ancient totems of play…

Monday my only objective was to allow myself to play in my studio. I was in need of some soul-settling and spark. I let myself relax, paint, and listen to my book.

There’s something so liberating about entering into a process without a preconceived outcome in mind.

I was listening to Magnificence by Lydia Millett. I would want to know, so I thought you might too. I also read her book, A Children’s Bible, a remarkable story. I love her writing style.

I digress…

I’ve noticed when play is my only stated goal, in many areas of my life, not just painting—something unexpected, and often delightful is given the space to emerge.

The next day I played more by creating mirror images with my photos. They took on a whole other life—an iconic quality, even an odd sort of sacredness.

Perhaps they somehow they reflected their origin story? I looked at them and instantly thought…ancient totems of play.

“It is a happy talent to know how to play.” ―Ralph Waldo Emerson

the space betwixt & between…

As I age, it seems much of life is experienced within the gray areas of uncertainty. Thankfully, now at fifty-three, I’m finding not knowing is sort of interesting, perhaps even a bit wonderfully mysterious.

study in grays, June 18th, 2020

our wolves within…

I have to be mindful of which wolf I’m feeding all the time.

Thank you Jeff Govoni for the wolf drawing.

a simple act of REVOLUTION…

There is a lot of heartache in the world…on social, personal and spiritual levels.

Right now it seems like an ACT of REVOLUTION to manage stress.  For the sake of my mental and physical health, I’m simply trying to lighten up.

Every morning, before I get out of bed, I smile (which feels weird, but actually changes your chemistry) and ask myself: How do I want to show up in the world today? 

The feel good neurotransmitters of dopamine, endorphins and serotonin are released when we smile.  This not only relaxes your body but can also lower your heart rate and blood pressure. 

the science of smiling/psychology today link

Sometimes when I awaken, I want my sorrow or my anger…not too often though.  However, when asked that question, the answer is almost always comically obvious.

We’re all energetic beings. 

How we show up in the world has a ripple effect—both positively & negatively.

How do you want to show up in the world today?

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.

oh, the stories we tell ourselves.

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what is a broken arrow?

BROKEN ARROW is the code word used for an unexpected event involving nuclear weapons in the accidental launching, firing, detonating, theft or loss of weapon.  When I heard this term on the radio yesterday, I linked BROKEN ARROW to the accidental emotional launches that happen in my nuclear family life.

nu·cle·ar/adjective
1.  relating to the nucleus of an atom
2.  BIOLOGY; relating to the nucleus of a cell

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As a 51-year-old woman, married since I was 25, and raising twin 17-year-old girls, a BROKEN ARROW can easily be disarming—hopefully not devastating.

There have been thirty-two BROKEN ARROW incidents since 1950.  I’ve had many more. However, maybe with more awareness I can launch less frequently.  I’m quite certain my nuclear family would appreciate the diplomacy.

BROKEN ARROW: an accidental emotional launch

reference link: ATOMIC ARCHIVE 

South Dakota—my interior geography

Last week I was in South Dakota for a funeral and a wedding.  In between those emotional events I found some time to drive back roads with my husband, see the stunning late August countryside and find some much needed quiet.  I’m always reminded of how much the prairie landscape resides in my cells, bones and heart.

This landscape gives me clarity, helps me understand my choices and guides me back to my personal True North when I get off course a bit.

South Dakota is my interior geography, no matter where I am in the world. 

Recently, I had to draw a compass at Courage Camp in Bristol, Rhode Island.  I laughed at myself because the way I still figure out directions is to imagine I’m standing on the front porch of my childhood home.  It’s there that I’m most confident in knowing my directions.  (photo below)

IMG_2852Standing on the porch I know which direction the sun sets and how to get to Nebraska. With that knowledge, I can find my way most places.

I often think of my intrepid ancestral homesteaders who ventured West, uncertain of what they would find in the Dakota Territories.  However, and more importantly, perhaps they knew they could handle whatever the prairie offered them. 

I understand that now, at the tender age of 50, in a way I didn’t when I was younger.  I don’t know what’s next, but I know I can count on my interior geography to help guide my way.

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Courage to me is…

listening to my AUTHENTIC SELF even when my SOCIAL SELF is screaming at me to act in accordance with societal expectations and not listen to my inner voice.

AUTHENTIC SELF: who I am at my core, the true substance of what makes me uniquely me, how I desire to live in my heart and soul, who I am when no one is watching

SOCIAL SELF: who I am in relation to others, more protected and very concerned about how others see me, often scanning for what’s appropriate in any given situation, ego

When my authentic self and social self are out of whack, things get pretty weird and I can feel like a fraud.  I don’t want to feel like a fraud.

However, now that I’ve identified what courage is for me, I’m noticing which voice I’m listening to much more quickly.  I think simply noticing is a great first step.

Authentic Voice Lisa Lillibridgeletterhead lisa lillibridge

a late night conversation with myself…

Tonight I asked myself what do I want to understand a little bit better about America?  There’s something happening that feels very unique now.  Unfamiliar.   I paid attention to where my line of inquiry lead me.

First, I GOOGLED:  What makes people curious?

SOURCE: https://www.quora.com/Why-arent-many-people-curious

…’Curiosity’ is a discrete psychological trait that varies within human populations just like other personality dimensions such as extroversion/introversion and agreeableness/aggression.”

