Life Lessons Learned Through Seaglassing

rocky beach

I developed a love of seaglassing around a time I went through a terribly stressful period with my mother which culminated in her passing away. Experiencing so many feelings all at once had me reeling and not knowing what to do so I sought out the beach. It was there I could wander, my head looking down, searching for jewels from the sea. But I also could lift my head and stare out at the endless horizon of ocean blue or become enraptured with the mountainous waves. I could alter my gaze even more and marvel at the skies. Then there was the sound of crashing surf. Another beach would have calmer waters gently lapping at the sand. I could fill up my nose and lungs with the salty air or the strong sea breezes, or gusts would take away the tang and I would breathe in the fresh scent. Sometimes I would go on a solitary journey or other times with friends. Most often we would still have great distances between us as we searched, but come together to reconnect.

The beach was my therapy in the time I needed it most. I could let my mind go in order to process what was going on so I could figure out what I needed to do or where I needed to go. My seaside soul searching helped me learn who my best friend needed to be and that was myself. I didn’t love myself a lot, but these times I learned to do that and acknowledged the many feelings that had been overwhelming me. More recently there has again been an overload of stress and I felt the beach beckoning me once more. Once again as I went on my hunt I noted that when my mind wandered I was slowly picking up life lessons.  I thought I was simply expanding my collection and going to my happy place, but these trips were becoming a learning experience. Funny how when you relax you learn so much more. Here is what seaglassing taught me:

Try something new, even if you are nervous about what to expect or don’t know anything about it. The beaches I was familiar with didn’t have any seaglass so I researched some that were known as better places to look and pushed myself to go to these by myself. I don’t usually like going places solo because of my worries of the unknown, but I realized if I wanted to have some rewards from my new hobby then I was going to have to push myself to experience new things. Which led me to my next lesson.

It’s about the journey and not the destination. If I took a chance on a new beach, sometimes I would disappointingly find out that there was no glass there. Instead I found things to appreciate about these beaches such as gorgeously tumbled rocks, soothing colored waters to gaze at, nice long beaches to just walk, or the largest waves that hypnotized me. The reasons seaglass might have been hard to find could be because a beach had been groomed, Mother Nature may have altered her tides a bit or perhaps other beachcombers got there before me. So sometimes I would make a return trip and find again it didn’t gift me with treasures.  Another return trip might reward me with a great amount of weathered glass.

It may be you’re not finding what you are looking for because you need to change your perspective. I cannot tell you how many times I have searched in an area and not found anything and moved along. Eventually when I had to make my return walk and looked around that same place I found something amazing. The sun’s rays may give me a glimpse of a bright color and it’s then I find what had eluded me. It may be when I am searching I am upright, my head facing down, and I’m fortunate to find pieces. However, there are times when I bend down, hovering so close to the rocks and sand that now I see so many pieces I would have missed had I been standing.

Lift your head up to feel better. When beachcombing, most times our necks and backs get sore while looking for our treasures and we’re missing out on the beautiful scenery that is all around us. By standing up tall, lifting your head up high, it can help make you feel so much better and connect with nature. When we’re going through hard times this can give us the boost and confidence we need to feel better.

Things can change in an instant so be in the moment. While searching for glass right at the shoreline a piece will be left as the water rushes out to form another swell, but a few seconds later another receding wave can take that beauty away. It is disappointing, but it wasn’t meant to be. Which leads me to another life lesson.

Keep moving forward. Disappointment happens when we lose a piece of seaglass, but we need to move along with our hunt to find another, since standing there mourning for the loss of what might have been isn’t going to do us any good. If we keep walking ahead or around eventually we will find something, or maybe not. But there’s always another day.

Things are not always what they seem. When I first started searching for seaglass I would indeed find glass, but as I got more discerning I realized some of what I collected was really regular glass that had not been fully transformed into the frosty seaglass beauties that had tumbled in the ocean for so many years. More examples of things not being what they seem was when I would come across an oddly shaped rock, only to realize to my delight, I found a very aged piece of glass that probably has been around for hundreds of years. Or, conversely, I spied a glimpse of something beautifully colored only to realize it’s plastic. Or a nice big object that catches your eye is actually a rock and not seaglass.

It’s quality, not quantity. A beach I go to is not one where you will find a lot of seaglass, but what I do find there are the most amazing pieces in terms of colors and how velvety sea-worn they are. Even though it’s a small amount, I am so happy when I find them. Another angle to this lesson is when I first started I picked up and kept everything. But over time I realized I did not have to keep it all and if it didn’t make me happy, then why did I have it? Which of course leads me to another life lesson.

Does it make you happy? There have been times I find a piece and  it’s not what we seaglass hunters would called “cooked”, meaning  having that sumptuous rounded and frosty appearance. But the color is one that is rare so we keep it because it makes us happy. Or, as I said before, I finally realized I didn’t have to keep everything I picked up if it didn’t make me happy. So remind yourself to acknowledge these feelings because if you don’t, who will?

Even though something is broken it can become even more beautiful. Seaglassers get teased that they are picking up trash, which is true, but to us it’s treasure. What we find are things that were once whole, but over time they became broken, discarded and no longer useful. But after going through a long metamorphosis they now have become objects of beauty

Sometimes you have to dig deep. I quickly realized that there are some beaches where you will find seaglass lying on the surface, but that there are sections where you can do a little bit of digging to find even better or more plentiful pieces.

seagull beach

Karma rewards. Oftentimes when I am beachcombing I will see quite a bit of trash on the beaches as well treasure. Most times I don’t have a shopping bag or trash bag or see a nearby receptacle to dispose trash in and I feel guilty. But one time I remembered to bring something to collect trash, so I spent quite a bit of time doing this. It was right after I finished that I found an excellent piece of seaglass and was told by a beachcomber on a collector’s site this was beach karma. If you do good without an expectation of reward you will be pleasantly surprised.

Appreciate the calm after the storm. Usually when a n’oreaster or hurricane comes close to our coast it creates havoc, but then afterwards is the sun chasing the clouds. We survey the damage, but also to look for glimmers of hope. In a seaglasser’s world we know a storm temporarily puts us out of commission, but if we return when the storm is done we usually find an awful lot of treasures that were brought ashore as a result of all that wind and wave action.

Practice gratitude. When searching for seaglass it might be awhile before I come upon something, but when I do it’s amazing. I usually gasp out loud and laugh to myself when I find it and then I give a word of thanks to the seaglass goddesses. Appreciate what you receive, but if you don’t then count your blessings you got to enjoy the beach regardless of leaving empty handed.

Setting boundaries. When searching I note the presence of others such as my friends or strangers and make sure to give them a wide enough berth when passing. It’s my way of saying I respect this is your space and hopefully you will respect mine. Most often times it’s mutual, but sometimes a stranger is literally cramping my style and finds a piece that was right near us. While I am usually not thinking happy thoughts when this happens, I alter my course to reestablish our boundaries.

Practice patience. I have a little list of seaglass pieces I would love to find, but which so far have eluded me. If a friend happens to have found them I am happy for them, but wonder when it’s my turn. I remind myself that just because I expect it doesn’t mean it’s going to literally drop in front of me, but maybe I will find it eventually. Life is not always going to give us what we feel we deserve, but if we have patience it may come our way.

My search for seaglass continues with so many more beaches yet to experience. While I look forward to finding more beauties, I also know more lessons will make themselves known as well.

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