Skip to content

Life finds a way; a sea turtle lays her eggs

While visiting Juno Beach at twilight one recent evening, I noticed a large dark blob slowly emerge from the rolling surf. Ocean debris, I thought. But when the waves subsided, the object continued to move forward. That’s definitely not debris; it’s a sea turtle!

There are five different species of sea turtles that visit Florida’s beaches to lay their eggs: Loggerhead, Green, Leatherback, Kemp’s Ridley, and Hawksbill. This ancient reptile’s life is challenging from day one. As a new hatchling, it has to dodge hungry birds, curious humans, and the hot sun on its way to the ocean. If the baby reptiles manage to make it the water, they have to outwit numerous predators of the deep. Throw in the possibility of getting stuck in floating trash or other man-made obstacles, and it’s easy to understand why all five species are listed as endangered or threatened.

As you can imagine, being able to witness such a magnificent, yet fragile species lay her eggs was quite exciting. After the slow trek up the beach, she found a spot under one of the boardwalks and began digging. It is critical that a nesting female not be disturbed during this laborious process, which means no headlights, flash lights, lanterns, flash photography, or even talking.

With amazing quiet and reverence, an impromptu crowd gathered to observe. I was impressed that for almost an hour, people stood in near total silence with barely a whisper. No annoying ringtones or artificial lights. Even a couple’s little dog was perfectly quiet. It was inspiring to see a group of strangers show such respect.

After the mama turtle finished laying her eggs, it was time to head back to the ocean. This, too, was quite a challenge. She had dug her nest near a couple of pylons and had to navigate a very tight space. Each move placed her shell against a pylon which prevented forward movement. The soft sand offered zero traction as she flapped her flippers wildly. If you’ve ever been stuck in the sand or snow, you understand the scenario. She’d fling sand everywhere with little progress and then stop to rest.

The only illumination was from a full moon, but you could still see her breathing hard. Finally, with much effort, the determined reptile turned herself around and had a straight shot to the ocean. There was no quit in this feisty female.

Once on the packed sand, she covered the last several feet pretty quickly, stopping at the water’s edge to wait for the next wave. This gave everyone a photo op. I like to think it was her way of saying thank you for looking out for her. The ancient mariner then disappeared into the moonlit night amidst applause from the reverent onlookers.

As I walked the along moonlit beach, I felt humbled and privileged to be able to view such an amazing feat of life that has being ongoing virtually unchanged for eons. Life will definitely find a way.

Answer the Call

aim high signed

I’m riding home after work when my phone rings. Hmmm… I don’t recognize that number, I’ll let it go to voicemail.

At home, I cooked dinner, fed the pets, and did my thing and then I remembered that voicemail. I played it back and immediately looked at the clock. As the message went on, I could not believe what I was hearing. My heart sank!!

The message was an opportunity to shoot and produce a video for a live performance. The gentlemen who called has done some great work and this would’ve been an opportunity to sharpen my skills. I could’ve made it if I would’ve checked the message earlier, but now it was too late….

Aside from being angry at myself, I felt like an idiot, to put it mildly. Here was an opportunity to do what I love that could’ve opened other doors and not only didn’t I answer the phone, I didn’t check the messages. What good is technology if I don’t use it?

I know I like to think how events or situations will play out, but often good things come in unexpected ways. So next time the call comes, answer it or at least check the message right away. You never know what opportunity could be awaiting.

Into the Light

Do you know anyone who might want this plant? I asked my friend who was on Skype and knows everything botanical. She wanted to see it, so I went out to the patio, drug it out of the corner and held the laptop in front of it.

It is a frangipani, or what I affectionately call it a stick plant. The shoots stood about 4 feet tall and were just bare sticks; nothing really interesting.

I left it in the middle of the patio so I could just grab it when it was time to take it away. After a week, it appeared to be have green on the ends of the nubs. The person who wanted it was unavailable and I was too lazy to move it back to the shaded corner.

After two weeks, the nubs had turned green and it was obvious this plant was growing. I didn’t call the person who wanted it because now I was curious what was going to happen.

Fast forward to 4 weeks later and this plant is alive!! The previous bare nubs have 3-4 inches (yes I measured!) of new growth and each one has many big green leaves and bright, fragrant flowers have appeared. Needless to say, it’s thriving and I’m keeping it.

So what was the change? I moved it from the shaded, corner of the patio where it just sat in oblivion. Sitting under a tree, there wasn’t much water, little sun, and no attention.

