Tag: BEAUTY

Rain

Rain

Through twisted, rough bark trunks a curtain of rain falls.

Life-giving source, just across the way, drenching grasses green with life.

Teasing me, I ask politely, Please come. The flowers are thirsty.

It dances just over the fence as sunlight sparkles through it.

I’ll sing and play my flute for you. Finally a drop splats nearby.

Then another and another so I play louder and faster, my fingers dancing now.

I hear joyous laughter of flowers deliriously drunk on moisture.

The leafy plants sing, rejoicing in gratitude for life-giving, blessed water.

Buddy watches from the porch, grateful his dog fur is dry.

The Face of What’s Happening

The Face of What’s Happening

Do you dare look? Can you bear the grief? Sea turtle nearly decapitated by propeller. Children ripped from their parents. Whales dead full of plastic. This takes courage friends. To deny our grief is to make ourselves sick. The planet is suffering. All life is suffering. So what can we do?

The face of suffering is evident every day whether we watch the news or read it or listen on the radio. From every direction we are made aware of the destruction. Perhaps our natural inclination is to look away, but not because we don’t care. Perhaps, as Joanna Macy says, it’s because we don’t know what to do with our grief and we feel overwhelmed.

Last night I dreamed I was helping a sea turtle whose throat had been slit. This morning, on sea turtle nest patrol, I came upon a critically endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle whose neck had been nearly severed from an apparent propeller strike. Even in my dreams they reach out asking for help. And so today, I share this turtle’s story and use it to illustrate the bigger story happening in the world and with every one of us.

So how can we look upon the face of suffering and death and survive the grief? If you are paying attention, you are probably sad and maybe even depressed. And I’m guessing you feel grief. The answer is to feel it. Have the courage to look and feel the emotions and then allow them to move out of your beautiful heart into the world. Don’t be afraid of the grief and likewise, don’t be afraid of your own depth of caring, love and compassion.

I sat beside the turtle’s body after patrol was done. I sang her a song and thanked her for bringing such beauty into the world. The odor of rotting flesh covered my hands and the wind blew her death smell over me as I wept openly. Not just for her passing but for the opportunity to love. What an amazing time to be alive, when every person’s love and compassion is needed so very much.

Loggerhead Hatchling

If you think you can’t make a difference, or the pain of what’s happening is simply too much to bear, allow the strength of that which you love pour through you as grace. That’s what Joanna Macy reminded our on-line group last week. Breathe in the strength of the turtle species that have survived for so long and let that strength pour through as grace to move out through your heart into the world….or the whales….or children removed from parents….or whatever it is that you love deeply. Work with your grief and let it motivate you to love deeper and fuller.

And let me know if you want to work on this together. Thanks to training with Joanna years ago in a week-long retreat, I have some ideas as to how we can come together and stay sane as the chaos of uncertainty shakes us. Always happy to bring a group together to further more love, compassion and grace in this world. (Email Simone)

 

 

Emotional Honesty

Emotional Honesty

Lately in meditation I have received the same message repeatedly….be emotionally honest. I’ve shrugged off the idea because who wants to hear it? I don’t even want to. But with the recent suicide of Anthony Bourdain I thought perhaps it’s exactly what people need to hear…so they wouldn’t feel alone in their pain.

For the past twelve years I have dedicated my life to documenting and sharing beauty…and destruction…of our beautiful planet. The Deepwater Horizon Disaster awakened me to get serious about the work and after a year spent documenting seven beaches along the Alabama coast I was an emotional wreck. I was angry and broken-hearted. I saw people turn away once the well was capped….and I thought that event would awaken humanity to rise up and be planetary stewards.

When people ‘went back to sleep’ I was so frustrated. So angry. Still brokenhearted.

In an effort to heal my brokenness, I attended a week-long intensive with Joanna Macy. She’s an eco-philosopher, Buddhist scholar and created a body of work called, The Work That Reconnects. I found, during that week of healing, a strong desire to document beauty. People don’t turn away from beauty…maybe that would help generate planetary stewardship.

I returned to North Carolina determined to continue the work in a bigger way….write more, create more books, take more photographs, travel to experience beauty and power of the planet and its wildlife. My energy went into opening my heart more, my mind more and listening deeper to Nature, the Ocean…to Life.

Good things have come of that but when people comment positively about the work and say, It’s so cool that the work supports you financially….well, I smile and say….It doesn’t.  Everything I have has gone into the work and I’ve made leaps of faith that would scare the strongest soul. I’ve never been ‘in’ the work to make money…but rather to give to the planet my heart, mind, talents. All of who I am and what I have is ear-marked for Mother Earth.

Living on the edge like this has allowed me to experience joy, wonder, gratitude, as well as fear and anxiety…society says, Play it safe, but my Path says, Leap.

Some might say I am reckless with financial resources because I don’t abide by the societal ‘rule’ of fear-based actions and penny-pinching until you die. I’m all-in. How could I hold back, selfishly guarding something that’s not really mine to begin with?

