We all have them. Many of them. Our first spoken words, first steps, first bike ride without training wheels, first day of school, surviving first cat 5 hurricane. You get the drift. 

My life is without exception. Some joyfully memorable , others, we wish we could retract.  No matter the outcome, milestones represent growth. Some overtly positive; others serve as hidden corrections to design a new path.

Milestones are life's mile markers of our own personal journey. They represent something so intrinsically significant, they embed the soul.

My latest milestone was winning the blue ribbon at the 2018, 81st Annual, Sanibel/Captiva Seashell Show.

The highly revered, largest, long running and most prestigious, juried seashell event in the world was a milestone in and of itself;  having gained acceptance as a new, unknown  "seashell" artist.

A self-described "lone wolf" of seashell artistry with no affiliation to any of the prestigious, tight knit seashell clubs, I was clearly the under dog. No one to network with, no insight into the idiosyncrasies the judges were looking for. 

I was on my own. I downloaded the seemingly endless, volumes of rules and regulations than ran my ink jet printer dry.  I wore out the Show Director's kind and patient  welcome, to chat thru the plethora of scrambled  questions that filled my head.

I had established myself as an esteemed artist in Southwest Florida's vibrant art community.  Especially after reaching another milestone of induction into Sarasota's esteemed  Ringling College of Art and Design and featured artist in The Winter Gallery held inside the Loranger Gallery, December, 2017.

But the Sanibel show was a whole new ball game.  Simply put, it is the Super Bowl of seashells; the Westminster of the deep blue sea!

There was never any question that my eye on the prize was to ribbon with one of my signature, estate series, large baroque mirrors.  

At this point, I need to remind myself I am writing a blog and not a novel.  So much involved to prepare for an event of this magnitude into the 6 short weeks my lead time allowed.  

In the end, 3 pieces were entered into the professional division.  "Knight Into Day" estate series clock featuring seashells 100 % sourced from home beach, Knight Island, "Tree of the Sea" large, estate series topiary and "Reflections" large, estate series seashell mirror featuring a small percentage of outsourced, vibrantly colored seashells, that I had just completed for a client's custom order.

Never been, my husband and I ventured early week to Sanibel Community Center. A beautiful island visit in need of it's own blog. We were directed to place my pieces, leaving them anonymously for judging the following 2 days. The show, open to the public after judging and awards ceremony.  Not a chance for us to attend as hotels booked well over a year in advance of the show.

Almost all of the artists  and scientific division collections were already in place, we found it almost impossible to leave the venue. We had no words; we were captivated on Captiva and mesmerized by sheer beauty of the seashell artistry as well as the phenomenal, scientific collections.

We were instructed to return Saturday, at close of show for breakdown and pickup.  Leaving was painful.

What followed, were  the longest 5 days of my life.  For someone who expected nothing, I was wired to win.

Upon return to the massively crowded community center, funneled thru the crowd to the wall of mirrors, I could barely believe my eyes: a blue, 1st place ribbon attached to my mirror! 

Having completely blanked out that I entered 2 additional pieces/categories, imagine my surprise when my husband reported with excitement that I had ribboned with the clock and topiary as well; tied for 3rd and 2nd respectively. I was 3 for 3!!!

Milestones. They involve courage, perserverance, patience, disappointment and joy. They make us who we are when we choose to be who we choose to be. 

Milestones. Make sure to make them a part of your life; your legacy. Take the risk. Accept the challenge.   Milestones are worth every pebble marking purpose . In my case,  every seashell gathered along the shore.

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