Moving it to the center of the patio, placed in the direct sun and it was fully exposed to soak up the morning dew or afternoon rain. Plus as it started growing, I’d walk over and notice it. Now I wander over and smell the fragrant flowers and amazed at how tall it’s getting.

As I look at changes I’m planning in my life that sometimes seem just short of overwhelming, I look at this plant. It wasn’t a massive change that made it thrive, it was a shift in position. From the shade into the light was all it needed.

Maybe some of these changes to aren’t that difficult after all……maybe I just need to shift more into the light, where I can be exposed to the experiences that help me grow.

Outrageous Ollie

There goes your pet deposit!! I laughed as Ollie scaled the screen door a fourth time and attempted to climb on top of the vertical blinds. Stuck to the door like Velcro, he could be removed, but within a few minutes he was at it again. The screen wasn’t ripped, but it was showing many signs of cat climbing history.

Ollie is a young cat with tons of energy and the screen is just the beginning. Place your sunglasses and keys on the counter and he’ll knock them on the floor in short order. Every day the stuffed Sand hill Crane mysteriously makes its way from the safe haven atop the bed to the living room floor. It must be learning to fly…..

Ollie loves to read books and gladly enjoys showing you his favorites by pushing them onto the floor. Then he’ll hide behind the bookcase while you put them back. Just when you’re done, Bam! He’ll push them out again.

The entire world is his playground and if you can’t find something, it’s not your memory going bad, it’s Ollie. It’s probably on the floor, under the couch, or down the hall. If it’s not tied down, he’ll move it, knock it over, or drag it out into the living room. Returning home often reveals a disheveled trail of miscellaneous items strewn across the floor.

The other night I heard a mysterious thump. Oops… I had left the door open to the laundry room and he ended up in that tiny space between the dryer and the wall. Stuck, in the corner, he just stared out between the dryer and door. I moved the dryer, unhinged the folding door and out he bounded. It’s a good thing that happened when I was here I said to myself.

Guess what happened the next day? Yep….I left the door open again and he ended up trapped again and fortunately I was there in short order. I’m not sure which one of us was worse; me for forgetting to close the door or him for jumping in there again.

The other evening, as he came tearing around the living room corner at full speed (again!), I was reminded of how much fun he was having. He lives it up regardless of day or night! No spoon, fork, TV remote, stuffed animal, magazine, car keys, bag, etc. is left unturned.

At times it’s almost annoying, like when he hurdles over the chair while I’m typing, but hey why not? When’s the last time we were carefree and had so much fun that we were annoying?

Hmmm……it’s too quiet in here; I’m going to knock some papers off someone’s desk…….

The Butterfly

I was on my morning run, when a few feet ahead a big brown leaf tumbled to the ground. Leaves are nothing unusual, but what I saw next was. On the ground was a large tan butterfly, with beautiful blue eye markings on the lower wings and small almost mirror like eye markings on the upper. I have seen and photographed butterflies, but none were this big or this beautiful.

I bent down to pick it up and expected it to fly away. Instead it stumbled and flitted, but couldn’t take flight. I gently picked it up, thoroughly amazed at its beauty and fragility. I placed in my hand or should I say on it; it was large enough to cover my hand.

It made a feeble attempts to fly, but would just fall to the ground. I wasn’t sure if it was injured or in it’s final moments. Regardless, I was going to give it a safe place and I gently placed one hand over the other as if I was carrying a fragile glass and walked at a slow pace.

The slower pace was actually quite welcome. I really didn’t feel like running anyway because I feel like I’m always running somewhere; to work, to the grocery store, to do the laundry, etc.

Eventually I removed one hand and it just sat in my palm. Of course, I had nothing to capture a picture with and wanted to turn around and go home. I was a mile away so I just stayed the course. No sense in turning this peaceful moment into a rush adventure just to capture a photo.

As I rounded a curve, the butterfly crawled up my palm and sat on the edge of my hand. It was like it wanted to see where we were going. It sat there taking in the view as the path meandered around the golf course and near the trees.

And then it happened; it went tipped forward off my palm, tumbled down to toward the ground, and……unexpectedly took flight. Further and further it flew, climbing higher as it went, and eventually settling into a tall tree. I stood there in amazement and yet a little sad. Like all animal releases, you’re glad to see it return to the wild, but sad to see it go.

I carried on with my walk and realized how nice it was to provide a safe place from the world for the butterfly to just recoup and gather its bearings. I could use one of those little breaks!

Shortly after returning home, a friend called;”want to take a ride?”. I was cooking breakfast, had a full day of tasks planned, but I said “lets go!”. We took the scenic drive near the ocean, had a long relaxing lunch, and spent the day doing nothing particular with no schedule. It was exactly what we both needed to let go, regroup, and renergize.

