Where the Past Meets the Future

Do you remember Good Housekeeping magazine from when you were a kid?

We moved around a lot and my mom, who clearly missed her family and friends, was always delighted when it appeared in the mail.

My sister and I preferred McCall’s with its paper doll named Betsy, whom we added, on alternate months, to our collections.

It definitely hasn’t been a shiny magazine kind of year in my world!

“Housekeeping” consists of kitchens, bathrooms, and enough floor sweeping to minimize what you probably think of as dog hair but we fondly refer to as “texture” in the paintings.

Recipes are mainly variations on the bone broth theme with trips for sushi and chicken wings on rough days.

Though my 8-year-old granddaughter is apparently longing for gluten-free pecan pie for Thanksgiving!

Research was involved and the chosen solution is already winging its way, courtesy of Amazon. I figure baking with the girls counts even if my mom and granny are having apoplexy somewhere in the great beyond.

Kind of ironically, though, I got an email with my new Good Housekeeping-esque seal of approval today and, I have to admit, I’m thrilled!

Not as a sign of comparison. Of better or worse. Or right or wrong.

In my opinion, our world is way too full of labels like that.

Rather, I’m thrilled in the sense of being part of a group of gifted, dedicated women out to make the world a better place for us all.

Yesterday, in response to the tragic, deadly fires in California, the Intentional Creativity Guild re-posted a process for helping people process natural disasters. I shared it on my Facebook pages. (Respond to this post, below, if you’d like a PDF.)

Then, because I deeply believe in the power of the process, I messaged it to a small group of friends, all of whom happen to be Presbyterian pastors in varying stages of retirement or planning.

I got a message back today from one of those friends who said they’d had three teen suicides in their community this year, one of them in the youth group, and he was wondering about adapting the process a bit for helping some of the kids and their families.

Assuring him that I would be honored to help, if needed, I gave thanks, again, for all the things I’ve learned and the ways we can shift the world for good even when it doesn’t look  like there’s a whole lot of good in the news.

All of which is to say that this symbol, the one above, is one I will feel blessed and proud to wear, as the old joke goes, on my forehead.

Tomorrow, housekeeping of the literal persuasion, laundry, dog food, and bowls of stardust soup for lunch.

(Well, technically brodo misto with rice and local sausage, but you get the drift.)

And, Friday, more paint! (Probably more laundry, too!)

Let’s all pick the labels we want!

 

How Things Get Better

I’m guessing you know the old saying, Put your money where your mouth is!

Well, today is one of those days for me. Actually, it’s been one of those weeks.

I’m really glad I know the wise old man at the top of the mountain because it’s been a week full of trip after trip up the mountain where there’s tea and a whole lot of we don’t know whether this is good news or bad news.

We had our online Graduation party from Intentional Creativity’s Color of Woman training which was lots of fun. And sad.

Not only for endings, which are often bittersweet, but because one of our sisters lost her house in the California wildfires.

She and her family are safe. What she owns, in this moment, is the contents of the suitcase she took with her on the in-person graduation adventure.

The print of one of my paintings, which I had ordered as kind of a test, arrived yesterday. It’s great. So much better than my previous print experience! Legend has a mini-me! Whole new possibilities are opening. (Stay tuned!)

My classmate lost all of her paintings in the fire, which tears at my heart.

I’m delighted to have three friends coming to paint with me this week.

And I’m working on a painting for a dear and gifted friend who is leaving Tuesday to move away. Some of the dots in that one are tears.

My Initiate Book arrived yesterday. I’m thrilled, even with the couple of things I’ll change as soon as I recover from the first edition!

Bill went helpfully off to a parking lot today to pick up dog food which, for reasons that still aren’t quite clear, won’t appear until Thursday. PLEASE don’t mention this to the beasties who get anxious when the groceries get low.

I feel totally blessed to be looking forward to Thanksgiving with our kids and — just between us — wishing I wasn’t going to be home alone this week doing all the getting ready things.

