Etymology Safari!

As you may have noticed, I have a thing for words.

Where they come from. What they mean. How they change over time.

For example, the word celebrate.

It comes from the Latin for frequented or honored.

And, it’s changing, even in this moment!

If your email is anything like mine, you’ve already noticed! Noticed how we, in the USA, are celebrating sales on this long weekend, instead of (or perhaps more comfortably than) the notion of Memorial Day many of us grew up with.

(Before we go on, I’m going to own up to the reality that my right hand and left shoulder are engaged in battles of their own and typing is hard… so, a bit of cut and paste from folks who’ve already told these stories well!)

You may be surprised, as I was, that…

When Charleston fell and Confederate troops evacuated the badly damaged city, those freed from enslavement remained. One of the first things those emancipated men and women did was to give the fallen Union prisoners a proper burial. They exhumed the mass grave and reinterred the bodies in a new cemetery with a tall whitewashed fence inscribed with the words: “Martyrs of the Race Course.”

Learn more, here...

And the beginning of a letter, Friday, from my friends at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Set on a pastoral landscape at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains outside Orange, Virginia, Montpelier, is among the country’s premier historic plantation sites. It was the home of James Madison, the so-called father of the U.S. Constitution and the nation’s fourth president. It was also “home” to 300 enslaved people during Madison’s time, and their descendants are now boldly asserting the right to tell their stories.

More of this story…

All of this… and more… in context of another school shooting. This one in Uvalde, Texas. Nineteen elementary school students and two of their teachers, gone, needlessly.

Here’s the bottom line for me… war is a tragedy that involves weapons. In the best of times, a tragedy that results in more peace and justice for more people.

School should not be such a battlefield. And we must honor all our fallen by trying to fix the systems that permit ever-increasing gun violence.

The way forward is not NRA rallies on Memorial Day Weekend. It’s many, many more voices at the table. It’s common sense gun laws instead of the kind grudgingly tolerated by those getting rich off gun sales.

It’s teaching our children better. And doing everything we can to keep them alive long enough to understand.

Yes, I have, as the old saying goes, quit preachin’ and gone to meddlin’. And I’m not going to apologize.

The way that some of us think we’ve always done it isn’t working.

So, if this matters to you, click the links (above) and read more of the stories. Risk a bigger perspective.

Perhaps, at its heart, that’s the way to celebrate Memorial Day. To make space for more of the stories. Even the ones that don’t seem to get along so well.

If you live in Georgia… there’s a run-off election for the Democratic Nominee for Secretary of State on June 21. You know what to do.

In an episode of The West Wing, a top brass kind of walk-on character, named Adamley, said this to Leo McGarry:

All wars are crimes.

Yes. That’s hard for many of us to hear.

On this day, though, let’s choose, loudly, to truly honor those who have fallen throughout history – our ancestors and partners and neighbors and children – and all those who grieve, by voting for change. By working to end more tragic crimes.

What’s happening all around us isn’t working.

ps… season 3, episode 6!

pps… what if you could adopt an intentional image of What the World Needs Now , literally formed of dots for peace??? You can! An original painting… at a special discount, meant to call in powerful new energy. The elves will hook you right up. Just add her to your basket and the numbers will get smaller! (There’s only one!!!)

Of context and tears and questions…

Once upon a time, according to the way-back machine, a baby boy was born. (Not that one!) It was just after midnight on January 1, 1958 in St. Paul, Minnesota.

As was the tradition in that particular place and time, the newspaper published the big event… you know, first baby of the New Year. Lots of applause…

This particular little guy was named Sputnik Eisenhower Jones. Really!

Now you may, quite reasonably, be wondering why I know this story and/or why I’m telling it now.

Glad you asked!

I know this story because my mom was obsessed with baby names, looking forward, as she was, to my own birth which was about 7 weeks into the future.

She was aghast that parents would saddle a defenseless little one with such a name.

She also used to tell me, when I was frustrated by people calling me Susie – which does not happen anymore!!! – that I should just be glad she hadn’t named me Sputnik Eisenhower Jones.

And I was.

Now, I know more! Specifically about the impact of context on our lives and choices.

Eisenhower was midway through his two-term presidency.

He signed the Civil Rights act of 1957 and sent Army troops to enforce federal court orders, integrating schools in Little Rock, Arkansas. And he promoted the establishment of strong science education via the National Defense Education Act.

Meanwhile, Russia launched the first artificial Earth satellite in October of 1957. It’s name was, indeed, Sputnik!

A huge scientific breakthrough with obvious questions for the future.

And there, on January 1, 1958… a baby boy with a serious handful of a name in a family, likely not far in generations from the sharecropping South, clearly invested in Civil Rights.

