The Only Thing…

Truth. While missing my kids and resisting Christmas cookies, I’ve been indulging my serious fondness for The West Wing.

A couple of days ago it was time for Jed Bartlet’s second inauguration. The speech writing was complicated by a crisis in Africa. One of the writing team was off running for Congress in California. It was, at least in TV land, time for new characters. Will Bailey jetted in to help.

On the night of the Inauguration, the President gathered the Senior Staff for a rather surprising announcement. The (very!) new kid on the block was being named Deputy Communications Director, complete with a certificate signed by Bartlet and stamped with the seal of the President.

Then came the question. (You may know the quote from American Cultural Anthropologist, Margaret Mead. Please play along, if you do!)

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. [Do you know why?] …it’s the only thing that ever has.

I’ve loved this for years. And, especially in this moment, I’ve begun to suspect it just might be about me, too.

The political challenges are about to wear me out! And I’ve been flinging my commitment far and wide. But that’s not the only thing I’ve been up to. You see, despite everything else that’s going on in the world (and with a cranky knee), I’m still painting.

Paint by soul. My teacher and friend, Shiloh Sophia McCloud, who is the amazing force behind Intentional Creativity® in this moment, explains it this way…

Musea is one of the largest and most well established art movements on the planet.

(Really? Me? Yes!!!)

We are the curators of consciousness, using a methodology called Intentional Creativity which is making with mindfulness in any medium. Painting. Music. Language. Cuisine. Culture. Poetry. Theater. Pottery. Drawing. Sculpting. Dance. (Even quilts!) All mediums, when made with a sacred intent, tell a story. 

Our Intentional Creativity Movement has roots going back close to 100 years and invites participants to step into the role of Artist… There are currently over 400 Intentional Creativity Teachers worldwide, empowering more people to claim their self-expression and live a life more aligned with who they are through the power of Intentional Creativity.

The reach of our work is far beyond our knowing and we believe it will be carried into the millennia with teachers, both present and future. They will bring Intentional Creativity into their homes, schools, wellness and mental health centers, and prison systems. Our methodology can be used any place awakening consciousness through creativity is possible, to lift up others and bring healing to our planet.

MUSEA : Intentional Creativity  

Many Voices. Many Hands. Many Lands.  

Crafting Culture and Curating Consciousness

Now, you’re probably wondering why this, now? Well, because, amongst my Musea sisters, I’m living the truth of Margaret Mead’s quote. And, as Shiloh said, there are many ways to do it!

I’m one of those 400 Intentional Creativity teachers. I’m also one of a small but growing number of people using Intentional creativity for coaching with individuals and groups. And a huge part of my work is in empowering others to clarify their visions for helping to heal the world and putting them to work. (You’ll hear more about this very soon!)

“Talent” is not required! Just a longing to be part of more light for all.

ps… This glimpse of my current painting is a reminder from Luther that there are many ways of seeing.

pps… May your New Year be filled with hope and blessings!

Keeping warm in the cold…

Luther is loving the weather. Cold. Damp. A smidge of ice. It feels familiar to him and Luther is a guy who sorts for familiar much of the time.

Phoebe and I are not so sure. Cranky joints seem crankier than usual. Plus, there’s lots of laptopping to get done so, while Luther is out chatting (loudly) with the dogs next door, Phoebe and I have been huddled in the den, with fuzzy blankets and movies on TV.

Sister Act (1 & 2) have been on a bunch. I’m a fan and excited to learn, in a recent Colbert interview with Whoopi Goldberg, that a third movie is in the works.

I know. It’s not likely to win an Oscar but the music is great and there’s lots of empowering going on, which works for me. Here’s one of my favorite scenes from the first movie:

The novice nun, Sister Mary Robert says to Whoopi, Do you know how sometimes it’s as if you have to be yourself or you’ll just burst?

Whoopi’s succinct response is, Yep, I do.

Well, I do, too. And the painting and teaching and coaching are the ways I do me. And, of course, being a Grammy!

