I have so many half-written posts from the last few weeks. I’ve written about democracy, racism. aging, my fears about the state of the world, cults & narcissism, sexism, motherhood, the artist Milton Glaser, the con of 1980s televangelists, kayaking with seals, our intricate vascular systems, humanism, menopause, radical acceptance, letting go, and realists vs. optimists. I haven’t felt like posting anything. Why?
I got curious, then it hit me…I think I have PAYING ATTENTION FATIGUE and I suspect many of you do too. The world is asking us to pay attention to so many things. I don’t need to add to anyone’s electronic burden now.
So, for the summer anyway, I’ll be posting mostly art, photographs, and short quotes…unless I change my mind, of course. The summer is still young.
“What if pain—like love—is just a place brave people visit?”
curiosity: marked by desire to investigate and learn
listening: to hear something with thoughtful attention, give consideration
empathy: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another
compassion: sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress
courage: mental or moral strength to persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty
cooperation: to act or work with another or others, act together
sisterhood: the solidarity of women based on shared conditions, experiences, or concerns
leadership: a capacity to lead
When curious, compassionate, and courageous women of all different races, colors, creeds, religious, and national origins serve in leadership roles from the corner office to the front porch—every aspect of American life appears to benefit.
I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.
As I age, it seems much of life is experienced within the gray areas of uncertainty. Thankfully, now at fifty-three, I’m finding not knowing is sort of interesting, perhaps even a bit wonderfully mysterious.
I’ve been reading Pema Chödrön’s book When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, she writes about hope and fear—
“Hope and fear come from feeling that we lack something: they come from a sense of poverty. We can’t simply relax with ourselves. We hold on to hope, and hope robs us of the present moment.”
HOPEverb: to cherish a desire with anticipation, to want something to happen or be true
FEAR verb:to be afraid of, expect with alarm
Hope was on my mind, so this morning Dusty Springfield’s 1964 song—Wishin’ and Hopin’ popped into my head as didEmily Dickinson’s poem—Hope Is A Things With Feathers. Oh you brilliant, creative women…you’ve been homesteading in my psyche the last few days. Thank you, your timing is impeccable.
Wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’ Plannin’ and dreamin’ each night of his charms That won’t get you into his arms So if you’re lookin’ to find love you can share All you gotta dois hold him and kiss him and love him And show him that you care
Songwriters: Hal David / Burt Bacharach—Artist: Dusty Springfield
All of this hope talk made me think about parenting, religion, and my childhood. My mother’s prayers for me when I was growing up were that I would eventually become someone or something else—an idealized version of the raw potential she saw in me. Please help Lisa stop picking her fingernails, overeating, cussing, being lazy, not caring about her grades, reading the wrong books, listening to the wrong music, drinking beer, or NOT believing the way I do.
I don’t blame her, this was her programming. I’m sure it felt quite loving hopin’ and prayin’ for my needed improvements. She feared who I might possibly become, and truly believed her prayers could turn things around for me. Her faith then required that she gave the God of her understanding credit whenever my improvements, no matter how barely detectable emerged.
I did the same thing to my children—always hopin’ they would become the best version of themselves. I guess I thought wishin’ for the hidden potential in them to emerge would reflect what a stellar job I’ve done mothering and flatter my ego. Damn, that was my programming too.
Emily Dickinson’s poem, Hope Is The Thing With Feathers reveals the unsettling nature of the never ending loop of constant hope…and never stops – at all -.
Hopin’ I believed would make all of my sleepless nights and heartache worthwhile. However, instead, what I’m finally understanding is that all of that motherly wishin, hopin’, thinkin’, and prayin’ kept me from accepting them as they were/are in the present. I’m truly sorry Ellis, Lucy, and Willa that I did not learn this sooner.
Wishin’, hopin’, thinkin’, and prayin’ doesn’t seem to actually be working in any part of my life now that I give it more though...and never stops – at all—thanks Emily for that reminder.
What if I practiced more acceptance in all areas of my life? What would that feel like? Complacent? Uncaring? UnAmerican? Untethered? Unbelievable?
Let’s experiment, take a moment…breathe, just let the word acceptance settle into our soul a bit…repeat it a few times. Thoughts?
What if right now in America we just quit wishin’, hopin’, thinkin’, and prayin’ for things to be different than they are? What if collectively we ACCEPTED that the God of our personal understanding is desperately trying to reveal to us that all of the political division, rage, wounded egos, destruction, inequality, brutality, greed, spiritual aches, righteousness, grief, and suffering requires our heart’s immediate attention right now and we can no longer keep hopin’ and prayin’ for it to magically disappear?
All you gotta doishold him and kiss himand love him Andshow him others that you care
Yesterday I went to Target., usually is a fun way to distract myself, especially after months of sheltering-in-place with no shopping—except for groceries, gas, booze, and take out. I was quite enthusiastic as I set out. I even put on lipstick…and then my mask.
