Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Knowing when to Come Out of Your Shell

Written for "Goddess Magazine"

Anne Kelly, founder and president of Junonia.com, specializing in active and casual plus size clothing.

Prehistoric they may be, but turtles have a great idea.  They carry their protection on their back, and when they feel threatened, they can pull it all in and be safe.  Have you ever seen a dog encounter a turtle?  They are so frustrated it is hilarious.

I recently have found myself foster parenting my son’s two large red slider turtles. I’ve been fascinated by them. I didn’t expect them to have such distinct personalities. And they are quite smart, learning patterns very quickly--especially where food is involved.  I love to watch them swim and play.  Although that might be mating behavior, I’m not sure!   They are surprisingly beautiful. I’ll be sad to see them go when they find a new home.

The most interesting thing is that they rarely go into their shells, only when surprised.  They just don’t stay there. They are either in constant swimming motion, lounging under a heat lamp, or sleeping suspended in the water with one foot to hold them in place. Their shells are their LAST defense, not the usual strategy for their life.

We humans do not carry our shells on our back, although sometimes we would love to have one!  As we evolved, we probably discovered that, like the turtles, we didn’t often really need to be inside the shell. Even for protection, we learned that if we lived in groups, we have people around us who would “have our back” and help protect us.

So the next time you are afraid to come out of your shell, think about the people around you who have your back.  And come out of your shell.  

So what have I learned from the turtles?

  1. You can’t go forward unless you stick your neck out.  
  2. If you stay in your shell you stay in the same spot.
  3. Never bite the hand that feeds you!
  4. Play with your partner, and give them space when they need it.
  5. Bask in the sun.
  6. To grow you have to shed your shell (it sheds in beautiful translucent sections.) 
  7. Be watchful, but not fearful.
  8. Keep a clean tank.
  9. Share the food.
  10. Keep swimming!

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