Tag: nature

Deepening with Nature

Deepening with Nature

I wrote a friend tonight about the correlation between my connection with nature and feeling at home in myself. Being with humpback whales, spotted dolphins, manatees….all have given me vast experiences of connection to Oneness with the Universe and help take me deeper into relationship with my Self.

Other moments photographing nature in the mountains or in wild places in nature, such as Ireland and England, have opened doorways to inner realms of vast expanse that changed my life. I also realized, as I wrote to her, that I haven’t had a really profound, ah-ha type, nature connection since returning from Ireland last February and that’s partly why I’ve been out of sorts lately.

Connection with nature is my rock, my anchor to deepening the connection to my inner realms. And really, there isn’t an outer and inner anything. It’s all One. The truth is simply this….when I align deeply with nature I feel Oneness, the lines of separation vanish and I am at peace.

I go outside daily and cycle often at sunrise but it’s different to go outside and be outside. What keeps me from being with nature?

Empathic distress probably has a lot to do with my unrest of late. If what I value most is in danger of disappearing, I am at risk for anxiety and stress and separation from Oneness….all of us who love our planet face those same risks…humans, animals, plants….all life is at risk. If the places and animals I love the most deteriorate and disappear, then what? It is a very stressful time to be alive because we see what is at risk–everything.

What is this environmental and social nightmare we are collectively creating?

While I can be active and make socially and environmentally good choices, the most important action I can take is to develop a strong practice that takes me into Oneness, into nature…deep into Nature.

John Muir, my favorite naturalist and nature writer reminds me… “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”

And Black Elk reminded us, “Crazy Horse dreamed and went into the world where there is nothing but the spirits of all things. That is the real world that is behind this one, and everything we see here is something like a shadow from that one.”

 

 

 

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.

Returning Home

Returning Home

I was watching the movie, Hostiles, and heard myself saying out-loud tearfully, “I have to return. I have to go back!” A Native American elder was returning to his home as a dying wish after incarceration by the US government.

Since I was a child the Appalachian Mountains have called me. When my parents asked my brother and me where we wanted to go on vacation I’d prompt my brother to say…the MOUNTAINS! He didn’t….but I tried. Anything to get back there…to spend time in those sacred and most-ancient mountains on the planet. I remember feeling so at home there and so much myself…so connected to the land and my own bones. Then the leaving….was heart-rending.

I lived there for six years and loved it but felt called to the shores of my birth where I’ve spent six years healing and connecting with energies needed to finish the process of preparing me for the next step in the journey.

Any time an impending move is explored, there are questions and ponderings. Before I put my energy 100% behind something as big as this, I want to be sure. So last night before bed I asked to be given a sign pointing me to where I feel called.

After not sleeping much I checked email during the night and found an email from a dear friend referring to my move to the Asheville area. And then tonight….the movie and the message directly from my soul, “I have to return! I have to go back!”

I don’t know how life works…how we feel ancestral connections so strongly and why our bones vibrate with some places so strongly. I can only surrender to the dance of my heart’s rhythm and the song of my soul as it guides me gently back, back, back to those ancient mountains.

Home…ultimately it is the Self, not an outward geographic location. And yet there are places that urge us inward and support and nurture that journey of the Pilgrim…the Fool’s travels on the Tree of Life…the Spiritual Warrior’s Empty-Handed Leap into the Void.

I. AM. READY.

Freedom to Be

Freedom to Be

Last night I met a six year old boy who created a camera out of driftwood. He instructed me to push a button on it and anything I photographed would come to life. It took him only a few moments to invent this magical tool.

I was photographing him and his parents at the beach. The hour-and-a-half we spent together was fun and enjoyable but the true gift was much more than this.

So many times society takes creative souls through a deadening process. Trying to keep someone in a small realm of acceptable norms kills the creative spirit within us….and makes us think we are not okay because we are different. And let’s face it, we’re all unique and ‘different’ at our core.

I’m sure many who read this understand what it’s like to think differently or express yourself differently. I have met a great number of people who have lived their entire lives in emotional pain because they are ‘different.’ Their creative genius can be lost…and that’s a loss for all of us.

This youngster was such a light and could imagine inventing something from anything. I ‘saw’ him as a young adult creating solutions to problems on our planet or inventing brilliant new things never before conceptualized…so powerful was his ability to invent. Major credit goes to his parents who champion him and his amazing inventive skills.

He inspired me to give myself permission to create with wild abandon and imagine my life in ways I’ve dared not even dream. I’ve spent today reflecting on freedom and wholeness and self-permission.

It was ‘just’ a photo shoot that almost didn’t happen…but what a loss it would have been to miss meeting these beautiful souls. How grateful I feel for this old soul in a young boy’s body reminding me to gift myself with the freedom to be.

I felt inspired to make a logo for the new magical camera…to maybe inspire him to keep creating.

(A special thank you to this wonderful family for giving me permission to share their images).

Cow Yoga

Cow Yoga

It was still dark as I stepped on to the front screened porch. Buddy and two of my cat pals joined me as I lit candles, unrolled the mat and started a soothing playlist of music. The intention of the practice today…cultivating inner peace.

It was over half an hour into my practice when I began to notice dark shapes on the ground in the nearby pasture. I wondered if it was the cows but couldn’t tell. Gradually a possible cow head appeared…or was it the bush at the fence-line? Was that a baby?

I continued with excitement as the pre-dawn light went from dark gray to light gray and finally to pale yellow. As the light intensified there was no doubt. Cows and their calves had participated in my yoga practice this morning. I had no idea until the light exposed the treasure.

Through each asana I held the intention of peace in my own mind and heart and felt that magnified with my yoga pals…my dog, cats and a herd of beautiful cows.

After completing my practice or perhaps as a final extension of Shavasana, I visited the cows and thanked them for helping cultivate peace and for showing me magnificent treasures that await in the Unknown, in the darkness…where sometimes we are too afraid to look.

It was a very moooooving experience.