In the image of the Divine, I create.

Yes. It’s a pretty big statement. And it generated a whole lot of Who am I to say that? when I painted it into the quilt worn by my Artist/Taliswoman painting from about 3 years ago. She was part of my Color of Woman certification process, and she insisted.

These days, she is known as The Fiercely Compassionate Artist and she’s had a lot to say lately!

This morning, I was adding the stars to the Our Lady of Guadalupe work-in-progress who’s been keeping me busy lately. Tonantzin, as she is also known, wanted lots of stars. She also wants a North Star, or Polaris.

How old, I wondered as I spattered, is Polaris? Some research was in order.

According to the founts of knowledge who live in my phone, a good guess is 70 million years!

And suddenly there were tears streaming down my cheeks as I heard the words from my Artist painting, again.

In the image of the Divine, I create.

And, as the book of Genesis proclaims… It was good!

I began to imagine about one-zillionth of what it must have felt like to create the sun and the moon and the stars, all of which are here, too, made by my hands and my brush in paint, on the canvas where I was spattering the night sky.

The North Star isn’t there yet. There are lots more individual prayer dots to make first. I wondered, though, as I went on spattering stars, about our personal North Stars in this moment. Yours and mine. Our touchstones nearest the true North of our hearts. And souls.

Personally, I’m still in Astronomy-kindergarten. (Well, maybe pre-school!) Here’s a bit more of what I learned in Wikipedia-land:

Polaris is currently moving closer to the north celestial pole. It will come closest on March 24, 2100, and then begin to move away. Another couple of thousand years later, another star will be closest to true North.

The very fact that we know how to predict such a thing blows my mind!

For this moment, though, I’m more obsessed with wondering what our personal true Norths are.

This is mine, if you’ll pardon the run-on sentence!

In the image of the Divine I create and what I choose to create is part of a better, kinder, safer world, because I have two granddaughters growing up in this world, and grandmothers need all the empowering we can get and I can share!

It feels like a really big statement to me, too.

And one I can claim with my whole heart.

Me. An ordinary grandmother with creaky joints and much, much more to learn.

Love, really, with a paintbrush. Or a quilting frame. Or a stock pot. Or a crochet hook. Or an abundant garden. Or buttons, even! Or whatever empowers you to create…

I’m so hoping you will!

For this moment, the paintings are satisfied and I have more prayer dots–more stars of hope–to make. The Forest of Grandmothers starts soon and there’s lots to do!


Blessings to you and yours from Phoebe and Luther and me!

ps… We really ARE stardust!

pps… Can’t wait to introduce you to the angel at the base of this painting!

A story, a #WIP, and an invitation…

On Sunday, I mentioned that Intentional Creativity® had become one of my filters and some of you asked me to say more about that. Here’s the short version…

A smart guy named Bill Harris taught me years ago about his model for human perception. It’s fascinating. (And a bit hard to write out!)

Let’s start with big arrow at the right side of the photo, above.

According to Bill, we humans have between 2 and 3 BILLION bits of information coming at us every second. And that was, technologically, several generations ago!

Most of us, on an average sort of day, can handle between 2 and 3 HUNDRED bits of information at a time. (Yep, that’s a big difference!)

So, how do we do it? How do we actually exist in the face of a barrage of stuff needing to be reacted to and sorted and filed all the time?

Well, Bill said, we use filters, aka gatekeepers! They’re the stack of blank lines left of the arrow.

These are a few of my favorites…

  • Beliefs
  • Memories
  • Language
  • Strategies

Here’s an easy example… Let’s say I started writing this in Hungarian, right here in the middle. Your language filter says, Oooooops, this does not compute! and you, wise one that you are, would filter me out and go back to whatever you were doing before. (Unless, of course, you read Hungarian which would impress the tar out of me!)

Please don’t go… the good stuff is on the way!

How does your filter decide what to let in and what to toss out?

Well, as scary as this may seem, what gets in is generally what fits our Map of Reality, which is the oval-ish space to the left of the filters.

Why do we care?

Well, when we’re under stress, our filters get less effective. For some of us, they block more things – potentially useful things – out.

For others, the filters just disappear and EVERYTHING gets in. Like, all 2 – 3 BILLION things to sort.

And, if you’ll pardon me for stating the obvious, this helps explain why the pandemic has been so incredibly hard for so many of us to process. It doesn’t fit our Map of Reality. Or didn’t.

Here’s the good – if potentially shocking – news. Our Map of Reality is ONLY A MAP! And, blessedly, it can be edited!

One of the easiest ways to start editing is to experiment with some new strategy filters.

This is what I was hinting at when I said that Intentional Creativity has become one of my filters, and it let through another big Ah-hah this week!

