Hoping in the Face of Uncertainty

I would imagine that, at some point in your journey, you have hoped for something very much.

Perhaps it was a puppy. Or a baby brother. Or a new first grade teacher. Or a beloved child.

Perhaps it was knowing, deep in your soul, that you are loved.

(Feel free to fill in the blanks!)

Or, perhaps, it was hoping beyond hope that you could accomplish your dream, which is a bit problematic, assuming, as it does, that there is only one dream.

Sometimes, hoping is terrifying.

Tonight, I have decided not to be afraid.

I have decided to hope.

Not just emotionally or mentally, but with as much of myself as possible.

Which reminds me of a story…

One of my dearest friends is the guy who was my seminary pastoral counseling supervisor, my business partner, and still is one of my partners in trying to inject a bit of hope into the institutional church.

He has a granddaughter named Mary Elizabeth, which was, by chance, my grandmother’s name.

When she was learning to talk and interact with her world, she frequently insisted, “Mebbit doodit,” in the face of all the tall people trying to do things for her.

Tonight, I am channeling Mebbit.

I am taking care of the dogs. Making dinner happen. Painting prayer dots in thanks for an old friend who is marking 3 years free of cancer. And hoping against hope for an amazing opportunity for newness that I didn’t think would be available for me.

Many things have to be sorted out.

There isn’t much time.

And yet, I feel capable, calm, and ready for a new adventure into an ancient and totally new place.

There are details to work out.

Nothing is certain, yet.

And, in this moment, this Mebbit could use a bit of help dood-ing it.

But Mebbit believes, and so do I.

So, a bit of dinner.

Some more dots. (OK- lots!)

The risk of hope.

And 3 big dogs snoring gently on the floor while I try not to run over their toes with my fabulous wheeled painting chair in which I make the particular kind of  magic known as art.

May your magic abound also in the world.

And, thanks, Mebbit, for teaching me well!

Oh, parli Italiano?


“Mediums and Risky Glazes”

In the land of Cosmic Cowgirls, where I’ve been hanging out for just about a year, it’s step nine of the Intentional Creativity Method: The 13 Steps. 

Integrating: Mediums and Risky Glazes.

This is often a scary step – and there can be lots of resistance, so make light of it and at the same time let it be in the good kind of fear – where we are walking to the edge.  

– Shiloh Sophia McCloud

IMG_3798It’s the next step for my painting project known as Alchemist on this vision quest and, as I “suspect” the wizard-teacher intended, the next step for me, as well.

She/they dragged me out of bed at 2 am insisting that it was risky glaze time, just as soon as I got this blog post finished to explain the signs of virtual risky glazing you may be noticing on this website and my Facebook page.

You see, glazes are meant to, well, integrate elements of a painting (and the painter, herself!) into a new whole. And that’s what the new images and language you’ll find in my world are meant to do, too.

First, a story.

I joined, as my son proclaimed, the blog-o-sphere about three years ago. Clueless did not begin to describe!

Tools for the Journey, it was called in those days. Bits of my books, tips on boiling bones, the occasional political opinion when I was feeling really brave. Book reviews. Poems, prayers, and pictures of the garden. Quilts. Lots of them. Inspiration, especially aimed for folks about the business of grandmothering.

My girls would have been about 5 and 7-ish at the time.

Then, in January of 2017, helped along by the amazing author and artist, SARK,  I found language for what I thought I was doing.

I was The Fiercely Compassionate Grandmother. 

Oddly enough, I found that language… at least the fiercely compassionate part… in a book illustrated by Shiloh Sophia McCloud. Yep!

And the puzzle pieces of my life began to come together.

A new website was born. New images. New language. New business cards. Even t-shirts!

Before too long, there began to be blog posts about painting, amongst the more usual ones, for I set out on a pilgrimage.

No one was more surprised than I!

What was even more surprising than the realization that I could actually learn to paint something other than walls, was the stunning awareness that I had wandered into a cosmos in which I discovered an amazing new tool for doing what I so longed to do… helping those who identified, in whatever way, with the Grandmother archetype to become one of those five people for their kids and, maybe, for the world.

And that requires another story, which you can read here. Just come right back, because we’re getting to the exciting part!!!

Have you ever made bone broth?

It’s a lot like life! Bits and pieces of things, not all of them terribly appealing on their own, a magical container, and the addition of energy over time. Depending on your particular container, lots of time.

And some help along the way. Especially if, like me, you happen to have a stock pot so big you can’t lift it all by yourself!

Which is a lot like realizing I can’t be The fiercely compassionate grandmother to the whole world. (Duh!)

