Category: Life Path

Divine Madness

Divine Madness

SimoneLipscomb (4)Divine Madness: Following my heart’s vision…no matter how crazy it seems, no matter what fear whispers in my ear…daring to listen…be open to the tapping of the Ocean’s liquid fingers upon my heart…calling me….calling me home.

I recognized fear was slyly hanging out in the background with her arms crossed and her foot tapping. To move past it, I had to go through it. The steady beat of the frame drum took me deeper into my fear until I came out on the other side. There I found communion with the sea. There I found peace…and laughter–laughter derived from an open heart. I was prompted to look at my old writing to find evidence left for myself with paper and pen.

SimoneLipscomb (15)

“The silver water reflects the golden glow of the slowly fading day. Puffy white clouds hang suspended, weightless. In the distance, towering thunderheads look down on us, their anvil heads flattened in the thinning atmosphere.

Golden rays of sunlight cut through the anvils creating a golden mist through which we fly. Small, green, jungle-covered islands lie below as we follow the leeward islands to our destination. Just now, the small island below is shaped like a sperm whale. A fringing reef creates a light turquoise border and a deeper indigo leads out to sea.

SimoneLipscomb (17)Slowly we move, our propellers keeping us to a respectable, relaxed speed. I don’t want to hurry. I want to soak up this beauty.

The water is golden now, orange-tinted gold water filling me with such peace. Above this liquid light and layers of yellow mist I reflect back to my first dive trip when my mermaid self was released from her shell. She willingly and freely allowed me to pack her green iridescence among my wet dive gear as I tearfully flew home. She doesn’t care where she resides, as long as she and I are one. As long as I promise to dive and keep her home as my second home, we co-exist peacefully. She and I, mermaid and human with a cetacean soul.

My mermaid self, green and glistening scales shimmering and shaking with excitement, is smiling. Before too long we will be exploring reefs, playing once again in turquoise bliss.

SimoneLipscomb (16)As I glance back, behind my perch inside the plane, a line of intense sky-blue color pierces the cloud bank and sits atop greenish orange layers of early evening sky. Then the warmth of the golden sun breaks through layers of crazy colors and caresses my face. I am part of this magnificent moment, this blessed unfolding of darkness as it makes its way across the heavens.

Finally, the orange orb slips quietly into the waiting embrace of the mighty ocean.

In the after-sunset glow, the ocean has turned into a lavender expanse of immense potential…for peace, for power…unlimited lavender love-filled ocean. I drift along through the sky, knowing that words can no longer express this bounty of beauty spread horizon to horizon. I must be content gazing into it and allowing it to fill me, wash me clean with its power.

SimoneLipscomb (18)I close my eyes and see the goddess of the sea walking on mist-covered cloud canyons, suspended over the ocean. The ocean is her skirt, pearls drape her skin and water droplets, sparkling in the orange light of sunset reflect the magic. Her hair is long strands of seaweed, her eyes deep indigo and she raises her arm and points to me and calls me to her. Flames come from her eyes, her finger tips and mouth as she sings to me the song of my soul.

Feel your power, daughter of mine. Feel the energy of your soul coursing through your veins. Claim your self. Free yourself. Free woman, holy woman. Yours are the skirts of fire-red sunsets. Yours are the eyes of deep Earth. Your feet walk among green mountains, your soul soars in the sky. Dive among the waters but know, this is a gift of time given to you. Shape shift to your dolphin self and be with the joy that is you. Submerge in the baptism of salt water, be free in your mind and heart. You walk in two worlds, daughter. Full of promise, full of light. Let your gentle soul find expression. You have passed the test and now have earned your freedom to dance among the stars and dive in the depths of indigo. Follow your heart. Follow your creativity. Don’t worry. Don’t press. Relax and allow your creative energies to be freed. Allow….it’s your time.

She lifts a conch to her lips and blows into its spirals. She has sounded my name and I answer with happiness and gratitude.”

