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I spent a few days at the beach near Avon/Kinnakeet Shores, North Carolina. In the mornings, I combed the shoreline for seashells. Sitting quietly early one morning, I found myself surrounded by Atlantic ghost crabs, each cleaning out their daytime dens of sand. Once they realized I was not going to eat them, they went about their work. It was a magical accidental meeting.

I continued looking for shells, imagining finding a “perfect” conch shell in the early mornings. I was on a mission to find this “ideal” thing. Looking, and then forgetting about it and enjoying the waves and sea birds, my toes in the sand. Looking, and then finding other intricate black, red, and golden shells.

On my last morning, I made a stop at a beach along Route 12 heading north. I still had this hope of finding some flawless, unbroken conch, but was just enjoying the sunrise. As a wave pulled sand out with a lowering tide, I saw a shadow and as I approached, recognized a conch. Twice the size of my hand, it was amazing. It was broken along the broadest part. The break gave me a window into the shiny black and gold swirls of the interior – a view I would not have had in a “perfect” shell.

This reminds me that our gifts come in our imperfections, in allowing people to see inside, the beautiful swirls of love and kindness, of pain and regrets, of joy and tears. By continuing to focus on being the best person I can be in the moment, I happen upon what I need to learn and grow. For me, this fosters a sense of awe in the Universe – and deep gratitude.