As the old saying goes: “Perspective isn’t everything…

It’s the only thing!”

The last 10 days in my world have been a huge reminder of just that.

It started with a trip to the airport. A trip on which no book I owned volunteered to go. This is not a usual event in my world.

Then, in the airport bookstore, a volunteer found me.

There were shelves full of books that were decidedly not calling to me. Books whose titles did not even make me curious. One of which I bought in a moment of perceived need. Need for something to read on the plane.

Then, as I was making my way to the door, one of those books that just calls to you sometimes… even when it’s not your usual thing. Even when you have no idea why.

It was higher than I could reach. Sparkling, literally, on the shelf. A new novel by Alice Hoffman.

The Book of Magic

I adored one of her earlier novels, The Dovekeepers. I’ve read it 5 or 6 times, most recently a couple of months ago, as we were beginning the Forest of Grandmothers journey.

Some of the rest of her books, not so much. (Though I’m beginning to suspect that may have had as much to do with me as a reader not yet ready as it did with Hoffman as a writer!)

Just between us, though, the whole magic thing felt quite a bit out of my go-to comfort genre’.

It was!

A complex family of women with generations of stories about magic. Or at least what they called magic. Knowing. Healing. Speaking. Writing. Things which women were not, according to the traditions many of us learned, supposed to do.

There were times when I felt like it was Harry Potter, et al, for grand-elders.

And, if we’re being honest, times when I remembered the crushed third grader who was only permitted to read book mobile books with orange tape on the spines because they were the ones for people like me.

And still, I read.

It wasn’t until page 249 that I began to know why! Here are some glimpses…

If it isn’t written down, it will likely be forgotten, Isabelle had told her. That was why women had been illiterate for so long; reading and writing gave power and power was what had been so often denied to women (249).

A woman with knowledge, one who could read and write, and who spoke her own mind had always been considered dangerous (251).

As Sally went forward she thought about the women before her who had fought to protect those they loved, those who had been erased from history, who never had a chance to tell their own stories (327).

And, all around me as I read, my girls were being and growing and learning.

The writer in me knows that we can never be certain that what we read is what a writer intended.

Here’s a hint, though, about what I intend for this moment, with all the Advocate Grammy energy empowering the Guide within me…

We learn so that we can help our littles speak, write, paint, dance, be… their stories. And be magic for a new world!

ps… the amazing sculpture in the photo was my Christmas gift from my not-quite-12-year-old grandperson, Taylor!

pps… for a glimpse of some of my art, hoping for forever homes, check out FierceArtWithHeart. The elves are still in a holiday mood and there are special goodies for those of you who’ve found your Intentional Grandmother Archetype. If you haven’t found it yet, CLICK HERE!

Of days and times and traditions

As I write these words, it’s Christmas Eve in my world and tradition. By the time you read them, depending on where you are, it will be Boxing Day or there abouts.

Amidst all the wrapping and writing and squeezing stuff into the fridge, one story keeps running through my head. You may have heard the beginning before. Much to my surprise, it ends in a new place this time!

Here goes…

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.

More so, perhaps, this year than ever before. You see, I’ve been pondering the way we tell our stories and whose voice we hear in our heads when we tell them.

You may, of course, have different stories and answers than I do but I can only tell my own. My answer to Why I tell some of the stories I do, including the one we were telling that night in the rain so long ago, is simply this:

I feel called to help people see what fierce compassion in the face of all the odds can look like in a world that all too often values power over most other gifts.

We don’t have wet sheep or cranky ponies this year, though we do have a sweet dog and a couple of very cute kittens. And we have people who believe, with all their hearts, that we ALL matter. Even the most unlikely among us.

The gifts we bring are our words and our images and our intentions. The treasures of our time. And all the days to come!

Many, many blessings of light and hope to you and yours, from me and mine. Sue

ps… what’s in the box? Canvases!

Greetings from Grammy-Land… or Studio on the Move!

The Legendary Husband gave me my Christmas gift early. A denim shirt/canvas for the girls to help me paint!

My friends at Michaels obligingly shipped the fabric paint medium so I didn’t need to take it on the plane. (Along with a few other goodies!)

Cat proofing proved to be the first challenge. Well, okay… not proofing, exactly. Not with two 6-month old kittens! A plastic table with the canvas tarp all bunched up so that it didn’t hang over the edges helped. But, yes, they can jump that far. Fortunately, they are easily bored!

