Tag: gratitude

Mountains and Friends

Mountains and Friends


It has been over 19 months since I moved from the mountain in the Riceville Valley area near Asheville, North Carolina. Today I returned. The mountains snuck up on me as it was foggy and pouring rain as I wound my way up through the North Georgia Mountains. Rather than the usual distant view of the mountains, that always makes my heart light up and teases me with the majesty to come, I found myself suddenly surrounded by peaks and thrust into the beauty of mountain energy.

Living in Asheville was a wonderful experience and a dream come true for me. My creativity was unlocked here and connections with others boosted my work…my friend Jen and I used to take wild day trips to the Smoky Mountains and immerse ourselves in the beauty of nature while practicing our art of photography. I met her on the mountain.

sharkswebThe owner of the company that published my first book lived a couple houses down the mountain from me. She helped me learn about the business and taught me the art of editing. Other mountain neighbors became friends as we connected through this magical place that draws so many wonderful people.

As I got closer to Asheville this afternoon I became anxious. I wasn’t sure how to return gracefully to a place I deeply loved and left. How does a person love a place so fully and leave it? For me it was a call back to big water and coastal life that I had been away from for twenty years. So the move south was a good one but I was left with a heart full of love for the mountain and friends that became family.

The time spent in my new coastal home has been focused on healing my life. That opportunity came about due to a relationship that ended…the one I thought would be the forever one. Coming back to the mountain meant facing possible emotions of sadness and grief. I have worked so hard to heal my heart I was fearful that I’d slide back into the darkness from which I had freed myself. Nineteen months of deep, inner work were about to be tested.

photoAs I ate at Doc Chey’s, my favorite Asheville restaurant, I saw in my mind’s eye my former husband and I there but rather than sadness I simply observed and enjoyed the meal. Afterwards I walked to Mast General Store, another Asheville favorite, and walked around hearing the familiar clumping of people’s feet on the wooden floors. Downstairs I touched a shirt made of waffle-type thermal material, the kind that he used to wear, and my breath caught. A moment of sadness arose but was replaced with a sweetness as I remembered his strength and then I simply walked on…letting go even more and feeling the strong sense of wholeness within my being.

one of my friends on the deck of my former home here
one of my friends on the deck of my former home here

It continued to rain as I drove east toward my former neighborhood and as my car began the familiar climb up the mountain I felt like a horse being led to something she feared…balking a bit but then I was passing my former cedar home with the wall of windows overlooking the valley and I felt that I had truly moved on and my home wasn’t there any more. There were no ghosts of the past lurking about.

The familiar arms of my friend Phyliss embraced me. Actually it was my buddy Abbey that greeted me, wagging her tail and smiling with excitement. Then the Phyliss hug…and then Bob. These special friends welcomed me with such warmth. All anxiety of facing the past evaporated as I recognized the healing that has come to my life. I realized I had truly come home to myself.

Later this evening we drove back down the mountain and dined with other dear friends. Laleah and Bill provided a wonderful evening where the conversation was rich and varied with deep sharing and multiple explosions of laughter.

the winter that helped me decide to head back to the tropics....
the winter that helped me decide to head back to the tropics….

And the mountain…let me say how incredible it is to be on the mountain again. This place nurtured my soul and helped me open to the creative spirit. It was here that I felt my wings expand and carry me into the heavens where I learned that flight takes only surrender to the forces that are ready to lift us all to our potential.

As I reflect and write I sit snuggled under blankets as the wind howls in the rainy, cold night. The weather forecast calls for snow and with the excitement of a child I realize that I have come full circle in my life and am ready for the next flight on which these wings will carry me. What a blessing to be able to return to this family of friends and a mountain of magic and wonder. My heart is filled with gratitude as I count the many blessings that continue to fill my life from the coast to the mountains.

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Blessings, Forgiveness and Endorphins

Blessings, Forgiveness and Endorphins

The workout pushed me to my limit and somehow I pushed through. As we began our final stretches the instructor reminded us to be mindful of our blessings. With my physical body exhausted and open, her words touched a deep place within and as I settled into this expanded physical experience my heart and mind followed. I felt a rush of gratitude that brought tears of relief, of joy. It wasn’t just the endorphins.

simonelipscombOver the past two nights I have awakened with a similar dream. Both involved a significant person in my life, a person that was a light in my life when I needed it most. And sadly, a person no longer in my life. The dreams showed me that he and I are much alike and without going into details, I found myself lighting a candle this morning with forgiveness for us both.