Somehow, all these years later, that little guy – whom I hope somebody had the sense to call Nick, at least during Junior High – is part of my story. Of my understanding of how we relate to the world.

If you’ve been hanging around a while, you’ve probably noticed that I like questions a lot, so, two questions, in this context-laden primary election season in the USA…

How will you use the context of this moment to understand your place in the world?

And how will you use that understanding to shape your choices?

Just in case you’re wondering… those questions work wherever you live! And they are even more urgent while school children are being shot. Again.

So, how will we ALL use that understanding to shape our choices?

I’m really hoping you’ll leave a comment, or email me, and let me know what you think. Or wonder…

ps… in the irony abounds department, Eisenhower was a Republican!

pps… hunting inspiration? Field Trip! FierceArtWithHeart (able to choose tanks still at cost!) and lots of cool art, mugs, and things of wonder!


At our house it was a kitchen door jam. The one with the penciled height marks.

From the day I started 7th grade until the day I started 8th grade, I grew 7 inches!

My sister “may have” thought I was showing off.

My mother muttered about a plot to keep her letting down hems and buying new shoes.

I thought it was hard work.

I ached. A lot.

I got teased at school. Mostly for being taller than the boys, which was a big deal back then.

And I felt even less coordinated than usual, which I never imagined was possible.

All of this along with the hormonal initiations that happen in those years.

It seemed more than a bit much!

In the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about the other kind of growing.

The kind where we become conscious of our filters… of what they’re letting in and keeping out.

The kind where we realize that with consciousness comes the ability to edit. With intention.

And, as you might suspect, I’m hatching. A lot!

Tonight, though, it was time out from hatching as I visited, virtually, with 2 old friends.

Each of them facing, with differing details, a breast cancer diagnosis.

Some of the growing I’ve done along the way came in handy.

In both cases, my long acquaintance with the powerful guided imagery work of Belleruth Naparstek.

An occasion, both urgent and important, to fire up the bone broth cauldron, complete with organic herbs growing in our garden. And bay leaves.

And, gladly, a copy of a prayer I created during my Color of Woman® training. A prayer a bit outside the usual for the tribe that raised me.

Then, a new project for yet more growing.

One of my friends has requested a liturgy for saying goodbye to her breast, so I have some intentional writing to do.

These dear hearts are not, of course, the only sisters facing such journeys and so it seems time for prayer dots. Lots and lots of those, while the broth magic happens.

May growing – all of our growing – be both blessed and a blessing for those along the way.

And so it is.

ps… Click here for Belleruth’s guided imagery materials.

pps… this is “my” Prayer for Fiercely Compassionate Grandmother/elders in Difficult Days, with help from Dr. E.

Mixed Metaphors & Sorting Hats!

I’m guessing that Grandmother Moon is resting up after all the eclipse excitement because she actually convinced The Muse to let me sleep, clear ’til 7:00 this morning!

Don’t laugh! It beats the 4:30am thing.

Anyway, my first thought was, HATS.

This is not usually what we’re chatting about before tea!

My second thought was, SORTING HAT. As in, Harry Potter.

I could tell it was going to be an interesting day!

Now, I’m conversant in Hogwarts, but nowhere near the expert that my girls and my sister and the Legendary Husband are, so I was perplexed.

And then it dawned on me!

We were going to vote today. And there is, as you’ve no doubt noticed, a great deal of sorting involved in that peculiar adventure!

So, feet up, tea in hand, I began my go-to strategy of noticing and wondering about what The Muse might be up to.

The first thing that came to mind was the drive-by shooting just outside Atlanta last night. When I checked for news, I discovered another one, very early this morning. All of the targets, women.

The next thing that occurred to me was recent USA primary election results. Some encouraging. Some decidedly not.

Now, I have no idea whether Shonda Rhimes actually schedules the Grey’s Anatomy re-run parade based on national news but, given the local stuff, along with the tragedy in Buffalo, I wouldn’t be surprised.

During the tea and index card marathon that followed, my imaginary colleagues in Seattle dealt with a serial domestic partner predator, a ransom-hacker thing which took down all the hospital computers, and an utterly unarmed tween-aged boy shot and killed by police officers after he forgot his house key and tried to climb in a window after school, while being black.

By that point I was, as you’ve already guessed, creating my personal Sorting Hat.

Of course, I couldn’t actually wear it to vote. It was all about Intention. Along with the able to choose tank top I could wear!

And, while all of that was going on, there was something else tickling my consciousness.

Duh! as the girls would say.

On Saturday, my commissioned painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe went to her forever home with my dear friend. Here’s her picture, for the first time in public since she was finished. It was quite a journey!

It may have been my hand on the paintbrush as she was coming to form, but it was her story and her wisdom as I learned it in the context of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, early in the days of the painting.

