Tag: consumerism

Desire is the Parent of Fear

Desire is the Parent of Fear

Photograph by Jen Fraser
Photograph by Jen Fraser…Photoshop play by Simone

This was a morning of tears…intense tears welling up from the grief I carry within my heart for this planet…and all life here. Some days it nearly overwhelms me. I want to stand as a witness to what is happening but some days it is difficult. Thank goodness for small acts of kindness and love that I also bear witness to for these keep me sane, hopeful.

SimoneLipscomb (2)

…I drove by a large area that had been clear cut. Massive oaks, pines…lay in piles. I couldn’t help but scream, “ENOUGH! ENOUGH DESTRUCTION!” I’m not sure who I was screaming to…myself, the tree cutters, the developers…God?

…The other night I dreamed I was at a car dealer and kept saying, But I don’t need a new car. They kept wanting me to test drive this model or that one. I felt brainwashed and fought to stay conscious of the truth.

SimoneLipscomb (12)The biggest lie we are taught from the moment we take our first breath is that we don’t have enough. Or that the vehicle that gets a few miles on it must be replaced with a sparkling new model. Or the TV we have is four inches smaller than the new model which is also three inches thinner. Our clothes are the wrong style or the wrong color. Our hair is the wrong color. Our skin the wrong color……

SimoneLipscomb (3)Our entire society, economy, mental structure is based on making more money, having more stuff…more, more, more. The programming is so insidious that we aren’t aware that we are wired to participate in the steady but sure depletion of planetary resources. Like robots we march through our lives thinking we are not okay unless we have more stuff. We equate more with safety.

Sadly, the USA has become the model for the world in consumerism but this modus operandi comes with a great cost.

Our planet is a reflection of our mental hygiene...or lack of
Our planet is a reflection of our mental hygiene…or lack of

As a collective, our mental hygiene has gone to hell. Our emotional lives have become wastelands. We believe we are inherently flawed unless we live the ‘American dream.’ And so with our minds–our most powerful tool–we perpetuate a living hell of accumulating more stuff which creates debt and feelings of worthlessness brought about by the perpetual desire to have more stuff so that we are okay…we are safe. This mindset takes us deeper into a spiral of destruction in our personal lives and as a planetary family.

SimoneLipscomb (6)The good news is that because our minds are so powerful we have the ability to create different lives for ourselves. It supposedly takes 30 days to change a behavior. The first step is being aware of how our behaviors stem from our thoughts, our beliefs. This means we have to monitor our thoughts…what am I telling myself? That is the place to begin. Unraveling a lifetime of programming will take more than 30 days; however, the place to begin is at the beginning. Question every impulse to buy a new this…a new that. Do I need this or is this my programming creating this impulse?

SimoneLipscomb (15)It’s time to step out of the drama of the chaotic, consumer-driven world of greed and fear. When we take this step it is not a loss we will experience but a birth into a higher, more genuine quality of life. It is time to awaken from our slumber, to arise from our unconscious state and recognize our part in the destruction of our planet by supporting uncontrolled and profit-driven individuals and corporations who care for nothing but…more.

SimoneLipscomb (16)“Desire defeats its own end…desire is the parent of fear”*…when we understand this, we can release the desire for more and feel the grip of fear release the choke-hold it has on our lives. The place to begin is at the beginning.

*“Desire defeats its own ends, for it is the parent of fear.” These words were written by psychologist, teacher, artist and mystic Dion Fortune. 


Whose Story is it Anyway?

Whose Story is it Anyway?

Geshe Thupten Dorjee

At the lunch table yesterday a discussion began… it actually continued from weeks ago. My friend Geshe Thupten Dorjee was describing teachings he is sharing with people to help them overcome challenges. He said that our suffering and pain comes from being unsatisfied and discontent. One reason is because we respond to things that happen in our lives with old behavior patterns.

An example he gave was of a hunter and a bear trap. If the hunter baits the trap the bear doesn’t have to step in it. The bear makes a choice to step into the trap or avoid it. Likewise, we make choices that either keep us trapped or give us freedom.

A few weeks ago our Voluntary Sustainability group was discussing the hook. I describe the hook as being dangled tauntingly by circumstances in our lives, especially in our relationships with other humans. We are so conditioned to respond in a certain way that we often bite the bait and the hook even when the consequences result in pain and suffering. And we know, even before biting the hook, that our behavior will create suffering in our lives….but we do it anyway.


Years ago a friend suggested I journal about my personal myth. I had no idea what she meant. My personal myth? But over the years I have come to understand that each of us has a story upon which we base our lives. Our story comes from society, family and teachers in our young lives but continues to grow as we become fixated on it and unable to break free from it. As a practicing psychotherapist, I witnessed some clients identify so strongly with labels and rigid personal stories that they found it almost impossible to find healing and wholeness. “I was an addict so …..” or “I was mistreated as a child so….” or “Nobody liked me in my family so…..”  All stories upon which their lives were tightly woven, too comfortable and familiar, even with suffering or agony, to rewrite.

