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.

are your barriers real or imagined?

I’ve had a really hard time getting out of my own way lately. So, I asked myself this very question.

OK, Lisa, are they real or imagined?

Damnit, I had to answer honestly…most of them, of course, are imagined.

They aren’t barriers per se, they’re just excuses—everyday run of the mill, tried and true excuses I’ve used for years and years and will continue to use far too frequently. However, now I have to face at least a little personal accountability, especially around my creative goals.

So, what barriers are you willing to bust through to reach your goals?

Finding ways to be grounded…

when the world feels like a batshit crazy place is pretty challenging. I don’t know the best way to access a more grounded version of myself, but I do know the quickest. When I’m acting childish and feeling like I deserve more (or less) of whatever—a little gratitude for all of the good things in my life seems to ground me the most.

Gratitude not attitude seems to do the trick.

grounded—mentally and emotionally stable: admirably sensible, realistic, and unpretentious (Merriam Webster)

I’m not entirely sure about “admirably sensible” or “unpretentious“. However, feeling grounded, well, that’s worth a little exploration.

south dakota gothic…

I shot these images somewhere northwest of Burke, South Dakota last Saturday. I really want to learn more about the history of this house. If anyone sees this and has more details, please let me know. The starkness and that big South Dakota sky just made me swoon.

I can just imagine the stories of the families that lived there. Work & Rest. Health & Illness. Joy & Heartache. Births & Deaths. Bounty & Scarcity. Warmth and Bone-Chilling Cold.

the field behind my childhood home…

“Trees were so rare in that country, and they had to make such a hard fight to grow, that we used to feel anxious about them, and visit them as if they were persons.”
Willa Cather, My Ántonia

chasing the moon…

I’m staying in my childhood home in Burke, South Dakota. Today I got up very early to write. I made coffee and stepped out on the porch for some fresh air. I was dumbstruck by the beauty of the sunrise and the moonset in unison over the east-facing field.

Left: today’s sunrise/moonset Right: last night’s sunset.

The moon was so seductive to me that I actually felt a little “witchy”. I hopped in my rental and headed east on gravel roads to get closer to the moon. Deer. Stars. A light wind. Birds chirping. Lovely.

NOTE: Speaking of “witchy”, I was born with an extra finger on my left hand (as was my daughter, Lucy). I’ve been told that it’s the sign of a witch, although from what I’ve read, it was mostly the patriarchy and the churches afraid of women who used herbs and other methods of healing. Oh, men, always so threatened by powerful women.

Once thought to be a sign of witchcraft, extra digits are actually the most common developmental abnormality found at birth. About two children in a thousand have extra fingers or toes.

Marilyn Monroe didn’t have extra digits, urban legends notwithstanding, but Anne Boleyn and Winston Churchill both did. And Atlanta Braves pitcher Antonio “The Octopus” Alfonseca was born with six fingers and six toes.

https://www.futilitycloset.com/2005/02/10/a-great-big-hand/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witches%27_mark

I don’t have a telephoto lens or the patience for long exposure images, but I was able to capture these images. A perfect October experience in South Dakota…chasing a waning crescent moon.

My mother always told me that I looked a lot like Winston Churchill as a baby. Now, I know why—Lucy and I share a rather unique trait with him.

https://www.calendar-12.com/moon_calendar/2019/october

inner mending…

The Bargain Store by Dolly Parton

My life is likened to a bargain store 
And I may have just what you're looking for
If you don't mind the fact that all the merchandise is used
But with a little mending it could be as good as new

the art of communication…

I woke up this morning with a desire to share these 5 brilliant techniques I use to communicate all the time. I’m certain that I alone can help you with any communication challenges you’re facing in your life.

🛒 📞 ☎️ 🗓 📲 💻  💵 📬 🕰 💔 ✍🏽

My ideas are basically always the best anyway…or so I’m told. I know loads of brilliant people who know a lot of things and they always adore most, all of my ideas.

I’m intelligent, kind, creative, and generous. Always. Anything that challenges that belief based on my behavior, I will just have to flat out disagree with every damn time.

I don’t like having things pointed out that are in conflict with how I view myself. It feels yucky. I want that feeling to go away quickly.

