the space betwixt & between…

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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

Thank you Pema, Dusty & Emily…

I’ve been reading Pema Chödrön’s book When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, she writes about hope and fear—

“Hope and fear come from feeling that we lack something: they come from a sense of poverty.  We can’t simply relax with ourselves.  We hold on to hope, and hope robs us of the present moment.”

HOPE verb: to cherish a desire with anticipation, to want something to happen or be true

FEAR verb: to be afraid of, expect with alarm

Hope was on my mind, so this morning Dusty Springfield’s 1964 song—Wishin’ and Hopin’ popped into my head as did Emily Dickinson’s poem—Hope Is A Things With Feathers. Oh you brilliant, creative women…you’ve been homesteading in my psyche the last few days. Thank you, your timing is impeccable.

Wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’
Plannin’ and dreamin’ each night of his charms
That won’t get you into his arms
So if you’re lookin’ to find love you can share
All you gotta do is hold him and kiss him and love him
And show him that you care

Songwriters: Hal David / Burt Bacharach—Artist: Dusty Springfield

All of this hope talk made me think about parenting, religion, and my childhood. My mother’s prayers for me when I was growing up were that I would eventually become someone or something else—an idealized version of the raw potential she saw in me. Please help Lisa stop picking her fingernails, overeating, cussing, being lazy, not caring about her grades, reading the wrong books, listening to the wrong music, drinking beer, or NOT believing the way I do.

I don’t blame her, this was her programming. I’m sure it felt quite loving hopin’ and prayin’ for my needed improvements. She feared who I might possibly become, and truly believed her prayers could turn things around for me. Her faith then required that she gave the God of her understanding credit whenever my improvements, no matter how barely detectable emerged.

I did the same thing to my children—always hopin’ they would become the best version of themselves. I guess I thought wishin’ for the hidden potential in them to emerge would reflect what a stellar job I’ve done mothering and flatter my ego. Damn, that was my programming too.

Emily Dickinson’s poem, Hope Is The Thing With Feathers reveals the unsettling nature of the never ending loop of constant hope…and never stops – at all -.

Hopin’ I believed would make all of my sleepless nights and heartache worthwhile. However, instead, what I’m finally understanding is that all of that motherly wishin, hopin’, thinkin’, and prayin’ kept me from accepting them as they were/are in the present. I’m truly sorry Ellis, Lucy, and Willa that I did not learn this sooner.

Wishin’, hopin’, thinkin’, and prayin’ doesn’t seem to actually be working in any part of my life now that I give it more though...and never stops – at all—thanks Emily for that reminder.

What if I practiced more acceptance in all areas of my life? What would that feel like? Complacent? Uncaring? UnAmerican? Untethered? Unbelievable?

Let’s experiment, take a moment…breathe, just let the word acceptance settle into our soul a bit…repeat it a few times. Thoughts?

What if right now in America we just quit wishin’, hopin’, thinkin’, and prayin’ for things to be different than they are? What if collectively we ACCEPTED that the God of our personal understanding is desperately trying to reveal to us that all of the political division, rage, wounded egos, destruction, inequality, brutality, greed, spiritual aches, righteousness, grief, and suffering requires our heart’s immediate attention right now and we can no longer keep hopin’ and prayin’ for it to magically disappear?

All you gotta do is hold him and kiss him and love him
And show him others that you care

distraction from mending…

Yesterday I went to Target., usually is a fun way to distract myself, especially after months of sheltering-in-place with no shopping—except for groceries, gas, booze, and take out. I was quite enthusiastic as I set out. I even put on lipstick…and then my mask.

I didn’t need anything, just some good ole’ aimless browsing, a coffee from Starbucks, drive home, put things away, recycle the boxes, packaging, or tags. Whew, an hour or so that I didn’t have to think about the state of the world, our nation, my family, or myself.

Thank you Target for the distraction, although upon returning home, I realized just as B. B. King sang, The Thrill Was Gone, at least yesterday anyway.