OK, some people are born curious and others aren’t.  Well, that makes a lot of sense, right?  Then I started wondering what’s the opposite of curious?  Skepticism? No, skepticism plays in the same sandbox as curiosity.  Disinterested?  Unconcerned?  It wasn’t very clear to me in any way.

I asked myself a question—How do I feel when I’m not being curious? 

I think I might feel certain.

I make assumptions based on my gut or environmental factors/circumstances.

I don’t feel very curious.  I don’t value other people’s ideas.  I don’t listen.

So, next I GOOGLED:  What makes people certain about things?

https://www.quora.com/Why-are-people-so-certain-about-things-that-there-is-no-way-they-can-be-certain-about

“,,,Certainty and similar states of “knowing what we know” arise out of primary brain mechanisms that, like love or anger, function independently of rationality or reason. Feeling correct or certain isn’t a deliberate conclusion or conscious choice. It is a mental sensation that happens to us…”     Source: “ON BEING CERTAIN: Believing You Are Right Even When You’re Not”  by Dr. Robert A. Burton

So, certainty is actually a biological feeling, a mental sensation independent of rationality or reason?  We choose certainty because it’s easier?

Damn, that’s really interesting.  Now what?  CERTAINTY is so polarizing in America (and in my own home with young adult children).  It’s a conversation killer.  It’s a deal breaker.  It keeps organizations from growing.  How do we find common ground in our nation now?  It’s late—2:53 am—this is way too much for my very tired brain.

I had to further narrow my inquiry. 

HOW DO CERTAINTY & CURIOSITY MANIFEST IN MY LIFE?

Curiosity results in greater understanding & builds trust.

Certainty tends to make me rigid & judgmental.

I don’t want to be rigid & judgmental.

I want to be curious.

Whew, that was interesting and pretty exhausting.  After many hours and lost sleep, I’ve confirmed that my desire is to be a curious person and that few things in life are so certain that they don’t require some investigation.  Life is really funny sometimes.

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And just for reference…This is where I started 4 hours ago. 

My husband, Jeff listened to a book about Jim Jones and told me about it—fascinating and horrifying.  I needed to know more.  Curiosity takes us on interesting journeys, huh?  I’m not going to read the book (39 hours of audio).  Jeff told me enough to want to know a more.  I stumbled upon this information.

Ten warning signs of a potentially unsafe group/leader.

By Rick Ross, Expert Consultant and Intervention Specialist

  1. Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.
  2. No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.
  3. No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget, expenses such as an independently audited financial statement.
  4. Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions.
  5. There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.
  6. Former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances.
  7. There are records, books, news articles, or television programs that document the abuses of the group/leader.
  8. Followers feel they can never be “good enough”.
  9. The group/leader is always right.
  10. The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing “truth” or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible.

Ten warning signs regarding people involved in/with a potentially unsafe group/leader.

  1. Extreme obsessiveness regarding the group/leader resulting in the exclusion of almost every practical consideration.
  2. Individual identity, the group, the leader and/or God as distinct and separate categories of existence become increasingly blurred. Instead, in the follower’s mind these identities become substantially and increasingly fused–as that person’s involvement with the group/leader continues and deepens.
  3. Whenever the group/leader is criticized or questioned it is characterized as “persecution”.
  4. Uncharacteristically stilted and seemingly programmed conversation and mannerisms, cloning of the group/leader in personal behavior.
  5. Dependency upon the group/leader for problem solving, solutions, and definitions without meaningful reflective thought. A seeming inability to think independently or analyze situations without group/leader involvement.
  6. Hyperactivity centered on the group/leader agenda, which seems to supercede any personal goals or individual interests.
  7. A dramatic loss of spontaneity and sense of humor.
  8. Increasing isolation from family and old friends unless they demonstrate an interest in the group/leader.
  9. Anything the group/leader does can be justified no matter how harsh or harmful.
  10. Former followers are at best-considered negative or worse evil and under bad influences. They can not be trusted and personal contact is avoided.

Ten signs of a safe group/leader.

  1. A safe group/leader will answer your questions without becoming judgmental and punitive.
  2. A safe group/leader will disclose information such as finances and often offer an independently audited financial statement regarding budget and expenses. Safe groups and leaders will tell you more than you want to know.
  3. A safe group/leader is often democratic, sharing decision making and encouraging accountability and oversight.
  4. A safe group/leader may have disgruntled former followers, but will not vilify, excommunicate and forbid others from associating with them.
  5. A safe group/leader will not have a paper trail of overwhelmingly negative records, books, articles and statements about them.
  6. A safe group/leader will encourage family communication, community interaction and existing friendships and not feel threatened.
  7. A safe group/leader will recognize reasonable boundaries and limitations when dealing with others.
  8. A safe group/leader will encourage critical thinking, individual autonomy and feelings of self-esteem.
  9. A safe group/leader will admit failings and mistakes and accept constructive criticism and advice.
  10. A safe group/leader will not be the only source of knowledge and learning excluding everyone else, but value dialogue and the free exchange of ideas.

I don’t know where all of this information will lead me.  I guess I wanted to better understand cult leaders.  This made me think about “ABC After School Specials” in the 70s and 80s when kids had to be “reprogrammed”.  In my memory, Jodie Foster was constantly reprogrammed after having fallen prey to a cult leader. 

 

 

SOURCES: wikipedia—Rick Alan Ross

cult education warning signs

Good golly, I’m certain it’s time for bed. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz