Leaping Off the Cliff

Leaping Off the Cliff

SimoneLipscombToday I wrote a friend, “I feel a nudge to fly off the cliff….my toes are hanging over the edge and I’m looking back…looking down at a faraway salt water Ocean realm….and a blue sky in front of me….and so I stand…trembling a little…excited….and grateful.”

SimoneLipscomb (2)It feels as if I’m at a huge turning point in my life that seems to have appeared suddenly but in truth it has been in process for decades. It began when I made a decision to clear out anything keeping me from doing whatever my ‘mission’ was. Sounds funny now but as a 25 year old, it was serious stuff.

SimoneLipscombLittle did I know my journey would take me through really rough times. The more I resisted inner change, the harder it became. There came a point where everything fell apart. I lost basically everything. It was a true dark time in my life. But it was a time where I was able to clear out inner debris as well. I released fears and other crippling emotions as I worked on healing. As the darkness cleared, light was exposed.

SimoneLipscomb (21)The more I surrendered to my path, the clearer the direction became. Looking back I can see those turning points and the narrowing of direction clearly but at the time it was pretty intense. Support came for my work in many forms. My first book was published by an indie company. Making ten percent in royalties on my first book, after all the work, prompted me to publish my next two books. Another book co-authored was picked up by another indie house in Kentucky. Another book was co-authored and done in E-format. That may sound exciting and it is satisfying, but being a writer and photographer has yet to create a supportive income. But thankfully the support has come in other forms as I continue to surrender to the direction of my heart.

SimoneLipscombRecently another narrowing of focus and intention occurred through a series of events that I wrote about in an earlier blog. Now that I’m on the other side of the decision-making process it’s a bit scary. Other financial commitments arise as I further the work of my heart….marine education, volunteer researcher, underwater photography at a more professional level, more writing and publishing of books on marine animals. I went away for a week and came home with a list of things that will be the next steps in my life. And amazingly, support has begun to arrive for this next phase of my work. I feel grateful for the direction and the support.

SimoneLipscomb (2)I lit my candles this morning, after a unsettled night of wrestling fear and anxiety about the upcoming opportunities and projects. I asked to be given a specific sign….”Show me if I am going in the right direction.” Late this afternoon I had two signs happen within minutes of each other. Why do I need signs? Because I dream big at times and wonder if I’m sane. And yes…that’s a joke but I want to be headed in the direction that is true to my path of service. So yes, I asked for confirmation that the direction was correct. It’s like, “Yes I know I had all of those amazing events happen a couple weeks ago but was it real? Can I trust that I correctly interpreted the experiences? Can life be that amazing?”

SimoneLipscomb (24)Yes. It can be. And yes, I’m taking the leap. I haven’t worked this hard on my life’s path to suddenly give up because a bit of fear arose. I’m standing on that cliff. I’m looking around and down. I lift my arms and realize they are wings. A warm breeze rushes past. I rise and glide over the ocean. The direction is clear. It’s a fine day for flying.


There have been so many people that have been part of the warm breeze that lifts me up.  The depth of support grows and adds strength to the wind. To each of you, I am deeply grateful.

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Signs and Open Doors

Signs and Open Doors

SimoneLipscomb (24)Last week was one of the most powerful weeks of my life. After I got home I started counting up significant happenings and there were over a dozen. By following my intuition and listening to my heart, doors opened, messages were received and a huge shift occurred.

The details about the manatee part of the trip are in a previous post but I wanted to share an overall perspective of the signs that appeared during the week as they have pointed me in a very strong direction from which clarity is arising.

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Mother manatee laid her head on my left shoulder. Juvenile rested on her back…I was in complete bliss… Lucky to have captured this image but I did flood my dry suit in the pretzel position I had to make of my body to get the shot.

