Tag: conscious change

In Defense of Place

In Defense of Place

_TSL4000Experiencing a sense of place helps us connect who we are to the land, water, wildlife…all life…in an area. It gives us a eco-spiritual sense of Oneness with life. “A sense of place results gradually and unconsciously from inhabiting a landscape over time, becoming familiar with its physical properties, accruing history within its confines, ” is how Kent Rydon describes it.

Wallace Stegner says we love, value and invest our labor and emotions into a particular area and that gives us a sense of place. Wendell Berry said, “If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.” The human being’s deep connection to a particular area or place is how we form a deep bond with the planet and in particular a familiar place on the planet.

_TSL3998The human experience of the landscape grows from identifying oneself in relationship to a particular piece of land.

JB Jackson said, “It is place, permanent position in both the social and topographical sense, that gives us our identity.”

The beginning of this sea turtle nesting season is the fifth season I’ve volunteered with Share the Beach, a volunteer organization dedicated to helping sea turtles. This is the third season I’ve walked one particular section of the beach. I dream of it weeks before the sunrise walks begin. I crave its beauty throughout the year and especially when the walking patrols end.

_TSL4093When I attended our team’s first meeting this year I was shocked to see my section had been switched. I felt panic and got defensive. WHY can’t I walk ‘my’ section? It was simply an error on the schedule but I was surprised to see how upset I got.

Today was the third Sunday morning of walking the section I have come to call Friend. When another team member dropped me off at my car, after we each finished our respective sections, this person suggested we switch sections throughout the summer. Without taking a breath I replied, “Why would I do that?”

_TSL4059As I was driving home I was once again bewildered by the stance I took, protecting the time I have with this section of beach. Precious time….sacred land and water. I began to explore my feelings and the shield I am erecting between anyone who dares come between this mile and a half stretch of beach and me. I realized a deep sense of place has formed between my heart, my being and this area.

One of the reasons cited for humans lack of care and concern about our planet is poor development of a sense of place. If we aren’t connected to the land and water and all life within it, we are much less likely to safeguard it from development, pollution and other assaults against it.

_TSL4079At first I was self-critical of my reactions and then I realized that the deep love I have developed for this small stretch of beach has enriched my life profoundly. I recognize the great blue herons that hunt in the shallows. Last year a pair of oyster catchers foraged along the shore for several weeks and every time I saw them excitement stirred within my heart. Various tracks leading from the protected wildlife refuge onto the areas of human foot traffic tell stories each morning I visit and its always sweet to see evidence of the daily lives of the creatures who inhabit the dunes and marshes.

A sense of place is vital to not only the health of the planet but to our health as well. As Wendell Berry wrote, “Healing is impossible in loneliness; it is the opposite of loneliness. Conviviality is healing. To be healed we must come with all the other creatures to the feast of Creation.”

IMG_4326The small stretch of shoreline has been a friend who has aided in my growth and healing. To not show up for Sunday morning visits would leave a dark emptiness within me. I want to see if it’s okay, if there are injured wildlife or trash or holes that could injure or kill a sea turtle. I take ownership for the well-being of the creatures that live here. I feel connected to it.

“I believe that the world was created and approved by love, that it subsists, coheres, and endures by love, and that, insofar as it is redeemable, it can be redeemed only by love. I believe that divine love, incarnate and indwelling in the world, summons the world always toward wholeness, which ultimately is reconciliation and atonement with God.” Thank you Wendell Berry for writing exactly what I feel.

_TSL4092Join in communion with a place that is sacred, special. Develop a relationship with it, get to know its residents. When we have a clear sense of place, we can then stand in defense of place.


The New Normal

The New Normal

_TSL2010How do major awakenings, experiences of cosmic consciousness and expansion translate to every day life? This has been my burning question since the last humpback whale week.

It happens when we have meaningful experiences that change our lives. It might be something big like humpback whales floating 15 feet from us or something as simple as seeing a mother bird care for her young. Something out of the ordinary changes us.

