Did you ever have a day when you needed a new word?

This is one of those for me. It started with yesterday’s mail. And the sticker you see in the photo above.

My first response was an emphatic YES!

I mean, I’m still appalled by the quick glimpse I got of the pep rally in the last act of the GOP convention. Thousands of screaming people, shoulder to shoulder, not a mask in sight.

Okay, first it was beyond careless in terms of the pandemic. Second, it was happening in a place where such events are not supposed to occur.

And, third, my kids live about half an hour down the road from that massive germ fest.

Yes, I was pissed. I was also crushed by the fires and the hurricane and the tornadoes and everything it’s going to take to help people put their lives back together. Like money. Money being wasted on a ridiculous demonstration practically guaranteed to make people sick.

Fortunately, there were other voices in my head, as well.

The voices of my new friends and fellow virtual pilgrims as we explored France, with its monasteries and caves and legends.

There will be more of this tale as I have time to process. For now, I’m waiting for my copy of The Gospel of Thomas and sending many thanks to Dr. Kayleen Asbo and my new friends at Ubiquity University.

Another voice in my head is that of Master Chunyi Lin at SpringForest Qigong. I have been blessed to learn from Chunyi over the past five or six years and it’s entirely possible that the most immediately important thing I’ve heard him say is this:

That which we resist, persists.

I suspect you begin to see the challenge.

There is the part of me that responded with that major YES! when I opened the envelope from the DCCC.

And there’s the part of me that knows how wise Chunyi’s words are, if only we can try to live them.

Or, as my hypnosis buddies would say:

Where the attention flows, the energy goes.

To be really clear, I have doubts about how much energy to spend resisting the theatrics (and policies!) of the current administration, which evidently is willing to go miles and miles past reasonable in the attempt to be the next administration as well.

At the same time, I don’t have it in me to behave like what’s happening in this country is remotely reasonable.

I have no idea what you may be doing with all this. Here’s what I do know:

PAINT!!!

Literally, if you’re so inclined. Or figuratively if that works better. Here’s the thing, though. Be intentional.

Make prayer dots for all those who matter to you and need them. Prayers for rain. Or no rain. For shelter. And safety. Comfort. Hope.

For first responders. And teachers. And students.

Well, you get the drift. And if you’ve never done it before, trust me when I tell you that you can. (email me at suesvoice@gmail.com if you need directions!)

And then, if it’s possible for you, find a way to make a difference in this world. In this moment.

Here’s mine…

From now, through September 7, 2020, I will donate 25% of all profits from my new Etsy store, FierceArtWithHeart, to Giving Kitchen, an organization which gives real support and resources to individual food service and restaurant workers, and their families, in need.

There are several original canvases on Etsy, large and small, plus new listings for museum quality wrapped canvas or watercolor paper prints. Even if shopping isn’t an option at the moment, I’d be delighted – and grateful – if you could click the little heart and favorite my store. It helps more people find me!

For today, though, I’m trading the temptation to resist and acting, instead, in the direction of hope. It feels like a much better word. You are totally welcome to join me!

It feels like a miracle!

We moved around a lot when I was a kid. And we lived far away from family.

My Gramma Elsie wanted to see history when she came to visit wherever we had just moved. I remember spending a lot of time on tours of caves. And historic houses. Abraham Lincoln. Possibly Daniel Boone.

What I mostly remember was Gramma asking questions that the tour guides couldn’t answer. Like what kind of chickens the famous folks who used to live there had raised.

With my mom’s family, we spent a lot of time visiting them and fishing at a lake in northern Minnesota.

In St. Louis, we were frequent visitors at Grant’s Farm which was Missouri’s version of Busch Gardens. I loved the baby Clydesdales!

By the time I started fourth grade, we moved to a suburb of Chicago. The two places I remember most are the Aquarium and the Museum of Science and Industry.

Then we moved to Florida. The local museum was best known for its most famous resident, a Manatee who had been orphaned at birth, I think. Baby Snoots ate lots of lettuce. And, once, when I was a teen working for the vet, a mechanical pencil which fell out of someone’s pocket. That one almost got really exciting!

I honestly don’t remember ever being in an art museum until I was an adult. The Matisse exhibit at the High, in Atlanta, was a whole new world. As was the High’s exhibit of quilts from Gee’s Bend.

And, kind of oddly, Atlanta’s airport is a pretty decent art museum. I’ve spent lots of time there!

