Category: Eco-Spirituality

The Gift of Laughter

The Gift of Laughter

SimoneLipscomb (2)The golden moon glade glittered brilliantly on the smooth sea. Flat, calm with only the slightest stirring of the surface, each ripple was a stair step toward meeting Her. In the distance She hung low in the sky, illuminating the pre-dawn sky. I timidly took a step toward the round, ripe Sea Moon Goddess and as I moved slowly toward Her, I left behind my earthly form and rose up on the wings of light.

_TSL6631An ending to a week of beauty and laughter so profound I feel transformed and more at home in my body than ever before. Each of the brothers and sisters I traveled with brought gifts and one connection in particular sparked a flame of laughter and joy that opened dark, closed places. The flame of light grew through liquid laughter that brought me back to life. Salt water, fresh water, floating fun-filled stories suspended in moments between sea and sky brought joy and laughter that invited me home.

_TSL6322I expected to enjoy diving with sea lions, snorkeling with whale sharks, attempting to capture the beauty of nature through underwater photography. I expected to meet people who would become friends. These expectations became realities.

_TSL6836The biggest surprise was feeling joy and laughter grow within me like a shooting star burning more brilliant with each breath. The number of side-splitting, snorting hilarities were too numerous to count…on the boat, at meals, floating in the pool, standing at the rinse bins.

_TSL7177I didn’t realize how my soul yearned for free and unbridled expression of joy. Too often we lose that connection within that keeps us in touch with our lightness of being.

_TSL7125This is the first trip in years on which I didn’t write extensively and in detail. This time I determined to simply stay present with the experience…watching the sun rise over the mountains, diving with sea lions and giant balls of silver fish, floating head to head with massive whale sharks…be present….be present…breathe.

_TSL7070My regular meditation practice, exercising and other daily rituals were set aside. The only consistent practice I did was to acknowledge beauty, open my heart and mind to it and feel the reciprocal return flow fill me. The more I sent love out to the arid mountains, the sea and creatures of the sea, the more love I felt fill me. This helped move the old, stuck patterns of behavior to a new, lighter expression of life that is all-inclusive of the darkest and lightest parts of myself.

_TSL7357As I fly over the desert of Baja and the Sea of Cortez, I already feel the absence of the physical presence of my new friends…one a brother who feels like another piece of stardust from the home planet. The gifts each one brought to my life are held within, treasures of light and laughter that will continue to transform me.

_TSL6851With a grateful heart full of love I promise myself to remember my happy place, the many happy places discovered on this magical adventure to Baja and the Sea of Cortez.

Los Islotes ShotMany locals say La Paz and Cabo San Lucas are greener than they’ve ever seen due to rain amounts 300% above normal. The many seeds and plants that waited in the dry, hot desert until nourishing rains supported their growth amaze me. There is a new understanding within of how it feels to burst forth in new growth when the right nourishment arrives. Laughter is a priceless gift and those who bring it are angels of light….whether in human or non-human form.


Stealth Cycling

Stealth Cycling

SimoneLipscomb (10)The orange orb of dawn had just peeped over the horizon when I turned from the roadside trail into the woods. Light under the canopy of pines and live oaks was gray. The paved trail was littered with pine straw and oak leaves. The snake didn’t see me. My wheels were over the small garter snake when I saw it. Dang it! I love these little guys and gals and hurting one…or worse…brought sadness.

Image of bobcat taken at Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park
Image of bobcat taken at Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park

The bike wheels whirred over sand scattered on the hard surface. A few minutes later a bobcat was leisurely strolling down the road and didn’t see me. I slowed and quietly coasted, observing this magnificent creature. After a few minutes she glanced back, saw me and leaped across the pavement into the open sandy area. A gaze as I passed saw her sitting, licking her paw with one eye watching as I pedaled past.

Image of Sampson, a rescued bobcat that somebody had illegally and had all four paws declawed. He lives at Emerald Coast Wildlife Rescue Center
Image of Sampson, a rescued bobcat that somebody had illegally and had all four paws declawed. He lives at a wildlife rescue center

More sunrise splendor of Little Lake, brightening sky, glorious green plant life, coastal forest trees…marshes, gopher tortoise burrows. A typical morning on the trail.

Doe taken in Cades Cove in the Smoky Mountain National Park...can't get photographs while I am cycling.
Doe taken in Cades Cove in the Smoky Mountain National Park…can’t get photographs while I am cycling.

