Tag: Life Path

Vision of the Path

Vision of the Path

It’s easy to write about beauty and adventures into underwater places. That’s my happy place…the blissful realm where I feel more myself than when walking on two legs and land-bound. But when I find myself feeling consistently stuck, it’s not so easy to put into words the experience of knowing the gifts I have to give are not being fully utilized, especially when our society needs more expression of beauty and especially more expression of Ocean beauty. After all, the Ocean is our life-source.

Recently I read an article where photographer and writer Cristina Mittermeier was interviewed. She said, “But I think the thing that I was most afraid of was becoming the most mediocre version of myself.”  I realized that’s where I’m stuck….in this mediocre me. And this terrifies me because I see the incredible need our planet has for everyone that feels the call to help, to step forward…to leap forward and give the best of themselves.

It’s interesting to share the feeling of being stuck with friends. Most want to talk me out of my feelings, convince me otherwise by listing what I do. In a conversation with one of my precious friends last night, she was listing my accomplishments and I felt anger….I know what I do….but I feel stuck! Her beautiful supportive words cannot erase my experience, my knowing that I can do so much more…the feeling of being not quite where I know I can be is very challenging to wrestle with and I expect many of us feel this way.

I want to help! I want to show the world the beauty of the Ocean! The fragility of it. The delicate balance we dance when we ignore the warning signs. So where are the open doors? And why am I stuck? Finally….understanding is dawning.

Years ago I met a guy. We ‘clicked’ and the vision of my path included him…in a very powerful way. We went on dive trips, shared cycling adventures, and he was the biggest believer in my path and work I had ever known. He saw me and the work I felt called to do like no other. The path, the vision I held so strongly, was us moving forward together.

Five years have passed since we last saw each other and there have been Ocean adventures with humpback whales, sea lions, whale sharks, dolphins…incredible encounters…and these experiences have led to books and presentations and the work going out into the world. And that’s awesome! But the feeling of being stuck continued until last night when I realized I had not updated the vision of my path. In some way I was attempting to live now with an outdated script.

It’s like operating your computer with an old operating system. The new input can’t work in the old system. At some point you have to remember to update the OS and reboot. Then all the new information coming in can work smoothly, effortlessly.

I wonder how many of us operate with old visions of what we want for our lives. When something works and we feel the power of it and set the course for our lives energy rushes in to fill the dream with power. Sometimes…and perhaps many times….we forget to update our vision, our dreams, when circumstances change. We forget to update the operating system. And then the ‘computer’ freezes.

One of my favorite writers said if you believe what you are doing is really powerful, the thought forms you construct will come clear and be highly dynamic. If you have no real faith in what you are doing, your thought forms will have no clear outline. Dion Fortune wrote this during World War II when meditation groups joined together to keep Hitler from invading England….before quantum physics told us that our thoughts are impulses of energy that affect our lives in a powerful way.

Perhaps I depended on my best friend, husband, partner and dive buddy to keep me on track by his incredible support. When that was gone I was lost. And that’s exactly how my path has felt….like I was space-walking with no gravity to pull me toward a destination.

The solution? First, realize that I needed a new vision. Then, commit fully to what I believe in and believe in myself and the vision of my life….the new vision I am creating. What about you? What is the vision for your life? When is the last time you uploaded a newer version and rebooted your life? Let’s do it and get on with the work at hand. We’ve got a lot to do.

Sacred, Holy Work

Sacred, Holy Work

800_1019Yesterday a person I haven’t seen in a while asked me what I was doing with myself these days. As I was attempting to answer she said, “Nothing? Still goofing around?” Maybe I misunderstood as I was attempting to answer her,”I’m still writing and taking photographs and generally trying to make the world a better place.” But our words intersected and I was left feeling quite strange. You see it didn’t matter who said the words…nothing…goofing around…what I heard is what I think about my life much of the time. The slap in my face comes from my own self-assessment, not from anyone else. Her words simply pried open the lid of my inner Pandora’s box.

A couple weeks ago a person I met asked what I ‘did’ and my reply? “I’m just a writer and nature photographer.” I couldn’t believe it when the words came out of my mouth. My jaw literally dropped as I caught my statement of shame and restated to her….”I am a writer and nature photographer.”

