What will we do with the stories?

It’s about one o’clock on Christmas afternoon… at least in Georgia. And, yes, it’s cold!

We’re juggling internet outages and the magic of making the laptop work with a cell phone beside it.

Don’t ask me! I don’t understand any of this… except for the part about our chilly house being way better than having no shelter!

We had planned on a rather minimalist holiday in terms of decorations and fa-la-la-la-la. (Luther doesn’t really understand the Christmas tree, anyway, and he’s having navigational difficulties.)

One of the rather odd traditions around here is watching the movie 1776. And, yes, I know all the words to all the songs… which I first learned in 8th grade English class! The Legendary Husband actually knows most of them, too. (Which, between the two of us, kind of makes the dogs wish they lived somewhere else!)

We did, indeed, watch – and sing – last night.

And, while it’s not exactly Oh Holy Night, it did get me thinking about the stories we all learned along the way, and how those stories turn into beliefs.

[Note: there are portions of 1776 which have taken on whole new associations for me in this season of reports from the January 6 committee.]

There are more stories in my head, as well, for I am reading the actual hardcover edition of Kathleen McGowan’s new book, The Boleyn Heresy, which is more than a bit of a miracle of its own!

Just this morning, I read this:

But as surely as we must remember the reality of death, we are also not to dwell on it. We must also remember to celebrate life (p.73)

So all this is wandering through my consciousness while my beloved friends from Hungary remind me of the story many, many of us claim on this day.

Context really is a huge thing!

And, for me, context leads – as it so often does – to new questions. Here’s mine for this moment:

What will we do with the stories we claim?

If you sit with it for a bit, you’ll probably begin to see the challenges.

The first one is the radical notion that we get to choose! (Which may not be the way you were raised…)

The next one is that much depends on which we we mean!

My deep inner response isn’t easy because I have to admit that this line of pondering works best when taken up by people of good will. Good intention, if you will. And, in this moment, there are those among us who are not people of good will. At least not yet.

And, in those last four words, I’m claiming hope.

The kind of hope that just might let us keep on telling the stories we claim. The stories of good news. Each in our own way. Because that’s how change happens.

The kind of hope that just might let us live what we find holy!

Grace… Light… Hope…

May it be so for you and yours, from me and mine. And may we, you and I, shine in the darkness.

ps… just in case you’re looking for new ways to live some of your stories, I have a suggestion! Shiloh Sophia McCloud’s new livestream Intentional Creativity® class, Matrica happens on Friday, Dec. 30. (There will be a recording, too!) No experience required. We’ve got this! Check it out – soon! – because you may want a few supplies. Guests for the holidays? Make it a party! You only need one ticket per household!!!

Yep! I am still learning…

Frankly, despite the small mountain of diplomas in the basement, there are more things to learn!

Calendar issues are big on my list these days.

Not the bank calendar sorts of things. Monday holidays and what-not.

Not even the liturgical year sorts of things. (Which, once upon a time, felt new and strange to me, too!)

For this moment, I’m thinking Solstice. Specifically, in this hemisphere, the winter one which is happening today.

It feels like kind of a perspective thing.

Shortest day???

Longest night???

Hard to say. Intuitively, I kind of want to go with Most Mystery! (But I’m no expert, yet.)

Here’s what I do believe…

  • Humans mark time. And have for a whole lot longer than we’ve carried calendar apps in our pockets.
  • Some things I didn’t learn in nursing school or seminary could be helpful, still!
  • Inward time is a necessary balance to outward time.
  • I might not be the only one who needs some re-charging.

The reason I think we need re-charging is that there is still more living to do!

And the world needs more of us who make space for noticing and wondering.

For awe, even!

And this feels like a good night for that! (Even if it happens to be cold and wet where you are!)

In case you’re wondering, yes… the paintings are whispering, again!

The one at the top is officially known as Winged Horses! (aka…The Legendary Husband’s Painting, which is to say that it’s Bill’s favorite. And, yes, it has a legend!)

Once upon a time, two writers were talking together about the books they were working on.

One of them asked the other about his reference to winged horses.

The rather surprising answer went something like this: Jesus didn’t come to make people look nice and behave themselves.

Jesus came to make whole new creatures where once there were broken people.

This, many people believe, was a reference to the image in the biblical book, Revelation, of winged horses, like the mythical Pegasus.

Not well-trained regular horses, but whole new creatures!

Perhaps you are wondering how I know such a story…

Well, deep in the midst of my Color of Woman Talisman journey, I had a dream about winged horses and, when I looked up the symbolism, this story is what I learned.

An old story which is “both true and might actually have happened.”

And the legendary writers?

C.S. Lewis speaking with J.R.R. Tolkien. Really!

Now, I’m not suggesting that Tolkien and Lewis were chatting about the Solstice, all those years ago.