Then, as I was sketching out the outline for the Miracles workshop, I happened across a rerun of The Help.

Fairly true to form, I had read the book before I saw the movie. And I loved the book! All that speaking the things which “must not” be spoken.

One of my favorite scenes appeared as if on cue today. The maid/nanny, Aibileen, says to the small girl in her care, You is Kind. You is Smart. You is Important.

That claim is, in so many ways, at the core of my commitment to the notion that Grandmothers Are In Charge Of Hope!

Hearing it felt different today. Bigger, somehow. You see, the world has changed since the last time I heard it.

Well, it probably hasn’t changed so much as we’re more aware, many of us, of things that are both true and not working at all.

As I listened and wiped my tears, I wondered what it would be like if that affirmation suddenly became the core of our sharing this planet?.

What if we looked at each person we met and related with them out of the basic premise that they, and we, are kind and smart and important?

What if that was the message not only for our nearest and dearest, but for our nation?

On the one hand, it feels like an awfully big change to imagine.

On the other, it has the rare advantage of being something you and I can start today, no act of Congress required.

Now, I’ll admit that there are exceptions. Not everybody is kind and smart and important and we do have to protect ourselves… but would there be as many exceptions if we started there?

There will undoubtedly be days when we’ll stub our verbal toes over old barriers, but we’ll learn more doing it. And, bit by bit, things will get better.

Some folks won’t be thrilled, but that’s no reason to give up. I’m starting, consciously, now. (The editor who lurks inside me has politely suggested that we fluff the grammar up just a bit.)

You are kind. You are smart. You are important.

Pretty good news to preach…

ps… the artwork, above, is a snippet from my painting, The Fiercely Compassionate Artist.

When the past is still true…

Just before I left for Columbia seminary, we got a new pastor at 1st Pres in Lakeland, Florida. Things changed after Tom arrived. One of my favorite changes involved establishing a living nativity scene in front of the church. We began that very first year.

The church sits on a lake and people circle around every year to look at the Christmas lights. It’s like a contest to see who can burn the most bulbs or come up with the craziest display of Santa on water skis. We set up a stable, sewed up some costumes and began recruiting Mary’s and Joseph’s for Witness on the Lake.

Animals were our first problem. That area is not exactly overrun with farm animals. A large animal vet came to our rescue, delivering a donkey, a goat, and two sheep to the church.

Housing the animals became our next problem. A small, fenced enclosure behind the parking lot worked well, after we moved the canoe trailer. The neighbors weren’t so sure what they thought. We lived in dread fear of a call from the zoning commission informing us that our four-footed actors had to go. Fortunately, that call never came.

Unfortunately, the donkey had such a bad attitude that we had to trade him in for a shetland pony. A very old shetland pony with cataracts so bad that he spent a great deal of effort trying to turn away from the headlights coming around the lake. This caused Tom to wonder why we kept getting the business end of the horse!

We’d been out there for 3 or 4 nights and things were going going fairly well when the big night finally arrived. Christmas Eve was wet and cold. Several of our characters called in sick and we scrambled to find folks to be Magi and shepherds in the final hours before the service. The young adults’ group turned out in full force and we were back in business.

The pony bit Tom. The goat looked depressed or sick or both. The sheep, who’d played their parts well all week, simply stood blinking in the dripping rain. We huddled in the makeshift stable, shivering in our costumes and munching chocolate chip cookies some kind soul had made. I wasn’t sure we were being much of a witness!

Amazingly, people still came! Cars drove round and round. Even the newspapers showed up. Somewhere in the middle of all the bustle, a young mother walked up with her daughter who was about 4 years old.

The little girl stood, tattered and wet, one finger in her mouth, and looked. She looked and looked and looked. Finally she pointed at a sheep and we assured her that it was safe to pet the soggy animal. Suddenly, scattering hay everywhere and scaring the sheep half to death, she darted into the little stable. Gazing down at our baby-doll Jesus lying in an orange crate she asked, Who are you supposed to be?