SimoneLipscomb (13)From a box of musings, July 2001.

“A silver moon glade rippled across the surface of the ocean. The black velvet sky was sprinkled with twinkling stars. The ocean was calm, hardly rocking the boat.

I stood on deck, gazing into the intense light reflected on the water. A slight breeze stirred my hair and kissed my bare skin. I felt the pull of the full moon and ocean in my soul like a bow being drawn across strings of a cello.

As the moon continued to rise over open ocean, the turquoise water became transparent. It was difficult to tell if the light was coming from the moon or somewhere below the water’s surface. Light bounced off the white, sand bottom and produced visions of otherworldly realms.

Nearby the exhalation of a dolphin broke my reverie and I tried to find her but she remained a mystery, hidden from view below the surface. I longed to dive in yet the moonlight held me transfixed. I could only stand in utter gratitude, feeling the elements around and within me. Joy bubbled up from deep inside of me and I laughed out loud.

When I looked into the velvet night and gazed at the twinkling diamonds floating there as stars, I felt the creative force so huge, so immense. The starlight called me and something from deep within answered and was born.

In those magic moments I saw the stars as stepping stones, lighting our path home as we move closer and closer to Source. Each star we reach fills us with more love. Each leap we make clears out more of who we are not to bring us into closer alignment with who we are–children of light.”

SimoneLipscomb (11)And one more excerpt from October 2007:

“Over the years my goals, while underwater, have changed. At first, I simply wanted to remember enough of what I was supposed to learn in my scuba class to stay alive. Gradually, I added tasks such as photography or navigation to build my skills. Now, years after my first underwater breath on scuba, I simply enjoy being still and becoming a member of the watery community.

For instance, this morning I watched minute-sized crabs, no bigger than the nail of my little finger and white as the sand, move about the bottom and eat. I have no idea what they were eating because I could barely see them, much less their food.

SimoneLipscomb (2)I also watched the rays of the sunrise penetrate the water and illuminate the white sand into moving patterns of geometric wonder. Few things in life are as precious to me as moments observing life in a salty, liquid environment.”

Through these and other bits of writing I unearthed today, I saw the strong desire to help the Ocean, to be an advocate for all life in the sea. The last line from my October 2007 trip to Bonaire was this: Follow my deep, deep love of the Ocean. Write a love story to the Ocean.

When I have doubts about the direction I’m heading, it helps to review the breadcrumbs I’ve left behind in the form of my writing. One sentence stood out among the many pages I read today: “If the Ocean is the passion that lights my heart, wouldn’t I do everything in my power to document and share the beauty of it so others might see and understand its importance and then take action to protect it.”

Of course.

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Sacred, Holy Work

Sacred, Holy Work

800_1019Yesterday a person I haven’t seen in a while asked me what I was doing with myself these days. As I was attempting to answer she said, “Nothing? Still goofing around?” Maybe I misunderstood as I was attempting to answer her,”I’m still writing and taking photographs and generally trying to make the world a better place.” But our words intersected and I was left feeling quite strange. You see it didn’t matter who said the words…nothing…goofing around…what I heard is what I think about my life much of the time. The slap in my face comes from my own self-assessment, not from anyone else. Her words simply pried open the lid of my inner Pandora’s box.

A couple weeks ago a person I met asked what I ‘did’ and my reply? “I’m just a writer and nature photographer.” I couldn’t believe it when the words came out of my mouth. My jaw literally dropped as I caught my statement of shame and restated to her….”I am a writer and nature photographer.”

I’m just?

Image taken while I was on a spiritual-photography retreat

I stunned myself by proclaiming that the work of my life, this sacred, holy work is...just? Doing this work is following my spiritual path so why did I answer with such shame? And what’s with the snooty judgement of my life’s work?

