Tag: conscious change

What We Do Matters

What We Do Matters

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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?

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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.’

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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.

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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.

 

 

It Begins with Me

It Begins with Me

SimoneLipscombIt’s difficult to avoid learning of the many assaults to our planet and all life here. It’s possible if the news is avoided, social media is turned off and conversations with friends and family are kept to polite subjects such as the weather. But even that conversation leads to climate change eventually.

I don’t watch the news and haven’t had ‘regular’ television for four years. I haven’t missed it. But the news still finds its way into my life via an NPR app and posts on social media. Being involved in conservation organizations information is passed along about injured or dead sea turtles, dolphins, manatees, birds. And who hasn’t seen the repulsive trophy hunting photographs or those of abused animals? It gets overwhelming and so often I feel anger flare within me.

Photograph Summer 2010...Shell Oil
Photograph Summer 2010…’Shell Oil’

While documenting the Gulf Oil Spill for a year I remember people on Long Island getting upset about potential wind towers offshore. The ghastly wind towers spoiling their view…yes, I thought of their protests as I stood on the beaches of Alabama with my eyes and throat burning from the smell of crude oil and dispersant washed ashore. As sea gulls feet were coated and burning with the sludge and fish were dying in tidal pools, those protestors words echoed in my mind and fueled the rage I felt at what humans were (are) doing to the planet and each other.

simonelipscombIt took attending a week-long retreat with Joanna Macy and thirty other environmental activists for me to come back to myself. We grieved together, celebrated together and learned how to care for our planet without going completely stark raving mad.

Peace finally came to me one day when I imagined walking into a BP board meeting, looking at each person around the table and seeing them as my brothers and sisters instead of bastards. It took a while to get there but I got there.

Photograph I took Summer 2010. It reminds me of a woman's body and so I call it the Rape of Mother Earth
Photograph I took Summer 2010. It reminds me of a woman’s body and so I call it the Rape of Mother Earth

The essential difficulty we face is blaming our ills on others. Whether its pollution, violence, clear cutting, over-fishing, disregard for life….and the endless list continues…when we see ourselves as separate we immediately create the energy of separation and pretend we don’t drive cars, fly in jets, turn on light switches in our homes, eat food brought from across the country, elect corrupt politicians.  Nothing is ever solved from this stance, this snobbery.

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The dilemma I face every day is this: How do I practice love and compassion toward people who destroy the planet with no thought for anything but greed and the love of power…..while knowing that we are One. This is the growing edge upon which I dance. The only answer I have found? It begins with me. It begins with you. It begins with each of us taking personal responsibility for our thoughts and actions….and knowing we cannot control anyone else. Personal responsibility without attachment to an outcome. Not an easy task. I take a lot of deep breaths.

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Our community of Magnolia Springs came together Jan 1, 2015 to aid in the rescue of manatees that were cold-stressed and ill. WE ARE ONE!

It becomes a daily practice of finding stillness within, being non-violent with myself and making choices that back up what I find important…volunteering for manatees, sea turtles, environmental education, watershed protection, non-violent solutions, photographing beauty, writing passionately. You might volunteer to build houses for homeless families or work at a food bank. My other friend might volunteer to do eye surgeries on those who can’t afford it. Perhaps another friend fosters dogs and cats. Maybe someone else reads to children. It’s not that we have to all do the same efforts but that in our unique callings, we create a blanket of love and light. We strengthen the bond of brotherhood and sisterhood with all life.

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We Are One!

When we begin to realize the truth of unity, we can release the blinders of fear that causes us to think we are separate from all life.

Find Your Mountain

Find Your Mountain

_TSL2776Yoga in the courtyard was especially nice this morning. Mild temperatures made it inviting but mostly the past two days were somewhat crazy so creating time for meditative movement in nature was a priority this morning.

I plugged the iPod into the stereo system and made sure the outdoor speakers were on before walking outside. Soothing music, wind rustling through live oak leaves, the grandmother oak tree spreading her branches over the courtyard, over me, brought a feeling of calm.

_TSL2742I went through a nice, intensive flow and then heard, Find your mountain. I stood at the front of my mat and went into Mountain Pose and felt direction to remain in the pose through the song that was playing. I like to move, I like to flow! Stand still and listen, I heard. Still? Stand still?

If I’m not working on something I tend to feel at a loss. I don’t do busy work but find myself seeking a worthwhile project every day. Shooting images and processing them, writing something that I hope will inspire someone, meditating, doing yoga, my barre workout, cycling….being still is not easy for me, at least not outside of sitting meditation.

_TSL2756Mountain Pose in yoga is all about stillness and grounding….and being open but especially standing in stillness. While doing it today I was reminded of the message I’ve been getting for months now: Pause…wait….until the time is right. That’s not so easy for me. Aries are known to impulsive, impatient and ready to lead forward… Wait? Pause? Seriously? It has been an ‘interesting’ few months.

