Reunion at the Pub

Reunion at the Pub

Today my friend Gabriela and I made the journey to a local pub….unfortunately it wasn’t in Ireland…but it was Irish. We celebrated the anniversary of our journey to the west coast of Ireland last year. A year ago we were packing to go….today we were both sharing how we miss Ireland every single day.

In the walk back through time via my journal, I read about Fanore Beach…”We hit the tide just right and could photograph the sky reflected in tidal pools. The rivulets reminded me of watery veins–and how the sea is in my blood…in all of our blood.”

We drove north afterwards and stopped by a store/post office. The clerk had a freshly made Brigid’s Cross. I commented on it and told her we planned our trip to coincide with Brigid’s Day. She gifted me with the cross. She said her sister made it and she would get another one. I was moved to tears as Brigid was such a powerful healing force when I visited Ireland months earlier. That cross still sits on my altar and reminds me of kindness and Ireland.

Later we visited the Poulnabrone Dolmen, a portal tomb from the Neolithic Period….4200 BC to 2900 BC. Being February, there were not many people. I wanted to play my new Irish whistle after photographing the site. It was very windy and a rain/sleet storm blew in quickly. Everyone left and I was there…alone but not really. I sensed a strong presence there. I stayed behind determined to offer music to those that rested there. The wind made playing very challenging but as I played with my heart, under sleet and heavy rain clouds, the rain stopped.

I watched as the sun split the clouds. The sky turned amazing blue and I was able to capture delicious images of the structure. In the photographs it appears as though the clouds are being pushed away from the top of the stone….a clearing of sorts. I felt it was a thank you for the music, or my attempt at music, and good intentions.

Several times while connecting with nature in Ireland, I had immediate experiences returned after I wished the spirits well. It felt as if the Shining Ones were right there, barely hidden by a thin veil. I wrote a message I heard from them in my journal, “You are one with us…Ta’ tu’ ar cheann linn.”

After Gabriela and I parted this afternoon, in Alabama, I realized that seeing her brought such joy and sadness….joy because she’s an awesome person and friend and she reminds me of Ireland and sadness because she reminds me of Ireland. It was a while before we saw each other after we returned last year. I felt the need to withdraw but never understood until today. I noticed I felt like I did when I was a child and left the Smoky Mountains….withdrawn, sad, didn’t want to leave …I had emotional pain every time I left those sacred mountains. It’s the same with Ireland. Today, as we sat in the Irish pub in Pensacola, all the great memories of our travels last February came back and I cherish them, even when remembering makes me miss Ireland even more.

I suspect each of us has a place or places that speak strongly to our hearts. The mountains of North Carolina have spoken to me since childhood. Celtic spirituality has spoken to me since my teenage years and has remained the basis of my deep connection to Nature and God. It lead me to Ireland.

It is my wish that everyone connect strongly with a place…a place they can visit and return to….maybe live in even….and allow that place to touch their hearts deeply, profoundly. When we open to connections such as this, we open to wholeness and a profound sense of being alive and at one with all life.





A Living Landscape

A Living Landscape

John O’Donohue often wrote or spoke about the Irish way of experiencing the landscape. Long ago the goddess Eriu, was sovereign over Her land. The modern name Eire evolved from the name of the goddess. So people of Ireland have a long history of living in sacred relationship with the landscape.

When I visited Ireland in September 2017 and again last February, I was amazed at how present the spirits of the land and sea were with me. I simply had to cast a thought or feeling out to nature and was immediately enveloped with a deep connection to the place. Since returning, I have puzzled over this phenomena.

For example, one of the places my friend and I stayed was a newer holiday home development. It was near Clifden on the west coast and on a small river. The energy felt ‘off’ there. Like something was amiss….not dangerous or seedy but like there was imbalance.

The morning after sleeping the only night there, I walked out along the edge of the forest overlooking the river. It snowed during the night so it was quite lovely. I took my newly purchased Low D Irish Whistle and stood along the woodland and played it with the intention of gratitude for the spirits there. As soon as I began I felt the energy shift and it was as if the spirits were peeking out from hiding places.

I kept playing with the same intention and started looking around and saw, buried beneath snow and brambles, trash from the construction that had been tossed over the edge. It was an obvious disconnection from the beauty and disrespect for the spirits of the land. With ease I sensed their appreciation for someone noticing and remembering them. I wept in the cold, freezing snow as I sensed the return flow of gratitude.

It wasn’t until I was finishing my newest book, The Stone Hut, I realized the answer to a question that haunted me since I first returned from Ireland. The question was this: How can I connect so effortlessly with the energies of nature in Ireland and here, in the United States, it’s like they are guarded, wary and often unwilling to connect. Understanding finally dawned as I watched John O’Donohue’s video, A Celtic Pilgrimage, for the ga-zillionth time.

