An Artist's Quest

Where are You From? I’m Not Sure!

Recently an Americorp team came to stay and work here at the Bishop’s Ranch for six weeks. Their first evening we had a little social for Ranch staff and the Americorp crew.  As a conversation starter we were asked to put three things on our nametags: first our name, an easy enough question I was able to handle without discomfort.  The second question was a bit harder for me, write down your favorite sport, ughm, well I not too big on sports and while I played basketball in High school I wouldn’t say it was my favorite now, so I put down my favorite physical activity – hula hooping. Ok two down one to go, “where are you from?”. Oh no, this is a stumper! Where am I from? Usually I answer that query with a vague “small town northern California” explaining that my family moved a fair bit.  But somehow, this day, the question put me in an existential crisis. Where AM I from? Having gone to four different schools in four different towns as a kid, three of those in five years, wherever I was I always felt like a bit of an outsider. Like someone just pretending be from around here (wherever here was at the time), just pretending to fit in.  Before my fifteen years at the Ranch, the longest tome I lived any where was in San Francisco. After a few years of living and working I felt an ease and comfort there that I hadn’t felt many places in my life. But I couldn’t really say I was from there, that would imply an urban upbringing that is far from my small town past.  So finally, to answer the question “where are you from” I put HERE.  This is where I am, where I feel myself, where I have been grounded the longest.  It put to mind of the mass of birds gathering around my yard that I wrote about last week. Some staying the winter, some moving on to warmer climes soon. But all seemingly wildly happy, singing, sounding, shrilling, HERE, I am here! Where are they from? Where are they going? Their communal joy at being here in this wondrous place on this wondrous day seems to say the past is but a dream, the future a mystery, I am here, be here now, HERE.

This piece and others like it, along with fine art reprints, fun jewelry and much more will be for sale at my Holiday Art Sale and Show, Saturday, December 3rd, in Healdsburg.  If you would like more information and you arent already on my art updates email list  please contact me at and Ill add you to the list to find out about classes, sales and shows.

11 responses

  1. Val

    Or as the Beatles’ song says: here, there, and everywhere. (I was a nomadic child like you)

    November 11, 2011 at 10:06 am

  2. Laura Thorpe

    How very topical this is for me….just moments before opening Lisa’s blog I FINALLY decided to create a facebook page for myself (because my 13-year-old recently created her own page and also because a dear friend of mine is spearheading an effort at the non-profit organization she works for — called Fresh Youth Initiatives — encouraging folks to give a thumbs up “likes” vote to “FYI”, which allows them to compete for a $25K Chase Bank Community Giving Grant sponsored by facebook).

    Anyway, in creating that facebook page, I had to fill in the blank “Hometown”. I went through the same gyrations about how to answer that that my sister Lisa here details so eloquently. I settled on “Rural Northern California” but I may go back and change it to “HERE”. My here isn’t Lisa’s here, alas, but she and rural northern California and my folks and rest of my family and memories of my “hometown” and “where I am from” do indeed reside “HERE”. I like it, Lisa, thumbs up.

    By the way, if you would like to give a thumbs up to FYI for the youth community service work they do in our NYC neighborhood of Washington Heights/Inwood, give them a thumbs up on facebook by going to:


    November 12, 2011 at 3:53 am

    • Thanks Laura, eloquent, back at you, I will definitely give a thumbs up to FYI!

      November 12, 2011 at 9:41 am

  3. Mary Anne

    I was born into, grew up in, and later married into military life so home always was HERE! One of my life’s questions was how does it feel to have a hometown you grew up in?

    It took most of my life to decide to live one one place longer than 3 years, and now I have lived HERE in northeastern NC for 11 years and have no plans to move again.

    November 12, 2011 at 7:23 am

  4. That HOMESWEETHOME idea is more loaded than we think, what is home how do we make it what is the importance of change, what is the value you in same? go questions great comments!

    November 12, 2011 at 9:43 am

  5. Mary Thorpe

    Great mind binder, Lisa. If asked where are you from, I have always been comfortable answering, California. I tend not to reply Tarzana, where I spent the 1st 20 years of my life. Tarzana is in the San Fernado Valley which is part of greater L.A. I often say, my home left me, long before I left it. The area changed from a rural agrarian setting to suburban sprawl almost overnight—- post WW II. In my experience that place called home-town can be extremely fickle, so it is best to be “from” is where ever I live. So I am from FIddletown.

    If someone from Fiddletown asks me that question, well then……?

    Mary (Mom)

    November 13, 2011 at 11:01 am

    • Thanks for your insights, Who wouldn’t want to say they are from Fiddletown. L

      November 14, 2011 at 5:31 pm

  6. Jane

    Lisa I have to say it is scary how often my thoughts are on the same wavelength as yours. Today I discover our pasts have a similarity too. I like you moved around a lot as a child. A new home about every two years until I was 12, then things slowed down and I was in the same house for ten years before my moving recommenced. Four houses in four years before a gigantic leap across the proverbial pond. Now I have had the joy of being in the same house for 18 years. Would I answer, “Here”, to the question, “Where are you from?” Probably not. My English accent, words and rituals shout, “I am not from here”. However in my heart, this is now home. When you have not been able to claim a place as such before, there is certainly something very special about that. HERE is a very, very good place. This week I will take time to celebrate that I am HERE.

    November 14, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    • Here is a very, very good place, I am HERE….. sounds like the beginning of another blog post. Thanks for you lovely insights as always Jane> Lisa

      November 15, 2011 at 10:12 am

  7. Calen

    Thank you, Lisa. Beautiful post. It brought tears to my eyes, because the Ranch is my home, too. So happy and grateful to share it with you. This post was timely for me, too–I had been talking just the day before about how the Ranch is and will always be “home.” Lots of people talk about how you really grow up when you refer to your adult residence as home, rather than your parents’ house. The thing is, having grown up at the Ranch, it’s not just my parents’ house! The land and the community have a life of their own and it is that life that I am lucky enough to call home. Blessings abound.

    lots of love,

    November 17, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    • It’s true that the Ranch is more than a house, a home, it’s a whole habitat of it’s own and we are blessed to have passed so many years here. I am curious, as Ivan grow up what his thought will be. Who knows what the fates will bring but for now HERE is where I am.

      November 18, 2011 at 9:36 am

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