Tag: healing

Reflections

Reflections

SimoneLipscomb (22)I sit drinking hot tea while listening to bowhead whale song. It touches that place in me where wildness resides, where instinctual wisdom is present. Deep, deep in the inner waters that remain still, untouched by external chaos, global destruction, and consistent attempts by humanoids to pave over anything if it creates profit, I find peace.

This week has been profoundly healing, immensely wonderful. It has been a time of coming home to myself and refocusing my life’s work. And it all came about because I followed my intuition and opened my heart to doors that are open and waiting for me to walk through.

SimoneLipscomb (21)The 30A Songwriters Festival in Santa Rosa Beach gave me a nudge to make my yearly pilgrimage to visit manatees in south central Florida. Since I’d already be two hours in that direction I decided to go. But this time rather than arrange everything in advance, I allowed the entire trip to be fluid.

In the interim of trip planning and the festival, our area of Magnolia River had a manatee rescue by Sea World so I decided to ask Sea World if I could visit our gal while she is in rehab. Wouldn’t it be neat to see her and be able to report back to our community?

SimoneLipscomb (86)All plans remained open. I hadn’t received a response from Sea World but decided to leave a day early anyway and simply head south. When I weighed the two departure dates it was obvious which day would be best. And it made all the difference.

As I neared Crystal River a huge rainbow appeared. The arch was steep, a circle of rainbow light over my left shoulder. I stopped at a traffic signal and glanced at the name of the street: Follow Your Dream Parkway. At that point I knew the trip took a deep dive to other levels of experience–the realm where spirit resides.

SimoneLipscomb (97)I signed up for the early boat trip on the way down and was one of only four people on the trip. A true rarity in Crystal River during peak manatee  season. Also on the trip was a marine biologist from Australia. As we talked it felt as if we knew each other and were picking up where we left off at some other time and place. He is pursuing a PhD in Marine Education so our conversation was immediately on track to expanding ideas and sharing concern and grief over the status of our Ocean.

SimoneLipscomb (74)While the water was murky when we arrived at the site, it was for a good reason. Manatees were so thick in Three Sister’s Springs I refused to enter. They were stacked on top of each other sleeping. It’s illegal to swim over a sleeping manatee so the only option was to quietly exit without entering the main area of the springs. Well…my only option. It’s more important to allow them rest and quiet than for me to get a photograph. When I enter their realm it is with a sense of respect and awe….reverence. Their world is a cathedral, a holy place. I listen to their whistles and squeaks as holy choruses that strike deep chords of harmony within my soul.

SimoneLipscomb (8)The following day Rich, the marine biologist, and his wife Deb and their beautiful two year old daughter and I hired a guide in Homosassa to take us out on the water. While the water is greener there, the experience of absolute quiet with no other humans in the area was amazing. We all share a deep respect for wild animals and simply laid still in the water, away from each other, and allowed any curious animal a safe, respectful encounter with us.

SimoneLipscomb (2)Immediately after entering the water I had a large animal swim under me and start rolling around on the bottom. With each roll he would stop and glance at me and pause while I took video and still photographs. I could feel ripples of love and light flowing out from my heart as I remained motionless, an observer in awe.

SimoneLipscomb (14)Two juveniles played around me, coming to my camera housing and butting noses on it. They would get hungry or miss mama and would squeak and swim off to find her. I remained floating where I was and in a few minutes they would return. With the limited visibility, it was as if a phantom gradually appeared from the green depths and slowly changed from verdant algae tint to gray as it approached.

SimoneLipscomb (26)After a couple hours of floating and relaxing in the watery bliss, I grew cold. As I was thinking of heading back to the boat a very large mother manatee swam up behind me and rested her head on my left shoulder. Behind her, a juvenile rested her head on mama’s back. I glanced back and couldn’t believe the image I saw. Tears of wonder and joy flow even now as I reflect on this encounter. In stillness I laid on the water’s surface and marveled at the love I felt, prompted by this rare encounter…one of the most sacred moments in my life.

SimoneLipscomb (18)On this trip I experienced large manatees swimming up to me and laying beside me, snuggling for lack of a better word. We floated side-by-side in stillness. I dared not move as I didn’t want to kick or in any way disturb them. So in stillness, in depths of silence, I was one with animals that weighed 1000 pounds more than me. There was no separation of spirit, of love. They taught me to go deeper, deeper into myself to find that place of stillness and quiet where perfect peace abides.