Irish people have had a genuine love and appreciation for a living landscape that goes back literally ages. For some reason, the deep immersion of writing about ancient Ireland in my book and O’Donohue’s explanation helped me understand that in the US, the land here has been ‘conquered’ and put to use with little care or concern. It’s the anthesis of walking into a living landscape….it’s walking into open space and nothing more–empty space ready for development and building and conquering.

I suspect this is the fundamental problem with the US as we see the terrible darkness emerge from the collective unconscious of our foundation. We can blame a government administration but in reality I offer that the true difficulty lies in the way in which this country was began….conquering of sovereign, native people–with deep respect for the land–by invaders that declared themselves lord over every tree, animal, river, and rock.

No wonder the spirits of the land are hesitant to connect with humans. Centuries of two-legged domination would make the most beautiful of spirits wary…rightly so.

I have longed to return to Ireland, to live there along the west coast. The amazing spiritual energy is still very much intact–a rarity in this increasingly manic world. What I discovered, in writing The Stone Hut, was a call to wholeness within myself from which all relationships can be birthed. I don’t know if I’ll ever live there, but wherever I live I will be more conscious of what I bring to the living landscape and what I can do to cherish and protect it and all life there.

My first thought, in writing this blog, was it was a way to procrastinate the tedious process of formatting my book for E-book reading. While it began as that, it unfolded into something I have wanted to piece together and express for a very long time.

Look for my new e-book, The Stone Hut, coming very soon. It’s a story that crosses time and place set in ancient and modern-day Ireland. Archetypal characters take readers beyond the two characters to the realm of soul.




A true self-portrait evolves and changes as we change and grow. Several years ago I created one and found it the other day. I decided to create a new one and see how it might be different.

Our lives are works of art that evolve as we change and grow. I’m so grateful for the adventures, both inner and outer, that have shaped my life.

What shapes your life?

Push the Sun

Push the Sun

Awaiting sunrise, my impatience began to urge, shove, plead with, cajole the orange orb to kiss the horizon so I could get back to my cycling. Seriously….when has it ever taken so long for the sun to peek above the sea.

I checked Siri….she said, in her Irish accent, Sunrise is at 6.35 am this morning. Five more minutes. I think I heard her add,  What’s the hurry, Simone?

The eastern sky had been growing lighter for half an hour as I pedaled to the beach. I stood in sock-feet on the wet sand after removing my cleats….who can walk in cleats on regular ground much less soft, squishy sand? My socks were getting soaked, it was getting hotter and still the sun hid below the horizon.

The sun took its time and left me with no choice but to relax and enjoy the nearly deserted shore. Usually I enjoy the pause…the wait…but not today. Not this week or this month. I am so ready….

My intuition and sense of change is usually a few months ahead of the actual happening so I always go through this insanely frustrating experience before a big change. Once I know change is coming, I’m ready to leap and continue on with life. But it rarely happens like that for me.

Rise, dammit! Why won’t you show yourself so I can continue on? The perfect mirror to my process wasn’t lost on me. Whatever, I mumbled as I stood in increasingly wet socks. Just take your own sweet time sunshine. I’ve got all freaking day.

I can laugh at my silliness from the dry carpet and comfortable desk as I write this and I might have laughed at myself on the beach. In my willingness to listen and be open to the depth of the lesson I asked Mother Earth….What do you want me to know?

Her reply came through waves softly kissing the sand and the glow of orange light on tidal pools. You don’t have to be in control of everything. You can let go. I realize I am afraid everything will fall apart if I let go…..so I must let go.

We develop ways to cope with life that become more of a hinderance than a help as we progress through life. David Wilcox wrote a song that popped into my awareness as I typed….The song is Slipping Through My Fist. It sat in my heart and mind and answered the message from Mother Earth. Here are the lyrics.

“I have drifted down a ways along the shoreline
I just watched these ropes give way where they were tied
I could have reached out quick
When the ropes first slipped, if I had tried
But I was wondering where the wind was trying to take me
Overnight, if I never did resist
What strange breezes make a sailor want to let it come to this
With lines untied, slipping through my fist
It is downhill all the way to the ocean
So of course the river always wants to flow
The river’s been here longer
It’s older and stronger and knows where to go
I guess I’m wondering where the river’s trying to take me
Overnight, if I never did resist
What strange breezes make a sailor want to, let it come to this
With lines untied, slipping through my fist
This is where I played as a baby
This is where I ran as a child
This is where my dad
Took the last breath he had and smiled
I guess I’m wondering where this place is trying to take me
Overnight, if I never did resist
What strange breezes make a sailor want to, let it come to this
With lines untied, slipping through my fist
With lines untied, slipping through my fist.”


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.