ALL CERTIFICATIONS for fitness, nutrition, coaching and wellness pros 30% OFF! Use coupon code “SPRING”

Wellness Coaching Certification, Personal Trainer Certification, Holistic Life Coaching…
Be your own boss and help to change people’s lives for the better! Become certified in any number of specialties for…

Be your own boss and help to change people’s lives for the better!

Become certified in any number of specialties for affordable rates, and start changing lives and the world for better!

You can become certified in any of these areas:

Wellness Coaching Certification, Corporate Wellness Coaching, Personal Trainer Certification, Mind-Body Fitness Coaching, Stress Management Coaching,  Lifestyle Fitness Coaching Green Living Coaching, Holistic Life Coaching,  Personal Fitness Chef, MMA-CA Mixed Martial Arts Conditioning Coach Certification, Food Psychology Coach, Fitness Nutrition Coach, Sports Nutrition Specialist, Sports Injury Specialist, Sport Yoga Instructor, Group Exercise Instructor, Design Psychology, Lifestyle Weight Management Specialist, Kids Nutrition Specialist, Spencer Pilates, Sports Hypnosis, Sports Injury Specialist,Core Conditioning Coach, Tactix Method Martial Arts Group Fitness, plus much more!!

MMA Conditioning Coach Certification

Life and Wellness Coaching Programs

ALL CERTIFICATIONS for fitness, nutrition, coaching and wellness pros 30% OFF! Use coupon code “SPRING”

Wellness Coaching Certification, Personal Trainer Certification, Holistic Life Coaching…

Be your own boss and help to change people’s lives for the better! Become certified in any number of specialties for…

Be your own boss and help to change people’s lives for the better!

Become certified in any number of specialties for affordable rates, and start changing lives and the world for better!

You can become certified in any of these areas:

Wellness Coaching Certification, Corporate Wellness Coaching, Personal Trainer Certification, Mind-Body Fitness Coaching, Stress Management Coaching,  Lifestyle Fitness Coaching Green Living Coaching, Holistic Life Coaching,  Personal Fitness Chef, MMA-CA Mixed Martial Arts Conditioning Coach Certification, Food Psychology Coach, Fitness Nutrition Coach, Sports Nutrition Specialist, Sports Injury Specialist, Sport Yoga Instructor, Group Exercise Instructor, Design Psychology, Lifestyle Weight Management Specialist, Kids Nutrition Specialist, Spencer Pilates, Sports Hypnosis, Sports Injury Specialist,Core Conditioning Coach, Tactix Method Martial Arts Group Fitness, plus much more!!

MMA Conditioning Coach Certification

Life and Wellness Coaching Programs












Summer Rayne Oakes has taken an unlikely career path, having parlayed her background in environmental science and entomology with a successful career as a fashion model. Considered one of the foremost authorities in sustainable design, Oakes has co-founded the award-winning online materials marketplace, Source4Style; authored the best-selling style guide, Style, Naturally; is creative designer behind her line of recycled optics and shades called eco by Summer Rayne Oakes; has collaborated on collections with Payless ShoeSource, Portico Home, and Aveeno, and was the muse behind the creation of the Prius C – Toyota even went so far as to name a paint color in her honor!

Formerly an on-air correspondent for Discovery Networks Planet Green, Oakes has once again turned to the media world, producing an award winning environmental art short entitled eXtinction and a weekly conversation-style video series launching in April 2013. Vanity Fair has named Oakes a “Global Citizen,” Outside called her one of the “Top Environmental Activists,” and CNBC called her one of the “Top 10 Green Entrepreneurs of 2010.” Oakes lives in Brooklyn with her two dozen exotic insects. Follow her at and

Here are some of the highlights of my conversation with Oakes – you can check out the whole interview here

ES: What is it about nature that you love so much?

