Sinclair Lewis & prairie stories…

I just finished reading Main Street for the third time. First, I was 20 (college), then 25 (just married) and last week at the uniquely tender and remarkably nostalgic age of fifty-two.

Lewis’ character, Carol helped me understand both why I had to leave South Dakota and why the prairie is so doggedly a part of my identity (and my art)…even though I left nearly three decades ago.

“The days of pioneering, of lassies in sunbonnets, and bears killed with axes in piney clearings, are deader now than Camelot; and a rebellious girl is the spirit of that bewildered empire called the American Middlewest.”

― Sinclair Lewis, Main Street

Main Street—Burke, South Dakota

the absurdity of midlife…

I love this stage of life…now anyway. At 52, I feel somewhat betwixt & between, not yet old, but clearly no longer young. I have to admit that loving midlife was a slow burn, a process requiring acceptance, laughter, more acceptance, a whole lot of grace and then a nap from the exhaustion of it all.

Midlife seems to have the best analog to middle school for me. Uncertainty. Flop sweats. Mood swings. Junk food cravings. Fear of what others think of me (this is waning substantially now though). Fortunately, at this tender age, I understand that trying something new isn’t so scary, it’s just really exciting.

Actually an epic fail of attempting something new might even have more value than success…at least when viewed through the lens of COMEDY and not EGO.

With that said…

My late, All-American discus throwing Dad/coach and I are heading west to compete in the National Senior Games in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I’m terrified, excited, moderately well-prepared and hoping to NOT make a fool of myself. However, if I do, I will have a funny story to share anyway. I’m sure Dad and I will travel well together. Although he might be surprised how many times I want tacos and how much I appreciate good tequila. Oh well, travel’s meant to be a perspective expanding adventure, right? I’ll eat lots of ice cream in his honor.

Throwing the discus in midlife has connected me to my younger and far more athletic self. My senior year of high school I forgot my discus on my way to the state track meet. I was so damn excited about seeing, “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” with my friend, Jon that it slipped my mind. Using a borrowed discus, I threw my best ever distance and ended up with the silver medal. I wish I could locate my 1984 yearbook.

My goal in Albuquerque is to toss one that beats my qualifying throw of 69′ 9″ last June in Vermont. Full disclosure, there were only two of us in our age division.

I inherited this autographed discus from the many sports artifacts decorating my Dad’s office. Alfred Oerter Jr. was the first athlete to win a gold medal in the same individual event in four consecutive Olympic Games. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Oerter

I throw next Tuesday morning (hopefully, I remember my discus). Wednesday evening is the “Walk of States”. We will do our very best to represent the 802.

Our team has an 84-year-old decathlete, Flo. I can’t wait to watch her compete. Talk about aging with some serious grit. https://www.mysuncoast.com/2019/03/12/year-old-vermont-woman-still-travels-world-pole-vaulting-competitor/

I encourage everyone to seek out competing in your state’s Senior Games. It’s really fun, the stories and the people are so inspiring. Your only qualification is that you have to be fifty-years old by the time of registration. Here’s the link: https://nsga.com/

Wish me luck and try throwing yourself into something new…there’s always added value in having another story squirreled away in your comic arsenal.

is a picture always worth…

a thousand words?  Or do the stories we hold onto shape the narrative a lot more?  My Mom always told me that as a newborn I possessed a striking resemblance to Winston Churchill.  I can’t tell from the photo and I don’t actually really care.  I find it funny.  However, I’ve always held it to be the absolute gospel truth.

What other stories of greater consequence have I never questioned that I was told as a child?  

 

the past, the future & the neglected now.

This week I read that forgiveness will only occur when we recognize that we can no longer change our past.  That’s a relatively simple concept.  I’m able to intellectually grasp it and yet…why am I wasting time with would of, could of & should of thoughts?  If thinking about my past can give me the blues and worrying about the future causes anxiety, why am I doing it?  I don’t have to feel this way.  I have a choice.

My past is my life’s circumstance.

I cannot possibly change one thing.

My future is uncertain.

The only certainty is that my life will contain both joy & some devastating heartbreak.

 I’m neglecting my NOW.

What can I do?

I tried saying to myself what I’m doing at any given moment.

“I’m calling the dentist now.”

“I’m watching a video my daughter wants to share with me.”

“I’m checking my email now.”

“I’m listening to (insert the name of everyone you encounter) now.”

You know what?  This really helps.  It slows time down and reminds me that I’m doing this one thing right now.  When I practice this, I feel more in control and less manipulated by those lousy would of, could of & should of thoughts.

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have.”

—Eckhart Tolle

 

It seems damn near revolutionary to try to be more present is our distracted world. 

I’m going to try.

