image v. memory

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I remember this day well.  My twin daughters were three.  We’d been at the beach for the afternoon, they were hot, sandy, cranky and tired.  I was pretty sure putting them in a tub of water and giving them popsicles would buy me a few minutes to sit on the porch and collect my thoughts…or do I have it all wrong?  I must have it all wrong because of the look in their eyes.

What am I not remembering? 

I love the picture, but I only remember this moment through the image. It isn’t as hardwired as it would’ve been by simply being there with my girls.

I’m proud of my photos.  They certainly fill a creative craving for me…but I think I might need to be more judicious about when I pull out my camera or iphone.

Sometimes I want the buffer the camera allows me and sometimes I don’t want the burden of being the photographer.

The more I learn about neural pathways, they more I want to let experiences get hardwired into my brain and not always captured in pixels.  I might be more willing to explore this because my camera is now being repaired.  At first I felt like I was missing a limb when I dropped it off last week.  However, after being away for the weekend with my family it allowed me more time to be “in the moment”.

This morning my husband and I walked the beach and in the distance I noticed that there were seals on the rocks.  My phone had died and I didn’t have my camera.  We walked closer and got a better look.  We watched them slide on and off the rocks and Jeff made “seal sounds”.  We joked about how cool it would be if his calls were actually summoning them.  I’ve always wanted to touch a seal.  (I was told they feel very “oily”.)  This is now a memory to call upon.  I created the neural pathway of this moment on March 27th, 2016 of walking the beach with my husband in the sun and seeing a bunch of seals.

I found the story below on the RADIOLAB site about photographs and memories.

RADIOLAB (link & excerpt from article)

“A recent study out of Fairfield University suggests that taking digital photographs actually diminishes our memory. That’s right, makes it worse. What we have here is forgetfulness being enforced on two accounts.

First, and probably no surprise, the action of taking a photo distracts us from physically instilling the moment into the hardwiring of our brain. In the time normally spent capturing the moment in our neurons, we’re thinking, “I want to take a picture of this.” Whipping out our camera, setting up the shot, we become more focused on the act of capturing a copy of the moment with our camera rather than the event itself in our brain. The moment is recorded in pixels, but it’s not imprinted in our brain’s neuronal wiring.

Secondly, our future recollection of the moment (now haphazardly hard-wired in our brain) is lessened because of the medium we’re using — digital pixels as opposed to physical prints.”

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This makes a lot of sense, but it will be a tough habit for me to break.

I’m actually glad now that I don’t just have a grainy picture of the seals in my camera.

What is “rewilding” to you?

Saturday I was listening to NPRs TED RADIO Hour in my studio. Here’s the link.

http://www.npr.org/player/embed/225426662/225429850.

George Monbiat used two terms I found utterly fascinating and relevant: rewilding & ecologically bored.  This is a fascinating TED TALK about bringing the wolves back to Yellowstone Park, however it’s the story within that story that resonated with me.

Wikipedia: “Rewilding is large-scale conservation aimed at restoring and protecting natural processes and core wilderness areas, providing connectivity between such areas, and protecting or reintroducing apex predators and keystone species. Rewilding projects may require ecological restoration or wilderness engineering, particularly to restore connectivity between fragmented protected areas, and reintroduction of predators where extirpated.”

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Ellis and Adam jumping off the East Sandwich, Mass bridge.

We live in an era where so much information is at our fingertips all the time and because of it a lot of time is spent hunched over a computer all day.  We need to “rewild” for the sanity of our modern day lives.  Now, “rewilding” can obviously go to extremes and it would be very different for everyone.  It could be as grand as giving up every trapping of modern life and taking off with your belongings on your back OR it could mean that you are going to take a walk at lunch instead of sitting in front of your computer all day long.

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My husband, Jeff and I parasailing.

However, it’s the second term I found so interesting…ECOLOGICALLY BORED.  After spending a summer learning to navigate Cape Cod Bay and area harbors in a kayak.  IMG_5448

I now know that I was indeed “ecologically bored”.  I really needed to get in touch with that innate part of myself that uses intuition, muscle memory, wonder and strength.  I now realize that it had been way too dormant in me lately. Sometimes we don’t know what’s missing in our lives.

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A beach fire on Town Neck.

So, however you “rewild” or satisfy your “ecological boredom”…

I wish you the best. You won’t regret it.

