Category: Eco-Spirituality



SimoneLipscomb copyWe find magnificent patterns in nature…sand ripples, turtle shells, leaf structure, rock formations…an endless list. There are the patterns of global wind and ocean currents, weather, movement of stars through the vast, velvet sky as well as river’s pathways and crystalline formations. Amazing, magnificent patterns abound and give us structure, things on which we can depend.

SimoneLipscomb (10)With one of the last iPhone updates, my phone automatically gives me estimated time of travel to various locations based on patterns in my life. It’s a little freaky that my phone can guess my travel based on regular moments. 29 minutes to Fairhope it tells me when I start the car at 7am. Or 25 minutes to home from cycling or walking Buddy in the state park. When it doesn’t predict my destination correctly I taunt it. Ha, you are wrong! That’s not where I’m headed. It’s a bit strange to be so predictable that my phone can usually guess where I’m headed.

SimoneLipscomb (1)Sometimes patterns are wonderful…yoga, cycling, walking the dog, meditation, nourishing meals. All healthy. But what about those other less-than-healthy patterns?

On my way to yoga this morning I was enjoying the beautiful back-country roads and contemplating stuff….you know stuff. I saw how behaviors and choices in our lives become habits or patterns. Chemical grooves are literally worn into our brains like the grooves on vinyl albums. Inner patterns can be beautiful or can be self-destructive.

SimoneLipscomb (9)The vision came of standing in the eye of a cyclone and experiencing the calm at the very center of life. Fears swirl around inviting me to grab hold and collapse into that old way of being. The familiar, the practiced behaviors can entice us so temptingly but the moment we step out of the calm center and grasp the old fear pattern, we are jerked into a chaotic cyclone. This is one example but the possibilities are truly as endless as the patterns we find in nature.

SimoneLipscomb (2)The beginning of true personal power comes with the realization that we have choice. So often we simply choose the familiar reactions, practice the same behaviors and we stay stuck in our lives. The moment we pause and listen before leaping into old, reactive behaviors of action and speech is the moment we begin to see there is no prison except the one we create for ourselves. As surely as we build our inner jail cell, we have the key to exit it at any moment and create a life without in-prisoning behaviors and actions.

SimoneLipscombWhile this certainly applies on a personal level, it also applies on a community level or global level. What are the choices we make each day that keeps us stuck or frees us? Imagine a planet where we collectively pause and reflect upon our actions…our reactions. The potential for peace and love grows with every one of us that pauses before reacting, before practicing old behaviors and patterns of speech and being.

SimoneLipscomb (3)I celebrate beautiful patterns in life….those that enhance beauty and peace, love and compassion….those that keep us in the sacred, calm center.





_TSL0997The clock proclaimed sunrise but heavy clouds hung close so dawn’s light was slow to brighten the day. Silently I slipped into the water, wrapped in my dry suit and holding my heavy, underwater camera equipment. With a slow and quiet frog kick I moved toward the narrow opening of the spring.

A manatee exiting the clear water paused in passing, watched me for a few moments and then moved forward in her glacial, flowing pace. Low light and particulate matter in the open water made a shot impossible but communion was exchanged and was sweet.

As I approached the spring, a manatee laid sleeping on the white, sandy bottom. I carefully avoided splashing and went around him and into the clear water of the freshwater spring.

_TSL1000Ten manatees of various sizes lay asleep on the bottom, huddled together in a common area. I glided away from them toward the back of the small spring and turned to face them from a distance. I took a few photographs as the light increased and then felt drawn into their meditation, into their group mind of stillness and dreaming warm, saltwater dreams.

_TSL1057In the quiet, peaceful water temple I closed my eyes and floated effortlessly with heart and mind open. The beauty of their being touched my core. No thoughts, just sensations enveloped me. Cool water on my face and neck; gravity-free except for the heavy camera rig in my hands; muscles relaxed; gentle floating….total surrender and release of all stress, tension…of everything except that moment of manatee mind.

_TSL1041One woman, ten sirens of the sea communing in perfect harmony caused time to disappear. We joined in that glorious, timeless dimension of stillness and quiet.

The moments of harmony with my sisters and brothers were some of the sweetest I have ever experienced.

_TSL1061After several minutes I opened my eyes and noticed my open heart and calm mind. I said a silent prayer of gratitude for the gift of this encounter then took several photographs, hoping to be able to translate, through art, the experience that so powerfully touched my core.

Slowly, quietly I moved around the side of the rock wall toward the exit. I turned before leaving to offer my thanks to the manatees and witnessed several slowly rise from their resting place on the bottom to the surface to take a deep, full breath. So in-tune in their sleep, their meditation they breathed in unison. Humans have much to learn from these gentle beings.


_TSL1092Throughout King’s Bay and Crystal River there are official sanctuaries or areas set aside where manatees can rest without human interference. Heavy fines and penalties are imposed on anyone entering these designated safe-zones. Today in the small, clear spring, I found my own place of peace, my own sanctuary.

