Tag: Alabama Coast

Five Years Later

Five Years Later

Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, Summer 2010
Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, Summer 2010

I stood on the shore of the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, early summer 2010 with tears streaming down my face. I had just called the hotline to report oil on the pristine, sugar-white sand. I thought that finally people would awaken and forge a new path of care and love for this Ocean planet. Five years have passed and the fervor to find and extract oil, at any cost, has escalated. And there are more spills worldwide, more toxic wastes generated by fracking operations and more earthquakes near fracking zones. The Atlantic coast is being opened to offshore drilling. The Arctic is open for drilling. Politicians are systematically trying to dismantle protected areas in states and federal lands.

Gulf of Mexico today
Gulf of Mexico today

As I sit on the sandy, Gulf beach watching the chocolate-colored waves, at least there is no benzene smell or globs of fizzing crude oil washing ashore. The dark water is from recent heavy rains. The salt breeze carries the smell of incense, an offering to the spirits of this magnificent body of water. I ask for forgiveness on behalf of all humans.

Common Loon resting on the beach this afternoon
Common Loon resting on the beach this afternoon

I reflect on John Muir’s life, one that was dedicated to preserving sacred places of unparalleled natural beauty and the success that came from his unrelenting love of nature. He saw the Divine in nature and viewed it as a direct reflection of God. Places like Yosemite, Sequoia, Grand Canyon, Mt. Rainer, Petrified Forest are a small sample of areas Muir helped preserve. He petitioned Congress for a National Park bill and in 1890 it passed.

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

“The radiance in some places is so great as to be fairly dazzling, keen lance rays of every color flashing, sparkling in glorious abundance, joining the plants in their fine, brave beauty-work–every crystal, every flower a window opening into heaven, a mirror reflecting the Creator.” John Muir.

Photograph Summer 2010 Gulf State Park Pier
Photograph Summer 2010 Gulf State Park Pier

“Keep close to Nature’s heart, yourself and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean from the earth-stains of this sordid, gold-seeking crowd in God’s pure air….Don’t lose your freedom and your love of the Earth as God made it.” John Muir.

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

Lately, as I’ve read about seemingly endless assaults on nature and attempts to sell it to the highest bidder for fossil fuel and about sonar testing that deafens cetaceans, sentencing them to death, I have become increasingly disturbed. The grief and despair I felt during the year I documented the oil disaster has been touched and the wound opened again and again.

Photography taken Summer 2010 Orange Beach, Alabama
Photograph taken Summer 2010 Orange Beach, Alabama

I wrote this in August 2010:

“This morning I sat weeping for the birds, oysters, shrimp, crabs….for us all. As I breathed in the stillness of the dawn I felt sadness that we have collectively created such imbalance on this beautiful planet. Inhaling, exhaling…pausing to touch the grief within me….how did it get so messed up?

We have become so dependent on practices that destroy our world, there is no easy way to stop them. The oil industry is woven into the fabric of life in Louisiana along with the Gulf’s bounty. Maybe the problem began when we considered only what could be produced from the Gulf.

But it goes beyond the Gulf Oil Spill Crisis–way beyond to the collective intention to consume, to conquer without regard for what it does to the planet that, quite literally, gives us life. Where did this short-sighted way of thinking begin?

I weep for our ignorance and the destruction it keeps in motion. I weep for political polarization that puts power on a pedestal over compassion and caring. We are lost in fighting battles that pull us apart and weaken us.

When will we stop and breathe together in silence? When we will awaken from our slumber and join hands to work to save our planet, to save ourselves?”

Common Loon friend that shared the beach with me today as I reflected on the past five years
Common Loon friend that shared the beach with me today as I reflected on the past five years

Today, almost five years later, the same questions still haunt my mind every day. When will we stop and breathe together in silence? When we will awaken from our slumber and join hands to work to save our planet, to save ourselves?

Yet there is hope for there are still people who care, who love Nature and understand that humans are part of it, not above it. There are many who understand the necessity for living in balance and who grasp that the mindset of ‘more at any cost’ is no longer a valid way to successfully exist. We sell our own souls when we auction nature to the highest bidder.

Photograph from Summer 2010
Photograph from Summer 2010

So how can we stay positive? Hopeful? By reaching out to each other in love and by treading as gently as possible on this sacred Ocean planet. And practicing simple, yet collectively powerful steps such as these: turn off lights not in use; don’t use disposable plastic bottles; use water sparingly; adjust the thermostat two degrees and save energy and money; recycle; re-use; opt out of the mindset that new electronics must be purchased each time a new version is released; get by with less ‘stuff,’ buy locally-grown foods’ celebrate the beauty of nature each day; participate in efforts to make a positive difference.