Then several miles later a doe walked out into a patch of sunlight and gazed ahead, the light illuminating her large size. I slowed, she waited. Then she saw me and trotted off into the forest. Right behind her a spotted fawn tiptoed and balked at the pavement, acting as if it were slippery ice. The smile that enveloped my face was tremendous. Then with a flash both disappeared into the piney forest.

Doe and fawn taken in Smoky Mountain National of my favorite images
Doe and fawn taken in Smoky Mountain National Park….one of my favorite images

Observing wild creatures without them knowing, even if for a moment, brings such joy. To view them in their natural state of calm learn how they interact with their realm is a true gift.

For some reason the wildlife witnessed today wasn’t aware of my presence….at least at first. Stealth-mode. Quiet mind? Peaceful emotions? Lately nature has been teaching me to be present and mindful as I ride. Perhaps the result is becoming more wild…part of the world of wildlife, marshes, forests…maybe I’m becoming more myself. More integrated with nature. More whole. More joy-full.

Chasing Sunrise…Backcountry Communion

Chasing Sunrise…Backcountry Communion

Today I attended Hugh’s celebration of life service and wanted to share this post from last autumn. Thank you Hugh for giving me an opportunity to learn about being a caretaker from one of the best I’ve ever known! Happy trails my friend.SimoneLipscomb (1) Soft, puffy, pale pink clouds hung in the eastern sky as I drove towards the Gulf. Each county road took me closer to the beach and as dawn approached, the clouds evolved from bashful beauties to loud expressions of color painting the sky with creative exuberance.

SimoneLipscombIt was still a bit dark to ride and the lake was close by so I crossed my fingers and drove to a spillway at the lake. I arrived for the most intense sunrise these fifty-something eyes have ever seen. Having only my iPhone, I clicked away hoping that it would do justice to the beauty. I could feel my Nikon weeping from the confines of its soft case at home.

SimoneLipscomb (10)I spent the first ten miles of the ride in the afterglow of profound color that ignited my heart with gratitude. Every live oak tree seemed to reach out with gnarly, twisted branches to greet me. Blazing stars with their arched, purple fronds exploded in joyful dance in the soft breeze. Brilliant red cardinal flowers seemed to emit sounds of color through their tiny trumpet-shaped blossoms.

SimoneLipscomb (7)As I pedaled and stayed present with the beauty enfolding me, I realized the only thing that separates us from nature–from all life–is our distracted minds. If we pay attention, are mindful and aware of life around us, it pays attention.

A group of four folks and I passed four times in my twenty miles and on the last pass one of the guys waved and said, “Hey, Simone!” Helmets, sunglasses…I don’t know who it was but his greeting created bubbles of gratitude for this beautiful park and trail where so many people enjoy nature–Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail.

SimoneLipscomb (6)When I was in high school I worked for Hugh at the park. After college I was hired as the naturalist in the state park. I witnessed Hugh stand guard over the park while politics and development seemed to want to tear it to shreds. He was a mentor to me and his ability to work well with people kept many of the takers from taking too much from this special land.

He’s not well these days and I know that at some point he will take the journey across the abyss to that other place….like all of us will some day. I hope the sky is as beautiful when he makes his journey as it was this morning. And whenever he goes, I hope he goes knowing that he is loved and appreciated for all he has done in his decades of dedication to Gulf State Park. Anyone who rides the trails there knows his name. I only hope they know what a very special person he is.

SimoneLipscomb (4)Chase a sunrise soon. Greet the flowers with your full attention. Let the Universe know you are aware of It and It will commune with you.

The New Normal

The New Normal

SimoneLipscomb (10)The usual situation of having at least three books going at once gave a strange coincidence last week. On the sofa I was reading, Telling Our Way to the Sea, by Aaron Hirsh. The book is about two college professors who take students to the Sea of Cortez via the Baja Peninsula. The quote that caught my eye? “We live amid wreckage yet we hardly notice that something has changed. Why are we so blind to the destruction–so forgetful of what was here? Knowing only the natural world we’ve encountered in the short interval of a life, we fail to notice the substantial transformations wrought by previous generations; and so we over look the absence of all that was already gone when we ourselves first arrived on the scene.”

SimoneLipscomb (5)Then migration to the bedroom and the book on the bedside table about the Amazon River, Mother of God, by Paul Rosolie, presents this quote on the same evening: “I have witnessed a kind of generational amnesia to ecological abundance. It is a sinister phenomenon whereby members of each generation seem to accept what they see around them as the way things ought to be. It is a problem of shifting baselines, a lowering of the standards by which we judge the condition of our environment. Over generations and across continents, this collective inability to accurately assess environmental change has become a serious problem.”

