The thing called “reality”…

Half a lifetime ago, when I was a seminary student, I encountered the then-bizarre notion that language creates reality.

It freaked me out! (And was something definitely not covered during my previous years in nursing school!)

At first, faced with that enormous notion, I dangled my inner editor toes in the kiddy pool with the possibility that language proposes reality.

Later, I dove in head first!

You see, I lived a whole lot of my life as a word person.

Then, about 5 years ago, I discovered that I am also an image person!

And realized that images can create reality, too… especially if they’re attached to words. Words of Intention!

And you, clever soul, already see where this is going on this work-in-progress Wednesday!!!

My externalized journey with this round of Intentional Creativity® Insight painting is circling for a landing.

Every cell in my being knows that my internal journey is headed on a whole other adventure!

I know… she probably doesn’t make much sense to you.

The what are we trying to accomplish bit is pretty easy.

All three primary neuro-processing patterns working together to help us get from here to there.

There, in my case, being intentionally re-framed by these words from Frederick Buechner with which I’ve been obsessed recently:

The place where you are called is where your deep joy and the world’s deep hunger meet!

So… let’s start, visually, with the bottom left corner of this w-i-p. Home of the Critic and the Muse. The two chatty voices in all of us, playing tug-of-war over the next right thing.

If you squint, you may be able to spot the initials M and C in what insisted on becoming a stock pot.

Yep… predictable for me. Go ahead and laugh!

I do, indeed, have a thing for broth. Veg. Bones. Fish heads & shrimp shells…

It’s healing. It’s comforting. It’s alchemical!

And the magic happens when energy is applied to an intentional container.

That’s what I do!

In the kitchen, for sure. But in my journey, as well.

It’s about creating a safe container for the old stuff and the new… the scary and the thrilling… to be honored and nurtured until they become something that wasn’t before.

Often, a bay leaf is involved! Literally or metaphorically…

For now, an invitation…

A Red Thread Circle. Zoom. Me. You. Your Muse & Critic. A scrap of red yarn if there’s some handy. And a cuppa. Maybe a bay leaf! 45 minutes. My gift to you.

Click HERE & the Calendar Elves will find you a time!

ps… stay tuned! My Insight buddy will clearly have more to share!

pps… Thank you, Shiloh Sophia McCloud, and all those who came before us and walk beside us.


Can’t you just hear him, deep inside?

Yep! Tevye. Let’s listen…

A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no? But in our little village of Anatevka, you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof, trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn’t easy. You may ask, why do we stay up there if it’s so dangerous? We stay because Anatevka is our home… And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you In one word… Tradition!

Tradition… Tradition…

Because of our traditions, we’ve kept our balance for many, many years. Here in Anatevka we have traditions for everything… how to eat, how to sleep, even, how to wear clothes. For instance, we always keep our heads covered and always wear a little prayer shawl… This shows our constant devotion to God. You may ask, how did this tradition start? I’ll tell you – I don’t know. But it’s a tradition… Because of our traditions, everyone knows who [they are] and what God expects [them] to do.

You, dear reader, may well be wondering why this particular song is stuck in my head at this particular moment. It’s a good question! And there are several answers.

First, I’ve known all the words at least as long as I’ve known all the summer camp songs that live deep inside me.

Then, the Legendary Husband and I had date night.

We went to one of our neighborhood faves, complete with a great sidewalk patio, which has even more advantages just now than it used to.

There’s a new owner these days. I think his name is Sean. Much of the pub-y menu has stayed the same. One nice surprise, though, is a new emphasis on local, seasonal veg, delightfully fried in a dynamite batter.

There is, however, a challenge with the whole local food bit. Supply!

I was delighted, on date night, to discover that they did, indeed, have fried green tomatoes available.

Now, my friend Tevye had nothing on Southerners when he was singing about tradition on that roof so long ago. And, while I don’t consider myself technically a Southerner, I am more than fluent in Southern food.

So, imagine my surprise when my glorious plate of fried tomatoes arrived at the table… red!

Okay, maybe closer to pink… but decidedly un-green.


I was skeptical. But hungry.

And thrilled when I took my first taste!

On I munched, waxing poetic. Then, I had a new idea!

You guessed it! Half a slice of fried pink tomato into each of my shrimp tacos!!!

Divine does not begin to describe…

And, not a trace of tradition-shattering guilt!

You see, I’m all about able to choose!

Also, as you know, context.

And, I’ll even go a step farther.

I’m utterly sure that this is exactly the way the Mother-Father Creator of my understanding planned it!

So, as the sun waved goodbye over the sidewalk, and a hawk swooped by, I sent 47 choruses of the Hallelujah song to the kitchen, via the grinning new owner.