Several of us answered at once. Mary – Joseph – a shepherd… Our little friend looked even more puzzled. Then a young man, who sold cement for a living, decided to start at the beginning and we began to tell the Christmas story. Slowly her mother joined us, listening as intently as the little girl who was now holding the baby-doll Jesus. Finally they wandered off into the rain – the little girl crunching another cookie and her mother promising to think about our invitation to return for church that evening.

As we settled back into our roles – still huddled in the stable – another person approached us. A lovely woman, dressed for a party. Her high heels sank into the wet ground and she wrapped her expensive raincoat more tightly about her. She held a small camera in one hand but she, like the little girl, stood for long moments – just watching. Finally she looked directly at us and said, I have just one question. Why do you do this ridiculous thing?

We stammered a bit… Well, it’s Christmas and the children like it and… but she was already walking away, her unused camera swinging at her side.

Her question has haunted me ever since.

I told this story for the first time in 1990, in the pulpit of a tiny church I had come to serve. And I was compelled to tell it again, today.

I’ve learned a lot since that night in the rain when a woman I did not know asked, Why?

In some ways my answer has gotten more complex. I’m more aware of the ways stories like this have been used to belittle or frighten those of different traditions.

I’m more aware of those who don’t feel included.

I’m more aware of the ways people who claim the story but not the love behind it have used it to grab power in our world with no concern for any but themselves.

And yet, I am compelled to do this ridiculous thing again because I still believe it is about hope. Hope in the promises of the Creator.

I think many of us tell this story because we remember those promises – promises of belonging and posterity and relationship. And maybe, just maybe, our remembering has a bit to do with reminding the maker of those promises that we haven’t forgotten! That the truth of this story is somehow more true, even, than what we see with our own eyes in these days.

If the woman in the raincoat was here today, that is what I would tell her. We do it because, somehow, the story of Creator and Creation is more true than Fox News.

Maybe you know that woman in the raincoat and you can tell her for me!

And maybe you’ll tell me some of your sacred stories, too. So be it. Amen.

ps… to you and yours from me and mine… love and peace and hope in this moment and always.

What Santa’s Bringing This Year…

It’s been quite the year around here, as I imagine it has been for you, as well. And I’ll admit to being tempted to focus on the things that are missing in our world but I’m consciously resisting.

So! There’s a new roof on the house we’re blessed to have. And, with a bit of luck and some earplugs, there should soon be several energy efficient updates to the things the experts call systems. By which I mean big things like the HVAC machinery. And possibly cleaned ducts, but that one is still in the research phase.

I led my first webinar (I know… but please be patient. The world needs more art and people who believe in the longings of their hearts!)

Nothing like a an adventurous tech-y escapade (Read that, making a video to – gulp – publish!) to make the next things on the progress list more obvious. In my case, a plan for video editing lessons, and a cell phone with more camera. (Thank you, Santa!)

Someone asked me, the other day, why I was torturing myself with extroverting and videos and such.

It’s a good question. And the answer takes us to another question… one that will undoubtedly play a big role in the Miracles workshop.

What do you want to set free in the world in 2021 and beyond?

Which, ironically, brings to mind the Legendary Husband’s vast collection of Dragon Con and Signals Catalog t-shirts!

Yes. Beyond this place there be dragons.

And, yes. We are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

All of which means that we need an answer to this question, too.

What do you need…?

(Well, there’s a little more, but that’s why we’re having a workshop!)

So, wherever you are – as long as there’s a Zoom connection! – thank your fears for their concern and send them on vacation. Click the brightly colored link above (or here) and go get some more information. Give this adventure a chance. You do have choices! Come, set sail in the direction of your dreams.

I have two granddaughters growing up in this world and the more of us there are facing the dragons, the better it’s going to be for all of us.

Think of it as you giving a gift to the world! And holiday blessings to you and yours.

ps… Many thanks to Sam Bennett and her amazing team for helping with the tools for facing dragons!

pps… The workshop starts December 27th. NOW is the time!

Good Trouble!

