Where art meets life…

I have a decision to make.

A hard decision.

I’ve thought it every way to Christmas. All things considered, I’m a pretty good thinker.

Sometimes, good thinking is not enough. This feels like one of those times.

Fortunately, I have some other tools in my medicine basket!

Today was our first Sanctuary paint party of the year. Women, in community, working on their paintings.

No pressure. No behind. No not good enough.

Just music and paint and supportive company.

Some of those women were old friends. Some, new sisters.

A variety of stories during check-in time. Challenges. Backgrounds. Doubts. Dreams.

One of those new sisters introduced herself as a Russian speaking Ukrainian. Suddenly, the world felt much smaller to me. More intimate. Even more urgent.

I listened to the stories and then I listened to my canvas, speaking to my heart.

Being somewhat off the beaten path is not unusual for me, though I’m there a bit early this time.

Today my next right thing was obvious. Dots!!!

Prayer dots. All the neuro-processing patterns working together. And yes, I’ve had a lot of practice!

I began with wisdom. You know… that decision I need to make. A good start for warming up, but not making space for the magic.

Tell me wasn’t getting it either. Probably because part of me already knew.

And then, it found me.

Show me the Way of Love.

Six dots, over and over and over again with all of my awareness. The darker ones inside the roses.

And, eventually, tears.

Sad. And good, because after an hour of that, I was ready to claim what I already knew.

I have no idea what this painting will become. We’ve got about 11 months to go!

Here’s what I do know…

I will be more ME, because of it.

Hanging out where art meets life can be a very good thing.

Maybe, just maybe, a thing that will help heal the world. Even the hard parts!

ps… wanna learn? Let’s talk! 45 min. My gift! The calendar elves will hook you up!

pps… need some art in the meantime??? The FierceArtWithHeart elves have been fluffing the shop and adding new stock and making some good deals. Get inspired AND help send an artist to France!

Reflections on a 21st Century Tuesday

It’s 5:09 in the afternoon as these words begin to take form. Thus far, this day has been quite the adventure!

I’ll catch you up in a minute!

First… now.

I just woke from a well-deserved, post-Physical Therapy nap, at 5pm. Big dog snoring at my feet, I reached for my phone.

First stop… checking on a message stream with and for a small group sister facing huge challenges about 1800 miles away. Holding space is intense sacred work in a crisis.

Caught up, it was email time. Here — for real! — are the first 4 things in my box:

  1. From the Audubon Society… ACT NOW to Stop the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Extinction Act! Apparently, we’re actually okay with Lesser Prairie-Chickens, though the US Congress may be about to remove them from the list of protected species, which – grammar/labeling challenges aside – the Audubon Society is actually trying to stop.
  2. From Care2Action Alerts… A migrant center caught on fire. Officials left people locked inside to burn. At least 40 people died at this Mexican migrant center near the U.S. border and, “public servants and security guards present during the fire did nothing to save the people burning alive inside — they wouldn’t even open the locked doors to let them escape the blazes.”
  3. From Patriotic Millionaires – The Senate must investigate Clarence Thomas and Krysten Sinema over their financial ties to Harlan Crow. Never mind for a a moment than Sen. Sinema’s name is actually Kyrsten… Billionaires should not be able to buy a Senator or a Justice on the Supreme Court but… it looks like it may be working.
  4. From Team Progress America… The House could vote TOMORROW… Kevin can only afford to lose 5 votes… (I’m guessing you’ve heard about the Debt Ceiling thing…)

I did my version of the next right thing about each of those messages, with tears flowing down my cheeks, blessedly conscious of the notion of filters and how mine were – in that moment – filtering what I read. Which is a bit like saying I was conscious of what was under my reactions to what I was reading.

Being conscious is often not huge fun. And it gives us the opportunity to make aligned choices instead of reacting in the mythical knee-jerk kind of way.

(This is, perhaps, a good time to mention that my particular US Senators and Representative, as well as the more local crowd, are not unaccustomed to emails from me. At least their interns are not unaccustomed to emails from me!)

Why? I have 2 granddaughters growing up in this world!

I won’t bore you with my opinions on these particular issues.

I will tell you that reading them “through” the filter of knowing that there is a county in these United States of America having – in this moment – 400 women and children waiting for space in a Domestic Violence shelter sharpens my sense of WTF are we thinking???

And then there’s the whole standing in my voice, my sovereignty, thing that’s an essential part of not only the conversation in the places I hang out, but the global conversation in our world, in this moment.