SimoneLipscomb (94)I struggle about writing and sharing these experiences as I don’t want to suggest that everyone has experiences such as this. I don’t want to create even more masses of humanity descending upon these endangered animals. But for those who are quiet and still and are passive observers of these magnificent animals…they can change your consciousness, alter your perception, bring out the best that resides within you. But it only comes on their terms. You must act as a manatee….move slowly, float calmly…observe life gently…open your heart.

Rich and I were discussing manatee behaviors after our trip to Homosassa. He mentioned that as soon as he wanted to ‘manipulate’ the encounter…by wanting the light to be this way or the animal to be in a certain place….the animals that had been with him left. He didn’t move but his thoughts changed. Surrender to the encounter, let go of what ‘you’ want and magic happens. Very keen observation on his part. And how true for life.

SimoneLipscomb (25)Since we cannot stay underwater forever, the real benefit of experiences such as these is how they create lasting change within us. After years of observing people observing manatees I am more convinced than ever before that these animals are incredibly sensitive to not only human behavior, but human thoughts and emotions as well.

Yesterday I observed two permitted photographers — #1 and #12 (professional photographers apply for a permit through USFW) harass a mother and juvenile in the springs. The mother moved three times to try and find a place to sleep and rest with her calf and the photographers followed and continued their pushy behaviors. They may have images of manatees but they will never understand the spirit of these beautiful animals, never grasp their own arrogant and aggressive behaviors as being the exact opposite of how these creatures live and move and have their being in the water.

Photograph by Richard Wylie...THANK YOU!!
Photograph of me with a juvenile manatee…. by Richard Wylie…THANK YOU!!

I take away from these days with manatees a simple yet profound realization: Open heart, open doors. As I keep my heart open, the open doors will be made known. I will feel my way to them through an open heart.

Everything is getting clear on the path before me and with gratitude for the teachings they offered, I wish my manatee friends safe journeys through the waterways of life.

SimoneLipscomb (20)As I reflect on the week I remember the rainbow arching over my left shoulder, Follow Your Dream Parkway and the mother manatee and juvenile that rested on my left shoulder. The meaning isn’t lost on me. The visceral connection of the teaching is working deep within me. I remember the mother taking my right hand off of the camera housing with her flipper and holding my hand within her flippers and then directing it to her heart.  How can I not experience long-lasting and powerful change after this?

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SimoneLipscomb (11)And yes…Sea World called and I got to visit Magnolia in her med pool. She is recovering nicely and being treated for deep propeller wounds along with other manatees who are injured. The rescue and rehab program at Sea World is simply amazing. Simply. Amazing!

 

 

Sweet Horse Breath…Remembering a Great Horse

Sweet Horse Breath…Remembering a Great Horse

(This post is from a story I wrote about my beloved Tomahawk Red. It was originally published in Western North Carolina Woman magazine).

When I was three years old I balked at walking down the aisle as the flower girl in my cousin’s wedding.  I was terrified at the prospect of being the center of attention in such a large event.  My mom finally promised me anything I wanted if I would take those tiny steps from the back of the church to the altar.  She got her wish and I got mine.

My red cowgirl outfit was a child’s dream come true.  The red and white checked shirt, red vest, boots and hat made me feel like a cowgirl, as I rode for hours on my rocking horse Champ.  It was not until many years later that my dream of being a real cowgirl manifested with a new best friend, Tomahawk Red.

When I was fourteen years old my dad purchased a young Appaloosa colt.  Since Tommy was too young to ride, I worked with him every day in our backyard.  We became great friends as I spent every spare hour with him.  He became a regular visitor to our patio, much to my mom’s dismay.  She lived in terror of him getting spooked and shattering her sliding glass door.

simonelipscomb (1)We had a large fenced yard so often Tommy would be allowed to graze in the yard.  He would always find his way to our patio and step onto the concrete slab so that he could peer into our family room from the large glass door.  I begged my parents to let him come in the house, but to their credit and good judgment, Tommy remained an outdoor horse.

