Tag: Corky Hughes

Flow Like a River

Flow Like a River

“May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.” Rainer Maria Rilke

The manatee played with my vest, searching for something interesting to satisfy her curiosity. I kept flooding my mask as I laughed into the snorkel while holding my big underwater housing at an awkward angle for a selfie with my friend. This was a moment when unbounded joy leaped from my heart and the experience of Oneness was celebrated. I think Rilke had it right….be as a child and let life flow.

I see that with musicians, especially at venues like The Frog Pond in Silverhill, Alabama, where singer-songwriters are encouraged to jam. When the minds of musicians go into that flow, they sync and magic happens. Literally….it unfolds before our eyes.

I want to explore the world with the spirit of flow and openness. When I can be in that place within my Self, I can find holy ground no matter where I roam.

 

When I was in Ireland last September, on the island of Inis Mor, I allowed the spirit of flow to take my feet and surrendered to the direction it led. The path dead-ended at an ancient bee hive stone hut. Far in the distance was a beautiful white horse. I couldn’t see a way to the horse but longed to meet it.

Later that day, our retreat attendees went with a guide to the same place and there, in front of the stone hut was the white horse…waiting for me. Excitement bubbled forth as I greeted the horse. I called her Fiona. Later, when I looked up the name, I found out it means white. She and I still have a strong connection even though there is an ocean between us.

Even in my painting, I follow the muse of humor and fun. Buddy meets a dolphin….Buddy and the whales….much of my work with paint and canvas is a celebration of color, fun and life.

You don’t have to be frisked by a manatee or meet a white horse who likes to smile to connect with the flow. Everyone’s flow and presence can look different. The key, perhaps, is to open our hearts and minds to surrender, to acceptance….and then simply play.

Musicians can be excellent examples of how to be in the flow…to not force or hold back. When they are having fun…it’s magic.

What magic would you like to experience? What calls your heart? What holds you back?

Whatever you do, stop wasting time and waiting for the right moment to be in your flow. Open your heart and mind and leap into the River of Life. “May what I do flow like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.” And I might add to Rilke’s contemplation that you might find Holy Ground wherever you are in that flow.

I invite you to listen to Luka Bloom’s music and follow the way of the Sacred Child to find Holy Ground.

 

The Face of Love

The Face of Love

SimoneLipscomb (3) The sand is cold from a night of darkness. Starlight is still embedded in the crystalline grains. It lingers as the gathering orange orb peeks from behind dark, gray clouds. Lunar fullness…madness… seeps into my bare feet as I walk along the shore, chilled from a wintery morning.

SimoneLipscomb (4)The pre-dawn excursion gave me time and space to freely open to the creative impulse working within and through me. I came away with a synthesis of revelations of late.

Recently, in my morning meditations, I have asked for one-sentence seeds of wisdom to begin the day. Yesterday it was this:

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Throughout the day I contemplated this statement and felt a deeper opening in my heart…and a Buddhist story came to mind. It goes something like this…

An abbot of a monastery sought a replacement. The test given to monks who applied for the position was to stand against hungry ghosts…legions of them. Bravery, courage and wisdom was needed. One by one, they were defeated as they wielded weapons and used defensive maneuvers. Finally, a monk calmly stood ready to face the test. Rather than hold weapons or stand in a defensive posture, the monk remained calmed and opened himself, allowing all the hungry ghosts to pass straight through. By not holding on or clinging to defensiveness, he passed the test and thus possessed the wisdom to become the new abbot.

SimoneLipscomb (13)It’s possible, while trying to maintain an open heart, to become defensive and protective of it as there will be those who are threatened by such joy, such happiness and they will make attempts to put down the light being emitted. Yet those ‘hungry ghosts’ have nothing on which to attach if we remain open, undefended, allowing pure joy and love to flow through.

SimoneLipscomb (9)As Pema Chodron wrote, “To experience something that liberates us from the narrow minded-ness of our biases and preconceptions is truly wondrous.”

“Don’t worry about results; just open your heart in an inconceivably big way, in that limitless way that benefits everyone you encounter,” wrote Chodron. Yesterday’s meditation included a vision where I climbed through a castle onto the top of it and went on the high roof. As I stood in the winds of this sacred place I saw a light approaching from the distance and heard a deep voice in my mind. Light the beacon, stay open, I am coming. So in the vision I took a torch and lit a huge light and knew that in reality I was lighting my heart’s light..and it would be my task to keep that sacred light burning brightly. There was no other task necessary.