I didn’t need anything, just some good ole’ aimless browsing, a coffee from Starbucks, drive home, put things away, recycle the boxes, packaging, or tags. Whew, an hour or so that I didn’t have to think about the state of the world, our nation, my family, or myself.
Thank you Target for the distraction, although upon returning home, I realized just as B. B. King sang, The Thrill Was Gone, at least yesterday anyway.
Q. Why did shopping feel so empty to me? This became my thesis for the afternoon.
I sat outside in the yard with my eyes closed for a few minutes—not meditating, just quiet without distraction.
At first, nothing specific came to me…I sat in the heat a few more minutes. I hate being hot, so that was pretty distracting…and bugs were nibbling at my ankles.
Then something Glennon Doyle wrote about in Love Warrior hit me.
“You are not supposed to be happy all the time. Life hurts and it’s hard. Not because you’re doing it wrong, but because it hurts for everybody. Don’t avoid the pain. You need it. It’s meant for you. Be still with it, let it come, let it go, let it leave you with the fuel you’ll burn to get your work done on this earth.” ―Glennon Doyle Melton, Love Warrior
Glennon also wrote about going to Hot Yoga, her only goal was to stay on her mat and not run out of the room. I think I need to sit more often with my uncomfortableness (and others as well) and stop seeking so much avoidance and so many distractions.
Wait, I love my distractions…let me count the ways…avoidance always serves me so well…
TV, food, my studio, scrolling through my phone, podcasts, a nap, a beer, Netflix, Amazon Prime, news, HGTV, books, magazines, ice cream, potato chips, cleaning anything, driving anywhere…my list of distractions goes on and on.
Come on distractions, work your magic. These feelings are so damn uncomfortable. Make them go away.
At least every once in a while, I think I have to say to hell with my much-loved distractions. Welcome in all of the uncertain, uncomfortable feelings, and let them teach me something about my own heart and how to best mend it.
Then after that exhausting heart-mending work—I’ll reward myself, grab some potato chips, a beer, and watch The Gilmore Girls.
by Lisa Lillibridge
to treat or consider (a person or a group of people) as alien to oneself
I want to blame
I need to blame
for my inner tornado
our world’s challenges
far too complex
entirely on my own
quell my fears
confirm my programming
please just tell me who, what, and where
I should other today
my team’s constant drumbeat
their clouding of my inner knowing
click, forward, like, share, and tweet
fair and balanced
the daily diary of the American dream
all the news that’s fit to print
like a howling airplane baby
like an ice cold beer
hot, salty french fries
or another slice of chocolate cake
how did I other today?
those people are not my people
that problem is not my problem
that place is not my place
conformity is obedient and compliant
than looking in the mirror
and down into my own heart
I know I should not utter a word
until I’ve walked at least
ten steps in someone else’s
or bare feet
but I do
we all do
and it’s destroying us
I’ve started writing my thoughts about the pandemic, sheltering in place, and the emotional & economic damage the virus is causing around the world, but I lately I’m very distracted.
Is that a cardinal? What day is it? Who was in that movie? Do we have chocolate chips?
Like my adored grandfather, Louis (and my big sister, Laurie) quotes have always provided a lot of inspiration when I feel a little stuck. Sometimes they work, other times, not so much.
Today, they proved rather effective. Ask me in 15 minutes though, and I might tell you otherwise…or barely remember crafting this blog post altogether. They were unattributed.
Every single thing that has ever happened in your life is preparing you for a moment that is yet to come.
Life is often a struggle, with little bouts of ease. I think we do a disservice, especially to our children, to teach them otherwise. We can learn from every life experience if we can wrap our heads around thinking this way.
I’ve been thinking about how we will collectively remember this time in history. I decided to look back—photos, emails, texts, notes and more. Here’s a snapshot of my discoveries.
Now, these images show the mostly good memories of sheltering in place. I unfortunately, didn’t document my hissy fits, pity party days on the couch watching TV, dumping the remainder of the potato chip bag in my mouth over the sink, or the times I just drove away because my family was bugging the crap out of me.
I suspect many of you can both imagine and empathize.
A snow day.
My rehearsal dinner dress—circa spring of 1992.
Jen Wool appropriately social distancing.
A multi-day March headache.
Beer and trivial pursuit with the girls and Jeff.
Willa visiting Joanne and Bob.
Ellis stopping by for a front stoop chat.
Coffee time with Karen and Jeff.
Making coffee time a little fancier with my Grandmother’s china and a vintage wrap.
Lucy, Willa, and Jacob at Lake Winnipesaukee.
A Govoni family cookout circa summer 1998.
Things I wanted to do circa 1989…I either got distracted or thought leaving 20 blank was clever.
A note from my Dad sometime in the mid-90s after I had moved to Vermont.
Photos of a gorgeous house Jeff and I used to house sit when we were dating.
The wallet of my great uncle, that I was able to return to his family.
Below, notes on my phone I found funny and insightful.