It was great to be in my studio today…

and I didn’t even turn NPR or music on all day.  I was so happy to be alone with my thoughts, a giant iced tea (thanks to my son) and all of my leathers, fabrics, trims, sewing machines and tools.  I wanted to start working on my accessories for the fashion show (STRUT) on September 12th, in Burlington, Vermont. I’m afraid this bag may be a little dark for the runway.  However, with the right styling it might just work.

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TED Radio Hour, second adolescence & hopefully gaining some wisdom

After visiting my family in Burke, South Dakota (population 670ish) last week I’ve returned home to Vermont and made a few discoveries.  I thought I’d share them and maybe you’ve experienced something similar at some point in your life.  As always, I would love to have you shoot me an e-mail and share your thoughts.

Burke Cape Cod Vermont Lisa Lillibridge

This is a mash-up of where I’ve spent the most time in my life.

South Dakota/23 years  •  Vermont/25 years   • Massachusetts/Lots of summers/holidays

1) As a nearly 49 year old woman (October 12th) I no longer visit my childhood home feeling like a child.  It helps when my husband comes with me.  I feel more in touch with my adult life…and much less so when it’s just me and the kids.

2) My children are rapidly growing up and I’m no longer a parent of “young kids”. GOOD.

3) I don’t feel particularly old except that I need “readers” in every damn room.

4) I basically like who I’ve grown to become AND I know that I’ll spend the rest of my life getting to know myself better.  I’m up for the challenge and hopefully the people I’ve chosen to date are up for it too.

5) Life isn’t easy and sometimes during the hard stuff all we can do is “show up” for our people.  However, the hard stuff makes you grow and the good stuff is just pretty wonderful.  And I’m slowly learning (very slowly) to let the bullshit slide.  It isn’t worth my energy now.

6) At this age I am more deliberate about my time, my people and choices. I think “deliberate” feels awesome in nearly every context.

7) Sometimes this age feels like a second adolescence.  I like it, my twin daughters and I are in it together—which is sometimes adorable and sometimes really NOT…but always interesting.  One day they will find it all very funny, I think.

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This photo is our shared sorrow over the end of the “van years”.  I had to fake my sadness, actually. I now drive a VW Passat and I don’t really miss my van…except maybe listening to movies on road trips.  But, now we listen to the TED Radio Hour, This American Life and The Moth on NPR.  We save them up for our trips and they always provide remarkable discussions.

Here are a few links you might enjoy:

A great TED Talk on aging: http://www.npr.org/2015/06/19/414999589/why-should-we-look-forward-to-getting-older

This is an interesting site that was referenced on the TED Radio Hour last week—Stanford Center on Longevity.  http://longevity3.stanford.edu/

Cheers,

Lisa sig

What are we teaching our kids?

This week has been thematic for me and it started with an On Point/NPR show Monday morning while I was working in my studio.  The show was dedicated to depression, anxiety and suicide clusters among teens in America.  It highlighted the unbelievable pressure put on our teens now.  We’ve created a culture of expectation that we don’t even come close to as the standard for ourselves. We’re also living in a time when we are medicating kids at an alarming rate just to get them through all of these crazy demands. It’s unsustainable and time for a major paradigm shift.

The show highlighted both the pressure of affluent areas with a highly educated population and it discussed the suicide rate on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota (I’m a South Dakota native).  I found it quite interesting that these two populations on either side of the spectrum share something quite alarming.  Extreme pressure on one end and lack of academic pressure, rigor and opportunity on the other.  The suicide rate on the reservation among teens is 4 times the national statistic.  Devastating.

Here’s the link to the show:

http://onpoint.wbur.org/2015/05/04/teen-suicides-palo-alto-south-dakota-pressure

This got me thinking about my three teenagers (ages 19 and 15 year-old-twins) and my expectations of them. If I was held to the standard that is out there culturally for them I don’t think I would get out of bed.  I want to create an environment that allows a lot of time for discussion about character…there will be resistance but they just might thank me later…maybe in their late 20s.  This photo was the day my girls said goodbye to their college bound big brother.

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Here’s what we’re expecting of our teens:

• Have perfect grades in every subject (not just the classes that really interest them or what courses they possess natural ability).  I basically majored in English in High School.

• Be good athletes (often whether they enjoy the sport or not).

• Be fit and attractive (to take gorgeous selfies).

• Be so passionate about something and develop expertise—distinguishing themselves among their peers.  (This is rare and why we hear these stores on 60 minutes.)

• Play an instrument, a talented vocalist or an actor.

• Volunteer and be dedicated community servants (looks great on college applications).

• Know what career they want (this is crazy to be asking kids—they don’t know about all possibilities out there, let alone should they be expected to share with the world their intentions).