So… for the intrepid among you… here’s the heart of the matter, for me…

Subjugating, beating, terrorizing, depriving, and not seeing others, in order to make ourselves feel bigger, more powerful, more important is just wrong.

Continuing to subjugate, beat, terrorize, deprive, and ignore others, even after we see, is more wrong.

I can’t fix it all. Neither can you. But, together, we can make choices with that truth in our hearts. Lots of choices, over and over. And, little by little, it will get better.

Which, for me at least, is a good bit more true than doing nothing.

And, yes… if you were wondering, the whole Furniture Yahtzee game going on around here has a lot to do with exactly that! With doing more with what we already have. With making literal space for helping others. With surrounding ourselves with intentional reminders of our Big Why’s.

Also, somewhere in the dusty corners of my awareness, there’s a quote from The West Wing

It’s an honor thing!

Maybe I can’t remember the exact context because all of life is the context!

For now, though, new truth added to my Red Madonna Sanctuary canvas…

ps… furniture Yahtzee goes on! The ancestor space, above, makes my heart happy!

pps… speaking of ancestors — Mothers Day is coming soon! Check out FierceArtWithHeart for great, affordable gifts for moms and grammies. Even for you! Choose mugs, posters, greeting cards, and other cool goodies while there’s still time for the print-on-demand elves to make their magic!

I dreamed I was a box turtle!

Or, technically, tortoise… but my inner child, who has lots to do with dreaming, learned turtle!

And, yes… I’m pretty sure I know why this dreamer is dreaming this dream, now.

It has to do with the current Furniture Yahtzee adventure. (It has to do with something else, too, but we’ll get there…)

First, a bit of context. Furniture Yahtzee is code, around here, for what happens when two people with differing mobility challenges try to run lives and 3 businesses out of an early 60’s ranch house with a very big dog, too many steps, about a zillion books, and enough art supplies to – well, paint the rainbow!

Periodically, our needs change. Or, maybe, my powers of denial fail me. In any event, it was time. Time to essentially swap two of the busiest, least magazine-ready, rooms in the house.

The narrow hallway between those 2 rooms didn’t help much!

The swapping bit is, essentially, done. You know… drag this over here where that was, and so forth. Now comes nesting!

We’re tired and sore. And my muscle memory mind is totally confused! The part of me that knew – in a deep level of non-consciousness – to stick out my right hand to grab my cell phone is adapting to the fact that it now lives in the land of the left hand! And so on and so forth…

Hence, I suspect, the dream!

First, though, you need to know about Abraham and Sarah.

Nope! Not the biblical ancestor folks. The turtles!

When Dave and I moved to the Village at Columbia Seminary, very nearly 34 years ago, we had some adjusting to do. One of the biggest changes was the theoretical no pets rule. My 7-year old was decidedly unamused!

We had fish, which didn’t thrive in their tiny universe.

We even tried a bunny. When he reached adolescence, he grew – shall we say – frustrated, and started biting. I called a vet to inquire about neutering which turned out to be both very risky and very, very expensive.

After I missed a week at my nursing job, due to the heavily bandaged finger, Thumper moved to the petting zoo at Stone Mountain where he could happily do what bunnies are known to do and not bite people!

(Yes… a practical solution with major philosophical issues!)

Then, one day, my second grader who struggled with reading, arrived home clutching a school library book and announced that he had the perfect solution… Turtles, Mama!!!

(Clearly, I gave in!)

Abraham and Sarah did surprisingly well. And they were popular with my neighbors!

Friday afternoons often involved half a dozen or so seminary students sitting on the sidewalk, sipping beer and walking the turtles!

Fast forward to my dream!

A bit of internet searching on Turtle/Tortoise Spirit Animals will lead to the notion that having a safe haven is very important for Turtle people.

Perhaps especially so when you have memories of not having had such a safe haven!

To Indigenous peoples, turtles also represent healing, wisdom, spirituality, health, safety, longevity, protection, and fertility!

I relate to those words a lot, at this point in my journey. Some of them more symbolically, than others!!!

For now, though, we’re kind of still in the chaos phase of creation!

My favorite chair/nest has a whole new view of the world. (Well, it has a whole new view of a lot of things still to be done!) And, I am no longer attempting my deepest creating in a place that doubled as the pathway to the bathroom and the closet. Hallelujah!!!

It doesn’t look like much yet. For now, this adventure feels like hope. (And sore muscles!)

