prowl, prey & nourish…

It doesn’t matter where I find myself in the world, my natural waking state is roughly an hour before sunrise. I instinctively am a predawn prowler. The nourishing solitude of watching night turn to day stirs something in me that’s deeply primal and ancient.

All summer I roam Town Neck Beach in Sandwich, Massachusetts following coyote tracks and scavenging the beach. Back home in Vermont now, my predawn habits shift. However, my prowling and the way I feel doesn’t change one bit.

dawn: to begin to grow light as the sun rises

prowl: to move about or wander stealthily in or as if in search of prey

wander: to move about without a fixed course, aim, or goal

prey: an animal (idea, objects?) taken by a predator (scavenger?) as food (nourishment)

scavenge: to salvage from discarded or refuse material

nourish: to promote the growth of

What else, other than nourishment, are the coyotes prowling for in their predawn wanderings?

What I’m searching for when prowling, other than solitude, shifts dramatically like the tides of the North Atlantic.

install now OR remind me later?

Recently I read; Is Self-Awareness a Mirage? by David Brooks in the New York Times. It got me thinking…are there better questions to be asking myself at nearly fifty-five?

“Maybe we can’t know ourselves through the process we call introspection. But we can gain pretty good self-awareness by extrospection, by closely observing behavior. (Nicholas) Epley stressed that we can attain true wisdom and pretty good self-awareness by looking at behavior and reality in the face to create more accurate narratives.”

Is Self Awareness a Mirage? By David Brooks, New York Times

Here’s my go to story (personal myth) about myself: I was a very independent young person and this affects almost all of my behaviors. I didn’t even want my mom to walk me to kindergarten, I was only four.

Do decades old explanations about the WHYs of my behavior matter as much as current observations of WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, and HOW I behave?

Hummmmmmmmmmm…

My independence was a strategy I adopted based on my nature and circumstances. The story of it has served me well and is a character trait I’m often proud of often.

However, like most concepts of self, there’s a shadow side too.

Perhaps it’s time to update my operating system and not overly rely on old myths about my younger self.

My independent nature is no excuse for outsized and often confusing responses to basic questions from my family.

When will you be home? What’s for dinner? Who are you texting? Are you busy now?

Good grief, these questions are not immediate threats to my sense of youthful independence. Responding as if they are though, can be hurtful and confusing to the people I love the most.

So, thank you Younger Self, I’m truly grateful for all of the stories/myths of my life. I promise to summon you when spontaneity, risk, and fun are in question. You’re a great resource for those areas of my life.

I have to be honest though, your operating system doesn’t make quite as much sense to me in midlife…it’s time to look forward and hit install now, instead of remind me later.

understanding myself a little better…

I was raised by two entirely different ways of looking at the world. Mom and Dad’s individual circumstances, experiences, programming, and natures formed their worldviews, just as it did for their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and of course, their offspring too.

MY MOM: We’re all pretty wretched human beings. However, if we follow divine rules, tamp down our true natures to follow those rules, and constantly seek forgiveness, then we just might escape eternal damnation.

MY DAD: We’re basically pretty decent folks, we all make mistakes, if we can own them sometimes, and be open to a little coaching then we just might learn from our mistakes and do a little bit better next time.

A friend’s mom says, “it’s a wonder it goes”…it seemed appropriate here somehow. Thank you Martha & Marita.

Grandparents, siblings, birth order, aunts, uncles, cousins, ancient ancestors, geography, friends, boyfriends, school, church, teachers, books, music, TV shows, movies, pets, sports, coaches, experiences, my husband, my children, my nature and so much more, all played a part in who I am today.

Who we are and why is so mysteriously layered and complex that distilling ourselves (or anyone else for that matter) down with just a few data points seems woefully inadequate…total bullshit actually.

My daughter, Willa Govoni shot these photos on the beach a few weeks ago. She captured moments of pure joy and goofing off. These feel like the real me or how I would like my great-grandchildren to see me one day anyway. Thank you Willa.

“I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints, the sinners are much more fun.” —Billy Joel

Dad liked those Billy Joel lyrics and I think he also understood my worldview quite well. Monday, August 30th will be three years, try to rest in peace Big Guy.

