on our coffee drive this morning…

Upon closer observation, I loved this tragic and truly fascinating creature.

I felt an odd kinship of sorts, being a bit prickly myself lately.

“The porcupine, which one must handle gloved, may be respected, but is never loved.”

—Arthur Guiterman, poet

 

Here’s my own version of that quote.

The end of the school year mother, which one must ‘handle gloved’, should be respected, always loved and often feared.

top rack only

On this Mother’s Day, I really wanted to be honest with myself about it all. Mothering my kids has been heart-shatteringly beautiful and sometimes just plain heart-shattering, without the beauty part to soften the daily blows. 

I can’t change anything and regret is a waste of energy anyway.  If I try to tamp the regrets down, I know they will leak out in uncomfortable ways at inconvenient times. 

Recently I noticed the TOP RACK ONLY button on the dishwasher.  “Jeff and I will be a top rack only couple probably a few nights a week when the girls leave for college.”  When I said this to myself, it made me cry inconsolably.  Damn, that’s bleak.  

These episodes are getting more frequent now as our nest nears it’s emptying…clearly a time for a little extra grace. 

When Ellis, Lucy and Willa were growing up, I often did a quick review at the end of the day, asking myself one simple question: Did I love them more than I was pissed off at them?  I don’t remember ever answering, NO.  It was all the encouragement I needed to wake up and mother them another day.

Happy Mother’s Day 2018!

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.

Print

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

getting nostalgic in color/part II

Since I’m not a twin, I can’t imagine what it’s going to feel like for my girls to split up and go to different colleges.  I have a hunch they can’t quite imagine what it’s going to feel like either.  Please note the title of the article in the first beach picture.  I believe it’s about the Kardashians, however, with high school graduation looming, it’s a funny photo to unearth at this time.  Oh, the irony of life, isn’t it grand?

    

  1. Cape Cod beach day.
  2. Coming from or going to Mirabelles bakery in Burlington, Vermont.
  3. New York City for their 9th birthday to see “Wicked”.
  4. Lucy’s hair flying on the shuttle to the Martha’s Vineyard ferry.
  5. Getting ready for the Justin Bieber concert, Quebec City.

getting nostalgic in black & white.

twins lisa lillibridgeMy twin daughters are graduating from high school on Thursday, June 14th at 10am and nostalgia along with a handful of other complex and occasionally irrational emotions are settling into my midlife psyche.  For so long photographing my girls was my muse, something creative I could do all the time.  However, as they got older (and had cameras in their pockets) I photographed them less frequently together.  I have plenty of travel and birthday photos, but I can see now as the years progressed, they increasingly grew into their individuality, less of a unit and I followed their lead.  Now, every photo has to be “approved” which I can understand for a 17-year-old coming-of-age in this era and about to graduate from high school.

Here’s to honoring nostalgia however it surfaces in your life.  I know for me, it’s helping the transition to an empty nest to take a look back.  I’m less anxious that I could’ve been a better mother and prepared them more by seeing these photographs through a slightly different lens.  A pleasant byproduct of middle age wisdom, I suppose.

When my three kids were young, to offer a little grace at the end of those seriously ass-kicking days, I would ask myself:

“Did you love them more than you were pissed off at them today?” 

The answer was always the same.  I can live with that.

girls flipping the bird lisa lillibridge

Scrappy Bird-Lillibridge (22) copy – Version 3

lucy and willa deck bath lisa lillibridge

There are so many photographs to sort through, here are a few of my favorite black & white shots of Lucy and Willa. 

I’ll post my favorite color images next.

what we pay attention to matters & grows.

I’ve wasted some time not understanding (or maybe believing) this simple concept.  Every day we wake up with a choice to be made, even when it doesn’t feel like a choice.

choices and attention lisa lillibridgeWho wants to wake up in the morning highly attuned to the things that make them feel like crap?  I honestly don’t, and yet, sometimes I do that to myself.

I want my anger and resentment some days.  I really want to hang out in the house of pain and suffering on occasion.  In the last few years though, I’ve increasingly become aware of the toll those days take on me and everyone in my orbit. My dark days will obviously never go away completely, but thankfully, by noticing where my attention is directed, those days are finally getting to be fewer and far between.

Once I noticed my habits and patterns I couldn’t possibly un-notice them. 

Damnit, I tried pretty hard.  Trust me, I gave it a really good shot.

I love that knowledge can be brilliantly sneaky that way.

Good luck noticing, folks.

A NOTE OF COMPASSION:  Many people suffer with devastating, lasting sadness that requires way more than just noticing habits and patterns.  I don’t mean to diminish anyone’s experience.  I’m only sharing what’s been helpful to me.  I struggle with the blues, not prolonged clinical depression.