interior ruckus—part one
i had no idea at twenty-nine
an unfamiliar inner voice
so bossy, persuasive
now, right now
baby, baby, baby
OR so i assumed...
in my 20s, i knew so little about my biology
youth doesn't ask many questions
baby, baby, baby
oh, to possess that blissful ignorance again
i understand now…
my ancient biology didn’t take over,
my private sociology did
interior ruckus of
age & expectations
my societal & familial programming
interior ruckus—part two
hopeful & cautious
baby, baby, baby
a September birthday?
NOPE, not this month
my body sighed
my body whispered, YES
a winter birthday?
baby, baby, baby
my son arrived
late in February
all giant and squirmy
three years later
that familiar drumbeat
my personal sociology
our son needs a sibling
my body whispered again
babies,in my wife?
baby A & baby B
gritty little homesteaders
inhabitants of my territory
our complex symbiosis
my daughters arrived
in the middle of May
all tiny and squirmy
interior ruckus—part three
mothering through menopause
& not just mine
age and expectations
a lifetime spent studying the waves
push and pull
motherhood's seismic shift
less vigilance now required
when monitoring underground movement
tremors are expected
Last week over coffee with friends we discussed checking our day-to-day reality against the news and social media feeds. We all agreed that our own experiences/interactions average about 97% positive out in the world.
Our lives are bombarded with constant messages designed to provoke an emotional reaction—a click to like or share, make a purchase, or a donation.
Does my experience map to what I’m told I should be feeling? What is the motivation? Who profits? Who or what is harmed by this message? Why?
I remembered the October testimony before Congress of FACEBOOK whistleblower Frances Haugen so I looked for some of her quotes. I included the C-SPAN link below.
“I’m here today because I believe Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division, and weaken our democracy.” —FRANCES HAUGEN, FACEBOOK WHISTLEBLOWER
FACEBOOK obviously isn’t alone in this practice—corporate advertising, influencers, lobbying groups, politicians, churches, colleges, non-profits, the list goes on and on. Many organizations are well worth our energy/resources AND many are designed to either create outrage or tug at our heartstrings.
If profit is to be made off of manipulating my emotional life, it seems like an act of revolution to first put my response through a reality/values filter.
It takes just a moment and when I take the time, I feel less manipulated and more in control.
manipulate: to change by artful or unfair means so as to serve one’s purpose
emotion: a strong feeling (such as love, anger, joy, hate, or fear)
profit: the compensation accruing to entrepreneurs for the assumption of risk in business
reality: something that actually exists or happens, a real event, occurrence, situation, etc.
values: something (such as a principle or quality) intrinsically desirable
filter: to pass or move through
“There is a pattern of behavior that I saw [at] Facebook: Facebook choosing to prioritize its profits over people.”
I was raised by two entirely different ways of looking at the world. Mom and Dad’s individual circumstances, experiences, programming, and natures formed their worldviews, just as it did for their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and of course, their offspring too.
MYMOM: We’re all pretty wretched human beings. However, if we follow divine rules, tamp down our true natures to follow those rules, and constantly seek forgiveness, then we just might escape eternal damnation.
MY DAD: We’re basically pretty decent folks, we all make mistakes, if we can own them sometimes, and be open to a little coaching then we just might learn from our mistakes and do a little bit better next time.
A friend’s mom says, “it’s a wonder it goes”…it seemed appropriate here somehow. Thank you Martha & Marita.
Grandparents, siblings, birth order, aunts, uncles, cousins, ancient ancestors, geography, friends, boyfriends, school, church, teachers, books, music, TV shows, movies, pets, sports, coaches, experiences, my husband, my children, my nature and so much more, all played a part in who I am today.
Who we are and why is so mysteriously layered and complex that distilling ourselves (or anyone else for that matter) down with just a few data points seems woefully inadequate…total bullshit actually.
My daughter, Willa Govoni shot these photos on the beach a few weeks ago. She captured moments of pure joy and goofing off. These feel like the real me or how I would like my great-grandchildren to see me one day anyway. Thank you Willa.
“I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints, the sinners are much more fun.” —Billy Joel
Dad liked those Billy Joel lyrics and I think he also understood my worldview quite well. Monday, August 30th will be three years, try to rest in peace Big Guy.
