Wonders of the Medicine Bag!

If you’re new around here, you may not know that the fabulous bag in the photo followed me home from Italy last fall. It literally called my name from the floor of a shop full of Italian leather goods and insisted on becoming what we Color of Woman folks call our medicine baskets. (I resisted for all of about two minutes!)

In addition to Henry, there are some new things in my medicine bag lately. Some are actual things and some are things I’ve learned. Just in case you’re up for learning new things, too, here are a few. Kind of like the old-fashioned Hints from Heloise !

First, did you know that you can keep avocados in your fridge? You can! Let them sit on the counter until they’re ripe to touch, then stash them in a basket in the fridge for as much as 4 or 5 days and use as desired.

I eat lots of avocados and this makes the shopping w-a-y easier!!! (I take them out 45 minutes to an hour ahead of time so they’re room temp-ish.)

Then, there’s the matter of dog soup. Not soup made of dogs! Soup for dogs.

Our herd eats raw food, exception for bone broth. They’re also supposed to eat veg but mine are not fans. So, with my recent enormous batch of broth, I (finally!) had the inspiration to run a batch of raw veg through the VitaMix and then whisk it in with their chilled broth before I packed and froze it.

This time, lots of greens from the garden. Ideally, below and above ground veg together. Easiest example, carrots with the feathers still on. (Next time!) Just grind them with a bit of broth until liquid, mix them into the broth, then portion and freeze.

And, yes, it works for hiding veg on kids, too!!!

Then, a blast from the past. Once upon a time, I had knee surgery six times in nine years. That was a whole lot of time with my feet up, trying to feel useful.

I spent a huge chunk of that time knitting prayer shawls for Shallowford Presbyterian Church. Between the pain pills and my own tendency to do only a couple of things at a time, I needed to keep it simple.

Instead of fancy patterns which require lots of counting, I concentrated on breathing and praying. Frequently, (inhale) Mighty God… (exhale) hold them close. 

Stitch by stitch, row after row, back and forth, back and forth. Miles and miles of knitting.

Lately, I’ve been knitting again. (I’ve needed a bit of self-soothing!)

This time, sparkly red yarn. A reminder of the web which connects us as humans moving through life who, often, need some prayer and support.

Then, at the risk of geeking out a bit… Dostoevsky and Puddleglum. Really!

I encountered C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia during my first year in seminary. I hurt my back during the January term and spend much of my time flat on the couch. A dear friend brought me the paperback versions of the Chronicles because they were light and easy to hold over my head to read.

I fell in love with the Marsh Wiggle, Puddleglum, in book four, The Silver Chair.  Puddleglum is my hero!

Then, in the midst of Luther’s recovery, when I was stressed to the max, I picked up Buechner 101… Essays and Sermons by Frederick Buechner, with an intro by Anne Lamott.

Wait for it…

Maybe the final answer that faith can give to that awesome and final question occurs in a letter that Dostoevsky wrote to a friend in 1854. “If anyone proved to me that Christ was outside the truth,” he wrote, “and it really was so that the truth was outside Christ, then I would prefer to remain with Christ than with the truth.”

Puddleglum was Dostoevsky!!!

(If these folks are unfamiliar, please go read asap!)

And then, a contemporary magic wand.


I’ve been a fan of the work of Belleruth Naperstak at Health Journeys for years. Her guided imagery recordings are magical. I’ve lived with the Successful Surgery set. (Seriously!)

I’ve recommended these resources to family, friends, and clients for years. Time and technology being what they are, the CD’s have become harder for folks to access. Enter the brand new app that allows you to access recordings via your phone or computer without eating all your hard drive space!

And now I’m delighted to be able to offer you access to the app at a discount for 6 months.

Trouble sleeping, grief, recovery, accessing creativity, stress relief, cancer, spiritual guides, even empowering imagery for kids… Health Journeys can help. Interested? Go to https://healthjourneys.muvi.com/en/user/register

Choose your plan. The deals are amazing!

***Enter the coupon code, special to us, FierceGma10 with your credit card info to receive  10% off for 6 months.

Then go to your mobile device and download the App from either Google Play or iTunes.

Sign in. Enjoy! (NOT while you’re driving!!!)

I don’t endorse something like this all that often but this is right up there with Puddleglum and Dostoevsky!!!

Let us know what you’re learning…




Hearth Tending and a Birthday Girl!

Drum roll, please! Today is my first day of hearth tending.

No, we don’t have a fire-place, nor even a grill at the moment. This is a spiritual food kind of thing.

Wednesday is Work In Progress day in the Red Thread Cafe Classroom. Intentional Creativity members post what they’re working on, ask questions, and cheer each other on, sometimes even through the tears.

