About Lisa Lillibridge/Dakota 1966

I’m a writer/photographer/artist raised in South Dakota and living in Burlington, Vermont. I understand now as I age that “making" in any form has always been a form of meditation to me. My creative energy is now directed to storytelling with writing and images, mostly about understanding my prairie roots and how they've impacted my choices. Please e-mail (lllillibridge@gmail.com) if you're interested in discussing your interior geography or process. I'm always interested in hearing stories of what gives folks their spark.

wild swimming…

There’s a movement (mostly middle-aged women) in Burlington, Vermont to jump into Lake Champlain regardless of weather conditions. Wild swimming is what they call it in the UK. I love that term, putting “wild” in front of anything makes it more interesting—Wild Netflixing • Wild Potato Chip Eating • Wild Bubble Bathing.

Wild swimming helped me through the pandemic and life’s challenges this year. I took a few dips in Cape Cod Bay as well. Swimming on the north side of Cape Cod didn’t feel all that different in January. Those waters are still cold in July.

I read that it takes roughly six swims in cold water (now the lake is about thirty-nine degrees) for your body to acclimate. I no longer have any hesitation. After a dip I have more clarity and an electric feeling all over. Hey, and a test of bravery that can be completed in about 20 minutes door to door works for me.

Winter swimming would never be something my Dad would’ve considered. However, I often think of him because he appreciated athleticism in any form. I’m quite certain he would’ve loved hearing about my adventures and seeing the photos.

These cold water leaps make me feel athletic, courageous, and a little more capable in other areas of my life too. And now that I’m in what I refer to as the middle-school of adulthood, any way to reduce inflammation seems like a good long-term wellness strategy.

I don’t suffer from diagnosed depression, however, genetically & creatively I do experience more than what I scribbled on a drop cloth many years ago…an episodic hump of the blues. Wild swimming has been a very efficient form of therapy for me.

I’m so grateful for the early swimming adventures with friends that got me hooked. Saturday I took a delightful early morning dip with the friend who got me started in last October. Thank you Parm for introducing me to this crazy sport? activity?

“It brings centering, peace and joy.” —Parm Padgett

Cold water swimming is a mental reset, mad energy and sparkles all over…every single time. —Genevieve Henry, friend & fearless fellow wild swimmer

Thank you to the whole cold water swimming community in Burlington. I’m grateful and proud of maintaining our quirky Vermont reputation. Cheers to many more inspired dips in the future.

Here is a link to a beautiful film by Hannah Maia about womanhood, body image, and the joy of cold water swimming. Thanks for sharing it Katharine.

It’s an incredible endorphin rush. I found that once I had dipped in cold water everyone I met that day looked 10 times more beautiful and the world so much more awesome. It was a real pick me up. —Hannah Maia

https://www.sciencefocus.com/the-human-body/cold-water-swimming-why-an-icy-dip-is-good-for-your-mental-and-physical-health/

Cape Cod plates, mindful garbage & sharing…

I spent most mornings last summer photographing and then picking up trash on Town Neck Beach in Sandwich, Massachusetts. I created these plates with my Cape Cod photos after thinking about the amount of garbage floating in the world’s oceans.

I didn’t photograph the paper plates with ketchup/mustard smeared on them for obvious aesthetic reasons. Trust me, there were a lot of them almost every day. I provided a link below to one of my beach garbage posts from last summer.

I want to be more deliberate (not radical, just mindful) about garbage and the packaging I choose. Using these plates for a long time instead of plastic seems like an easy switch.

Hey, friends & family the plates will be in the garage ready for your use. Just shoot me a text and grab them on your way to the beach.

“Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans.”

—Jacques Yves Cousteau

See link: https://lisalillibridge.com/2020/08/14/beach-trash-in-50-words/

NOTE: I used Shutterfly—I had a good coupon.

prairie gothic…

Growing up, I felt there were basically two kinds of prairie descendants. Those folks who felt restless and longed for further exploration, and those folks who planted themselves so firmly that no other life was even ponderable.

In my estimation, both ways of living honored the ancestors who headed west and gambled on a new life…deciding, leaving, proving it up, or calling it quits. It all took guts, no matter how things turned out.

“We had no choice. Sadness was as dangerous as panthers and bears, the wilderness needs your whole attention.”
―Laura Ingalls Wilder

I don’t know what to make of these…

Sometimes I create images and I don’t know what to make of them exactly. Today, is one of those days. I would’ve preferred using images of other people…I wasn’t in the mood to ask for and wait for permission though. Shocking to those of you who know me well, I know.

OK, if I had to guess what sparked these now that I’m about to post them. I think they are about being honest with myself and protecting my heart, even when faced with uncomfortable truths I would rather deny or compartmentalize in some way.

ancient totems of play…

Monday my only objective was to allow myself to play in my studio. I was in need of some soul-settling and spark. I let myself relax, paint, and listen to my book.

There’s something so liberating about entering into a process without a preconceived outcome in mind.

I was listening to Magnificence by Lydia Millett. I would want to know, so I thought you might too. I also read her book, A Children’s Bible, a remarkable story. I love her writing style.

I digress…

I’ve noticed when play is my only stated goal, in many areas of my life, not just painting—something unexpected, and often delightful is given the space to emerge.

The next day I played more by creating mirror images with my photos. They took on a whole other life—an iconic quality, even an odd sort of sacredness.

Perhaps they somehow they reflected their origin story? I looked at them and instantly thought…ancient totems of play.

“It is a happy talent to know how to play.” ―Ralph Waldo Emerson

my predawn ramble…

Colder temps are arriving tonight, so when I woke up I thought I better take off on one of my predawn rambles. I stepped out into the cold, my only agenda to get some exercise and enjoy the quiet before the relative hustle of COVID life in Burlington, Vermont begins.

pre-dawn icy lights

I got much so more…

I started thinking about how many people in the world are facing some of the same challenges as me right now. I felt an instant expansive kinship with them all. I imagined a middle-aged mom in Tibet taking a walk, coming in from the cold, making a cup of tea, and wondering what her next chapter will bring.