My father was seriously ill when he paid the $300 for Tommy.  Dad was not able to do much with me due to his debilitating illness that left him in a wheelchair, but he would spend time watching me work with Tommy from the patio or he would go with me to Appaloosa club meetings and shows.  Tommy became a link between my father and me that bridged the distance teenage attitudes and physical illness creates between parents and their maturing children.

When Tommy became old enough to ride I put the saddle on him and rode him.  It was not a big deal and there was no ‘breaking’ of his spirit as some horses experience when learning to carry a human on their back.  Tommy and I were so connected, the first time I sat on his back was a non-event for him.  It was just the next logical step in our relationship.

simonelipscomb (2)Every day after school I would ride Tommy.  We would journey through open fields and dirt roads of coastal Alabama.  He was my best friend, my therapist and the love of my life.  I loved the smell of his sweat and the feel of his warm breath on my face as we kissed, nose to nose.  Without hesitation I can say that Tomahawk Red was my first love.

One night, after flooding rains had soaked the land for days, our stable began to flood.  Our five horses decided to come to the stable rather than wait out the flood in the higher pasture.  In the middle of the night, my younger brother and I had to wade into chest deep water to unlatch the stable door so the horses could come into our backyard to safety.  I know we saved our horses lives that night but in so many ways Tommy saved my life every day.

Expressing my feelings about my father’s illness never happened until many years later in therapy, but the hours spent with Tommy helped me stay open to experience the world and life as a young woman.  Tommy carried me and my emotional pain for many years.  I credit him with helping me stay sane as a teenager.  And for keeping me out of typical teenage trouble.

simonelipscombDad never saw me graduate from college or never met my daughter.  His disease claimed his life when he was only 43 years old.  But my friend Tommy knew of the milestones in my life.  He met my daughter and introduced her to the smell of horse sweat and sweet, horse breath.  He understood the demands of motherhood, a career and a marital relationship.

After us kids left the house and loss interest in riding, all the horses were sold except for Tommy.  How could I sell my best friend?  Instead, I chose to retire him and let him live his life free and easy among the cows on my grandfather’s farm.  I did not see Tommy so much after adulthood grabbed me, but I continued to love him and hold a special place for him in my heart.

When he was almost twenty years old I got a call from my mom about Tommy.  Something was wrong.  I called the vet and met him at the farm.  The diagnosis was not good and I knew the end was near.  The decision I faced was horrible.  How could I choose to kill my best friend, my first love?

I chose to spend the night with Tommy and ask him what he wanted.  He had to be a part of the decision-making process.  As he lay on the grass, grunting from pain, I rubbed him, sang to him and thanked him for many years of friendship and love.  When dawn arrived the choice was clear.

I stayed with Tommy as the vet administered the doses of drugs that would end his physical life.  I knelt on the ground and felt his last breath as it blew warm against my face.  Tears fell against his beautiful spots as I stroked his strong neck.  Grief ripped through my body as I said goodbye to my loyal friend.

But Tommy was not the only one for whom I grieved.  Finally, after many years of being emotionally shut down, sadness over my dad’s death was freed from its dark hold on my life.  I never realized how my father’s love blanketed me through the relationship between Tommy and me.

Tommy taught me how to be strong as a horsewoman.  He modeled loyalty and commitment in relationship and most of all, Tommy taught me how to love wholly and completely with my entire self.

As I walked away from his beautiful brown and white spotted body, I gazed into the sky.  I felt a rush of warm wind as it carried his spirit onward, free to run amongst the wild horses who never knew illness or pain and who dwelled in the eternal fire of unconditional love.  I think I saw my father there, riding his old horse, Prince.  They were all free and happy.

Collective Vision

Collective Vision

SimoneLipscomb (47)Saltwater gently lapped against white sand. I stood in inner silence, an observer of life.

As I slipped into a saltwater reverie, I saw a ship made of living sea creatures lift from the water and float upon the surface. Brilliant blue and green hues shimmered on the resplendent glory of bountiful sea life. A glow from beneath the surface was the aura of a healthy ocean.

Blue-gray clouds streaked with white unfolded across the horizon and the soft shushing of waves greeting the shore echoed a musical cadence…peaccccceahhhh…..peacccceee….ahhhh.

As the vision evaporated in the sparkling sunlight upon the Gulf’s surface, I walked back toward land. I saw a sea gull sleeping with her head tucked under a wing, gently rocking in time with the mantra…peacccce….peacccce. I felt her peace…I stopped and rocked with her, sisters.

