Blepo! (Really…)

I really need to get my eyes checked, lest I wear my glasses out with the on/off routine.

The Legendary Husband spends a good bit of time following me around, turning off lights.

All of that is true.

It’s also true that one of my favorite Greek words – and the first one I actually understood – is pronounced Blepo!

It means I see!

And, I do. In ways which, frankly, amaze me…

If you squint really hard at the painting, beneath my Muse’s left eye, the word is written there in Greek. If you squint even harder, you might notice two other Greek words for seeing… for there are many ways to see.

For instance, I’ve been – literally – dreaming this blog post for about 3 nights, now. And I’m grateful for the help! Mothers Day is a challenge. At least for those of us who have ways of seeing which go beyond greeting cards!

And, in my dreams, some of my friends showed up to help.

First, Steve, whose name may feel familiar if you’ve been around more than a week or two. (If you’re new – welcome! – and buckle up!)

Here’s the quote, which I learned from the mouth of Dr. H. Stephen Glenn, when my own son was about 4 years old:

If a teenaged child has 5 adults who will listen to them, take them seriously, and not shame or blame them for their questions, that child is practically immune from ever attempting suicide.

And, yes, my life changed!

I want to be one of those five adults for as many of our kids as I can. And it’s going to take a lot of us, so I spread the word!

Then, Shiloh Sophia McCloud, with her updated poem for this day, titled:

Happy Mama Day to All Kinds of Mamas

It does, indeed, take all kinds of Mama-ing to help our Littles bloom!

And, these days, it takes a tribe of Mama-types willing to speak out for all the things our world – and our people – need. Like Daphne, my Mama Bear buddy!

Each of us will see those needs differently. It’s called Filters! And it helps a whole lot if we get clear about which of our personal filters are helping and which are – perhaps – holding us back!

That’s a bigger conversation than we have space for today, so… a couple of glimpses into my album of filters…

This one – from just about exactly 16 years ago – is me and my mom, Sally, at the Florida baby shower for my first granddaughter, who was born in Scotland. I invited people to bring books and cd’s so that I could take them all on the plane, along with other necessities hard to find in Glasgow.

And this one – from this winter… Liberating Lily! A whole lot of my filters and symbols in a way that amazes me utterly!

I’d love to know what you see in this moment, in this place! (If you scroll on down, there’s a place for comments. Or email me… )

For now… a very blessed and happy this day to you and yours, from me and mine.

ps… curious? The calendar elves will gladly hook you up with 45 minutes, my gift. Ask me about filters. Or being one of those five people. You’ll want a cuppa and a bit of red thread if you have some handy, and a notion of a place inside you that’s longing to be less stuck! Hurry, though! I’ve got some wandering coming up…

pps… watch for Turning Points 2, coming out soon! It’s an anthology project and my chapter is more about all the important stuff here! (And one of Lily’s cousins on the cover!)

Not Brides Magazine!

It is 6:15pm ET as I begin writing these words. It’s been kind of a long day.

And, by comparison, a pretty calm one!

Thirty-three years ago, in this moment, I was being the bride! Also the wedding coordinator. And the florist. And the co-host. And…

The Legendary Husband and I got married at 7:00pm on the Thursday evening before I graduated from Columbia Theological Seminary on Sunday. It was also Mothers Day weekend.

It was a high church/low budget kind of event.

Lots of preachers and about-to-be’s. Lots of musicians. Lots of opinions!

My mom was appalled when I visited with guests – dressed, but still working on the makeup – before the service. (Bad luck and all that!)

The wedding guide who came with the church didn’t attend. She just couldn’t wrap her head around the notion of the bride and groom walking into the ceremony together.

(The guys pouring punch weren’t her style, either.)

Someone — who shall remain nameless to protect innocent relatives — mooned one of our Professor/Preachers in the parking lot.

It was, on one hand, a bit of a zoo.

On the other, it was a celebration.

