Voices from the past…

If you’ve been hanging around for a while you know that when Dave was about four — the same Dave who just turned 38 — I wound up, kind of accidentally, in a parenting class called Developing Capable People.

To make a long story less long, I’m so glad I did!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it until the cows come home…I’m not sure Dave and I would have made it if it weren’t for the author of the course, Steve Glenn.

Skipping along a bit, I wound up as a certified DCP group leader and, for many years, could practically recite the audio stuff by heart.

Literally, by heart.

This weekend, I’ve been pondering one of the best (and possibly most subversive) things I learned from Steve:

There’s no such thing as mistakes. Only experience to be learned from.

Read that again, please.

I’m not sure about you, but this is not what I grew up hearing!

I grew up with the notion that mistakes were shameful and made one somehow less than expected.

And, just between us, I was more than ready to trade that particular perception in for Steve’s considerably more radical notion.

In case you’re wondering why Steve is sitting, psychically, beside me as I write this just now, I have a very simple answer.


A very simple answer and a bit of an explanation.

First, we’re pondering oracles in my Legend painting class, and Steve is right up there on the list of the oracles I’ve encountered.

Secondly, I spilled my brush water. Again.

No worries. That’s why my little vintage serving cart on wheels has paper towels.

It’s also why I posted a question for the far more experienced painters in the circle and asked if anybody knows where the cool little beige paint caddies with sides in all the videos come from!

No time for shame and blame or labels like “clumsy”. It takes time away from painting!

Then there were the eyes.

First, let me say that this is only the third painting I ‘ve ever done, and the first where I’ve attempted open eyes. Very scary!

“Not to worry,” insist the experts. “Just paint over it!”

I didn’t really understand.

I just knew the eyes weren’t working for me. I kept adjusting.

For a while they looked a lot like martini olives. Oops!

Finally, it occurred to me that all the fixing wasn’t fixing anything and I could actually start over!

No mistakes. Just experience to be learned from.

Hence, the rather alien looking being in the photo above. I adjusted the size of her eyes and then painted out the “olives” and, after what I devoutly hope will be a good night’s sleep, I will begin again.

No shame or blame or labels like “totally without talent”.

Just, as the master sculptor of the Renaissance, Michelangelo, would say, “I am still learning.”

What if that was what we were teaching our kids?

And, for that matter, what if we believed?

I believe. (Most days!)

Who knew? There’s still more to learn!

Hi! It’s me, Luther.

This is a big week at our house. First, it’s my Gotcha week.

That means I’ve been here a year, this week. Rescue dogs, like me, often don’t know when their birthdays are so we get a special time to remember when we got our new homes.

Home is good! I have more and more friends and keep learning new things.

My favorite words are, “Ok, peeps,” which is what Mom says when it’s time for us to go out.

I like out, especially when it’s cool.

Sarah is helping me to practice coming when Mom calls us. She’s been here longer and knows lots of things, though sometimes I think she decides not to do them.

Out is almost as good as dinner, but not quite.

And there’s more good news.

I got promoted to reporter!

We spent the last two nights doing something Mom calls Westminster. Sarah and Phoebe say we do it every year.

Clearly, it had to do with dogs. I could hear them bark but I couldn’t smell them so I didn’t get scared.

I’m not so good at watching TV, though. Mom says I don’t see too well.

I think that’s one of the reasons it’s good that I’m here now.

Mom explained things as they went along.

Dogs run in circles and try really hard not to knock their people down. This is harder for really big dogs like me.

Special friends called judges pet them all over and look at their teeth and watch them move.

Apparently, the judges are trying to decide which of the dogs can do the best job of being the kind of dog they are.

Mom says I’m really good at being a Newfoundland.

Mom also says some of the judges don’t always do things the way she would have done them.

As far as I could tell, lots and lots and lots of dogs ran in those circles.

One of them was a Pekingese Mom liked a lot. He seems to have a famous grandfather who won a few years ago.

