Tag: Nature’s Teachings

Message in a Bottle…#3

Message in a Bottle…#3

IMG_5171It washed up during the sea turtle patrol walk not far from where I turned around. Usually I walk back on the road but the sand was firm so walking wasn’t difficult and it was a glorious sunrise with wild cloud formations over the Gulf and beach,

The bottle with the note in it was sitting at the edge of the surf. In the five seasons I’ve volunteered with our sea turtle team, I’ve found three messages in a bottle. Oddly enough, all during mid-July.

IMG_5224-2The first was after a wedding or commitment ceremony. It contained a prayer, images of the couple’s dreams and their vows. Their message, cast out into the Great Unknown, brought me a message of love and hope. I sent their hopes onward, out into the Universe, and kept the bottle in my office next to a dream board my daughter and son-in-law made.

_TSL2861The second bottle contained a very moving note about a young man that died in a distillery explosion in Kentucky. His mother’s friend sent her message out into the Great Mystery and asked the finder to let Kyle’s mom know it was found. I wrote a blog about it, let the damp note dry and sent it all to Rhonda, Kyle’s mom. I hope her grief was eased by knowing Kyle’s story lived on, his life touched others he had never met.


IMG_5222This last bottle had blue liquid in the bottom. Somebody forgot to use waterproof ink. They didn’t seal the cork. They also used a form letter…imagine sending a form letter out into the Universe. A fill-in-the-blank message in a bottle….with water-based ink. The paper was saturated and was falling apart when it was removed from the bottle.

_TSL1624I wondered….how often do people use a fill-in-the-blank wish list for their lives? Are we willing to live life by default or can we have the courage to work for our dreams? Are we sloppy in our life dreams? Are they easily erased by the challenges that come our way? Can we have the audacity to use permanent ink and create imaginative requests of our lives and be so full of belief that Something Out There will find it and respond that we seal the cork well so when it’s opened, the message is received with clarity.

Buddy Makes a New Friend--8 x 10 acrylic on canvas framed--Original SOLD, fine art prints AVAILABLE

It was a fun thing for the kids to do…fill out the form letter, toss it in the water and imagine. No big deal. But it reminded me to live with intention and realize that everything I do affects not only my life but the lives of others around me. Whoever opens up a blog post and reads it or sees one of my images of dolphins or whales or ocean life…they are, in some way, affected. When I smile at the grocery clerk or hold the door for a stranger….or snuggle with my 11 month old puppy…or rub my kitty friend’s ears…every action matters.

_TSL5322It’s easy to live in a vacuum and forget that we do make a difference. Every little thing we do….it matters.

_TSL5687What would your message in a bottle say? Would you use permanent ink? How would you prepare to send it out into the Great Mystery?

Soul Cycling

Soul Cycling

IMG_5022At 5.15am it was still dark outside but it was also cooler with lower humidity than we’ve had lately so the little LED light on the handlebar would have to do. My tactical, super-charged headlamp I usually wear on my helmet was missing in action.

It’s not that I was afraid of the dark. I just didn’t want to run over any snakes that might be warming their beautiful, slithery bodies on the paved trail.

I hadn’t been pedaling for more than a few minutes when a large shape swooped over my head…then another. Large birds but not owls. Perhaps a pair of nighthawks but there was no eerie vocalization. Just two large shapes disturbed by my passing. Sorry to wake you.

IMG_5029During the past couple of weeks after returning from the dolphin adventure I had not cycled. First, a nasty blister on my foot from a fin rubbing…even while wearing my super-cool scuba socks…kept me out of shoes. So no cleats. Then it was hot and so humid in the mornings I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. But I missed the woods, the trails…the wildlife.

IMG_5031Terry Tempest Williams said, “My spiritual life is found in the heart of the wild.” In The Hour of Land she writes of her personal journey with some of our national parks. Her writing resonates with my own journey in nature and especially the state park in which I ride.

During summer breaks from high school and college I worked at Gulf State Park. After earning a degree in Outdoor Recreation and Resource Management, I returned to work there as a state park naturalist.

IMG_5039The 6000 acres of nature are especially important in our area as they contain some of the last undeveloped coastal forests and beaches in the area. But politicians continue to chip away at what’s left of its wildness.

When I cycle there my soul is given opportunity to relax and connect with friends there…bobcats, pine trees, water snakes, alligators, live oak trees, gopher tortoises, egrets, eagles, hawks, osprey, cottontail rabbits, wild hibiscus, morning glories….a seemingly endless gathering of friends.

IMG_5037As I was riding through a pine forest there this morning I thought about how the trees take root, deep into the sandy soil and remain there throughout their lives. I found myself uncomfortable with the idea of being that grounded, that rooted into one place. But then I had an image of the trees being connected to each other and communicating with other pine trees all over the planet.

Not long ago I read an article about how trees not only communicate but send extra nutrients to those in their area that are not well. This was a scientific study, not a new age article. Trees cooperate with each other and send information back and forth, at least in their own forest. I got the impression this morning they ‘chat’ more long distance than we can imagine.

