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.

city girls…

Thank you fashion photographers, Vogue, Jessica Chastain, and Cara Delevingne.

seeking shelter from it all…

“People live in each other’s shelter.” —Irish Proverb

Anne with an E…

oh, let me count the ways.

I have to confess, I never read Anne of Green Gables. I know shameful, but honest.

I think it’s the perfect NETFLIX streaming show for our time. I found the pace of the series with no electronics, hard work, beautiful scenery, and the simplicity of 1899 farm life so soul-filling.

Anne’s a rare breed, she’s solidly grounded in her convictions & has her head in the clouds. She can summon her imagination for pure fun or self preservation whenever needed. What a gift!

A grounded dreamer, could there be a more perfect hero for our time?

Viewers get to witness Anne’s resilience, unique intellectual curiosity, and compassion for others and herself grow over three seasons as she matures. Her childhood trauma and daily heartaches are her superpowers—thematically something I always admire.

Anne Shirley Cuthbert is who Pippi Longstocking might have become if she’d been sent to live with a kind, hard-working family in the country, by the sea and learned to be less of a bullshitter.

Anne with and E was created by Moira Walley-Beckett with keen insight into modern womanhood, the many types of love that exist and finding your place in the world without fear.

I truly believe I can show up little sturdier for the people I love and let my imagination go with more ease now after watching this series. Thank you, Amybeth McNulty, for your Anne—our Anne.

We’ve had a tragical romance of sorts while I binged the series and I’m now so sorrowful that it’s over.

Thank you Lucy Maud Montgomery for writing Anne of Green Gables, Moira Walley-Becket for putting your own spin on it and Amybeth McNulty for your interpretation of such a beloved character.

beginning to fade…

“If you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for a moment.”
― Georgia O’Keefe

Yesterday a friend gave me yellow tulips. Thanks Anna. Resting on my kitchen table was an eight-day-old bouquet curling, turning brown, and dropping petals.

I just had to photograph them. Damn, I find decay so tragically beautiful and mysterious. You might get tired of my fading flora images, I’ll be posting many more in the near future.

South Dakota gothic…

I’ve always been drawn to remoteness, old farmhouses and a chill in the air. My recent visit to my childhood home in Burke, South Dakota offered it all up for me. A blizzard, below zero temps and a borrowed four-wheel drive vehicle to venture anywhere I dared.

Around Burke, South Dakota—January 2020

Thank you Willa for being my photographic partner in crime.

soul pioneers & homesteaders

soul homesteading Lisa Lillibridge

Moving thousands of miles away from the security of family and friends, settling or cultivating unfamiliar land and trying to create something out of nothing is what many of our ancestors did in order to create a new life for themselves and their families.

  • PIONEER noun: a person who is among the first to explore or settle a new country or area
  • HOMESTEADER noun: someone who acquires or occupies territory as a homestead

I believe my heart and mind are new territories meant to be explored continually—expectations managed as circumstances dictate. I’m a pioneer on my very own emotional homestead, granted the privilege to manage exactly as I choose.

Excerpt from The Homestead Act of 1862

Claimants were required to “improve” the plot by building a dwelling and cultivating the land. After 5 years on the land, the original filer was entitled to the property, free and clear…”

“The Homestead Act, enacted during the Civil War in 1862, provided that any adult citizen, or intended citizen, who had never borne arms against the U.S. government could claim 160 acres of surveyed government land. Claimants were required to “improve” the plot by building a dwelling and cultivating the land. After 5 years on the land, the original filer was entitled to the property, free and clear, except for a small registration fee. Title could also be acquired after only a 6-month residency and trivial improvements, provided the claimant paid the government $1.25 per acre. After the Civil War, Union soldiers could deduct the time they had served from the residency requirements.”

https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=31

my emotional cliff-notes 2019…

CLIFF-NOTES noun: A summary of a much longer work designed to allow a student to quickly learn the key points of the her longer work.

dictionary.com
  • I’m far too serious…the universe is meant to be played with.

“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”

—Aldous Huxley

  • I need to ask more questions about everyone in every situation, every time.
  • Being human is damn challenging, occasionally there are some nice stretches of ease.
  • Everyone’s hurting somehow and their behavior most likely has nothing to do with me.
  • Boundaries are compassionate and necessary.
  • Showing up, all used up doesn’t help anyone.
  • I shouldn’t offer advice unless it’s being requested…and then I should double-check and see if it’s really being requested…and then check just one more time to be sure.
  • When I think I deserve MORE of whatever (fill in the blank on any given day) first, I must assess all that I am truly grateful for in my life.