’tis the season for Good Trouble! In Georgia, for sure, and in the world.

Good Trouble is a phrase from the late Congressman John Lewis who passed on this fall. My Facebook feed is filled with faces of strangers become partners with their “I’m a Georgia Voter” stickers and the assurance that they’ve been up to good trouble. (Me, too!)

The glimpse of my Artifact painting, above, was painted on the night we lost John Lewis. As a painter, I was supposed to be “coding” my work with symbols and prayers that matter to my understanding of our time. (At least I think that’s what I was supposed to be doing. I know it’s what happened!)

My painting was also coded with my tears. And prayer dots, galore.

In my tradition, today is the fourth Sunday in the season of Advent. The candle lit for this day is commonly known as the candle for Peace. I have lots of paintings with peace symbols, but this one insisted on showing up, instead, because it seems to me that we’re highly unlikely to make Peace without Hope.

So, longing for Peace and Hope, I rounded up some friends today and we made a bit of good trouble. Women with paper and markers and dreams, busting out of stuck and heading for more. For glorious, as a matter of fact!

If that sounds good to you, you can join in, too. The workshop, Make Your Own Miracles… 3 Creative Tools to Feel Better Now starts next Sunday (12/27) at 1pm ET. There’s more information Here! And, when the tech elves have learned a new thing or two, there will be a recording from today’s preview. I’ll let you know, for sure.

One friend asked me why I’m doing this in the middle of all the hard stuff that’s going on in the world.

You guessed it… because, while the hard stuff is very real, it’s not the only stuff and I’m totally convinced that it helps the world when we remember that there is hope and take part in it.

Also, I suppose, because I’m a fan of good trouble. If you are, too, I think you’d add a lot to the journey!

For now, my deep thanks to you for being here and reading along. This whole blog thing started with the notion that GRANDMOTHERS ARE IN CHARGE OF HOPE. I’m still all in!

And if, by chance, you live in Georgia and haven’t voted yet, John Lewis and I are counting on you!

ps… Just between us, the actual video making, etc. is easier than the editing and sharing and all that comes after it. Just in case you have questions about the workshop that you can’t find answers for, just email me at suesvoice@gmail.com I’m way better with answers than with which button to push!

The Sky is Telling Stories

For years now, I’ve been a fan of the notion that life is for learning.

This is handy because, in my experience, having a variety of teachers leads to knowing more things. For example, I didn’t learn much of anything about astronomy or astrology in nursing school or seminary. And yet it seems that the sky may be teaching us, now! So I headed for my favorite place to learn with awesome sisters, The Red Thread Cafe Classroom.

Once there, I asked for information or sources of information about the batch of eclipses and the solstice and such that seem to be happening just now. Wow, did I get help!

One sister told me about a site called Astrobutterfly where I actually understood a bit of what I read. We’ll return to that in a few minutes.

First a visit to another sister’s question. “Did I,” she wondered, “remember the song, The Age of Aquarius?” (I do!)

And then the suggestion to pay attention to the words.

This was not hard since, as you’ve probably realized, I tend to know all the words of such things. In case you’d like a reminder…

Deep in my inner filing system, along with the words, came two memories.

The first involved a school field trip somewhere around 1969. I was in 5th or 6th grade and there was a special show at the local planetarium. You guessed it… The Age of Aquarius!

This event was memorable for two reasons. The music, and the guy who held my hand during the bus ride on the way back to school.

The second memory came from just a bit after that. A Girl Scout camping trip on some private beach property. We sat around a campfire in the middle of a ring of pup tents, watching the amazing night sky and singing The Age of Aquarius.

And yes, I so totally hope this is real!

Before I began writing, though, a bit more research seemed in order, so I was off to Astrobutterfly.

Wow, is there lots of stuff to learn there, but I have a painting to work on so I tried to focus.

Apparently there is some ambiguity about when, exactly, the Age of Aquarius begins again. Here’s the part that jumped out for me:

As we are shifting from the Age of Pisces into the Age of Aquarius, we will learn that each individual is important – not as an amorphous mass easy to maneuver (Age of Pisces). 

