Pink Lisbon


Sometimes when I’m so overloaded with spark & muse I have to narrow my focus. On our last day in Portugal I decided to focus mostly on pink. These images are my ode to the staggering beauty of Lisbon.

acceptance of transformation…


This bouquet of my favorite flowers—ranunculus—has graced our table since Easter Sunday. Every fade and droop has been quite lovely, I’ve appreciated the different stages along the way.

I’m hoping to do the same for myself in this season of life…be a curious witness to the stages of my own transformation. Acceptance that change is inevitable I guess is the first step.

We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses. —Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist

Wisdom. . .is knowing what you have to accept.
― Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

“For a very long time everybody refuses and then almost without a pause almost everybody accepts.”
― Gertrude Stein

One must lie under certain circumstances and at all times when one can’t do anything about them.

Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

poolside hustle and heartache in Miami…


Carol spoke of

her recent real estate commissions

on multi-million dollar properties



great sex

and what is happiness?

next on to pro golf…son on the PGA?


big houses, exotic travel, horses, tennis, and parties

the perils of managing a huge staff

and eventually

escaping spousal abuse in Mexico

she said she had 42 drinks

then laughed

as the sun lowered over Biscayne Bay

and the palm-treed


Miami skyline


Carol’s best friend in the whole wide world

joined us briefly

kissed me on both cheeks

and bought us a round

she was 6’4”


& impressively tattooed

her mother’s first communion image

Dolly Parton in the 70s

in cursive on her ribs

Miss Kleo

a cat she adored

sadly no more

Roxy’s boyfriend

in town from Toronto

had golden hair

and kept to himself

Wayne, once a DC chef

now hustling

restaurant supplies

his own lifestyle brand

and a starving artist friend’s paintings

unlike galleries

he would only take 20%

his million-dollar smile

and easy poolside ways

must make sales a breeze

he found us later

bearing gifts of stickers from his brand

& the Instagram handle of his artist friend


& a little tipsy

I checked out her art


how can I promote her work as well?

Wayne’s hustle was just that good


12 staggeringly helpful words…




We get to choose.

—Rick Rubin (music producer/author) The Creative Act: A Way of Being

ZOOMING IN: Things seem to be falling apart in so many destructive and senseless ways now. When I zoom in on that world-weariness it zaps my energy and I scan for validation about why I feel this way. This makes me respond with judgment, criticism, anxiety, and fear.

ZOOMING OUT: The world is filled with people who are empathetic, compassionate, innovative, generous, and kind. Those stories do not make BREAKING NEWS.

Just imagine all day long learning about heroic acts of GENEROSITY, SELF-SACRIFICE, CREATIVITY, & LOVE.

ZOOMING IN: Focusing, ruminating, and commenting on other people’s words, behaviors, and choices


ZOOMING OUT: I’m only in charge of my thoughts, words, choices, and actions. I cannot force others to think, speak, choose, or act as I do. When I catch myself thinking about what others should be doing—I need to ZOOM OUT and gain more perspective.

“Creativity is not a rare ability. It is not difficult to access. Creativity is a fundamental aspect of being human. It’s our birthright. And it’s for all of us.”

—Rick Rubin

Special Thanks: To my husband, Jeff for finding and downloading Rick Rubin’s book. Rick Rubin, listening to The Creative Act has been quite an education. Thank you.

Link to Audible sample:

my dopamine quest?


It looks like I have a group of artists working at my place—a collective of sorts. Maybe directionless creative meandering was just what I needed this week.

“The world is full of fictional characters looking for their stories.”
—Diane Arbus, photographer

“Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing.  Making your unknown known is the important thing.” —Georgia O’Keeffe

sewing & weaving


I’ve been a stitcher since I was a child. I made clothes and housewares for Barbie. I stitched on my clothes as a young girl and I still do now almost daily.

My work is best described as intuitive or slow stitching…now a huge movement of people wanting to slow down all around the world.

I’ve recently started to weave in various forms.

