Reflections on a 21st Century Tuesday

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

I’ll catch you up in a minute!

First… now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s an honor thing!

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

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

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

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

I dreamed I was a box turtle!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hence, I suspect, the dream!

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

Nope! Not the biblical ancestor folks. The turtles!

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Clearly, I gave in!)

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

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

Fast forward to my dream!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Favorite Word!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then, the ah-hah!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yep! The West Wing!

Season 2, episode 9. Galileo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From vulnerability… strength!

Let’s be real!

I have more practice at feeling vulnerable than I’d choose, if I could.

Not emotionally or artistically vulnerable, though I know about those, too. Physically vulnerable. Yesterday was one of those days.

First, the good news! I woke up in the morning having actually slept well! A more successful experiment with a new weighted blanket helped. Also, I suspect, having pushed save on a big chunk of a current writing project!

Tea helped. And a bath/shower with sea salt in the water.

Then the phone rang with the decidedly unwelcome news that the elevators were out in my physical therapist’s office building. Eight flights of steps, up and back, was waaaaayyyy more adventure than I was up for! We re-scheduled.

That left me with some un-expected Santa-time. Also known as makin’ a list and checkin’ it twice.

Well, maybe 87 times! It has to do with my planned trip to France this summer. Never mind that I don’t speak the language. It’s the there-and-back part that scares me!

Which is part of the whole physical therapy thing in the first place!

I briefly contemplated going for a walk. I mean, it was pretty outside. Nothing falling from the sky except 20 tons of pollen! And the shiny red rollator-walker thing commonly referred to as the wheelie-go-dealie, or Sarah, was ready. A lot like its Newfie namesake who was nothing if not ready for walks.

Then, I thought again.

Using my new mobility toy helps me keep my balance while I walk and is much easier on my painting wrist than the walking stick. It also makes me feel vulnerable outside, walking around alone.

Part of that may be too much CNN. It’s also really good hearing and the challenges of our very urban village.

So, more tea. And a handful of emails to our County Commissioners with – you know – an opinion or two on a big decision they’re about to make for the neighborhood I already feel vulnerable in.

And, another idea!

Socks and sneakers in place, I headed off in the car to Kudzu… our local enormous vintage & collectable indoor garage sale. Actually, it’s a whole lot fancier than that! And, they have kind people working there who know me. And ramps!

Yep! Laps!!! Or, em-power-ment shopping!

First lap, pretty fast.

Second lap, a bit more relaxing… with sight seeing!

Then, another half lap, just because I could!

By the time I got home, I was tired. And proud! And, quite probably, stronger!!!

Is it the solution to all the problems in the world? Nope. Not even all the problems in my world.

Is it better? You bet!!!

Which, when you get right down to it, isn’t a bad day’s adventure.

And, in a whole lot of ways, easier than the – gulp! – photo shoot which someone had also placed on my list for today. You see, I have some more adventures in the works and I’ve noticed that a dose of anxiety often goes with adventures.

All things considered, though, it beats playing small! And, if you’ve been watching the news, it just might feel like it’s time for adventures among people of good will!

What’s on your list???

ps… what if the shift you need to get where you long to be isn’t as obvious as a rolling walker thing? I can help! The first step is you, me, and some actual or imaginary red thread in a Zoom room. 45 minutes. My gift. Just ask the calendar elves to hook you up!

pps… you know that trip to France? I’m going to need to pack. Light! And I’m packing stuff I designed!!! Come check it out!!!

We’re off to see the Wizard!

Do you remember, back in the dark ages, before streaming tv and dvr’s – even before vhs tapes – when the Wizard of Oz was an annual event?

I looked forward to it every year.

Well, most of it! I will confess to being terrified by the flying monkeys!

And, yes, as lectionary passages go for this time of year, this one may seem odd! There’s a story, though. A story from yesterday. The first Tuesday in March. Also, locally known as Mattering Matters day!

First, a bit of an intro…

Mattering Matters is new offering for Intentional Creativity® Guild members. (Think the folks who have been around long enough to collect a few badges for their Scout sashes!)

