Tag: Bonaire

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.


Divine Madness

Divine Madness

SimoneLipscomb (4)Divine Madness: Following my heart’s vision…no matter how crazy it seems, no matter what fear whispers in my ear…daring to listen…be open to the tapping of the Ocean’s liquid fingers upon my heart…calling me….calling me home.

I recognized fear was slyly hanging out in the background with her arms crossed and her foot tapping. To move past it, I had to go through it. The steady beat of the frame drum took me deeper into my fear until I came out on the other side. There I found communion with the sea. There I found peace…and laughter–laughter derived from an open heart. I was prompted to look at my old writing to find evidence left for myself with paper and pen.

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“The silver water reflects the golden glow of the slowly fading day. Puffy white clouds hang suspended, weightless. In the distance, towering thunderheads look down on us, their anvil heads flattened in the thinning atmosphere.

Golden rays of sunlight cut through the anvils creating a golden mist through which we fly. Small, green, jungle-covered islands lie below as we follow the leeward islands to our destination. Just now, the small island below is shaped like a sperm whale. A fringing reef creates a light turquoise border and a deeper indigo leads out to sea.

SimoneLipscomb (17)Slowly we move, our propellers keeping us to a respectable, relaxed speed. I don’t want to hurry. I want to soak up this beauty.

The water is golden now, orange-tinted gold water filling me with such peace. Above this liquid light and layers of yellow mist I reflect back to my first dive trip when my mermaid self was released from her shell. She willingly and freely allowed me to pack her green iridescence among my wet dive gear as I tearfully flew home. She doesn’t care where she resides, as long as she and I are one. As long as I promise to dive and keep her home as my second home, we co-exist peacefully. She and I, mermaid and human with a cetacean soul.

My mermaid self, green and glistening scales shimmering and shaking with excitement, is smiling. Before too long we will be exploring reefs, playing once again in turquoise bliss.

SimoneLipscomb (16)As I glance back, behind my perch inside the plane, a line of intense sky-blue color pierces the cloud bank and sits atop greenish orange layers of early evening sky. Then the warmth of the golden sun breaks through layers of crazy colors and caresses my face. I am part of this magnificent moment, this blessed unfolding of darkness as it makes its way across the heavens.

Finally, the orange orb slips quietly into the waiting embrace of the mighty ocean.

In the after-sunset glow, the ocean has turned into a lavender expanse of immense potential…for peace, for power…unlimited lavender love-filled ocean. I drift along through the sky, knowing that words can no longer express this bounty of beauty spread horizon to horizon. I must be content gazing into it and allowing it to fill me, wash me clean with its power.

SimoneLipscomb (18)I close my eyes and see the goddess of the sea walking on mist-covered cloud canyons, suspended over the ocean. The ocean is her skirt, pearls drape her skin and water droplets, sparkling in the orange light of sunset reflect the magic. Her hair is long strands of seaweed, her eyes deep indigo and she raises her arm and points to me and calls me to her. Flames come from her eyes, her finger tips and mouth as she sings to me the song of my soul.

Feel your power, daughter of mine. Feel the energy of your soul coursing through your veins. Claim your self. Free yourself. Free woman, holy woman. Yours are the skirts of fire-red sunsets. Yours are the eyes of deep Earth. Your feet walk among green mountains, your soul soars in the sky. Dive among the waters but know, this is a gift of time given to you. Shape shift to your dolphin self and be with the joy that is you. Submerge in the baptism of salt water, be free in your mind and heart. You walk in two worlds, daughter. Full of promise, full of light. Let your gentle soul find expression. You have passed the test and now have earned your freedom to dance among the stars and dive in the depths of indigo. Follow your heart. Follow your creativity. Don’t worry. Don’t press. Relax and allow your creative energies to be freed. Allow….it’s your time.

She lifts a conch to her lips and blows into its spirals. She has sounded my name and I answer with happiness and gratitude.”

SimoneLipscomb (13)From a box of musings, July 2001.

“A silver moon glade rippled across the surface of the ocean. The black velvet sky was sprinkled with twinkling stars. The ocean was calm, hardly rocking the boat.

I stood on deck, gazing into the intense light reflected on the water. A slight breeze stirred my hair and kissed my bare skin. I felt the pull of the full moon and ocean in my soul like a bow being drawn across strings of a cello.

As the moon continued to rise over open ocean, the turquoise water became transparent. It was difficult to tell if the light was coming from the moon or somewhere below the water’s surface. Light bounced off the white, sand bottom and produced visions of otherworldly realms.

Nearby the exhalation of a dolphin broke my reverie and I tried to find her but she remained a mystery, hidden from view below the surface. I longed to dive in yet the moonlight held me transfixed. I could only stand in utter gratitude, feeling the elements around and within me. Joy bubbled up from deep inside of me and I laughed out loud.

When I looked into the velvet night and gazed at the twinkling diamonds floating there as stars, I felt the creative force so huge, so immense. The starlight called me and something from deep within answered and was born.

