2 (Two words) !!

On Friday, The Legendary Husband and I early-voted.

I’m hobbling a bit more than usual and the early voting site is a whole lot more accessible than our regular one. Also, faster!

There were more philosophical things on the ballot than there were candidate contests.

Things like education and equality and supporting the elderly.

And, I have 2 granddaughters growing up in this world!

It was an eye-opening experience.

Everybody there was intentionally supportive. Not just of the grey-haired grammy with the rolling walker gizmo nicknamed Sarah.

The poll workers and all the other voters were genuinely thrilled to see us. And we were thrilled to see them. All of us, with our different skin colors and traditions and experiences, doing – you know – America!


Which, I suspect you’ll agree, is quite the contrast to the news!

I’m also still getting myself back together after Tuesday’s encounter with trauma triggers and sleeping is hard. Grandmother Moon, however, is on the job!

Her first whispered message kind of confused me.

Jesus wept.

My immediate response – feel free to laugh! – was, The Waltons!

Really! The old tv series.

Virginia’s Blue Ridge mountains, during the Depression. A Sunday School event which involved memorizing Bible verses.

One of the little kids was struggling. The oldest sister came up with a strategy.

Jesus wept! She went on to explain that it was the shortest verse in the Bible.

John 11:35 to be exact. (And, yes… how short depends on your translation of choice!)

Lazarus of Bethany was dead. For four days. Mary and Martha were heart broken. Jesus wept with them. Out of compassion, I imagine.

Then… consciousness shift! And, I heard…

Even Donald!

This time it wasn’t Grandmother Moon whispering in my ear. Or John. It was, in fact, Joan Baez.

Another witness for the compassionate Jesus. The justice-proclaiming Jesus.

Which sounds quite different than the references to Jesus you may be hearing about from House Republicans with microphones these days.

I wrote these latest two words on an index card a year or so ago, and tucked it into the box where my essential oils rest, next to the magic chair. A borrowed prayer, if you will, on the days when swearing comes more naturally.

These days, I know more about that story in John’s gospel. The details don’t matter so much as the radical truth that there was more to learn!

That what I absorbed in some not entirely conscious state during my young teen years with Youth Group and The Waltons was no where near all of the story.

There seems to be quite the epidemic of that kind of blind absorbing going on these days.

Or, maybe, it’s actually just intentional vested interest!

And, if you’re at all like me, it probably feels really hard to juggle.

So… I invited my imaginary friend, Joan! (Even if you already know this one, it just might help a bit!)

New songs of resistance, if you will!

I’m going with this story! And, as I mentioned, I voted!

ps… the art is a second adventure with an Intentional Creativity® journey called StarSong. There’s more painting to do and, I suspect, some leggings to follow!

pps… your voice matters! Tuesday!!!

ppps… stay tuned! Volunteer Thanksgiving recipes coming soon!

I kinda miss Charley Brown!

Somewhere in the basement, there’s a set of metal yard decorations… the Peanuts gang doing the Halloween thing.

Go ahead! You can see them in your heart!

Frankly, this particular season feels more complicated than usual, just now.

Construction next door made inviting trick-or-treaters seem unwise. Blessings to the dear neighbor who adopted and distributed our candy while we hid in the studio with all the front lights out!

Then there’s the whole Samhain tradition which I’m just beginning to grasp.

There are also other reasons that life feels more complex this year. Learning new things often causes that to happen!

First, though, a brief trip down memory lane for some filter shifting!

Somewhere in the mid 1990’s, I was taking an on-campus course just down the road, at Columbia Theological Seminary. I think I needed to be there! And one of the big advantages was Dr. Walter Brueggemann, preaching in chapel. On All Saints’ Day.

Mind you, saints are not a huge topic of conversation in the land of Reformed Theology. (At least they weren’t, back then…) Walter was not deterred!

What struck me so much about what he said was this:

The Saints are the ones who believe for us, even on days when we can’t quite believe for ourselves!

I am blessed to have a growing family of those folks!

And, I hear those words of Uncle Walter’s – rattling in my heart – differently now than I used to. You see, now I know more.

