Tag: Nature Photography

Sea of Cortez…Part One

Sea of Cortez…Part One

_TSL4598Friday and Saturday…July 17th & 18th

If the sky from Pensacola to Atlanta on the evening flight can predict how spectacular the trip to the Sea of Cortez will be, I can relax. The towering clouds of red and orange are magnificent and perhaps the most amazing sunset sky I have ever witnessed. But I am paying close attention to my ears as there is still the lingering respiratory bug caught on a flight from Bonaire just two weeks ago. If my ears won’t clear I cannot dive…on a dive trip.

I like to space my trips out but this opportunity came up and I turned it down twice before a woman cancelled and another spot opened so how could I say, “No.” When things happen like this I just go with it and trust that I’m making the right choice.

The midnight arrival (Pacific time) at my Phoenix hotel room makes me crave sleep but the internal clock awakens me far too early. I feel miserably tired and like the cold virus caught a deeper hold in my immune system from lack of rest. In meditation this morning I relax and visualize my body healing with blue-white light.

Breakfast, lunch and then time to catch the shuttle to Rocky Point, Mexico.

_TSL4604The journal comes out as the shuttle passes through the Sonoran Desert of Arizona…and Mexico. This place of desert inspires solitude, a deepening of the inner experience of quiet. The elemental energies of wild places call to me.

Why do I like the desert so? Perhaps because there is no place to hide, a person is totally exposed. The desert drys the bodies of wildlife, cactus, humans until there is only white bone left…and that also disappears eventually.

_TSL4603In the distance, a streak of lightning hits near the mountain. Dark, blue-black clouds hang near the earth bringing life-giving water to the thirsty desert. Or floods.

Can’t hide in a desert, there’s so much light. Shining so strong, Oh, so bright. Lay bare these bones.

Let the storm winds blow ancient dust, where I have been buried, to the four directions. Lightning strike the mountain and bring down the rocky fortress that has been my protection, my prison. Sheets of rain release me from this grave of fear. Lay bare these bones so I might quench my thirst as I drink in the fullness of life.

_TSL4675Dry river beds…geometries of water and currents…swishes and bumps, last remnants of carved sand and stone. Spires reaching toward heaven, eroded from centuries of wind and water. Etched and worn. I feel like that today.

_TSL4680Arrival at the marina creates chaos…loading gear and casting off from land. People are in frenzy-mode setting up dive gear, camera gear. The rushing and intensity of this makes me want to crawl up on a warm rock and bake in the sun in solitude. Instead I find myself nearly tossed off my bunk from heavy seas. I set up only dive gear I might not even be able to use. Clothes are in drawers. Underwater camera equipment still locked in the hard case, unassembled and still in multiple pieces. I feel like that….little bits and pieces.This is not a nice sea this night. It is bumpy with waves over six feet and torrential rains and lightning.

_TSL4697I feel exhausted and unprepared for rough seas after being opened and laid bare by the Sonoran Desert.

What am I doing here? I feel exposed and the sea demands more. And it punches with heavy-handed blows and lightning that makes me yearn for safety. Somewhere around 3 a.m. I awaken to water pouring on my bunk and wonder if we are sinking. A quick trip down the hallway to the dive deck affirms we are still afloat and in a horrible storm.

_TSL4724The sea calls to the deepest, buried emotions within and they come out like the full force of the storm. I tell the Sea Mother, “You called and I showed up. What now?”

Journey of an Inch

Journey of an Inch

We chain ourselves to past trauma when we continue to tell ourselves the same story.

The past couple of weeks have been difficult. And this past week….it felt like a storm of physical, mental, and emotional chaos.

On the flight back from Bonaire I was exposed to some respiratory bug so I’ve been recovering from that while packing for a dive trip. Seems a bit silly but it’s paid for and what the heck? It may become a snorkeling trip for me. Then old emotional wounds opened up and have been knocking me around a bit. And then of course, my mind has been in ‘monkey-mind’ mode during this entire time. Difficult? It’s relative, depending on who you are, but yes…difficult, challenging, exhausting. Yep.