A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to go to Tuscany with a group of adopted family members from the world of Intentional Creativity®.

The whole place is an art museum!!!

Okay, with exceptions for fabulous restaurants.

That trip was literally life changing for me. It was also a huge step along the path to what feels like a miracle in this moment.

Today there is an art show opening “at” Musea. It’s a virtual art show, curated by a group of my amazing Intentional Creativity sisters and Shiloh’s awesome husband, Jonathan. No masks required.

And one of my paintings is in the show!

In fact, the whole show is of the works from a year-long class called Codex. My painting in an art show. It does feel like a miracle.

It also feels like what happens when we take a leap and learn something new and work our butts off, having the courage to try again and again until it feels right.

And, yes, the art at the beginning of this post is just a glimpse of my painting. (The whole thing is on a 48×60 inch canvas!)

You’re invited, too! This link will magically transport you to the Codex show at Musea. I hope you’ll check it out. There are lots of fabulous paintings to experience, by my very talented art sisters.

And there’s another reason I hope you’ll check it out. You see, there might just be something in your world that would feel like this if only you got started. Something which makes you feel, in the words of Hildegard of Bingen, “green and juicy”! Trust me. If I can do it, you can do what moves your soul this way, too!

Hope!

Once upon a time, a long time ago, in about 1986, I was sitting in a classroom at Eckerd College, listening to an amazing teacher named David Cozad. He was talking about hope.

Now, somewhat typically for me, I remember what David said, though not the name of whomever might have said it first. So, with thanks all around, I’ll tell you about the three kinds of hope which have been with me ever since then.

The first kind of hope is Optimistic Hope. It’s the kind of thing we feel when we hope the one we love will like the birthday gift we chose. Or that the rain, which flooded our basement, has moved on to the folks out West who so desperately need it.

Pessimistic Hope comes next. This is the Murphy’s Law perspective… anything that could possibly go wrong will, and in the worst way imaginable.

The third kind is Fantastic Hope which basically holds that our most amazing dreams for ourselves (and each other) can and will come true. Soon.

This has been a week for all three. And, yes, I watched virtually ALL of the Democratic Convention. (Well, the prime time part 😉 )

There’s one more piece of learning we need to remember before we go on.

If we keep doin’ what we’ve been doin’ we’ll keep gettin’ what we’ve got!

I’m guessing you’re hearing me.

So perhaps you won’t be too surprised when I tell you there’s more to this story.

On Friday evening, having lots of work to do and no convention to watch, I happened upon Sister Act 2 – back in the habit somewhere in the universe of smart tv.

I love Whoopi Goldberg but the star for me, in this moment, was the scrawny, geeky kid who quit doing what he’d been doing. Which is to say that, in front of all his classmates and the nun-teachers, much to everyone’s amazement, he opened his mouth and sang. Sang as in jaw dropping, glass shattering, award worthy, heart at work singing.

I, who will make you all much happier if I don’t sing, think what happened was that he, finally, found some fantastic hope deep inside and just went with it. He did something different.

There are a few different things on my list just now. And I’ll be sharing them over the next couple of weeks. First a reminder.

I was not known (growing up) as the artistic kid. Three years ago, just now, I picked up a paint brush and changed my life.

And, I expect I’ve been pondering these things in the post-convention days for a reason.

Somebody put a comment on Facebook that said Joe Biden is the lesser of two evils.

I responded that maybe, just maybe, with gratitude to Dr. Estes, Joe was born for this moment.

You see, I also learned that it was after the Charlottesville, VA massacre, just three years ago, that Joe decided to run for president again.

Now, this blog post isn’t supposed to be about politics (which means, by the way, of the people). It’s about not doing the old things over and over again that keep getting us what we’ve got, but don’t necessarily want. It’s about hope. Possibly in the face of terror.

So, today I’ll be posting one of my paintings, along with her story, in a group of 3 or 4,000 women I don’t know. And telling them where they might find me if they wanted to know more. Which, for me, is a fairly extroverted thing to do. I’m blaming it, with gratitude, on another of my teachers, Shiloh Sophia McCloud.

And, with help from some dear, talented friends named Veronica and Leisa, my fledgling Etsy shop is sufficiently fluffed for me to invite you to visit FierceArtWithHeart.

And, one of my paintings has been hung in an online museum art show. The opening event for artists is Wednesday, August 26th. (I’ll keep you posted!)

