Tag: Eco-Spirituality

As the World Burns

As the World Burns

Grief. That hardly begins to describe the feelings associated with what’s happening to our beloved planet. Now the Amazon Rainforest burns…after a 60% increase in deforestation by humans that began in June. The new president in Brazil has set a course to dismantle environmental protections and has encouraged for-profit destruction. Many fires there have even been associated with the government as a way to get rid the Amazon indigenous people. Genocide to further profits—not a new idea, right United States of America? Freedom to exploit and all….

I think of the incredible biodiversity in the Amazon…plants, animals and a weather system that forms there and operates like magic. Well, until the trees are gone and the lungs of the planet are gone. My heart is so heavy with grief but I am determined to feel it, to feel the loss of precious and sacred places, animals, people.

I read a comment on social media this morning—someone suggested this will be the wake-up call for the world. I wrote that same idea when I was documenting the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill nearly ten years ago. And it’s only gotten worse. I thought then that the world would awaken and a new effort to strengthen environmental laws would provide greater planetary health—for all life. Never in my wildest nightmares could I have predicted the downward spiral that is happening.

The USA isn’t the only country with an administration hell-bent on destroying the environment. Brazil’s administration is doing the same thing. And the mind-blowing aspect is that we know for certainthat reversing environmental protections will create lasting negative consequences that will forever alter and destroy the very things we need to survive. How is it that voters have allowed this? I am truly aghast.

Every day more news about greater destruction is shared. The profit-at-any-cost crowd licks their lips at lessening environmental regulations. The rapture folks think it’s a foregone conclusion that the end of the world is near so why bother…even when they were ‘charged’ to be good stewards. Tree huggers make social media posts pointing fingers. Scientists keep publishing and warning. It seems we are in a vicious cycle of insanity.

And this is what we have accepted as the new normal. As the world burns those of us who care sit here in a daze of frustration, grief, anger. I suspect post traumatic stress disorder will have a new name because it’s not post or after…it’s ongoing. How about we call it what it is: Global Traumatic Stress Disorder.

What can we do? Isn’t that the knife that continually twists within us? I have decided to rarely use lights in my home. Every switch that is off is less coal burned. As I sit in a darkened home at night I think about our planet and send love to Her. But what more can we do? We can vote…but honestly, another two years and what more damage can we expect and what will be left? We can stay informed….but that comes with the risk of more trauma…and yet we must stay informed and help inform others.

The schizophrenia of this is that people continue on as if everything is fine. It’s like a sort of Hunger Games world of fake, extravagant ‘living’ and then there’s the reality of everything falling apart. Or it’s like the Matrix movies where humans live in a simulated reality while their bodies are used by thought-capable machines for energy.

People often comment on how positive my writing is or how good it makes them feel. Some days its challenging to find the beauty yet perhaps our greatest edge of growth comes when we are able to know the truth of what is happening and stay grounded in the beauty that still exists in a sunrise, a flower blossom, a dog’s tail wag, and the human heart.

It is said that grief is an indication of how much we love. Let us remember to open our hearts with love to our planet, to each other and be mindful every moment of how our lives affect the planet with every action we take…or don’t take.

One of the benefits of staying with the grief, keeping a heart open to the losses occurring, is it’s open for everyone and everything. It isn’t prejudice about which place or person or animal to love. Once opened to the depths it takes to remain open with these days of challenge, it is open. Perhaps that’s the lesson we are all to learn.

The Paths We Tread

The Paths We Tread

During this long Threshold experience there has been much time to reflect on this juncture in life. For over two years there has been intense consideration but in reality the question Why am I here? has echoed for many years.

I have followed my heart, followed the guidance I feel, and it led me on a fascinating journey. It started while in high school working at a local state park in environmental education which progressed to attending college and majoring in Outdoor Recreation Administration which led to seven years working as a state park naturalist which led me to deeper discovery in life when I had an awakening that took me away from everything familiar at age twenty-five.

Because self-reflection was so useful for my own inner growth, I choose to attend graduate school majoring in Counseling which led me to work in the fields of addictions, children and adolescent therapy and family therapy. To be an effective therapist I kept going deeper which led me to massage and bodywork.

