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.

beach stories…

“Beauty is not caused. It is.”
Emily Dickinson

understanding myself a little better…

I was raised by two entirely different ways of looking at the world. Mom and Dad’s individual circumstances, experiences, programming, and natures formed their worldviews, just as it did for their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and of course, their offspring too.

MY MOM: We’re all pretty wretched human beings. However, if we follow divine rules, tamp down our true natures to follow those rules, and constantly seek forgiveness, then we just might escape eternal damnation.

MY DAD: We’re basically pretty decent folks, we all make mistakes, if we can own them sometimes, and be open to a little coaching then we just might learn from our mistakes and do a little bit better next time.

A friend’s mom says, “it’s a wonder it goes”…it seemed appropriate here somehow. Thank you Martha & Marita.

Grandparents, siblings, birth order, aunts, uncles, cousins, ancient ancestors, geography, friends, boyfriends, school, church, teachers, books, music, TV shows, movies, pets, sports, coaches, experiences, my husband, my children, my nature and so much more, all played a part in who I am today.

Who we are and why is so mysteriously layered and complex that distilling ourselves (or anyone else for that matter) down with just a few data points seems woefully inadequate…total bullshit actually.

My daughter, Willa Govoni shot these photos on the beach a few weeks ago. She captured moments of pure joy and goofing off. These feel like the real me or how I would like my great-grandchildren to see me one day anyway. Thank you Willa.

“I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints, the sinners are much more fun.” —Billy Joel

Dad liked those Billy Joel lyrics and I think he also understood my worldview quite well. Monday, August 30th will be three years, try to rest in peace Big Guy.

🍦 🍕 🍔 🍟 ❤️ 🏀 🏈

a scavenger’s dream…

I was cautious at first, then slowly I moved a little bit closer. A fascinating creature, rather intense too. After observing for a while, I noticed a certain quality, difficult to pinpoint, hummmmmmm…a lack of authenticity perhaps?

I left her alone on the beach, perhaps she’ll delight other beachgoers later in the day with her gorgeous blue spots. I mean, that’s only if she chooses to stay in the same spot.

ALWAYS A SCAVENGER: To find rope, a grill top (for weaving) and a huge amount of nails is a scavenger’s dream.

I wonder if there’s a way to figure some sort of probability of how much the likelihood of someone stepping on a nail today was cut down by picking them up? I think I found about 240 nails. Any mathematicians out there?

BALLS: I’ve never found golf or ping pong balls on the beach. I found the tee in the seaweed a long ways from the golf ball…just one of those days. I found a tennis ball today too. I didn’t take a photo.

GARBAGE: Here’s what I picked up today, not much because of Tropical Storm Henri the last few days. The storm was a little disappointing actually, only a little wind and rain.

ASIAN SHORE CRABS: On my way home I talked to a UMass Dartmouth biology student who was doing research on an invasive species of crab that’s quite concentrated in the rocky areas of Town Neck Beach. This picture doesn’t show the crab’s stripes very well, the stripes makes Asian Shore Crabs easy to identify.

DARTMOUTH — In the fall of 1994, Nancy J. O’Connor’s graduate and undergraduate students at the UMass Dartmouth began bringing a mysterious species of crab to class, something they could not identify.

The crabs, which had begun appearing on the shores around Buzzards Bay, were clearly different from the green crabs commonly found in the area. Unlike the green crabs, these new crabs were square-shaped and had three spines, or small jags, on each side of the shell. Green crabs have five spines on each side. Also, the eyes of the new crabs were far apart and the legs had a pattern of tan and dark brown bands.

—Mark Johnson, The Providence Journal

Town Neck…

“Only we humans make waste that nature can’t digest.” —Charles Moore, Marine Researcher

“With every drop of water you drink, every breath you take, you’re connected to the sea. No matter where on Earth you live. Most of the oxygen in the atmosphere is generated by the sea.” —Sylvia Earle, Oceanographer

lately around Town Neck…

go to your strengths…

Throughout my life I’ve spent too much time thinking I needed to remediate areas of perceived weakness: organization & executive function, time management, follow through, and prioritization. Sometimes they are still true, and I now solidly in midlife, I have strategies in place.

  • I don’t let too many things fall through the cracks and I meet deadlines when I have them.
  • I get a lot done most days & creative work takes a lot of time that is often unknown.
  • I do follow through on a whole helluva lot of my ideas and often help others when asked.
  • My home, work, health, and relationships are in pretty good shape.

Sure, I could be more organized or learn how to set better priorities for my time, but what might be lost if I’m constantly trying to correct areas of weakness instead of highlighting my strengths?

I’m pretty good at making art out of stuff I find and I can shoot a decent photo…to hell with my executive function and time management skills.

I found all of this rope on the beach. I brought it home, organized it and made a weaving. I think I really love weaving.

I’m researching/experimenting natural dyes/stains to create a body of work. Thank you Elizabeth Bunsen for inspiring this type of experimentation. I painted this with beet juice, red wine, coffee, and tea. I’m thinking maybe this series is the flags of unknown places, or untold stories…something along those lines anyway.

