…all it said.

Okay. Let’s start with the fact that I did not, in fact, watch the debate last night. Stephen Colbert and Sen. Cory Booker were as much as I could manage.

There was absolutely no possibility that anything said or done in the debate was going to change my mind about whose name to mark on my mail-in ballot. And, my blood pressure tends to run a bit higher than my doc would choose for it to, even on a normal day, whatever that might be in this world.

I went to bed with the music of Jon Batiste swirling in my head and dreamed of the days in the early ’90’s when I was serving a tiny church in Tennessee. One of the things I learned as a new seminary graduate was that Sunday comes, and there has to be something to say.

Or, in my world, these days, Wednesday and Sunday 😉

Two specific times stood out in my dreams. The first was the Sunday before the vote to begin the 1991 Gulf war. The congregation was divided as to party and opinions on military action.

They were also, at that point, still somewhat divided about having a woman for a pastor.

I don’t remember what the lectionary readings were for that Sunday. I’m pretty sure I was preaching from the prophets. I know I was terrified.

Somehow, we made it to the benediction. My version goes like this:

The grace of God Almighty, the love of Christ the Son, and the power and fellowship of God the Holy Spirit be and abide with you and with all those you love, this day and every day, forever.

On that particular day, a few more words snuck in just before the amen:

And may God have mercy on us all.

The second memory swirling through my dreams was of another Sunday in Tennessee. I had spent all of Saturday, and most of Saturday night, at the hospital with a church member. For this moment, let’s just go with she needed me.

And let’s admit that my sermon was not ready Sunday morning.

Some holy inspiration led me to toss the bulletins I’d prepared for the day (which my 11 year old son had carefully folded!) into the recycling and make a fast list of some comforting verses of scripture and some familiar hymns.

Tagging a few members to read, and assuring the piano player that the simple versions would work, we were ready.

Think Lessons and Carols.

Somehow, we survived. And the congregation thought it was great fun.

I suppose that’s kind of where I wound up this morning. A few old stories and a bit of music.

The first piece from Jon Batiste…

And the second, complete with images, an old favorite I just can’t get out of my head. Feel free to sing along!

Grace and Peace be with you and yours according to your understanding.

The Weekend of Mixed Metaphors

This isn’t the blog post I was going to write. I was going to share some encouraging news about how I understand my art and my work as a teacher and coach, imagining going forward. And I was excited to share some news about new things in my Etsy shop.

Instead, here’s where I started, last night:

Those stories, though, are going to need to wait until a different day for there is another tale insisting on being told. Now. With the full range of who I am. If you’d prefer the art and camp stories, I totally understand. I would, too. And, while I can’t, you can. Just wander back to the first paragraph, click on Etsy shop and have a ball, knowing that you, too, are doing a great deal of good.

Break for something pretty close to sleeping and some starting over…

It’s been, if you’ll excuse the expression, a bit of a bitch of a weekend. Not so much in a world-shattering kind of way but in a bunch of smaller stuff in the context of the larger lunacy.

Saturday, a disagreement with Facebook over something I wanted to share that they, apparently, had a problem with. Fortunately resolved… eventually. If you’re curious, there’s a video on my personal page. It’s worth all 8 minutes. (You’ll need to scroll down a bit.)

Plus, I hurt. Specifically, my left hip is not behaving at all well. It also means that I need help for lots of things which means lots of explaining.

I wrote last night. In the get it all out sense. It had a lot to do with US politics and how I feel about much of it.

My words were articulate and passionate and spelled correctly. I did the requisite fact checking and determined that they were also true, in so far as I could tell, and given the fact that there are way too many talking heads seemingly not concerned enough with truth just now.

I went to bed with the Iron Chef America tournament of champions rolling around in my head. (It’s what I do when I need a break!)

Oddly, my buddies from Kitchen Stadium ran, somewhere in my consciousness, into yet another tournament of sorts.

You see, on Friday night, while I was matting art prints, I was also watching Shrek. The first one. And I woke up this morning remembering that fairy tales, throughout history, have often served as excellent ways for telling truth, especially to grandchildren, while also keeping one’s head.

Which I really rather hope is the reason the station my TV knows as 54FREE has been running an awful lot of Shrek these days. Check it out, if you’re in the mood. Fair warning… you have to watch clear to the end, including the credits.

The other cool thing about fairy tales is that they give the reader space to make meaning. So, I’m going back to art for today. My first act was to choose art for this post. You’ve probably met her before. Or, rather, them.

Tomorrow, Willow and the Bear are going to their forever home.

