Of herding grand-cats… and the illusion of control!

Meet Griffin! One of my grand-cats. Often sweet and cuddly. Just as often, a whirling dervish with a fetish for climbing trees, aka prized house plants.

I am, in this moment, giving thanks for all my recent training in the herding of cats. (Griffin has a sister named Raven. Ditto on the cuddly dervish thing!)

That training helped me put medicine in my basket for this very moment in time.

We have a high wind/winter weather warning in Georgia. Well, warning might be a bit optimistic. It’s really cold and windy. The trees – very old, very tall pine trees – in my back yard are dancing in a way that would be lovely if it weren’t quite so close to the house. And the power lines.

And I am in the middle of a launch. Not through the air like a kitten, so much, but the kind where dreams and plans get born to make a difference in the world.

It’s been a bit of a trip.

Three dear, busy, creative women (and a doll!) separated by 4 hours in the conventions of time. Lots of other pressing things on our lists. Plus, a similar weather warning in Nova Scotia!

And a voice whispering inside me… Model what you hope to teach!

So, with thanks to Steve Glenn, and my personal conviction that control is most often an illusion and, on our best days, we have influence… I’m making a new plan.

Which is, I suppose, a lot like maximizing my influence!

The blog post waiting eagerly backstage for today, is on hold. (Hopefully, only until tomorrow. Bonus!)

Our team now has space for a couple of deep breaths, some more testing, and a nap – or three!

And, when you get to read about our new adventure, all the bells and whistles will be working. Probably!

In this moment, having had a recent power outage experience, I’ve turned the thermostat up so that we have some more warm stashed away in case we need it.

The big beasties have made their first out and down adventure for the day and are back to keeping the floor from escaping.

I’m wearing the InstantHot gizmo out, filling thermos bottles, having not enjoyed a decided lack of tea during our last rustic adventure.

And it’s REALLY raining, now. In fact, it sounds a bit crispy.

I’m also giving thanks for the blessings which make it possible for me to try to adapt, rather than just to endure.

So, prayer dots. Especially for those who are cold and without homes or hot water. For those who have fewer choices. And for the work and witness of Dr. King, and all those prophets in his visionary lineage, who have helped me to see more clearly.

Stay tuned…

ps… If you haven’t had a chance to go on the Intentional Grandmother Archetype quiz adventure yet, now could be great! Grand-Elders of all sorts and even very brave Grandfathers welcome!

From the way-back machine…

The sorting and re-arranging goes on.

Progress abounds. And more would be okay, too!

Have spent a fair amount of time tearing old mixed media journals apart. Keep what I still need. Reclaim blank paper for more art. Recycle the rest.

It would be easier on my achey wrists to just toss the whole things, but I don’t seem able to.

Here’s an amazingly timely surprise I discovered wandering through one of those old journals. A timely surprise, dated October 27, 2016!

Imagine blue ink on white watercolor paper with a scattering of proofreader’s marks…

Standing on the Edge

I am standing on the edge.

Toes curled under.

Hanging on.

Like climbing too high on a ladder.

Trying to decide if I’m terrified.

Or excited.

Knowing that, in my body, the experience is the same.

Knowing that whoever decided we could only feel one feeling at a time was wrong!

Knowing that this is neither good news,

Nor bad.

The wise old man on the mountain was right.

Trying to glimpse the beyond which is past the edge.

I like beyond.

I like creating.

Abracadabra!

I will make something of the word.

Though I may paint a bit more first.

I am standing on the edge.

Hoping I’m excited!

-Sue Boardman

I feel this, in so many ways, even more, in this moment, than I did when I wrote it.

This world — the context in which we live and create and grieve and hope — was unimaginable for so many of us just five years ago.

And yet, here we are. Many, many of us needing help. New strategies. New community. New hope.

As I mentioned, my friend, Natalie Moyes, and I have a plan. And there’s lots more info to come. Shortly!

For now, just in case you learned the same silly thing I did somewhere along the way, whoever said we could only feel one feeling at a time was, indeed, wrong. And there is hope.

For all of us.