SimoneLipscomb (4)From May 1st through August 31st I walk one morning a week at sunrise looking for sea turtle tracks–evidence of a nest—as a sea turtle volunteer. The mile and a half section I walk begins at the wildlife refuge and goes eastward. The first part is in an exclusive, gated development but it isn’t immune to litter. And not just a plastic bottle here and there. Metal tent frames are abandoned here just like all along our Alabama beaches. People leave tents, ice chests, beer bottles and cans, plastic water bottles, chairs, plastic toys, cigarette butts, kites and string, fireworks, balloon remnants, diapers, condoms….it’s an endless list of nasty human waste and the weird thing is people walk by like it’s not even there.

Photograph Summer 2010...Shell Oil
Photograph Summer 2010…Shell Oil

Tar balls, oil containers, gas containers, antifreeze containers….doesn’t seem to faze our tourists or those that live on the beach.

simonelipscomb (1)Drilling in ocean water too deep to be safe…drilling in sensitive environments like the Arctic…fracking shale near homes, schools, playgrounds…clearcutting forests….overfishing…dumping sewage in the sea…violence against the planet, wildlife, humans….yet we seem numb, immune.

simonelipscomb (6)Are we so used to trash, pollution and rape of the planet as the norm it no longer affects us? S.N.A.F.U. I suppose. Seriously S.N.A.F.U. Sadly so. I don’t like this new normal. How about you?

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 during the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster. It reminds me of a woman’s body and so I call it the Rape of Mother Earth



Paradise Right Here*

Paradise Right Here*

SimoneLipscomb (1)It was still dark as I pulled onto the highway and turned east. There, in the lightening sky hung venus while Dreamer’s Sky, Will Kimbrough’s song on the new Willie Sugarcapps CD eased me into the morning. The last sea turtle patrol of the season begins here, in my car, with music carrying me toward the Gulf of Mexico.

A turn south and another song, another turn east and there’s Venus again with Anthony Crawford‘s song, Love Be Good to Me, sweetly sung by Savana Lee Crawford. The planet of love and these lyrics…..”Love be good to me, Fill my heart again. Love, can you still hear me calling out to you?…..Everything happens in its own time.”

SimoneLipscombAnother turn south and more wonderful music. Grayson Capps, Love, surrounds me with soulful words and notes. And finally, a turn west at the beach and the full moon hangs in a perfect square notch in a massive cloud as Will Kimbrough’s, Paradise Right Here, begins to play. For less than a breath the moon is cradled by the towering cloud and then it disappears.

The words of the song touched me deeply the first time I heard it at the Frog Pond. Tears streamed down my face as I listened to Will’s lyrics. Today, they touched me again as I thought of daily abuses to our planet that take more of the paradise away….the paradise that literally is in the palm of our hand, as Will sings. It is totally up to us if it remains or is destroyed.

MagnoliaSophiaI reach the beginning of my sea turtle patrol at the edge of the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge and grab my camera as I exit the car. The full moon is still bright in the sky and the sun not yet risen. As I reach the water’s edge my faithful dolphin friend swims up and we journey east, toward the rising sun. He, swimming just offshore, and me, walking close to the water’s edge. The past several Sunday’s we have shared the sunrise together and the thought of not seeing him next Sunday saddens me.

_TSL5715The sky is in full sunrise celebration with crazy clouds and colors of phenomenal beauty. Joy leaps up within me as I frolic along the shore which seems to excite my cetacean buddy. As Will sings, “I’m glad to be alive and I’m thankful for this paradise right here, paradise right here. Right here, by the warm inviting water, right now with my bare feet in the sand, right here share it with your sons and daughters, paradise in the palm of your hand. Paradise in the palm of your hand. Paradise in the palm of your hand.”

_TSL5769So grateful for the paradise of this shoreline, the Alabama coast and the greater Gulf of Mexico….all life here…and hopeful that we can make it even better with efforts to be good stewards and approach our walk on this planet with love and compassion for all life.

_TSL5711The end of my walk neared and I saw two of my teammates approaching from their section. We celebrated the beauty of the morning and a successful patrol season and sea turtles. We remembered our loggerhead friends who lure us out each Sunday morning from May 1st through August 31st to chase the sunrise and re-discovered paradise…in the palm of our hand.

_TSL5808*Paradise Right Here is Willie Sugarcapps new CD title and the title of Will Kimbrough‘s fantastic song. Check it out!