Here’s a partial list:  Rainbow appeared over left shoulder while driving and talking into my voice memo on my iPhone saying how I want to follow my creative dreams; pulled up to traffic signal while rainbow was still bright in the sky and the cross street was named, ‘Follow That Dream Parkway;’ manatees in greater numbers than I’ve ever seen and many friendly ones posed for photographs and video; met kindred spirits from Australia; shirts with Advice From a Manatee on them…same poem read by a young woman at the manatee memorial gathering; mother and juvenile manatee rested their heads on my left shoulder (rainbow over left shoulder); visited with Magnolia, our manatee friend healing at Sea World Rehab; on Saturday night songwriter Paul Cebar looked directly into my eyes while singing a line about making dreams come true; invited to go to Tonga to volunteer with humpback whale work; had the condo to myself Thursday night so I could process and write about the incredible encounters with manatees I had over three days; followed intuition to leave a very crowded concert venue and found a beautiful trail at Grayton Beach State Park and a sacred oak grove; instead of leaving Sunday morning I went to two songwriter workshops…and that’s where I’ll pick up the story.

Paul Cebar
Paul Cebar

After the above experiences and many more, the songwriter workshops brought the week to a powerful close. Paul, the guy that sang the line about making dreams come true, did the first workshop and sang the song again. Message received. Am I this dense, I wondered. I was sitting there listening to Paul thinking back to the powerful rainbow experience on my first travel day.

Will Kimbrough & Tommy Womack
Will Kimbrough & Tommy Womack

Then Will Kimbrough and Tommy Womack did the second workshop and gave beautiful advice. It was striking a powerful chord (excuse the music pun) within me so I started taking notes on my phone. Here’s a bit of it:

Tommy: “Genius is remaining true to who you are. Go deep in your core. Be honest. Reveal yourself.” This is exactly what the entire week was about for me–honoring my path, listening to the inner voice, and being real in my work.

Will: “Don’t beat yourself for not writing all the time. You have to go out and gather experiences and then write.” One of the major self-criticisms in my life is that I’m not always producing. I constantly have to ward off the idea that if I’m not busy writing or photographing or ‘working’ that I’m failing.

Tommy…or Will: “Do what you enjoy.” It has been my intention to follow my bliss in life and during the week I had a realization that if I opened my heart to my path, the doors–that are already open and waiting for me–will be revealed.

Manatee rolling in green water
Manatee rolling in green water

Here’s  the Joseph Campbell quote about following your bliss:

“Follow your bliss. If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be. If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.”

In summary, it was a Joseph Campbell Follow-Your-Bliss week. I decided to go back and review the recording from the rainbow experience that seemed to jump-start it all. I was talking into my voice memo app after listening to John O’Donahue recordings that prompted realizations when the rainbow appeared. It’s an unedited version of what was happening. Here’s an excerpt:

I had no idea where my workhorse D800 was so I grabbed my phone and took this…

I want to float in Oneness and allow my true self to shine. My creativity…OH MY GOD! There’s a rainbow! AH!! It’s so beautiful. AMAZING! Oh, my GOD! Right as I was about to say this realization about creativity…Oh, my GOD! It’s a double rainbow!! WOO HOO! ………  I have based my creativity on what I think others want in order to be successful in what I’m creating. My creativity, what wants to come through me, doesn’t have to look like anybody else’s…OH!!! HOLY CRAP!…The rainbow is a complete and total arch!!… (expletive)…That’s the most intense rainbow I have ever seen in my life! It was a double rainbow and the inside at one point…all the clouds became intense golden in color and the rainbow was rain-bowing inside itself….Ok….To be really successful just in my own heart and creative self, mind and soul is creating something that’s totally me and not about creating to sell or earn a living…bringing through to the material realm whatever it is that wants to be brought through….unbelievable! Oh…this is SO BEAUTIFUL! (I should stop and get out). It’s like the whole sky….(laughter) is a complete beautiful…Oh, my GOD! I’m at Follow That Dream Parkway…That’s actually a sign on County Road 40 in Inglis, Florida. This is like spiritually crazy-good! Follow that dream baby! And create…Follow your dream! You can do this! It’s good, it’s good, it’s GOOD! This is a good day!

