Where art meets life…

I have a decision to make.

A hard decision.

I’ve thought it every way to Christmas. All things considered, I’m a pretty good thinker.

Sometimes, good thinking is not enough. This feels like one of those times.

Fortunately, I have some other tools in my medicine basket!

Today was our first Sanctuary paint party of the year. Women, in community, working on their paintings.

No pressure. No behind. No not good enough.

Just music and paint and supportive company.

Some of those women were old friends. Some, new sisters.

A variety of stories during check-in time. Challenges. Backgrounds. Doubts. Dreams.

One of those new sisters introduced herself as a Russian speaking Ukrainian. Suddenly, the world felt much smaller to me. More intimate. Even more urgent.

I listened to the stories and then I listened to my canvas, speaking to my heart.

Being somewhat off the beaten path is not unusual for me, though I’m there a bit early this time.

Today my next right thing was obvious. Dots!!!

Prayer dots. All the neuro-processing patterns working together. And yes, I’ve had a lot of practice!

I began with wisdom. You know… that decision I need to make. A good start for warming up, but not making space for the magic.

Tell me wasn’t getting it either. Probably because part of me already knew.

And then, it found me.

Show me the Way of Love.

Six dots, over and over and over again with all of my awareness. The darker ones inside the roses.

And, eventually, tears.

Sad. And good, because after an hour of that, I was ready to claim what I already knew.

I have no idea what this painting will become. We’ve got about 11 months to go!

Here’s what I do know…

I will be more ME, because of it.

Hanging out where art meets life can be a very good thing.

Maybe, just maybe, a thing that will help heal the world. Even the hard parts!

ps… wanna learn? Let’s talk! 45 min. My gift! The calendar elves will hook you up!

pps… need some art in the meantime??? The FierceArtWithHeart elves have been fluffing the shop and adding new stock and making some good deals. Get inspired AND help send an artist to France!

Reflections on a 21st Century Tuesday

It’s 5:09 in the afternoon as these words begin to take form. Thus far, this day has been quite the adventure!

I’ll catch you up in a minute!

First… now.

I just woke from a well-deserved, post-Physical Therapy nap, at 5pm. Big dog snoring at my feet, I reached for my phone.

First stop… checking on a message stream with and for a small group sister facing huge challenges about 1800 miles away. Holding space is intense sacred work in a crisis.

Caught up, it was email time. Here — for real! — are the first 4 things in my box:

  1. From the Audubon Society… ACT NOW to Stop the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Extinction Act! Apparently, we’re actually okay with Lesser Prairie-Chickens, though the US Congress may be about to remove them from the list of protected species, which – grammar/labeling challenges aside – the Audubon Society is actually trying to stop.
  2. From Care2Action Alerts… A migrant center caught on fire. Officials left people locked inside to burn. At least 40 people died at this Mexican migrant center near the U.S. border and, “public servants and security guards present during the fire did nothing to save the people burning alive inside — they wouldn’t even open the locked doors to let them escape the blazes.”
  3. From Patriotic Millionaires – The Senate must investigate Clarence Thomas and Krysten Sinema over their financial ties to Harlan Crow. Never mind for a a moment than Sen. Sinema’s name is actually Kyrsten… Billionaires should not be able to buy a Senator or a Justice on the Supreme Court but… it looks like it may be working.
  4. From Team Progress America… The House could vote TOMORROW… Kevin can only afford to lose 5 votes… (I’m guessing you’ve heard about the Debt Ceiling thing…)

I did my version of the next right thing about each of those messages, with tears flowing down my cheeks, blessedly conscious of the notion of filters and how mine were – in that moment – filtering what I read. Which is a bit like saying I was conscious of what was under my reactions to what I was reading.

Being conscious is often not huge fun. And it gives us the opportunity to make aligned choices instead of reacting in the mythical knee-jerk kind of way.

(This is, perhaps, a good time to mention that my particular US Senators and Representative, as well as the more local crowd, are not unaccustomed to emails from me. At least their interns are not unaccustomed to emails from me!)

Why? I have 2 granddaughters growing up in this world!

I won’t bore you with my opinions on these particular issues.