The world needs lots and lots of fiercely compassionate grandmothers. Literal ones. Community ones. Thrilled ones. Reluctant ones. Archetypal ones. Young. Old. Women. Even men, if they’re very brave. Appalled, passionate ones who care deeply about things like justice and self-expression and an honest-to-goodness global community, ready to set about making stardust soup out of the situational angst of our world.

Everything I’ve ever learned has led to this moment.

My calling is to call the circle. To support and encourage as many fiercely compassionate grandmothers as possible. And to teach those who are curious about the miraculous ways fierce compassion and our own dreams can be set loose with magic wands like paintbrushes. And dots. Lots of dots.

So here we are. Fiercely Compassionate Grandmothers. Welcome!!! If you want to be here, you belong. (We might even make some new t-shirts!)

Honestly, I’m still sorting out details like emails and domain names and exactly what to change, when.

There will be lots of opportunities ahead. Bowls of stardust soup. Working with me individually. Workshops. Even videos, once I figure out the technology!

And retreats, like Grammy Camp. I can’t wait!

Soon. After that little business about literal risky glazing. And, perhaps, a nap!





Paint for healing… and fun!

Yesterday was a big day at my house!

Six fabulous, creative women signed on for an Intentional Creativity journey deep into their own hearts and the heart of the world.

We passed the red thread and pondered stories and painted new reality into being.

We also snacked and laughed and cried.

And prayed in dots. Lots of dots.

And got to know ourselves just a bit better.

Today, I’m pretty tired. And happy dancing in my heart.

(It’s easier on the knees that way!)

Watch for more details as time goes on. And opportunities to join in!

For now, here’s what I learned:

Talking and painting at the same time is a bit of a challenge!

Definitely can’t do both of those things and munch as well, so I ended up pretty hungry.

And I can, indeed, paint bee wings!!!

Many of you have been curious about what I’m up to so I wanted to share this video with you. It’s my teacher, Shiloh Sophia McCloud, dancing with paint and talking about Intentional Creativity. I hope you’ll be as amazed by the possibilities in it as I am.

You’re joyfully invited to visit my Facebook Author page to check out some new art and meet my own Tree of Life painting. Would love to have you “like” the page if you haven’t yet, and share with your friends.

And meet me back here Wednesday for an adventure… we’re remodeling!



I am in the universe.

The universe is in my body.

The universe and I are one.

Thus begins a favorite Spring Forest Qigong meditation.

My Rabbit Hole journey, which is drawing to a close, changed things, as Rabbit Holes generally do.

A magnificent space. Stunning gardens. Music flowing with peace. Gentle gongs keeping fascinating people on a journey together. (Or mostly!) Delicious food, elegant in its simplicity.

And as close at it seems 10 people might come to a virtual absence of inner critics!

Just people gently making space for each other to take care of themselves. No shame. No blame. No pressure.

It feels rather like a miracle!

Healing of a powerful sort, thanks to old friends and new from Learning Strategies.

I knew when I signed up for this particular Rabbit Hole excursion that it would be a stretch for me, activity-wise.

And it was.

I also know that stretching is how we get stronger. More whole.

There have been times in the past when I wasn’t sure I could stretch any farther without breaking. Until I tried.

And then, just in the last few weeks, the painting, above, was born inside me.

Two perspectives, different on the surface, encountering each other on the path called Color of Woman.

This weekend, image and language came together. An unexpected combination of Intentional Creativity and intentional movement. Plus a bit of geography!

I am in the universe.

The universe is in my body.

The universe and I are one.

Words I’ve known for several years.

Now I know what it looks like. I am changed. And my world feels a whole lot bigger!

Come back here Wednesday to meet the frogs. And the wonder of contentment!

The dogs will be home from Camp, too!


The FOMO plague returns!

Just before Thanksgiving, last year, I shared a bit about a case of what my wise friend, Yasmin Nguyen of The Joyful Living Project, refers to as FOMO. Or, Fear of Missing Out. Rather like the fear of not being enough, with which many of  us struggle, at least occasionally, FOMO is a plague that returns especially in times of stress or impending change.

I seem to have had another attack.

In one sense, I’m not all that surprised. In a rather odd way, my recent FOMO symptoms may have been both the result of “a bit” of stress in our world and the outcome of a lot of newness.

Here’s what I can tell you… I got all wrapped around the axle again about what to eat, which is kind of ironic, all things considered.

I know a lot about food. Especially the local, organic, sustainably raised kind. I’ve written a couple of food memoirs/cookbooks. I’ve gotten quite adept at juggling some fairly diverse eating patterns in our family. And I’m determined to model food sanity for my girls!

