Tag: wildlife

My Manifesto

My Manifesto

I’ve never been one to give much credence to manifestos. They are sort of like…ooohh, look at me….I have something to say. And I find that most of us have something to say but nobody really pays much attention except to their own voices in their heads. Everything else just goes through their filters of who they accept as okay and who isn’t and they look for everything possible to uphold their belief about themselves and others. Oh, there’s the evidence that she IS crazy.

But this cluster of a house closing and moving has brought up enough fear to shake me to my core and make me wish I was anywhere but here, in this skin and bone experience. Not just regarding my own personal challenges but for the planet. I keep hearing to write my own manifesto. Maybe a last word of an old life that helps open the doorway to the new one. I’m ready for that crossing. That Threshold has been looming for over three years or 59 years or lifetimes. I don’t really know. Regardless, here goes.

I am so freaking angry at humanity and wish I wasn’t a human. The shame I feel from being part of a species that is hell-bent on destroying itself is huge. It isn’t only the miserable leadership of this country (USA) that is taking us backwards at warp speed….racism, environmental lack-of-protection, elitism, corruption…it’s happening in many places on the planet. The gains so many worked for so diligently for so many decades have been lost in nearly three years. Three years. Three years of insanity supported by politicians who don’t have the guts to stand up to a maniac because greed is their guiding light. There is no moral compass in this country where such bigotry, hatred and nihilism is encouraged and fueled by leadership.

I don’t want to live in this insanity. Enough.

There are those in my life that think they know what’s best for me. If I only got a ‘real’ job I’d be just fine. As if me having a job would fix any of the woes of the world…or fix the angst in me.

I worked for six months for an international company and found how insidious their practices are regarding the environment yet they wanted the lowly workers, earning less than $10 an hour, to ‘sell’ how great they were environmentally….while thousands and thousands of plastic hangers get trashed every year at just one store and plastic bags wrap every shirt, pants, hat, coat, vest….plastic that doesn’t get recycled. Yes….by all means let me just get a job to solve my problems. It only opened my eyes wider to the insanity of this world based on greed and profit at any cost.

I’ve never felt like I fit in and have felt I am at least one step off from the rest of humanity. My goal has been to connect people with Nature in an effort to preserve at least some parts of the planet and Her species. While my efforts have been sincere and well-received, they have never supported me financially. So I’m left either selling my soul to corporate America or watching my finances swirl down the drain as I try to make a difference.

While sports figures earn millions each year and politicians income increases from bribes, sponsorships and other illegalities, people that are really trying to make a difference…non-profits, artists, conservationists, environmentalists, social workers, teachers….are scraping by. It’s very warped and messed up.

In my travels I have connected deeply to the land and sea, to humpback whales, manatees, dolphins, sea lions. I have felt the immense power of the sea and wanted to kiss the ground upon release from a storm-tossed boat. I have sensed the stillness of the sea that reflected the heavens so perfectly it was difficult to tell where the sea stopped and the sky began.

There are no regrets about my traveling to other countries such as England and Ireland where in stone circles or other ancient, sacred places I have awakened to deeper levels of my soul and the vast connection to Earth and Stars and Sea. Each journey has gifted me with something priceless. Had I grasped my money in fear, I would have never had those experiences.

I have watched an octopus dance with me, had squid explore the dome port on my underwater housing. Had manatees kiss me. Humpback whales, after spending three separate weeks with them, have taught me how intelligent they are and how caring and loving they are to their young…they broke me open to love like I had never known before. And they began calling me when I was only a teen through their song. They have been a guiding force for me and the kinship we share is profound and on the level of soul.

Diving in the veins and life-blood of the planet has been a gift like no other. Being inside Her….within Her beauty changed me, altered my perception of what is truly important.

The beauty I have witnessed has inspired me to share with others, to help awaken them to this incredible planet upon which we live. And yet it doesn’t bring an income to me. I never figured out how to commercialize beauty and love and depth of soul. I hope I never do.