It was a journey which surprised me in many ways. What you’re seeing is the first four months or so of work on a painting called Codex that was supposed to be a 13-moon project.

A friend and I worked long hours one evening, each on our own Codex canvas. Eventually, I went to bed with all kinds of magical prompts for calling up deep knowing dancing in my head.

The next morning I woke up and, when I walked past my studio door and glanced at my canvas turned just so on its easel, I saw her.

Willow. An image which looked startlingly like a dear friend’s dog who had just made her trip across the Rainbow Bridge. (Left of center, near the top, if you’re curious.)

I knew, in that moment, that I couldn’t loose her in more layers of unknown. Instead, I started a new Codex journey which involved some scrambling to catch up.

It wasn’t until I looked at a photograph of Willow’s canvas that I saw the bear. About centered, blues and blacks. A Koala.

I adore this painting which surprised me so much! And I’m thrilled that she’s headed for a home where she is already loved and understood. And, somehow, with help from a flock of Iron Chefs, the Shrek crowd, and Willow and the Bear, I woke this morning, ready to go on.

It’s not that I didn’t mean all the ranting from last night. I did, with every fiber of my being. It’s just that I meant it so much I concluded that my job was to give you a chance to find your own truth, just as I did.

And, by truth, I mean not political views I happen to hold (Which would, in fact, be okay!) but the truth of your journey and your voice and your art, whatever it might be.

Before I go, I have a favor to ask. Please consider making hearts. Kind of like prayer dots. If you agree, and if you happen to be a subscriber to this blog (which means you got this via email) and you happen to make those hearts in my Etsy shop, “favoriting” one or some of my works, a magical being I don’t quite understand will email you 10% off coupons for items you marked in the shop. (The coupons may take until tomorrow morning to arrive 😉 )

If, however, you’re not yet a subscriber to my blog, you could sign up in the annoying pop-up box, get on the list for some cool welcome emails (which are about to become collectors’ items in their own right) and go do the fav thing on Etsy. The magical being will be delighted to send you coupons, as well.

psthere is at least one print of Willow and the Bear available now. And, since you know the artist, more could magically be made!

pps… My vote-by-mail ballot arrived Saturday!

My heart goes out to teachers!

Okay, let’s get real. This is an especially hard time to be a teacher! Nothing works the way it used to which is a major example of something that isn’t good or bad. It just is.

And pretty much everybody is involved. Teachers. Students. Parents. Grandparents. Sports teams. The folks who sell beer for tailgate parties. Bus drivers.

You get the drift.

I’ve been looking at all this newness from the perspective of both a student and a teacher. This past weekend, I had the great privilege of being a student in a retreat affectionately known as The Bunny Slope.

It had been scheduled to be in-person back when organized people, like Sam Bennett plan things. Clearly that wasn’t going to work, especially with participants from several nations.

So Sam and her team of wizards figured out how to teach business concepts to creatives of many sorts, virtually.

Because I also teach, and am re-figuring a bunch of things I had planned, I feel safe in observing that, there on The Bunny Slope, the teachers were learning right along with the students. In my world, that’s a good thing!

It’s a lot like living with Luther, who graciously agreed to appear, above. In case you’re a new friend, Luther is our latest Newfoundland rescue dog. And one of my greatest teachers.

He came to us, about 3 1/2 years ago, severely traumatized, from a puppy mill in Michigan. (Insert rant of your choice, here.) It was about 14 months before I could leave him alone. Which, in retrospect, was probably good training for the pandemic and quite possibly the reason I’m hanging in there, now.

The social and emotional issues healed slowly and the huge-hearted guy inside began to appear. Unfortunately, his eye problems began to get worse. Despite all our efforts to help, he lost his vision entirely. Eventually, he began to have increasing pain from pressure in his eyes.

About a year and a half ago, we made the difficult decision to have his eyes surgically removed to relieve his pain. I kept thinking about a beloved Vet who once told me that, “When they’re in pain, they think they’ve been bad.”

Luther and I spent the first three post-op weeks literally tied to each other because he couldn’t tolerate a “cone of shame” and I couldn’t let him try to take out his own sutures.

Almost from the moment our current beloved Vet and I got the black silk sutures out of his Newfie face (Time out for major eye rolling on my part!) he started to get more sociable.

Fast forward to tonight and the photo, above. This big guy, whose favorite word is friend, found his own way from the kitchen, which is his usual hangout, to the den so he could bond during Chopped. He’s actually started, just recently, to decide where he wants to be and go there, instead of staying where he is until somebody tells him he needs to be somewhere else, even though it usually means bumping his nose a few times on the way.