The deep healing I experienced as I went further into my depths was so profound I wanted to be able to offer that to others so that led me to massage school, Reiki master training, Polarity Therapy Training and all of that was so profound so I worked for ten years as a massage and bodywork therapist.

But the part of the path that was missing in my work was nature. I spent a lot of time in nature—hiking, cycling, paddling, diving—but my work was indoors and there wasn’t a connection with nature and healing in the work I offered people.

I always promised that if I ever had the financial support I would stop working indoors and dedicate my life to connecting people with nature. Then I inherited a large piece of land, sold it and was able to fulfill that promise.

I stopped ‘working’ for a living and started giving for living. I photographed beautiful places—both on land and underwater—met amazing creatures that allowed me entry into their realm and through these amazing experiences kept journals and wrote about the inner transformation that happened every time I submerged into underwater caves, made contact with humpback whales underwater, swam with dolphins pushing against me in their pod, witnessed lavender mountain sunrises, saw the birth of baby sea turtles, had manatees rest their heads on my shoulder…amazing experiences happened when I stepped out in faith to fulfill the promise of helping connect nature and humans.

During this time I spent a year documenting the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. I traveled from the mountains of North Carolina to the Gulf Coast each month and spent a week photographing and creating videos of seven beaches from Fort Morgan, Alabama to Ft. Pickens, Florida.

Several books were produced, mostly by my own financing, ranging from a child’s book on the Gulf Oil Spill, children’s books on sea turtles and manatees to short essays on profound interactions with ocean wildlife complete with photographs I took. One of my books—the most-sold one—was created by listening to the wisdom animals shared…Manatee Mindfulness and Other Wildlife Wisdom.

A lot has resulted from fulfilling that promise and now the time comes for another leap. Guidance has been to go deeper with Nature, to connect people with the wisdom teachings of wildlife. During one meditation I heard, You went out and connected with the animals and places, now you must teach what you learned to those willing to listen.

Not the most specific instructions but I did begin writing a course in self-study called, Deepening with Nature, which will  eventually become an e-book people can download and use for their own deepening experiences. The other piece will be workshops and retreats designed to help people connect deeper with Nature and each other.

During this time of pause to let go of the old and clear out space for the new, ample time for reflection has put some interesting experiences in my path.

One has been delving into the last few years of Freddie Mercury’s musical career and while I respect and generally adore Freddie Mercury and his music, it is the final years of his writing and singing that have touched me deeply. His love of opera motivated him to follow his passion to write and perform duets with opera diva Monserrat Caballe.

His advancing illness eventually kept him from performing yet he was determined to go into the studio and record tracks that his band mates in Queen could finish after his death. He knew he would never hear the final music yet the songs were coming through him and he wanted to give them to the world.

The album the band released four years after his death contains some of the songs he left behind with his piano and voice. Other tracks were recorded by the other members of Queen and then mixed. It is some of the most moving music I’ve ever heard, especially knowing how it was created and with passion not only from Freddie but his friends who added their instruments and voices…and love.

Can you imagine the loyalty for your path to keep going, to keep sharing under such hardship? He inspires me every day to listen deeply to that which wants to be birthed through me.

Another recent experience that has been helpful is a book I just finished today by a cave diving instructor of mine, Jill Heinerth. Her new book, Into the Planet, is about her life as a cave diver—and very much worth reading. (I couldn’t put it down).

As I read her stories, her passion and vision was so evident. I heard myself asking, What is my vision? What is my passion? I love to cave dive but there is no way I would ever explore and go through the hardships required to do that sort of work. And yet, I have done deep exploring…within myself.

Too often we fail to give ourselves credit for the intense, challenging, courageous work we do when we make the commitment to grow. The awakening that happened when I was 25 years old was the first major leap inward. It was my introduction to ‘cave diving’ within the cave that is me. And even though I am a certified open water diver/instructor and certified cave diver and side-mount cave diver, the most incredible experiences from my life have been the ones where I unearth treasures buried deep within myself.

Usually experiences in nature have prompted the inner leaps and treasure hunts. Each outer leap of challenge such as learning to scuba dive, learning to cave dive, required mastery of myself. I’m not claiming to be a master in those areas but rather saying they compelled me to learn self-mastery.

