Tag: Jill Heinerth

Earth Celebration

Earth Celebration

SimoneLipscomb (17)Today is the day we set aside to celebrate our beautiful planet…Earth….Gaia….Mother Earth…Pachamama…The Blue Planet. I’m sitting here in my little motel room in High Springs, Florida, with the door wide open as twilight arrives. I am reflecting on the day with a smiling heart. I feel all tingly and it’s not from excess Nitrogen after cave diving. I feel alive and connected to this living being that is my Mother.

I started the day at Cave Country Dive Shop getting my tanks topped off. James was so speedy that there was extra time to play at the springs taking photographs before I met my side mount instructor and fellow Earth-lover.

SimoneLipscomb (31)To say it was a glorious morning is not doing justice to the absolute beauty of the early morning time along the Sante Fe River with the last lingering mist evaporating as brilliant sun illuminated tender, spring, verdant leaves. Clear turquoise water glistened like an aquamarine gemstone. There was no other humans so my morning meditation was spent in sweet connection with Her. Whispered phrases of gratitude wafted from my lips into the water…the misty air…the rocks…the sun.

photoAnd then it was time to meet up with Jill at the entrance to Ginnie Springs.  We did two wonderful cave dives into the Ginnie cave through the eye. At the end of the first dive we peeked into the river-flooded Ear entrance and saw the dark tea-colored water swirling above the crack in the Earth. A mighty sight! We then exited through our entry point, the Eye.

Both dives were as sweet as any I have done at Ginnie Springs. Jill models such a respectful and calm attitude of love for the cave. Witnessing her connection was powerful and it changed me in ways I don’t realize yet.

We shared a nice lunch and chatted about wildlife and turtles. Mostly turtles. Appropriate since Earth is also known as Turtle Island, a turtle floating in space…and we were celebrating Earth Day.

SimoneLipscomb (12)After returning to my cozy little room and hanging my gear to dry I walked across the street to the dive shop to settle my tab. On the way back I noticed a little shop I’ve seen for the ten years I’ve been coming to High Springs. High Springs Emporium is a rock and crystal shop…and so much more. I wandered in and spent an hour visiting with the owner. I felt the connection between Gaia and me strengthen and grow fuller as I stood among Her crystals, rocks, bowls of crystal that vibrated my bones…and my soul. It was the perfect ending to a joy-filled day…the proverbial icing on the cake.

SimoneLipscomb (5)For the past seven years I have dedicated my life to helping our water planet and haven’t known if I was making a difference or simply deluding myself. Today, as I waded into the clear spring water with my camera, ripples erupted from my feet and slowly spread across the large spring. A smile erupted as I realized that ripples from what each one of us does makes a difference….positive or negative. To give up, to stop trying is not an option. When your heart calls you…when you love deeply and profoundly you never, ever give up.

photo 2And so begins the next step of my journey with this water planet, my Mother. May my life be a love song to Her and may I sing it until I draw my last breath…hopefully many years from now. Tears flow as my heart opens to beautiful Pachamama, my Water Mama. My Path begins to open in ways I have never dreamed possible…I feel it.

SimoneLipscomb (33)With deep gratitude for this Earth Day spent with Jill and the turtles and fish…and the baby flounder who did a back flip for me…and the cave….the magnificent cave that welcomed me as Her own and cradled me within Her dark walls as I navigated my rebirth.

May each of us realize the potential to make positive change by our actions and dedicate ourselves to it.

Simone cave diving in Mexico. Photo by Ed Jackson
Simone cave diving in Mexico. Photo by Ed Jackson

I love you Mother Earth…I know your heartbeat…your amniotic fluids…your powerful embrace. I am yours.

 

 

 

 

 

No Ego Needed

No Ego Needed

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Pam Wooten, Jill Heinerth, Simone Lipscomb. Photo by Rick Crawford.

The weekend before the New Year found me in Cave Country–North Florida–once again. I was drawn there to take a course in side mount, or so I thought. It wasn’t until after the trip was over and I was home that I realized the deeper reason I made the trip.

My friend Pam and I decided to take the class with Jill Heinerth. Pam knew Jill but I simply followed the recommendation of another friend and cave instructor. I won’t go into the details of the course because that’s not my focus. But I would like to share about the women that were present that weekend.