Hearth tenders are Color of Woman Graduates (Yay!!!) who mingle in the group and offer support. We answer questions (when we can) and give hints about how to make things appear or disappear, and ponder next steps. Mostly, we hold the circle of women working together to help people (and the world) heal through self-expression.

I’ve had lots of good teachers.

Two of them aren’t technically old enough yet. They’re my granddaughters. Kenzie is eleven.

Tomorrow, Taylor will be nine.

(How is this possible???)

We’ve had quite the debate about birthday gifts. Taylor is into science things and Bill thought a plastic robot that has something to do with computer coding would be a great idea.

(This is not my department!)

I was in favor of amethyst earrings but her Mom and Dad beat me to the jewelry counter.

We ended up with a soccer warm-up suit. Taylor’s choice, actually. She plays on a travel team already and seems to love it. And if she wants black soccer pants and a jacket with a very tasteful white stripe and a recognizable logo, I’m good with that.

I bought lots of paints at Thanksgiving!

I want them to be who they are. To know they are enough. To experiment with new things and be comfortable with trying hard and occasionally missing.

Which, coincidentally, is a lot like Intentional Creativity.

Honestly, if I had a choice, I’d be in Virginia making yet another attempt at gluten-free pecan pie, which was not my best effort at Thanksgiving.

But I’m also grateful to be here, with Sarah on the floor sleeping off her chiropractic adjustment, a meeting to get ready for, some editing to finish, and some painting to do, even if it’s only a bit today.

The coughing, sneezing, and sore throat suggest that a nap might be a good plan.

There will be soup for supper and a Zoom meeting for dessert, topped with a generous dollop of fierce compassion.

And, perhaps, a spot of chocolate. The Muse is in favor.

If you’d like to know more, scroll down a bit and leave me a comment. Or sign up for the blog. If you like being here, you’re welcome.

And, if you have a moment, wish Taylor a happy birthday. She’s awesome!

For the moment, though, it’s 10 after one and the big dogs are all asleep. I should be, too. Blog posts, like paintings and granddaughters, often have other ideas.

Tomorrow, though, remember to do what wonders you!


Word(s) for 2019

Last year was the first time I had encountered the notion of a word for the year.

It felt different from a resolution which has always seemed to me like something one either kept or broke. (Mostly broke.)

A word feels friendlier to me. Less rigid. Something to which one can return over and over again.

Inspired, no doubt, by my journey with Color of Woman and Intentional Creativity teacher training, the word that found me for 2018 was intentional.

It was really helpful in the way that having a compass in a car is helpful for directionally challenged people like me. The whole notion of being intentional just kept pointing me in the direction I wanted to go.

Now that the fireworks have died down and the Prosecco has disappeared, it is clearly time for a new word.

I was beginning to think, much to my dismay, that my word for 2019 was going to be waiting. Not, of course, that it’s a bad word. It’s just kind of frustrating when what you’re waiting for is a plumber, whom we called on Friday and finally showed up today, which is a story for another day.

Inspired by the conversation going on among my paint sisters about choosing their words for 2019, I’ve been listening, contemplating my options.

I’ve finally come to a conclusion. It’s going to take two words!

The first is learning as in the quote from the fabulous sculptor, Michelangelo. (I’ve walked in the courtyard where he carved the David!!!)

I am still learning.

It’s been a favorite of mine for years.

Someone suggested to me that it might be an odd choice for someone who had just graduated from a teacher training program.

It makes perfect sense to me. I spent last year learning lots of things, among them some of the things I don’t know yet. So, the obvious next step is more learning.

The second is enough. Not only in the sense of needing two words to have enough but in the sense that I am enough.

More importantly, you are enough.

Wise enough. Creative enough. Worthy enough. Healed enough.

Which isn’t to say that there isn’t more wisdom and creativity and healing we might like. Just that we are enough, already. And worthy of pursuing our dreams.

Some intentional tech-y learning I’ve signed up for and my intentional walking shoes from last year will no doubt be helpful for my particular journey.

I also need enough time and space for my pieces of the red thread… for my callings in the world. And for me.

So do you.

Ponder a word if it seems helpful. Or two. Until you find your own, I’m happy to share mine. Especially enough.

And I’d love it if you’d leave a comment below, or email me, with the words that find you. Together, we are enough to make this year a better one in our world.

So be it.

(The art for today is a glimpse of my work in progress… an intuitive interpretation of a friend’s grandmother’s farm.)


To paraphrase, once again, my Color of Woman teacher and Cosmic Cowgirl sister, Shiloh Sophia McCloud, we don’t have to have all our ducks in a row. Or all our stuff in a pile. Or even be all healed, to make a difference. We just have to be enough.

In the case of new Color of Woman teachers and Red Thread sisters, healed enough to call the circle.

I’m counting on that pretty heavily just now. It’s almost 10:00 pm and “time to start” this blog post.

