A Sadder Artist but Wiser, Now…

It’s okay. I’m really NOT going to start singing. And, even though many of you know the first part of the story, I truly hope you’ll hang around for the what happened next part!

Yes, as reported in Facebook, I have spent a couple of weeks muddled up in an art scam that almost worked. And I’ve learned some new things. It’s been the old things, though, popping up in my dreams last night, that have been what I really needed and I’m ready to share.

This is, other than paint, some of the best stuff I know!

It started like this…

Somewhere a being capable of email with a woman’s name approached me about buying a piece of my art in a backchannels sort of way. (Unrecognized clue #1!)

We went back and forth for a while (U.C. #2) about payment and postage, etc.

There seemed to be an estate somewhere in the mix. (U.C. #3)

Skipping along over the dull stuff… I finally got a check that was for considerably more money than the price of the original painting. (U.C. #4)

Then – and this is the big clue – lots of pressure about time and some event and blah, blah, blah…

By this point, I was mad. And, blessedly, my kids were here so I wasn’t in the mood to be hassled. Then (You guessed it!) the check was returned by my bank. The $12 this cost me was a tremendous bargain. And, yes, I sent the somewhat redemptive kiss off email.

Then, the dreams…

The primary voice was that of my long term teacher, Dr. H. Stephen Glenn of Developing Capable People fame.

Steve, who spends lots of time sitting on my shoulder, whispering in my ear, reminded me of some things I already know.

  • I stuck with me.
  • I listened to my heart.
  • I remembered that I matter.
  • There’s no such thing as failure… only opportunities to be learned from!

Those are the things I’ll use later today to put new healing energy into my painting and it will be an even stronger witness to what I believe – to what it was meant to be – than it was the first time it was finished.

This, dear friends, is good work! Especially in this world, just now.

So, just in case you, or someone you love, ever has a moment like this, when your Inner Critic seems to be whispering the Why didn’t you…? stuff, I’m happy to lend you Steve.

And, because I believe in all this so much, I just said yes to a chance to do live painting during a virtual post card party for a very cool group of activists known as Envoys for Humanity!

We’re still working on the details, but my Muse is thrilled and I’m totally curious, which Steve would remind us is our best state for learning! (I’ll keep you posted!)

ps… my canvas still needs a bit of touching up, but it feels a lot better now. Just in case you have a project that needs a bit of energy tidying, I’m happy to tell you how I’m doing mine! Just holler. suesvoice@gmail.com

ppsin this moment, it’s back to mountains of laundry, an awesome bowl of scallop soup (!) and some more time exploring how to be my best me.

Bless the beasts and children!

Our kids are here! It’s been almost a year and a half and I’m close to weeping with the joy.

We’re being as wise as we can be. The adults are fully vaccinated or half-way there. Masks abound. We’re even using a bigger table for eating so we have more personal distance. And there’s lots of hand washing going on!

We are, of course, painting.

We’re also heavily involved with the new family bonding adventure known as dog brushing. Phoebe and Luther are in huge beast heaven!

Swiffering is an excellent form of quiet exercise.

Our kitchen is packed full of willing chefs. Tonight, a truffle risotto experiment. I miss Italy, and the girls are adventurous eaters.

I am at peace in a way I haven’t been since the pandemic started.

Well, almost. We’ll leave Georgia state politicians for another day.

There’s a line for the shower. I have no idea where the kitchen mandoline may have run off to. Pollen is taking over the world. Not sure we’re going to have time for planting seeds as there is way more weeding to be done than even a couple of days ago.

Full disclosure: I was tempted to type, just a moment ago, the old statement:

All manner of thing shall be well.

Then I stopped myself, deeply conscious of all those in our world who are feeling like very little will ever be well again.

And, somehow, both of those things have truth in them.

More truth, in fact, than I’m sure what to do with.

Here’s what I do know… I am blessed to be able to feed my family. And shelter the dogs. And share groceries with a friend in need.

