a constant swivel & an empty nest

I’m writing a work of fiction about a middle-age woman, newly empty-nested and figuring out her next stage of life.  This week my husband, Jeff and I dropped off our twin daughters at college—Lucy at American University & Willa at Wheaton College in Massachusetts.  

It won’t take you too long to figure out who “Alice” is in my excerpt.

“Although, she didn’t have the feeling so many of her friends described of instant familiarity with their babies…some bullshit, mysterious, ancient connection.  She felt something else, far less magical, perhaps it was a twin thing. 

constant swivel lisa lillibridgeAlice remembers how immediately after holding Frankie and Pearl for the first time she had a feeling that she was ignoring one baby whenever she turned her head and looked at the other.  Im already screwing this up She couldn’t possibly have known in that moment that this feeling would never leave her.  Alice’s head and heart already on a constant swivel, less than an hour after giving birth to twins.”

As many of you already know, it’s quite an emotional roller coaster to send the last of your brood out into the world.  I’m only 16 hours in, so this is all still pretty raw for me.

I believe whenever my wholeheartedness is required,

the process just can’t be rushed. 

In the remarkably funny (and raunchy) Netflix series Big Mouth, the character of Jessie’s mother, Shannon has the best line to describe what I’m feeling right now. 

“Let’s finish basic training before we go to Fallujah.”

She was describing using a maxi pad, when her daughter asked about tampons.  A great line for lots of situations though.

BIG MOUTH was created by Jennifer Flackett, Andrew Goldberg, Nick Kroll and Mark Levin.  The voice of Jessie’s mother, Shannon is Jessica Chaffin. 

(PLEASE NOTE: Do not watch BIG MOUTH with young kids.)

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The Ideal Mother is a Terrible Parent

by Erin W

I stumbled upon this article recently, which helped knock back some of those ever present parenting “should haves”Thank you Erin W.

“Eventually I smothered the ideal mother. I killed her dead. I introduced myself to my kids and started practicing “organic parenting.” I yell, I curse, I kiss and I hug. I hold onto them and push them away. They hold onto me and push me away.  Together, we horrify and delight each other, all the time.”  (I love this line wholeheartedly.)

LINK:  https://sherecovers.co/the-ideal-mother-is-a-terrible-parent/

My solace will come from many sources.  I’m riding the unpredictable waves as they roll in and I’m trying to listen to my inner self .  I know she’ll guide this process far better than any outside sources ever could.  I have to be willing to actually listen though.

Hang in there fellow empty nesters.

empty nest

Beware of this brain glitch.

The way our brain equates repetition for truth.

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YOU ONLY USE 10 percent of your brain. 

Eating carrots improves your eyesight.

Crime in the United States is at an all-time high. 

 

NONE OF THESE STATEMENTS ARE TRUE.

They FEEL TRUE because of repetition. 

Crazy, huh?

Slogans should be persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward.”  

—Hitler in Mein Kampf

“But the facts don’t actually matter: People repeat them so often that you believe them. Welcome to the “illusory truth effect,” a glitch in the human psyche that equates repetition with truth. Marketers and politicians are masters of manipulating this particular cognitive bias—which perhaps you have become more familiar with lately.”

Source: Wired.com Article by Emily Dreyfuss

nice vector pop art retro comic  illustration. Woman whispering gossip

After I read this, I wondered…

What can I do if I notice my brain is on autopilot?

Pinch myself?  Snap a rubber band on my wrist?

OR…

Seek more sources to confirm or dispel my TRUTHS?

Let me know if you come up with a trick.

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SOURCE:  WANT TO MAKE A LIE SEEM TRUE? SAY IT AGAIN. AND AGAIN. AND AGAIN.

by Emily Dreyfuss


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human beings are pattern seeking animals

I realize that TV shows from comic books (even the genius of the MARVEL world) don’t work for everyone. So, I wanted to just share a few passages of dialogue from the FX show LEGION that really made me think about how we think.  I recorded this passage on my phone while watching the show and I’ve listened to it a few times.  Today, I finally transcribed it.

“So what have we learned? That a delusion is an idea. That an idea can be contagious. That human beings are pattern-seeking animals. By which, I mean we prefer ideas that fit a pattern.

In other words, we don’t believe what we see. We see what we believe. And when we are stressed or our beliefs are challenged… When we feel threatened… The ideas we have can become irrational, one delusion leading to another, and another, as the human mind struggles to maintain its identity. And when this occurs, what starts as an egg can become a monster.” 