Every single one of us is born for a reason, and we all can bring our own contribution to the development of society. Every single one of us can make the world a better place

I believe that each one of us can make the world a better place and, despite recent national evidence to the contrary, I believe it’s time to focus on the differences each of us can make.

In fact, that’s why we’re having another new event around here! Specifically, a webinar on Sunday, at 1:00 pm, with an art experience and some information on how to move closer and closer to your way of making the world a better place.

Maybe, just maybe, it is the time and we don’t want to miss a chance like that. The first step is easy! In fact, if you’re on the regular email list for this blog post, you’ve already done it.

If not, say if you clicked on this from Facebook or it was forwarded to you, just click the pop up thingie that’s probably been driving you nuts, you know, popping up, since you got here, and sign up for the email list.

That’s all it takes. Then, starting tomorrow, you and everybody already on the list will get all the information you need to join the webinar. You’ll want to hurry, though, since we’re keeping the group small so we can see the art and share the insights.

And, no, you don’t have to have any experience as an artist to fit right in. Honest! I’m so hoping you’ll join us. The world could use a big batch of better about now and I suspect it really is going to take all of us.

Oh, one more thing… this is my first one of these, and it’s a big milestone on my better world path, which is one more reason I hope you’ll join in!

ps… the glimpse of a painting, above, is from the winter solstice, 2018, inspired by the night sky viewed from our back deck. The peace sign is my prayer.

pps… If you have any trouble getting on the mailing list with the pop-up thingie, just email me! suesvoice@gmail.com Together, we shall be victorious!

A Weekend on Memory Lane

Turns out Memory Lane feels, at least in this moment, unpaved, full of potholes, with steep hills, and slick with ice.

Okay, not literal ice, but memory lane is usually not an entirely literal place! Here’s how the trip started.

On Friday, a friend asked for help and I was catapulted, in my mind, back to just this time, in 1980.

I was a young, single mom, living in HUD housing and buying groceries with Food Stamps. I was also a full time nursing student and we were just finishing up a rotation in an extended care facility.

My little guy was 11 months old. I felt blessed that he didn’t know we were poor. His Christmas gift that year was a plastic steering wheel from the dollar store made to hook on his car seat. He was thrilled. I felt like Scrooge, especially when I disconnected the horn on his steering wheel!

Fast forward to now. We’re all good, though very sad about Covid and virtual holidays. I’m not sure what we’ll be sending the girls just yet, though a beeping steering wheel probably won’t make the list! (Much to my dismay, one of them is not that far from an interest in real steering wheels!)

In my email, there was a response to a message I’d sent out to a small list of folks interested in my art workshops. You know… Coming soon! Make Your Own Miracles! It was from my friend who needs help and was brave enough to reach out.

Here’s the thing. The workshop works. But in works in its own way and time, deep inside us, before it busts out into the world, feeling like it’s always been true.

And, for some of us, there are some real challenges along the way.

Frankly, the rabid political ads on TV don’t feel all that helpful, though it won’t be a big surprise that I’m with the guys on the side of actual helping.

So, from the been there, done that crowd, I’ll be sending you a second email today with an option for how you might help my friend recover from surgery and an injury, avoid eviction, and get – literally – back on her feet, all while getting a gift for yourself, if you want to.

No pressure. Just an unexpected chance to fulfill whatever elf fantasies you might be harboring.

I will tell you that the original special email went out to a list of folks on the “first to know” list for upcoming opportunities to go miracle hunting with me. If you’d like to be on that list, please click on the handy link you’ll find in the email and you’ll be added! And I promise that the vast majority of emails won’t be requests like this one.

It’s just that I didn’t know how else to try to help my friend.

And please know that, in this season of hope and blessings, I’m giving thanks for you!

ps… the artwork is from my Codex painting, The Co-Creative Soul, reminding me that we are connected, by a legendary red thread, to those who will matter in our lives. More thanks for you!

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