The first big question was, What should we paint, Grammy?

Answer: What ever you like!

[Time out for clarifying questions.]

Finally, we were all on board. I did, indeed, want my magic shirt painted with whatever they wanted to do. Any colors they chose. Really!

And while they painted citrus fruit and a bunny in sunflowers, I made fingerprint dots along the collar which was the most accessible place left.

Fingerprint dots which were, of course, prayer dots.

Prayers for health and safety and courage and kindness. Prayers for deep dreams and big visions. Prayers for joy. For all of us.

And, being considerably less flexible than my buddies, I spent a bit of time sitting and sharing some Solstice learning.

Totally new for the girls. Only slightly less new for me. (We did not cover this in nursing school or Seminary!)

We talked about time before calendars and living closely with nature.

We talked about time with ourselves and with others.

And, when there was concern about paint mistakes, we talked about layers and how things got even more interesting as we learned along the way.

Today, somewhere between swim team and field hockey practice (INDOORS!) we’ll paint some more. And find time to meet some more Grammies in my Forest of Grandmothers slide show.

Tonight, there’s a light show in a park!

And time to hold space for Maria, my new teacher – or Shima – which means one who is like a mother, while her mother makes her transition into the future.

For this moment, prayers for health and safety and courage and kindness. Prayers for deep dreams and big visions. Prayers for joy. For all of you!

ps… we’re getting closer and closer to Unsticking Stuck Stuff workshops… starting with big stuff for this moment! Stay tuned!

pps… holiday gatherings? Even the distanced kind? Have some fun with the Intentional Grandmothers’ Archetype Quiz! (And maybe pick up some visions for 2022!)

Good tidings of mixed metaphors!

It’s been a bit of a week!

Blessedly negative Covid tests for one of our girls. Uncertainty over holiday plans. Very large dogs to get ready for Camp.

Ready, I might add, without blowing the secret. They get REALLY excited when they figure it out!

Lots of (less exciting) laundry to do. Well, you know the drill…

Along with a Nancy Drew adventure with the email elves. (I hope I figured it out!)

Painting. Planning for new workshops coming in February. (Think Unsticking Stuck Stuff!”)

Rapidly multiplying lists of questions.

Last minute cyber-elfing.

And an utterly amazing bit of time to hang out with Shiloh Sophia and Jonathan McCloud in a virtual place known as Revisioning.

If you made it, too… Hallelujah!

If you didn’t, click here for a second chance, via video.

I’m not quite sure I can explain it, yet. It’s about the wisdom which lives in our bodies and something called a Choice Cascade which helps us put that wisdom to work, with coherence, in the service of what I think of as our Big Why.

One of the things I’ve learned over the last months is just how helpful it is to claim that Big Why and make choices in ways that support it.

If you’ve taken the Intentional Grandmothers Archetype Quiz, you’ve met a way my Why is taking form. (If you haven’t, I’m so hoping you will! Grandmothers, folks who think like grandmothers, and even very brave grandfathers are welcome!)

It’s free, quick, easy, fun, and, according to lots of folks who’ve already taken the leap, a powerful way to feel seen and claim their power. I’ll put a link at the end.

First, the Grinch. The “real” one. Not Jim Carey.

I’m betting you know the story. Bill and I watched last night. One of our traditions.

Despite the Grinch’s claim that, “I must find some way to keep Christmas from coming,” it does, of course, come anyway.

Christmas in a spiritual sense, for some of us.

Christmas in a deeply human sense for many, many more of us… “heart to heart and hand to hand”.

Which feels to me like something that would be pretty useful about now. The stories about who we were created to be that can’t be shoved up the chimney and stolen, no matter how hard some might try.

Dr. Seuss’s heroine was little Cindy Lou Who who helped generations of us learn – as I might phrase it – to sing anyway, however we can!

The wee one in the photo is one of our little Cindy Lou Who tribe. And a living, breathing Big Why in my world. All of our littles are.

And my choice cascade involves singing anyway, despite a lifetime of folks who tried to convince me that the world would probably be happier if I didn’t. Literally, at least.

There’s room for LOTS of us!

Take the quiz! Schedule a chat. Plan for some individual time, or a workshop.