Photograph today at Gulf State Park. During the oil disaster this area was saturated with fizzing, oily sludge
Photograph today at Gulf State Park. During the oil disaster this area was saturated with fizzing, oily sludge

Now is not the time to give up. Now is the time to celebrate beauty found in nature and in human hearts everywhere.

Honoring Magnolia & Manatees

Honoring Magnolia & Manatees


Volunteering for the love of manatees is amazing and life-changing experience. Thank you community of Magnolia Springs, Alabama! You are awesome neighbors and friends to manatees. Thank you Sea World Rescue Team, Dauphin Island Sea Lab and US Fish & Wildlife Service. Working together we really can make a positive difference!

To update all the supporters and fans of Magnolia, the manatee rescued on January 4th recovering at Sea World Orlando’s rehabilitation center…she is doing WONDERFUL!! All the prop scars have completely healed and she is eating and gaining weight. There is a rumor that she is showing the staff that Alabama gals know how to eat! For everyone who has sent healing thoughts, prayers, love, happy thoughts and general good wishes to Magnolia…THANK YOU! If she continues to do well there is a good possibility she will be released once the water is warmer.

Love, Peace, Respect

Love, Peace, Respect

SimoneLipscomb (2)Some days are just strange. This afternoon is one of the weirdest I’ve had in a long time. It has reminded me of why I love animals. And why I want to hide and leave FaceBook forever.

A friend texted me about the bald eagle that died in Gulf State Park. I posted it on FaceBook but then so did other folks. And the proverbial shit-storm of a public relations nightmare is happening in coastal communities here in Alabama. People are blaming a cable that stretches across part of the lake for being the root of all evil in Gulf Shores, Alabama. I guess that haven’t noticed the spaghetti web of power lines criss-crossing the island that offer much more hazards to birds such as eagles and osprey, pelicans, terns, gulls. Perhaps they haven’t noticed the concrete and glass wall of condos that line the beaches and cause more bird deaths and interruption of sea turtle nesting than we, as humans, ever realize.

SimoneLipscomb (1)It’s sad…it’s terrible…it’s really awful that a bald eagle died. No denying that. But to blame a state park zip line isn’t a rational way to deal with grief.

I worked as a guide during the spring of last year at the zip line course. It was an amazing experience to witness families, kids, teens and even a veteran paratrooper from World War II do that course. The guides help people connect with nature and teach them about the wildlife found around our beautiful coastal area. The positive energy generated from children, teens, moms and dads, grandparents experiencing that course is amazing!

But today, it’s like an old-fashioned witch hunt. I don’t understand. The hate and violent words being spoken are beyond belief. Can we just stop the finger-pointing and grieve? Can this bring us together rather than create more division, more separateness? Can’t we feel the pain of loss without lighting fires of hatred?

SimoneLipscombI’m sitting at my desk in my upstairs office. The live oak tree shelters the large, arched window but I can see the soft sunset colors of pale pink and blue. A large vulture just flew past with several friends of his that have been hanging out in the neighborhood this week. Native cultures thought vultures to symbolize purification and the cycle of death and rebirth.

Isn’t it time we learn how to grieve loss, love others, have respect? Perhaps the vultures are a reminder to purify the way we interact with one another. This cycle of death and rebirth applies not only to physical life but to thoughts, emotions, behaviors.

Native cultures saw eagle as the illuminator of spirit, healing and creation. Let us honor the life of this magnificent bird by healing the negative attitudes, critical finger-pointing and learn to love each other. “To align oneself with eagle medicine is to take on the responsibility and the power of becoming so much more than you now appear to be.” * Let us do that in memory of this beautiful creature.

SimoneLipscomb (3)

*Ted Andrews, Animal Speak

Moods of the Gulf

Moods of the Gulf

Gulf of Mexico iPhone photograph feb 22, 2015
Gulf of Mexico iPhone photograph feb 22, 2015

Warm morning temperatures called me to the Gulf yesterday and within a few minutes of checking the ambient temperature–63 degrees–my feet were splashing through chilly water. I didn’t take my camera so I could simply lose myself in the wild beauty but sometimes an iPhone gets the idea across when it’s just too beautiful not to take a photograph.

