Category: Balance

Enter the Darkness

Enter the Darkness

SimoneLipscomb (5)The water suddenly lit up and I could see the turquoise-tinted liquid as the diver rapidly slipped past, his scooter pulling him like a chariot to the mouth of the cave. Within moments the entrance swallowed the light along with the diver and darkness once again brooded beneath the surface.

SimoneLipscomb (3)Two more lights approached but this time propelled only by the fin kicks of the divers. Their lights made slow sweeps of the water until they arrived at the cave entrance. Once they arrived at the Eye, they began their descent, their progress evidenced by the fading glow of turquoise.

I was standing on a dock overlooking the water. My sinuses had grounded me so my New Year’s celebration was spent in solitude with my camera and the magnificent trees and water spirits at Ginnie Springs. Even with the chilly air a few insects serenaded the passing of the old year and the birth of the new one. The night sounds seemed amplified as I observed divers gliding past into the caves. I know the intense silence of the caves and have touched their mystery and magic so I imagined the divers experience of the overhead environment as the stars arched over my head.

SimoneLipscomb (4)As the divers moved past in their silent dance of light, I was reminded of the journey we take to discover our own inner light. Most of us want to avoid the darkness yet it is by journeying into our own darkness that we find treasures–strength, personal power, beauty, light…. and more. Joseph Campbell called it the Hero’s Journey for truly it takes courage to make the life-long journey of self-discovery.

SimoneLipscomb (8)There wasn’t another place I wanted to be this chilly, New Year’s Eve. Finding friendship with myself, celebrating the journey and opening to continued travel, in the depths of caves and myself, brought me much joy.


Mountains and Friends

Mountains and Friends


It has been over 19 months since I moved from the mountain in the Riceville Valley area near Asheville, North Carolina. Today I returned. The mountains snuck up on me as it was foggy and pouring rain as I wound my way up through the North Georgia Mountains. Rather than the usual distant view of the mountains, that always makes my heart light up and teases me with the majesty to come, I found myself suddenly surrounded by peaks and thrust into the beauty of mountain energy.

Living in Asheville was a wonderful experience and a dream come true for me. My creativity was unlocked here and connections with others boosted my work…my friend Jen and I used to take wild day trips to the Smoky Mountains and immerse ourselves in the beauty of nature while practicing our art of photography. I met her on the mountain.

sharkswebThe owner of the company that published my first book lived a couple houses down the mountain from me. She helped me learn about the business and taught me the art of editing. Other mountain neighbors became friends as we connected through this magical place that draws so many wonderful people.

As I got closer to Asheville this afternoon I became anxious. I wasn’t sure how to return gracefully to a place I deeply loved and left. How does a person love a place so fully and leave it? For me it was a call back to big water and coastal life that I had been away from for twenty years. So the move south was a good one but I was left with a heart full of love for the mountain and friends that became family.

The time spent in my new coastal home has been focused on healing my life. That opportunity came about due to a relationship that ended…the one I thought would be the forever one. Coming back to the mountain meant facing possible emotions of sadness and grief. I have worked so hard to heal my heart I was fearful that I’d slide back into the darkness from which I had freed myself. Nineteen months of deep, inner work were about to be tested.

photoAs I ate at Doc Chey’s, my favorite Asheville restaurant, I saw in my mind’s eye my former husband and I there but rather than sadness I simply observed and enjoyed the meal. Afterwards I walked to Mast General Store, another Asheville favorite, and walked around hearing the familiar clumping of people’s feet on the wooden floors. Downstairs I touched a shirt made of waffle-type thermal material, the kind that he used to wear, and my breath caught. A moment of sadness arose but was replaced with a sweetness as I remembered his strength and then I simply walked on…letting go even more and feeling the strong sense of wholeness within my being.

one of my friends on the deck of my former home here
one of my friends on the deck of my former home here

It continued to rain as I drove east toward my former neighborhood and as my car began the familiar climb up the mountain I felt like a horse being led to something she feared…balking a bit but then I was passing my former cedar home with the wall of windows overlooking the valley and I felt that I had truly moved on and my home wasn’t there any more. There were no ghosts of the past lurking about.

