Dorthea, Willa, Aunt Polly, Ramona, Pippi and me…

In January I stumbled upon a book by Todd Herman, The Alter Ego Effect. His concept seems relatively simple. However, putting it into practice isn’t without some effort. I’ve been thinking about my alter ego(s), or at least the times I’ve needed one and didn’t realized it yet.

Your Alter Ego is really about defining how you want to show up, defining the Superpowers, and borrowing the characteristics of an existing person, character, superhero, animal, or whatever to help activate your Heroic Self.” —Todd Herman

We step in and out of so many arenas throughout our days and our lives. I’m a wife, mother, daughter-in-law, daughter, sister, sister-in-law, aunt, great aunt, niece, cousin, friend, artist, writer, board member, family recovery coach, neighbor, athlete…the list goes on and on.

Do I really need to drag every single one of my roles around with me all the time? NO, I really don’t.

What are my dominant characteristics?

THE POSITIVE: generous, compassionate, empathetic, creative & adaptable

THE NOT SO POSITIVE: judgmental, reactive, disorganized, & often far too intense

What traits do my heroes possess?

Dorthea Lange/depression-era photographer—Dorthea could brilliantly see people’s humanity even in unimaginably difficult circumstances.

Willa Cather/prairie writer—My Antonia, Oh Pioneers, Song of the Lark—She wrote remarkable stories about pioneer life, providing context and sweeping language about the independence I felt growing up in South Dakota. NOTE: I named my daughter Willa in honor of the connection I felt to her writing.

Polly Gray (Aunt Polly) fiercely and elegantly played by Helen McCrory from the series Peaky Blinders is who I think of as my alter ego now. What I’m most drawn to is that Aunt Polly understands people very well; their nature, talents, weaknesses, heartaches, and perhaps most importantly—what intrinsically motivates them.

“Sometimes the women have to take over. Like in the war.”

—Polly Gray, Peaky Blinders, Series 1: Episode 4

Polly Gray also is determined, deliberate, generous, knows her strengths, and can access her anger when necessary. I tend to tamp down my anger and then it leaks out in unhealthy ways, mostly to those closest to me.

Anger often is the appropriate response to circumstances of injustice or being wronged. I want to learn how to use my anger, communicate clearly without brain-clouding emotion or being defensive when possible. Pretending I’m Aunt Polly gives me a little breathing room and more options of how to respond when my anger surfaces.

I want my alter ego (the best version of me) to possess the courage to step into new roles, shed old ones, and not waste much time looking back or worrying what people think.

Judy Bloom’s—Ramona the Pest & Astrid Lindgren’s—Pippi Longstocking were so influential in my young life. I longed to be some version of a badass just like them and perhaps they would’ve embodied many of Polly Gray’s best traits if they had grown up.

All of the women (and girls) I admire, refused to conform to the feminine standards of their time.

Sadly Helen McCrory died last week after battling cancer. Helen/Aunt Polly you were a fictional badass for the ages and from what I’m reading, you were in real life too.

Her husband is Damien Lewis who is in the series I’m currently watchin, Homeland. He wrote this after her death, “She’s shown no fear, no bitterness, no self-pity, only armed us with the courage to go on and insisted that no one be sad, because she is happy. I’m staggered by her. She’s been a meteor in our life.”

The theme song to Peaky Blinders; Red Right Hand by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and it sets the tone of the show so brilliantly. I have it quickly accessible on my phone when I need to channel Aunt Polly.

NOTE: Peaky Blinders isn’t for everyone. It’s hyper-violent (I had to look away quite a bit). However, at the heart of it all, the series centers around family, money, power, betrayal, forgiveness, redemption, and love…and that all makes for some extraordinary storytelling.

A special nod to the costume designer for Peaky Blinders, Alison McCosh. The costumes are so gorgeous and innovative. They made me want to be a gangster in Birmingham in the 1920s or at the very least occasionally dress like one.

We’ve all summoned some badassery when it was required of us at one point or another. I would love to hear about your alter ego or the circumstances when you needed a little distance from YOU by embodying a slightly altered version.

Thank you for reading, please share or subscribe if you feel so inclined. You will only get an email when I post.

https://alteregoeffect.com/

Dear America…

“This world of ours…must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.”

—Dwight D. Eisenhower

FEAR in America

“Fear in America”—mixed media • layered digital image—2018

Lisa Lillibridge

Dear 2018…

PrintDear 2018,

I’m going to work on my judgement and I would really appreciate your support.  My stated goal for the new year is to practice some radical acceptance of myself and others.  I heard this term somewhere recently and it really resonated for me.

acceptance defined: the act of accepting something or someone

It’s actually pretty simple according to Merriam Webster…simple in definition only.  Not in practice.  It will require training, diligence and literally biting my tongue sometimes…and I will fail often and try again.

Is acceptance the polar opposite of judgement?   

Don’t we all want the same things—to be loved, feel safe and possess some sense of belonging in this crazy world.  The world seems to be crying out for more connection, not more judgement.