Or that the Solstice is about Jesus.

I am suggesting that it might well take whole new people, changed by Love, to get the world to a better place!

So, I’ll be spending some time, in these next few weeks reflecting, intentionally, on the question of what the world needs now, and how I can help!

In fact, I have a helper!

And, yes, her name is What the World Needs Now!

ps… just in case you’re on board with What the World Needs Now! I have a Solstice offer… The original canvas is available for adoption at the very special price of $555!!! I’ll gladly add the dedication of your choice to the back of the canvas. Act fast… this offer is only good through Christmas Day! (And there’s only one!)

pps… it’s not just your imagination! Some experts say that the 555 angel number suggests that significant change is imminent. She’ll help!

ppps… tonight I listened to Ukrainian President Zelensky address a joint session of the US Congress. It is, on this long night, going to take a whole lot of people changed by Love to bring light and peace. May we actually be them!

Happy Holy-days!

At our house it’s the fourth Sunday in Advent. And time for some sweeping in the stable.

Translation: the creche figures which followed me home from Hungary nearly 34 years ago are beginning to take their places.

Next door, our neighbors are celebrating the first night of Hanukkah.

It’s also the day after my Feminine Frequency Festival live video debut!

I doubt seriously that there’s an Emmy in it for me AND I lived through it and learned a lot.

A whole bunch of IT was laid down in that half an hour! Which means more light in this world, now, and that totally works for me!

My dear friend and Intentional Creativity® sister, Natalie Moyes, was hugely helpful!

So, for service above & beyond… The Recipe!

If you missed the presentation, it’s all recorded and you can go check it out.

https://www.facebook.com/100002513322037/videos/850364826274873/

Hint… IT, in this case, refers to beliefs which are not empowering for you!

Even if you don’t make it to Festival Land, you can make cookies. Even if they’re not exactly the way WE always did it, they’re really good!!! (And a great addition to your medicine basket!)

Pecan Crunch Cookies

These are the mythical cookies that made my dad propose to my mom when he went home from college with her for Christmas break. When they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, he said it had been worth it for all the cookies! Granny made round and crescent moon shaped cookies.

The round ones are easier to roll and bake better without breaking. (I suspect Granny liked the moon ones so she could eat all the crumbs.) These are basically just enough dough to hold the pecans together! Especially if you’re baking with kids, I’d go with the balls.

Equipment Note: This dough gets pretty stiff. Whatever mechanical advantages you want or have will be helpful, though you’ll have to finish mixing by hand.

Ingredient Note: Unless you just like cracking pecans and picking them, and have about a week free, don’t be a shero on this one. Get good, current crop pecans, papershells in the South, cracked by somebody with a porch and a rocking chair. Those statues that look like scary toy soldiers are not the men for this job!

Preheat oven to 250°F. These work well with 2 sheets baking in the oven at once, evenly spaced.

In a bowl for your chosen mixing method, cream:

1 c. room-temp unsalted, organic butter and 6 Tbsp. powdered (confectioner’s) sugar (I like 10x which means it’s finer) until mixture is like whipped cream.

Add and mix in well:

2 Tbsp. real, preferably organic, vanilla extract and 1 lb. pecans, chopped to a med. size.

1 large pinch sea salt.

Stir in gradually, mixing well:

2 c. organic, sprouted grain (or all-purpose) flour.

Roll into small balls with the palms of your hands, about the size of a quarter or 1 neat mouthful. Press well together but don’t press so hard that they crumble.

Place close together, but not touching, on ungreased cookie sheets. These don’t grow.

Bake very slowly @ 250°F., really just drying them out, for 1 hour. They’ll be only a tiny bit browned. While cookies are still hot, roll in small bowls full of:

More powdered sugar. Roll cookies quickly to cover and set aside on layers of paper towel.

Continue until all cookies are baked.

Store in airtight cans or glass jars between layers of waxed paper. They’ll keep a week to 10 days, less long in humid areas. Gotta eat faster!

ps… the Legendary Husband was also hugely helpful with all the Festival stuff. Plus, he survived my tech-angst and vocabulary challenges! (The badly timed “crash” and my dead keyboard didn’t help much!) This is medal of honor work!!!

pps… huge thanks, as well, to Uncle Walter, and to C.S. Lewis’ friend, Puddleglum, who has been a powerful guide in my journey with the notion of beliefs! Curious??? Here’s the gist of the story from a slightly different Holy-day: https://sueboardman.wpengine.com/st-puddleglum/

Of Beliefs and Muscles and Old Quaker Sayings…

I had quite the ah-hah! during my last Physical Therapy appointment. A bit of context will be helpful…

Beth Kemper works with a piece of equipment that, at least from the client’s perspective, looks a bit like the sketch I made. It’s called a Red Cord machine.

I am, to say the least, a beginner! Beth, however, is a genius. And, she listens!

