Flashback to the Rabbit Hole!

Once upon a time, quite a while ago, when I was about two years out of nursing school, I got a new job. In surgery!

This wasn’t an entirely novel concept for me.

I’d worked for our vet when I was in high school. I started, as one would imagine, cleaning runs and scooping disgusting canned stuff into bowls.

By the time I was a senior, I was assisting in surgery. Among other things, I learned simple sutures and how to retrieve our feline patients from the top of the x-ray machine.

People surgery came complete with x-ray techs so the retrieving was less necessary.

Knots, however, were quite necessary. Years of Girl Scouts had not prepared me for tying square knots one-handed with my non-dominant (left) hand. It was one of the first things we learned.

I practiced incessantly. Knitted afghans with fringe were especially helpful.

I’ve been reminded of this learning experience lately, as I try to develop some muscle memory related to painting.

Thus far, I appear to be an almost totally right-handed painter!

I’ve been reminded of other learning experiences with the painting, as well.

One that shows up often is my recent trip down the mythical Rabbit Hole in Portland, Oregon.

The primary purpose for the trip was exploring some familiar perceptions and skills grouped under the new-ish label of Transformational Coaching.

The workshop was great!

The physical comfort factor, not so much.

This was not a huge surprise for me. Between long flights, the knees, and the back, spending hours a day in a rent-a-chair has been hard for me for a while. And it tends to get harder as one day rolls into the next.

I did my usual adapting things. Nesting in a corner with a spare chair to prop my feet on.  A pillow or two. Qigong during coffee breaks. A bit of self-hypnosis.

And then, on the last day of our time together, when I could barely confront the rent-a-chair again, something different happened.

The amazing Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy, who writes fabulous, colorful, important books and is known to many of you as SARK, fussed at me. “Get one of those upholstered chairs over there,” she said, “and get somebody to drag it into the circle!”

I demurred. “There are people sitting in them,” I explained.

Before I could take a breath, Susan had a couple of people toting a chair into the corner where I had camped, trying to stay out of the way.

I actually had tears in my eyes when I sat down, feeling conspicuous, but definitely more comfortable. And present.

The next thing I knew, dear Susan was in my face. I’m not exactly sure what she said but I can tell you what I heard:

This is bigger than a chair! Don’t endure what can be fixed, just to blend in!

It’s been a while since June but those wise words came back to me today, complete with a bit of Susan-esque glitter.

You see, I was trying to do a bit of editing on my painting. I needed a fairly smooth, thin line and I was having trouble getting there with my right hand. I tried the left. I leaned. I moved. Several times. I even tried to do it upside down.

And then, wonder of wonders, I moved the easel.

It worked! And, in the midst of my happy dance, I heard Susan applauding.

There are times, especially when I’m tense, that I still tie left-handed square knots in whatever fringe-y things are handy. I’m learning new options, though, and today I’m giving thanks for an amazing teacher.

There’s a lot to be said for not enduring what can be fixed. And moving the easel.


Do you believe?

A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting in the Portland, Oregon airport, on the way home from my most recent excursion down the Rabbit Hole. The woman next to me in the gate lounge was in a chatty mood.

She wanted to know where I was going and where I had been and why.

I skimmed over the geographic details quickly, longing to return to my book. She, apparently having no book to read, asked a lot more questions involving the why-word.

I explained that I had been in Portland attending a workshop on Transformational Coaching.

Suddenly, it became time for what-questions to which I responded that I help people make the changes they long for in their lives.

I was burrowing into my jacket pocket for a business card when she burst out laughing which, frankly, caught me a bit off guard.

“I don’t believe in change!” she announced emphatically.

About 30 years worth of practice kicked in and I replied, “Oh?”

Just as she launched into what I’m sure would have been 87 examples of why she didn’t believe in change, they announced early boarding for my flight. Praying that she would not wind up my seatmate, I wished her safe travels and headed for home, shaking my head.

I grew up not necessarily “believing” in change but being very, very sure that it happens. We moved around a lot. Family legend holds that, when my folks explained to my 3-year-old self that we were moving from Cleveland to Pittsburg, I had two questions.

Do they have corn on the cob?

Do they have Romper Room?

Assured that they did, I was ready to go.

The mountains were a surprise!

Of course, my disbelieving new aquaintance in Portland is not the first person I’ve met who claims not to believe in change. Believe me. I’ve spent more than a little time in the land of, We’ve always done it that way! and the neighboring land of, We’ve never done it that way before!

And, frankly, while I totally get the familiar-is-safe dynamic, I just don’t get not believing in change. Where is the hope in that?

It’s even harder for me to understand not believing on this particular weekend. As my neighbors paint red, white, and blue stars in the street, ready for the 4th of July parade, and my favorite artisanal butcher is wearing his Big Green Egg out with ribs and pulled pork, I find myself wondering what this is all about, if not change.

Much of what I know about change and American history, I learned from my eighth grade English teacher. Together, we read the play 1776, new then on Broadway. (Should you want a review of the origins of the left and the right and what’s changed and what hasn’t, complete with music, it’s a fabulous place to start!)

The bottom line, of course, is the story of an admitedly imperfect batch of farmers and lawyers and silversmiths and wives and mothers and statesmen who came together around things that desperately needed to be changed, despite their fear, and made a new world. Grandmothers, too, I’m sure.

It seems to me, as I go about inventing a gluten-free recipe for fried chicken and stocking up on CBD treats for the dogs, who don’t enjoy fireworks, that we need lots more people who believe in change. Who believe in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in an even bigger way than our founding mothers and fathers did.

Do you believe in change?

Surely now is the time.

Together, we have amazing power.









Doesn’t that just wonder you?

First, let me just say that Oregon is fabulous and, if you haven’t been there, I’d highly recommend it!

The weather in Portland was, mostly, lovely. I saw lakes and mountains and rivers and waterfalls and places where many of those things come together, which is a wonder for this Mid West/South East girl. I had lunch in Washington State, adding yet one more to my list of states visited.

I have crossed through “Tsunami Hazard” zones (Who knew?) and over Humbug Creek, East and West. I even discovered the Museum of Whimsy in lovely little Astoria, OR. Really!

One particular highlight was a visit to Fort Clatsop where the Lewis and Clark expedition camped in Oregon Country during the winter of 1805-06. The model of the original fort left me feeling awed. I’m not sure I could have camped there for half an hour!

Everything being contextual, the only things I really knew before about Lewis and Clark were that they embarked from Missouri and they were accompanied and supported on their journey by a Newfoundland dog named Seaman.

Now, though, I feel some of what they must have felt centuries ago. Mostly the forest.

Hushed. Primal. Upholstered in whiskery moss. Living. Breathing.

A treasure not just as a teaching tool, but as a silent call to cherish and heal our planet.

Read More

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