In contemplating the words from yesterday, whether they were actually spoken aloud or my inner filters chimed in with the negative assessment of my life, I realized an old wound had circled around again and was snarling at me. It says this: Nothing I ever do is good enough. I’m not good enough so therefore everything I give to the world is unacceptable….. Old beliefs don’t die. They just quieten their chatter and slip underground when we become distracted. They lay waiting until they can slyly sneak within hearing range and softly whisper their dark, sinister messages into our innocent ears. You’re not good enough. Why do you think you can make a difference? Why don’t you give up? The spiral brings the wound around again to be healed at a deeper level.

Photo by Rebecca Droillard
Photo by Rebecca Drouillard

Today I was reading from a course of study and the question was asked, “What more can one give but oneself?” I thought back to yesterday’s exchange and to a couple weeks ago when I stated I was just a writer and photographer. If I am ashamed of my sacred work, how will I ever believe that what I have to offer in service will be enough? How can I be enough in relationship with the Universe, my self, a man, other people?

What am I willing to sacrifice on my spiritual path? Everything, even the old beliefs that have kept me small.

Armondo carves stones that he places on his property in Akumal, Mexico as a way to honor the earth
Armondo carves stones that he places on his property in Akumal, Mexico as a way to honor the earth

No matter what work we do, if we do it with love and surrender ourselves to it, it is sacred and holy. May we find the courage to walk our paths and seek opportunities to share ourselves with the world.

 

Making a Difference

Making a Difference

simonelipscomb (7)Several weeks ago I met my friend in the Smoky Mountains for an afternoon photography shoot. As we drove through Cades Cove we caught up with each other and shared a bit about our lives. We are both committed to our paths and want to make a difference in the world and shared our frustration at not really knowing how to do that or if what we are doing is really positively impacting the world.

A friend in Japan has been exploring how she wants to work to help make the world a better place and is frustrated as to how she can do this. She has volunteered in an elephant sanctuary and in the past has worked with marine mammal rescue but she, like others I know, wants to make a difference every day.

Over the past couple of days another friend and I have been in contact about the desire to make a difference in the world. It feels like the HID light was just turned on deep in an underwater cave. His clarity encouraged me.

A funk, for lack of a better word, has been dominating my life for the past several months. I am not sure of the origin of this downward turn. There is so much negative everything happening and the environmental issues coupled with atrocities humans perpetuate on each other have made it difficult to know what to do. After working with vigor and with passion documenting the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and before that, in creating books of beauty and inspiration, all with the goal of making a difference, I find hundreds of books in boxes in my home…their message of beauty and hope sitting tucked away from the world. A perfect metaphor of how I feel. Despondency and feeling a loss as to what I’m really supposed to be doing with my life has been the question that occupies my mind.

simonelipscomb (5)The heart-friend I recently wrote of retired from over thirty years of service to his community. He was a leader as a firefighter and trained in many disciplines so he could be excellent in his work. Rookies and seasoned firefighters alike looked up to him and his valuable skills. His career of rescue work is truly inspiring. Upon retirement he wasn’t doing what he wanted to do…making a difference. It was a terrible adjustment for him as his heart is huge and his intention of service matches the size of his heart. It wasn’t until he followed his path to serve in a war-torn country that he once-again fulfilled, in his mind, his goal. He has found what he was looking for–making a difference.

We follow little breadcrumb thoughts which lead us to decisions. We act on these decisions and make changes in our lives–some are huge, some are small. We direct our energy toward the slow-growing momentum and then hope for the best. But how do we know our efforts really are making a difference? How do we maintain trust in ourselves and in our decisions? Here’s a cave-diving analogy.

Photo by Ed Jackson
Photo by Ed Jackson of me and my buddy Ray and his light in the distance

When cave diving a diver knows that caves are dark. It seems a silly statement but I cannot count the number of times I’ve been asked the question: Are underwater caves really dark? Think of the darkest, inkiest, blackest darkness and then think of it as flowing and moving around you. Yes…underwater caves are dark. So a diver takes redundant equipment into a cave–air and light. Three lights are required equipment–a primary light and two back-up lights. The primary is a very bright, strong light and the back-up lights are smaller and always contain fresh batteries.