So, there I was, exploring our new plan to strengthen some of the muscles involved in the wandering and getting stuck my left knee cap uses to make my life more exciting these days.

It didn’t take long for the learning to begin in earnest!

The plan was to stand with my weight on my right (better) leg, while my left foot was supported in a small hammock-y thing attached to big bungie cords.

Then, I was to move my left leg gently. This, dear friends, is where things fell apart.

There’s a band of muscles that runs up the front of the body, from the arch of each foot, up the leg, on up the abdomen and then up to somewhere in the shoulder/neck vicinity.

All the muscles have different jobs, and names.

Once upon a time, I could spell all those names!

About 30 seconds into the whole stand on right with left in hammock bit, that band of muscles on my right side had a fit.

Everything locked up. And hurt. A lot.

Things started improving as soon as my left foot made it back to the floor and I was, once again, standing on two legs.

And then the light bulb came on! (Go with me, here…)

Despite the reality that my left leg was the one doing the new movement thing, the muscles in my right leg were terrified. Nothing about that adventure felt safe.

Which is to say that nothing about it felt familiar.

Which led my mind directly to what my paintbrushes have helped me learn about my Inner Critic and my Muse!

The simple version of this realization is that, while the Critic and the Muse both love us, the Critic is utterly convinced that new equals scary, which equals bad!

The Muse, on the other hand, is inclined toward, Hmmm… I wonder what might happen next!

All of this realizing happened in an instant.

Blessedly, that inner lightbulb – that question in my head – allowed my terrified muscles to relax!

Beth was relieved, too!

The moral of this story is, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, that muscles aren’t the only things that work this way!

So, tomorrow, I’m headed back for another learning experience in PT Land, with an old Quaker saying written on the inside of my left hand, where I can check it as often as I need to:

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

And, Saturday, I’m going to help some folks just like you lay down some of the beliefs that might be holding you back from what you long for… all the info is just below. And it’s free! And there are re-runs! And gifts! And lots of other fabulous women leading fabulous things!

ps… I’ll be Laying it down… on Saturday, 12/17 at 2pm ET. Here’s all the info on the fabulous Feminine Frequency Festival! Sign up. See all of our classes, workshops, meditations, performances, and more: https://bit.ly/frequency22

pps… you could win a tank top like Daphne’s! Just sign up for Laying it down… and enter your email when you attend, for gifts and a chance at the cool prize! Grandmother Moon will be thrilled!

On this day and in this place…

Today I did something I never dreamed of doing.

At least not consciously.

Something I never really believed was possible.

Well, not for me.

You see, WE don’t do things like that.

Which turns out, I’m reasonably certain, to mean that we don’t remember doing things like that.

I’m warm. And cold. Laughing. And crying.

I’m also glad that I learned, somewhere along the way, that the reactions our bodies have to being anxious and excited are physiologically the same.

It really is a matter of naming.

And, yes, I’m going with excited.

You, perhaps, are curious. And there will no doubt be more information to follow. You know… stories along the path.

Invitations, even.

Because, the one thing I know for sure is that I will be changed.

I already am!

And, in a way I’m just going to have to share!!!

For now, another piece of Red Thread for my wrist.

A candle to switch on… which is handy from the unexpected power outage a bit earlier!

A saint medal or two to polish. (Really!)

Some more eye medicine for Phoebe. Doctor’s orders!

And, a bit of supper before a meeting.

Which is rather a lot like sacred in the midst of this world. Now.

ps… speaking of sacred, check this out! A totally FREE, amazing Festival led by a global group of women, including my teachers, Shiloh Sophia McCloud & Elayne Kalila Doughty, and – well – me! Go here and join the group. A list of all the offerings (like 5 days worth!) will be posted Monday. Elves willing, there will be recordings of everything and LOTS of free gifts! (Including my intro to the one tool in my Medicine Basket I couldn’t do without!)

https://www.facebook.com/groups/femlightworkers/posts/8453281021380308/?comment_id=8455966121111798&reply_comment_id=8461104170597993

pps… we’re running short on shipping time for holidays! Get an extra 10% off at check out on items already discounted… original paintings, giclee prints, fab one of a kind hats & bags. Do Santa proud at FierceArtWithHeart!

The things called beliefs…

You’re invited! On a trip in the way-back machine!

We’re going to start in St. Louis, Missouri in the early 1960’s.

Think first grade.

Disclaimer… what follows is not meant to pick on anybody. Instead, it is – as close as I can recall – what my world felt like in that moment and that place. That context, if you will.

My folks built a house. A story and a half Cape Cod with wood floors, two bathrooms, and a fireplace for hanging Mom’s hand-knit Christmas stockings.

Our street was a cul-de-sac with 13 homes. And 57 children! I attended the public elementary school, as did Gary from across the street. A few of the kids were old enough for Jr. High. The rest of the gang attended the local Catholic elementary school.