Nonetheless, I found myself hunting, not for new strategies or ingredients so much, as for the answer. Which, in many ways, is generally a trap.

I forgot that we’re all different. I forgot that there are actual limits to what can be accomplished with a magic wand.

And, I forgot that just about everybody with an opinion on the subject of food is trying to sell something.

Supplements, often. Magic fat-melting tea, inexplicably full of things like xylitol. Miracles claiming to make everything easy. Miracles that are often far away from being actual food.

So, I read a lot of books. And spent some money. And got oddly less connected to myself.

All the while, I was learning other door opening things. Things having to do more with paint than with food. With physics and deep wisdom. With the created world. And with profound connections between past and present.

And then one day the new things I was learning began to heal my FOMO plague.

I picked up a book I’d read 10 years or so ago. In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan who, to the best of my knowledge, is only selling books.

Pollan has written a couple of more recent books. I’ll report back when I’ve read them. But, for tonight, Pollan’s three point plan for turning down the shaming, blaming chorus that lives in so many of us about food. Are you ready?

  • Eat food.
  • Not too much.
  • Mostly plants.

That, I can wrap my head around.

Now, before you run screaming to the place with the golden arches, Pollan is not anti-animal protein. (Which would be difficult, to say the least, at my house.)

His focus in on real food. As close to nature as possible. We’re pretty good at that, except when we’re not.

He also makes a strong argument for variety, which way works for me.

And, at the same time, his work is a good reminder that too many absolutes tend to make us cave in and lust after brightly colored things that are a very long way from food and much closer to science projects.

I feel back on track again.

Centered. Calm.

Back to making choices that have integrity for me. That fit with my values. Many of them all at once.

Things seem clearer again.

There’s an enormous pot of bone broth on my stove and all those veg I bought during my well-invested hour on Wednesday have actually been eaten and enjoyed.

Tomorrow, more hunting and gathering.

Tonight, gratitude for things to be learned, even from outbreaks of FOMO. And dots to make!

ps – Just in case you’re intrigued by the Intentional Creativity stuff… here’s a link to a new course I’m really excited about! www.codexcourse.com



Alchemy in the real world!

If you look at a calendar, or even out the window, you will notice that it’s the middle of August. Time for making a last trip to the beach. Closing up the cabin. Stocking up on school supplies. Getting ready for the Qigong retreat. And, depending on where you live, drooling over garden catalogs for fall and winter planting.

It is, in my world, also time for contemplating new moons and journeys winding to a close/start.

And, today, it’s time for alchemy. With paint brushes, certainly. And, especially, in the kitchen. Today, I am boiling bones.

You see, Spike needs some soup.

IMG_4127Spike is an old guy who’s having a tough time. He looks a lot like Spike Too. Spike Too was rescued this week and taken to his new home where he is now in charge of greeting.

I am in charge of soup.

Or, more specifically, bone broth, which is one of the things in my medicine basket. And one of the things that just insisted on showing up in my Legend painting, back toward the beginning of my Color of Woman journey through the world of Intentional Creativity.

Soup doesn’t “fix” everything. It does, for many, many of us, make life’s journeys easier.

So here, at the special request of my very talented photographer friend, Kristen Alexander, is a contemporary, minimalist version of the alchemical formula for turning bones into comfort and major nutrition for your 4-footed, carnivore friends.

And a quote from one of my wise Red Madonna teachers, Havi Brysk Mandell:

What if we could be passionately and openly curious about what is in our own medicine basket? 

While nobody loves a battered, patina-ed, old stock pot more than I do, I’ve developed quite a fondness for an 8 quart Instant Pot Duo when it comes to this kind of project. Please adjust times and amounts according to your particular equipment and process.

Place 2 – 3 pounds of grass-fed beef “bones” into your pot. A mix of rib and knuckle bones, some beef tendons if you can get them, beef feet if they fit in your pot (or lamb feet if you can find them), leftover bones (not spit upon!) from cooked steak/roast beef, etc. will work. I especially like short ribs and beef tendons for this.

You could also use chicken, lamb, or goat bones, depending on what’s available. Even venison or rabbit. A mix of roasted and raw is great! Feet and necks are healthy, inexpensive options. Choose the cleanest, highest quality bones you can find. Grass/pasture raised, local, sustainably farmed, etc.

