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.

ancient memories…from early 2020

I was going through photos today and realized that my memories from January and February seem like a lifetime ago. Us Vermonters are now in the 5th week of sheltering in place. It’s quite remarkable how much the world has changed in such a short time. WOW!

I decided to give my not-so-old images a treatment to make them appear as vintage and fading as they now feel to me. I provided captions for the images and a few links below.

“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it is a memory.”
― Dr. Seuss

  1. Spiderman ready to take on the Bad Guys
  2. Celebrating in Burke, SD https://www.facebook.com/The-Burke-Gazette-104189784512700/
  3. Ellis napping with Karen at home
  4. Jeff’s daily coffee snuggle with Karen
  5. Dinner with Chloe and the clan at Frank Day’s in Dallas, SD https://www.frankdays.com/
  6. New Year’s Eve in Burlington, VT
  7. Joan & Maggie—Trivia Night at the Saint John’s Club/Burlington, VT http://stjohnsclub.com/

South Dakota gothic…

I’ve always been drawn to remoteness, old farmhouses and a chill in the air. My recent visit to my childhood home in Burke, South Dakota offered it all up for me. A blizzard, below zero temps and a borrowed four-wheel drive vehicle to venture anywhere I dared.

Around Burke, South Dakota—January 2020

Thank you Willa for being my photographic partner in crime.

Dear Summer 2019,

Thank you for all of the lovely memories.

I learned a lot about myself over the last three months,

it wasn’t easy, but truly necessary.

With Loving Gratitude,

Lisa

PS The autumnal equinox arrived in the early morning hours of Sept. 23 (at 3:50 a.m. Eastern), the halfway point between our longest and shortest days of the year. It’s funny how my “middleness” shows up in nearly every aspect of my life.

Well hello autumn, you know you’ve always been my favorite… shhhhhhh don’t tell summer.


Ain’t it funny how the night moves
When you just don’t seem to have as much to lose
Strange how the night moves
With autumn closing in

—Bob Seger, Night Moves

No wonder I love this time of year, I’m constantly reminded of my “middleness” in nearly every aspect of my life.

feeling nostalgic as the tide shifts…

As my girls head back to their second year of college, the memories of my family’s past summers are making me exceptionally nostalgic this year. Last week I walked Cape Cod’s, Town Neck Beach in Sandwich before heading north to Vermont.

So much flooded back to me…oh, the remarkable nostalgia of middle age.

While admiring the rocks, I got an idea for a photo series and a way I could honor this time of transition.

My memories feel both permanent and somewhat elusive, they can come and go as the tide shifts…just like these rocks do every six hours.

New England Patriot’s recently retired tight end, Rob Gronkowski once remarked, “I just like the beaches in summer, man.”

I wholeheartedly agree, Gronk.

on perspective…

PERSPECTIVE noun

:the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance

I don’t always want to see things from other points of view or walk a mile in another woman or man’s shoes. I don’t have to first feel empathetic or sympathetic before I actually understand my own thoughts.

Maybe it’s best to let our perspectives have their way with us, initially anyway, keep what’s informative and then get curious about how other people view things.

The key I suppose, is not waiting so long that rigidity sets in and we become unable to change course, even as we acquire additional information.

My Perspective

“Shoulda taken a break, not an oxford comma Take what I want when I wanna”

—Billie Eilish lyrics from my strange addiction

Instead of rushing in to validate someone else’s perspective the way I’ve been conditioned to do, understanding what’s happening to my own nervous system regarding an event or circumstance seems well worth practicing.

I’m gonna take a break…more than an oxford comma. After all, I’m not often being chased by giant predators as my lizard brain endlessly tries to trick me into believing. I usually have the time to take a minute.