I’ve been painting along on Our Lady of Guadalupe, whom you may have met Sunday. I’m really loving the way she’s appearing on my canvas.

By Monday, I had reached the point for an early batch of prayer dots. CNN graciously provided me with a whole bunch of stuff to filter and pray about.

As time went on, I noticed that something about my painting felt unsettling.

Lots more dots later, I realized what it was.

I had begun the painting with some historic images to guide me as the events some folks would describe as Marian apparitions in Mexico are, well, a bit outside the Map of Reality I toted around for a lot of years now.

As the tradition portrays, I had painted her with a voluminous veil covering almost all of her hair.

She declined. Politely. Firmly.

The art work that’s coming through me at this moment in history is literally being shaped by my inner processing of the news from Afghanistan!

And, so, I implemented a strategy I learned from Shiloh Sophia McCloud, who’s at least as wise as Bill Harris, which says, simply:

Anything can be painted over!

Here’s a glimpse of where we are, now… my #WIP!

Just in case you’re interested in experimenting with some new strategies, as well, I have a suggestion!

Red Madonna Sisterhood 2021 – The Forest of Grandmothers!

Really! Paint. New strategies. Big fun. Sisterhood. Hope.

It’s like this… not only do our strategies need a bit of editing in this moment, the same is true for all those we love. And one of the best ways for us to teach that kind of healing is to learn new things and tell the stories!

ps… I am deeply honored to serve among the leaders for Forest of Grandmothers and I’m happy to answer any questions you might have about stress, filters, this journey, and whether this might be a strategy you’d like to to explore.

ps… You don’t need to be an actual Grandmother to grow in the Forest! Elders, Advocates, Teachers, Aunties, Curious Artists-in-training… Welcome!

In the presence of Our Lady of Guadalupe…

Yesterday, I was painting. Surprise! Not!!!

My first ever attempt at interpreting the legend of Our Lady of Guadalupe, at the request of my best friend since the first day of seventh grade.

There’s a learning curve… for both the artist and the theologian in me!

Somehow, when I’m in a space of stretching the edges, new things seem to sneak past my filters.

Note, dear Reader… what follows may feel a bit like a stream of consciousness adventure to you.

It does to me, too!

So, I was painting along… mostly fixing boo-boos. And as I painted, YouTube music videos were keeping me company.

Kind of the old favs list. Think summer camp.

And then, one I’ve loved for a bit without being quite sure why.

It’s the version of The Sound of Silence by the artist known as Disturbed.

It sounds a lot different from the Simon & Garfunkel original that lives in my brain.

It looks a lot different, too. A bit outside my familiar place.

In a minute, you’re going to find the magic link to read more.

I’m so hoping you will. And, after you click the magic link, there’s another magic link to the video!

But, first, a bit of context.

Once upon a time, quite a while ago, deep in the land of Ericksonian Hypnotherapy training, a new friend commented that I was, “really into power”.

I was shocked.

And then I realized that, while I’m not much into power over, I am, indeed, quite into power for!

With that…

Did you hear it?

And the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they made, and the sign flashed out its warning, in the words that it was forming. And the sign said, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls” and whispered in the sound of silence……………………………. Paul Simon

Which reminded me that, in another painting binge, I had recently watched the movie, The Help. Again.

A socially difficult tale in which people are empowered by the opportunity to speak.

And then, as I painted on, sitting in deference to my back, The Welcome Back NYC concert in Central Park.

Voices from Jennifer Hudson to Jon Batiste to L L Cool J to Barry Manilow, who brought down the house, as it were, with help from an outer band of Hurricane Henri!

But, voices, nonetheless. Voices creating community in a world desperate for it. A world where it’s just possible that the words of the prophets on the subway walls – which are basically art of a powerful, intentional sort – may be more important for our future than those of the neon gods.

Only we can choose.

ps… I suspect Our Lady of Guadalupe would agree!

pps… it’s been almost exactly 14 years since my first Grandparents Day and I’m celebrating! So are the elves, with an automatic 25% off orders of original paintings and art prints over $100!!! Check it out…

Prayer, hope, warmth, and better reading!

It was 5:00 this morning when Charlotte, my Muse, dragged me out of bed. Charlotte is, just occasionally, a bit more persistent than feels optimal!

Charlotte thought it was the perfect time to work on the “final” edits for our Grandmother Archetype quiz-in-progress, prompted, no doubt, by the book on Julian of Norwich I was reading at bed time.

I needed a bit slower start.

Tea and prayer scarves, to be exact.

I had a very special scarf to finish, for a dear friend and Art-sister leaving tomorrow to move to Chicago.

