not even poets…

Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold.  —Zelda Fitzgerald 

You have been chosen, and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have. —J. R. R. Tolkien

a sunrise walk with my Dad…

This morning I awakened at about the time I got the call from my sister two years ago letting me know that our father had died. I get up early, not usually in the 4 o’clock hour though.

I wasn’t surprised I stirred early today with Dad on my mind. I got up, quietly pulled on yesterday’s clothes, and waited for the clock on the stove to say 5:00 before I made my coffee. I sat outside and watched the sun begin to rise over the Cape Cod Bay.

My Dad was not an early riser, definitely more of a sunset guy but he would’ve appreciated my sunrise images, especially the coyote tracks in the sand and my obsession with them now.

The coyote is the mascot of my Dad’s much-loved, alma mater—the University of South Dakota. GO YOTES!

A few days before Dad died I called to tell him that Jeff and I got stung by jellyfish while on a kayak excursion. We were FaceTiming so I showed him the welts on my arms and described the way they stung…sort of electric-like if my memory serves me correctly. I had a flight booked to come see him in a few days so we kept our call short.

This morning I remembered a song Dad used to sing to me:

Lisa, Lisa I’ve been thinkin’

what a fine world this would be,

if all the Lisa’s were transported…

far beyond the northern sea.

I miss you Dad, thanks for the company this morning.

tricksters & intuition…

A few Saturday mornings ago while walking down the hill to the Cape Cod Bay, my daughter, Willa told me that she had never seen a coyote. She’s traveled to South Dakota at least once a year her whole life to visit my family and I was surprised. We stepped on the beach before sunrise and the very first thing I noticed was a coyote in the shadows walking the shoreline. The shape was haunting, and instantly familiar.

This is the spot where we saw the coyote.

“In Plains Indian stories, Coyote nearly always takes the shape of a man. He is clever but reckless and is constantly getting himself and the people around him into trouble with his socially inappropriate behavior like greed, boastfulness, lying, and chasing women…

He is both trickster and culture hero – often described as witty, clever, obscene, vulgar, and thieving.” http://www.native-languages.org/plains-coyote.htm

Growing up in South Dakota I frequently heard coyotes howling outside my bedroom’s eastern-facing window that overlooked acres of the uninterrupted prairie where my horse, Honey Bear lived.

Like the mystery of fog and the way it makes me feel, coyotes also hold a similar sacred space. They are a tether to the wide-open plains where I grew up and the inner wildness instilled by the freedom I was granted to roam that spacious landscape. Coyotes, I’m now realizing are part of my interior geography.

In Native American storytelling, the coyote plays a crucial role. Interestingly enough though, the coyote is seen quite differently from nation to nation, region to region. The familiar thread is that the coyote is generally viewed as a trickster meant to serve as a example of traits that don’t always serve the community. The flip side though is that the coyote’s cleverness can often get them out of certain pickles and predicaments.

I see the coyote as a sneaky creature in storytelling to help people develop more discernment, learn to trust their intuition, and get themselves out of danger by utilizing some clever trickster energy.

ME

When I got out of college, I wanted an adventure. In September of 1988, I went to Auckland, New Zealand to volunteer in the public relations department for a non-denominational radio station, Rhema. While I was there an American man who claimed to be a prophet arranged a visit. I don’t remember his name. He wanted to pray with us all right away when he arrived. I was the only American on staff.

He gathered everyone in a circle, my hair stood up on my neck and arms. I was so certain he was a fake. He singled me out and said, “come here, Dakota, please join us”. I said “no” without any explanation. My colleagues were surprised, but not pushy and let me hang back. Kiwi’s are wonderfully respectful and polite. I looked up while they prayed and watched his body language closely. He opened his eyes to look at me. I didn’t blink.

Of course, the American Prophet wanted the only other American to lend authenticity to him and help advance his narrative. He was seeking, as many before and after him, donations of course, and a larger platform to spread his message about what those donations could do for his personal cause and humanity.

$ I grew up in a household with Tammy Faye and Jim Baker on in the morning. I saw the tricks used to get donations, create false narratives, and get people hooked into the drug of magical thinking—a high that is never ever enough.

