Imaginary friends are real, too!

My first “imaginary friend” was a doll named Poor Pitiful Pearl.

Seriously! She was designed by the same guy who created Shrek and they look alike! Pearl was my very first Christmas present, when I was 10 months old.

These days, Pearl is the librarian in charge of wisdom writings.

Betsy and Tacy came along next. Fictional characters from Minnesota, they had been friends of my Mom’s before I was born. They were 5 years old – just like me – when I first met them.

These days, though, I paint my imaginary friends! The half fun – full serious kind! And there’s paint flying every which way at the moment. Two amazing teachers. Two paintings. Unfolding simultaneously, in the land of livestream. And we’ll have to wait 13 moons before they finish revealing themselves… one a Celebratrix and the other our Guardian Angel.

I’m reminded of the old song… Goin’ on a Squeegie Hunt… gonna catch a big one!

You may know the next line… I’m not afraid!!!

And, I’m not afraid. Even though there will be two big ones to catch. What I am is lit up. Energized. Inspired. In all the best ways!

The magic began to come together a couple nights ago, when we were getting ready to paint. I’d overdosed on news and the already-painted paintings were feeling chatty.

I woke with lines from a book in my head. Well, not lines, exactly. More like two particular voices having a conversation I knew was important but couldn’t quite grasp.

Research was in order!

I knew which book to start with. Kathleen McGowan’s The Poet Prince. It’s one of the permanent residents beside the bed. In fact, I’d been reading it before I fell asleep. For maybe the 10th time… (I’ve lost count!) And it’s full of almost imaginary friends.

In this case, an ancient teacher named Destino, speaking with a wise young woman named Petra, both of them dedicated to preserving deep wisdom in a world which has often been – shall we say – less than receptive.

It took Pearl and me several tries and a chat with the author to find the passage whispering in my head.

And, yes… I’m hoping you’re curious!

Enter, my dear,” (said Destino). “And stop worrying about me. I knew this was coming and I welcome it.” Petra smiled at him in the semidarkness. Of course he knew. “But what do you welcome…?” Destino opened his eyes slowly. “I welcome the opportunity. I welcome the tests. I welcome the teachings that can and will come from it all. Vittoria is playing a role, the role of the adversary, the role of the challenger…”

The Poet Prince p. 154-55.

You, wise one, have already figured out what all these puzzle pieces have in common. Say it with me, please…


The underlying issue in the book and in our world is hunger for power. Absolute power. Hunger so deep that one is willing to trade all sense of ethics and reality and history in order to obtain it.

And, speaking only for myself, I still have things to learn from wisdom like Destino shares. I’m fairly certain, though, that re-framing the current ravenous for power situation in our world as an opportunity to learn will cut down on the anger and energy I’m wasting swearing at the news.

In fact, it already is! So, I’m off to open myself to the Guardian Angel whom I have no doubt will appear on my canvas. And the Celebratrix. Once I – you know – make space for them.

(And re-check my voter registration!)

ps… my guardian angel #wip wants you to know that the name she chose is Daphne Pearl!

pps… my author-cousin, Kathleen McGowan, would love for you to know that Destino’s name comes from the root word which means both destiny and destination!

ppps… kind of surprisingly, I spent the end of last week inspired to paint some angels on my own. They’re in the style of a southern folk/outsider artist who signs his work Flack and I began collecting them long before I dreamed I could paint. Apparently, I have listened to them long enough to finally pick up my brush! This first one says she’s done!

…and ANOTHER great question!

Okay, I know this will be a shock, but I was painting last night and making prayer dots – the fingerprint kind! Dots for a dear friend and her dad, who is having some health issues.

Communication with the hospital has been a bit of a challenge. (Well… more than a bit!)

She was, quite understandably, worried. And, if we’re being honest, I was worried about her.

As she and I touched base back and forth, I had an inspiration. A question I had never thought to ask, before…

What can you do to take care of yourself while you worry???

Telling people they shouldn’t worry never seems to do much good.

Telling MYSELF not to worry never seems to do much good.

In fact… and this is another new thought as I’m literally typing these words…

Worry feels somehow deeply related to compassion! Even – or perhaps, especially – fierce compassion!

