Tag: Gulf of Mexico

Fat Tuesday

Fat Tuesday

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I was standing at Lulu’s Homeport in Gulf Shores, Alabama, listening to a band play a traditional Mardi Gras tune and felt a subtle, inner shift. A small glimmer of something started to awaken within me and it made me smile.

When embarking on a course of action it’s not necessarily easy because you (finally) found your path–your direction. When I answered an inner call to document the Gulf Oil Spill in my home state, I never imagined the emotional wreckage that would occur within me. I remember days before the oil began washing up on the Alabama beaches fervently trying to photograph as much of the Gulf beaches and marshes as possibly and while doing so sobbing, sometimes uncontrollably. Then when it began coming ashore and coating animals, beaches and filling the air with toxic fumes I was in a state of near exhaustion from anger, sadness, grief and the physical challenge of exposure to the toxic soup in the water and air.

It changed me. I remember going back to my mountain home for a few weeks each month and finding it very difficult to connect with anything pleasurable. I was numb from what I was seeing. Traumatized. And in some sort of cosmic disbelief that humans could destroy our planet…not just by an oil spill…but by endless sins committed against this beautiful planet and its inhabitants. Nothing touched me. Beauty was painful to see. Yet I couldn’t look away from the environmental destruction because finally I felt I was doing my legacy work.

Sometimes the cost of that commitment is high.

There was healing during the many weeks spent along the coast. Realizations, moments of inspiration but it was a week spent with Joanna Macy, in a Work That Reconnects workshop that truly helped me understand and process what I had been going through. And healing continues since my move back to the Gulf Coast.

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Yes, I enjoy SUP boarding and walking the beaches and diving in the Caribbean. I’m not walking around in a constant state of gloom and doom. Yet finding a space for personal pleasure….just the inkling of fun for no particular reason…has continued to be challenging for me. The burden of our planet’s plight is heavy.

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But yesterday, while riding my sea turtle volunteer team’s float in the Gulf Shores Mardi Gras parade and hanging out at Lulu’s with my friend and her family provided a little spark of fun for the sake of fun….with the intention of fun. Imagine that.

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Gratitude for a day of fun runs deep within me. It helps to balance the deep grief that fuels my work to share the beauty of our planet…in the hope that people will realize the beauty of Earth and will do everything they can to help heal it. And heal the human relationship to it…and each other.

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The Gap

The Gap

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There’s a place within each of us where all is quiet and still. Where thoughts cease and worries are set aside and there is silence. Photographing nature brings me to The Gap more than anything else I do. And today I was lucky enough to find myself in this neutral place of stillness twice.

First, while kneeling on the beach photographing the waves all thoughts ceased and whatever I am was at one with the water, the sand, the air. What an exquisite experience.

simonephoto (28)Then while sitting on a concrete piling, crossed legs bracing my elbows to support my telephoto lens….it happened again. Completely lost in the moment, empty and yet full because of the complete oneness with the moment.

My path for this year is a journey into full immersion of the beauty of planet Earth. And to share what I experience with others. Today I celebrate the oneness of all life and the understanding that we truly are one with it.

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Land-Locked No More!

Land-Locked No More!

Awakening in the black of pre-dawn, I stood up and immediately missed the gentle rocking of the ocean. Sitting at my desk under the open windows beside the oak tree, birds singing to me, the entire house rocked me gently all day as I processed images and video. Or at least that’s what it felt like after a week on a boat.

During the many years I spent as a land-locked diver, I would always have a deep sadness at leaving the ocean and returning to the mountains. I love the mountains but the sea remains my constant, the core of who I am. And now, after dive trips, I find myself heading back to a coast and the joy is unmistakable. And the gratitude bubbles up in waves of heart-felt love for my beautiful home and the live oaks it’s nestled under….and the Magnolia River and the bays and the Gulf of Mexico–all a part of this life I inhabit.

The sights and smells of the rivers, bays and open water of the Gulf keep me grounded in pure ecstasy and appreciation for my wonderful home….yes, the outer home but mostly this inner home of beauty I discover as I open my heart and mind to beauty, to light….to unconditional love. I am free and the coast of Alabama mirrors this freedom to me, mentors my expanding efforts to bring all of who I am to this life.

The Language of Nature

The Language of Nature

This past summer I deepened my understanding of nature. The challenge I find now is conveying, in words, the lessons because they came in wordless experiences while sitting under star canopies, beside salty waters–each conveying not with words but with the essence of life. How could I possibly scribble symbols to share this ancient language”? It is unwritten and must be felt….deeply felt.

I’ve puzzled over writing about primeval energies with words. It seems like two ends of a very broad spectrum of experience–the body and visceral and the mind that wants to sort and categorize and label. Maybe ancient earth wisdom is best described by sharing sensations, what my body experienced. And that’s easy: opening. My heart, mind, soul, body….o p e n i n g. 

So maybe the only thing I need to write is that nature opened me this summer and I found a deep primeval dance within my heart and soul.

What makes you dance these days? What opens you to life?

Cleaning Up Our Mess

Cleaning Up Our Mess

On September 15th my mom and I participated in the 25th Annual Coastal Cleanup. We chose to walk the beach at the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. In that 1.5 miles of beach we found: 34 plastic bags, 4 balloons, 12 plastic bottles, 4 pieces of glass, 4 aluminum cans, 33 plastic lids, 2 bits of fishing line, 2 pieces of cording, 1 large plastic battery case, 2 cigarette lighters, 1 tobacco wrapper, 1 condom, 2 chap stick containers, 1 plastic baby wipe carton, 1 plastic hair care bottle, 13 pieces of styrofoam, 5 food wrappers, 2 plastic pull tags, 2 plastic straws, 1 chair, 1 set of plastic flags, 4 rope pieces, 1 large tire, 2 plastic oil containers, 1 plastic deodorant container, 1 plastic grate, 1 large plastic drain pipe, 4 pieces of rubber and 1 rubber glove.

Since 1987 61,513 volunteers have removed 1,169,844 pounds of debris on 3,917 miles of coast and/or shoreline In Alabama. The Ocean Conservancy compiles data from all over the world to identify the general sources of debris and activities related to it. Last year about 600,000 volunteers collected more than 9 million pounds of trash from 20,000 miles of coastline worldwide.

We could look at these totals of trash and berate ourselves for being such a trashy species. Or….we can look at this effort as not only a way to clean up our mess but also to raise awareness about environmental stewardship. It may have started with a handful of tree huggers but the event has grown into an opportunity for scout troops, churches, and families to join together, spend a few hours on a coastline and show love for the planet by being responsible stewards.

Gone are the days when we have the luxury to say, I didn’t do it so why should I clean it up? We grow together as a human family when we move beyond that narrow view into an expansive view of pitching in to help the planet, which ultimately helps us all.