For the past three years there has been an intense dismantling of my life…or 59 years or whatever. But these past three years have been a true letting go…letting go….letting go. And now, poised to finally pass through the Threshold, a block appears and threatens to stop my forward progress. The fury and fear I feel about this is absolute. The deep, hard work of the soul and clearing the personality has exhausted me in ways I cannot begin to describe but here I stand ready–after this long, hard journey–to leap. And a glitch stops everything and makes me go deeper still when I thought I had reached the bottom of it.

Every fear I’ve ever had is awakened as I teeter on a financial precipice. A precipice where the ground upon which I stand gives way, below me is endless depth of Unknown and just across the way is solid ground.

I have moved through my life with trust in the Universe, even when things were at their worst for me personally. And now, after everything had seemingly come together perfectly for this big leap into the next part of my journey, I stand on a precipice knowing I cannot return to how I was–I won’t unpack the boxes and carry on as if nothing has changed–knowing I might not survive if I leap and fall into the Abyss but knowing that the only way forward is to actually step out in faith over the Abyss trusting that if I fall there will be grace in my passing and peace. And if I make it to the other side, there will be grace as well.

Artists….photographers, writers, painters, dancers, composers…are often troubled because we exist to express and share our experience of the world with others, not for profit but because we must express. Our souls call us to this and to try and cram us into a box, into a job that steals our reason for being is torture. But we live in a society where these gifts are undervalued and profit-at-any cost is the norm.

Those that do not have the soul of an artist will never understand the pain we experience when we cannot express ourselves, when we are not supported for our heart’s work. Get a real job is the same as Just kill me. To be at odds with our heart’s work is to not live.

So I say to anyone still reading this, pay attention to the artists…the writers, dancers, photographers, painters, composers. Not just the ones receiving accolades but to all those who have a message to share with the world that comes from their direct experience of beauty…or pain. And support them.

My manifesto wanted to be written. It’s for no one’s benefit but my own, delving into my own feelings of frustration, fear and love for this planet, for the beauty that seems to be disappearing so fast I can scarcely keep up. My manifesto is one of deep and profound grief. Of fear for an uncertain future personally and planetarily.  I don’t want to live in a world without bees and butterflies, without right whales and orcas, without black rhinos and gorillas, without kemp’s ridley sea turtles and orangutans, without love and compassion and common decency. For to live in a world such as this is not to live at all. It’s simply to exist in a living hell.

The Tower Crumbles

The Tower Crumbles

The other night in meditation, a very strong vision came and I watched with discomfort as the Tower I stood on with my white horse started to crumble. But it wasn’t crumbling from any outer force. It was falling apart because the horse and I were striking it. The white horse reared up and used both front feet to begin the destruction and I slid off her back and grabbed a sledge hammer and aided her. Then I saw my child self and teenage self arrive and begin to work with us. There came a point when the energy was so intense the three parts of myself were hitting each other and the guide intervened and reminded us not to turn on each other. Then as the Tower fell, the horse took the three of us to safety on her back. The ground turned to boiling lava so the horse flew us to safety…a green pasture beside a clear stream. The edge collapsed and we went into the water where we were washed clean.

It wasn’t the most peaceful meditation. It was more of a journey into the reality of what is happening not just in my life but with all of us. The old paradigm is crumbling and the process is scary and filled with danger. We even turn on others we care about in the process of dismantling the old way of living.

Today I was opening boxes I packed nearly a year ago when I had a near-sale of my home and the buyers were pushing me to get out quickly. When they ghosted, I never bothered to unpack. So I decided to open all the boxes and get rid of more stuff…if I haven’t used it why keep it?

I came to a box of books on the Ocean, whales and dolphins…some of my most precious books. When I started looking at them I stopped and hugged the box to me and wept deeply for my cetacean brothers and sisters and our beautiful seas and all life that hangs in a very precarious place. I allowed myself to feel the grief and be with feelings of great sadness.

What a strange time to be alive. We are watching the old paradigm be challenged every day and it rears up and shows its abusive self…but we are collectively taking it down….piece by piece.

It’s a time of intense emotions and fears and great anger at what is being done to innocent children and wildlife and wild places. Ultimately compassion and kindness and a deep, fierce love and devotion is what is needed. The kind of love that stands up and says…NO MORE! We are experiencing the old paradigm die within ourselves and in the world around us.

