Tag: Sugarcane Jane

Paradise Right Here*

Paradise Right Here*

SimoneLipscomb (1)It was still dark as I pulled onto the highway and turned east. There, in the lightening sky hung venus while Dreamer’s Sky, Will Kimbrough’s song on the new Willie Sugarcapps CD eased me into the morning. The last sea turtle patrol of the season begins here, in my car, with music carrying me toward the Gulf of Mexico.

A turn south and another song, another turn east and there’s Venus again with Anthony Crawford‘s song, Love Be Good to Me, sweetly sung by Savana Lee Crawford. The planet of love and these lyrics…..”Love be good to me, Fill my heart again. Love, can you still hear me calling out to you?…..Everything happens in its own time.”

SimoneLipscombAnother turn south and more wonderful music. Grayson Capps, Love, surrounds me with soulful words and notes. And finally, a turn west at the beach and the full moon hangs in a perfect square notch in a massive cloud as Will Kimbrough’s, Paradise Right Here, begins to play. For less than a breath the moon is cradled by the towering cloud and then it disappears.

The words of the song touched me deeply the first time I heard it at the Frog Pond. Tears streamed down my face as I listened to Will’s lyrics. Today, they touched me again as I thought of daily abuses to our planet that take more of the paradise away….the paradise that literally is in the palm of our hand, as Will sings. It is totally up to us if it remains or is destroyed.

MagnoliaSophiaI reach the beginning of my sea turtle patrol at the edge of the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge and grab my camera as I exit the car. The full moon is still bright in the sky and the sun not yet risen. As I reach the water’s edge my faithful dolphin friend swims up and we journey east, toward the rising sun. He, swimming just offshore, and me, walking close to the water’s edge. The past several Sunday’s we have shared the sunrise together and the thought of not seeing him next Sunday saddens me.

_TSL5715The sky is in full sunrise celebration with crazy clouds and colors of phenomenal beauty. Joy leaps up within me as I frolic along the shore which seems to excite my cetacean buddy. As Will sings, “I’m glad to be alive and I’m thankful for this paradise right here, paradise right here. Right here, by the warm inviting water, right now with my bare feet in the sand, right here share it with your sons and daughters, paradise in the palm of your hand. Paradise in the palm of your hand. Paradise in the palm of your hand.”

_TSL5769So grateful for the paradise of this shoreline, the Alabama coast and the greater Gulf of Mexico….all life here…and hopeful that we can make it even better with efforts to be good stewards and approach our walk on this planet with love and compassion for all life.

_TSL5711The end of my walk neared and I saw two of my teammates approaching from their section. We celebrated the beauty of the morning and a successful patrol season and sea turtles. We remembered our loggerhead friends who lure us out each Sunday morning from May 1st through August 31st to chase the sunrise and re-discovered paradise…in the palm of our hand.

_TSL5808*Paradise Right Here is Willie Sugarcapps new CD title and the title of Will Kimbrough‘s fantastic song. Check it out!

Be the Light

Be the Light

SimoneLipscomb (8)“The effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is.” My pen scribbled notes as I watched the video of Jim Carey giving the commencement address at a college. His entire speech focused on letting go of the armor that we use to set boundaries and allowing the light to shine through our form. “The peace we’re after lies beyond personality, beyond effort, disguise. Risk being seen in all of your glory.” He reminded….we are the light that shines through us, nothing more.

SimoneLipscomb (6)It felt as if a bell was ringing with each sentence of insight he shared. How much effort do we put into creating a persona? Designer clothes, make-up, shoes that cost more than some worker’s weekly wages. Rather than relaxing and allowing the light to shine through us we tend to create a false self that feeds ego. We’re all guilty of it in varying degrees. And as we do this, it takes us further from our truth.

SimoneLipscomb (2)“Ego says I can’t stop until I’ve left an indelible mark on this earth,” Carey stated. I paused the video and breathed in that statement. While our intentions might be good, all the striving and pushing to make ‘the mark’ distracts us by the angst created. The definition of angst according to Siri? “An acute feeling of anxiety; usually reserved for philosophical anxiety about the world or about personal freedom.” Yep, angst….created by striving and pushing to ‘make something of ourselves.’

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Will Kimbrough, a prolific songwriter and performer, shares his light….