Geshe-la gave the example of a medical doctor thinking that a fine car, huge home, country club membership and all the fluffy fixings were part of being a doctor, that those things defined what being a doctor means. Not that there is anything wrong with nice stuff, but creating a life story around a limiting societal belief gives a person little room to be fully able to bring their gifts and talents into this life, to experience freedom that comes from being authentic and real.

The Work That Reconnects with Joanna Macy
by Simone Lipscomb

This lunchtime discussion created an opportunity for me to reflect upon our relationship with Earth. What stories do we buy into? What information do we take as valid without question? How have we failed to challenge mega corporations who continue to rape the planet?  They tell us we need what they are producing but do we? Whose story is that?

We have a most amazing opportunity to rewrite the story of our relationship with the planet. Each day we can add a new chapter. This is a living story, an unfolding love story….or a murder mystery. It is our choice.

Manatee, Three Sister’s Springs
by Simone Lipscomb
And Then There Was Silence

And Then There Was Silence

Today I was presenting a workshop on relieving stress through connection with nature. At one point participants were paired and were completing sentences given to them as cues. The room was lively as people shared about places they loved, animals and other nature-related themes. At one point I gave them the cue: What’s happening to our planet makes me feel….  The energy in the room suddenly shifted and it was quiet. Sad, depressed, scared….twenty-one individuals united for a moment by their concern about our world.

We need to get together, share our concerns and work together to create change. One thing is certain–if we do nothing, nothing will change.

“There are plenty of sea turtles” and other misconceptions

“There are plenty of sea turtles” and other misconceptions

I posted a photo of a sea turtle caught in a net on Facebook today and it had a link supporting TED’s or Turtle Excluding Devices. Two people connected with the commercial seafood industry cried out in anger saying shrimpers didn’t hurt sea turtles and they loved nature and besides (and I quote) “There are plenty of sea turtles.” After my blood pressure came back to normal and I got really depressed about nature’s continued destruction by humans I decided to do a little research.

First of all, all sea turtles that visit or live in US waters are on the endangered species list. National Marine Fisheries Service cites the following reasons: Destruction/alteration of nesting and foraging habitats (coastal development), incidental capture in commercial and recreational fisheries, entanglement in marine debris and vessel strikes. So while the shrimpers in the Gulf of Mexico may love nature, their nets do kill sea turtles and finned fish and other marine life that cannot escape. This is a known fact.

In 2011 more than 3500 threatened and endangered sea turtles washed up dead on the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts. Only 5 to 6% of dead turtles wash ashore…do the math on the total estimated number of sea turtles killed just last year.

Nets properly equipped with TED’s are proved to be 97% effective in releasing sea turtles. And this comes after trials and rebuilds on the equipment. Very few shrimpers voluntarily used TED’s so laws were put into practice to require some shrimpers to use TED’s.

According to the person that replied to my post, the government is lying about all this. He went on to say that coastal development hurt sea turtles as did other fishing boats who don’t use TED’s and he’s right on both accounts. But I  know of shrimpers that used to shoot sea turtles, years ago, because they would get in their nets. I actually even found one shot and dead on the beach many years ago. Times have changed for sure. Hopefully that kind of behavior is no longer practiced. Now, if someone does that and gets caught they go to prison and lose their boat.

We think that kind of atrocious behavior is in the past but actually on June 21st of this summer, a bottlenose dolphin was found with a screwdriver sticking in its head. It had been reported in Perdido Bay and was still alive but was later discovered dead. So much for humans acting appropriately. Even the fine of up to $100,000 and a year in jail doesn’t deter people who, for whatever reason, cannot temper their inclination for seriously stupid and cruel behavior.

I find myself overwhelmed with emotions of sadness, grief and anger at what we humans are doing to this planet and each other. There are people that care and there are people that refuse to accept responsibility for their behaviors and call it the Will of God if a species goes extinct. So…should we not have doctors and let the problem species of the planet die off? Then everything else would come into balance. Of course not. But oh for a magic pill that would help us all see how our behaviors, thoughts, intentions and actions are destroying the planet and each other.

When I found myself deep in dark emotions this afternoon, I lit and candle and said a prayer for understanding. A few minutes later, while folding clothes, I heard these words: Those that don’t care about the planet and are only concerned about how much wealth they can amass, want you to quit, to give up. They want everyone who is bringing awareness, practicing compassion and love–to wildlife, wild places, and people who are hurting–to give up. Don’t give them the satisfaction. Love deeply, have compassion for all life and continue with the Work.

