What is courage to you?

I believe right now in American history is an important time to explore what courage means to us on a very personal level.  I’m working on a mission statement for myself, a courage mantra in succinct language I’ll be able to summon when needed.  

I’ve scribbled and doodled and drawn circles and arrows, however, I don’t quite have it yet. I’ll let you know when I do.  I would be curious to know if you have a statement of this nature that you would be willing to share. 

I hope you have a uniquely courageous day. 


martyr v. trickster energy

One of my favorite books is Elizabeth Gilbert’s BIG MAGIC.  She writes about creativity and what type of energy we let dominate our lives.  She boils it down to two types.

The martyr OR the trickster?

“Martyr energy is dark, solemn, macho, hierarchical, fundamentalist, austere, unforgiving, and profoundly rigid.  

“Trickster energy is light, sly, transgender, transgression, animist, seditious, primal, and endlessly shape-shifting.”

“I believe that the original human impulse for creativity was born out of pure trickster energy. …Creativity wants to flip the mundane world upside down and turn it inside out, and that’s exactly what a trickster does best.  The trickster is obviously a charming and subversive figure.

But for me, the most wonderful thing about a good trickster is that he trusts.

He trusts himself, obviously. He trusts his own cunning, his own right to be here, his own ability to land on his feet in any situation. To a certain extent, of course, he also trusts other people. But mostly, the trickster trusts the universe.”

—Elizabeth Gilbert/BIG MAGIC

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Who wants to live with mostly martyr energy?

Martyr energy is a total bummer.

If the universe is meant to be played with, then we must PLAY.  This doesn’t mean we can escape the mundane parts of daily life, grief or death.  However, deploying our creative trickster energy when needed (even in very difficult passages of our lives) gives us more options and lets us access more creativity.

The trickster trusts and doesn’t let doubt or paranoia get in the way of a good time.

The trickster would invite the martyr to discuss something very serious and then maybe coax them into skinny dipping instead.

Come on, let your inner trickster out.

 

is complex thinking “always” smarter?

complex thinking lisa lillibridge

“Complexity is your enemy.  Anybody can make things complicated.  It’s hard to keep things simple”.

                                                                 —Richard Branson

From a LIFEHACK.org article:  “The understanding that complex thinking is not required at all times can significantly help conserve valuable energy. Though major projects and problems may require abstract thinking, day to day life approached in a simple way can help ease stress levels and potentiate energy for the things that matter to you most. Practicing discernment in this area therefore, may prove very beneficial in your progress through burnout.”

lifehack.org LINK

Fee-fi-fo-fum

Close your eyes.

Think of yourself as a GIANT looking down on your life.

What do you see?

Do things you stress over seem smaller from this vantage point?

We can all access our giant anytime…Fee-fi-fo-fum.

I haven’t named my giant yet…but I have a few ideas.

 

anxious OR hopeful?

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Do you want extreme uneasiness of mind OR to cherish a desire with anticipation?  When I read these definitions out loud they prompted remarkably different feelings in me.

I was once was told that worrying is a prayer for something bad to happen.

If that’s true, than hope is a prayer for something good to happen, right?

—Author Edwin H. Friedman in “A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of a Quick Fix” wrote:

“…the climate of contemporary America has become so chronically anxious that our society has gone into emotional regression that is toxic to well-defined leadership.”

“…chronic anxiety that characterizes the emotional processes of contemporary American civilization influences our thoughts and our leaders toward safety and certainty rather than boldness and adventure.”

This book is a remarkable read about leadership in contemporary America—Business‚ Government, Coaching, Teaching, Clergy & Parenting.  The central idea is that any system requiring leadership with way too much anxiety becomes static, lacks innovation and is unable to seek out creative solutions.  In my heart I desire boldness and adventure over safety and certainty.  In my life I get racked with worry and anxiety, but I have a choice as to what I hold closer to my heart.  We always have a choice.

Holding onto our anxiety is easy right now, it’s being spoon fed to us 24 hours a day.

I have hope in the innovation of the next generation.  I have hope in science to spark cures for disease, find unique ways to educate our children, protect our climate and invent really cool new ways to do things.  I have hope that we can listen to each other.  I have hope that we don’t constantly fear those who are different than us.  I have hope that our better angels will emerge.