Tomorrow, the plan is for the girls to help me write postcards to encourage voters in a Congressional run-off.

And there are, of course, more dots to be made.

You and yours are on the list, too.

ps… Watch for my new Shopify store coming soon to a web page near you!

Once upon a time…

… a LONG time ago, I used to show dogs. And groom them. I started with Mastiffs. Easy to groom. Hard to convince.

Next, Great Pyrenees. I have trouble admitting this, but we actually put laundry bluing in their shampoo to get them sparkly white. (I can’t believe I’m writing this!)

English Springers for a bit. Talk about perfectionist tendencies!

Then, a dear Newfie. Our first. She was still a puppy so the grooming was less aerobic but there’s a whole lot of we’ve always done it that way beneath those fluffy, drool-y beasties.

For the last 10 years or so I’ve needed help with the fuzzy big kids. It’s harder and harder to get close to the floor and lifting them is a definite no go.

But, our kids are coming to visit and, with all the pandemic challenges, it has been more than the ideal amount of time since Phoebe and Luther have had a bath.

A call to my friends at Jabula Dog Academy, also known as Camp, set us up with an appointment. Then, the brushing began!

And went on. And on. And on.

A new friend came to pick them up for their adventure and, blessedly, immediately grasped the fact that I was totally serious when I said mental health was way more important than looking like show dogs. Especially for Luther who’s had a whole bunch of overcoming to do on his journey.

He has a huge spirit for a guy who’s been horridly abused and sees with his heart.

While they were gone, I took some time out for feet up and weeding email.

That’s when the tears started. Specifically, the news overdose tears. With Atlanta still reeling from last week’s tragic shootings, Boulder about put me over the edge. And then the news about at least five more mass shootings in the US since Atlanta on March 16.

How does this happen???

I can cuddle the big dogs and help them learn about safe and loved. And loving.

I can plan a new program to help some awesome women realize their visions. (There’s still one space left. email me at suesvoice@gmail.com if you have a vision that could use some support!)

There are some things, though, that feel bigger than I can manage. Many of them, in this moment, are trying to make it harder for us to vote. Harder for the young people known as Dreamers to stay here. Harder to keep guys like the Atlanta shooter from buying a gun and using it on the very same day to kill 8 people just quietly living their lives.

So, after crying long enough to reduce some of my stress, I spent most of the time the beasties were at the spa doing what I could do. Signing petitions. Leaving a message for the Georgia Speaker of the House. (I’m for voting. Him, seemingly not so much.)

Well, you get the idea. My mom used to scrub floors in moments like this. (I must have gotten my knees from the other side of the family!) And, at the risk of sounding pessimistic, it seems like we’re going to need some coping strategies for a while.

So pray/knit. Or make prayer dots with paint. Or make soup. Or brush huge dogs. I understand there are even some people who go running!

And use your voice.

For now, I’m off to put a huge load of dog towels in the washer. Well, I should be. We’ll all be happier if I finish washing flannel sheets first so they don’t come out looking like Newfies!

And I hope you’ll join me, in your special way. Think of it as overtaking the tragic, hateful energy with kind, hopeful energy. It actually makes folding laundry more fun!

ps… If you squint and hold your head just right, you’ll see a very wet dog waiting for his girls in the photo above!

pss… May the people of Stockton CA, Gresham OR, Houston TX, Dallas TX, and Philadelphia PA, along with those of Atlanta and Boulder, find courage in our prayers and our actions. Yours and mine.

According to plan…

If all goes according to plan, my kids will be here at this time in one week!

I never imagined what a big thing it would be – what a whole consciousness thing – to write this sentence.

It feels very big, indeed.

Half the adults are fully vaccinated. The other half are half-way there. The girls are too young.

I am, as you might imagine, thrilled. It’s been over a year since I’ve hugged my girls. One of them has had a birthday. The other has had two. And they’re in the tween/early teen phase when they change from moment to moment.

