There’s a rainbow in my shower!

You know I like symbols! This one felt like a big gift when it appeared on the shower wall. And I’m delighted to share it with you… just in case you could use a bit of hope, too!

When we bought our early 1960’s house it was really dark inside, which does not work for me. Tube skylights to the rescue! Easy to install. (Well, have installed!) Lots of light, and faceted prism-like panels that contribute to the rainbows. Twenty-five years later… one of my favorite handy-homeowner adventures yet!

That gift was also a gift for a series of paintings I’m working on! Creation needs a rainbow!

Turns out, though, that I put it in the wrong painting! (Feel free to laugh!)

I’ve only made one children’s picture book before. That one involved paste and a small mixed media journal and pictures of really big dogs. Its intention was introducing my then 2 year old granddaughter to the notion of Newfoundland dogs. Especially the one we’d just rescued!

My Little was good with their cat. A dog, conservatively eight times her size, was a whole different matter. So I pasted and printed and explained some of that big guy’s backstory so they could get to know each other. And they did!

I’m making another picture book now! The kind that gets published. The words were easy. (Details to follow…)

And, a lot of the art already exists. Finished paintings. Photos of drippy under-layers, which disappeared along the way. Then there’s the stuff that is only beginning to appear!

First, a confession. Figuring out the layout of this book is a whole lot more challenging than with the kind that are almost all words. Black on white. The occasional chapter title. Let’s just say it’s a learning experience! And, I created myself an opportunity to learn even more!

I was having whole lot of fun and things were really working out well, except for the bit where part of a painting was supposed to be on another page!

Enter the Scan Camp wizard… Barry’s going to take the part inside the very handy painters’ tape, in the upper left, and turn it into a whole separate image. Then, I’ll go back to the original canvas and paint some stuff out and add some new stuff in. (There’s an owl begging for a job!)

And, yes… it’s a very good bet that more dots will be involved!

Here’s the big news, though… this art – this book – is flowing straight from my inspired heart and my hope for our world. It’s part of the reason I’m here.

It feels a whole lot like planting seeds. And tending them. And it’s all happening in the context of the journey known as #animystica. A journey which has a lot to do with our place in Creation’s miraculous web, instead of over it.

And, yes… I’m channeling my summer camp days. I could – but won’t – bust into several verses of Kumbaya!

Somehow, I’m more in the mood for, If I Had a Hammer. Just in case it’s slipped your mind, that old favorite ends this way…

Well, I got a hammer
And I got a bell
And I got a song to sing
All over this land.
It’s the hammer of justice.
It’s the bell of freedom.
It’s the song about love between
My brothers and my sisters,
All over this land…

Trini Lopez

Maybe I do have a hammer and it just looks like a paintbrush!

For now, a peek at the beginning of the next right thing! Mountains are fun… and hard on my shoulder!

ps… where might rainbows be waiting for you??? Really!!! Leave a comment below, or email me!

pps… I’m waving my magic brush-hammer and declaring that all original art and archival prints at FierceArtWithHeart – including those in the guest artist collection – are 20% off the current listed price, through July 22nd, at 11:59pm EDT. Just enter the code The Tower when you check out… (And, if you have your heart set on something major, there’s an option to spread out the payments!)

ppps… questions about the art? email me!

Well… it’s triplets!

Remember when I shared the recent news that I’m pregnant… with two books? It turns out there was another wee one hiding in there!!!

And the new kid has already claimed the honor of being born first!

This is becoming quite a trip!

Now, if you’ve known me a while, you may have heard that, when I was actually pregnant, things were pretty chaotic. Context-wise, for sure. Also medically. Months of pre-eclampsia. Cases of salt-free canned soup. (So many things I’ve learned, since then!) Huge ankles. High blood pressure. Lots of practice fainting. The whole nine yards! And, contrary to medical opinion, back in the day, it was something of a tradition in my family.

Then, I rang the big red seizures-in-labor bell!

Deciding not to do that again was an obvious choice for a young single mom. My kid needed me!

Feel free to follow that rabbit wherever it leads you in this day and time!

