Wednesday, February 29, 2012

When the Worst Happens

I saw an article in the news. I won’t say what news or what article or when or who because, well, because like my other readings, I protect the confidentiality of my clients. But just to give the circumstances, the story was about a death, one that so far seems a little mysterious. It’s being investigated by the right people, apparently. And there’s also something about not interfering with an ongoing investigation. I won't.

Still, I had questions. I didn’t know the person and as far as I know I don’t have any connection to the person other than noting the story and the pang of sorrow I felt at hearing news of someone dying under a cloud, even a little cloud, of mystery.

There’s a lot of discussion in the tarot readers community about the ethics of doing a reading for a third party. You can imagine the kinds of questions that are common among the very young, the very heartbroken.

“What does X think of me?” “What did X mean when they said that?” “What will X do?” “Will X ever leave Y and be with me?”

These are common questions, like I said. And they have the characteristic of being, well, at best, snoopy. Generally, if you want to know what X thinks, ask X yourself. Of course, it isn’t that easy. But at least it is fair to you and it’s fair to X, whoever they are.

My ethics for privacy don’t just extend to my client. Hunting down Ms. or Mr. X, recording their thoughts with a tape-recorder or their actions with a video recorder or just spying on them with a home-made periscope is a violation of X’s privacy too. And if it’s important to you as my client to have privacy, think how important privacy is to your buddy X. After all, you came to me and asked for information in a reading; X didn’t.

I usually try to rephrase the question, occasionally to the disappointment of a client who really does want me to snoop on X’s most intimate thoughts or feelings. After all, if you really knew what people thought and felt, you might change your actions. Since you’re the client, I reframe the question to something like: How will things work out for you or will you be happy if X takes a certain course of action versus another? It’s pointing the focus of the question back on you without spying on the third party.

And really, it’s your reading, so it makes sense that the reading should be about you, not about anyone else. After all, what is the best thing for you to do in case of one action or another? What if the worst thing should happen, whatever scenario that is?

It’s my own belief that you can’t make anyone think or feel anything unless they decide to do it. Some belief systems augment that with a warning message, “…at least, not without some pretty severe consequences.” So, that old R&B song that goes, “I’m gonna make you love me, yes, I will! Yes, I will!” is at worst unrealistic fantasy and at best, well, the wrong response. If you have to make someone love instead of their choosing to do it themselves, is that really love? There’s a point where your fondest wish could be the other person’s feeling of oppression and worse. So, that’s not love.

Garth Brooks’ country song that says, “Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers,” goes a long way. That’s probably the nicest way of putting the warning to be careful what you wish for. I usually say at the very least, next time I’m going to be more specific. Often what we want is our fantasy, and not the reality of the situation for any of the people involved. Fantasies are fantasies for a reason. They are often unrealistic, unsustainable, short-lived. They often serve their purpose and dissolve, the parts rearranging themselves into a new fantasy.

Fantasies serve a wonderful “what-if” scenario purpose for us to imagine outcomes. But you wouldn’t want someone else barging in on your fantasy to take photographs, at least most of the time. Fantasies are different from having a goal and a purpose for yourself. Fantasies are like reading the funnies in the newspaper. Visualizing yourself as achieving your own goal is much more like pre-planning, like figuring out your next steps towards your own changes.

Just in case the client’s question is about another person and that situation dissolves into something less meaningful than it might have been had things turned out a different way, well, it’s just plain rude to snoop. I have to respect their privacy as much as I respect my client’s privacy.

But when an event is reported publicly as part of the news and, filtering out speculation from facts, you might ask yourself why? There is no way to know first hand what that stranger in the news story was thinking or feeling that led to what appears to be a tragic end. At least, not for me.

I was still moved to wonder what happened though. Since I read tarot, I shuffled my deck and drew three cards. And my first reaction to them was, “Ah.” Ah, I see the sadness and heartache, the realization of truth that was so difficult but taken to heart.

I drew the 9 of Swords, a realization, a wake-up, a truth revealed that dispels all illusions, both good and bad. I drew the 10 of Swords reversed, an inability to end a train of thought or to bring a situation to its logical conclusion, and often with a sense that the truth has somehow betrayed rather than released. I drew the 3 of Swords, three swords of truth piercing a heart in the rain, sadness, sorrow, the need for comfort and succor in difficulties.

Taken all together, I hear the cry of the unhappy person who realizes that in fact this sorrow was not going to end, which renewed the sorrow all the more.

