Powerful Advice

Yesterday morning, while I was busy with the email and trying to get some of the kinks out before my visit to the Physical Therapist, re-runs of Grey’s Anatomy were keeping me company.

I’ve watched for ages. I get the surgical jokes. I also marvel at what creator, Shonda Rhimes, has accomplished in terms of cultural awareness and archetypes/stereotypes in a show she only imagined would last one season!

Dr. Miranda Bailey is one of my favorites.

The episode I just saw again reminded me why.

Bailey was acting as Chief of Surgery. As part of freeing herself for new duties, Bailey appointed Dr. Meredith Grey Chief of General Surgery. At some point, the promotion involved signing of contracts and so forth.

One thing led to another and, with two sisters who were also high ranking surgeons, Meredith learned that she was being offered much less in terms of salary that others at her level.

On a even busier than usual day at the hospital, Dr. Richard Weber, the former Chief of Surgery, learned of the terms of Meredith’s contract. The lecture he heaped on Bailey was predictable.

(As a songwriter/musician named Mike Cross would say, there was a lot of moonshinin’ and inbreedin’ at Seattle Grace!)

Bailey’s response was a bit of a surprise.

“Grey needs to rise,” she said. By which she meant that Meredith needed to speak up for what she felt she deserved. For what she had earned. She needed, it was implied, to speak truth to power.

And, having read some of Shonda Rhimes’ written work, it’s a pretty good bet that Bailey wasn’t speaking only about Meredith, but about herself and all of us.

I agree. We do need to rise. Possibly now as much as ever.

That’s not something I was taught. (I’d love to know your experience with this!)

It is something I hope to model for my girls. And for all the people who turn to me for teaching and guidance.

To speak up. To speak truth to power. To speak hope to those who feel lost. And to our own selves when we feel lost. When we need to rise.

With our voices, of course. Also with our votes. And our purchasing power. And, perhaps most powerfully, with our art, of whatever sort it might be.

Our littles need to hear us to know what is possible.

To start, we can make it okay for people who love each other to disagree. To view things differently. To be, each of us, who we are.

It’s not necessarily a fast or easy strategy. The best ones often aren’t.

Here’s another way to rise… https://fierceartwithheart.com/

That’s the link for my new Shopify store. Me, putting my heart “out there”. And, yes, I’d love for my work to find forever homes. But even more than that, I want my girls, two very gifted young women, to see that we can survive the risk it takes to set our work free in the world.

I hope you’ll visit the new store. I’ll be adding things for a while yet. But for this week, there’s a special appreciation gift just for you! The shop elves, bless their hearts, will magically take 10% off your first purchase.

Enjoy! And please let me know if you have questions.

ps… Stay tuned for info on a free webinar, sharing what is quite possibly the most important thing I’ve ever learned!

When the art takes over!

What was your first job?

Mine, other than babysitting, was working for the vet, which I adored, but it was only a summer gig. Then, being a camp counselor. (Also seriously seasonal.)

The summer before my senior year in high school, I became a part-time cashier at the local Publix store. This was back in the dark ages when cash registers still had mechanical buttons and math was required to make change. (Really!)

I used to entertain myself by seeing how fast I could ring up 8 packs of sodas and the bottle deposit.

The absolute worst part was inventory. And, yes, I mean with pencils and clipboards.

Bars of soap and jars of baby food were the worst possible assignments.

Soap made me sneeze the whole time and trying to re-stack all the little glass jars inevitably led to a mess on the floor. Somehow it always seemed to be strained peas or chicken mush. Aaaaaackkk!

You are, I imagine, wondering what triggered this stroll down memory lane.

Well, I’m shop-keeping again!

This time, art, which is way better than soap or baby food!

It’s going to take me a while to get used to the new system, though.

I tried. Bill tried. We made some progress. Veronica helped!

There are, however, a few things still to work out!