In sixth grade we were suppose to draw a picture of the profession we desired and cut the face out inserting one of our wallet-sized school photos.  I thought it was crazy then and much to my mother and teacher’s chagrin I drew a Skid Row sort of bum.  Sorry, Mrs. Tolstedt and Mom.  My drawing did, however exhibit my artistic ability and smart-ass inclinations (which have mostly served me quite well in my adult life). My drawing was my image in fingerless gloves, a black bowler hat and a bottle in a brown paper bag.  I wish I had it to show you.

I am oddly proud of that drawing because I didn’t know then and still don’t entirely know now what I want to “BE”…and it’s OK.

This morning the other information that popped onto my radar is New York columnist/author, David Brooks’ new book, “The Road to Character”.  His book is about development of our inner lives in a era of heightened competition, sound bites & selfies.

What if our expectations & conversations with our teens focused on their inner lives, manners, kindness, generosity, purpose & empathy?

You can subscribe to David Brooks’ website and become a part of the discussion.

http://theroadtocharacter.com/

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Here is an excerpt from the book.

the road to character

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.  Please leave comments.

Best,

Lisa sig

Is there a right amount of navel gazing?

I heard an interview with Jessica Lamb-Shapiro who wrote: “PROMISE LAND My Journey Through America’s Self-Help Culture” on NPR that re-aired recently and it really struck me that we spend so much time trying to figure ourselves out…is it working?  I don’t want to sound preachy.  I am very much all in with the personal discovery stuff.  ALL IN.  I have just decided to read fewer books of the self-help ilk and dive into more fiction and storytelling this year. Erica Jong’s “Fear of Flying” in on my bedside table right now. A great start to a year of fiction.

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Here’s the link to Jessica Lamb-Shapiro’s interview:

http://www.npr.org/2014/01/22/264878772/skeptic-takes-a-tour-of-self-helps-promise-land

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In Jessica’s interview she quotes the philosopher Marcus Aurelius Roman Emperor and Philosopher as having as good of information as anyone about life.  I found this quote that really resonated me.

“You have power over your mind—not outside events.

Realize this, and you will find strength.”

—Marcus Aurelius

Trying to directly quote anyone based on 4th Century scholars has some challenges—these words are attributed to him anyway. Thank you Mr. Aurelius.

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boredom is very 2015

NEW TECH CITY is a podcast about how technology is making our lives better and worse hosted by WNYC’s Manoush Zomorodi.  I am going to take the challenge by downloading the app MOMENT that tracks your phone use and lets you see in real scary time how much of your day your spend on your phone.

  1. I really need to disconnect from my smartphone in 2015.
  2. I need/want more time to daydream.
  3. Here’s the podcast that inspired me.

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This is a truly scary discovery from the research: “The average mobile consumer checks their device 150 times a day, and 67 percent of the time, that’s not because it rang or vibrated.”

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“Studies suggest that we get our most original ideas when we stop the constant stimulation and let ourselves get bored.”  —Manoush Zomorodi

New Bohemia Signs

The story of this old world sign painting company in San Francisco was on NPR’s show 99% Invisible (which is a great quirky show). New Bohemia Signs is one of those companies that makes you appreciate old world craftsmanship. They seem very modern and yet this was the way business was done not so long ago. You got your hand painted sign or had a professional sign painter come carefully place gold letters that proudly displayed your business name. It lent a sense of place and history and legitimacy to your establishment.

This company just seems so reflective of the kind of world and economy we seem to be collectively aching to get back to. The butcher shop, green grocer and bakery on main street. The Mom & Pop shops that knew every kid in town. These signs remind us that we will pay a little more and buy from the local place where we have a thread. Yes, it is really convenient to have your goods land at your door. However, a connection or conversation with someone in line makes life way much more interesting. My Dad told me when I moved to Burlington, VT 23 years ago that I needed to have a relationship with my bankers. He said don’t drive through and never talk to anyone. He was right. I like chatting with the tellers and I like that I don’t have to show a driver’s license every time I do a transaction. They know me.

http://www.newbohemiasigns.com/originaldesigns.html#7

http://99percentinvisible.org/post/44844339579/episode-74-hand-painted-signs

John Murry-Mississippi Musician/Poet

The Graceless Age

http://www.johnmurry.com/home.cfm

http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2013/04/02/john-murry-debut-album

I heard the NPR interview with John Murry and was just blown away. What a story and the great grandson of William Faulkner as well. The album is amazing!