It’s not so exciting or adrenaline-pumping to read about someone’s personal, challenging, courageous inner journey through their life but those journeys are just as important as the challenging experiences extreme explorers have that take them to the edge. Anyone that makes the commitment to grow faces many experiences that take them to the edge of what they know and their ability to navigate the dark, uncharted inner realm.

The outer experiences of learning to open-water dive and learning to cave dive compelled me inward, called me deeper as did experiences with humpback whales, manatees, dolphins, sea lions, mountains, streams….my outer ‘lite’ explorations pushed me to depths of connection that forever altered my life and hopefully, by sharing them, the lives of those reading about them or viewing my photographs.

We can stand in awe of what people accomplish in the fulfillment of their life purpose and what they do in the realm of exploration and be inspired by it, but let us not forget our own amazing capacity to take the inner journey that opens us to uncharted landscapes, challenges, battlefields, and heights and depths the soul can reach when given the opportunity to shine through the experience of being human.

I bow to all those brave humans who dare to dive into the depths of themselves, to the very edge of what they know, and press onward through darkness to discover their inner light. You….we…are the ultimate explorers.

—-

The album that has simply blown me away….Made in Heaven, released by Queen in 1995. When you think of Freddie writing the songs and recording the tracks….and then his band mates finishing it after his death to honor him….I am in awe. And the music is fantastic!

Just Another Magic Monday

Just Another Magic Monday

The process of giving up television has given the gift of showing just how much it and other mindless past times have separated me from life, from a deeper connection with my Higher Self…the spiritual self…the soul. I have discovered, through this process, that I have used mindless television-watching—even though I didn’t watch that much—to numb myself from life. I used it as a way to cut myself off from a voice within that wanted to come out and sing, speak, play. I had no idea….but then I discovered it wasn’t only television….it was anything that put me on auto-pilot and that included books I had read many times before, favorite movies. As I tracked myself I became more aware of the distractions I used to keep my inner voice quiet.

After culling TV, I recently pulled up a completely mindless book I’ve read several times simply as a pacifier, something to take the edge off, to dampen that inner ‘something’ that wanted to happen. My excuse was, I know there is something calling me but I don’t know what to do. The problem was I was thinking of the solution as being something I had to ‘do’ instead of simply being still and listening.

So this morning the pouring rain and storms kept me off my bicycle. Couldn’t even do front porch yoga due to lightning. What to DO….what to DO!??! That voice within found a way to tap my mind and suggested I dedicate this day to listening and not distracting myself. Why not?

 

I went upstairs to the gathering room where I meditate, where women’s drum circles are held, and dialed into stillness. I began drumming and an inner journey began.

I saw myself inside a shell…something between an egg and a chrysalis. I have been feeling this shell-like structure around me for several days so wasn’t surprised to see it in the meditation. A crack started at the top and went to the bottom, opening the shell. I saw myself with butterfly wings at first, with brilliant colors, and then I morphed into a Pegasus horse with wings that had a slight rainbow tint.

In the journey, I flew from my home in coastal Alabama to a place near Chimney Rock, North Carolina…a wooded place. It was amazing and perfect for me.

When the journey was complete I offered gratitude and went downstairs for lunch. I began researching Pegasus and found his father was Poseidon, god of the sea—that’s rather appropriate for me—and his mother was Medusa, the goddess that had hair made of snakes…and onlookers turned to stone if they looked at her. Pegasus was born from her blood when her head was cut off.

As I looked at the bottom of the search page it listed my search origin location as Chimney Rock, North Carolina. I had been there in the journey, no doubt, but at that particular moment my body and phone were sitting in my home in Magnolia Springs…Alabama.

Then one of the pages about Pegasus had a rainbow background…reminding me of the rainbow colors of myself as Pegasus. Oh, and let’s not forget the walk I did after lunch with my dog Buddy. As we went under a magnolia tree I saw a cicada shell and the freshly hatched insect known as a translucent cicada… with beautiful wings drying in the air. I had the exact same experience in the journey as my wings dried after ‘I’ hatched from the hard shell.