I shot these two images last week by ever-so-slightly pivoting just past sunrise on Town Neck Beach in Sandwich, Massachusetts. The moon is barely visible. The sun was uniquely red from the haze of wildfire smoke drifting from out west.

“Grown ups are complicated creatures, full of quirks and secrets.” ―Roald Dahl, author

The first shot was a funny accident…so I shot more. Fist bumps and hi-fives seemed like images I could use as personal emojis in some circumstances.

It’s time to let go of old stories about ourselves from childhood.

What’s true now about you?

beach rambles inside & out…

I often have a flood of ideas while walking the beach about what I want to create, write, transform, design and so on. Then I get home and the idea’s intensity subsides. I used to feel quite defeated by this. I don’t anymore.

I can’t possibly create all that I imagine…and there’s some sadness that sometimes accompanies that understanding. However, in this middle school stage of life (I’ll be 55 in October) I finally appreciate (accept maybe) the inevitable ebbing and flowing of my inner creative life, and stop fighting the tide so much.

Here are a few ideas that actually did come to life this week:

I think I’ll give myself a high-five for what I did accomplish. Beating myself up over what I didn’t do this week seems pretty absurd.

the princess diaries…

This morning on Town Neck Beach I saw a strange object in the fog. My heart quickened. I walked faster. Would I need to rescue a baby seal or maybe some other sea creature was in need of my heroic efforts? Nope, just this dumb Disney Princess balloon discarded on the beach. I thought Mermaid Princess Ariel would indeed be particularly offended.

I’m not much of a princess sort of girl. However, I’m clearly a Disney Princess Birthday Balloon found on the beach in the fog sort of girl.

I have to admit that Ariel, Jasmine, Snow White, Cinderella, and Aurora definitely cast some sort of freaky spell on me early this morning. I took over 60 pictures of this discarded balloon and I carried it home as well.

So I’ll trust my heart, what else can I do? I can’t live in dreams if my dreams are to come true.

—Cinderella

Happy 6th of July…

After cookouts, laughs, conversations, parades, playing lawn games, hiking, swimming, boating, and beer drinking—we’re back to reality today. On July 4th, before our annual Corn Hole Tournament, my husband read the second paragraph of The Declaration of Independence before the first bag was tossed.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all people are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights—among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

—The Declaration of Independence

As I walked toward the Cape Cod Bay this morning, I thought about what the 6th of July means to me and the words my husband read Sunday afternoon. All people are created equal…life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Those five words…all people are created equal, although masterfully aspirational, sadly do not describe America—past or present.

“…democracy isn’t top down. “Each day, we’re reminded there’s nothing guaranteed about our democracy, nothing guaranteed about our way of life,” he said. “We have to fight for it, defend it, earn it…. It’s up to all of us to protect the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; the right to equal justice under the law; the right to vote and have that vote counted; the right…. to breathe clean air, drink clean water, and know that our children and grandchildren will be safe on this planet for generations to come… the right to rise in the world as far as your God-given [talent] can take you, unlimited by barriers of privilege or power.”

Heather Cox Richardson/Letters from an American July 5th

You can subscribe to historian, Heather Cox Richardson’s daily email, Letters from an American with this link. It will take you to a screen that looks like the image below.

https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/

process v. outcome…

I read an interview focusing on process over outcomes on Daily OM with creativity coach, Eric Maisel. As I read I first thought about my creative work, then I thought about other aspects of my life in broad terms: health-both physical & mental, relationships, my home, spending habits, and so on.

If you can keep as your mantra, “process” — so that each thing you do is part of the creative process and all you can do is try your darnedest and not attach to outcomes — you will begin to extinguish the word “failure” from your inner landscape.”

—Eric Maisel/Creativity Coach

PROCESS: something going on—PROCEEDING

OUTCOME: something that follows as a result or consequence

When I get overly focused on outcomes, I can become paralyzed and do nothing because it all seems far too overwhelming. WHY BOTHER?

When I read the definition of process, I started thinking about another word closely linked to process…progress. I looked up the definition for more clarity.

PROGRESS: gradual betterment

Thank you Merriam Webster.

This was an AHA MOMENT for me…gradual betterment. This is so simple. I was immediately a giddy FAN GIRL. I said it over and over in my head. I want a t-shirt, bumper sticker, a love song, skywriting, poetry, perhaps even a museum dedicated to magnificence of gradual betterment.

Examples that came to mind…

OUTCOME: If I never eat sugar again, I’ll lose tons of weight. PROGRESS: I’m going to try to not eat sweets a few days a week.

OUTCOME: I have to sort all of my boxes of photos. PROGRESS: I’m going to sort one box today and create an organizational system.

Working with progress is so much gentler, less judgmental and gives me something to build upon. Progress allows space for self compassion and helps me honor what I HAVE accomplished, not focus on what I haven’t gotten to quite yet.

gradual betterment, I ❤️ you!!

Custom Ink t-shirts are in the works.