Listening to the recording took me into that moment of beautiful realization. It felt as if John O’Donahue must have been smiling down upon me and Joseph Campbell had the follow-up punch that brought the week to a close by the reminder from Tommy or Will to do what I enjoy…follow my bliss.


Photograph by Richard Wylie...THANK YOU!!
Photograph of me and juvenile manatee by Richard Wylie…THANK YOU!!

The truth Campbell wrote about speaks to the fact that we bring skills and gifts with us into this life. If we do what we truly love we will succeed….the kind of success that goes beyond money or notoriety….the soul’s journey being successful. John and Joseph, thank you! Paul, Tommy and Will, thank you! Manatees…rainbows….street signs…thank you!

It feels as if I am the arrow in the bow of my life and I’m drawn back and ready to be shot forth into the world. I can’t exactly say what set off the incredible series of events but I know how powerful it feels. The hard, inner work is now beginning to set a powerful direction for me and as a friend wrote yesterday, Awesome Adventures Await!

Follow That Dream. Message received, noted….. and YES!

Snuggling with Manatees

Snuggling with Manatees

SimoneLipscomb (59)Whistling wings of a cormorant flying over distracted me from watching the osprey perched on the sailboat mast. The quiet of the evening, the still water filled with reflections of clouds, boats, buildings, birds….all of this brought me to a place of deep reflection. There was no separation between me and life around me.

SimoneLipscomb (86)Manatees always touch my life profoundly when they choose to interact. Today I had babies playing around me, whistling after their mamas, trying to find something to entertain them while their mothers slept. Some are shy, some are playful and all represent a very gentle, docile species.

SimoneLipscomb (74)More than once I had larger manatees swim up to me, stop and snuggle against my side and then stay there. Having an animal much larger than me…by about 1000 pounds…. snuggle and whisper through their whiskers sweet manatee sonnets is quite profound. I don’t initiate anything and simply lay still at the surface. They come to me. I observe passively and sometimes one decides I’m worth knowing. If they approach I don’t move, if they snuggle I don’t move….but I do giggle sometimes.

I cannot help it. Laying here, tired yet unwilling to let the experience fade without writing about it, tears of joy flow.

SimoneLipscomb (62)It’s not just that they are cute and cuddly. I see deep scars from propellers on almost every adult. I think of the over 800 that died last year due mostly to red tide created from human septic systems emptying into Indian Lagoon…harassing humans, mean humans…so many reasons they shouldn’t trust us and yet, in this protected place, they find a human now and then to befriend. And I never take their trust for granted.

SimoneLipscomb (94)Studies have shown that their behavior toward humans is different here than in other, non-protected places. Perhaps we provide entertainment for those that wish to learn more about this gangly, clumsy species that enters their watery home. Always, always I want to be a good ambassador, a friend and a protector. And yes, even a snuggle buddy if they need that.


On Being Real

On Being Real

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Masks make me uncomfortable. Not costumed masks but those invisible masks humans create to hide the truth of their being. I suppose that’s why my photography has almost exclusively focused on nature and wildlife…until a couple of years ago.

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Billy McLaughlin

A conversation with fellow photographer and Frog Pond Sunday Social attendee about photographing musicians made me laugh and understand something about myself. I made the comment that I was much more comfortable with animals and nature and had never photographed people too much until I began focusing on portraits of musicians. His reply–“Well, they’re not that different from animals you know.” He said it to be funny and we had a good laugh but what he said is very true.

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Grayson Capps

When musicians are really in the creative groove and are connected to their source of inspiration, they appear to be in an unmasked state of being. They seem to invite the audience to witness their journey and meet them in that place from which they bring forth beauty…and magic.

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Will Kimbrough, Corky Hughes & Grayson Capps

I’m basically shy and much more comfortable alone in the woods or underwater with my cameras. I discovered, while listening and photographing Robert Randolph, why I like photographing musicians.

