South Dakota—my interior geography

Last week I was in South Dakota for a funeral and a wedding.  In between those emotional events I found some time to drive back roads with my husband, see the stunning late August countryside and find some much needed quiet.  I’m always reminded of how much the prairie landscape resides in my cells, bones and heart.

This landscape gives me clarity, helps me understand my choices and guides me back to my personal True North when I get off course a bit.

South Dakota is my interior geography, no matter where I am in the world. 

Recently, I had to draw a compass at Courage Camp in Bristol, Rhode Island.  I laughed at myself because the way I still figure out directions is to imagine I’m standing on the front porch of my childhood home.  It’s there that I’m most confident in knowing my directions.  (photo below)

IMG_2852Standing on the porch I know which direction the sun sets and how to get to Nebraska. With that knowledge, I can find my way most places.

I often think of my intrepid ancestral homesteaders who ventured West, uncertain of what they would find in the Dakota Territories.  However, and more importantly, perhaps they knew they could handle whatever the prairie offered them. 

I understand that now, at the tender age of 50, in a way I didn’t when I was younger.  I don’t know what’s next, but I know I can count on my interior geography to help guide my way.

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Courage to me is…

listening to my AUTHENTIC SELF even when my SOCIAL SELF is screaming at me to act in accordance with societal expectations and not listen to my inner voice.

AUTHENTIC SELF: who I am at my core, the true substance of what makes me uniquely me, how I desire to live in my heart and soul, who I am when no one is watching

SOCIAL SELF: who I am in relation to others, more protected and very concerned about how others see me, often scanning for what’s appropriate in any given situation, ego

When my authentic self and social self are out of whack, things get pretty weird and I can feel like a fraud.  I don’t want to feel like a fraud.

However, now that I’ve identified what courage is for me, I’m noticing which voice I’m listening to much more quickly.  I think simply noticing is a great first step.

Authentic Voice Lisa Lillibridgeletterhead lisa lillibridge

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. 


Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere…

Jim Jarmusch on creativity:

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.

 

 

This is one of my favorite quotes of all time.  When I think I’m being entirely original that’s when my ego emerges and my work suffers.  If I take note of my inspiration (creative theft), then my work is often more authentic.  Thank you Jim Jarmusch and Jean-Luc Godard, “it’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to”.  Indeed.

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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.

 

the better angels of our nature…

Being in opposition is easy, but stating what we believe in is often challenging.  We’re living in strange times, there’s way too much stress in the system.  It doesn’t matter what side (or center) of the American political spectrum you fall on—division and absolute certainty are not the products of a civil society.  I find myself longing for a time when we agreed on some basic truths and then engaged in respectful policy discussions about how to achieve those shared goals.

After having my coffee and reading the news, I wanted to write about things I believe in—not what I’m opposed to.

HERE GOES (this is actually harder than you think, try it):

EDUCATION: 

I believe our schools should teach rigorous courses in the following areas:

1. How to have healthy relationships: familial, personal, societal and self 

2. Financial literacy

3. Digital life/footprint realities & cyber security information

4. Personal health: nutrition, exercise & sexuality 

5. Stress management: I read in Psychology Today that the average high school student in America has the level of stress of the average psychiatric patient in 1950. Horrifying huh? 

6. Home Economics & Shop courses mandatory starting in 1st grade: If we taught kids how to cook, clean, mend/repair things, lots of hacks for living, it would be powerful and empowering.  The more we know, well, the more self esteem grows.  I know many believe these things should happen at home, however, my children listen better to others than me (or at least it seems that way).

I want to operate in reality, not the romanticized ideal.

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LEADERSHIP: 

Congress should be filled with teachers, coaches, caregivers, engineers, small business owners, artists, writers, factory workers, farmers and so on.  We need to take dark money out of the system and let congress reflect “we the people”.  If the election cycle was much shorter and a defined amount of money is what could be spent, it would level the playing field considerably.

END CITIZEN UNITED!

“The Citizens United ruling, released in January 2010, tossed out the corporate and union ban on making independent expenditures and financing electioneering communications. It gave corporations and unions the green light to spend unlimited sums on ads and other political tools, calling for the election or defeat of individual candidates.

In a nutshell, the high court’s 5-4 decision said that it is OK for corporations and labor unions to spend as much as they want to convince people to vote for or against a candidate.”

SOURCE: https://www.publicintegrity.org/2012/10/18/11527/citizens-united-decision-and-why-it-matters

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PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY: 

I believe we need to try to “MIND THE GAP” between our stated values and how we behave…and this is sooooooooo hard sometimes.

I know for me, when my values/behavior are out of step, I feel like crap and the people I love suffer.  This is a muscle to be exercised like any other. 

I started trying to pay more attention to when my values were out of alignment with my actions.  It sucked at first to do this because it’s quite painful.  We don’t want to see ourselves that way.  However, the more I started noticing, the more quickly I could correct the behavior (most of the time).  I’m hardly batting 1000%, but I’ve made slight improvements and that’s something to build upon.

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I wholeheartedly believe in the Bohemian Creed made famous by Baz Luhrmann’s “MOULIN ROUGE”!

TRUTH • BEAUTY • FREEDOM & LOVE

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BETTER ANGELS (Abraham Lincoln):

“I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Abraham Lincoln‘s first inaugural address was delivered on Monday, March 4, 1861, as part of his taking of the oath of office for his first term as the sixteenth President of the United States.

 

fog & fishing in Town Neck

This morning I couldn’t sleep, it was foggy.  I’ve always loved fog.  I grabbed my camera, a few bills for coffee and slipped out quietly so Jeff could sleep a little longer.  It was a little after five.  After taking a few shots in my yard, I was bored.  I drove to the beach and ran into a friend walking to work.  I watched as he vanished into the fog.

 

Then I drove to the canal to take pictures of the guys fishing.

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I witnessed some lovely fishermen camaraderie.  I got quite an education too.  I tried to not be in the way.  I think I might’ve been a couple of times. But, they were gentlemen and didn’t mention it to me.  Mark, Norman and Nick seemed like pretty good guys.

 

This fish really didn’t want to give up the fight.  He was in too rough of shape to be thrown back.  I think I saw the last breathe of this 38″ (37.5″ to be exact) striper.

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R.I.P. big guy

Mark (tan shirt) offered his fish to Norman and his son, Nick.  Norman soon had a fish on his line and his son helped him pull it up.  It was all a thrill and the fog added some drama to the whole scene…oh, how I love fog.

 

Later Norman caught another one and released it because it was in good shape.  They were going home with two good sized fish (one caught and one gifted already).  I appreciated seeing the care taken to get the hook out as cleanly as possible.  Norman threw it back into the Cape Cod Canal to live another day.

Swim on little fella, there’s mackerel to dine on.

 

Mark, Norman and Nick were good guys.  I bought them coffee to thank them for letting me take photos…it seemed like the least I could do.  Mark and I take our coffee the same, “black with cream”.  I found this funny…black with cream.  I’ll never order it any other way again.

By getting out of my comfort zone, I was given access to a world I had little knowledge of. 

I usually sit on my porch in the morning or walk the same loop. 

This morning the siren song of fog lured me to explore and I was handsomely rewarded. 

 

Thanks fellas for one of my favorite mornings in Town Neck.