Good tidings of mixed metaphors!

It’s been a bit of a week!

Blessedly negative Covid tests for one of our girls. Uncertainty over holiday plans. Very large dogs to get ready for Camp.

Ready, I might add, without blowing the secret. They get REALLY excited when they figure it out!

Lots of (less exciting) laundry to do. Well, you know the drill…

Along with a Nancy Drew adventure with the email elves. (I hope I figured it out!)

Painting. Planning for new workshops coming in February. (Think Unsticking Stuck Stuff!”)

Rapidly multiplying lists of questions.

Last minute cyber-elfing.

And an utterly amazing bit of time to hang out with Shiloh Sophia and Jonathan McCloud in a virtual place known as Revisioning.

If you made it, too… Hallelujah!

If you didn’t, click here for a second chance, via video.

I’m not quite sure I can explain it, yet. It’s about the wisdom which lives in our bodies and something called a Choice Cascade which helps us put that wisdom to work, with coherence, in the service of what I think of as our Big Why.

One of the things I’ve learned over the last months is just how helpful it is to claim that Big Why and make choices in ways that support it.

If you’ve taken the Intentional Grandmothers Archetype Quiz, you’ve met a way my Why is taking form. (If you haven’t, I’m so hoping you will! Grandmothers, folks who think like grandmothers, and even very brave grandfathers are welcome!)

It’s free, quick, easy, fun, and, according to lots of folks who’ve already taken the leap, a powerful way to feel seen and claim their power. I’ll put a link at the end.

First, the Grinch. The “real” one. Not Jim Carey.

I’m betting you know the story. Bill and I watched last night. One of our traditions.

Despite the Grinch’s claim that, “I must find some way to keep Christmas from coming,” it does, of course, come anyway.

Christmas in a spiritual sense, for some of us.

Christmas in a deeply human sense for many, many more of us… “heart to heart and hand to hand”.

Which feels to me like something that would be pretty useful about now. The stories about who we were created to be that can’t be shoved up the chimney and stolen, no matter how hard some might try.

Dr. Seuss’s heroine was little Cindy Lou Who who helped generations of us learn – as I might phrase it – to sing anyway, however we can!

The wee one in the photo is one of our little Cindy Lou Who tribe. And a living, breathing Big Why in my world. All of our littles are.

And my choice cascade involves singing anyway, despite a lifetime of folks who tried to convince me that the world would probably be happier if I didn’t. Literally, at least.

There’s room for LOTS of us!

Take the quiz! Schedule a chat. Plan for some individual time, or a workshop.

Christmas Day is in our grasp. As long as we have hands to clasp.

ps… we’re a bit past the moment for Christmas deliveries, but there’s lots of fun Big Why gifts and art at FierceArtWithHeart!

Opening to new voices…

Okay, I need your help! If you run into The Muse, please don’t mention that her brilliantly inspired blog post for today is now next in line for Wednesday! (She’s already insisting that I pack a photo so she can keep me up to speed on my upcoming adventure!)

For this moment, though, a couple of new voices in my world.

I went to church in Canada this morning! (Well, virtually…) Bedford United Church in Nova Scotia was celebrating this third Sunday in Advent with a Christmas Cantata a’ la current context. And a member of my chosen family was singing!

What a wonder-full place for me to be!

With a welcome lack of formality, and a large dose of community, my new friends lit candles and sang songs and miraculously included everybody with language and images and sounds, both familiar and fresh. And, perhaps most of all, with smiles.

Smiles we could see because the choir had been rapid tested and given the go-ahead to sing sans masks.

Miracles are, indeed, in the eyes of the beholders!

Time out for a funny…

Someone typed into the chat, during the service, that it was “Church with many Newfies”.

Given the context, I suspect they meant 2-footed visitors from Newfoundland.

What they didn’t know was that there were also two of the 4-footed Newfies enjoying from Atlanta!

And, while we’re talking about bear-ish beasties… some wisdom from another new teacher. Maria Yraceburu is an Indigenous Elder who is helping me learn about star constellations and ancient myths.

It is, as I may have mentioned, a bit of a challenge as stargazing is an adventure in Atlanta. Suffice it to say that I’ve had to find new ways to do my homework.

