Category: Earth Healing

Staying Open

Staying Open

photo 7Today was the last day of sunrise sea turtle patrol for me but I was fortunate in that I got to sub for another team member on Friday so two sunrises on the beach this week. And that’s when it started…two days ago…a nagging question.

Six o’clock found me struggling through soft, white sand as I walked the mile and a half route. It was a lovely morning with the Gulf of Mexico sending small, sweet waves onto the shore but I felt nothing. And I noticed that nothingness. It surprised me. Usually I’m in tune with the salt water and happy vibes are pouring out from my heart and mind but that day it felt like a vacuum where my heart was. I couldn’t connect.

photo 2It bothered me and as I walked I pondered that feeling of the ‘booooinnng’…like the beauty and light and delight bouncing off a closed door. Why am I closed? What’s happening, I wondered. So I journeyed inward and explored a bit.

I felt the sea reaching out with her watery fingers, trying to find an answering response from me but I remained shut down, distracted. My mind wandered and found a question: Am I closed down because of fear? Do I fear losing this beauty and so I’m acting like it’s already gone?

photo 4And then I wondered if we do that with each other. Do we allow fear to close our hearts and minds rather than remain open? Is this what keeps us from connecting with friends, lovers, partners? Are we so afraid of getting hurt that we refuse to open our hearts?

Today’s walk was better but if felt like I was in quick sand. The fluffy sand seemed to suck my feet so I stopped several times and just stared out over the water. What’s happening? I’m strong and fit so why is this so difficult?

photo 5During one of my pauses I thought of the list of sad things happening to and on our planet: Hurricanes in the Pacific, tropical storm in the Atlantic, earthquake in California, volcano erupting in Iceland, ebola in Africa, Russia invading a sister country, Israel bombing apartments and schools in the Gaza strip, the Middle East about to go up in flames, fracking by the fossil fuel industry, oil spill fallout in wildlife species, police officers shooting unarmed kids, people fighting each other over other violence…..dear God…how are any of us sane? And I don’t watch the news….this list is simply from an occasional view of NPR news.

I realized that part of my not connecting to nature is a deep concern that we’re basically going to reach a tipping point from which we cannot recover. The emotional toll of the BP oil spill was gruesome in my life yet I clearly see what can happen if we stay closed and refuse to work together for solutions…for the environment, social ills, violence. Closing myself off is a protection. But it does nothing to make positive change.

photoIt’s difficult keeping an open heart and mind when it appears as if everything is failing; yet, there is no more important time to be open and allowing of the connection between myself and nature, myself and others than now. The challenge we all face is staying open when nothing is scarier. Now is the time for courage. It is the time for love and open hearts…and minds. How can we create a safe place to be open?

 

Earth Celebration

Earth Celebration

SimoneLipscomb (17)Today is the day we set aside to celebrate our beautiful planet…Earth….Gaia….Mother Earth…Pachamama…The Blue Planet. I’m sitting here in my little motel room in High Springs, Florida, with the door wide open as twilight arrives. I am reflecting on the day with a smiling heart. I feel all tingly and it’s not from excess Nitrogen after cave diving. I feel alive and connected to this living being that is my Mother.

I started the day at Cave Country Dive Shop getting my tanks topped off. James was so speedy that there was extra time to play at the springs taking photographs before I met my side mount instructor and fellow Earth-lover.

SimoneLipscomb (31)To say it was a glorious morning is not doing justice to the absolute beauty of the early morning time along the Sante Fe River with the last lingering mist evaporating as brilliant sun illuminated tender, spring, verdant leaves. Clear turquoise water glistened like an aquamarine gemstone. There was no other humans so my morning meditation was spent in sweet connection with Her. Whispered phrases of gratitude wafted from my lips into the water…the misty air…the rocks…the sun.

photoAnd then it was time to meet up with Jill at the entrance to Ginnie Springs.  We did two wonderful cave dives into the Ginnie cave through the eye. At the end of the first dive we peeked into the river-flooded Ear entrance and saw the dark tea-colored water swirling above the crack in the Earth. A mighty sight! We then exited through our entry point, the Eye.