SRO: When I was a kid, I loved to draw and I loved to draw nature and be outside, and I really found myself lost in my mother’s National Geographic magazines. I think it’s a shame that we don’t collect that stuff anymore, because it was exactly that I was engrossed in. I was fortunate because I grew up in a pretty idyllic area. It was really the phenomenal vistas and people and places that I saw in National Geographic that allowed me to dream outside of the borders. Who knows exactly what it was that makes you tick…you do what makes you come to life. Because what you’re passionate about is what you’re going to want to devote your life to.

ES: You’re an environmental scientist and activist, entomologist, keynote speaker, and an eco-model. I read somewhere you used that – being a model – as you’re “way in.”

SRO: That was definitely the wolf in sheep’s clothing. For me, it was trying to find new ways to communicate environmental issues. And I kind of struggled with it, because some of my best friends are not in the same field. I wanted to get an opportunity to share it with people like them. We often find ourselves saying what disconnects us vs. what connects us. So, “environment” was a real disconnecting part. People just didn’t share the same passion for it that I did. And so I thought there has to be a cooler way to connect that passion, and I thought “Well, what about through fashion?”

ES: I first saw you on the cover of Natural Health and I just saw your picture, but you radiated this energy and intelligence and passion. Of course, then I read the article, and there was something about you that stood out. You do inhabit your passion. To me that’s one of the most inspiring things about you.

SRO: One of things I’ve realized, particularly working in the fashion industry, is you’re there to project an image…and I’m only really good at being myself.  I was never good at playing a part, and the whole purpose of fashion is to play a part. You mentioned it seems so natural I would do this, but it’s not always so natural. The idea of expressing your values and who you are as a person didn’t exist in the fashion industry. Trying to create that platform was a very difficult, arduous journey. When I shot the cover of Natural Health, they called me and said “I don’t know if we want you on the cover.”  And I said “Well why the hell not?” They said “You’re too sexy, you might not be relatable.” And I said “You’ve never seen me smile. I have these dimples…” I was also standing in a field of lavender and honeybees which no else wanted to go in and I was like “Give me all the honeybees.” I just felt like I was in heaven in there (laughs).

ES: It looked like heaven too. You mentioned how in the fashion industry, how you had to pave the way for what now seems effortless, and create that niche.

SRO: I don’t want to take too much credit. The only way you can trail blaze a path is by linking it on to other things that pre-exist. It’s very difficult to do things on your own, and I’ve received a lot of wonderful help along the way. One of the biggest pieces of advice I have is to never be shy to tell people about what you want to do or why you’re doing it. My first agency out of college was Boss Models. And they really took a chance on me because I wasn’t the typical person. I’m like “This is why I’m here. I really want to connect environmental issues with fashion.” And, at that time – this was 2004, 2005 – no one had even heard of anything of that nature. They gave me a lot of lines. I remember they looked at me and said “Look. Eighty percent of the jobs won’t be available to you because your hips are two inches too big.” And I just looked at him and said “I just shared with you my deepest core passion about what I’d like to do and you’re giving me this line. First of all I don’t want ninety percent of the jobs. I don’t want ninety five percent of the jobs. Forget about my hips.” And I had this presence, and I was like “If you think my hips are going to stop me from doing my passion which is far greater than any trivialities of the fashion world, you are sadly mistaken.” And they were impressed, and they signed me on the spot. It didn’t’ really work out, but you have to stand for something. You just can’t be shy.

ES: And that’s what I picked up on when I watched your demo reel…and speaking your truth opens some of those doors.

SRO: Absolutely. A lot of people want to hold onto their ideas and not share them.  And I’m the complete opposite. If I went through the fashion industry not telling anybody about what I wanted to do…I would have been sent on all these castings that didn’t make sense for me, that took me away from my vision. Two years down the line I could have been waitressing, trying to do a fashion career that wasn’t even something that I wanted. Along that way I wore my heart on my sleeve, whether it was naiveté or who I am.  And in that process I found people who were into it and wanted to help and wanted to make introductions. And it was those people who ended up building my career. And you wouldn’t have those people in your life if you didn’t tell them what you were doing and what you stood for and what makes you tick.