Add aromatics as desired. (Not all herbs are appropriate for pets. If in doubt, or trying to address any particular conditions, ask your vet!) I use 2 – 3 fresh bay leaves and about a nickle sized bundle of thyme from my garden. Carrot feathers, parsley stems, celery, etc. can also be used but are not necessary. Most experts suggest not using onions or garlic for pets.

Add 1/4 c. organic apple cider vinegar “with the mother”, which pulls helpful nutrients from the bones, plus cold water to the fill line of your Instant Pot or about 2 inches from top of a standard stock pot.*

If using an electric pressure cooker, set it for 2 hours at high pressure. Allow the pressure to release naturally. Cool, enough to strain. Please do NOT feed your pet cooked bones! 

*If cooking on the stove top, longer is better. Bring to gentle boil. Skim and discard any foamy stuff that forms on top. Reduce heat to simmer. Tiny bubbles! Cook 12- 16 hours for poultry broth, up to 24 hours for beef, etc.

Chilling is important. Insiders use a chill stick to speed cooling, which is simply a small, stainless water bottle with a screw-on lid, about 2/3 full of water and frozen in advance.  When the side of your pot is comfortable to hold your hand against, place it, covered, in the fridge.  A really good batch will look a lot like jello when  thoroughly chilled.

You may pick out any meaty or cartilage bits to feed your pet, if desired. Most of the nutrients are already in the broth but, especially if they are ill or old, and having trouble eating, they may enjoy the cooked bits. Our three Newfie rescues are raw fed so, while I add bone broth to their diet for joint and immune protection, I don’t feed them cooked meat. Again, if in doubt, ask your vet.

That’s it! Gather. Cook. Strain. Chill. Make your fur-baby happy.

Store broth in fridge for up to 5 days or in freezer for up to 6 months. I freeze in BPA-free plastic and leave an inch of head space for expansion as it freezes. Be sure to label!

And, for versions of bone-boiling alchemy your human family will enjoy, see my Amazon bestseller, Let’s Boil Bones… available in Kindle books and coming soon in paperback.




Minding Mama!

Legend, and a few of my seminary professors, hold that the famous Swiss Reformed theologian, Karl Barth (1886-1968), once said something pretty close to, “We do theology with a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other.”

A bit of rooting around some dusty corners of the internet reveals that the specific quote is hard to trace, but that Barth shared variations of the thought in several letters and interviews.

I’ve carried those words around in my mental backpack of things I don’t leave home without for decades.

In the last few days, they’ve become even more true for me. (Which suggests that Tillich was right, but that’s a subject for a different day!)

You see, I’ve been hanging out with Bella Mama.

Bella Mama is, in one sense, a painting class. A gracious gift from the amazing Shiloh Sophia McCloud and my friends in Intentional Creativity land.

A madonna, perhaps. Mother Earth. The Divine Feminine. A symbol of different things for each of us and, yet, a powerful reminder of the absolute human need for mama-ing.

And (Let’s be real!) as I’m a bit behind on my Color of Woman journey, she’s been following me around for a few weeks now, dropping hints about how she would like to take form and why she matters so much in this moment.

First, she whispered to me that she is fierce compassion.

Then, she proclaimed that the US border immigration disaster in this moment, also known as “the newspaper”, is a serious hint about her message.

Then, truly, I was wandering through Kudzu one day, combining a bit of intentional walking with an artist date, and I saw her.

There she sat, on a lovely console table of rustic wood, a stunning pottery statue from Mexico, waiting for me to notice.

Then, she started stalking my dreams in an encouraging sort of way while I watched the videos and sang along and painted all the under layers of meaning and energy.

When we moved on to form, she had to hold my hand while my inner critic showed up with her usual temptations toward way more realism than I truly want or am likely to be able to produce.

“You have a cell phone with a fancy camera for realism,” she told me.

“This is about your heart and mine.”

Well, of course, she was right. As was Shiloh, reminding me that anything can be painted over.

And, wow, has this one been painted over!

It’s time for more purple glaze. A bit of drying time.

And a vivid reminder of the moment I quit coloring my hair.

It was just after Kenzie was born and the kids lived in Scotland. I did the math and figured out that about two and a half trips to the land of highlights and lowlights would pay for a trip to rock my baby!

Or, in the case of Bella Mama, the dreaded metalic silver paint I put in her hair late last night was taking over everything and I’ve spent most of the morning, at her insistence, nudging it back to something that blends just a bit better, visually.

No judgement. Who knows what she’ll decide tomorrow?

For today, it’s the little ones whose stories aren’t even showing up in the newspaper these days, the little ones who will be sheltering under her cloak, that she wants you to see. (Though it looks like that will be the next time you meet. Mama knows best!)




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