I’m just?

Image taken while I was on a spiritual-photography retreat

I stunned myself by proclaiming that the work of my life, this sacred, holy work is...just? Doing this work is following my spiritual path so why did I answer with such shame? And what’s with the snooty judgement of my life’s work?

In contemplating the words from yesterday, whether they were actually spoken aloud or my inner filters chimed in with the negative assessment of my life, I realized an old wound had circled around again and was snarling at me. It says this: Nothing I ever do is good enough. I’m not good enough so therefore everything I give to the world is unacceptable….. Old beliefs don’t die. They just quieten their chatter and slip underground when we become distracted. They lay waiting until they can slyly sneak within hearing range and softly whisper their dark, sinister messages into our innocent ears. You’re not good enough. Why do you think you can make a difference? Why don’t you give up? The spiral brings the wound around again to be healed at a deeper level.

Photo by Rebecca Droillard
Photo by Rebecca Drouillard

Today I was reading from a course of study and the question was asked, “What more can one give but oneself?” I thought back to yesterday’s exchange and to a couple weeks ago when I stated I was just a writer and photographer. If I am ashamed of my sacred work, how will I ever believe that what I have to offer in service will be enough? How can I be enough in relationship with the Universe, my self, a man, other people?

What am I willing to sacrifice on my spiritual path? Everything, even the old beliefs that have kept me small.

Armondo carves stones that he places on his property in Akumal, Mexico as a way to honor the earth
Armondo carves stones that he places on his property in Akumal, Mexico as a way to honor the earth

No matter what work we do, if we do it with love and surrender ourselves to it, it is sacred and holy. May we find the courage to walk our paths and seek opportunities to share ourselves with the world.

 

Making a Difference

Making a Difference

simonelipscomb (7)Several weeks ago I met my friend in the Smoky Mountains for an afternoon photography shoot. As we drove through Cades Cove we caught up with each other and shared a bit about our lives. We are both committed to our paths and want to make a difference in the world and shared our frustration at not really knowing how to do that or if what we are doing is really positively impacting the world.

A friend in Japan has been exploring how she wants to work to help make the world a better place and is frustrated as to how she can do this. She has volunteered in an elephant sanctuary and in the past has worked with marine mammal rescue but she, like others I know, wants to make a difference every day.

Over the past couple of days another friend and I have been in contact about the desire to make a difference in the world. It feels like the HID light was just turned on deep in an underwater cave. His clarity encouraged me.

A funk, for lack of a better word, has been dominating my life for the past several months. I am not sure of the origin of this downward turn. There is so much negative everything happening and the environmental issues coupled with atrocities humans perpetuate on each other have made it difficult to know what to do. After working with vigor and with passion documenting the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and before that, in creating books of beauty and inspiration, all with the goal of making a difference, I find hundreds of books in boxes in my home…their message of beauty and hope sitting tucked away from the world. A perfect metaphor of how I feel. Despondency and feeling a loss as to what I’m really supposed to be doing with my life has been the question that occupies my mind.

simonelipscomb (5)The heart-friend I recently wrote of retired from over thirty years of service to his community. He was a leader as a firefighter and trained in many disciplines so he could be excellent in his work. Rookies and seasoned firefighters alike looked up to him and his valuable skills. His career of rescue work is truly inspiring. Upon retirement he wasn’t doing what he wanted to do…making a difference. It was a terrible adjustment for him as his heart is huge and his intention of service matches the size of his heart. It wasn’t until he followed his path to serve in a war-torn country that he once-again fulfilled, in his mind, his goal. He has found what he was looking for–making a difference.

We follow little breadcrumb thoughts which lead us to decisions. We act on these decisions and make changes in our lives–some are huge, some are small. We direct our energy toward the slow-growing momentum and then hope for the best. But how do we know our efforts really are making a difference? How do we maintain trust in ourselves and in our decisions? Here’s a cave-diving analogy.