My dear friend and sister-in-creating, Natalie Moyes, and I are the leaders, and we are – to put it mildly – still learning!

Yesterday was our third gathering… in the land of Zoom.

We had a plan!

We posted invitations and reminders in all the usual places. We practiced the second camera bit. The Legendary Husband checked the previously cranky mike.

We got lots of wish I could comments from sisters with Spring Break issues.

We showed up.

The mike did not, in fact, do the thing. After time out for laptop fetching and lots of hand signals from Atlanta to the US West Coast to Canada, we were finally able to see and hear each other.

All four of us.

It went great. I mean, we painted. We wondered. We laughed. And we all cried… which is a really good sign in this kind of work!

And we all claimed the magic we had been doing, in a new light! (Thank you Frederick Buechner!)

In short, we mattered! Which, when you get right down to it, is a pretty good day’s work!

A bit more mattering happened in a meeting with a new friend, struggling with a big message.

Then, at least at my house, more regular stuff happened. Dinner. Jeopardy. Sorting. Hatching. Planning.

More news than might have been optimal for sanity’s sake. Then, blessedly, Stephen Colbert… playing – in my opinion – the part of the Prophet crying in the wilderness!

Finally, bed. And my new weighted blanket which is, indeed, helping with the whole comfort and sleep thing.

(We’re still working on temperature management!)

A reading from Kathleen McGowan’s The Expected One, which is my other lectionary text for this season. The first Holy Week.

And, eventually, dreams.

Grandmother Moon, it seems, is also friends with the good witch, Glinda!

You know the scene.

Dorothy. Sparkly, red magic slippers. Trying so hard to get home.

And this:

You had the power all along, my dear!

You do, too!!!

Not necessarily the power to be magically transported to Kansas, but the power to find your home. Your center. Your place to matter.

It’s a journey the world needs lots and lots of us to make!

So, blessings, whatever your tradition. And an offer… 45 min. My gift. We start plotting the path to your vision of mattering. Click here, and the calendar elves will hook you up!

ps… the small original mixed media work in the photo above is available for adoption, and there’s only one! Fabulous, empower-ing gift for yourself or someone who matters! Click here for the close up, with the whole quote! (There’s a sale going on!)

Best Laid Plans…

Or, Life is for Learning!

So, my right knee is, apparently, jealous of the snazzy brace the left one often gets to wear and decided throwing a fit might get it some attention. (It worked!)

This reminds me of a Facebook post from my Newf Rescue sister, Kitty Sanderson.

Imagine, capable reader, a hand, gently holding a white feather, as you read:

Beneath every behavior there is a feeling. And beneath every feeling there is a need. And when we meet that need rather than focus on the behavior, we begin to deal with the cause, not the symptom.

Thus, a big day with my physical therapist buddy yesterday!

My tech toys were, I suspect, experimenting with the same sort of behavior mod theories!

Email full of sky is falling messages like You’re almost out of space! And Update bank info! (Truly terrifying!!!)

Also, more routine questions for my personal tech wizard.

Thus… meeting!!! We got a whole lot done… blessed be!

We also discovered a few sub-optimal things!

First, a bit of perspective!

When I started Seminary, in 1987, my tech tool was the sort of snazzy electric typewriter that used the round gizmos in the photo!

Which leaves us with two things which are true:

I’ve come a looooonnnng way!


I have a LOT more to learn!

You may have already noticed some of the outcome of my recent lesson!

It turns out that some of you who have joined my email list since the last time big changes were made in the land of email management might not have had the super-special, very sparkly, Welcome-tag attached to your name by the elves!

Thus, you may be getting welcome emails now, even though you’ve been part of the family for a while.

(I know this because I’m getting them, too!)

And, no, I don’t really understand it. I do know I’d much rather have you welcomed belatedly than, accidentally, not at all.

And, I know that some of them are a tiny bit out of date. Like the one I received today from Phoebe and Luther.

I totally promise, though, that Luther is just as glad you’re here, even from the other side of the Rainbow Bridge. In all the ways that matter, he’s still here, too!

I also promise that there are cool new things in the wings!

