Category: Eco-Spirituality

The Next Chapter

The Next Chapter

Life seems to divide itself into geographic chapters for me. Choosing to live in an area gives me amazing experiences of connection to land and water, wildlife and people. Nearly a year ago I made the decision to end the chapter at the Gulf Coast of Alabama and begin another chapter, in another place.

Front View

While here I was fortunate enough to purchase a home that was built in a live oak forest. It has been a most amazing place to live, move and have my being. Barred owls are frequent visitors as are hawks. Just yesterday, after working on a short video, two hawks landed outside my office window in the grandmother oak tree and were loudly conversing in hawk-speak. It was amazing! Occasionally I see a fox and last summer, just after putting my home for sale, a mother fox and baby were seen just in front of my home. She spotted me and picked up her baby and carried it to their new den. A sign that time was drawing near for me to live in a new den.

The first month I moved into my home I found out about the sea turtle volunteer program so spent every summer involved in the magical life cycle of sea turtles. Also, early in this chapter, I became involved with volunteer work with the Manatee Sighting Network and that led to an amazing community rescue with Dauphin Island Sea Lab and Sea World a few years ago.

It’s not an easy decision to begin a new chapter. I get set in patterns and ways, comfortable in the predictable and immersed in the beauty of strong and beautiful trees and cow neighbors….I seem to be drawn to places with nearby cows. My dog Buddy even has one that licks his nose…that’s how friendly the angus are to us.

Front View

It took me a while to make the decision to move. I’ve never had a home so perfectly fit me and come to life so much with decorating and highlighting the magnificent architectural design. It’s an incredible southern cottage filled with charm. And I do have some family here. But my daughter lives two days drive from here and honestly, I’d like to be closer to her and my son-in-law. But not Michigan-close–where they live–but within a day’s drive.

So I considered various places, even thought about the Florida Springs area, but ultimately felt the call of Mother Earth and Her mountains. So once my home sells, I will be headed northeast. I guess that’s why I kept my snowshoes, snow pants and other winter gear. The Appalachian Mountains are calling me home. Admittedly, when I lived there before, it was the happiest I had ever been. The Asheville area is such an open-minded place that is inclusive of all….and that’s amazing to experience. And then….there are the mountains and waterfalls.

Fenced Courtyard at Rear

I am ready but the timing is up to the Universe. My home is for sale and awaits the perfect new owners…a person or people who will love the land here, the trees, the river access. My wish is that whoever lives here will experience the same unbounded love for the home and place I have felt…and known. It’s not easy closing this chapter but I am excited to start a new one and excited for whoever chooses to live here.

Conscious Connection with Gaia

Conscious Connection with Gaia

For over a year when I ride my bike or walk, the same message is heard: make a conscious connection to nature. It began when I was in Ireland in February 2018. My friend and I were staying in a little holiday home that had very little heat. It snowed during the night and was quite cold. It was more than the cold weather and lack of warmth, the entire energy of the place was ‘off.’

After a night spent snuggled under the covers, I got up early and walked out with my camera. The light dusting of snow was lovely and the creek below had white frosting on the rocks surrounding it. As I stood at the top of a steep embankment, I noticed a lot of trash that had been simply pushed off the edge when the cheap holiday homes were constructed. Vines and vegetation had grown over and concealed much of it but the evidence was still there….pipes, cans, old lumber bits and pieces.

After spending over a week along the Wild Atlantic Way with pristine scenery and amazing vistas packed with raw, elemental energy, it was quite a shock and disappointment to see the mess. I ran back to the house and grabbed my new Low F Celtic Whistle…which sounds more like a flute with its beautiful mellow tone. I arrived back at the pile of trash above the creek and began playing.

Due to the freezing temperature, the sounds weren’t perfect. Not to mention that I had just purchased it and wasn’t yet familiar with the wider finger placements…which had my hands twisted like a pretzel. Regardless, I opened my heart to the place and sent love and compassion to it through the music. As soon as I began to play I felt the energy of the place shift. It was as if it perked up and took notice. I felt it communicate a sense of surprise that a human would send appreciation to it after other humans trashed it.

So I played with intention and felt a returning energy of gratitude and a soothing of hurtful wounds. Even with freezing fingers and metal that wasn’t sure it wanted warm breath moving through it, the low tones filled the frosty air with love and appreciation for Nature and all beings that lived in that area.

The idea to consciously play music for the Earth really took root within me. Perhaps it isn’t grand gestures that will shift our human consciousness but rather everyday efforts to intentionally connect with the Earth….the living Earth.

