Old Stories, Trees, and Hope!

Remember, for a moment, learning to ride a bike. Probably your story includes an adult with lots of advice. It might go something like this…

There you are on the bike, perhaps without training wheels for the first time.

Probably, as you’re reading this, without a helmet. (So glad we know better, now!)

In my case, on a suburban street, somewhere in the midwestern USA. (Please feel free to substitute accordingly!)

So, kid, bike, driveway, and the concerned adult mentioned above.

You set off, wobbly and, perhaps, more than a little anxious, with the concerned adult jogging along, holding onto the back of the bike, who finally lets go.

Your plan is to proceed down the driveway, turn at the sidewalk and make your way in triumph next door to show your friend how empowered you’ve just become.

One tiny problem. The concerned adult, who is totally focused on the very large tree off to the side of the driveway.

(Nevermind that the tree has been standing very still, just there, for 80 or 100 years!)

“Watch out for the tree,” yells the concerned adult. About 8 times.

And, you, finally liberated, in an entirely predictable fashion, smash your precious bike right into the tree.

Or, as some of my meditation friends would say, Where the attention goes, the energy flows

Which is to say, that if you’re totally focused on the tree, you’re probably going to hit it.

Now, I’ve known this story for years, in its therapeutic sense. Focus your attention on what you want, as opposed to what you don’t want.

Frankly, it’s harder than it sounds.

And, just between us, I’ve been having a bit of a cosmic reminder lately. You see, lately I’ve been focused, not for the first time, on Don’t be in pain! 

There are lots of reasons for that.

Frequent flyer miles with the knee surgeon. A couple of falls that weren’t quite serious but came pretty close. Some losses in my life. More than my average amount of stress, lately. And a bit of fear, here and there.

And, you guessed it, I hit the tree. Anxiety. Difficult dreams. Trouble sleeping. The kind of loss of strength that comes from the notion that being still is being safe.

Frankly, it hasn’t been working very well.

So, I’m making a different choice. A choice I’m calling, with thanks to the amazing Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy, Radical Self Care.

A choice like this takes a bit of preparation.

A bit of inspiring reading. Some pantry weeding. An uncomfortable amount of self-disclosure and asking for support. And, a bit of shopping. Organic fennel tea, local grass-fed soup bones, and my most essential colors of paint, along with a painting called Apothecary.

I begin, officially, a week from today.

Except for the fact that I’ve actually already begun. You see, my eyes are already on my friend’s driveway, instead of the big, scary tree.

I’m headed for where I want to be instead of where I don’t.

It won’t necessarily be an easy trip, especially the part that involves NO dairy or wheat for at least 2 weeks.

Today, though, when we had lunch at Stiles Fish Camp in Ponce City Market, after picking up a couple of my paintings from their adventure with the magical scanning machine, I practiced eating fabulous oysters without crackers!

(This is not something that we folks raised in Florida are accustomed to, but it actually worked!)

And, I have granddaughters watching. And paintings to paint. And prayer dots to make. And hope to share. So, eyes on where I want to be!

May it be so for you, as well.

From Ghoulies & Ghosties..

and long leggetie beasties and things that go BUMP! in the night, good Lord deliver us!

Let me start by saying that I am allergic to bee stings. (Wasps, too, for that matter. Yellow jackets.  Ants. The whole nine yards.) The Epi-pen carrying kind of allergic.

And, for many, many years, I was very, very afraid of the whole crowd known to my biology teacher as Hymenoptera. 

Then, I became a gardener. I began to be very concerned about the growing global crisis of rapidly dying colonies of bees.

I read Braiding Sweetgrass (recently) and The Secret Life of Bees (about six times!) and, slowly, I’ve begun to have a much more vivid appreciation for the pollinators among us.

(Honestly, I haven’t quite worked it out with fire ants, just yet.)

Today, though, I had a close encounter. I was out in the garden, trimming back some rogue grape vines which were attempting to take over the porch and picking some cherry tomatoes.

A bee came to visit me. As instructed by Sue Monk Kidd, I sent her love. I actually thanked her for her presence in my garden and all her hard work.

And then, as she buzzed back to where I’m allowing some of the arugula to bloom, and hopefully re-seed, I took three slow breaths, inhaling deeply of the scent peculiar to tomatoes on a hot summer morning, and went to greet Auntie Maren who is the official chiropractor for the studio angels.