The familiar arms of my friend Phyliss embraced me. Actually it was my buddy Abbey that greeted me, wagging her tail and smiling with excitement. Then the Phyliss hug…and then Bob. These special friends welcomed me with such warmth. All anxiety of facing the past evaporated as I recognized the healing that has come to my life. I realized I had truly come home to myself.

Later this evening we drove back down the mountain and dined with other dear friends. Laleah and Bill provided a wonderful evening where the conversation was rich and varied with deep sharing and multiple explosions of laughter.

the winter that helped me decide to head back to the tropics....
the winter that helped me decide to head back to the tropics….

And the mountain…let me say how incredible it is to be on the mountain again. This place nurtured my soul and helped me open to the creative spirit. It was here that I felt my wings expand and carry me into the heavens where I learned that flight takes only surrender to the forces that are ready to lift us all to our potential.

As I reflect and write I sit snuggled under blankets as the wind howls in the rainy, cold night. The weather forecast calls for snow and with the excitement of a child I realize that I have come full circle in my life and am ready for the next flight on which these wings will carry me. What a blessing to be able to return to this family of friends and a mountain of magic and wonder. My heart is filled with gratitude as I count the many blessings that continue to fill my life from the coast to the mountains.

photo copy


Paradise Awaits

Paradise Awaits

simonelipscomb (7)
Adult Bald Eagle. Image taken last winter in Florida

I glanced up as an eagle snatched a fish from the water and flew away. Did I just see that? I thought to myself. Ospreys are common companions on the river but a bald eagle? I was ecstatic! As I glided in raptor-bliss a snowy egret flew overhead and then a brown pelican nearly collided with me as his six foot wing span overshadowed my SUP board. “Dude!” I said aloud. Smiling, I paddled on.

Crisp air and clear blue skies, filled with beautiful birds, felt like paradise. The entire four miles was one continuous flow of beauty–an experience that opened my heart with awe and gratitude.

Osprey...image taken in Florida last winter
Osprey…image taken in Florida last winter

The river time started with huge schools of juvenile mullet circling and moving together as my board gently glided through their watery home. The water was so clear I could see them glancing up at me as I paddled. Occasionally one of their scales would sparkle in the morning sun and this display of rainbow light caused giggles to explode from my core. Precious life. Sacred life. So holy, so amazing.

simonelipscomb (4)As I paddled downriver alligator gars surfaced to breathe, turtles sunned on logs, floating pelicans carefully watched my antics. Quietness, stillness was so evident–so appreciated by this soul. When the bald eagle caught my attention by grabbing a meal, I was already blissed-out as just a few minutes earlier an osprey had passed overhead with a fish. Life was evident with every turn of my head.

The paddling meditation continued as I moved further downriver. Reaching with each stroke of the paddle, engaging my core, pulling myself to the paddle blade as it resisted the water, I felt my physical core engage like never before. Training in the Pure Barre classes I take has helped me learn to isolate core muscles and work to strengthen them. Applying what I learn in the studio to my stand up paddle board workouts feels amazing. A light bulb flashed overhead.

simonelipscomb (8)It was easy to see the parallel between fitness endeavors and life’s journey. By applying something I learned in a studio class to my SUP boarding, I saw how my work paid off on the river. Each stroke produced an explosion of forward momentum. Likewise, when I explore my inner life by going deeper into my emotional core, I clear out and heal old wounds thus leading to big leaps of forward momentum in life.

