Tag: LIGHTWORK

Self-Portrait

Self-Portrait

A true self-portrait evolves and changes as we change and grow. Several years ago I created one and found it the other day. I decided to create a new one and see how it might be different.

Our lives are works of art that evolve as we change and grow. I’m so grateful for the adventures, both inner and outer, that have shaped my life.

What shapes your life?

Oneness, 2

Oneness, 2

Cool raindrops kissed my skin as I pedaled just after dawn. It felt like a cleansing, a baptism of sorts, after several weeks of intense soul work.

My open mouth welcomed raindrops falling on my tongue. Drops of rain dripped through helmet vents as my crown was cleansed. No lightning insured a simple, sacred sprinkling.

The truth of Oneness was a thread I tugged on throughout the eighteen miles. I thought of my concerns over selling my home and purchasing another one and wondering how that will work out with five precious four-leggeds that depend on me. I pondered the work that calls me which I have no real definition for or direction to.  Feeling stuck with all of this has driven me deep into my own depths–which has been incredibly painful.

As I pedaled I heard an inner voice arise with guidance that answered my concerns.

It reminded me that what I’m going through–wondering about ‘home’ and how everything will work out–is something wildlife is experiencing….not through ‘thoughts’ but through loss of healthy ecosystems and food sources. Loss of potential mates and young. Extinction for a group of orca seems certain. Right whales….the future is very grim. Is this not the same experience of sorts? Only mine is a matter of timing whereas their situation is truly dire. Remember the mother orca that carried her dead baby for weeks as the world watched and grieved. I believe she was reaching out to some intelligence–somewhere– to ask for help for her species…for all species.

We tend to personalize our suffering, our worries and concerns; however, because there truly is no separation and only Oneness, all life is experiencing this pain simultaneously. We can tune out by ignoring or distracting or practicing addictions that keep us insulated from the global pain or we can, with courage and intention, allow ourselves to feel the grief of all life. If this route is chosen, be warned….it’s not an easy journey.

In truth, if we don’t choose to listen to the cries of all life as it weeps over loss and struggles to survive, we are contributing to and speeding up the process of its destruction…our destruction. Humans are not immune to experiencing loss. Ask those who are living through the floods from Hurricane Florence.

Remaining open to the realization of Oneness is like dancing on the railing of a ship tossed by a storm. It’s a delicate balance where we must gaze into the eyes of suffering while not allowing it to make us fall into the tempest. Somehow we must learn to dance with open hearts and minds, looking at the suffering of the world as it is reflected within us. We do this by reaching out to each other, holding hands and vowing to work together…no matter what.

We must remain mindful that joy and beauty are the Medicines that keep us sane as we acknowledge the deep suffering of our world.

 

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.

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)

 

 

Finding Peace

Finding Peace

As the year winds down reflection is a normal part of our process before the new year begins. This year I find myself wanting to tie up loose ends that tend to entangle my best intentions.

When our thoughts get stuck and the chemical groove in our brains deepens with repeated rumination, it can be difficult to step out of old patterns. As humans we tend to chew our thoughts like cows chew cud but we really get no nourishment from our thought-grinding efforts.

This morning I set the intention of trust and peace for my yoga practice. Over the past couple of weeks this theme has arisen often. Clarity came today like a divine bell ringing in my mind and heart. What if everything is exactly as its supposed to be? 

What if everything we spend so much energy and effort and time replaying in our minds does nothing to further our growth and development. What if everything really is exactly as its supposed to be for our soul’s growth….what if!

The choices we make to leave, move, begin again….to write the book we dream of writing, take the photograph we long to take, write the letter we yearn to write or share the poem we wrote….all begin with an urging from within us. Rather than spend years questioning and fretting, what if we accept these parts of our journey as exactly what needs to happen to open other doors?

So share your art, your writing, the poem you wrote. Move to a new place if you feel led to do so. Downsize and clear out if that’s what you feel prompted to do. Write a friend you haven’t heard from in years. Follow the push from within and trust the guidance constantly whispering to us, even when we don’t hear it.

Perhaps finding peace is as simple as accepting that everything is exactly as it is supposed to be for our soul’s growth. With that acceptance comes the opening of unlimited potential.

What is it that calls you? What does your heart long to do or say? Where do you long to travel? Pay attention to what calls you and let it guide the way.