Dear 2020, I will try to use my 2019 Emotional Cliff Notes.

NOTE: Photo credit to Andrew Silva, crone wisdom tattoo courtesy of Adobe Photoshop.

I don’t like the word manifest

Yup, I said it and I mean it. Let me explain myself a bit.

For years I wouldn’t purchase “Proven Winners” at the garden center or read anything on The New York Times Best Sellers List. I’ve always preferred the less shiny, weathered or worn out…the underdogs.

Maybe this quality is a reaction to the relative comfort in which I was raised. I was already given so many advantages, shouldn’t I just accept second best? Doesn’t that balance the universe out a little tiny bit more? More on ZERO SUM THEORY next year.

Now, I understand this thinking as an attempt to differentiate myself. Because of course “Proven Winners are a solid choice, especially for casual gardeners. And not reading The New York Times best selling books…well, that’s just plain ridiculous.

OK, back to manifest and why I’ve come to dislike it. It’s lost its gravity for me. You know, like when “love ya” is tossed off and repeated far too often. Yuck, whatever...

So, I looked up the words related to MANIFEST on the Merriam Webster and found them far more provocative; bare, disclose, unbosom, uncloak, uncover, advertise, blaze, proclaim, trumpet…

and the underbelly words too; beliemisrepresent, distort, falsify, garble, camouflagedisguise, gild, varnish, whitewash, concealcounterfeitmaskobscureveil

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in with whatever you want to MANIFEST and the hustle of MANIFESTING kind of makes me swoon, especially as we approach the fresh start of a new year.

Oh, I do love a fresh start. Here’s to 2020…

However, this year for me I’m going to UNBOSOM or UNCLOAK what I want more of in my life.

Manifesting is so 2019, right?

Happy New Year!

Burt, Bobby, Laurie & I…

I have a treasure trove of vintage polaroids I bought at the Sandwich, Massachusetts Flea Market a few years ago for twenty bucks. I found them yesterday in my studio and had an idea.

Do I look a little bored, mad or just caught off guard? Burt does seem to be scanning the room and not being terribly attentive to me. Who knows what sort of crap he pulled before they started snapping photos of us? Maybe my expression was entirely appropriate.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a photo of Elliot Gould. He was entirely swoonworthy to me as a 12-year-old watching M.A.S.H. with my Dad. I just had to make it work with the Burt Reynolds. 😃

Maybe our date was arranged by the studio? Oh, Hollywood…

My big sister, Laurie, on the other hand, truly adored Bobby Sherman. She looks quite thrilled with her 1971 Golden Globes date. Mr. Sherman appears to be relaxed, attentive and at ease.

I’m pretty sure, Laurie would’ve been equally thrilled to be photoshopped with Donny Osmond, or David Cassidy from The Partridge Family. It just wasn’t in the polaroids.

Here’s to childhood crushes.

Who were yours?

PLEASE NOTE: Richard Dreyfuss, Kris Kristofferson or Gabe Kaplan were my other childhood crushes. Unfortunately there weren’t any photos of them in the lot I purchased.

I know very little about…

my great-grandmother or my grandmother for that matter on my maternal side. Nora died in 1938 before my mother was born and my grandmother, Mildred died before I was born.

However, in this chapter of my tender, and profoundly inquisitive, middle-age life, I want to know more about the women I share DNA with. They’re a part of me, my mannerisms, my choices and so much more that I’m completely unaware of. I need to know more.

Who was Nora? Mildred? What did they love? What did they fear? What made them laugh?

Unraveling the mystery of who they were simply will not leave me alone right now.

My father died just over a year ago and I so wish we had videotaped him telling some of his favorite stories. When families start losing a generation, the stories often disappear too.

This Thanksgiving folks, ask the elders at the table to share their stories. Let the kids ask questions and record their responses. You will be so happy to have the assurance that these treasured stories won’t disappear and can be shared for generations.

Enjoy your time together asking about the good ole’ days.

Happy Thanksgiving!

PS To any Kyte or Millette relatives who might read this, please contact me. I would love to learn more about Nora and Mildred. I would be so grateful for anything you’re willing to share.