This doesn’t mean we sit on our rear ends and wait for the Universe to shower us with everything for which we’ve ever dreamed. We let the Universe know what we want, work toward it while letting go of how it comes to pass…according to Carey. “Your job is not to figure out how it’s going to happen but to open the door in your head and so when it opens in real life you just walk through it.”

SimoneLipscomb (16)And lastly: “Your need for acceptance can make you invisible in this world.” If we play into ego’s game then working to fit in, find our niche, make that big difference in the world relates, at the core, to fitting in with the crowd. Yet again, when we act from this mindset, we shut down our beauty, our gifts and talents…our light.

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Sugarcane Jane, Anthony & Savana Lee Crawford, create beautiful music, have a family and share their beauty with the world.

It’s not easy being different, dancing to the beat of your own drum. It makes many people very uncomfortable. It takes courage and a strong belief that who we are is valuable…just because…not because we act a certain way or say the right thing or dress in $400 shoes or wear a designer label.

SimoneLipscomb (9)The challenge offered is to make a choice between love and fear. Dare to be the wondrous light you are and follow the flow of talent, interest, skill that you have within yourself. The funny thing is this–you will indeed make a mark on the world without making that your intention…just because you are being your authentic self.

SimoneLipscombBe the Light. And as Carey said, “Don’t let fear turn you against your playful heart!”

Creative Madness

Creative Madness

Anthony Crawford
Anthony Crawford

He was working twelve to fourteen hour days in a creative surge to build a recording studio. But not just any recording studio…one where Anthony and his wife Savana can create their dream.

As I stood listening to him share his vision, I felt myself resonating with the impulse that grabs hold of artists and pushes us forward in a rush of energy that helps manifest that which is in our hearts and minds. Time becomes irrelevant and we can work for hours without a break. Such is this mad creative process.

 “Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant–there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing,”         Georgia O’Keefe

Photograph by Simone Lipscomb
Photograph by Simone Lipscomb

When a person feels called to live a creative life it isn’t easy. The pressure to conform to the schedule and life others live is significant. If you dare live outside the box it can be a constant struggle to stay there as our society doesn’t deal well with those of us who dare to follow and dance to our own inner voice. Whether we photograph, paint, write books or songs or poetry, dance…life lead by creativity is challenging. And many times artists are seen as weird, outcast, strange because we bring forth new ideas and new ways of seeing things.

If creative efforts yield success in the world, it makes it a bit easier for the artist to continue in his or her efforts as the opinion is…time is well-spent. But for those of us whose work isn’t well-known, we keep at it, swimming at times against a current of negative opinion and judgment….’why doesn’t she get a real job?’….’why doesn’t he volunteer and make better use of his time?’……’how come she doesn’t do ________? Many times the negative messages come from within ourselves.

Self-portrait by Simone Lipscomb
Self-portrait by Simone Lipscomb

Accomplishments are constantly being measured externally, where forms are always read from the outside, where comfort and lifestyle are often mistaken for success, or even happiness. Don’t be fooled. Our ideas regarding success should be our own,”   Teresita Fernandez

Over a year ago my friend Jen and I talked about the dilemma and pressure of feeling called to create and not knowing where it will lead or what difference it will make in the world. Of having the resources to devote to the creative process, the inner desire to fully commit our lives to it and serving the greater good but feeling at a loss for how to get the work out into the world.

SimoneLipscomb (6)Several years ago an independent publishing company opted to publish a book I had been writing for years. Sharks On My Fin Tips: A Wild Woman’s Adventures With Nature* was born out of my desire….no, my passion…to help people connect with nature and care about our planet. It contains stories of my personal relationship with animals, oceans, rivers, lakes and how nature is a healing force in my life. After several years of writing and saving stories, the process of putting it all together and seeing it in a book was amazing…finally. 

Then followed two books, a book of photography, Place of Spirit, and a children’s book on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, The Gulf Oil Spill Story. And then a project of poetry and photography with my friend Thomas Rain Crowe, Crack Light. And another project with Thomas with his translations of Hafiz and my photographs, More Than All the Rich Man’s Gold.

Photograph by Simone Lipscomb
Photograph by Simone Lipscomb

But then came the reality of the publishing world: marketing is vital. And I’d rather just tap into inspiration and use my skills to create a work of beauty. Marketing? Really? Sales? Ugh.