Over the past several months I’ve felt a strong desire to down-size and simplify my life to support my environmental educational/stewardship efforts. When I recently placed my home on the market I developed respiratory crud. As a person accustomed to being healthy and strong, the lengthy illness has tested my patience. Fears have arisen about health coinciding with fears about relocating with a dog and four cats and beginning work in an area that is calling to me….a new community, a new state…everything snowballed into a tangled ball of physical illness, emotional turmoil and spiritual distress.

Nobody promised the journey to wholeness would be easy, that the Path would demand anything less than my complete attention…not only to that which I am called to do but to my self as well. When we ignore the feelings they don’t go away. They build and get stronger.

Uncertainty about my health, home, move, environmental efforts grew. I needed something to help shift and open me.

Last week I joined an online book club with Joanna Macy and many others about her book, Active Hope. As I sat at my computer looking at faces looking back at me through computer screens… people that love and care for the planet….and listening to Joanna share, I felt such a sense of relief. I realized how very alone I have felt in this journey of dedicated work. Yes, there have been people in my life but I’ve never been truthful about the despair I feel for our planet. I keep it superficial because….maybe I felt a strong person makes a good leader. People aren’t always comfortable with emotions. I don’t think that anymore….I suspect powerful leaders are those who are emotionally honest and have the courage to share with others their experience of pain– that are willing to risk opening the heart to reveal truth. Anthony Bourdain’s suicide yesterday really spot-lighted that truth.

So here’s my emotional honesty….I feel despair about humanity’s destruction of our planet. The grief is so strong that I have ‘armored’ myself so I don’t feel grief….which cuts me off from the work and people willing to help. After documenting the oil spill I lost my ability to accept simple pleasures for a few years. My heart breaks every day when I see cruelty. I cannot pretend everything is okay in the world. And…I have a deep and abiding trust that Spirit is guiding me, even when I feel afraid. I am determined to heal whatever needs healing within myself to become whole…for with that wholeness comes the ability to channel more love and light into the world. I am passionately in love with this planet. She is my Beloved. Nothing comes before the work I feel called to do….nothing.

We are not alone. What would happen if we were collectively emotionally honest with each other? What if we didn’t hide our hearts but took the risk to open them?

A parting thought….Joanna said this the other night during our cyber meeting: “Let the strengths of that which we love pour through us as grace.” When we remember we have a dynamic relationship with that which calls us, we feel less alone. When we surrender and allow that strength to move through us we stay centered in our Higher Selves and let ego rest. Joanna also said, “Don’t be afraid of the suffering of your world.”

Let us not turn away from the suffering of our world or ourselves. May we listen with an open heart and mind and open ourselves to the strength of that which calls us.

Enough

Enough

I wonder…do we withhold action fearing it won’t make a difference.

As children we form our own personal mythology based on interpretation of the world around us. Family, culture, society, churches, schools constantly demonstrate patterns of behavior, give clues about acceptance and expectations and how to fit into the norm. We take this information, form filters and create a story through which we live our lives.

Because we live in an imperfect world with imperfect people, the signals and messages we see are not always healthy or based in compassion, love and support. But as kids, we don’t know this so we form our entire, magnificent life based on what we’ve seen, heard and experienced. This didn’t start with our parents, or even our grandparents. This is the human condition.

Perhaps there is no greater quest than to uncover the personal myth we have woven our lives around because that story informs every decision we make, how we see ourselves and how we see the world. But this isn’t an easy journey. This is the journey of unraveling, shedding our skins, taking off masks and finally coming face-to-face with the basic belief upon which we have choreographed our life.

During a recent and very unusual bout of respiratory crud, I checked out digital books from the library and did a lot of reading. One was by Alan Cohen, Enough Already, The Power of Radical Contentment. One chapter reached out to me and helped me answer decades-old, frustrating questions: What is my personal myth? What is my stumbling block? How do I hold myself back?

For as long as I can remember I have felt a deep-rooted sense of not being enough…that there was always something more to do, that my work wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t a good enough wife or partner, that I was a failure….even with beautiful photographs published, books circulating out in the world, positive efforts and giving of time, money and creativity. The thread that has nearly destroyed me is the core belief that I am never enough.

During my yoga practice this morning my mantra was, I am enough. As I held this intention and moved through the poses I realized that when I buy into the belief that I’m not enough I am literally fighting myself. Every effort I put out into the world has incredible resistance because of this personal myth that I created and have lived.

How often do we sabotage our lives because we believe we are lacking, not good enough, not smart enough or pretty enough or creative enough….and the list goes on and on and on.

What if we truly believed that we are enough. Not that we are perfect but that in the moment, at this exact moment, we are enough. I am enough. As I breathe that idea in, I feel joy…lightness of being…and my lips began to curl upward, into a smile.

Can we surrender the story we create about who we are? If we do there’s a good possibility we will find, at the foundation of our lives, a beautiful, sparkling person filled with everything necessary to be enough. Not to move mountains or shift the course of humanity or save all creatures and humans from pain….but simply to be enough.

I’m guessing that if we can find the freedom to be enough, our creative energies will flourish and our brilliance will shine through. Once we break through the self-created barriers there is no limit to our ability….to simply be enough.

The world needs us to be enough. Today I gift you with the mantra: I AM ENOUGH.