When we’re ready.

ps… the painting is called In the Beginning… aka, Our Lady of Bountiful Earth. She’s moved from the hall to the library, presiding over our new intentional space for Health and Abundance.

pps… just in case you’re feeling a need for a bit of intentional space in your world, she’s got friends available for adoption. Just check FierceArtWithHeart for all kinds of inspiration, from mugs for your favorite cuppa to original paintings!

The beginning…

… of LOTS of things!

In my case, all this beginning involved more than a bit of saying thank you and moving on from some former things. Things in my external world.

If there was a prize for the most recycling in a single day, I would have won for yesterday… at least for a Grammy with mobility challenges. (Already praying for recycling folks on Wednesday!)

And, while my back and hips are more than a bit cranky at the moment, all of the What? and the How? of my sorting and re-arranging feels really great because it’s attached – at least in my awareness – to my Why?

You see, there’s an answer to the Why? that I’m really excited about. One of those answers that sounds like a rather odd word but is actually the key to more things than even I know at the moment.

Are you ready???

PRISMA!!!

Yep! Musea’s new Intentional Creativity® Practitioner training is beginning and I am thrilled beyond mere words to be part of it.

It has to do with what I call Unsticking stuck stuff®. Well, really with helping people gather a basket full of ways to get where they long to be when they’ve tried and tried and not quite gotten there before.

It has to do with something called neuroplasticity which is a fancy way of saying that our brains really can learn new paths to help us get where we want to go.

If you’ve known me a while, you may remember the story about walking out the front door and taking exactly the same path to the mailbox, every day. It makes, in my literal case, a rut in the garden. And, because it “worked” yesterday, we humans have a tendency to stay in the rut when we could, instead, wander by the blooming rose bush, or pick some herbs for dinner.

Well, you get the drift.

For now, though, there’s another Why? A bigger one. You already know the answer…

To help empower Grand-Elders to survive and thrive in this world so that they can help empower the littles they love the most to survive and thrive now, and into the unknown future.

I’m setting out on the PRISMA adventure so that I’ll have even more medicine in my basket for doing just that because, you know, I have two granddaughters growing up in this world!

And things are already changing!

The painting, above, is very early under-layers of a journey called Anthropas, which is part of our learning.

I can’t tell you what it is, just yet, but I can, like the littles you love, tell you about it.

It’s the result of inviting my brain to play. It’s what happened when I picked up a big, juicy paintbrush and asked my brain to convince my arm to make circles.

First clock-wise. Then the other-wise. (You really can get there both ways!)

This is not about making your geometry teacher happy. It’s about learning by playing with Intention. Like dancing with the brush.

And it’s fun. Fun that changes real things.

Here’s the good news!

Part of the PRISMA adventure includes working with people. And groups. Soon!

You’ve probably heard about the upcoming group adventure with my IC Sister, Natalie Moyes, called Medicine Basket Your Way… unsticking stuck stuff. Stay tuned!

And, just in case the group thing feels hard to manage, I also have space for some adventurous individual clients, ready to unstick some stuff that’s been holding them back from living the Why? in their hearts. Or, maybe, claiming the Why?

If you’re curious, I’d love to chat with you! Half an hour of discovering, as my gift to you, brave soul. Here’s the link to my calendar. Or email me… suesvoice@gmail.com

ps… PRISMA work happens with simple, accessible materials like mixed media or watercolor paper & watercolor paints/markers. If you’ve been holding off on experiencing Intentional Creativity® out of concern for space or expense or even accessibility challenges, this is the door for you!

ps… no dressing up required up for discovering. (Unless you’d like to!) Just a red thread if you have one handy and a cuppa and a bit of Hope. Even a teeny-tiny bit will do to begin!

Tending space… inner & outer!

There are people crawling around in my attic today. Again!

The same people who keep turning off the power and internet. This is only minutely more convenient than our recent 13 hour long power outage! (Deep bows to beloveds in places which have been through much worse in these days!)

My plan is simple. Tending.

You see, the conveniently placed horizontal surfaces – especially the ones near my chair and in the studio – have somehow gotten cluttered beyond use in all the seasonal and internal and orthopedic commotion around here.