There’s a hint of a coming special collection of art by Gloria Venuh, MATS, who was my Intentional Creativity Intern this past year and is about 97 kinds of seriously talented! (Not to mention about to start her PhD in theology and art!) There are, indeed, more to come.

They should be there later this week!

And, I’ll be adding more and more items soon. Including more coffee mugs! (Very cool!)

There’s is a pretty, purple poster edition of the Grandmothers’ Manifesta, just in case you know someone who needs a gift or some moral support.

But, having resolved my meltdown over wanting it the way I want it, and convinced my inner critic to take a brief vacation, we’re open. I’m so hoping you’ll visit!

Also, if you missed Wednesday’s blog with the invitation to get a free, printable pdf of the Manifesta, just click here!

Here’s the thing… I really believe that this is part of my way of making things better for my girls and for all our littles! And that reminds me of a quote, sometimes attributed to Michaelangelo:

Art will save the world.

I hope so. At the very least, I think it makes us more fully human and that’s not a bad day’s work!

Thus, a new class, coming soon.

For this moment, feet up and prayer scarves. This one is dark blues and greens.

Whether you’re new here, or have been part of the family for a while, thank you! It takes a village to spread the word. And the images!

ps… Rule one of blog posts like this is to give people only one link to click. It’s a challenge but I’ve been working on it. However, today is an exception and, since you’re a bright and capable being, I’m going to trust that you’ll figure out what works for you and not give up.

pps… If you know where the studio elves are hiding, Phoebe and Luther would be grateful if you’d send them, please. It’s a bit hard for them to help paint, just now!

35 years and 10 minutes!

I look at this photo a lot. For me, it’s a photo of my grandmothers.

My Gramma Elsie pieced the quilt. Grandmothers’ Flower Garden. Her favorite and mine, too. I used to get to draw the pieces on fabric for her. Tiny honeycomb shapes traced with bits of a Cheerios box for the pattern, and a stubby little pencil that lived in a pocket in her housedress.

The perfume tray was Granny Elizabeth’s. It’s one of my earliest memories. And, when we lost her, it was given to me, along with the vintage bottles and the tiny glass dog who always lived there.

This week my kids sent a photo from their excursion to the Virgin Islands. My not-quite-14 year old granddaughter serving as Captain on a pontoon boat with a huge grin on her face.

There were lots of boats in my childhood. I remember the first time my dad let me drive. A tiny aluminum john boat with a 6 horse Evinrude motor on the back. I was, no doubt, grinning, too!

All of that is part and parcel of the Grammy I’ve become. Or, rather, am still becoming.

And, if you’ll pardon the mixed metaphors, the bread is rising now.

Now is the operative word in that sentence. This is a different world than we’ve ever known before. A bigger shock, I suspect, for me and mine than for many others.

White privilege, names followed with the alphabet soup of higher education, insurance, a home, actual access to Covid vaccines… I wasn’t prepared for the pandemic.

Our kids weren’t either. And they need us now more than ever. I have some ideas about how to help.

Many of those ideas found their voice in a document I’ll tell you more about in a minute. It’s called the Grandmothers’ Manifesta.

It appeared in my head, as things often do, whole-cloth, if you will.

I grabbed the nearest notebook and scribbled and cried. Tears of recognition. Recognition of what’s been growing inside me.

A friend, privy to the messy, hand-written, first draft, asked how long it took.

You’ve already guessed the answer. Thirty five years and 10 minutes.

It began the day I first heard one of my heroes, Dr. H. Stephen Glenn, say that if a teenaged child had five adults who would listen to them, take them seriously, and not shame or blame them for their questions, that child was practically immune from ever attempting suicide.

If you’ve been hanging around a while, you’ve heard me say this before. I knew, in that moment, that I wanted to be one of those five people for as many kids as I could, and I wanted to help others learn to do that, too.

Here’s the new part. I’m ready.

I’ve been getting ready for a long time and context is, indeed, everything.

So, I’m going to be spending some time rounding up some more folks who want to get ready, too. Actual grandmothers. Archetypal grandmothers. Aunties. Teachers. Even very brave grandfathers.

