Sometimes a day can just shift…

even when they start out pretty funky.  That’s what happened to me today.  I’m glad I was paying attention.  I drove to Putney, Vermont to see my son at Landmark College.  As the parent of 20 and 16-year-olds, I have to stay on my toes and I was this morning…tippy tippy toes, actually.  I headed south from Burlington and made some remarkable stops along the way.  Good golly, Vermont is staggeringly beautiful in October.  WOW!

I stopped at the Red Hen Baking Company in Middlesex, VT for coffee and a cheddar bacon scone. They didn’t have them today—bummer…coffee and reading my book for a while is nice even without a cheddar & bacon scone. I’m reading “A Short Course In Happiness and Loss” by one of my psychology instructors, Maria Sirois.  I graduated with a certificate in Positive Psychology last Friday after finishing a year long certification program through the Wholebeing Institute .  I have that post big project and deadline sense of loss.  I like deadlines.  I guess I’ll have to set some new goals now.

Since, I’ve been home and working mostly alone in my studio for two decades, a certificate in anything actually feels pretty damn good.

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I’m not exactly sure how I took this picture, but it captures a moment for me anyway. I had the windows down and the music blasting because, even after coffee, I was still sleepy. The air was heavy and dark.  After I saw my son I was heading North on I91 and I missed my exit.  The sun was now shining and I was hungry, so I decided to explore White River Junction, Vermont.  I’ve driven by this town for 26 years and never stopped.  It’s so awesome.  I think we all must explore a lot often.  Our hearts and brains depend upon exploration  My whole day shifted by stopping in this funky Vermont town.

I parked downtown and ate lunch at Tuckerbox, a Turkish restaurant.  I had a meze platter—haydari, hummus, babaganoush, Turkish salsa, stuffed grape leaves. YUM!

Then I just decided to take a walk around town before I headed back to Burlington. I bought a vintage denim shirt at REVOLUTIONlevis-vintage-repro-shorthorn-denim-shirts-made-in-usa-lvc-western-big-e-jac-s-24ffc2d9d39176ea14f6d1acbe048905  One can’t have too many of those…right?

Then I walked around the block back to my truck and this is what I came upon…let’s review.  1. I miss my exit. 2. Great Lunch. 3. Cool denim shirt.

4. Then these pedals were all over the steps and sidewalk.  Who doesn’t need a little MAGIC in their day?

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I was floored…it was so amazing to come around the corner of the street and witness this. I was so wiped out.  I  was gone all of last week at school and I really needed to be home, but I would’ve missed those pedals.  Thank you VALLEY FLOWER COMPANYYou have no idea how much you made my day.  Yes, there’s still more…

So I paused for a minute to just take in the pedals on the sidewalk.  I took about 11 steps and there was this interesting little jewelry gallery called SCAVENGER.  I popped in and the work is right up my alley.  One of the artists makes casts out of bugs, twigs, flowers, sea urchins…gorgeous, organic shapes.  I bought myself an early birthday present.  I even had it wrapped, so I don’t have a picture and I can’t open it until next week.  It’s a persimmon flower, very cool shape, greenish, bronzy, patina…her work made me feel like I had uncovered the bracelet on an archeological dig.  I’m now a big fan of Stacy Hopkins.  Nice people helped me make my choose the piece of jewelry I purchased as well.  Yes, really.  I felt like I was on a movie set.

Then I headed north—smiling from my adventures…listening to Aretha Franklin really loud and singing along.  It poured for a while.  I LOVE RAIN.  Then it cleared off and the color was just staggering…Aretha and I kept singing and heading north to HOME.

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White River Junction, you have a new fan!

I just spend a day and a half alone…

and a little quiet, introspection and organization did wonders for my mind, body and spirit.  Last night I ran out to Barnes and Noble for a book and grabbed a magazine next to the checkout called FLOW.  It spoke to me.  I woke early this morning and decided a habit I want to create is reading something inspiring in the morning instead of news—aaarrgggh NEWS.  I fed my cat, Karen, blended lemon, parsley and ice (after a summer of beer, potato chips and ice cream a correction is necessary), made coffee and sat down to dive into FLOW.

