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  • Writer's pictureClearlyCrystal

Sometimes, you just have to stop and look at the shells.

Updated: Sep 5, 2022

You know how the saying goes to ‘stop & smell the roses?’

This is my version.

During the hottest, weirdest days of this past summer 2020, I couldn’t escape my own brain, so settled for nearby sand. Sure, I’m blessed to be so coastal, that I can just flip flop over to a nearby beach. Unfortunately, wasn’t exactly in the mindset of being thankful & so easily took it for granted. Instead, I was dreaming of a life of us starting over somewhere in a magical universe, as if a pandemic can be avoided anywhere, but a totally different life; preferably with chickens & goats. Contrary to what tourists envision, Coastal locals sometimes see sand as a trip to the carwash or dreaded gritty bedsheets. As a child, a teen, and a mom, the beach had always been my favorite place to re-energize. This mindfunk was wallowing in a negative space, as my non-profit career came to a pandemic hault. My job was eliminated due to Covid’s reduction in the non-profit world, & for this brief moment in time, my heart was buried in sand. Normally, a hop on a paddleboard would fix this need to be solo & I could hop back on shore to play & soak up rays of vitamin c. There was that minute when life lacked beauty even for this sparkliest flamingo you’ll ever meet. I buried all of this in trying to preserve any source of normalcy for my twins; mom squad goals.

Escaping outdoors for a flashlight/night painted rock hunt or a challenge to find the tiniest possible seashell, became therapy. Not just for me, but these moments were when my daughters found the words to share with me about their deepest dreams and darkest fears. For the first time in a bit, they looked almost free from such an infected 2020. There were smiles sunkissed on our souls and peace beyond the splattered freckles on our faces. Camping, rock hunting, sand sifting became our family’s breath of life again.

Put your beach chairs aside & to roll out the towels. “Ew, it’s sandy, hey that’s my towel, but I want to dig my hole until it hits water, ugh” is basically what I received instead of my envisioned mom genius. Lay on your bellies like a sea turtle & move your arms slowly paddling the sand. “What? The people around us will think we’re crazy, I just want to go back to school, can we just go back home to air conditioning?” It wasn’t the easiest sell, but when they realized it was actually relaxing, it was like clearing a whole new canvas…rolling over an entire layer of time standing still on the beach. Put your chin on the towel and just look even closer at the sand, like a sand fiddler looks at the world. You’ll see something you’ve never seen before. Obsessed. The tiny sand particles suddenly became an epiphany of conversation. How the sea grinds down the shells over so much time, existentially thinking of how long these stunning miniature particles have been here waiting to be uncovered, what they were part of in their journey, and what their story was. When we go home from the beach, they stay there for years and years. Mindblown, this all happens whether humans flip flop over them on the beach or not.

Now, stop and find the tiniest shells you can find. Yes, I was planning to put these tiny beauties in my resin creations, but their beauty is what allures me to imagine their own stories, to showcase them in pieces I create, to preserve their magical existance. So many tiny bags, full of the tiniest delicate shells we had ever seen. Found right in front of our noses, laying like a sea turtle, on a beach towel I have had for years and clearly took for granted. We walk right over these tiny stories and typically never take the time to realize how pretty they are, there are so many, it’s hard to stop picking them up. These were the conversations on car rides home from the beach, very different from a lifetime of beach combing trips, very different from anything we experienced in our BC lives (Before Covid). Also very liberating to find life beyond the death of our lives before Covid. Pretty sure the beach bums socially distanced next to us indeed thought we were a bit loco, but those moments went from remembering weird pandemic days to monumental moments in my life.

My mother, a cancer survivor, is a walking miracle herself & loves to join us in this visual treasure hunt. She finds this coastal peace on walks with us; finding shells, finding such beauty in the pieces usually discarded as broken. Now visualized into a potential family heirloom. Salty pieces of driftwood, the hues of moss. This is what my grindaddy would sit and do for hours with me. Then, an anxious teen anticipating what to do next and now only taking 40 + years to realize, he saw that in sunsets, in the sand, in pieces he would collect from the ocean…so profound. Many moons ago, his ashes were spread on the coast of the Outer Banks because it was his very favorite magical place. Realizing my belief that his simplistic beautiful soul is in all the magic I capture in these tiny pieces we find. Whether we were camping or beachcombing this past year, conversations are richer when we look for the gorgeous moss hues, the intricate detail on falling leaves, snowflake magic landing on your glove. My girls and I learned how to look for the non-traditional beauty in what is always around us instead of looking for the potentially infectious or dangerous.

This was Clearly Crystal.

Just one miraculous tidbit of nature can bring out a feeling of peace,

a reminder of the beauty that does exist in a world that feels icky & chaotic. It returns a positive lens, meaningful conversation. Find just one tiny particle that can be part of something even more beautiful. I encourage you to stop and take a therapeutic moment for yourself, to feel that subtle breeze, notice a tiny pink sand particle, gorgeous hues on a tiny piece of moss, on a tree that you have pretty much seen every day. In a difficult moment, visualize what you can’t physically see. Find your naturapathy (my totally invented word for therapeutic nature). Instead of taking everything you own in your SUV to the beach, lay on a towel, like a sea turtle, stop and look a little closer. If you find a tiny natural treasure, contact me.

I’ll make you something beautiful to preserve that feeling.

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