The Bangles song, Manic Monday, came to mind but with a new title: Just Another Magic Monday.It seemed that taking the step to put aside anything that distracts me from inner experiences wanting to be birthed was worth it. Synchronicities were popping like lighting bolts that filled the sky earlier in the day.

How would our lives change if we put the beautiful, sacred self as a priority and stopped trying to cut off its voice…with television, news, social media, mindless books, arguing about who’s right and who’s wrong? Just one morning of doing this resulted in amazing experiences and clarity and…quite honestly…a big dose of WOW!

One other bit of information came to me about Pegasus. He has always been in service to poets. I reflected back to my recent writing about Freddie Mercury and living your life purpose. When I feel most aligned with the reason I came into this life is when I can take an experience and titrate it down into magical words of poetry. So…welcome Pegasus. I think it’s time we work together.

Patrick Kavanagh, an Irish poet, wrote one of my most favorite poems, Pegasus. Perhaps this poem, more than anything, explains the meaning of seeing myself break free as Pegasus in the journey.

 

My soul was an old horse

Offered for sale in twenty fairs.

I offered him to the Church—the buyers

Were little men who feared his unusual airs.

One said: ‘Let him remain unbid

In the wind and rain and hunger

Of sin and we will get him—

With the winkers thrown in—for nothing.’

Then the men of State looked at

What I’d brought for sale.

One minister wondering if

Another horse-body would fit the tail

That he’d kept for sentiment-

The relic of his own soul—

Said, ‘I will graze him in lieu of his labour.’

I let him for a week or more

And he came back a hurdle of bones,

Starved, overworked, in despair.

I nursed him on the roadside grass

To shape him for another fair.

I lowered my price. I stood him where

The broken-winded, spavined stand

And crooked shopkeepers said that he

Might do a season on the land—

But not for high-paid work in towns.

He’d do a tinker, possibly.

I begged, “O make some offer now,

A soul is a poor man’s tragedy.

He’ll draw your dungiest cart,’ I said,

‘Show you short cuts to Mass,

Teach weather lore, at night collect

Bad debts from poor men’s grass.’

And they would not.

Where the Tinkers quarrel I went down

With my horse, my soul.

I cried, ‘Who will bid me half a crown?’

From their rowdy bargaining

Not one turned. ‘Soul,’ I prayed,

‘I have hawked you through the world

Of Church and State and meanest trade.

But this evening, halter off,

Never again will it go on.

On the south side of ditches

There is grazing of the sun.

No more haggling with the world…’

As I said these words he grew

Wings upon his back. Now I may ride him

Every land my imagination knew.

We Will Shine

We Will Shine

“When I know they are listening, when I know I really have them, I couldn’t sing off-key if I tried. I’m exactly the person I was always meant to be. I’m not afraid of anything.” In the movie Bohemian Rhapsody, Freddie Mercury’s character says this to his girlfriend after the band begins to attract large audiences and she asks him what it’s like to perform in front of so many people. This scene in the movie replays in my mind often.

I allow my mind to wander through experiences in life…When have I felt I am exactly the person I am meant to be?

Recently as I explored this question, as if on cue, an email arrived with various teachers sharing their idea of being on purpose. Here’s a bit of what they said:

-Be patient and loyal to something deep within you. Be loyal to it no matter what.

-There is a crystal clear path within…follow the way that creates lightness within your body.

-Find the place where deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.

In the high school football stadium in the 1970’s, Queen’s music inspired a generation. Stomp, stomp, clap…stomp, stomp, clap…stomp, stomp, clap rocked the bleachers as We Will Rock You inspired us. I remember feeling alive with amazing, endless hope for the very essence of life as the entire student section came alive. Carefree, with my spirit open to every possibility, their music was fuel for life. We Are the Champions was even our senior class song…

During my teenage and young adult years I never knew the story of Queen, of Freddie Mercury. Their music is what spoke to me, what made me join with others of my generation to stomp, stomp, clap…..stomp, stomp clap and rock the world around us.

Odd that now, as I dive deeper into my life and purpose, their story becomes known to me and these decades later Freddie Mercury’s dynamic energy and passion is inspiration…long after he died.

After reviewing old videos of his performances there is no doubt that he was fulfilling his life purpose when he was on stage. The magnetism and profound energy he generated between the audience and the band was magic. Freddie’s final wish was to do what he was born to do as long as he could—perform…like a shooting star.