And so it goes. The creative process is maddening. It’s wonderful. It drives many of us crazy. And we continue because we truly have no choice but to do so.

If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living….I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be,” Joseph Campbell

Photography by Simone Lipscomb
Photograph by Simone Lipscomb

The energy of building something from nothing inspires us and gives us life, helps us breathe completely, fully…it makes us feel at home in our skin even when people around us might criticize or ignore our work or us.

Savana Lee Crawford and Anthony Crawford...Sugarcane Jane. Photograph by Simone Lipscomb
Savana Lee Crawford and Anthony Crawford…Sugarcane Jane. Photograph by Simone Lipscomb

Anthony’s in the grip of a creative whirlwind. As we chatted in his evolving studio he expressed a desire to see his kids off to school, to have a family life and be able to do what he and his wife love to do–create music. Rather than give up family or music they are creating the life they want, building their dream.

Cover Rich Mans Gold
Thomas Rain Crowe’s translations of Hafiz and Simone Lipscomb’s photography.

Thomas said this to a class he was teaching: The difference between writers and someone who writes is that writers have to write. They cannot not write. And so it goes with those of us called by some mysterious, inner voice to create. We cannot ignore the urge to paint, write stories, photograph, write songs, draw, play music, write poetry, dance. We must surrender to this creative madness that calls us. There are no guarantees or promises that our efforts will pay off, make a difference or change the world for the better but we really have no choice. To ignore the inner voice, the creative spark that ignites us with inspiration is to die while breathing.

*Sharks On My Fin Tips, Grateful Steps Publishing House, 2008.

Check out Anthony and Savana Crawford’s wonderful music with their duo, Sugarcane Jane and with Willie Sugarcapps.






The Face of Love

The Face of Love

SimoneLipscomb (3) The sand is cold from a night of darkness. Starlight is still embedded in the crystalline grains. It lingers as the gathering orange orb peeks from behind dark, gray clouds. Lunar fullness…madness… seeps into my bare feet as I walk along the shore, chilled from a wintery morning.

SimoneLipscomb (4)The pre-dawn excursion gave me time and space to freely open to the creative impulse working within and through me. I came away with a synthesis of revelations of late.

Recently, in my morning meditations, I have asked for one-sentence seeds of wisdom to begin the day. Yesterday it was this:

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Throughout the day I contemplated this statement and felt a deeper opening in my heart…and a Buddhist story came to mind. It goes something like this…

An abbot of a monastery sought a replacement. The test given to monks who applied for the position was to stand against hungry ghosts…legions of them. Bravery, courage and wisdom was needed. One by one, they were defeated as they wielded weapons and used defensive maneuvers. Finally, a monk calmly stood ready to face the test. Rather than hold weapons or stand in a defensive posture, the monk remained calmed and opened himself, allowing all the hungry ghosts to pass straight through. By not holding on or clinging to defensiveness, he passed the test and thus possessed the wisdom to become the new abbot.

SimoneLipscomb (13)It’s possible, while trying to maintain an open heart, to become defensive and protective of it as there will be those who are threatened by such joy, such happiness and they will make attempts to put down the light being emitted. Yet those ‘hungry ghosts’ have nothing on which to attach if we remain open, undefended, allowing pure joy and love to flow through.

SimoneLipscomb (9)As Pema Chodron wrote, “To experience something that liberates us from the narrow minded-ness of our biases and preconceptions is truly wondrous.”

“Don’t worry about results; just open your heart in an inconceivably big way, in that limitless way that benefits everyone you encounter,” wrote Chodron. Yesterday’s meditation included a vision where I climbed through a castle onto the top of it and went on the high roof. As I stood in the winds of this sacred place I saw a light approaching from the distance and heard a deep voice in my mind. Light the beacon, stay open, I am coming. So in the vision I took a torch and lit a huge light and knew that in reality I was lighting my heart’s light..and it would be my task to keep that sacred light burning brightly. There was no other task necessary.

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Doobie and Bucket understand the value of basking in the sun…it’s where most of their wisdom is gleaned.

Yesterday at The Frog Pond Sunday Social, a gathering of musicians and music-lovers who come together to create community, I basked in the winter sun as the musicians warmed up. As I faced the sun and closed my eyes I reflected back to the meditative vision and allowed the light of my heart to meet that of the sun and heard the deep voice in my mind once again….stay open.