I’ve noticed that my curiosity can smooth the jagged edges of my judgement. When I get curious about people, ideas, choices, places, well…everything, I’m far less likely to judge, because I jazzed about my new knowledge.  Dear 2018, please help me remember to utilize the power of my curiosity.  MORE CURIOSITY = LESS JUDGEMENT

Here’s to 2018 & whatever you choose to do with it…it’s none of my business.

 

 

Amsterdam/graffiti

Graffiti never fails to inspire me artistically.  I’m now thinking about the empty walls of my garage…so many possibilities.

three very good questions…

Today I closed the door for the last time on my much-loved studio of 15+ years.  It’s empty.  My work is now in storage.  This is the end of one era and the start of another.

I keep thinking about something my husband, Jeff told me a few years ago.

What’s working?

What’s not?

What’s next?

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  1. The last painting in my studio.
  2. My paint covered work shirt.
  3. A layered image of me and the empty studio.

the power of 5%.

I was reminded this morning of how I can be an ALL or NOTHING sort of person in my proclamations.  I LOVE CHANGE.  I love change so much more than the rest of my family and it drives them totally bonkers.  EXAMPLE:  If I could flip the rooms where the kitchen and the living room are I would do that.  I have to satisfy that part of my nature somehow and it’s abundantly clear that I must largely do it on my own. No public proclamations…or at least a helluva lot fewer of them.

I can be a little unrealistic: I WILL NO LONGER eat potato chips, drink beer, read news, use FACEBOOK, watch TV, eat meat or sugar, drive when I can walk, be critical of my kids or my husband, spend money on X…blah, blah, blah.

Thankfully, over the course of the positive psychology program I took through the Wholebeing Institute. I was taught something quite valuable and rather easy to incorporate into my daily life.  The simple trick of five percent.

I can improve 5% of damn near anything in my life…

then I can build on that incremental change.

I will try to exercise 5% more.  I will try to spend 5% less. I will try to eat 5% less sugar.  I will try to watch 5% less TV.  I will try to eat 5% fewer potato chips.  I will try to drink 5% less.  (NOTE:  I’ve discovered a great trick.  My beers are now 1/2 club soda and 1/2 beer.  Bartenders aren’t crazy about this order.  Who cares? It’s half the calories, half the alcohol and it’s much better for staying hydrated.)

SO, the next time you notice something you would like to improve in your life— think about a relatively painless 5% shift and just do it.

This might be all you need to get started on a desired new path.

Good luck!  Let me know what works for you.

growth mindset vs. fixed mindset

brain changes carol dweck lisa lillibridge

When I read through these traits I was struck by a few things.

1. I’m so grateful to know that a fixed mindset doesn’t have to remain FIXED.  Think about it?  FIXED means unchangeable.  WHO POSSIBLY WANTS TO HAVE A BRAIN THAT IS UNCHANGEABLE?

2. I get really tired of people throwing up their hands and saying, “that’s just the way I am, the way I learn, talk and so on…so get used to it”.  No. I won’t, because it’s untrue.  However, this statement is—we have to believe that change is possible or real growth is way less likely to occur.

Neuroplasticity allows our brains to create new pathways by doing things differently.  It isn’t simple, I understand. However, the good news is that meaningful change in our lives is BOTH very difficult AND very possible.  One of the growth mindset traits: sees effort as necessary.

“Neuroplasticity refers to the potential that the brain has to reorganize by creating new neural pathways to adapt, as it needs.”    —http://www.whatisneuroplasticity.com/

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT NEUROPLASTICITY

“The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile”

― Tal Ben-Shahar

(Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment)

It’s so necessary to feed our brains novel experiences, thoughts and ideas for growth and it sure makes life a helluva lot more interesting.  Don’t you think?

Try something new today.  Your brain will thank you.

Happy International Day of HAPPINESS!

when-we-appreciate-the-good

I’m studying positive psychology with Tal Ben-Shahar through Kripalu and the Wholebeing Institute.  If I hold one thought in my head to make my life better it’s Tal’s quote, “When we appreciate the good, the good appreciates”.

We are what we think and  we’re always capable of changing our thought patterns. We have to BELIEVE that change is possible though.

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF HAPPINESS “A profound shift in attitudes is underway all over the world. People are now recognizing that ‘progress’ should be about increasing human happiness and wellbeing, not just growing the economy.

March 20 has been established as the annual International Day of Happiness and all 193 United Nations member states have adopted a resolution calling for happiness to be given greater priority.”

http://www.dayofhappiness.net/#join

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WHY: for what reason or purpose

the perfect question lillibridge

Today, I realized I’m not asking WHY? often enough.

When my children were little I answered to WHY all the time and considered it part of our daily/hourly experience.  Why is the sky blue?  Why do we brush our teeth?  Why does that man smell weird?  Why can’t I wear just a tutu?  Why can’t I watch that scary movie?  Why are you still sleeping?…

I’ve done things the same way for so long.

WHY?

I don’t know.  It requires further examination.

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Why is such a beautiful word in other languages.

I particularly like varfor.

WHY?

Perhaps because I’m part Swedish.

 

GO FORTH & EXPLORE.

Interesting things happen in our lives when we get curious about the world around us.

go forth and kick some ass lillibridge dakota