And, as I mentioned, there’s a whole bunch of newness blooming in my studio and calendar!

So, I’m setting and refreshing altars. Five of them to be exact.

If you’ve known me for a while, this may be a surprise.

You see, in the brand of theology in which I was raised right, we don’t do altars!

There’s a whole lot of theory about this and some of it makes sense, especially considering the historical context in which much of it got – you know – written down.

But, we contemporary wanderers are nothing but gifted at reinterpreting words!

So, in my world, altar means intentional space. Much like Intentional Creativity® !

It does not mean big pieces of furniture which separate the holy folks from the regular ones!

My intentions for these spaces, like Feng shui, are to create reminders of what I hope for. What I intend.

Some of them have to do with learning. With focus. Spaces, that by simply sitting with them, can draw my attention from all the crazy, negative, power grabbing, deceitful (Feel free to fill in some of your own words!) junk going on around us.

It really helps!

I’m discovering other advantages to the altar practice, as well.

It’s an organizational tool. Really!

All the stuff I’ve collected for adventures like PRISMA and Maverick and Anthropas, intentionally placed, waiting and inspiring.

A grouping of things which remind me that actually sharing my work allows it to matter beyond myself.

My amazing new essential oils in a space of honor.

And, mixed through all these spaces, symbols of grandmothers and grandchildren reminding me of my Big Why.

And, since we’re being really real, having these altars – these intentional spaces – is orthopedically helpful, too! All the stuff I need the most where I can reach it without having to wonder how much it will hurt or to wait for help.

There is, to be sure, more tending to do. More creating of space that supports hope and growth, for me and for those with whom I work.

There have been moments when I’ve wished that my magic wand did things like this. You know, a wave or two and – POOF – all done.

There’s also the part of me that realizes that there’s growth in the journey. And that’s something I so long to help my girls realize.

So… time for some prayer dots and then back to tending altars. If the Reformation gang are having fits, it may be time for them to learn some new things, too! Or – maybe – some old things!

ps… just in case you’re experimenting with newness, too, and could use some company along the way, I have space for just a few new coaching clients. For more info, you know where to find me… suesvoice@gmail.com

pps… the glimpse of the painting, above, is from my Forest of Grandmothers canvas. It probably won’t mean much to you in this moment, but I’ll give you a clue. The bluish word you can‘t quite read is choose!

ppps…I’ve started my post-holiday fluffing at FierceArtWithHeart but the holiday prices are still in effect, just in case you’ve got a bit of space that needs some tending, too!

Stocking up for 2022!

I need help.

Three of my least favorite words to say!

Ironically, I started the New Year with them. (Which feels more than a bit counter-cultural!)

Luggage was the culprit!

Luggage left over (still) from our adventure with the kids. Most of it mine. All of it in my space. And all of it in the way.

Not to mention the laundry baskets not currently where they work best because of the luggage hogging the prime real estate.

And the still cranky back, hip, and knees, not enthused about the prospect of bending and lifting!

Phoebe and Luther were not interested.

The Legendary Husband, bless him, heard me.

I need help.

Oddly, having said those words, I feel a bit like Dr. King. You see, I have a dream.

A dream of helping Grandmothers – along with folks who think like them… Grand-elders, if you will… and even some very brave Grandfathers – to survive and thrive in this world, now, so they can help the littles they love the most to survive and thrive, as well.

And, as you may have guessed, that dream is even more vivid for me, having just spent some time doing exactly that, live and in person with my less-littles!

So, I’m embracing the bizarre notion that actually saying those three difficult words will get me closer to that dream. To my Big Why.

In fact, I wrote myself a permission slip to ask for help and put it into my mythical Medicine Basket as my first major act for 2022!

I’m not sure what will happen next.

Here’s what I do know…

Shaming and blaming myself into not asking for help is toxic!

Here’s what else I know…

My Intentional Creativity® Coach friend, Natalie Moyes – who definitely thinks like a grandmother – and I have some workshops starting in mid-February and we’re going to explore, with group members like you, what other things could helpfully be added to our Medicine Baskets in support of our own dreams.

