a constant swivel & an empty nest

I’m writing a work of fiction about a middle-age woman, newly empty-nested and figuring out her next stage of life.  This week my husband, Jeff and I dropped off our twin daughters at college—Lucy at American University & Willa at Wheaton College in Massachusetts.  

It won’t take you too long to figure out who “Alice” is in my excerpt.

“Although, she didn’t have the feeling so many of her friends described of instant familiarity with their babies…some bullshit, mysterious, ancient connection.  She felt something else, far less magical, perhaps it was a twin thing. 

constant swivel lisa lillibridgeAlice remembers how immediately after holding Frankie and Pearl for the first time she had a feeling that she was ignoring one baby whenever she turned her head and looked at the other.  Im already screwing this up She couldn’t possibly have known in that moment that this feeling would never leave her.  Alice’s head and heart already on a constant swivel, less than an hour after giving birth to twins.”

As many of you already know, it’s quite an emotional roller coaster to send the last of your brood out into the world.  I’m only 16 hours in, so this is all still pretty raw for me.

I believe whenever my wholeheartedness is required,

the process just can’t be rushed. 

In the remarkably funny (and raunchy) Netflix series Big Mouth, the character of Jessie’s mother, Shannon has the best line to describe what I’m feeling right now. 

“Let’s finish basic training before we go to Fallujah.”

She was describing using a maxi pad, when her daughter asked about tampons.  A great line for lots of situations though.

BIG MOUTH was created by Jennifer Flackett, Andrew Goldberg, Nick Kroll and Mark Levin.  The voice of Jessie’s mother, Shannon is Jessica Chaffin. 

(PLEASE NOTE: Do not watch BIG MOUTH with young kids.)

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The Ideal Mother is a Terrible Parent

by Erin W

I stumbled upon this article recently, which helped knock back some of those ever present parenting “should haves”Thank you Erin W.

“Eventually I smothered the ideal mother. I killed her dead. I introduced myself to my kids and started practicing “organic parenting.” I yell, I curse, I kiss and I hug. I hold onto them and push them away. They hold onto me and push me away.  Together, we horrify and delight each other, all the time.”  (I love this line wholeheartedly.)

LINK:  https://sherecovers.co/the-ideal-mother-is-a-terrible-parent/

My solace will come from many sources.  I’m riding the unpredictable waves as they roll in and I’m trying to listen to my inner self .  I know she’ll guide this process far better than any outside sources ever could.  I have to be willing to actually listen though.

Hang in there fellow empty nesters.

empty nest

early morning on town neck beach

oh, how the mind plays tricks…

I found this photo I shot in Amsterdam on my phone this morning, it got me curious and sent me down a research path (rabbit hole) of how our minds get distorted and subsequently exploited.  

Relationships.  Advertising.  Entertainment.  Politics.  Religion.  

Mostly though, I believe the distortion can be how we see ourselves.

Next, I stumbled upon this article on the PSYCHOLOGY TODAY website and thought it was worth sharing.  Joe Navarro has studied the life, teachings and behavior of cult-leaders; Jim Jones, David Koresh, Charles Manson, Bhagwan Rajneesh and Warren Jeffs, just to name a few. 

What he said was that these individuals were or are all pathologically narcissistic.

Then I started wondering about the differences between narcissism v. self-esteem.  It’s pretty stark and worth understanding better.  I thought I knew the difference.  I didn’t really.

Here’s a quick guide of the differences.  

n-v-se.jpg

Hey, the more we know, well, the more we know, right?

 

We all possess some narcissistic traits.  I’ve certainly had to take a look at myself.  It wasn’t easy at the time, but I’m grateful I did, and my relationships improved because of more awareness

It’s the extremes of these traits we need to notice.

Healthy narcissism is the characteristic of possessing realistic self-esteem without being cut off from a shared emotional life, as unhealthy narcissists tend to be.

Joe Navarro (former FBI agent):  “From my studies of cults and cult leaders during my time in the FBI, I learned early on that there are some things to look for that, at a minimum, say caution, this individual is dangerous, and in all likelihood will cause harm to others.”

They all have or had an over-abundant belief that they were special, that they and they alone had the answers to problems, and that they had to be revered. They demanded perfect loyalty from followers, they overvalued themselves and devalued those around them, they were intolerant of criticism, and above all they did not like being questioned or challenged.

And yet, in spite of these less than charming traits, they had no trouble attracting those who were willing to overlook these features.” 

Here are some of the traits to watch out for and avoid if possible.