I don’t know if this person’s life ended by their own choice, by accident or at the hands of others. For one thing, that’s what other people are paid to find out and are much better at doing than I am. But in my reading, I read for myself in the end. I wanted to know what happened here and got an answer that was, for a tarot reading, the equivalent of the 2x4 between the eyes.

They’re gone, is the answer. They’re gone. And I’m sorry about that, for a stranger I never knew.

Best wishes.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Delegation

I am a woman of a certain age. It’s a certain age the folks in my family, home and high school class all know. I like calling it “a certain age.” I don’t mind the number. Our western society tells us I should despair in my deterioration. It’s true that I am no longer any good at all at gymnastics and my ability to sprint is greatly impaired by an old injury or two and at least one too many delicious meals.

My friend Erica recently pointed out that I also think everyone is tall. That happened somewhere around my freshman year in high school when I started getting this mysterious pain in my neck. I’d always been one of the stronger kids in school, not necessarily the biggest. I have always had to buy my clothes in the petites department even though I have graduated to women’s petites. It has a nice ring to it, petite. It sounds tiny but in clothing it just means short. Women’s petite means short and fat. There’s no getting around it really, no pun intended. But, in spite of my current clothing department’s limited style and color lines, it is possible to dress a little better than a flour sack. (There’s something about making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear running around in my head, but it hasn’t solidified.)

The game knee slows me down, that’s for sure. My friends often walk too fast for me, even leaving me behind. It happened this weekend. They all made it to the elevators in no time flat. I made it there in no time flat and half. I took another elevator car. It was late in the day. It helped solidified my need to retire to my hotel room after a long day.

I went to a conference as a vendor liaison staff person to help a friend. It’s a little more complicated than being a greeter for a major discount store I refuse to name. It was an honor to be asked. I had a great time. I like new experiences, meeting new people, getting to know new things.

Picture Postcard Tarot
(c) Copyright 2010 Marcia McCord
Those new experiences inspire me. Just this weekend I had two new and interesting ideas, one collaborative effort with a smart friend at the conference and one I haven’t talked about to anyone yet. Sometimes I think the kind of creativity I have is the kind people view with scorn. My creativity is actually synthetic or syncretic. I like to rearrange pre-existing pieces into to new forms rather than starting with a blank canvas. Those new combinations help me understand the nature of the parts better and also the nature of the new thing better. So basically, I feel more comfortable as a collage artist than a portrait painter, more comfortable as a photographer than an abstract artist and even more comfortable enhancing existing software rather than creating all new software. Give me a junk pile and I’ve got art! I’ve got art and a lot of leftover junk. This explains my house actually.

I realized I liked working within existing boundaries to make something different a long time ago. Geometry proofs fascinated me. You know what the start is and you know what the end is and, using a set of rules and lots of possibilities, there are a lot of right answers. Geometry was a real eye-opener for me and my favorite class that year. What if, just what if there were a lot of ways to get the right answer? Wouldn’t that be the BEST?? That’s how I thought of it, a way to be different AND right too without everyone else being wrong. It was perfect in my eyes. That probably set the stage for a lot of the rest of my life.

When I was a computer programmer, I was immersed in the hairy-chested culture of male-dominated geekdom. I don’t mind the hairy-chested ones. I just didn’t want to be one. And that was different but thankfully not unique. In my department of about 100 people when I first started out as a programmer, then a database administrator, there were still about two men to every woman in numbers of technical folks. Some of the older guys weren’t too keen on females in technology.

I remember a guy from another department came to ask us about our databases. He, my manager and I all sat in a little conference room. The visitor asked my boss a question, looking only at him. My boss shrugged and looked at me. I answered. The visitor asked my boss a question and it went on this way for at least 30 minutes with the visitor never once looking at me or talking to me. It was one of the strangest times in my professional life. I had all the answers he wanted but he could not stand that a female was answering. I felt sorry for him. What a handicap he had. He just could not adjust to the change, the “invasion” of women into what had been male territory.

Another part of being a programmer then was the perceived status that a “development” programmer had over a “maintenance” programmer. Development programmers are like those artists who take a blank canvas and from that create what is for the moment a masterpiece. Unlike art, computer programs do not hang on walls to be admired for generations of museum hounds. They have to serve their business purpose. So in spite of their glorious beauty and perfection at their moment of birth, they have to change. Think of it like a baby, since a lot of programmers treat their “offspring” like their own progeny. To get along in the world the baby must become more versatile. Does this mean it is not perfect? (Try not to insult the fawning parents now.) Adding an extra arm and hand would mean that all of baby’s shirts would not fit, resulting in unforeseen wardrobe costs and probably some other trouble. So there is art, too, in maintenance programming. OK, wake up. I’m done with the programming stuff, but you get the idea.

