Mixed Metaphor Alert!!!

…Or, when shoulding on yourself quits working!

Which is a whole lot like time for the Medicine Basket!

Let’s start with the #work-still-in-progress painting, above. It may feel familiar.

It’s an opinionated project, so far! The working title is Laying it Down…

It as in beliefs which aren’t empowering. And, even in the only begun stage, it’s a great reminder which I’m really glad I had standing by for this last week!

Here’s the thing… we’re not just talking about head-beliefs!

Body and heart beliefs matter, too!

And a whole bunch of mine – all kinds – seem to have gotten riled up since my trip with Luther to the Rainbow Bridge.

As in: I should be able to handle this!

Yesterday’s trip to physical therapy was an intentional exercise in laying a whole bunch of those beliefs down.

We began with some adjustments and instructions for my new strength trainer… aka: rollator walker.


It’s not that the mobility thing is suddenly worse, though it’s been a challenge for a while.

Instead, I suddenly need it to be a whole lot better. Less scary. More reliable. (Details, eventually…)

And that kind of need involves a boatload of believing that it can change!

And that involves laying down whatever shoulda-coulda-woulda junk is taking up space where hope could live in my Medicine Basket.

So, a learner’s permit from my friend, the PT!

And, then, some time known as soothing.

Specifically, Craniosacral Therapy.

I can’t explain it… except that it shifts things. (And it’s pretty relaxing!)

Then, home to the place known as the real world.

Chair. Lunch. Really, really dark chocolate. Meetings. The adventurous kind.

You know… out of the box! Most of them having to do with what comes after the laying it down bit.

A good conversation with my kid… the birthday dude.

Then, the apparently misguided notion that I was ready to sleep.

I tried! In fact, I tried until about 2:30 am.

And then, the magic chair. Book. Weighted blanket. And, eventually, sleep.

Complete with dreams about cats! (Go ahead and be surprised… that really doesn’t happen much around here!)

Except that I discovered, while swinging from the branches of my family tree a couple of days ago, a new Great Aunt, many, many generations back. Another of the handful of related Saints nobody ever mentioned. Here’s my favorite photo:

Yep! The Patron Saint of Cats is my Aunt Gertrude! My sister is very excited!!!

Here’s what else I know about Aunt Gert so far… She was born in what is now Belgium, in 626 CE. Like other women in her prominent family, she chose – with her mother’s help – to escape an arranged marriage of the politically and financially beneficial sort, and establish a monastery for women dedicated to living their faith and helping people.

And that tells me that she was also a fan of laying down beliefs which were not empowering!

And it also suggests that some of my tendencies in the same direction just might come from a long line of women who found hope in choosing to fill their Medicine Baskets with tools for change.

At least, that’s what I heard when I woke!

ps… bizarre question! Would you help me with my soul homework??? If yes, please respond to the questions below in the comments or by email… suesvoice@gmail.com Sending huge thanks in advance!!!

Assuming that YOU are ready for some help with your big dreams – your soul homework – Which of these gift-steps feels LEAST terrifying to you??? (Extra thanks for a note about what feels best about your choice!)

  1. An ah-hah, now I know more-type quiz
  2. An on-demand video adventure in perspective shifting
  3. Something I can read, on my own time
  4. Staying stuck

I chose!

Today, I stayed late in the bed. (Well, later than usual!)

Snuggled under the new weighted blanket, which really does seem to help with the sleeping!

Choosing to take care of me.

Tea, later. Time for reading, both fascinating and helpful!

Phone off. And, yes, Joan Baez singing in the background.

Compassion essential oil in the diffuser.

Deeply nourishing comfort food. And some really, really dark chocolate.

Then – you guessed it – dots.

Lots and lots and lots of dots!!!

My #work-in-progress buddy kindly agreed to help.

Call them prayer dots or dots of intention. Call them painting or meditating. Call them a strategy for soothing. Call them whatever works for you.

