Tag: Nature Photography

A Most Amazing Year

A Most Amazing Year

SimoneLipscombThis year brought me back to myself. That’s the short of it. Expanded the year’s summary includes rainbows of epic number and proportions, manatee rescues and encounters, humpback whales, whale sharks, sea lions, Dominican Republic-Silverbank, Bonaire, Mid-Riff Islands-Sea of Cortez, La Paz-Sea of Cortez, morning sea turtle nest patrol. It was a year packed full of Ocean and the intention of bridging humans and nature.

DSC_8937I recently read through the journal I kept while anchored 80 miles offshore for a week with humpback whales and noted that I was finally in my body, fully present with myself. That’s what the Ocean and its creatures do for me.

The past few months I’ve reflected on my work and life and what’s next. After taking the time to pause and listen deeply it’s clear that the ‘next step’ is simply deepening the work I’ve been doing and allowing it to expand with my complete attention and commitment.

IMG_1729Friends have shared powerful words with me lately that have touched deep places within me. Two in particular stand out.

Marianne Williamson said this: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world.” And Donna Faulds said, “Do you value your reasons for staying small more than the light shining through the open door?”

_TSL7226On Day Four of the New Year Yoga Challenge my teacher, Augusta, began class with the poem by Donna Faulds. This stayed in my consciousness as we progressed through the class: “Why wait for your awakening?…..Would you hold back when the Beloved beckons?” At one point we were stepping and opening forward and backward into balance poses. As I breathed in and stepped forward it felt as if I was meeting Light and Breath and the quote echoed in my heart, “Would you hold back when the Beloved beckons?” Then the music changed and the song, Marry Me, by Train began to play.

Tears flowed. I don’t pretend to understand the Great Mystery and can only share my experience. Today it felt as if an invitation to step toward It was extended and with every breath, every step and move into balance I said ‘yes‘ to the Sacred Marriage that happens when we are willing to partner with our Higher Self, our truest self…the Divine part of ourselves.

SimoneLipscomb (2)A couple months ago I was in a yoga class being taught by Sean Johnson and he posed a question for us to ponder in Child’s Pose at the beginning: What do you wish to manifest in your life? To be my true self completely, I whispered as tears rolled down my cheeks onto my mat.

_TSL7177As this year winds to a close it’s clear that the theme for me has been coming home to myself. Thanks to manatees, humpback whales, whale sharks, sea lions and friends, this has become a reality.

_TSL6631We were asked to set a one-word intention for the year at the beginning of today’s yoga class. Mine? Light. LIGHT! This new year is all about Light….Laughter and Love.

_TSL4724With gratitude and an open, humble heart I offer my thanks to all who gifted me with wisdom and support: the mother humpback whale who showed me pure peace, the deepest peace I could scarcely imagine; whale sharks whose gentle nature and grace was amplified through their gigantic forms; playful sea lions who reminded me to be outrageously open to fun; Magnolia manatee whose strong spirit strengthened me; the baby manatee and mother who embraced me–literally; friends who brought hours…days…of laughter in La Paz; the dream-team-last-kids-in-the-whale-shark-playground in Bahia de Los Angeles; yoga friends; neighbors; mom for loving my kitties so I could travel; those who supported my new book, Manatee Mindfulness; music friends; and for those mysterious friends whose invisible presence lifts me up….with a grateful heart I bow to you. May all of you and all beings be filled with peace and love.

SimoneLipscomb (15)Happy 2016!

Addendum

Dream January 1st, 2016….4.45am: Amid a scene of judgment and confusion I stepped away and saw light beams coming from everything. They were coming from people, animals, plants and me. Yes, my friends, it’s gonna be a year of Light. Namaste.

Selfie at Sunrise, La Paz, Sea of Cortez
Selfie at Sunrise, La Paz, Sea of Cortez
Reflecting on Bigness

Reflecting on Bigness

DSC_8569“Dance with their bigness,” my friend reminded me. He was referring to a humpback whale trip that is coming up for me in February. I told him how committing to the trip was difficult due to the cost involved but that in meditation, when making the final decision to go or not go, I got a very clear message: look around this meditation space…the entire room is built around humpback energy. Remember the positive change they created in your life and trust your journey.

SimoneLipscomb (4)Allowing my mind to drift back to the first of this year, I thought of the rainbow that filled the sky as I pulled up to Follow That Dream Blvd last year on my way to photograph manatees as I was actually speaking into my voice recorder about following my heart’s calling and the dreams of my life. That one moment defined my entire year. What are the odds of all that coming together at one intersection?

Los Islotes ShotBut isn’t life a series of intersections filled with opportunities and ‘chance’ meetings that change our lives?

Last September I met a friend that helped me find my joy, my laughter. Not long ago he sent a quote that was very helpful to revisit –Marianne Williamson’s writing about our deepest fear is that we are powerful and it is our light that most frightens us…we are children of God and playing small doesn’t serve the world…as we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others. He reminded me again recently that I am on the right path with my creative work…something I have been questioning.