Photo by Ed Jackson
Photo by Ed Jackson…Yes, that’s me diving with my buddy, Ray, behind me.

So if I’m diving in a cave and for some reason my primary light fails, out comes a back-up light. If that fails, out comes the other back-up light. If we apply the analogy of cave diving to our lives, think of our life’s path as the primary light. We are born, we develop and learn and find our way to our path. A natural light is emitted from it as we progress. But there comes a time when we lose faith in our path, we find ourselves far from those we love, and who love us, we retire, or move to a new area, and that light wavers and then blinks out. We are left in the dark.

It’s not a happy place, this darkness. It’s difficult to orient ourselves, find our way. Which way do we go? Where is the line? Which tunnel is the way home?

Photo by Ed Jackson
Photo by Ed Jackson….I miss these caves!!!

When this happens we can contact a friend, one of our back-up lights, to help light our way. Sometimes the path we tread must have light from another source. When our own light seems dim, there are others who can help us see the path we have chosen. Their light can help us stay true and move forward when we have lost faith in what we do. We may come to a side tunnel in our underwater cave and the extra light may be necessary to see which way leads us home.

Some may think the primary light in cave diving is the most important but ask any cave diver who has had to deploy a back-up light or two. Those little lights are the real life-savers.

I am grateful for my heart-friend that reminded me to keep working on my path of service. His light encouraged me to stay with it, even when it feels like I am not making a difference. Sometimes I stumble along in darkness and then a ray of light comes forward to illuminate the way.

simonelipscomb (6)May we all be lights unto each other.

Thanks for reading. Please comment or share as you see fit. 

 

 

Enter Persephone

Enter Persephone

simonelipscomb (6)A couple days ago I was shopping at my favorite natural foods store and happened upon organic pomegranates. Something compelled me to add one to my cart. Today, after my workout, I arrived home hungry and wanting refreshment so I greedily eyed the ripe fruit.

I began cooking brunch while simultaneously beginning the long process of freeing the plump, red, succulent seeds from their honeycomb-like womb. Stir the broccoli, peel a bit more….add the eggs, peel a bit more. Sneaking a sweet seed with its fleshy pulp fruit, I nearly melted. How exquisite, what an explosion of flavor. My spelt bread finished toasting and I added local honey to it. I dipped my finger in the thick, golden liquid and sucked it off and was met with a most interesting contrast of intense sweetness mixed with the sweet-tart-sour of the pomegranate fruit.

But meanwhile, the main course was ready so I sat down, with red-stained hands, to eat. Upon completion of my meal I went back to the task of sorting the tiny, fleshy fruit from the peel with the intention of sitting in my courtyard and enjoying the fruits of my labor. The effort yielded a bowl-full of delicious treats and I sat outside, next to the grandmother oak tree, eating until I could eat no more. As I ate, I pondered the mythology that was linked to pomegranates.

simonelipscombIn mythos Persephone was beautiful, well-loved and innocent. She was the daughter of Demeter–goddess of the harvest–and Zeus. Even Hades, god of the underworld, wanted Persephone. So one day, when she was out enjoying the flowers and most likely chatting with deer, rabbits and other gentle creatures, the earth split open and Hades thundered out in his chariot pulled by black horses and abducted the fair and lovely Persephone.

simonelipscomb (2)Demeter was heart-broken and wandered the earth looking for her lost daughter. She was so upset that she withdrew in deep depression and loneliness and because of this the earth ceased to be fertile. Everything began to turn brown. Zeus saw what was happening and sent Hermes into the underworld to demand the release of his daughter. Hades consented but gave Persephone a pomegranate as she left and it is said that she ate only three seeds of the sweet fruit; in doing so she forever bound herself to the underworld.

