scanning for patterns…

humans are pattern seeking creaturesNOTE: There is no pattern. I doodled.  It’s random.

Our brains don’t like chaos, we want to believe things are connected, not random.

brainResearching pattern seeking got me thinking about conspiracy theories…of which I am not immune.  I went down a rabbit hole after 911, wanting to make sense of the attack on our nation and all of the lives we lost.  I really thought I was finding all sorts of insider information.  I wasn’t.

Humans are pattern seeking creatures.  There’s so much interesting research on this subject.  Our brains are capable of gold medal worthy gymnastic moves to confirm our preconceptions. I know I like feeling that confirmation buzz. That heady feeling has a shadow side though.

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“A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth.”      —Daniel Kahneman

This quote reminded me of when I hear a song I initially don’t like. If I hear it over and over, it begins to grow on me. Next it becomes familiar…I even begin to like it…hell, maybe even love it, playing it often. With repetition my brain will eagerly override my initial dislike and discernment. This is great when you’re making a conscious choice.

Not so great when the goal is manipulation or brand loyalty.

hate + repetition = acceptance

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“The premise of (most) conspiracy theories is inherently unscientific.”

“You should be skeptical of any theory that starts out with the exact same premise every time: Some malevolent and ill-intentioned individual, group, or organization is somehow out to get you.”

“It is not wrong to have a hypothesis. What is suspicious, however, is when that hypothesis never changes.”

“The interesting thing about conspiracy theories is that they start out with the need to confirm a particular premise (i.e., some evil actor must be responsible).

“…psychologists refer to it as a fundamental attribution error—the tendency to overestimate the actions of others as being (intentional) rather than simply the product of (random) situational circumstances.”         

Why Do People Believe in Conspiracy Theories?  by Sander van der Linden Ph.D. Psychology Today

Here’s an example of FUNDAMENTAL ATTRIBUTION ERROR:

My husband started the laundry SO obviously he thinks I’m lazy and not holding up my end of our shared household responsibilities.  OR…and far more likely, he needed some clothes washed and is just doing the laundry. 

laundry clip art

It’s so easy to make this error. I know I need to slow my brain down a lot more often before I jump to conclusions in many aspects of my life.

We inadvertently create mini conspiracy theories when we attribute people’s actions as personal and not situational in their nature. 

The trick is to learn when to take a moment to see if our attribution is actually accurate.

When I slow down my pattern-seeking brain, I feel more in control of the chaos around me. When I don’t, and I often don’t I feel far more anxious and uncertain.

RESOURCES

a short video about fundamental attribution error from the U of Texas

US National Library of Medicine/National Institute of Health on conspiracy theories

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman about slowing our thoughts down when making decisions and judgements.

hey folks, don’t hide behind the camera.

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.

 

 

 

a rigid or fluid heart? choose.

 

I don’t want half of my heart to be stone-like.

Thankfully, we always have a choice between being rigid or fluid.

 

In December I was…

diagnosed with ADHD inattentive presentation.  I’ve suspected this for years, but at this stage in my life it was becoming unmanageable.  As an artist and mother of young kids I naturally had to shift gears constantly just to keep things running in our household.  There were endless ways I could stave off boredom and feed my brain’s insatiable hunger for disruption, distraction and change.

brain its the way it is lillibridge unfocused-focused

I could hide my challenges quite easily because the whole universe was operating in a constantly distracted way. The endless buzz in the world rewarded my brain with “quick fixes” and made me believe I was managing just fine.

Then four things collided at roughly the same time

1. My children became more independent and my day to day responsibilities shifted. 

2. My husband, children and friends were telling me that I was leaving out crucial information in my communication AND I was getting defensive about it.

3. I studied positive psychology and the necessity on both a personal and societal level to quit spinning, slow down, reflect and get more focused on how I want to spend my energy and talents.

4. I turned fifty.

I know people joke about the endless diagnoses out there.  I’m a little OCD or that’s my ADHD talking or I can’t get that done because of poor executive function etc.  I was resistant for years because I didn’t want to be off the hook for the behaviors that were affecting my life and those around me.  I did however, need some answers and solutions for help to narrow my focus and allow me to better utilize my skills in both my private and public life.

Now being able to look back at the ways ADHD manifested in my life has provided a certain amount of ease and less shame about my deficits than before.  As a child I was highly adaptive, creative and curious about so many different things.  However, I also was a day dreamer, a poor tester, I rarely followed directions and was often told that I wasn’t working to my potential.  I was always armed with loads of ideas and didn’t follow through on them. I created a narrative around my deficits that I was less than.

I fell asleep during the science portion of my ACT test in high school. I got the minimum score required to go to private schools in South Dakota.  I also dozed off during the ADHD test I recently took with a psychologist.  I think my brain was bored and the competition of it all wasn’t enough motivation for me.  I wasn’t getting any juice so my brain just shut it down.