I’ve been thinking about what the practice of stitching and now weaving means to me now. I looked through my photographs. I didn’t pay much attention to the work, I just noted how I felt.

I’ve never cared much about precision and those who know me would call this an understatement. I find irregularity far more interesting, more of a story there I guess. As I thought about why I’m so drawn to these processes…

something became very clear to me…

Stitching and weaving are meditation to me. Ancient arts that slow my monkey mind down and require presence. Thank you Little Lisa for starting to stitch long ago and continuing this process through all stages of life.

A very special thanks to a few influential stitchers in my life: Aunt Dorothy, Elizabeth Bunsen, and Maggie Pace.

Elizabeth Bunsen:

Maggie Pace:

ghosts & ruins…


The spark for this series was the moment I noticed that a photo of the stairwell in my home fit with an image from an abandoned farmhouse I shot in South Dakota a few years ago. Seeing the old and new images just hit me about the sense of time and place we all possess. One day perhaps our stairwell will be photographed as ruins.

The stories that ruins of all types whisper to me about history, humanity, grit, and heartache have sparked my interest and been a muse to me since I was a child.

I love the way you can feel the soul of old houses and the area surrounding the properties. I just had to put myself in these places again—PHOTOSHOP allowed me to make this happen.

My daughter, Willa’s photographic eye provided the theatrical images of me taken on Halloween in 2021. My costume goal was: the ghost of a silent film star. I’m not often wearing a gown, or pearls, and sipping champagne. Well, not nearly often enough actually.

Whoever she is, she’s got a story to tell, I just don’t know quite what it is yet.

ruins: the remains of something destroyed

—Merriam Webster

Thank you, photographers, Willa, Mana, and the people who once inhabited this beautiful South Dakota farmhouse. If only the walls could truly talk.

Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.  —Andy Warhol

looking back at 2022…


In 2013 I titled this blog Spark & Muse. Today I looked back at 2022 to see what provided my spark and muse.

Creatively I’m all over the place right now. I tend to create, photograph, and forget. I really want to land on a project and see it through in 2023. I think I need a deadline. That always helps me. #stickwithanyprojectin2023lisa

A few things are clearer to me now after researching me.

  1. I like to shoot flowers as they fade, they are far more compelling to me than perfection.
  2. I see that I shoot images of things that are somehow out of place.
  3. I collect and catalog my beach finds.
  4. I prefer images with negative space.
  5. Our cat Karen gets photographed a lot.
  6. I like taking photographs of fog and rainy windows.
  7. I shoot a lot of pictures when I’m eating raw oysters.
  8. I like to photograph men I meet on the beach.
  9. Color and motion are a spark to me.

Art is never finished, only abandoned. —Leonardo Da Vinci.

In May we gathered to celebrate with lots of treats the life of Renay Mandel Corren—RIP Renay. We listened to the live-streamed memorial service from a bowling alley in Fayetteville, NC. None of us knew her, but her obituary was one of my true delights of 2022. Reading it will make your day.

Everyone has a creative impulse, and has the right to create, and should. —Patti Smith

More sparks…

I barely have words for what Jeff and I witnessed at the Newport Folk Festival in July. Surprise guests, Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell—one of the absolute privileges of my lifetime. Crying with 10,000 music lovers still gives me goosebumps.

Cheers to whatever provides spark and muse to you!

PS I mean it, read Renay’s obituary, here’s the link again.

Because she was my mother, the death of zaftig good-time gal Renay Corren at the impossible old age of 84 is newsworthy to me, and I treat it with the same respect and reverence she had for, well, nothing. A more disrespectful, trash-reading, talking and watching woman in NC, FL or TX was not to be found.

January in South Dakota…


“Under the whole sky there was nothing but the white land, the snow blowing, and the wind and the cold.”

―Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Long Winter

I was going to write about looking back at 2022…


and post some of what I’ve created and done in the last 12 months. However, when I woke up on this last day of 2022 and read Heather Cox Richardson’s Letters from an American daily email, I shifted gears.