Which might be a whole lot like being ready to head out into the world with all the stuff that really matters to me!

ps… the art up top is last summer’s Legend painting. Decoupaged photos of my “permanent” turtle who is, apparently, hiding in a closet during all the moving! The grand-turtle is feeling shy!

pps… what are you ready to head out into the world with? I can help! You just have to raise your hand. Or, in this case, CLICK HERE so the calendar elves can hook you up with time for a wee chat, on me. Turtles welcome, too!

My Favorite Word!

Okay… technically the one I’ll get to in a minute is tied with Grammy for my favorite word. And that, right there, lets you know it’s a really big deal!

It’s a Hebrew word which, transliterated into English, would sound like tzcar. It means remember. It also means to remind!

And, yes… it’s no doubt near the top of my consciousness because the time from sunset Monday to sunset Tuesday, this week, was Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Now, as you probably know, I like learning new things!

One of the things I’ve learned, just in the last few months, is that my 70th and 71st great grandfathers were a couple of Jewish guys named Hezekiah, who had some other complicated stuff in their names which seems to connect them to the House of David. (And, yes, the time was right. We’re talking dates commonly referred to as BCE.)

Then there’s the fact that my granddaughters have Jewish ancestors… considerably more recent than the Hezekiahs.

Now, when I mixed all of that into the simmering soup pot known as CNN, yesterday, I wound up with a whole lot of noticing and wondering bubbles!

You, of course, may be noticing and wondering other things. These are just mine…

There’s a whole lot of what’s mine is mine going on in this world. And a big batch of what’s yours is mine, too.

The power over team is getting a whole lot more air time than the power for folks.

The whole familiar = safe and different = danger bit is spreading like – well – a pandemic.

To be honest, I kept trying to turn it all off. I cried. I swore. I signed petitions.

And then, the ah-hah!

You see, I’d spent the morning at Physical Therapy, getting – if you’ll pardon the image – a whole lot of dry needles stuck in my hip.

Not fun. Not remotely comfortable. But, important, because I have things I want and that means doing some things differently along the way.

And, seasoning the pot, if you will, an old favorite quote from the Quaker tradition:

In order to learn, we must be willing to be changed!

I’m starting here: ALL the people are OUR people!!!

At least, in theory! In practice, it probably looks a whole lot like ALL the people who want to be OUR people, already are. Or, WE the people… if you prefer. Not race or nationality. Humanity!

Which isn’t too far from, Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Mt 11:28).

As far as I can tell, there have always been some folks who don’t want the world to be us… they want it to be us and them.

I get it! The vast majority of us grew up with the notion that we’re still here so the way we’ve always done it has to be the only way.

Karl Jung has a good explanation for the theory. It’s the practice that’s not working so well these days!

Which kind of implies that we’ve got to start right where we are!

Where I was, about 6:00 this morning, was curled in the bed, trying to sleep while Grandmother Moon was hanging on the wall, channeling C.J. Cregg!

Yep! The West Wing!

Season 2, episode 9. Galileo.

NASA looses contact with the landing craft mission to Mars. The President needs to talk to thousands of school kids.

Press Secretary, C.J. Cregg is all for going ahead with the televised classroom plan, even though they don’t know what happened to Galileo. Her reason went a lot like this…

A lot of those kids are afraid to raise their hands or go to the blackboard because they might not get it right. Let’s show them how the big kids do it. Let’s tell them we’re going to keep trying…

I’m with C.J. And I’ll go one step farther. What if it is our job to go to the blackboard, when it matters. Even when we’re not sure how it will all turn out?

What if our job, in this life, is to claim what’s in our medicine baskets and raise our hands… for my girls, growing up in this world, and for all the people who come with and after them???

ps… the painting is In the Beginning. The word in the limb of the tree of life is – you guessed it! – tzcar. To remember and remind!

pps… got a hand to raise? Need some help along the path? Let’s talk! The calendar elves will hook you up… 45 min. My gift. (Yep… me raising my hand!)

Miracles Abound!

Please read! Even if you think you hate – gulp! – asparagus…

This adventure isn’t really so much about vegetables as it is about hope and newness!

And creativity!

Are you with me?

First, a tiny history lesson… My sister, who has turned into a charming person, was not a fan of veg growing up. The only two vegetables she would voluntarily eat were corn and peas.

Mom, being a dedicated sort, was afraid her baby would starve. Thus, we ate a whole lot of corn and peas. I was fine with the corn part. I, emphatically, did not care for peas.