SimoneLipscomb (8)Often the positive change or spark of awakening is difficult to integrate into daily life. We still have to clean the cat box, put fuel in the car, decide what to have for dinner when we’d rather stay in that space of bliss and cosmic Oneness. Of course. Who wouldn’t?

For decades I’ve tried to figure out how to integrate peak experiences into my life. The last week with humpbacks was so profound that my quest to gain wisdom on the integration process accelerated.

Last week major moments of awareness came (In the End…It’s Love) and today, during and hours after Augusta’s yoga class, integration came.

Cosmic Whale-2
Last week the image of a vast cosmos within emerged from the work I was doing to keep my heart open. It was as if a the Universe was within me–stars and planets and space.  Today that vision returned and it reminded me of the night sky over the ocean with silver whale breath illuminated by the moon. It was as if I was becoming the vastness, becoming the cosmos. I felt the magnitude of that week opening to the present moment. The thread that connected the peak experience with the every day one was staying open to love, keeping my heart open.

_TSL4572The mind revolts when we really focus on opening the heart. Fears, objections, warnings arise. But if by some touch of grace we can keep the intention of opening the heart as our goal and just keep practicing without collapsing into fear, we will eventually burn away the dross and be left with the pure gold of a healed, open, loving heart. This sacred alchemy not only transforms our lives, it transforms the world around us.

_TSL3955Peak experiences can become the new normal. An open heart can open our lives in ways we never dared dream.



Working Together

Working Together

IMG_4121-2“Sea turtle nesting season has begun?” the gentleman asked. “Yes. Today’s the first day and isn’t it lovely,” I replied. We conversed a few moments and then he walked east, I walked west and each of us continued our tasks. He with his trash bag and pick-up stick to aid in his cleaning the beach, me  looking for sea turtle tracks with my camera and green Share the Beach shirt that identifies me as a sea turtle volunteer.

_TSL3768What a glorious morning. Not just because of the soft sunrise, gentle breeze and waves pushing on to the shore. For the first time in four years there were no tents, chairs, fishing rods or other entanglement hazards (for wildlife) left on the beach. The new effort by the cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach has turned progressively trashed beaches into place that felt welcoming to humans and wildlife. Leave Only Footprints!

_TSL3742As I continued my walk, looking for sea turtle tracks near the wrack line, I thought how wonderful it felt to have so many groups and individuals on board to help our beaches and the wildlife that inhabits them. The US Fish & Wildlife Service, Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, Cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, volunteers who walk all Alabama coastline from May 1st to September 1st, individuals who use their morning stroll to clean up debris left or washed in by the tide. It takes all of us working together to make it work.

_TSL3754The dunes are building with sea oats that the city planted a couple years ago. These small plants are anchors for small dunes to build in front of the primary dune line. People are working together. It felt like balance returning to our beaches.

This is good news. This is what it takes to make positive change….working together.

What We Do Matters

What We Do Matters

Recently I came across a book by Boyd Norton entitled, Conservation Photography Handbook: How to Save the World One Photo at at Time. Dr. Jane Goodall endorsed the book saying, “Boyd Norton inspires you to take action with your camera to save wilderness and wildlife everywhere.” His life’s work is impressive and he gives good tips. But it was the title that really grabbed me….How to Save the World One Photo at a Time.

In a time of increased pressure from over-fishing and pollution…noise, plastic, chemicals, excessive nutrients, raw sewerage…the Ocean struggles. All life within it struggles. And with an estimated 70% of the planet’s oxygen produced by phytoplankton, it’s not that much of a stretch to see that all planetary life dependent on oxygen to survive will be negatively impacted if the Ocean systems fail. Plain speak? Human life is in danger as much as any life connected to the sea.

As an Ocean lover, a person dedicated to working for the sea, it’s really difficult to know what to do on a daily basis. The path of science wasn’t my calling. It was the call of the relationship with the salt water and her life that lit the fire of passion within my heart…relationship to beauty and the intense desire to translate this beauty and the emotion it stirs within me to others. How does the life of an artist lend itself to saving whales or manatees or phytoplankton?

