Tag: nature

A Little More Kindness

A Little More Kindness

Journal entry from 8am this morning:

SimoneLipscomb (2)My hands are still damp, I’m still in my wetsuit, but I wanted to write while the emotions are still fresh.

I had just turned my solo morning meditation dive when in front of me glided a large spotted eagle ray. Her long, thin tail trailing behind–a thin, black line against the blue sea. Her face beautiful in its beak-like design, eyes watching me as I watched her.

She arched across my right side leaving the sand flats where she had fed and headed down the top of the reef. I stopped and witnessed her graceful beauty–the slow, steady beat of her wings underwater–and felt my heart open as it does when beauty such as this touches me softly with its unexplainable magic.

So close to this magnificent creature was I, our eyes connected and thus did our innermost being.

SimoneLipscomb (1)She swam on and I did, too, parting with joy and appreciation. As I slowly kicked back, away from the ray, I felt a renewed commitment to cultivate kindness and gentleness for all creatures and especially those who are innocent of the abuses humans perpetuate apon their homes.

Song of Life

Song of Life

simonelipscomb (7)The white sand felt cool on my feet as I stepped out of my flip flops at the bottom of the dune. I turned to gaze out over the Gulf, metallic turquoise in color. The sun was just beginning to warm the sky with golden light.

simonelipscomb (6)There was no wind or big waves to disrupt the surface of the water. Purple, teal, pale orange, gold and indigo danced in slowly-moving geometric patterns. As I raised my camera to capture the image, I realized I couldn’t discern the horizon. It was blurred with low-hanging pink clouds. Water and sky blended as elemental spirits celebrated the day.

My excuse to be on the beach at sunrise was sea turtle nest patrol. I was supposed to be looking for mother sea turtle tracks but admit distraction occurred, culprit of the gentle, soft beauty emanating from the sea and sky.

simonelipscomb (10)As I approached the edge of the water, where saltwater slowly pushed against the sand, a little shark swam by as it fed in the shallows. I don’t think most birds were awake as it was quiet and still topside while the toothy dawn feeders, who live below the surface, were already enjoying a tasty breakfast.

The sand welcomed my happy feet. Every step was a celebration of beauty, of life. There was no separation as I breathed in harmony with life on the shore.

simonelipscomb (21)This is how we’re supposed to live–each step one of gratitude and recognition of the oneness of life…in a state of balance and harmony.

simonelipscomb (2)
Each color was a note. An osprey diving just offshore gave a dramatic increase in the tempo and crescendo, those elements that create tension in a composition. A sanderling scurrying along the water’s edge created sixteenth notes, quickening the symphony. Dolphins offshore gifted grace and rhythm to the song. A tidal pool added a bridge, that contrasting bit of music leading back to the original melody. The song still echoes within my being as I sit inland among the live oaks and reflect upon that glorious two hours at the shore.

simonelipscomb (11)

Lassoing the Light

Lassoing the Light

ScanI have a clear memory of waking up from a nap when I was a small child. My grandmother Lipscomb was outside planting or watering flowers. I leaned against the windowsill and told her I needed glasses because I couldn’t see. She was holding a coffee can and asked me what color it was. My reply was, blue. She was surprised and replied she didn’t know I knew my colors. I was frustrated though because it wasn’t colors to which I was referring. I was losing my sight and now I know that I was losing my spiritual sight. I was forgetting that beautiful glory from which I came.

simonelipscomb (5)“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;

The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,

Hath had elsewhere its setting,

And cometh from afar:

Not in entire forgetfulness,

But trailing clouds of glory do we come

From God, who is our home:

Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

Shades of the prison-house begin to close

Upon the growing Boy,

But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,

He sees it in his joy;

The Youth, who daily farther from the east

Must travel, still is Nature’s priest,

And by the vision splendid

Is on his way attended;

At length the Man perceives it die away,

And fade into the light of common day.

-William Wordsworth

simonelipscomb (9)
My daughter Emily

What did you dream of as a child? What was your passion? Authentic play and imagination expressed your deepest longing and biggest strengths; what was your play?

In the hours spent riding Champ, my spring horse, I sang my way back into the dreamtime. What was I remembering, trying to bring into the physical, from that place before birth where all things are possible?

Hoh Rainforest
Hoh Rainforest

You know the place. You know the dream…the ideas…the path. It’s that creative impulse that stirs our emotions when we are small children. We cry when a favorite song isn’t known by an adult. We’re surprised beyond belief when our mother doesn’t appreciate the red-ink birds we draw on her favorite painting. We become frustrated when adults in our lives don’t see the genius of our soul’s purpose to which we are still intimately connected. We are masters of our craft but in tiny physical bodies, unable as yet to fine-tune our bodies to the demands of our art.

Scan 1
Practicing piano, age 9

As we ‘grow-up’ we perhaps forget about the dream that was birthed with us into this physical reality. Society conditions us to fit into a mold, become one of the tribe. We can be left feeling as if we never fit in with the rest of the world. The only way we feel genuine is to touch the dream we were born with and allow it to come forth into expression.