I have changed, too. Frankly, I’m scared. I mean, they’ll have to stop and put gas in the car. What if one of those people who doesn’t believe Covid is a big deal works at the gas station? They can’t drive clear from Virginia without food. What if somebody coughs on their sandwich?

And they’ve started back to actual school part time. Talk about another 9 million what if’s !

Then I watch the news, especially just now in Atlanta, and remind myself that there are always what if’s. We’re just not always quite so aware of them.

A couple of my heroes helped me remember the big picture this morning. You see, The Rev. Dr. William L. Barber and Senator Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock were speaking the Word.

Specifically, Dr. Barber was reminding us that God’s plan, God’s theology, is All Theology.

I won’t spoil it all for you here. I will share this link so you can join in yourself. You are, in fact, invited!

And I’ll also confess that, as I listened and watched virtually, I couldn’t help but remember that, despite my fears about my kids and traveling and Covid, I have had a lot of social advantages in dealing with those fears and with the possibility of becoming a pandemic statistic.

And we need to keep working on making those advantages available to everybody. Just turn on CNN and pick your issue. Then, in whatever way it works for you and your beliefs, think what the world would be like if we all heard Dr. Barber reminding us that, “God’s way is everybody in. Nobody out.”

And what would happen next if we acted, and voted, on that belief?

So, having sat, figuratively, in the pew at Ebenezer Baptist Church for the first time in about 30 years, in the midst of what feels like mountains of laundry and trying to figure out how to fit four more people amongst the easels, I’m making prayer dots.

I know. No surprise!

It really helps. When I pray with my eyes and ears and hands and heart, there’s less room for what if’s. There’s less room for fear.

And there’s more room for all.

Then, when I take a break from the dots, I’ll do what Grammies have done for centuries. I’ll check recipes and make grocery lists for Grampy to take shopping. I’ll wash the flannel sheets. I’ve even ordered garden seeds in case they want to help plant.

And, good friends willing, I’m sending the beasties off for a bath. It has been more than a bit longer than optimal.

One of my favorite things about our kids is that they’re really good at figuring things out.

It’s entirely likely that I’ll cry the whole time they’re here, with the relief and joy of it all. And they’ll love me anyway, if I do. Though I probably ought to put Kleenex on the next grocery list!

I’m also pretty sure painting will be involved. We’ll make some dots for you and yours. They’ll look a lot like stars in the sky.

ps… I have one more space open in my new program, Soul Expression Breakthrough. If you have a vision for your future, anything from a concrete project like remodeling your kitchen to running a rhino reserve after you retire, and aren’t afraid to color, you could be a good fit! email me at suesvoice@gmail.com to schedule a call and find out.

What we learn from learning…

What do writer’s cramp, trees, and sisters have in common?

I hear you pondering! Take your time…

If you’ve known me a while, you’re probably not surprised that it has something to do with learning. And it does.

The other thing, which you might not have thought of, is that they all have to do with Intentional Creativity. (At least in my world!)

It happened something like this…

On Wednesday I put up a Facebook post with a bit of a story about a painting known as either Legend 2 or Chosen, Safe, and Loved, along with a glimpse of the painting, which looked like this:

I was really excited because she had been selected for an up-coming juried, virtual museum show.

Later, I realized just how excited I was when I noticed that the image I posted (above) was, in fact Legend 2’s little sister, aka Legend 1 or Follow Your Heart! Pause for embarrassment! (And huge thanks for all of you who rejoiced with me 😉 )

If you have a little sister, as I do, this may bring some been-there-done-that stories to mind. I know it does for me!

(This, clearly, is one of those times my Granny had in mind when she told me it wasn’t necessary to tell everything we knew!)

All of which brought me to yesterday, when I still had no notion of the graceful way to admit that I, the very excited artist, couldn’t tell my paintings apart!