It will look and feel different for everyone but here are a few suggestions: read a poem to the Earth each morning; sing a song to Her every day; dance barefoot on Her every day; do yoga outside and work with nature energies as you move through your practice; meditate  outdoors and consciously connect with Earth Mother; write a love letter to the Earth each day and read it aloud to Her; when you’re walking outdoors speak your gratitude for flowers, trees, grasses, soil, birds, worms, butterflies; go outside and simply listen with an open mind and heart; say prayers for Mother Earth outdoors and say them out loud.

Cliffs of Moher with a new high D whistle purchased in Ireland

It’s not about changing the Earth, it’s about changing our relationship to Her. We are the ones who need healing. We are the culprits of Her destruction but we can be the purveyors of stewardship through taking the time to make a daily conscious connection to Her.

Suggestion: keep an Earth journal and note what you did and your experience during and afterwards.


Gaia, also spelled Gaea, is the personification of the Earth. Gaia is the ancestral mother of all life: the primal Mother Earth goddess.

Gaia Hypothesis by James Lovelock, a UK chemist, claims the resident life forms of a host planet coupled with their environment act like a single, self-regulating system.

 

Fear…The Thief of Life

Fear…The Thief of Life

I watched a YouTube video a guy created when he sailed across the North Sea solo during the winter. Crossing the North Sea Singlehanded is the title. It wasn’t across the entire North Sea…I think from Norway to the Shetland Islands, roughly 200 nautical miles…but still. Solo. Sixteen hour nights. Six meter waves….that’s like 18 foot waves. Snowing, sleeting, gale-force winds. I love the ocean but could barely watch it. I kept saying, what the heck was he thinking?

People have asked that same question about me….cave diving, traveling solo in England and Ireland, in Bonaire….leaving the ‘everyday grind’ to follow my heart’s calling. I understand what it feels like to have people question my sanity….just like I questioned the sanity of the guy sailing in insane conditions. Honestly, I was more afraid sitting on my sofa watching the North Sea video that I was during my adventures… except for my start in cave diving.

I think back to times when I had to choose between letting fear keep me stuck or taking the leap of faith into the vast Unknown. I believe the most powerful leaps in our lives always include an unknown aspect. We cannot know how a decision will truly affect us or the repercussions that will happen. It wouldn’t require anything of us if it was all the details were known. It wouldn’t produce growth or help us increase our strength and trust in ourselves. But I know this with all my heart: if we feel called to do something strongly and we gets signs–as in coincidences, synchronicities, etc–we are on the right track. I think the greatest tragedy is when we allow fear to keep us stuck and ignore those little breadcrumbs affirming the path that leads us to greater freedom and joy.

Cave diving….I was a diver already and wondered what could possibly be so great about being underwater in a cave. I was scared the first time I entered an underwater cave with my cave instructor friend. No doubt at all. My eyes were big, I could hardly breathe from getting caught in the high flow of water rushing out of the cave…I could share more ugly details…. but I persisted, even when I was scared. And I learned to trust my intuition completely while cave diving.

For instance, once my dive partner and I were entering a side passageway in Peacock Springs. We had tied a jump reel and everything was fine yet I began to feel really anxious. The hair on the back of my neck stood up and my breathing rate increased. I signaled to my partner that I needed to return to the main line. As soon as I got to it, I was completely okay. I couldn’t’ explain my anxiety but I listened and by doing so learned to trust myself.

Cave diving has taught me the most important lesson in my life: PAY ATTENTION.

Fear is a natural response to change. The way to differentiate between fear that is normal and fear that is paralyzing is to pay attention to how the body responds…at least that works for me.

I know that fear can keep us stuck, keep us from taking the leap into something wonderful. I know this because I have experienced it. But I have also made the leap, many times, and every time….when I really felt something strongly calling me…it has been amazing.

Sailing across the North Sea in winter is not on my to-do list but there are other adventures yet to come…I feel them calling. I’m ready to leap. What is calling you? Don’t let fear keep you from your dreams….don’t let it steal your life.

Ave Maria

Ave Maria

Franz Schubert’s song written in 1825 came onto my iPod this morning as I cycled. When I ride I choose to do a random shuffle of all songs and see what the Universe sends my way as I navigate the backcountry trails or highways at the beach. Today, Ave Maria came on and was immediately followed by another version of Ave Maria. I was already teary just opening my heart to nature and singing along so the second version opened an even bigger doorway to connect with Divine Feminine. Not a religious version….the true Feminine side of the whole…the equal balance to Divine Masculine.

Oh, how our world needs more of the receptive strength that balances the active principle of masculine energy. The centuries of conquering the land, other people, other nations and pushing for more at any cost is destroying our planet…that energy left unchecked is destructive. The imbalance is deadly.