Some of us hold on to that clarity of dream, of purpose, from the beginning while others appear to lose it and struggle all our lives to reclaim it. It can be very difficult to sort through the many voices telling us what to do and what they think will be best for us. Not only can we lose our spiritual sight, we can lose our ability to hear our soul’s voice.

simonelipscomb (19)I posed this question to my mom: What did I dream or fantasize about as a child? I wondered if her version and my version would be the same. She said horses were my fascination and that I was fiercely independent and strong willed. She said I would get up every morning and climb on my spring horse Champ and play music on my record player. She said I set it up so I could listen to music and start the needle over again from the back of Champ. I climbed trees and wasn’t a ‘doll’ kid. She mentioned that I enjoyed piano with my first teacher more than with my second teacher. And that I had every Barbie character Mattel made with suitcases full of clothes.

Love of horses, independence, music, trees and yes, I created endless stories with my Barbies. Mom forgot to mention my flair for drawing birds on paintings…mom later corrected me after reading the first version of this story and said I drew ropes on the boats because there weren’t any and I told her there needed to be ropes to tie the boats. I think I was about to add the birds when she caught me. I took piano lessons for ten years but grew weary of the classical music and rigid sight-reading drills. My teacher drilled classical music into my soul while I wanted variety and color and spark. I needed it to be fun! Cowgirls need that element of life.

Repeatedly I got the message to do something with which I could make money. This came from school teachers and others. My grandfather, who grew up in the Depression, wanted me to focus on finances. As I teen when I talked about what I wanted to do with my life the ideas of photography, writing, music and other creative pursuits that really made my heart soar were discouraged. He wanted me to succeed and have the resources to survive. Mom encouraged teaching and she was right…I love to teach and find it one of my greatest joys although not in the traditional sense.

I purchased my first SLR camera with money my grandparents gave me for high school graduation. After many years of college studies, degrees and careers…state park naturalist, psychotherapist, massage therapist and energy work practitioner and instructor… it was my grandfather that supported my artist endeavors, posthumously. Selling a large piece of property I inherited from him provided the resources (and thus the time) for me to immerse myself fully into my creative pursuits that are centered around my passion for nature. Writing and photography are the tools I use to express my love of the Earth.

If I could journey back into time to that three year old child and ask her, What do you want to be when you grow up?  If I told her she could be anything she could dream I imagine she would say, I want to be a cowgirl!

simonelipscomb (17)

A cowgirl is a woman who exhibits the skills necessary to succeed. Skills such as resilience, self-reliance, strength, will, courage and determination are necessary to be a cowgirl. The journey from birth to my fifties has called for these qualities and thankfully I was born with them and have honed them through walking the Path. I write stories, although not about Barbie and Ken. I photograph the natural world, in celebration of beauty and light. I give myself permission to paint murals on walls, not red-ink birds but fun stuff just the same.

simonelipscomb (13)Mostly I dream of bringing forth the beauty of that place many of us have forgotten. The language of the heart speaks through poetry, music, prose, paintings, drawings, sculpture… It takes a cowgirl to lasso the light and bring it forth into our physical world and I’m in very good company, my friends. Many of you bring light into this world and share it through the talents you brought into your life. How wonderful to share the journey with other souls who are bringing the language of the soul into manifestation.

 

Cape Flattery, Washington
Cape Flattery, Washington

 

A Photographer’s Least Favorite Thing to Do

A Photographer’s Least Favorite Thing to Do

Mountain Sunset taken with a group of friends from Asheville, NC. We were on a photog outing.
Mountain Sunset taken with a group of friends from Asheville, NC. We were on a photog outing.

I am celebrating a huge project that was finished just today. For many years I have attempted to sort and organize my photography library of thousands of images. The general work flow started with A and I usually quit by the time I got to D or E but those first few projects in my Aperture library were always neat and sorted. This time, however, I made it all the way through. It only took me three months of steady work to do it. I had to add an external RAID drive for additional storage since my D800 has files the size of buses. So all is well.

In celebration of this momentous occasion and in honor of what I love to do several images are included with comments. Over the past few days certain images have reminded me why I love photography as an art form and a way of communication. I hope you enjoy the images. And thanks for your interest and support….always. I feel the love.