A for creativity. C- for intentional!

There were, however, other things on the list.

Writer’s cramp chief among them. You see, Louisiana is getting ready for a special election for a Representative to the U.S. Congress and I have an opinion. (An opinion I borrowed from Stacey Abrams!)

Opinions, in politics, often turn out to mean writing postcards to registered voters who haven’t made it to the polls in a while. Lots of them. In pretty blue ink with some extra swirls and flourishes.

B- for creativity. A+ for intentional!

And still no blog post!

Then, I did a couple of new-ish sorts of things. A meeting with some folks I’d never met before, but somehow knew immediately, and a timely bit of advice from Mother Mary.

And still no blog post!

The next right thing was becoming obvious. Take all my new-ish stuff and questions and wander off to the land of dreams with a pencil and an index card on the night stand.

It worked. (It usually does when I get over myself sufficiently to remember to try!)

I woke with Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ voice in my head, reminding me of what I already knew about trees and danger…

 “The word danger in its oldest form meant to protect, “You. Stand in my danger, in the aura surrounding me that is funded by my heart, my soul and my spirit that says certain things of this earth are so precious they can never be allowed to be harmed or made to vanish.

You stand in my danger because I will protect, I will help, I will create, I will defend, I will unleash, I will hold back, I will restrain, I will open up, I will carve doors in walls, I will do whatever it takes.

You stand in my danger. She is the protectress, the one who takes care of those who have been conquered and raises them back up again. She is not only passionate, but she’s observant and experienced. She will protect anything of goodness, anything that has the merest spark, the tiniest spark at the end of the wood, she will breathe on it and bring it back to life.

Just that. Words I had not heard for years. And an image to go with them.

You guessed it! This story begins with my first (incomplete) effort at drawing a Celtic Tree of Life. It surely won’t be the last! (It was hard to pull myself – writer’s cramp and all – off to the laptop to make these words!)

There is surely more of this story to come. For this moment, a glimpse of the big sister, the actual Legend 2 or Chosen, Safe, and Loved, standing in the danger of another sort of Tree of Life.

Legend paintings, as they exist in my world have everything to do with Creativity and Intentionality, done with a tribe of sisters helping us learn, sometimes by not laughing at us!

And, often, by helping us learn that danger isn’t always the bad thing we might, once upon a time, have believed.

ps… Details on the virtual museum show to follow.

pps… Check YouTube videos for hints on the Celtic Tree of Life!

ppps… If you’re up for a bit of the good-danger as we all move from one season to the next and, metaphorically, from one world to the next, I have a plan. Literally, a plan plan. And you’re invited! Details this week

Wednesday is for learning!

In the Intentional Creativity world where I hang out, it’s #WIP Wednesday, again. Actually, all the Wednesdays are Work-In-Progress days.

I used to feel somehow pressured by #WIP days. You know how it goes…

Is mine good enough, yet? Did I actually make any progress this week? What if it’s hard to post what I’ve been learning? What if it’s hard to claim, even inside, what I’ve been learning?

You might relate. (I mean, maybe…)

Today, I feel like a bunch of the things I’m learning are all smashing into each other and becoming whole new things I hadn’t expected.

Then again, expecting is often problematic!

So, I dragged out an old, dusty box from my brain. It’s the box I used to set outside my classroom door when I was first teaching Developing Capable People, which has been a while.

And I’d explain to the eager, terrified, hopeful parents and grandparents in the group that one of the most important things we know about learning new things is that it’s really, really hard when we’re all wrapped up in shame and blame.

So, anybody who might be having feelings of shame or blame was welcome to set those feelings outside the room during our time together. And, yes, I always assured them that they could have the shame and blame back when we were done, if, of course, they wanted those feelings back.

Very few of them ever did.

So, with shame and blame deep in the virtual box… here’s an old #WIP that’s teaching me still. (This is why we document our paint journeys!)