As a 22-year-old, I knew that American claiming to be a prophet was a snake oil salesman. I’d been in training to spot what’s inauthentic from a very young age, not the message intended by watching the PTL Club. However, an education I now find myself quite grateful for in hindsight.

https://abcnews.go.com/US/scandals-brought-bakkers-uss-famous-televangelists/story?id=60389342#:~:text=May%2027%2C%201987%3A%20The%20television,and%20other%20top%20PTL%20officials.

This story was a pivotal event in my life. This was when I realized that I no longer had to accept the dogma of my childhood. Or at least that I could personally reject what felt inauthentic to me and navigate the world in a way that honored my inner knowing. I also understood, with maybe even more significance that I could handle the fall out if others thought I was wrong.

“Coyote is a revered culture hero who creates, teaches, and helps humans; in others, he is a sort of antihero who demonstrates the dangers of negative behaviors like greed, recklessness, and arrogance; in still others, he is a comic trickster character, whose lack of wisdom gets him into trouble while his cleverness gets him back out. http://www.native-langages.org/plains-coyote.htm

This morning I awakened at five, it was still dark and there was a bit of coastal fog in the air. I sipped my coffee outside and watched the light shift over the bay. In my head, I walked through what I would do if I encountered a coyote on the beach or during the half-mile walk down the hill this morning. I imagined I could be the trickster and outsmart him…magical thinking indeed, Lisa.

I arrived at the beach to pick up garbage and scanned east then west. There was now enough light to see the coyote. I didn’t. I was a little disappointed at first, but then I felt safe to walk the shoreline.

I started noticing the tracks in the sand . I never felt this way before. I had some unfamiliar energy and vigilance.

I thought about my northern Quebec ancestry…fur trappers perhaps? Maybe I should become a wilderness guide or a private investigator? I was heady with possibilities as I walked along.

Then I came upon these sandals and I got a little concerned.

The potential coyote tracks awakened my curiosity today in a way that led to further investigation. I don’t feel tricked. I feel sparked and pretty damn grateful.

PLEASE NOTE: I’ve tried to identify online the difference between tracks. I’m well-aware that I could be wrong, but without human prints closeby, it seems to me these are coyote tracks and not those of a large dog. Please let me know. I would like to learn how to easily discern the difference.

the space betwixt & between…

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

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

attention span & quotes

I’ve started writing my thoughts about the pandemic, sheltering in place, and the emotional & economic damage the virus is causing around the world, but I lately I’m very distracted.

Is that a cardinal? What day is it? Who was in that movie? Do we have chocolate chips?

Like my adored grandfather, Louis (and my big sister, Laurie) quotes have always provided a lot of inspiration when I feel a little stuck. Sometimes they work, other times, not so much.

Today, they proved rather effective. Ask me in 15 minutes though, and I might tell you otherwise…or barely remember crafting this blog post altogether. They were unattributed.

Every single thing that has ever happened in your life is preparing you for a moment that is yet to come.

Life is often a struggle, with little bouts of ease. I think we do a disservice, especially to our children, to teach them otherwise. We can learn from every life experience if we can wrap our heads around thinking this way.

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.

women of elegant power…

I have my own thoughts about the stories of these women. However, I want you to use your own imaginations. What we see is so subjective based on our own experience.

I will offer this though, from my perspective, they are not hiding.

“Maybe I see things from a little bit farther away—which is a good thing. If you’re an artist, you see things differently than most people anyway.” —Nicole Farhi, London Sculptor

I created this work by painting over magazine images, photographing them with objects, and then playing in Adobe Photoshop. They’re all from the pages of Vogue and Kinfolk (Nicole Farhi is pictured in the striped shirt). I found beauty, narrative, and true artistry in the gorgeous original magazine images, of course. However, when I look beneath the surface of the subjects and models there’s far more than meets the eye at first glance.

Have fun making up your own stories about these women & please challenge your initial assumptions. I had far more fun when I dug a little deeper and noticed my quick judgments & hard-wired biases.