Re-membering some more!

The photo shows the very, very early steps of the painting process known as Artifact. What you see in the photo is the beginning of a step called coding.

To code a canvas is to make marks. Anything from “random” scribbles to symbols to words to your dog’s foot prints could be coding. (Assuming, of course, that your dog is a lot smaller than mine are!) And, as you probably guessed, “random” also suggests “non-conscious” which comes from so deep inside it might feel random, but really isn’t.

(And, just in case there’s a voice inside you whispering, I could do that, you’re right! You could!!!)

It’s a go-with-the-flow kind of thing. And, in this case, a big thing. To give you a sense, the photo shows marks toward the top, kind of in the center, of a 36×48″ canvas, which, in the places I hang out, is kind of medium-sized!

It was my left shoulder, with its deeply irritated rotator cuff, that chose the canvas. It’s about all I can wrangle right now, if I want to get anything else done!

And, I do! You see, several things I’ve been pondering in a not-totally-conscious-imagination sort of way bumped into each other yesterday and I have answers for one of my all-time favorite questions:

What is the next right thing?

Part of the answer to that involves adding to the tech toys around here. This is NOT my favorite sort of hunting and gathering, as I don’t much speak the lingo, but I do have very smart help!

Shopping is, of course, a bit more challenging than usual these days, though summoning things electronically is preferable, at least in Georgia, to venturing out, all masked and anxious.

Thus, it is time for waiting. And coding. You can’t tell much from the photo, I know, but a whole lot of this particular medicine painting is about grandmothers. Me. Mine. You. Yours. Those of the Intentional Creativity® lineage. And those of the world.

The curved band, just to the right of the one with spirals, is one of the most important ones to me. It’s the Hebrew word for remember, which also means to remind. And the writing, being oriented vertically rather than right to left, and actually written around the curve, becomes an abstract-esque sort of design which carries deep meaning for me.

I was remembering Elsie, also known as my Farm Gramma, while I was alternately tech shopping and coding.

One of the stories I know about Elsie is the time she and Frank, the grandfather I never knew, packed up their truck with six kids, a wood stove, and a goose whose name, I’m pretty sure, was Oscar, and left the farm they lost in Illinois during the Great Depression to head off to a new farm in Indiana, purchased with money Elsie inherited when her Uncle Harry passed on.

That would have happened in about 1933, just 13 years after women were finally able to vote in the US which is pretty remarkable when you think about it.

It also feels hopeful, to me.

Hope, as you may have noticed, is a big thing around here. And it has a whole lot to do with that next right thing.

And, in my world, hope comes with prayer dots. You can’t see them yet, but they’re there. And there will be more.

Prayers for struggling friends. For safe kids. For courage. And, in this moment, for a woman named Carmen, whom I’ve never met. Carmen is one of my bonus Intentional Creativity lineage. A woman unrelated to me in a genetic sort of sense – though, as my understanding of that grows, I wouldn’t swear to it – but definitely part of my chosen family. And prayers for remembering.

I sometimes wonder what my girls will remember about me. One of the things I most hope they’ll remember is that I’m not afraid to try new things. Or, rather, that I try new things which feel important, even when they are scary.

For now, though, more dots. And yes, there’s voice in this story, too, for the voice in my painting is saying:

Comfort, comfort your people.

I’m pretty sure Isaiah (40:1) won’t mind my tiny smidge more editing after all these years.

And I suspect my painting has picked a title!

ps… When that next right thing is ready, somewhere other than in my head, you’ll be the first to know! And if you’re looking for some, well, finished art, there are some of my favorites waiting here to be adopted.

How do you know?

You know those times when many things you thought were separate come together and make something you needed but didn’t know you did? Well, this is one of those times in my world!

Here’s the short version:

A new paint journey called Artifact is beginning in the land of Intentional Creativity®. It’s the big summer offering from Maestra Shiloh Sophia McCloud. I’m thrilled!

Except that I’m not quite finished with some of the “prerequisites.” That word is in quotes because many of those, including me, who hang out with Shiloh at least profess to not believing in being “behind” which makes “prerequisites” kind of a loose thing. And I’m almost done!

You see, Hydra’s Flare as she is officially known – who strongly suggested her name be Consider the Lilies, instead – surprised me with another presence in the painting. One of those kind who appear anyway even though I didn’t plan it.

And that second presence has had me asking questions for a bit.

There have also been other questions in my world these days. (We are, for this moment, ignoring the kind of questions one might shout at the tv if one were watching the news.)

Questions from the new friend/summer intern who’s hanging out with me.