People paid to adapt an existing set of components to new circumstances have to exercise creativity too. They just don’t get the same applause. It’s OK. There’s a lot more adaptation of current things to new circumstances needed than brand new things anyway, seriously.

So, as my new friend Eddie said, there I was (not an exact quote), there I was at the conference on the last day. I had actually left my hotel room well before check-out time, uncharacteristically organized behavior for a fun weekend, and dragging my rollerbag suitcase beside or behind me, I attempted to haul it, my tote, my purse and my bum knee up a few steps. It wasn’t working.

“Do you need some help?”

I turned to see a tall handsome young man with a look of amusement and sympathy on his face.

I flashed to my Dad for a moment. He was so bent on maintaining his independence that he would not accept help even when he needed it. He would not delegate. I want to learn from that. I thought about my satisfaction at being a maintenance programmer, an amateur photographer and Photoshopper, making something interesting out of what I’ve been given already. This was that moment.

I’m a certain age, like I said. It’s not an old age, no matter what you young'uns think. But if I’m successful, that’s where I’m headed. And when I’m old, a long, long time from now, I don’t want to be like my Dad, unable to accept help because it somehow means there is less of me. Nope, I can be smart. I can delegate. I can start practicing that now before I get caught by surprise.

“Yes!” I smiled at my cute knight in shining earrings and t-shirt and conference pass. “You know,” I winked at him as he took my suitcase and I made it up the stairs, pleased at my latest adaptation, “I used to be a young person.”

We both laughed. I thanked him for his gallant and timely save. It was his save but my transition. I went to the conference to pursue growth and new experiences, like the Knight of Wands. I got what I was looking for.

Best wishes.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

At the Carnival

Carnival Season starts on January 6 and ends on Mardi Gras. You might know that already but I didn’t, not until I went to New Orleans on vacation. There I was, smack in the middle of Carnival Season on a guided tour. That’s almost a conflict in terms, carnival and guided tour.

The Hubs and I tend to go on unguided tours. In fact, we tend to get lost at least a couple of times no matter where we go. Even last weekend we had trouble just getting into the car. We hopped into Larry, our trusty VW Jetta named for the patron saint of good parking places. At least that’s what John says. Larry is starting to resemble a couple of Larry’s we knew who weren’t cars who grew pretty cranky in their old age; Larry the car is starting to talk back a little too. Well, then, I remembered I needed to get something in the house and dashed back in, saw a couple of letters I meant to mail and grabbed them, and dashed downstairs and hopped in again. John saw the letters and realized he had something to mail, then he went back into the house. Well, you can imagine if this was a simple shopping trip, meeting the deadlines set by a tour guide, who obviously synchronizes daily with that atomic clock in Colorado that’s supposed to be the most accurate, was challenging to say the least.

Make that worse, those people, well, heck the whole city of New Orleans is in a different time zone from California and when they get up want you downstairs at breakfast at 8 am, that’s, like, 6 am for me. At 6 am unless something extraordinary is going on, I’m California dreaming. This was my first time in New Orleans, so this was pretty extraordinary. So we did actually make it to breakfast almost on time every morning and certainly to our first class in the morning completely on time. Not that we didn’t suffer.

There were a lot of people arriving about the time we did the afternoon before our Road Scholar program started.

“Oh, are you going on a cruise, too?” Apparently, the Holiday Inn Downtown Superdome is a popular jumping off spot for cruises.

“No, we’re with Road Scholar,” which of course sounds like a very elite group. It is, only it’s not the Rhodes Scholar thing people put on their resumes. “It’s like a cruise without a boat,” I explain further. The cruisers’ smiles turn glassy trying to picture that, pretty sure it’s something like having a life preserver and a bed sheet instead of the luxury thing they had paid for.

Instead of the big boat on the sparkling seas, we were treated to a variety of classes, tours and meals all about the arts, history and culture of New Orleans. It’s been a while since I was in an 8:30 am class. I remember being a lot younger and in the right time zone for my sleep patterns then. John is such a great guy, though that during the morning sessions when I started to doze, which is short for the noise a bulldozer makes, he would nudge me before I got up to full throttle. The girls on the ferry were right; I did get the only good one. It seems like there may be something to that sleep-learning thing because I really did get a kick out of the classes and could actually quote some of the lines from the teachers.