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Doobie and Bucket understand the value of basking in the sun…it’s where most of their wisdom is gleaned.

Yesterday at The Frog Pond Sunday Social, a gathering of musicians and music-lovers who come together to create community, I basked in the winter sun as the musicians warmed up. As I faced the sun and closed my eyes I reflected back to the meditative vision and allowed the light of my heart to meet that of the sun and heard the deep voice in my mind once again….stay open.

After over half-a-century of exploring what love is and more specifically what it is not…I have come to realize that love is the only ‘thing’ that matters. It’s not romantic love or sexual love…although that can be an expression of it…it’s the stuff that comes from having an open heart that breathes-in love, exhales love and in the middle finds a way to experience sheer joy and compassion just for the experience. That’s what I’ve gotten to thus far.

SimoneLipscombThis is the face of pure joy, pure happiness….this then is the face of love.

And this is the face of love……

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 “When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it’s bottomless, that it doesn’t have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast, and limitless. You begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, as well as how much space. Your world seems less solid, more roomy and spacious. The burden lightens. In the beginning it might feel like sadness or a shaky feeling, accompanied by a lot of fear, but your willingness to feel the fear, to make fear your companion, is growing. You’re willing to get to know yourself at this deep level. After awhile this same feeling begins to turn into a longing to raze all the walls, a longing to be fully human and to live in your world without always having to shut down and close off when certain things come along. It begins to turn into a longing to be there for your friends when they’re in trouble, to be of real help to this poor, aching planet. Curiously enough, along with this longing and this sadness and this tenderness, there’s an immense sense of well-being, unconditional well-being, which doesn’t have anything to do with pleasant or unpleasant, good or bad, hope or fear, disgrace or fame. It’s something that simply comes to you when you feel that you can keep your heart open.” Pema Chodron, Start Where You Are.

May we all be the face…the embodiment…of love.

 

Living Out LOUD!

Living Out LOUD!

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Robert Randolph and The Family Band


With a foggy head from an after-midnight arrival back on the coast, I sat processing images at the iMac control station. Images from LEAF (Lake Eden Arts Festival) and autumn colors from the Smoky Mountains had me dancing in my chair but it was the friendly elk photos that made me stop and wonder, How did all of these amazing experiences happen in three days?

Receiving the ticket for LEAF was nothing short of amazing. The event was sold out for months. I had a feeling the weekend was divinely unfolding….and it did. I’ll begin this tale on the way to the festival.

SimoneLipscomb (290)I left Atlanta before dawn and made my way in the darkness through the North Georgia Mountains. As sunrise was still an hour away, I found myself in Clayton, Georgia with 36 degree temperatures causing me to grab a vest when I stopped to buy a cup of coffee. Burrrr! Onward and up to the Blue Ridge Parkway for a short little climb up from Waynesville, North Carolina to see the sweeping views…of ice and hoar frost and feel temperatures below freezing. When I exited the heated seats, harsh wind whipped over the ridge and made short work of photographing anything.

simonelipscomb (2) copyBack down I went to get on I-40 east toward Asheville….Swannanoa…Black Mountain. LEAF! I arrived in time to enjoy breakfast from The Corner Kitchen and rosemary potato wedges that made my eyes roll backwards. The chilly but sunny morning had everyone is good spirits. Children were playing, nearby parents were enjoying morning coffee. It was a beautiful atmosphere of love, kindness, joy and…peace.

Ready for a bit of Sunday morning gospel I strolled to Eden Hall to hear Church to the Nth Power. AWE-some!

The sunshine called so I stepped outside and watched monstrous bubbles entertain energetic kids…and adults who were too self-conscious to run after them…but I saw the gleam in their eyes.

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Gee’s Bend, Alabama Quilter and Singer

Then it was time for Willie Sugarcapps…the home-grown super-group from coastal Alabama. I entered their venue early to get a good seat for photographic opportunities but a large section was filled. Almost as soon as I sat down two women from Gee’s Bend, Alabama were introduced and they started singing gospel songs. Then Asheville kids they had worked with during the week joined them and sang and I’m pretty sure most of us in the audience were singing before the music ended.