I know of two great aunts, Mary Ayers Neil and Alice Ayers… sisters, hanged as witches in Salem on the same day in 1692. Or, to paraphrase something I saw on Facebook recently, hanged as women who couldn’t be controlled by the limitations of their culture.

Then there are the stories I’ve learned about my 49th and 47th great grandmothers, Itta and Begga, likely connected to the Beguines, who were honored as Saints… women who used their relative education and resources to help other women be less controlled by arranged marriages and the inheritance laws of the 6th and 7th centuries in Europe.

This is Grammy Begga…

And five or so centuries farther back, the two Jewish grandfathers named Hezekiah, and their wives… grandmothers whose names I am still hoping to find.

Long-gone ancestors trying to live as whole people in a context where that was unthinkable.

In this moment, knowing deep in my being that some of those who believe for us on the days we can’t quite manage it ourselves literally live on in my cells and in my granddaughters, helps somehow.

And I’ll take all of that I can get just now!

You see, I’m feeling pretty vulnerable in this moment and I don’t especially enjoy it!

It is, however, another chance to add some contemporary Saints to my list!

Beth and Laura and Janice and Jenna… my physical therapy tribe. When parking lot dysfunction met lost met big trauma trigger, they rallied around me and believed when I couldn’t quite. Huge bows and thanks!!!

And you know what’s even better than that???

Because I asked for and received support, I made it home and, after a nap, was able to believe for a couple of other wise women with bumps in their days.

When you get right down to it, that’s a pretty great use of a day!

Which just might be what Walter — who is a fan of very large hope — had in mind…

ps… I am fortunate to be learning stories of some of my actual saints. A big part of the reason that’s been possible is that some of my ancestors had the resources and education to actually write the stories down and protect them. If, perhaps, you don’t know so many of your stories, I’m happy to lend you mine until you know more. Better yet… paint some for yourself! (They really work!) Like Grandmother Moon, at the top, who believes in me enough to whisper wisdom in my ear while I sleep! Her other name, just in case you’re curious, is Asherah… the Mother Goddess of many ancient traditions, including my own.

pps… not sure you’re an artist, yet? Or need a Saint in a hurry? Meet She Takes Her Place Among the Ancestors! She’s a great way to start your collection, on archival poster paper, or even a mug! And, browse around… there’s a whole lot of believing for you going on at FierceArtWithHeart! (And great gifts!)

ppps… oh! I’m also supposed to tell you that the same lovely lady, below, is a book cover! A book full, by the way, of lots of empowering stories… Turning Points, if you will. (Check it out!)

One step re-frame!

Nope… no pocket watches required.

We are going to talk about hypnosis, though.

Not the kind for getting power over people. There’s way too much of that going on!

Instead, let’s explore the kind for helping others access and use their power. For good.

I have lots of experience born in years of using Ericksonian hypnotherapy with clients ready for change.

One of those “clients” was me, especially in my knee surgery days.

I won’t torment you with all the details. Let’s just say that it’s possible to use hypnosis to need less medication and heal more quickly with medical procedures.

Personally, I like the trauma healing and and unsticking stuck stuff parts even better.

One of my favorite techniques is called re-framing.

There are 12 step re-frames and 6 step re-frames and – as you’ve no doubt guessed – even one step re-frames. I like the one step ones best!

And, just between us, it only seems like one step!

There’s context, of course. (There’s always context!) Anything from two people sitting together in a therapy space with a story between them, to a church full of people on a Sunday morning, to a sign in a front yard.

And the space happens in time. In news. In the history of relationships and beliefs.

It’s a lot like dancing, really.

Then, BOOM! Or, SHIFT!, if you prefer. Like tossing a ball glowing with different possibility into the space.

Sometimes, frankly, it just falls flat.

Sometimes, though, it works. As my teacher used to say:

One step reframe with a big gold bow!

And that, dear reader, is really big fun!

A client with the sudden recognition that they have a new choice in an old pattern.

Half the people in the sanctuary wiping tears at the wonder of a 4 year old, neurodivergent, speech challenged boy VOLUNTEERING to sing a solo.

Things which change hearts and minds and, often, leave intelligent humans gasping Duh! in massive wonder.