(It is parenthetically interesting to note that Vatican II was going on in those years, though I had no idea about that, back then.)

What I do remember is the kids from Catholic families teasing Gary and me as we walked to school on Holy Days. Well, teasing, if that includes telling first graders they’re going to Hell for going to school!

My dad responded by grilling steaks outside on Friday evenings while most of our neighbors dined on Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks.

I, who thought we were all supposed to get along, was confused, to say the least.

What I didn’t know then is that all of this was happening before we kids reached the developmental age of abstract thought.

And I emerged, as happens, from those years with certain notions we might also call beliefs.

One of them was that only Catholic kids could wear the pretty necklaces with medals of saints on them.

We didn’t have saints!

We also didn’t have Advent. Or images in our church. And, even though I really wanted one, I wasn’t allowed a plaid, pleated skirt to wear to school.

I did get good at learning new things and I’m really glad because it’s one of my favorite things, still! Especially since the whole abstract thought thing kicked in.

Frankly, though, it hasn’t all gotten easy yet!

Fast forward to the late 1980’s!

Me, as a student at Columbia Theological Seminary, preparing to be what we used to call a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

I had many amazing teachers and dear friends and opportunities to experience really big things.

And, there were days when I felt like I was back in St. Louis, trying to figure out who, exactly, was us and who was them.

Fast forward to now. These days, I’m a teaching elder! And, yes, I am still learning.

One of the things I’m learning about is my ancestors. They’re an interesting lot. And it feels pretty hard to stick in them boxes, now that I know they’re us.

Some shifting of beliefs has been helpful!

Turns out not all the witches lived in Oz!

Two of my great aunts were hanged as witches in Salem. They were sisters. Mary and Alice. Hanged on the same day. Alice was exhonorated about 300 years later.

There were others, as well, in the old countries. I know their names, too.

Also saints! At least six of them, at last count. And I do, indeed, have medals for some of them hanging around my neck.

The point of all this as it relates to beliefs???

Well, a whole lot of what we learned to believe, we learned before we were neurologically ready for the big picture. Before we could do our own noticing and wondering, and make our own choices.

Now we can, if only we will let ourselves!

And that feels like really empowering news to me!

Fair warning, though. It may involve some laying down of old beliefs once we realize they aren’t working!

For today, though, the second Advent candle – the candle for Shalom/Peace – is lit, in the blind dog safe version. So be it. For you and yours. For me and mine. For all of us.

ps… I’m speaking during the Feminine Frequency Festival – a global gathering of women light leaders. I’ll be leading a 30 min. event called Laying it Down! on Dec. 17 at 2pm ET. It’s FREE and I’d love for you to join in! We’re going to work on laying down old beliefs. Really! Click the link at the time of my presentation: https://www.facebook.com/groups/femlightworkers Or, type my name into the search ???? icon and I should appear! This will also be a powerful networking opportunity! This gathering represents a diverse lineup of powerful women presenters dedicated to sharing wisdom, inspiration, and uplift-ment.

The funny thing about painting…

I am, by nature, a word person.

The images I create and learn from and marvel at are a whole new language… and a vastly different perspective for me.

And, like a favorite book that says something new every time you read it, they keep teaching me.

This tiny glimpse of a huge painting I learned as Our Lady of Bountiful Earth is one of those which is teaching me, still.

These days, she’s known as In the Beginning. And she sits there on the canvas, in the midst of the mythical Garden, deep in prayer.

Gratitude, certainly.

For family and friends. For time together. For toes in the ocean. For many hands baking pies. For stories. For dreams.

Intercession, as well.

For returning home in the midst of the Georgia Senate run-off. For sanity. For justice. For voice and choice. For the future of our beloved Littles.

For timeless dreams carved in the tree which shelters her… For steadfast love. For remembrance. For creating.

For a world… a planet… able to sustain bountiful life.

The painting is an epic adventure.

Not simply one which ended when it was pronounced good.

An adventure which, if we are paying attention, continues to play out in every moment.

An adventure in which I have a part.

As do you.

And, yes, I believe this with all my Fiercely Compassionate Grandmother’s heart.

Tomorrow, The Legendary Husband and I are going to vote.

And then, the Divine willing, we’ll keep listening. And learning. And working for a world that is bountiful for more and more beings. Instead of fewer and fewer.

Painting will, I am certain, be involved!

Stories, too!

For this moment, though… so be it for you and yours as well.

ps…there’s a big sale happening in the land of FierceArtWithHeart. You’re invited!!!

pps… just in case you, too, are in the midst of the listening, learning, working adventure, and would like some help along the way, I’m here! Just CLICK HERE to get the calendar elves to set you up with a bit of Red Thread time for tea and making plans! (My gift to you!)

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