In those magic moments I saw the stars as stepping stones, lighting our path home as we move closer and closer to Source. Each star we reach fills us with more love. Each leap we make clears out more of who we are not to bring us into closer alignment with who we are–children of light.”

SimoneLipscomb (11)And one more excerpt from October 2007:

“Over the years my goals, while underwater, have changed. At first, I simply wanted to remember enough of what I was supposed to learn in my scuba class to stay alive. Gradually, I added tasks such as photography or navigation to build my skills. Now, years after my first underwater breath on scuba, I simply enjoy being still and becoming a member of the watery community.

For instance, this morning I watched minute-sized crabs, no bigger than the nail of my little finger and white as the sand, move about the bottom and eat. I have no idea what they were eating because I could barely see them, much less their food.

SimoneLipscomb (2)I also watched the rays of the sunrise penetrate the water and illuminate the white sand into moving patterns of geometric wonder. Few things in life are as precious to me as moments observing life in a salty, liquid environment.”

Through these and other bits of writing I unearthed today, I saw the strong desire to help the Ocean, to be an advocate for all life in the sea. The last line from my October 2007 trip to Bonaire was this: Follow my deep, deep love of the Ocean. Write a love story to the Ocean.

When I have doubts about the direction I’m heading, it helps to review the breadcrumbs I’ve left behind in the form of my writing. One sentence stood out among the many pages I read today: “If the Ocean is the passion that lights my heart, wouldn’t I do everything in my power to document and share the beauty of it so others might see and understand its importance and then take action to protect it.”

Of course.

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Keep It Real

Keep It Real

simonelipscomb.com (202)I woke up early my first morning back from two weeks of desert and ocean and heard myself say out loud, “Keep it real.” I was referring to breaking out of that habit of turning on an electronic device as soon as I was conscious. There, among fish, cactus and iguanas, I was either scuba diving at dawn, photographing the sunrise or writing beside the Ocean…all contemplative and solitary experiences. I didn’t want to return to old habits.

simonelipscomb.com (5)With pen and pad in hand, I went to my hammock chair on the back screened porch. It seemed to be inviting me to sit and contemplate.  The cat kids joined me as we welcomed the day under the massive arching branches of my friend, the grandmother live oak tree. I sat quietly observing the sounds, listening to the dawn.

simonelipscomb (121)I’ve pondered the reason I feel so alive in Bonaire. Is it diving? Ocean? Desert? Latitude? What if it’s simply spending so many hours outdoors each day. What if it’s that simple.

simonelipscomb (44)There are many distractions at home…stacks of mail to sort and recycle, Netflix series  paused mid-season, Facebook, emails, telephone messages. It’s an endless list created just to navigate each day. Everything on my to-do list seems to take me further away from the reality of nature and more specifically, the connection that nature and I share. When I unplug from nature, I am unplugging from my self. These castles of distractions I build seem to carry me further from home, further from who I am in my most physical self and spiritual core.

simonelipscomb.com (215)Rainbow cotton threads supported my body and I swayed gently. Birdsong filled the air. A barred owl hooted nearby. Cardinals, chickadees, titmice, wrens, warblers and even a random sea gull voice created a welcome song to the day. Flashes of wings flitted among the courtyard greenery as my cats and I sat watching, welcoming life.

Stanley K, my orange tabby friend, jumped on the ledge at the screen and threaded his head in and out of the hammock support strings. I don’t know why he did it but he appeared to be having fun. So I wondered….what do I do just because it is fun and playful? Do I miss out on life because I’m too serious….there are those piles of correspondence in paper and electronic form. Do I allow myself the freedom of play while in the land of saltwater and desert, fish and iguanas and not so much when I return? Do I censor my relationship with nature?

simonelipscomb (10)The day before I wandered through my yard and noticed someone had trimmed the shrubs in my yard while I was away…without my request or permission. I felt anger arise. I don’t like them cut into perfect spheres and prefer a more natural shape so the new shape really irritated me as it was generated from some random person that maintains the development’s plants (not invited into my yard). I sat with my strong emotions as an observer and realized that in Bonaire it’s easy to be fully who I am, open with my wild-woman self…the part of me that is fiercely connected to nature, gently connected…deeply aware of her connection with all life. When I return to my home it feels like a constant inner battle to stay real with my self, like I’m fighting an established norm to fit into a box or in the case of my shrub friends, a ‘perfect’ sphere. It’s draining and exhausting at times.

SimoneLipscomb (6)I don’t like boxes or conforming for the sake of conforming; yet I know, on some deep level, the constant attention to the edge is what motivates me to create. Dancing with the edge builds courage. It cultivates determination. It deepens passion to pursue the dreams. Just realizing this truth gives me understanding and thus fuels my efforts even more to keep it real…to stay connected with trees, earth, animals, sky, ocean….to dance with nature as She calls me.

simonelipscomb.com (6)Am I willing to drink the Koolaid and conform to the machine that keeps me asleep to my strong, wild and outrageously beautiful connection with nature or am I willing to continue to work for my freedom? If you’ve read this far and you know anything about me you already know the answer to that question. Koolaid be damned.