Tag: MANATEES

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.

Lasting Treasure

Lasting Treasure

Some times I find myself working too hard to figure things out. That’s been the case with my feeling of stuck-ness that has lasted for five years. Sure I’ve written books, taken really nice photographs resulting from amazing travels, possibly even contributed to the awakening happening on our planet…but I’ve just not been able to find a steady rhythm of forward momentum. For an Aries, a trail-blazer, it’s almost unbearable. Shouldn’t I be doing SOMETHING more!?!?

I came across some guidance the other day that basically said I need time to withdraw and contemplate after the breakup of a relationship I thought was my happily-ever-after. (That break-up was over five years ago). It said to rest and grow strong, retreat from life. I was reminded of The Hermit, the archetype that withdraws and consolidates and visualizes the pattern of destiny, the Will of the Spirit.

It’s not a daily sadness or even missing him but a daily remembering of the good times when two people vow to share their lives. I’ve done the healing of grief and sadness but haven’t been able to move out of the stuck place. So in meditation I asked what I was missing in the situation, thus the guidance. How does one create a new vision of life when the path seemed so beautiful and clear with another person? Or job….or home….or child…or planet.

Then I thought, it’s not just ‘him.’ I planned on the the ocean and rivers and mountains and shores being healthy…dolphins, whales, sea turtles, manatees….I’m not just trying to find a way forward from a man I loved, I am trying to find footing on a planet that is in peril. What if everything I have taken for granted and loved deeply disappears? This is the big existential question looming and creating a major pause in my skipping along the merry path. It’s more than just a man…isn’t it always?

Thirty-two years ago I consciously stepped on to a spiritual path seeking truth and searching for meaning. There have been so many times along the way I wished I could forget what I had learned about myself, about the world around me and return to ignorant bliss; however, somewhere along the way I realized clearing out the old ‘yuck’ and healing old, unhealthy patterns of behavior was slowly allowing me to experience deeper joy, stronger peace that lasted longer with each step up the ladder. As my wholeness increased I became more aligned with work that held meaning and felt inspired by my heart.

Photograph Summer 2010…Shell Oil

When the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill occurred I was living in Asheville with my husband. That moment….April 20th, 2010…called me to service. It was my personal wake-up call/invitation to fully commit my time and resources to raising awareness of the beauty of nature and the brokenness that exists between humans and nature…and the importance of restoring the awareness of Oneness of all life. Oddly enough, that was the beginning of the end of my marriage….the unraveling had started but it was the deep call to service that ultimately pulled us apart…him to Iraq, me to coastal Alabama.

Photograph I took Summer 2010. It reminds me of a woman’s body and so I call it the Rape of Mother Earth

I reported the oil when it first washed ashore in the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge on the Gulf of Mexico. I sat there and wept as waves of chocolate-colored, benzene-smelling crude oil and dispersant made landfall on the sugar white beaches. My world fell apart. I couldn’t believe humans could do this to a planet. It’s one thing to see it reported on the news and quite another to smell it, feel it, and watch the destructiveness as it creeps along killing everything it its path.

Gulf State Park Summer 2010

I haven’t broken my relationship with nature but humans have, as a whole, broken the bond of Oneness, the realization that whatever we do to nature, we do to ourselves.

How does one move forward with the awareness of such brokenness?

Perhaps it begins by taking time to listen to the Path of Destiny, to form a new vision by taking a break. By asking what the Will of Spirit is preparing as I surrender more to my heart’s calling.

While cycling this morning a David Wilcox song (Deeper Still) came on my playlist and the lyrics really spoke to me, not just about my former beloved but about the path of service. Often these thoughts come…Have I wasted my time and resources? Am I on the right trajectory? What was I thinking? This song was my answer…. In this life the love you give becomes the only lasting treasure.”

In the tears you gave to me
I found a river to an ocean.
Concrete sky and a stone cold sea
Came to where the emptiness cracked open.

Then all my fears came crashing through
And met the fire of my sorrow.
But I found my strength in forgiving you.
I never even knew how far my heart could go.

I live my life beyond each death
From the deeper well of trust.
To know that when there’s nothing left
You will always have what you gave to love.

In this life the love you give
Becomes the only lasting treasure.
So that what you lose will be what you win.
A well that echoes down too deep to measure.

Every bit of love I have given along my path is my greatest treasure….a well too deep to measure.

Threshold Friend

Threshold Friend


It’s not about what I should do. It’s about what my passion calls me to with such force and magnetism that I am lost and starving without It.

It can be a lonely path, for those not equally moved fail to understand the depth of commitment required to move, step-by-step, toward that invisible, unnamable voice that whispers…Come.

But in this journey, one is not abandoned. The pilgrim is never alone. Each threshold brings a new ally, a new soul friend.

The Connection

The Connection

_TSL0818

Floating motionless in the water I waited. She must have felt my invitation as she slowly turned and swam toward me. Camera ready, heart open I waited.

She approached. We hovered perhaps two feet apart and with her eyes locked with mine, she offered the connection.

Here I am, sweet one. Look into my deepest core. Find within my heart more love than words can express. One of us thought this…I’m not sure who. There is no separation. We are one.

Sanctuary

Sanctuary

_TSL0997The clock proclaimed sunrise but heavy clouds hung close so dawn’s light was slow to brighten the day. Silently I slipped into the water, wrapped in my dry suit and holding my heavy, underwater camera equipment. With a slow and quiet frog kick I moved toward the narrow opening of the spring.

A manatee exiting the clear water paused in passing, watched me for a few moments and then moved forward in her glacial, flowing pace. Low light and particulate matter in the open water made a shot impossible but communion was exchanged and was sweet.

As I approached the spring, a manatee laid sleeping on the white, sandy bottom. I carefully avoided splashing and went around him and into the clear water of the freshwater spring.

_TSL1000Ten manatees of various sizes lay asleep on the bottom, huddled together in a common area. I glided away from them toward the back of the small spring and turned to face them from a distance. I took a few photographs as the light increased and then felt drawn into their meditation, into their group mind of stillness and dreaming warm, saltwater dreams.

_TSL1057In the quiet, peaceful water temple I closed my eyes and floated effortlessly with heart and mind open. The beauty of their being touched my core. No thoughts, just sensations enveloped me. Cool water on my face and neck; gravity-free except for the heavy camera rig in my hands; muscles relaxed; gentle floating….total surrender and release of all stress, tension…of everything except that moment of manatee mind.

_TSL1041One woman, ten sirens of the sea communing in perfect harmony caused time to disappear. We joined in that glorious, timeless dimension of stillness and quiet.

The moments of harmony with my sisters and brothers were some of the sweetest I have ever experienced.

_TSL1061After several minutes I opened my eyes and noticed my open heart and calm mind. I said a silent prayer of gratitude for the gift of this encounter then took several photographs, hoping to be able to translate, through art, the experience that so powerfully touched my core.

Slowly, quietly I moved around the side of the rock wall toward the exit. I turned before leaving to offer my thanks to the manatees and witnessed several slowly rise from their resting place on the bottom to the surface to take a deep, full breath. So in-tune in their sleep, their meditation they breathed in unison. Humans have much to learn from these gentle beings.

 

_TSL1092Throughout King’s Bay and Crystal River there are official sanctuaries or areas set aside where manatees can rest without human interference. Heavy fines and penalties are imposed on anyone entering these designated safe-zones. Today in the small, clear spring, I found my own place of peace, my own sanctuary.

Image of a juvenile taken yesterday in Three Sister's Springs
Image of a juvenile taken the day before in Three Sister’s Springs