IMG_5025Each time I ride there some aspect of nature teaches me, gives me ideas to ponder. The physical exercise is great; however, it’s the spiritual expansion that keeps me returning even with summer weather that brings humidity, warmer temperatures and potential thunderstorms. Soul cycling is a necessary part of my spiritual practice. I find my truest self in the wilds of this amazing planet.


Blissed Out

Blissed Out

_TSL5687I felt a nudge against my arm as I slowly swam with a group of spotted dolphins. I glanced to my right to see which one of my buddies was getting my attention. It was a buddy alright but not a human friend. It was large, female spotted dolphin buddy.

_TSL5674I was in a large group of dolphins and was already quite over-the-top in feeling joy and was laughing profusely as thirty-three spotted dolphins surrounded us. I was right in the middle of the pod and was photographing, laughing and in such a state of bliss I wasn’t sure it was even real.

_TSL5656The nudge on my arm reminded me…IT IS REAL!

There’s no way I can write about this day’s amazing experiences in a short blog entry so I will take copious notes in preparation for it becoming a chapter in my new book, Cosmic Whale: Mystical Stories from the Sea.

_TSL5591As I processed images from the day the laughter returned and so did tears of joy that opened me to realms I only dreamed existed. I have such profound gratitude for everything and everyone who helps me on my path. These special beings have given me a gift that will continue to expand in my heart and mind long after I have left Bimini.

_TSL5653At one point only three of us floated among the pod of mothers, calves, adolescents and other females. Susan, Sarah and I were accepted as part of the gathering of females and their calves and teens. It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. We were trusted with precious babies as the females slowly swam around us and circled us in a most amazing dance of connection, of Oneness.

_TSL5865Blessings to these amazing sisters and brothers. May they be protected, happy and have bountiful lives.

Mandala of the Heart

Mandala of the Heart

We were heading out to visit the dolphins and I found a quiet place at the front of the boat. I went within myself and opened my mind to dolphins.

After a while I began getting a visual image of two pink hearts that were intertwined. Then the two hearts expanded into an entire mandala of pink hearts. It was beautiful and it felt as if the dolphins gave me this image. I felt my heart open as I concentrated on it.

After the meditation ended I rejoined the group and we continued on and on….no dolphins for a very long time. And when we found them, they were in very murky, green water.

After easing into the water I noticed my mask was leaking profusely…to the point where it was filling completely with water even though I cleared it. I couldn’t see my camera readouts so I exited the water.

The camera went to a safe place, the mask got fixed and I entered the water again with the only intention of opening to an encounter with dolphins…nothing more. No photographs, no swimming hard to keep up. I simply invited the dolphins to join me and asked if I could join them and kept the image of the pink heart mandala in my mind.

I swam away from the main group of humans and found myself suddenly surrounded by mother spotted dolphins and their babies. One mom and calf…another mom and calf…another mom and calf. I had three mothers and their babies surrounding me, more beneath me and when I glanced back still more were coming. There was a minimum of 16 spotted dolphins surrounding me and possibly as many as 20.

As I gently swam side-by-side with the dolphins I was overcome with emotion….I could scarcely believe I was welcomed into the pod of dolphins who glided beside me as if I was one them. I wept profusely as I gently swam within arm’s reach of the largest female and her calf. And all the while the mandala of pink hearts remained in my mind.

I became one of the pod today as I surrendered to the gentle flow of love permeating everything around me….and within me. I felt welcomed back into my family, a lineage of wisdom that is indescribable.

It was as if I was welcomed home. Not in a geographical sense but rather a home within my heart and mind.

Lately I have had the feeling of coming full circle in my life, as if I’ve completed a very long and arduous journey to reach a place of completion that will give rise to a new beginning. Many years ago dolphins called me into this life and now they have helped me find a new beginning point.

Call me crazy, it doesn’t matter. I am home within myself and all is well. Oh, yes……all is well.

Later I got out my camera and captured one photo from the day...and it was enough.
Later I got out my camera and captured one photo from the day…and it was enough.




_TSL4760Thunderheads were building in the distance as I walked down to the beach with my tripod and camera gear. After awakening far too early, I decided to leave the house and photograph the sunrise. With good cloud potential, expectations for some interesting shots motivated me. I had to go anyway for sea turtle track patrol so why not just go early?

_TSL4744Conditions were near perfect. There was enough wave action to produce the desired result of a silky Gulf, with time exposures, and the clouds were big and lovely. The unexpected surprise was tidal pools that created reflections.

_TSL4791As I stood waiting for the camera to tick the seconds on the longer exposures…. 8….13….15…the idea of reflections bounced around in my head. Are we reflections of a greater wisdom? We act as mirrors for others in our lives. We can celebrate the amazing truth of that….and know we are not alone.

_TSL4879-2I turned around on the beach today and found the reflection behind me was mind-blowing. It reminded me of the wonderful experiences I’ve had, that are behind me, and the people I shared them with…beautiful.

_TSL4865While thoughts did come to mind as I photographed the sunrise, it was mostly a time of communing with beauty that made me laugh out loud and utter words to the sea and the sun…grateful….thank you….love.

_TSL4906The next time you see a reflection…whether it’s in a tidal pool, on the surface of a large body of water or in a mirror where you look into your own eyes…think of those lovely souls who have spent time with you and reflected back to you your own beauty.