Link to entire list:  https://www.psychologytoday.com/dangerous-cult-leaders

  1. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, or brilliance.
  2. Demands blind unquestioned obedience.
  3. Requires excessive admiration from followers and outsiders.
  4. Has a sense of entitlement—expecting to be treated special at all times.
  5. Is arrogant and haughty in behavior or attitude.
  6. Has an exaggerated sense of power (entitlement) that allows them to bend rules and break laws.
  7. Is hypersensitive to how they are seen or perceived by others.
  8. Publicly devalues others as being inferior, incapable, or not worthy.
  9. Is frequently boastful of accomplishments.
  10. Insisits in always having the best of anything (house, car, jewelry, clothes) even when others are relegated to lesser facilities, amenities, or clothing.
  11. Doesn’t listen well to others, communication is one-way in the form of dictates.
  12. Haughtiness, grandiosity, and the need to be controlling.
  13. Behaves as though people are objects to be used or exploited for personal gain.
  14. When criticized, lash out not just with anger but with rage.
  15. Refers to non-members or non-believers as “the enemy.
  16. Habitually puts down others as inferior.
  17. Is constantly assessing for those who are a threat or those who revere them.
  18. The word “I” dominates their conversations, oblivious to how often they reference themself.
  19. Hates to be embarrassed or fail publicly – if so, acts out with rage.
  20. Doesn’t seem to feel guilty for anything, never apologize for their actions.
  21. Believes they possess the answers and solutions to world problems.
  22. Works the least but demands the most.
  23. Highly dependent of tribute and adoration and will often fish for compliments.
  24. Uses enforcers or sycophants to insure compliance from believers.
  25. Sees self as “unstoppable”, perhaps has even said so.
  26. Conceals background or family which would disclose ordinary they are.

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

— Aldous Huxley, writer & philosopher

my modern fresco

fresco noun
1. a painting done rapidly (not so rapidly actually) in watercolor (interior latex & acrylic) on wet (old) plaster on a wall or ceiling, so that the colors penetrate the plaster and become fixed as it dries.
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My twin girls are graduating soon and I’m feeling nostalgic.
I’m not surprised I had a little trouble prioritizing things this week.
I focused on this instead, the other stuff will get done somehow.
Getting up at 4:15 to paint with the birds chirping was pure joy.
Below is the evolution & some details of the painting.
I haven’t felt “painterly” for a long time.
I do now.

Lisa Lillibridge's modern fresco

 

 

Thank you Ruby, Lena & BHS YES (year end studies) program.

I was very inspired talking about art and process.

Please Note:  I’m off FACEBOOK, please contact me through e-mail, not messenger.

top rack only

On this Mother’s Day, I really wanted to be honest with myself about it all. Mothering my kids has been heart-shatteringly beautiful and sometimes just plain heart-shattering, without the beauty part to soften the daily blows. 

I can’t change anything and regret is a waste of energy anyway.  If I try to tamp the regrets down, I know they will leak out in uncomfortable ways at inconvenient times. 

Recently I noticed the TOP RACK ONLY button on the dishwasher.  “Jeff and I will be a top rack only couple probably a few nights a week when the girls leave for college.”  When I said this to myself, it made me cry inconsolably.  Damn, that’s bleak.  

These episodes are getting more frequent now as our nest nears it’s emptying…clearly a time for a little extra grace. 

When Ellis, Lucy and Willa were growing up, I often did a quick review at the end of the day, asking myself one simple question: Did I love them more than I was pissed off at them?  I don’t remember ever answering, NO.  It was all the encouragement I needed to wake up and mother them another day.

Happy Mother’s Day 2018!

my 1980s spy movie fantasy

 

This week I was sent a cryptic message from someone named, Andrew Silva, alerting me that he left two photographs inside the front door of my home.

When I studied them I immediately thought of two things:

1.  I really love my $5 yellow, thrift shop, 1980s jacket.

2.  These images look like I’m a spy in a 1980s movie.  I was rather certain I had other images to round out my spy thriller storyboard fantasy.

Print

The film opens with an urgent call being made from a phone booth in Florence, Italy by the spy in the yellow jacket.

She’s investigating a missing American student studying abroad in Amsterdam.  The student disappeared in Florence on holiday.  The photo was taken by her roommate and potential femme fatale in their shared Florence hotel room.

Male characters (suspects #1 & #2) are photographed in Florence.  They are being exceedingly careful with their public conversations.  The younger of the two is an American architectural college student.  He was seen seated next to the missing student at a cafe the day she disappeared.

An older man (suspect #3) is waiting for the bus in Florence.  He’s under surveillance by the spy in the fabulous, yellow, 1980s, five dollar, thrift shop jacket.  No one is quite sure why though, and neither is he.  The spy’s sneaky photographs are really annoying him.  He’s constantly swearing at her in Italian.  This provides the levity in the film.

The American student’s roommate (suspect #4) was spotted walking toward the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam two days after her roommate’s disappearance in Florence with male (suspect #5). They clearly both know more than they’re telling investigators, casually seen shopping at Albert Heijn, the grocery store near the museum to give the appearance that it was just a normal day.

Male (suspect #2) is unknowingly photographed enjoying dinner out in Florence the night of the student’s disappearance.  He’s the father of the American architectural student and there’s obviously something quite shifty about him.  The angle of the photograph was carefully composed because the spy in the yellow jacket really wanted to remember the brand of balsamic vinegar from Modena on the table.

double image of andrews shots

 

 

images by Andrew Silva, April 2018

is a picture always worth…

a thousand words?  Or do the stories we hold onto shape the narrative a lot more?  My Mom always told me that as a newborn I possessed a striking resemblance to Winston Churchill.  I can’t tell from the photo and I don’t actually really care.  I find it funny.  However, I’ve always held it to be the absolute gospel truth.

What other stories of greater consequence have I never questioned that I was told as a child?