All of which is to say that there’s hard stuff even in the midst of all the joyous stuff and, because we are connectional beings, often Kleenex is involved.

I contemplated hatching up some cheerful, funny, poetic sort of story to tell you today but that’s not how we change things for the better.

We change things for the better by being real and standing together. I’m really glad you’re here!!!

 

 

 

 

Too Close to Call

Today, I do not want to be a reasonable, rational blogger. Today, I want to rant and rave and call names, but I do not believe in that. And I don’t want to model it for my girls.

And so, instead, I am making a gratitude list.

The Democrats have taken back the House, which is becoming more diverse in its membership, for which I am grateful.  Not a perfect situation, in my opinion, as many Democrats are, shall we say, far from perfect, but better than where we’ve been.

We’re still counting votes in Georgia. (Which is an issue for a whole other day.) A progressive, black, Democratic woman may still be elected  governor. I’d feel better about this if her opponent was not in charge of counting the votes. (Another of those issues for another day.)

I made a lot of new friends during this campaign, wandering around with my Stacey Abrams button and chatting with new and unlikely voters about things that matter. And waved at a whole lot of babies.

Students at Atlanta’s Morehouse College were waiting in line to vote at 11 pm, committed to being heard.

I kept my promise to my girls, who are growing up in this world.

Granted, the changes  I believe need to be made are going to take a while longer.

But, Bernie Sanders got re-elected in Vermont and who knows what that might mean.

I have gotten a great deal more willing to speak out about the things that matter in the face of the need for peace and justice and civil rights in this nation. It’s a grandmother thing.

And, I’ve learned to make prayer dots.

A practice that does not hide from the world but, rather, faces the struggles and acts in hope.

I’ll be making a lot of dots today.

Along with a couple of pots of shrimp and crab broth. And a frittata with local, pasture raised eggs, left-over organic roasted veg and some over-the-moon local, artisanal duck and fig sausage.

I’ll keep voting with my wallet.

And with my faith in the future.

2020, here we come. Many of us with paintbrushes in hand!

 

Ready for New Experiences!

I’ve graduated from a lot of things in my life. I hold two Associate degrees and was, for many years, a registered nurse. More school and a truckload of student loans resulted in a whole bunch of alphabet soup which translates, in case you’re curious, into Bachelor of Arts,  Master of Divinity and  Doctor of Ministry degrees.

This week, I graduated from Color of Woman 2018. I am, officially, a teacher of Intentional Creativity.

I’m really excited!

And, there’s a party. Many of my paint sisters are in Hawaii. The rest of us will join in on Zoom. The directions include “dressing up”. I’m busting out the fancy velvet trappings from the last graduation… and a bit of bubbly. The studio angels have all rsvp’d and are resting up in anticipation, eager, I’m sure, for the promised treats.

Luther may not know it, but he’s been helping me get ready. He’s an excellent role model for what happens when one lets go and allows themselves to have a new experience. These days he actually enjoys meeting new people and being rubbed and petted, which is a miracle, given where he was when he arrived in our lives.

Luther’s new engagement in life didn’t come from him guilt-tripping himself. It didn’t come from me telling him how he ought to be.

Part of it came, I suspect, from experiencing his sisters be with people and be ok.

And a lot of it came from taking tiny new steps, one after the other.

If you’ve been hanging around for a while, you may have heard about a guy named Bill Harris who helped me understand that we pretty much have to have new experiences in order to shift our ways of being.

We’re all busy perceiving our universe through complicated sets of filters such as beliefs, values, language, and so forth. Most of the filtering in unconscious. When we have a new experience there’s an opportunity for new information to get through our filters and begin to shift our map of reality which, in turn, creates the possibility of new responses to life and new choices for the future.

Or, if you prefer, it’s kind of a right brain-left brain thing.

Some of you have been sitting on my couch or in my rocking chairs, sipping tea and looking for change for years. While you were learning, I was learning, too.

Our filters are so strong that talking ourselves into having a new experience is often very hard. We have to actually DO something different. Preferably something that engages us at many levels of awareness.