I will tell you that reading them “through” the filter of knowing that there is a county in these United States of America having – in this moment – 400 women and children waiting for space in a Domestic Violence shelter sharpens my sense of WTF are we thinking???

And then there’s the whole standing in my voice, my sovereignty, thing that’s an essential part of not only the conversation in the places I hang out, but the global conversation in our world, in this moment.

So… for the intrepid among you… here’s the heart of the matter, for me…

Subjugating, beating, terrorizing, depriving, and not seeing others, in order to make ourselves feel bigger, more powerful, more important is just wrong.

Continuing to subjugate, beat, terrorize, deprive, and ignore others, even after we see, is more wrong.

I can’t fix it all. Neither can you. But, together, we can make choices with that truth in our hearts. Lots of choices, over and over. And, little by little, it will get better.

Which, for me at least, is a good bit more true than doing nothing.

And, yes… if you were wondering, the whole Furniture Yahtzee game going on around here has a lot to do with exactly that! With doing more with what we already have. With making literal space for helping others. With surrounding ourselves with intentional reminders of our Big Why’s.

Also, somewhere in the dusty corners of my awareness, there’s a quote from The West Wing

It’s an honor thing!

Maybe I can’t remember the exact context because all of life is the context!

For now, though, new truth added to my Red Madonna Sanctuary canvas…

ps… furniture Yahtzee goes on! The ancestor space, above, makes my heart happy!

pps… speaking of ancestors — Mothers Day is coming soon! Check out FierceArtWithHeart for great, affordable gifts for moms and grammies. Even for you! Choose mugs, posters, greeting cards, and other cool goodies while there’s still time for the print-on-demand elves to make their magic!

I dreamed I was a box turtle!

Or, technically, tortoise… but my inner child, who has lots to do with dreaming, learned turtle!

And, yes… I’m pretty sure I know why this dreamer is dreaming this dream, now.

It has to do with the current Furniture Yahtzee adventure. (It has to do with something else, too, but we’ll get there…)

First, a bit of context. Furniture Yahtzee is code, around here, for what happens when two people with differing mobility challenges try to run lives and 3 businesses out of an early 60’s ranch house with a very big dog, too many steps, about a zillion books, and enough art supplies to – well, paint the rainbow!

Periodically, our needs change. Or, maybe, my powers of denial fail me. In any event, it was time. Time to essentially swap two of the busiest, least magazine-ready, rooms in the house.

The narrow hallway between those 2 rooms didn’t help much!

The swapping bit is, essentially, done. You know… drag this over here where that was, and so forth. Now comes nesting!

We’re tired and sore. And my muscle memory mind is totally confused! The part of me that knew – in a deep level of non-consciousness – to stick out my right hand to grab my cell phone is adapting to the fact that it now lives in the land of the left hand! And so on and so forth…

Hence, I suspect, the dream!

First, though, you need to know about Abraham and Sarah.

Nope! Not the biblical ancestor folks. The turtles!

When Dave and I moved to the Village at Columbia Seminary, very nearly 34 years ago, we had some adjusting to do. One of the biggest changes was the theoretical no pets rule. My 7-year old was decidedly unamused!

We had fish, which didn’t thrive in their tiny universe.

We even tried a bunny. When he reached adolescence, he grew – shall we say – frustrated, and started biting. I called a vet to inquire about neutering which turned out to be both very risky and very, very expensive.

After I missed a week at my nursing job, due to the heavily bandaged finger, Thumper moved to the petting zoo at Stone Mountain where he could happily do what bunnies are known to do and not bite people!

(Yes… a practical solution with major philosophical issues!)

Then, one day, my second grader who struggled with reading, arrived home clutching a school library book and announced that he had the perfect solution… Turtles, Mama!!!

(Clearly, I gave in!)

Abraham and Sarah did surprisingly well. And they were popular with my neighbors!

Friday afternoons often involved half a dozen or so seminary students sitting on the sidewalk, sipping beer and walking the turtles!

Fast forward to my dream!

A bit of internet searching on Turtle/Tortoise Spirit Animals will lead to the notion that having a safe haven is very important for Turtle people.

Perhaps especially so when you have memories of not having had such a safe haven!

