By Lisa Lillibridge

Over breakfast one morning, my 20-year-old son asked me, “If you had your own planet, what would it look like?” He wanted to know what it would be named, too. The first thing that came to my mind was New Vagus. That was what inspired my latest photo series. You can see a few images from the series here, based on photographs taken in New York City, Detroit, South Dakota, Los Angeles, and Florence, Italy.

The name of my planet and the photo series came from my research on vagal tone. My father and brother both struggle with depression, and my son also struggles with depression and anxiety. I wondered whether improving sluggish vagal tone could help with depression. I found many ways to increase vagal tone and made suggestions to my son. He is now aware that a cold shower, gargling, exercise, meditation, and other things can potentially help him feel better.

I don’t know that I would be managing as well with his depression if I hadn’t participated in CiPP. I’m able to be a much more active listener and not keep advising him constantly out of my own fears. I ask him questions about when he has felt that he was at his best. I rub his back, give him a hug, or leave a small gift as a wordless gesture of my love.

I’m now much more able to clearly state to people that I struggle with my worthiness in light of how things are for my son right now. I also am able to meditate and get myself centered when I feel fear creeping in. My son will get through this time. He’s not alone.

Meanwhile, my son and I continue to discuss our planets. New Vagus is taking on a life of its own. I don’t know yet if it looks more like a beach, or a city, or Europe, or if it includes all of these places. I love the otherworldly quality of the way these images turned out. They sparked my imagination and got me unstuck in my thinking, which was exactly what I needed.

Lisa Lillibridge, a graduate of CiPP5, is an artist/writer/photographer in Burlington, Vermont. She likes to create her own work, help others clarify creative goals, and help solve creative problems for others.

New Vagus 1

New Vagus 2
New Vagus 3
New Vagus 4
New Vagus 5