Q. Why did shopping feel so empty to me? This became my thesis for the afternoon.

I sat outside in the yard with my eyes closed for a few minutes—not meditating, just quiet without distraction.

At first, nothing specific came to me…I sat in the heat a few more minutes. I hate being hot, so that was pretty distracting…and bugs were nibbling at my ankles.

Then something Glennon Doyle wrote about in Love Warrior hit me.

“You are not supposed to be happy all the time. Life hurts and it’s hard. Not because you’re doing it wrong, but because it hurts for everybody. Don’t avoid the pain. You need it. It’s meant for you. Be still with it, let it come, let it go, let it leave you with the fuel you’ll burn to get your work done on this earth.”
Glennon Doyle Melton, Love Warrior

Glennon also wrote about going to Hot Yoga, her only goal was to stay on her mat and not run out of the room. I think I need to sit more often with my uncomfortableness (and others as well) and stop seeking so much avoidance and so many distractions.

Wait, I love my distractions…let me count the ways…avoidance always serves me so well…

TV, food, my studio, scrolling through my phone, podcasts, a nap, a beer, Netflix, Amazon Prime, news, HGTV, books, magazines, ice cream, potato chips, cleaning anything, driving anywhere…my list of distractions goes on and on.

Come on distractions, work your magic. These feelings are so damn uncomfortable. Make them go away.

At least every once in a while, I think I have to say to hell with my much-loved distractions. Welcome in all of the uncertain, uncomfortable feelings, and let them teach me something about my own heart and how to best mend it.

Then after that exhausting heart-mending work—I’ll reward myself, grab some potato chips, a beer, and watch The Gilmore Girls.

othering/a transitive verb

by Lisa Lillibridge

to treat or consider 
(a person or a group of people) 
as alien to oneself
 
Merriam Webster

I want to blame
I need to blame
someone else
something else 
anywhere else
for my inner tornado

alienate
vilify
repeat

easy breezy
automatic, unconscious

our world’s challenges
far too complex
and exhausting
to metabolize 
entirely on my own

quell my fears 
confirm my programming
please just tell me who, what, and where
I should other today

my team’s constant drumbeat
deliberate, unyeielding
laboring 24/7 
to justify
their clouding of my inner knowing 

click, forward, like, share, and tweet
fair and balanced
the daily diary of the American dream
all the news that’s fit to print

immutable 
and distracting
like a howling airplane baby

poor mum
damn baby

damn mum
poor baby

othering

seductive 
like an ice cold beer
hot, salty french fries
or another slice of chocolate cake

how did I other today?

those people are not my people
that problem is not my problem
that place is not my place

alienate
vilify
repeat

conformity is obedient and compliant
far easier
than looking in the mirror
and down into my own heart

I know I should not utter a word
until I’ve walked at least 
ten steps in someone else’s
work-boots
sneakers
high heels
wing tips
flip flops
or bare feet

but I do
we all do 
and it’s destroying us

my virtual art gallery…

I‘ve been doing #the100dayartchallenge2020.

I mostly post images on Instagram. Here’s the link to my profile: https://www.instagram.com/dakota1966

Friendship with oneself is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.

—Eleanor Roosevelt

my corona life part I…

I’ve been thinking about how we will collectively remember this time in history. I decided to look back—photos, emails, texts, notes and more. Here’s a snapshot of my discoveries.

Now, these images show the mostly good memories of sheltering in place. I unfortunately, didn’t document my hissy fits, pity party days on the couch watching TV, dumping the remainder of the potato chip bag in my mouth over the sink, or the times I just drove away because my family was bugging the crap out of me.

I suspect many of you can both imagine and empathize.