Perhaps she too is struggling to find some grace and acceptance in that endlessly tricky space betwixt & between her intentions, words, & actions.

Next, I thought about my sister-in-law and all of the school administrators/teachers struggling to keep the world’s children engaged and healthy. Then I imagined our planet’s exhausted nurses and doctors working to heal the sick, and be present with folks in their last moments when visitors are no longer allowed. I went down the line thinking about the professions and circumstances of all of the people I know and their cohorts around the world.

As I walked back home thinking about the web of our shared humanity—I felt lighter, less burdened, and more a part of a team.

Funny, just last night my husband said, “You really like being part of a team, don’t you?”.

“Yes, I really do”, I replied.

mostly unseen work…

Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing–and keeping the unknown always beyond you.

—Georgia O’Keeffe

Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening. —Coco Chanel

Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one.
―Stella Adler

You can’t use up creativity.

The more you use, the more you have. —Maya Angelou

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.
―Henry David Thoreau

fetch the bolt cutters,

I’ve been in here too long

—Fiona Apple

________________________________________

  • cardboard layers missing South Dakota
  • fashion magazine paintings
  • your voice counts-Harvard Review I believe
  • Oakledge Park early morning with a friend after snow
  • I recreated this poster for Jeff’s Christmas gift. He was at this show on his birthday, 1981 I believe. I couldn’t find an original.
  • winter light with lights, the field behind my childhood home
  • fetch the bolt cutters, a Fiona Apple song I love-applicable for COVID life

COMMON GROUND…

Last spring, out of the blue I received an email from an interfaith organization, The Council of Christians and Jews in the United Kingdom asking if they could use an image of mine from a blog post for their spring magazine cover.

Here’s the link to the post: are we frayed beyond repair?

This sort of request was new for me. I was flattered by the inquiry and proud of the images. I researched the organization to be certain I wanted to allow my permission…then I was truly humbled and honored.

The Council of Christians and Jews:

“We were founded in 1942, at the height of the Second World War and the Holocaust, by Archbishop William Temple and Chief Rabbi Joseph Hertz. We are proud that Her Majesty the Queen has been our patron since 1952.

…and dedicated our work to raising awareness about the persecution and destruction of the Jews of Europe.”

https://ccj.org.uk/

LINK to full Spring 2020 issue: https://ccj.org.uk/sites/ccj.hocext.co.uk/files/2020-06/Common%20Ground%202020.pdf

Hate destroys the very structure of the personality of the hater…. when you start hating anybody, it destroys the very center of your creative response to life and the universe; so love everybody.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.

A secret cabal is taking over the world. They kidnap children, slaughter, and eat them to gain power from their blood. They control high positions in government, banks, international finance, the news media, and the church. They want to disarm the police. They promote homosexuality and pedophilia. They plan to mongrelize the white race so it will lose its essential power.

Does this conspiracy theory sound familiar? It is. The same narrative has been repackaged by QAnon.

https://www.justsecurity.org/72339/qanon-is-a-nazi-cult-rebranded/

Here’s to better days ahead…

Democracy’s courage…

Yesterday morning I wondered what would happen if every time I was told something negative about my choices, behaviors, or words I reflexively answered, THAT’S FAKE NEWS or ALL A HOAX. Even if there were videos, tweets, or recorded phone calls of what I said, I continued to falsely proclaim these are lies fabricated to damage me personally. No accountability ever required.

I have a hunch if I behaved that way my marriage would be over. My children wouldn’t bother talking to me anymore. My friends would distance themselves and likely drop off entirely. My community involvement would be quite unwelcome.

My husband and children might schedule a full psychological evaluation and begin an investigation into the hopeful possibility that an underlying health concern may be at the root of it all…or coronavirus perhaps?

Next, I imagined what if I told people that only my blog and the words of a few people I’ve deemed credible tell the REAL TRUTH and no other source can ever be trusted? I would repeat this often and never let my followers forget.

Unable to sleep, I slipped out of bed in predawn America trying to understand the emotions I felt while watching yesterday’s events unfold in Washington DC, our nation’s capital, and also the city where my daughter attends college. I have to admit, I was and am currently all over the place.

FEAR. SHAME. SORROW. RELIEF. EMBARRASSMENT. FRUSTRATION. GRATITUDE. ANGER. RESOLVE. PRIDE. GRIEF. LOVE?

While I edited yesterday’s post, I suddenly started thinking about Democracy as a woman who finally summoned her courage and decided enough is enough.

She chose to honor her beloved constitution after years of suffering. Democracy began the long process of leaving her abusive relationship by finally asking her parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and friends in Congress, The Press, and Law Enforcement for help to get her to a place she feels safe and valued once again.

My hope for Democracy and anyone else suffering to come out of the fog (fear, obligation & guilt) of abuse and begin the much-needed healing process.

Examples of Emotional Abuse

Alienation – The act of cutting off or interfering with an individual’s relationships with others.

Belittling – Condescending and Patronizing – This kind of speech is a passive-aggressive approach to giving someone a verbal put-down while maintaining a facade of reasonableness or friendliness.

Baiting – A provocative act used to solicit an angry, aggressive or emotional response from another individual.

Blaming – The practice of identifying a person or people responsible for creating a problem, rather than identifying ways of dealing with the problem.

Bullying – Any systematic action of hurting a person from a position of relative physical, social, economic or emotional strength.

SOURCE: https://outofthefog.website/top-100-trait-blog/2015/11/4/emotional-abuse