Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: Back to Me

In years past, I have set goals... resolutions if I may... that focus on the things that I want to do for this world.  It's completely natural for me to think about what I can do for others through sharing my experiences, promoting, donating and volunteering.  As 2012 was ending, I began thinking about all that had been accomplished including the passing of the Wrightsville Beach smoking ban and then my decision to step away from volunteering for my local chapter of Surfrider....

.... and I said to myself "I need to get back to me." 

As soon as I thought the words "back to me" I knew I had to listen to myself.  I often say really random things that create major focus in my life.  Like the summer of 2010 when I was in Santa Monica and I thought, "I think I can help get smoking banned on Wrightsville Beach."  I've learned that when I have these random thoughts that bring me immediate clarity that I have to go with it.  

Now 2013 wasn't about stepping away from everything that I do... I just found myself so engulfed in being part of a movement that I somewhat got swept away in it all.  From 2010 to 2012 was like being on a roller coaster.... and it was an awesome ride and I savored every moment.  I've learned so much about who I am and what I am capable of doing over these past couple of years that now I don't have to be about the movement, I can just be me.

2013 was the year that I refocused my energy back to me (before I was the "Mom who picks up cigarette butts")

From 2013 and moving forward...

It's about yoga.  Creating insight, growth, strength, clarity... focus.

It's about beach cleanups without expectations or frustrations.

It's about dance.  I'm currently taking ballet, contemporary and hip hop a 3 hours a week.  Reminding myself that it's ok not to be 20, but I can still do this.

It's about expanding my knowledge.  I'm learning to speak Spanish!  Yo no llevo zapatos. ;-P

It's about reading. This year, I got lost in books.  My partial 2013 book list:  Buscaglia's Living, Loving & Learning & Love, Plenty, Shine Shine Shine, Being Wrong, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Toulane, Love Water MemoryAll Natural, all 6 novels by Emily Giffin, The Hunger Games Series, and I'm finishing the year off on book 3 of the Harry Potter series.

And, I'll be starting 2014 reading Swimming at Night.

It's about believing in me.  I have something to offer.  I have knowledge worth sharing.  This past spring, I visited Island Montessori School and talked to a very enthusiastic group of preschool students about the beach and how we can help take care of it.  I'm currently serving on the board of directors of my local cooperative food market, Tidal Creek.  I also shared my knowledge and experience on plastic-free living with Beth Terry and Bonnie Monteleone as part of Greensboro "No Impact Week" and at a special presentation at UNCW.

Beth Terry @ UNCW March, 2013 from Seven Season Films on Vimeo.

It's about being inspired by this great big beautiful world we live in and letting that inspiration be a spark to do more....


  2013 was just what I needed... now it's time to keep moving forward.  Growing, learning, volunteering, dancing, reading, finding inspiration, believing, making a difference... and always remembering to take time to refocus.

Wishing you all a 2014 as a year for you to believe in all you have to give this world, for you to be stronger than you knew you could be, to see the good, to accept what is... what isn't and what could be... 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 227

There is a story on the beach.  Embedded in the sands.  Flowing in (and out) with the tides.  Stories of what once was, what is... and in some cases what shouldn't be.
With the coming of the new year, this is the time to look back yet be present in the now while also looking to the future.  A lot can change in a year and while we can't go back... we can always learn from where we have been to help us expand and evolve with each new day.  In 2014, I will complete this project of documenting and collecting.  I don't know what the year ahead holds.... I'm making plans and yet remaining open to possibilities. 
At the end of my yoga class on Sunday, we were read this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson and I felt like it was the perfect thing to hear this time of year... 

Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day 
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt, crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit 
to be cumbered with your old nonsense.
This new day is too dear, 
with its hopes and invitations, 
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.

20 minutes on December 30, 2013 at Access 28
Litter by weight: 2.4 oz
Cigarette butts: 21
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 227 days:

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 226

Having grown up in the midwest, I have always expected winter to be... well, wintery.  Bones chilled, fingers frozen... type of cold.  And growing up, that freezing cold more often than not seemed to set in long before winter arrived.  But now having lived in coastal North Carolina for the past 14 years, I have come to expect the unexpected.  Yes, it may be winter.... but on Sunday, December 22... it was 81˚.
Unfortunately, because of the ocean water temperature being in the 50's, it didn't feel quite as warm at Wrightsville Beach.  But who am I kidding?  It was nice.  It was really really nice.