In my case, they are all of that, plus a fair helping of trauma healing. The place where healing meets neuroplasticity meets art. And a medicine basket essential!

On this day, the dots were tied to my three claimed words for 2023.

Courage. Purpose. Perseverance.

All three primary processing patterns working together by choice. And the dots helped.

You see, yesterday was a very hard day.

It was time for the biggest of the big Studio Angels, Luther, to cross the Rainbow Bridge.

I’m not really up to all the details. Technically, we might say something along the lines of rapid onset dementia.

The part that matters is that he suddenly became confused and lost and scared.

And I promised him, a long time ago, that he didn’t have to feel that way ever again.

I am beyond grateful for our wise and compassionate support system. For the help in setting him free.

Not surprisingly, he is teaching me, still. Predictably, with a question…

What would it take for me to give myself permission to take a whole day for what I need??? No shame. No blame. No guilt. Just love.

And support for my intention…

Courage. Purpose. Perseverance.

I know we’ve talked about words for 2023 before. I don’t know what yours might be, if you’ve claimed some.

What I do know is this…

Moving in the direction of those words – being empowered by them – is going to mean giving ourselves permission to choose what our spirits need. No shame. No blame. No guilt. Just love.

And, just in case you need a reminder now and then, here’s one… from my heart, and Luther’s, to yours.

ps… our wee Studio Angel, Phoebe, is resting and adjusting. Prayers welcome!

pps… we’ll talk more about Purpose soon!

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!!!


It’s a complicated word for many of us.

Personally, I think the complications start with the whole spelling lesson bit!

i before e and all that…

Then there’s the blessed lesson.

Note: it’s possible that I’m about to go to meddlin’!

If you hung out in Sunday School, as I did, you’re likely to think that Jesus said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

A quick excursion to the land of Google (or an old-fashioned concordance) will suck you into all the complications of that thought, and I’m quite content for you to choose!

Let’s just say that those words can imply different things, depending on intention and context!

Also, I suspect, gender. (More meddlin’ !)

I don’t have any absolute answers. What I do have are decades worth of stories – most of them from women – about feeling guilty, or inadequate, for needing to receive help.

For letting themselves receive help.

And, some of those stories have been mine.

You, quite possibly, are wondering why this, on what is practically the Eve of the Thanksgiving holiday in the USA.

Well, because one of the things I’m learning is that it’s harder to separate giving and receiving than I used to suspect!

Here’s a pretty basic example:

The receiving I did, at my physical therapy appointment this week, has made me a whole lot more able to give.

Then, my literal hands and help for my dear friend, the mobile Veterinarian, who was working with one hand and a more complicated than usual relationship to the floor, during her blessed visit to the big dogs this week.

It took both of us, giving and receiving together, to make space for the magic to happen.

And the big dogs were giving and receiving, as well!

On a different level… laundry! There’s a LOT to do before our upcoming adventure and I can’t do it all. Not even all of mine. My hands and shoulders aren’t much for the whole pinchy-hanger, air dry bit.

So, while Bill helps with some of that, I picked up part of the early door shift with the beasties this morning so he could catch up on some sleep.

And, yes, on the days when the pain is worse than usual, I get bummed about needing help.

And, it doesn’t help!

Intention is a thing that does help!

Fingerprint prayer dots on a painting in progress, for hope. (For me, fingerprints often hurt less when my hands are brush-avoidant!)

Also dots for gnowing, as in the underlayers of the current Legend painting, above. (And, yes, I spelled that just the way I meant to!)

Rest… in the interest of more Helping. Giving. Making.

Hearing deep on Facebook. And a side order of activism.

You get this!

So… what if we turned the seeming dichotomy of giving/receiving into both/and rather than either/or???

I’m serious!

What would be different for you? And your people? And your world?

I’ve gotten serious about intending to find out! And yes, for me just now, that means putting it out there. Out here!

What might it mean for you???