If you’re in the ‘hood, holler, and I’ll gladly take you on the Fried Pink Tomato Tour.

For now, though, my Insight painting has more Good Trouble to cause!

ps… just in case you’re looking for a bit of Good Trouble, too, CHECK THIS OUT. It’s a great next step!

pps… and that whole able to choose thing… I have, indeed, got you covered! (In several colors and lots of sizes!)

Season 3. Episode 1. Again!

Yep! The West Wing! Source of much wisdom and comfort in my universe.

And, yes, I have much of it memorized.

We watch a lot of Jeopardy at our house, too, and the Legendary Husband is often amazed at how many answers to random things I know because of Aaron Sorkin and the gang.

Sometimes, though, I visit The West Wing in my dreams. It happened again this week, in the midst of my homework for the Intentional Creativity® program for wannabe Red Thread Guides.

This bit probably won’t be a surprise for you, either, if you’ve been reading along for a while.

Questions and Context were involved!

The particular project of the moment was an adventure most frequently known as Vision Plan.

I’ve done this one before. Several times. I’ve led others on the journey as well. One of the reasons I love it is because I find new answers, depending on what’s going on in the world and in my heart when I pick up the markers.

First, supplies…

A big sheet of heavy watercolor paper and a basket full of markers. Also, a handy mixed media journal for sorting and organizing.

Eight panels, each with a specific question to ponder. In this case, things like PROJECT & MISSION & COMPASS.

I’ll admit to getting a bit lost in all the possibilities.

Then… the dream.

Season 3. Episode 7 is also known as Isaac & Ishmael.

It was an add-in episode which was the first one that aired after the 9/11 attack on America.

As the story goes, a class of high school political science students were visiting the White House when a terrorist threat left them herded into the mess (aka dining room) until the building could be secured again. And it left the Deputy Chief of Staff, Josh Lyman, in charge of answering questions and warding off panic.

After passing around the go-to White House snack of peanut butter and apples, Josh offered to answer questions.

The conversation turned to terrorism and to extremist politics, especially in the Middle East.

About that time, First Lady Abbey Bartlet wandered in to help.

Like the good grandmother she was, Dr. Bartlet answered a question about terrorism with a story… the biblical story of Isaac & Ishmael.

If you don’t know the story, you might want to look it up. In my opinion, it matters even more now than it did in 2001.

For this moment, let’s skip along to the point where one of the kids asked how to beat the terrorists.

Josh responded this way…

If you want to drive them nuts… to really get them where they live… keep looking at things more than one way. Keep accepting more than one idea!

So, long story short… I realized when I woke from my dream, early Monday morning, that looking at things more than one way was exactly the reminder I needed to make my personal vision plan work for me, in this world, now.

And for my Beloveds… the folks with whom I feel called to work.

As for my homework… the learning is huge! The actual paper and marker outcome is still a work-in-progress, and that feels like a really good thing for living in this world, now.

There’s still a bit of journeying to do between vision and form.

I’m excited! And looking forward to sharing. (You might want to stock up on red thread!)

In the meantime, though, there’s a whole bunch of politics goin’ on in this world. Run-offs. Subpoenas. Court cases. At home and abroad. And in, with, and under it all, Josh Lyman’s voice:

If you want to drive them nuts… to really get them where they live… keep looking at things more than one way. Keep accepting more than one idea!

As long as it takes!

ps… ready for some ideas about what all this might look like in your world? CHECK THIS OUT!

pps… and, just in case you need an intentional, externalized reminder… I’ve got you covered!

Grooming… big dogs and ideas!

It’s been a productive 24 hours in my wee corner of the Universe.

My joints and muscles are screaming. My heart is dancing!

First, beast grooming.

Wow, were we behind! (Or, if you’d prefer a positive re-frame… ready!)

We’re talking about 250 pounds of dogs… before you get to the hair. And, honestly, it’s a challenge when a knee and a shoulder and the dominant hand/wrist are all certain they’ve been overworked and underpaid.

Then there’s the fact that the biggest of the big dogs sees with his heart instead of his eyes.

There is, however, huge joy in this story!

Nope… Westminster is not on the list for next year. However, there’s roughly 14 sheep worth of undercoat in the trash, the nails are trimmed and Luther was very, very brave. Phoebe is always fine, as long as there’s a continuous supply of treat crumbs coming her way. (She’s already set to paint some more!)

Huge thanks to the mobile Groomer-Friend for being patient with our peculiarities and the Legendary Husband for a couple hours worth of sweeping!

And, amongst all that progress, my Muse has been busy, which is to say that Inspiration abounds!

Inspiration of the sort my long time hypnotherapy teacher refers to as one step reframe with a big gold bow!