I recently remembered as a high school kid reading one page of the dictionary before I went to sleep to boost my vocabulary.  When I think of this now I believe I was trying to find ways to boost how my intelligence presented to others because it was less quantifiable than my siblings and my peers.  The really smart kids wanted to be friends with me, but my grades were very average unless I loved the subject. Then I could focus.  Thank you English and creative writing.

My husband remembered that my Dad told him when we got married that he would have to help me with certain things—paying bills, insurance and so on.  My Dad knew on some level that I had some challenges with organization.  I recently found insurance paperwork he had requested in the 1980s for me to sign and send back.  I never did.  I guess he asked me again.

I did all of the stuff I was told to do to quiet my brain and help my focus—manage stress, exercise, meditate, rest and eat well…and yet it just wasn’t quite enough.  I’m taking a low dose of a psychostimulant on the days more focus is required of me.  Now, with greater knowledge about my brain’s chemistry, I have renewed hope and focus about my life.

So, I’m unsure why I need to share this now on such a public forum.  I guess I feel that storytelling is what we need now more than ever in this uncertain world.  I believe that a willingness to be vulnerable and share our stories and fears is very important in 2017.

I don’t want to hide behind this diagnoses.  I really am the only one that needs to understand my brain.  However, if my story helps you share your story than this was well worth my time.  We are all in this together.

Go forth and be bold and share something personal or painful from your story.  That small act of courage could change someone’s life.

 

http://www.adhd-brain.com/adhd-predominantly-inattentive.html

Here’s to all the things I didn’t get done for Christmas…

christmas-tree-south-dakota-lillibridge

Every year I have such grand intentions of how I’m going to show my love to my family and friends and every year I fall a short of my intentions and beat myself up a bit.  I’m no longer going to miss out on the little moments of the season because of things I DIDN’T GET DONE.  That’s bullshit.

This year, I’m forgiving, no celebrating myself for all of the great ideas I’ve had and didn’t accomplish.  It’s those little moments with our loved ones, people in line at the coffee shop, grocery store or our bartenders for that matter that make the holiday special anyway.  I’m going to be jolly and generous like Santa out in the world, that just sounds fun, right?

things-done

So now it’s December 19th and I’m putting one package in the mail for a very special little girl who will more thrilled than anyone on my list to receive a package.   I will tell the people in my life I love them and not think twice about what I didn’t get done.  Tonight, a Christmas lights drive with my family and spaghetti at our favorite family joint.

Have a very Merry Christmas and be ridiculously kind to yourself this year.

Thank you Vogue & Jim Jarmusch.

vogue illustrations lillibridge flea market find one vogue illustrations lillibridge flea market find two

I found these at a flea market in Brewster, Mass. The woman selling had stacks of them because her father worked at Vogue in the 1960s.  I’m now working on a collection for a fashion show (STRUT-Burlington, VT September 12th) and these illustrations are my muse.  It isn’t the shapes I’m interested in, but the attempt at innovation.

It’s really hard to be truly original. 

I love this quote by filmmaker Jim Jarmusch:

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”

Steal away AND give the object of your theft credit for inspiring you. Karma is a bitch and not worth the risk.

Lisa sig

cicada perspective

This morning I found this beautiful cicada.  I thought it was dead and I wanted to photograph it with various backgrounds.  I lifted it up and it moved.  I had to adapt to how I reacted to my discovery.  As I got on the ground to take photographs I thought about how different it looks with slight shifts in my perspective.  1) I was close enough that I could see the intricate detail on the wings. 2) When I stood up and took photographs of it, suddenly it didn’t even seem very interesting to me. 3) When I walked across the yard it basically disappeared to me.  This made me think.

In our lives when we’re so close to something we can lose perspective and get lost in whatever it is.  It looms so large.  Simply can’t be ignored.  However, when we step back a little bit and try to look from slightly different angles, we can start seeing other possibilities.  And when we pull our observation away even further we can get a greater understanding of what is happening all around us.  Here’s an example.

1) Your teenager always leaves dishes in the living room.  When you see them it really makes you angry.  It feels disrespectful and you want to make your feelings known. Loudly.

2) Your kid then steps in the door—Hi Mom, I had a great day, X happened and I’m hungry and I have homework,  (A step back. A different perspective.)  OK, my child has a lot on their plate too.

3) Sitting at dinner your child shares something they are concerned about and you have a discussion. (A step even further back. Hummm, maybe in light of these other things happening in my teenager’s life, fighting about a glass or mug left in the living room has me focused on the wrong things right now.)

NOTE: I am not saying I am always good at this.  However, for so many events in our lives, stepping back keeps us from taking things so personally.  This can help us see events through a different lens and open us up to seeing other options.

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