Dear Summer 2019,

Thank you for all of the lovely memories.

I learned a lot about myself over the last three months,

it wasn’t easy, but truly necessary.

With Loving Gratitude,

Lisa

PS The autumnal equinox arrived in the early morning hours of Sept. 23 (at 3:50 a.m. Eastern), the halfway point between our longest and shortest days of the year. It’s funny how my “middleness” shows up in nearly every aspect of my life.

Well hello autumn, you know you’ve always been my favorite… shhhhhhh don’t tell summer.


Ain’t it funny how the night moves
When you just don’t seem to have as much to lose
Strange how the night moves
With autumn closing in

—Bob Seger, Night Moves

No wonder I love this time of year, I’m constantly reminded of my “middleness” in nearly every aspect of my life.

are we frayed beyond repair?

“Once the fabric of a just society is undone, it takes generations to weave it back together.” —Deepak Chopra

feeling nostalgic as the tide shifts…

As my girls head back to their second year of college, the memories of my family’s past summers are making me exceptionally nostalgic this year. Last week I walked Cape Cod’s, Town Neck Beach in Sandwich before heading north to Vermont.

So much flooded back to me…oh, the remarkable nostalgia of middle age.

While admiring the rocks, I got an idea for a photo series and a way I could honor this time of transition.

My memories feel both permanent and somewhat elusive, they can come and go as the tide shifts…just like these rocks do every six hours.

New England Patriot’s recently retired tight end, Rob Gronkowski once remarked, “I just like the beaches in summer, man.”

I wholeheartedly agree, Gronk.

after the storm…

Last night we had a wild storm—tornado warnings, wind, heaving rain, lightning and thunder. I’ve always loved storms. After it passed, the neighborhood was eerily quiet. My daughter, Willa and I stayed up until things settled down.

I get up really early, always have. I don’t like to get up in the 4s…however, anything after 5:00 works for me. I fed our cat, Karen, headed out to get a coffee at Dunkin’ & listen to my book, City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert—sooooo good, and survey the storm damage. We only had leaves covering our deck and a few small branches here and there, nothing major to report.

I ended up at the bottom of the hill at Town Neck Beach. I was the only one in the parking lot at 5:25am…rare actually. Another car pulled up, a man got out and walked onto the beach in the rain. There was just something about him that I found quite intriquing. He didn’t seem sad, but clearly he was in a thoughtful mood. A fisherman wondering about his day perhaps? A visitor seeing his long-planned day at the beach with his young kids thwarted? Or perhaps just a guy on his way to work who likes storms as much as I do.

He took pictures of the stone sculpture that somehow survived the storm. I can’t imagine that someone built it in the dark between 11pm and 5am. It’s design is structurally mighty impressive. Damn.

I waited for him to get into his car, then I got out to get a shot of the sculpture as well. Walking the beach I found myself looking out at the exact spot a friend’s ashes were scattered a few years ago in one of the most sorrowful and stunning moments I’ve ever witnessed in my 52.8 years.

The beach reflected the generous spirit and remarkably unique inner wildness of her this morning. I know she would’ve loved the images in this post and be grateful that I didn’t mention her by name. That was simply not her style.

fluid memories. girlhood…

unprofessional networking

Until the last few years I’ve seen myself as a bohemian mother, artist, memory maker and caretaker/gatekeeper of developing minds. I’ve viewed my life’s work as the unrealized career of a woman who struggles with organization and focus…not anymore. Actually now that I even saw myself like that, it seems like total bullshit.

I thought as my children grew up that they might be disappointed in me that I didn’t have a traditional career. Talk of the other moms who were doctors, lawyers or therapists sometimes resulted in a sense of less than for me. I assumed my children would all want the total opposite of my life—high powered jobs with days spent kickin’ ass and taking names. Not days filled with kids, carpools, chores, errands, creative work (rarely sold), homemaking and hanging out with friends.

I know many families are unable to have a parent at home, a luxury indeed (especially regarding health insurance). However, increasingly folks find themselves in work/home situations that require a lot of strategy to keep things humming along. Commuting to other cities during the week, working remotely, running home businesses or freelancing are such common scenarios of modern life.

Now, five months into the identity shift of my empty nest, I thankfully see those family years so differently. Creating a home, trying to model a healthy marriage, nurturing my community, making art and being the historian-in-chief was an education deeply connected to my values and interests, there wasn’t a moment wasted (OK, maybe a few).