LEGION Season 2 Episode 7 on FX 

O11OOOOOXOOOOOO7OOXXOOOO3XXOOO9OOOO

APOPHENIA is the tendency to perceive connections and meaning between unrelated things. Apophenia has come to imply a universal human tendency to seek patterns in random information, such as gambling.

brain its the way it is lillibridgeAfter seeing episode 7 of LEGION, I realized that I was wasting a lot of time trying to make ideas & events fit a certain pattern of thought.  I committed to noticing when I was pattern seeking.  It’s really challenging at first.  However, with practice, I now feel more in control of my mind.  I haven’t eliminated the tendency, but I’ve increased my ability to notice more quickly when it’s happening.

“And now we come to the most alarming delusion of all. The idea that other people don’t matter. Their feelings. Their needs. Imagine a cave where those inside never see the outside world. Instead, they see shadows of that world projected on the cave wall. The world they see in the shadows is not the real world. But it’s real to them. If you were to show them the world as it actually is, they would reject it as incomprehensible.” 

LEGION Season 2 Episode 8 on FX 

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LEGION (David Charles Haller) is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics, part of the X-Men series. He is the mutant son of Professor Charles Xavier and Gabrielle Haller. Legion takes the role of an antihero who has a severe mental illness including a form of dissociative identity disorder, in which each of his alternate personas controls one of his many superpowers.

The television series Legion premiered on FX network in 2017. The lead character is portrayed by Dan Stevens (Matthew on Downton Abbey). The series is developed, written, directed, and produced by Noah Hawley.

thoughts on anxiousness

anxiouscharacterized by extreme uneasiness of mind about some contingency 

contingencyan event that may but is not certain to occur

(Merriam Webster)

READ THIS OUT LOUD TO YOURSELF:

extreme uneasiness of mind about an event not certain to occur

Why are we spending so much time thinking about our hypothetical futures?

Anxiety is at epidemic proportions in the world.  I’m personally having far too many sleepless nights lately.  I want to get a handle on my it before it affects my health, my choices and how I respond to events in my life, both big and small.

Research always makes me feel settled down.  I dug in this morning.

FAST COMPANY ARTICLE BY HALEY GOLDBERG: “When we stare into a fuzzy crystal ball, it’s easy to start to worry about what’s inside, like a present we can never unwrap. And it feels productive. Studies show that we often believe worrying can prevent negative outcomes or it can help us find a better way of doing things.”  FAST COMPANY ARTICLE

These three words really stood out to me…it feels productive.   “FEELS” is the cue I needed to settle my brain down a little bit.  Feels implies it isn’t productive at all, our brain has been tricked into thinking that the act of worrying is somehow keeping bad things from happening.

If my brain can be TRICKED, then my brain can also call bullshit when it notices the trickery.  Not every time, but with practice, at least increase the frequency of noticing.

Today, I feel anxious about a few big things happening in my life right now…my father is in the hospital, my three young adult children are all in transition and my life is going to change quite dramatically in the next few months. And yet…

“I know what to do, even when I don’t know what to do.”

I’m trying to remind myself that, even though THE FUTURE IS AND ALWAYS WILL BE UNCERTAIN, I believe I can handle whatever the universe throws at me.

Handling it, might mean falling apart, calling upon my team to steady me and going through a period of deep grief and sorrow.

Correct me if I’m wrong, that’s still handling it, right?

I try to remind myself of this often.

 

 

fledge, far more than just a verb.

My twin girls are graduating from high school in a few weeks.

We noted when they were born that they would be the Class of 2018.

 Lucy is on the left & Willa on the right—one hour old.

FLEDGE verb (Merriam Webster)

1: to rear until ready for flight or independent activity

This definition of fledge, makes the process sound so simple, so animal.  I’m finding that this process is not so simple and requires some emotional skills far beyond natural animal instincts.  A few questions keep coming up for me.

What do I need to let go of now?

What’s at stake by holding on to my girls too tightly?  Too loosely?

What relationships do I desire moving forward?

Who am I when I no longer have kids at home?

I’m allowing myself to grieve the end of this stage of family life.

I know I won’t hang out in this emotional space forever.

If I stuff these feelings, they’ll leak out in remarkably weird ways.

Perhaps even weirder than usual lately.

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Congratulations to fledglings throughout the land.

Happy Graduation 2018!

 

 

on our coffee drive this morning…

Upon closer observation, I loved this tragic and truly fascinating creature.