Living—March

  1. A snow day.
  2. My rehearsal dinner dress—circa spring of 1992.
  3. Jen Wool appropriately social distancing.
  4. A multi-day March headache.
  5. Beer and trivial pursuit with the girls and Jeff.
  6. Willa visiting Joanne and Bob.
  7. Ellis stopping by for a front stoop chat.
  8. Coffee time with Karen and Jeff.
  9. Making coffee time a little fancier with my Grandmother’s china and a vintage wrap.

Unearthed—March

  1. Lucy, Willa, and Jacob at Lake Winnipesaukee.
  2. A Govoni family cookout circa summer 1998.
  3. Things I wanted to do circa 1989…I either got distracted or thought leaving 20 blank was clever.
  4. A note from my Dad sometime in the mid-90s after I had moved to Vermont.
  5. Photos of a gorgeous house Jeff and I used to house sit when we were dating.
  6. The wallet of my great uncle, that I was able to return to his family.
  7. Below, notes on my phone I found funny and insightful.

Anne with an E…

oh, let me count the ways.

I have to confess, I never read Anne of Green Gables. I know shameful, but honest.

I think it’s the perfect NETFLIX streaming show for our time. I found the pace of the series with no electronics, hard work, beautiful scenery, and the simplicity of 1899 farm life so soul-filling.

Anne’s a rare breed, she’s solidly grounded in her convictions & has her head in the clouds. She can summon her imagination for pure fun or self preservation whenever needed. What a gift!

A grounded dreamer, could there be a more perfect hero for our time?

Viewers get to witness Anne’s resilience, unique intellectual curiosity, and compassion for others and herself grow over three seasons as she matures. Her childhood trauma and daily heartaches are her superpowers—thematically something I always admire.

Anne Shirley Cuthbert is who Pippi Longstocking might have become if she’d been sent to live with a kind, hard-working family in the country, by the sea and learned to be less of a bullshitter.

Anne with and E was created by Moira Walley-Beckett with keen insight into modern womanhood, the many types of love that exist and finding your place in the world without fear.

I truly believe I can show up little sturdier for the people I love and let my imagination go with more ease now after watching this series. Thank you, Amybeth McNulty, for your Anne—our Anne.

We’ve had a tragical romance of sorts while I binged the series and I’m now so sorrowful that it’s over.

Thank you Lucy Maud Montgomery for writing Anne of Green Gables, Moira Walley-Becket for putting your own spin on it and Amybeth McNulty for your interpretation of such a beloved character.

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

my emotional cliff-notes 2019…

CLIFF-NOTES noun: A summary of a much longer work designed to allow a student to quickly learn the key points of the her longer work.

dictionary.com
  • I’m far too serious…the universe is meant to be played with.

“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”

—Aldous Huxley

  • I need to ask more questions about everyone in every situation, every time.
  • Being human is damn challenging, occasionally there are some nice stretches of ease.
  • Everyone’s hurting somehow and their behavior most likely has nothing to do with me.
  • Boundaries are compassionate and necessary.
  • Showing up, all used up doesn’t help anyone.
  • I shouldn’t offer advice unless it’s being requested…and then I should double-check and see if it’s really being requested…and then check just one more time to be sure.
  • When I think I deserve MORE of whatever (fill in the blank on any given day) first, I must assess all that I am truly grateful for in my life.

Dear 2020, I will try to use my 2019 Emotional Cliff Notes.

NOTE: Photo credit to Andrew Silva, crone wisdom tattoo courtesy of Adobe Photoshop.

Finding ways to be grounded…

when the world feels like a batshit crazy place is pretty challenging. I don’t know the best way to access a more grounded version of myself, but I do know the quickest. When I’m acting childish and feeling like I deserve more (or less) of whatever—a little gratitude for all of the good things in my life seems to ground me the most.

Gratitude not attitude seems to do the trick.

grounded—mentally and emotionally stable: admirably sensible, realistic, and unpretentious (Merriam Webster)

I’m not entirely sure about “admirably sensible” or “unpretentious“. However, feeling grounded, well, that’s worth a little exploration.