All this began when we still lived up North. Mom tended adventurously in the direction of frozen veg instead of canned. (Blessed be!!!) Trust me, though, when I tell you that there was only so much frozen corn & peas a foodie sort of kid (me!) could handle.

(Don’t even get me started on the whole tv dinner bit with peas and carrot cubes!!!)

Fast forward to the move to Florida. Suddenly, there were lots more choices and many of those were fresh! I was thrilled. The fan of frozen corn and peas, not so much.

I learned asparagus, steamed. With Granny’s lemon butter sauce. I liked it. Much better than peas!!!

Still, all those years ago, I had no idea how great veg could really be! The secret… roasting! (Recipe to follow.) First, the reason all this is bubbling inside me today!

I learned something new!

In one of the lands where I hang out, we are concluding the month on our very quirky calendar which is dedicated to the womb chakra and Intimacy essential oil. And, yes… this is all relatively new for me, too!

We did not cover chakras and essential oils in nursing school or seminary! These things are filed, in my mental library, under the notion that there are some things that were true before the things that we learned were true were true… and some of them are helpful, still!

Anyway… when the lightbulb came on yesterday, in our Sister Circle, what I realized is that, in the midst of this Crone Moon phase, lots of the womb and intimacy energy is around creativity. Not the kind that makes babies, so much, as the kind that births images which allow me/us to interact with our deepest hopes and dreams in new ways. In the world.

One of those recent acts of creativity, for me, looked like this in the early days:

And, yes, I’m making leggings out of this, too. A way to walk through the world wrapped in a great reminder of what it means to me to create in partnership with Creator. (And they’re really comfortable!)

But, first… let’s roast some asparagus!

If you don’t already have a patch in your garden, hunt for fresh, sustainably raised asparagus. (The myth about the bigger the stalk, the better, is just that. A myth!) I choose stalks about the size of my little finger.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Rinse asparagus lightly, under cold water. Snap off the bottom ends where they want to separate. We’re keeping the tops!!! Pat dry.

Line a sheet tray with parchment paper. (Preferably the non-tox kind!) Spread spears across the tray, leaving some room between them.

Drizzle lightly with really good olive oil – even garlic olive oil! – and dust with good sea salt and ground pepper corns… not too fine!

Roast for about 10 minutes, until hot and tasty… not mushy!


Then, take a minute to notice, please, what might want creating in your world! It’s going to take a whole lot of us!!!

ps… one of those things for me is an upcoming book-baby with a whole village full of mamas. Stay tuned!

pps… a great many veg can be roasted in the same way. Green beans, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, winter squash…. Use your imagination! Just adjust sizes and times!

ppps… there are more leggings with great stories, already, at FierceArtWithHeart! Also, it’s now way easier to find sizing details. Thanks, Cherie and Veronica!

From vulnerability… strength!

Let’s be real!

I have more practice at feeling vulnerable than I’d choose, if I could.

Not emotionally or artistically vulnerable, though I know about those, too. Physically vulnerable. Yesterday was one of those days.

First, the good news! I woke up in the morning having actually slept well! A more successful experiment with a new weighted blanket helped. Also, I suspect, having pushed save on a big chunk of a current writing project!

Tea helped. And a bath/shower with sea salt in the water.

Then the phone rang with the decidedly unwelcome news that the elevators were out in my physical therapist’s office building. Eight flights of steps, up and back, was waaaaayyyy more adventure than I was up for! We re-scheduled.

That left me with some un-expected Santa-time. Also known as makin’ a list and checkin’ it twice.

Well, maybe 87 times! It has to do with my planned trip to France this summer. Never mind that I don’t speak the language. It’s the there-and-back part that scares me!

Which is part of the whole physical therapy thing in the first place!

I briefly contemplated going for a walk. I mean, it was pretty outside. Nothing falling from the sky except 20 tons of pollen! And the shiny red rollator-walker thing commonly referred to as the wheelie-go-dealie, or Sarah, was ready. A lot like its Newfie namesake who was nothing if not ready for walks.

Then, I thought again.

Using my new mobility toy helps me keep my balance while I walk and is much easier on my painting wrist than the walking stick. It also makes me feel vulnerable outside, walking around alone.

Part of that may be too much CNN. It’s also really good hearing and the challenges of our very urban village.

So, more tea. And a handful of emails to our County Commissioners with – you know – an opinion or two on a big decision they’re about to make for the neighborhood I already feel vulnerable in.

And, another idea!

