:the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance
I don’t always want to see things from other points of view or walk a mile in another woman or man’s shoes. I don’t have to first feel empathetic or sympathetic before I actually understand my own thoughts.
Maybe it’s best to let our perspectives have their way with us, initially anyway, keep what’s informative and then get curious about how other people view things.
The key I suppose, is not waiting so long that rigidity sets in and we become unable to change course, even as we acquire additional information.
“Shoulda taken a break, not an oxford comma Take what I want when I wanna”
—Billie Eilish lyrics from my strange addiction
Instead of rushing in to validate someone else’s perspective the way I’ve been conditioned to do, understanding what’s happening to my own nervous system regarding an event or circumstance seems well worth practicing.
I’m gonna take a break…more than an oxford comma. After all, I’m not often being chased by giant predators as my lizard brain endlessly tries to trick me into believing. I usually have the time to take a minute.
Thank you Willa, Lucy and Ellis for introducing me to Billie Eilish. Damn she’s really something.
In my dream, I wake up in a city of unknown origin, I think New York. However, it could’ve been any big American city. It was busy, loud and there were tons of people on the street. At first I was disoriented, then I keep saying to myself, Life is Kind. A mantra of sorts, to keep me from being afraid of anyone or anything.
I start walking, it’s midmorning and the first person I encounter is a homeless man. He seems quite drunk, but his eyes are kind and clear and a bright very unique shade between between blue and green. He looks at me, smiles and says, “For a beer, I’ll tell you a story”.
Well, there are few things I enjoy more than a cold beer and a good story.
In my dream, I even thought, “Well, it’s midday, there are lots of people around, it will be OK…Life is Kind”. He stood up, took my hand and led me around the corner and down just a few stairs. The outside looked pretty dirty, scary actually and I hesitated, pulling back from his hold. He calmly said, “It will be OK”.
He opened the door and it was surprisingly a cool, sun-filled space that looked more like a diner than a dingy bar. People were talking and laughing, kids playing and there was a lively piano player. The bartender welcomed us warmly. We sat at the end of the bar where it was a little quieter. The old man ordered us two beers, looked me in the eye and smiled.
With no transition, or any recollection of the old man’s story I’m now back out on the street. I’m suddenly surrounded by young, tall, black men. They are talking and laughing, goofing off, they notice that I’m uncomfortable, but I stay right in the middle of their group. I walk a few blocks with them and then to get out of the pod, I have to excuse myself and duck around them, awkwardly bumping into and nearly tripping a few of the guys. They’re all jumping up to touch things, like light fixtures and the tops of signs.
They start giving me crap about being afraid of them because they’re black. I turned to them, said, “I’m not afraid of you because you’re black. I’m afraid of you because of your youth and there’s so many of you and you’re all so big. It’s intimidating to me today.”
“Oh, Ok, yeah, I sort of get that, my grandma said something like that too”, one of the boys offered. He thumped his chest to me and smiled. They all said goodbye in mumbles and waves and off they went jumping down the street into the afternoon light.
I turn the corner and bump, literally bump into this a woman and knock a bunch of papers and books onto the ground. She’s dressed in a well-tailored grey, plaid suit with a skirt and jacket, high end, high heels and a pink, silky blouse with a bow at the neck. Her slightly grey hair was fixed in a stiff, old lady hairstyle like my grandmother had done every Friday morning. Teased, smoothed and fastened with pins, a satin pillowcase required to keep it all tidy until her next appointment.
I apologize for knocking things out of her hands. She’s rushed and while we’re gathering everything back together, she says, “We can have lunch at two. I have a very busy day. I’ll see you at (I don’t remember the name). I can’t wait to catch up.”
Well, we all know how dreams go. So, even though I have no idea who this person is, I can’t wait to catch up either…waiting until two o’clock seemed like an eternity.
I kept walking around until the appointed time. I was very excited about my lunch and all of the catching up we’re going to do. I arrived at the place and everything is odd, the scale of everything really strange and disorienting. The stairs have a very difficult to maneuver tall rise between steps. The tables were all different heights. The lights were bright on some tables and really dark on others.
I suddenly hear someone a little out of breath in my ear. I get a quick hug from behind and a peck on the cheek. Then I see my lunch date. Who appeared was an older gentleman in a pink shirt, a bow tie, a grey striped suit and beautiful shoes. “Huh” was all I thought to myself. He launched into news and notes about his day and his life. He talked about his children, his work and relayed a story about recently missing a flight. He asked me about my projects and if I had seen someone we allegedly had in common recently.
All of this was so very ordinary. I didn’t question that who I thought I was meeting for lunch was an older woman. I just went with along with it and enjoyed his company. Apparently that missed flight story was a hoot.
He paid for lunch and said that he needed to head back to the office. He asked if I minded heights. I said that I sort of did, but that it depended on the situation. “Ok, follow me”, he said and we headed toward the back of the restaurant. He was walking quickly. I kept up. We got to an unusual door, walked out into an alley and went about seven steps to what seemed like nowhere. It was strange, but he was confident and I went along.
“Can you climb?” he asked me. I said that I could. “Jump?” I told him that I could, but that I didn’t really want to. He climbed up the wall, got to the top, swing his legs around, sat a minute and jumped down, now out of my sight. I climbed up. Swung my legs around and looked down. It was about ten feet. I then said, “I don’t want to jump this far, I’m training for the senior olympics. I don’t want to hurt my ankles or knees.”
