Lisa Congdon (Artist, Illustrator, Writer)

July 5, 2017

When I was in high school, we had this thing called senior quotes, which appeared beneath our photo in the yearbook. At the time, I was obsessed with Twin Peaks and chose "I am honored beyond my ability to express myself" by Agent Dale Cooper as my high school epitaph. As I'm writing this, that quote about honor keeps swirling around my head and that's because I am truly so, so honored (and excited) to have today's contributor, Lisa Congdon, on the site!


Lisa is not only an insanely talented artist, illustrator, and writer, but she's also known for being a really kind and supportive person, often speaking to groups across the country on topics such as making a living as an artist and dealing with career transitions. It's a subject Lisa knows a lot about. She herself went through a huge career change in her thirties. After spending the first decade of her adult life working in education, she decided to take an art class, just for kicks, and ended up discovering her true passion! And I'm so glad she did! I'm a huge fan of her drawings, which are filled with so much warmth and joy. I especially love the way she incorporates flowers into so much of her work, but in a way that is never stuffy or boring! Whether she's making an illustration, creating a textile, or painting a fine art piece, everything she does feels so fun and playful!

Lisa's latest book project, A Glorious Freedom: Older Women Leading Extraordinary Lives, will be released in October. You can check out more of her whimsical artwork via Instagram and through her website. I'd also highly recommend her Pinterest page. (I'm obsessed with her cat board!) She shares her inspirations below! Thanks, Lisa! ~Erin





I am a fan of crime drama, from TV to podcast to books, from fiction to true crime. A few months ago someone turned me on to the podcast Criminal, which is hosted by a woman named Phoebe Judge. The podcast creators intelligently explore stories of people involved in crime—from perpetrators to victims to those caught somewhere in the middle. It's brilliantly researched, edited, and delivered. 



There is a house in my neighborhood that posts different poems every couple of weeks in a small covered stand in their front yard. I walk my dog by this house nearly every day. Last week, the family posted this poem, which I thought was so beautiful. It was written by Naomi Shihab Nye in 1952. Seems so poignant, especially today.




Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. 
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.


(from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems)



I recently saw Kedi, which is all about stray cats in Istanbul and their relationships with humans. One of the most beautiful documentaries I've ever watched. 





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