You can leave a comment at the bottom of this post. Or email me! (suesvoice@gmail.com)

Or, if you have some ideas and could use a bit of help sorting them, let’s talk! My medicine basket is ready! Just get the calendar elves to hook you up for a quick chat as my gift to you.

ps… just in case you’re – you know – giving, the elves at FierceArtWithHeart have a special deal on great matted, wrapped art gift packs! Something for everybody!

Grooming… big dogs and ideas!

It’s been a productive 24 hours in my wee corner of the Universe.

My joints and muscles are screaming. My heart is dancing!

First, beast grooming.

Wow, were we behind! (Or, if you’d prefer a positive re-frame… ready!)

We’re talking about 250 pounds of dogs… before you get to the hair. And, honestly, it’s a challenge when a knee and a shoulder and the dominant hand/wrist are all certain they’ve been overworked and underpaid.

Then there’s the fact that the biggest of the big dogs sees with his heart instead of his eyes.

There is, however, huge joy in this story!

Nope… Westminster is not on the list for next year. However, there’s roughly 14 sheep worth of undercoat in the trash, the nails are trimmed and Luther was very, very brave. Phoebe is always fine, as long as there’s a continuous supply of treat crumbs coming her way. (She’s already set to paint some more!)

Huge thanks to the mobile Groomer-Friend for being patient with our peculiarities and the Legendary Husband for a couple hours worth of sweeping!

And, amongst all that progress, my Muse has been busy, which is to say that Inspiration abounds!

Inspiration of the sort my long time hypnotherapy teacher refers to as one step reframe with a big gold bow!

That part happened somewhere during the Colbert re-run last night… which takes us back to my obsession with context!

It was the episode that aired just after the 5th Select Committee hearing on the January 6 insurrection. Beto O’Rourke was Stephen’s guest. They were, predictably, re-hashing all the ways the Re-Trumplicans are trying to drag the world back into the Middle Ages.

The reframe bit didn’t happen on tv. It happened inside my heart, in a place right next to all of Frederick Buechner’s books.

Then, it moved to my sketch book, where I’d been doodling a Vision Plan which kept getting bigger and bigger as I worked.

Bigger in the sense of involving more and more parts of me.

There is, however, only so much re-framing that can happen without sleep, so I made a deal with the Muse and Grandmother Moon.

They would be welcome to make magic during the usefully rhythmic movement part of the grooming adventure if they’d let me sleep… and they did.

So, some more doodling. And arranging. And enlisting of my new Insight painting journey which will begin tomorrow. (There’s still time to sign up… just in case you, too, are hatching a plan to make life better. And it’s free! https://musea.org/insight/ )Beginners welcome! That’s last year’s Insight, above. The only thing I know for sure about this new one is that she’ll have different things to add to the journey!

And some editing. I’ll keep you posted!

For now, just this… I feel like the scattered pieces of me are being called back together and re-formed for my journey forward… instead of the one to the past! And that, dear hearts, feels fabulous!

ps… feeling inspired??? Start here! It’s fast and fun and free. And you don’t have to do it alone!

When change is strange… but still fine!

I started showing dogs the summer I was seventeen. Really big dogs. Mastiffs!

That’s also about the time I became a super-fan of the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. If you’re a fan, too, you know that this event, which is a lot like our version of the Oscars, is supposed to happen right around Valentine’s Day.

In fact, the Legendary Husband and I have a long tradition of moving Valentine’s Day so it doesn’t overlap with the dog show.

Recently, though, Westminster has happened in June. Outdoors! And yes, because of the pandemic.

I have adapted. In fact, I was thinking about that on Monday as I sat riveted to the tv, hypnotized by the Master Agility competition.

This was not the kind of showing I did. The run in a circle with a big dog and hold their mouth open for the judge kind was more my style. Mastiffs. Great Pyrenees. English Springers. Newfoundlands.

Agility is, literally, an obstacle course for dogs. AND their handlers! Hurdles and tunnels and teeter-totters. And speed matters!

The dogs are the athletes. Their handlers are the coaches who run along and encourage with voices and hand signals and applause.