Sometimes we can get a little beat up and making our way can be difficult. We flit about, here and there, not really making any progress. Taking a short break from it all to regroup (with a good friend really helps) can be just what we need to get off the ground and take flight again.

Tackle Life like a Sticky Frog

Sticky frogs are common in Florida, especially where I live. My first encounter with a sticky frog was quite memorable. With curiosity of a cat, I had to get closer and see what it was.

The sticky frog did not hop away as expected, but jumped right on my chest!! Being a real man, I just watched it and calmly said “cool”. Yeah, right…good thing no one had a video camera because I screamed so loud my friend came outside.
Through her hysterical laughter, I was told “you scream like a girl”. The laughter only got louder when she found it was because of a frog. I’m glad I’m so entertaining……

Tonight I was out for a walk around our circle when I saw a sticky frog in the road. With all animals, big or small, I gently move them out of the road before they become part of it. As I’m leaning over with a stick to push it away, the frog intently looked right at me and fearlessly jumped onto my arm.

Sorry, no screaming from me this time:) I took it to some bushes, but it refused to dismount. So I resumed my walk around the circle with the sticky frog hanging out on my arm. It would change positions occasionally for a better view, but basically sat there the whole time, enjoying the free ride.

The frog’s response to me made re-think of how I approach unknown situations. When confronted with a situation that is unknown and seemingly large, I will usually choose avoid verses confront. Most animals will do the same; come within a few feet, they are gone quickly.

However the sticky frog jumps right on for a closer look. Seeming to ask “What is this big think that keeps following me? “

What would happen if we did the same for those challenges that we tend to avoid? If we faced them would they really turn out so big? Would they metaphorically scream and run away? Maybe they would turn out to be good things instead of something we feared?

Obviously if it’s something life threatening, be smart and get away from it.

As in the case of tonight’s encounter, the frog faced the challenge and received a free ride around the neighborhood. With the frog on my arm, I walked slower for a change; saw the stars, clouds, and other things I normally miss because I’m in a hurry. It worked out well for both of us.

So the next time a seemingly large or unknown situation comes your way, be like the sticky frog and face it. You’re likely to learn some new insights and find some good things.

And what happened to my passenger that night? After riding on my arm for the mile walk around, I put him in some bushes near where I found him and he happily dismounted. I can only imagine the story he told when asked “where have you been?”

Attention helps us Thrive

This is an excerpt from my new book Climb that Fence, take that Leap which is a compilation of animal stories and the life insights I observed. I wrote it to encourage people to make positive changes and bring more awareness to the animals. Available on Amazon, I hope you enjoy the stories and I’d love to hear yours, so feel free to drop me a line.

Things Come Alive with Attention:
Ever since I took Keiko (my cat) to the park that day and let her out every evening, she was wired. Every morning she was under foot, walking around the kitchen and living room. I’d be upstairs getting dressed and here would come this spindly, almost wobbly cat blasting up the stairs.

At times, it was really annoying to hear the constant meowing, so I’d pick her up. “What is your problem?” I’d ask. I thought she might be in pain. As soon as I picked her up, all I heard was the familiar sound of contentment: purring.

What had changed with her? I had not given her any different medicine, and she had become skinnier by the day. But something was obviously different.

Let’s see, she went from just hanging around the house and receiving whatever “leftover” attention I had to being the first to receive attention. She received my attention first and foremost, and we spent quality time together.

Even if I had other things I “should have” been doing, I took time to make sure she went outside and had fun. The more time I spent with her, the more alive she became.

Just like a plant that requires water regularly, we all need regular, meaningful attention—validation that we are loved, that someone cares, that we make a difference. Without that knowing, we become lethargic and lost, and we lose hope.

When we think that no one cares, it often shows. It is easy to put on a tough exterior and give the appearance that we don’t care, but deep down it can be pretty lonely on our own.

The basic need to be loved is universal among people and animals. Pets fill that need and do it unconditionally. No matter the day, our relationship, or our status, our pets love us anyway. That’s why we enjoy them so much and why they’re often used in therapy. There’s something soothing about petting a happy fur ball.

Stop and think right now: Where can you show some attention that would make a difference? Where have you taken someone/a pet for granted? Write a thank you note, make a phone call, bring home dinner, turn off the TV, etc. Take a few minutes out of your day and give some love.

Just a few minutes is all it takes. You’ll be surprised how alive someone will feel. Guess what, so will you!!!