Here’s how we start:

Click this link, please, and be magically transported to somewhere in cyberspace where you can claim your very own pdf copy of the Manifesta and print it out if you like. And, yes, I’d be thrilled if you shared this!

There’s more coming soon.

For now, physical therapy. One part of Grammy-hood I’d be okay with not needing, but there’s work to do and I am not done. We are not done!

ps… Just in case you missed the link, here it is again!

pps… Phoebe and Luther want you to know that dogs are invited, too. Even cats!

More Good Trouble…

I come from a crowd of folks who believed they were of the we’ve always done it this way sort.

Even as a child, I thought that was a bit odd for people who were on a first name basis with the moving guys. I understand it better now, though. You see, I’ve met the Inner Critic.

She’s the one whispering in your ear that things are safe if we lived through them once and, therefore, we should always do them the same way. I’ll bet you’ve met one of her many, many sisters!

It’s not really a bad theory. It just doesn’t do so well if it’s the only theory!

This weekend has been a good example.


It will come as no surprise to most of you that this is a new-ish holiday in my particular part of the universe.

All my generations upon generations of Grandmothers would not know what “we’ve always eaten” for this day. Or which box of decorations to drag out of the basement. Or what to send for cards.

I’m not real sure either, but I’m ready to learn!

So, in between laps around the inside of our house to stretch out my deeply annoying SI Joint, I’ve spent some time wondering.

And, I’ve had some help! You guessed it… paintings! (And, yes, two of those in the photo have made recent appearances but could you really tell them no? Ever, really, but especially now? And they invited a couple of friends!)

If we start to the left, we have, What the World Needs Now, complete with her heart full of love, despite the scar.

Just behind her is a Virgin of Guadalupe, muttering about revisions, especially to the background. She’s headed for a friend’s house when she’s finished.

Up above, my familiar Tree of Life painting with the ancient grandmother and her abundant bowl of water beneath the communal branches and roots and trunks of a banyan tree.

I’m counting on my shoulder deciding to behave soon so I can do some finishing work on the painting of Congressman John Lewis, to the right.

Since I wasn’t quite ready to paint, I decided that I could live without my usual parade of Iron Chef America re-runs. You see, I just figured out where Finding Your Roots moved after the cable fairy’s latest game of messing with my mind. And who was waiting for me there?

John Lewis! I’d seen the episode with him and Senator Cory Booker before but context is, indeed, much of everything so I heard new things tonight.

My favorite part was watching Congressman Lewis learn that his Great Great Great Grandfather, Tobias Carter, registered to vote in 1867, two years after he was freed from slavery and just after the 13th Amendment prohibited depriving anyone of the right to vote based on their race.

Tears ran down Lewis’s cheeks as he marveled to know that 98 years before he was injured and arrested in the march from Selma to Montgomery, his ancestor had registered to vote.

Tears ran down my cheeks, too, as Lewis said:

The vote is the most powerful non-violent tool in a democratic society.

Pens and laptops and paintbrushes do pretty important jobs, too.

So, despite the Critic’s efforts to send her Muse alter-ego on a long vacation, there are some new things coming up around here.

An image that took me about 35 years and 10 minutes to create.

And Camp! Think soothing the Critic…

I promise, no bug spray will be necessary! Stay tuned…

ps… Happy Fathers Day to Bill and Dave and all the very brave dads and grandpas reading this!

pps… the big, fuzzy kid communing with the art is Luther who, in many ways, has lived his own Juneteenth kind of story.

ppps… What the World Needs Now is available for adoption. Since Luther’s not much for email, you can check with me!

“I don’t know.”

This is a phrase heard fairly often in the dinner hour Jeopardy games at our house.

Ask me about a computer issue or whether the Braves won their latest game, and you’re likely to get the same answer.

Today, it popped up in a different context. I was hanging with my new friend, the physical therapist. That, alone, suggests that things aren’t going quite as well as might be optimal.

