Happy Father’s Day!

One of my favorite memories with my Dad this year was surprising him at his induction into the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  The banquet was held right around the time of the state tournaments in March.  Basketball was a really big connector for my family—both watching and playing.

I wasn’t a great player by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m sure I was better because of Dad’s coaching and shooting hoops after supper.  My Dad actually sent someone into the locker room at half time to tell me that I wasn’t getting my feet off the floor on my jump shots in a game against our rivals, Gregory.  He was right and I don’t remember exactly, but I suspect that didn’t make me jump much higher.

It was a privilege to hear all of the other high school basketball stories from around South Dakota.  We laughed, we cried and we celebrated hard work, talent and competitiveness.

So on this Father’s Day in 2017 thank you for helping create the woman I am today.  And if you don’t feel like claiming any responsibility, well that’s OK too Dad.  No harm.  No foul.

 

It’s the last day of school…

here in Burlington, Vermont.  My twin girls will be seniors next year so I’m heading into my last year of parenting kids in high school.  I’m finding myself feeling uniquely nostalgic.  I’m not sad about the inevitable transition, but I am mindful.

Last Day of School Lucy and Willa

I have friends whose oldest or only children are graduating on Friday.  It’s big.  When my son graduated from high school in 2014, I was sort of a mess.  I believe there’s just something about transitions that requires us to take stock of our emotions.

The summer between my junior year and senior year of high school was rough for me.  I had a lot of friends in the class above me and they were all leaving for college and other adventures.  Every time during their senior year when we played a ball game, sang in a concert or went to the drive-in movie theater it felt like we were saying goodbye to our childhoods.

Last weekend in South Dakota I got to spend time with some of those friends who graduated a year ahead of me.  It was great!  I simply cannot believe how much time has passed…1983 and 1984 just don’t seem all that long ago in some ways.  I’m very aware of how my daughters are feeling this last summer before they graduate from high school…perhaps even a little too aware.

I guess to honor life’s transitions, we need to slow down a little and try to understand what it is we’re feeling…the good, the bad and the slightly confusing.

Happy Graduation Class of 2017!

 

Herrick, South Dakota

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The week before Thanksgiving I was in South Dakota visiting my family.  I had an afternoon to drive around and shoot some photos.  I headed to Herrick, just east of Burke, listening to korn country 92.1. I love Keith Urban’s song; Blue Ain’t Your Color.  If you don’t know this song, it’s a damn shame.  Here’s the video.

I spent a lot of time in Herrick growing up.  I “worked bees” two summers. That was highly educational, messy and sometimes painful work.  I got stung 17 times one day (my forearms looked like Popeye’s). I played softball in the field behind the truck.  I think I might’ve even knocked back a few beers at parties in the outfield on occasion. I had a friend who lived on a farm in Herrick and since I was a “city kid” riding the bus to Anita’s farm was a grand adventure.  We could drive at fourteen.  We didn’t have to ride the bus too long.  So, I had a blast driving around Herrick in beautiful, autumn, late afternoon light and thinking about my Herrick Days.

Next time, perhaps a whole series of photos devoted to Bernie’s Inn, the historic watering hole in Herrick.  Would that be a possibility?  Let me know.

coffee & late night road trips

Late night road trips and learning to drink coffee in my Grandmother’s kitchen are a few of my favorite memories.  I’m 49-years-old and I’m pretty sure there are a few trips during high school and college I’ve selectively forgotten to tell my folks about.  It’s a damn good thing I learned to love coffee though—it’s kept me alert and safe on the road for a very long time. Grandma would be proud of that.  She always was such a worrier.

coffee spill south dakota two lane lillibridge

What are we teaching our kids?

This week has been thematic for me and it started with an On Point/NPR show Monday morning while I was working in my studio.  The show was dedicated to depression, anxiety and suicide clusters among teens in America.  It highlighted the unbelievable pressure put on our teens now.  We’ve created a culture of expectation that we don’t even come close to as the standard for ourselves. We’re also living in a time when we are medicating kids at an alarming rate just to get them through all of these crazy demands. It’s unsustainable and time for a major paradigm shift.

