When the Inner Critic used to be a scrub nurse…

Well, it happened. The Legendary Husband had a marvelous time at Dragon Con… and came home a pandemic statistic.

He’s doing well, all things considered. I’m symptom free… so far. We are grateful.

My Inner Critic, not so much!

She, you see, believes that it’s her job to keep me safe by making sure that I basically just do things I’ve lived through already. (And, yes, you have one, too!)

Thus, my usual hand washing fetish is in overdrive! I got really good at it when I worked in surgery! And, to one degree or another, it did, indeed, help keep me and my patients alive!

One might also say that I have a highly developed sense of clean – vs – everything else.

The Legendary Husband, however, has no such previous experience.

So, while he’s wearing a mask and eating alone and swallowing what his doc told him to swallow (with a bit of interpretation from me) I’m going through hand soap and counter cleaner and masks at a rapid pace.

The big wooden chopping block in the kitchen is utterly off limits to anybody but me.

Blessedly, the dishwasher is working again, after a recent neurological challenge associated with a power outage. (Thanks, Greg!) It’s set on what we refer to as boil & bake!

Many of you have, of course, already been through this particular initiation.

Here’s what strikes me…

  • Our tremendous privilege and blessings. We can isolate. And get medical help. And all the cleaning stuff. And masks. And, we are well-ish enough to handle it.
  • There’s healthy comfort food in the freezer.
  • We can work at home… and have all the required toys.
  • The Inner Critic isn’t the only voice in my head!

The Muse is helping, too!

Unlike the Inner Critic, she’s less hung up on the ways we’ve survived the past.

Instead, she’s excited about space in the calendar, and whispering things like… Cool! Reschedule ortho guy and the hair appointment. Convocation will happen again. More time to paint… which often means more hand washing!

And, yes! That last bit qualifies as a very effective one step re-frame! Complete with the big gold bow!

It’s not that I don’t know it could get worse. It’s just that it hasn’t, yet, and we are okay!

Then, there’s the context bit. (No surprise there!)

Queen Elizabeth II has passed into her future. Not that I was likely to get invited to the Palace, but she was a cousin, in a complicated sort of way… as are her family, mourning and beginning to go on, as they must.

It’s never an easy time. I can’t imagine walking through it on CNN!

It also feels like a scary time, given the dynamics of world politics and power these days.

And the anniversary of 9/11.

There are two things I know to do…

  • Live, model, and vote grace and peace and respect and decency.
  • Whenever possible, give the Muse at least as much voice as the Inner Critic.

Oh! And one more… in honor of the Queen, and our mutual many-greats grandmother, Jacquetta of Luxembourg, click to download a pdf gift copy of my book, Grandmothers Are In Charge Of Hope! It’s going to take a lot of us!

ps… don’t know how I missed it, but the Universe brought me a gift today in the form of a Joan Baez video called Mischief Makers 2. This is the day… whether it’s new for you, too, or an old friend. Grab a cuppa and about an hour for your soul and the soul of the world! PLEASE!!!

pps… I was right! It IS going to take a lot of us! Thanks for being you!!!

It’s a Birthday Party!

Today, the adorable wee one in the photo is turning fifteen!

And I’m having a birthday, too. A Grammy-birthday!

She’d already been teaching me for about 7 months before she appeared in far-away Scotland. Things about perspective. And mattering. And becoming me.

To say that I am grateful is the understatement of my lifetime.

As I write this, there’s a good chance she’s at field hockey practice. Really!

She’s kind, and bright, and talented. And she’s brave, even when things feel hard.

She marched on Washington in 2016. She is dedicated to civil rights and bodily sovereignty.

(Ironically, I was just her age when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Roe.)

She helps me gently with my homework.

She’s a big-hearted sister and friend and animal lover.

She makes me a more determined citizen and Guide Grammy every day.

And I can’t wait ’til Thanksgiving when I get to hug her again.

For today, though, I’m pondering all the ways she and her amazing sister continue to change – and refine – my filters.

Those perceptual gateways that literally/metaphorically decide which bits of the astounding amount of information bombarding us at every moment actually make it into our awareness.

Think of it like this…

Today I participated in a Zoom meeting. A Forest of Grandmothers circle. A room of paint sisters nearing the close of a year-long journey.

