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! )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!

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…

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!!!

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