“In their fight for their right to self-determination, the Ukrainians and their defenders reminded the United States what cherishing democracy actually looks like.”

—Letters from an American/Heather Cox Richardson


—Ukrainian President Zelensky when the U.S. offered to evacuate him.

“The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride.”

What this quote meant to me:  I will grow in maturity and understanding when I stay close to conflict(s), even when confusing, painful, and messy.  Fleeing is easier...and lacking courage.


“The only thing I do know is that we have to be kind. Please. Be kind, especially when we don’t know what’s going on.”

—Waymond Wang from the film, Everything Everywhere All At Once

It's far too easy for me to get defensive and act unkind when I am uncertain or pushed.  This quote is a good reminder to lead with kindness...the universe clearly needs this from all of us now.  

Evelyn Wang, the heroine in my favorite movie of the year is a badass middle-aged female superhero. She gets to see and experience her many lives out in the multi-verse. The film is all about hanging in there with people we love even when the relationship is messy, painful, and complicated. I guess I gleaned almost the same message as the quote from President Zelensky.

There are so many versions of me that have already existed and will exist in the future. I believe I can summon the creativity, wisdom, skills, or total dumbassery of all of them when needed.

Evelyn Wang : There is no way I am the Evelyn you are looking for.

Waymond Wang [as Alpha Waymond]  Every rejection, every disappointment has led you to this moment. Don’t let anything distract you from it.

When a version of me is doing something not particularly interesting, I sometimes wonder what the other Lisas are doing. In 2023 I plan to explore my desire for more theatrics out in the multiverse. I’m not quite sure what that will look like yet, but if I lead with kindness to myself during this time of uncertainty I think I’ll be in good shape.

Thank you, Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert for creating Evelyn Wang and this story.


Heather Cox Richardson is an American historian and professor of history at Boston College, where she teaches courses on the American Civil War, the Reconstruction Era, the American West, and the Plains Indians.

imagine a world without color…


Nature is so powerful, so strong. Capturing its essence is not easy…your work becomes a dance with light and the weather. It takes you to a place within yourself.—Annie Leibovitz

These images were all shot where I grew up in and around BURKE, South Dakota. When I edited some without color I noticed how they made me feel. The moody, timeless nature of Black & White photography I find highly swoon-worthy. Perhaps this year, however, traveling during daylight savings time, the colors inspired me. I hope you enjoy the images and share them with others.

PS The horse’s name is Lil’ Bit. Thank you, Brenda.

ode to Autumn…


October makes me really miss my Dad. He loved this time of year, hunting season, college football (Go Huskers), cooler weather, and the birthdays of his daughters and his granddaughter, Kelsea. I adore this photo of three of my favorite Burke, South Dakota fellows, sadly no longer with us.

Left to right: Louie Tolstedt, John Lillibridge, and Jack Broome.

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

  1. South Dakota
  2. Charlotte, Vermont
  3. The Color Factory/Chicago
  4. Josh Bernbaum glass vase/Art at the Kent
  5. Lake Elmore
  6. Adamant, Vermont Store
  7. Backyard color
  8. More backyard color
  9. Stowe, Vermont farm
  10. Fisherman’s View/Sandwich, Mass

what’s your vibe?


Today, my Libra Horoscope was about energetic signatures…this term was previously unfamiliar to me. The concept is rather obvious. However, this quote gave me pause to seek more understanding.

“…we put our thought waves and intentions out into the universe, which alters the ways in which we interact with others and the world as a whole.” —Daily OM, October 18th

Einstein said, “Everything in Life is Vibration”. How we treat people, what we share (both verbally and digitally), and our thoughts, words, and deeds all affect our energetic signature and the way the world responds to us.

Our energetic signature is literally how we vibrate, our own personal vibe.

I just spent a delightful and hilarious weekend in Chicago with friends. I’ve been thinking about how these remarkable women make me feel (like a ROCKSTAR). I was literally responding to the hum of their vibrations. We were vibing.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

—Maya Angelou

Years ago I was checking out at the grocery store, moving too quickly, not making eye contact, and acting jittery. The young clerk stopped scanning my items and asked me, “are you OK?”.

My vibration was way off and I made her feel uneasy.

I looked her in the eye, apologized, and slowed down. I hadn’t thought about that incident for a long time. This was a wake-up call to me. We’re all connected to each other and our vibe really matters.

Thankfully our energetic signatures aren’t fixed.



energy: dynamic quality

signature: closely and distinctively associated and identified with someone or something

vibration: a characteristic emanation, aura, or spirit that infuses or vitalizes someone or something and that can be instinctively sensed or experienced

Is who you know yourself to truly be – the same energetic message you extend to the rest of the outward world?

a photographic ode to quiet color…


“With an eye made quiet by the power of harmony, and the deep power of joy, we see into the life of things.”

—William Wordsworth

I checked my browser history to see where my morning went…


Below are the main places I meandered that are worth sharing. However, I also searched hotels in Florida, tried to read the NYTimes (couldn’t concentrate), vintage paisley prints, 5 biblical quotes everyone should read (yikes), images of the vagus nerve (not a card game in Nevada), commodore rabbits (so cute), and the current path of hurricane Ian.

I wish my mind had a pedometer. How many calories are burned from mind work? Step away from the web Lisa!

First thing today, I looked for this quote:

“When we do not put our primary emotional energy into solving our own problems, we take on other people’s problems as our own.”
― Harriet Lerner, The Dance of Anger

Then, I remembered an image I created about the Mind’s Eye that might fit with this quote.

"Anger is a tricky emotion.  It signals that something is wrong but it doesn’t tell us what is wrong or how to approach the problem in a growth-fostering way that leads to lasting change.  I wrote The Dance of Anger to help readers identify the true sources of their anger, and then to take new steps in relationships stuck in too much distance, intensity and pain." —Harriet Lerner 

I can’t recommend The Dance of Anger enough. Thank you Harriet.

Yesterday, while painting & listening to The Myth of Normal/Trauma Illness, & Healing in a Toxic Culture by Dr. Gabor Mate with Daniel Mate, I heard the term: psychoneuroimmunology. I could deduce that it’s the study of how our experiences, stress, & emotions affect our immune systems,

But, I needed to know more before I kept listening…

A new take on psychoneuroimmunology: Research pointing to a circuit linking the immune system and brain connects illness, stress, mood and thought in a whole new way.  —American Psychological Association

This led me to link about cold water swimming and I vowed to plan a cold (at least chilly) swim in the next few days.

...the mood benefits of cold water swimming can be divided into two phases: the initial ‘cold shock’ response, and then adaptation that happens over the longer term. —BBC Science Focus Magazine

Next, I must’ve checked my mail and landed on an article in MEDIUM about 10 Incredibly Underrated Movies and the trailer for Krisha. Holy crap this movie looks great and truly heartbreaking.

Krisha returns for Thanksgiving dinner after ten years away from her family, but past demons threaten to ruin the festivities. Krisha returns for Thanksgiving dinner after ten years away from her family, but past demons threaten to ruin the festivities.  Actor: Robyn Fairchild; Alex Dobrenko   Directed by: Trey Edward Shults


The Dance of Anger: A Woman’s Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships

Over four decades of clinical experience, Maté has come to recognize the prevailing understanding of “normal” as false, neglecting the roles that trauma and stress, and the pressures of modern-day living, exert on our bodies and our minds at the expense of good health. For all our expertise and technological sophistication, Western medicine often fails to treat the whole person, ignoring how the toxicity of today’s culture stresses the body, burdens the immune system, and undermines emotional balance.

I work as a Family Coach working with families struggling with their loved one’s addiction at the Turning Point Center in Burlington, Vermont. Reading the work of Harriet Lerner and Dr. Gabor Mate is both personal and professional development for me. Anything that helps me settle myself down and respond rather than react to stimuli seems like time well spent. I’m guessing my family would agree.

Happy deliberate(ish) meanderings.