Just between us, I think this pain episode is part of my personal re-engagement with the world outside our house in the story of the pandemic still being written.

You see, I’ve spent the last year choosing to, basically, stay home. A decision that was right for me even though it also meant way less movement and less engagement with the kind folks who keep me – metaphorically – up and running.

So, today, when my concerned buddy asked me what I knew about why my neck hurts my honest answer was, “I don’t know. But I can tell you what I feel.”

This devolved into a fascinating chat about Neurolinguistic Programming and how we store and access information. (Also the fact that I’m not good with right and left.)

Eventually, we devised a plan for moving forward, all the while learning to speak each others’ languages.

Here’s why I’m telling you this story…

I think anybody who’s been paying attention is in the midst of a cosmic game of Tilt! as we go on making choices about the pandemic context we’ve been living in. And many, many of those choices will be made through lenses of belief.

Once upon a time, my hypnosis/NLP guru was waxing poetic about things we could change, based on changing our beliefs.

So far so good.

THEN we got to the part about, “There’s nothing you can’t do if you just believe you can.”

When I was in high school, girls weren’t allowed to go out for track. (My very athletic granddaughters don’t believe this story!) I desperately wanted to learn to pole vault.

(Feel free to laugh!)

So, 40-ish years later, when I was sitting in that hypnosis training, I was pretty sure that no amount of believing was going to get my bad knees, injured back, sore neck, etc. over the bar on the pole vault gizmo.

Let’s just say that physics were not in my favor.

Here’s what I’ve learned in the meantime… While it is undoubtedly wiser for me to pass on pole vaulting, I have learned a bunch of things in the last decade or so that I never believed I could.

Things, like painting, that required me to suspend my disbelief and actually pick up a brush. And I’m enormously glad I did!

So, I made a deal with the P.T.

With the exception of the giant bouncy ball (A story for a different day!) my response to, “Can you……………..?” is going to be, “I’m not sure. Let’s find out.”

And, just in case this touches something a bit teary inside you, you’re welcome to join me!

For now, I’m off to choose pizza for dinner tonight. Carry out. First time in more than a year.

Then it’s off to cheer on my teacher, Shiloh Sophia McCloud, at the opening of her new museum show. This one both virtual and actual! And a bit of learning from the ancestors after that. Probably while painting the background for my first poster… The Grandmothers’ Manifesta!

For now, blessings to you and yours!

ps… Luther and Phoebe say, “hi!” and they want you to know that a little guy named Wasabi just won the Westminster Kennel Club show, even though it was “supposed to be” at Valentine’s Day.

pss… There’s some big stuff coming around here. (I believe!!!) And I’d be honored if you wanted to share this post with a friend who might want to be here, too. So would my buddy, the owl, who’s come bearing prayer dots!

Time for Secret Decoder Rings!

The Canine Fine Dining Hour is complete. Luther is kindly washing Phoebe’s ears. And I have a story for you that snuck up and surprised me in the best possible way!

It started when Bill and I wandered off to our own little version of Cheers! known to the locals as The Corner Pub. It was lunch time and I needed some help thinking through a list of plans I’ll let you in on soon.

We had our pick of wisely spaced tables on the sidewalk/patio which was great because I got one of those black iron chairs with the spring in it so it rocks.

Fried okra and roasted broccoli ordered (me) and we were on to the magic list complete with arrows and faces. Then I heard it.

A baby. About 9 months old. Doing a fabulous rendition of the Ba-ba-ba song. Without even thinking, I turned to wave. Mom and Grandma waved back.

That’s when it hit me. I was waaaaaayyy out of practice at waving at babies!

Here’s where the ring comes in.

In my world, waving at babies translates into making peace. It has for several years now.

One of the things I’ve been missing, though, all nested away in our house during the pandemic, has been waving at babies.

Yep. Waving at babies. Pay attention, please. The world is counting on you!