Apparently Pekes are little dogs that waddle when they run and look very determined. This guy’s name was Bernie. He came in second in the Toy group which was good but we seemed to be sad about it anyway.

Then there was a Newfie like me. She didn’t win either but Mom said she did really well in the Working group, especially for a girl just getting started.

We watched and watched and watched. (I may have napped a bit.)

Finally, there were just seven dogs running in the circle. We were cheering for a dog called Bean. Mom says he’s a Sussex spaniel.

Bean knows a cool trick. He can sit up on his bum with his front paws in the air and wait for treats.

Apparently, Newfies are not built for this particular trick and Mom says we don’t have to learn that.

I wish we could, though. Mom thought it was really cool.

A tiny white fluffy dog named Flynn won the big silver trophy. Flynn is called a Bichon.

I think it would be fun to have all those people cheering for me, but apparently Flynn takes a bath two or three times a day and I’m not sure about that. Too many towels!

Mom says she used to run in those circles with dogs. I think she might miss it a little bit.

Rescue dogs can’t really run in the circles so much. There are rules.

Mom says that’s ok. She loves us just the way we are.

I’m still learning, though.

I wonder what I’ll know next year that I can’t even imagine yet.

Being a puppy mill dog was not at all a good thing.

Being a rescue dog is a whole lot better.

Though my stuffed chicken doesn’t look nearly as good as it did when I got here!

Thanks for reading. Even if I haven’t slobbered on you yet, you’re one of my friends, too!

Happy Valentine’s Day from Mom and Sarah and Phoebe and me.

Love, Luther




Many kinds of magic…

Growing up, my sister and I had two amazing grandmothers, often differentiated in the family as the farm gramma and the city granny.

Tonight, the farm gramma is much in my memories. You see, there is a huge vat of turkey bone broth simmering on my stove.

I really don’t know if Gramma made soup. She did the hard part!

Elsie raised poultry on the farm in Indiana. Turkeys, geese, chickens. Probably ducks but I don’t remember any colorful stories about them.

(Ask me one day about my dad and a toy bow and arrow and a certain cranky turkey!)

In addition to feeding her family, Elsie was selling eggs to help send her sons to college. (Which is, indeed, an historical issue for another day!)

Just between us, I’m pretty glad I’m not the one raising the birds that wind up in my stock pot.

And I also spend a bit of spare time now and then imagining how shocked Elsie would be about contemporary, sustainable family farming.

Elsie, who lived to be 97, didn’t trust computers.

“They’ll tell you things,” she’d whisper, “that you don’t want to know!”

I think she may have been on to something!

Then again, I’m grateful for the fact that I can sit with my laptop, watching Top Chef re-runs, and magic up a delivery of birds and bones and other yummy things.

I can even get eggs. Real, farm eggs, laid by hens who ran around like Elsie’s no doubt did, being happy, healthy chickens.

I’ve thought about backyard chickens, but there are three Newfoundlands who hold previous title around here and I just don’t see that turning out well.

Frankly, turkeys might stand a chance. They’re big and scaly and kind of pre-historic looking.

And they are, oddly, among my farm heroes.

I can make, conservatively, 50 or 60 meals from the bones of half a turkey, with a couple of miscellaneous additions. Even 100, depending what I do with the broth!

Not to mention some really excellent gravy.

And that’s after we eat the turkey!

I know.

Some of you are all, “Blech!”

I hear you.

I also know that I feel a lot better since I started eating a bowl or two of bone broth, chock full of veg, almost every day.

And I can use less food for my family so there’s more food for others.

I have a magic wand.

I even have a crystal ball.

They’re useful therapy metaphors.

My stockpot is more useful for real world healing.

I’m working on revisions for my book, Let’s Boil Bones! which should be out in paperback this Spring.

Comfort food and research all at once!

It’s a stormy night in Atlanta.

My house smells heavenly.