“Celebrating creativity, imperfection and life’s little pleasures.”  REALLY?

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WOW. I was right.  FLOW was utterly inspiring and if I was disciplined and organized enough to publish a magazine this is what it would be. Astrid and Irene are clearly my long lost sisters (and new heros) from the Netherlands. I’m reading the English edition, unfortunately I don’t speak Dutch.  I bet I missed out on some amazing Dutch words that were lost in the translation.   This is the quote below the title.  I need every back issue now.

“No need to hurry.  No need to sparkle.

No need to be anybody but oneself.” —Virginia Woolfe (1882-1941)

contents FLOW magazine LillibridgeThe first article was about positive psychology (which I’m studying) and how small changes in our lives (kaizen, I’ve written about this before) can net big shifts in our lives. The article talked about thinking in terms of solutions, not problems and looking for small ways to bring forth more joy in our lives. LITTLE STEPS, BIG CHANGES.

“It is easier to see things in black and white than to pay attention to all the grey tint in between.” —Dutch philosopher and psychologist, Gijs Deckers

Big, bigger and biggest often doesn’t lead to happiness. It’s the small things that make people happy.”  page 17.

Next was this picture of my hero, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera in Kahlo’s studio at Casa Azul.  Now, I can’t stop smiling by this point and I’m only on page 18…

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then this quote.  Oh, my sister.  I will write about my sister.  We have a story to tell.

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Then there were interviews with a jewelry artist from Poland, a family living off the grid in British Columbia and an illustrator living in London.  That’s as far as time allowed this morning.  If I had the whole day, I would throw a blanket in my yard and devour every word. I can’t wait until I get back into FLOW.

On page 33 is an article by journalist Catelijne Elzes in celebration of rainy days…my favorite and most inspiring kind of days, throw in fog and I’ll swoon all day.  I can’t wait to read that article.  Really, Irene and Astrid, lets do lunch…

I have to get to get to work on my designs for STRUT…I have only 11 days.  Picking something up that spoke to me randomly got me thinking about connections.  I believe when we’re looking for meaning and connections (threads) in our lives they keep revealing themselves.  We just have to be on our toes or we can miss them.  I often miss them. IMG_6612_3

I know a lot of people don’t believe in coincidences, magic or spirits…however, I choose to.  I will be searching for little signs of magic all day and I have hunch that I just might be able to find some more.

I hope you have a great day and experience a little magic today too.  We all are deserving of some.

Thank you Irene and Astrid. Are you hiring?

Being my own best friend…

and modeling that for my children is really important to me.  I find this concept to be really crucial in my adult development.  I didn’t really understand this until I was entering middle-age. As an introvert, I’ve always loved my time alone.  However, the concept of really being my own best friend took years to fully integrate.  Thankfully, Lisa and I finally have this all pretty well figured out now…even though she can be a total pain in the ass sometimes.  I love her in spite of her flaws.

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My Positive Psychology teacher Tal Ben-Shahar frequently reiterates that we have to give ourselves “permission to be human”.  This doesn’t mean that we have to accept every one of our behaviors as—”oh well, that’s me” and not even try to self correct.  It does mean however, that when we screw up, we can take notice, mend the damage, alter our behavior, move on and try to do it a little bit differently next time.

As our own BFF we have to encourage ourselves just as we would encourage a friend who is going through some of life’s trials.

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I would love to cut short some of these challenging years for my three children.  The hard years when we often aren’t so kind to ourselves…teens and early twenties.  I guess some lessons are like learning to walk before we crawl though. We simply can’t shortchange the steps.

Some of our growth requires more years of life’s joys and sorrows coupled with the experience and wisdom that follows. Regardless, I believe we can start talking to our children at a very young age about being their own best friend, enjoying their own company and knocking back negative self talk.