Because she partook of the fruit given her by Hades, she had to spend part of each year in the underworld with him. During this time Demeter mourned and withdrew and green things of the earth stopped growing. This myth explained winter and the cycling of the seasons in Greek culture. And yet, it explained so much more.

simonelipscomb (5)Each of us must take the journey of Persephone many times during our lives. We must journey into our own darkness and get to know it in order to emerge into the light of our spirit. Like Persephone, it isn’t a one-time event. We most likely would prefer not to have to make this journey more than once, but as we engage in our lives, inner triggers are pushed which, if followed, lead us back into our dark, inner world. We can try to postpone the journey but if we do, we will certainly repeat the same patterns again and again until we go within and deal with our ‘stuff.’

Perhaps we fear the darkness and are afraid we’ll be absorbed or lost in it; however, some of the most creative expressions throughout history have come from artists who have taken the journey of Persephone into their inner underworld and give expression to it. Eat the seeds, take the journey and dance in the darkness, sing in it, play it out with music. Create beauty out of the journey into the inner world. For without the journey inwards into our darkness, we could never come to the full expression of light.

simonelipscomb (1)The choice we have is whether we’ll go kicking and screaming when life abducts us or if we’ll go willingly. Either way, it is good to remember that sweetness and nurturance also can be found in the darkness and help is ever with us, even though many times unseen. It is often said that when we feel the most alone is when we have the most assistance on a spiritual level. We can draw from the strength of those who have made the journey of Persephone. Know that just as the seasons cycle, so too do the times of darkness.

Please comment, share and re-post as you feel moved. 

 

Breadcrumbs for Myself

Breadcrumbs for Myself

Swan by Simone Lipscomb
Swan by Simone Lipscomb

Today I was sorting a pile of stuff in a wooden tray on my desk and found several little slips of paper with ideas scribbled hurriedly, inspiration run amok. I do that quite often when I am concentrating on something else and inspiration hits. Rather than lose it I jot it down and ‘file’ it in my to-do box. And these little pieces of paper sift through the stack and end up at the bottom until they are excavated by a mad fit of cleaning.

Yesterday I started reading a book called, Beautiful Whale. It is the story of Bryant Austin who was touched (literally) by a enormous whale with her pectoral flipper (a 15 foot long, two ton flipper) on his shoulder during an intensely life-changing moment. He tells how he vowed then to photograph whales and create life-size prints of them to help raise awareness of their beauty and value. This meant getting very close to them to capture details that are impossible to capture in photographs underwater from a distance. It also meant building computers that could handle the file sizes. And selling everything he owned to make this happen.

Manatee by Simone Lipscomb
Manatee by Simone Lipscomb

As I read Bryant’s story and viewed the amazing photographs in this very over-sized book, I felt so humbled by his dedication. And I found myself evaluating my own journey and feeling off course a bit…as if I’m not really giving my full attention to my task…whatever it is. And so I felt frustration. What am I doing?

One treasure I found this afternoon while sorting through the pile on my desk was written in early January. “If I truly viewed this Earth as the Kingdom of God, would I not drop everything to document this place of wonder? This is my path, my journey for the next year–to fully immerse myself in the beauty and joy of this place we call Earth!” BAM!

Brown Pelican by Simone Lipscomb
Brown Pelican by Simone Lipscomb

A direct answer to my frustration last evening. And another, more recent, scrap of paper was something my mother included in my birthday card. It was a short piece on the earth being the Kingdom of God and how we are stewards and caretakers. When I get the same message two or three times in such a short time I pay attention. Einstein said coincidences are God’s way of remaining anonymous.

Gator smile by Simone Lipscomb
Gator smile by Simone Lipscomb

The little notes I write to my future self surface exactly when I most need them. They serve as breadcrumbs along the path that nurture me when I find myself needing sustenance for my dreams and ideas.