Both dives were as sweet as any I have done at Ginnie Springs. Jill models such a respectful and calm attitude of love for the cave. Witnessing her connection was powerful and it changed me in ways I don’t realize yet.

We shared a nice lunch and chatted about wildlife and turtles. Mostly turtles. Appropriate since Earth is also known as Turtle Island, a turtle floating in space…and we were celebrating Earth Day.

SimoneLipscomb (12)After returning to my cozy little room and hanging my gear to dry I walked across the street to the dive shop to settle my tab. On the way back I noticed a little shop I’ve seen for the ten years I’ve been coming to High Springs. High Springs Emporium is a rock and crystal shop…and so much more. I wandered in and spent an hour visiting with the owner. I felt the connection between Gaia and me strengthen and grow fuller as I stood among Her crystals, rocks, bowls of crystal that vibrated my bones…and my soul. It was the perfect ending to a joy-filled day…the proverbial icing on the cake.

SimoneLipscomb (5)For the past seven years I have dedicated my life to helping our water planet and haven’t known if I was making a difference or simply deluding myself. Today, as I waded into the clear spring water with my camera, ripples erupted from my feet and slowly spread across the large spring. A smile erupted as I realized that ripples from what each one of us does makes a difference….positive or negative. To give up, to stop trying is not an option. When your heart calls you…when you love deeply and profoundly you never, ever give up.

photo 2And so begins the next step of my journey with this water planet, my Mother. May my life be a love song to Her and may I sing it until I draw my last breath…hopefully many years from now. Tears flow as my heart opens to beautiful Pachamama, my Water Mama. My Path begins to open in ways I have never dreamed possible…I feel it.

SimoneLipscomb (33)With deep gratitude for this Earth Day spent with Jill and the turtles and fish…and the baby flounder who did a back flip for me…and the cave….the magnificent cave that welcomed me as Her own and cradled me within Her dark walls as I navigated my rebirth.

May each of us realize the potential to make positive change by our actions and dedicate ourselves to it.

Simone cave diving in Mexico. Photo by Ed Jackson
Simone cave diving in Mexico. Photo by Ed Jackson

I love you Mother Earth…I know your heartbeat…your amniotic fluids…your powerful embrace. I am yours.

 

 

 

 

 

Two Days Before Earth Day

Two Days Before Earth Day

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Curacao…a beautiful island in the southern Caribbean

Two days before Earth Day four years ago I was underwater. The strong taste of petroleum filled my mouth with every inhale. I signaled my dive buddies to surface under the star-filled night sky. Their air was fine. I didn’t know the source of the weird taste so we submerged but I stayed rather shallow and kept the dive brief.

I remember surfacing and turning back to look over my shoulder into the dark Ocean. A wind swept across the water and I felt a chill that shook my core. It was a very ominous way to end a dive.

simonelipscomb (15)A few days later I was sitting in the Atlanta airport after the flight from Curacao and saw the footage showing Deepwater Horizon in flames. When I am in the Caribbean I unplug as much as possible so had missed the news coverage of the explosion until I was almost back to Asheville. As I sat in disbelief on the vinyl-covered seat, clarity came and I knew it was time to go home.

Years ago I had promised the Gulf that I would help but didn’t know how. I heard a very distinct reply on the inner…You will know when it’s time to come home. The summons had been given. It was time.

I tracked the oil after arriving back to my mountain home and timed my arrival on the Alabama Coast, my birth place, a few days before the brown goo arrived. I wanted to document the unspoiled marshes and shores. I could sense the menace approaching but could do nothing except be a witness.

I remember one day I had been to Fort Morgan and was driving back to my mom’s on Bon Secour Bay. I stopped by a marsh and took photographs of large, orange boom in Mobile Bay. When I got back in the car I lost it. I mean really, really lost it. I started sobbing and screaming….how could we do this to our planet? It was as if I was experiencing a panic attack for our planet. I thought that I was witnessing the beginning of the end of life as we knew it.

