In the presence of Our Lady of Guadalupe…

Yesterday, I was painting. Surprise! Not!!!

My first ever attempt at interpreting the legend of Our Lady of Guadalupe, at the request of my best friend since the first day of seventh grade.

There’s a learning curve… for both the artist and the theologian in me!

Somehow, when I’m in a space of stretching the edges, new things seem to sneak past my filters.

Note, dear Reader… what follows may feel a bit like a stream of consciousness adventure to you.

It does to me, too!

So, I was painting along… mostly fixing boo-boos. And as I painted, YouTube music videos were keeping me company.

Kind of the old favs list. Think summer camp.

And then, one I’ve loved for a bit without being quite sure why.

It’s the version of The Sound of Silence by the artist known as Disturbed.

It sounds a lot different from the Simon & Garfunkel original that lives in my brain.

It looks a lot different, too. A bit outside my familiar place.

In a minute, you’re going to find the magic link to read more.

I’m so hoping you will. And, after you click the magic link, there’s another magic link to the video!

But, first, a bit of context.

Once upon a time, quite a while ago, deep in the land of Ericksonian Hypnotherapy training, a new friend commented that I was, “really into power”.

I was shocked.

And then I realized that, while I’m not much into power over, I am, indeed, quite into power for!

With that…

Did you hear it?

And the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they made, and the sign flashed out its warning, in the words that it was forming. And the sign said, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls” and whispered in the sound of silence……………………………. Paul Simon

Which reminded me that, in another painting binge, I had recently watched the movie, The Help. Again.

A socially difficult tale in which people are empowered by the opportunity to speak.

And then, as I painted on, sitting in deference to my back, The Welcome Back NYC concert in Central Park.

Voices from Jennifer Hudson to Jon Batiste to L L Cool J to Barry Manilow, who brought down the house, as it were, with help from an outer band of Hurricane Henri!

But, voices, nonetheless. Voices creating community in a world desperate for it. A world where it’s just possible that the words of the prophets on the subway walls – which are basically art of a powerful, intentional sort – may be more important for our future than those of the neon gods.

Only we can choose.

ps… I suspect Our Lady of Guadalupe would agree!

pps… it’s been almost exactly 14 years since my first Grandparents Day and I’m celebrating! So are the elves, with an automatic 25% off orders of original paintings and art prints over $100!!! Check it out…

Prayer, hope, warmth, and better reading!

It was 5:00 this morning when Charlotte, my Muse, dragged me out of bed. Charlotte is, just occasionally, a bit more persistent than feels optimal!

Charlotte thought it was the perfect time to work on the “final” edits for our Grandmother Archetype quiz-in-progress, prompted, no doubt, by the book on Julian of Norwich I was reading at bed time.

I needed a bit slower start.

Tea and prayer scarves, to be exact.

I had a very special scarf to finish, for a dear friend and Art-sister leaving tomorrow to move to Chicago.

I am, as you may have noticed, hooked on the prayer scarf thing.

Like prayer dots in paintings, it’s an embodied, more or less whole brain practice in which each stitch is a word or two of a repetitive, mantra-like prayer.

In addition to all the normally auspicious things about prayer or intention, it’s a soothing journey. A cross-lateral brain movement, to be exact, known to be stress reducing.

And, yes, there’s some stress that, at least in my view, could use some reducing!

Even more important, it’s easier on a sleepy, cranky sacro-iliac joint than painting big canvases!

So, here’s my “recipe” for prayer scarves.

I use Lion Brand Landscape yarn in a variety of self-striping colorways. It’s a #4 medium weight acrylic yarn. I love the feel of natural fibers but a lot of the scarves I make go to homeless people and something easy to dry is important!

Next, circular knitting needles. In my case, bamboo, US #10 or 6 mm with a short connecting cable.

(I started with the circular needles when I was teaching the girls to knit. They’re easier for little beginner hands to hold and less likely to get loose in the couch and stab someone. It’s just one more degree of freedom for the praying!)

Then, I cast on 24 stitches. Why 24? Well, it’s a good width for scarves and it’s divisible by 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8 which gives lots of choices for the prayers. Think beads on a rosary.