I replied back to the gentleman and let him know I heard his frustration about developers getting away with anything because they have money. I understand and agree. I also agree that some commercial and recreational fishermen and women follow the rules and some don’t. What I suggested was a dialogue between fishermen and women and National Marine Fisheries and NOAA. Rather than fighting each other and both sides claiming the other is lying, find common ground. Start healthy, sane dialogues. Otherwise we are destined to repeat and perpetuate the same old dysfunctional way of being.

Blue Dawn

Blue Dawn

Today’s sea turtle nest patrol didn’t yield a new nest or crawls but it yielded over 100 pounds of trash in a mile and a half stretch of beach. My regular patrol volunteer buddy couldn’t walk today so I walked by myself. I arrived at the beach before 5am and took time exposure photographs of the Gulf. The water looks magically calm and surreal in the images but in reality it was quite rough.The high seas add to the regular beach trash by dumping all manner of junk along the shoreline.

When I got to my turnaround point I saw another volunteer and she had ‘mistakenly’ walked the beach looking for nests. I was busily picking up trash, as I made the return trip, with a bag I had secured from the kind folks at Gulf State Park Pier. Lu and I filled the bag to the point where we had to empty it three times. A 30 minute walk to over 2.5 hours to do while picking up litter. Here’s a sample of what we found:

Plastic drink bottles, plastic water bottles, glass beer bottles, been cans, soda cans, two disposable diapers, a plastic tampon applicator, over 100 plastic bottle tops, plastic bins, plastic tubs, oil containers, balloons, kites, string, monofilament fishing line, fishing leaders, latex gloves, flip flops, broken sun glasses, cheap snorkeling masks, wool sock, countless kids plastic beach toys, plastic floats, candy wrappers, foil drink (Capri sun) plastic straws, styrofoam cups and plates and pieces, plastic cups, pieces of large plastic ‘things,’ large plastic water bottle (for a cooler), half an Otterbox brief case encased with all kinds of ocean life, food wrappers, foil, unidentifiable plastic things…..and on and on and on. There were also cigarette butts by the thousands that we didn’t pick up. The problem with EVERYTHING we picked up and the cigarette butts is that none of it degrades, decomposes…goes away. At least not for a VERY long time.

Here’s the time frame of decomposition for some of the trash we found:

Wool sock–1 to 5 years, cigarette butts–10-12 years, foamed plastic cups–50 years, plastic containers–50-80 years, aluminum can–200-500 years, plastic bottles–450 years, disposable diapers–550 years, monofilament fishing line–600 years, plastic bags–200-1000 years.

Take a minute and think about this….breathe it in and sit with it. (Pause).

Just yesterday I read an article on recycling cigarette butts. Did you know they are made of plastic? They don’t decompose as some may think. A cigarette tossed on the ground is there to stay for a LONG time.The filter is made of the same material as plastic bags. One company is making guitar picks and other happy things from cigarette butts instead of the butts being put into land fields or worse, ending up on the ground. Cigarette butts are the most common type of litter found.

Yesterday I read an article by a favorite reporter of mine, Dahr Jamail. Oceans of Pollution, is an important read for all concerned about the health of our planet. Jamail quotes a study that warns, “without profound and prompt changes in human behavior, we will cause a ‘mass extinction in the oceans with unknown ecological consequences.'” He also quotes Alanna Mitchell, “Every tear you cry…ends up back in the ocean system. Every third molecule of carbon dioxide you exhale is absorbed into the ocean. Every second breath you take comes from the oxygen produced by plankton.”

If our plankton dies in the ocean, we die. It’s as simple as that. The ocean produces the majority of oxygen we breathe…even if you happen to live in the center of a continent with no access to the ocean, the ocean is what gives you oxygen. As plastic gets more deeply rooted into our ocean food chain, we are seeing more ill effects and consequences from the toxins used to create it. We are quite literally killing our ocean and therefore, killing ourselves.

As Lu and I walked, several people came up and thanked us, one guy expressed his love of the planet, another young man expressed his frustration at how people can be in the presence of such beauty and completely miss it and trash it. A few people actually helped us along the way. Some hung their head in shame as we carried the heavy bag, filled with human-generated pollution and as I made eye contact, I saw their grief at what, collectively, we are doing to our planet.

It was no coincidence that two strong articles came across my desk yesterday and today I found myself surrounded and astounded by a mountain of trash in just a mile and a half of Gulf of Mexico beach. We no longer have the luxury of turning away when we see places like this. We must breathe deep and connect with our compassion for all life and do whatever we can to make a positive difference. We can no longer luxuriate in anger, frustration, hopelessness. Now is the time to be active stewards of our Ocean.