When we gain courage to go deeper, work deeper, the payoff is greater awareness, greater freedom. This morning I was able to see beauty and allow it to go deep within to touch my most vulnerable self. Had I been focused on worries and fretting about anything I would have missed the tremendous blessing of abundant life along the river.

simonelipscomb (3)Pema Chodron writes, ” The armor we erect around our soft hearts causes a lot of misery. This shield, this cocoon is just made up of thoughts that we churn out and regard as solid. In fact, this shield is made out of passing memory.” These passing memories of things that happened in the past can close us to life. As she writes, “Compassion for others begins with kindness to ourselves.” No matter what struggles and disappointments we have experienced on our life’s journey, only by choosing to let go of these painful memories can we lighten up. Letting go of ego, of the storyline of being wounded, helps us move into the present moment, the only place where happiness is found, the only place where paradise awaits.


A Sensitive Heart

A Sensitive Heart

simonelipscomb“I have sea foam in my veins, for I understand the language of waves.” Le Testament d’Orphee is a movie I’ve never seen but this quote from it touches me deeply. It was quoted in an article I read this morning during my hammock time with my ginger cat, Stanley. It was a piece about sensitive souls…the traits and behaviors…the feelings. As I read it a mirror to my soul seemed to open. FINALLY! There are others out there. (Deep sigh).

IMG_0002My first memory of my inner life being at odds with the outer world was when I was about eight years old. My father and I were watching a movie about an old man who saved up hard-earned money to purchase a pane of glass for the only window in his shack. He installed it and it had only been in place for a brief time when his mule kicked a bucket that went crashing into the window–which shattered. The man beat the mule. I cried and my father laughed at me for crying. He asked why I was crying. For the mule, for being beaten, of course. It was then that I begin to learn that my sensitive heart was in for a rough ride.

The article states, “You absorb sensation the way a paintbrush grasps each color it touches on a palette. The ethereal beauty of a dandelion, the shift of a season, the climax of a song, or the scent of a certain fragrance can sometimes move you to tears…Basically this means if you are sensitive, you have the ability to see colors and feel energy the way others hear jet planes.” Victoria Erickson, the writer, goes on to quote research that says sensitive souls make up about 20% of the population. People who are super-sensitive have nervous systems that respond easily to stimuli which can be overwhelming and exhausting. “Sometimes your sensitivity makes life extraordinarily painful and you want to shut down and hide your raw self from the loud chaos that accompanies this earth’s continual rotation.”

Victoria lists six ways to stay balanced….create, enjoy the company of animals, seek out water, recognize what is only your energy and emotion (its easy to absorb other’s energy), surround yourself with people that understand your nature and nurture that connection, retreat, replenish and rejuvenate. Her advice was so good that I saved the article to my desktop so I can review regularly.

After I finished reading I sat in the hammock chair with my cat buddy and pondered the eye-opening information. There have been many times I have been laughed at, made fun of, and generally put-down because I am sensitive. And I know there are others who have experienced this treatment. When this happens we close down, little-by-little. Our experience of the world narrows as we deny the very ability we have that feeds and nurtures us.


When my daughter was born, I begin to reawaken to the part of myself I had closed off, lost even, through my childhood, adolescence and young adult life. Her arrival into my life was a catalyst that pushed me onto my spiritual path and steered me deeper into my heart. When she was born I suddenly knew what it was like to truly love someone.

Everything didn’t change overnight. It takes an immense amount of work to learn to stay open to the beauty around us and not close down when the rest of the world seems to not notice. There were many, many rocky years and times when the dichotomy, of what I knew to be my truth and what the world told me my truth was, was difficult to sort out. I carry many battle scars.

About eleven years ago I reached a very low point in my life when things literally fell apart around me. It was as if everything I cared for shattered and shifted and I was left feeling completely beaten down and also, oddly enough,  feeling incredibly open. At that time a man came into my life that helped nurture me so that I could put my life back together, in a more harmonious way. His was a sensitive heart, even though he didn’t like to admit it. The light he shined into my life helped me believe that I could be myself and live fully. At first he kidded me about talking to trees but before our relationship ended, I caught him talking to trees….although he would most likely deny that now.