And a question in a group where I hang out with another of my mentors. Sam inquired, no doubt in a bid to get us thinking, How do you know when you’ve had a good idea?

My response was of the immediate, intuitive sort. I start crying and then all the other ideas jump up and down.

This is not a surprising answer for me as I have been pondering Frederick Buechner again lately and his assertion, as you may recall, that sudden flashes of tears are the surest signs of truth we get.

And, yes, the editor inside me knows we just said that but she is crying, too, which I take as permission to be redundant!

But, I have a painting to finish! So I headed to the studio about an hour ago, fresh tea in hand, and cued up the frequently philosophical James Taylor to keep me company. And then I saw it.

The second being in my painting had tears rolling down one cheek. Truth tears.

And then I realized that the more noticeable being, the one I planned for, was missing something important. A voice.

That piece will have to wait for another moment, but she’s finished, now, inside me. And I suspect she’ll be back soon, with a great deal to say about voice.

For now, it’s on to opening videos for Artifact which will be, in case you wondered, a medicine painting. That brings tears to my eyes, too.

Oh, all the dots in the painting… prayers for you and yours. For safety. And inspiration. And a way to use your voice.

Virtual Marching

First, Happy Fathers Day! to the brave readers here, grandfathers and fathers, sons and open-minded friends. You may be outnumbered in this particular space, but you are much loved, valued, and appreciated.

And a special happy day to the Legendary Husband. Bacon burgers it is, honey! (And thanks for the cheese to put on mine!)

I have, as many of you probably have as well, been thinking about my dad, known mostly in our family these days as Great Grampie.

He passed on before the girls came along but they know many of his stories. (Not, however, all of them!) They know he took their daddy fishing back in the days when you could barely see their daddy in the picture, peeking out over a very big life jacket in the back of the boat.

They know he would have loved them.

They know he loved to cook. And grill like their daddy does.

Well, kind of like their daddy does. Frankly, there are days I’m a bit relieved that we don’t have to negotiate with Harry about the omnivore and pescatarian and gluten free menu planning process that’s part and parcel of holidays these days.

It isn’t that he wouldn’t have cared. It just wasn’t in his view of the universe.

There are, in fact, many things in my world that work that way these days. Take, for example, yesterday’s virtual marching. I suspect that would have been out of Harry’s world view as well and not just for tech-y reasons.

(This was a very bright guy who never figured out how to run the VCR. And, yes, there is much in that statement that reminds me of me!)

He was also, as are we all, influenced by his time.

And, in his time, we were Republicans. We were management, not union. We followed the rules. And, unless we were male, we certainly didn’t make those rules.

These are different times. And one of the things he taught me, with all the moves and places and schools, was a whole lot about adapting to change.

There are days I’m not so sure how much in the world that is the current situation in the USA is actually change, and how much is the inability to deny any longer what’s been the hidden truth for a long time.

In some ways, it’s all the same. And, for me at least, a whole lot of things need to get different for a whole lot of people.

I have one vote. (At least I’m determined to!) And limited funds. I’m not much of a marcher. But I can hear. And I have (!) the tech-y skills to summon the resources of Facebook live (which is more than a bit ironic) and walk, in my spirit, with others in the March on Washington.

That’s what I did yesterday. That and cry.

My tears weren’t so much about sadness. Or futility. Or even anger. Instead they were, as theologian and writer, Frederick Buechner, would say, “the surest signs of truth we have.”

They’re back again, my tears, as I write these words. And there is more truth to go with them.

I have whole-heartedly joined and embraced The Poor People’s Campaign, circa 2020. It’s not a new idea. And history tells us that it’s far from a fast fix. It feels to me like a place full of people saying something pretty close to We must, and so we will.

The sore joints were already there. The blisters are virtual today. We’re going to need some more Kleenex. But there’s a bit of an old hymn running through my head. It’s filled with pronoun issues and less than inclusive in terms of faith traditions, and your day will probably be better if I stick with virtual singing, so here’s the bit inside me, demanding to be heard.

…the truth is marching on.

I suspect it’s time, again.

And Harry… he was into sticking up for what one believed. (Back in the day, it worked better if it was something he believed, too, but today I’m starting where I am.)

Oh, just in case you missed the march it “happens” again today and there’s a re-run. There are, indeed, advantages to new things!

https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=2700028610244158

ps… The art is some early layers of a painting called CODEX. That this one volunteered for today suggests strongly that there is more newness to come!

Living in THIS world…

Okay, I accept that there are people coping with these days by binge watching CNN. If you’re anything like me, though, there’s only so much of what passes for “news” that you can absorb.

