Giving Thanks!

After three days of hail storms and tornadoes in the area and trees down over wide parts of town, I am blessed to be able to say that the house didn’t fall on us and the trees didn’t fall on the house. (Read that new roof and solar panels!)

Today is grey and gloomy, with an in-between feeling about it. Like waiting for whatever is next.

The beasties are anxious.

Malicious elves somehow climbed into my laptop and made all my favorite bookmarks disappear. (This is NOT a happy event!)

What I had planted in the garden looks pretty beat up.

Bill went to the Farmers Market with 10 things on his list and came home with two. This is a statement about existential weirdness in the neighborhood, not about Bill!

Blessedly, the space in our house formerly known as the breakfast room which now most resembles an appliance showroom, has two freezers in it!

Thus, our menu for this evening… thawed stuff on a bun with real tomatoes!

My calendar is running over with tech-y things inclined to make me want to hide.

The atmospheric pressure is still out of wack because of the weather which makes the things that hurt, hurt more than usual.

Here’s the weird thing… It’s all good!

Today I got to tell the person who’s been my best friend since the first day of seventh grade, “Happy Birthday!” despite a previous adventure with a very nasty brain aneurysm.

My Soul Expression Breakthrough group is doing amazing work as we round the bend to the future.

Gloria, my Intentional Creativity/Seminary intern, has finished her last class before graduation! (Details to follow…)

My painting of John Lewis has told me what comes next!

And, odd as this may seem, I have words for what I do!

Are you ready?

(Am I?)

Here goes…

You know how we get stuck sometimes and all the stories and tips and rules we’ve learned don’t help us to see what’s next?

Well, that’s what I do! I help women, many of them grandmothers, use the creativity deep in their souls to nurture the lives they long for! ®

There will be lots of examples, and opportunities to join in, coming soon. And I’m here if you have questions.

For this moment, the beasties are hungry and there’s only one answer to that. Sardines!

ps… Oh, and blessings for you and yours… from the early days of a Legend painting.

pps… If you haven’t joined the blog mailing list yet, and are curious about what’s coming, now would be a great time! Just click that annoying thing that usually drives you nuts while you’re reading and join the family!

What are we learning?

Living with a 165# dog who sees with his heart is a bit of a challenge sometimes.

Luther, as you may have heard, has been expanding his perceived parts of the house lately. I’m delighted. Mostly.

The fact that he and Phoebe spend a lot of time camped on the rubber mat in what serves as our family room can be a navigational challenge, especially on less than optimal orthopedic days, even though I just love having them there.

He’s really good at the door they use to get out back and he knows exactly where his placemat is for the canine fine dining experience. (I’ll spare you the details!)

Last night, though, he went on an adventure. I could hear him wandering and tried our usual strategy in which I call his name and tap on a piece of furniture to give him something to follow.

Somehow, though, we weren’t making much progress.

Finally, I went hunting.

He was all the way down the hall at the door to our room, doing his tap dance thing and wagging his tail.

That was quite the adventure for him!

As it was a couple of hours or so before anyone was likely to go to bed, I called him to come back down the hall with me.

He stayed put, wagging.

Being a huge believer in choice and opportunities to learn, I rubbed his ears and left him to explore.

Not too much later, I heard him making his way back up the hall.

Step. Step. Sniff. Step. Step. Bump wall.

He was working it out!

I added in some voice cues and a bit of chair tapping.

Eventually, he was safely back on the rug, curled up with Phoebe, while The West Wing played on.

As many of you know, I’m convinced that context is a critical factor in making meaning out of things.

Earlier in the day I had chatted with a friend who just had her second vax and was doing quite well.

Before that, I had checked out CNN‘s assertions that having the vax was, indeed, important, followed, before too long, by some conversation about conservative, evangelical pastors loudly taking the other side of the issue.

It occurred to me, after considerable watching and listening and pondering context, that we’re all a lot like Luther in this moment. A world full of things we’ve never experienced before. No real certainty about the path from here to there. Sometimes, even, the sense that we’re feeling our way along on our own.

In some ways, the world is always like that. These days, though, most of us are a lot more aware of not knowing.

Our children may be even harder to teach than my enormous, blind dog.

Here’s where I think we start:

  • It’s okay to feel what we feel.
  • We get to choose what to do with our feelings.
  • Not everybody will feel like we feel.
  • That’s okay.
  • There are lots of things to do with our feelings that don’t hurt us or others. (Art, music, tears… you’ll know.)
  • What we feel now won’t last forever. And, we get to learn from it.
  • When we feel scared or mad or sad, it helps us understand others.