It was also nice once again to not find much to pick up during our 20 minute beach cleanup.  But no matter, the amount we pick up... it's always worth our time.  Little beach cleanups matter just as much as the ones where we leave the beach with our bags overflowing.    

These little cleanups help to create focus.... remind us that the problem is still there... to look harder and to do more.  We can always do more... 

20 minutes on December 22, 2013 at Access 39
Litter by weight: 1.9 oz
Cigarette butts: 32
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 226 days:

Friday, December 20, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 225

So... today's the last day of fall.  It just doesn't feel like tomorrow will be winter.... at least not here anyway.  Even though we have mild winters here, I know that cold weather will take hold at some point and our warm days will disappear.  But until it does... I will soak in the 70 degree temperatures (and brag to my family in the Midwest where they think 30 degrees is a heatwave!).
My kids and I spent part of our morning exploring the dunes at the far south-end of Wrightsville Beach.  It's my kids' favorite place to be at the beach.  Walking carefully through the paths, they get a different view of Wrightsville Beach.  Because normally, we walk down an access (that is cut through the dunes and grasses) to get to the "beach".... at the south-end we can get in the middle of it all to see the little details we could never see walking down a beach access.

Picking up litter while walking through the dunes is more sporadic than picking up litter closer to the water.  Where people typically hang out at the beach things are more concentrated... you can definitely tell where people were sitting or walking.  But through the dunes, there'll be old frayed cigarette butts with the wrack, little bits of broken plastics here and there, and then a something like a beer can tossed on top of a dune.
Sometimes finding a way to get to the litter without disturbing the dunes can be difficult... but we always manage to walk lightly and retrieve any litter that we can.  Even if it is gross.
20 minutes on December 20, 2013 at Access 44
Litter by weight: 1 lb 4.2 oz
Cigarette butts: 33
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 225 days:

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 224

At least once a week, my kids and I have gotten into a nice habit of going to the library and then to Wrightsville Beach to do a quick beach cleanup before we head to Tidal Creek Coop to do our grocery shopping.  It's a great routine for us because it creates a nice flow for our day.  

...And so it was, Wednesday morning we fell right into our perfect routine....
I think I like our routine so much because we start at the library borrowing books, then go clean up litter at the beach and end by doing our nearly plastic-free grocery shopping.  Conscious living with what feels like so little effort... but it wasn't always like that.  I used to buy books instead of borrow.  I used to go to the beach just to "go to the beach".  And, I used to not think about plastic and shop at chain grocery stores.  But I changed.  Little by little, things I read translated to things I did...

I am grateful for change.
Did you know that I haven't used a plastic straw in over 3 years?  Before then, I refused straws when I remembered but wasn't fully committed with my "no straw please" mantra.... it took me picking up straw after straw after straw at the beach before I finally said "No More Straws" for our family.  We all (yes, even my 3 kids) happily go without by requesting "no straws" when we eat out and carry our GlassDharma smoothie straws with us when we go out for shakes or smoothies.  Learn more about GlassDharma glass straws at their website.  But, if you're local... Tidal Creek Coop carries GlassDharma straws!
20 minutes on December 18, 2013 at Access 16
Litter by weight: 1.5 oz
Cigarette butts: 32

Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 224 days:

Friday, December 13, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 223

"Plastic pollution is the visible symbol of our global crisis of over-consumption. 

Let's pledge to shift our societies away from the disposable habits that poison our oceans and land, eliminate our consumption of throwaway plastics, and begin embracing a culture of sustainability.
 Our health, our children, and the survival of future generations depend on us." 

~ marine biologist Dr. Wallace J. Nichols

20 minutes on December 10, 2013 at Access 16
Litter by weight: 2.1 oz
Cigarette butts: 63
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 223 days: 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 222