There’s a reason for that, and it has to do with filters, but that’s a story for a different day.

In the meantime, I’m depending on Grey’s Anatomy binges and at least three episodes of The West Wing each day. Kind of like extra vitamin C! (And colloidal silver and selenium and… Well, you get the drift!)

I do my prayer knitting meditations while voices that are familiar, and rarely openly maniacal, mutter away in the background. It helps distract the beasties from the need to bark at every bird flapping its way past the window!

And, yes, I realize that praying while knitting winter scarves when it’s 70 F. and headed up outside may seem a bit counter-intuitive. But, it will (probably) get cold again before we’ve solved the homelessness challenges in our world and, as you might have guessed, I ordered Pride colored yarn for June!

Last night, though, I took a break of a different sort.

A painting journey called Meridian. A preview, in a sense, of Shiloh Sophia’s new Artifact adventure in medicine painting.

Now is a really good time for me and medicine painting. It also appears to be time for lots of things to hurt. Mostly my left shoulder and hip.

It’s hard to have a concrete answer for why. Less than helpful genetics, according to my primary care doc, who’s into DNA things.

In a lot of ways, it really doesn’t matter why. What matters is what to do with it.

I am, as you’ve no doubt noticed, open to things I didn’t learn in nursing school. Like the gentle shoulder yoga class a dear friend sent me. I’m working on it!

Clean food. Minimal chemicals. Prayer. And paint! (At the moment, it helps that I’m right-handed!)

Meridian was amazing. And, yes, that’s a glimpse of what happened, above.

The bigger thing was the inner journey which is probably not all that surprising. For me, the question went something like:

What would happen if we believed that the pain could be different?

(I’m not at all sure that’s what Shiloh asked, but it was my inquiry and all important paintings in the land of Intentional Creativity® start with one of those.)

My shoulder isn’t miraculously all healed – read that pain free – today, but it’s better than it was before I painted.

I’m still hung up on the question, though in a bigger sense.

What would happen if we believed that the world could be different?

You name the pain. Racial trauma. Covid-virus. Global warming. Self-serving politicians. Domestic violence. Children in pain. Voter suppression. Hunger…

What would happen if we believed that it could be different?

I don’t know what the answers are. I don’t know what your answers are. I do know this:

If we act like we believe “it” can be different, a whole lot more will happen!

So, I’m going to do some more medicine painting. And record the demo for my SuperPower SelfPortraits process. And read a book called My Grandmother’s Hands…Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending our Hearts and Bodies, by a guy named Resmaa Menakem. (It showed up yesterday!) And knit some more prayer scarves. (The smaller size makes them hurt less to knit than big shawls!)

But, first, I have a Soulful Vision Plan to finish. You see, there are a couple more old friends whispering in my ear just now.

The guy named Steve Glenn who taught me that:

If a teenaged child has five adults who will listen to them and take them seriously and not shame them or blame them for their questions, that child is practically immune from ever attempting suicide.

Steve has graciously consented, at least in my mind, for me to add a few words to his list:

help them to find and claim their SuperPowers

If you’re curious, it goes right after take them seriously! And I still want to be one of those five people!

Then there’s another friend whispering in my ear. A guy named Walter Brueggemann who taught me about believing for others on days they can’t quite believe for themselves.

Perhaps having really smart friends is one of my SuperPowers! I’m pretty sure that now is a good time for listening!

ps… There’s more stuff about being there for the kids you love in my book, Grandmothers Are In Charge Of Hope

When the sun shines and the rain pours from the sky…

Or, many things are true and they don’t always go together very well!

The above-mentioned meteorological phenomenon is happening outside my window just now, as I write these words.

The washer is trying its best to drown out the sound of the raindrops but, blessedly, it’s not quite working.

A similar phenomenon is happening inside me, as well.

Or, many things are true and they don’t always go together very well!

While sheets get clean, and some local spicy pear sausage thaws in the kitchen – high above the reach of the really big dogs – for the frittata planned for our dinner, I am pondering Carl Jung. It’s not my fault!

Rather, the cause of my ponderings is an Intentional Creativity® friend and teacher named Kayleen Asbo. Late last night, at least on the East Coast, she sent me an email about virtual pilgrimages she’s helping to lead this summer. I first met Kayleen almost exactly three years ago when I did my first IC painting with Kayleen and Shiloh Sophia McCloud.

Before I forget, here’s the quote:

Will humanity survive? Jung was asked after the deployment of the atom bomb. His answer was, Yes — if enough people do their inner work.