For now, back to book-babies. There were three of those in the first generation, too. Word-kids. Then I spent a lot of years learning cool things like Ericksonian Hypnotherapy and Intentional Creativity® They’re both big fun. And, I suspect, the painting needed to come after my travels with Uncle Milton!

This new generation is insisting on art! Lots and lots and lots of it. Some, blessedly, already painted. And a lot more in the #work-in-progress phase! I needed a map!!! Here’s a peek…

I am creating with all the parts of me.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, Grandmother Moon was whispering in my dreams, as she so often does. When I woke, it was with this massive new claim in my heart:

In partnership with the Divine, I create. And walk the Way of Love.

And, not just a claim… an Intention. And a Promise.

These new book-babies are being born out of that Promise. And, frankly, it’s a little scary! (Maybe a lot!)

In 8 days — okay, I’m slow! — an old, old story has claimed a voice for our time.

Poetic rhythm. Illustrations chosen to evoke imagination… and belonging.

Tears of love and wonder mixed with paint.

And hope. Huge hope. That more of our dear Littles will find themselves in a new generation of a story as old as time. Here’s a peek…

And, yes… you see prayer dots. The finger kind I love. Many, many, many of them!

For Choice. And Voice. And Sovereignty.

So be it for me. And for you. And for all our Littles.

For now, the canvas is calling…

Matilda goes to the library…

Sometimes, as you may have noticed, there’s just too much news! When that happens, around here, it’s library time. All the very favorites, exactly where they belong. And, today was one of those days! (You do the math!)

Matilda, as you may recall, is my new externalized source of strategies for overcoming obstacles. (aka #Apothecary 5.0) One of her radical ideas is the notion that wisdom which has helped before just might come in handy again, even when the context gets different!

I suspect that’s why I was dreaming about her rooting around in the bookshelves!

And, yes… the stack she came up with probably looks familiar. And, they’re all connected to stories!

Let’s start with…

Dr. Walter Brueggemann preaching in chapel at Columbia Theological Seminary, back in the day. After acknowledging that it was, perhaps, a bit outside the Reformed theology world view in which we were being “raised,” Walter said this:

The Saints are all those who believe for us on days when we can’t quite believe for ourselves.

Leaping a bit, but actually not so very far, we come to one of my personal Saints, a guy named Puddleglum.

For the for the uninitiated, Puddleglum is a Marsh Wiggle, who, with the Prince and some children, is being held by the Witch, who is busy explaining why their journey to Narnia is juvenile and futile. Puddleglum isn’t having it. Let’s listen in…

“One word, Ma’am,” he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. “One word. All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder. I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things — trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say.”

C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair, The Chronicles of Narnia

Now, I’ve loved this story for ages, but in this moment I’m reclaiming the realization that part of the power is in Puddleglum choosing and speaking and acting, even though anybody with half an ounce of sense knows it’s scary!

For now, may you feel your Saints believing for you, and believe for someone else when they can’t quite believe for themselves. Maybe even for me! This photo is very nearly finished art for my first children’s book which is almost ready to be born! (And, yes… Matilda approves!)

ps… the little white book in the top photo, kind of leaning against the others, is my Grandmothers Are In Charge Of Hope! Click here to get your copy!

Irony & the not-so-way-back machine!

So, as I suspect you’ve noticed, life is crazy on a number of levels.

Therefore, I went rogue and decided to fish in the archives for something to share with you because my day got out of hand.

Hang with me, please… you may be as surprised as I was!!!

Here’s what I found, in my blog dated July 3, 2022.

Originally, the plan involved comfort and abundance. Specifically, the local, sustainably raised turkey napping in our freezer since Thanksgiving fell apart last fall! Bill loves turkey. It’s a great example of cook once – eat a whole lot of times! It has welcome side effects of gravy and bone broth. And, it makes the house smell really, really good

For this moment, though, my filters are in some massive transition mode as I continue to cope with the news. Some of those filters – which work hard to keep us from being utterly swamped by input from our senses and the world – have to do with history and language and beliefs and strategies.