The show highlighted both the pressure of affluent areas with a highly educated population and it discussed the suicide rate on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota (I’m a South Dakota native).  I found it quite interesting that these two populations on either side of the spectrum share something quite alarming.  Extreme pressure on one end and lack of academic pressure, rigor and opportunity on the other.  The suicide rate on the reservation among teens is 4 times the national statistic.  Devastating.

Here’s the link to the show:

http://onpoint.wbur.org/2015/05/04/teen-suicides-palo-alto-south-dakota-pressure

This got me thinking about my three teenagers (ages 19 and 15 year-old-twins) and my expectations of them. If I was held to the standard that is out there culturally for them I don’t think I would get out of bed.  I want to create an environment that allows a lot of time for discussion about character…there will be resistance but they just might thank me later…maybe in their late 20s.  This photo was the day my girls said goodbye to their college bound big brother.

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Here’s what we’re expecting of our teens:

• Have perfect grades in every subject (not just the classes that really interest them or what courses they possess natural ability).  I basically majored in English in High School.

• Be good athletes (often whether they enjoy the sport or not).

• Be fit and attractive (to take gorgeous selfies).

• Be so passionate about something and develop expertise—distinguishing themselves among their peers.  (This is rare and why we hear these stores on 60 minutes.)

• Play an instrument, a talented vocalist or an actor.

• Volunteer and be dedicated community servants (looks great on college applications).

• Know what career they want (this is crazy to be asking kids—they don’t know about all possibilities out there, let alone should they be expected to share with the world their intentions).

In sixth grade we were suppose to draw a picture of the profession we desired and cut the face out inserting one of our wallet-sized school photos.  I thought it was crazy then and much to my mother and teacher’s chagrin I drew a Skid Row sort of bum.  Sorry, Mrs. Tolstedt and Mom.  My drawing did, however exhibit my artistic ability and smart-ass inclinations (which have mostly served me quite well in my adult life). My drawing was my image in fingerless gloves, a black bowler hat and a bottle in a brown paper bag.  I wish I had it to show you.

I am oddly proud of that drawing because I didn’t know then and still don’t entirely know now what I want to “BE”…and it’s OK.

This morning the other information that popped onto my radar is New York columnist/author, David Brooks’ new book, “The Road to Character”.  His book is about development of our inner lives in a era of heightened competition, sound bites & selfies.

What if our expectations & conversations with our teens focused on their inner lives, manners, kindness, generosity, purpose & empathy?

You can subscribe to David Brooks’ website and become a part of the discussion.

http://theroadtocharacter.com/

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Here is an excerpt from the book.

the road to character

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.  Please leave comments.

Best,

Lisa sig

Portfolio Review/Strategy

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Yesterday a remarkable strategy discussion took place at my studio. My friend, Maggie Pace-artist/designer and knitter extraordinare http://www.pickupsticksonline.com/ helped my son get his projects organized for his portfolio deadlines rapidly approaching for his art school application. He has no shortage of ideas, in fact reigning it all in is more the challenge for him and Maggie managed it beautifully.

Now he has a plan and his artist/designer Mom can back off and let Maggie coach him through the process. Actually, I think in most cases Moms can’t manage or coach their 17 year olds. I am not a natural teacher. I work fast and so does my strategic brain. Maggie told me to kindly shut up with a smile on her face while Ellis shared his ideas, sketches, paintings and what stage projects were in currently. Maggie helped him figure out how they could be further developed to fit portfolio requirements and will set a calendar of deadlines for him to hit.

Again, I’ve been writing about this topic a lot lately. The best thing we can possibly do is know where our skills end and build the team that can develop our projects further. Whatever you struggle with, try find the people that are good at your weaknesses. I think we live in such a do-it-yourself culture that we discount our time when considering the whole process of a project. Often you can trade services or goods in exchange for some consulting.

Good luck team building whatever your project or challenges are!