This is a time when we need to forge bonds of love and compassion and reach out to those experiencing difficulties….and who isn’t these days? It’s not a time to isolate ourselves even though we might need time alone to access stillness and inner silence. A phone call, a visit, an email or text….are you okay, friend?

The new is found within the old so as we witness and feel the old falling away, let us be mindful of the seeds of new awaiting nurturing so they can take root and grow and thrive. Water those new seeds, give attention to what you wish to create.

Stay hydrated, rest, take time to be still and quiet, eat well, talk to friends who understand, talk to a life/spiritual coach, be outdoors, get a massage, take a salt bath. Take loving care for you are birthing a new world from within yourself.

Vibrations of Nature

Vibrations of Nature

Every night I go outside on the screened porch with my dog and two cats and we sit and listen. The frogs in the pond in the field sing their froggy songs. Insects drone and click and make the branches of the ancient live oak trees come alive. Barred owls call in the branches overhead. The more I let go and just listen, the more relaxed and at peace I feel.

In the mediations on the front porch, with nature’s music in surround sound, I have come to understand that the vibrations of nature are not just beneficial to humans, they are vital to our health and wellbeing.

The frequency of natural sounds helps us drop deeper into connection and oneness with nature…with ourselves. We have forgotten that we are simply another part of nature. And in so doing are literally destroying the planet…and ourselves.

A recent report says up to 1 million species are expected to go extinct soon….out of 8 million species. More than 10% of the species on this planet are expected to soon be extinct. I have tried to avoid this report and yet it keeps coming up on NPR, in articles on social media. I know it’s bad news and could I possibly just pretend one more day that it’s not so bad?

So I go outside at night and listen. With my dog. And the cats. The frogs take me deeper into right relationship with their watery world. The insects bring me into their realm of clicks and drones, almost like dolphins or whales of the sea. The owls call to the primal strength in me. I feel my bones and go deeper…deeper…deeper into nature, into this body which is part of nature.

Tonight I had a vision of my passion and love for the planet growing and spilling out of the pitcher of my heart into a clear stream as it flows and joins with others whose love and passion for the planet is also flowing from their hearts. I saw a clear river that is growing with love for all life and is filled with pure intention. I saw Oneness growing into a wave of love.

We as a species have exhausted the old ideas…war, power, money…none of that works nor will it ever work or be a solution. If we repeat the same behaviors we get the same results. So it’s time my sisters and brothers to start trying something different…I believe an answer is to recognize our connection to everything and everyone else…Oneness. Once we recognize ourself in everything else, we come to value everything….every thing….else.

Go outside and listen to the vibrations of nature….feel them and allow them to take you into the flow. I’ll meet you there.

Earth Day Notes from the Oil Spill

Earth Day Notes from the Oil Spill

I started a new painting today and when I opened my work table drawer found a notebook filled with writing from when I documented the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in 2010. I thought about typing them all out but felt images of the scribbles might be more powerful for those interested. It brought many tears as I read it. Some pages are note included as there are personal names and phone numbers of people I met. This is a sampling of the notes that helped me write many blog posts. Hard to believe it has been 9 years….and what has changed?

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You can find videos of my daily documentation of the oil spill on my YouTube channel. There are also MANY beautiful nature videos. Just visit YouTube and search Simone Lipscomb.

The Underlying Current

The Underlying Current

“The spirit of Walter Anderson thanks you.” This comment, while I was documenting the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in 2010, meant more than any other. It fueled me to keep going when the fumes, death and poisoning of sea creatures weighed me down with unbearable grief.

Part of mural from The Little Room, by Walter Inglis Anderson

Having a background as a state park naturalist and lover of the natural world, Walter Inglis Anderson’s words, drawings and paintings inspired me to connect deeply with elements of nature–not just animals, land and sea, but spatially through geometries of light and shadow.

Decades since his book, The Horn Island Logs, was published I have written and photographed many wondrous places and creatures in nature but more importantly, I have interacted with mountains, coasts, humpback whales, dolphins, sea lions, waterfalls, trees…I connect with much more than form, on a deep level.

