“That’s what it’s called!”

When it comes to birthdays, I fit into the exceedingly experienced 50-something category. I’m fine with that. Mostly. It’s been cold and wet lately and my knees are not so sure they’re fine.

Kenzie says, “Grammy has sparkly silver hair!” I actually like the sparkly silver look. Somehow it’s a more comfortable color for me than any of the natural or helped-along choices that have come before. (Though Bill was quite fond of the long, red, curly phase!)

These days, I dress for me. Well, me and the fact that I live with three huge, hairy, sometimes slobbery dogs which means that things that need to be dry-cleaned are less than optimal. (Which has its environmental advantages!)

I write what I feel called to say, quilt in the colors I love, and eat what I believe in. Mostly.

There’s a big part of my life, though, that I’m still struggling a bit to wrap my head around. That’s been true for a while.

Back in the ’90s, I noticed that the things that felt like bonding events with my friends had begun to change.

From concerts and chick flicks and late night phone calls about the latest Prince Charming/Schmuck we were involved with, somehow we moved on through potty problems and learning challenges and what-I’m-going-to-be-when-I-grow-up issues to going with each other for breast biopsies. Rides to and from a D & C. Divorces. Dying parents, or the kind with dementia. Dead children.

We’ve had quite a bit of experience with those things, my friends and I. You probably have, too. Just now, a good day at the beach, preferably with some raw oysters, sounds better.

And yet, another part of me knows that all those sad, hard bonding events have been working together to bring me to the point in my journey where I woke up one day and realized that I had become The Fiercely Compassionate Grandmother.

I got a bit crazy before my trip to Sister Giant and had some t-shirts made. Creating them was fun. Wearing them, and watching people react to them was even better.

Lots of thumbs up. Laughs. Applause. One woman who exclaimed, “That’s what it’s called!”

That people recognize part of their own journey in my revelation that this is my calling, at this point in my life, is pretty cool.

Grandmother, clearly and joyously.

Compassionate, because I’m grateful to have finally learned that love is what is true. The vast, perfect, never-ending love that created us and the universe. The love that changes everything when we take our stumbling baby steps toward it, moment by moment, knowing that it means love for all the world and that’s going to be a bigger challenge than we might originally have expected.

Fierce because fierce is what is required of us in this moment. Mama bear fierce. Maya Angelou and Clarissa Pinkola Estes fierce. Human rights fierce. 

Frankly, fierce is not what I learned growing up. It took my son to teach me that. Fortunately, as my neuro-linguistic programming friends would say, fierce seems to generalize. From my kid to all our kids. From one friend with a health scare to safe health care choices for all women. From justice to justice for all.

Somewhere in the later 20th Century, we began to hear about a bunch of brain-trust types known as post-modern linguists, philosophers and theologians. Several of them have been quoted as saying something pretty close to:

Language creates reality.

If you’re curious, one of them was George Lindbeck. Another, Deepak Chopra. Yet another, Desmond Tutu.

One of them, a guy named Steven Scheer, commented that, “Students resisted.”

I was one of those students who resisted. Now I know more.

Finding language for my experience–realizing that I have become The Fiercely Compassionate Grandmother–is, indeed, shaping my reality. I’m trying to live out of love. To make decisions out of love rather than fear. To assume that most of us are doing the best we can and we all need to be loved.

It’s a challenge.

But, if we believe in the way of love, what else could we do? And what would we teach our kids?

I’ve got more learning to do. You might, too.

For now, t-shirts.


If we walk the dog or go the Farmer’s Market or pick the kids up at school wearing Fiercely Compassionate Grandmother t-shirts, people will notice. Many of them will relate. Some will begin to think differently about what they’re doing. What they’re modeling for their kids.

And together we’ll create, bit by bit, a new reality. A fiercely compassionate reality.

I’ll keep writing. And wearing my t-shirts. You can join in, too. (Long sleeves. Short sleeves. Several colors and lots of sizes!) Just click HERE to get your very own Fiercely Compassionate Grandmother t-shirt. It’s easy! Honorary grandmothers of all sorts are joyfully welcomed, too. This world needs all the help we can give it!


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

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