While the majority of gals in their twenties (I am beginning this entry in this way mainly so I can emphasize that I am in my twenties, something I will only be able to do for 10 more months and twenty-four days, four hours, and twenty-seven minutes), may be out at the bars, or curled up at home with their partners and their newborn, or perhaps they would be likely to be in attendance at a summer barbecue, I, on the other hand, have spent my Saturday evenings for the past three and a half months educating the public about some of our most precious endangered species, sea turtles. Now may be a good time to tell you that my passions lie with dancing hip hop, outdoor exploration, and animals. If you have no concern for living creatures on planet Earth other than humans, SPOILER ALERT: you will not relate to my writings (at first, anyway).
Back to my Saturday nights-- The past year has been an exciting one for me. (This is where I enter my leap of faith story. If you cannot be bothered with so much reading, please jump down to the photo of Amanda the sea turtle). My business that began in my mother's basement and came with a salary that did not even hit $15,000 in the first year had actually reached over $300,000 in annual sales. I had put systems into place that allowed for me, the owner, to manage my managers, put out fires, and, other than that, generally sit back. Anyone with a logical and reasonable mind would be thrilled with this set up and see all of the potential that came with the ever-growing business. Me? Well, I was miserable. Even the smallest, most simple of task for the business seemed to drain every energy source I had because I had already discovered my reality. My reality was that I was ready for the next step. I felt as though I had mastered my business and I wanted to know what was next?
I am going to digress for a moment but I promise to circle back. It is my belief that if anyone is wondering what they should "do with their life", the answer can be found by remembering what it is that he/she wanted to do/be/see as a child. Our purpose is present from day one. Through conditioning and all of the other experiences we have throughout life, including the development of the ego, we may lose sight of something that was once so clear. Once I realized, I wanted more in life than I created, I took a journey backwards to my childhood. That is a simple way of putting the spiritual journey I began in 2011. It was not until 2015 that I was ready to pursue my purpose.
As a child, I wanted to be a veterinarian. I got into school and realized that I was not very math or science minded. My dream of becoming a vet quickly flew away as dreams do when you think of terms of can and cannot. While my dream was not present in my conscious mind, I ended up working with animals through my business. Through my business, a client sent me to volunteer at an animal hospital in India, and through my business coach, I was trained in the art of energy work. This sequence of events paired with other series of events resurfaced my dream--I wanted to work hands on with animals! Now, more of my purpose had awakened through the upside to conditioning with my hippie parents, Montessori education, and gift of time in the outdoors. These experiences caused me to also root my passion in conservation. So, I knew that I wanted to work hands on with animals and I wanted to "make a difference" in conserving what was left of our environments and the species that live there. And then the search began! I narrowed it down and knew that I wanted to work hands-on with endangered species, but where? how? Paired with my love for critters, creatures, and the outdoors is my calling to the ocean. My mother grew up with the Pacific Ocean and my father and stepmother grew up with the Atlantic Ocean and my connection to each is strong. I decided that I would want to work with oceanic conservation and restoring the oceans to what they once were. Lofty goals, but that is just me.
I began researching. The Internet is really cool. In a previous writing, I moaned and groaned about the overabundance of information on the Internet, but I have to pause and thank it for being invented because when I am clear and focused, my Google searches are magical. I realized I would want to be in California or Florida and began writing to different centers. I started corresponding with a sea turtle hospital in Juno Beach, FL in September of 2014. In March of 2015, I had closed my business, packed my vehicle with the necessary items, including my best friend/a Chesapeake Bay Retriever named "Sedge", and I was on my way to Florida. In other writings I will undoubtedly elaborate on some of these amazing aspects of my life that I just breezed over. In the comments section, tell me if you would like to hear about anything in particular. (Gasp, that sentence just reminded me that people may, at some point, be reading this? GASP, that one just reminded me of something scarier, that no one may want to read any of this. Shhh ego, keep writing...)
Once I scored the coveted position of sea turtle rehabilitation volunteer, the volunteer coordinator soon realized that I was very enthusiastic (a.k.a. annoying). This has neither been confirmed nor denied but because of this (over)zealous behavior, she asked me if I would like to participate in "Turtle Walks" during this year's nesting season. Now, for those of you who are not sea turtle hospital volunteers in Juno Beach, Florida, you may not know that being part of Turtle Walks is reserved for volunteers who have been with the hospital for a minimum of 6 months, which I had not. My ego loved this... I was so excited to be let into this group. When the volunteer coordinator let me know that the day they needed help with was Saturday night, my ego poked back in to remind me they most likely could not find enough people willing to give up their Saturday night social lives, but I did not pause on that thought for long because I was incredibly excited.