_TSL3955I called a friend of mine and chatted with her about it and felt better afterwards. Then I ran across information on the New Moon in Cancer and how Pluto and Uranus were at odds and it felt like a lightbulb went off over my head illuminating the darkness of the past couple of weeks. Whether you, kind reader, believe in such science or not, it caught my attention.

After looking at several sites on the internet, the following theme was consistent: “Dive deep within to uncover the hidden pearls of self-love and compassion. While the seas of change threaten to bring us under, we must find our flow and ride the currents to new shores. Pluto staring down Mars-Mercury in opposition, a deluge of all that’s been stuffed down, and that’s felt too intense, even dangerous to express….Purging of core, compressed soul contents which can feel like a devastating tsunami of feelings and raw emotion….all this with the promise that riding out the emotional tidal wave will re-vitalize because we’re reclaiming energy and dimensions of our souls. And then there’s Uranus in Aries…shocking events that potential fire us up to take leaps of faith forward. Also a time of deep truths coming to the surface for individuals and institutions.”

Yep. Can I get an amen?!

_TSL2301Exhausted, emotionally drained and sleep-deprieved while recovering from a bug has created a ripe situation for surrender. Just letting go, resting and watching it all bubble-up, unfold and move. What else could I do?

The past two nights presented a turning point with a series of dreams. Two themes were present: reconciliation and love. I dreamed of coming back together in peace and harmony with a loved one and then I dreamed of walking with friends along a river. One of my friends was a songwriter and was working on a song. I got the lyrics from his notepad (is that wrong to do in a dream?).

The moon sees me through silken light
She bathes my soul and makes me bright
I become a star when she’s done with me
She heals my soul and sets me free
The blessed moon and the deep blue sea

SimoneLipscomb (1)I greeted the morning feeling better after waking up several times during the night an jotting down the dreams. Even tired from lack of sleep, I felt stronger energetically. My subconscious is working very, very hard to heal the wounds, to make them right within myself. And it’s showing me the connection to the moon, the sea and the Cosmos, which is always very healing.

During today’s meditation I heard to relax and go with the flow, to go deep into the Silence and allow my deepest, inner silence to connect with the Silence of the Universe. I also heard to play more and take things less seriously and keep an open heart. Everything is shaking inside me and feels like it’s falling apart but I heard to simply observe it with detachment and to let go, let things fall apart. And overall, the message was one of Harmony. Listen to my heart, play, be in the silence and be soft and receptive…Joy is just around the corner.

This poem of Wendell Berry’s came up on my Facebook page this morning and it seems appropriate. It sums up the experience of the past two weeks.

SimoneLipscomb (14)A Spiritual Journey

And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles,
no matter how long,
but only by a spiritual journey, 
a journey of one inch,
very arduous and humbling and joyful,
by which we arrive at the ground at our feet,
and learn to be at home.

~ Wendell Berry ~



Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time

SimoneLipscomb (6)Today I read a story about two men who lost loved ones in the tsunami in Japan a few years ago. The two women, who worked at the same bank, were swept away in the huge wave and left behind a husband and a father. After the devastating event, the men decided to learn to scuba dive.

This wasn’t an easy task. Both were in their fifties and while that’s not a deterrent, they both reported it was difficult learning to dive; however, their desire to dive pushed them to complete the training.

SimoneLipscomb (3)It wasn’t a recreational pastime they sought but a way to search for the women they loved. Now they regularly dive in the cold waters off the coast of Japan looking for anything they can find of their loved ones….a shoe, a purse, a dress….their physical remains.