ES: This is your quote from one of your keynote speeches: “Go forth in your life with vigor and passion. Strive to see yourself in every single person that you meet. Know the goal you are working toward. Let that be your guiding light, and go forward as a human being.”  I like that you’re a woman shining a light on sustainability.

SRO: As you’re a woman going through the process of starting a non-profit, you start to realize some of the inequities. It’s funny because I didn’t experience any of those in college. There are those women who trail blazed that path for us to feel equal.  Now I see more women starting their own businesses, and we’ve gone through the process. We raised a venture capital round for Source4Style and you can start seeing where some of those inequities or disconnects are happening for women who want to start their own businesses, for example.

ES: So it still exists although we’ve made progress. Doesn’t Source4Style work with female entrepreneurs?

SRO: Yes, the whole idea behind it was to connect designers with sustainable suppliers around the world. About 70-75% of people who work within the manufacturing and textile sectors are women. So, inevitably, by putting those groups together you not only solve the problem of sourcing times – which designers say they spend up to eight five percent of their time sourcing –you’re actually also solving the problem of being able to develop market access to women and men in different parts of the world who can’t get their wares out to U.S. or European market places. We are sourcing in over 30 countries, and we supply products to designers in over 76 countries around the world.

ES: I was watching your short film eXtinction, and you were mentioning that by time you’re fifty, all the lions will be extinct in the wild.  That made my heart drop.

SRO: Yeah, the concept behind it was to showcase the more pressing environmental issues that are happening within a lifetime.  And I narrate it on the time of my life from birth to death. I came upon this concept because I was really struggling with this idea…how do I connect people with how quickly this is changing before our eyes? What I find is that people have specific statistics in the film that really resonate with them. And more people resonate with the lions than anything else, and I think that is because it’s an animal…it’s big, it’s relatable, it’s the king of the kingdom…and you feel like, wow, that’s something that’s really close to me. The other things are forests and coral reefs might seem more esoteric, and maybe some of us don’t understand what happens if all the coral reefs die.

ES: What does happen?

SRO: About a billion people rely on coral reefs for their food. And it’s because it serves as a whole ecosystem underneath the earth. If you think about it, almost our entire planet is covered with ocean. So there’s a whole level of ecosystem and biodiversity below, submerged in water that we don’t know about.  The reality is we’re looking at this from a health perspective. Our coral reefs provide food, tourism, the whole ecological integrity of the system, and these all are coming undone with an increase in temperature of the ocean, which leads to an increasing acidity of our ocean…creatures can’t form their shells anymore…the symbiosis of coral and polyps come undone.  And different coral exists in different temperatures.  The coral can’t survive if the ocean has warmed.

ES: You are an electrifying speaker. You’re really good at being the Pied Piper for anyone who’s interested and has the energy and the motivation.  As you said, it’s time to get down in the trenches now, to create that positive feedback loop and stay connected to grassroots efforts.

SRO: I still feel very grassroots. We’ve done a really good job getting people excited.  But now we have to communicate about the journeys, the struggles, and the challenges. Not everybody’s up for that challenge.

ES: How does one go deeper into one’s passion?

SRO: Start with yourself first. I got into the fashion industry because we all wear clothes. There are certain things that really connect us. Sometimes if you start things in your own life, that can be an inspiration for other people. Be a role model…make yourself healthy. Look into your own life, but don’t make it a blanket statement. For me it was about bringing more green into my life and into my home and being able to share that with more people. I took joy in that.  It’s not complicated. You really have to get to “What do I want out of my life?”  You have to get a sense of your own life and what works for you. It’s about creating a really happy, healthy existence for you and being able to share that with other people. We live life full of a lot of perfunctory relationships…with cute little sound bytes. Hone in on your truth, and follow your passion with the utmost respect and hard work.