Like many new things, this adventure might feel a bit scary. Change is like that. It’s also how we get to the new places we long for.

Like those places where more things are true than what we hear on the news!

We’ll be ready for sign-ups very soon. And space is limited.

If you relate… if you’d like to be on the first-to-know list, please email me! suesvoice@gmail.com

And, if you haven’t had a chance yet to check out the Intentional Grandmothers Archetype Quiz, just click HERE!

For tonight, a bowl of soup for me. Courage and many blessings for you and yours!

ps… as you’ve no doubt guessed, the painting is a recent, evolving image of my own Medicine Basket. Can’t wait to find out what yours will look like!

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

It’s the only thing!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Book of Magic

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

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

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

It was!

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

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

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

And still, I read.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of days and times and traditions

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

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

Here goes…

Just before I left for Columbia seminary, we got a new pastor at 1st Pres in Lakeland, Florida. Things changed after Tom arrived. One of my favorite changes involved establishing a living nativity scene in front of the church. We began that very first year.

The church sits on a lake and people circle around every year to look at the Christmas lights. It’s like a contest to see who can burn the most bulbs or come up with the craziest display of Santa on water skis. We set up a stable, sewed up some costumes and began recruiting Mary’s and Joseph’s for Witness on the Lake.

Animals were our first problem. That area is not exactly overrun with farm animals. A large animal vet came to our rescue, delivering a donkey, a goat, and two sheep to the church.

Housing the animals became our next problem. A small, fenced enclosure behind the parking lot worked well, after we moved the canoe trailer. The neighbors weren’t so sure what they thought. We lived in dread fear of a call from the zoning commission informing us that our four-footed actors had to go. Fortunately, that call never came.

Unfortunately, the donkey had such a bad attitude that we had to trade him in for a shetland pony. A very old shetland pony with cataracts so bad that he spent a great deal of effort trying to turn away from the headlights coming around the lake. This caused Tom to wonder why we kept getting the business end of the horse!

We’d been out there for 3 or 4 nights and things were going going fairly well when the big night finally arrived. Christmas Eve was wet and cold. Several of our characters called in sick and we scrambled to find folks to be Magi and shepherds in the final hours before the service. The young adults’ group turned out in full force and we were back in business.

The pony bit Tom. The goat looked depressed or sick or both. The sheep, who’d played their parts well all week, simply stood blinking in the dripping rain. We huddled in the makeshift stable, shivering in our costumes and munching chocolate chip cookies some kind soul had made. I wasn’t sure we were being much of a witness!

Amazingly, people still came! Cars drove round and round. Even the newspapers showed up. Somewhere in the middle of all the bustle, a young mother walked up with her daughter who was about 4 years old.

The little girl stood, tattered and wet, one finger in her mouth, and looked. She looked and looked and looked. Finally she pointed at a sheep and we assured her that it was safe to pet the soggy animal. Suddenly, scattering hay everywhere and scaring the sheep half to death, she darted into the little stable. Gazing down at our baby-doll Jesus lying in an orange crate she asked, Who are you supposed to be?

Several of us answered at once. Mary – Joseph – a shepherd… Our little friend looked even more puzzled. Then a young man, who sold cement for a living, decided to start at the beginning and we began to tell the Christmas story. Slowly her mother joined us, listening as intently as the little girl who was now holding the baby-doll Jesus. Finally they wandered off into the rain – the little girl crunching another cookie and her mother promising to think about our invitation to return for church that evening.

As we settled back into our roles – still huddled in the stable – another person approached us. A lovely woman, dressed for a party. Her high heels sank into the wet ground and she wrapped her expensive raincoat more tightly about her. She held a small camera in one hand but she, like the little girl, stood for long moments – just watching. Finally she looked directly at us and said, I have just one question. Why do you do this ridiculous thing?

We stammered a bit… Well, it’s Christmas and the children like it and… but she was already walking away, her unused camera swinging at her side.

Her question has haunted me ever since.

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

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

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

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

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

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

ps… what’s in the box? Canvases!

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