense of recognizing that there is always more awareness to be embraced. As I sat, running my red thread through my hands and reflecting on things that helped my world grow, I realized I was humming.

It took me a minute to realize that I was humming the theme music to The West Wing. Then, suddenly, I figured out why.

It had to do with episode 16 in Season 2, –  Somebody’s Going to Emergency, Somebody’s Going to Jail. “This broadcast has often been referred to as the best episode of West Wing to ever air”  (Editorial review, Amazon.com).

Imagine, if you will, the voice of a gruff but enlightened White House Chief of Staff named Leo McGarry explaining, in the midst of a morning staff meeting, something very close to…

President Andrew Jackson had, in the main foyer of his white house, a 2-ton block of cheese. It was there for any and all who were hungry. 

In this spirit, from time to time, we ask senior staff to open their office doors to those who have difficulty getting the ear of the White House…

Yes, this was a while ago… but are you there already??? (Netflix or YouTube will be glad to help you out!)

Press Secretary, C.J. Cregg, was assigned to meet with a fictional group of Cartographers for Social Equality who re-educated members of the President’s staff on their perceptions of the globe by lobbying for support for the Peters Map to be used in every public school classroom in the USA.

This map looks quite different than the one I remember from geography class. I’m guessing it looks different from the one you remember, too!

The main difference lies in the accurate proportional sizes of continents and countries. It can also be turned south side up which caused C.J. to stammer, What the hell is that?

The cartographers replied, It’s where you’ve been living this whole time. 

There’s more to the episode, and it’s one of my favorites.

For our purposes, though, I suspect I was humming the WW theme because, somewhere in my consciousness, I was aware that the painting journey on which I was about to embark was going to take me farther still from the place I was raised to think I’d been living this whole time.

Just between us, with the new gallery, holiday art markets, and the kids coming, I haven’t started the actual painting yet but I’m already noticing and wondering new things, thanks to Adriana and Shiloh and Aaron Sorkin, et al.

I’ll keep you posted!

And I did get an extra copy of the map to send home with my girls!

p.s. It seems that President Obama was a fan of WW, too. Big Block of Cheese Day is reported to have actually happened during his presidency!

We Really Don’t Know…

It’s been a bit of a day. The kind of day that brings to mind a story that is, in my world, both important and uncomfortable.

I learned it as an ancient Sufi teaching story. It is teaching me still…

The Wise Old Man at the Top of the Mountain

Once upon a time, a very, very long time ago, there was a farmer. The farmer lived in a small village in a far-away land, near a mountain.

One morning the farmer got up and went out to care for his animals. As he went about his chores, the farmer, who was very poor, noticed that his cow was missing. “Oh, no!” cried the farmer. “Whatever will we do?” The farmer was very upset and he had no idea what to do next. As the day went on, the farmer became even more unhappy. Finally he decided that he had to do something. There was only one thing he could think of to do.

He walked sadly down the little road until it started to lead up the mountain. The farmer climbed and climbed up the mountain. His feet hurt and it was beginning to get cold, but still the farmer climbed. When he got to the top of the mountain, he found a cave where there lived a wise old man.

“Farmer!” called the wise old man, for he was used to having visitors like this. “Come in. Sit by the fire. Have a cup of tea. And tell me what brings you here today.”

The farmer bowed to the wise old man and accepted his cup of tea. And then, with a shaking voice and a tiny tear in his eye, the farmer told the wise old man that his cow was gone. Disappeared.

“How will my family live?” the farmer asked. “We need the cow for milk and to plow our fields. Without her, we will starve.”

The wise old man set his tea down and he began to pull on his long skinny beard with one of his hands, as he looked deep into the farmer’s eyes. “We don’t know,” said the wise old man, “whether this is good news or bad news.”

The farmer leaped up, dropping his tea on the floor. This man wasn’t wise! Clearly losing their cow was terrible news. And off the farmer went, stomping down the mountain and muttering to himself about the crazy old man.

Several days went by. The farmer spent a lot of time telling his neighbors about his trip up the mountain and how strange it was that the old man just said, “We don’t know if this is good news or bad news.”

The next morning the very worried farmer got up and went out to begin his work. There, much to his surprise, was his cow. And not only his cow, but a big, strong bull as well. The farmer was so surprised and so happy that he dropped his tools and went, as fast as he could go, back up the mountain to see the wise old man.

“Come in,” the wise old man greeted him. “Sit down. Have a cup of tea.”

The farmer was so excited he was nearly bursting with his news.

“Tell me what brings you here today,” said the wise old man.

“Well!” said the farmer. “I got up this morning and there was my cow. She came home! And not only that, but there was a beautiful, strong bull in the yard as well! Our family is saved! We’ll be rich!”

The wise old man set his tea down and he began to pull on his long skinny beard with one of his hands as he looked into the farmer’s eyes. “We don’t know,” said the wise old man, “whether this is good news or bad news.”

The farmer had never heard anything so silly in his life! Of course this was good news! And off the farmer went, stomping down the mountain and muttering to himself about the crazy old man.

Some more time passed.

One day, the farmer’s son, who was just learning to use the plow to dig up the earth for planting, hitched the big, strong bull to the plow and began to work. It was a nice, sunny day and the farmer’s son was thinking about many things. Suddenly, a very large bee flew up and stung the bull right on his nose.

Well! The bull bellowed really loudly, as bulls are known to do, and began to run. The farmer’s son wasn’t strong enough to hold on to the plow. He fell over right in the field and heard a loud sound coming from his leg. Suddenly his leg began to hurt more than anything had ever hurt before. All he could do was sit in the dirt and watch as the bull dug up the earth and ran, as fast as he could go, right through the fence and away down the road.

The farmer, who loved his son, heard him crying and went running to see what was wrong. There was his dear son on the ground. The field was destroyed where it was all dug up. The bull had clearly crashed through the fence and run away. The farmer did not know what he and his family would do so he did the first right thing. He went and got the village doctor who came and cared for his son.

The boy’s leg was broken. The doctor tied tree branches to each side of it, as they used to do long ago, and wrapped it tight with some old pieces of cloth. The farmer and the doctor carried the boy to a small porch on the front of their tiny home. The doctor said the boy would have to stay there for many weeks and would not be able to walk.

The farmer was more and more upset. In fact, he was more upset than he’d ever been. Finally, because he didn’t know what else to do, he went and climbed slowly up the mountain.

“Come in,” the wise old man greeted him. “Sit down. Have a cup of tea. Tell me what brings you here today.”

The farmer was so upset he could barely talk. Finally he managed to explain what had happened. His field was ruined. The bull was gone, and with him the plow. And his dear son’s leg was broken and would not heal for many weeks.

The wise old man set his tea down and he began to pull on his long skinny beard with one of his hands, as he looked deep into the farmer’s eyes. “We don’t know,” said the wise old man, “whether this is good news or bad news.”

With that, the farmer flung his tea cup to the ground and went stomping down off the mountain, threatening to tell everyone he knew that the wise old man was not wise at all, but mean and just plain crazy.

The farmer was so angry he could barely do his work. A few days passed as he cared for his son without crutches or wheelchairs or any of the things we might use in our time.

Then, one morning, the farmer woke to all kinds of noise in the village. There were soldiers from far away on the road, with wagons, capturing all the young men of the village to go and fight in a war. People were crying and begging that their sons not be taken.

The farmer’s son couldn’t go, because of his broken leg.

When the soldiers had left the village, the farmer went and fixed tea for his son and himself. And he pulled a bit at his long, skinny beard and said, with a light of understanding in his eye, “We really don’t know, do we? (Boardman, Grandmothers Are In Charge Of Hope)

There is a mountain nearby but I’m pretty sure it’s lacking this particular kind of  wise old man, and my right SI joint is cranky and it’s pretty cold, at least for Atlanta, or I’d be out there, watching the full moon and looking for wisdom.

As it is, I’m grateful for about an hour and a half with a tribe of women on a virtual mountain called  Zoom who are asking, and pondering, some really important questions. And, somehow, that connection makes it easier to live with some of the not knowing.

After all, life is for learning! Which may just be the most important thing we have to share, with ourselves and with all those we love. Especially the littles.

 

Wonders Abound!

Not too long ago I was thrilled to be part of an online class led by Sam Bennett of The Organized Artist Company. Sam is one of those people who come to be friends because they’re already friends with people you love and respect.

Sam is also comfortingly quirky which may be why she was teaching a whole herd of artsy types about “Weird Ways”  to earn about $2,000 before the end of 2019!

I learned lots of useful things that have taken root and bloomed in my holiday art markets and in a whole new way of thinking about signs and letting people know how to help make a difference in the world.

I also learned that when we open the door to a bit of newness, MORE has a habit of inviting itself in! It’s one of those energy things.

Here’s what happened next…

On Wednesday, I had lunch with a paint buddy and we took a bit of a field trip to a local boutique art gallery called Wild Oats & Billy Goats. I’ve loved it for years and treasure several things that have followed me home from their fabulously varied collection.

While we were there, I asked if they were looking for new artists.

They were!!!

IMG_6447One thing led to another and, by noon on Friday, I was the newest artist at Wild Oats & Billy Goats!!! (And yes, I’m thrilled!)

For Atlanta area friends, they’re on the Decatur Square and are easy to spot. There’s a herd of metal goat sculptures on the sidewalk!

There’s also an online gallery. I have descriptions to post!!!

A Heart for the World is there, eager to meet you, along with several of her friends.

Then I spent some more time hanging out with Sam yesterday and I have a business name now, too!

The Fiercely Compassionate Artist ®

And a “headshot” (which some of you have seen before) to go with it… a portrait of “Grammy” by my granddaughter, Kenzie!

IMG_4459

All of which feels totally wonder-full.

So does the fact that Bill and I cleaned out and sorted our people-food freezer today. Not as artsy, perhaps. But, a wonder-fully weird way to “earn” money by actually being able to find, and eat, what’s been hiding in there!

Warm food for the Cold or Long Nights Moon which will occur on Thursday, December 12, at 12:12 am ET. Which, as I think about it, is a bit of a wonder, itself!

Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity® Color of Woman Teacher