Iguana Moon

Iguana Moon

SimoneLipscomb (32)The full moon called me to the sea. It was early this morning, before the sun peeked out from the eastern horizon on the far side of the island.

As I approached the steps to go down to the seaside patio, the moon glade of silver light on Ocean was so strong and powerful it was as if I was descending the stairs of Poseidon’s temple into the watery realm and could have continued on that silver path to reach the island across the way to places of magic and wonder beyond and beneath the surface.

Where are my mermaid scales? My tail? I feel so trapped by this mortal body.

SimoneLipscomb (19)Clouds passed in front of the brilliant moon and I sat drinking in her light with my eyes. So powerful is the pull of the moon’s magic…that fat, perfectly round orb. It weaves a spell with the sea to forever bind my soul to saltwater and the Mysteries contained beneath the surface.

Even as the gray of pre-dawn light began to overtake the darkness, the moon’s light illuminated the western sky and glowed brightly over Klein Bonaire. The sound of waves gently kissing the shore reminded me of the inner cycles, the coming and going, the building and diminishing of this flesh-bound existence.

SimoneLipscomb (6)As the moon faded and daylight grew, the iguana family awakened and began staring at me. Yes…of course. I’ll go get breakfast.

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SimoneLipscomb (18)I returned with honeydew melon and my camera. The container of melon was rushed as soon as I placed it on the concrete so I sat and chatted with my spiked-out friends as they breakfasted. They struck a few poses as my camera sat beside them so I got some really detailed shots of their best iguana-selves.

SimoneLipscomb (22)Once finished, they all turned to face the sea. I’ve noticed they do this and have wondered…what is the reason? Today I might have figured it out. A guy who swims laps each morning between two resorts passed and they all rushed to watch him. They either expect him to become dinner some day or they are telling secret iguana jokes about him. Either way it’s pretty hilarious stuff. Iguanas…what are you gonna do with them?

This shore, the elements of salt, sea, moon, tides…wildlife like my octopus friends, sea turtle friends, tarpon friends…the porcupine fish that actually got to know me and follows me when I dive….the squid that liked playing with my dome port….all of these things create a love affair with this place that will beckon me to return again and again.

SimoneLipscomb (1)As I sat on the concrete conversing with the iguanas during breakfast, I reflected back to a conversation with a girl and her family at dinner last night. After listening to some of my wildlife stories she said, “Simone, you know why the animals come to you don’t you? It’s because you love them so much.” Tears came as my heart melted. Yes, sweet friend. This is true. This is why I write and do photography and visit schoolchildren… to share about the Ocean and all Her magnificent creatures I love so deeply, so much.

The Sea, Beatitudes and Dawn

The Sea, Beatitudes and Dawn

SimoneLipscomb (1)Sweet bird song awakens me and draws me outdoors. The sweet, salty air and soft waves reach out to me and I walk with paper and pen in hand toward the sea.

Beside the broken concrete, a reminder of the power of the Ocean, I sit. There is just enough light to see ink on the page. The wind is whipping around the corner of the pink sea wall and I wish I had worn my lightweight jacket.

The sea is rolling this morning, even here between Klein Bonaire and the main island. Shore birds are just awaking. A gull flew by, silent in her passing. A small heron follows her. Just now a tern shrieked and dove for breakfast.

A wispy, white cloud in the shape of an angel or sea gull hangs to the south. I face west, watching the gathering light illuminate the sandy edge of Klein Bonaire.

Within a few feet of me two tidal crabs walk, in their crab-like march, to their chosen breakfast spot. The iguana family are late-risers and must have had a long night as they are still asleep, safely curled up under the broken concrete.

More crabs are waking and walking from their night’s rest to breakfast. A fisherman putt-putts by in a small boat. It’s legal to line fish for locals in the National Marine Sanctuary but I feel sad to think about my fish friends becoming dinner for a two-legged species. So few large grouper are here these days.

Over the past 14 years of diving, I have witnessed a steady decline of large fish everywhere. But this morning, right now, I want to celebrate what is here and send love and gratitude to all Ocean life for it is the Ocean that gives most of our oxygen, that truly is the lifeblood of the planet. Without a healthy Ocean, life as we know it is unsustainable.

The angel seagull cloud has dispersed now and glows with a soft peach color. The turquoise and indigo water is brighter now and a soft line of peach-colored haze stretches across the southern sky. To the north, gray clouds hang over the mountains.

More terns are hunting now, flying and hovering, then diving over schools of small fish. The surface of the water ripples with thousands of tiny finned wonders. Something for which to be grateful and happy.

As the gray, pre-dawn light lifts, it’s as if my inner vision clears and mysteries I’ve never known are revealed. I cannot form words about them so must be content to know and trust the wisdom is kept and understood on some deep, visceral level.

A snowy egret just flew past, no doubt finding her perfect breakfasting location. Thousands of gnats are flying in great streams within inches of my face. It’s almost disorienting. Thankfully they don’t bite.

