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!!!

Which Direction Will You Choose?

According to the Enneagram personality type gurus, with whom I’ve been hanging out for just over 20 years, there are 9 personality types. I am among the 4’s, commonly know as artists or romantics.

One of the most helpful things I learned in Enneagram-land is the notion that we humans have two primary motivations for our behavior… or choices, if you prefer.

The first motivation is fear. Anxiety. We, being fairly clever sorts, tend to move away from things that scare us.

The second motivation is love. Passion. Enthusiasm. And, as you’re no doubt hoping, we tend to move toward those experiences. And people. (Also, dogs, but that’s a story for a different day.)

’tis the season, as the old saying goes.

Our current context feels overflowing, at least to me, with scary things. The Covid virus is obvious. Suggestions that drinking chemical disinfectants might solve all our problems. (Not! No way! No time! No how!) Masks, gloves, huge changes in schedules and habits we at least assumed were working before. I’ll give you a break on the rant about political groups filling my email with blatant attempts to get me to act out of fear… read this, send money.

This weekend, though, I spent hours in a group of women tapping into love, joy, enthusiasm and it was soooooooo much more helpful!!!

Intentional Creativity® types, focused on how to share the best of what we’re learning with the world. We worked on ideas for virtual workshops and even on (gulp!) business plans.

Business plans with color and images and reflections of the things that matter most in our lives. And while we worked, my girls kept appearing in my head. At one point, I even opened up my text messages to be amazed, all over again, by the photos of their recent artwork and the grins on their mini-artist faces.

And then the question found me, as all the really good questions have a habit of doing.

Which journey do I /You /We want our littles to see manifesting in our lives?

Okay… that’s not phrased very poetically. And I’m not saying it will be easy. We’ve all learned way too much about the other journey… the one away from fear.

We’re shaming and blaming ourselves for uncertainty in a time we’ve never known before, for comfort eating, for laughing and crying (which-btw-relieve stress, physiologically) and wanting to hide in our beds, preferably with flannel sheets, art quilts, and teddy bears.

I was tempted, too. Instead, just for a while, I made neat in the studio. I cleaned the screen on my magical transporting machine, aka laptop! I even got out my watercolors from Italy (!) and played along the path to the future.

I moved in the direction of love, passion, and enthusiasm, which, as you’ve probably remembered by now, means something pretty close to filled with God in Greek, because I get to choose.

Tomorrow will bring more choices. Sheltering in place some more. Finding a pattern for making masks. Sharing pantomime hugs with my neighbor when I’m out watering the itty bitty veg and herbs, along with flowers for the bees and butterflies, sprouting in the garden.

And planning new ways to share the wonders of creativity in the world we have.

Stay tuned for virtual workshops and for stories about paintings. Their moments in time and their symbols and codes…

The littles are watching!

 

 

I wanna shop!!!

Okay… self-disclosure alert!

Rumor has it that, when I was a small child (who talked very early!), I had to be carried from a grocery store, screaming, “I wanna shop!!!” at the top of my tiny lungs. It’s remotely possible that there was a diaper incident involved.

It’s worth noting that I’ve never told this story before and those who might have been able to confirm or deny are safe in the place beyond the need for compassionate distancing.

But, really, lots of you have asked what I’m buying and where and why in this particular context.

So… liability disclaimer! I’m a grandmother who used to be a nurse who grew up in an environmentally sensitive summer camp program. I’m also an author, artist, activist, coach, and teacher of things having to do with images and their power for change.

Translation – I’m a picky omnivore who chooses sustainably raised, preferably local foods, grows herbs, veg, and grapes in the space formerly known as our front lawn, and practices the magical arts of homemade bone broth.

I also have an unfortunate history of waaaaaaayyyy too many cases of bronchitis and pneumonia so I am not the primary procurer of things in my family just now. All of which suggests that we, like you, are learning new things. And we’ll continue to practice those new things whether the governor of Georgia wises up or not.

Okay, I’m over that for the moment! And, while we’re getting over things, let’s just recognize that all of our choices have ethical and political implications and there are not, in this moment, many perfect choices.

Hence, the number of things delivered to our house!

First on that list is what I’ve termed sanity food, which is also not inherently objectionable to my holistically inclined physician.

  • Really, really dark chocolate. 80% cacao or better. Preferably organic, fair trade, etc. I’m not the only one with this opinion and it’s getting harder to find. It’s really high in antioxidants and, the higher the percentage of cacao, the lower the sugar. It also supports serotonin levels which helps reduce stress. Greene & Black’s is one good option.
  • Pistachio nuts. Organic. Roasted. Sea salt. In the shell. Eating them takes longer and is a cross-lateral brain movement which reduces stress, as does – for me – the salty, crunchy thing.

Next, proteins.

  • Veg/vegan friends may skip down a ways. My friend, Rusty, and all the gang at Pine Street Market and its branch office, Chop Shop ship, deliver locally, and offer safely distanced on-site pick up in Avondale. Most importantly, they make (and ship) REAL bone broth, healing for body & soul.
  • For veg, eggs, dairy, etc., with or without said proteins, shipped, check White Oak Pastures. Also my friend Chad at Carlton Farm whose wonderful folks will deliver to your home in the Atlanta area. Check where you are.