🤒 🤕 🤢 🤮

Below I’ve condensed my five most effective communication tips:

#1 When someone brings attention to something I’ve done that doesn’t fit my personal view of me, I simply say that it’s a false narrative. 🤦🏼‍♀️

They’re clearly mistaken about what they think they witnessed me say or do.

For added effectiveness, I throw out some questions to help people understand why they are confused. 😳 🤪

Are you sleeping well? Still taking that medication? Do you have your eating/drinking/legal challenges under control these days? Is your brother/uncle/dealer out of jail yet? How’s that rash? Did your haircut turn out as you intended? 👍

Repetition creates familiarity, use it to your advantage.

Folks just love this technique because they don’t have to waste any time being discerning. The wordage becomes ingrained, second nature.

NOTE: Because people felt brave in even starting a difficult conversation with me, they burned a lot of their emotional energy. 😫 😴 

Capitalize on their fatigue. 🛏

#2 When someone writes me an email and I respond in a way that was confusing, somewhat cruel or insensitive to them and they take me to task about it, I have a brilliant idea for that too. 👎🏼

Well, of course I do.

I just say that someone on the internet, some bad actor must’ve edited my email to persecute me.

Then I add…you know I’ve been hacked a bunch of times, right?

See what I did there? I “primed” them by repeating that I’ve been hacked a bunch of times before.

See, you just have to plant a little, tiny seed for honest communication. 🌱

#3 When someone doesn’t want to do or say what I want them to do—here’s another fun technique I’ve come up with. I create a harmless, little nickname for them.

All in good fun, of course. 😁 😂 🤣

Here’s an example: I write a blog post about something that I think is clear and spot on. Someone decides to speak their truth about what they see or tell me how it could be improved or better understood. I don’t want their stupid feedback so I have to find a way to knock it back…so I make a joke of it.

Here’s how this technique works. After their feedback, I give them a mean, fun nickname.

Say, Clueless Miss Know-It-All, are you here from the Office of Bullshit Observations? 🕵🏼‍♀️

Who died and made you the editor of everything, Little Lord Fauntleroy? 🤴🏻

So much fun…basically a brilliant team-building exercise. 👊🏻

#4 Whenever something is said that just doesn’t really jive with how hard I work and how efficiently I get things done all the time, I have this communication skill at my disposal.

Do you know about the brilliance of “whataboutism”? You don’t? Well, that’s sort of stupid of you, anyway… 💁‍♀️ 💁‍♂️

Whataboutism is so disarming that it makes people just walk away, confused and forgetting what you were even talking about in the first place. This technique is such a blast!

Merriam Webster: Whataboutism gives a clue to its meaning in its name. It is not merely the changing of a subject (“What about the economy?”) to deflect away from an earlier subject as a political strategy; it’s essentially a reversal of accusation, arguing that an opponent is guilty of an offense just as egregious or worse than what the original party was accused of doing, however unconnected the offenses may be.

The tactic behind whataboutism has been around for a long time. Rhetoricians generally consider it to be a form of tu quoque, which means “you too” in Latin and involves charging your accuser with whatever it is you’ve just been accused of rather than refuting the truth of the accusation made against you.

Here are some whataboutism examples:

If my husband says or texts

I wished you had called to say you were going to be late? ME: Well, you were late last Tuesday and the dinner I slaved over was ruined. That really hurt my feelings.

Why didn’t you mention X, Y or Z? ME: You never tell me anything that I need to know and it’s really taking a toll on our marriage.

Did you deposit the check in the bank? ME: Remember when you forgot to send that payment in and we paid that huge penalty? So…

What time will you be home? ME: Why are you so obsessed with knowing where I am all of the time? It’s really creepy.

I just love whataboutism. 💁‍♀️ 💁‍♂️ You will too.

“He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” —Benjamin Franklin

#5 Everyone really seems to enjoy this final and really cool technique. It’s so simple, even you can understand. It’s chaos…dizzyingly, exhausting, constant chaos.

From morning till night, make sure no one actually knows what you’re doing or talking about. This creates a clever, hard to pinpoint mystery about you. You’ll look so busy, important and then you’re off the hook for any of your words or behaviors.

