Tag: Alabama Coast

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.

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*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?

 

 

Goodbye to a Friend

Goodbye to a Friend

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Spirit, a few days before crossing over the Rainbow Bridge.

The bubbles switched direction as our group of twelve individuals sent our love and gratitude with each breath directed into our small wands. A chilly swirl of wind directed the bubbles down to the river where Spirit was removed and out over the river where she had spent many days in the Cold Hole. Suddenly they moved up and kept climbing into the clear, blue sky.

Spirit the Manatee crossed the Rainbow Bridge here on our river, January 1st, 2015. She was 8 feet, 3 inches long and weighed 617 pounds. She was between four and six years old.

We know that in her last weeks Spirit suffered greatly. She was 200 to 400 pounds underweight. She had severe pneumonia and skin lesions covering her belly. She had lost her way to warmer water and found the warmest place she could to survive.

While she appeared very weak and fragile, it is her strength of spirit that brought our community together and united us in an effort to save not only her but others of her kind.

Because Spirit made her presence known for weeks before a rescue was attempted, we became aware of two others that were in the river. One, her friend Magnolia, was rescued and is healing in the safety of warm water and loving care at Sea World Orlando. Nobody had seen Magnolia until New Year’s Eve. Four days later she was rescued.

So Spirit brought our attention to Magnolia and also brought our attention to the incredible heart that resides in our community. Someone called Magnolia Springs the Heart of the Universe. Clearly this was confirmed by the outpouring of support and love given to our manatee friends…and each other.

Often we yearn for a brighter outcome and want a happy ending for animals, especially those classified as ‘endangered.’ That’s understandable. But we take comfort in the absolute fact that Spirit united within our community fierce love and support that made a ripple that will continue to flow out into the world.

Let us keep the intention of love for all creatures great and small within our hearts and remember this beautiful, sweet being who graced our waterway with her presence. And let us practice love with each other.

Spirit being examined by a veterinarian from Audubon Zoology Park beside the river.
Spirit being examined by a veterinarian from Audubon Zoology Park beside the river.

Wendell Berry wrote:

“If we have no compassion,

we will suffer alone, we will suffer

alone the destruction of ourselves.”

Showing compassion, living compassion, saves not only life around us…it saves us.

With gratitude we say so long…but never goodbye. You will remain in our hearts forever sweet Spirit.

*******

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Some of our community gathered to say goodbye to Spirit. Photo by Cheryl Towler Cowles.

Jada, a teenager from Magnolia Springs who witnessed the rescue and passing of Spirit, added this to the memorial gathering for our manatee friend:

Even though Spirit passed away, our community came together because of her. Every person made a difference in her rescue. From helping with the net to spotting to just praying, each small act came together to make something big. We the town of Magnolia Springs will always treasure this once in a live time experience. I would like to share a poem from the National Wildlife Federation entitled “Advice from a Manatee.”

“Advice from a Manatee”

Breathe deep

Glide through your day

Have a gentle Spirit

Enjoy time alone

Eat plenty of greens

Keep your whiskers clean

Live large!

I think if we can take this advice from a manatee and continue working together as a community, we will be better and stronger for it.

*******

Remember Wendell Berry’s words….“If we have no compassion, we will suffer alone, we will suffer alone the destruction of ourselves.”

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Let Your Little Light Shine

Let Your Little Light Shine

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Many of our wonderful, big-hearted town folk. Photo by….Jody’s camera…who took it?

Joni Mitchell sings in her song Shine, “Oh, let your little light shine….Shine on rising oceans and evaporating seas, Shine on our Frankenstein technologies…Shine on science with its tunnel vision, Shine on fertile farmland Buried under subdivisions…Let your little light shine…Let your little light shine…Shine on the dazzling darkness That restores us in deep sleep, Shine on what we throw away And what we keep…Shine on good earth, good air, good water And a safe place For kids to play, Shine on bombs exploding  Half a mile away…Shine on good humor…Shine on good will…Those seekers of mental health Craving simplicity They traveled inward Past themselves…May all their little lights shine.”

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A veterinarian from Audubon Zoo checks our manatee friend with rescuers. Photo by Simone

This song played today as I cleaned gear from yesterday’s community effort of support to our manatee friends that have lost their way this winter and journeyed to the Magnolia River springs instead of to central Florida springs. That navigational mistake is costly as it most certainly leads to death from cold-stress unless they make it to the warmer springs of Florida on their own or by assistance through rescue.

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Photo by Ted (I’m sorry…I lost track of who took this photo) please message me and I will add your correct name.

The details of the recovery of the smaller, weaker manatee or the capture and escape of the larger, healthier manatee are not as important tonight, as the love that was generated from the coming together of the community of volunteers from Magnolia Springs, Alabama…my home town. Those upset or angry about the rescue didn’t dampen the spirit of unity that grew as the day progressed. What a beautiful sight to see such caring, loving people with open hearts show up to lend support through dragging nets, parking cars, carrying gear, smiling from shore, taking photographs, asking questions to learn more about manatees.

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Photo by Jody Moore.

I always question interfering with wild animals as the rescues can easily turn into recoveries, but this endangered species cannot survive here during the winter months due to cold water and the deadly consequences that it presents to manatees. So if we do nothing, they die. If we try to save them they may die. It’s a constant inner struggle for me yet with the proper rescue team and equipment, rescues can happen and animals can be saved. And when it comes to an endangered species, every animal counts.

IMG_7747Thank you dear neighbors for letting your light shine. Thanks for opening your hearts.  I know there is sadness about the small manatee that died. It was very sick. But I think of what a strong spirit he or she must have had to bring all of us together in such a beautiful and strong way. While we mourn the loss of this precious one, we can celebrate the beautiful gift it gave to each of us who had our heart open enough to receive it.

Our friend passed away shortly after being brought to shore. Surrounded by love generated by his strong spirit.
Our friend passed away shortly after being brought to shore….surrounded by love from our community, generated by his strong spirit. Photo by Simone

Oh, let your little light shine….Shine on manatees struggling in the cold A warm spring to enfold, Shine on rescue workers coming to their aid In Magnolia waters shine, never fade…Let you little light shine. Oh, let your little light shine.