And while I looked and listened and contributed, with the birthday girl in my heart, I saw and heard and shared things I likely wouldn’t have, without the awareness of her part in my journey.

And, while all that was happening, the working title for the book I’m hatching changed.

Just one different word.

And now it’s ready to become real! (Stay tuned…)

Also, one of my paintings is about to have a book where her hair might otherwise have been!

All this shifting will take a bit. There are other things on the list. But the ah-ha‘s have happened.

So, after the meeting concluded, and the big dogs – who are still sleeping off Camp! – had their supper, I started weeding email.

And the things I took action on were all inspired by a vision of the world my girls – and all our Littles – are going to inherit.

I can’t fix it all. None of us can.

But, I can put a vision out there. I can support leaders who believe, like my new 15 year-old does, in civil rights and bodily sovereignty. (Also, actual education and access to sports for all kids!)

And, no… I can’t keep them safe from all of life’s challenges.

I CAN, as I learned from my old teacher/friend, Steve Glenn…

Listen to them… take them seriously… and not shame them or blame them for their questions.

And, I can help YOU clarify and name your SuperPower Path. It’s going to take a lot of us and your journey matters, too! CLICK HERE FOR THE NEXT RIGHT THING!

For now, may the birthday girl dance like her painting! And may we explore the possibilities, too!

ps… Ask me about the Filter thing! The calendar elves will happily set you up… bring Red Thread if you have some handy! (It’s my gift to you!)

First… now… next!

It’s been an interesting weekend!

Painting. Appliance repairs. A slumber party. Stories… mostly of change!

Five years ago, I was engaged in a journey called The Black Madonna Pilgrimage. My FIRST Intentional Creativity® adventure. My first painting.

(Well, except for walls with rollers!)

In the midst of that enormous learning experience, my friend, from the first day of 7th grade, was having surgery for a brain aneurism in the midst of hurricane season.

I made prayer dots, layers and layers of them, until the weather cleared enough that I could go help.

My first hint at how much my life was changing was how much I missed my canvas – my Black Madonna becoming manifest – and my dots!

My friend is doing well now. Blessed be! And we had an old fashioned slumber party to celebrate and catch up. Life has been a bit hectic for both of us!

We told stories. Not the cool kid stories so popular in middle school slumber parties where everyone is trying desperately to fit in.

The real, deep, authentic, questioning journeys of both our lives, now. Surrounded by all the paintings on my walls. And by dreams.

The photo at the top of this post begged to be included.

A giclee’ print of The Fiercely Compassionate Grandmother, aka my Black Madonna Pilgrimage painting. And, yes, the original hangs in my friend’s home which is as it was meant to be.

Then, my current w-i-p… Insight. She’s still choosing her forever name, even as she’s becoming. And teaching me soooooo….. much!

And, what looks like a white background, but is actually my next Legend painting. That starts tomorrow, after my recent beginning found a new home!

All of this memory/vision energy sent me on a hunt through photo land… and I found what was calling me!

The intention. The very first layer of that very first painting.

It came from an old quote in the Quaker tradition…

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

I first encountered that notion at Eckerd College, while I was filling out seminary applications.

I was both resistant and intrigued.

After a whole lot of struggle to be me, through the terrifying single mom initiation, and the what will I do with my life questions, I wasn’t so sure about letting something change me.

Those words took root, nonetheless, deep within me.

They are, in many ways, blooming now.

And, yes, it has a lot to do with the whole bit about input and filters and maps.

Though the map has recently become a basket. A medicine basket!

Among the essential things in that medicine basket… perceptual tools, mark making supplies, and a big ball of Red Thread!

And, just in case you’re in a place that feels like a mysteriously important journey, I can help!

THE FIRST STEP is an adventure in Zoom Land. You. Me. Less than an hour. Red Thread. And some help from the calendar elves! It’s my gift to you!

Or… if that sounds too big, CLICK HERE for some guiding questions you can ponder deep inside!

ps… Legend the next has decided that willing to be changed is an empowering intention for now, too! That means we’re already on the way! Who knows? Another slumber party may be involved!

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! https://musea.org/insight/ )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!

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