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!

 

VIDA added a photograph…

to my collection.  I haven’t seen this scarf printed yet.  I’ve placed an order though.  It’s one of my favorite photographs that I’ve ever taken.  I shot this one week after my 50th birthday.  I didn’t intend for the title—fading beauty to sound like a lament of any kind.  I truly find beauty when things are “fading” and changing.  Although I miss a few things about being younger, I was fine saying goodbye to my forties.  I like my fifties…so far anyway.

I wanted to share the image.  Here’s the link to my site.

https://shopvida.com/collections/lisa-lillibridge

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

my creative life July-December 2016

July:  I worked on my coursework for my positive psychology class.  I created a handbag out of a friend’s damaged Audi seat.  I was generously given a huge amount of fabric that was just beautiful to work with for the SEABA fashion show coming up.  I read a lot about the psychology of geography—the study of how we behave in relation to our environment. I traveled to South Dakota to visit my family and was lucky enough to get to shoot some photographs at the Burke Stampede Rodeo. Oh, cowboys…

August:  I sketched, sewed, painted and made handbags…a big blitz of work.  Using the company SPOONFLOWER I got photographs printed onto fabric. My daughter, Lucy wore a skirt I made with an abandoned farmhouse photo I shot in South Dakota on it.  I used rust prints Elizabeth Bunsen created with Nebraska license plates to create fabric as well.  Burlington master goldsmith— Jane Frank designed jewelry worn in the show—the pieces were such a beautiful compliment to the clothes. 

September was a blur: The fashion show was entirely consuming the first 10 days of the the month.  I love to be in flow and entirely focused on one thing.  Deadlines are my jam.  However, this year I also needed to create my final project for my Positive Psychology course at the same time . I graduated and got to spend a week at Kripalu in Lenox, Mass with a remarkable bunch of people from all around the world.  Later in the month my husband and I went to the Champlain Valley Classic Car show, taking photos and talking to classic car enthusiasts was just great after being so busy.

October: I turned 50 on the 12th.  I was taken to Martha’s Vineyard by friends.  My husband surprised me by getting my folks, my sister and my brother-in-law to Vermont for a long weekend to celebrate with me.  That was remarkable AND he threw a party complete with my friends putting on a musical review, poetry, singing songs and making me feel so unbelievably grateful for my life.  I took a few of my favorite images ever and layered more photos. Jeff and I dressed as Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo for Halloween.

November:  I traveled to Burke, South Dakota.  I took photos of Herrick that made current and former Herrick residents very happy and remarkably nostalgic.  I got to hang out with my great nephew, Liam (oh, and the rest of my clan).  I created digital images of my own planet based on a conversation with my son.  The planet New Vagus is based on the vagus nerve—the power center of our nervous system.  I wrote.  I cried when Leonard Cohen died.

December:  I made leather pendants for gifts.  I kept playing with the image of a South Dakota two-lane road, layering the photo and playing with the visuals of memory.  I created a line of scarves with my images on them.  I will post the link soon if you are interested in ordering one.

January 2017 is off to an interesting start.  I’m cleaning out the basement—sorting through letters, photos, the kids clothes I’ve saved, toys, books and all of the things I can’t believe I now have to deal with.  I’m learning a lot about myself and why things seemed so very important to me.

Turning 50 is an interesting age to take a look back, look ahead, try to stay in the moment and not get too stuck in any one place.

ever have a bad brain day?

I was reminded today of something from my children’s early education days.

if-it-feels-yucky

That was fine when my kids were developing a sense of how to behave around other kids and caring teachers were asking them to give language to their feelings. However, as adults that’s not nearly enough of a “gut check” on the huge amount of messages coming our way all day, every day.  Our bodies give us so much information…heart rate, muscle pain, hunger, thirst, fatigue, shaking hands, sweating and so much more.  I know at least for me, the more I notice, well, the more I notice. 

And once you notice, you can’t NOT NOTICE.

