Category: Empowerment

Artist of the Spirit

Artist of the Spirit

simonelipscombA long time ago I had a teacher ask me to write my personal myth. I wrote about what I did and what my dreams were but knew that didn’t fulfill the assignment. I didn’t quite understand the idea.

Over the years I’ve come to grasp the concept a little better. Each of us has a story. We create our story with awareness or without awareness. With awareness we weave our story with truth and love and without awareness we create a personal myth based on lies.

simonelipscomb (4)The personal myth or story is the internal dialogue we repeat over and over in our minds. The chatter, the busy-talk, the mantra on permanent replay that is the white noise of our lives. The problem with the story is that most of the time it is a distortion. Until we can clearly listen, it quite literally is the old trick of putting short micro-second clips or subliminal messages in movies that create within viewers the urge to buy popcorn and soda at movie theaters. That’s illegal these days. But clearly nobody has outlawed the story we tell ourselves about our own lives. Too bad.

Since we don’t have advocates for truth-busting our internal dialogues, how can we excise the pervasive messages that keep us stuck? It takes practice to tune in to the internal narrator that bombards us with propaganda. You might have heard your internal storyteller whispering your story in the first person.

simonelipscomb (6)“I can’t do this.” “I’m not strong enough.” “Why do I think people will buy my books or photographs?” “There’s nobody out there for me.” “Nobody cares about the planet.” “Corporations rule the world so why should I bother? My voice is too small.” “I don’t need his or her help.”

The list my internal storyteller (tyrant) tells me is endless and on constant replay. Yet that voice is so soft I must be very diligent in listening. Otherwise, the dialogue becomes habitual and my life yields a perfect mirror of the near-silent lies.

simonelipscomb (7)I’ve been able to trace my core myth to my toddler years. One specific experience remains vivid because it became such a family story. I was riding my tricycle under my grandparents carport and came to the end of the concrete. My uncle asked if I needed help turning my trike. I stopped, stood up and replied, “Nope,” as I grabbed the metal bar and seat, lifted it and turned it around and continued peddling.

In today’s meditation I reflected back on that moment and how my basic myth is ‘I don’t need anyone.’ I saw my core personal myth is based on this huge lie. As the realization grew, patterns of behavior became evident and I saw how I have created my life on that foundational belief.

The crazy part of this story is there is nothing I want more than a good partnership, a true love. What I desire most will never come to be until I change my story, alter the internal dialogue that is the foundation of what I believe about my life.

It takes courage to listen and become aware of our story. The courage part is necessary because we will discover darkness woven into what we believe about ourselves. And others. We all can fall prey to the inner tyrant–that ranting storyteller who weaves very negative tales.

simonelipscomb (3)So how do we create a story that is true? First, we simply listen. Carefully and without judgement, listen to what is repeating in our minds. And most importantly, if the internal voice goes against us, puts us down or reinforces those negative beliefs we have about ourselves, then stop believing what it’s saying. “Truth survives skepticism but lies don’t.”*

I’m weary of the inner tyrant narrating my story. I see glimpses of the truth as I open my heart and mind. It’s not easy but freedom comes when we create a personal myth based on love rather than lies.  All of us have the capacity to be an artist of the spirit.

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*Several years ago I read the Don Miguel Ruiz book, The Voice of Knowledge. I was recently guided to re-read it. For a deeper exploration into uncovering personal myth I suggest reading his book. 

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A Pause to Consider

A Pause to Consider

Goofing off with my friend...my Volvo pal.
Goofing off with my friend…my Volvo pal.

After my morning workout I was driving home once the torrential rain had eased up. Evidence of it was everywhere–flooded fields, ditches full and over-flowing, roadways covered. It was still raining but I waited at Pure Barre until the worst of it had passed.

The stretch of Highway 98 was looking good so I picked up speed and was listening to the Coffeehouse on Sirius radio when suddenly, as if it materialized from nowhere, the road was covered with three to four inches of water. Both lanes were underwater. Time seemed to slow down and I saw the possibility of my car hydroplaning and spinning out of control. In that split second I was keenly aware of the potential of being in a wreck. Actually I felt it, deep within myself. And I was calm.

I tentatively applied my brakes, knowing that given my speed I would lose control of my car when I hit the water. Thankfully, my Volvo knew exactly what to do. I felt the brakes pumping so I wouldn’t skid. I kept the steering wheel steady and within a few seconds I was out of danger with only a very slight fish-tale dance move as we once again found mostly dry pavement. We…yes, we. On more than one occasion the ‘wisdom’ of my car kept me safe.

