When I was young, I would visit my grandmother, Anna Louise KOCH, on a small barrier island in Florida named Casey Key. Her house was on a beach that was rugged, beautiful and undeveloped at the time. Every year, giant sea turtles would come ashore and lay nests in the sand in front of her house. When we were children, my brother and I were once lucky enough to see them born and released at 5:45 a.m. as the darkness faded and the red of the sun peered out from the clouds and scattered a salmon color over the giant ocean in front of us. Our tanned bodies tingled from excitement, and the smell of the salt air filled our lungs. I turned around and stared at my grandmother – and her blue eyes and wonderfully wrinkled face under her fringed straw hat – as she thanked God for the day that was before us.
The turtle man crouched at the edge of the water holding orange buckets filled with turtles. As he prepared to release them to face the multitude of challenges that threatened them, from seagulls and ghost crabs to sharks, he recognized that their pilgrimage to swim into the deep ocean was filled with risks. We ran down to the shore line and watched as the tiny bodies of the turtles drifted in the water, rising up and down with the rhythm of the waves. They bobbed in the water paddling furiously in the vast sea looking so tiny but fighting with such heart. I kept my eyes on the turtle man and tried to hear what he whispered to them as he released them. I moved closer to him and bent down. I even had to hold my breath to give me the chance to hear what he was saying to them. I asked my brother, and he shrugged his shoulders and moved closer too. Our grandmother moved closer to me, bent down and whispered in my ear,
“believe,” he always whispers, “believe.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because the turtles must believe in it all – in the world – and most of all themselves. They can’t just exist, they have to choose to live."
It is the same with you. You have to fight just like the sea turtles. It’s not enough to just glide through life. You have to push yourself to discover and use all of the gifts God gave you to reach your full potential, or you will never find happiness. In your worst moments, when you feel like you are drowning, you have to keep paddling…keep fighting, just like the turtles. What you choose to believe will determine your life. Besides, life is way more fun when you believe in it than when you don’t.”
My grandmother lived to 101 years old. She believed in people and their ability to change the world. Many years after this memory of my childhood, when I was 36, I was running up the beach past the new turtle nests marked with wooden stakes. I waved at Gram as I skipped up the sand dollar-lined pathway to her house in my bikini. She looked at me and said, “enjoy every inch of that beautiful shape.” I had just had a baby and didn’t feel as convinced about this as she was. I laughed and said, “well thanks gram, you made my day!” She responded, “What you believe about yourself is the key. I always thought I loved every minute of life, every part of myself, but I realize as I sit here that I could have loved it even more and enjoyed how I looked at every age: 20, 40, or 80!” “Gram I never have known someone who loved life more than you,” I said. “Yes, but baby, in the end, you will realize you can never believe in all of it enough. It’s pure magic, especially the parts where you feel life is telling you ‘no.’ I think back and know that those are the moments that if you decide to fight through them and keep believing, you will open up an even bigger world as a result: a bigger yes! Like those turtles that fought through the resistance of the waves and believed. They are out there right now in that big sparkling blue ocean having the time of their life.
We have a TikTok giveaway Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. Please remember that the trivia will come from the blog! We are giving away an Erica Skirt, a Madison dress, and a Piper Top.
We loved all your suggestions for our search for a KOCH House location in Austin and can’t wait to go on this journey with you.
Quote of the week: “Life is way more fun when you believe in it than when you don’t.” Louise KOCH
Podcast of the week: Business Wars - KFC vs Chick Fil A