ES: When you create your own healthy, sustainable life you can in turn radiate that out and touch other people, which is what I see you doing so beautifully.  Thank you, Summer.

Summer Rayne Oakes – Eco-Model & Environmental Scientist

You’ve set your clocks, now mark your calendars! Summer Rayne Oakes is an environmental scientist, environmental activist, entomologist turned eco-model, and one of the foremost authorities in sustainable design. Her passion is Nature! Join us for a scintillating talk this Spring on March 21st @ 4pm PST/7pm EST:–environmental-scientist-eco-model



If you have the DESIRE to harness your well-being and live life at your fullest potential, I AM YOUR COACH.  

YOU are the only kind of client I work with, exclusively.  If you are looking to build Confidence & Resilience and will do WHATEVER IT TAKES to be well, happy, and fulfilled, you are in the right place!  🙂

If you desire to CHANGE and have the motivation and courage, and BELIEF IN YOURSELF, then you are the kind of client with whom I work.  In fact, you’re the ONLY kind of client whom I coach.

I love wellness coaching, but I only work with people who have a deep desire and MOTIVATION to change. 

I coach because it’s my passion.  I offer coaching because I was born to do it, and I’m very good at it.

Even if you don’t believe in yourself 100%, but you have FAITH that there really is a way to change your crippling health habits for good, then you are the kind of person who would benefit from working with me.

I am very PASSIONATE about wellness coaching, and I know it works, from both personal and professional experience.  The methods I use have been proven to work over and over for thousands upon thousands of people.  They are based on what’s known as evidence-based practice, and developed thoroughly by Wellcoaches.

These are the kind of clients I work with (credit – Wellcoaches):

* You’re Done with Quick Fixes and Wish to Change for Good

* You Realize Your Health is Your Best Asset and Wish to Protect and Value it

* You are Done Sitting on the Fence with your Health Habits

* You Realize it’s About Wellness and Vitality, not random Weight Loss

* You Wish to be The Expert and Master of Your Health and Life

* You Wish to Master the Mental Game of Life and Vitality

* You Wish to Reach Peak Performance in your Life, Health, Work, etc.

* Willing to do the Work – You are Ready and Willing to take the Small Steps that lead to Big Changes

* Ensure Your Future – You Wish to Get or Stay Well for your Future and your Family


This is your LIFE.   How much do you desire to feel good and feel free from health habits that keep you going in circles and feeling unhealthy?

What VALUE do you place on FEELING GOOD?   How much do you value and RESPECT yourself, your body, and this one PRECIOUS LIFE you have been given to live?

If you can find what MOTIVATES you to change, give me a call.  This is all you need to get started.  What moves you to change?

You could be motivated out of FEAR, yes.  But that won’t get you very far.

But if you can find a REASON to change that is based on LOVE, INSPIRATION, MOTIVATION, etc. you can and will change for good.

Remember, you will not be in this alone.  That is the whole point of coaching.  I can guide you down this new path, that YOU have chosen to get and stay on…

Together, we can change the very thing that has caused you so much pain for so long.

That which you shine a light on is illuminated in light, and diminished in fear.

Reach out to me today, and let’s shine a light on your FEAR.

It’s not really that scary.  It’s just there, in the dark, in your way, blocking your true path and effortless health.

I absolutely love wellness coaching and I know it works.  But I coach people because it’s my calling.

I do this because I love it.  I happen to be very good at it too.  If you have the commitment and DESIRE to change, I can help you do it.  It’s as simple as that.

If you are ready, I am here, on the other path, waiting and ready to go…

VIP Wellness Coaching  

I offer different VIP packages:

VIPWellnessCoach (Group & Individual)


VIPChronicCoach (I currently do just consultations, but we have a free, private FB group)


One Day & Weekend Intensives

Individual VIP Coaching includes:

I tailor each session to YOU.