Then, the rest of the stuff.

  • You’re on your own for t.p. Sorry!
  • Hands raw from washing??? Good olive or coconut oil for hand lotion works wonders and is naturally anti-microbial! Add a couple drops of lavender essential oil to a batch if you like the relaxing scent.
  • Then, colloidal silver solution in a mister. It’s a safe, effective anti-microbial. I spritz my face (eyes open) a couple of times a day and whenever I’m feeling – you know – inadequately distanced. Do your research. I like Argentyn 23.
  • Tea tree oil soap for face, bath, hair, you name it. It’s anti-microbial, safe, and, with the oils in the soap, not drying.

And, a bit of borderline meddlin’.

  • Capsules known as Recovery Tonic from True Botanica. These help with stress and adrenal recovery, should you happen to believe in such things. My doc and I do.
  • Ditto, tiny, sweet pellets of something called Aurum Hypericum Stibium from Uriel. Homepathic remedy for “headaches” which translates, I’m told, into anxiety.
  • Vitamins D3 & K2. I get an immune boosting combo by Life Extension. Follow directions with fat soluble vitamins!
  • 5-HTP, a building block of serotonin. (Are you sensing a trend?) I like Natrol’s version which claims that it Promotes a Calm & Relaxed Mood. Again, directions!
  • A coloring book wouldn’t hurt!!! Or new, uplifting art!

Again, do your research and check with your doc. These are NOT things I learned in nursing school!

Speaking of nursing school, doing what we can to take care of ourselves and those we love, body, mind, and spirit, is the best way to support millions of front line folks taking care of those who are ill.

I am totally aware of the privilege involved in making a list like this. Bill and I do, in this moment, have choices about what we eat. I also remember buying food for a growing boy when my grocery list included 5/$1.00 generic mac & cheese and 99 cent frozen pizza. Those of us fortunate enough to have choices in this moment can also choose to give so others have real food. If you want some suggestions, just ask!

For now, keep sticking with you and yours!

 

 

I Skipped Iron Chef!

If you’ve been hanging around for any length of time, you know that I often spend Saturday evenings watching Iron Chef America. Tonight, I got my fix at 6 and 7pm and then I fixed my supper and changed the channel.

Channel 9, in my case. WGCL which is a CBS station in Atlanta. One World TOGETHER at Home… a celebration of first responders and the countless others working to keep us all safe and fed and sheltered in these days.

This show was hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, and my personal late night guy, Stephen Colbert. That, all by itself, is something of a miracle.

Organized, in large part, by Lady GaGa, the big name types assembled to call attention to the $50 million dollars raised for the World Health Organization’s efforts to to curb the Covid virus pandemic and to shed light on first responders.

Now, I know many of us have differing opinions on some of the entities making headlines in these days. I suspect many of the folks who gave of their time and talent and resources to pull off television like this, with everybody performing, seemingly on one stage while sheltering at home, have differing opinions as well.

Yet, for a few moments in time, those differences were put aside to bring us together as one world, at home.

One of my personal stars was only there inside me. You may have heard me mention him before. Dr. H. Stephen Glenn was the force behind a program called Developing Capable People which changed my life, especially as a young, single mom, and went on to change the lives of the countless people I’ve shared the work with over more than 30 years of leading DCP groups.

Here’s the punch line…

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

I’ve been thinking about that a lot in these days. And I’ve realized that there’s one thing I’ve learned that Steve didn’t have a chance to learn in the same way because he passed on before he could experience it the way we are just now.

Yes…

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

But that assumes the ability and willingness to learn.

I’ll let you do whatever math on that works for you, because just now a physician from New York City said, with tears in her eyes, that yes, she had heard New Yorkers singing from their stoops and balconies every evening in thanks for health care workers. And then, asked what she would say in response, the doctor replied that she wanted everyone to know, “If you can’t hold your mom’s hand, I’m there to hold your mom’s hand.”

Right after that, a young woman I didn’t know before, a singer named Lizzo, belted out a fabulous version of a song I love  by the legendary Sam Cooke.  The name of that song is, A Change is Gonna Come. 

And that, I think, is the prayer of this moment for almost all of us, including Michele Obama and Laura Bush who joined forces to speak out for getting through the crisis together.

Right now, I’m going to go find another box of Kleenex and watch some more. And while I watch, I’ll be giving thanks for all of those willing to learn who came together to speak and sing and give for all of us together. And I’ll be praying. For me and mine. For you and yours. And for all the “thems and theirs” who share this planet with us and those we know.

May we stay at home together, and be safe, and willing to learn. And may the change we so need come soon. Amen. Amen. Selah.

ps… A charming pink young lady named Abby Cadabby (who’s new to Sesame Street since Dave’s days with “Bernie and Ert”) says that when we have feelings about all the changes, “It helps to give yourself a hug.” Thanks, Abby! And thank you, Lady GaGa!

pps… Abracadabra can be translated, I will create from the word. Let this be our prayer. (Veg and herb seeds, freshly planted, work, too! And paint brushes!!!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity® Color of Woman Teacher