The first week I had it I was driving from Greensboro to Asheville on I-40 and an 18-wheeler in front of me hit one of those skinny, tall orange-striped cones. It started spinning all over the road. I didn’t know how to react so I waited. I waited until the last possible moment and then steered clear just before the whirling projectile hit my car square in the center. It felt as if my car was a stealthy, large feline so keen was its cat-like reflexes.

It may sound silly but that’s okay. I’ve had a couple of close calls in my life, both from careless drivers. The latest one being several years ago when a drunk driver, who was going 55mph, rear-ended me when I was stopped at a traffic signal. He was legally comatose but managed to total his BMW on my CRV. He had a drunk driving conviction seven years prior.

That’s when I found my car and purchased it. What attracted me was Volvo’s safety record. About 10 years prior to that wreck a teen ran a stop sign, hit me and rolled my truck. My dog was killed because of that wreck. Had my daughter been with me, she would have most likely been killed. So I felt as if I had a bulls-eye on my life and welcomed the solid, dependable Volvo friend.

I didn’t intend to write about my car but I see the metaphor it brings. It reminded me that I am supported and loved by something more powerful than me. Sure, it came in the form of a vehicle but I keenly felt a direct connection to Spirit when I reached out and patted the dash of my car and said, Thank you. Thank you so much for keeping me safe.

CopyrightSimoneLipscomb (1)What, in my darkest moments, do I have to fear? Only being forgetful that I am loved and cared for completely, totally. The protection and care from my guardian angel or Spirit…or God may come through the form of my car or a friend or a small, inner whisper. This near-miss caused me to pause and consider just how loved I am, how cradled I am in the Light of Spirit. How we all are, even when we experience traumas, sickness, loss and disappointments. Nobody, nothing has the power to take that from me.

 

Stay Wild

Stay Wild

SimoneLipscomb (6)A whistling duck stood in the sand frantically flapping his wings while three other whistling ducks stood in a semi-circle in front of him. They gave a half-hearted attempt but he kept whistling words of encouragement. It didn’t matter that he and his friends and many other shorebirds were in a permanent enclosure due to injuries. He refused to give up hope.

I stood witnessing the exchange and felt his wild heart yearning for, hoping for freedom. He was determined to keep his flight muscles strong so if the time comes, he will be ready.

SimoneLipscomb (31)An osprey was also on the ground looking up at me. Usually they are soaring high above looking down on me. To see such a majestic bird of prey grounded due to broken wings was heartbreaking.

I pondered the wildness still found in these precious creatures. They are fed and cared for by humans and yet there is still a spark of the feral within them at a very deep level.

SimoneLipscomb (40)Later as I wandered through Florida woods with stately palm trees, palmettos, spanish moss and sweet bays, I wondered how many of us stay connected with that wild part of ourselves. How many of us feel at home in the woods or a forest? Do we maintain that spark of wildness that helps us feel at home…in the truest sense.

Whooping Crane...one of a breeding pair. These endangered birds are part of a captive breeding program....hope for the wild!

As I stood photographing an endangered whooping crane I made a soft, little whooping sound and she immediately looked skyward. I saw the kinship this regal bird still carries within her being for others of her kind that pass overhead in migration. She longs for flight. She longs for freedom. And even though she is in an enclosure, she maintains freedom of spirit.

SimoneLipscomb (7)The little whistling duck’s message will stay in my heart as a reminder. Stay wild! Stay connected. Be ready….and above all…don’t forget you can fly!

Alive in the World

Alive in the World

Photograph by Renee Power
Photograph of me by Renee Power

White line spun off the reel as I frog kicked through the water-filled tunnel. Out of the green light of the cavern zone through limestone walled wetness, around a sharp right turn and then a sharp left turn at the well-known STOP sign and onto the gold line. The magical gold line that cave divers know as the main line in cave systems here in Florida.

Once tied in we had a continuous line out of the cave in the event of light failure. So my dive buddy Pam and I gently and with care to the cave, made our way into the inky blackness. Illuminated by our bright cave lights we enjoyed the beautiful geological formations. Swiss-cheese-like here and solid with wavy lines in other places. Layers of brown silt hung on the nearly vertical walls like cinnamon dusting a scrumptious delicacy. And in truth, these caves are delicacies and must be treated as such.

After being out of cave diving for a few years I took a side mount class several weeks ago. It’s easier carrying one heavy steel tank to the water at a time that two at once. My back has thanked me. And just this past weekend I have found my cave mojo once again and it’s a great feeling. I’ve had some great friends in the past who supported my training and skill development and this weekend I found out I still have great cave diving friends although there are new faces.

Me and my buddy Pam Wooten after our awesome dive at Orange Grove, Peacock Springs State Park
Me and my buddy Pam Wooten after our awesome dive at Orange Grove, Peacock Springs State Park

Two days ago I felt it kick in but today that cave mojo surged through me and I felt myself move past where I had been three years ago to a different place within myself about diving caves. Not in a reckless way but with a deeper respect for my own strengths and acknowledgment that I absolutely love being in an underwater cave and seeing the beauty of the Earth and her lifeblood as it courses through underground aquifers.

SimoneLipscomb (2)This evening finds me in sunset bliss awaiting two mornings of manatee encounters. After a delightful dinner of Thai curry vegetables that was orgasmic…I’m NOT kidding….(Thai Phoon has amazing, amazing food)…I walked out on the dock at King’s Bay and listened to little coots as they swam in their duck-posse making their wonderful little coot song. The orange of the sunset reflecting on the water was interrupted with mullet splashing and the last pelicans of the day finding a roost. It took me to a place of pure bliss. A place of openness and wonder and awe.

SimoneLipscomb (1)It wasn’t just the cave diving this weekend or delicious nourishment or the sunset that has my entire being humming, it is everything lovely and wonderful that has come about over the past few days that makes me feel so alive in the world. And so incredibly grateful.

 

Note: Anyone interested in cave diving or cavern diving should GET PROPER TRAINING! I am an open water instructor but I still needed extensive training to become a cave diver. People who do not get appropriate training and dive into caves put their lives at risk. If you follow the rules things can still go wrong but your training is what can help you make it out alive! 

What Love Can Do

What Love Can Do

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Lately I’ve been asking the question, How can we really make a difference? Actually, for several months now I’ve been walking with this prayer in my heart and mind. I breathe it in the morning….walk with it during the day….rest my head on my pillow at night with this koan echoing through my spirit.

SimoneLipscombDocumenting the Gulf Oil Spill broke my heart and mind open. It brought me to my knees in the truest sense because I saw how everything precious and sacred can be taken away by careless human acts and ongoing choices and behaviors that are centered on profit…at any cost. After struggling with emotions of anger, grief, frustration, helplessness and more I connected with Joanna Macy‘s work and traveled to spend a week with her and others committed to creating positive change in our world. Without hesitation I can say that the week spent in Massachusetts helped me climb out of the emotional hole that I fell into witnessing first hand the oil spill.

Once among the living, however, my sense of direction faded. I realized I could no longer approach my work with anger or frustration because what I felt so strongly was love…for the planet, for creatures, for humans. I couldn’t bombard people with the horrific images that had filled my nightmares any longer. I didn’t want to be in denial about what is happening in our world but focusing on the terrible seemed only to perpetuate more of it. I felt that people were grieving the destruction of life, even if they weren’t consciously aware of it. And perhaps seeing beauty would inspire them to engage, encourage them to care a little more.

Water captivates me and my favorite images center around water...waterfalls...big water...underwater.

The theme of beauty and more specifically, focusing on beauty, became the answer I began to hear each time I asked the question, What can I do to make a difference? Yet that answer didn’t give me complete satisfaction or a sense of true direction. It was a start though.

Many more months have passed and the question still pulls me to deeper understanding. It seems quite simple but how difficult it can be to live the answer I received: Love. Love is the answer I’ve been hearing lately.

It sounds cliche. It sounds so ’60’s. Yet as I’ve explored and read….listened deeply to my core…it’s that simple.

Standing in love doesn’t mean we are powerless or squishy. Sometimes love looks powerful and strong. Other times it is enfolding, soft. It seems we are at a point of powerful change in our world. It takes radical courage to live from Love for most of what is modeled in our world is power-over, squishing the competition, winning at any cost….more…more…more. To observe this way of being and step away from it, to stand centered in love and compassion is radical. And yet history  has proven that power for power’s sake never works.

Or moments of intense stillness and inner quiet.

In some philosophies there is a diagram that is helpful. In it two lines intersect. One runs up and down and is considered to represent Spirit. The other crosses it and is representative of the physical path. In the center, at the intersection where Spirit and physical meet, is the point of becoming. It’s the place where we can, in a physical experience, balance our life with the qualities of Spirit, of Love.

Wendell Berry states, “Love isn’t a feeling. It’s a practice.” He also said, “What leads to peace is not violence but peaceableness.” This leads me to conclude that what leads to love isn’t hate…it’s love.

800_1019If we really want to change the world for the better, our first task then is to clear all obstacles within ourselves that keep us from truly knowing love. This means letting go of judgment of self and others, letting go of hate of self and others. Selfishness, ego…all must go as we open our hearts to the absolute power of love. When we do this, when we have such radical courage, we will see what love can do.