I didn't plan on going to the beach on Saturday morning.  But as I was driving home from taking my kids to their marine science class... I knew that-- even though I had forgotten to bring my jacket (turns out it was so nice I didn't need it) and I didn't have my beach cleanup bags (no problem, I always have some reusable bags in my car)--  I couldn't pass up a 70 degree morning at the beach.
 It was another perfect morning at the beach.  With an impending weather change, my oldest son and I  had the beach to ourselves except for the occasional runner passing through.  With how nice the weather has been lately, I've really been expecting to find more litter during our 20 minute cleanups... but that hasn't been the case.  That makes me happy.
 A year ago, I was visiting my friend Sara in Santa Monica to celebrate her completing her 365th The Daily Ocean beach cleanup.  It was a great time and it's really so hard to believe that a year has passed so quickly.  In 8 months, I hope to complete my 365th beach cleanup.  As of now, I have 143 cleanups to go.  Yeah, it's a lot.  But I'm not going to let the idea overwhelm me.  I have a goal in mind and every chance I have to get to the beach, I will.  I don't stress... everything happens as it should, when it should.
UPDATE:  On my 212th beach cleanup, I noticed that the Oceanic restaurant had what appeared to be an employee break area under the pier that was littered with lots and lots of cigarette butts.  I took the time to contact Mayor Cignotti and Alderman Sisson regarding the issue.  I'm thankful that they along with WB Town Manager Tim Owens responded to my concerns and fixed the problem.  :)

Remember that your voice matters.  Use it.
20 minutes on December 7, 2013 at Access 36
Litter by weight: 14.2 oz
Cigarette butts: 48

Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 222 days:

Friday, December 6, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 221

When the forecast is mid-70's in December.... I squee with excitement and then I make every effort to get to the beach as much as possible.  Warm air, blue skies, salt air, bare feet, sandy toes...  a perfect day.
My kids and I spent the morning into the early afternoon soaking in the warmth at Wrightsville Beach with our friends.  Our morning was filled with sandcastles, a barefoot walk to lunch, and good conversation.  Just before we had to say good-bye to our perfect December beach day... my friend Rachel and I did a 20 minute beach cleanup.

I met Rachel a couple of years ago while I was checking out at Tidal Creek Co-op.  Rachel noticed my glass jars (that I use for bulk foods) and started a conversation.  A conversation that still continues and evolves as Rachel has also taken on the commitment to use less plastic.  While we were talking at the beach, she asked me how I talk to people about plastics without sounding naggy.  ... I wish I had some amazing advice to give... but the truth is... all we can all do is lead by example and share our experiences.  Give each other time to find our own way.  Inspire change.  

Be a spark.

20 minutes on December 6, 2013
Litter by weight: 10.3 oz
Cigarette butts: 118

Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 221 days:

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 220

Earlier this week, I found this quote from a Sophocles play and haven't been able to stop thinking of it... and when I was at the beach on this foggy Thursday morning it seemed to tug at me more.  I hope you connect with it as I have...

Far-stretching, endless Time
Brings forth all hidden things,
And buries that which once did shine.

The firm resolve falters, the sacred oath is shattered;

And let none say, "It cannot happen here".

20 minutes on December 5, 2013 at Access 29
Litter by weight: 4 oz
Cigarette butts: 93
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 220 days:

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 219

What we need is a little awareness.
What we need is pride.

... and the strength to believe that somehow WE can change the world.
20 minutes on December 3, 2013 at Access 16
Litter by weight: 4.9oz
Cigarette butts: 81
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 219 days:

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: 218

For the past week, weather here has been bouncing back and forth between warm and cold.  On November 13, a record was set for the first November snowfall in recorded history.  Then just 5 days later on November 18, our area reached 84˚F breaking the previous record high.  But like the weather lately, it was a short lived phenomenon and when I went to the beach on Tuesday morning... it was cold with a whipping wind.
Even though it was cold, I was immediately impressed by the sideways waves and loved watching them smash into the pier pylons. It's fun seeing the variances in the ocean... one day it can be completely calm and the next it can be rough and kind of violent.  I would have loved to sit on the beach and watch the waves and wind interact.  But there was something that I needed to do.... and it started with me walking the tideline...
The tideline was littered with cigarette butts, plastic wrappers, straws, and other various smaller plastics.    No doubt things that were left behind from beachgoers of the previous warmer days.
I often wonder how we can reach those who haven't yet learned ... or those who just haven't (or can't) made the connection that their actions make a difference.  How can we inspire and motivate others to do something beyond sharing a post or thought on social media?  How do we really inspire real motivated and committed change?  If you're up for it... I'd love to hear your thoughts.

20 minutes on November 19, 2013 at Access 16
Litter by weight: 8.9oz
Cigarette butts: 98
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 218 days:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 217

If you love a place, you have a duty to protect it.  And to love a place, you must know it first.  
(from 180˚South)

I love where I live so much.  Especially when it feels like spring in the midst of autumn.

20 minutes on November 16, 2013 at Access 36
Litter by weight: 5.4 oz
Cigarette butts: 22

Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrigthsville Beach, NC in 217 days: