The challenge of our time…

Today, I changed my little picture on Facebook – you know, the one that tells you it’s me – to put back the banner thing that says, “Staying home, saving lives”.

I did it after I read an email from Congressman Hank Johnson (D, GA-04) urging people – people in metro Atlanta – to make sanity instead of riots. Well, that’s not exactly what Hank said. This is:

“If you are reading this message, please understand that peaceful protests don’t take place at night. So if you believe in peace, and you stand for truth, righteousness and order, then stay home this evening.”

Yes, I’m staying home to stay well in the pandemic, and to help protect others as well. The pandemic, as you may not have heard, is still a huge and life-threatening issue in Georgia even though some of us think “back in business” is the answer to everything.

The riots, in the face of recent human lives taken by police officers, are a huge and life-threatening issue as well.

And, yes, I have an opinion. It’s simply this: Life matters.

They’re complicated issues, to be sure. I’m happy for my local business friends who are able to begin doing what they do again, even in different ways.

I’m really happy that The Corner Pub has wings for take-out, especially since the recent stove event at our house. And I’m grateful for all my buddies at Pine Street Market and my farmer friends for working so hard to keep many, many of us in clean, safe food during the pandemic. And to the awesome guy who helps with our garden.

And I’m grateful for all of those in Atlanta and across the U.S. with the wisdom to know that racism – while it exists – doesn’t have to determine — or undermine — our humanity.

Life really does matter. Perhaps that’s why so many of my teachers have been talking, in these days, about fear and not letting it rule our lives.

I’ve been paying particular attention because I’m a grandmother who harbors a preacher deep inside.

I can’t help but remember that it has been the times when I said the things that lived most deeply inside me – the biggest, most real things – that I felt most misunderstood.

When I spoke of peace instead of needless, futile war or of ordaining those whom God calls to ministry or of living with those who appear different as sisters and brothers, I seemed somehow to turn up trouble when I meant to build bridges.

It’s true. And it’s hard. But grandmothers are known to do hard things. I want my girls to grow up in a world where they live out of love, passion, and enthusiasm, instead of fear. And I want everybody else’s kids to learn that, too!

There are only two things I know about how to help that happen.

Show them what it looks like. And keep on speaking out.

Blogs, books, paintings… even the occasional poem or pot of soup… they’re all visions of a future where life matters and humanity means everybody who wants to participate.

Oddly enough, my biggest teachers on that last bit are the Newfoundland rescue dogs in our family who have been harshly neglected and abused and yet, somehow, love everybody. Even the guys tromping around on the roof, cutting down trees.

So, mask on, paintbrush in hand, and my girls to inspire me, I’m going to get up tomorrow and do it some more. Are you with me?

ps… Voting counts, too. (You knew that was coming, didn’t you?) It really does.

Progress is messy…

Yep, it’s Wednesday again. Just between us, there’s part of me that’s tempted to skip the whole #Work-in-Progress thing this week. I’ve had just about enough stuff screaming for progress!

Six guys crawling around on the house. Saws. BIG thumps. Rain. Confused dogs who know there are new friends around and can’t figure out why they don’t get to meet them. Did I mention rain?

A package that I really, really needed to get to Texas but, apparently, has not, yet.

Massive confusion with the Vote-by-Mail ballot I received yesterday and some (unresolved) feelings about the people who mailed it. (I’ll get back to you on this one. The system-guys in question aren’t available for comment.)

In short… I want something done. Preferably right. (Or, perhaps, left.)

Let’s just say it’s been a day for deep breaths. And, not really so oddly, tears.

One of the things I learned from my hypnosis guru is that laughing and crying both relieve physiological stress. As the theory goes, it takes twice as much crying as laughing to relieve the same amount of stress. (Who figures out how to measure that???)

Still, it’s a good thing to remember when your eyes are leaking and somewhere inside a voice, clearly belonging to someone else, is whispering, “What do you have to cry about?”

The answer is, “Whatever!”

Another thing I learned along the way came from my dear friend, Steve Glenn, of Developing Capable People fame. (You’ve heard this one before.)

There’s no such thing as failure. Only experience to be learned from.

Last year, at just about this time, was one of those experience times, when Luther was recovering from his eye surgery and I was stressed and not sleeping. I learned that coloring helps in times like that. Not surprisingly, Shiloh Sophia McCloud was one of my best teachers. And I scored a copy of her first book, the Color of Woman coloring book, from a used book listing on Amazon.

Today, as you no doubt expected, I got out my coloring book. The photo, above, is now Fiercely Compassionate Grandmother. (At least to me.)

In the photo, below, meet some of my newer teachers, making progress.

Note the wires they, blessedly, didn’t cut!!!

As for me, I have just enough time to feed the beasties and, maybe-just-maybe, catch a fast nap before the next Zoom meeting. (My new teachers get up really early!)

Tomorrow, more fierce compassion is likely to be required.

Half-fun & Full-serious!

Yes, there is half a tree on our roof.

And, no, it’s not the start of a joke. We’re all fine. So, blessedly, is the power which runs very near where the tree now rests.

I heard a bizarre – but not all that loud – noise Friday night. Like something falling. A quick phone call to Bill assured me that he was safely working away in his basement office.

Then, a text from our neighbor saying that her son said a big branch fell at our house and asking if we were okay. I peered out all the windows (with a rather wimpy flashlight) and decided we were, despite the mystery, okay.

The photo was taken Saturday morning… mystery solved! More hassle begun.

We’re still in the midst of the stove adventure from last week. The new one is here but there was more installing to be done today. And a switch-thing to wait on, so that the light in the oven actually goes off when the door is closed! In the meanwhile, we’ve been experimenting with strategies for getting the massive amount of sticky goop off of it!

And it is, of course, Memorial Day weekend which doesn’t bode well for speedy help.

I’ll confess that a come-apart was tempting.

There are several new creations bouncing around in my head like one of those old, brightly colored kids’ toys that pops when you push it, like a popcorn popper, demanding attention.

It’s really NOT a good time for hassles.

Then I had a conversation with a young woman who is food, housing, and possibly immigration-status insecure, due mostly to the pandemic.

And I decided that perhaps I might be grateful for hassles I can fix. (Well, not me, personally. But I can help cause them to be fixed!)

So far, my fixing has meant a sale for a local business and work for a contractor-friend. And, clearly, work coming up for a tree trimming company. (Let’s don’t think about the roof just yet!)

Then it occurred to me that, with a bit more work on a couple of my projects, I might just have some extra resources, allowing me to cause a few more things to be fixed.

But, before that, there’s a grocery delivery in our future. And some phone calls to make.

There are a lot of things wrong in the world just now that I can’t fix. And a few that I can. In fact, a few more since I got up this morning! And, while I’m at it, count on me voting!

And giving thanks for those who have served, and are serving, on all the front lines in this world.

You’re Invited!

Dear Heart,

Welcome to the fireside of yet another dangerous old woman. Tribe of the Sacred Heart, as Dr. Estes would say. Many of us scar clan. More of us, in this moment, than perhaps any time we have known. And yet, still standing. Still dancing.

Which isn’t to say that it always feels like we’re still standing, let alone dancing!

When I was in nursing school, eons ago, we had a saying, if you’ll pardon me: Anything called a learning experience is sure to involve an enema!

I’m feeling pretty much the same way about the pandemic!

I have, however, been learning some new things. Or, rather, rearranging some old things in my head. All it takes is paper and markers, and a cup of something comforting. Oh, a Zoom hook-up! (Preferably updated to the new 5.whatever thing.) And some really good, really dark chocolate might be helpful, too!

You’re invited to join me! Our intention??? Accessing our super power strategies for unsticking stuck stuff.

Here’s a way to think about it.

Thirty years ago, when we were first married, Bill and I moved to Tennessee, where I had been called to serve my first church. A writer for the Nashville paper was running a series of articles on being an accomplished woman. (Feel free to roll your eyes!)

After the second piece I read, I had to tell Bill that it was hopeless. If, as the writer claimed, accomplished women need nothing Home Depot sells, it was never, never going to happen!

Now imagine, for a moment, that there is the mythical hardware emporium of your choice deep inside you, filled with exactly the tools you need just now. And you don’t have to trade in your great grandparents’ hand plane, which lives under a blanket of dust somewhere in your basement, to get new tools. You just need to engage with the stuck things a bit differently than you have been so far.


So, pick something that’s stuck. Or sticky. Or in the way. Then, email me to let me know you’re in for DATE, at TIME, for some tool shopping! A special first group only arrangement, limited to the first 10 brave souls, for a give what you can offering, benefiting International students at Columbia Theological Seminary, will be gratefully received via PayPal, or other arrangements by email request. No mask required! I’ll send your Zoom invitation, PayPal info and other details. BYO markers, etc…

You’ve so got this!

Dr. Sue Boardman

Author • Artist • Activist • Grandmother
Intentional Creativity® Teacher & Coach
Creativity Workshops, Coaching, & Art for Sale

New Perspectives

I spend a lot of time pondering vision. Optical. Mythical. Mystical. It’s hard not to at our house where we’re constantly adapting for the very large Studio Angel who, literally, has no eyes, except in his heart. Living with Luther causes us to see differently. To see more.

The two most vital “obedience” commands at our house have become door and step. And, just between us, that feels a bit prophetic these days.

What, I wonder, are the doors in this moment which we may not see?

And what will it take for us to step through them?

Your answers are probably different than mine. One of the things, though, that helps me step through some of the doors in my world is the legend you’ve heard me share about Red Thread.

In the same way that Luther needs to be connected to a strong but stretchy lead to venture outside the world he can navigate alone, I find it comforting to be connected by this story that, as someone once said, is both true and may actually have happened.

Women connected through time and space, to those who will matter in their lives, by a red thread. I suspect it started when somebody noticed the red thread nature of an umbilical cord and spread through indigenous cultures and biblical times and, these days, in Zoom circles of daughters and sisters and mothers and grandmothers and friends without number.