 

 

life’s purpose vs. being purposeful

I’m so weary of the world telling me to “find my purpose”.  It creates such unnecessary anxiety. Preaching PURPOSE as the only path to HAPPINESS and SATISFACTION is so common everywhere in our culture that it’s actually pretty hard to get away from.  As I pondered this life’s purpose mumbo jumbo, I had a thought that eased my mind.

What if we shifted the discussion from

“FINDING OUR PURPOSE” to simply realizing

that every day we are already being “PURPOSEFUL”? 

We all do things that make the world a better place on a “micropurpose” level all the time. These adds up to something pretty damn awesome.  We make people laugh, prepare food, hold doors, show up, smile, let something go, say “I’m sorry”, pick up the check, sit with people in grief, lend a helping hand, let someone cut in line, turn the other cheek, give hugs, wash things, lend money and encouragement, pick up trash, grab coffee, send gifts, laugh at jokes, buy a drink, text “I love you” or make a phone call, the list goes on and on.

So, instead of beating ourselves up that we haven’t found our life’s purpose—let’s just take breath (or 2 or even 3) and then take a look at how truly purposeful we are every single day of our lives.  These purposeful gestures can have a ripple effect making things better for so many beings…including ourselves.

Simply choosing to live in a purposeful manner is much easier to build upon than another day chasing the somewhat indulgent and rather elusive preoccupation with finding “LIFE’S PURPOSE”.

So here’s to not actually finding LIFE’S PURPOSE and living a life that is beautifully purposeful.

P.S. I take my coffee with only a splash of cream. 🙂  How do you take yours?

growth mindset vs. fixed mindset

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When I read through these traits I was struck by a few things.

1. I’m so grateful to know that a fixed mindset doesn’t have to remain FIXED.  Think about it?  FIXED means unchangeable.  WHO POSSIBLY WANTS TO HAVE A BRAIN THAT IS UNCHANGEABLE?

2. I get really tired of people throwing up their hands and saying, “that’s just the way I am, the way I learn, talk and so on…so get used to it”.  No. I won’t, because it’s untrue.  However, this statement is—we have to believe that change is possible or real growth is way less likely to occur.

Neuroplasticity allows our brains to create new pathways by doing things differently.  It isn’t simple, I understand. However, the good news is that meaningful change in our lives is BOTH very difficult AND very possible.  One of the growth mindset traits: sees effort as necessary.

“Neuroplasticity refers to the potential that the brain has to reorganize by creating new neural pathways to adapt, as it needs.”    —http://www.whatisneuroplasticity.com/

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT NEUROPLASTICITY

“The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile”

― Tal Ben-Shahar

(Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment)

It’s so necessary to feed our brains novel experiences, thoughts and ideas for growth and it sure makes life a helluva lot more interesting.  Don’t you think?

Try something new today.  Your brain will thank you.

Happy International Day of HAPPINESS!

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I’m studying positive psychology with Tal Ben-Shahar through Kripalu and the Wholebeing Institute.  If I hold one thought in my head to make my life better it’s Tal’s quote, “When we appreciate the good, the good appreciates”.

We are what we think and  we’re always capable of changing our thought patterns. We have to BELIEVE that change is possible though.

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF HAPPINESS “A profound shift in attitudes is underway all over the world. People are now recognizing that ‘progress’ should be about increasing human happiness and wellbeing, not just growing the economy.

March 20 has been established as the annual International Day of Happiness and all 193 United Nations member states have adopted a resolution calling for happiness to be given greater priority.”

http://www.dayofhappiness.net/#join

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Pretending is perfectly OK.

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Today I don’t feel at the top of my game, so, thought I would visualize myself BIGGER THAN LIFE.  I don’t have any idea what kind of affect it will have on my mental state throughout the day, however, so far it’s proven to be highly amusing.