Tag: MANATEES

Creativity Unleashed

Creativity Unleashed

SimoneLipscomb (72)Just a few weeks ago there was a good bit of anxiety about stepping my photography up to another level with a large investment in a housing that would allow me to take my Nikon D800 underwater. The first baptism in Hunter Spring erased any doubt. Today, after having the dome port kissed by a juvenile manatee and capturing some of the best images I’ve taken–at Ginnie Springs–I realize this step is opening an entirely new dimension to my work.

SimoneLipscomb (29)As I was playing in Ginnie Springs with color, light and geometries it was clear I had settled into a higher level of creativity. I say playing because I believe letting go, losing myself in creativity is really play. It’s work to me but in name only. When we can allow ourselves to let go of everything else and focus on the elements that are present, something amazing can be birthed.

SimoneLipscomb (37)What I noticed was the intense beauty of the water, plant life, rocks, caverns…it seemed to embrace me on a deeper level as I surrendered to the process of translating what I saw through the camera. Now I have the right equipment that allows this process to occur.

SimoneLipscomb (48)Even though manatees were scarce this week there was little to feel sad about as my heart and mind opened to the magnificent beauty of Florida’s freshwater springs and allowed my creativity to expand.

SimoneLipscomb (38)Surrender is a word that carries over from last weekend’s workshop in Atlanta. When we surrender ourselves to the process, something greater can be created. Had I gotten upset about a lack of manatees, I would have missed exquisite beauty surrounding me. Had I allowed fear keep me from leaping forward with the new gear purchase, this new step forward in my life wouldn’t have happened. Surrender….allowing. Letting go…opening our hearts and minds….this is a key to success.

SimoneLipscomb (4)It’s time to embrace life with both arms and an open heart. This will unleash creativity. This will help us take the next step forward.

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If you are looking for a great housing I highly recommend Aquatica. The quality is great and the controls are super-easy. It’s balanced well and a true friend to my D800 and me.

 

Signs and Open Doors

Signs and Open Doors

SimoneLipscomb (24)Last week was one of the most powerful weeks of my life. After I got home I started counting up significant happenings and there were over a dozen. By following my intuition and listening to my heart, doors opened, messages were received and a huge shift occurred.

The details about the manatee part of the trip are in a previous post but I wanted to share an overall perspective of the signs that appeared during the week as they have pointed me in a very strong direction from which clarity is arising.

SimoneLipscomb (5)
Mother manatee laid her head on my left shoulder. Juvenile rested on her back…I was in complete bliss… Lucky to have captured this image but I did flood my dry suit in the pretzel position I had to make of my body to get the shot.

Here’s a partial list:  Rainbow appeared over left shoulder while driving and talking into my voice memo on my iPhone saying how I want to follow my creative dreams; pulled up to traffic signal while rainbow was still bright in the sky and the cross street was named, ‘Follow That Dream Parkway;’ manatees in greater numbers than I’ve ever seen and many friendly ones posed for photographs and video; met kindred spirits from Australia; shirts with Advice From a Manatee on them…same poem read by a young woman at the manatee memorial gathering; mother and juvenile manatee rested their heads on my left shoulder (rainbow over left shoulder); visited with Magnolia, our manatee friend healing at Sea World Rehab; on Saturday night songwriter Paul Cebar looked directly into my eyes while singing a line about making dreams come true; invited to go to Tonga to volunteer with humpback whale work; had the condo to myself Thursday night so I could process and write about the incredible encounters with manatees I had over three days; followed intuition to leave a very crowded concert venue and found a beautiful trail at Grayton Beach State Park and a sacred oak grove; instead of leaving Sunday morning I went to two songwriter workshops…and that’s where I’ll pick up the story.

Paul Cebar
Paul Cebar

After the above experiences and many more, the songwriter workshops brought the week to a powerful close. Paul, the guy that sang the line about making dreams come true, did the first workshop and sang the song again. Message received. Am I this dense, I wondered. I was sitting there listening to Paul thinking back to the powerful rainbow experience on my first travel day.

Will Kimbrough & Tommy Womack
Will Kimbrough & Tommy Womack

Then Will Kimbrough and Tommy Womack did the second workshop and gave beautiful advice. It was striking a powerful chord (excuse the music pun) within me so I started taking notes on my phone. Here’s a bit of it:

Tommy: “Genius is remaining true to who you are. Go deep in your core. Be honest. Reveal yourself.” This is exactly what the entire week was about for me–honoring my path, listening to the inner voice, and being real in my work.

Will: “Don’t beat yourself for not writing all the time. You have to go out and gather experiences and then write.” One of the major self-criticisms in my life is that I’m not always producing. I constantly have to ward off the idea that if I’m not busy writing or photographing or ‘working’ that I’m failing.