Photo by Ed Jackson
Photo by Ed Jackson of me and my buddy Ray and his light in the distance

When cave diving a diver knows that caves are dark. It seems a silly statement but I cannot count the number of times I’ve been asked the question: Are underwater caves really dark? Think of the darkest, inkiest, blackest darkness and then think of it as flowing and moving around you. Yes…underwater caves are dark. So a diver takes redundant equipment into a cave–air and light. Three lights are required equipment–a primary light and two back-up lights. The primary is a very bright, strong light and the back-up lights are smaller and always contain fresh batteries.

Photo by Ed Jackson
Photo by Ed Jackson…Yes, that’s me diving with my buddy, Ray, behind me.

So if I’m diving in a cave and for some reason my primary light fails, out comes a back-up light. If that fails, out comes the other back-up light. If we apply the analogy of cave diving to our lives, think of our life’s path as the primary light. We are born, we develop and learn and find our way to our path. A natural light is emitted from it as we progress. But there comes a time when we lose faith in our path, we find ourselves far from those we love, and who love us, we retire, or move to a new area, and that light wavers and then blinks out. We are left in the dark.

It’s not a happy place, this darkness. It’s difficult to orient ourselves, find our way. Which way do we go? Where is the line? Which tunnel is the way home?

Photo by Ed Jackson
Photo by Ed Jackson….I miss these caves!!!

When this happens we can contact a friend, one of our back-up lights, to help light our way. Sometimes the path we tread must have light from another source. When our own light seems dim, there are others who can help us see the path we have chosen. Their light can help us stay true and move forward when we have lost faith in what we do. We may come to a side tunnel in our underwater cave and the extra light may be necessary to see which way leads us home.

Some may think the primary light in cave diving is the most important but ask any cave diver who has had to deploy a back-up light or two. Those little lights are the real life-savers.

I am grateful for my heart-friend that reminded me to keep working on my path of service. His light encouraged me to stay with it, even when it feels like I am not making a difference. Sometimes I stumble along in darkness and then a ray of light comes forward to illuminate the way.

simonelipscomb (6)May we all be lights unto each other.

Thanks for reading. Please comment or share as you see fit. 

 

 

Breadcrumbs for Myself

Breadcrumbs for Myself

Swan by Simone Lipscomb
Swan by Simone Lipscomb

Today I was sorting a pile of stuff in a wooden tray on my desk and found several little slips of paper with ideas scribbled hurriedly, inspiration run amok. I do that quite often when I am concentrating on something else and inspiration hits. Rather than lose it I jot it down and ‘file’ it in my to-do box. And these little pieces of paper sift through the stack and end up at the bottom until they are excavated by a mad fit of cleaning.

Yesterday I started reading a book called, Beautiful Whale. It is the story of Bryant Austin who was touched (literally) by a enormous whale with her pectoral flipper (a 15 foot long, two ton flipper) on his shoulder during an intensely life-changing moment. He tells how he vowed then to photograph whales and create life-size prints of them to help raise awareness of their beauty and value. This meant getting very close to them to capture details that are impossible to capture in photographs underwater from a distance. It also meant building computers that could handle the file sizes. And selling everything he owned to make this happen.

Manatee by Simone Lipscomb
Manatee by Simone Lipscomb

As I read Bryant’s story and viewed the amazing photographs in this very over-sized book, I felt so humbled by his dedication. And I found myself evaluating my own journey and feeling off course a bit…as if I’m not really giving my full attention to my task…whatever it is. And so I felt frustration. What am I doing?

One treasure I found this afternoon while sorting through the pile on my desk was written in early January. “If I truly viewed this Earth as the Kingdom of God, would I not drop everything to document this place of wonder? This is my path, my journey for the next year–to fully immerse myself in the beauty and joy of this place we call Earth!” BAM!

Brown Pelican by Simone Lipscomb
Brown Pelican by Simone Lipscomb

A direct answer to my frustration last evening. And another, more recent, scrap of paper was something my mother included in my birthday card. It was a short piece on the earth being the Kingdom of God and how we are stewards and caretakers. When I get the same message two or three times in such a short time I pay attention. Einstein said coincidences are God’s way of remaining anonymous.

Gator smile by Simone Lipscomb
Gator smile by Simone Lipscomb

The little notes I write to my future self surface exactly when I most need them. They serve as breadcrumbs along the path that nurture me when I find myself needing sustenance for my dreams and ideas.