Christmas Day is in our grasp. As long as we have hands to clasp.

ps… we’re a bit past the moment for Christmas deliveries, but there’s lots of fun Big Why gifts and art at FierceArtWithHeart!

Another use for my favorite question!

I was raised by a mom who was utterly convinced that the way to do virtually anything was to do it the way Granny did it.

Granny did lots and lots of amazing things. Things I still do. Or miss doing.

Granny did not, however, live in a world where she was feeding insulin dependent diabetics. Or a couple of gluten free folks. Or people with varying ideas about protein sources.

I do.

And I love them.

Thus, holiday food “traditions” have needed some updating around here. And, instead of relying on the way we’ve always done it, my go-to question comes in really handy.

Yep! What are we trying to accomplish?

The answer for me is simple. I want everybody to belong. To feel like part of the tribe. To be able to help. And to have things that they love without feeling like they’re “cheating” or “making do”.

So, here’s my gift to you… In theory if not in practice. We happen to be fine with chocolate and nuts. I’m so hoping that, in case you and yours are not, you’ll just run with the theory!

Grammy’s Chocolate Almond Bark


  • 1 c. organic roasted almonds with sea salt, coarsely chopped if desired
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1/2 tsp. coconut oil, measured while solid
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. finely chopped excellent dark chocolate, like Endangered Species 88% cacao strong & velvety dark (about 2/3 of a 3.17 oz. bar) or dark chocolate chips
  • 1 scoop Cacao Bliss or a slightly rounded Tbsp. of organic raw cacao powder
  • 1 good pinch Anthony’s espresso baking powder, if desired (or instant espresso granules)
  • 1 tsp. Maldon flaked sea salt for garnish if using unsalted almonds

Recipe doubles easily!

Line a sheet tray with unbleached parchment paper.

In a heavy saucepan (or double boiler) combine chocolate, coconut oil, and vanilla extract. Stir over low heat until completely melted. Add Cacao powder and espresso powder and stir thoroughly. Add almonds and mix until covered.

Pour chocolate mixture onto tray with parchment paper, spreading evenly with a rubber spatula to a thin layer.

If you used salted almonds, you’re done. If you used unsalted nuts, sprinkle evenly with sea salt flakes, or omit if you prefer.

Refrigerate for an hour or until well set. Break into bite sized pieces and store, tightly covered, in fridge or freezer. Allow to warm a few minutes to cool room temp before serving, preferably with roses on the table!

Technically, I suppose, you could call it candy. I call it sustenance. Body. Mind. Spirit.

Or, in the eternal words of Charles M. Schulz…

All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt. 

ps… If you haven’t seen the Intentional Grandmothers Archetype Quiz yet, you’re in luck! It’s my gift to you…

pps… For a fun way to start your New Year, check out FierceArtWithHeart. Original art, archival prints, and Grammy Archetype goodies, plus some to share with the littles! (The elves are still in a holiday mood!)

Opening to new voices…

Okay, I need your help! If you run into The Muse, please don’t mention that her brilliantly inspired blog post for today is now next in line for Wednesday! (She’s already insisting that I pack a photo so she can keep me up to speed on my upcoming adventure!)

For this moment, though, a couple of new voices in my world.

I went to church in Canada this morning! (Well, virtually…) Bedford United Church in Nova Scotia was celebrating this third Sunday in Advent with a Christmas Cantata a’ la current context. And a member of my chosen family was singing!

What a wonder-full place for me to be!

With a welcome lack of formality, and a large dose of community, my new friends lit candles and sang songs and miraculously included everybody with language and images and sounds, both familiar and fresh. And, perhaps most of all, with smiles.

Smiles we could see because the choir had been rapid tested and given the go-ahead to sing sans masks.

Miracles are, indeed, in the eyes of the beholders!

Time out for a funny…

Someone typed into the chat, during the service, that it was “Church with many Newfies”.

Given the context, I suspect they meant 2-footed visitors from Newfoundland.

What they didn’t know was that there were also two of the 4-footed Newfies enjoying from Atlanta!

And, while we’re talking about bear-ish beasties… some wisdom from another new teacher. Maria Yraceburu is an Indigenous Elder who is helping me learn about star constellations and ancient myths.

It is, as I may have mentioned, a bit of a challenge as stargazing is an adventure in Atlanta. Suffice it to say that I’ve had to find new ways to do my homework.