I felt an odd kinship of sorts, being a bit prickly myself lately.

“The porcupine, which one must handle gloved, may be respected, but is never loved.”

—Arthur Guiterman, poet

 

Here’s my own version of that quote.

The end of the school year mother, which one must ‘handle gloved’, should be respected, always loved and often feared.

top rack only

On this Mother’s Day, I really wanted to be honest with myself about it all. Mothering my kids has been heart-shatteringly beautiful and sometimes just plain heart-shattering, without the beauty part to soften the daily blows. 

I can’t change anything and regret is a waste of energy anyway.  If I try to tamp the regrets down, I know they will leak out in uncomfortable ways at inconvenient times. 

Recently I noticed the TOP RACK ONLY button on the dishwasher.  “Jeff and I will be a top rack only couple probably a few nights a week when the girls leave for college.”  When I said this to myself, it made me cry inconsolably.  Damn, that’s bleak.  

These episodes are getting more frequent now as our nest nears it’s emptying…clearly a time for a little extra grace. 

When Ellis, Lucy and Willa were growing up, I often did a quick review at the end of the day, asking myself one simple question: Did I love them more than I was pissed off at them?  I don’t remember ever answering, NO.  It was all the encouragement I needed to wake up and mother them another day.

Happy Mother’s Day 2018!

what’s your comfort zone?

I know I have to get out of my comfort zone more often, especially in this current political & social environment.  Doing so might actually be an act of revolution now.  On a long drive yesterday I caught up on some podcasts.  The first one I listened to was:  TED radio hour: comfort zones.  I highly recommend it for everyone at every stage of life.

Here’s the link: comfort zones/TED radio hour

Last week my daughters and I traveled to Washington, DC.  Lucy participated in the admitted students overnight at American University.  She slept on the dorm floor of strangers, introduced herself to kids from all over the world and wondered how her skills and talents stacked up. Talk about a seventeen-year-old stepping out of their comfort zone, right?  She stepped way out, which provided rocket fuel for her growth and made me think about my own.

Human beings tend to stick with our own kind.  It’s soooooooo much easier.  Hearing other people’s perspectives or learning something that doesn’t gel with what we’ve held to be true requires intellectual agility.  It’s hard work and requires lots of practice.  That’s why we often end up sticking to what’s safe and familiar.

In adulthood, if we don’t force ourselves into unfamiliar situations, we can get really stuck. 

As an artist, I’ve worked mostly alone for years, with very little feedback or performance reviews of any sort.  If I want to grow, I need to be told when my work is bad, uninteresting, needs far more research or is hard to understand.

Print

I’m truly grateful for the encouragement over the years from my friends and family regarding my creative work.  The LIKES and comments have been very supportive, but it’s not enough.

True critical feedback is hard for people to give who are close to us.  If we want to grow, we have to actively seek it out ourselves from other sources.  It’s easier to hear when there isn’t an emotional risk involved.  NOTE:  I need to keep this in mind with my nearly eighteen-year-old girls now.  They aren’t asking and I have to quit offering constant feedback now.

In the podcast, a social scientist says that possibilities come from reaching out to our “loose connections” NOT our friends & family.  This makes sense to me especially when thinking about professional opportunities.

It’s time we all take off our fuzzy slippers, put on some sturdy walking shoes and start exploring the world way outside of the comfort zone.

 

 

is a picture always worth…

a thousand words?  Or do the stories we hold onto shape the narrative a lot more?  My Mom always told me that as a newborn I possessed a striking resemblance to Winston Churchill.  I can’t tell from the photo and I don’t actually really care.  I find it funny.  However, I’ve always held it to be the absolute gospel truth.

What other stories of greater consequence have I never questioned that I was told as a child?  

 

getting nostalgic in color/part II

Since I’m not a twin, I can’t imagine what it’s going to feel like for my girls to split up and go to different colleges.  I have a hunch they can’t quite imagine what it’s going to feel like either.  Please note the title of the article in the first beach picture.  I believe it’s about the Kardashians, however, with high school graduation looming, it’s a funny photo to unearth at this time.  Oh, the irony of life, isn’t it grand?

    

  1. Cape Cod beach day.
  2. Coming from or going to Mirabelles bakery in Burlington, Vermont.
  3. New York City for their 9th birthday to see “Wicked”.
  4. Lucy’s hair flying on the shuttle to the Martha’s Vineyard ferry.
  5. Getting ready for the Justin Bieber concert, Quebec City.