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Connie LoRe, a role model for me in cave diving.  She has led trips to the beautiful caves of Akumal, Mexico for many years. Photo by Ed Jackson.

Cave diving has progressed from a male-dominated sport to one in which women are routinely participating, instructing and exploring. I thought it was rather awesome to be in a cave course taught by a woman with a female classmate who excels in the field of dive instruction. One of Jill’s friend’s was teaching a cavern course. Renee was another outstanding woman. As we were figuring out our new gear yet another amazing woman showed up to dive. Barbara am Ende, cave explorer and writer, came over and started chatting. I was a bit distracted with all the learning to realize the powerhouse of women standing around us.

Renee Power
Renee Power

Our first day ended with a dive in the Ginnie Bowl and Ballroom. Renee accompanied us. I’m not sure if it was because Pam and I were giving Jill more challenge than she bargained for and she was about to pull her hair out in frustration or if Renee just wanted to come along for the fun. Regardless, it was a very nice dive once we got our gear situated. We played around for over 30 minutes in the cavern and it was quite lovely surfacing after dark to a beautiful sky and clear water surrounded by cypress trees. After we finished Jill left to join her husband for dinner while Pam, Renee and I chatted. I felt an immediate kinship with Renee as we shared about our experience instructing scuba with wounded soldiers. Exhaustion finally overcame me and I headed for a hot shower and food.

At lunch Jill was telling Pam and I about an expedition Barbara had been on and mentioned something about a book. I emailed a note to myself to read the book…Beyond the Deep.

Barbara am Ende. Photo by Mark Long
Barbara am Ende. Photo by Mark Long

The following day of class I got to chat a bit with Barbara. She was super-nice and was interested in my photography of the trees, water and light. She shared her card so we could keep in touch but we didn’t have a chance to really visit too much. And for some reason I didn’t associate her with the expedition and book Jill had referenced.

I had to end the diving a bit early due to a cold virus that had been challenging me during the course and the dives. I had no energy and had to focus really hard just to stay present so perhaps that’s why I ‘missed’ the profound women gathered together. Or maybe it was because there was no ego, no chest-beating, no race to see how far or how deep cave penetration was that day. It was friendly, supportive sharing and everyone was equally bringing her best self forward.

WAWhandLOGOwebsiteOnce I got home and was recuperating on my sofa, I watched Jill’s video. We Are Water is a beautiful story of water and the importance of it to us but more than that, it is the story of Jill’s passion and love for the planet. And that resonated deeply with me. Her words echoed my own as she described entering the caves as a spiritual experience; a kindred soul indeed. I’m not an explorer into the deeps of caves or icebergs but I am an explorer of our relationship to nature. I see that in Jill as well.

After the movie, I wanted something else to help me make the best use of my down-time so I downloaded Barbara’s book to my iPad. As I started reading I thought, Oh, my goodness! This is the woman I met? The expedition to the cave in Mexico in which Barbara participated was intense. Over a ton of gear was transported by a system of belays to sumps far below the surface. I couldn’t put the book down and so stayed up late reading in awe of such an amazing journey. It was a powerful venture into the unknown.

beyond

I emailed and chatted with my friend Pam after the trip and shared with her my disbelief that such powerful women came together that weekend. It wasn’t planned. The timing of meeting Renee and Barbara was truly profound. I think this is so because there was such friendliness and approachability with everyone present.

It wasn’t just Jill and Barbara that brought tremendous strengths and gifts to those picnic tables at Ginnie Springs. Each one of us has an authentic way of interacting with the world and we each have something beautiful to offer the world. But so does every woman…every person.

 

Pam Wooten, PADI Course Director.
Pam Wooten, PADI Course Director. Photo by Simone Lipscomb

The weekend was made especially meaningful as Pam and I shared about our lives…openly, honestly. What a gift to experience the deepening of friendship.

 

Simone cave diving in Mexico. Photo by Ed Jackson
Simone cave diving in Mexico. Photo by Ed Jackson

Terry Tempest Williams said that if a woman ever honestly wrote about and shared her life story, the world would split open and be forever changed. As I reflect back to that weekend, gratitude overflows as I treasure the gift of wisdom each one shared. Perhaps the biggest gift I received was the assurance that wisdom comes with gentleness, straightforwardness, honesty, play, self-awareness in a space where no ego is needed.