It’s easy to lapse into deep contemplation as the energy of sunrise wraps itself like a blanket around me. So many questions….and yet it seems pointless to engage in internal dialogue. In this eternal moment, everything is in balance. Peace, calm permeates my being and I realize there are no questions…not really. There is just an Ocean of Love.

That’s what it comes down to really. Love is the force that creates this magnificent world. The only thing that disrupts the balance is fear.

The Beatitudes come to mind and for a brief moment I see clearly how human fear is what destroys beauty. The continual drive for more at any cost has, at its base, an intense fear of lack. If we step away from fear and remember the wisdom found in the Beatitudes, we can live in a world of peace and balance….harmony…love.

Small silver-white clouds now dot the sky above me. As I sit with the breeze playing with my hair and chilling my bare skin, I feel a distinct impression of a long-time friend walking down the stairs to my left. So strong is this feeling that I turn to see if he’s there. Perhaps not in body, but in spirit he joins me in the silence and we sit quietly and watch the celebration of life unfold with the dawn.

A whirlwind from beside the step picks up a large, dried leaf and tosses it toward me…a reminder that love never dies, it simply changes form and evolves into higher expression.

I walk up the steps and as I reach the top the golden light of dawn kisses my cheeks. And I smile with deep knowing and understanding.


The Beatitudes….happiness with a focus on love and humility rather than force and exaction. A call for spirituality and compassion. This is the answer that came this morning and one that can heal our world…no matter what religion you practice or don’t practice or if you believe in God, Allah, a higher power, Great Spirit or any named deity.

Blessed are……

…The poor in spirit: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

…Those who mourn: for they will be comforted.

…The meek: for they will inherit the Earth.

…Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they will be filled.

…The merciful: for they will be shown mercy.

…The pure in heart: for they will see God.

…The peacemakers: for they will be called Children of God.

…Those who are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.


Professor Octopus

Professor Octopus

Vase sponge.
Vase sponge and coral.

Third day of Advanced Mermaid Training. The Beast (new housing and strobes) and I are getting along very well and even though its strobe arms appear to be a wild octopus out of the water, under water they behave quite well.

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Trumpet fish is master of disguise.

Today’s lessons were all about adjusting the octopus-like arms of the strobes, adjusting the direction of light, adjusting aperture to create the desired effects and learning ways to hold the heavy housing and strobes and more efficiently and safely enter and exit the water on shore dives. And enjoying being underwater…of course.

Relaxing at the entry.

The sandy beaches with no loose coral to slip on and a gentle-sloping bottom sure made it easier to get myself in and out of the water independently. That felt like a major accomplishment.

SimoneLipscomb (15)On the second dive I felt such bliss…slowly drifting along, communing with the Ocean and all life on the reef. I was completely relaxed and in harmony with the underwater world, my gear and myself. I think this is a key to every mermaid’s happiness and success.

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Professor Octopus demonstrating a perfect sea dance move.

Later, on the third dive of the day, I was completing a solo portion of the dive and spied a large octopus hunting. I got a couple of good shots and am very happy with them; however, a fish photo-bombed the best shot. But no worries. Mermaid Happiness Rulebook, Chapter One, Paragraph one states: “Sea creatures will be drawn to you so never, ever scold one for coming to say hello. Be gracious with every interaction of all sea creatures.”

This fish did a perfect photo-bomb when I was taking the octopus photograph.
This fish did a perfect photo-bomb when I was taking the octopus photograph.

I feel very joyful to have this week to reconnect with my most favorite island and all the friends who live under the sea here.

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Blissed out in mermaid mode.



Mermaid School

Mermaid School

SimoneLipscomb (2)Today’s class began once again before sunrise. Small green and black crabs clung to rocks covered with sea vegetation as waves washed over them. They taught me to hunker down, hang on and allow life’s challenges to proceed without getting caught in the chaos.

SimoneLipscomb (5)Next came a quick rain shower as I stood in the salt water picking up pieces of sea glass. It felt like a salt-water baptism and a good old-fashioned christening. A cleansing, a rite of purification.

SimoneLipscomb (3)First dive of the day was at Salt Pier. The Beast went with me and while I have simply fallen in love with the ability to produce images that do justice to the underwater world, it makes shore entries with surge and waves and loose coral and holes very challenging with such a heavy and awkward set up. Thankful for helpful friends.

SimoneLipscomb (1)Many huge schools of fish welcomed me into their midst as I floated weightless among them. Being a mermaid requires joining large groups of underwater creatures in certain rites and celebrations. Today we collectively moved our gills back and forth and learned to change direction by moving only our tails.

SimoneLipscomb (7)The second dive was at a site near downtown called Something Special. There are many small fish at this location and lots of trash as well. But it’s mostly old trash that ocean life has utilized for homes, as anchors and it has become part of the ecosystem. The teaching here? All of our lives are valuable, even the past…even situations we thought were over and done can be used to build something new and wonderful.