I’m glad to know the ancient Scottish blessing about ghoulies and ghosties. It seems that they abound, in many forms, in our world these days.

I would imagine it has always been so. And there are, indeed, a few lurking in my world just now.

And yet, the one thing I know for sure is that fear is rarely our most effective way to meet them.

Thus, the question for today, courtesy of the wise and ever-amazing Shiloh Sophia McCloud comes from a Zoom meeting yesterday about what I’m learning to call metacognitive drawing, which is kind of like changing things by drawing while thinking about thinking. (Stay tuned!)

What, I’m wondering, are the next steps in allowing creativity to bloom in my life? 

If you don’t have a question of your own for today, I’m happy to lend you mine!

PS… the art today is a snipet from Honey in Your Heart, coming soon to Sue’s Shop!

 

 

 

What goes around…

The magic streaming radio in my head woke up playing Chicago’s Old Days this morning!

It wasn’t really much of a surprise for this is a (mostly) good times I remember season for me. You see, 32 years ago this week, I started Greek School at Columbia Theological Seminary, just down the road in Decatur, Georgia.

I began equipped with a good knowledge of English, enough rusty high school Spanish to introduce myself, find the bathroom, and say good night, an especially useful phrase when I worked in surgery, and a bit of American Sign Language, mostly of the pre-school and 4-letter word varieties.

Also, a 7 year-old son.

New place. New community. New neighbors. New traditions. Not to mention a new ancient language.

Just between us, the first couple of weeks were a real stretch. Not only was I NOT getting the hang of the Greek verbs, but I had babysitter challenges and a kid with strep throat and new doctor challenges. Oh, and a trip to the ER with a neighbor kid who was riding her bike without a helmet.

Then, on the morning after our first quiz, which had done nothing to ease my growing anxiety, the lights came on for me.

The word was blepo which is Greek for “I see.” And suddenly, I did! Here was a word I knew. A word I connected with. You see, blepo is used in the names of several eye surgery procedures. Suddenly, I had a friend.

A couple of days later, I looked around my kitchen in The Village and realized that I was handing out cookies to kids in 5 different languages, 4 of which I didn’t speak, and it was all working!

No Greek School this summer. Just a painting journey that reminds me a lot of those particular old days. (Don’t even ask me about Hebrew!)

Along with a big canvas and my favorite squirt bottle, this journey came equipped with a 2 page long vocabulary list.

Things like Apothecary, quantum super position, imaginal framework, curious observer, and creative composting. Also, my favorite, biophotons!

(Spelling doesn’t count!)

The painting, above, is a whole bunch of the first “day’s” work, which probably took me about 3. One of my friends responded, understandably, with, “Cool! What is it?”

Well, in the Intentional Creativity ® universe, it’s a path along the road to turning tragedies into remedies. To releasing the things that hold us back from the future we wish to move toward.

Once again, I see! And I can’t wait to see what comes next!

Who knew watching paint drip, and not trying to control it, could be so empowering???

I suspect those cookie munching kids in my kitchen all those years ago would have been pretty good at the paint drip thing, too. I’m just glad I’m coming around now!

Winner! Winner!

This post was published in its original version on July 10, 2017. If you’re new-ish around here, you many not have run into many recipes, but tomorrow is Independence Day in the USA and, while I have indeed been busy reflecting on that in a deeper sense, pattern learner that I am, I’m also reflecting on fried chicken.

Don’t run!!! I’ve been busy recomposing my list of go-to ingredients over the last few years. It’s been a bit of a challenge, as most new things are. Then I remember how much better I feel and I get up and do it again the next day.

Growing past a few personal tendencies toward food fundamentalism has been the biggest challenge for me. I’m grateful to be discovering, deep inside, how to join together the new things I’ve learned and the individual quirks I bring to the journey, all in relationship with a nearly gluten-free, diabetic husband who’s fond of 1000 Island salad dressing in a jar!

Learning where it works to wander occasionally toward the fringes, and where it really doesn’t, in light of the future I long for.

We made a bit of a trip in the direction of the fringes on the 4th of July.