A star chart for Atlanta skies in December of 2021 helps a lot. (Which is something of a wonder right there!)

The Muse decided to get involved, too, and sent me a dream. It was filled with bear-ish beasties of the more traditional variety.

A bit of research revealed that the constellations of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor are home to the only two constellations I’ve ever really known consciously with my eyes and heart. (The big and little dippers.)

This, according to Maria, is because I am Bear Clan.

I’m still learning what that means. What I can tell you, for now, is that I feel like I belong.

I can also tell you that I like learning new things!

So, meet some “new” members in the fam photo, all of whom have been living here for ages!

Not really so hard to wrap my head around bears when you consider that I’ve also discovered among the uncles a Catholic Pope, and an Archbishop of Canterbury, as well as a couple of distant grandfathers, beheaded for their faith, and a great aunt hanged as a witch.

Fascinating. Tragic, some of it. But, for me, the bigger issue is what I do with all of this learning in order to be a force for better in the world my girls are inheriting.

I’ll keep you posted!

For now there’s a dog-bear barking out back and a whole batch of Forest of Grandmothers paint videos to watch.

ps… still haven’t taken the Intentional Grandmothers Archetype Quiz??? Yep… click the pretty colored link! It’s fast, easy, fun, and free!

pps… when you take the quiz, it would be great if you’d confirm your email. That way you’ll get way more info and some goodies!

Fried Salt… or comfort TV on a big day!

It has, indeed, been a big day around here. Big in the sense of what’s about to be happening by the time you read this.

And big days, especially ones with blogs to write, often mean food tv. On Tuesdays, that’s Chopped. In one particular episode, when things were down to the final two challengers making dessert, a young woman named Rahaf was, shall we say, stressing about whether her tarts would finish baking.

In a way that makes perfect sense but is actually counterproductive, Rahaf kept opening the oven door until the judges yelled at her to leave it alone.

Wisely, she decided she needed something else to do. (Think Hail Mary moment!)

She grabbed a microplane and an apple which she shredded quickly, and then a handful of flakey sea salt. And, much to everyone’s amazement, tossed the whole batch in the deep fryer.

The judges were aghast. Incredulous. Fried salt… really???

The clock ticked on, as the clock on Chopped always does. I have no idea what the other chef was doing. All eyes were glued to the ecstatic young woman as she took her beautifully done tarts from the oven, plated everything, and garnished the whole dish with her fried salt and apple bits.

As an experienced connoisseur of Chopped, I can assure you that the judges loved her dessert.

Now, you may be wondering why the food tv story in this moment. The answer is simple.

I feel like I’m having a Hail Mary moment, too.

Yep! The Intentional Grandmother Archetype Quiz has been made manifest!

It’s taken a truckload of work and learning and help.

Mostly, it’s taken a whole lot of reminding myself why I care.

You’ve heard me say it before…

Becoming a grandmother changed my life. And my perspective on everything!

I wrote a book called Grandmothers Are In Charge Of Hope with a lot of the learning stories.

And, just between us, the last few years have convinced me — and I would imagine many of you — that we need even more Hope these days than we might ever have guessed.

I feel deeply called to help.

And, as my friend Sam Bennett would say, we start right where we are.

In this case, I hope, with a bit more awareness about how things we believed just were this or that way are impacting our choices, and the littles we love the most.

So, a quiz, to help us see with different eyes.

It’s short, simple, and fun. It’s Intentional!

And, you don’t have to be, as my friend Natalie says, an actual grandmother… just someone who thinks like one! (Even very brave grandfathers are welcome here!)

There’s immediate brief feedback and a chance to join an email list for a whole lot more noticing and wondering. (This is me, after all!)

Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what will happen. The tech elves are being expertly supervised. We’ve been testing. I’m sure there’s some tweaking left to do.

I expect there are still some things to learn. (And that, dear friends, is one of the things I most want my girls to understand!)

I can tell you that there’s a lot of good, empowering information on this journey, from my heart to yours. And it’s easy! Just click this link and you’re on your way. Quite possibly, to even more hope.

You’ve already guessed that I’d love to hear how it goes! (Or leave a comment, below…)

Oh! What happened on Chopped??? I don’t know. Luther needed rescuing!

ps… should you need a bit of flakey sea salt, I’m a fan of the Maldon brand!

pps… thank you, Mellissa Seaman, Veronica Guzzardi and testing team!

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