One day as I walked the trail to the beach at Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge, I crested the top of the trail on the dune and saw before me a crime scene. Big blobs of smelly, brown goo were scattered all along the beach. I called the 800 number to report it and stayed for what seemed hours until somebody came to document it. Tearfully I sat on the sand and not knowing what to do I started singing to the Gulf of Mexico….I prayed and asked forgiveness for all humans. But mostly I grieved. My tears fell among crude oil staining the beach.

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When the oil first came ashore it was marked with driftwood and gloves…I couldn’t help but enjoy the message this glove was giving.

simonelipscomb (13)One week each month for the first year I returned to the Gulf of Mexico and documented seven areas of beach beginning at Fort Morgan and going to Fort Pickens, Florida. I remember a day in early July when I was standing at a tidal pool watching a little fish gasp in the grip of death as the bubbling crude oil, dispersant and salt water suffocated her. I was pretty close to the end of my coping skills. After days of breathing the benzene-ridden air, dealing with heat and the horrors of what I was witnessing I literally almost lost my shit, so to speak, watching that fish die.

simonelipscomb (9)Standing with tears flowing and sobbing I heard someone call my name. It jerked me out of the spiral of grief and I saw my friend Sherry, who I hadn’t seen in years, coming toward me. She gave me a big hug and we stood for a moment. I believe God or Mother Earth…or both… sent her to me that day. She was working on a clean-up crew and just ‘happened’ to be there.

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simonelipscomb (7)My spiritual practice of meditation helped me make it through that year. My friend and teacher from England pulled me aside at a workshop almost a year after the spill and asked how I was doing. I told her how difficult it was to witness such needless destruction. She told me that there was a reason I was witnessing it and to stand firm in my love of the planet. Many friends from all over the world followed my blog posts and sent support to the Gulf and all life within and around it. If my actions could bring the truth to a few people, it was worth it.

simonelipscomb (8)The process of personal healing has been long after that year. The journey back to wholeness led me to return home permanently to the Gulf Coast. While I haven’t really understood what my role here is now, I have enjoyed each moment spent with sea turtle hatchlings, manatees, ospreys, eagles….the salt marshes and river. The very things that broke my heart and spirit have been my healers.

simonelipscomb (17)Much of what I shared during the spill and cleanup was what was happening on the beaches. The personal struggle was small compared to the ecosystem and the community of relationships within it. Yet humans, too, are a part of the community of nature. We are deeply engaged in the cycle of life whether we acknowledge it or not.

simonelipscomb (23)A week with Joanna Macy in Rowe, Massachusetts, allowed a group of thirty of us, working to make a positive difference on the planet, have a safe place to facilitate our healing and help us understand the process that is happening globally. Perhaps the most important lesson learned that week was that all of us are needed to, step-by-step, be midwives to the Great Awakening or as Joanna calls it, The Great Turning.

simonelipscomb (18)We cannot afford the luxury of turning our eyes away from the horrendous abuses humans do to the planet, to animals, to each other. We are all connected…we are one family of life surviving on a living planet.

A kid's book I created to explain the oil spill in a simple, understandable way to all ages.
A kid’s book I created to explain the oil spill in a simple, understandable way to all ages.

This Earth Day, let us remember our connection to our magnificent planet…the Ocean, sea turtles, dolphins, whales, otters, rivers, osprey, eagles, the kid across the street, the massive oak trees and the tiniest flower. We are One.

simonelipscomb (21)The taste of petroleum in my regulator on the dive in Curacao couldn’t be explained. On an energetic level I believe I connected with the disaster happening in the Gulf of Mexico while I was in Curacao, in the southernmost island of the Caribbean. It showed me, without doubt, that I am connected to the Ocean…the One Ocean…and to all life. And so are you my friends

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To order my kid’s book on the oil spill or other books….please CLICK THIS LINK or visit Coastal Art Center in Orange Beach, AL or Page and Palette in Fairhope, AL.