Beachcombing and Bemoaning

By Andrea Hagan


I love shelling.  It combines some of my favorite things – the beach, physical activity, solitude and attention to detail.  Planning for one of my family’s upcoming Florida trips, I (naively) thought that it was time to introduce my daughter to my beloved pastime.

I envisioned us as a great mother-daughter beachcombing duo.  What fun we would have on our hunt and even better, getting our treasure back home where we would eagerly sort and proudly display our fighting conchs, kitten paws, shark’s eyes, maybe even a prized alphabet cone or two!


Then there was the reality of shelling with a toddler.  One of the best shelling spots in Southwest Florida takes some effort to reach.  We set off on bikes for the first stretch, my husband pulling our daughter and her baby brother in the bike trailer.  The second leg requires a one-mile walk along the beach.  My husband pushes our son in the bike trailer and our daughter gets out and takes my hand.  It’s the perfect day for shelling and I smile, excited to create this new tradition with my daughter.

That is until I spot the first fighting conch.  l let go of my toddler’s hand to pick it up and put it in my bag and she whines, “Mom, hold my hand.”  This is my daughter’s latest annoying toddler behavior.  In public, she demands I hold her hand, regardless if I’m holding her brother and a diaper bag plus a bag of groceries, she goes into complete hysterics if I let go of her hand for a split second.  I’m not sure if this is a power struggle, jealousy of her brother, or if she’s becoming Howard Hughes, afraid of people and being in public in general.  So I explain to her that we are shelling and that when we see a pretty shell, we stop and pick it up and I need my other hand to do that.  Two steps later and I spot another shell, and again, “Mom, hold my hand.”  “Mom, hold my hand.”  “Mom, hold my hand.”  “MOM, HOLD MY HAND!”

Now, some of you might be thinking, what a terrible mom complaining that her daughter wants to hold her hand.  I implore you to listen to “Mom, hold my hand” for 150 times, each whine becoming higher in octave and louder than the Gulf of Mexico crashing against the shoreline before you lose your (sea glass) marbles!  My husband tried to help, but he’s pushing baby brother in a bike trailer, not an easy feat on baby powder fine sand. Eventually, my daughter has a complete meltdown and we are forced to put her in the trailer too, which makes strolling on the beach difficult and shelling less than enjoyable.

One mile in means one mile out.  We try to let our daughter walk on the return trip, and it’s still the broken record of “Mom, hold my hand,” but now sprinkled in is, “Mom, hold me” with “Mom, this is too much walking, Can you hold me?”  The hallmark picture perfect mother-daughter shelling tradition that I envisioned sinks right to the bottom of the Gulf and is carried over to Keewaydin Island, probably with the alphabet cone.

I did add a few shells to my collection on that trip.  Just don’t hold the fighting conch up to your ear because all you’ll hear is whine.

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Lemons & Lyme Complex

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.  When life gives you Lyme complex, you make…?

After a few years of rapidly declining health with fuzzy labels such as chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, I was finally diagnosed with Lyme complex. And I couldn’t have been more excited. Wait, what? If you’ve ever struggled with an unnamed illness, you know what I’m talking about. A diagnosis at least is confirmation that yes, you’ve been really sick and here’s why. 

Lyme disease is a big old political firestorm for reasons longer than I’ll delve into right now. Life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Life gives you Lyme, you’d better make a sizable annual income because treatment is going to be expensive. 

To compound the issue, no one agrees on the treatment plan.  Take long-term antibiotics, but how long? No, take IV antibiotics. No, antibiotics will wreck your already wrecked system, take herbs. No, detox from heavy metals and co-infections first before you even think about addressing Lyme.

So what to make with Lyme? Stephen Buhner, Lyme expert, herbalist and author of “Healing Lyme,” opines that one of the many functions of illness is to “teach us how to alter the fabric of our lives in order to become whole again…and how to remain that way.” Of course Mr. Buhner looks exactly how you’d imagine an herbalist would look like, with long hair spilling out of his beret, neck adorned by various necklaces and scarves. You can practically smell the patchouli wafting off him from his website picture. 

While I’m not about to don a beret any time soon (sorry, I don’t care that they are called fascinators across the pond and that Duchess Kate wears them), what am I going to make with Lyme? 

I started honestly examining my life and asking myself what I want to do with the precious time that I have on this planet. And my books popped back into my mind. I had written a couple of children’s books several years ago, sent them to a few big publishers and never hearing anything, so I easily gave up and moved on. So I’ll put my writer’s hat back on, OK maybe I will wear a beret after all, and pursue my passion, which is to see my children’s books published.    

Till next time. Make lots of lemonade between now and then!

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