In my world, it makes stepping through doors into places I can only imagine considerably more possible.

Today, I am Hearth Tending in the Red Thread Cafe Classroom which is the big group gathering place for Intentional Creativity® types like me. It’s kind of ironic for me right now.

I’ve spent much of the last week getting my contemporary hearth functional again and I may actually get there tomorrow when the new stove is delivered. Well, Friday, maybe. Somehow it’s going to have to be magically transported from a big box on the carport into the actual kitchen!

The gas line situation is almost under control. The hunk of scrap metal formerly known as the stove has been spoken for, having been properly thanked for its service.

I’m reminded, as I celebrate Works-in-Progress with my sisters, that virtually everything is in progress, even the things we think are done, or haven’t begun. It’s one of those perspective things!

Gardening is a great way to remind yourself that there is, indeed, a season for everything. And somewhere between predicted rain storms and gas lines and Zoom meetings and a visit from our dear friend and dog Auntie, the vet, I’ll be out picking the first salad greens of the season.

Not all creativity needs paint! (Though I’m planning time for that, too!)


I was a Romper Room Valedictorian!

As you know, if you’ve been reading along, we moved a lot when I was a kid. According to family gospel, when I learned that we were moving from Cleveland to Pittsburg, I had questions.

Did they have corn on the cob? And, did they have Romper Room?

Assured that they did, I agreed to go. (Yes, you can laugh!)

Miss Whomever must have done her job well for I survived, in our next move, from Pittsburg to St. Louis, a world without Kindergarten.

It’s true. I never went. There wasn’t a public option and the private choices were all filled to their over-running waiting lists.

My mom, who professed to believe I needed a teacher, signed me up for dance lessons. The teacher had royal blue eyeshadow that extended above her eyebrows and she scared me.

Mom, who probably really thought she needed a couple of hours here and there with only one small child to chase, finally relented when I was given a beat up used bicycle, complete with training wheels, and insisted on staying home to ride.

By the time I reached my first day of first grade, complete with painful, slippery new shoes, a plaid dress with a Peter Pan collar from Sears, and a too-short haircut that closely resembled the mixing bowl-on-the-head do’s so popular in those days, I was way past ready to learn!

Sally, Dick, and Jane rocked my world! In a matter of weeks I was ready to make the leap from, “Puff is on TV, ” to the complexity of Betsy & Tacy, eating supper on the bench at the end of their street, while I made up the words I didn’t know.

I have been blessed with much learning to do since then. And, like the artist known as Michaelangelo, I am still learning.

It’s been a big week for learning! I suspect that’s because I spend a great deal of my time hanging out with a tribe of women, connected by a red thread, and bravely learning, too.

You may have heard rumors of my unintended learning experience with an enormous pot of gorgeous bird bones and a stove that quit working during the step of the process known as simmer, with bubbles gently breaking the surface, overnight.

I was heartbroken. And frustrated. Those were lovingly roasted, local chicken and turkey bones, sustainably raised by farmers with whom I’m on hugging terms which, in these days more than ever, isn’t a bad way to get food! At least they were until they became trash.

Enter the need to learn a whole lot about buying a stove, as we own neither microwave, nor toaster oven. Thankfully, I was already in possession of categories for success on that decision and the new, improved version should arrive late this week.

That done, it was back to the business of art. Literally, for I am engaged in several conversations about how to do healing art in the world where we now find ourselves. Here’s a short list of what I know now that I didn’t know before:

How to get the very skippy new email signature in my laptop to also work in my phone.

New uses for adjectives in writing invitations… and ways to decide which ones!

How to get my toys to work together so that I can lead a Zoom workshop demonstrating an art process while still seeing and being seen by others on the journey.

And, possibly best of all for empowering the future, a link between the name my parents gave me all those years ago, and the medicine painting on my easel just now, which looked, in the early phases, like it might have come from Romper Room!

The answer to the tech-y questions is, on the one hand, YouTube videos and, on the other hand, whatever changed inside me such that I believed I could figure it out.

The name thing is a story for a different day.

If you click here, you will be magically transported to the place with the videos mentioned above and a photo of my new tech-y miracles!

For now, I’d love to know what you’re learning in this place we’ve never been before which may actually be the place we’ve always been… a world that changes. There’s a place for comments if you scroll down a ways. I hope you will!

In case you, like me, are still learning…

Here are the how-to’s on my tech-y learning events this week…

This is what my 2 camera Zoom video set up looks like. You’ll need whatever you usually Zoom on (laptop, here) plus some sort of tripod deal that will hold your phone. (Thank you, Julie Steelman!!!) Mine has adjustable lighting which is a plus. (I bought this a while back, I think from E-bay which, as I recall, was less expensive than Amazon.)

Studio Angel is optional but Phoebe was helping!

Then, the video for how to hook up two cameras…

And, in case you’re perplexed like I was, the video for getting the email signature out of your computer and into your phone. In this case, iPhone.

I have no idea what the deal is with the boxes. More to learn!

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