For this moment, before I dash off to a writers’ workshop and a virtual art show, I’m hoping you’ll consider this peek into Real Sue-ville a gift!

A gift in the sense of choices for your medicine basket.

It goes a bit like this…

If you, perhaps, have been feeling afraid, or reluctant, or even not worthy, to set some of your dreams and gifts loose in the world…

If, under that feeling, there lurks a need… perhaps for a Guide or for an Inner Grandmother or even just to know you’re not alone

You’re in the right place!

And, yes, there’s more to come!!!

For this moment, be gentle with you.

Add a new piece of Red Thread to your wrist, if you’re so inclined. And remind yourself that we are all connected and we’re only responsible for our piece of the thread! (Not everybody else’s!!!)

Then, if you want to chat about some of what you’re hoping – or about unsticking some of what feels stuck – just ask the calendar elves to set you up with some time. 45 min. My gift! (And, yes… as far as I can tell, they are – in fact – doing what they’re supposed to be doing!)

ps… how about art leggings??? I “made” some! And I just wore mine for the first time. They’re great!!! Lots of sizes. And they wash well. Check it out… more designs to come!

An unseasonal visit to summer camp!

By now, many of you know I grew up as a camp counselor.

Wow, am I having flashbacks!

And, yes… Kumbaya is playing in the background…

In addition to having my first Red-Thread-Circle-by-another-name at camp, and being in charge of remembering all the words to all the songs from one year to the next, one of my bigger counselor tasks was teaching the rocks to swim!

The rocks, as you’ve no doubt guessed, were the kids who were utterly convinced that they could not swim. Period.

We’ll leave for another time the many ways they might have come to that conclusion…

When you run a camp on a river or near Florida springs, though, there’s a safety thing involved. The directive from the director was that everyone must be able to float or tread water.

This was a long time ago, and a rustic, woodsy sort of crowd, and we just didn’t have campers who might have been actually unable to swim. Jean, I’m sure, would have found another perspective if we had.

Anyway… Sue and the rocks. It was a really good match!

Back then, I knew nothing (consciously) about limiting beliefs and filters. And, I wasn’t quite far enough along in my adventure with abstract thought to sort the trauma reaction possibilities.

So, while it seems much more complex to me now than it did in the mid 1970’s, I taught them to float, tread water, and swim. Every one!

I’m not exactly sure how we pulled it off.

What I do remember is that it took working with each girl as an individual.

Transmitting, if you will, the magic to each of these unique young women in a way that they could receive it.

And, it worked!

And I cried my eyes out handing them their awards at the closing fire circle each session. (It’s fine if you’re not surprised by that!)

So, why this story, now???

Well, probably because I’m feeling a bit like a rock in this moment!

It has to do with tech challenges. A thing I need to grasp in order to do a year’s worth of supporting others in a way I feel utterly called to do.

And, I’ve learned 3 or 4 things which aren’t the answer, which – at least – narrows things down a bit.

Or, that’s what I’m telling myself!

That and 87 choruses of, If the rocks could learn to swim, surely I can do this!

You, dear heart, may reasonably be wondering why this story, in this moment…

Two reasons!

The thing I’m getting ready for is quite a lot like camp was for me.

New people. New context. New learning. And a good dose of ritual and sacred space.

That’s a big part of why this story.

The other part is the thing called modeling.

You know… the Steve Glenn version I cling to in which letting others glimpse our own paths of learning – even the hard parts – often makes the learning they long for seem a bit more possible!

Even when it can feel scary!!!

So, I’m heading back to sorting the new stuff.

To a bit of Temple Keeping and all the tech-y stuff that (ironically!) goes with it.

And, to a few precious drops of Bay Laurel oil. For victory.

Not over. But, for!

ps… the art wants you to know that this is deep, deep underlayers which no longer exist in this dimension except by the name, Processing Hope. Let the calendar elves know if you’d like to chat about what that looks like in your world! 45 min. My gift. And some new options…

pps… the shop-keeping elves have been distracted lately, which means there are LOTS of things still at holiday prices! Now would be a really great time to check out FierceArtWithHeart!!!

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