The thing that amazes me most is how much they love it. Dogs and people!

Which is not to say that it doesn’t get tricky. Often.

Missed jumps. The tunnel taken backwards. Sight seeing from the top of the dog walk bridge. And the whole pole weaving thing.

And still, everybody’s having fun.

It reminds me of my teacher/friend, Steve Glenn. In fact, I can hear his voice even now. Whispering under the thundering applause…

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

What if WE could be like those dogs? What if we could teach others to be like that, as the handlers do. As my friend, Kate, does.

Then came the lightbulb!

What if Agility were a metaphor, as well as a sport?

What would WE do with that much joy – even with the learning experiences?

THAT’S what I want to help my girls learn! I want them to know they can go back and try again and I’ll cheer them on. I want them to be proud of themselves.

Even when, as at Westminster, often other dogs take home the big hardware.

In the case of Agility, this year, my personal fav, Truant, a Border Collie from the over 20 inch class. And the big winner, Bee, a Shetland Sheepdog from the over 16 inch class.

And, there’s more show to come!

At the moment, my favorite is the winner of the Herding group. A stunning German Shepherd Dog, named River, from just up the road in Woodstock, GA.

But, the Sporting and Working and Terrier groups are still to come before we head off to the big ring for Best in Show!

But, before that, flowers to paint. A guided imagery adventure with a dear friend who is beginning chemotherapy soon. And, I suspect, some more conversation with Grandmother Moon about what my version of doing what matters that much to me looks like at the other end of the mystery tunnel.

What if Agility were a state of mind???

ps… it is!!!

pps… want to know more? Check out Your Epic SuperPower Path ! I promise… no teeter-totters to fall from!

ppps… at our house, the agility course is made of paintings!

Let’s go to the library…

The old fashioned one!

Take a deep breath… you can probably summon the mysterious, dusty scent of books. Old ones. Shiny, new ones.

Picture books. Fairy tales. Encyclopedias. Mystery novels. And, in my case, lots of books about dogs and horses!

Mom took us to the library when we were small. I suspect it was a combination of loneliness in perpetual new neighborhoods and the fact that she thought she should read to us.

She did, a lot. Mostly when my dad was away on business, which was also a lot.

I’m glad she did. And I loved the library!

It felt safe and exciting to me. And it probably felt sacred, too, though I didn’t know that word back then.

Signing up for Medicine Basket your way… unsticking stuck ___________________ stuff will probably feel a lot like an early trip to the library.

And, like the library, Natalie Moyes and I have planned for variety!

From contextual challenges like the Covidian Era to money stuff and body stuff and relationship stuff, there are lots of things to check out and explore.

Lots of tools, too. Like reading!

Also symbols and filters and a bit of ink – perhaps red like the thread – for editing some things that aren’t working as well as you’d like. (Shoulds are a good example of such things…)

Experiences, really, to soak in and claim as your own.

I know… there’s a lot of flap about libraries and books these days. And a whole lot of yapping from people who want to choose for you.

Medicine Basket is like libraries and books. Filled, not simply with information, but with new questions. Questions that can make a whole lot of difference. Especially in a place that most of us weren’t ready for.

Here’s our promise…

YOU get to choose what to check out. What to keep. What to return for someone else.

YOU get to choose which tools are crooking their fingers at you and offering to head out with you, handy in your basket, on the road to the place you want to be.

There is a bit of simple packing for you to do. The list is waiting, just on the other side of the big link. Along with the magic sign-up button.

And we promise that no one will make you stand up in the Book-Mobile and read a couple paragraphs of Tom Sawyer out loud in front of all the other kids. We already know you belong and you’ve got this!

Take a deep breath and click! This is where the magic starts!

ps… yes, the rumor is true. The elves are busy with surprise bonuses!

pps… Luther and Phoebe can’t wait to meet you and are resting up in the library! Phoebe wants you to know Luther is hogging the dog bed!

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