We had lectures in the mornings, then tours in the afternoon, then dinner, then an evening class. We did this every night. After a few days of this being on time thing, John and I were getting a little worn. About that time, though, the program leader gave us some unstructured time.
At Cafe Beignet with the Rels

What a relief! John decided to take the rental car back early to save money since it was clear we weren’t going to have a chance to use it again on our own. I hopped the tour bus to the French Quarter.

Ah, the French Quarter! It’s some of the highest land in New Orleans so it wasn’t damaged as much as other areas of the city. We saw plenty of scars from Katrina (the hurricane) elsewhere on tour. The French Quarter however was less affected by flood. That doesn’t mean it didn’t suffer. A lot of people who took refuge in cities away from New Orleans never came back. You can tell. But the French Quarter and New Orleans in general is all about the bounce back.

I ducked down a side street and stumbled into a voodoo shop. What could be more fun in New Orleans? John found me and met me there. So they did have a privately published tarot deck there after all, just not in stock. It will be here soon. We headed towards Royal where the antique shops are and gave an offering to the buskers. I tired of antiques—hard to imagine, I know—and we headed for a place recommended by one of the entertaining speakers in our program, Anne Leonhard. Anne said that everyone knows that Café du Mond is famous for their beignets but the place to go, if only for a hair’s breadth of difference, was Café Beignet. Anne’s no dummy, either. Those deep-fried squares drenched in the finest powdered sugar were heaven. While we snorted confectioner’s sugar all over ourselves, John’s cousins who were also on the tour with us came in and we all snuffled beignets together.

Ah, this, this was the unstructured time I craved. A sleepy cat in the open air café allowed us to approach her Royal presence while she snoozed on one of the heart-backed wire chairs, long since over the newness of tourists making a fuss over her. Time seemed to stand still for us in Café Beignet and the layers of time between 2012 and the 1800’s seemed to shimmer for a moment.

We went so many places, like the city park, the Sculpture Garden, the Art Museum, the National Parks Jazz preservation, the Golden Feather with its Mardi Gras Indians, the architectural tour, a dinner at Paul Prudhomme’s K-Paul’s. But my favorite part was Cooking School. 
Picture Postcard Tarot
(c) Copyright 2010 Marcia McCord
Anne Leonhard was our teacher at The New Orleans School of Cooking. John volunteered to be her assistant. Together in the teaching kitchen they made gumbo, shrimp etouffe and pralines. It was the best food in New Orleans, bar none.

The 6 of Cups is the card of memory. In Tarot it is often portrayed with children giving gifts. Memories can be like that. They can be triggered by gestures and be colored like crayons with broad strokes. The most effective memory triggers are actually smells. The memories they evoke are feelings. So, as soon as I got home and adjusted back to my own time zone, I made my gumbo soup recipe, this time with improved roux the way Anne showed us. Oh, that taste! That smell! It smells like a memory of a carnival of delight!

Best wishes!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Little Salt Spring

Certainly the Ace of Cups in my Florida travels was our visit to Little Salt Spring in North Port near Sarasota. It’s not a place on the tourist maps particularly but it holds treasure. It is not the fountain of youth but more like a portal to the afterlife. It’s The Source, like a James Michener book, the connection and the origin to something much bigger than ourselves, which is the Ace of Cups in the tarot. And we wouldn’t have found it if the Hubs hadn’t been reading the local newspaper.

“I want to go to this Little Salt Spring place,” John said, comfortable in Cousin Margaret’s orange living room with its Dresden blue accents. I like Margaret’s ideas about color. That living room is a place for ideas to be born.

“What Little Salt Spring place?” I wanted to know. I was usually the one with the big ideas about what to do in Florida. I was curious about what caught his eye.

“It’s archaeology,” John said. That was enough for me. The newspaper article talked about trying to raise funds to keep the site going, a constant struggle for archaeologists everywhere. Even scientists have to eat. But this isn’t care and feeding of the scientists. This is about doing the scientific work they need to do to verify what they have and to share it with the community as part of educational outreach.

