we the apples…

We’ve had a bumper crop of apples this year. I’ve picked, gleaned, and shared them. Somehow they’ve seemed uniquely personified to me.

Forgive me for getting a little woo woo about my backyard bounty and all caught up in meaning & metaphor.

I couldn’t resist.

crop: the product or yield of something formed together

democracy: an organization or situation in which everyone is treated equally and has equal rights

selfish: concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself, seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others

authoritarian: of, relating to, or favoring a concentration of power in a leader or an elite not constitutionally responsible to the people

When our individuality is overvalued, we can become selfish and lose something so magnificent about being human, connected, and sharing this planet together.

rot: 1. to undergo decomposition from the action of bacteria or fungi; morally corrupt

experience: the process of doing and seeing things; having things happen to you

empathy: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another

If our democracy is going to survive, we must develop the capacity to see everyone as unique, belonging, AND equal in every single way.

We the People Apples of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Constitution of the United States of America (1787)

Sunshine of Your Love…

It’s getting near dawn
When lights close their tired eyes
I’ll soon be with you my love
Give you my dawn surprise
I’ll be with you darling soon
I’ll be with you when the stars start falling

—Cream

install now OR remind me later?

Recently I read; Is Self-Awareness a Mirage? by David Brooks in the New York Times. It got me thinking…are there better questions to be asking myself at nearly fifty-five?

“Maybe we can’t know ourselves through the process we call introspection. But we can gain pretty good self-awareness by extrospection, by closely observing behavior. (Nicholas) Epley stressed that we can attain true wisdom and pretty good self-awareness by looking at behavior and reality in the face to create more accurate narratives.”

Is Self Awareness a Mirage? By David Brooks, New York Times

Here’s my go to story (personal myth) about myself: I was a very independent young person and this affects almost all of my behaviors. I didn’t even want my mom to walk me to kindergarten, I was only four.

Do decades old explanations about the WHYs of my behavior matter as much as current observations of WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, and HOW I behave?

Hummmmmmmmmmm…

My independence was a strategy I adopted based on my nature and circumstances. The story of it has served me well and is a character trait I’m often proud of often.

However, like most concepts of self, there’s a shadow side too.

Perhaps it’s time to update my operating system and not overly rely on old myths about my younger self.

My independent nature is no excuse for outsized and often confusing responses to basic questions from my family.

When will you be home? What’s for dinner? Who are you texting? Are you busy now?

Good grief, these questions are not immediate threats to my sense of youthful independence. Responding as if they are though, can be hurtful and confusing to the people I love the most.

So, thank you Younger Self, I’m truly grateful for all of the stories/myths of my life. I promise to summon you when spontaneity, risk, and fun are in question. You’re a great resource for those areas of my life.

I have to be honest though, your operating system doesn’t make quite as much sense to me in midlife…it’s time to look forward and hit install now, instead of remind me later.

understanding myself a little better…

I was raised by two entirely different ways of looking at the world. Mom and Dad’s individual circumstances, experiences, programming, and natures formed their worldviews, just as it did for their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and of course, their offspring too.

MY MOM: We’re all pretty wretched human beings. However, if we follow divine rules, tamp down our true natures to follow those rules, and constantly seek forgiveness, then we just might escape eternal damnation.

MY DAD: We’re basically pretty decent folks, we all make mistakes, if we can own them sometimes, and be open to a little coaching then we just might learn from our mistakes and do a little bit better next time.

A friend’s mom says, “it’s a wonder it goes”…it seemed appropriate here somehow. Thank you Martha & Marita.

Grandparents, siblings, birth order, aunts, uncles, cousins, ancient ancestors, geography, friends, boyfriends, school, church, teachers, books, music, TV shows, movies, pets, sports, coaches, experiences, my husband, my children, my nature and so much more, all played a part in who I am today.

Who we are and why is so mysteriously layered and complex that distilling ourselves (or anyone else for that matter) down with just a few data points seems woefully inadequate…total bullshit actually.

My daughter, Willa Govoni shot these photos on the beach a few weeks ago. She captured moments of pure joy and goofing off. These feel like the real me or how I would like my great-grandchildren to see me one day anyway. Thank you Willa.

“I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints, the sinners are much more fun.” —Billy Joel

Dad liked those Billy Joel lyrics and I think he also understood my worldview quite well. Monday, August 30th will be three years, try to rest in peace Big Guy.

🍦 🍕 🍔 🍟 ❤️ 🏀 🏈

lately around Town Neck…

beach rambles inside & out…

I often have a flood of ideas while walking the beach about what I want to create, write, transform, design and so on. Then I get home and the idea’s intensity subsides. I used to feel quite defeated by this. I don’t anymore.

I can’t possibly create all that I imagine…and there’s some sadness that sometimes accompanies that understanding. However, in this middle school stage of life (I’ll be 55 in October) I finally appreciate (accept maybe) the inevitable ebbing and flowing of my inner creative life, and stop fighting the tide so much.

Here are a few ideas that actually did come to life this week:

I think I’ll give myself a high-five for what I did accomplish. Beating myself up over what I didn’t do this week seems pretty absurd.

the princess diaries…

This morning on Town Neck Beach I saw a strange object in the fog. My heart quickened. I walked faster. Would I need to rescue a baby seal or maybe some other sea creature was in need of my heroic efforts? Nope, just this dumb Disney Princess balloon discarded on the beach. I thought Mermaid Princess Ariel would indeed be particularly offended.