It feels like a time of major change coming in my life and I haven’t really known how to proceed. I’ve been evaluating the work I do and wondering if I’m heading in the ‘right’ direction. This questioning of direction has been ‘up’ for months.

With friends sending me messages of encouragement and reminding me to step into my bigness, to dance the big dance with humpbacks, I decided to read my journal from the humpback trip this past March. The answers I’ve been searching for are written in it, by my hand.

DSC_8937“Rainbow Thursday…

I awakened at 5-ish and went upstairs by 5.30. I sat high on the boat awaiting the dawn. A dark rain cloud was due east so the sun had a difficult time illuminating the sky. A wall of rain began to move toward the boat so I was driven down to the 1st level which is covered but still open.

The rain came…its loud shuuuuuuu sound was beautiful music on the ocean’s surface. I looked out, past the small boats tied behind the mother ship and saw a tail lob…and another…and another and then a baby fluke appeared beside the mother and joined the tail slapping but only occasionally as the baby’s tail was weaker than mamas.

I just said to another passenger…’There has to be a rainbow with the rain and sunrise’ and suddenly a brilliant rainbow appeared in the sky, arched over the whales and the calf breached. And more tail lobbing….

Brilliant rainbow, mother and baby whale, ocean…breaching into the rainbow. Really? Was it really happening?

After the other early-risers–who had witnessed this mind-blowing moment–wandered away, I stepped down on the dive platform so I could see the full arch of the rainbow. The mother and baby were still there but calmer now, coming up to breathe and then resting.

As I stood level with the Ocean, saltwater washing over my feet, I felt the immensity of this vision. Not just the vision of this incredible experience but the vision that guided me here…to this place….to this life.

I felt support of my spiritual family so powerfully…guides, teachers, friends, family…my higher self. The words I heard in my mind were, “Your work is supported, your life is guided. This is the promise–you will always have our support.”

As I sit here writing this, remnants of the rainbow still touch the Ocean and the whale is exhaling with her baby. Their breath-mist carries soft, pastel colors into the sky…the rainbow of their breath…symbol of promise.

I reflect back to the trip to Crystal River and talking into my voice recorder about following my dreams, the intense rainbow over my shoulder and Follow That Dream Blvd, meeting Rich and Deb from Australia and him encouraging me to be with humpbacks…and to come to Tonga to visit his whale research center….and the overwhelming push to get on a waiting list for a humpback trip to the Dominican Republic and within a month having a spot on a trip…this trip.

Mom and baby are still there….at the end of the rainbow. With certainty I know that I am guided, supported and loved beyond anything I can imagine….and I am grateful.” 

DSC_8024In this evening’s meditation the recent messages of supportive friends echoed in my mind. I envisioned myself dancing the big dance with humpback whales and realized they called me home to my Self. They have been calling me for many years and at the beginning of this year, I listened. And my life was changed.

Another friend and I were chatting a couple weeks ago and he clarified a struggle I’ve been having. He said, “Simone, you’ve been trying to figure out the next step in your path using your mind, your intellect. You are more fully committing to the work of your heart so the intellect cannot make sense of it or give you answers. This is a time when to answer the question, what’s next, you must use your heart…allow it to speak and guide you.”

_TSL6508As I reflect on this year and prepare for the next trip around the sun, it is clear I am doing the work of my heart. There isn’t another direction I need to go. The change needed is to simply respect and value the work I do and put all of myself into the vision that has led me thus far. It’s time to step into my bigness.

SimoneLipscomb (157)Let us hold our dreams and the dreams of others as sacred. Let us step together into our bigness and dance with wild abandon into being fully alive.

 

 

Night Before Christmas….From the Reef

Night Before Christmas….From the Reef

SimoneLipscomb (4) copy

Night Before Christmas…Turtle Island Style

Adapted by Simone Lipscomb

From Clement Clarke Moore’s Poem

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through Coral Park

Not a fish was stirring, not even a shark.

The stockings were hung on the brain coral with care,

In hopes that Santa Loggerhead soon would be there;

_TSL3036

The Parrotfish were nestled in cocoon beds,

While visions of candied algae swam in their heads;

And daddy under his coral ledge, and I in my gap,

Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,

When out from the deep there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the reef to see what was the matter.

_TSL6508Away to the drop-off I swam a fast clip,

Right through Tube Sponges and over Sea Whips.

The moon on the breast of sand, white like snow,

Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below,

When, what my wondering eyes saw from the dark,

A Giant Clam and eight big Bull Sharks,

With an ancient old driver, who looked well-fed,

I knew for certain, it was Santa Loggerhead.

More rapid than Barracuda’s his coursers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

_TSL1657“Now Billy! Now Bruzer! Now, Bobby and Barry!

On Betty! On Beatrice! On Emily and Mary!

To the top of the reef! To the top of the wall!

Now dash away! Dash away Dash away all.”

As palm leaves that before the wild hurricanes fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

So up to the reef-top the bully’s did tow,

A clam full of goodies and Santa Loggerhead, Oh!