A star chart for Atlanta skies in December of 2021 helps a lot. (Which is something of a wonder right there!)

The Muse decided to get involved, too, and sent me a dream. It was filled with bear-ish beasties of the more traditional variety.

A bit of research revealed that the constellations of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor are home to the only two constellations I’ve ever really known consciously with my eyes and heart. (The big and little dippers.)

This, according to Maria, is because I am Bear Clan.

I’m still learning what that means. What I can tell you, for now, is that I feel like I belong.

I can also tell you that I like learning new things!

So, meet some “new” members in the fam photo, all of whom have been living here for ages!

Not really so hard to wrap my head around bears when you consider that I’ve also discovered among the uncles a Catholic Pope, and an Archbishop of Canterbury, as well as a couple of distant grandfathers, beheaded for their faith, and a great aunt hanged as a witch.

Fascinating. Tragic, some of it. But, for me, the bigger issue is what I do with all of this learning in order to be a force for better in the world my girls are inheriting.

I’ll keep you posted!

For now there’s a dog-bear barking out back and a whole batch of Forest of Grandmothers paint videos to watch.

ps… still haven’t taken the Intentional Grandmothers Archetype Quiz??? Yep… click the pretty colored link! It’s fast, easy, fun, and free!

pps… when you take the quiz, it would be great if you’d confirm your email. That way you’ll get way more info and some goodies!

What if?

For the past 6-ish weeks, I’ve been engaged in an experiment known as Get It Done Lab, the brain child of Samantha Bennett and her team.

First… the punch line. I have, in fact, been getting a whole lot of “it” done!

Next… a bit more of the story.

As part of our adventure, Sam has been sending out daily emails. Super quick. Pointed, even. And they all begin with the same two words…

What if?

If you’ve been reading along for a bit, you’ve probably already guessed that this is an approach that really works for me!

Day 40’s email said this:

What if…. you forgave everyone everything?

What if, indeed?

But, for many of us, there’s another obvious question… How?

If we’re being real, forgiving can be really hard. And that sentence led me on the proverbial rabbit trail – figuratively, at least – to the endless bookshelves in our basement.

(Okay, with a bit of help from Google, I found what I needed to know in my phone and didn’t need to tackle the stairs!)

The book in question is titled, Is Human Forgiveness Possible? by Dr. John Patton.

John was one of my seminary professors. I read the book for a short course while I was doing my DMin. and serving a church in Virginia.

Here’s the gist of what I remember…

No, we can’t make ourselves feel forgiving.

We can choose – or intend, as I’d say these days – to allow forgiving to happen within us.

Which doesn’t make it any less a challenge!

Think about our world.

For me, it often feels overwhelming with the need for personal forgiveness – which is sometimes the easier part – to political forgiveness and ancestral forgiveness and… well, fill in what works for you.

Here’s what I do know…

Feeling forgiveness might just be connected to feeling thankful.

And symbolizing forgiveness often helps. (Think paintbrushes, or music, or…)

And forgiveness doesn’t mean putting up with whatever harm others might heap on us. It just means declining to harm ourselves further by holding onto hate.

At the risk of being redundant… it’s hard. Perhaps the hardest thing many of us will ever learn. And one of those things we probably need to learn over and over.

But, all that being said, what might we do with the energy it takes to hold grudges? To hate? To look back instead of forward?

I’m feeling blessed by a whole lot of teachers who’ve helped me learn – along a pretty complicated road – to intend forgiveness.

And by the possibility that I might just be one of those teachers for someone else.

For this moment, though, there is a Hearth to tend and an email to write and a big dog who needs to be brushed.

A big dog who, by the way, has taught me a whole lot about forgiveness.

And about being thankful for the kind folks in the world. Like you!

Blessings, from Phoebe and Luther and the Legendary Husband and me!

ps… should you be tempted to shop for creative gifts, I’d be thrilled if you’d wander through the updated FierceArtWithHeart shop and let me know what you think. There’s even a print of “Heart of Creation”! (The elves have decided that holiday discounts are in order and shipping is free in the USA!)

pps… Intentional Creativity® can help with the forgiving thing. There are new things on the horizon! email me if you’d like more information… suesvoice@gmail.com

Mixed metaphors, a bit more heresy… and a recipe!

