What the world needs now…

  • 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.

—Maya Angelou

NOTE: Tonight on your local PBS station you can watch Timothy Greenfield-Sanders documentary—Maya Angelou: The Pieces I Am. https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/

Thank you Pema, Dusty & Emily…

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.”

HOPE verb: 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 did Emily 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 do is 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 do is hold him and kiss him and love him
And show him others that you care

distraction from mending…

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.

my virtual art gallery…

I‘ve been doing #the100dayartchallenge2020.

I mostly post images on Instagram. Here’s the link to my profile: https://www.instagram.com/dakota1966

Friendship with oneself is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.

—Eleanor Roosevelt

attention span & quotes

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.

my corona life part I…

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.

Living—March

  1. A snow day.
  2. My rehearsal dinner dress—circa spring of 1992.
  3. Jen Wool appropriately social distancing.
  4. A multi-day March headache.
  5. Beer and trivial pursuit with the girls and Jeff.
  6. Willa visiting Joanne and Bob.
  7. Ellis stopping by for a front stoop chat.
  8. Coffee time with Karen and Jeff.
  9. Making coffee time a little fancier with my Grandmother’s china and a vintage wrap.

Unearthed—March

  1. Lucy, Willa, and Jacob at Lake Winnipesaukee.
  2. A Govoni family cookout circa summer 1998.
  3. Things I wanted to do circa 1989…I either got distracted or thought leaving 20 blank was clever.
  4. A note from my Dad sometime in the mid-90s after I had moved to Vermont.
  5. Photos of a gorgeous house Jeff and I used to house sit when we were dating.
  6. The wallet of my great uncle, that I was able to return to his family.
  7. Below, notes on my phone I found funny and insightful.

women of elegant power…

I have my own thoughts about the stories of these women. However, I want you to use your own imaginations. What we see is so subjective based on our own experience.

I will offer this though, from my perspective, they are not hiding.

“Maybe I see things from a little bit farther away—which is a good thing. If you’re an artist, you see things differently than most people anyway.” —Nicole Farhi, London Sculptor

I created this work by painting over magazine images, photographing them with objects, and then playing in Adobe Photoshop. They’re all from the pages of Vogue and Kinfolk (Nicole Farhi is pictured in the striped shirt). I found beauty, narrative, and true artistry in the gorgeous original magazine images, of course. However, when I look beneath the surface of the subjects and models there’s far more than meets the eye at first glance.

Have fun making up your own stories about these women & please challenge your initial assumptions. I had far more fun when I dug a little deeper and noticed my quick judgments & hard-wired biases.

ancient memories…from early 2020

I was going through photos today and realized that my memories from January and February seem like a lifetime ago. Us Vermonters are now in the 5th week of sheltering in place. It’s quite remarkable how much the world has changed in such a short time. WOW!

I decided to give my not-so-old images a treatment to make them appear as vintage and fading as they now feel to me. I provided captions for the images and a few links below.

“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it is a memory.”
― Dr. Seuss

  1. Spiderman ready to take on the Bad Guys
  2. Celebrating in Burke, SD https://www.facebook.com/The-Burke-Gazette-104189784512700/
  3. Ellis napping with Karen at home
  4. Jeff’s daily coffee snuggle with Karen
  5. Dinner with Chloe and the clan at Frank Day’s in Dallas, SD https://www.frankdays.com/
  6. New Year’s Eve in Burlington, VT
  7. Joan & Maggie—Trivia Night at the Saint John’s Club/Burlington, VT http://stjohnsclub.com/

all dressed up & no place to go…

I’ve been working in my studio on the #100dayartchallenge2020. I made this dress, it’s roughly Barbie size. While working on it, and on hour two, I suddenly felt completely ridiculous. Lisa, you’re a total fraud of an artist. What the hell am I doing? This doesn’t make any difference in the world during the pandemic.

I sought some guidance and landed on Dear Sugar—Cheryl Strayed’s New York Times podcast…her guest was Handmaid’s Tale author Margaret Atwood and her perspective about this time in history boosted me significantly.

Margaret Atwood…every human on the planet who has something to contribute about the story of us. And I think that that’s what’s so powerful about that moment of that understanding that, yes, we can bear witness, as you say. We don’t have to be a novelist. We don’t have to be a poet. We can do that even as a person.

This is the time to tell the story of us in whatever way speaks to you personally. Journal. Saving e-mails from friends and family. Cleaning. Music. Writing. Art. Sewing. Cooking. Reading. Making masks. Studying something new to prepare yourself for whatever comes next, or simply to amuse yourself.

It’s all worthwhile, Margaret said so.

My art isn’t going to change the world by any means, but maybe my hum of discovery, being in flow, problem solving and some small sense of completion is having some miniscule impact. I know it does on the anxiety level in my own home anyway. “Mom, go make something” has been a common refrain over the years.

I’m creating art out of nothing, using stuff I find in my messy basement studio. After hearing Margaret talk about the book Art & Energy by Barry Lord, my efforts felt a tiny bit, ever-so-slightly more relevant.

Margaret Atwood: So I’ve got a little bit of perspective, which is a man called Barry Lord, who wrote a book called “Art & Energy,” in which he connects the kinds of culture you have with the kind of energy that is supporting it…And then oil comes along. And it’s very cheap, and it doesn’t take that many people to produce it. And you get a culture of consumption. Lots of cheap stuff. But we’re now transitioning into renewable energy. And that will produce and is producing right now a culture of stewardship. 

Hopefully stewardship or some version of it anyway is what’s coming next. Just imagine all of the possibilities…

stewardship: the conducting, supervising, or managing of something especiallythe careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care, stewardship of natural resources (Merriam Webster)

Thank you New York Times, Cheryl Strayed, Margaret Atwood and Barry Lord.

city girls…

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