Reaper with her calf (left)

Today I submitted images of humpback whale flukes I took in February to the Center for Coastal Studies, an organization that protects whales. They shared with the North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalog. I was able to share photographs of Reaper, a female humpback, and her calf with these organizations. I found out that Reaper summers in the Gulf of Maine. From metadata on my photographs I could give dates and times seen.

Reaper's calf breaching
Reaper’s calf breaching

That might not feel like much of a big deal to some folks but for me, a woman driven nearly insane witnessing the struggles all life faces due to human carelessness, this was a big deal. It felt as if my work adds to the efforts of these scientists who work to protect whales. It felt like something I did mattered.

Grocery list and notes about whale photos...my desk is a creative cauldron
Grocery list and notes about whale photos…my desk is a creative cauldron

One of my yoga teachers shared a Jack Kornfield quote with me recently. “It is not given to us to know how our life will affect the world. What is given to us is to tend the intentions of our heart and to plant beautiful seeds with our deeds. Do not doubt that your good actions will bear fruit, and that change for the better can be born from your life. May our actions be a product of our wisdom and compassion even when the immediate result is uncertain or not visible.”

It’s nice when those good intentions of the heart find a home, make a difference.

SimoneLipscomb (25)When I helped organize the rescue of Magnolia, our wayward Alabama manatee, it showed me what a few people can do to create a crowd of folks willing to help. Following her story from rescue, through rehab at Sea World Orlando, to release at Three Sisters Springs was an experience that changed my life and encouraged me to keep doing the work of my heart.

Mother and Calf Bliss
Mother and Calf Bliss

Everyone isn’t called to the Ocean to swim with whales or manatees or sharks. Some may find their heart’s work in schools or in inner cities, working as a nurse or physician, a computer programmer, a scientist….or by sharing music, painting, prose and poetry with the world. Each of us brings a special gift by simply opening our hearts and following our passion. We create a kaleidoscope of beauty, each bit of it necessary for healing and wholeness.

Reaper with a massive tail breach
Reaper with a massive tail breach

What we do matters.

Love and Gratitude

Love and Gratitude



From Sunday night:_TSL2742I can’t sleep. When I close my eyes I see the large, white truck pulling out into the side of my car and the headlights illuminating my car’s interior, my face and the words rush into my mind, I’m not ready to die yet.

Snuggled safely in bed now tender moments of the evening flash back into my mind. Sweet hugs, kisses on my forehead and cheek, a bear hug that lifted me off the ground, smiles, friends sharing kind words, music. And earlier in the day…lunch with my mom and brother.

After the truck nearly took me out, my knees shook and I felt nauseous. The remaining fifteen minutes of the drive home gave me time to contemplate life and the thing I kept hearing was this: Take risks, share your feelings with others, don’t wait to reach out to someone you care about or love. None of us are guaranteed a single day. Live every moment with your highest ability to give and receive love.

_TSL2058Too often we allow fear to keep us from letting someone know how we feel…appreciation, gratitude, love…we hold back and possibly never experience a precious relationship or special moment with a friend. Emotional honesty takes courage yet when we take the risk, we gain freedom.

Earlier on the drive home I had been thinking about the evening. Several people commented positively on my work or social media posts and perhaps for the first time I really heard them, took in their gift of emotional honesty and fully received their message. Not easy for me. So I was reflecting on the ability to receive such precious gifts just before the ‘scare.’

SimoneLipscomb (2)
To my friends this evening who were gathered listening to Eric and David play their amazing music, thank you for embracing me with love and joy. For the sweetness of life we shared, I am profoundly grateful. Each of you is a jewel in my life, a unique and beautiful gem.

And if it had been my last night on this planet, the music was outstanding and as Eric sings, I get carried away. So thanks for the music guys.

_TSL3955And here’s a reminder for us all: Have the courage to tell someone how you feel. Hug freely, give of yourself, surrender to the work that wants to come through you and above all, love fully and completely.

SimoneLipscomb (3)And….thanks again angels. I don’t understand how miracles happen, but I know they do.