I don’t know who James Redfield is but his name is the one that popped up when I searched for an old quote tickling my consciousness…

Where the attention goes… the energy flows.

It sure works that way for me. Not always, I should add, in a productive or nurturing kind of way!

Which brings us back to worrying. And the wild notion of what we might be able to do for ourselves while we do the worrying that sometimes just is.

You know me… often I boil bones. Even the aroma in the house is soothing for me. And, often, I can give the broth to the beloveds I’m worrying over.

And, dots, of course. Kinesthetic, auditory-digital, and visual processing. Whole person praying. Like walking a labyrinth. Or celebrating communion. Prayer knitting works really well, too, though it’s pretty hard on my hands these days.

And, yes… had I been raised right by other people in other places, I might mention that this whole conversation is a pretty good argument for rosaries, too.

All of which brings us to cookies. Really!

Specifically, the shortbread cookies that come clear from Scotland in wee plaid packages. They are whole-person comfort food for me, with remarkably whole-food ingredients. I love the aroma when I tear open one of those packages. And the barely sweet crunch. They make my teeth happy… especially when dipped in a smidge of flakey sea salt. And my ears!

And, like so many things in our world, few is often better than many… though it looks like more when they break! So…

Staying fresh. Nearby. A conscious choice, rather than something along the lines of I’m walking by the big box on the shelf in the kitchen so I should just grab some! (Especially when part of my deal with my Physical Therapist involves going “the long way around” on my path from here to there!)

Will cookies solve all the problems of the world. Sadly, not!

Does having a medicine basket with multi-sensory strategies for comfort help? It does! Especially when it helps us honor all of who we are and what matters to us.

In my world, this is all about seeing consciously, so that we can get from if only… to I am! Curious??? Let’s talk! 30 min. My gift. It could well be your next right thing!

ps… some of my best advice for Intentional Creativity painters is plant lots of roses!

pps… there’s still time to join the amazing community known as Red Madonna… Celebratrix. A year-long adventure in medicine painting and claiming our lives! All the info is here! The doors open Friday! (And you can do this… even if you’ve never painted before. Really!)

It’s a CONTEXT kind of day!

First… I do know that it’s not Wednesday or Sunday. Turns out, I have a few words which want hearing on this particular day, even if it is a Monday!

Perhaps, Earth Day is on your inner calendar.

Or, you and yours may be observing the first day of Passover.

Or, it might be the beginning of the week when Red Madonna actually begins! (Stay tuned!)

In many ways, it’s a prime example of what I mean when I talk about Filters!

You see, I grew up in an eco-centric summer camp program. Florida panthers screaming by the lake at dawn. Campfires. Peace & Justice songs. And a really cool perspective shifter that had to do with figuring out how a gopher tortoise and a turkey oak tree might be interdependent.

And, this is the first Passover since I discovered the name of my 71st Great Grandfather, Hezekiah, of the House of David. And his son, my 70th Great Grandfather, Hezekiah, Jr. And the straight line I can trace from them to me. And on to my girls.

And both of those ah-ha’s are all mixed up with Red Thread in my heart.

So, this day doesn’t feel like just another Monday!

Let’s just say that all of me feels in the game!

The re-shuffled paintings are claiming their new wall space and adjusting to their new Feng Shui roles. (Translation… Intention!)

And the stack of journal notebooks have started an uprising! You see, there is a new book hatching. All the pieces of the puzzle have found their voices at once! (Life is a mixed metaphor!)

Here’s the thing, though…

All the things happening in my creative being are happening because I made space for them. And the words and the art are becoming ancestors of new life that requires both of them in order to be.

James Weldon Johnson and Dr. Estes and my Jewish Great Grandmothers are laughing and crying over cups of soul tea.

Tea means it’s time for shortbread cookies!

So, Chag Sameach! and Happy Earth Day!

ps… nope! All this becoming is not neat and easy to manage. And that, dear Sister, is why there’s Red Madonna! We’ve saved you a space at the fireside of the Dangerous Old Woman. And there will be dancing! Don’t check this out for me. Check this out for you. And those who come after you.

You know I like questions…

My very favorite is simply, What am I trying to accomplish?

It works quite well in the plural, too… What are WE trying to accomplish?