🍦 🍕 🍔 🍟 ❤️ 🏀 🏈

50 words about my morning…

Today, on my walk I encountered two women. Wearing a pink, Live Generously t-shirt, an older woman ignored my friendly hello for the fifth day in a row. The second woman, younger, walking two labs—one brown, one yellow turned away when I said good morning. I will keep trying.

noticing your energy suckers…

“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” –Eleanor Roosevelt 

soul pioneers & homesteaders

soul homesteading Lisa Lillibridge

Moving thousands of miles away from the security of family and friends, settling or cultivating unfamiliar land and trying to create something out of nothing is what many of our ancestors did in order to create a new life for themselves and their families.

  • PIONEER noun: a person who is among the first to explore or settle a new country or area
  • HOMESTEADER noun: someone who acquires or occupies territory as a homestead

I believe my heart and mind are new territories meant to be explored continually—expectations managed as circumstances dictate. I’m a pioneer on my very own emotional homestead, granted the privilege to manage exactly as I choose.

Excerpt from The Homestead Act of 1862

Claimants were required to “improve” the plot by building a dwelling and cultivating the land. After 5 years on the land, the original filer was entitled to the property, free and clear…”

“The Homestead Act, enacted during the Civil War in 1862, provided that any adult citizen, or intended citizen, who had never borne arms against the U.S. government could claim 160 acres of surveyed government land. Claimants were required to “improve” the plot by building a dwelling and cultivating the land. After 5 years on the land, the original filer was entitled to the property, free and clear, except for a small registration fee. Title could also be acquired after only a 6-month residency and trivial improvements, provided the claimant paid the government $1.25 per acre. After the Civil War, Union soldiers could deduct the time they had served from the residency requirements.”

https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=31

after the storm…

Last night we had a wild storm—tornado warnings, wind, heaving rain, lightning and thunder. I’ve always loved storms. After it passed, the neighborhood was eerily quiet. My daughter, Willa and I stayed up until things settled down.

I get up really early, always have. I don’t like to get up in the 4s…however, anything after 5:00 works for me. I fed our cat, Karen, headed out to get a coffee at Dunkin’ & listen to my book, City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert—sooooo good, and survey the storm damage. We only had leaves covering our deck and a few small branches here and there, nothing major to report.

I ended up at the bottom of the hill at Town Neck Beach. I was the only one in the parking lot at 5:25am…rare actually. Another car pulled up, a man got out and walked onto the beach in the rain. There was just something about him that I found quite intriquing. He didn’t seem sad, but clearly he was in a thoughtful mood. A fisherman wondering about his day perhaps? A visitor seeing his long-planned day at the beach with his young kids thwarted? Or perhaps just a guy on his way to work who likes storms as much as I do.

He took pictures of the stone sculpture that somehow survived the storm. I can’t imagine that someone built it in the dark between 11pm and 5am. It’s design is structurally mighty impressive. Damn.

I waited for him to get into his car, then I got out to get a shot of the sculpture as well. Walking the beach I found myself looking out at the exact spot a friend’s ashes were scattered a few years ago in one of the most sorrowful and stunning moments I’ve ever witnessed in my 52.8 years.

The beach reflected the generous spirit and remarkably unique inner wildness of her this morning. I know she would’ve loved the images in this post and be grateful that I didn’t mention her by name. That was simply not her style.

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

morning mind…

I woke up with a different sort of clarity than I’ve had for a while. I thought it was worth memorializing. I slept well. My energy is different. I love rainy days. I’m spending the afternoon with my daughter. I’m traveling to South Dakota to visit my family on Saturday. It’s spring. It’s trivia night at our social club. I’m alive and that simply on its own is something to be truly grateful for.

Excerpt from James Comey’s New York Times Op Ed: “You can’t say this out loud — maybe not even to your family — but in a time of emergency, with the nation led by a deeply unethical person, this will be your contribution, your personal sacrifice for America.”

It’s a curious process to see where the mind goes first thing in the morning.

the generous spirit of a fading bouquet.

This bouquet from a friend was so lovely when she dropped it off ten days ago or so.  I have to admit something that perhaps won’t surprise you.  I actually enjoy flowers even more when they start to turn a tiny bit brown, curl on the edges and drop a few pedals.

I know many of you won’t understand this, that’s OK.  I promise I won’t send you a decaying bouquet.  Although one time, while a student at the University of Wyoming a boyfriend in South Dakota sent me a red rose in the mail.  It was almost black, shriveled and curled when it arrived. I still found it oddly beautiful.

When I no longer have to trim the stems of a bouquet, check the water or pinch the drooping leaves, I feel some odd sense of relief.  The flowers, no longer expected to be perfect, are free to naturally fade and droop. And I get to enjoy the inevitable state of fading beauty, often leaving the pedals wherever they fall.    

lisa lillibridge