And, because I can only keep track of so many things at once, I knit every stitch, every row. Cozy, pretty scarves which are hard to mess up. (Unknitting is way less fun than knitting!)

I get two scarves out of three skeins of the Landscape yarn, roughly 6 feet long each.

So, Hope, hope, hope, with every stitch. Or, Help me. Or Heal her. You get the drift. One of my favorites is Holy Mother – hear – our prayers.

And it gets even better, if you have some handy littles!

Waldorf schools use knitting with 1st graders for reading readiness and then again in about 5th grade as students move into more complicated math.

There are an enormous number of neural pathways – connections if you will – that need to come online before a child can learn to read. Knitting builds those connections! Ditto, math.

And, if you add in the notion of prayer or meditation, that’s more connections and a big batch of empowerment for littles with a concrete way to help immigrant families and those nearby with very limited resources.

It’s also a whole lot of positive, peaceful energy being set loose into the world.

You probably don’t have to guess a long time to get why I’ve chosen this story just now. In the face of so many, many things we can’t fix, this is something we can do.

That may just be the best gift we can give the littles we love so much!

ps… a large-eyed plastic needle is helpful for weaving in the ends!

pps… new fun stuff to see in the land of the Shop elves!

My head feels like a pot of soup!

You know how you wander around searching for answers, rather like puzzle pieces, and then all of a sudden they start to appear?

This has been one of those weeks!

It feels rather like a good pot of soup. Bits of this. Peels of that. Some leaves of this. Bones of something else.

None of them seem like much on their own.

When you collect them, though, with vision, and put them into a magical cauldron and add a bit of tending and a lot of time, you wind up with something wonder-full that did not exist before!

In this particular pot of metaphorical soup, there are quotes. Here’s one:

Successful people start before they’re ready. (Source unknown)

Just between us, I don’t feel entirely ready for the journey starting to appear before me. And I’m still debating the definition of successful in this particular context.

What I do know is that my archetypal quiz for Grandmothers is about to become real.

I know that kids all over need lots and lots of hope and courage and support in this moment.

And I know that Grandparents, many, many of us, are in particularly good places to offer those things.

(This is where I should say that I love and believe in Grandfathers, too. And Aunts. And Elders of many sorts. It’s just that I know lots more about being a Grandmother! But, please, if you’re reading, know that you’re welcome!)

I also know this:

In order to empower our littles, we need to empower ourselves! (Boardman)

Just like oxygen masks on an airplane!

So, there’s a new book hatching. One that will need some research help. (Stay tuned!)

And some inspiring mugs. Think tea time with your littles.

And some accessible art posters.

And a new riff on a paint adventure, filled with tools for the journey.

For today, though, a question…

What do YOU need to help empower yourself and your family and your community?

Yep, you.

Now.

Because, when it comes right down to it, NOW is what there is and there is work to be done.

Today, we choose to matter in the world. It may be hard, but we are in charge of Hope! (Boardman, Grandmothers’ Manifesta)

ps… new things coming to FierceArtWithHeart in time for Grandparents Day. For now, BIG PROMOTION! The elves will hook you up… 25% off purchases over $100!

pps… so hoping you’ll leave me a comment or email me with your notion of what would be empowering! suesvoice@gmail.com

From the mouths of the wee women…

This afternoon, I was thrilled to be in a group of wise women, celebrating the energy of the Grandmothers.

The literal ones. The archetypal ones. The past ones. The future ones. The cosmic ones.

At one point, we were reflecting on memories that mattered deeply to us. Memories of relationships with our own generations.

The first thing that popped into my awareness was my current journey with my family’s genealogy. It’s quite the trip! (And a nice use for the miracles of modern science in these days!)

As of two nights ago, I have officially made it back 37 generations of direct grandmothers and grandfathers. Back to people born in about 900 CE.

I’m trying to grasp the stories, as well as the names and dates and places.

That is, as you might imagine, a whole lot of stories!

But then there was another voice in my awareness.

The voice of my younger granddaughter.

It came from some special memories around the Christmas of 2017.

We were on a cruise with our kids. It was amazing in so many, many ways.