The whole world witnessed the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. How we choose to respond is up to our own hearts in our own time. I find it challenging work to examine my own biases and prejudices. It’s easier to echo information from “my team” without really looking within.
Pausing even just a minute, allows me to hold far more complexity and gives my rational brain an opportunity to override my emotional brain…of course it doesn’t work all of the time. Summoning the spirit of my Grandpa Lillibridge helps me do this, he was really good at slowing down and listening.
Grandpa was remarkably generous in spirit, deeds, resources, and in his communication style as well. He would listen calmly while I shared my thoughts about boys, books, movies, travel, religion, politics, and the world at large. He died in 1986 when I was twenty, he had a huge impact on me…and still does.
I’ve thought a lot about him during this difficult time in American history. Grandpa wasn’t thrown off by opposing viewpoints and he was almost PATHOLOGICALLY CURIOUS. That was truly a gift to me as a young adult, trying to figure out my place in the world. His presence while we talked made me feel like the only person in the universe.
“You have to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather was.” —Abe Lincoln
Curiosity was Grandpa’s superpower—history, politics, psychology, music, business, religion…his library possessed a little of everything. He often read all night when I worked for him. He would come in around eleven apologizing for our late start and then proceed to tell me all about what he was reading.
I believe he would be so saddened by the state of our nation today, families divided because of politics, unable to agree on basic ideas. It would break his heart. I know he would encourage my curiosity, empathy, compassion, and challenge me to find more common ground.
Grandpa, please help me stay curious, and to speak authentically without shutting down my head and heart to others.
We were married May 16,1992. I celebrated Mother’s Day for the first time in 1996 after the birth of our son. In 2000, during a challenging twin pregnancy, our doctor thought the babies were good sized (my feet and ankles were also swelling quite freakishly). She thought it was time to induce. Jeff and I could pick the date, we chose to keep our anniversary, our daughters were born May 17th.
From Mother’s Day to May 17th, life’s big events are celebrated at our house. This year Mother’s Day was the same day as my late father’s 82nd birthday. I miss you Dad.
In 2000, the Govoni family had a wedding, four new babies and we lost our much-love patriarch, Lou. That was obviously a very big year. When we talk about it now, new details keep being revealed about that time. Perhaps your family has a year like that as well?
Honoring life’s milestones, and supporting those who suffered loss (especially this year when weddings, graduations, and funerals were put on hold) is what connects humanity. The year really showed how much we need each other.
Our world shifted so many ways this year with the pandemic. Many bonds were strengthened, and unfortunately many fayed (or severed) as well.
When significant change beyond our control occurs, we crave certainty. Life is clearly very uncertain. Learning how to adapt, hell,maybe even thrive with uncertainty is perhaps the key to our survival.
After a year of slowing down, and finally inching toward our new normal, I think it’s time to take stock of where we’ve all landed. First, quietly in our own hearts, and then collectively as a nation.
I want to cut away the thorns from my heart that are hindering my empathy, judgment, or choices. A process far slower than I would prefer…but necessary and well worth the effort.
Last spring, out of the blue I received an email from an interfaith organization, The Council of Christians and Jews in the United Kingdom asking if they could use an image of mine from a blog post for their spring magazine cover.
This sort of request was new for me. I was flattered by the inquiry and proud of the images. I researched the organization to be certain I wanted to allow my permission…then I was truly humbled and honored.
The Council of Christians and Jews:
“We were founded in 1942, at the height of the Second World War and the Holocaust, by Archbishop William Temple and Chief Rabbi Joseph Hertz. We are proud that Her Majesty the Queen has been our patron since 1952.
…and dedicated our work to raising awareness about the persecution and destruction of the Jews of Europe.”
A secret cabal is taking over the world. They kidnap children, slaughter, and eat them to gain power from their blood. They control high positions in government, banks, international finance, the news media, and the church. They want to disarm the police. They promote homosexuality and pedophilia. They plan to mongrelize the white race so it will lose its essential power.
Does this conspiracy theory sound familiar? It is. The same narrative has been repackaged by QAnon.