SimoneLipscomb (4)Rest time in mermaid school is very important. Today’s recess involved fixing and eating a healthy lunch, uploading photographs from the morning’s two dives and uploading video footage of two iguanas having breakfast. After a few hours of shade and relaxation, it was time for one more session of class.

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Sponge at Something Special dive site.

The Ocean was the instructor on this final class of the day. The water clarity was as bad as I’ve ever seen it in Bonaire. Brown clouds of particulate matter created a strange color underwater and turned the usual bright blue a strange icky green-brown. But part of being a mermaid is embracing the Ocean no matter what.

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Damsel fish requested her photograph be taken.

After about 30 minutes my dive buddy turned back and I wanted to check on a coral farm further north so I kept going. Not long after we parted, a beautiful hawksbill sea turtle, foraging on sponges, allowed me to approach and respectfully observe. I suppose this was my reward for persevering in less-than-ideal conditions.

After saying goodbye to the turtle I swam to the elk horn coral ‘trees’ and greeted the corals growing and the fish utilizing these unique, man-made trees where coral is grown and then transplanted to areas where coral has died.

I set a strong pace returning back to the exit point to feel the strength of my body and to test my swimming legs a bit. It was great fun and a wonderful way to end the day.

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A selfie taken with The Beast….so grateful to be in this beautiful place and have the right equipment to bring the beauty of the Ocean to those wanting to see.

As my head broke the surface of the water, the sun was close to setting and almost ready to slip beneath the watery horizon. I paused before exiting the water to send gratitude to the Ocean for Her most magnificent day of teaching. Thus ended the second day of Mermaid training, Level 10.


Mermaid Practice…Everything’s Okay

Mermaid Practice…Everything’s Okay

SimoneLipscomb (1)Crystal-clear, warm saltwater caressed my feet and legs. In the gray, pre-dawn light I stood allowing gentle waves to wash away worries, concerns, grief. The Ocean brought me into the present moment.

SimoneLipscomb (5)The morning ritual, while in my Ocean ‘home’ island of Bonaire, is to gather tiny bits of sea glass, tumbled from the constant irritation of sand and movement. It’s a small beach of honey-colored sand, so soft it made me smile with delight. The tinkling sound of bits of coral clinking together was music made by the Ocean…the soundtrack to my morning.

SimoneLipscomb (3)A dry and exposed wall of fossilized coral protected me from the strong and constant winds of this small desert island. I stood gazing into the water and felt someone looking back at me. My eyes scanned the water as movement within a few feet of me caught my attention.

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This is NOT a photograph of a sea turtle…just a nice gathering of corals and sponges.

There, at the edge of the coral and sand, was a small sea turtle. No more than 10 inches across, it was peeking out at me–a lovely little hawksbill turtle.  Mermaid practice started early this morning. The lesson? Everything’s okay. In this moment, at this place…all is well. Time to take a break from planetary destruction, humanity’s hate/humanity’s fighting. Time to allow grief, of loved ones lost, pass into another dimension as the present moment embraced me with such beauty. A juvenile hawksbill friend reminded me of this with her intense gaze from her eyes to mine.

SimoneLipscomb (2)After breakfast I gathered dive gear and headed with my buddy down to the water. It felt magnificent to be submerged again, one with the Ocean, breathing on life-support that would allow me over an hour of communing with my brothers and sisters of the sea.

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Friendly porcupinefish

A friendly and large porcupinefish escorted me for the first half of the dive, looking back occasionally to see if I was still there. One time  he circled back and waited for me when I stopped to look at two spotted moray eels tucked under a coral head. When I turned to head back to the exit point, the sweet, prickly friend waved a fin goodbye. I blew a farewell kiss.

SimoneLipscomb (30)An hour break to hydrate, eat and assemble The Beast–my Aquatica housing for my Nikon D-800 and two massive strobes. I think I should intensify my upper body workouts just to lift the gadgetry.

SimoneLipscomb (22)But once underwater, tools I had only dreamed of in the past became a reality. A big smile erupted from deep within me. This system…this beast of a system…was almost neutrally buoyant…just slightly negatively so. It handled like a dream and produced images with a fisheye lens that made me very happy…finally….I can create images that in some way do justice to the magnificent beauty of this realm, this Ocean of beauty where I find peace.

SimoneLipscomb (12)Before even reaching the drop-off on the reef, three friendly squid played with me and one especially like my dome port. It was a squid dance unequal to any I’ve had in the past. Sometimes they can be shy and evasive but these guys actually invited me to play.

SimoneLipscomb (14)And once again, the larger-than-life porcupinefish met me at our appointed time and posed for a couple of photographs before I turned to head back to dry land….a most challenging proposition for a mermaid-in-training.

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SimoneLipscomb (34)Special thanks to my friends Will and Dolphi for helping me and The Beast into and out of the water. It’s a learning experience…accepting assistance and even asking for it (gasp!). 

Will Tripp dancing with squid.
Will Tripp dancing with squid.