None of those things is going to fix the pandemic or global warming. They are, though, fantastic hope at work. With thanks both to my teachers and to my students, it’s a pretty great way to be!

ps… the painting is a background layer which no longer exists in this dimension. It carries my thanks for the call to Wade in the Water from this afternoon’s Red Madonna church service and prayers for all those in the path of fires and hurricanes, hoping for just the right amount of water.

The Real Deal!

VOTE!

Okay, you’ve got to admit that when the big name CNN talking heads are very nearly speechless, it’s been quite a day. Or, in this case two days with one to come.

Yes, I’ve been watching the Democratic Convention. And crying. And filling up a bunch of those shiny new index cards.

Let’s start with a quote from an intelligent, articulate American who wasn’t there. An amazing storyteller, Dr. Walter Brueggemann was one of my seminary professors and is a prolific Hebrew bible scholar. In order to share his words, I’ll need a little help from you.

Imagine if you would, a no-longer-young guy in Birkenstock sandals and those socks with the no odor stitching across the toes, rubbing his shiny head with one hand and proclaiming, in a rather thundering sort of voice, that:

There are no innocent readers.

What he meant by that (I’m pretty sure!) is that we’re all filtering what we read and hear through our very individual, and largely non-conscious, maps of reality.

I know it’s true for me. And I’ll admit, here and now, that I believed Michelle Obama when she said on Monday night that,

Things can and will get worse!

So, I have a plan. Voting.

Vote JOE!

There’s a bit more I need to share about my filters. I wanted Bernie Sanders to win the nomination. And let me take a moment to say how grateful I am for Bernie and Jane.

So I sat, as Monday and Tuesday ran together, knitting prayer scarves and demolishing really dark chocolate and crying my way through the convention.

And I listened, while I prayed and cried. And an answer found me, as it often will when I listen. This time in the voice of Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes!

Do not lose heart. We were made for these times.

Joe Biden wasn’t my first choice. But, Joe is clearly one of “we” and it’s entirely possible that he was born for this time.

So I ordered a Biden-Harris sign for my garden and am editing my Bernie Sanders sign so that it reads, “For Majority Leader!” (Which is, I might add, a whole other reason to vote!)

PLEASE Vote Joe!

And I listened and prayed and cried some more. And another one of my heroes spoke. Stacey Abrams said something pretty close to this:

It is not by taking sides, but by taking stock of where we are and what we need, that we move forward.

Or, as my Red Thread sisters, spattered in paint, would say, it is by being intentional.

And I heard Bernie, again, saying:

Together we must work toward building a world that is more compassionate, equitable, and inclusive.

As intentions go, it works for me. And, from an odd place called Motherboard-land, where I learned about thinking about thinking while moving a pen, Joe is whole enough and ready enough. And that, when you get right down to it, is what there is.

Please Vote Joe NOW!

Or, as the late Congressman John Lewis said:

When you pray, move your feet!

One of those who’s been known to move her feet quite a bit is former First Lady, Michelle Obama. Someplace I happened upon a quote in which she said, of the Obamas’ time in the White House:

I woke up every day for eight years in a house built by slaves.

I knew that. Academically. It sounded different in this moment as she reminded us that each of the the 30 billion lives in this country has value and worth. Then she called us to join in going high.

Which was a bit ironic by Tuesday evening when a whole lot of newer generation Americans claimed, from all over the nation, that this battle for the soul of our nation was a big f’in deal.

Here’s the thing. It is a big f’in deal. For us and for all the world.

I know this because I have two granddaughters growing up in this world. I’m also a granddaughter.

My Gramma Elsie came from people who arrived in America on a boat called the Mayflower. She was about 30 years old (depending on whether you believed her or my Aunt Em!) the first time she was able to vote.

My Granny Elizabeth came from people I’ve managed to follow back to England and Wales, including some folks named Mathias who were, as legend holds, a very determined bunch, indeed.

Both of these amazing women were adamant Republicans, but, as I learned watching The West Wing, politics in this country changed with the advent of television and I would claim that they changed again in these times of social media. Twitter, for one obvious example.

The Voting Rights Act in 1965 also changed our political identities.

And, knowing the wise, caring, engaged people both of my grandmothers were, I’m entirely confident that they’d vote for Joe now, too, if only they could.

Bernie is right.

The future of our democracy, our economy, and our planet is at stake!

Also right is another wise, caring, engaged woman named Dr. Jill Biden, who said this:

If you listen closely you can hear the sparks of change in the air. We haven’t given up.