Image of a juvenile taken yesterday in Three Sister's Springs
Image of a juvenile taken the day before in Three Sister’s Springs
This is Why I Cried

This is Why I Cried

IMG_3140Driving to the state park to walk with Buddy, I was listening to the Eagles Long Road Home. Glenn Frey is gone? He wasn’t a personal friend but the music of the Eagles was the soundtrack of my youth. Peaceful, Easy Feeling is probably my favorite of their earlier songs and brings back the innocence of younger days. The song that spoke to me this morning was one from their more recent work and tears flowed as it played….”I’m not gonna say a word. I know I can’t change your mind. You know where you need to go. I know I’ll be left behind. I won’t hold you back, I won’t stand in your way. If you need to make a new start…But I still wanna know when my arms let you go…what do I do with my heart.” I was sitting in my husband’s blue truck when I first heard this song and realized our relationship was slipping away. Nearly four years have passed since I last saw him and when this song plays that memory rushes in.

800_1368But it wasn’t just a love song and music from my young adult years that touched me the past few days. David Bowie died of cancer. Then Alan Rickman (Snape…Harry Potter). But Eva Saulitis died, too. She was a marine biologist that documented the decline of an transient orca population in Alaska that has never produced a surviving calf since the 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. As Krista Langlois said, “Her own life and those of the orcas were spiraling into the sea together.” Eva died of cancer. Bowie died of cancer. Rickman….and countless others whose name we will never know died of cancer….are dying of cancer. Epidemic?

Photograph Summer 2010...Shell Oil
Photograph Summer 2010…Shell Oil…Courtesy BP 

Recently President Obama said he was forming a new initiative to cure cancer. I appreciate your work Mr. President but it’s not a cure we need…it’s prevention. It’s cleaning our polluted waters and sky. We are poisoning the planet and therefore we are poisoning ourselves. Orcas are at the very top of the food chain and therefore consume the highest level of toxins. It’s the same with humans.

Photograph I took Summer 2010. It reminds me of a woman's body and so I call it the Rape of Mother Earth
Photograph I took Summer 2010. It reminds me of a woman’s body and so I call it the Rape of Mother Earth

Times like this morning, when death and planetary challenges seem so evident, are a knock on my inner door. When I was a teenager we knew fossil fuels were problematic yet nothing changed. We were told to turn off lights back in the 1970’s to conserve energy but solar and wind development took a back seat for decades. There have been improvements…remember Erie Canal being so polluted it caught on fire? Thankfully the EPA tightened restrictions on much of the industrial processes.

Gulf State Park Summer 2010
Gulf State Park Summer 2010

Given all this…how can anyone suggest lessening EPA standards and regulations? We know that corporate industry will do anything to save money, to make more profit. Deregulation would increase already polluted waters and land and air. Why is this even a political battle? Anyone with an active, healthy brain can easily see the link between cancer and human-created environmental pollution and toxins. How could anyone who cares about their health or the health of children vote for candidates who lobby against the environment?

_TSL1690My heart breaks over pollution and toxins that are killing our wildlife….killing us. Take that Eagles song and sing it to our Earth Mother and all life on this sacred planet…”Tell me you’re not leavin’ now, Tell me you’re not leavin’…..Tell me that you’re gonna stay, Please say you’ll stay with me, baby….For this and this alone I pray, Fall down on my knees and pray…I’ll do anything. Yes, I would to save what we have, To keep you by my side…I’ll love you ’til death do us part….But what do I do, what do I do when I’m still missing you? What do I do…what do I do with my heart?”

SimoneLipscomb (1)Innocent no longer….the carefree days of youth have passed. The loss we face is much greater than a lover or music icon or actor or even a diligent marine biologist. We are at the brink of losing much more than we can even imagine. This is why my heart breaks. This is why I cried today.


Back In, Buddy

Back In, Buddy

_TSL1657My fist pounded the sandy bottom of the deep Ocean as a huge wave of energy arose within me: I am here! Come to me! This message went out to the illusive and slippery ideas and opportunities I have been pursuing. Deep peace, first experienced when the Mother Humpback and her baby floated just feet below me last year in the Atlantic Ocean, returned. Oh, this is peace, I remembered.

Gradually, waking awareness returned as I surfaced from the deep meditation. Finally, I got it! For months I have been ‘hearing’ to be still and listen to the silence but monkey mind has tossed me around like a feather in a hurricane. What is the best way to activate monkey mind? Ask it to be still….to listen. NOOOOO!!!! It screams!

This image was taken while visiting St. Kitts. The monkeys would sit and scream at each other and race to get rum drinks left by beach-goers who abandoned their drinks while swimming.

In my personal journey the quest over the past few months has been to listen for clues regarding the next step in my life’s work. The wonderful mind took the assignment like a monkey running for unattended rum drinks on the beach at St. Kitts. Daily meditations, until this morning, yielded the awareness that stillness and silence was an open invitation for monkey mind to run screaming. During meditations and daily life, my mind was still searching and pursuing the what-when-how of life with crazy intensity. Where was the stillness? The silence?