Like this one from the Rev. Mark Sandlin that’s floating around on Facebook…

When your “spirituality” denies someone’s humanity, it isn’t spirituality. It’s hatred wrapped up in religiosity.

Here’s the thing… my sharing that here, or posting it on Facebook, won’t reach everybody. It will reach a whole lot more people than if I don’t try!

What’s in your medicine basket which might work that way for someone, in this moment?

Something meant to help and heal, rather than shame and blame?

It is, indeed, going to take a whole lot of us.

This, dear friend, is my re-frame beyond all re-frames…

I have 2 granddaughters growing up in this world!

And, a word about the art…

The top photo represents my intention to use my voice for Fierce Compassion. (You’re just going to have trust me on this. It’s not supposed to be obvious, though chakra colors might help a bit!)

This one is still wet.

And, yes… it’s a pomegranate. Well, it’s on its way to being one. The paint is still wet! Maybe, when I get a bit farther along, I’ll tell you why Grandmother Moon insisted on including it. In this moment, let’s go with a reminder that the journey is called Origins.

ps… many thanks to the kind reader who let me know that Wednesday’s link for those of you who want to know more about finding that place where you are called didn’t work. It does now! Click to learn more!

At the risk of being redundant…

Wait! There’s cool new stuff in the midst of the familiar bit. And I’m about to be really brave!

Turns out the more news I watch, the more paint I need to stay present. And – well – useful.

When you add the news to some new places I’m wandering, my brain starts weaving things together.

And I start doing scary things.

Being a plan-ahead sort, I started getting scared about today last night. And I took my anxiety to the canvas.

You’re going to have to use your imagination for this next bit…

There are tech elves afoot in the world who believe that the painting you see at the top of this blog post needs to be horizontal to work. (Clearly, they are not artists!)

The actual painting is meant to be vertically oriented but the canvas is so big I can’t reach it all when it’s upright on the easel.

So, I painted sideways… just like you’re seeing it!

The essence of a heart. The anatomical kind, not the Valentine’s Day kind. Part of it composed of fingerprint dots.


Well, on one level, it’s homework.

On a deeper level, it’s a reminder of a story that helped me learn who I am!

And that reminder opens the door to what matters to me.

And that brings us to the scary bit, today.

First, you’ll need to know that I’m not a huge fan of cameras.

Oh, I’m good at pushing the buttons. I just don’t like them pointed at me.

Which makes this a bit of a miracle…

You see, I did about an hour worth of live, online interview today. And I was the one answering the questions. Gulp!

I could have declined, graciously.

Except that I have 2 granddaughters trying very hard to grow up in this world and the news suggests that the growing up is likely to get harder even than it’s been.

So, I sat down for a chat with a whole bunch of my Intentional Creativity® sisters about ways we could all get closer to what Frederick Buechner described as the place where our deepest longing and the world’s deep need meet.

A big part of that journey is learning enough about how human perception works so that it can become a tool in our medicine baskets instead of something we just trip over in the dark.

And, yes… we’re talking about Filters!

Just contemplate for a moment the difference between the tea bag which lets you drink tea without choking on leaves and the old Southern notion of some folks who are filtering the world through a cast iron skillet! (I’m just sayin’!)

If you’re curious and you’re an Intentional Creativity® sister, ask me. Or Milagros. Or Sumaiyah. Red Thread Cafe, Musea app, etc.

If you know me from other places, Click here for a whole new way to see!

It’s going to take a lot of us, on Fred’s path to the place where our deepest longing and the world’s deep need meet.

For me, at this moment… the canvas is calling for more dots!!!

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Truth… I’m running out of walls!

Once upon a time, in 2017, I signed up for a pilgrimage and it opened the door to a whole new world!

The name of the adventure was The Black Madonna Pilgrimage and it was my introduction to Intentional Creativity®. It was also my introduction to the bizarre notion that I, who learned at Mom’s knee that I was the smart kid and my sister was the artistic one, could – maybe, just maybe – be both!

It was a rough time. My best friend, from the first day of 7th grade, was in the hospital in Florida with a brain aneurism.

There were hurricanes and tornadoes going on and I couldn’t get to Florida to be with her so I made dots. Prayer dots for healing. A process I was only just learning on my Pilgrimage with history and paint.