And, then, the one that usually comes right after that… What’s the next right thing?

Well, the Legendary Husband and I have pretty nearly worn out the favorite questions this weekend!

I tried wiggling my nose, like Bewitched, when I was a kid. It didn’t work any better now than it used to! And the challenges keep multiplying. You see, we’re hanging art!

Here’s the thing… this weekend is the break between all the painting adventures that have just concluded and the beginnings of the next ones! (And, no… not painting is NOT an option!)

Well, it’s not an option for me. You see, painting is about so much more than stuff to hang on the walls!

This is what’s pasted to the back of my Guardian canvas, drying so it can be hung…

There are voices in my head, whispering that sharing my vision must start here, with Anne Lamott reading from the gospel of Toni Morrison:

“The function of freedom is to free someone else, and if you are no longer wracked or in bondage to a person or a way of life, tell your story. Risk freeing someone else. Not everyone will be glad that you did. Members of your family and other critics may wish you had kept your secrets. Oh, well, what are you going to do? Get it all down…”

The mantle of the Fiercely Compassionate Grandmothers has been passed to me by generation upon generation of ancestors and wisdom keepers. I receive it, as a Guardian, with huge gratitude and honor. And I dedicate myself to continue to express and expand the notion of Fierce Compassion, now – in this context – and into the future.

I will continue to notice and wonder. To weave new learning into the map of reality I claim.

I will find new ways to share the old stories which have been Hope on my path.

I will be one of those five people… listening to our Littles, taking them seriously, and not shaming or blaming them for their questions… for as many people as I am able.

I will invite others to join this crucial pathway of empowering grace and Intentional Creativity®. As many as I am able.

I began, as we all must, by being one of those five people for myself and I will proclaim that Good News all the days of my Earthly journey.

I will stay on the path to the place where I am called… the place my old friend, Frederick Buechner, described as the point where my deep joy and the world’s deep longing meet.

I will use what I have learned to help others claim that place for themselves. To release what has held them back and to claim new perceptions to guide them into the future.

I will invite those I meet to consider adding their own inner Rebel to their journeys.

I will utilize the wonder of Medicine Painting as a doorway to help my beloveds claim their transformations with as much of their consciousness as they are able in the moment.

With every fiber of my being, I will do all these things from a place of commitment and intention – with choice and voice and sovereignty – for it is my time to walk the Way of Love.

(And, quite possibly, sleep even less with this crowd whispering in my ear all night!)


Now I’m going to say the surprising thing…

I’ve been a teaching elder and a pastoral counselor for decades. My medicine basket is stocked a with good grasp of clown ministry and a doctoral dissertation on weddings. Also with Ericksonian hypnotherapy and EMI and NLP and Enneagram work and a whole lot of other really useful things to know.

And Intentional Creativity® painting helps them all work better!!!

There are lots of reasons for that. Here are the two that matter most:

Is it easy? Sometimes not, if we’re working deep.

Is it a next right thing on the path to what we’re trying to accomplish? Very often, yes!!! And NOW is an excellent time to start! Or, start again!!!

So… me. Inviting YOU, Sister! We start really soon! I’ll be right beside you. Just click the link for all the fabulous details

ps… in case you want to see some more very cool things art can help you make, do some wandering in the place called FierceArtWithHeart! Original paintings, museum quality prints, mugs… and awesome leggings! Daphne will be delighted to show you around!

Nope! I’m not actually going to sing!

Feel free to laugh if you’ve known me for a while! Let’s just say there are things I do better than singing… at least on key!

Though the whole fireside bit definitely has Joan Baez humming in my ear!

One of those things I do better seems to be the magical process I refer to as hatching. Like keeping the eggs warm until they are ready to hatch. Sourdough starter works for a metaphor here, too. So does staring at a #wipwednesday painting long enough to hear its message.

I’ve been staring at the hippo who started out as an unusual growth on a very old tree and insisted on appearing in my Temple painting. (And, yes… I thought she was done!)

She’s the latest to join the tribe of Spirit Animals who have joined me on my journey in the last few years. There are Newfoundland dogs, of course. Seven of them, all told. Teachers, every one… like Luther, who saw with his heart, and appeared in my second Legend painting.

There are bears, too. (You’ve met Daphne!) And spiders, of the weaver-dreamer sort. The recent, very determined owl and her tortoise sister. All of them symbols for legendary perspectives and gifts.

There’s a new member of the pack, these days. You see, I’m reading a new-old book. One I read decades ago. Or tried to. I don’t think I had the filters back in those days to really make space for Women Who Run With the Wolves.

Now I know more!

When I woke this morning, I reached for my new copy of Dr. Estes’ book subtitled Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype. Odd, really, to notice that it was published in 1992, when I was deep in a context with no space for the voices – at least none that I experienced – of wild women. (Except, maybe, ones who could carry a tune!)

Chapter 1 is entitled The Howl: Resurrection of the Wild Woman. There we meet a woman known, among many other names, as La Loba. Her work, according to Dr. E., is the collecting of bones. She collects and preserves especially that which is in danger of being lost to the world.

And you, dear heart, may already suspect why this story is touching my heart in the context of this moment, now.

Here are three words which virtually scrawled themselves in my hatching journal as I was reading…

My cup of cacao, nearby, I read on. Fortunately there were tissues handy, too! Dr. E said…

Let us consider La Loba herself. In the symbolic lexicon of the psyche, the symbol of the Old Woman is one of the most wide-spread archetypal personifications in the world. Others are the Great Mother and Father, the Divine Child, the Trickster, to Sorceress(er), the Maiden and Youth, the Heroine-Warrior, and the Fool(ess). Yet, a figure like La Loba can be considered vastly different in essence and effect, for she is symbolic of the feeder root to an entire instinctual system… the archetype of the old woman can also be apprehended as old La Que Sabe, The One who Knows.

There’s more of course. That last bit was only page 27! For now, though, my friend the hippo, who is grateful to have received nostrils, now wants more attention to her mouth and chin. I think she wants to be whole!!!

And that, dear friend, is my prayer for us. All of us.

ps… the Hebrew word beside her face is Chesed… steadfast love.

pps… need a bit of peace and wisdom with your cuppa? Or know someone who might? Lots of choices at FierceArtWithHeart! Maybe this year we could think of Mothers’ Day as Dangerous Old Womens’ Day!

The Game of “Life”!

Do you remember the board game? I do!

I grew up in a family of game-players. Lots of card games, especially Cribbage. My dad and I were Monopoly fans. Mom and my sister, not so much.

It seems like Life was a birthday gift for my sister one year. Tiny cars and little pink and blue peg people. And a wandering path through life… early adulthood to retirement. College, jobs, careers, possibilities for marriage and children. The Hasbro® folks did their Leave It To Beaver style homework in the ’60’s!

I was kind of surprised when I woke Saturday morning with the little cars and peg people on my mind! And I decided to roll over, adjust the weighted blanket, snuggle back up to the Legendary Husband, and see what might appear next.

Then, it came to me! #truecolors! A new adventure in the land of Intentional Creativity®.

I spent a lot of Friday evening getting set up. Washing paint brushes. (Duh!) Making space for a 30×40 inch canvas portal of possibility. Setting up my altar… my intentional sacred space. Helping some new painters get sorted in our virtual universe. (I’m hearth tending in the app which is a whole lot like the best parts of being a camp counselor!)

This particular journey is a new one. I really had no clue where we were heading. And I was totally good with that. Guides I trust… inner and outer! And, unlike the board game… no way to lose!!!


Now it is Sunday morning. And Grandmother Moon has been whispering again! Not about board games, but words from a poem…

Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

It took me a bit to sort that particular message. And, then, I knew.

I felt just like that while we were painting yesterday!!! Early on, my work looked like this…

And a bit later, after a slightly rogue adventure in the land of palette knives and heavy body paint…

Things got deep about then. The next right thing was change and I wasn’t sure I wanted it to change. I loved it just the way it was!

I was sure, though, that I wanted to stay on the road. So, right before bed time… portal! Which, somehow, became, at least for me, vessel!

Truth??? It gives me chills. The good kind!

And, in this moment, Grandmother Moon is still whispering in my ear!

Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

It took a bit of hunting. My first thought was The West Wing. I pushed enough buttons to come up with the title… High Flight. And then I knew. Madam Secretary!