I suppose one of the reasons I find these words so striking just now is that I seem to be deep in the world of inner work.

Some of this probably won’t make much sense to you just yet because it isn’t all fully formed in my mind. I’m feeling a lot like the vintage bathtub in our garden with tiny sprigs of basil and a couple of tomato plants about three inches tall!

All that aside, I found, just a few minutes after reading the quote from “Uncle Carl,” what I can only describe as the thing under the thing. And finding the thing under the thing means that I have some considerable editing to do on my most recent Soulful Vision Plan.

In fact, one whole page has to go.

It’s not that it’s not true anymore. It’s just that there is something else beneath it – or perhaps before it – in my journey toward visions of the future which needs to be there instead.

I have no idea, just yet, what kind of image it will become but I know that it will because that’s how I get all of me into the process.

For this moment, I’m trying to decide exactly how to make the change. This isn’t digital cut & paste stuff. This is really nice watercolor paper and a whole lot of learning.

I’m also celebrating the three women, in three different states, who’ve allowed me to guide their own Soulful Vision Plan adventures. We met for part two yesterday. Next week, part three. In the meantime, perhaps we’ll all be hanging with Uncle Carl and the inner work thing.

If, by chance, you’ve realized that your future may need a different vision than the one you’ve been used to so far, email me at suesvoice@gmail.com There will be a new group starting soon and I’d love to chat with you about that.

Oh, the lovely lady above is my Black Madonna painting, Our Lady of Fierce Compassion. Even though the original has found her forever home, there are museum quality reproductions on watercolor paper and wrapped canvas available for adoption! Feel free to click on her name and wander on a pilgrimage of your own!

ps… During our meeting today there was a conversation about the tradition of the Black Madonna and our global context in this moment. She might be about to get a new name! Womb of Universal Wisdom was my favorite suggestion.

Standing in my power… with help from Julie & John!

Trigger alert: I’m about to talk about three things I learned that nice girls never talked about. (Well, maybe four, but we’ll get to that one after a bit.)

Yep, those three things are Money, Sex, and Power. And it turns out that some of the folks I’ve known would say that those rules were at least as true for wanna-be preachers as they were for nice girls.

It all started, at least in reference to this blog post, about noon today. There was an invitation in one of the Facebook places I hang out to join a webinar, hosted by my friend and teacher Julie Steelman. The title was listed as Unlock The 3 Secrets to Creating a Financial Breakthrough for Mission-Driven Fempreneurs.

I’m guessing you were counting. The big three, right there.

First, I did the time math. I had a little less than an hour to get the dogs out and back in, eat lunch, and finish checking in on my peeps in www land. There were other webinar time options, but only the first one worked for me. And Julie is awesome! So, despite the voices deep inside me, I clicked yes and signed up.

While I started my rounds from door/deck to kitchen to door/deck, etc., this blog post began rumbling in my head. Along with the little right angle brackets I learned as symbols for context. It’s amazing what kind of inspiration can happen while you’re rinsing slime out of the water bowl and doing the large volume of clean water thing, skinning an avocado, and selecting the appropriate 88% cacao chocolate bar from the pantry.

News is often a big chunk of context. More now than ever, I suspect, for most of us. And, in this moment, with the news comes racism. It’s not that it wasn’t there before. It’s that more of us are talking about it. In fact, racism was probably the fourth thing we nice girls learned not to talk about, though it was such a big thing that, at least in the world where I grew up, nobody even said not to talk about race. It just wasn’t done.

But time passes and now I have new friends. And we’re talking about all of those unmentionables. I’d add domestic violence to the list. And gender issues of many sorts. Please add your thoughts as well.

And then, just as the webinar was starting to roll, I got an email from Congressman John Lewis (D GA-05). Rep. Lewis was on a bit of a rant about hatred and oppression and violence and, well, politics. And he was asking for help in working together to end those things.

That’s when the tears and chills began. Two signs in my world, when they happen together, of truth.

… skipping ahead a bit to after the webinar and emails…

Today, I am standing in the power of my truth. I won’t be dis-empowered anymore. I will speak as I feel led about money and sex and power and inequalities of race and gender, no matter who is listening. And especially when my girls are listening!

More, even, than speaking, I vow to listen. To my family and neighbors. To those I learn with and from. And those who learn from me. And I will claim, anew, the sacred stories of my calling. Stories of healing and equality. Of empowerment and service. Of welcoming those who have known marginalization. Of feeding those who do not have enough and setting the captives free.