And then in a twinkling, I heard on the reef

The gnashing and gnawing of all those shark’s teeth.

_TSL7226As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the reef Santa Loggerhead swam with a bound.

He was old and wrinkled from head to flipper,

His shell full of barnacles, but he couldn’t look hipper.

A bundle of goodies he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a diver just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled, so ancient and wise!

His head was enormous, his shell a huge size!

His beaked mouth was strong, I’m here to tell,

His overall look was really quite swell.

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The stump of a Tube Sponge he held in his beak,

And Blue Chromis encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad shell and quite a round belly,

That shook, when he laughed like a Cannonball Jelly.

SimoneLipscomb (25)He was ancient and huge, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a turn of his head,

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying a flipper aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, off the reef he rose;

SimoneLipscomb (1)He sprang to his clam sleigh, to his team said, “GO!”

And away they all swam like a five knot flow.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he swam out of sight,

“Happy holidays to all, and to all a good night.”

 

 

Love Anyway

Love Anyway

SimoneLipscombAn elderly man walking across a busy intersection got caught in traffic as the light changed. I waited to allow him to cross. After I began to move forward the guy behind me laid down on his horn and swerved around me screaming at me. So much for compassion.

Each day I work on cultivating compassion. I say work because of people like the driver who honked and screamed because I waited for a confused, elderly man to get safely across the road. One moment my heart was pouring forth love and concern and the next I was trying to keep from shouting back at the guy screaming at me.

_TSL3955In no way could I make sense of the guy’s reaction to kindness…actually to safety and the law (pedestrians have the right of way). In what world does he live in to leave a confused, old man in between two lanes of traffic whizzing past on a five land highway? So I glanced over as the guy wheeled around me and mouthed: what is your problem?

There’s a mime on FaceBook going around that goes something like this: I meditate daily, I light candles, I do yoga and sometimes I still want to slap people. And that’s okay because I’m still working on myself. And I love the old man who was crossing the street and needed assistance. I love people who are kind and generous and compassionate. And I’m working on loving those that are mean, pushy, uncaring, violent….I really am…but I’m not quite there. And that’s okay.

SimoneLipscomb (3)I’ll continue to light candles, do my meditations, practice yoga and search my heart for places that haven’t opened yet and there will be moments when dark actions in others trigger my anger…and that’s okay, too. I’ll love anyway….beginning with myself.

 

Crossroads….Thirty Years

Crossroads….Thirty Years

IMG_2282Thirty years ago I stepped onto a conscious path of personal development. That sounds so neat and clean. In reality, my life fell apart into an ugly, beautiful mess.

IMG_2297Thanksgiving 1985….it seems like a life-time ago when everything I knew fell apart. When I made the decision to grow into my potential everything I knew as familiar and safe fell away and I stepped off into the Void, into the Abyss. Some call it the spiritual warriors empty-handed leap into the Unknown. Whatever the label, it was scary.

IMG_2320I was 25 years old, had a 6 month old daughter who was my life, my world and the ground upon which I stood literally fell apart. It was the most difficult time of my life for I had to make the choice to grow into my potential or…not. It was terrifying. But I took the leap anyway.

IMG_2323Thirty years of hard work, pain, joy…letting go…letting go….letting go. Surrender. Every time I thought there was nothing more to surrender, something else within me would rise up that I had to release. Personal growth, clearing the personality-self, is not work for the faint of heart. Scuba diving, cave diving, traveling alone to remote places is nothing compared to facing the scary monsters within that can thwart or paralyze.

Details of the trials and challenges remain in memory but no longer haunt me. There are regrets that center around not being able to balance relationships with the intense growth taking place within and I get to practice self-forgiveness as the years unfold.

IMG_2303Once a person commits to personal growth and healing, there is no switch that can turn off what we learn. There were many, many days where I would pray to forget what I had learned so I could return to an unconscious state and just be happy….but was I really happy in ignorance? Digging deep unearthed a lot of treasures and debris.

The birth of my daughter was an awakening and she was the inspiration to dig deep and embody light and love as best I could, even if it meant being apart from her….the most difficult experience of my life repeated many times as we parted when she was with her father.

This Thanksgiving marked thirty years of stepping onto a conscious path and it found me with her, at her home in Michigan with her husband and dog child. I cannot think of a more profound place to mark this time than with her, my beautiful daughter.

IMG_2333I walked out into 23 degree pre-sunrise temperatures on the frosty grass and enjoyed the beauty of stillness and color. The pond was icy and reflected the colorful clouds creating a lovely meditation. The railroad tracks beckoned me so I walked up the hill to the crossing and watched deer cross the tracks toward the sunrise.

IMG_2330In the quiet beauty of the day, I saw myself at a crossroads. Every direction is filled with beauty and potential. The journey continues with every step as I gather the wisdom cultivated along the way….trust life, surrender thoughts and behaviors that keep love from flourishing, keep an open heart, forgive myself and others constantly, be fearless in expressing the creative impulses within, celebrate beauty.