A conversation between Henry and a young pilot claiming his deep, deep love for flying and his conscientious objection to killing.

High Flight… by John Gillespie Magee

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, – and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air…

Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew –
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

That’s what I felt like last night at my easel! That’s what Grandmother Moon was trying to get me to notice!

Here’s what the poem sounds like in my world:

In partnership with the Divine, I create. And walk the Way of Love.

That’s a scary big statement. An intention, more than an accomplishment. One that keeps me on the road.

Amen. Amen. Selah.

For now, though, laundry and more paint and the usual wondering about what to have for dinner!

ps… the heavy body image, before the vessel, has volunteered to become leggings! Stay tuned!!!

pps… curious? Have some dreams of your own??? Let’s grab a cuppa! 30 min. My gift. Your questions!

What do you want to be???

It’s a big question. And one many of us didn’t learn to ask when we were the Littles. It always felt – at least to me – as though nobody asked what I wanted to be then… in that moment, and the next day, and the days after that.

Just, when I grew up!

Never mind, for the moment, that questions like that are really hard for people who haven’t yet begun, neurologically, to think abstractly.

Let’s think about it this way…

If you’d asked a four year old me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I probably would have told you that I wanted to be the Romper Room Lady! You see, I was already becoming an expert at the moving thing and the Romper Room Lady moved with us from Cleveland to Pittsburg, which made me feel less alone.

A few years later, I’d have told you I wanted to be a teacher just like Miss Knott, my second grade idol.

By the time I was about 14, I knew! I wanted to be a veterinarian and help pets who loved their people. And yes… more moves and a Golden Retriever named Alice who was my best friend.

Things happened, as they often do, and I did not become (officially) any of those things.

What I did become, back then, was a college drop-out, single mom who needed a lot of help (and food stamps and student loans!) to become a nurse, only to get told I didn’t get paid to think, which left me just getting the hang of the abstract thought thing and knowing more school was in order.

About then, I met a guy named Steve Glenn. Steve taught me some things to do that began to shift my view of the world.

If you’ve been reading along for a while, you can probably say this with me, and I’d love it if you would!

If a teenaged child has 5 adults who will listen to them, take them seriously, and not shame or blame them for their questions, that child is practically immune from ever attempting suicide.

Which, frankly, is a scarier question. At least it was for me.

So, deep breath! And fast-forward through years full of noticing and wondering. And becoming a grandmother. And frequent flyer miles with the knee surgeon. And being one of those 5 people as often as I could.

Which brings us to now. In a world where it feels like a whole lot of people are trying to cancel out people like me. Like us. To take away our choices. And silence our voices. And hide our votes.

Steve was right, all those years ago. And what I learned from him is quite possibly more urgent now than it was then. And the change starts with me. And you. And our versions of being one of those 5 people right where we are.

So, I’m turning my body into a billboard. And ordering a new batch of yard signs.

I am feeding myself… body, mind, and spirit. Homemade broth. Grown-up Fairy Tales. Prayer dots.

And, physical therapy. Even after yesterday, which was no fun AND helpful! (Already!!!)

And here’s what I want to do… what I intend… what I AM doing…

I am putting myself out there to listen to my peeps – the ones I know and the ones I have yet to meet – to take them seriously, and not shame or blame them for their questions.

To help them claim what they want, way deep down, and to rattle my Medicine Basket for just the tools that will help them get from their version of the Romper Room Lady to whatever expression of Good Trouble calls them in this world, now.

It’s going to take a whole lot of us. And I’m all in!

ps… the photo at the top, “Guardians of Fierce Compassion… Then. Now. Always.” is my best idea of what all this looks like.

pps… thanks to Daphne for modeling! And for agreeing to let me tell you that her name means Laurel Tree, and symbolizes love and protection.

ppps… it’s entirely likely that you, dear heart, have spent a lot of years trying to take yourself seriously, and not shame or blame yourself for your questions. And it’s hard to do alone! So, check this out! A circle of sisters to sit around the fire with, and paint what you’re learning with, and be celebrated on your road! And it starts soon!!! Fix yourself a cuppa, grab a red thread if it’s handy, and click here for a real path forward! I’d be thrilled for you to be you and join in!

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