My Granny, on my mom’s side of the fam, used to tell a certain story before big holiday meals. Imagine her frown and clenched teeth, please.

It seems Granny and most of the family would work and work and bake and roast and fry and bake some more to spread the table with some really great food for big gatherings.

Except for one particular Aunt. Aunt Madge, I believe, but don’t hold me to it.

It seems she showed up for such events with the same contribution every time.

A pound of butter and a jar of olives.

I’ve got the butter managed. We’ll skip the olives until Christmas!

I’ll also admit that this blog post is feeling a bit like one of those big pot luck events as it hatches in my head.

I spent much of today taking photos and writing descriptions of the kind of art pieces around here that are looking for forever homes.

That, with frequent breaks to count the quarts of bone broth in the freezer – we’ve got to have gravy!

And keeping up with the world.

You can check my Facebook page for a whole bunch of the stuff I related to. Here’s a hint about a favorite, with thanks to my buddy, Lori Knight-Whitehouse…

A reprint of an article the amazing Anne Lamott wrote years ago about Thanksgiving. She was discussing the issue of table grace in her family and lamenting the fact that they were inclined in the direction of Cheers. Bottoms up. Dig in! while wee Annie longed for words she heard around the tables of friends.

And that reminded me of Dave when he was just getting the hang of pronouncing what he heard… you see, he and I did the traditional God is great… thing before meals. This was what my dear, kind boy heard. And repeated with care:

God is great. God is good. And we thank God for our food. Bite God’s hands and all be fed.

Give us, Lord, our gravy bread.

I must add that my little guy was enormously proud of his participation.

And, much to everyone’s dismay, I didn’t correct him. In fact, I cried the first time he managed it in the more usual fashion. I’m still pretty sure the Divine was delighted all along.

Which, in a stream of consciousness sort of fashion, brings us to Iron Chef America. The gang has been keeping me company as I work.

In one of my all time favorite episodes, Iron Chef Guarnaschelli is matched with a challenger who describes himself as a Norwegian Japanese Black guy. The secret ingredient was lamb. The whole critter! As it turned out, Chef Justin Sutherland took the winner’s bow, wearing a hat that read, In Diversity We Trust.

I’m thankful for that!

Now, for the promised main event…

Since I’ve already confessed to the heresy of not doing turkey the way we’ve always done it, it’s time to move on from Wednesday’s brining directions … there’s still time… to the part that smells so good. Actual roasting!

Of course, you’ll need your bird thawed, even if you skipped the dry brining process. (Note: It can take up to 3 days to thaw an 18-20 pound turkey in the fridge!) For Gorgeous Juicy Turkey, you’ll want to plan on roughly 2 hours for roasting and 1/2 hour for resting. See * below for additional info on timing according to turkey size!

A small amount of math is inevitable.

Remove your lovely bird from the fridge about 4 hours before you’re planning to serve your fabulous dinner. Allow it to sit out and come to cool room temp…about an hour. Put it somewhere the dogs really can’t reach it!

Preheat oven to 525 degrees F. 

Pour out any juices from the inside of the turkey and the bottom of the pan and discard. Pat the bird gently dry, inside and out, trying not to disturb any remaining brine mixture on the skin.

If you brined, no additional salt or pepper is needed!

(If you didn’t brine ahead of time, remove any innards, etc. now and generously season the inside of the turkey with good sea salt and freshly ground black or mixed peppercorns. )

Your marvelous dressing goes into a pan to bake. Trust me. (Sorry Granny!)

Fill the cavity with aromatics. Try a mix of your favorites… any combination of these will add to the cooking juices, keeping the turkey moist and making tasty gravy. (This part will take about 1/2 hour of our 4 hour timeline.)

  • Quartered onion, skin on.
  • A whole garlic bulb, cut in half.
  • A quartered, cored, firm organic apple.
  • 3-4 bay leaves, preferably fresh, crushed briefly to release oils.
  • A handful of fresh thyme sprigs. 
  • A fresh lemon, cut in half.
  • Rosemary and sage are good too, but may overtake other flavors. Tread lightly!
  • Any stems from fresh parsley you may have around.

After the cavity is filled, tie the wings and legs, pulling them close to the body with kitchen string so your bird will roast more evenly.