In this morning’s dream we sat together and I shared my sadness over leaving the beautiful wooded acres at our home in central North Carolina and our home in the mountains. I didn’t realize how much grief I carried over leaving the land there. We sat as friends, in my dream, and shared with each other. Such openness. Such beauty. Such calm acceptance.

simonelipscomb (2)Last night, prior to sleeping, I sat on my back porch in the hammock chair for hours just listening to the night sounds. Watching stars twinkle through oak leaves, allowing the drone of insects to put me in a sort of trance, listening to scurrying creatures in the courtyard…opening myself to the Earth and the Sky….feeling myself as part of this amazing Universe.  Breathing in the energies shared by the grandmother oak tree that spreads her massive arms protectively over my home, acknowledging with gratitude the gift of life…I rested and floated in my swing.

simonelipscomb (5)It’s been over a year and a half since I moved back to the Gulf Coast and I love it. But I hadn’t allowed myself to touch the grief of leaving the mountains, a place I had dreamed of living my entire life. In a sorting, clearing and organizing push during the past week, I pulled out a painting I created that depicts the view from my loft office in my mountain home. I had it stored until yesterday when I hung it in my office here. I am strong enough now to feel the grief of leaving the mountain and Etta’s beautiful acreage in central North Carolina and accept the nurturance freely given by the land in both of those places and here, under massive live oaks, near a slow-moving river.

800_1468The Earth Mother nurtures us at every stop we make in our lives. It is my hope that I can remain open to receive and with a joyful heart give back to that which sustains me. Grounded in forgiveness for all my mistakes and the mistakes of others I can state truthfully and freely, I feel blessed. And that’s not the endorphins talking.

A shout-out to Pure Barre Eastern Shore instructors. THANK YOU for everything you do for us! I am so grateful for you all!

Morning Courtyard Dance

Morning Courtyard Dance

simone (4)Warm air, heavy with the scent of jasmine, wrapped around me as I entered the courtyard. It had only been four days but during that short time so much had changed.

The wall of jasmine was the most obvious change as its delicious smell mixed with gardenia created a mood-altering experience through scent. And as much as I wanted to explore, communion with the river came first.

RIVER2 (3)Layers of humid air hung heavy over the water as my board sliced through the mirror-slick surface. My body longed for movement after traveling and sitting so much over the long weekend. I amped up the pace and had a great workout, during which I discovered the osprey babies I have been monitoring had hatched. Mama Osprey was feeding them as I paddled under their nest atop the high pole. This morning my river prayers were of thanksgiving for these new lives.

Upon returning home, I walked out to my garden and saw baby jalapeño peppers, baby tomatoes, and baby satsumas hanging green and full of potential. Growth was the theme of return to my beloved home.

After communing with my plant friends I turned on my favorite classical music in the speakers outside and glided around the courtyard greeting the beauty exploding everywhere. Such life!

simonelipscomb (2)The grandmother oak tree in the center stood watching and when I finished, she called to me. I laid my hands on her rough bark and felt her strength as I offered up a prayer of gratitude for the opportunity to celebrate the day with a morning courtyard dance.

Dawn in the Mist

Dawn in the Mist

simonelipscombThe cows were still asleep as I crept out to the fence to capture the mist of the gathering light. Being barely aware myself, there really weren’t  words or thoughts in my mind….just the undeniable feeling of gratitude.

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Of Light and Trees

Of Light and Trees

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Just after six this morning I raised the shade on my window. Heavy mist from the cow pond next door had first rays of light peeking through it and even though I complained, I threw on a jacket and pants, grabbed my camera and tripod and shoved my flip flops on my chilly feet. The cats were in disbelief that I exited the house prior to their feeding, prior to coffee or crossword puzzle or Facebook…I think they thought the world had ended and walked around in confused circles, tails aloft as if flipping me the proverbial cat ‘bird.’

simonelipscomb (22)But sunrise doesn’t wait on anyone. Light can’t be asked to pause while I grab coffee. Dawn comes and in order to witness it we must meet it, face to face.

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With temperatures in the fifties my toes didn’t complain that much and before long they were forgotten. First light always delights me and nearly as often frustrates me. Trying to get the exact right exposure with extreme light and shadow can be challenging. But what fun, what pleasure standing under live oak trees, their massive branches spreading overhead and surrounding me with their greatness.

simonelipscomb (29)New green of the spring illuminated with pre-dawn light nearly caused me to do back-flips. Instead I simply stood and whispered thank-yous.

simonelipscomb (8)And it made me remember a visit to Somerset several years ago. I waked before sunrise and strolled to Glastonbury Tor for a dawn visit. I wasn’t disappointed then either.

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