So as I pedaled and listened and sang Ave….’be well’ to the trees and squirrels and lizards my heart opened to their hearts…beating to some Divine rhythm that is the Great Mystery. How can I cultivate the Divine Feminine within me? How can I keep opening and opening and opening….even when it hurts so badly to feel the destruction, the meanness, the disregard for life and lack of compassion exhibited by so many people, so many countries.

A while back I wrote a blog called Rise Up about empowering ourselves through opening to everything that’s happening rather than closing and building a wall within ourselves. I like to think of Mother Earth rising up through us, using our skills and talents, our compassion and love. She can only work through us if we are open. If we dare to feel what’s happening all around us.

How would Mother Earth work through you? Through me? How will we know unless we open and listen…in stillness and silence. When we take our openness to our yoga mats, meditation cushions, walking meditations….through any wellness practice…and surrender in service we become active participants in whatever healing needs to take place.

A Mary Oliver poem comes to mind….My Work is Loving This World.

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird –
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,

Which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

_____________________

Ave Maria as performed by Beyonce

All photographs copyright Simone Lipscomb

The Doe

The Doe

My nervous system felt like it had been tightening and fraying all week. I wasn’t sure why until Saturday arrived and I had a serious day of showing my beloved home to three wonderful couples, two of whom really felt and saw the magic of this peaceful home under ancient live oak trees as I did seven years ago. I didn’t sleep much Saturday night, my mind wondering about the next step as my path unfolds into deeper communion with deep earth in the mountains.

Sunday morning I had to give my nervous system some relief, even in my fatigue. So my uber-fun road bike was loaded into the wagon and off I went for a nice ride.

Once I got helmet, gloves and cleats on I saddled up and started pedaling. A quick warmup past the bald eagle nests, with babies no less, was my plan. But I was struggling from lack of sleep and a mind that refused to stop the chatter. So I said aloud to nature, I need you to help my mind quieten and let go. 

As soon as I turned the corner on the trail, standing in the trail was a big white-tailed deer….a doe. She didn’t run. She stayed right there staring into my eyes. I felt a deep peace envelop me. I wanted to grab my phone to take a photo but dared not move any more than I was already. (These photographs were taken by me in Cades Cove in the Smoky Mountain National park).

It seemed as if our eyes were locked forever as she showed me a deep sense of grace and grounded peace. I know my lower jaw was hanging slack until I managed to whisper….thank you.

She finally stepped off the trail, but just barely so, and looked back at me as if to say, Did you get that?

Tears slid from my eyes as I experienced the answer to my request.

I rode past the eagle nest and saw a tiny head peeking above the edge which reminded me of the poem I wrote a few days ago…my love letter to Mother Earth.

The state park is my cycling place, my place to take Buddy on long walks and has been a place of incredible beauty…and frustration as I watch the park get more city-park-like every day. They are chasing the wild out….but that’s another blog.

I continued for nearly 20 miles feeling immense gratitude for places that are wild and especially for this place that has been in my life since I was a child swimming in Lake Shelby….a teen working in the campground or at the interpretive office…and later as park naturalist after I graduated from Auburn. It’s where I worked when my daughter was born…and where I go to to ride through the flat, coastal living landscape.

I’ve seen deer, a jaguarundi, bobcats, foxes, bald eagles, osprey, cottonmouths, armadillos, all kinds of other snakes and lizards, owls, shore birds and hawks. I even saw a groove-billed ani on a Christmas bird count one year….a rare sighting for our area. And lots of woodpeckers and alligators, raccoons, opossums, squirrels….oh, the other day I had a squirrel run between my tires as I cycled past…the closest I’ve ever come to running over one. I always wondered how bad the crash would be with a squirrel….it doesn’t take much for a crash to happen. So yes….a lot of wildlife has been revealed to me at Gulf State Park. And no, I didn’t crash but I don’t know what happened to the squirrel.

So I felt some sadness about moving away as I pedaled but also felt a deeper sense of my work calling me forward where I know more adventures and more people await.

It’s funny how one encounter can so change me. I still sense the energy of that beautiful doe staring at me, reminding me to stay in my body, to release my racing mind and to simply be present…with her, baby eagles, squirrels, pine trees….and myself.

All photographs copyright Simone Lipscomb.


In preparation for our move I’ve been telling Buddy about bears….that really, they are just cows with longer fingernails….so he doesn’t freak when he sees one and get him and me both in serious trouble. He loves the black cows that live in the pasture next to our home….so here’s hoping a big bear won’t be too much of a shock.

on the deck of my former home in the mountains