Then, scrub and roughly chop about:

  • 6 small carrots.
  • 3 – 4 peeled onions.
  • 6 ribs of organic celery, including some leaves if desired.

Place chopped veg in your roasting pan, forming a “rack” for the turkey. Place trussed bird, breast side up, on the veg.

Put in 525 degree oven for 11 minutes. Reduce oven temp to 400 degrees and continue to roast. 

(Any yummy veggies you’re roasting for dinner will do well at the same 400 F.)

Baste turkey every 20 minutes or so with good olive oil (or melted, unsalted butter), using a small brush.

* Alice Waters says to figure about 12 minutes per pound for a 15-pound, unstuffed turkey and fewer minutes/pound for larger birds. If you’re roasting our mythical 18-20 pound bird, start checking temp about 1 hour 45 min. after you reduced the oven to 400 F. by inserting an instant read thermometer into the deepest part of the breast, making sure tip does not touch the bone. Check the plump part of the inner thigh the same way. As amazing as this sounds, my 18-pound birds are brown, sexy, and beautifully done 2 hours after I turn the oven down to 400 degrees! Cook to 160 degrees F. on your thermometer.

If you jiggle the ends of the legs, they will move freely and whatever juice comes out when you take out the thermometer will be clear. Remove your gorgeous bird to a deep platter or cutting board with grooves for the juice and allow it to rest for 30 minutes. If you like crispy skin, leave it uncovered!

Remove the string. Carve your masterpiece as desired, adding the juices to your gravy.

Enjoy, with thanks in your own fashion. I’m thankful for you!

ps… save the non-gnawed bones for broth! Dogs don’t get cooked bones!!!

pps…so hoping you’ll resist doing all your Black Friday shopping before Wednesday’s blog! All that work on photos of art I mentioned??? BIG changes coming to Fierce Art With Heart! Details here in 3 days. If you just can’t resist, there are lots of new listings up, and holiday prices, now. I just haven’t finished all the “decorating”! Hint – everything that isn’t an original painting or a giclee print is in the collection called, “Small Things.” The elves appreciate your patience!!!

My head feels a bit like this…

I suspect you’ve been here, too!

Lots of things on your list. Many of them feeling huge. It’s not necessarily the most comforting place to be.

Especially on about four hours of sleep!

At some point in what passed for morning around here, I happened to check the groovy moon phase app on my phone. (This is definitely a growing edge in my education!)

We are currently in a waxing Gibbous phase, which means growing toward the full moon.

According to the app elves, my advice for this day was:

Break new ground, get back to the things you have been putting off, turn your creativity into success. Your family and home will benefit the most from this lucky day.

Maybe it was enough to shift some of the stressful stuff from right in front of my face to a bit farther out of focus. Or, maybe, the lack of solar guys crawling all over the house improved my perspective.

In any event, for some reason, today I could see how many things I could make better just in the course of wandering through the house.

So, I spent the day putting away and straightening and recycling as I made my way from one official thing to another.

You know the way..

On the way to the studio? Take the new box of neurographia pens and put them away!

Waiting for soup to bubble on the stove? Clean some stuff out of the fridge. (I mean, how many tiny partial bowls of bar-b-que sauce do we really need???)

Stashing a book on the bedside table? Scoop up a load of sheets and head for the washer!

Is a day like this going to save the world?

Nope!

But, it did let me get some stuff done on a very tired day.

Possibly because I put the energy it takes to ignore things to good use… And, I got some extra movement in there, too!

All of which suggests, not only with the moon app elves, but with a lot of the things I’ve been learning lately, that I am, indeed, a bit closer to creating good things with creativity.

Also, for the things that weren’t going so well, but need to, I actually asked for some help!

One day, as the old saying goes, at a time… with much love from me and the Studio Angels who are, not surprisingly, sound asleep!

ps… the painting is deep under-layers of a journey called Codex.

St. Puddleglum

You know how an old story or an old song will suddenly burst with new meaning when you’re in a different place on your journey? Well, I’m having one of those moments!

Fair warning… this may be one of those stories where you kind of had to be there but, if you’ll hang with me, I’m betting you’ll find a spark of something just for you!