I don’t hurt.

I think I inherited Elsie’s bird wisdom.

Maybe that’s why the cardinals were all over the garden this morning!



Submit Your Rebel!

One of the most powerful things I learned in all my years of doing Developing Capable People classes for parents and teachers — or was it family therapy??? — was the notion that whether we are complying with an authority or rebelling against it, we are still not making our own choices.

The author, Steven Covey, talks about it a bit differently when he encourages people facing a dilemma to look for a third alternative, opening the way to real choice instead of picking A and rejecting B.

Recently I was advised by the amazing, talented Shiloh Sophia McCloud “submit my rebel” in the Intentional Creativity process.

I can almost hear you gasping! (I know I did.)

This was, frankly, not advice I was hoping for.

I rather like my rebel. Most of the time.

She’s a great buddy for shoe shopping.

Gifted at choosing quilt fabric.

She’s also a really good cook who doesn’t own a microwave.

There are times, though, when she’s not quite so helpful.

Sometimes she tries to get me to “rebel” against things, not just for the sake of rebelling, or because I have a better idea, but because I might do something that scares me. Or calls me out of my comfort zone.

As in, I don’t need to do all the steps in the process. I’ll just skip a few I don’t understand.

Apparently, it’s not just me. In fact, it seems lots of us may struggle with this.

I was a complier for my first 18 years. Then I rebelled the only way I knew how because I was scared. No, make that terrified.

Then I went back to mostly complying for a while. I complied with my knees and my back and the images people had of who I was and what I should be afraid of.

These days I’m working hard on making choices. Real choices. Some of the choices are scary, too.

Like submitting my rebel to the process in Intentional Creativity.

But only one step at a time! I get to keep on choosing along the way.

You might say I’m choosing to choose.

It sounds better that way!





Going to Abilene…

It’s been 25 years or so since I first heard this story and up it popped again, today.

Bill and I were having a conversation about the radical opportunity we have to actually go out to dinner Monday night. This doesn’t happen too often these days. (Ask Luther!)

While we chatted about the where and when options, never mind what to eat, I had a sudden flashback.

We were sitting in either Dallas or Houston, in the ballroom of a Marriott hotel, with a whole bunch of new church development pastors. Lots of people were teaching.

Both fascinating and terrifying.

And then somebody told a story that went something like this…

A young couple went home to visit one set or another of their parents for a weekend. They got up on Saturday morning and started trying to figure out what they wanted to do for lunch. 

(Does this sound familiar to anybody???)

After a couple of cups of coffee and no decision, somebody said, “We could go to Abilene.” 

And so they did. All four of them in a pickup truck. On a warm day. With no air conditioning. 

The only place to eat was a place that served chili. 

They all had chili for lunch. Perhaps a couple of beers. It got hot. And hotter.

They headed home. And felt, shall we say, worse by the mile, despite rolling down all the windows in the truck.

Nobody felt at all well when they got home.

A couple of hours and a nap later, as they all wandered gradually back to the porch, where it was still really hot, everyone agreed that they really wished they hadn’t gone to Abilene.

And then, the one who had brought it up in the first place tried to defend himself.  

“I said we could go to Abilene,” he said. 

“I didn’t say I wanted to go!”

Have you, figuratively, been to Abilene?

We have!

But, since we both know the code, and have used it frequently throughout the years, we called a quick timeout to be sure we weren’t headed for Abilene on Monday evening.

Soon, we had a plan.

The new Stratford Pub.

Right here in the neighborhood. Getting good reviews. Easy for a work night.

Is it a perfect plan?

Who knows?

But it’s probably not Abilene. (No offense!)

And it’s already a good reminder that we all have tendencies to wind up in places we didn’t need to be, just because we could have, and didn’t, speak up or explore the options.

Geographically, I’ve never been to Abilene. Georgia, Texas, or Kansas.

Systemically, I’ve been there, way more than enough!

How about you???