Terribly well written, I know.  If we were talking in person that might make way more sense to you.  OK, I’ll try a little harder…

On one hand it’s a good quick question to keep in mind?  Does this feel “yucky” to me? However, yucky alone requires deeper exploration as grown-ups.  Is my body trying to tell me something my mind wants to override or disregard?

brain its the way it is lillibridge          bad-brain-day-lillibridge

My mind wants to override messages the rest of my system is sending constantly.

Sometimes I have to tell my brain to step out of the room.  Because it says some utterly crazy bullshit sometimes.  I’ve had a quickening heart rate in a situation recently and I took notice.  When I listened, I realized that what was required of me was courage, not medical attention.  I know I’ll tell my body to leave me the hell alone and let my brain take the wheel again, but now that I’ve noticed…well, you know, I can’t NOT NOTICE.

Positive Psychology teacher/author, Tal Ben-Shahar teaches that sometimes we’re having a “bad brain” day.  It’s simply offline.  Makes sense, right?  Just like having a bad: hair, back, skin, belly, knee, wrist, neck etc. day—we should gives ourselves permission to recognize that we can indeed have a bad brain day.  It’s just sending some false data today and if that’s the case, listening to our bodies instead can be the balance our system requires.

If I want to improve my listening skills with other people, I have to at least try to give myself the same courtesy every once in a while.  That means I have to listen more.  Talk less.  It’s 1:24 am and my body is telling me it’s time for bed.  Goodnight folks.

Why we need to question everything

This form of psychological abuse typically plays out like so: The gaslighter states something false with such intensity and conviction that whoever is on the receiving end is confused and begins to doubt their own perspective.

The term comes from a 1938 play called Gaslight, in which a husband drives his wife crazy by secretly altering things in her house and making her question her grip on reality.

life’s purpose vs. being purposeful

I’m so weary of the world telling me to “find my purpose”.  It creates such unnecessary anxiety. Preaching PURPOSE as the only path to HAPPINESS and SATISFACTION is so common everywhere in our culture that it’s actually pretty hard to get away from.  As I pondered this life’s purpose mumbo jumbo, I had a thought that eased my mind.

What if we shifted the discussion from

“FINDING OUR PURPOSE” to simply realizing

that every day we are already being “PURPOSEFUL”? 

We all do things that make the world a better place on a “micropurpose” level all the time. These adds up to something pretty damn awesome.  We make people laugh, prepare food, hold doors, show up, smile, let something go, say “I’m sorry”, pick up the check, sit with people in grief, lend a helping hand, let someone cut in line, turn the other cheek, give hugs, wash things, lend money and encouragement, pick up trash, grab coffee, send gifts, laugh at jokes, buy a drink, text “I love you” or make a phone call, the list goes on and on.

So, instead of beating ourselves up that we haven’t found our life’s purpose—let’s just take breath (or 2 or even 3) and then take a look at how truly purposeful we are every single day of our lives.  These purposeful gestures can have a ripple effect making things better for so many beings…including ourselves.

Simply choosing to live in a purposeful manner is much easier to build upon than another day chasing the somewhat indulgent and rather elusive preoccupation with finding “LIFE’S PURPOSE”.

So here’s to not actually finding LIFE’S PURPOSE and living a life that is beautifully purposeful.

P.S. I take my coffee with only a splash of cream. 🙂  How do you take yours?

I don’t make resolutions…

at the start of a New Year, but I do have a few rituals.  I eat less. I drink less. I throw junk away.  I try to do this in January and it makes me feel like I have a lot more options.  I don’t know why exactly.  Yesterday (with my son’s help) I got rid of a lot of crap. Ellis thankfully did all of the heavy lifting and errands, the part of cleaning that I really loathe.  He’s my butler this week for various reasons.  He’s a decent butler.  However, he’s on his phone a little too much and he showed up two hours late, but we still got the job done and had a leisurely lunch together.

Here are some BEFORE and AFTER shots of my studio and few nook and cranny images of new favorite spaces.  Good Luck with whatever you need to get rid of in your life. Life is short.

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