The Paths We Tread

The Paths We Tread

During this long Threshold experience there has been much time to reflect on this juncture in life. For over two years there has been intense consideration but in reality the question Why am I here? has echoed for many years.

I have followed my heart, followed the guidance I feel, and it led me on a fascinating journey. It started while in high school working at a local state park in environmental education which progressed to attending college and majoring in Outdoor Recreation Administration which led to seven years working as a state park naturalist which led me to deeper discovery in life when I had an awakening that took me away from everything familiar at age twenty-five.

Because self-reflection was so useful for my own inner growth, I choose to attend graduate school majoring in Counseling which led me to work in the fields of addictions, children and adolescent therapy and family therapy. To be an effective therapist I kept going deeper which led me to massage and bodywork.

The deep healing I experienced as I went further into my depths was so profound I wanted to be able to offer that to others so that led me to massage school, Reiki master training, Polarity Therapy Training and all of that was so profound so I worked for ten years as a massage and bodywork therapist.

But the part of the path that was missing in my work was nature. I spent a lot of time in nature—hiking, cycling, paddling, diving—but my work was indoors and there wasn’t a connection with nature and healing in the work I offered people.

I always promised that if I ever had the financial support I would stop working indoors and dedicate my life to connecting people with nature. Then I inherited a large piece of land, sold it and was able to fulfill that promise.

I stopped ‘working’ for a living and started giving for living. I photographed beautiful places—both on land and underwater—met amazing creatures that allowed me entry into their realm and through these amazing experiences kept journals and wrote about the inner transformation that happened every time I submerged into underwater caves, made contact with humpback whales underwater, swam with dolphins pushing against me in their pod, witnessed lavender mountain sunrises, saw the birth of baby sea turtles, had manatees rest their heads on my shoulder…amazing experiences happened when I stepped out in faith to fulfill the promise of helping connect nature and humans.

During this time I spent a year documenting the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. I traveled from the mountains of North Carolina to the Gulf Coast each month and spent a week photographing and creating videos of seven beaches from Fort Morgan, Alabama to Ft. Pickens, Florida.

Several books were produced, mostly by my own financing, ranging from a child’s book on the Gulf Oil Spill, children’s books on sea turtles and manatees to short essays on profound interactions with ocean wildlife complete with photographs I took. One of my books—the most-sold one—was created by listening to the wisdom animals shared…Manatee Mindfulness and Other Wildlife Wisdom.

A lot has resulted from fulfilling that promise and now the time comes for another leap. Guidance has been to go deeper with Nature, to connect people with the wisdom teachings of wildlife. During one meditation I heard, You went out and connected with the animals and places, now you must teach what you learned to those willing to listen.

Not the most specific instructions but I did begin writing a course in self-study called, Deepening with Nature, which will  eventually become an e-book people can download and use for their own deepening experiences. The other piece will be workshops and retreats designed to help people connect deeper with Nature and each other.

During this time of pause to let go of the old and clear out space for the new, ample time for reflection has put some interesting experiences in my path.

One has been delving into the last few years of Freddie Mercury’s musical career and while I respect and generally adore Freddie Mercury and his music, it is the final years of his writing and singing that have touched me deeply. His love of opera motivated him to follow his passion to write and perform duets with opera diva Monserrat Caballe.

His advancing illness eventually kept him from performing yet he was determined to go into the studio and record tracks that his band mates in Queen could finish after his death. He knew he would never hear the final music yet the songs were coming through him and he wanted to give them to the world.

The album the band released four years after his death contains some of the songs he left behind with his piano and voice. Other tracks were recorded by the other members of Queen and then mixed. It is some of the most moving music I’ve ever heard, especially knowing how it was created and with passion not only from Freddie but his friends who added their instruments and voices…and love.

Can you imagine the loyalty for your path to keep going, to keep sharing under such hardship? He inspires me every day to listen deeply to that which wants to be birthed through me.

Another recent experience that has been helpful is a book I just finished today by a cave diving instructor of mine, Jill Heinerth. Her new book, Into the Planet, is about her life as a cave diver—and very much worth reading. (I couldn’t put it down).

As I read her stories, her passion and vision was so evident. I heard myself asking, What is my vision? What is my passion? I love to cave dive but there is no way I would ever explore and go through the hardships required to do that sort of work. And yet, I have done deep exploring…within myself.

Too often we fail to give ourselves credit for the intense, challenging, courageous work we do when we make the commitment to grow. The awakening that happened when I was 25 years old was the first major leap inward. It was my introduction to ‘cave diving’ within the cave that is me. And even though I am a certified open water diver/instructor and certified cave diver and side-mount cave diver, the most incredible experiences from my life have been the ones where I unearth treasures buried deep within myself.

Usually experiences in nature have prompted the inner leaps and treasure hunts. Each outer leap of challenge such as learning to scuba dive, learning to cave dive, required mastery of myself. I’m not claiming to be a master in those areas but rather saying they compelled me to learn self-mastery.

It’s not so exciting or adrenaline-pumping to read about someone’s personal, challenging, courageous inner journey through their life but those journeys are just as important as the challenging experiences extreme explorers have that take them to the edge. Anyone that makes the commitment to grow faces many experiences that take them to the edge of what they know and their ability to navigate the dark, uncharted inner realm.

The outer experiences of learning to open-water dive and learning to cave dive compelled me inward, called me deeper as did experiences with humpback whales, manatees, dolphins, sea lions, mountains, streams….my outer ‘lite’ explorations pushed me to depths of connection that forever altered my life and hopefully, by sharing them, the lives of those reading about them or viewing my photographs.

We can stand in awe of what people accomplish in the fulfillment of their life purpose and what they do in the realm of exploration and be inspired by it, but let us not forget our own amazing capacity to take the inner journey that opens us to uncharted landscapes, challenges, battlefields, and heights and depths the soul can reach when given the opportunity to shine through the experience of being human.

I bow to all those brave humans who dare to dive into the depths of themselves, to the very edge of what they know, and press onward through darkness to discover their inner light. You….we…are the ultimate explorers.

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The album that has simply blown me away….Made in Heaven, released by Queen in 1995. When you think of Freddie writing the songs and recording the tracks….and then his band mates finishing it after his death to honor him….I am in awe. And the music is fantastic!

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