I made a whole lot of dots!!! Meet The Fiercely Compassionate Grandmother, who became visible in those days, and taught me my name…

My friend healed. And, I kept painting.

Just between us, my paintings rarely look like the class demo versions. Partially because mine are opinionated and have major notions about what goes on the canvas.

Recently, you may have seen a work-in-progress glimpse of the canvas at the top.

Officially, she is Tree of Consciousness. And she is, perhaps, the most opinionated one so far!

You see, she was born during the context of the place where all the recent news met a related project about creating a Land Acknowledgement statement, deep inside me.

As we painted along, the eclipse appeared and offered to help. Probably a time-marking kind of thing.

About then, I handed my pen to the painting. (Really!)

I am Elu, which means beautiful in the language of the Cherokee people. I am a Bald Cypress tree, at home near the Chattahootchee River which runs south from this land and into the place called Florida. I am ancient, and powerful. I help filter water and am home to many species of birds and animals. My trunks and limbs and unusual knees are strong and beautiful wood. An air plant named Spanish Moss forms my hair.

I am a keeper of stories. Many of those stories are not happy. People have long been forced from their homes in my land, and there are those in power who would do this still. The orange clay ground is said to be colored with the blood of many battles.

I thought we were finished, Elu and the pen and I, when the Great Blue Heron appeared. She makes environmental sense. According to a bit of online research, she also came with a bigger message to share…

Blue Heron asks you to look inside and nurture all aspects of yourself. Embrace your “flaws,” uniqueness, and feelings of shame with self-love. Once you love your whole self and find your inner peace, you’ll be able to bring peace to others, spreading healing throughout the world.

This probably explains all the dot making, including the ones in her moss hair! It works like this… say a word. A prayer or intention. Silently or aloud. Move your hand to make the paint dot. See the dot. All three primary neuro-processing patterns working together to make it so. And making space for you to feel more peaceful! Here’s my dot-word in these days…


Or, chesed, if you prefer, pronounced with a fair bit of throat clearing at the beginning.

It’s a Hebrew word for loving kindness. For tenderness and consideration towards others.

And, it’s the best thing I’ve got in this moment, with thanks to my Red Madonna sister, Dr. Havi Brysk Mandell, for helping me make the connection!

So, dots. Lots and lots of dots. And, like the Heron said, the ability to share the journey.

The actual canvas is propped across from my chair, up against a bookcase. We are, indeed, running out of walls. And I’m keeping her close.

Oh! Our friend the Heron is thinking of Peace for the future, too. She insisted on the nest and eggs.

ps… inspired? Ready to be Ready? I can help! Just click here!

pps… questions? The calendar elves will gladly hook you up. 45 min. My gift. Bring some red thread if it’s handy!

Light in the midst of the chaos…

Okay… I needed to squint a bit to find it. The tragic stuff feels like it’s demanding a whole lot of attention!

Today, though, I washed (most of) the paint off and put on actual shoes and went out into the big world.

In some ways, my destination was along the lines of a big church in downtown Atlanta.

In other ways, it was time travel.

The kind where you push the button for the way-back machine. And wind up – rather unexpectedly – in the place where the future is being born.

My calendar read CTS Alum Luncheon.

Translation… a whole bunch of “new” folks from the Seminary Bill and I call home serving lunch and offering those present a chance to invest in the future.

As so often happens, though, imagining the future involved a trip down memory lane.

Specifically to the late 1980’s in Columbia’s Village.

Translation – the part of campus with apartments, rather than dorm rooms, generally inhabited by families. Many of them families of International students.

I vividly remember the day, that first summer of Greek School, looking around my kitchen and realizing I was passing cookies out to my 7-year old and a handful of his new friends… in 5 different languages!

With a nod to L. Frank Baum, that was the moment I realized we were “not in Kansas anymore”! It was a good – and sometimes difficult – thing then, and it’s a huge part of who I have become.

And a very conscious filter through which I took in the rest of today’s event.

Dr. Victor Aloyo, the “new” president at Columbia, spoke of the challenges of doing new things in this world. And he looked intentionally (!) around the room and claimed his commitment to supporting the mental health and wellness of all the Columbia Community.