I’m not concerned with only the technical aspects of a good photograph. I want to connect with the essence behind form. When I am in nature…underwater or in a forest….I simply show up and ask to be shown the light behind the physical manifestation. I have no agenda other than to be an observer wherever I find myself…with a camera, notepad or stripped of anything but my heart and mind to receive whatever gift is offered.

A while ago someone sent me information about an application for an exhibit at Walter Anderson Museum of Art. I’m not one to apply for exhibits and competitions, but the intention of the exhibit spoke to me so I applied. The subject was the human connection to water and I knew the exact image I would submit.

A small group of us were on a photography trip to Bimini to photograph  a friendly, resident pod of spotted dolphins. At some point during one of our days with the pod I stopped, as is often the case, to drink in the beauty of color, light and form. My friend Susan was preparing to photograph approaching dolphins. The reflections and light were surreal and I lifted my heavy, underwater housing and fired off one shot. The dolphins were so fast and Susan was swimming fast so there was one chance to capture what I felt as I communed with the sea and Her creatures.

That shot now hangs in the Water, Water exhibit at Walter Anderson Museum of Art (WAMA).

I was excited for it to be chosen yet it felt almost destined. Even as I applied I fully expected that image to be part of the exhibit…very unlike my usual low expectations. But the real magic for me was when I delivered the print.

Mural painting by Walter Inglis Anderson in Community Center, Ocean Springs, MS

When I dropped off the print,  Bea–one of the museum employees– invited me to look around. I went to the Community Center, attached to the museum, that was filled with a mural painted by Walter Anderson many years ago. It was as if the spirit of Walter swept around me and I begin remembering how deeply his work influenced me over 30 years ago, when I first viewed the room.

Mural painting by Walter Inglis Anderson, Community Center in Ocean Springs, MS

Tears filled my eyes as a part of me seemed to slip back into full embodiment of this life, this present moment where my art somehow interacted with his art and a circle was closed…like everything finally made sense.

Mural painting by Walter Anderson, The Little Room

During the two-night opening of the exhibit I listened as John Anderson, Walter’s son, shared about his relationship with his father and about his dad’s work. I was taken to a greater understanding of myself as I listened and was able to chat with John and share how his dad’s work influenced me.

John said his dad was shunned, a sort of outcast in the Ocean Springs community because he isolated himself and lived on Horn Island. It resonated with me. So deeply am I connected to nature and the energy behind it all that I rarely feel as if I fit in with this consumer-driven world. I could happily spend my days and nights exploring woodlands and shores, climbing trails on mountains…so profoundly does solitude appeal to me. It’s only in the quiet and solitary ways of observance that I feel home in my skin.

Another new exhibit at WAMA focuses on Walter as Artist, Naturalist & Mystic. Yes! was the only word that came to mind as I reflected on my own life.

I remembered a morning surrounded by humpback whales in the pre-dawn darkness anchored 90 miles off the Dominican Republic. Fishy exhalations of the whales were illuminated in the moonlight and kissed my skin as they drifted in the warm air. As I did morning yoga the whales came closer and closer to the boat. I felt myself open to the Universe, ocean and whales–there was no separation, only perfect communion.  Since then I have known that communion to be as sacred and holy as any experience. It is my touchstone to purpose and presence here on this magnificent Ocean Planet.

There was no conscious memory of how Walter Anderson influenced me, but as I reflect back after viewing his murals and sketches from Horn island, it was as if he was a silent mentor riding an underlying current with me on the journey with whales, dolphins, sea lions, manatees. It is like he has been encouraging me simply from his audacity to do what called him to life.

Who knows how this life journey works. Something guided a friend (can’t remember who) to send me information on the exhibit. And the entire process brought me full circle to a place where I felt the spirit of Walter Anderson saying, “Well done.”

Mural painting by Walter Inglis Anderson in The Little Room

To have such deep love for the planet and all Her creatures and witness the destruction of so much is nearly unbearable. I only hope my work–through words, images, painting–helps connect human animals to that which they are part of–even if they have forgotten. May we all remember…and fall back in love with that from which we come.

Unaware my friend ‘Auntie’ Eydie was taking my photo, the unposed, pure love of his work shines through…in The Little Room.