There’s a verse in the Tao Te Ching that is translated something like… “The Tao does nothing yet leaves nothing undone.” I thought of that verse as I was standing in stillness. Another translation… “The Tao never does anything, yet through it all things are done.” It seems to be telling me to allow Life to rise up and move through me and do what needs to be done, without trying to control it or orchestrate it. My path will naturally rise up through me if I can be still and listen and then be ready to act when the time is right.

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When I ‘hear’ messages as strongly as I have the message to wait and pause, it usually means something big is coming. When there is much to do it’s awesome to be able to have the skill of stillness and non-doing as a resource to tap into when things get rushed or pushy. I can carry this grounded energy forward into whatever task awaits.

As I was standing in Mountain Pose I understood the value of having the ability to stop and pause and stand strong and grounded in stillness. This is where clarity can be found and where inner guidance awaits.

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Tender & Gentle–Humpback Whales Part III

Tender & Gentle–Humpback Whales Part III

_TSL2013Tuesday--The day begin with more moon, stars and sea yoga. Practicing with the elements is transformational. I wonder if that’s how it was done long ago…in the beginning. As I practiced I heard to allow the Divine Feminine to shine through me and to come from love. Always come from love in all that I do.

Sunrise found me dancing on the flying bridge in celebration of the day. There is something to be said for dancing with wild abandon with the sunrise after ‘working’ with moon, star and sea energies during yoga practice.

Breakfast, preparing for a day on the Ocean….check dry camera and telephoto lens, check underwater housing…a quick dunk in the camera tank to insure it’s watertight. Fins, mask, snorkel, wetsuit, dry bag with dry camera and other dry stuff….ready to go!

_TSL1694Our day with whales began with a sweet couple. A female and male escort allowed us to view their dreaming. Once again I had the opportunity to meditate with whales for an extended period of time. At-one-ment. This was happening while a complete rainbow arched overhead. I reached a point where I was beyond, beyond blissed-out and so just floated in meditation…rainbow overhead, whales below.

Again I was convinced that whales are not sleeping. Not really. I think it is whale dreaming. When they ‘slept’ I joined them in their whale dreams, in the whale dreamtime. I went into that perfect energy of stillness and silence and connected to that vast mind known as whale.

During my time with this couple, I spent time conveying the messages people sent to them through me. I threw them kisses from Jean. I gave them air hugs from Glenda. I shared Michelle’s message…”Free, I am!” I told them Roxanne sends her love and concern. Jaime’s message asking for forgiveness from them for our abuse of Mother Earth and for communal insight and empathy was shared. Helena’s message of love, love, love, love, love, love and gratitude was shared. I gave them Kolek’s message…and Fran’s. I shared Michael’s message and Debbie’s and asked them to stay away from nets and to accept apologies for human behaviors. And Debbie A’s message of thanks for unknown blessings and Pat’s message of love for the ocean, planet and all life. And Debbie H’s message of love. And Barb’s message of apology for human behavior and our love for them. And Barbara’s message of “Love, love, LOVE!”

_TSL1760-2Tears flowed into my mask as I remembered and shared these messages. I felt receptive hearts and minds listening carefully.

Going into the Vastness of the Whale Mind…I felt gifted with an energetic pattern that will assist me in many ways. Communing with sentient, aware beings through the heart and mind is powerful Medicine.

After a couple rounds of dreaming and coming up for air, the couple swam off touching pectoral fins…tip to tip…side by side. So gentle and sweet were they. And just as they glided away, another couple of humpbacks glided past us. (Where did they come from!?!?).

Holy cow Batman!

_TSL1918Then after a long period with not many whales in sight, we were invited over by the other small boat in our group to a mother, baby and escort who allowed us to get close several, several times. Very close. At one point I was hovering over her fluke so close I could see barnacle scars lining her tail.

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The baby was the most amazing whale I’ve ever met. He laid sideways on mama’s head, upside down on her head, rolled off her head and found every other position imaginable to balance on her head. Such magnificent joy! He also surfaced and practiced his tail lobbing and fin slapping. Then, after tiring, he would rest under her chin.

_TSL1879If we drifted too close, the escort would slowly and gently guide the mom and baby away from us. He didn’t appear upset but was very keen on keeping a certain distance between us and his gal and her babe. The magnetic personality of the baby seemed to draw all of us forward without kicking or swimming. As our hearts opened more we seemed to levitate through the water toward this delightful being.

_TSL1797The trio of whales allowed us and two other groups to take turns observing them for over five hours. Our group went in for lunch at 4.15pm and hurriedly ate and had another beautiful in-water encounter with the same whales. The only time I saw the whales intentionally leave the group of humans was when a person on another trip/small boat did a very loud and splashy entry. The whales moved away  from that boat and settled again near our group.

_TSL2010Tender and gentle describes the day. Mind blown apart is also a good description of the day. My note at the end of the day said this: “I want to write more but I’m so tired and want to do morning moonlight yoga because it’s been freaking amazing! I love you whales! I love you Universe! I am grateful!”

_TSL1861Thus ended the day. I drifted off to sleep with blue water and a baby humpback filling my mind and heart.

Part I–Begin at the Beginning

Part II–Meditating with Whales