To Indigenous peoples, turtles also represent healing, wisdom, spirituality, health, safety, longevity, protection, and fertility!

I relate to those words a lot, at this point in my journey. Some of them more symbolically, than others!!!

For now, though, we’re kind of still in the chaos phase of creation!

My favorite chair/nest has a whole new view of the world. (Well, it has a whole new view of a lot of things still to be done!) And, I am no longer attempting my deepest creating in a place that doubled as the pathway to the bathroom and the closet. Hallelujah!!!

It doesn’t look like much yet. For now, this adventure feels like hope. (And sore muscles!)

Which might be a whole lot like being ready to head out into the world with all the stuff that really matters to me!

ps… the art up top is last summer’s Legend painting. Decoupaged photos of my “permanent” turtle who is, apparently, hiding in a closet during all the moving! The grand-turtle is feeling shy!

pps… what are you ready to head out into the world with? I can help! You just have to raise your hand. Or, in this case, CLICK HERE so the calendar elves can hook you up with time for a wee chat, on me. Turtles welcome, too!

My Favorite Word!

Okay… technically the one I’ll get to in a minute is tied with Grammy for my favorite word. And that, right there, lets you know it’s a really big deal!

It’s a Hebrew word which, transliterated into English, would sound like tzcar. It means remember. It also means to remind!

And, yes… it’s no doubt near the top of my consciousness because the time from sunset Monday to sunset Tuesday, this week, was Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Now, as you probably know, I like learning new things!

One of the things I’ve learned, just in the last few months, is that my 70th and 71st great grandfathers were a couple of Jewish guys named Hezekiah, who had some other complicated stuff in their names which seems to connect them to the House of David. (And, yes, the time was right. We’re talking dates commonly referred to as BCE.)

Then there’s the fact that my granddaughters have Jewish ancestors… considerably more recent than the Hezekiahs.

Now, when I mixed all of that into the simmering soup pot known as CNN, yesterday, I wound up with a whole lot of noticing and wondering bubbles!

You, of course, may be noticing and wondering other things. These are just mine…

There’s a whole lot of what’s mine is mine going on in this world. And a big batch of what’s yours is mine, too.

The power over team is getting a whole lot more air time than the power for folks.

The whole familiar = safe and different = danger bit is spreading like – well – a pandemic.

To be honest, I kept trying to turn it all off. I cried. I swore. I signed petitions.

And then, the ah-hah!

You see, I’d spent the morning at Physical Therapy, getting – if you’ll pardon the image – a whole lot of dry needles stuck in my hip.

Not fun. Not remotely comfortable. But, important, because I have things I want and that means doing some things differently along the way.

And, seasoning the pot, if you will, an old favorite quote from the Quaker tradition:

In order to learn, we must be willing to be changed!

I’m starting here: ALL the people are OUR people!!!

At least, in theory! In practice, it probably looks a whole lot like ALL the people who want to be OUR people, already are. Or, WE the people… if you prefer. Not race or nationality. Humanity!

Which isn’t too far from, Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Mt 11:28).

As far as I can tell, there have always been some folks who don’t want the world to be us… they want it to be us and them.

I get it! The vast majority of us grew up with the notion that we’re still here so the way we’ve always done it has to be the only way.

Karl Jung has a good explanation for the theory. It’s the practice that’s not working so well these days!

Which kind of implies that we’ve got to start right where we are!

Where I was, about 6:00 this morning, was curled in the bed, trying to sleep while Grandmother Moon was hanging on the wall, channeling C.J. Cregg!

Yep! The West Wing!

Season 2, episode 9. Galileo.

NASA looses contact with the landing craft mission to Mars. The President needs to talk to thousands of school kids.

Press Secretary, C.J. Cregg is all for going ahead with the televised classroom plan, even though they don’t know what happened to Galileo. Her reason went a lot like this…

A lot of those kids are afraid to raise their hands or go to the blackboard because they might not get it right. Let’s show them how the big kids do it. Let’s tell them we’re going to keep trying…

I’m with C.J. And I’ll go one step farther. What if it is our job to go to the blackboard, when it matters. Even when we’re not sure how it will all turn out?