They’re not photo-op stories. Just the kind that are in the book.

ps… Some of those stories are about to be re-framed and illustrated just a bit for our littles and for the rest of us. You see, I am called to Super Power Self Portraits. Stay tuned!

The Way-back Machine…

On Friday, Bill hand delivered our vote-by-mail ballots. Yes, it sounds like a bit of an oxymoron, but we live in Georgia and I’m not taking any chances. At least not unnecessary ones.

No chances with the pandemic in a state with debatable leadership and intentionally unreliable Covid statistics, added to an unfortunate personal tendency toward pneumonia.

No chances with voting in a state known for voter suppression and targeted polling place closings.

While Bill was off doing his best to insure that our voices would be heard, I was on to my first semi-major, virtual Intentional Creativity® workshop, courtesy of the gang at Zoom. Our project was Soulful Vision Plans with a group of thoughtful, awesome women.

Wonder of wonders, the technology behaved, which is nothing short of a miracle when I’m in charge! (Except for the part where someone forgot to push the record button.) Next week, part two!

I was pretty tired when we were done. Bill and I managed to produce a lovely pork chop and some stir fried greens so local I was out front picking them 5 minutes before they hit the skillet. Yay for the new stove!

Then, some serious feet up time. Feet up time which turned into tears and Kleenex time. You see, PBS was showing the 50 years of Peter Paul & Mary show. I hadn’t seen it, ironically, since New Year’s Eve 2016. (You can no doubt do the math on that!)

For me, Peter Yarrow, Noel Paul Stookey, and Mary Travers really are the soundtrack of my life.

Singing has never been one of my best contributions to the world but, during my summer camp years, I was in charge of remembering all the words to all the songs from one summer to the next. I know them all, still.

You know how context has a way of making meaning you might not have noticed before? Well, the name of the PBS show is The Work Goes On.

I wish it didn’t so desperately need to go on while I pray, with all my heart, that it does.

I want the world to be a safe and supportive place in which my girls can grow up as empowered individuals working for the greater good and the fulfillment of their dreams.

I want that for all our children. And so I wiped tears away and listened to Noel Paul saying that it was at the beginning of the Civil Rights movement that they became aware that they were singing about Human rights.

Words from the days of Viet Nam. Musicians in their 20’s, standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, breaking out of old patterns.

I have turned, since then, from a young child into a grandmother. Many things have happened. More than I can count. And, somehow, at least on my best days, I still hope. Mostly, I hope that Peter, Paul & Mary were right when they proclaimed Pete Seeger’s words to the world. That “human beings could join together for their good.” That human beings will join together for their good.

Now is the time. Not the first time, but the time that we have. The time in which we can act. Or, to borrow from Pete Seeger again, “If you’re going to sing the music, you’ve gotta live the music.”

And, so, I’m writing. And painting. Marching really isn’t much in the cards for me and it’s entirely likely that my words and my images will reach much farther than my knees will carry me.

And, I’m going back to school, in a sense. Online workshops with Resmaa Menakem on embodied racial trauma. A workshop called Re-Membering to be led by two of my IC sisters. Painting archetypal images chosen, intentionally, in this moment.

And a reminder of the filters we all have. Filters which keep us from being utterly overwhelmed by the billions of bits of information coming at us in any given moment. Mostly, those filters are unconscious but, with some learning, we can begin to edit them consciously which, eventually, brings us new experience and new results in the world.

For me, one of those filters, a horrifying, painful filter, is George Floyd calling out for his mama. I’m choosing to be aware of that one. To let it into my map of reality, along with prayers that our human experience will one day be different………………………………..

So, my friend, all the words before this point were written Saturday night. My plan, when my head touched my pillow, was to get up and join Dr. Barber and the Poor People’s Campaign for the online memorial service honoring the 100,000 souls lost in the USA to the pandemic.

Instead, I woke a bit earlier and, after a quick trip down the hall, I tucked myself back into our cozy bed with the quilt I made and turned off the alarm. That’s when the questions started.

What would be different, in this moment, if the voices in the soundtrack of my life had been voices ringing forth from black bodies? Even more importantly, what would be different in this nation?

I was huddled there, under that quilt, wondering what might be different if I actually asked that question, here, today, when my phone inexplicably began blaring, When will we ever learn? right in my ear.

And then, with an utterly odd flash to the old cartoon with the 4-footed Mr. Peabody and his boy, Sherman, I decided I needed to find out what might be different.

Often, questions really are more important than answers!

ps… If you’re interested in working with your filters, you can email me at suesvoice@gmail.com

Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity® Color of Woman Teacher