“It will be fine, dear. I’ll catch you.” I jumped. I landed in the arms of my lunch date. An older woman in a plaid, grey suit, wearing a pink blouse and high heels. She caught me, shifted me upright, gave me a hug and said, “Let’s do this again soon”.
Today I throw the discus at the Vermont Senior Games at 10:30 eastern time. I’m hoping to qualify for the Senior Olympics in Albuquerque, June of 2019. I’ve been practicing. I’ve watched many videos of remarkable Olympic Women throwing, studying their techniques. I’ve worked with a coach. Thanks Matt. I’m prepared to at least give it an honest effort.
Just over a week ago, my Dad sat in the pickup while I practiced throwing at the spot I learned to throw the discus as a seventh grader. My Dad, my coach gave me some pointers and we laughed about a fifty-one-year-old woman throwing the discus again after 34 years. Today he’s in the hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, getting world-class care and struggling.
I want to qualify for Dad today.
“A standout thrower, Lillibridge placed third as a sophomore, finished second as a junior and won the North Central Conference discus title as a senior. Lillibridge, who placed second in the NCAA Division II national meet in the discus, earned All-American honors. A graduate of the USD School of Business in 1962, he has received the USD School of Business South Dakotan of the Year, the USD Alumni Award and the South Dakota Philanthropist of the Year honor. He has been a major supporter of Coyote Athletics for many years. He held State of South Dakota, Howard Wood Dakota Relays and USD records in the discus. A prep star at Burke, he was first-team all-state in basketball as a junior and senior, scoring a school record 1,631 points. Lillibridge was named to the fourth team of the Sport Magazine High School All-American squad. He also won a state title in the discus in high school.“
SOURCE:University of South Dakota Hall of Fame website
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.
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, thegrocery 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.
Yesterday my friend Andrew and I were in his innovative home studio shooting some photographs for a series he’s working on. I was wearing a mask for the shoot. When we were done, it seemed like a waste to not take a few “unmasked” photos when the light and background were all set up.
I was reluctant to post this image today, not because of the quality of the image. Nice work Andrew. But why? I think perhaps the “why” is; the veins/age spots on my hands, the wrinkles around my eyes and my grey roots awaiting a touch up (tomorrow). However, while looking more closely I don’t only see those things. I see that I’m wearing my favorite “uniform” of paint splattered khakis, a tank top and a cowboy shirt I’ve had and loved for twenty years. Around my neck is a pendant my daughter, Willa made for me in her metals class. I’m really relaxed. Down the road I wholeheartedly believe I’ll be grateful to have this portrait. Thanks Andrew.
Today I printed it at the #BCA studios on Pine Street in Burlington (thanks Renee). I plan to write some details on the back so my grandkids or great grandkids will possess some information about me and who I was in March of 2018.
Don’t shy from the camera folks. You’re going to want photographs of yourself. Get your favorite ones printed. Only having digital images is so different than actually holding a print in your hand—get multiples & share them broadly.
Lately I’ve been thinking about my “shitty roommate”. This is my personal inner voice—she makes me doubt myself all the time. She puts those snarky thoughts in my head that I’m “not good enough”, “not reaching my potential” or “if only you were more like…”.
Shame is the inner language of self-attack and self-blame AND shame is my shitty roommate’s jam.
Instead of trying to kick her out (which is exhausting and nearly impossible), I’ve decided to get more curious about her…even love her up a bit. Yes, she’s manipulative AND she also has pushed me. We’re really quite competitive. When she has my ear, she’s granted me the opportunity to self-correct behavior that doesn’t line up with my values, seek forgiveness from those I’ve wronged or offer myself a little grace.
But now, it’s time to change the rules of engagement using one short sentence.
The more I say it, the more power it has for all sorts of situations in my life.
When I question her language, my shitty roommate just puts her headphones on and leaves me alone until the next time…and there will always be a next time. She hates those three words, however, we do seem to be getting along a little better lately.
I did a three day workshop with Elizabeth Bunsen last week. This is one of the prints I made with indigo and rust. I wanted to take my print and add the prairie influences that are speaking to me right now. I used my photographs and one of my leather pendants in one of the circular spaces on the print. I’m not sure which image I like best. They seem like very different art forms now.
Your own photographs are a treasure trove of images for color inspiration. Often it’s subject matter you’re drawn to (like my daughter Lucy’s hair flying) but often it’s color. The way the colors are perceived next to each other, the saturation & depth can create unexpected combinations that work beautifully in a lot of different applications—interior design, fashion, make-up and graphic design. I wanted to show how full saturation of the colors can look pretty intense—however, move a few steps up the color sample and unlikely colors can really work together. I had my living room painted a few years ago and it was sooooo wrong—it made me sick to my stomach. Often with color it’s a process of elimination which is a pain, but when we get it right. We know it’s right.
I heard an interview with Jessica Lamb-Shapiro who wrote: “PROMISE LAND My Journey Through America’s Self-Help Culture” on NPR that re-aired recently and it really struck me that we spend so much time trying to figure ourselves out…is it working? I don’t want to sound preachy. I am very much all in with the personal discovery stuff. ALL IN. I have just decided to read fewer books of the self-help ilk and dive into more fiction and storytelling this year. Erica Jong’s “Fear of Flying” in on my bedside table right now. A great start to a year of fiction.
Here’s the link to Jessica Lamb-Shapiro’s interview: