Tag: conscious change

Stay with Yourself

Stay with Yourself

The path of the Soul leads us ever onward to a clearer expression of our true Self. That sounds wonderful, but the journey involves stripping away everything that isn’t who we are…in our truest expression of that spark of Cosmic Light. 

In other words, it can be crazy-difficult to become real.

Thankfully, we don’t walk the path alone. When we pause, breathe, and gaze into the face of the Unknown, we begin to see allies, helpers. My greatest allies and teachers are found in Nature. Trees, wild creatures, rocks…entire ecosystems speak to me, calm me, and help me feel less alone. Yours might be human friends or music. We all have allies and sometimes it takes a little work to find them…or let them find us. Sometimes it’s as simple as saying, “I need help!”

Almost every day, I spend time listening and allowing guidance to arise. It helps me navigate this intense time of change. Most of us are challenged with the long-term stress event caused from a tiny virus, but that’s just one expression of the many changes happening with this beautiful planetary evolution taking place-an evolution I consider to be of deep spiritual healing for our planet and all Her beings. But let’s face it, growth is rarely easy because it involves releasing that which no longer serves us…even if it has been a big part of our lives.

It could be a person we release, an old version of our self we say goodbye to, an old habit that is holding us back. Evolving might involve a move to a new place geographically or simply a new place within our own skin.

I wrote a few weeks ago about a large rock in the middle of a creek teaching me to stay present with myself. That teaching has taken root and expanded. Last week, a week of truly hellish pressure from many parts of my life, I kept hearing, ‘stay with yourself.’ As external events unfolded, I found myself in the future or the past and that inner voice would come alive….‘stay with yourself.’

When we allow our minds to race into the future or stay stuck in the past, we totally abandon our self in the present moment. My experience was like being a child in a really scary place and having the adults rush ahead or backwards to tend to random events while leaving me alone and afraid. ‘Stay with yourself,’ I kept hearing. ‘Stay with yourself.’

When I can breathe in this moment and be aware that I am breathing, I become master of my life in that moment. Thich Nhat Hanh reminded us of that truth. So, my goal is simple: breathe in and know that I am breathing in. I practice this on my walks in Nature these days and it makes all the difference. I’m not running in fear to the future or the past. I’m just ‘breathing my body,’ recognizing the beauty of the trees or the river, the otter or elk or rock…or this life form known as Simone. 

True transformation is wildly supported as we learn to stay with our self. 

Rock in the River

Rock in the River

One of the reasons I enjoy fly fishing is experiencing the deep connection I have to water. In particular, wading the mountain streams creates an opportunity to be totally present and viscerally connected to the clear, cold water.

With moving water and slippery rocks, it’s imperative to pay attention. A wading staff helps as does regular yoga practice, but it’s still very easy to succumb to gravity and the constant force of moving water to become more viscerally connected than I want. Wading with intention.

It’s not just intending to stay upright. It’s also purposefully noticing each rock, gravel bed, root, overhanging branch, movement under the water, insects hatching, and rising fish kissing the surface. Every part of who I am becomes engaged in the process known as fly fishing.

But to be honest, the time spent in the creek never feels complete unless I sit on a rock in the creek just to observe and breathe. Those are the sweet moments when I can let go and be present—meld into the elements and recognize the Oneness of all life.

This past Christmas day I delighted in several hours of visiting my favorite little mountain creek. At one point, my back began to complain and I felt compelled to sit on a rock. After securing the fly line and hook, I found a nice rock and commenced to enjoy true stillness of body and mind. As if often the case, a teaching began to emerge.

I noticed the rushing water swirling around the boulder, around my booted feet. How long have you withstood the force of rushing water? Look how connected to Earth you are. You let everything just go around you without being moved. You are an amazing rock!

My mind needed that lesson. Too often I allow the calmness and stillness I practice cultivating within my mind to be interrupted by thoughts that come and go. Ever since then, when I find my mind distracted or going down some ridiculous rabbit hole, I ask myself, where is the rock? I laugh and report, way back up the river. It’s a way to monitor the mental chatter and multitude of times that old habitual thoughts and worries take me far away from being grounded and centered; take me far away from myself.

The rock in the river has become a touchstone, pun intended, to see if I am present with myself or if my mind has wandered downriver to some swirling eddy filled with debris. 

Long After

Long After

The clear, cold water moves through me still. Long after four blissful hours are over there remains inner clarity and flow. My cells were changed, cleansed, and made new. The trout swim within me; I am part of the river, still with them. 

I close my eyes and sense the inner sparkle. Things were laid down in that river; burdens left behind to be carried on the currents of flowing water…down, down, down over rocks and waterfalls, scrubbing away the heaviness so that by the time they reach the sea, those burdens are only sparkles of light, released from constriction, freed from bondage.

I give thanks for wild places.

Path of Soul

Path of Soul

Over the past several months I have been doing a practice twice a day. Once during my morning dedication time and once during the afternoon or evening, I envision my ancestors standing with me. I think of ancestors as all life that has lived before me…humans, animals, rocks, plants. I equate the word ‘ancestors,’ in this instance, with ancient wisdom. So twice a day I close my eyes and see all this amazing Wisdom standing with me, surrounding me, and together we call in the Path of my Soul. I ask them to open the way for the work I came here to do and to draw to me the Path that best supports the intention of my Soul’s journey.

This started when I found myself at a loss for how to proceed in my journey after dedicating the past 16 years of my life to photography, writing and creative efforts to help people awaken to Earth’s Wisdom and Beauty. Almost two years ago I arrived at what I consider the prime destination for everything to come together—living on land that was cared for by the traditional custodians, The Cherokee, and the place that resonated with my soul since I was a child and called me over and over, back to these sacred lands. 

Ireland is the Original Soul home for me and has awakened me in this lifetime to remember so much, but that’s another story. And I couldn’t move to Ireland, so the way became clear as I listened to the question, Where have you wanted to live since childhood? The land and home where I live is in the mountains of Western North Carolina with the Great Smoky Mountains my view from this little mountain of green and fog and magic.

When I started standing with my Ancestors and calling in the Path of Soul, I felt supported by eons of Wisdom. Much of the fear and concern about my direction was eased as I leaned into that lineage of support. And doors opened to new and exciting possibilities. But the fear does creep back in at times.

Last night was such a time. I slept soundly until about 1.30 am and awoke to the fear voices asking all their questions that can send me spinning. I wrote in my journal, centered myself and finally turned off the light, laid back down and heard this question: What does my soul look like? I had never considered the question because the soul is such a vast and deep Mystery. But since sleep was eluding me, I figured…why not?

I settled under the covers, closed my eyes, and asked my Soul to step to the front of my consciousness. It was as if a clear bubble of light enclosed me and every beautiful place in Nature was contained in It. My thoughts calmed, the fear voice quieted, and I simply observed. I saw…no, felt…the Oneness of all Life. I felt how I am a part of everything and truly there is no separation. It reminded me of a statement Ram Das made once: “We’re all just walking each other home.” 

Many times in the past I have asked for my Soul to guide me, to align me with my life’s Path of service but never thought to ask It to show me what It looks like. I’m guessing this is unique for each of us depending on where we focus our love…where we direct our creative energies.  This is possibly because our Soul is always whispering direction, place, situation, actions.  Sometimes we hear them, sometimes we might not.

If we can follow that which calls us, I believe we find our Soul Path. For me it’s Nature and connecting deeply with It. And helping others see the beauty of It. Spirit manifested through Nature….or God, the Universe, the Creator…whatever name you might use to describe the Creative Source. That’s it for me. Deepening with this Essence—Deepening with Nature—is my intention, purpose, heart’s desire…for that’s where I am most authentically at home in my skin.

As I walked in waders carrying fly fishing gear today, I saw some of the most magnificent places on a trail that runs beside a creek in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was a tough 6 ½ miles but I kept flashing back to the visualization I had during the early morning hours of my Soul and as I walked, I allowed that to return. To feel the Oneness, that I am a part of such beauty, brought so much peace.

I suspect the Soul provides creative energy. Maybe that’s what it is…Creative Force. The more I allow myself to listen to that Creative Force, the happier and more peaceful I am. 

Late this afternoon, after tying a few new flies with crazy colors and patterns (very non-traditional flies that are simply fun practice) I sat in stillness and listened…just listened. I felt compelled to go into Child’s Pose, a yoga posture of surrender. In doing this, it felt like surrendering my ego/personality self to my Soul Self, letting the Soul lead me instead of trying to control everything that makes my life.

For the past 36 years I’ve been seeking to know my Soul, to walk the Path that reveals the Mysteries of Life. The more I learn the simpler it seems—surrender the ego and live in Oneness. There are many, many ways to get to this point; in the end, I suppose this is where we all meet.

What is Your Message to the Earth?

What is Your Message to the Earth?

I love to walk at a very beautiful place in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I go there regularly and have started picking up trash there because the first mile of trail is used by tubers on the creek and they are really being litter bugs this year. It’s been horrible to see the trash they leave behind.

Yesterday I picked up five bags of litter in that mile and today I thought there wouldn’t be as much. There wasn’t until I got to a popular viewing area. There I found a mound of trash…but it was from someone taking it out of the creek. And they had other piles created from their efforts along the creek.

While I was so happy that others are taking an interest in keeping our beautiful creek/trail clean, I wondered if humans would ever wake up. Can they not see the beauty they are trashing? And it led to this question: What is your message to the Earth? What do your actions say? And I put it to a favorite song in this little video.