There will be more words, many more, to come, but for now I’ll give the final words to John Legend.

ps… if you’re intrigued by the thinking about thinking thing, email me. suesvoice@gmail.com ! You, too, are whole enough and ready enough!

pps… The painting is a bit of my Muse painting from Color of Woman 2020, known as Muse Eyes. Soon she’ll be welcoming you to my new Etsy shop!

pops… As a wise friend just reminded me, Bernie can’t be Majority Leader because he’s an Independent. It was a lovely dream…

A Growing Fondness for Banyan Trees!

Last night I dreamed about climbing trees. My hip, it should be pointed out, was not in favor of the adventure!

There was a kid named Olaf who lived in the house behind us in Illinois and had an awesome weeping willow in his yard. I was about 10 at the time and I suspect it’s the last time I did the literal climbing thing.

And, no, I wasn’t any good at climbing ropes in gym class either!

Last night’s dream trees, however, weren’t a huge surprise. You see, I’d spent most of the day climbing about in the land of online family trees which feel, to me, more like Banyan trees than the more usual kind with one trunk!

Armed with a bunch of handwritten stuff from my sister, who seems to have inherited the genealogy fetish in our family, my hip and I spent hours and hours hunting the folks my cousin Chris always referred to as the old farts.

Wow, are there a bunch! (And a bunch more work to do!!!)

I’ve also been pondering trees to put in my new Etsy shop. At the moment it’s mostly mythical divine feminine type original paintings. (Getting it to exist has involved at least as huge a learning curve as the genealogy site!)

My brilliant and talented print guy is now on board, though, and I’ll be adding more and more options this week. Including some abstract pieces that no longer exist in this dimension!

This morning brought a surprise, though, as mornings often do. My dear friend, Peggy Meador, has passed on to the place where pain and suffering are no more.

If you’ve been reading along a while, you already know Peggy, even though you probably don’t realize it. Peggy was the real life elder who called me on the phone one dark and stormy night and literally changed my life.

Peggy was the one who opened the door to my learning that I wanted to be “one of those five people” for as many kids as I could, and teach others to do that, too. (Boardman, Grandmothers Are In Charge Of Hope, pg. 1)

I’ve been telling that story a lot lately. With all the pandemic news and the racial unrest and the political lunacy, it feels like we need more of those five people than, perhaps, any time since I first learned the story.

That story is about to take a new form in my world.

My SoulWork project, SuperPower SelfPortraits (or SP2, for short!) is about to be available remotely, by video. (Stay tuned!!!)

Bringing this passion to life in a form that can be shared involves quite the learning curve for me. I suspect my ancestors felt something similar when they boarded the Mayflower. Or, many generations later, a much less famous boat bound for the USA from Sweden.

And those are just the stories I know! There are more to learn and some of the ones calling my name come from France and Italy. In fact, I’m about to “go” to France, with my dear friend Laura, on a virtual pilgrimage having to do with stories and art.

Which feels a bit like this lady you’ve seen before…

Her official name is What the World Needs Now, but I realized yesterday, as I wandered through centuries of family, with her standing watch nearby, that she may also be what geneticists refer to as the mitochondrial Eve, my grandmother. And yours. Which, when you get right down to it, may be exactly what the world needs now!

ps… Blessings to all those dealing with school in whatever way!

When you just need a break…

I don’t know about you, but I’m having one of those days when I just need something to feel good. Something that doesn’t hurt or make me limp. Something that doesn’t make me want to scream at my email. Something that I actually get to check off my list. And, if we’re being real, something that would make it safe for me (and you!) to go out without a mask. All of which, miraculously, brought my Aunt Bea to mind. She was the queen of making things feel better. Safe. Welcoming. Comforting. So… from Aunt Bea to me to you and yours…

The Carrot Muffins Aunt Bea Would Have Made if She’d Known!

Ingredient Note: Because this recipe is made with sprouted grains, it may be well tolerated by some gluten-sensitive individuals. The body perceives sprouted grains more like vegetables than ordinary grains and flours, making them a good choice for diabetics, as well.  There’s way less sugar involved in the fabulous icing, which would also work for Red Velvet Cake, if you’re into that. And, they’re delicious!

Equipment Note: A food processor is handy, but not necessary for this recipe. If you like muffin tops, you may wish to use either a 24 c. muffin pan or two 12 cup pans so that you can spread them out. 