You see, we didn’t cover Black Madonnas in nursing school or seminary and I had some research to do.

There were two big surprises along the way.

First, the late Congressman John Lewis, D (GA-05), insisted on lending his face and energy to the figure at the bottom of the canvas which, according to tradition, represents an intermediary god who comes to bring newness in changing times.

Then, Our Lady’s hair. Really!

You see, she declined to have her hair covered. Instead, she made her own choice, despite all the years of “tradition” denying her the power.

So, with 2 granddaughters growing up in this world, pictures of Our Lady and the Intentional sorting hat in my phone, and my tank top peeking from a favorite paint-spattered denim shirt, I voted.

ps… while I was reviewing the various sorting options for the hat at Hogwarts, I was reminded that the Slytherin students were described as, “those cunning folks [who] use any means to achieve their ends”. I, on the other hand, voted for the candidates from tribes more inclined to be “brave at heart,” “loyal, patient, true”, and “with ready minds, brave & learning.” Just sayin’!

pps… there’s still time to get YOUR tank top at cost – which saves you $10 – just fill up your cart at FierceArtWithHeart and the enlightened elves will make the magic!

A week of chanting paintings and learning more!

At 4:30 on Friday morning, I was dragged from sleep by a whispering chorus composed of The Muse and Grandmother Moon and, well, my bladder.

You can probably guess which voice won!

Then, back in the bed, I tried to convince the rest of the team that the world would, in fact, go on while I slept at least a bit more.

No luck.

Grandmother Moon, it seems, has taken up chanting.

We were born for such a time as this…

Well, yes! And I, at least, am more useful when I sleep!

We were born for such a time as this…

And so on and so forth.

Until my curiosity won out and, tea in hand, I went hunting for the quote.

It didn’t take long to get close.

Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes!

And, suddenly, I was back to the era known in my personal calendar as the knee surgery years.

Huge pain and mobility challenges. Massive medication allergies. A whole lot of camping in the magic chair during the wee hours, listening to the Dangerous Old Woman (!) cd’s and waiting for better.

The author/editor who lurks inside me, though, was not quite convinced. So, button pushing!

Allowing for linguistic diversity and translation challenges, I encountered what I suspect are the roots of all this whispering in the Hebrew scriptures.

It took quite a bit of hunting, for the book of Esther was not, in my day, a popular choice for the Bible Content Exam…

If you’re curious, check it out. Especially Esther 4:14… I’ve read a bunch of versions in the last 24 hours and, since I’ve got this particular “pen in my hand,” I chose this one:

Perhaps this is the moment for which you were created.

Do you feel that?

I do! I feel it in the sudden flash of tears in my eyes and in the chills along my arms and legs.

We used to call those chills goose bumps, which is kind of ironic if you also claim the Celtic spirituality tradition that wild geese are symbols of the Holy Spirit!

And what if – just maybe – it’s true?

That we, you and I, and all of us who are paying attention, were created – or intended, perhaps – for this moment…

What might that mean in your world???

I’ll give you just a glimpse, for now, of what it means in mine.

A whole new vision of working with people just like you to make your answer real.

There are lots more details on the way. For now, if you hear that question, deep in your heart, if your arms are covered in goose bumps, let’s talk, soon! 30 minutes, on me!

This is one of those five people things for me. We all need them, especially our littles, and it’s going to take a lot of us!

Not sure about the five people thing? Ask me!

For tonight, though, the actual words Dr. E. wrote in a blog post kind of like this, just a few years ago…

My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times!

And, so we were.

I can help!

ps… you can still get an able to choose tank top at cost. Lots of sizes and colors! Click here and choose yours! The elves will automatically give you the best deal ever!

pps… this little painting is an intentional prayer for health and abundance. Kind of a Feng shui activation for a special corner in our library. And, yes… there’s a goose! Wonders never cease!!!

Quilting a Life…

Yesterday was the 32nd anniversary of the day the Legendary Husband and I said I do.

It was rather unusual, as these events go. A Thursday evening… just before my seminary graduation on Sunday.

All the family was in town. We had invited the entire Columbia community, along with the congregations of 4 churches. And, we had no money. It was, to put it mildly, a whole lot of church and very little fluff!

What with my rather fumbling attempts to learn Greek and Hebrew, along with way more polity than I remember, I had not, at that point in my journey, become an actual quilter.

In retrospect, that ceremony was a wondrous quilt of our journeys and our hopes, and all manner of things we couldn’t have imagined at the time.

Along the way, inspired by memories of my Gramma Elsie and a brilliant woman named Gwen Marston, I did become a quilter, of the liberated persuasion.

And, like most of my kind, I developed a bit of a fabric fetish!