My favorite place for waving at babies is the big, International Farmers Market where we live. There are lots of babies there! Babies whose families come from parts of the world my 7th grade geography teacher never told me about. Babies balanced on top of cartloads of food I’d have no idea how to prepare.

Wave at babies. Smile, too, of course. Tell them they have cool shoes. Become less other. Less different. More same. Wave at babies at traffic lights and in restaurants. Most of them are serious flirts.

This is my plan for world peace.

It’s probably going to take a while, this plan of mine. Less, though, if we get all the grandmothers signed up. Your kids will see how you wave and they’ll start, too. And then the people with the babies will notice and just possibly smile. Pretty soon you’ve got a cart full of crazy looking produce, a nice pastured chicken, a decent bottle of wine, and some actual fresh bay leaves. And, if it’s been a good waving day, a couple of dozen fewer strangers in the world. All of which, one way or another, is a good thing for your kids to learn.

Boardman, 66

So, having waved and ba-ba-ba’ed, and realized how much I’ve been missing this, I fished one of my art cards – the one with the big heart full of prayer dots and a red thread – out of a pocket in my miraculous denim vest (Which I also didn’t realize how much I’d been missing!) and stopped by my new friends’ table as we were leaving.

Fortunately, it was easy to stay 6 feet away, while laying the card on the table and explaining that I’m an artist and lead groups for grandmothers.

(This, by the way, is how you know how serious I am about the Grandmother business… this talking to recent strangers, thing!)

I have no idea what will happen or whether I’ll ever encounter them again but I got back in the baby waving business today and I’m excited!

You, by the way, are welcome to join me. You don’t even have to graduate from Developing Capable People to get your membership card! (I’m in charge, these days!)

And there’s a whole bunch more good stuff waiting in the wings.

For today, thanks for reading. (Feel free to share!) And thanks for being you!!!

ps… the lovely lady who dropped by to wave at you is from my third Legend painting. The Dangerous Old Woman. Go ahead and wave back. She’ll know!

pss… If you’re interested in more about my book, Grandmothers Are In Charge of Hope you can snag one on Amazon or, in about a week, in my new Shopify store! Honorary Grammies and very brave Grampies are welcome, too!

When the time is right…

First, the embarrassing part. Today has not gone at all as I planned. Zoom glitches, meetings moving, the aforementioned cranky SI joint. And, since we’re being real… I forgot it was Wednesday!

Lovely lady above to the rescue! You see, she was my first SuperPower SelfPortrait, back before I even had a name for what I was doing. A teaching painting for a workshop at Columbia Theological Seminary, she’s one of Shiloh Sophia McCloud’s famous face demos. Complete, because she’s also mine, with lots of drips and dots.

I love drips and dots.

The dots, of course, I love for the prayers that they make visual and kinesthetic.

Drips, on the other hand, having minds of their own, keep the artist from over-managing the work and allow it to become what it wants to be.

The super power part came to be the first time I did this with my girls, and we added a bit to the journey.

All this floated to the top of my pretty big pond of stuff that needs doing on Monday when I was chatting with an artist/Grammy buddy. Or, in this case, an artist/Bubbe buddy.

She was pondering a project to do with a couple of her girls and I told her about SuperPower SelfPortraits, or SP2 for short.

As you’ve no doubt guessed, one of the super powers my purple friend brings is bailing me out when there’s no blog post! This is a good thing!

It’s also a reminder that, before too long, there will be videos of the whole SP2 process available so you can have fun with your littles. Fun fun and self-confidence fun!

For tonight, though, my new Shopify store is ALMOST ready for the grand opening! Watch here for details. And, in the meantime, think about giving your super powers space to play!

ps… If you haven’t subscribed to this blog yet, now would be great! Just fill in the annoying pop-up thingie and you’re in. Subscribers will get a special discount for the grand opening event!

pps… Phoebe and Luther want you to know that they did, indeed, get fed, even with me wandering in the creative space known as newness!

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