That part happened somewhere during the Colbert re-run last night… which takes us back to my obsession with context!

It was the episode that aired just after the 5th Select Committee hearing on the January 6 insurrection. Beto O’Rourke was Stephen’s guest. They were, predictably, re-hashing all the ways the Re-Trumplicans are trying to drag the world back into the Middle Ages.

The reframe bit didn’t happen on tv. It happened inside my heart, in a place right next to all of Frederick Buechner’s books.

Then, it moved to my sketch book, where I’d been doodling a Vision Plan which kept getting bigger and bigger as I worked.

Bigger in the sense of involving more and more parts of me.

There is, however, only so much re-framing that can happen without sleep, so I made a deal with the Muse and Grandmother Moon.

They would be welcome to make magic during the usefully rhythmic movement part of the grooming adventure if they’d let me sleep… and they did.

So, some more doodling. And arranging. And enlisting of my new Insight painting journey which will begin tomorrow. (There’s still time to sign up… just in case you, too, are hatching a plan to make life better. And it’s free! )Beginners welcome! That’s last year’s Insight, above. The only thing I know for sure about this new one is that she’ll have different things to add to the journey!

And some editing. I’ll keep you posted!

For now, just this… I feel like the scattered pieces of me are being called back together and re-formed for my journey forward… instead of the one to the past! And that, dear hearts, feels fabulous!

ps… feeling inspired??? Start here! It’s fast and fun and free. And you don’t have to do it alone!

A brief glimpse at the “Grace” section of my inner library…

Or, time to stock up on tissues!

On Monday, one of my personal hero/saints passed from this world into the next. That news left me camped out in front of my favorite shelf in my literal library… letting the memories leak from my eyes.

I met Frederick Buechner during an event at Columbia Seminary, years and years ago. I had “known” him much longer, through his words.

He helped me through my seminary student fears that the “proper” interpretations of my faith tradition often felt like answers to exam questions rather than inspirations for life.

I even bought one of his books for my parents who were struggling to grasp what on earth made me think I could enter the ministry.

His passing has wakened a whole bunch of the voices and memories from my journey.

First, the surprise voice in my head… Whoopi Goldberg! It took me a minute to figure it out…

Not Whoopi, exactly, but Sister Mary Deloris in the movie, Sister Act.

Quoting the poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, she told a young student who longed to be a singer, If, when you wake up in the morning, you can think of nothing but writing… then you’re supposed to be a writer.” (Or singer.)

For me, Buechner was a writer like that.

His version was this:

The place where you are called is where your deep joy and the world’s deep hunger meet.

Then, this, from Wishful Thinking… A Theological ABC

Doubt: Whether your faith is that there is a God or that there is not a God, if you don’t have any doubts you are either kidding yourself or asleep. Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving.

Mysticism: Mysticism is where religions start. Moses with his flocks in Midian, Buddha under the Bo tree, Jesus up to his knees in the waters of Jordan, each of them responding to Something of which words like Shalom, Oneness, God even, are only palid souvenirs. Religion as ethics, institution, dogma, ritual, Scripture, social action, all of this comes later and in the long run maybe counts for less. Religions start, as Frost said poems do, with a lump in the throat — to put it mildly — or with a bush going up in flames, a rain of flowers, a dove coming down out of the sky. “I have seen things,” Aquinas told a friend, “that make all my writings seem like straw.” Most people have also seen such things. Through some moment of beauty or pain, some sudden turning of their lives, most of them have caught glimmers at least of what the saints are blinded by. Only then, unlike the saints, they tend to go on as though nothing has happened. We are all more mystics than we choose to let on, even to ourselves. Life is complicated enough as it is.

There’s much, much more, of course. I picked the bits calling most loudly in me, just now.

And one more voice from my inner chorus… from a sermon Walter Brueggemann preached at Columbia close to 30 years ago. The occasion was the decidedly “un-Reformed” All Saints Day.

Saints, Walter said, are all those who believe for us, even on the days we can’t quite believe for ourselves.

Now, I don’t know for sure about you, but I suspect I’m not the only one who has days when it’s hard to believe for myself. Days when life seems too complicated, indeed, for hints of mystical awareness. Days when blocking any sense of call seems like the safest way to go in a world full of such deep hunger.

That’s when the Grace section of my inner library — which is a lot like a Red Thread — gets the most use.

Whatever words you choose, you might just want to have a section like that in your library. It feels even more helpful now than it did when I began collecting all those voices along the way.

For now, a moment of silence where the links to click often are. And a note that the painting, above, is a stealth-mystic work-in-progress! (Believe it or not… it’s a tree!)

ps… I so hope you’ll let me know where that place is for you… where your deep joy and the world’s great hunger meet! You can comment, below, or email me at

The road from here to…

A huge portion of my childhood was spent in the back of a station wagon, on the way from here to there.