As you probably know, one of my self-soothing strategies is The West Wing. Last night I was watching an episode having to do with the tragic, traumatic fall of a democracy in Africa.

Then, frankly, I got gobsmacked, as it were, by a lightbulb in my head. Here’s what I wrote on my perpetually present index card:

Rape is wrong because it takes away bodily sovereignty and civil rights. So is overturning Roe… and even flirting with the notion of limiting access to contraception.

Which suggests, at least to me, that most of the Supreme Court justices have lost all notion of justice. Or, and I find this more likely, that justice was never their purpose in sitting on that bench. Then, today… and this was even more traumatic than my West Wing revelation… I was watching a re-run of the recent Westminster Kennel Club dog show as I painted.

The commentators and handlers were chatting, as they do. And I was hearing familiar things like this, with new ears.

She throws gorgeous puppies, already strengthening the breed.

She’s a stunning girl who’s doing so much for me in this sport.

Now, I’ve belonged to a variety of kennel clubs in my day. I’ve handled. And entered. I helped my kid learn Junior Showmanship. And there are still a few active judges and breeders and handlers that I knew back in the day.

For the last 20 years, or so, it’s been rescue dogs at our house. That’s Sarah, in the photo. Not at all likely to have won any hardware in a breed ring, but well-intentioned in an utterly unique sort of way. And one of my biggest teachers. This morning, though, I heard with new ears.

The conversation at Westminster has a whole lot in common with what the Supreme Court is saying – in barely veiled language – about the role of women and girls.

And, just in case you hadn’t guessed… I DISSENT!

My girls are not trophies designed to make their “handlers” feel powerful and important. They’re not brood animals created to carry on superior lines of the way we’ve always done it.

And neither are any of our girls. Or women. Or humans of any sort.

This mess isn’t just bad law. It’s really, really bad theology and philosophy.

This is a glimpse of what it looks like to celebrate self and choice…

It’s not a prize to be won. It’s what it means to be human. And we ALL deserve that!

Now… fast forward to today! July 3, 2024.

There is, indeed, a turkey dry-brining in our fridge. I’m painting, between meetings. And the news is all about SCOTUS, again. And, yes… it’s worse.

The music from the play, 1776 is running through my head, thanks to a wise 8th grade English teacher who probably never imagined today. At the same time, a lot of what I’ve learned of history as I’ve researched my ancestry is spinning with the music.

Here’s the short version of my understanding in this moment:

Much of the history of the world has been about those with enough power, wanting more land and money and influence, justifying taking it from others and making them set aside their own ways and beliefs, in favor of the conquerors’.

I do, indeed, dissent.

Which brings us to a different – but related – sort of memory. Just after I finished my Intentional Creativity® teacher training in 2018, I learned a new story.

My great aunts, Mary and Alice, were hanged as witches in 1692. In Salem. They were sisters.

I was deep in the IC® journey we used to call Motherboard when I learned this part of my story. And it got harder when I dug deeper and discovered the likelihood that my aunts were sentenced by other relatives of mine.

One evening, I showed up for a group call with the amazing #JulieSteelman and she and I were the only ones present. We talked through ways to process my saddness, horror, shock, and anger. Then Julie said the thing that is with me still… and the reason this story insisted on being included here, now.

Grieve for both sides!

It helped. It still helps. And I’m grateful.

It also feels ironically timely. And I’m trying. Now. Grieving for both sides. And voting blue!

I have 2 grand-teens trying very hard to grow up in this world!

ps… hoping our Sarah, and her 4-footed siblings, are hanging out with Mary and Alice in the place beyond politics.

pps… the turkey was excellent. Way to go, Legendary Husband!

Okay… it’s time for real real!

You see, it’s absolutely been a filters kind of week! A week when the current context is yanking some dusty stories out of my inner collection in an attempt to help sort the moment.

Let’s start with this… I spent most of Friday night dreaming of my trip to Hungary, in January of 1989, mere months before the Eastern Block fell. The official name of the trip was Alternative Context. It was an opportunity for educated, mostly white, American seminary students to actually encounter other world views.