Of love. Of life. Of learning.

Which, when you get down to it, is a pretty good way to do the wedding thing!

Today has been a different sort of celebration.

Both of us in meetings most of the day.

Still adapting to having only 2-footed beings in our home.

In some ways, there are just as many questions as there were all those years ago. They’re not the same questions. The world isn’t the same! We’re not the same!!!

Here’s what is the same…

There are stories which need to be told. In words. In art. In action.

There are questions which need to be asked.

There are adventures which are waiting to be experienced.

There are kids to hug and dreams to dream.

And, I suspect, there is courage to be needed.

The photo is my mental image of courage these days. She reminds me of stories I’m only learning about some of my ancestors. Women of huge courage in a world which did not encourage courage in women.

She is, in a way, a model for me… as I hope to be for my girls. A model of voice and choice and even action.

A model of love which would have celebrated the bride and groom walking into the wedding together.

And walking together, still.

I do. And I will.

ps… Happy Anniversary “Norm”!

pps… need some wedding help? Check this out...

From endings… new beginnings!

The last few days have been challenging… to say the least!

It was time to walk our sweet Phoebe across the Rainbow Bridge.

We’ve been here many times and knew it was time. Making the arrangements was even harder than it had been before. We knew that we were consciously becoming empty nesters.

Dogs. Lots of them through the years. The last several, Newfoundland rescues. All of them with hard stories and huge hearts.

Our dear friend and Veterinarian, Karen, came to the house as is our choice. Poor Phoebe was struggling by then. Stumbling. Confused.

We all worked together, as we have before, to make her passing as easy as we could.

Oddly, there was another guest at the edge of the bridge.

A moth had gotten in the house. One of the big, owl-colored, Spring-time ones. It flitted around us as we held our girl, landing on her several times. Once I needed to shoo it gently out of Karen’s face.

We wondered together about the symbolism, but were busy with more urgent matters.

Phoebe passed with Peace Oil in the air, a red thread around one ankle, loving hands holding her, and words of blessing in her ears.

A couple of hours later, I got this message from Karen:

What is the symbolism and meaning of the moth?

The moth is a symbol of transformation and change.The moth is also a symbol of death and rebirth.The moth spirit animal can remind us that death is not the end. It is simply a part of life. We all go through times of darkness, but we always come out into the light again.

And, yes… more tears. The kind with sorrow and gratitude, mixed.

Between making arrangements to donate dog food and belongings, The Legendary Husband and I carried on with the (perpetual!) Furniture Yahtzee project.

Distraction, of a sort… yes.

But also, steps into the light…

Sam Bennett’s adventure known as Get It Done Lab began Saturday morning. I have frequent flyer miles on this one… because it helps!

One of the things I’ve learned along the way is that we have to make space for newness. A big part of my list involves fluffing for making the Filters videos which are coming soon.

Tools rising like bread inside me which have the power to em-power LOTS of people!

Part of the fluffing involved the prayer dot version of touch up paint on a really big wall.

Imagine… Hope from clean walls!!!

For this moment, a ton of Newf hair to pick out of the dryer filter and more laundry to do.

And grace… with myself. It’s a pretty good place to start!

Also, prayer dots! Especially in the chaos…

ps… if you hurry, you can still join Get It Done Lab! Just click and be amazed!

pps… in honor of Phoebe and all her Newfie litter mates, and rescue dogs everywhere, I’ll donate 10% of all of this week’s sales (from now, through Mothers Day!) at FierceArtWithHeart to SouthEast Newf Rescue! Everything from mugs to leggings to original art… because my herd helped create it all! (Lots of items are specially priced at the moment… )

A day of mixed metaphors…

It’s not all that common for me to be at a loss for words!

Today, it’s not so much that I’m at a loss… rather that there are about a zillion of them which feel true and they don’t all get along very well.

There was a mass shooting in Midtown Atlanta today. The shooter is still at large. A veteran, reported to be suffering with mental challenges.

As my fingers move on the keyboard in this moment, Rep. Lucy McBath (D, GA-07) is on CNN calling on lawmakers to – you know – make laws to make tragedies like these more rare. Ms. McBath lost a teenaged son in a shooting and has worked tirelessly for reasonable gun laws throughout her service. Sen. Raphael Warnock’s children were involved in a school lockdown in the vicinity of today’s shooting.

“They’re there. I’m here, hoping and praying they are safe. But the truth is none of us is safe,” Warnock said (THE HILL).

According to CNN, there have been at least 190 mass shootings in America in 2023.

Five women were shot. One of them died of her wounds. The others are being treated for serious injuries at Grady Hospital.

Georgia Governor, Brian Kemp, who holds vastly different views from McBath and Warnock, is notably absent on the news.

While the shooting was happening, I – without having seen the news – was doing my walking/creative problem solving thing at Kudzu. Two full laps and some accessible, budget friendly solutions to the on-going Furniture Yahtzee challenges at our house.

And, in a deeper level of awareness, I was pondering change.

Practical changes for new needs and desires.

Perceptual changes emerging from learning new stories. And claiming them.

Visionary changes sprouting in me like the seeds of this Beltane season.

Then, home to a gathering of Red Madonna sisters in the land of Zoom. Women I know and women I don’t know yet, all walking a similar path, each in our own ways.

Tears. Prayers. Huge courage. Courage to speak deep truths and needs. Courage to speak dreams.

A blessing in the moment.

An even bigger blessing in the face of the news I learned just afterwards.

Soon it will be time for dinner. And Jeopardy… the geek bonding ritual at our house. More consciously, I suspect, this night than most.

And, then, back to the studio. The Sanctuary where I am mending Her and she is mending me so that I, in my own way, might help mend this bit of the world.

So be it.

ps… CNN reports that the Atlanta mass shooter is in custody.

pps… as Grandmother Moon reminds us, we ARE all connected!

Where art meets life…

I have a decision to make.

A hard decision.

I’ve thought it every way to Christmas. All things considered, I’m a pretty good thinker.

Sometimes, good thinking is not enough. This feels like one of those times.

Fortunately, I have some other tools in my medicine basket!

Today was our first Sanctuary paint party of the year. Women, in community, working on their paintings.

No pressure. No behind. No not good enough.

Just music and paint and supportive company.

Some of those women were old friends. Some, new sisters.

A variety of stories during check-in time. Challenges. Backgrounds. Doubts. Dreams.

One of those new sisters introduced herself as a Russian speaking Ukrainian. Suddenly, the world felt much smaller to me. More intimate. Even more urgent.

I listened to the stories and then I listened to my canvas, speaking to my heart.

Being somewhat off the beaten path is not unusual for me, though I’m there a bit early this time.

Today my next right thing was obvious. Dots!!!

Prayer dots. All the neuro-processing patterns working together. And yes, I’ve had a lot of practice!

I began with wisdom. You know… that decision I need to make. A good start for warming up, but not making space for the magic.

Tell me wasn’t getting it either. Probably because part of me already knew.

And then, it found me.

Show me the Way of Love.

Six dots, over and over and over again with all of my awareness. The darker ones inside the roses.

And, eventually, tears.

Sad. And good, because after an hour of that, I was ready to claim what I already knew.

I have no idea what this painting will become. We’ve got about 11 months to go!

Here’s what I do know…

I will be more ME, because of it.

Hanging out where art meets life can be a very good thing.

Maybe, just maybe, a thing that will help heal the world. Even the hard parts!

ps… wanna learn? Let’s talk! 45 min. My gift! The calendar elves will hook you up!

pps… need some art in the meantime??? The FierceArtWithHeart elves have been fluffing the shop and adding new stock and making some good deals. Get inspired AND help send an artist to France!

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!

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