My years of unprofessional networking created my superpowers.

The world should watch out for parents who stayed home to raise their families. We maybe don’t have the references, titles or 401Ks that our peers have. However, we’re digitally savvy, well practiced in the art of endless diplomacy, good listeners and mighty grateful when our efforts are acknowledged. And now with the dailyness of busy family life behind us, we can do damn near anything.

a simple act of REVOLUTION…

There is a lot of heartache in the world…on social, personal and spiritual levels.

Right now it seems like an ACT of REVOLUTION to manage stress.  For the sake of my mental and physical health, I’m simply trying to lighten up.

Every morning, before I get out of bed, I smile (which feels weird, but actually changes your chemistry) and ask myself: How do I want to show up in the world today? 

The feel good neurotransmitters of dopamine, endorphins and serotonin are released when we smile.  This not only relaxes your body but can also lower your heart rate and blood pressure. 

the science of smiling/psychology today link

Sometimes when I awaken, I want my sorrow or my anger…not too often though.  However, when asked that question, the answer is almost always comically obvious.

We’re all energetic beings. 

How we show up in the world has a ripple effect—both positively & negatively.

How do you want to show up in the world today?

grief is messy & highly caloric.

I lost my Dad in the early morning hours of August 30th.  He was a generous, loving, humorous and complex man.  He also was in a great deal of pain. Thankfully he no longer is.  But, damnit, he isn’t here anymore either.  Now, I’m in pain and I would like to talk with him about what bullshit it is to lose someone I love.  He knew this pain, he lost his baby brother, my Uncle Tom, almost exactly one year ago.  

I flew home to South Dakota from Vermont the morning Dad died.  I wept through both airports—Burlington, Vermont and Chicago’s O’Hare. I had a light blanket wrapped around my shoulders that dried my tears as needed.  I walked to my gate in Chicago, blanket draped and carrying a garment bag.  I caught the eye of a few people who offered nods of acknowledgement and held my gaze, maybe understanding that grief is messy.

Oddly, I kept hoping I could tell someone, anyone that I just lost my Dad.  I now understand what to do if I see someone else in the shape I was in.  To hell with privacy.  I will offer a hug.  Or I will buy them a coffee.  Or I will ask them why they are crying and listen, even if I only have a minute before my flight.

I arrived mid-afternoon.  Flowers, casseroles, baked goods, fruit baskets, cheese and meat trays had already begun arriving at the house.  The doorbell was ringing.  The landline was ringing.  Our cell phones were ringing and pinging.  Hugs and tears filled Mom’s back entryway and helped eased the weight of it all.

I knew the process of the “business” of death wasn’t going to be easy.  However, writing the obituary, picking out Dad’s casket and clothes, making phone calls and so on—these things kept us busy.  Busy is needed those first few days.  Making arrangements gave us something to focus on with a deadline, providing a little scaffolding to a messy emotional process.

There were times before the prayer service and funeral, I wanted the whole world to just leave me alone in my sorrow, because I just lost my Dad.

Thankfully the world didn’t.

I’m now keenly aware of how I didn’t give nearly enough attention to the loss of other people’s parents.  I’m sorry if I seemed cavalier.  I just didn’t know how much even a small gesture could mean.  I always thought of grief as a private process.  I understand better now what’s necessary to get through it all.

I’m so sorry for your loss, no matter how many years it’s been for you.

The outpouring of love, time and culinary talents from the good folks in Burke, South Dakota made it the whole process a lot more bearable.  No one would’ve loved having all of those goodies around more than John.  Right, Dad?  Although I think he would’ve hidden the bag of Dorothy’s famous peanut butter cookies in the freezer and pretended they were already gone.

I’m grateful to you all.  Thank you so much.

pie and coffee.JPG

PLEASE NOTE:  Is there a metabolic trick that helps burn the calories (mostly from homemade baked goods) that are delivered to the family during a time of loss?

grief + baked goods + casseroles + visiting + crying + fatigue = COMFORT

____________________________________________________________________

John Lowell Lillibridge lived 79 years, 3 months & 21 days.

Rest, in peace, Big Guy.

You will be greatly missed.

IMG_3445

 

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.)

_________________________________________

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