I am, as you may have noticed, hooked on the prayer scarf thing.

Like prayer dots in paintings, it’s an embodied, more or less whole brain practice in which each stitch is a word or two of a repetitive, mantra-like prayer.

In addition to all the normally auspicious things about prayer or intention, it’s a soothing journey. A cross-lateral brain movement, to be exact, known to be stress reducing.

And, yes, there’s some stress that, at least in my view, could use some reducing!

Even more important, it’s easier on a sleepy, cranky sacro-iliac joint than painting big canvases!

So, here’s my “recipe” for prayer scarves.

I use Lion Brand Landscape yarn in a variety of self-striping colorways. It’s a #4 medium weight acrylic yarn. I love the feel of natural fibers but a lot of the scarves I make go to homeless people and something easy to dry is important!

Next, circular knitting needles. In my case, bamboo, US #10 or 6 mm with a short connecting cable.

(I started with the circular needles when I was teaching the girls to knit. They’re easier for little beginner hands to hold and less likely to get loose in the couch and stab someone. It’s just one more degree of freedom for the praying!)

Then, I cast on 24 stitches. Why 24? Well, it’s a good width for scarves and it’s divisible by 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8 which gives lots of choices for the prayers. Think beads on a rosary.

And, because I can only keep track of so many things at once, I knit every stitch, every row. Cozy, pretty scarves which are hard to mess up. (Unknitting is way less fun than knitting!)

I get two scarves out of three skeins of the Landscape yarn, roughly 6 feet long each.

So, Hope, hope, hope, with every stitch. Or, Help me. Or Heal her. You get the drift. One of my favorites is Holy Mother – hear – our prayers.

And it gets even better, if you have some handy littles!

Waldorf schools use knitting with 1st graders for reading readiness and then again in about 5th grade as students move into more complicated math.

There are an enormous number of neural pathways – connections if you will – that need to come online before a child can learn to read. Knitting builds those connections! Ditto, math.

And, if you add in the notion of prayer or meditation, that’s more connections and a big batch of empowerment for littles with a concrete way to help immigrant families and those nearby with very limited resources.

It’s also a whole lot of positive, peaceful energy being set loose into the world.

You probably don’t have to guess a long time to get why I’ve chosen this story just now. In the face of so many, many things we can’t fix, this is something we can do.

That may just be the best gift we can give the littles we love so much!

ps… a large-eyed plastic needle is helpful for weaving in the ends!

pps… new fun stuff to see in the land of the Shop elves!

My head feels like a pot of soup!

You know how you wander around searching for answers, rather like puzzle pieces, and then all of a sudden they start to appear?

This has been one of those weeks!

It feels rather like a good pot of soup. Bits of this. Peels of that. Some leaves of this. Bones of something else.

None of them seem like much on their own.

When you collect them, though, with vision, and put them into a magical cauldron and add a bit of tending and a lot of time, you wind up with something wonder-full that did not exist before!

In this particular pot of metaphorical soup, there are quotes. Here’s one:

Successful people start before they’re ready. (Source unknown)

Just between us, I don’t feel entirely ready for the journey starting to appear before me. And I’m still debating the definition of successful in this particular context.

What I do know is that my archetypal quiz for Grandmothers is about to become real.

I know that kids all over need lots and lots of hope and courage and support in this moment.

And I know that Grandparents, many, many of us, are in particularly good places to offer those things.

(This is where I should say that I love and believe in Grandfathers, too. And Aunts. And Elders of many sorts. It’s just that I know lots more about being a Grandmother! But, please, if you’re reading, know that you’re welcome!)

I also know this:

In order to empower our littles, we need to empower ourselves! (Boardman)

Just like oxygen masks on an airplane!

So, there’s a new book hatching. One that will need some research help. (Stay tuned!)

And some inspiring mugs. Think tea time with your littles.

And some accessible art posters.

And a new riff on a paint adventure, filled with tools for the journey.

For today, though, a question…

What do YOU need to help empower yourself and your family and your community?

Yep, you.


Because, when it comes right down to it, NOW is what there is and there is work to be done.

Today, we choose to matter in the world. It may be hard, but we are in charge of Hope! (Boardman, Grandmothers’ Manifesta)

ps… new things coming to FierceArtWithHeart in time for Grandparents Day. For now, BIG PROMOTION! The elves will hook you up… 25% off purchases over $100!

pps… so hoping you’ll leave me a comment or email me with your notion of what would be empowering!

From the mouths of the wee women…

This afternoon, I was thrilled to be in a group of wise women, celebrating the energy of the Grandmothers.

The literal ones. The archetypal ones. The past ones. The future ones. The cosmic ones.