Here was wherever we lived at the time. Six states and at least eight houses by the time I turned eleven.

There was either the next place we were going, or back to visit relatives. Mostly Granny & Grandpa in Minnesota.

Minnesota, you see, has lakes and lakes have fish and fishing was what my dad did on vacation.

Many of those trips happened in the dark of the night, my sister and me (hopefully) sleeping in the back of said station wagon, long before seat belt laws.

They all involved interstate highways… the fastest way to and from Granny & fish.

Boring exits with fast food and cheap gas. And my dad’s motto… “Pee now. We’re not stopping again!”

(Trust me… he was serious!)

So, somewhere in the 1980’s, not too long after it was published, I was pretty amazed at the book, Blue Highways, by William Least Heat-Moon.

It felt like a whole other world!

A world I seem to be exploring again, in these days.

Not through prairies and over mountains, so much, as on an adventure to explore new things.


A lot of the exploring is happening in my head, which is – realistically – easier on my knees.

And it doesn’t matter how long it takes or how often I take a break.

It’s a whole lot like learning for the sake of learning instead of learning to pass exams and get degrees.

It feels spacious. Way more than nursing school or seminary.

Conversations about myths and legends. Yes!

Crystals. Essential oils. Local organic food… in my medicine basket… Yes! Yes!

Creating out of what I’m learning. Yes! Yes! Yes!

Honestly, it takes a bit of editing.

Editing filters and strategies.

Editing the way we’ve always done it!

And here’s the surprise for me…

It turns out that it’s all been part of the journey because, now, I know more about how to choose for me.

And that may just be the message of our time!

So… there is a painting calling for the next right thing.

And – gulp! – a book hatching inside.

And some really good smoked salmon in the fridge.

I’m liking the blue highways!

ps… do you hear a new path calling? It might just start HERE!

pps… looking for some inspiration along the way? See “who’s” calling your name at FierceArtWithHeart! Just type in BLUEHIGHWAYS for 15% off the inspirations of your choice! (Great gifts, too!)

If we keep doin’ what we’ve been doin’…

Yep! “We keep gettin’ what we’ve got!”

And, it’s a useful strategy if what we’re getting is what we want.

You may have noticed, though, that it doesn’t always work! Here’s an example…

I’ve spent a good bit of my life thinking I was learning new things. And I was. I still am.

Remember back when calculators were new?

And microwaves?

And beepers?

Even antibiotics!

And the world has done a pretty great job of convincing us that new is inherently better than old.

Recently, though, I’ve decided to make intentional space for some old things.

Honestly, it hasn’t been easy.

It’s not as simple as new is good and old is bad.

Old is good and new is bad doesn’t work either.

Instead, we have to make choices. Choices in context. Choices based on what we’re trying to accomplish.

So, I’m celebrating the fact that one of The Legendary Husband’s new health strategies is helping.

And, at the same time, I’m learning really old strategies, like essential oils, to help with some of my challenges.

I’m learning Red Thread Circles even more deeply than before because they help with clarity and connection and community, which are huge needs in this world.

And early this morning, while I was dozing/pondering my hearth tending strategy for #work-in-progress Wednesday, I had an ah-ha moment.

In the world where I grew up – if you ignore Geometry class for the moment – Circle was a word for what church women did with coffee, while men set the budgets and made decisions and, well, preached sermons.

At some level of un-awareness, when I first began to sense a call to ministry, I seem to have left any notion of circle behind.

I traded what felt old for what felt new and brighter and shinier and more powerful.

And now I’m grateful to realize that we need both/and way more than either/or!

We need people – whatever their notion of gender might be – who can be in intentional communities where it’s safe to inquire and share and witness.

And we need people – whatever their notion of gender might be – who who can be in intentional communities tasked to assess and discern and lead.

It’s the feeling that we have to give up one to belong in the other that tears us apart and tragically limits all of us.

Part of living in a both/and world view is claiming our own ability to choose. For ourselves.

And also realizing that others will make different choices for themselves.

It isn’t easy. And, yes, it can be scary.

But, last week, the girls and I held our very own March on Washington. And, yes, I had my Good Trouble button on!

Because the world needs us – people who truly value each other and creating connections – to lead.

If you’re wondering how to move forward, I can help! JUST CLICK HERE … and bring all of you along on the path! Maybe even some red thread, though we can work up to that!

ps… today a new friend gave me an easy opportunity to practice a skill which still feels a bit scary sometimes. So, I’m going to practice again and invite you to come check out all the hope at FierceArtWithHeart! From original art to mugs and posters and archival prints, wander and wonder!

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