 

 

Thank you VIDA


This morning in my Instagram feed was a post from VIDA and the model was wearing my scarf. It’s one of my favorite South Dakota two-lane images.  There may be an algorithm that puts the designer’s image in their feed.  I don’t know.  It was pretty cool anyway. 

This design is titled “finding your way home“.  Conceptually this is something I believe we spend a lifetime doing, sometimes literally…often metaphorically…always worth the emotional effort.  

What story are you willing to let go of to have a future unlike your past? 

VIDA link to purchase

elusive sleep & alien identity theft

Sometimes I’m unable to sleep because I’m so jazzed about something I’m working on that sleep seems like a waste of time.  However, this time it’s something else.  Lisa Lillibridge alien inside myselfI’m pretty sure it has to do with closing in on fifty-one, hormones, grief, puzzling rage, extraordinary joy, occasional alien identity theft and letting go.

Sometimes it all actually feels this alien to me and I barely recognize myself.  I know that non middle-aged women tend to believe (at least from my experience) that menopause is an excuse to explain away shitty behavior, lack of energy or out of the blue tears.  It’s really not an excuse and it’s often as confusing to me as it is to my poor family.

A generation ago, it was less frequent that Moms would be going through menopause with teenagers still in the house.  Not that it didn’t happen, but it was less common.  I feel sort of sorry for my twin daughters right now.   My relationship was different with their brother.  He was not twins.  He was never a 17-year-old girl.  He’s not living at home right now.  He was not a mirror to me the way my girls are.

My girls are living with the Many Faces of Mom during their stressful last year of high school.  Sometimes I freak out thinking that I haven’t taught them what they need to know before they head off to college in a year. I have to trust that I have and allow them to learn the rest on their own.  It’s time to let go a little bit more.

However, I feel like after going through pregnancies, nursing and giving up my sense of self to care for these little monsters (that I heart breakingly love) that I’m due a little break now.  Is that so wrong?  Isn’t that what menopause is?  Transition from one stage to another.

Nothing in my life has been as dramatic of a shift as becoming a Mom…and now in some weird way, when my girls are a year away from leaving home, my body is making me feel like I’m in the first trimester of my pregnancy.

Fatigue. Uncertainty.  Cravings.  More fatigue.  Headaches and more even uncertainty.

Nature’s cruel joke or a reminder of how tied to them I am on a cellular level?

 

One simple question.

what-do-you-need-to-let-go-of

Often I make things way too complicated. Today I’m choosing to simplify.

ASK.  WAIT.  LISTEN.  REPEAT.

a subtle shift in perspective…

What we focus on can give us more clarity OR get us to hyper-focused, losing sight of the big picture. For me, I think this is a crucial distinction to understand right now. Take a look at the very subtle differences in the photos.  I focus on the fungus in front and the whole picture shifts.  I focus on the fungus in the back and everything changes…even the light a little bit.  Perspective.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I feel this shift a lot when parenting teenagers.  What do I need to pay attention to right now?  Should I use a different lens here?  Why am I so focused on this right now?  Should I take a broader look OR get in there and really explore one singular issue, letting other things fall out of focus?

These are really hard questions for me to manage in a split second.  However, as a very visual learner, a subtle shift in perspective made more sense to me when I thought about it in terms of photography.  What we focus on grows and sometimes we need a ridiculously wide lens and sometimes we have to hyper-focus.

I chose to focus on these mushrooms and not focus on other thins for a few minutes.  Aren’t they magnificent? 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ve been thinking about my ego…

lately and basically the more I read the crappier I felt about myself…however there was some hope in what I was reading too.  Einstein helped considerably. Thank you, sir.

ego einstein quoteThe more I protect my lack of knowledge (get defensive, react, don’t listen, dig in my heels) in any given situation the harder I have to work to protect my ego.  When I’m protecting my ego I’m generally talking more than listening as well. Not a great habit.  If I let go and accept things as they ARE instead of how I WISH they were in relation to me—my ego becomes much less fragile or reactive.  This will no doubt be a lifelong practice.  I’m only noticing maybe .00005% of the time now when my ego is acting wounded and subsequently protective, but that leaves a lot of room for growth, right?

noticing

When things come up and I start offering my views about how to fix something or what I think someone else should do, my husband reminds me (and I him) to, “put that on the list of things you don’t have to care about”. Sometimes, because he’s a leadership coach, I don’t take kindly to be “coached”, but now that we’ve done this for each other I notice when my EGO is showing up much faster. That ain’t nothing.

“This country’s hard on people, you can’t stop what’s coming, it ain’t all waiting on you. That’s vanity.”  —The character Ellis in the film “No Country For Old Men”

Indeed, it ain’t all waiting on me.

einstein image