It occurred to me, as I was taking his picture, that lots of the world feels like Luther’s world must, much of the time. And the dog-mom inside me, who is also a student and a teacher and a grammy, has hope.

Which doesn’t mean I’m not also pretty livid much of the time.

It just means that livid isn’t going to get me too far down the road to different. So, I’m going with determined. A lot like Luther. And that determined me is definitely going to vote.

And keep learning what I need to know. And helping others learn, too. And giving thanks for all the amazing teachers in my world. Even the ones who didn’t set out to be teachers.

ps… It’s me, Luther. (Sometimes I get to write, too!) Mom painted a picture with me in it. It’s called “Chosen, Safe, and Loved.” You see it if you click HERE!

What will we do with our inheritance?

Context is, as they say, everything.

A year or so ago, when I shared the following passage in these pages, the magnificent Julie Steelman was teaching some of us about financial sovereignty for women.

In this moment, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has taught, and fought for, so many of us through the years has passed on.

Here is some of what she was fighting against…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, a couple of questions.

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

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

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

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

I can only speak for myself.

Prayer dots and tears, for a start.

Petitions to the Senate. Several of them, already. Insisting that a nominee for Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat not be considered or confirmed until the national election is complete.

Working harder even than before for the candidates I trust.

It’s a challenge. I’m having a bit of an orthopedic adventure at the moment and delivering yard signs or knocking on doors or learning to be a poll worker aren’t really viable options for me. And we’re not exactly overflowing with spare cash in the moment.

But I have words. And a way to share the words of others. Kind of my own microscopic news organization. One that I, unlike some of the big kids, freely admit is biased. It’s biased toward the future we are creating in this moment. It’s biased toward upholding laws and norms my girls don’t even know once needed fighting for.

And I have fierce compassion. I’m giving it away. All you need or want, to put to work in your world.

Oh, and I have a painting I’m working on. Collaging names of my grandmothers. And a new grandmother. Ruth Bader Ginsburg. May her hopes and dreams for us and for all the generations to come be so.

Amen. Amen. Selah.

This has never happened before…

If you’re anything like me, it gets harder and harder to figure out which day is which without the rhythm of pre-pandemic weekends and holidays.

Let me help. It is, in fact, Tuesday, at least where and when I’m writing this. And this is Wednesday’s blog post. It just couldn’t wait!

It started Monday evening as I was knitting prayer scarves and watching The West Wing. It was during the final season when Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits) and Arnie Vinick (Alan Alda) are running for President. And, yes, I’ve watched it “a few” times before.

One of my favorite episodes is the Presidential debate. (Season 7, Episode 7) This time, though, I learned something new.

I am a Values Voter.

Not, as I suspect is obvious, in the sense that many talking heads often use that phrase.

Instead, in the sense that I vote based on what I believe. On what I have learned to value because of what I believe.

This is, admittedly, the bumper sticker version of a much longer story but it gets the job done. You may well know it, too.

A lawyer asked Jesus/Yeshua a question, according to Matthew 22:36 – 40. Here’s what happened:

Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”

So, what will that mean for me when it comes to filling out my early, absentee ballot in Georgia?

It means that I value LGBTQ rights. I want real justice to extend to all our people, regardless of skin color or bank balances. I support access to legal, safe abortion care. I want universal healthcare in America. I want people to have enough food and to have it free from toxic chemicals. I want people to be able to live on “minimum wage”. And, I want us to care for our planet so that there is a world for my girls, and all our kids, to grow up in.

Oh, and while I’m at it, I want safe, accessible, secure voting options for all and universal voter registration. Along with an end to Citizens’ United and the Electoral College.

There’s more, but I suspect you can fill in the blanks.

With all of that rolling around in my head and my heart, I took on Monday.

My hip hurt worse. It felt like all the chess pieces on my mental board were shifting around, moving in directions I hadn’t planned for. (This part was not bad. It just took a fair amount of adjusting.)

A big, helpful meeting took up my afternoon, along with blessed progress from a dear friend and Etsy elf.

Fortunately Sunday had involved putting a whole bunch of mini meatloaves in the freezer and one in the fridge so dinner kind of took care of itself. You see, there was another big event to come.

The Moral Monday Mass Assembly and Teach – in

Yep, I watched. And I’m really sad that I can’t find a recorded copy of the event to share with you. I can tell you about how I experienced it.

I’ve been hugely inspired by Bishop William Barber since I first encountered him at the Sister Giant event in 2017. I might watch him sell used cars if he had time for such things. I try really hard to watch when he and the gang are living their values and helping the rest of us understand. This was such an event.