When I think about how brave and wise Luther is, even with all he’s been through, it inspires me. And makes me want to help others.

Which, if we try really hard and listen with our hearts, may turn out to be what we all learn most in this moment. That, and new skills for finding our way.

ps… Spring has sprung in our garden!

pps… There’s still time to get in on the postcard party Tuesday evening! Live music and (me) painting. Just click here for all the info. We need all the Good Trouble we can get and you KNOW you want to help change the world!

Oh, Holy Wow!

You know how sometimes things are so amazing that just trying to tell someone about them doesn’t do them justice?

Kind of like the difference between a really nice picture of an olive tree in Tuscany and actually being there and smelling the air and feeling the ancient bark?

Well, this is one of those times.

Yesterday I was watching paint videos. At least that’s what I thought I was doing. Instead, I got something very different.

But first a quick trip in the way-back machine…

It was last summer and the wild fires were raging in California, along with power outages and evacuations.

My friends and teachers, Shiloh Sophia McCloud and Jonathan McCloud, were up to their eyebrows in evacuations. And there was a paint journey in progress. Adaptability was in order.

Shiloh was inspired to share a video for Moon 6 of the Psalms of Creation adventure, also known as Red Madonna.

I, a disbeliever in being behind, saw the video for the first time, yesterday, and all I can say is that the time was perfect and I am changed.

With thanks to the magic of YouTube, I can actually share the experience with you, instead of trying to tell you about it, which would probably involve more tears.

I have, of course, no notion of what it will say to you. It might push some buttons. If so, I hope you’ll consider hanging with the journey to see how it all comes out.

I’ve been saying this a lot lately, but it matters. And, as I write those words, I imagine Mama Cloud nodding.

So, with love and huge hope…

ps… For those of you beginning Soul Expression Breakthrough with me on Tuesday, I’m so hoping you’ll watch this before we start. If you’re interested, but not signed up, let me know. There’s a new group starting soon! suesvoice@gmail.com

The Way-back Machine…

On Friday, Bill hand delivered our vote-by-mail ballots. Yes, it sounds like a bit of an oxymoron, but we live in Georgia and I’m not taking any chances. At least not unnecessary ones.

No chances with the pandemic in a state with debatable leadership and intentionally unreliable Covid statistics, added to an unfortunate personal tendency toward pneumonia.

No chances with voting in a state known for voter suppression and targeted polling place closings.

While Bill was off doing his best to insure that our voices would be heard, I was on to my first semi-major, virtual Intentional Creativity® workshop, courtesy of the gang at Zoom. Our project was Soulful Vision Plans with a group of thoughtful, awesome women.

Wonder of wonders, the technology behaved, which is nothing short of a miracle when I’m in charge! (Except for the part where someone forgot to push the record button.) Next week, part two!

I was pretty tired when we were done. Bill and I managed to produce a lovely pork chop and some stir fried greens so local I was out front picking them 5 minutes before they hit the skillet. Yay for the new stove!

Then, some serious feet up time. Feet up time which turned into tears and Kleenex time. You see, PBS was showing the 50 years of Peter Paul & Mary show. I hadn’t seen it, ironically, since New Year’s Eve 2016. (You can no doubt do the math on that!)

For me, Peter Yarrow, Noel Paul Stookey, and Mary Travers really are the soundtrack of my life.

Singing has never been one of my best contributions to the world but, during my summer camp years, I was in charge of remembering all the words to all the songs from one summer to the next. I know them all, still.

You know how context has a way of making meaning you might not have noticed before? Well, the name of the PBS show is The Work Goes On.

I wish it didn’t so desperately need to go on while I pray, with all my heart, that it does.

I want the world to be a safe and supportive place in which my girls can grow up as empowered individuals working for the greater good and the fulfillment of their dreams.

I want that for all our children. And so I wiped tears away and listened to Noel Paul saying that it was at the beginning of the Civil Rights movement that they became aware that they were singing about Human rights.

Words from the days of Viet Nam. Musicians in their 20’s, standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, breaking out of old patterns.

I have turned, since then, from a young child into a grandmother. Many things have happened. More than I can count. And, somehow, at least on my best days, I still hope. Mostly, I hope that Peter, Paul & Mary were right when they proclaimed Pete Seeger’s words to the world. That “human beings could join together for their good.” That human beings will join together for their good.