Sunset Gulf Shores, Alabama 2014 with iPhone
Sunset Gulf Shores, Alabama 2014 with iPhone

I grew up on the Alabama Gulf Coast and loved it but moved away at various times of my life. The latest time living away from the beach was a span of almost 20 years. While I loved the mountains of North Carolina, I am most happy here, where my blood resonates with the salt of the sea…or maybe Bonaire which is my home away from home. I’ve been back home almost three years…is that POSSIBLE? It’s a great place to live but don’t tell anybody!

Sunset January 2015 at 30-A
Sunset January 2015 at 30-A

The Gulf of Mexico is a wild body of water that can appear soft and gentle as well as wild in a crazed frenzy. Whatever the mood, I love this beautiful body of water that is part of the One Ocean and am happy that I can have my toes in wet sand with just a short drive.

Tropical Storm Isaac
Tropical Storm Isaac

The mountains are still dear to me and are a refuge for me, but the open horizon of the Gulf of Mexico and the system of waterways connected with it are magic for my wild self.

Pre-dawn moments Gulf State Park Pier Autumn 2014
Pre-dawn moments Gulf State Park Pier Autumn 2014
Permission for Passion

Permission for Passion

SimoneLipscomb (2) The sea spoke to me this morning. For the second day I visited Her to connect, to pray, to ask for a vision. As the chilly, salt water caressed my ankles and splashed my legs, blue water peace filled me and insight came.

Last night was melt-down time. The actions of the past two weeks of forward direction, financial pay-out to that forward direction and future possibilities stood around me. They were like wild flames encircling me…a lot of money has gone out of my account and it scared me.  Doubt began to rough me up and shake me. It was not a fun evening.

SimoneLipscomb (15)Arguments for proceeding through the opening echoed in my mind while voices of fears screamed. It would be safe to say that Monkey Mind was loose and gave a wild ride. Just shut the F**** up! All of you!!! Just shut up!!! 

After wrestling with some old negative messages and emotions for hours yesterday, I managed to sleep and awakened to Willie Fay cat’s insistence to go onto the screened porch. It was barely light so I hurriedly dressed and grabbed my camera and headed toward the Gulf. If the next part of my life is going to be focused on the Ocean, then I wanted to connect with Her and feel my toes in salt water. And see if answers would come.

SimoneLipscomb (10)A few weeks ago the opening doors left little doubt of the next steps in life but on this side of the events, I began to feel fear. I’ve invested a lot of money into my work, with little financial return and I felt guided to lay out more big money for gear as well as for two more books. No question about doing it. The point of struggle was the fact that former work hasn’t paid for itself even though the message is well-received and appreciated by those who read my books or see my photographs.

I started to doubt my sanity for investing further in the work that is about healing environmental and societal hurts. The money I have saved will, at some point, be used up. Wouldn’t a wise woman with no retirement plan save that money and just forget her dream of making a positive difference on the planet? That’s such a lofty goal anyway.

SimoneLipscomb (33)The message I received from the sea was this: I am breaking free of old, societal conditioning. As I take this next big step those old voices of fear arise. I don’t want to be a prisoner to them. I want to live my life dedicated fully to helping…the ocean, people, ocean creatures. I want to be a bridge between nature and humans. I can’t do that if I hide in fear.

Today I had a vague memory of myself as a child being so afraid that I had caused something to happen because I had wished for it. I recognized, even then, that we have the power to create our lives and it scared me. Now I realize that we are indeed co-creating our lives by what we dwell on, what we hold in our minds.

SimoneLipscomb (12)I came to realize that I assessed value on my work by how many books sold, how many photographic prints sold and the fact that my creative efforts were not paying the bills. Thankfully, I have savings but the work of my heart has not provided for me physically. I heard an inner voice ask: Does it matter where the money comes from if it supports your work? In that moment I realized that I had placed the value of my work in the hands of others who may or may not purchase my books, my photographs. I was contemplating allowing other people determine if I continue on with the work I feel so powerful about doing. I was, in fact, giving my power away to others. A big mistake indeed for it puts brakes on my life’s work.

SimoneLipscomb (9)With the contemplation and realizations, I decided to allow myself permission to want something…allow myself to express the passion that fills me and do the work. I love the Ocean and Her creatures. It is my desire to dedicate my life to working toward creating a connection between the saltwater environments and humans…so more people will care, so the Ocean will be valued and all creatures within it respected. This is what I want to do with the rest of my life. I give myself permission to fully engage in this work and gratefully walk through open doors and follow the path that rises up to meet me. All is well…and all will be well. I know this to be true.

What passion is calling you? What do you want to do with the rest of your life? Beginning today…in this moment?