Saturday, May 14, 2011


What is forgiveness?
Forgiveness is being able to look at your tormentor and say I love you, Thank you for the events that took place because it was exactly the experience I needed to make me who I am, to make me grow, to help me learn.

Holding on to resentment and heart break will destroy you from the inside. I realized the other day that I was holding unforgiveness in my heart. Now, I consider myself to be pretty self-aware, constantly monitoring myself, reminding myself to love, to share, to remain fogive. So when I heard this voice in my head the other day declaring this unspoken, unacknowledged un-forgiveness for someone who had hurt me in the past, I was truly surprised. And I knew I had some work to do.

.......So I went for a walk on the beach.

Every step I took, I spoke the word forgiveness in my mind. What is it really? How could I walk around for years and not know how I truly felt? Obviously I had buried my feelings, hid them even from myself. Forgiveness.The waves lapping at my feet. Forgiveness.The breeze on my face. Forgiveness. The crush of shell under foot. Forgiveness.

I didn't try to force my thoughts. I just kept repeating forgiveness, knowing that the Creator would hear my desire to understand.

On my way back up the beach, I came across one of the many “wish trees”, driftwood “trees” covered in broken shells, placed there (so I've been told) by people making a wish. I think of them as prayer trees, for what are wishes but prayers?

I found a perfect shell to represent my prayer for forgiveness. As I placed it on the tree and said once again “Forgiveness”, I noticed that many of the shells that had been placed on the tree had fallen to the ground. I took a moment and retrieved each shell, placing it back on the tree, thinking of the person who put it there and what they were wishing for and prayed on behalf of each that their desire would be heard and achieved.

I still had no answer to my question but as I walked up the beach back to my car, I felt a calmness and a knowing that I had been heard and the answers would come. I cleared my head and focused on the sand beneath my feet and found 3 shark's teeth. Happy dance!!

The next morning at work. I log into my email and there is an article waiting in my inbox from a website called by Collin C. Tippin titled “An Article on Forgiveness”. You can imagine the chill that went down my spine when I saw that.

Collin speaks of radical forgiveness, “a shift in perception that allows you to understand that in truth, that looked at from the perspective of the “spiritual big picture”, nothing wrong ever happened.”

So in other words, every lie, every broken promise, every heartache, every hurt that is every inflicted upon us is just as necessary for our growth in life and our happiness as is every spoken truth, every promise kept and every I love you.

So we should love those who have hurt us, thank them for the opportunity to grow, for the opportunity to love more fully. For a broken heart is made whole again through loving and as I am learning, forgiving.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible. -Marion C. Garretty

If I had to pick my very best shelling buddy, I'd pick my mom. With her casual slow pace up the beach, she helps me to remember to slow down and enjoy my surroundings an soak up the atmosphere of the beauty around us. In this fast paced life, its good to be reminded of that.

Mom with her very first shark's tooth found at Barefoot Beach. After searching and searching, and nearly giving up, she was finally rewarded with a nice sized shark's tooth.

She nearly cried the night she found her first perfect angel wing.

Mom searching in the shallow for treasure.

She devolped quite an eye for finding some really cool things. Here she is holding the sting ray barb she found.

Close up view of the stingray barb. (Remember to click on the photo for a close up view)

One really cold morning back in January, she found this huge live horse conch on the beach. A nice young man offered to take our picture with her fantastic find. I didn't know why he was chuckling when he handed me the camera back until I downloaded the photos and saw the uber excited look on Mom's face! Her child like enthusiasm and excitement is infectious.

The same morning, further down the beach she found another huge live horse conch! She was so excited!

Mom at the lighthouse on Sanibel Island.

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So on this Mothers Day~I dedicate this blog to my Mom. I wouldn't be here without her...And I wouldn't want to be. I love you Mom! Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

On the Hunt for...Shark's Teeth!

If you are looking for a fun way to spend the day or just an afternoon, then make your way to one of the beautiful beaches of Manasota Key, FL. As soon as you get to the barrier island off the coast of Englewood, you know these people value what's important in life~seashells!

The island has no traffic lights, no high rises and lots of charm. There are four parks to visit on the island, Englewood Beach, Manasota Beach, Blind Pass and Stump Pass. I had heard about all the shark teeth to be found on Manasota Key and had to see for myself. So a month ago some friends and I headed out on a roadtrip, on the hunt for shark teeth and other unique fossils washed ashore from the ancient fossil beds just off shore. 