I was reminded, while reading the story, how we search for those we love. They may no longer be with us in the physical sense yet can continue to be very present emotionally, spiritually and mentally. We hold their love, their shiny brilliance and the good they brought to us, like priceless treasures. And like the divers from Japan, we are willing to explore dark, cold waters of the subconscious mind to gather in the remnants of memory that keep us connected to them.

_TSL3407The loss of someone close–through separation, divorce, death–is profound, deep and difficult to move beyond, especially when the love was strong. It’s been over three years for me and the love is strong and deep and the memories of our first few years together sparkle like sunbeams in my heart. Even though it was a choice we both made, the pain is no less real, the loss is no less great, than death. And it was a death…of us as partners.

It’s okay to dive deep within looking for those beautiful moments and memories…not to stay stuck in the past but to celebrate something that was really good and beautiful once upon a time.


I See the Light in You

I See the Light in You

SimoneLipscomb (5) The mind is a powerful tool. Many times we forget how our thoughts, especially thoughts charged with emotion, can affect our lives and the lives of others. If we pause and simply monitor our thoughts we might be surprised at how much negativity we put out into the world.

SimoneLipscomb (9)Usually it’s subtle. It’s not the angry rants that lie just beneath the surface, sending out energy that is harmful. Those are relatively easy to see. It’s those very subtle thoughts that lie in the shadows, avoiding conscious attention yet almost imperceivably going out into the world to cause harm.

SimoneLipscomb (4)During the Gulf Oil Spill I discovered that I had very serious hatred of BP and Halliburton. As I walked the miles of oil-coated beaches, my eyes and nose burning from crude oil chemicals and dispersant, I seethed in anger and rage. Finally, I stopped and realized how harmful this was to my own well-being and realized the energy I was putting out into the world was incredibly harmful and offered no solution to the problem.

So one day in meditation, I imagined a huge table. Executives from BP and Halliburton were seated around it and I saw myself there with them. I looked each person in the eye and said, “You are my brother” or “You are my sister.” I saw that they were human, capable of mistakes. It brought much-needed peace to me.

SimoneLipscomb (10)As I monitor my thoughts, I seek those subtle, sneaky bits of messages that tend to repeat in my mind and especially look for those charged with emotion. It’s amazing what can be found lurking in the shadows of our minds. Oddly enough, we might discover that our emotionally-charged, negative thoughts about others help to create the situation in which we feel wounded.

Given this realization, what can we do?

The great hurdle is realizing our own role in creating the situation. One way to promote healing is to offer the simple practice of seeing light in others.

SimoneLipscomb (15)

For example, as I worked out on the elliptical trainer today I listened to meditative music and imagined myself telling someone from my past what I admired about them. I reflected to them their beauty. Thirty minutes was spent directing positive energy toward this person. It felt as if a window was being washed, so the person could be seen clearly.

SimoneLipscomb (7)Hours later, asI sat to do my daily mediation, I had in my hand a fossilized whale ear bone this person had given me. As I went to stand up I put pressure on the stone and it broke. How can I fossilized bone that turned to stone break? It felt like a significant and great mystery was being shown. Perhaps things we think are hardened like stone need to break open so the wounds can heal.

SimoneLipscombSeeing the light in others is not always easy. In the relentless assaults on Mother Earth and all Her creatures it is especially difficult to find light in the perpetrators. Yet if we can’t imagine there is light in the darkest heart, how can we ever have hope?

SimoneLipscomb (2)To those whom we love the most, we must forgive ourselves when we project negative opinions to them and be a mirror that shines the bright light of their highest self to them. And we must have the courage to see the light within ourselves, which is perhaps the most difficult task of all.


The Stories We Tell Ourselves

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

The grooves of brain coral remind me of the chemical grooves worn into our brains by the stories we repeat to ourselves, the stories we re-live over and over again.
The grooves of brain coral remind me of the chemical grooves worn into our brains by the stories we repeat to ourselves, the stories we re-live over and over again.