I was blessed to have someone who believed in me, that stood beside me as I lifted myself out of the rubble of my life.

simonelipscomb (5)What does the world do to a sensitive heart? How do we survive the challenges, the fears, the chaos we encounter simply by living on this planet? This fragile beauty, this light within us can be so easily destroyed, snuffed out. The magnificence of a sensitive soul can be chased into hiding by the stresses of daily life. This, to me, is the greatest loss we all experience. When we lose our brothers and sisters whose sensitive hearts and souls bless this place, then truly we have lost great treasures. I know there are many whose light has been diminished or hidden by the stresses of life. May we reach out in understanding and love and stand with them as they work to find peace and wholeness.

When these lights go into hiding it’s not simply a personal loss, but a planetary loss. We need more people now than ever before who are in touch with their hearts and in communion with the beauty..and who are unafraid to show it. May we support each other always in finding and staying connected to our true selves.




simonelipscomb (1)The sky was completely dark and I thought it must be 9pm. Time to curl up with a good book. Alas, it was merely 7.30 and once again the realization of seasonal change…. and change in general…. came to mind and became my meditation as I sat in my hammock swing on the back porch and listened.

The moon shone timidly through the grandmother oak’s massive branches and leaves as she spread her protective embrace over my home. Stars twinkled, bashful and fleeting in their dance through the sky. Change.. movement… cycles… rhythms.

Earlier today, as I worked to complete a book a friend and I are creating together, I was writing my part of the introduction. As I listened to my heart’s message I realized I have come to a point where I am letting go of feeling personally responsible for affecting change in other’s behaviors, specifically respecting the planet and each other. It’s rather arrogant to assume I could have that affect on others anyway. But I take the care of this beautiful planet seriously and somehow felt I was supposed to write,  share photographs and teach others in order to create positive change in their actions. When change wasn’t forthcoming I felt a sense of failure.

simonelipscomb (8)Perhaps I thought that if people understood and grasped the depth of passion and love I have for the planet they would be inspired to love and care for it as well. It was rather unrealistic to think my actions could change other’s behaviors when I struggle at times to change my own behaviors. It’s sort of like thinking that loving and expressing your love for another person will make them love you….that never works no matter how deep and profound your love is for them. Maybe it was the head-banging-against-the-wall frustration that helped me awaken to how worn out I felt by taking on this unrealistic, unreasonable responsibility. (My inner psychotherapist is clapping her hands!)

I want to be at peace and feel open to love and compassion. I can’t have those qualities of mind, of life, if I’m ‘failing miserably’ at changing the world. I see what’s happening in governments, to wild land, to wildlife, to children, to humanity….If this is still happening I must be failing at my job. Honestly, a part of me really thought that way. And I wonder if others who love the planet, put their energy into creating positive change and wish for global healing share that feeling of failure when things seem not to change.

simonelipscomb (6)I realize now that the real reason I’m here on Earth is simply to express the love and gratitude within for this amazing planet with endless varieties of life and to be in Communion with It. By mistakenly thinking I could actually change other’s behaviors by my actions, I put myself under major-stress and took it very personally when people didn’t care–recycle, drive more fuel-efficient vehicles, buy less stuff, turn from greed, stop polluting, use solar energy, love each other, love animals and on and on the list goes. (Gulp….my inner psychotherapist is nodding her head).

As I was writing my part of the introduction to the new book I wrote: “Sacred Marriage with the Divine through nature, through life, is the only significant goal that remains in my life.”

Nahoch Nah Chich cave in Mexico
Nahoch Nah Chich cave in Mexico

Seeking a clearer connection with Spirit, being a clear channel through which this Force can flow, is my only desire. Gone now is the intent to change the world for that only created a life of constant frustration…although I still dream of a better world for all life. I wish only to change myself, to open to love and light that is abundant and available always, with every breath.

As I finished editing this post, an owl landed nearby and begin hooting. Seems I’m not the only one celebrating this shift in perspective, this clarity of focus. May each of us find our own dance….and if we’re really lucky, find others who will dance with us.