What if our job, in this life, is to claim what’s in our medicine baskets and raise our hands… for my girls, growing up in this world, and for all the people who come with and after them???

ps… the painting is In the Beginning. The word in the limb of the tree of life is – you guessed it! – tzcar. To remember and remind!

pps… got a hand to raise? Need some help along the path? Let’s talk! The calendar elves will hook you up… 45 min. My gift. (Yep… me raising my hand!)

He is Risen!

Wait, please!

You know how – once you see something new – you can’t not see it in the future? Well, today is about that, in ways which may be new for you, too!

You see, our title phrase, for much of my life, has meant exactly that, on this day.

Easter. Jesus rose from the dead. Hallelujah!

And, yes, I know the stories. And all the words to the hymns. They matter, in so many ways.

Our traditions matter, too.

There are also other stories which matter. Ones I knew less well. Perhaps you knew them less well, too.

But, first… yesterday! I was doing what we preacher types have done on the Saturday before Easter for ages and ages. Makin’ the list and checkin’ it twice.

Weather. Food. Music. Flowers. And a story. Preferably a really catchy one. (There might be visitors!) Things, however, are a little different in my world, these days.

Gratitude for a new roof in the pouring rain… check!

Roses blooming/dripping in the garden… check! (And the merest hint of hydrangea blooms on the way… check!)

Local, sustainably raised chicken in the fridge, preparing to be roasted… check!

The need for a blog post… check! (Blog posts are stories, too!)

All of which led to a hike down memory lane. And that led to wandering through pictures in my phone.

I found the ones which were whispering to me in the 2018 part of the files. The girls were here for Easter. Baskets. Colored eggs. The not-quite-traditional-but-big-fun trip to the aquarium! Dearer memories, still, because they’ve been in Portugal for the last week!

For a few moments, I was going to share them all with you. And then I remembered that the focal points of those visual memories have reached their teen years (!) and like to have photo approval for publication!!!

I did find one I can share with a clean conscience! The one at the top.

It’s very early layers of my very first Muse painting and, it feels Easter-y to me in a way I never noticed before!

Probably because the context is different in these days!

I’m incredibly aware of the confluence of Holy Week and Passover and Ramadan this week. Of all the stories and traditions people dear to me are remembering.

And, I’m more aware than ever before, of the people who were somehow erased from the old stories I learned. Many of them women. And women’s voices. And now I do, indeed, know more!

So, yes… in my heart, He is Risen! means more. More than a sentimental lesson in historical vested interest. More than a way to decide who’s in and who’s out.

Here’s the best of my understanding…

Jesus of Nazareth – Yeshua – was crucified, dead, and buried. On the third day, he rose again. And he lives on – not on a cloud with pink cheeks and a shiny halo – but in the hearts of all who welcome him.

Caution… we’re about to go off script!

I believe he lives on in us so that we can learn more and love better and include more truth in our journeys. And I believe that now is a very good time for a whole lot of that.

One of the ways I’m still learning is through the practice of following a paint brush in my hand, the way the Muse taught me. (It helps a whole lot with the noticing and wondering, which helps even more with eyes to see and ears to hear new truth!)

Which is, I suspect, a very Easter-ish sort of thing!

There’s also Daphne, who was just fine with having her picture included in this story on this day!

It’s not my only prayer for the world. It is a pretty good start!

And one which I believe, with all my heart, is heard by all that I hold Holy.

So, Hallelujah! And, so be it. For all of us who hold love to be Holy, whatever our stories and traditions.

May we have ears to hear!

And breath to tell the stories!

ps… and, paint, too!

pps.. the kids did, indeed, make it home safely!

a, b, c, d, e, f, g…

Just between us, I’m dog paddling pretty fast in a sea of alphabet soup right now.

A deeper sea than usual!

And, yes, I’m painting, too.

And the paintings have a whole lot to say!

In the land of Intentional Creativity® we have an interesting custom known as handing the pen to the painting!

Laugh, if you must… it works!

At the risk of spoiling the mystery, it works by accessing different parts of our consciousness by doing something which feels a lot like playing and is actually magic!

And, today, we have a volunteer! (Well, actually, she insisted!!!)