MAKES:  8 large muffins

Depending on room temp. and desired baking time, remove 8 oz. organic cream cheese and 8 oz. Mascarpone cheese (preferably organic)  from refrigerator and allow to come to room temp. on counter, up to 8 hours. 

Adjust oven racks so that muffins will bake in the center of the oven. 

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Using the grating disc on your food processor or a hand grater, coarsely grate:

1 ½ c. scrubbed and trimmed organic carrots, peels left on if possible.   (About 2 med. carrots.)

Melt ½ stick (2 oz.) organic, salt free butter and allow to cool slightly.  

Beat together in glass measuring cup or small bowl:  

3/4 c. buttermilk, preferably organic, 1 good egg, and ¼ c. honey.

Add cooled, melted butter and mix.             

To large mixing bowl, add and mix well:

1 c. organic sprouted grain flour.

1 c. organic sprouted multigrain flour mix.

¼ c. light brown sugar.

1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg.

 ½ tsp. cinnamon.

1 tsp. grey, Celtic sea salt, finely ground.

 1 tsp. aluminum-free baking powder.

½ tsp. baking soda

To dry ingredients mixture, add and toss to coat:

2/3 c. organic walnuts chopped to med. sized pieces.

Add grated carrots and mix well.

Add 2 Tbsp. freshly grated orange rind, preferably organic, or washed well! (Reserve oranges for juice to serve with muffins!)

Grease muffin cups with butter, or line with paper liners as desired. Just before ready to bake, mix:

Wet ingredients with dry ingredients. Stir quickly with a silicon spatula until just mixed. Do not over-beat!!!

Scoop batter quickly into prepared cups. Bake 30-35 minutes until muffins smell nutty and are starting to pull away from tin. Allow to cool, tipped in tin or on rack for about 30 min. 

While muffins are cooling, prepare icing. Cream together:

8 oz. organic cream cheese.

 8 oz. Mascarpone cheese (preferably organic).

3 Tbsp. confectioners sugar (preferably 10x). Really, only 3 Tbsp.!!!

Ice muffins and enjoy! 

Boardman, Grandmothers Are In Charge of Hope, 82.

ps… Aunts can be grandmothers, too! AND… the no mask thing at the beginning was purely frustrated and metaphorical. We still need them!!!!

Sing us a song…

So, yesterday I was watching YouTube music videos and catching up on my email. It took me a minute to realize I was also crying.

You know, like Frederick Buechner says that the sudden flash of tears we get is the surest sign of truth we have.

Now, I’ve loved Piano Man for ages. And, yes, I know all the words. But this was different. I’d never seen or heard this version before. It was from the Gershwin Awards in 2014. Billy Joel won for Piano Man.

And so I watched. Really watched the video:

First of all, did you catch Tony Bennett in the gang on stage? I was raised on Tony Bennett and very glad he was there, older than I remembered, but still smiling. (And did you know he’s a painter, too???)

I listened on. And watched. And cried.

The second time through, I figured out why. It was the crowd. Both on-stage and in the audience. Different ages and colors and backgrounds. All singing a song that ties many, many of us together in our memories and, perhaps, our dreams.

At the risk of overstating the obvious, I think most of us are dreaming of a day when it would be safe for ourselves and for others to be in a room like that, singing and waving our arms and being a live part of such an event. I know I am.

I’m also dreaming of a time when we could be together in all of our vast and miraculous diversity; one song, many voices.

And then another song from another time. And another song from a different land. And on and on, celebrating both diversity and connection.

I’m not sure which of those dreams seems farther off in this moment.

I am sure of this. Bill and I voted on Friday. Me, by hand-delivered, mail-in ballot. Bill, in person, early.

Nothing major in a newsworthy sense. But very real in the place where we live. It matters who the next county super district commissioner will be. (Yay, Ted!) It matters who the sheriff will be. And the local court judges. And the school board members.

It’s entirely possible that it matters more now than ever. The things that seem little, or hopeless, add up. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll add up to better. Safer. Kinder. Wiser.

I’d add less corrupt to the list but it louses up my parallel structure 😉

Just know this, I’m working on a time when our dreams can come true. Even if there are folks who think that grandparents like me aren’t worth worrying about and would, in fact, improve the economy if we had the good sense to die.

And, with all due respect to Billy, we may have to take a break from forgetting about life for a while, if we’re going to pull this one off!

ps… If the photo at the top had a title it would be The Thinking Goes On. Thanks, Levengers!

Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity® Color of Woman Teacher