For the months of June and July, I had the honor of speaking to the public in our very beautiful classroom with my co-presenter who was a well-seasoned Turtle Walk volunteer. We had a Powerpoint Presentation that was important for educating the public but, in reality, a time kill while our "scouts" were out on the beach with night scopes searching for "our turtle"... did I mention that we are all dressed in all black? Once the scouts found a turtle at the proper stage of nesting, they would signal to us via walkie-talkie and we would lead the group down to the beach to witness one of the more beautiful experiences given to us by the ocean. I think all of the Loggerhead sea turtles that nest on our beaches were aware of my preferred bedtime because each Saturday night, we got an "early turtle". Because the females nest at night, when the beach is very dark, our program could go well past midnight, but the lady turtles who like to nest on Saturday night had my back.
Once the Turtle Walk program had died down, we received the announcement that we were beginning a new program, "Hatchling Release". The Turtle Walk crew was asked first if they wanted to volunteer for this program and I quickly replied asking if I could do Saturday nights?! Clearly, sea turtles and education are my preferred Saturday night activities.
I love hatchlings. They are tiny... and cute... and tiny. It amazes me that something so tiny and cute will one day grow to 200-1,500# (depending on the species). Because this program had anything to do with hatchlings, I was more encouraged to continue spending my Saturday evenings at the turtle hospital. This program consisted of an hour-long classroom presentation, a "Turtle Yard" tour introducing the guests to our sea turtle patients and some of the common conditions we see, and then we take the hatchlings down on the beach to be released into their ocean home. Last Saturday, as the other volunteers and I were congregating in the Turtle Yard before our guests arrived (the two ladies I volunteer with on Saturday nights must feel similarly to me about the fun we have because all three of us always show up almost a half hour before we are required to be there), and I had a deep longing to cuddle with one of the turtle patients. This is something I really should not admit because so much of what we do is educating the public about keeping wild animals wild. However, sometimes, when you love something so much and your learned form of expression is a cuddle, then you may have this desire. Word from the wise: do not give in. Cuddling sea turtles is not a thing. However, this desire is fulfilled when you get to hold a hatchling in your hand for feeding time (hatchlings in our rehabilitation department) or to put back into the ocean (hatchlings from our research department) and I am very thankful for those moments.
Last Saturday evening, I presented in the classroom. Later that evening, one of the guests came up to me and told me how much she enjoyed my presentation. She told me, "It's obvious how much you love them, and that is what makes your presentation great." These are important words for all of us and a great validation for my leap of faith. When you love what you are doing, others take notice. I may not have aced science or math and I am not a veterinarian but I wanted to work hands on with an endangered species so I went for it. I may not be a Marine Biologist or know all there is to know, but I love the turtles, and that is what makes my Saturday nights great.
It is a beautiful thing, this moment, as I sit under a pavilion sandwiched between Loggerhead Marinelife Center and the Atlantic Ocean during one of the stereotypical Florida afternoon storms during hurricane season and I reflect that last year, during Fall Equinox, I planted the seed asking to become a volunteer here. Just one year has past, and here I am... dreams do come true.
If you don't know, now you know...
Above you heard me say we were dressed in all black, had night scopes, and that the nesting Loggerheads wanted a dark beach to construct their nest. Did you know that light pollution is the single biggest threat to our endangered sea turtles? Condos and other human-made light sources dot our coasts, deterring female turtles from coming on land. The light pollution also disorients and misorients emerging hatchlings. Here in Juno, we are lucky to have light ordinances that keep our beaches dark but do not be the jerk out on the beach at night waving a flashlight or your cellphone around when you see a nest boiling over with cute and tiny hatchlings. Now you know.
What I ate for breakfast today:
In keeping with the theme of be-7 and connecting us all through common ritual, I will always share what I had for breakfast (my favorite meal of the day) on the day I wrote a certain post. If it features someone else, you will get to hear what they ate. Who knows, you could even get some ideas to shake your morning routine up a bit?
Full disclosure: While preparing this breakfast, I was popping dark chocolate covered almonds from Trader Joes into my mouth.
- baby kale
- kumato tomatoes
- orange bell pepper
- hemp seeds
- nutritional yeast
- tomato and basil hummus (1 dollop)
- kale chips
- jalapeño hot sauce
- maple syrup
- dijon mustard
- lemon juice