The contact information they gave was for fund-raising. OK, we agreed, but we want to see the place. Show us the cool stuff. We promise not to touch. Through a bucket-brigade of phonecalls, we finally reached Steve Koski who could just barely fit us in on Thursday afternoon. Perfect. We had no idea what to expect other than, well, it was an archaeology site at the spring, they’d found First People’s burials and notably a huge and beautiful green amulet. It was just the thing for California Jones and Calamity Jane or whoever John and I are when we go adventuring.

With the help, sometimes questionable, of the GPS in my phone whom we dubbed Elphaba or Elph we made it to Little Salt Spring. It’s only a couple of blocks from the Croatian Church; you can’t miss it. We did of course, called Steve (the site manager) and pulled up into a dried clearing with some dismal trailers. Yup, funding issues, for sure.

We found Steve, got his intro to the site with diagrams, history, happy accidents and not so happy ones and the funding pitch. It is too bad that I don’t have a couple hundred grand to toss his way but I’m hoping that little by little, this place can become something more welcoming to the curious public with pleasant amenities like, say, bathrooms.

"Don’t step on the x’s on the floor,” Steve cautioned as he let me into the trailer that had a working bathroom. “That’s where we’ve identified weak spots in the floor and you might go through.” Good to know, I thought.

“Oh, yeah, and I hope you aren’t too squeamish about bugs,” Steve continued, “or, uh, snakes.” Snakes? In the trailers?

“Have you lost any snakes in the trailers lately?” I asked grinning, still in need but judging the risk.

“Well, no, not lost, per se. They come and go.” That’s Florida. I was able to avoid the snakes and the x’s, mission accomplished.

Our next stop was the site itself. We stepped through the palmettos and small trees, again cautioned about snakes, this time about cotton-mouthed water moccasins who will, total pinky swear here, actually leap out to attack you unlike the more live-and-let-live diamond-back rattlesnakes who just want to be left alone.

“The way you can tell if it’s a cotton-mouth,” Steve went on, adjusting his hat, “is that it’s the black snake with the white inside its mouth.” He paused thoughtfully. “Of course, if you can see the inside of its mouth, you’re too close.” This solidified my desire to learn from the mistakes of others, of course. What’s an adventure without an element of danger, after all?

At the end of the narrow trail was our goal, a perfectly round lake with a gently sloping bank that was weedy and full of little fish. We stepped out onto the narrow dock while Steve talked about underwater archaeology, the structure of the spring, how they first found the burials which were in the water on those weedy banks right under our feet and all around the spring. A dark blue heron fished for goodies on the opposite shore.

People and animals have been coming to this spring for thousands of years. Somewhere in time, the people who lived there felt the place was holy and the most beautiful resting site for the dead. They buried tools and other artifacts with their loved ones. Nothing more clearly said to me that they believed in a happy afterlife than looking at the beautiful pool surrounded by trees, visited by animals.

Steve took us back to the trailer that has the bins of the findings from the site so far. Giant sloths and other extinct species had been there. And then there were the people, their tools and most remarkably, the green amulet. The stone is large, tear-drop shaped, greener than green greenstone. It comes from the Carolinas, meaning there was some kind of trade and travel. And it was made thousands of years ago and buried with someone beloved. At least that’s the current theory. Two other amulets have been found like this one in all of Florida but is there certainty? Without funding, Steve, the University of Miami and other people associated with this project can’t afford the carbon dating they need to authenticate their findings. In the meantime, this is the Pool of Treasures!

Appetite for this project waxes and wanes, especially depending on the sympathies of the current university administration. But the vision is tantalizing. Instead of snaky, run-down trailers, what if there was a building that could house a display to show everyone what we know about the First People who came to this spring and thought it sacred? Up to 12,000 years of history is there and so little of it explored, verified and preserved for future knowledge. This isn’t just a swamp in Florida with a handful of bones and an arrowhead or two. This is who we are, who we were and what is still sacred to us as people.

I took a last look at the trailers with their boarded up windows, peeling paint, evidence of mold and envisioned a modest cinder-block structure, able to withstand storms, cool and inviting to eco-tourists and school groups eager to learn about the Florida beneath the surface. I envisioned bathrooms too. I know the best way to help with this project is to write to the university to tell them what a gem they have in this site and in Steve Koski, a modest man whose work on the evidence of the past links us to our essential future. Sponsor this, please.

Best wishes.