There are two moments that stand out, still…

Riding in a van full of American and Hungarian church folks, huddled together for warmth, teaching each other our songs, while Russian tanks held shooting drills in the snowy farmers’ fields on either side of the road when Christian Education was illegal.

Visiting the only eastern European Rabbinic seminary to survive World War II, where the adding of new books to the library had been forbidden since the war… and seeing the students remove their shoes before entering that holy ground.

And, yes… Hungary has now been dragged back to the place where autocracy is the current reality instead of history.

I hope I’ll never get used to the story from a young Reformed seminary student explaining, with tears in his eyes, that he had grown up checking the newspaper every morning to see where he lived and who was in charge that day.

I know you’re following me so I’ll just say it…

Much of what’s making news right now in America is an attempt to create that same kind of fear-based nationalism here.

Even as my fingers dance over the keys on my laptop and I externalize my memories and fears and perspectives, I am aware of generations of voices inside me whispering that nice girls don’t talk about upsetting things like this, but that strategy does not seem to be working.

Recently, though, I’ve learned more stories of the generations before me. Women who risked everything to walk the roads of voice and choice and love. To change the world. My blood. My heritage.

My grandteens’ blood and heritage.

I paint out of that same knowing.

The photo at the top is, literally, the view from my chair as I write these words. Some of the pieces are hanging in their regular places. Some of them are helping hold the space for my pondering, after their returns from Scan Camp.

And here’s the thing… I can’t look at them – relate to them – continue to create with them… and be silent in this moment. Which is, I suspect, as good a way as any to explain my notion of Map of Reality.

Grandmother Moon is all in, in her Metamodernist kind of way. So, for that matter, are the bears!

Here’s what they – well, WE – have in common.

One choice at a time. One day at a time. With determined love in our hearts and Good Trouble pins on our denim vests! The way much of the good stuff happens.

ps… this painting is known as Star Song. My faith. My history. My hope. She agreed to let me share her message… we hope you’ll keep reading!

I am Asherah.
El, whom you may know as God, is my beloved.
Your heart pumps stardust through your body.
Your hands create, in partnership with us.
Thank you for learning, still.
Thank you for making space for newness.
I know it can be frightening, dear granddaughter.
Newness often is.
I am here, welcoming you to the Way of Love.
We’ve been waiting for you!
Many, many, many of us since the dawn of time.
Now, more than ever, in the midst of the chaos.
Thank you for hearing me whispering, as you dreamed.
Listening for what wanted to be included by your brush.
You are a grandmother, too, and we need you.
Painting and writing and teaching with your feet on the Earth.
Now, more than ever, in the midst of the chaos.
Thank you for choosing to follow.
And to lead.
Create on, dear granddaughter.
Sing on.
That is why you were created.
That is the Way of Love.
That is the Way Hope.
You have two granddaughters growing up in this world.
I know just how you feel. And I love you.

– slb, 2023


Where consciousness and context meet!

Yep! Two of my very favorite words… and another related one which seems pretty important, just now. Conditioning. As in, air!

Here’s an example… I am enormously conscious that our context is chaotic, and the ailing air conditioner doesn’t help with logical thought!!!

I’ll spare you the heat wave bit. Except for the part where, as part of the context, it may make certain things feel more important. Like climate change, perhaps!

Here’s another way to think about it… borrowed from Stephen Covey, who designed a schema for decision making which looks like this:

The way I learned it, any one issue or option meets two of these four criteria… Important/Not important and Urgent/Not urgent. And, often, people with different agendas have trouble agreeing on which two!!!

To stick with our current example of air conditioning, on a day when the high in Atlanta is 99 degrees F, and it’s still pollen season, it feels both important and urgent, to me.

A climatologist might have a different opinion… more big picture. (That’s why we’re going with the new system that “decides” how much energy it needs at the moment, which isn’t a good technical explanation but makes more sense than moving to Nova Scotia where – by the way – it’s recently been that hot, too.)

And, if you’ve been reading along for more than a week or two, you’ve already figured out that my frequent communing with MSNBC is part of the context that helps me make choices about the urgent/important questions.