I wanted fried chicken. It’s probably a genetic thing. (At least a recent one!) I did not want belly aches and swollen ankles. I did not want carb cravings or chemicals or trans fats.

Homemade was clearly in order.

The best wings I could buy. A few extra for the stock pot. Some research and a new theory for the dredging part of the plan. An extra set of hands in the kitchen.

It worked!!!

Grammy’s Best Wings Ever

Serves 2-3 adults for a main course.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

1-1 1/2 pounds chicken wings per person. Local, pastured, sustainably raised, if possible. Either save the wing tips for the stock pot, give them to a friend with raw fed dogs small enough to eat them safely, or discard them according to ancient Chinese wisdom. It’s up to you.

1 c. organic brown rice flour. (Or white, if you prefer.)

2 tsp. aluminum free baking powder.

2 tsp. good Celtic sea salt, plus extra for finishing.

1 tsp. freshly ground black or mixed peppercorns.

1 tsp. dried thyme.

1/2 – 1 tsp. ground chipotle pepper, if desired.

1 – 2 tsp. lemon zest, if desired.

Good, imported olive oil or other oil of your choice for frying. (You really can fry in olive oil!)

About 1/2 hour to 45 min. before cooking, remove wings from fridge and bring to cool room temp.

Mix all dry ingredients, plus lemon zest, if desired, in a medium sized bowl, adjusting seasoning as desired.

Heat about 1 inch of olive oil in large skillet, preferably cast iron, over just less than highest heat, adjusting to avoid smoking.

Toss about a quarter of the wing pieces in flour mix to coat.

Place wings in sieve and tap off extra flour.

Using tongs, add wings to hot skillet. (Be careful. They’ll pop!)

Fry until nicely golden brown and turn to second side. Continue to fry until golden brown.

Remove to sheet tray lined with parchment paper and a rack, if desired.

Continue coating and frying wing pieces until all are finished. (I used 2 trays with racks for this amount.)

Roast wings in preheated oven for 10 minutes.

Remove, checking a larger piece for doneness. Roast an extra 1-2 min. if needed.

Re-season with good sea salt.

Sprinkle with hot sauce if desired. Or, if you happen to be in Atlanta, drizzle with Bacon Jam from my friends at Pine Street Market and The Chop Shop.

Enjoy!

This is not the way my mom made fried chicken. Nor the way my grandmother did. It is a way that meets all those same sentimental, emotional needs for me, and Bill loves it, too.

Juicy. Tasty. Oddly hospitable.

Serve with lots of veg!

No guilt. No belly aches. No hobbling around the morning after.

Or, as my Food Network buddies would say, recalling historic Las Vegas: Winner, winner chicken dinner!

This, too, is Intentional Creativity!

 

 

Grammy Becomes a Cheerleader!

I was not a cheerleader as a girl. I was the one stalking the sidelines of whatever the event, scribbling frantically in a spiral notebook and nudging photographers in the direction of the pics I needed, glad that the attention was on the stars.

I was a yearbook and newspaper kid. Also student council. Not nearly as cool as a star, perhaps, but much more me.

This week, 40-some years later, I became a cheerleader. A cheerleader stalking the edges of a community pool, clutching my cell phone camera, and joining in on cheers echoing from my own school days.

I cheered for my girls, of course. And their swim team members. I also cheered for the visiting team. And I cheered especially hard for the ones who finished last and still rejoiced in cutting seconds off their previous times or trying really hard.

I cheered for all the good sports and for the shy kids brave enough to leap in and give their all, whatever the process at hand.

And I cheered for the young man with the neon yellow tutu, a vibrant image of all-in, though I have no idea whether he won his races or not.

I cheered for paintings of Cosmic Cat and Daisy Dog and for baking and a fabulous first guacamole lesson.

It was a week of good reminders for me that we can all do some cheerleading in our lives, even if we’re not the pleated mini-skirt or yellow tutu kinds of folks.

Sometimes cheerleading involves jumping around, yelling, and clapping our hands sore.

Sometimes it involves a quiet Way to hang in there! and the awareness that we all need to feel seen and heard and significant.

Sometimes it involves a bigger-than-usual tip for the kind guy with the wheelchair who got me safely through the maze of trains and elevators and ramps at Dulles Airport, while beaming about his son in college and the one in med school.