Now is the time. Not the first time, but the time that we have. The time in which we can act. Or, to borrow from Pete Seeger again, “If you’re going to sing the music, you’ve gotta live the music.”

And, so, I’m writing. And painting. Marching really isn’t much in the cards for me and it’s entirely likely that my words and my images will reach much farther than my knees will carry me.

And, I’m going back to school, in a sense. Online workshops with Resmaa Menakem on embodied racial trauma. A workshop called Re-Membering to be led by two of my IC sisters. Painting archetypal images chosen, intentionally, in this moment.

And a reminder of the filters we all have. Filters which keep us from being utterly overwhelmed by the billions of bits of information coming at us in any given moment. Mostly, those filters are unconscious but, with some learning, we can begin to edit them consciously which, eventually, brings us new experience and new results in the world.

For me, one of those filters, a horrifying, painful filter, is George Floyd calling out for his mama. I’m choosing to be aware of that one. To let it into my map of reality, along with prayers that our human experience will one day be different………………………………..

So, my friend, all the words before this point were written Saturday night. My plan, when my head touched my pillow, was to get up and join Dr. Barber and the Poor People’s Campaign for the online memorial service honoring the 100,000 souls lost in the USA to the pandemic.

Instead, I woke a bit earlier and, after a quick trip down the hall, I tucked myself back into our cozy bed with the quilt I made and turned off the alarm. That’s when the questions started.

What would be different, in this moment, if the voices in the soundtrack of my life had been voices ringing forth from black bodies? Even more importantly, what would be different in this nation?

I was huddled there, under that quilt, wondering what might be different if I actually asked that question, here, today, when my phone inexplicably began blaring, When will we ever learn? right in my ear.

And then, with an utterly odd flash to the old cartoon with the 4-footed Mr. Peabody and his boy, Sherman, I decided I needed to find out what might be different.

Often, questions really are more important than answers!

ps… If you’re interested in working with your filters, you can email me at suesvoice@gmail.com

The challenge of our time…

Today, I changed my little picture on Facebook – you know, the one that tells you it’s me – to put back the banner thing that says, “Staying home, saving lives”.

I did it after I read an email from Congressman Hank Johnson (D, GA-04) urging people – people in metro Atlanta – to make sanity instead of riots. Well, that’s not exactly what Hank said. This is:

“If you are reading this message, please understand that peaceful protests don’t take place at night. So if you believe in peace, and you stand for truth, righteousness and order, then stay home this evening.”

Yes, I’m staying home to stay well in the pandemic, and to help protect others as well. The pandemic, as you may not have heard, is still a huge and life-threatening issue in Georgia even though some of us think “back in business” is the answer to everything.

The riots, in the face of recent human lives taken by police officers, are a huge and life-threatening issue as well.

And, yes, I have an opinion. It’s simply this: Life matters.

They’re complicated issues, to be sure. I’m happy for my local business friends who are able to begin doing what they do again, even in different ways.

I’m really happy that The Corner Pub has wings for take-out, especially since the recent stove event at our house. And I’m grateful for all my buddies at Pine Street Market and my farmer friends for working so hard to keep many, many of us in clean, safe food during the pandemic. And to the awesome guy who helps with our garden.

And I’m grateful for all of those in Atlanta and across the U.S. with the wisdom to know that racism – while it exists – doesn’t have to determine — or undermine — our humanity.

Life really does matter. Perhaps that’s why so many of my teachers have been talking, in these days, about fear and not letting it rule our lives.

I’ve been paying particular attention because I’m a grandmother who harbors a preacher deep inside.

I can’t help but remember that it has been the times when I said the things that lived most deeply inside me – the biggest, most real things – that I felt most misunderstood.

When I spoke of peace instead of needless, futile war or of ordaining those whom God calls to ministry or of living with those who appear different as sisters and brothers, I seemed somehow to turn up trouble when I meant to build bridges.

It’s true. And it’s hard. But grandmothers are known to do hard things. I want my girls to grow up in a world where they live out of love, passion, and enthusiasm, instead of fear. And I want everybody else’s kids to learn that, too!

There are only two things I know about how to help that happen.

Show them what it looks like. And keep on speaking out.

Blogs, books, paintings… even the occasional poem or pot of soup… they’re all visions of a future where life matters and humanity means everybody who wants to participate.

Oddly enough, my biggest teachers on that last bit are the Newfoundland rescue dogs in our family who have been harshly neglected and abused and yet, somehow, love everybody. Even the guys tromping around on the roof, cutting down trees.