One of the big ones for me was the time we spent waiting around tables for food to appear, especially at dinner.

The dining room on the ship was not conducive to energetic, excited mini-women. Distraction was in order.

The first or second night, the littlest of the littles put her hand on mine and said, “Tell us a story, Grammy. One from your mouff!”

I had lots! Many of them by way of my own Story-Gramma, Elsie, who happens to be the link to the big branch of the family tree in the way back machine!

The girls listened with huge eyes as I recounted a story which fascinated me at their age. Elsie swore that three or four of her older sisters were at home in the farm house when a major Mid-west tornado interrupted a mandatory afternoon nap. They were rolled in the mattress by the storm, pulled out a second story window and deposited, terrified but essentially safe, in a corn field, just in time to witness the family piano flying over their heads!

This particular tale has made the list of “from your mouff” best sellers!

What the girls probably don’t realize yet is that from the earliest of times, women and children have gathered in circle and told the stories that helped make them who they are. Stories that help interpret events in the moment and through the ages.

There are other stories, of course. Some they’re just beginning to be old enough for.

But the tradition is there. Around bar-b-que grills and enormous soup pots and ovens and tables, we gather.

We gather to learn more about who our people have been and how the world works and who we might become.

Together.

ps… a rare appearance by Grampy. (Well, almost!) And some really excellent Key Lime pie!

pps… stay tuned for more info on this year’s Red Madonna journey. There will no doubt be room for you!

Rant postponed for a different perspective!

It’s been one of those weeks.

You know… like when you get new glasses and eventually you’ll be able to see better but, for a bit, your feet can’t quite figure out where the floor is and your neck hurts from trying to figure out which part of the lens to look through…

Sometimes, though, when the news – and a new/old book or two – are the new “lenses”, there might just be the tiniest sense of how did I not know this before lurking in the shadows.

Or, maybe, a really huge sense of all that.

This is not a bad thing, though it can lead to some WTF-ing.

For this moment, Charlotte, the resident Muse, has convinced me that there might be another way to tell the story. We’re going to try it her way.

Let’s begin with a favorite quote attributed to German theologian, Karl Barth…

We do theology with a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other.

Or, to modernize things a bit, something more like some very abbreviated writing on our hearts and CNN!

There is, though (as there so often is) yet another hand!

In this case, the Legend paint journey just beginning with brush wielding sisters from around the world.

And, no, that’s not Legend in the photo above. It’s the one formerly known as Ritual which has insisted on becoming the backdrop for my video work, as is and far from officially “finished”!

Legend is, in my case, a dream along with some very scribbly journal pages and a blank canvas which, together, are changing me already.

Here’s the thing…

The whole point of the legendary adventure is to explore the possibility of allowing old stories that aren’t working to become new with the help of some new perspectives. Making, as it were, new stories of old.

And turning, as Paul Tillich might have said, while he was reading the same newspapers Barth was, to the Ground of All Being.

Which is exactly what’s been happening in my head!

And I’m choosing, at least for today, to skip the (highly appropriate) ranting as it will probably only make my blood pressure go up in a way that my healing tribe would not like, and scare the Studio Angels.

Which, right there, is another bit of newness.

And here’s still another… with the energy I didn’t use turning all red in the face and swearing at people past hearing, I did a bit of shopkeeping last night. The special collection in my Shopify store which features the art of the very talented Gloria Venuh is now open! And, in celebration, the rest of the gang got together and voted to have a special automatic discount offer. A big one… for the whole shop!

I’m hoping, with the time and energy you’ve saved by not listening to my proposed rant, you’ll stop by to visit. To dream a bit and listen to some new voices. And feel free to invite your friends! THIS IS THE LINK!!!

ps… just in case you’re curious, the special discount offer is 25% off on purchases over $100! The elves are standing by to make it so. All you have to do is put things in your cart! (Nobody would hold it against you if you started holiday shopping early!)

pps… the painting above has been re-christened Holding Ritual Space which is, clearly, exactly what she had in mind!

Massaged. Napped. Packed.

You know how, before you set out on a journey, your head tends to spin with all kinds of thoughts and things to do? Well, this day has been like that!