Here are a few more glimpses from our week. May you find chances for cheerleading in the weeks ahead, wherever you discover yourself!

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A Visit to Roy G. Biv

Kleenex alert…

We memorized a whole lot of things in my 9th grade biology class.

You probably remember the one about the very educated mother who just served her crowd nine pickles, in which case I suspect you’re still missing Pluto, too.

The entire kitchen patrol company of Girl Scouts business by which we learned the classification of animals and plants wasn’t my favorite. Especially the part about spelling them all in Latin.

I was however, a big fan of Roy G. Biv, also known as the colors of the rainbow.

That was before I knew the legend of our dear fur kids crossing the rainbow bridge when they leave this life.

We had one of those episodes this week when our beloved Sarah passed on. And writing this is hard because Sarah never met a stranger. She loved everybody and many, many of you loved her.

Honestly, I’m not up to all the details just yet. The important part is that the fear and the pain are past.

And, because we live in a house built before the “discovery” of seasonal affective disorder, which we’ve attempted to solve with lots of filtered skylights, there have been what feels like even more rainbows than usual.

There are two things I’m counting on right now. The first is a vision of Sarah romping under the rainbows on a gorgeous beach with a whole tribe of Newfoundland friends.

The second appeared in some words of wisdom from the young man who lives next door and is a paint buddy and a big fan of the studio angels.

“I don’t think you should be sad,” he said. “Sarah won’t hurt anymore.”

“I think you should be happy because of all the people she helped.”

While I’m practicing his particular form of wisdom, I’m painting and then, blessedly, heading off to spend a few days painting and baking and gluing buttons to things with my girls. There will also be swim team involved!

For today, a rainbow for you. And huge hopes for whatever comfort and peace you might be seeking.

Phoebe and Luther will fill you in when they rest up after Camp.

The painting pictured above is a Heart of Gold process known as Our Lady of Flowering Earth, gone completely rogue. I suspect Sarah is in charge!

 

 

The Days of Game Shows and Nancy Drew

Back in the dark ages, when I was a kid, I liked passwords. I liked the game show on TV that was fun to watch with my Granny. I also liked the sleuth-y sense of the Nancy Drew books.

I do not like passwords these days!

A recent encounter with a phishing scheme and some overlooked need for updates found me, trusted laptop in hand, at the Apple Genius store last week.

My personal genius was a delightful young woman who knew lots of things and was willing to repeat them as often as I asked, all while asking me to put in my password about 97 times.

She pushed a lot of keys having something to do with making malware go away, showed me some photo editing stuff (which is actually useful!) and even showed me how to know what a particular update would change.

Or at least what it was supposed to change.

I was feeling oddly comfortable. Enough to cruise through Dillards and snag a few of my all time favorite paint shirts at the 66% off Fathers Day sale. Yay!

Then, as instructed by the Genius, Bill did the big update, because apparently it took too long for me to take up space in genius land.

And, to his credit, it seems to work great.

Except for the minor fact that it kicked out all my passwords and doggedly insisted that I change them. As I mentioned, I do not like passwords these days.

Fast forward 4 days or so, and I’m still not enjoying the password thing. I’ve grown to actively despise the tattered little spiral notebook that’s never worked really well but was at least a place to start.

I have, however, spent way too much time feeling frustrated and pissed at whomever thought up this whole evil system.

Then, a new thought appeared like a miracle in some distant corner of my brain that wasn’t totally occupied with being annoyed.

I could get a new book! One chosen for it’s rather cool, old-ish design that almost has a Hobbit-like feel to it.

And I could take it with me on my trip to Grammy-land next week. You see, I know some girls who would be delighted to pick 3 or 4 random pages each and color me some surprise pictures in my snazzy new book.

I will probably still find passwords annoying, but I won’t mind looking them up and writing them down nearly so much.

And, way better even than that, my girls will have a chance to feel significant because they will truly be helping Grammy with something they’re no doubt better at than I am.

Win! Win! Win!

For now, I’m off to feed the dogs and hope that my friends at Amazon have made my magical new book appear so I can take its picture for you.

Magic, of many kinds, abounds!

Including the kind where Amazon doesn’t bring your magic book in time to post the blog so you whip out your magic cell phone, take a pic off the Amazon page, edit a bit, and post that! 

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