I’m fairly certain that many of Victor’s predecessors would have made that same statement, had they been living in the same context we are… and it was really good to hear it said out loud.

Then, some students spoke.

I laughed in recognition as one young woman told of realizing that life gets different when we live in a land of Yes… and!

What I think she meant by this was realizing that she was able to learn new things – perhaps from new people – without feeling the need to throw out the old things which are still working.

This reminded me of a phase my young teenager went through which Bill & I dubbed Yah-but! Now he’s the parent of two teenagers and knows more!

Then, another student spoke… of a round-about path through careers and nations. Of finding her way to Columbia with deep knowing that it was where she belonged, and a whole lot of questions about how to pull it all off with major funding and immigration issues.

There were parts of her story which felt very familiar to me. And now comes the plot twist…

It is highly likely that, sometime in 2024, she will become the first Jordanian Palestinian woman ordained to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

So… what’s the punchline?

Walk the Way of Love.

ps… the photo at the top is from my recent trip to the Occitan region of France. We were in an ancient, tiny chapel near Alet-les-Bains when I noticed the note an unknown traveler had left in the rock wall. Reaching out matters. So does being there.

pps… may we all keep noticing and wondering and learning!

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Perspective… the real deal in Grammy Land!

So, if you hang out on Facebook you may have seen me post this picture earlier this week. And it’s back for a big reason!

All the work that’s going on next door is driving me crazy. And helping me learn!

As I write these words on Sunday, it is quiet outside.

There is no banging and thumping. No horns. No booms.

The ground is not shaking. The dishes are not rattling in my cupboard.

Forty-eight hours ago, these things were not true. In fact, the opposite of all these things was true.

And I was a wreck.

In the land of neuro-linguistic programming, where we spend a whole lot of time talking about how human brains do what they do, I am a primary kinesthetic processor which translates into emotions and bodily movement/sensations being the first way I receive information.

My very strong backup pattern is auditory-digital which means sounds and words.

The photo is my attempt to both understand the visual input and invite those of you who are visual processors into this space.

Here’s why this matters…

If sitting in my favorite chair with my tea and weighted blanket, in my house, while people try to make the world better for my neighborhood, can bring me very close to full-blown anxiety attacks, what must Israel be like? What must the Middle East be like? What must Ukraine be like?

What must it be like for the children? For those too young to have language for trying to understand?

And how in the literal bloody hell do we stop raising our dear Littles in a world full of “leaders” shouting about why we need to hate all the people who aren’t us???

It has never worked. And it never will.

In fact, one of the things I’m working on, as I’m able, is research for something called a Land Acknowledgement. Homework, if you will, for the path toward being counted among the Guardians of the vision and practices known as Intentional Creativity®

And part of that is learning the tribal names and stories of the people who lived where we live now, before they were killed or re-located, that white folks might claim the land.

And, I’m painting. Tree of Consciousness. Here’s a sneak peek…

Nope! Probably doesn’t make much sense to you yet. For me, though, it is my deep knowing about where those people who lived before me lived and loved.

Admittedly, this is not what Audubon would have painted.

Instead, it’s both neurological self-soothing in the midst of the chaos, and perspective stretching on history and news and the deep, deep danger of those who don’t get it. And don’t want to.

It feels enormously huge and terrifying to me. So I am making dots. Peace dots. In this case, as the sky.

And remembering a very cool thing I just learned!

[Word junky moment, ahead…]

I saw a post on Facebook last night. I don’t remember the details and I don’t know who gets credit for this. And, still, I need to share the heart of it with you!

It was a word-y sort of post. Think dictionary. About two words. Anesthesia. And Aesthetic. (How could I not have known this???) This isn’t exactly what the post said. It’s what I found on my digital squeegie hunt.

Anesthetic leads to numbness. On the other hand, an aesthetic awareness is a door to wonderment.

I’m going with art and wonderment over the kind of numbness that makes nationalism appealing.

And holding on to Fierce Compassion! Even though the ground will shake again tomorrow…

ps… why do Peace dots help? They are whole brain/being Intentions!

pps… questions??? Leave a comment or email me at suesvoice@gmail.com

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