After over half-a-century of exploring what love is and more specifically what it is not…I have come to realize that love is the only ‘thing’ that matters. It’s not romantic love or sexual love…although that can be an expression of it…it’s the stuff that comes from having an open heart that breathes-in love, exhales love and in the middle finds a way to experience sheer joy and compassion just for the experience. That’s what I’ve gotten to thus far.

SimoneLipscombThis is the face of pure joy, pure happiness….this then is the face of love.

And this is the face of love……

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 “When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it’s bottomless, that it doesn’t have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast, and limitless. You begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, as well as how much space. Your world seems less solid, more roomy and spacious. The burden lightens. In the beginning it might feel like sadness or a shaky feeling, accompanied by a lot of fear, but your willingness to feel the fear, to make fear your companion, is growing. You’re willing to get to know yourself at this deep level. After awhile this same feeling begins to turn into a longing to raze all the walls, a longing to be fully human and to live in your world without always having to shut down and close off when certain things come along. It begins to turn into a longing to be there for your friends when they’re in trouble, to be of real help to this poor, aching planet. Curiously enough, along with this longing and this sadness and this tenderness, there’s an immense sense of well-being, unconditional well-being, which doesn’t have anything to do with pleasant or unpleasant, good or bad, hope or fear, disgrace or fame. It’s something that simply comes to you when you feel that you can keep your heart open.” Pema Chodron, Start Where You Are.

May we all be the face…the embodiment…of love.


Music of the Spheres

Music of the Spheres

Will Kimbrough
Will Kimbrough

The live oak tree forest was quiet and tucked away from the busyness of life yet held an outdoor stage in its embrace. An open field provided a place for seating and the sounds of the night welcomed musicians and music-lovers alike.

Cool, refreshing evening air was heavy with dew and as we listened to outrageously good music anything not in motion was soon coated with moisture. The intense humidity and heat of the past several weeks had given way to the beginnings of autumn on the Alabama Gulf Coast. It was a great time and place to relax, enjoy music and visit with friends.

After a while of standing with a heavy lens and camera body, I began to tire. In addition, it was past my bedtime when Willie Sugarcapps began to play so I was weary and sleepy and had a two hour drive after it ended. So my chair called and the camera found itself snuggled into the pack.

Willie Sugarcapps
Willie Sugarcapps

Dreamer’s Sky began. Will Kimbrough’s new song is an upbeat, happy song with a bit of a jig sound with mandolin and fiddle. I closed my eyes and allowed the music to take me. The notes and words moved through my mind and suddenly I had the thought, The nature spirits are really digging this music. Then the image of two wolves dancing on hind legs came to mind. Then two coyotes, foxes, rabbits and all creatures of the wood came to my mind and I ‘saw’ them celebrating along the edge of the forest. Owls, squirrels, even earthworms were dancing with joy.

The vision brought sweet feelings of love and peace. I opened my eyes and looked into the velvet, night sky and saw stars and planets and I heard the words, music of the spheres. It was as if harmony was raining down like stardust on all who gathered, both human and non-human. There was an undeniable unity I saw in my mind’s eye and felt deeply.

SimoneLipscomb (5)I believe the only way we will heal ourselves and planet Earth is to be united in love and harmony. That unity comes from a positive connection we have not just with other humans but with all life. To the foxes dancing in the field or the owls doing a dance step on the tree branches. Or the neighbor of another color or religion.

SimoneLipscomb (7)A collective vision of harmony can change the world for the better. This is my dream, this is my vision. I place my hand in yours and issue an invitation to join in the dance, in the celebration. I hold the paw of sister wolf. I grasp the flipper of mother sea turtle. The owl talons and my hand unite. The fluke of the massive humpback reaches for my hand…and yours. We can dream a new way of living into being. It begins with harmony and learning to hear the music of the spheres.

SimoneLipscomb (4)Thank you Will Kimbrough for the music and to Grayson Capps, Corkey Hughes, Sugarcane Jane…Savana Lee and Anthony Crawford…for bringing it to life tonight via the Willie Sugarcapps ‘vehicle.’ And if you, kind reader, are wondering about possible substance-induced vision…the answer is no. No alcohol or anything that altered my consciousness except beautiful music…beautiful harmony.