**--**--U$ --**--**

Want to learn more about Little Salt Springs? Visit these links and please, every donation and expression of support helps.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Washed Ashore

Where are you from originally? It's such an easy question, such a common conversation opener. And my usual answer is to wink, smile and ask, "How long have you got?"
Tea Tarot
(c) Copyright 2011 Marcia McCord

I don't mean to avoid the question, so to prove it I quickly launch into the abbreviated version of the long story of all the places I've lived. Some of the places sound exotic but aren't; some of them sound dull and are; some of them sound exotic and are. What's hard for me to pin down where my home town is. I've left every place I've ever lived, sometimes purposefully. I think of home towns as being the place where you are familiar with the streets and some of the people still there know you. There aren't many places like that for me. There's certainly no one place that I think of as home other than where I live now, so I've had to redefine what home town means for me.

The place where I spent my childhood was not a place where my family had any roots but it was a place I loved. I think the closest thing to my home town is something like the birds' definition. I have wandered around a long time but like migrating birds, there's a place I go back to. It's Florida, specifically the Gulf Coast below Tampa. That's where we spent our best vacations. That's where I keep returning to.

It seems so trite to love Florida vacations but I don't go there for fantasy theme parks or for golf. I go there for wildlife photography and to dig through the beaches and side roads for evidence of "old Florida," the Florida I knew. Every once in a while, I find it in details that may escape others.

So while we were on our recent vacation, I turned down suggestions to do things like go to art museums. I was focused on my goal to capture images of birds and other wildlife like Fred the Alligator. My parents are gone. My brothers and sisters are scattered. I never knew my cousins. My urge for home and family takes a different form than it does for other people so I go where I felt at home a long time ago and take pictures of the birds who are like family. It's hard to explain to people who do have close family and some identifiable home town that I have to go to Sanibel Island to the wildlife sanctuary. Have to, like a migrating bird. It's a magnetic pull, a force of nature.
Blue Heron, Ding Darling Wildlife Preserve
Sanibel Island, Florida

Recognizing this, years ago when I visited Sanibel I had the opportunity to buy a brick. You may have heard of other "buy a brick" fundraisers. You donate money to a museum or church or ballpark and they laser-cut your name in a brick and place it in the walkway. My brick is at the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum on Sanibel.

When I was a little kid, my mother loved Perry Mason. So we all watched Raymond Burr play Perry Mason. When Perry Mason was no longer a regular TV series, we watched Raymond Burr in Ironsides. If Raymond Burr was in it, we watched it, even in his role as the bad guy in Rear Window. As it turns out, I found out a few more things about Raymond Burr.

A friend of a friend drove him around for a USO show when he was in the Army. He said he was a really nice guy. Raymond Burr's mother played keyboards for the churches on Sundays in the city where I live now and apparently played keyboards during the week for less reputable establishments there too. Even better, Raymond Burr loved Sanibel Island and seashells. It is due largely to his efforts, although certainly not solely to his efforts, that the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum exists at all. In the entryway there is a monument there to Raymond Burr. And just to the left of it, there is my brick.

I took a picture of it this time. It made me think about monuments and permanence in general. What do we leave behind? That's been a recurring theme in my vacation. I look for vestiges of old Florida. I ask "old timers" if they remember what I remember. They are older than I am and yet my memories pre-date theirs.

"I've only been here 32 years," they shake their heads, disappointed that it was not longer. My memories are from 50 years ago. I remember people who are gone, a greatly changed landscape, businesses long out of business, a way of life that no longer exists. But when I go to the shell museum, I know Raymond Burr knew what I knew. That little brick seems like a lasting monument but I'm not fooled. It rides each day upon the sand of a sandbar island, created by a chance connection of currents and river. It could so easily wash away. It means something only to me.

While on Sanibel, I walked from the sea grape and palmetto lined road through the soft, then hardening sand to the turquoise waves of the Gulf. I remembered feeling so connected to spirit some 50 years ago, so clearly, so transforming. I was steps away from where that happened and stepped into the frothy wash of waves, feet sinking slowly into the sand and shells. I prayed for my husband, my friends, my family, my life, my home, my pets, my job, my memories, my future and my past. In that moment, I felt perfectly fine being selfish and praying for my people, my things. As the waves washed over my feet and I felt myself sinking into the beach, I knew that no brick was as important as having this place to come back to or as having those people to pray for. The connections to those we love are not the shells and stones that wash up on our shores. They are the beaches themselves, ever changing and yet enduring. They are the legacy we leave behind, our tarot 10 of Pentacles, the completion of manifestation.

When I pick up seashells, I bring a little of myself home with me. That's where I'm from, originally.

Best wishes.