We met up with friend and fellow blogger, Karen Blackford, of The Essential Beachcomber, who gave us a few pointers on finding the shark teeth and she brought along a shell scoop for scooping up loads of shell crush to sift through on our search.

The first thing I noticed about these beaches is the color~grey to almost black. The darker the sand the more likelihood there is of finding fossils.

At the end near the pass, we found sweet spot of shell crush, mounds of larger crushed shell that is loaded with shark's teeth.
(click on the photo for a closer view)

After a long afternoon of searching, we came home tired, sunburnt and happy and loaded down with cool fossils and shark teeth. Take a look~
All shapes and colors~

These are puffer fish mouth plates.

Petrified Wood

Larger Partial Teeth

I decided Mom had to see this! I called up Karen and she met us there yesterday for another hunt!

The crushed shell lined the beach. There were so many shark teeth that it was not uncommon for us to find 4, 5, or even 6 in a single pass! Mom started the day with 2 1/2  teeth in her collection.....

...and came home with 157 from Manasota Key!

And while I thought I had had a good day the last time with over 100 perfect shark's teeth...

I blew it out of the water this time by finding 247!

Karen found this big beauty!

I'm not quite sure what this is~I think it the tooth of some large mammal, maybe a horse. I was taken aback by the beautiful black and white detail~can you say pendant?

I'm pretty sure from what I've been told this is Mammoth tooth. You can see the layers in the enamel of the tooth. This is a beautiful specimen, with streaks of gold through the white parts of the tooth.
(Remember to click the photo for a closer view~this one deserves a closer look.)

Other odd fossils and larger partial shark teeth.

Some of my beauties!

The different colors in the teeth are caused by the type of sediment it nestled in for its long sleep, which can be as long as millions of years.

Manasota Key is my newest favorite place to visit. With its old school charm and fabulously fun beaches, here's another to add to your list of beaches to see!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Low Tide at the 10 Spot

Wow! The 10 Spot was Alive last night! We lucked out and hit the beach just as low tide was peaking.

It was the lowest tide I have ever observed at the 10 Spot and what a treat! There were lots of live lightning whelks and even a few pear whelks out and about. Usually at a low tide, I can find the lightning whelks by looking for the tip of the shell sticking up out of the sand like this...

But last night they were all on the prowl, roaming around in the shallows waiting for their photo ops!

And there were lots of them~

Live pear whelks are not as common as the live lightning whelks, so finding a couple of these guys was a real treat!

I also found my first ever live king's crown! What a beauty she is~look at her pretty spots!

Then I spotted a surf clam trying to make his way across the sea floor~

But the highlight of the evening by far was getting to see and hold a huge live shark's eye! I noticed him as I was filming the clam, just a couple feet away and he was gigantic! I had never seen one as big as this and never a live one either. As you can see, the live animal is probably twice as big as its shell. That's because its inflated with water. When the water is expelled the entire animal can retract into its shell.


I have said it before and I will say it again "I LOVE low tide shelling!" It is so much fun to see all these creatures alive and well and living on our wonderful sea shore!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The 10 Spot

Little Hickory Island Beach Park, more affectionately known as "the 10 spot", is the 10th and last free beach access as you travel north on Little Hickory Blvd from Bonita Springs towards Ft Myers Beach. Its easy to miss since it sits in the fork of the road as you leave the island and head over the Estero Bay Bridge.

The best parking is across the street from the beach in Beach Park North. It offers free parking with plenty of spaces, covered picnic tables and grills.

If you prefer to park closer to the beach, and don't mind the small hourly fee, park on the beach side. Here you will find bathrooms, showers, and more picnic tables.

My beloved 10 spot~

I discovered this little jewel of a beach last spring. Two rock jetties surround crystal blue water creating a lagoon like setting with native sea oats...

...and dune sunflowers as a backdrop.

And if you are lucky, you'll get to see one of the gopher tortoises that make their homes here. After frolicking in the "lagoon" and climbing around the rocks, follow the trail up over the hill and there....
you will find...

....a sheller's paradise!
 Just watch the video and see if you dont agree!

With so many wonderful shells, you can see why any sheller would love this beach. But even if I never found another shell there, this would still be a favorite of mine for its sheer beauty. With its rocky outcrops, crystal clear water, flocks of birds and pristine white beaches, it is the pure definition of paradise. I have tried to capture the awesome beauty of this beach~Enjoy!