Thank you Willa, Lucy and Ellis for introducing me to Billie Eilish. Damn she’s really something.

fluid memories. girlhood…

ummmmm…more cowboy stuff

I had the pleasure of spending time with my great-nephew, Liam a few weeks ago. My daughter (Willa), our Vermont friend (Jen Wool) and I were hanging out with him. He wanted us to find (and keep finding) cowboy videos on our phones and stories of cowboys in South Dakota Magazine. He couldn’t get enough.

Every time a story or video was over, Liam would say, “ummmmm…more cowboy stuff”. This became our catch phrase for the week.

Correct if I’m wrong Liam, however, I’m pretty sure you’re telling us to always seek out more of whatever sparks our interest. Ummmmm—for me, it actually is more cowboy stuff. Certainly in my artwork and photography anyway. Thanks buddy. You’ll surely be missed.

my 1980s spy movie fantasy

 

This week I was sent a cryptic message from someone named, Andrew Silva, alerting me that he left two photographs inside the front door of my home.

When I studied them I immediately thought of two things:

1.  I really love my $5 yellow, thrift shop, 1980s jacket.

2.  These images look like I’m a spy in a 1980s movie.  I was rather certain I had other images to round out my spy thriller storyboard fantasy.

Print

The film opens with an urgent call being made from a phone booth in Florence, Italy by the spy in the yellow jacket.

She’s investigating a missing American student studying abroad in Amsterdam.  The student disappeared in Florence on holiday.  The photo was taken by her roommate and potential femme fatale in their shared Florence hotel room.

Male characters (suspects #1 & #2) are photographed in Florence.  They are being exceedingly careful with their public conversations.  The younger of the two is an American architectural college student.  He was seen seated next to the missing student at a cafe the day she disappeared.

An older man (suspect #3) is waiting for the bus in Florence.  He’s under surveillance by the spy in the fabulous, yellow, 1980s, five dollar, thrift shop jacket.  No one is quite sure why though, and neither is he.  The spy’s sneaky photographs are really annoying him.  He’s constantly swearing at her in Italian.  This provides the levity in the film.

The American student’s roommate (suspect #4) was spotted walking toward the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam two days after her roommate’s disappearance in Florence with male (suspect #5). They clearly both know more than they’re telling investigators, casually seen shopping at Albert Heijn, the grocery store near the museum to give the appearance that it was just a normal day.

Male (suspect #2) is unknowingly photographed enjoying dinner out in Florence the night of the student’s disappearance.  He’s the father of the American architectural student and there’s obviously something quite shifty about him.  The angle of the photograph was carefully composed because the spy in the yellow jacket really wanted to remember the brand of balsamic vinegar from Modena on the table.

double image of andrews shots

 

 

images by Andrew Silva, April 2018

getting nostalgic in black & white.

twins lisa lillibridgeMy twin daughters are graduating from high school on Thursday, June 14th at 10am and nostalgia along with a handful of other complex and occasionally irrational emotions are settling into my midlife psyche.  For so long photographing my girls was my muse, something creative I could do all the time.  However, as they got older (and had cameras in their pockets) I photographed them less frequently together.  I have plenty of travel and birthday photos, but I can see now as the years progressed, they increasingly grew into their individuality, less of a unit and I followed their lead.  Now, every photo has to be “approved” which I can understand for a 17-year-old coming-of-age in this era and about to graduate from high school.

Here’s to honoring nostalgia however it surfaces in your life.  I know for me, it’s helping the transition to an empty nest to take a look back.  I’m less anxious that I could’ve been a better mother and prepared them more by seeing these photographs through a slightly different lens.  A pleasant byproduct of middle age wisdom, I suppose.

When my three kids were young, to offer a little grace at the end of those seriously ass-kicking days, I would ask myself:

“Did you love them more than you were pissed off at them today?” 

The answer was always the same.  I can live with that.

girls flipping the bird lisa lillibridge

Scrappy Bird-Lillibridge (22) copy – Version 3

lucy and willa deck bath lisa lillibridge

There are so many photographs to sort through, here are a few of my favorite black & white shots of Lucy and Willa. 

I’ll post my favorite color images next.