Monday, March 4, 2013

66th Annual Shell Show

Holding my Blue Shell Award for Photography.
Just over a week ago I was proud to be a part of the 66th Annual St. Petersburg Shell Show as an artistic exhibitor.  I have grown up collecting seashells so when I moved back to St. Petersburg last year, I joined the St. Pete Shell Club in an effort to join an organization with like-minded individuals who shared my passion. Boy, was I blown away by their knowledge of shelling!  Where I always called shells by their common names, these folks referred to them by their scientific names - many of which I couldn't even pronounce!  

In addition to monthly meetings and the occasional field trip, I learned that the club hosts an annual Shell Show where anybody can submit their work.  While I knew that the scientific exhibits were probably out of my skill set, I had been experimenting with broken shells in my purse and headband designs on and off for over five years.  It was only after making a mermaid costume for Halloween that I finally figured out how to incorporate the shells into wearable fashion that didn't resemble cheap tourist trinkets.  Little did I realize that my fellow shell artists would be even more attention to detail in creating shell art that included dyes and tweezers to assemble the tiniest of shells to frames and knits.  It was a lesson that while I have an eye for color and patterns, I still have a long way to go in becoming a shell artist.

Embracing 3rd place for my Shell Fashions!  

Another perk of the Shell Show was volunteering in the kids area and teaching them about the various types of seashells found on our Florida beaches.  It was finally a place where I felt like the expert...well, until a six year-old walked up and showed me a thing or two!  I am constantly amazed by young people and how smart they are.  I encouraged the boy to submit an exhibit next year because I think he could win it!  

Learning a thing or two about sea shells.
Not sure who the teacher is here.

The reason I share this experience with you is that I am learning to embrace some of the activities and hobbies that simply make me happy.  I love taking beach photographs and collecting seashells.  I am sure we have all heard the phrase 'Live your passion' but I don't always think we should make a career or business of it.  I have spent years turning things I have enjoyed doing into businesses and careers before actually knowing the work it would entail.  I am also learning that it is okay not to be number one.  I am a perfectionist by nature so I always strive to do my very best but I have come to learn that there are so many more lessons in coming in second or third, or in not placing at all.  Talent is within each of us but it those who continue to compete without the expectation of ribbons or awards who are the true winners.

Just because you love sea life
doesn't mean you should be a mermaid.