I am not who I was supposed to be. At least not according to the path laid out for me.

My journey began with the Red Madonna in The Forest of Grandmothers. I had a whole 48″ square canvas! There was lots of drumming. I was excited!

Back then, I looked like the photo way up at the top of the this page. Dots and handprints! Two of my favorite things! (All that pink was a bit of a surprise!)

About then, things got different. Sue had one of those things she calls a hypermobility flare which seems to mean that she hurts a lot and everything gets harder.

After I sat in the studio corner for a while, we decided I could be just as much me on a 24″ square canvas and it would be easier to have fun. It was!

We wrote a whole lot more than we painted in those days. Crone Moon posts, which had a lot to do with being Grandmothers in this world. And we wrote a Manifesta, which means saying what we really think, out loud.

Now I feel more deeply rooted in our lineage than ever before. In those who came before us and those who are coming after.

Which, since I get to tell the truth (!) is feeling more complicated by the day. Around here, we have 2 granddaughters growing up in this world, but all those other Littles are somebody’s too, and they need to matter, too — even to people who think they’re more important than everybody else because they get to make the laws!

I think that’s why there’s a lot of circle calling going on around here. I get to help with my drum!

And we’ve started a new Red Madonna painting called Sanctuary. It’s one of those Medicine Painting things!!! I’m sure there will be lots more to learn. For now, though, I really want to remind you about the Manifesta. It seems like a really good moment to claim these things again! Sue agrees!!!

Here’s your link for the Manifesta!

Whatever else is going on in your world… whether you’re a grandmother or not… it’s a pretty good place to begin!

ps… intrigued by Sanctuary??? You can still sign up — even if you’ve never painted before! And, really, how will you know if you don’t check it out? So, deep breath! And click to learn more. It just might be exactly what you’re longing for in this world, now.

pps… you can get a really snazzy copy of the Manifesta, perfect for framing, if it’s calling to you… just click here! It would be a great gift! Or even an Intention!!! Oh! wander a bit while you’re there! There are leggings like I used to look!!!

What do you see?

Really! I’m curious…

Some of you will see colors. Probably red and blue, with hints of pink and yellow and purple. Even a spot or two of orange.

Perhaps the feng shui book you read years ago is making suggestions! Things like exciting, uplifting, wisdom, spirituality…

Perhaps you see prayer dots. (Me, too!)

Possibly stars.

Many of you will see Intentional Creativity®. And, some of you will suspect you see the beginning of my Red Madonna Sanctuary painting.

All of those things are true.

And, as is so often the case… other things are true, as well!

On Sunday I began this Sanctuary medicine painting. The beginning marks on the first canvas of a year-long journey to places utterly unknown as I begin.

It looked like this:

On Monday, seven people lost their lives in a school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee.

Since then, I have been alternating between staring in disbelief at the news and avoiding it all together.

I cried. I swore. I prayed. I signed petitions online. I cried. I swore. I prayed. I texted my granddaughters, not so much older than the three 9-year olds who did not get home from school two days ago.

I also edited a couple of book chapters, went to some meetings, watched Stephen Colbert, and took care of me.

And, while all those things were going on, I listened.

And then it came.

Stars. The big dipper. And the North Star.

The one that helps us know where we are and how to get where we’re going.

And with the North Star came the big question.

What is my North Star? What do I use to navigate my journey?

I have an answer. Actually, I have several! And they all come together in a place you’ve probably guessed if you’ve been reading along for a while.

I have 2 granddaughters growing up in this world!

That is the reality which holds all the other answers together for me.

The reality which gets me out of bed on the hard days.

The reality which compels me to vote. And write. And plant my garden with signs which lean heavily toward inclusion and human rights.

I also have faith. In my version of the Divine… of the Creator who dwells, still, in and among us. Between us, even, in the spaces where our versions of the Divine may be different.

And I have faith that, while lots of days will still suck, walking the path where my faith leads beats the hell out of not walking it.

What is your North Star?

And what helps you follow it?

If you’d like some ideas, some company on your path, I can help! Just ask the calendar elves to find you some time!

For now, I have more dots to make. Dots for humanity. And sanity!

And Sanctuary.

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