Pick up a paintbrush. Write a poem. Start a journal. Learn to build furniture. Become a quilter. Plant a garden. Compose music. Make a pot of soup. Find an intentional way to take what’s useful from old stories and manifest them into something you can see or feel or hear and want in your life.

Suddenly, many new things become possible!

I’m all ready for next. And, for those of you in the US, just in case you haven’t yet, please stop on your way to the art store or the journal store or the kitchen or even to the basement to find your fabric stash, and vote. Intentionally.

Pacing in the Waiting Room!

I wasn’t too good at being pregnant.

Part of that was, no doubt, context. Newly single. Stressed. Scared. No real idea of what the future held. The only thing I knew for sure is that I loved and fiercely adored the wee being growing inside me.

Another part of that was, by all accounts, genetic. There’s a long history, on my Mom’s side of the family, of what we used to call Toxemia, but now refer to as pre-eclampsia.

High blood pressure. Major food restrictions. And really, really, really fat ankles.

Timing Braxton-Hicks contractions every night for a week before I finally went into active labor.

Then, I rang the big red bell and had grand mal seizures in labor. I’ll spare you the details. Let’s just say that Dave and I made it and I feel hugely blessed.

I’m kind of back in that place just now, pregnant with a book and a new way of being in the world.

My ankles are better this time!

I’m reminded, though, of the Braxton-Hicks experience, in these days.

My Initiate Book, or graduation project, for Color of Woman is out of my control, in this moment, off in the land of electronic formatting.

Soon, it will be time for editing, which is when the next part of my labor will begin.

Well, not begin, so much, as actually result in a birth.

Until then, I am practicing the fine arts of asking for help and releasing the need for control.

For now, I am waiting. Waiting on a wise and talented friend to make her magic, even in the midst of several life complications of her own. Aided by a bit of pimento cheese!

Today, I have coped by binge watching Grey’s Anatomy and plotting Intentional Creativity workshop dates in my calendar. I’m also having occasional fantasies about video workshops, which seem, for now, to be shouted down by my inner critic reminding me that it hasn’t been a good week for me in tech land.

It’s been chilly and rainy, which makes the floors wet and the big dogs happy.

A couple of domestic projects have been crossed off the list.

I have a plan hatching for the first few weeks in November. Bookkeeping and connection building will be involved. And an exploration of the Colorful Scars painting workshop. And rest. And lots of bone broth. Somehow, the freezer is bare!

In this moment, my phone is feeling seriously empowered by my checking every 5 or 6 minutes for messages.

Tonight, some marathon dog grooming. And an Italy flashback, complete with local, artisanal Coppa, a very fine Italian Asiago raw milk cheese, and some Georgia organic sourdough crackers.

Next on my list… learning how to slipcover a wing back chair which I might just need to know shortly. There is a granddaughter involved!

For now, pacing in the waiting room!

Life is complicated. Making a difference is good.

 

 

A Bit of Back Story…

In 1990, I graduated from the Master of Divinity program at Columbia Theological Seminary, got married, and received a call to serve the St. John Presbyterian church in Fayetteville, TN as their solo pastor, all within one week.

Bill and I spent a fair chunk of our honeymoon with the Examination Committee of the Presbytery of Middle Tennessee, which was interesting, but not terribly romantic.

Then, we went back to Atlanta with just a matter of days before we needed to be ready to move.

Finding a mover was a whole other challenge. As they wandered through my apartment and Bill’s dorm room, the most frequent comment was, “Why do you have all these books??? Nobody needs this many books!”

Frustrated, and trying desperately to get sermons planned for my first few weeks in St. John’s pulpit, I finally told one of the movers that I didn’t need opinions about how many books we had. I just needed to know how much it was going to cost to get them to Tennessee!

When he burst out laughing, I decided he was the guy for us.