I’m not much of a princess sort of girl. However, I’m clearly a Disney Princess Birthday Balloon found on the beach in the fog sort of girl.

I have to admit that Ariel, Jasmine, Snow White, Cinderella, and Aurora definitely cast some sort of freaky spell on me early this morning. I took over 60 pictures of this discarded balloon and I carried it home as well.

So I’ll trust my heart, what else can I do? I can’t live in dreams if my dreams are to come true.

—Cinderella

process v. outcome…

I read an interview focusing on process over outcomes on Daily OM with creativity coach, Eric Maisel. As I read I first thought about my creative work, then I thought about other aspects of my life in broad terms: health-both physical & mental, relationships, my home, spending habits, and so on.

If you can keep as your mantra, “process” — so that each thing you do is part of the creative process and all you can do is try your darnedest and not attach to outcomes — you will begin to extinguish the word “failure” from your inner landscape.”

—Eric Maisel/Creativity Coach

PROCESS: something going on—PROCEEDING

OUTCOME: something that follows as a result or consequence

When I get overly focused on outcomes, I can become paralyzed and do nothing because it all seems far too overwhelming. WHY BOTHER?

When I read the definition of process, I started thinking about another word closely linked to process…progress. I looked up the definition for more clarity.

PROGRESS: gradual betterment

Thank you Merriam Webster.

This was an AHA MOMENT for me…gradual betterment. This is so simple. I was immediately a giddy FAN GIRL. I said it over and over in my head. I want a t-shirt, bumper sticker, a love song, skywriting, poetry, perhaps even a museum dedicated to magnificence of gradual betterment.

Examples that came to mind…

OUTCOME: If I never eat sugar again, I’ll lose tons of weight. PROGRESS: I’m going to try to not eat sweets a few days a week.

OUTCOME: I have to sort all of my boxes of photos. PROGRESS: I’m going to sort one box today and create an organizational system.

Working with progress is so much gentler, less judgmental and gives me something to build upon. Progress allows space for self compassion and helps me honor what I HAVE accomplished, not focus on what I haven’t gotten to quite yet.

gradual betterment, I ❤️ you!!

Custom Ink t-shirts are in the works.

one year ago today…

The whole world witnessed the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. How we choose to respond is up to our own hearts in our own time. I find it challenging work to examine my own biases and prejudices. It’s easier to echo information from “my team” without really looking within.

Pausing even just a minute, allows me to hold far more complexity and gives my rational brain an opportunity to override my emotional brain…of course it doesn’t work all of the time. Summoning the spirit of my Grandpa Lillibridge helps me do this, he was really good at slowing down and listening.

Grandpa was remarkably generous in spirit, deeds, resources, and in his communication style as well. He would listen calmly while I shared my thoughts about boys, books, movies, travel, religion, politics, and the world at large. He died in 1986 when I was twenty, he had a huge impact on me…and still does.

I’ve thought a lot about him during this difficult time in American history. Grandpa wasn’t thrown off by opposing viewpoints and he was almost PATHOLOGICALLY CURIOUS. That was truly a gift to me as a young adult, trying to figure out my place in the world. His presence while we talked made me feel like the only person in the universe.

“You have to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather was.” —Abe Lincoln

Lowell Louis Lillibridge

Curiosity was Grandpa’s superpower—history, politics, psychology, music, business, religion…his library possessed a little of everything. He often read all night when I worked for him. He would come in around eleven apologizing for our late start and then proceed to tell me all about what he was reading.

I believe he would be so saddened by the state of our nation today, families divided because of politics, unable to agree on basic ideas. It would break his heart. I know he would encourage my curiosity, empathy, compassion, and challenge me to find more common ground.

Grandpa, please help me stay curious, and to speak authentically without shutting down my head and heart to others.

9 days in May…

We were married May 16,1992. I celebrated Mother’s Day for the first time in 1996 after the birth of our son. In 2000, during a challenging twin pregnancy, our doctor thought the babies were good sized (my feet and ankles were also swelling quite freakishly). She thought it was time to induce. Jeff and I could pick the date, we chose to keep our anniversary, our daughters were born May 17th.

From Mother’s Day to May 17th, life’s big events are celebrated at our house. This year Mother’s Day was the same day as my late father’s 82nd birthday. I miss you Dad.

In 2000, the Govoni family had a wedding, four new babies and we lost our much-love patriarch, Lou. That was obviously a very big year. When we talk about it now, new details keep being revealed about that time. Perhaps your family has a year like that as well?

Honoring life’s milestones, and supporting those who suffered loss (especially this year when weddings, graduations, and funerals were put on hold) is what connects humanity. The year really showed how much we need each other.

Our world shifted so many ways this year with the pandemic. Many bonds were strengthened, and unfortunately many fayed (or severed) as well.

When significant change beyond our control occurs, we crave certainty. Life is clearly very uncertain. Learning how to adapt, hell, maybe even thrive with uncertainty is perhaps the key to our survival.

After a year of slowing down, and finally inching toward our new normal, I think it’s time to take stock of where we’ve all landed. First, quietly in our own hearts, and then collectively as a nation.

I want to cut away the thorns from my heart that are hindering my empathy, judgment, or choices. A process far slower than I would prefer…but necessary and well worth the effort.