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Robert Randolph

I connect energetically with musicians when they bring forth their gifts through performance. It’s as if I can see beyond the outer appearance to their true essence and meet them there through my photography. It’s as if we make an unspoken agreement to share that space of truth.

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Robert Randolph

When I photographed Robert, I squirmed my way to the stage to see the energetic and amazing performer who had a huge crowd of people dancing. He was channeling lightning, or so it seemed. He is a pedal steel guitarist and bringer of a dynamic force to all in attendance willing to meet him. Me? I stood there with a huge smile on my face. How could I not? His smile rocked the festival. As the intensely-loud music bounced through me (I was in front of massive speakers) and I focused on him with my camera, I understood my love of photographing musicians while they are playing.

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Sarah Lee Guthrie

Live music is one of the rare experiences where we can see humans engaged in the creative process. Musicians that are truly in their happy place allow their masks to fall away  to expose a truer self.  That’s probably what separates the really great musicians from the good ones…a willingness to tap into a higher expression of who they are in front of an audience. That’s no small thing. And that’s probably why I think of these same musicians as being like ministers….leaders who invite us all to a deeper yet higher place.

SimoneLipscomb (21)When I am standing in a river photographing elk headed straight for me, I feel a similar emotion as I do when photographing an expressive musician. I am much more comfortable with elk and other forms of nature but that’s because I don’t create a mask when I’m in nature or surrounded by animals.

Will Kimbrough

Musicians are teaching me to shed my masks and meet them in the truth of the moment, where music melts walls of division and creates harmony of spirit.



Finding Peace in a Broken World

Finding Peace in a Broken World

This morning I read a Facebook post that included a long list of what politicians and oil companies have planned for the Mobile, Alabama area. After reading about the super-tankers that would carry Canadian tar sands oil from Mobile to China and all that would be done to accommodate these carriers of dirty, poisonous, toxic nastiness, I felt myself…my entire being…sort of give up. It was as if something snuffed the light of hope out. How can we continue on the path we are on without disastrous and dire consequences? The all-too-familiar question bounced around in my head.

There was no answer, no comfort–no warm, supportive, comforting arms to embrace me and no voice saying, “It’s gonna be okay.” Alone with my despair, grief and frustration I turned to a tool I use to unravel confusion…writing.

SimoneLipscomb (1)I grabbed my laptop and headed to the hammock swing on the back porch. The grandmother oak tree stands silently yet filled with life: birds twittering, squirrels hopping and leaping, insects droning. Water is splashing in the little pond where a large, quartz crystal sits in the center holding a quiet presence among the ferns and flowers and banana plant. Live oak tree leaves shimmer in the morning light against a blue sky and rays of sunlight find their way through the thick canopy, illuminating moss-covered pavers. Birdsong fills the air…cardinals, wrens, titmice, chickadees all bringing me back to this present moment, this sacred moment.

SimoneLipscomb (3)Living only in the darkness of the possible, disastrous what-ifs is a sure way to drive myself crazy…or at the very least isolate from everything in a quiet corner of a deeply wooded, protected (is there such a place) corner of beauty. While the idea of being a hermit is enticing, it would be self-serving. And let’s face it, this is not the time to hide our light. This is the time to sparkle and let our inner light shine brightly.

While it is easy to become overwhelmed with everything that’s wrong and could potentially destroy life as we know it, we must balance that darkness with good, with light…with what is right. Now is the time to share our voices, our talents, and skills with the planet. There is no more precious gift we can offer than our own light.

SimoneLipscomb (7)This day I am grateful for birdsong, the grandmother oak tree who shelters my home, my cat friends, the wind gently moving the wind chimes to song, my recent re-wilding retreat to the mountains and the awareness that others create in their efforts to let us know what is happening to our beautiful planet….to us.

SimoneLipscomb (9)We can balance the darkness with light, the sadness with joy, and fear with courage. We do this through consciously caring for ourselves and finding peace within our hearts…even when it’s not easy to find in the world.