SimoneLipscomb (14)During today’s Frog Pond Sunday Social brother Will Kimbrough shared a new song that took me back to those moments on the beach. Child of Light reminded me that each of us is a child of light and has a role to play in the awakening consciousness. We bring our gifts with us as we come, sprinkled with star dust, into this life.

SimoneLipscomb (46)What light am I willing to bring? What light are you willing to bring? What is our collective vision?

 

Patience…Stillness

Patience…Stillness

simonelipscomb (13)Toes trip on toes.

Destination matters not.

simonelipscomb (8)Stop and rest.

It’s dark anyway.

simonelipscomb (6)Shhhh….

My heart wants to speak.

simonelipscomb (11)Stop.

Enjoy starlight.

simonelipscomb (10)Patience yields purpose.

Stillness creates the map.

Artist of the Spirit

Artist of the Spirit

simonelipscombA long time ago I had a teacher ask me to write my personal myth. I wrote about what I did and what my dreams were but knew that didn’t fulfill the assignment. I didn’t quite understand the idea.

Over the years I’ve come to grasp the concept a little better. Each of us has a story. We create our story with awareness or without awareness. With awareness we weave our story with truth and love and without awareness we create a personal myth based on lies.

simonelipscomb (4)The personal myth or story is the internal dialogue we repeat over and over in our minds. The chatter, the busy-talk, the mantra on permanent replay that is the white noise of our lives. The problem with the story is that most of the time it is a distortion. Until we can clearly listen, it quite literally is the old trick of putting short micro-second clips or subliminal messages in movies that create within viewers the urge to buy popcorn and soda at movie theaters. That’s illegal these days. But clearly nobody has outlawed the story we tell ourselves about our own lives. Too bad.

Since we don’t have advocates for truth-busting our internal dialogues, how can we excise the pervasive messages that keep us stuck? It takes practice to tune in to the internal narrator that bombards us with propaganda. You might have heard your internal storyteller whispering your story in the first person.

simonelipscomb (6)“I can’t do this.” “I’m not strong enough.” “Why do I think people will buy my books or photographs?” “There’s nobody out there for me.” “Nobody cares about the planet.” “Corporations rule the world so why should I bother? My voice is too small.” “I don’t need his or her help.”

The list my internal storyteller (tyrant) tells me is endless and on constant replay. Yet that voice is so soft I must be very diligent in listening. Otherwise, the dialogue becomes habitual and my life yields a perfect mirror of the near-silent lies.

simonelipscomb (7)I’ve been able to trace my core myth to my toddler years. One specific experience remains vivid because it became such a family story. I was riding my tricycle under my grandparents carport and came to the end of the concrete. My uncle asked if I needed help turning my trike. I stopped, stood up and replied, “Nope,” as I grabbed the metal bar and seat, lifted it and turned it around and continued peddling.

In today’s meditation I reflected back on that moment and how my basic myth is ‘I don’t need anyone.’ I saw my core personal myth is based on this huge lie. As the realization grew, patterns of behavior became evident and I saw how I have created my life on that foundational belief.

The crazy part of this story is there is nothing I want more than a good partnership, a true love. What I desire most will never come to be until I change my story, alter the internal dialogue that is the foundation of what I believe about my life.

It takes courage to listen and become aware of our story. The courage part is necessary because we will discover darkness woven into what we believe about ourselves. And others. We all can fall prey to the inner tyrant–that ranting storyteller who weaves very negative tales.

simonelipscomb (3)So how do we create a story that is true? First, we simply listen. Carefully and without judgement, listen to what is repeating in our minds. And most importantly, if the internal voice goes against us, puts us down or reinforces those negative beliefs we have about ourselves, then stop believing what it’s saying. “Truth survives skepticism but lies don’t.”*

I’m weary of the inner tyrant narrating my story. I see glimpses of the truth as I open my heart and mind. It’s not easy but freedom comes when we create a personal myth based on love rather than lies.  All of us have the capacity to be an artist of the spirit.

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*Several years ago I read the Don Miguel Ruiz book, The Voice of Knowledge. I was recently guided to re-read it. For a deeper exploration into uncovering personal myth I suggest reading his book. 

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