What I see when I look at it now is all kinds of things started, some attempt to organize them, and the most helpful thing of all… a red thread running through it. (We’ll come back to the thread in a minute.)

I do have all kinds of things started and I have made LOTS of attempts at organizing all of them.

Amongst all the paintings and writing, there are some tears in my world. Some hopes. Regular ones and really big ones. And then there’s the family tree project with which I am currently obsessed.

Frankly, I’ve been trying to figure out why I’m obsessed.

Then, last night, I dreamed the answer. Well, sort of.

What I knew when I got up was that I needed to go back through some of the under layers for old #WIP’s because there was a message for me there.

And there it is… right at the top of this post.

And, yes… it’s the red thread.

The invisible connection between us and all those destined to be important in our lives.

Or, more specifically, the invisible connection between all the generations of a whole bunch of Grammies and me and my girls.

It was there in that #WIP about three years ago. And it’s in me and all the painting and writing and coaching and teaching I’m doing now.

Some of the stories I’m learning are more fun than others. I imagine you can relate!

What’s best of all, though, is that I get to keep the stories that are helpful to me and, literally or figuratively, paint over the others.

Paint something new.

And now feels like a very good time for that!

ps… If you’re curious, my #WIP for today turned into my first Abundance Muse!

pss… In the midst of my #WIP Wednesday, the need for a new Soulful Vision Plan Workshop. If you have a dream, it might just be the place for you. Details to follow… or, you could email me: suesvoice@gmail.com (Yes, YOU!)

A whole new question!

What do you do when your dreams start to come true?

It’s not that I’ve never been here before. I have. It’s just that I was a lot less conscious then. (And exhausted!) This time feels different, though. Mostly, I suspect, because I’ve been the one deciding what the questions are for the last few years. Here are a few I’ve been experimenting with:

  • What matters, not in just my world, but in my relationship with the world?
  • What can I actually spend energy on and what needs to be on somebody else’s list?
  • How is food a symbol of what I believe? (Edit at will!)

Then there’s the one that (to continue the food theme) is “on the front burner” these days:

  • How do I hold onto my chosen belief that everyone’s voice matters, even when I disagree, with every cell in my body, with so many of those everyones?

And, yes, I’ve been watching CNN again. And doing some work on Get Out The Vote efforts in places that need some help just now. And emailing my personal flock of politicians. And making prayer dots.

Lots and lots of dots.

I won’t ask you to believe that I don’t swear at the tv a good bit. Also at my email. And Facebook.

I also cry a good bit. Sometimes even the good kind where you feel touched deep inside where the tears live.

Those are the kind of experiences that just volunteer inside me.

Prayer dots are the ones I choose. Auditory. Kinesthetic. Visual. All at once, which is a good thing in terms of creating new realities.

And every now and then, mostly when my knee is really whining, I sit down and work on reading the extra-canonical Gospel of Thomas which is part of a group of books known as the Nag Hammadi library.

Frankly, I haven’t figured out where to file all this particular newness, just yet.

Here’s what I am sure of… anything that says this is worth wrestling with some more.

If you bring forth what is inside of you, what is inside of you will save you.

Thomas and his friends may have been short on paint deliveries from the Dick Blick guy. I, however, have a deal with him and many, many more dots to make.

ps… This abundance of dots are part of my new painting journey known as Ritual, which, as far as I can tell, is a whole lot about bringing forth what is inside. These are my favorite kind… finger dots!

pss… While we’re pondering big things, this is the day known as Bloody Sunday, when 600 souls began a march from Selma, AL to the state Capitol in Montgomery to mark the death of a man named Jimmie Lee Jackson who was shot and killed by a state trooper while protecting his mother during a civil rights demonstration. One of the Bloody Sunday marchers was the late Congressman John Lewis, who was beaten by police. May we continue the Good Trouble, each in our own way, until it isn’t needed anymore.

Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity® Color of Woman Teacher