one year ago today…

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

Lowell Louis Lillibridge

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.

soul pioneers & homesteaders

soul homesteading Lisa Lillibridge

Moving thousands of miles away from the security of family and friends, settling or cultivating unfamiliar land and trying to create something out of nothing is what many of our ancestors did in order to create a new life for themselves and their families.

  • PIONEER noun: a person who is among the first to explore or settle a new country or area
  • HOMESTEADER noun: someone who acquires or occupies territory as a homestead

I believe my heart and mind are new territories meant to be explored continually—expectations managed as circumstances dictate. I’m a pioneer on my very own emotional homestead, granted the privilege to manage exactly as I choose.

Excerpt from The Homestead Act of 1862

Claimants were required to “improve” the plot by building a dwelling and cultivating the land. After 5 years on the land, the original filer was entitled to the property, free and clear…”

“The Homestead Act, enacted during the Civil War in 1862, provided that any adult citizen, or intended citizen, who had never borne arms against the U.S. government could claim 160 acres of surveyed government land. Claimants were required to “improve” the plot by building a dwelling and cultivating the land. After 5 years on the land, the original filer was entitled to the property, free and clear, except for a small registration fee. Title could also be acquired after only a 6-month residency and trivial improvements, provided the claimant paid the government $1.25 per acre. After the Civil War, Union soldiers could deduct the time they had served from the residency requirements.”

https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=31

homesteading my psyche

At fifty-two, I feel betwixt and between, no longer young and not yet old. Looking back I can see my life as remarkably valuable training and experience. To hell with regrets. I can’t change a damn thing. I know myself much better in midlife and that’s truly a gift. I also know I still have a lot to learn.

Like my prairie ancestors, I have an inherent longing now to settle or “prove up” one hundred and sixty acres. A sort of cognitive Homestead Act of my midlife psyche. A bit of a gamble, rife with elements of uncertainty, the heady buzz of adventure and the resilience to know I can handle whatever comes my way.

Funny to think about cognitive growth using these terms. However, metaphorically, it works pretty well. Claim my section. Select the crop.  Prep the land. Plant the seeds. Irrigate. Fertilize. Monitor growth. Harvest. Review.

These 3 simple questions help me often and perhaps might’ve helped my prairie ancestors as well. The trick is being able to actually answer them.

What’s working?

What’s not?

What’s next?

Homestead Act of 1982 “…and that such an application is made for his or her exclusive use and benefit, and that said entry is made for the purpose of actual settlement and cultivation, and not either directly or indirectly for the use of any other person or persons whomsoever…he or she shall thereupon be permitted to enter the quantity of land specified.”    

what’s your comfort zone?

I know I have to get out of my comfort zone more often, especially in this current political & social environment.  Doing so might actually be an act of revolution now.  On a long drive yesterday I caught up on some podcasts.  The first one I listened to was:  TED radio hour: comfort zones.  I highly recommend it for everyone at every stage of life.

Here’s the link: comfort zones/TED radio hour

Last week my daughters and I traveled to Washington, DC.  Lucy participated in the admitted students overnight at American University.  She slept on the dorm floor of strangers, introduced herself to kids from all over the world and wondered how her skills and talents stacked up. Talk about a seventeen-year-old stepping out of their comfort zone, right?  She stepped way out, which provided rocket fuel for her growth and made me think about my own.

Human beings tend to stick with our own kind.  It’s soooooooo much easier.  Hearing other people’s perspectives or learning something that doesn’t gel with what we’ve held to be true requires intellectual agility.  It’s hard work and requires lots of practice.  That’s why we often end up sticking to what’s safe and familiar.

In adulthood, if we don’t force ourselves into unfamiliar situations, we can get really stuck. 

As an artist, I’ve worked mostly alone for years, with very little feedback or performance reviews of any sort.  If I want to grow, I need to be told when my work is bad, uninteresting, needs far more research or is hard to understand.

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I’m truly grateful for the encouragement over the years from my friends and family regarding my creative work.  The LIKES and comments have been very supportive, but it’s not enough.

True critical feedback is hard for people to give who are close to us.  If we want to grow, we have to actively seek it out ourselves from other sources.  It’s easier to hear when there isn’t an emotional risk involved.  NOTE:  I need to keep this in mind with my nearly eighteen-year-old girls now.  They aren’t asking and I have to quit offering constant feedback now.

In the podcast, a social scientist says that possibilities come from reaching out to our “loose connections” NOT our friends & family.  This makes sense to me especially when thinking about professional opportunities.

It’s time we all take off our fuzzy slippers, put on some sturdy walking shoes and start exploring the world way outside of the comfort zone.

 

 

Today, I’m choosing…

to imagine a world filled with wonder…this requires some effort, especially when the world doesn’t seem so “wonderfilled” to me right now.

WONDER/noun:  a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable…

Ooh, this definition gives me chills.

Ummm, let’s see…do I want to listen to the news all day, filling myself up with stories that make me feel fearful and angry—OR, do I want to do a little “wonder seeking” that could lead to something interesting that fuels me creatively?

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If what we think about grows…

Today, my musings lead me to imagine my daughter, Willa swimming in a tower I photographed by the airport in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  This image made me think about other possibilities of where else she might be swimming and that cracked me up…many more images to come, I’m sure.