🚖💃🏌️‍♂️🏇🏽🎳🤹🏻‍♀️🎭 🎨🛩🚦🔍🎱 📊 📈

This technique really works best if you can be on-the-go a lot—in and out of cars (or better helicopters), shuffling stacks of papers, off to meetings, taking phone calls (they don’t have to be real) or doing whatever busy looks like in your little life.

The chaos technique is really effective if you have lots of people around you who also enjoy playing the chaos game. But, it works just fine as a solo act. Trust me. 👼

In conclusion, if anyone asks questions anything you’ve said or done that doesn’t fit how you see yourself, just breathe and use any of these five techniques I’ve so generously offered today. 🧘🏼‍♀️

Here they are in a nutshell:

1. You don’t like what someone said about you, call it a false narrative.

2. There’s evidence that you wrote or said something crappy, say you were hacked.

3. Not in the mood for honesty or criticism, play the fun nickname game.

4. If someone asks about your behavior, use whataboutism and walk away.

5. To dodge questions about your words or actions, try constant, dizzying chaos.

Good ☘️ Luck!

Dear Summer 2019,

Thank you for all of the lovely memories.

I learned a lot about myself over the last three months,

it wasn’t easy, but truly necessary.

With Loving Gratitude,

Lisa

PS The autumnal equinox arrived in the early morning hours of Sept. 23 (at 3:50 a.m. Eastern), the halfway point between our longest and shortest days of the year. It’s funny how my “middleness” shows up in nearly every aspect of my life.

Well hello autumn, you know you’ve always been my favorite… shhhhhhh don’t tell summer.


Ain’t it funny how the night moves
When you just don’t seem to have as much to lose
Strange how the night moves
With autumn closing in

—Bob Seger, Night Moves

No wonder I love this time of year, I’m constantly reminded of my “middleness” in nearly every aspect of my life.

Thank you Title IV & Little Big Town!


I don’t know how this song wasn’t on my radar until yesterday.

I came of age in rural South Dakota in the 70s and 80s. There were a lot of mixed messages around gender roles, religious beliefs regarding women’s place in home and society and male privilege.

Thank goodness for Title IV.

On June 23, 1972, the President signed Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. into law. Title IX is a comprehensive federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity.

Without middle & high school athletics, I don’t know exactly where my resilience would’ve come from. I was a creative, slightly above average student—I just didn’t (and still don’t) get any juice from good grades.

I remember how patiently my late father fostered my young girl inner athlete. My Dad used the intelligence most readily available to him to teach what he highly valued; practice to improve, leadership, resilience and team work.

In the 70s and 80s in rural South Dakota, that pretty much makes Dad a feminist. He would find that funny, but I doubt would disagree.

Definition of FEMINISM noun

1: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes

2: organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests

(Merriam Webster)

Thank you Little Big Town!

tight knots, loose ties & and everything in between…

Last week I posted photographs of fabric fraying with this quote: “Once the fabric of a just society is undone, it takes generations to weave it back together.” —Deepak Chopra

Well, it sure sparked some interesting dialogue. Right now, I do feel that it could potentially take generations to weave our society back together. However, as a rather optimistic realist…I wholeheartedly believe we can. Don’t we all want to feel safe, loved, connected and purposeful? What if we focused on our similarities, not our differences? Threads.

Humans need threads—tight, loose and in-between to other people, places and groups. How we choose to connect our threads is up to us individually.

Are we going to weave from a place of FEAR or LOVE?

When we’re anxious or fearful we tend to look outside of ourselves to make sense of our feelings. It’s so much easier to scan for someone or something else to blame than to be self-reflective and take responsibility for our emotions and actions. I would sooooo much rather blame someone else than acknowledge my own bullshit. I’m working on it. It’s a process.

Right now, it seems to me that politics are filling some sort of identity gap where other threads should be continually and carefully woven.

WHY? Why now?

Our party affiliation won’t ever bring us homemade soup when we’re sick, pick up a middle-of-the-night call when we’re in distress or just show up, even when we don’t understand what we actually need ourselves.