And, they invited some guests. Specifically, the two major party candidates for President. The photo at the top shows you who showed up. I’m so deeply glad he did.

The theme of the evening was Voting is power, unleashed.

Can I get an Amen?

We began with singing.

Somebody’s hurting our people and it’s gone on far too long… And we won’t be silent anymore.

Another Amen about now would work.

It was all totally worth being present for but the very best part, for me, was the soft-spoken, gray haired, white-bodied guy named Joe Biden.

I know. He’s not Bernie Sanders and I’m still sad about that. But he is, as I mentioned once before, quite possibly the person who was born for times such as this. (Thank you, Dr. Estes!)

Policy-wise, the best thing Joe said was that we’re going to build a new economy that includes everyone.

Character-wise, my favorite story had to do with Joe’s grandparents. His grandfather used to say to him, “Keep the faith, Joey.” And his grandmother would chime in with, “Spread the faith, Joey!”

The guy who will tell that story, and mean it deeply, in front of millions of people, despite a painful history of stuttering, gets my vote.

And speaking of voting, Dr. Barber said that there were 100 million eligible voters who did not vote in 2016. I’m not sure exactly how many zeros that is, but please, please, don’t be one of them this time.

ps… If you’re curious, here’s a Facebook link where you can learn more.

pssSpread the faith!

A Weekend of Tears… and Paste!

If you’ve been hanging around for a while, or know practically anybody in my family, you’ve probably realized that I didn’t get the Hallmark genes in the crowd. (Though I have been better at cards since I started making my own!)

I’ve been pondering that this weekend. Between the 9/11 anniversary on Friday and Grandparents’ Day, today, it’s felt really hard to find words that will fit on a card. Which might explain all the tears. Tears for big, complex feelings that don’t always have words.

There are times when I envy Phoebe, who has taken to muttering in her sleep, leaving the interpretation to the two footed folks nearby.

And then one of my paintings started asking for things. She’s been sitting on an easel since May or June, dropping hints and waiting for me to catch on.

I think our communication challenge started from the very beginning. Officially, her name in the land of Intentional Creativity® is Hydra’s Flare.

Astrology and Greek Mythology. Not my areas of expertise! Yes, I looked it up when we began but there were lots of other things going on about then and it somehow just didn’t stick for me. Especially the part about cutting off her heads and more growing back.

I painted the constellation. A great excuse for prayer dots. Dots for peace and for learning.

Then, a book I was reading, starting leaving little hints around about symbolism and names.

Then I got engaged in a major genealogy expedition.

Oh, and a friend looked at an online photo of my Work-in-Progress and asked who that was beside her.

You know how, once you see something, it’s really hard to un-see it? Well, that’s how I’ve been feeling about the presence beside the “main” figure in my painting. Once I saw her, I couldn’t un-see her. And I still didn’t know who or what she was.

A week or so ago, I realized that the mystery figure represented the ancestors. My ancestors. Specifically, my grandmothers.

Yesterday, I figured out how to pull it off!

So, digging through the family tree stuff, I began writing names. In longhand. Lots and lots of names. Then I printed them on recycled paper and began to tear the pages into pieces.

Tearing is important, at least for me. It leaves softer edges for collaging than cut edges.

I wondered a bit, as I tore up the names of the grandmothers, about this rather non-typical way of honoring them for Grandparents’ Day.

As I wondered some more, the tears began to fall again. You see, I know enough of the stories of these particular women to realize that many of them lived through days which must have felt a lot like these days feel to me.

Immigrants on well known boats. Wives of Revolutionary War soldiers. Mothers who knew what it was to wake up in the morning and wonder who was going to be in charge. And where the food was going to come from.

They don’t seem to have many answers, these scraps of paper with names of those who came before me. And yet, as they start to come together, I find comfort in giving form to their courage.

And in hoping it lives inside me, still.

I see it even now in my girls. Wise women already, I’m grateful for their inspiration in learning new things. I just wish they were old enough to vote!

For today, blessings. And hugs for some dear friends in Tennessee who have newborn twin grandsons! I’ll report back when my art adventure is closer to satisfied with me.

What the heck is that???

It became official in July when my certificate came in the mail. Many of you wrote to offer congratulations, which I hugely appreciated in this time of compassionately distanced celebrations.

Some of you wrote to ask, with varying expletives, what on earth was Intentional Creativity® Coaching and what did it do, which I also hugely appreciated.