Socks and sneakers in place, I headed off in the car to Kudzu… our local enormous vintage & collectable indoor garage sale. Actually, it’s a whole lot fancier than that! And, they have kind people working there who know me. And ramps!

Yep! Laps!!! Or, em-power-ment shopping!

First lap, pretty fast.

Second lap, a bit more relaxing… with sight seeing!

Then, another half lap, just because I could!

By the time I got home, I was tired. And proud! And, quite probably, stronger!!!

Is it the solution to all the problems in the world? Nope. Not even all the problems in my world.

Is it better? You bet!!!

Which, when you get right down to it, isn’t a bad day’s adventure.

And, in a whole lot of ways, easier than the – gulp! – photo shoot which someone had also placed on my list for today. You see, I have some more adventures in the works and I’ve noticed that a dose of anxiety often goes with adventures.

All things considered, though, it beats playing small! And, if you’ve been watching the news, it just might feel like it’s time for adventures among people of good will!

What’s on your list???

ps… what if the shift you need to get where you long to be isn’t as obvious as a rolling walker thing? I can help! The first step is you, me, and some actual or imaginary red thread in a Zoom room. 45 minutes. My gift. Just ask the calendar elves to hook you up!

pps… you know that trip to France? I’m going to need to pack. Light! And I’m packing stuff I designed!!! Come check it out!!!

He is Risen!

Wait, please!

You know how – once you see something new – you can’t not see it in the future? Well, today is about that, in ways which may be new for you, too!

You see, our title phrase, for much of my life, has meant exactly that, on this day.

Easter. Jesus rose from the dead. Hallelujah!

And, yes, I know the stories. And all the words to the hymns. They matter, in so many ways.

Our traditions matter, too.

There are also other stories which matter. Ones I knew less well. Perhaps you knew them less well, too.

But, first… yesterday! I was doing what we preacher types have done on the Saturday before Easter for ages and ages. Makin’ the list and checkin’ it twice.

Weather. Food. Music. Flowers. And a story. Preferably a really catchy one. (There might be visitors!) Things, however, are a little different in my world, these days.

Gratitude for a new roof in the pouring rain… check!

Roses blooming/dripping in the garden… check! (And the merest hint of hydrangea blooms on the way… check!)

Local, sustainably raised chicken in the fridge, preparing to be roasted… check!

The need for a blog post… check! (Blog posts are stories, too!)

All of which led to a hike down memory lane. And that led to wandering through pictures in my phone.

I found the ones which were whispering to me in the 2018 part of the files. The girls were here for Easter. Baskets. Colored eggs. The not-quite-traditional-but-big-fun trip to the aquarium! Dearer memories, still, because they’ve been in Portugal for the last week!

For a few moments, I was going to share them all with you. And then I remembered that the focal points of those visual memories have reached their teen years (!) and like to have photo approval for publication!!!

I did find one I can share with a clean conscience! The one at the top.

It’s very early layers of my very first Muse painting and, it feels Easter-y to me in a way I never noticed before!

Probably because the context is different in these days!

I’m incredibly aware of the confluence of Holy Week and Passover and Ramadan this week. Of all the stories and traditions people dear to me are remembering.

And, I’m more aware than ever before, of the people who were somehow erased from the old stories I learned. Many of them women. And women’s voices. And now I do, indeed, know more!

So, yes… in my heart, He is Risen! means more. More than a sentimental lesson in historical vested interest. More than a way to decide who’s in and who’s out.

Here’s the best of my understanding…

Jesus of Nazareth – Yeshua – was crucified, dead, and buried. On the third day, he rose again. And he lives on – not on a cloud with pink cheeks and a shiny halo – but in the hearts of all who welcome him.

Caution… we’re about to go off script!

I believe he lives on in us so that we can learn more and love better and include more truth in our journeys. And I believe that now is a very good time for a whole lot of that.

One of the ways I’m still learning is through the practice of following a paint brush in my hand, the way the Muse taught me. (It helps a whole lot with the noticing and wondering, which helps even more with eyes to see and ears to hear new truth!)

Which is, I suspect, a very Easter-ish sort of thing!

There’s also Daphne, who was just fine with having her picture included in this story on this day!

It’s not my only prayer for the world. It is a pretty good start!

And one which I believe, with all my heart, is heard by all that I hold Holy.

So, Hallelujah! And, so be it. For all of us who hold love to be Holy, whatever our stories and traditions.

May we have ears to hear!

And breath to tell the stories!

ps… and, paint, too!

pps.. the kids did, indeed, make it home safely!

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