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The women are part of a group of famous quilters and singers from south-central Alabama and helped the youth learn quilting. A mosaic of intense-color was presented to wild applause.

simonelipscomb (64)Then it was time for Willie Sugarcapps…and they put on a great show. Wow-zers!

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Robert Randolph and The Family Band

Barley’s Pizza for lunch while listening to Robert Randolph and the Family Band. I couldn’t stop moving my feet…luckily I’m relatively coordinated so chewing and keeping time with my boots didn’t cause any difficulties. As soon as I finished lunch I wormed my way into the front of the tent and stood mouth-agape at this pedal-steel-guitar-playing light-bulb-of-a-person. Or spotlight-of-a-person. Forgot my ear plugs and even though it felt like my ears were ripping apart from the speakers, I couldn’t look away…couldn’t do anything but connect with the energy of this dynamic performer.

simonelipscomb (110)As I stood photographing him as he played, I felt his strong love and immense passion for what he was doing. It felt as if he was a pure channel for joy and laughter. It was church for the soul. It was very difficult to stop dancing as I focused and squeezed the shutter on my Nikon. But I managed to get some good shots.

simonelipscomb (142)With an encore that lasted deliciously long, I knew I needed to push a bit to make the next Willie Sugarcapps set up at The Barn. I arrived in time to hear David Wilcox’s final song and even got a few images of him. His music has been an inspiration for many years…geez…I hate to say it but…decades.

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Willie Sugarcapps…Corky Hughes, Grayson Capps, Will Kimbrough, Savana Lee Crawford, Anthony Crawford

Then Willie.… Corky Hughes, Grayson Capps, Will Kimbrough, Savana Lee Crawford and Anthony Crawford. The Barn was a perfect venue for their wonderful music. The second set was a bit softer and the songs took the audience a bit deeper in this smaller, more intimate space. They were having fun and so of course, we were, too.

SimoneLipscomb (8)The darkness of The Barn with filtered light and hints of turquoise, blue, and orange accent colors seemed to weave a sort of magic around the notes, words and harmonies they created. During Grayson Capps song, Love, tears rolled down my face as the words found a deeper place to touch. And yet the energy didn’t get heavy…or sad. It kept getting sweeter and lighter as they played to close down that particular stage of LEAF Autumn 2014.

Love this shot...Grayson Capps and Will Kimbrough having FUN!
Love this shot…Grayson Capps and Will Kimbrough having FUN!

Reviewing over 1500 images wasn’t something I looked forward to but as I progressed through them, frame-by-frame, I saw the energy of life and love and laughter shining through faces. Moments of sheer joy reignited within my heart and I realized I was smiling…and laughing as I worked.

The photography portion of the trip ended yesterday in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I ducked into a corner of the park to capture some autumn colors and saw elk near the visitor center. Of course where twenty elk gather, masses of humans follow.

I started to drive on to avoid the crowd but something made me slam on the brakes and pull into the full parking lot. I waited for a car to exit, parked, grabbed my camera and 70-200mm lens and walked toward the masses. It was very crowded and the elk were really too far away to get any decent shots so I walked down to the river for some quiet time before leaving the mountains.

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I can honestly say this mother and baby elk blew my mind….

Absentmindedly looking at rocks on a sand bar in the river, I didn’t notice the elk cow and calf wading in the water, headed straight for me. I gathered my wits and backed away, giving them space to cross uninterrupted. They weren’t stopping regardless.

Once at a safe distance for all three of us, I started photographing them and couldn’t believe my good fortune, luck…or divine providence. Ansel Adams once said he thought he sometimes arrived at a place just when God wanted someone to snap the shutter. That’s how the encounter with the mom and baby elk was for me. The only reason I believe it actually happened is because I have photographs to prove it.

SimoneLipscombELK (1)Three days, three nights and I feel exhausted but like life bestowed upon me some magical window of time. I visited with friends from my old neighborhood, participated in an amazing festival of love and life, heard music that filled me with joy and love, connected with a mother and baby elk in a gentle and respectful encounter….saw brilliant colors of leaves and blue sky. I think over the past three days I was living out loud. And it felt marvelous.

To the LEAF ticket fairy…or fairies…THANK YOU! So much….