The Journey is Legend. Like plane reservations and a safe place to stay, I’ve already begun in the sense of stocking up on paint, washing brushes from Insight, and beginning my journal.

My Muse, known these days as Charlotte, is ready! Ready enough that she had me out of bed at about 4:30 this morning, editing quiz questions and results descriptions. Charlotte doesn’t want anything to be missed while I’m wandering!

Eventually, she was content enough to be quiet while I snuck in a chair-nap.

I woke to about a ton of email, including a very exciting piece I’d been hoping for. Twelve new family members for my tree. (Several of my paintings are thrilled!)

It’s my Gramma Elsie’s family again. All four great-grandparents, 36 generations into the mists! One of them, a woman I know at the moment only as Leutgarde d’ Auvergne who was born in 935 CE. Really!

It boggles my mind!

And, clearly, I have some more exploring to do for I hear, thundering in the background of my awareness, Walter Brueggemann imploring me to, “Just tell the story!”

But, time out for a massage. Charlotte was almost as delighted as I was, for we cannot go adventuring if we’re not taking care of ourselves!

Jessica is amazing in all kinds of mystical energy ways. She’s also a gifted artist! (Stay tuned…)

Wandering through all this, the notion of medicine basket.

The photo is the non-traditional version which followed me home from Italy just about 3 years ago, along with a few other items essential to journeys like Legend.

In a way, a major contextual question of this moment in time is, What’s in our medicine baskets?

It’s not a new question. It is, perhaps, more urgent.

And, just between us, I’m grateful for a powerful journey that is happening in the relative safety of my studio, among the 4-footed angels.

There are many, many unknowns. What I do know is this… I’ll come home with more medicine for my basket.

In fact, I think I’ve already found the first bit.

When I was doing the chair-nap thing this morning, a lioness appeared and strongly suggested that she’d like to be included!

We shall see…

For now, Safe Journeys wherever they lead you and yours…

ps… if you’re looking for another journey option, here’s a fun one… fierceartwithheart! (You won’t need a big bag. We ship!)

I have a thing for questions!

Once upon a time…

I needed a business card. Brand new in private practice as a pastoral counselor, I debated over the usual alphabet soup after my name.

Office address and phone number, no problem. Color, no biggie. Paper, in those days!

It was the title that was the challenge. Pastoral Counselor was the obvious choice, but it didn’t say enough!

I fussed and doodled for a couple of weeks. And then I just did what I wanted to do!

A whole list of things. Counseling. Weddings. Liturgy. Couples. Well, you get the idea.

My talented friend did the typesetting. Different fonts. Different grey scales. Some bold. Some stealthy.

My favorite part of all was in the top left corner.

Questions that make all the difference.

These days I have wise teachers explaining the concept of choosing a niche and I get it.

It hasn’t gotten easier.

And I really have a thing about questions! Here are a few of my favs…

What are they learning from the decisions we make?

What are we trying to accomplish?

What might get us closer to that?

What haven’t we asked yet?

If we believe what we say we believe, what, then, shall we do?

That last one is the big one for today.

If I believe that my #Insight painting will help me see things I need to see, does she need me to listen deeper? To stick with the journey? To trust my heart to hear the answers when they come?

Apparently, all of the above.

And so, covered in paint, I use all my powers of knowing… kinesthetic, auditory/digital, visual, intuitive… and I stay on the path. About half an hour ago, we had a breakthrough, she and I.

And she gently suggested that I take a few minutes to tell you about it while the paint dries.

Just in case, you know, there might be something in your life that’s searching for one of those full-body yeses.

Nothing is all wrapped up with a bow just yet, but things that seemed separate now feel connected and, through it all, there is my Big Why!

I have two granddaughters growing up in this world!

I’d love to know what your Big Why is! You can leave me a comment, or email me at suesvoice@gmail.com

She and I have some more noticing and wondering to do. I can’t wait to see what comes next!

ps… Those swirly things shaped like honeycomb in the top left corner (!) are the things she and I are doing, together!

pps… If you’d like to see some finished work, come by for a visit at fierceartwithheart There are lots of great questions hiding in the corners there. You just have to listen. Looking is good, too!

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