We’ve had a bit of a veterinary emergency unfolding here and I’m “behind” on a whole bunch of things. (Like the very early stages of my CODEX picture.)

Or I would be behind if we believed in that!

Instead, I’ve spent last night and today reliving my six weeks in Intensive Care, back in the dark ages of nursing school.

Phoebe, as the old camp story goes, is fine. Well, I’m increasingly sure she’s going to be.

Bill will get off the plane tomorrow night and bring home awesome chicken wings from our friends at The Corner Pub, who may feel behind on a few other things but will, predictably, have dinner ready.

The dog laundry is done. The people laundry will get there.

I even admitted to a friend today that the thing I needed most in the moment was a pound of raw chicken hearts, known around here as God’s little pill pockets, and let her go get them for me.

The painting circle has been called for tomorrow. I imagine there will be even more dots than usual.

For tonight, though, I am calling the healed enough circle. And I’m counting on you to call some more folks, too. As many as we can find.

Healed enough to get through the day. To reach out to somebody who desperately needs chicken hearts. To give away a paintbrush. Or vote. Or plant collard greens. (Which is another of those things I’d be behind on if I believed in that.)

For now, though, the ailing pup needs a walk and “somebody” needs to shove dishes in the dishwasher. I am healed enough for that.

Though, if the batteries hold out in the flashlight, that would be good!

Will you join us?

It’s how the world gets better!

Old Friends Whispering…

Many of you know, and some of you have been right there with me, that for about the last year, I have been deeply engaged in a program for certifying Intentional Creativity teachers, known as Color of Woman, or COW for short.

It has been, in the understatement of the century, quite the journey!

You’ve read my stories and seen at least bits and pieces of the images that have flowed from my soul to my brush to the world.

There is “one more” project left to complete.

“One more” is in quotes because there are still a few individual projects lurking within the enormous project known as the Initiate Book.

The Initiate Book is basically a digital journal, in words and images, of the vision quest that has framed this last year.

It has a great deal of structure in terms of what is required and a great deal of freedom in terms of how to meet the requirements. And, by the way, it’s due November 1.

Oh, and lots of mine changed — or grew, perhaps — while I was in Italy!

Which is, I suspect, why the freedom of this project has been freaking me out. Seriously!

(And that is rather an odd statement coming from me.)

There are paintings and journals and blog posts and photos and zillions of index cards everywhere I look and my job, in this moment, is to finish, organize and label ALL of them so that the dear friend who actually pushes the buttons to make it beautiful and get it uploaded doesn’t feel trapped in the mythical land of scrap quilts, as I do in this moment.

I had stacks of things on every horizontal surface in our house, which might have worked except that we played Furniture Yahtzee again last weekend and everything got moved, and re-stacked.

Imagine my delight.

And recall that I’m not, historically, a very fast learner when it comes to tech-y things like files and folders and the hypothetical miracles of Dropbox, which I still haven’t figured out but apparently need to. Now.

I’ve been bouncing about from this to that and back to this, color coding check marks on my magic sample table of contents, which seemed like a good idea but hasn’t turned out to be very clear.

My flow-y, creative right brain was getting frantic, so I took a leap of faith and asked for help!

After a lesson in sorting and organizing, along with tea and really good dark chocolate (Thank you, Leisa!) I had an idea.

I could do this in order. Top to bottom. Right off the list of requirements. (Which is not at all how it happened in real life or how it feels inside!)

Laugh, if you need to. I am feeling hugely grateful to my blessed linear left brain for flinging itself into the artsy and well written tangle of my universe with an actual plan.

I suspect more tea and chocolate will be required. And plenty to share with my Muse, as well, who nudged me out of bed at about 5:30 this morning with one of her trademark “next right thing” notions.

For now, it’s time to get back to work.

As my old friends C.S. Lewis and Julian of Norwich are whispering in my ear…

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well. 


The Difficult C-word!

I’ve been pondering change, lately.

Well, pretty much forever.

I grew up in Florida. During my senior year in high school, our advanced biology class was given the task of setting up, balancing, and maintaining a salt-water aquarium for the school year. No filters or heaters or lights. Just whatever you and your partner could haul home from the beach, along with 20 gallons of seawater and a little fish food.

Gathering was fun.

Setting up was fun. Like underwater interior decorating, with just the right shells and rocks.

Balancing and maintaining were more of a challenge. The fish were all gorgeous until one of them got just a little bigger and started eating all his friends. When it was dark and chilly all through Christmas vacation, some sad sights awaited us when we returned.

Along the way we flushed a lot of dead fish. And made lots of trips to the beach for more suitable companions. More oxygenating weeds. Shells without things dying in them.

Some of my classmates decided to take a C at the end of the semester and quit worrying about it. My partner and I hung in there.

I’m glad we did. I didn’t know it then, but what I was learning was that one little change in any system affects everyone and everything. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about that 20-gallon system through the years. Usually when things are changing.