SimoneLipscombThe past two days were almost unbearable with my mind digging up fears with amazing ability. This morning as I sat down to meditate I simply said…ENOUGH! I lit the candles, cleared the space and set the intention. Since last March I have focused my meditations on the Ocean and a particular humpback whale I connected with. This morning, like many over the past months, she took me deep into blue water and showed me a large, simple pearl on the Ocean floor. My mind took off running but the whale mother called my focus back to the pearl. “Stop chasing after ideas and sit still,” she beckoned. I followed her direction and let go.

_TSL1690It’s time to stop letting my mind chase ideas, directions, possibilities. It is time to be still and quiet and open.

I imagined pulling on a large cord that is connected to a gong…the kind that sounds when someone arrives home to a large estate or manor. I….am….here! No longer will I chase after anything. This is me. I am here. By claiming integration of myself I create space for the Universe to fill life with everything needed.

On the way out the door to yoga I grabbed a banana to honor the incredible monkey mind that has worked so very hard. When I arrived at class Augusta announced the theme of our practice would be Coming Home to Ourselves. That’s how the Universe works. When I awakened this morning I thought about skipping class, so much had monkey mind worn on me this week. Thankfully the breakthrough in meditation opened the door to the next step. And yoga practice opened the door to embodying the truth of coming home to myself.

FullSizeRender 3As Buddy Hobbs, my puppy friend, and I walked through the beautiful live oak forest in the nearby state park this afternoon, I realized how Buddy’s puppy energy is like my monkey mind. Working to teach him how to follow instructions, to listen, to settle into his body is exactly what I’m doing to train my outrageous mind. Admittedly, he’s a much better student than my unruly mind at times. As we walked under moss-draped branches I began giving him a command… “Back in” with the intention of helping him come back into himself rather than pull against the leash. Come back in your body, Buddy. And as I said, “Back in” I made sure I was fully at home in my body….with mind centered and present. And….he got it! Come back, Buddy. Embody yourself. I suppose I was saying it as much to myself as I was to my canine kid.



Life’s Compass

Life’s Compass

SimoneLipscombWho Am I? Why am I here? These are common questions asked by those intent on discovering deeper meaning in life…those who search for a clearer reflection of the true self.

This time of stillness and listening during the past several weeks has produced many breadcrumbs that have led to a clearer vision for my path. Memories have surfaced, people have sent comments and reflections on my work and realizations during moments of openness and surrender during yoga classes have yielded much guidance. One memory in particular is working powerfully in my heart and mind.

_TSL7666My mom and I were in a grocery store when I was very young. One of her friends greeted her and commented on what a beautiful child I was. Wow, I thought. I am beautiful. After the woman walked away I asked my mom what that meant. I cannot remember exactly what my mother said but it was an encouragement to not take the woman’s comment to heart. She didn’t want me to be conceited or stuck on outer expressions of beauty. That’s the take-away now but then I remember being confused about this word: Beauty. It was a defining moment in my life.

_TSL7676I never thought of myself as beautiful through childhood, teenage, young adult years and even now….I didn’t want to be stuck-up or conceited..still don’t. But mostly, I didn’t want Beauty to be defined by something outside of myself. I wanted people to see me and love me for what was/is inside my heart. I always wanted boys, men, to see the real me, not the outer package….. so…..there wasn’t much dating. I didn’t focus on the outer expression of beauty…didn’t care about make-up or cosmetics or fashion because that seemed a pale expression of the beauty I found by turning inward and experiencing the fire of my heart that is pure and loving and kind or by connecting with the nature, especially animals.

DSC_8937That meeting, over 50 years ago, brought forth my life’s quest to explore the concept of beauty. What is it? Where is it? Is it in me? Is it in Nature?  I deeply remember the encounter yet my memory might be different from the actual event. What is significant is how it affected my life.

Isn’t it amazing how one seemingly insignificant event can be a turning point in our life’s path. It was as if that moment was the cue needed to lead me on my quest, my path, for this lifetime. And I didn’t realize it until recently as I paused in stillness for weeks and simply allowed my path to unwind to the point where I could be clear before moving forward.

_TSL0484A few days ago I attended and photographed a workshop by Ibiyinka Alao.* In his presentation on art he said this: “An artist is a person with a hole in their heart that’s equal in size to the universe outside of them. Every time I paint a picture, I am filling this hole.” I paused and lowered my camera when he said this. It is exactly how I feel when I am hovering underwater with humpback whale mothers and babes or am nose-to-nose with a curious manatee….or standing in the warm sand at sunset experiencing the transcendental moment where my open heart meets the heart of the Ocean. If I can capture the emotions I feel during these moments and translate them, with images and writing, to others I am totally at one with my Path. When I create these translations, I feel my heart filling and reaching out to the Universe with openness and love. That is Beauty…to me.

SimoneLipscomb (3)My passion for experiencing and documenting Beauty is my life’s work. My life’s compass was set from that encounter so long ago. Gratitude for that defining moment is strong and I thank my mother for prompting me to go on the search for beauty.

_TSL6508What is your life’s compass? What is the ‘thing’ that brings you back to sanity amidst chaos and fear? What is it that you yearn for more than anything?