We rented a house, sight-unseen, for Fayetteville was not remotely a hot market for renters and there was what there was. On our first day in “town” we had a massive tire blow-out which resulted in Bill changing the tire on the edge of the road with commentary from the resident cows.

We were, as my old friend Dorothy exclaimed, “not in Kansas anymore, Toto!”

Now, it’s more than a bit possible that you’re wondering why I’m telling you this story today.

That’s easy!

You see, I’m back in just such an experience of quantum change in my universe, with graduation from Color of Woman galloping toward me.

And I’m certain of very little except that whatever comes next is what I am called to be and do and create.

Okay, I’m also certain that I have a wee bit of writing, a truckload of proofreading, and way more than the optimal amount of photo sorting to accomplish in what feels like the next 27 minutes.

And there are some things they forgot to tell me in school!

So yesterday, surprisingly, I painted. The CODEX painting which, thus far, looks very night sky-ish. (Also a lot like my favorite paint pants!) Dots and dots and more dots. Dots of gratitude. And, as I painted, I realized that it was the first time I’d really painted since before I left for Italy.

It felt great!

Today, Bill and I unloaded 60 pounds of dog food into the freezer, accompanied by an enthusiastic chorus of tail wagging. More to come tomorrow.

Tonight, fabulous butternut squash soup in a base of homemade beef broth.

And gallons of the digital version of red ink.

Change is always stressful, even when it’s change that we long for with all our hearts. It’s also the only way to get where we’ve never been before.

I’m pretty tired. And in, all the way!

ps… Luther wanted me to tell you that he’s working on a blog post. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

Old Friends Whispering…

Many of you know, and some of you have been right there with me, that for about the last year, I have been deeply engaged in a program for certifying Intentional Creativity teachers, known as Color of Woman, or COW for short.

It has been, in the understatement of the century, quite the journey!

You’ve read my stories and seen at least bits and pieces of the images that have flowed from my soul to my brush to the world.

There is “one more” project left to complete.

“One more” is in quotes because there are still a few individual projects lurking within the enormous project known as the Initiate Book.

The Initiate Book is basically a digital journal, in words and images, of the vision quest that has framed this last year.

It has a great deal of structure in terms of what is required and a great deal of freedom in terms of how to meet the requirements. And, by the way, it’s due November 1.

Oh, and lots of mine changed — or grew, perhaps — while I was in Italy!

Which is, I suspect, why the freedom of this project has been freaking me out. Seriously!

(And that is rather an odd statement coming from me.)

There are paintings and journals and blog posts and photos and zillions of index cards everywhere I look and my job, in this moment, is to finish, organize and label ALL of them so that the dear friend who actually pushes the buttons to make it beautiful and get it uploaded doesn’t feel trapped in the mythical land of scrap quilts, as I do in this moment.

I had stacks of things on every horizontal surface in our house, which might have worked except that we played Furniture Yahtzee again last weekend and everything got moved, and re-stacked.

Imagine my delight.

And recall that I’m not, historically, a very fast learner when it comes to tech-y things like files and folders and the hypothetical miracles of Dropbox, which I still haven’t figured out but apparently need to. Now.

I’ve been bouncing about from this to that and back to this, color coding check marks on my magic sample table of contents, which seemed like a good idea but hasn’t turned out to be very clear.

My flow-y, creative right brain was getting frantic, so I took a leap of faith and asked for help!

After a lesson in sorting and organizing, along with tea and really good dark chocolate (Thank you, Leisa!) I had an idea.

I could do this in order. Top to bottom. Right off the list of requirements. (Which is not at all how it happened in real life or how it feels inside!)

Laugh, if you need to. I am feeling hugely grateful to my blessed linear left brain for flinging itself into the artsy and well written tangle of my universe with an actual plan.

I suspect more tea and chocolate will be required. And plenty to share with my Muse, as well, who nudged me out of bed at about 5:30 this morning with one of her trademark “next right thing” notions.

For now, it’s time to get back to work.

As my old friends C.S. Lewis and Julian of Norwich are whispering in my ear…

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well. 

 

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