Tag: Gulf of Mexico

Sunset

Sunset

A few decades ago I stood on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico and listened to Her through the waves and wind. “I feel like I should be here helping you,” I said aloud. You will know when to return. With that answer, I returned to the Piedmont of North Carolina.

April 20, 2010 I was leading a night dive in Curacao, 50 miles off the coast of Venezuela, and tasted an oily flavor in the air I was breathing. I stopped and surfaced and asked others if they had similar experiences with their tanks….none were noted. I continued leading the dive being very cautious and diving relatively shallow just to be safe.

Upon returning to the Atlanta airport two days later, I learned of the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. The night of the dive was the night the rig exploded and sank…and the nightmare of the largest oil spill in US history began. Sitting in the airport I remembered the sea’s answer…You will know when to return.

And so, for the next year I spent a week of nearly every month back at the Alabama coast documenting and writing about the disaster. I traveled back and forth from Asheville, where I lived at the time. And finally, the work led me to live along the coast.

Within a couple weeks of moving here I found sea turtle volunteer opportunities and a bit later, manatee volunteer training and volunteering. Both became very important in my life. But after six years here, and two children’s books and two photography-inspirational books, it felt like my work here was coming to a pause….a long pause….a very long pause and I knew it was time to open to the next chapter.

The sunset….oh, yes. The sunset.

I walked along the beach a couple nights ago and found myself at the water’s edge asking Her permission to wrap up the work here and move back to the mountains. Well done, daughter. Return to the mountains to be nurtured in the lush green and fresh running waters, I felt more than heard.

Nearing the end of the walk I was on the boardwalk leaving the beach when the western horizon drew my attention. Perhaps a pause before leaving wouldn’t hurt.

Little-by-little the most amazing sunset I have ever seen began to illuminate the sky. My heart opened with deep gratitude. I have witnessed such sadness here….oil covering animals and beaches–the smell burning my eyes and throat years ago and recently a critically endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle and a huge loggerhead sea turtle washed ashore dead on my last two sea turtle patrols. But the sky reminded me of the gift of beauty that has also been experienced during my six years here.

It seemed to be a thank-you…a gift that will remain burned into my memory.

As I write this my dog is running in his sleep as he lays beside me on the bed. He’s off adventuring in his dreams. I welcome the next adventure as I don my hiking boots and walk into the welcoming arms of the oldest mountains on the planet…camera in hand, note pad ready and heart open.

Home in the Sky

Home in the Sky

Arriving just before sunset….

Sometimes it’s easy to dwell in the littleness of life…or even get stuck there. When we feel stress or anxiety the tendency is to curl up in our little space with a blanket and binge-watch crappy television. At least that’s what I do sometimes. As the mind focuses on the chaos of (fill in the ______) it seems safer to be small because the chaos feels so big.

The Perseid Meteor event pulled me out of my little bubble and an amazing gift unfolded as I found myself immersed in the present–not in my head chasing mental rabbits down endless holes.

Friends of mine have a beach house in a relatively dark section of beach and they allow me to go there to photograph the night sky. Last evening found me standing in white, soft sand wondering if the heavy cloud cover would remain as darkness fell. “I came here to see meteors,” I exclaimed.

Maybe it was the polite way I asked for a window to see stars or just a weird beach phenomena….but a pathway to the stars opened and a bank of clouds held just east of Mars to allow viewing of the vast night sky.

After tiring of standing and craning my neck with the tripod, I adjusted the legs to a short extension and laid on the sand under the tripod. With my cable release wrapped around a tripod leg, I could lay on my back, watch stars, take long exposures and adjust the settings from a most relaxed point of view.

Taking long exposures with my camera always brings me to a place of stillness as 20, 25, 30 seconds pass. I can’t move or walk away….just have to stand (or in my case laying) in stillness as the heavens expand overhead.

There was one amazing shooting star with a bright sprinkle of star dust that trailed over the Gulf of Mexico and there were smaller ones that zipped quickly through the night sky…and that was amazing. But the real show for me was the Milky Way as it emerged from the darkening sky.

The Earth Mother supported me in my rest and opening to the endless depths of space and stars and I felt layers of worries fall away as I focused on the bigness of the Universe. Bigness….such an understatement.

By surrendering to something greater than me, I found profound peace. Allowing the depth of the Universe to touch me and awaken me, I found home again….in the sky….in myself….beyond….beyond….beyond.

The Face of What’s Happening

The Face of What’s Happening

Do you dare look? Can you bear the grief? Sea turtle nearly decapitated by propeller. Children ripped from their parents. Whales dead full of plastic. This takes courage friends. To deny our grief is to make ourselves sick. The planet is suffering. All life is suffering. So what can we do?