At one point, we were reflecting on memories that mattered deeply to us. Memories of relationships with our own generations.

The first thing that popped into my awareness was my current journey with my family’s genealogy. It’s quite the trip! (And a nice use for the miracles of modern science in these days!)

As of two nights ago, I have officially made it back 37 generations of direct grandmothers and grandfathers. Back to people born in about 900 CE.

I’m trying to grasp the stories, as well as the names and dates and places.

That is, as you might imagine, a whole lot of stories!

But then there was another voice in my awareness.

The voice of my younger granddaughter.

It came from some special memories around the Christmas of 2017.

We were on a cruise with our kids. It was amazing in so many, many ways.

One of the big ones for me was the time we spent waiting around tables for food to appear, especially at dinner.

The dining room on the ship was not conducive to energetic, excited mini-women. Distraction was in order.

The first or second night, the littlest of the littles put her hand on mine and said, “Tell us a story, Grammy. One from your mouff!”

I had lots! Many of them by way of my own Story-Gramma, Elsie, who happens to be the link to the big branch of the family tree in the way back machine!

The girls listened with huge eyes as I recounted a story which fascinated me at their age. Elsie swore that three or four of her older sisters were at home in the farm house when a major Mid-west tornado interrupted a mandatory afternoon nap. They were rolled in the mattress by the storm, pulled out a second story window and deposited, terrified but essentially safe, in a corn field, just in time to witness the family piano flying over their heads!

This particular tale has made the list of “from your mouff” best sellers!

What the girls probably don’t realize yet is that from the earliest of times, women and children have gathered in circle and told the stories that helped make them who they are. Stories that help interpret events in the moment and through the ages.

There are other stories, of course. Some they’re just beginning to be old enough for.

But the tradition is there. Around bar-b-que grills and enormous soup pots and ovens and tables, we gather.

We gather to learn more about who our people have been and how the world works and who we might become.


ps… a rare appearance by Grampy. (Well, almost!) And some really excellent Key Lime pie!

pps… stay tuned for more info on this year’s Red Madonna journey. There will no doubt be room for you!

Rant postponed for a different perspective!

It’s been one of those weeks.

You know… like when you get new glasses and eventually you’ll be able to see better but, for a bit, your feet can’t quite figure out where the floor is and your neck hurts from trying to figure out which part of the lens to look through…

Sometimes, though, when the news – and a new/old book or two – are the new “lenses”, there might just be the tiniest sense of how did I not know this before lurking in the shadows.

Or, maybe, a really huge sense of all that.

This is not a bad thing, though it can lead to some WTF-ing.

For this moment, Charlotte, the resident Muse, has convinced me that there might be another way to tell the story. We’re going to try it her way.

Let’s begin with a favorite quote attributed to German theologian, Karl Barth…

We do theology with a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other.

Or, to modernize things a bit, something more like some very abbreviated writing on our hearts and CNN!

There is, though (as there so often is) yet another hand!

In this case, the Legend paint journey just beginning with brush wielding sisters from around the world.

And, no, that’s not Legend in the photo above. It’s the one formerly known as Ritual which has insisted on becoming the backdrop for my video work, as is and far from officially “finished”!

Legend is, in my case, a dream along with some very scribbly journal pages and a blank canvas which, together, are changing me already.

Here’s the thing…

The whole point of the legendary adventure is to explore the possibility of allowing old stories that aren’t working to become new with the help of some new perspectives. Making, as it were, new stories of old.

And turning, as Paul Tillich might have said, while he was reading the same newspapers Barth was, to the Ground of All Being.

Which is exactly what’s been happening in my head!

And I’m choosing, at least for today, to skip the (highly appropriate) ranting as it will probably only make my blood pressure go up in a way that my healing tribe would not like, and scare the Studio Angels.

Which, right there, is another bit of newness.

And here’s still another… with the energy I didn’t use turning all red in the face and swearing at people past hearing, I did a bit of shopkeeping last night. The special collection in my Shopify store which features the art of the very talented Gloria Venuh is now open! And, in celebration, the rest of the gang got together and voted to have a special automatic discount offer. A big one… for the whole shop!

I’m hoping, with the time and energy you’ve saved by not listening to my proposed rant, you’ll stop by to visit. To dream a bit and listen to some new voices. And feel free to invite your friends! THIS IS THE LINK!!!

ps… just in case you’re curious, the special discount offer is 25% off on purchases over $100! The elves are standing by to make it so. All you have to do is put things in your cart! (Nobody would hold it against you if you started holiday shopping early!)

pps… the painting above has been re-christened Holding Ritual Space which is, clearly, exactly what she had in mind!

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