 

Magic Cauldron

Magic Cauldron

simonelipscomb1 (102)Opening concert of the Frog Pond season and the torrential rainfall, the flash floods, the get-out-your-waders event simply didn’t happen, at least not in Silverhill, Alabama. Where there’s good juju perhaps the storms stay away just long enough for friends to come together after a long summer break to celebrate music, life and all things good.

simonelipscomb1 (121)Willie Sugarcapps opened the season and it seemed especially potent given that it is the group’s birthplace. This group is an example of the kind of magic that happens on the back porch stage at Blue Moon Farm.

simonelipscomb1 (10)Reconnecting with friends, with the music we all love, is a wondrous thing. But it goes beyond that. It’s as if the land itself welcomed us all back…the musicians and music-lovers so the spirit of community was sparkling and evident by smiles, hugs, singing coming from under the tent. We had a revival all right…a revival of the love of music and each other.

simonelipscomb1 (96)If you don’t go, you just won’t know….how sweet the spirit of friendship and the common love of music creates a place of happiness and joy. Witnessing the coming together of musicians sharing new songs, performing them for the first time together, shows us all the potent creative process in action. A lesson not to be ignored.

simonelipscomb1 (69)On a personal note, there’s sometimes a song that goes straight to my heart and creates an opening. Sometimes we all need reminding of the light within….or the star within. Thanks Brother Will…and all the members of Willie Sugarcapps for bringing their hearts and creative spirits to the Frog Pond. You all show us magic in action. And to Cathe Steel…you provide a container for this magic to happen. So thanks for stirring the cauldron of creativity and inviting us all to witness the beauty.

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Music of the Spheres

Music of the Spheres

Will Kimbrough
Will Kimbrough

The live oak tree forest was quiet and tucked away from the busyness of life yet held an outdoor stage in its embrace. An open field provided a place for seating and the sounds of the night welcomed musicians and music-lovers alike.

Cool, refreshing evening air was heavy with dew and as we listened to outrageously good music anything not in motion was soon coated with moisture. The intense humidity and heat of the past several weeks had given way to the beginnings of autumn on the Alabama Gulf Coast. It was a great time and place to relax, enjoy music and visit with friends.

After a while of standing with a heavy lens and camera body, I began to tire. In addition, it was past my bedtime when Willie Sugarcapps began to play so I was weary and sleepy and had a two hour drive after it ended. So my chair called and the camera found itself snuggled into the pack.

Willie Sugarcapps
Willie Sugarcapps

Dreamer’s Sky began. Will Kimbrough’s new song is an upbeat, happy song with a bit of a jig sound with mandolin and fiddle. I closed my eyes and allowed the music to take me. The notes and words moved through my mind and suddenly I had the thought, The nature spirits are really digging this music. Then the image of two wolves dancing on hind legs came to mind. Then two coyotes, foxes, rabbits and all creatures of the wood came to my mind and I ‘saw’ them celebrating along the edge of the forest. Owls, squirrels, even earthworms were dancing with joy.

The vision brought sweet feelings of love and peace. I opened my eyes and looked into the velvet, night sky and saw stars and planets and I heard the words, music of the spheres. It was as if harmony was raining down like stardust on all who gathered, both human and non-human. There was an undeniable unity I saw in my mind’s eye and felt deeply.

SimoneLipscomb (5)I believe the only way we will heal ourselves and planet Earth is to be united in love and harmony. That unity comes from a positive connection we have not just with other humans but with all life. To the foxes dancing in the field or the owls doing a dance step on the tree branches. Or the neighbor of another color or religion.

SimoneLipscomb (7)A collective vision of harmony can change the world for the better. This is my dream, this is my vision. I place my hand in yours and issue an invitation to join in the dance, in the celebration. I hold the paw of sister wolf. I grasp the flipper of mother sea turtle. The owl talons and my hand unite. The fluke of the massive humpback reaches for my hand…and yours. We can dream a new way of living into being. It begins with harmony and learning to hear the music of the spheres.

SimoneLipscomb (4)Thank you Will Kimbrough for the music and to Grayson Capps, Corkey Hughes, Sugarcane Jane…Savana Lee and Anthony Crawford…for bringing it to life tonight via the Willie Sugarcapps ‘vehicle.’ And if you, kind reader, are wondering about possible substance-induced vision…the answer is no. No alcohol or anything that altered my consciousness except beautiful music…beautiful harmony.