The face of suffering is evident every day whether we watch the news or read it or listen on the radio. From every direction we are made aware of the destruction. Perhaps our natural inclination is to look away, but not because we don’t care. Perhaps, as Joanna Macy says, it’s because we don’t know what to do with our grief and we feel overwhelmed.

Last night I dreamed I was helping a sea turtle whose throat had been slit. This morning, on sea turtle nest patrol, I came upon a critically endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle whose neck had been nearly severed from an apparent propeller strike. Even in my dreams they reach out asking for help. And so today, I share this turtle’s story and use it to illustrate the bigger story happening in the world and with every one of us.

So how can we look upon the face of suffering and death and survive the grief? If you are paying attention, you are probably sad and maybe even depressed. And I’m guessing you feel grief. The answer is to feel it. Have the courage to look and feel the emotions and then allow them to move out of your beautiful heart into the world. Don’t be afraid of the grief and likewise, don’t be afraid of your own depth of caring, love and compassion.

I sat beside the turtle’s body after patrol was done. I sang her a song and thanked her for bringing such beauty into the world. The odor of rotting flesh covered my hands and the wind blew her death smell over me as I wept openly. Not just for her passing but for the opportunity to love. What an amazing time to be alive, when every person’s love and compassion is needed so very much.

Loggerhead Hatchling

If you think you can’t make a difference, or the pain of what’s happening is simply too much to bear, allow the strength of that which you love pour through you as grace. That’s what Joanna Macy reminded our on-line group last week. Breathe in the strength of the turtle species that have survived for so long and let that strength pour through as grace to move out through your heart into the world….or the whales….or children removed from parents….or whatever it is that you love deeply. Work with your grief and let it motivate you to love deeper and fuller.

And let me know if you want to work on this together. Thanks to training with Joanna years ago in a week-long retreat, I have some ideas as to how we can come together and stay sane as the chaos of uncertainty shakes us. Always happy to bring a group together to further more love, compassion and grace in this world. (Email Simone)

 

 

The Calling

The Calling

The Calling

Through the starlight whispers

Like soft falling snow

Your voice called me.

Particles of light

From some unknown

Home, I heard you.

Eons of time and space

Holding its hand,

An arrow pointing home.

Aching with love

My heart felt you stirring

Deep inside itself

Loggerhead Hatchling

Answer to an unspoken

Word, tears flowed from

My young eyes.

Compelled by the

Silent voice

I answered.

A journey begun,

A path to walk,

A calling.

~ Simone Lipscomb

All is Well…at the Center

All is Well…at the Center

No news reports are broadcast in my home or on the computer or any electronic device and yet it trickles in through word of mouth and social media. If I search out news, it’s from sources I trust…proven journalists that research their stories and refuse to report what has commonly become known as fake news.

Even with these protocols in place, it is impossible not to notice that the poop is hitting the proverbial fan in our country. Assaults on the environment, the middle class, wildlife, domesticated animals, children, women, those with different sexual orientations, people of any color other than white, those who fall in the 99% of wealth, rivers, oceans, sacred places….there is not one dimension of life in our country that isn’t being assaulted or threatened.

The struggles we have already been through over hundreds of years are happening again and they are compressed into one place in time. It gets overwhelming on a daily basis. I cannot imagine how it must feel for those actually watching news broadcasts and having those fights and negative voices echo through the sacred walls of their homes.

It is challenging to stay informed and stay sane.

I refuse to be uninformed and uninvolved although the temptation is certainly there. It’s much easier to numb-out, be in the world asleep. But I can’t do that. Yet….there has to be balance. Too many angry emoticons on FaceBook makes Simone a withered shell of a person.

Recently we experienced several days of rain and cold weather so cycling was not an option. I continued being outside in nature doing three mile walks even when it was pouring rain and cold. It was my grasp at sanity. I wasn’t able to pound on the pedals and whirl away 20 miles of crazy for a week, so I had to adapt.

Never before have I felt the hollowness of living alone so acutely and painfully. Missing the companionship, friendship and love of an understanding man has prompted me to spend more time outdoors seeking the stillness and quiet of the forests, beaches and open spaces.

Standing in a small forest of trees with soft, pine needles underfoot and rain drops bouncing off my rain parka, I found balance. Walking by the headwaters of the Magnolia River with fog rising from its slow-moving water, I found peace. Walking my canine friend in the snow…his first ever….and watching his reaction, I found laughter. Walking bundled in winter clothes on the beach with a friend, I found companionship. It took work, but I found balance amidst the chaos….or as close as I can get given the circumstances.

I’ve always loved nature, but if you’re reading this you probably know this about me. My life is dedicated to sharing the beauty of the planet. However, lately I have found it absolutely necessary to step away from screens and be outside. Even if it’s sitting on my porch and watching it rain or walking in the neighborhood….nature gifts me with healing and balance in an ever-challenging world.

Nature responds to our reaching out. Be still, listen. Open your mind and heart. In the deepest place of silence, all is well.