“Once the seduction of taming and conquering never seen western lands took root, homesteading men must’ve been often blinded by their brave proclamation. The planning of their upcoming adventure, I suspect left little room for dissent of any kind. Homesteading wives just had to get on board, regardless of any fears or sorrow they felt about leaving everything familiar behind. They did what determined women have always done throughout history, they relied on their ability to make something out of nothing.
It seems likely to me, the descendants of homesteaders just might hold some ancestral unsettling, some vague restlessness of that migratory gamble. I know I feel some ancient unsettling myself, and I always have.”
Excerpt from Personal Homesteading—a work in progress
Resmaa Menakem’s book My Grandmother’s Hands has confirmed many feelings I’ve had about generational trauma make sense to me. I’ve often wondered how my ancestor’s emotional landscapes have affected me. I don’t want to be at the mercy of emotions that were never mine in the first place—and now have lost any appropriate context. Sorry prairie ancestors, it’s time to cut you loose.
“All of this suggests that one of the best things each of us can do—not only for ourselves, but also for our children and grandchildren—is to metabolize our pain and heal our trauma. When we heal and make more room for growth in our nervous systems, we have a better chance of spreading our emotional health to our descendants, via healthy DNA expression. In contrast, when we don’t address our trauma, we may pass it on to future generations, along with some of our fear, constriction, and dirty pain.”
We all possess some generational trauma to varying degrees. Right now our collective unhealed traumas could be part of what’s tearing families, communities, and our nation apart. I believe we can heal by learning ways to let trauma move through our bodies (metabolize it) and not keep us in a perpetually hypervigilant, anxious (fearful), and distrustful state of being. I’m an optimist AND a realist. I believe we can heal AND it’s gonna take a lot of heart, humility, and hard work.
The principal mode by which people are infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is through exposure to respiratory droplets carrying infectious virus. Source: CDC.gov
The principal mode by which people can be infected with ANXIETY (FEAR) is through repeated exposure to someone carrying ANXIOUS & UNSETTLED ENERGY.
anxiety: apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill
anxiety (medical): an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.
Source: Merriam Webster
I don’t want community spread of my free-floating (airborne) anxiety and I don’t want to pick up the anxiety of others either. Not infecting those I’m in contact with is my desired outcome.
When I feel that anxiousness rising, thinking about something calm helps me tremendously. Noticing takes a lot of deliberate & regular practice. I’m trying to be patient with myself while I’m in training.
Do you catch my drift?
As M.A.S.H.’s, Hawkeye famously replied in season 2 episode 15, “I played Left Drift in high school”.
Ah, I miss you Dad. 💜
I’ve discovered a quick visual when I feel my discomfort rising—the bubble in a level…a vintage, weathered flea market level of course. If I’m able to level myself even a little bit, I can stop or at least slow the spread of my contagious anxiety.
Notice how this level is a bit higher on the right side? The table wasn’t even, I had to make a few quick adjustments to get the bubble centered…catch my drift?
This morning I awakened at about the time I got the call from my sister two years ago letting me know that our father had died. I get up early, not usually in the 4 o’clock hour though.
I wasn’t surprised I stirred early today with Dad on my mind. I got up, quietly pulled on yesterday’s clothes, and waited for the clock on the stove to say 5:00 before I made my coffee. I sat outside and watched the sun begin to rise over the Cape Cod Bay.
My Dad was not an early riser, definitely more of a sunset guybut he would’ve appreciated my sunrise images, especially the coyote tracks in the sand and my obsession with them now.
The coyote is the mascot of my Dad’s much-loved, alma mater—the University of South Dakota.GO YOTES!
A few days before Dad died I called to tell him that Jeff and I got stung by jellyfish while on a kayak excursion. We were FaceTiming so I showed him the welts on my arms and described the way they stung…sort of electric-like if my memory serves me correctly. I had a flight booked to come see him in a few days so we kept our call short.
This morning I remembered a song Dad used to sing to me:
Lisa, Lisa I’ve been thinkin’
what a fine world this would be,
if all the Lisa’s were transported…
far beyond the northern sea.
I miss you Dad, thanks for the company this morning.