Things have changed a lot in the last year while I’ve been engaged in the journey known as Color of Woman. It’s been amazing. Also hard.

Change is always stressful. Even if it’s the most longed for of changes. It’s always stressful.

My friend, Henry Close, who was trained in Ericksonian Hypnotherapy by Milton Erickson, explains that, before we can change something, we first have to love it. Not hearts and flowers love, necessarily. Just a tiny crack of openness to the possibility that there are huge, often unconscious, things that hold us all back from real relatedness, and yet are, in their own way, trying to help us.

If you’re anything like me, it’s a pretty big challenge. You go ahead and name the folks on your list. Unless they were clinical sociopaths, suggests British psychologist, Donald Winnacott, they were probably doing the best they could, however inadequate or misguided it was. Experimenting with this idea still doesn’t mean that their behavior was acceptable. Or that people weren’t badly hurt. It’s ok if it takes a while.

Now, for the big leap!

The same is true for ourselves. Decisions that turned out badly. Temper tantrums we might have been better off without. Stretch marks. Fear. Nightmares. Anger. Hair we’ve always hated. Opportunities passed by. Self-esteem issues. Actions that haunt us still. We were, in all likelihood, doing the best we could.

Accept yourself, your journey, your body, your dreams. Intentional Creativity is one powerful way to experience that kind of acceptance.

The very best thing we can do for our families is to begin to love the things we hope to change or move past in ourselves for the survival strategies they once were. Like my fishy friends, all those years ago, as we change, everything in the system will change. Eventually for the better.

Excerpted from my book, Grandmothers Are In Charge Of Hope

The art is is a bit of the portrait of my underwater Muse, 2018.

Intentionality and Grace

Normally, when I show you food from my kitchen, it’s all nicely lit and carefully plated and, on good days, garnished with a bit of flair and garden herbs.

Tonight is a bit different. You see, what’s on the plate you’re seeing is, in many senses, garbage.

(Don’t run off… it gets better!)

This particular plate of crab shells, also known to many as the smelly part you throw away, started this morning with one of my trips to the Farmers Market for a bit of intentional walking and shopping.

Except that, really, it started in an Intentional Creativity workshop yesterday, with a question I didn’t quite answer well enough.

We were talking about the notion of intentionality. In art. In eating. In shopping. One woman asked something to the effect of how things could be free and healing and perhaps even fun, if they were also “intentional,” which I realized later carried overtones of “externally expected” for her.

We talked about choosing things intentionally, in a positive sense, but there was still a piece of the puzzle missing. One I didn’t have a conscious connection to in just that moment.

If you’ll hang in there with me, I’ll get to the connection. I promise. But first, grocery shopping.

I went to the market primarily hoping for figs. I have an old friend and art sister coming for brunch tomorrow and my favorite  frittata recipe was just calling out for a side of organic Black Mission figs, macerated in really good balsamic vinegar.

So, about 10:00 on this hot, humid morning, I tied on my seriously groovy walking shoes, gathered my various leaving-the-house essentials and headed out for a bit of baby waving along with some hunting and gathering.

An Arab woman, veiled in black, offered me her grocery cart in the parking lot when I waved at her charming baby.

It was blessedly chilly inside and I spotted gorgeous organic figs right away. I scooped them up first. Then, a few tiny organic mushrooms, some baby arugula, and some miscellaneous bits and pieces for the raw fed dogs who will reappear from Camp tomorrow and sleep like rocks until dinner time.

I needed dinner, too.

I also needed a bit of celebration.

You see, on Monday I finished the biggest of the big Intentional Creativity workshops for my Color of Woman graduation. The last required one is all planned for Friday. (The rest are the kind of play that our souls do when we set them free.)

And, I’m leaving for Italy in a few weeks to paint with my teacher and my art sisters, eat some fabulous food and wander in the presence of the Holy Mother.

So, I found myself drifting in the direction of crab claws, as is my habit when celebration is in order.

About a pound of Alaskan King crab legs, and a big bag of ice wound up in my cart and I made my way home.

Here’s where the intentionality part comes in.

Crab legs are, to be sure, an abundance sort of choice and I believe in living in a mindset of abundance rather than scarcity. I also believe in stretching the abundance as far as it will go.

It is, finally, about living in integrity with my values.

Among other things, I value rejoicing. And enjoying fabulous, natural food with a sense of respect and gratitude. And investing my financial resources rather than just spending them.

So, the crab shells in the picture above are already in my freezer, ready to become broth that will turn into 4 or 5 more dinners at our house.

(The Instant Pot helps a lot!)

No finger shaking or shaming or blaming involved.

I so deeply want to help my girls know this.

Just a bit of celebration and a powerful boost to the things I value.

Food can be creativity, too. And I’m being intentional.

Tomorrow, more paint!



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