I used to string bits of this and fat quarters of that along the back of the couch when I was hatching a design. And I’d sit, sometimes for weeks, staring at the bits until they told me what they wanted to be.

The last couple of weeks have felt a great deal like that, though I’m quilting dreams and words, just now, instead of fabric.

I’m getting close. A few that just didn’t play well have volunteered to wait for another project.

Some old favorites, like precious scraps of Kaffe Fassett designs, have insisted on being welcomed into the mix.

I’ll have more to share, soon.

Until then, I’m wondering about what you are “quilting” in your heart. Leave a comment, here, please, or email me…

And, in case you’re wondering why I’m pondering quilts just now, that’s easy!

Quilts are about love and warmth and belonging. They’re about choosing what we’ll do with the bits of our lives… the stunningly gorgeous ones and the faded, scrappy ones, too.

In the end, quilts, like anniversaries, are about hope. And this world can use all of that we can make!

Which seems worth noticing… after I did the math earlier today and realized that the Legendary Husband and I have been married for half my life which feels like a miracle, given some of my early journey!

And, just in case you didn’t know… in the Jewish tradition, when a couple becomes engaged, they gather with friends and family and drink l’chaim… to life!

I’m for that! Now, more than ever!!!

ps… the beginnings of Kenzie’s big-girl quilt, hanging out on the couch, @2011.

Someone once said, “Perspective isn’t…

everything. It’s the only thing.”

I used to think so, too.

These days, I know more.

And, yes, The Muse has been busy!

On Tuesday I had an appointment with my doc. The usual.

Plus, a discussion about a training he’s planning for young-ish docs and nurses tending in the wholistic direction, and the possibility of my contributing.

We agreed on the first question which needs answering… all together now:

What are we trying to accomplish?

While we ponder that a bit longer, there are plenty of other things going on.

Progress on my Forest of Grandmothers painting.

Progress on explaining – at least to myself – what it is that I most long to do.

The beginning of a 5-week Intentional Creativity® adventure known as Temple. Very exciting… and a wee bit scary!

And, an introduction, Friday, to an adventure with an essential oil known as Truth. Which, as I’m beginning to understand, is a very timely voice/throat chakra sort of thing.

So, very early this morning – The Muse, having had time to ponder, was ready to get to work.

I woke with great options for helping with Mark’s workshop demanding ink & paper. The Muse is fond of lists!

Then, some fine tuning on the What do I do? project.

Then, a seemingly random urge to play Furniture Yahtzee!

This is not an uncommon activity at our house.

The Legendary Husband is not a huge fan. And it’s logistically hard for me.

I began with a sketch pad and my favorite tape measure.

After a bit, I noticed that I was feeling anxious.

The Inner Critic had joined the conversation! She’s an expert at ways to keep me from actually doing new things (Read that scary things!) by distracting me with endless what-if’s.

Perhaps you’ve met!

Before too long, though, The Muse parked my butt in the magic chair with a cup of tea and dangled sexy paper and markers in front of me, while whispering that questions might be more helpful than imaginary safe answers.

  1. What did I feel?
  2. What was I trying to accomplish?
  3. What felt IMPORTANT? (vs. the sense of URGENT Furniture Yahtzee!)

And so, I pondered. And scribbled. And circled. And crossed out. Then it happened.

If you’ve been hanging around a while, you won’t be too surprised.

I reached for the widest, boldest marker in my basket and put big right angled brackets in the top left and bottom right corners of the page.

Psych shorthand for context.

Which is, of course, the vital piece missing from the notion that perspective is the only thing!

About then, I noticed the calm spreading through me, and realized that rearranging all the furniture was not actually the answer to feeling anxious about new things.

Then, I noticed that my Forest of Grandmothers painting, standing on its head across the room, was volunteering for this blog post, complete with the unexpected image of a whole flock of supportive Grammy-ancestors gathered, perhaps, to sing, where once there was a Phoenix!

Then, after I had gone on to routine things, like feeding the Studio Angels, I noticed a fabulous question in a Facebook group where I hang out.

What superpower would you most like to have?

I didn’t even have to ponder!

The power to help others claim THEIR superpowers!!!

Which is, of course, exactly my notion of what it means to be The Fiercely Compassionate Grandmother in this moment.

And then The Muse hugged me and whispered that moving furniture – while not a bad idea – could probably wait for another day!

The Inner Critic, it seems, has wandered off again, leaving me to send hugs and huge love of whatever sort you would welcome on this Mothers Day, along with a magnificent glimpse of what that Truth oil might be all about!

ps… thanks, Sam Bennett, for the superpower question and Mary Ann Matthys for sharing this video.

pps… just in case your particular perspectives and superpowers could use a bit of sorting – especially in this context – let’s chat!

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