The brain is an amazing organ upon which we depend for survival. It’s like the movie director of the body giving directions that enable us to move, breathe, think…the list seems endless. Chemicals in the brain transmit thoughts and create neural grooves, like grooves in a record album, and the more we practice the thoughts associated with a particular groove, the deeper it becomes.

Take the Reticular Activating System (RAS). It’s a small part of the brain that acts like a filter between the conscious and subconscious mind. It takes instructions from the conscious mind and passes them along to the unconscious mind. And here’s the amazing part: It cannot distinguish between real and synthetic reality. It believes whatever message you give it.

By repeating the same, old stories to ourselves, we stay stuck in the traumatic event, unable to create a better life.
By repeating the same, old stories to ourselves, we stay stuck in the traumatic event, unable to create a better life.

For instance, if you had a bad experience in your past that was very traumatic and created a deep scar on your life, you focus on the event and think about it for years creating messages you continue to send to your subconscious mind. If your spouse was unfaithful and your relationship dissolved and you lost everything, this negative experience replays over and over in your mind. When you have other relationships, your conscious mind tells your subconscious mind the story associated with your relationship experience. If you haven’t healed those old messages, then your mind creates scenarios where you believe your current partner is doing the same thing as the original partner who was unfaithful. You begin to act as if it’s happening again, your behavior becomes suspicious, you withdraw and the current spouse is clueless as to why you are angry, upset and blaming for no reason. The end result? Your relationship ends and your storyline is reinforced.

SimoneLipscomb (23)
BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill…I documented this for a year while I lived in North Carolina. It took me a very long time to free myself from this trauma.

Or perhaps you have an experience of an environmental disaster and witness, first-hand, the death, destruction and devastation caused by such an event. Your mind creates a negative experience and communicates daily messages through your RAS in your brain. The result? Depression, anxiety, frustration, anger and the message of gloom and doom.

We can apply this to each of our lives in many situations. What is the message we are telling ourselves? What are we creating by telling ourselves the same stories? Without judgment we can look at our self-talk and the thoughts we dwell on and begin to unravel the tales we tell ourselves, the stories that can make us leave life, give up hope and withdraw into our own self-created hell.

We chain ourselves to past trauma when we continue to tell ourselves the same story.
We chain ourselves to past trauma when we continue to tell ourselves the same story.

Quite simply put, whatever we think about, picture in our minds, repeatedly on a daily basis and put emotional energy into is what we experience. We might have been victims of a tragic event or illness, but how we choose to move forward from those events becomes vital to the quality of our lives and the possibility of a bright future.

When we live stuck in the past, reality is overshadowed by the event that happened in the past. The tragic event becomes bigger than real life.
When we live stuck in the past, reality is overshadowed by the event that happened in the past. The tragic event becomes bigger than real life.

Friedrich Nietzsche wrote of the evolution of consciousness in three levels described as the Camel, Lion and Child. The camel is sleepy, self-satisfied and dull and lives on delusion, thinking he’s everything, the ultimate but is so concerned with other’s opinions that has hardly any energy of his own.

Coming from the Camel is the Lion. Nietzsche wrote that once we realize we’ve been missing life, we begin to say ‘no’ to the demands of others and we don’t allow ourselves to be used. We find ourselves alone, by choice, proud and roaring in our truth. But he reminds us that this isn’t the end.

SimoneLipscomb (15)The Child emerges from the Lion as innocent and true to his or her own being. Moving from the depression and sleepy state of the Camel to the rebellious Lion, the Child finally emerges as spontaneous and centered, whole.

_TSL3955When we dare to become aware of the stories we tell ourselves, we can become full expressions of our most authentic selves. There’s no need to repeat the same stories of our wounded past or expect that those who love us will repeat the same behaviors that created the wounds. And on a macrocosmic level, if we dare to stop repeating the same stories and envision a planet of health, peace and love…well, anything is possible. It’s time to become aware of the stories we tell ourselves….and create new ones.