When wild animals make contact with me I always feel so blessed...so fortunate...so joyful!
When wild animals make contact with me I always feel so blessed…so fortunate…so joyful!
Sometimes I think they are laughing at me....
Sometimes I think they are laughing at me….
Or playing peek-a-boo.
Or playing peek-a-boo.
Moments of nature's glory lead me to rapturous joy.
Moments of nature’s glory lead me to rapturous joy.
Or moments of intense stillness and inner quiet.
Or moments of intense stillness and inner quiet.
When the light and colors align and I happen to be there...magic happens!
When the light and colors align and I happen to be there…magic happens!
Of course sometimes you can't really take a bad photograph if you are alive and breathing and present enough to lift your camera and click the shutter...remembering to set the correct exposures....and lift the bottom jaw as it gapes from unimaginable beauty.
Of course sometimes you can’t really take a bad photograph if you are alive and breathing and present enough to lift your camera and click the shutter…remembering to set the correct exposures….and lift the bottom jaw as it gapes from unimaginable beauty.
One of my favorite experiences centers around children gaining experience in nature and learning about wildlife...like wolves for instance.
One of my favorite experiences centers around photographing children gaining experience in nature and learning about wildlife…like wolves for instance.
Water captivates me and my favorite images center around water...waterfalls...big water...underwater.
Water captivates me and my favorite images center around water…waterfalls…big water…underwater.
I revisit images and can describe my emotions, the lighting, the thoughts that came to mind from moments such as this....I am right there again.
I revisit images and can describe my emotions, the lighting, the thoughts that came to mind from moments such as this….I am right there again.
And while the image isn't great I wanted to capture the size of this old tree soul by standing on it and including my feet in the image. It was a profound experience.
While the image isn’t that special, the experience was.  I wanted to capture the size of this old tree soul by standing on it and including my feet in the frame. It was a profound experience.
My favorite images capture the soul, the spirit, of places and animals...and those of people lost in the creative process.
My favorite images capture the soul, the spirit, of places and animals…and those of people lost in the creative process.
While solo exploring the desert in Bonaire I took this self-portrait. It demonstrates perfectly how I feel when I'm there.
While solo exploring the desert in Bonaire I took this self-portrait. It demonstrates perfectly how I feel when I’m there.
My favorite people images this past year are of my daughter and son-in-law. My 'kids' bring a very special light to my life.
My favorite people images this past year are of my daughter and son-in-law. My ‘kids’ bring a very special light to my life.
I celebrate everything that is beautiful and right in this world...and hope we can add to the list of good things happening as we move through 2014.
I celebrate everything that is beautiful and right in this world…and hope we can add to the list of good things happening as we move through 2014.
And my favorite image of this past year (besides my kids)...this green sea turtle I met in Bonaire.
And my favorite image of this past year (besides my kids)…this green sea turtle I met in Bonaire.

So now I can get out and do what I love….photograph nature and people enjoying the creative process…and beauty. I like to celebrate beauty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Our Voice

Finding Our Voice

simonelipscomb (13)In her book, When Women Were Birds, Terry Tempest Williams writes about what it means to pair voice with inner truth. She shares two examples that reminds us to keep speaking our truth, even when people refuse to hear it.

She was at a public hearing speaking up for Utah wilderness lands that were being put on the chopping block by politicos. As she stood to speak Congressman Jim Hansen began coughing, yawning, shuffling papers and in general trying to distract her and show he wasn’t listening. She stopped speaking and asked him if there was anything she could say that might change his negative perspective on wilderness. His reply? “I’m sorry, Ms. Williams, there is something about your voice I cannot hear.”

Poppy

It wasn’t the microphone he was referring to; it was a metaphor of the politicians, elected to hear comments from citizens– more than 70% of whom wanted more wilderness, not less–to show their displeasure in having to listen. Their mind was already made up without consulting the will of the people.

In another instance Senator Larry Craig stood up during the conservation delegation’s testimony and said, “This one is your Senator Hatfield,” and walked out of the hearing. Senator Hatfield then read a book during the entire testimony before Congress.

The result of the senator’s behavior fueled the determination of those speaking on behalf of wilderness. They hurriedly got writers and poets to submit a piece of their work on wilderness, had a graphic designer work for free to design a book and produced Testimony, which was eventually read aloud by various senators during a filibuster about the wilderness areas that were proposed to be sold. The vote that was eventually taken upheld the law that set them aside. The vote favored the protected the wilderness areas.

May our beautiful water planet be blessed. May we be good stewards of our water resources.

About a year ago I signed up for a one hour telephone call where I could listen to a live interview with Terry. I greatly respect her writing and work as a voice for all things wild and was excited to be able to hear the conversation. I called a couple minutes early and listened to silence and then a voice came on the line, “Hello? Hello? Is anybody there?”

I didn’t say anything. Not wanting to connect with anyone really because I didn’t know what to say, I remained silent. The voice would occasionally say, “Is anybody there?” This went on for over five minutes as we waited for the interview to begin. Finally another voice came on line, the moderator. She began talking…talking to Terry who was the one asking if anyone was there. I could have been having a meaningful conversation with a woman I greatly respect and I chose to remain silent. Several minutes of valuable time with a mentor was lost.

morningglory (1)It was a valuable lesson. I could have asked her about her work. How do you stay inspired when facing such apathy? Where do you find the will to keep working when the message goes unheard? I could have learned from this woman of power. Instead, I chose silence.

Random, wandering horse in desert. Bonaire, N.A.

Is there something that needs your voice? A mountain? A river? Sea turtles? Manatees? Black-foot ferrets? Your heart?

Speaking our truth has never been more important. Bringing light to our planet, our communities, our homes is a practice that must be cultivated to help shift us from the darkness that we see and experience around us.

With compassion and love and gentleness let us speak from our hearts and together create something truly beautiful. It’s time to use our collective voice.

DSC_8075