So, mask on, paintbrush in hand, and my girls to inspire me, I’m going to get up tomorrow and do it some more. Are you with me?

ps… Voting counts, too. (You knew that was coming, didn’t you?) It really does.

Progress is messy…

Yep, it’s Wednesday again. Just between us, there’s part of me that’s tempted to skip the whole #Work-in-Progress thing this week. I’ve had just about enough stuff screaming for progress!

Six guys crawling around on the house. Saws. BIG thumps. Rain. Confused dogs who know there are new friends around and can’t figure out why they don’t get to meet them. Did I mention rain?

A package that I really, really needed to get to Texas but, apparently, has not, yet.

Massive confusion with the Vote-by-Mail ballot I received yesterday and some (unresolved) feelings about the people who mailed it. (I’ll get back to you on this one. The system-guys in question aren’t available for comment.)

In short… I want something done. Preferably right. (Or, perhaps, left.)

Let’s just say it’s been a day for deep breaths. And, not really so oddly, tears.

One of the things I learned from my hypnosis guru is that laughing and crying both relieve physiological stress. As the theory goes, it takes twice as much crying as laughing to relieve the same amount of stress. (Who figures out how to measure that???)

Still, it’s a good thing to remember when your eyes are leaking and somewhere inside a voice, clearly belonging to someone else, is whispering, “What do you have to cry about?”

The answer is, “Whatever!”

Another thing I learned along the way came from my dear friend, Steve Glenn, of Developing Capable People fame. (You’ve heard this one before.)

There’s no such thing as failure. Only experience to be learned from.

Last year, at just about this time, was one of those experience times, when Luther was recovering from his eye surgery and I was stressed and not sleeping. I learned that coloring helps in times like that. Not surprisingly, Shiloh Sophia McCloud was one of my best teachers. And I scored a copy of her first book, the Color of Woman coloring book, from a used book listing on Amazon.

Today, as you no doubt expected, I got out my coloring book. The photo, above, is now Fiercely Compassionate Grandmother. (At least to me.)

In the photo, below, meet some of my newer teachers, making progress.

Note the wires they, blessedly, didn’t cut!!!

As for me, I have just enough time to feed the beasties and, maybe-just-maybe, catch a fast nap before the next Zoom meeting. (My new teachers get up really early!)

Tomorrow, more fierce compassion is likely to be required.

New Perspectives

I spend a lot of time pondering vision. Optical. Mythical. Mystical. It’s hard not to at our house where we’re constantly adapting for the very large Studio Angel who, literally, has no eyes, except in his heart. Living with Luther causes us to see differently. To see more.

The two most vital “obedience” commands at our house have become door and step. And, just between us, that feels a bit prophetic these days.

What, I wonder, are the doors in this moment which we may not see?

And what will it take for us to step through them?

Your answers are probably different than mine. One of the things, though, that helps me step through some of the doors in my world is the legend you’ve heard me share about Red Thread.

In the same way that Luther needs to be connected to a strong but stretchy lead to venture outside the world he can navigate alone, I find it comforting to be connected by this story that, as someone once said, is both true and may actually have happened.

Women connected through time and space, to those who will matter in their lives, by a red thread. I suspect it started when somebody noticed the red thread nature of an umbilical cord and spread through indigenous cultures and biblical times and, these days, in Zoom circles of daughters and sisters and mothers and grandmothers and friends without number.

In my world, it makes stepping through doors into places I can only imagine considerably more possible.

Today, I am Hearth Tending in the Red Thread Cafe Classroom which is the big group gathering place for Intentional Creativity® types like me. It’s kind of ironic for me right now.

I’ve spent much of the last week getting my contemporary hearth functional again and I may actually get there tomorrow when the new stove is delivered. Well, Friday, maybe. Somehow it’s going to have to be magically transported from a big box on the carport into the actual kitchen!

The gas line situation is almost under control. The hunk of scrap metal formerly known as the stove has been spoken for, having been properly thanked for its service.

I’m reminded, as I celebrate Works-in-Progress with my sisters, that virtually everything is in progress, even the things we think are done, or haven’t begun. It’s one of those perspective things!

Gardening is a great way to remind yourself that there is, indeed, a season for everything. And somewhere between predicted rain storms and gas lines and Zoom meetings and a visit from our dear friend and dog Auntie, the vet, I’ll be out picking the first salad greens of the season.

Not all creativity needs paint! (Though I’m planning time for that, too!)

Peace-out!!!

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