The story seems to start — but of course it doesn’t — on a teaching retreat I was blessed to attend with the folks from Channel Your Genius Academy this weekend.

Our topic was, in its most basic sense, getting un-stuck. (At least that’s what I heard through my filters from other traditions!)

The ah-ha moment for me had to do with MOTION as a key to getting where I want to go.

(Time out for duh’s and laughter!)

The thing is, we were talking about both literal and metaphorical motion.

After years of pain and orthopedic challenges, I’m all over the metaphorical kind of motion but more than a little resistant to the literal.

We’ll return to this in a bit.

First, calendar check!

“Today” is Halloween. Here’s our coping strategy…

But, today being Halloween means that tomorrow is All Saints Day and that gives me a chance to tell, once again, one of my favorite seminary stories.

Dr. Walter Brueggemann preaching in chapel on All Saints 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 perhaps 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 yesterday, in the midst of our retreat, I realized that part of the power is that Puddleglum is MOVING, even though anybody with half an ounce of sense knows it’s scary!

If you’ve been reading along for a bit, you know that I’m partial to questions. So, predictably, I asked a few in that retreat, which involved rather a lot of risking being the odd kid on my part.

One of those questions had to do with HOW we started putting what we were learning to work for us.

The answer, from Mellissa, our slightly quirky fearless leader, following in the footsteps of one of her biggest teachers, was GIRAFFE.

Really!

And then I got it. You see, the glimpse of the painting with which we began is known as Blossom and Aria. Aria is the Abundance Muse with the winged eye. Blossom is the mystical giraffe who appeared beside her in the last stages of the painting, despite the fact that I had no idea how or why to paint a giraffe.

Now I know more.

Specifically, that MOTION, now known as GIRAFFE, is the key to the abundance of body, mind, spirit, and community I so desire. I suspect it will take many kinds of motion. Today, I’m starting with dog brushing!

For now, may you feel your Saints believing for you, and believe for someone else.

ps… Lately, I’ve come to realize that Grandmothers are especially suited for Walter’s notion of being saints… of believing for our littles when they can’t quite believe for themselves!

Massaged. Napped. Packed.

You know how, before you set out on a journey, your head tends to spin with all kinds of thoughts and things to do? Well, this day has been like that!

The Journey is Legend. Like plane reservations and a safe place to stay, I’ve already begun in the sense of stocking up on paint, washing brushes from Insight, and beginning my journal.

My Muse, known these days as Charlotte, is ready! Ready enough that she had me out of bed at about 4:30 this morning, editing quiz questions and results descriptions. Charlotte doesn’t want anything to be missed while I’m wandering!

Eventually, she was content enough to be quiet while I snuck in a chair-nap.

I woke to about a ton of email, including a very exciting piece I’d been hoping for. Twelve new family members for my tree. (Several of my paintings are thrilled!)

It’s my Gramma Elsie’s family again. All four great-grandparents, 36 generations into the mists! One of them, a woman I know at the moment only as Leutgarde d’ Auvergne who was born in 935 CE. Really!

It boggles my mind!

And, clearly, I have some more exploring to do for I hear, thundering in the background of my awareness, Walter Brueggemann imploring me to, “Just tell the story!”

But, time out for a massage. Charlotte was almost as delighted as I was, for we cannot go adventuring if we’re not taking care of ourselves!

Jessica is amazing in all kinds of mystical energy ways. She’s also a gifted artist! (Stay tuned…)

Wandering through all this, the notion of medicine basket.

The photo is the non-traditional version which followed me home from Italy just about 3 years ago, along with a few other items essential to journeys like Legend.

In a way, a major contextual question of this moment in time is, What’s in our medicine baskets?

It’s not a new question. It is, perhaps, more urgent.

And, just between us, I’m grateful for a powerful journey that is happening in the relative safety of my studio, among the 4-footed angels.

There are many, many unknowns. What I do know is this… I’ll come home with more medicine for my basket.

In fact, I think I’ve already found the first bit.

When I was doing the chair-nap thing this morning, a lioness appeared and strongly suggested that she’d like to be included!

We shall see…

For now, Safe Journeys wherever they lead you and yours…

ps… if you’re looking for another journey option, here’s a fun one… fierceartwithheart! (You won’t need a big bag. We ship!)

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