We actually do have a choice to make between being ANXIOUS or HOPEFUL.

My bet is on HOPE.  Without it, we’re screwed.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/151881.A_Failure_of_Nerve

Sometimes I need to think…

much smaller.

My thoughts are way too macro right now.

Today, I’m choosing to go micro in my thinking.

I believe my brain will thank me for the respite…even if it’s fleeting.

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Seeking Middle Ground

I think our civilization clearly depends upon finding some middle ground.  I know my own family isn’t talking as much because of the polarized political climate.  We may be reaching a tipping point of sorts, at least that’s what it feels like to me.  I’m hopeful that we can shift course.  I believe in the goodness of our shared humanity.

MIDDLE GROUND; a standpoint or area midway between extreme or opposing positions, options, or objectives (Merriam Webster)

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We are living in unprecedented times.  A time of chaotic polarity in our civic lives. The lack of middle ground is causing stress to the many systems we all operate in; family, community, government and work.  My husband and I are trying to hold some middle ground and manage the stress and anxiety in our home.  We’re listening to our children and trying to offer counterpoints to the dizzying array of sound bites & headlines out there fighting for our attention every minute of every day. 

I don’t think I’ve hidden my politics from anyone, however, my moderation might be surprising.  Labels are easier for all of us than asking questions or being curious about the WHY of someone’s beliefs.  We’re ALL guilty of not asking questions and making too many assumptions about others.

I grew up in a very conservative family in the South Dakota.  I have deep knowledge of how political beliefs are shaped from both sides of the political aisle.  My paternal Grandfather, Louis Lillibridge was an intellectual and a moderate—in my estimation anyway.  Grandpa could consider a lot of competing ideasHe studied other religions and ideologies.  He read constantly.  I adored him for many reasons, but mostly I felt heard by him.  Don’t we all want to be heard even if people don’t agree with us?

We can’t really be heard if we aren’t willing to listen too.

My politics were left leaning before I left conservative Sioux Falls College (now the University of Sioux Falls) in 1988.  For my family it was easier to blame my democratic husband who hailed from Massachusetts than to believe I was an outlier.  My first experience out of college was to move to New Zealand and work at a non-denominational Christian Radio Station (Radio Rhema) http://www.rhema.co.nz/.  My friends were from all over the world and it was fascinating.  I actually met the King of Tonga.  I heard stories from so many unique perspectives and experiences.  This time in my life greatly shaped my personal beliefs.  Travel made the world seem quite small in some ways, completely accessible and ready for exploration.

I consider myself proudly American AND a global citizen.  My early travel opportunites had a big affect on my choices.  It eventually led me to Burlington, Vermont, where I’ve lived since New Year’s Day 1990.  Our community is rich with diversity and I feel it’s been quite an education for myself and my family.

My daughters have friends from all over the world (including Muslim kids, many who spent time in refuge camps).  They’ve heard interesting stories since early elementary school from their classmates.  This is simply our family’s circumstance of living in Burlington, Vermont.  I acknowledge that not having contact with people of various nationalities, who dress, speak, and worship differently can make people more fearful.  I do understand this from growing up in rural South Dakota AND I don’t pretend to understand what other people feel about this issue.  I’m only speaking from my own experience.

When I wrote and asked about the opposite of FEAR last week there were so many thoughtful responses; acceptance, curiosity, love, hope, community and Mark P. wrote; “ACTIONABLE FAITH is the opposite of fear.”   I love the idea of actionable faith and that sounds a lot like curiosity to me.

 

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Right now in American life, it’s seems convenient to align ourselves with our political teams and operate in MOB MENTALITY.  Reciting talking points from the side we’ve taken without listening isn’t real dialogue and won’t ever promote deeper understanding. 

The significantly more challenging and intellectually exhausting space is to take a breath, listen to your own thought and those of others and try to find some middle ground.  It’s really uncomfortable to differentiate ourselves and our views when it puts us at odds with our team or the people we care about.  Uncomfortable, but really necessary.

America, our democracy is calling.

telephone-for-blog

Let’s get curious about each other.