Questions, as I’ve long believed, make all the difference when it comes to learning new things. Also doing new things!

So, as the pandemic goes on and some of you are dealing with kids you didn’t expect to have home from college and parents you can’t visit and ways to make a living while supervising adventures like virtual algebra, here are a few of your questions, along with some answers.

If it’s called Intentional Creativity, do I have to be artistic? Nope! At least not any more so than we all are. (Yes, even you!) Which is to say, if you can take markers – or crayons, for that matter – and make marks on paper, you’ve got this. (Okay, larger sized, heavy paper like what you find in a 9×12 or larger mixed media sketch book is handy, but flexible are us!)

If I can’t come see you, how does this work? Great question! I have an “office” in the land called Zoom. We find a time, I send you a link, and we get together for a while and do what I like best about ICC which is unsticking stuck stuff. I’ll light the electric candle. (No real ones with Newfoundland rescue dogs wandering through, especially when one of them is blind!) Please bring your own tea and Kleenex.

Okay… what exactly is this good for? If you’ve known me a while, or been reading along, we’ve probably talked about strategies. In an ICC session, we use a strategy called Metacognitive Drawing to find new ways for you to get from where you are to where you’d rather be. Think for a minute about someone you know who might be feeling stuck about a certain issue. She uses a familiar strategy like eating a pound of p-nut M&M’s or yelling at her cat or binge watching Hallmark movies. (There’s no judgment here… just the observation that these are often not choices which actually get us to a new place.) Metacognitive Drawing, also known as thinking about thinking while moving a pen, puts us into a different relationship with our thoughts and that makes new options not only possible, but kind of obvious!

But you’re a grandmother! And a pastor! This all sounds fringy. Or new-agey. What’s up with that? You’re right. I’ve been working to help people for more than 30 years now. I’m a pastoral counselor with mastery level training in Ericksonian hypnotherapy/NLP. I know a whole lot about Enneagram personality types and where you store your past by how you move your eyes, though that gets tricky because I can’t tell my right from my left . And I am, in fact, a grandmother. Those two girls, growing up in this world, are a big part of the reason I do this, because me just knowing a lot doesn’t help them make the changes they want and now I have more ways to do that, even when I can’t be there.

Say more… Okay. I had two amazing grandmothers whom we’ll refer to as the story Gramma and the picture Granny. Once upon a time, I was a seminary student getting ready to preach for the first time in the church where I grew up. I realized, while I was preparing, that I felt much closer to the story Gramma than I did the photo Granny, though I loved them both. (Break for whole lots of right brain/left brain learning and time for a bit of perspective to sneak in.) ICC makes a place, like Rumi’s field, where the story brain and the picture brain can work together to create new possibilities. Really!

But, what if you don’t know the answer to my questions? Or my problems? No worries! I know some questions that make all the difference and how to create sacred space for the journey. YOU know what you need and ICC helps you find the answers inside you.

What are your clients saying about their experience? Ahhh… we’re getting serious! Here are some actual comments…

“The MetaCognitive thing helps my brain stop being obsessive compulsive about the problem or emotion or whatever, and allows me to see myself, and my issues, from all angles.”

“It’s different every time! I’m not good at memorizing Bible verses or mantras or whatever. The visualizing really helps. I can remember the pictures and carry them with me!”

“It helps me re-frame dilemmas about taking care of others and realize that it’s actually about taking care of me so I can be in relationship to them.”

How do I start? email me at suesvoice@gmail.com We’ll find a time to get on the phone and see if working together feels like a good match, then we’ll make a plan that starts where you are. We’ll also sort out the time and investment issues of this journey which work a bit differently than you may be used to.

What else? Another note from a client: “Participating in an IC coaching session was a new way to explore and express my feelings. It was very helpful to be able to share back & forth on Zoom. I really liked being able to draw some of the things I was feeling, instead of always having to verbalize my feelings. I’ll definitely do it again!”

And one from me… You – yes you – were born with great gifts. Gifts the world needs now. Set yourself free to live in hope by taking a chance on you and what can be if you’ll let it! I’d be honored to help.

ps… Once upon a time, I spent about an hour and a half with a brilliant wizard woman named Julie Steelman doing an impromptu ICC session. By the time we were done, I had recognized my biggest, hairiest lurking fear and realized that, while it was very deep and old, it wasn’t me now. And the fear disappeared. How do I know it’s still gone? Because I posted this today!

pss… Yes! Should you happen to know others having a challenge getting their cats to march in a parade, you’re welcome to share this 😉

Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity® Color of Woman Teacher