Painting also helps me make some of those choices! Several of the journeys I’m on in this moment have to do with notions of Divinity and the stories that were true before the stories we learned were true were true. (No typos… all intentional!)

Here’s an example… when I was in Middle School, a person who truly meant to be helpful told a group of young women that we’d go to hell if we read the horoscope column in the newspaper.

Now, I’m still a really long way from an expert, but I’ve learned that star constellations can be really helpful! (Though I’ll admit to being thankful for the compass onboard when I was helping to sail a boat through the Bermuda triangle at midnight, during a huge lightning storm!)

And I love constellations as visual symbols in my art. Like the one in the photo we began with, which I learned from reading a legendary conversation between C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien! Pegasus, in the biblical book of Revelation. Winged horses… not well trained regular horses, but whole new creatures!

Did that conversation really happen? Who knows! Is it helpful? I’m going with yes!!!

All of which seems to suggest that, in this world, at this moment, consciousness in context matters. A lot! As does intention!

Then, this bee, who appeared on my current #Animystica painting, reminded me of a story I think is hugely important in these days. It has to do with honey.

Stay tuned!

ps… one of the books which insisted that books are vessels, too, and showed up in last year’s #Apothecary painting, goes with this conversation about consciousness and context! Alice Hoffman’s The Dovekeepers. Now might be a really good time for this particular story! And the Hebrew word in the palm of the handprint means Here I am! (Actually, now could be a really good time for any of them!!!)

I’m back!

It’s me… Matilda, and I’m back from Scan Camp. Which – just between us – is probably a very good thing! Mom’s been hatching again and, from the looks of her journal, she could use some help!

First, let me catch you up a bit. Apparently there was a whole lot of excitement about the thing called air conditioning. The short version is that we need a new one. Nobody seems remotely thrilled about this, except for the fact that the new one will be better for the environment, which I’m in favor of, too!

Jermaine is one of the AC guys. I can’t wait to meet him. He likes our art! In fact, here’s a new glimpse of me…

Lean in close, please. I’m allowed to tell you the secret!

Mom didn’t decide to put this part here. She kind of found it! And then, she got real excited and enhanced it a bit so that it could help people just like you learn about the thing called Filters!

The lighter colored marks were called sparks as she was painting. Like light. Or illumination! She noticed that the one to your right looked like the profile of a face. And then she saw the light coming toward it from the edge.

With just a bit of help, it became the arrow called Input in the Filters story.

Now, I haven’t quite got this all figured out, yet, but it has a lot to do with there being way more information coming at us from the world than we can consciously manage at any one moment.

And that purple flower-y thing, a little farther to your right, is the part of this whole notion that decides what gets in and what gets blocked out. (I’m still working on this part!)

It seems to have something to do with the thing called chaos which may feel pretty familiar, lately!

Dad’s been running up and down the stairs to the mysterious place known as basement. He comes back with books for Mom who seems to have lots of things coming at her from the world these days.

I’m still sorting all this out. Here’s what I do know…

One of the ways to change chaos is to make. To create. To take a chance on new things helping.

I think part of what I’m here to help with is to make a map for changing chaos. For getting to that place my honorary uncle, Frederick Buechner, talks about. You know…

The place where our great joy and the world’s deep longing meet.

There’s more work to do, but Mom’s ready to talk with you, if you’d like some help on that journey! Just ask the people called calendar elves to make you some space. 30 minutes. Our gift. Mom says to bring a cuppa, paper & markers – or crayons – and a bit of Red Thread if it’s handy. (Red Thread is a big thing around here!) Let’s make some order out of chaos!

ps… I brought a thing called a proof home from Scan Camp. It means that you could adopt a picture of me. (Or lots of my painting friends!) In fact, Dad took two more paintings to Scan Camp when he brought me home. You can see some of my friends at the place Mom calls FierceArtWithHeart. All the original paintings are specially discounted right now, including my sister whose title is What The World Needs Now. She’s almost all made of prayer dots and that’s her picture just below! Did you know art can be leggings and posters and mugs and even blankets??? (I don’t think we need a blanket just now but it’s bound to get chilly again one day and they’re really soft!)

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