Tommy…or Will: “Do what you enjoy.” It has been my intention to follow my bliss in life and during the week I had a realization that if I opened my heart to my path, the doors–that are already open and waiting for me–will be revealed.

Manatee rolling in green water
Manatee rolling in green water

Here’s  the Joseph Campbell quote about following your bliss:

“Follow your bliss. If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be. If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.”

In summary, it was a Joseph Campbell Follow-Your-Bliss week. I decided to go back and review the recording from the rainbow experience that seemed to jump-start it all. I was talking into my voice memo app after listening to John O’Donahue recordings that prompted realizations when the rainbow appeared. It’s an unedited version of what was happening. Here’s an excerpt:

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I had no idea where my workhorse D800 was so I grabbed my phone and took this…

I want to float in Oneness and allow my true self to shine. My creativity…OH MY GOD! There’s a rainbow! AH!! It’s so beautiful. AMAZING! Oh, my GOD! Right as I was about to say this realization about creativity…Oh, my GOD! It’s a double rainbow!! WOO HOO! ………  I have based my creativity on what I think others want in order to be successful in what I’m creating. My creativity, what wants to come through me, doesn’t have to look like anybody else’s…OH!!! HOLY CRAP!…The rainbow is a complete and total arch!!… (expletive)…That’s the most intense rainbow I have ever seen in my life! It was a double rainbow and the inside at one point…all the clouds became intense golden in color and the rainbow was rain-bowing inside itself….Ok….To be really successful just in my own heart and creative self, mind and soul is creating something that’s totally me and not about creating to sell or earn a living…bringing through to the material realm whatever it is that wants to be brought through….unbelievable! Oh…this is SO BEAUTIFUL! (I should stop and get out). It’s like the whole sky….(laughter) is a complete beautiful…Oh, my GOD! I’m at Follow That Dream Parkway…That’s actually a sign on County Road 40 in Inglis, Florida. This is like spiritually crazy-good! Follow that dream baby! And create…Follow your dream! You can do this! It’s good, it’s good, it’s GOOD! This is a good day!

Listening to the recording took me into that moment of beautiful realization. It felt as if John O’Donahue must have been smiling down upon me and Joseph Campbell had the follow-up punch that brought the week to a close by the reminder from Tommy or Will to do what I enjoy…follow my bliss.

 

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

The truth Campbell wrote about speaks to the fact that we bring skills and gifts with us into this life. If we do what we truly love we will succeed….the kind of success that goes beyond money or notoriety….the soul’s journey being successful. John and Joseph, thank you! Paul, Tommy and Will, thank you! Manatees…rainbows….street signs…thank you!

It feels as if I am the arrow in the bow of my life and I’m drawn back and ready to be shot forth into the world. I can’t exactly say what set off the incredible series of events but I know how powerful it feels. The hard, inner work is now beginning to set a powerful direction for me and as a friend wrote yesterday, Awesome Adventures Await!

Follow That Dream. Message received, noted….. and YES!

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!

 

 

Snuggling with Manatees

Snuggling with Manatees

SimoneLipscomb (59)Whistling wings of a cormorant flying over distracted me from watching the osprey perched on the sailboat mast. The quiet of the evening, the still water filled with reflections of clouds, boats, buildings, birds….all of this brought me to a place of deep reflection. There was no separation between me and life around me.

SimoneLipscomb (86)Manatees always touch my life profoundly when they choose to interact. Today I had babies playing around me, whistling after their mamas, trying to find something to entertain them while their mothers slept. Some are shy, some are playful and all represent a very gentle, docile species.

SimoneLipscomb (74)More than once I had larger manatees swim up to me, stop and snuggle against my side and then stay there. Having an animal much larger than me…by about 1000 pounds…. snuggle and whisper through their whiskers sweet manatee sonnets is quite profound. I don’t initiate anything and simply lay still at the surface. They come to me. I observe passively and sometimes one decides I’m worth knowing. If they approach I don’t move, if they snuggle I don’t move….but I do giggle sometimes.

I cannot help it. Laying here, tired yet unwilling to let the experience fade without writing about it, tears of joy flow.

SimoneLipscomb (62)It’s not just that they are cute and cuddly. I see deep scars from propellers on almost every adult. I think of the over 800 that died last year due mostly to red tide created from human septic systems emptying into Indian Lagoon…harassing humans, mean humans…so many reasons they shouldn’t trust us and yet, in this protected place, they find a human now and then to befriend. And I never take their trust for granted.

SimoneLipscomb (94)Studies have shown that their behavior toward humans is different here than in other, non-protected places. Perhaps we provide entertainment for those that wish to learn more about this gangly, clumsy species that enters their watery home. Always, always I want to be a good ambassador, a friend and a protector. And yes, even a snuggle buddy if they need that.