Days ago this bit of writing began to come together but the question kept echoing in my mind and heart…when do I know for sure I am doing what I came here to do? Today, as I cycled at sunrise, the question continued to repeat. And still, as I sit with Buddy dog curled up beside me, the answer isn’t totally clear.

There have been moments….photographing humpback whales while floating motionless in the Atlantic Ocean, a calf a few feet from me…a manatee laying its head in my hand and gazing into my eyes, sharing a transmission from the deepest realms of Nature…a female spotted dolphin healing my headache and swimming with me and her calf…kneeling at a standing stone circle in north England and weeping about the election and ‘hearing’ the outcome would hasten the awakening…standing at a cliff in Ireland and feeling the immense Presence that has been with me ever since…writing about these and many more experiences and sharing them…diving with an octopus that danced with me…hearing the Song of the Sea as I was diving in Bonaire…diving in caves in Mexico that awakened the shaman in me…being present for moments such as these and more but perhaps sharing these experiences with others and watching their faces light up with wonder and awe and feeling their appreciation for deepening with Nature helps me really feel I am doing what I was born to do.

In that recent email one of the teachers said this: There is nobody designed to do your life’s purpose better than you.

When I write from my heart, I feel that truth. When I facilitate women’s circles I feel it. When I am in the water with humpback whales…or manatees or dolphins…and listen with my heart, photograph them and then communicate the experience by writing or speaking so that others can touch their sacredness…I feel a sort of personal mastery. I come alive when I connect Nature with humans.

I’m not a performer like Freddie Mercury but I feel the dynamism within awaken when I feel deep passion and love for Nature and the desire to share the sacredness of life on this planet. When I allow that to flow I become transformed, on fire with purpose. It is during these moments that I become a channel and simply allow Earth to rise up and move through me—a crystal channel—an arrow of fire traveling at the speed of light.

The lyrics to Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now have been in my mind all day…“I feel alive and the world I’ll turn it inside out, yeah…and floating around in ecstasy…I’m a shooting star, leaping through the sky like a tiger defying the laws of gravity…I’m burning through the sky, yeah, two hundred degrees. That’s why they call me Mister Fahrenheit. I’m traveling at the speed of light…”

Perhaps the movie is helping me remember and clarify my purpose. Maybe Freddie’s life reminds me to do what I was born to do and drop the fear. Once we fully commit to our purpose and come alive to it, the fear can be burned up in the passion. Sometimes it takes a while to figure that out but if we pay attention to the whispers within and listen when our heart speaks, we will find our way…and we will shine.

Resources

Resources

What resources do you have in your life? With this question we might begin to list bank account totals, assets that might be used as collateral for a loan or some other material possessions. But imagine instead resources much more vital and significant than those.

In the work of reclaiming the deep, soulful life I use the word resource as something that strengthens a person or supports the expansion of their inner world. A resource is something that provides nourishment for the soul.

Last night a couple friends and I drove to a quiet part of the beach for sunset and a meteor shower. Conditions couldn’t have been more perfect…few clouds, nice breeze, no biting insects, very few people with flashlights…it was, for our busy tourist area, amazing.

As darkness deepened, beauty of the firmament deepened. Space seemed to open before us. First it was the planets that shone brightly and then deep space seemed to reveal itself as light of the day faded. It was as if we were looking into infinity.

This morning as I was in that dreamy state of reflection, I sensed inner expansion lingering from brushing against the numinous Universe. The experience of last night became a resource for me to draw upon, helping me expand into a truer expression of my Self and feel a greater sense of connection with all life…with the Divine.

When I feel constricted or fearful I can reflect back on how it felt to be with the night sky, to sense the Infinite within and the connection to something so much bigger than ‘me.’ This memory can help me move through moments of unease and it prompted me to be mindful of the many inner resources that arise from connecting deeply with Nature, from moving into Oneness.

In the work of reclaiming the life of the soul, a resource is an experience that becomes a memory-tool that takes us to a deeper relationship with our Self and Oneness.

What resources do you have to help you expand into a deeper, truer expression of your true self? They are priceless treasures….remember to use them.