We craft the perfect sessions to allow you to emerge into your full potential in body, mind, and spirit.

Customized sessions are tailored to empower you physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, spiritually, and beyond:

What is the right diet for you?  What type of  movement works best for you?  Are you getting all the health & medical support you need?  What about social support?  You will have access to my Wellcoaches platform, to take a customized HRA (health risk assessment), plus work with me one-on-one to discover your strengths and move through your challenges.

Also included:

Mind-Body fitness sessions (yes, even remotely!)  I am a certified yoga instructor.  My history with mind-body fitness spans over 40 years.

Together, we will explore how movement  may best serve you.

Also included:

Concierge grocery store tours

Concierge kitchen makeover

VIP One Day & Weekend Intensives

Live far away, but wish to work with me in person?  Fly to work with me or fly me to work with you!

I offer One Day Intensives and Weekend Retreats for VIP clients.

Fly into work with me all day for one day, or for the whole weekend!

This can be an add on to working with me via phone in a VIP coaching package, or it’s own service.

VIP One Day:  $899

VIP Weekend Intensive:  $1499

Included:  coaching, yoga, mind-body fitness, grocery store tour, custom-made day or weekend to get you results based on your individual needs!




VIPChronicCoach (I currently do just consultations, but we have a free, private FB group)


Natural Foods Store Tours

Yoga/Mind-Body Fitness Instruction

VIPWellnessRetreats (coming soon!)

One-day Intensives & Weekend Intensives

Holisticpreneur/Business Coaching

EmpowerPreneur (coming soon!)

Key Note Speaker: (contact me for topics)

Brown Bag Workshops (see “Corporate Wellness”)

I offer fitness individual and group coaching, self-coaching courses, yoga sessions, nutrition coaching, wellness coaching, mind-body fitness, QiGong, dance instruction, stretching, meditation, retreats (coming soon!), one day and weekend intensives.



How Do I Get Started? 🙂

Click here for coaching or consultations, as well as bonuses (you get access to my books!) to go with your coaching packages!

Schedule your first session today!



Contact Me

ediesummers [@]



Inspired Family Coaching
Michelle combines academic credentials with road-tested experience working with families.  Michelle’s background as a school counselor, Head Start teacher and parent group facilitator, makes her uniquely qualified to help parents and children.  As a parent herself, Michelle understands the daily challenges of family life.  All parents want to raise happy, healthy and responsible children.  Michelle can help you find your path to a fulfilling family life.  Your success is inspired by your values and your hopes and dreams for your family.  That is why her services are called Inspired Family Coaching. Please call today for an in-home consultation!
Michelle Butler, M.A.
Inspired Family Coaching works with you to find your path toward  a successful and fulfilling family life.  Three areas support a thriving family: a strong parent-child relationship; a supportive marital union; and a simplified home environment.  I offer coaching in each of these critical areas as well as individual counseling.  My fees include a 90-minute initial consultation for $69 and an hourly rate of $49.
Marriage Strengthening
Do you ever feel like your marriage is coming in last place for your time and attention?  Prioritize your relationship by identifying the kind of marriage you desire.  Understand how you and your partner can better meet each other’s emotional needs.  I will coach you and your partner toward activities that revitalize your life together.  Your entire family will benefit from the energy you put into this essential relationship.

Cultivating your Home Environment
Do you want to reclaim your home as a shelter from the harried pace of modern life?  Based on the work of Kim John Payne’s Simplicty Parenting, we will consider the four areas of your family’s home life: environment, rhythm, scheduling and media consumption.  I will help you reclaim your vision of a relaxed and nurturing place to raise your family.
Parenting Support
You can feel like a successful parent again!  Whether you need some inspiration or are confronted with a specific challenging behavior, I will work with you to identify areas of concern. Through education and parent coaching, I will help you become the confident and positive parent you want to be.  Together, we will find the strategies for success.

Individual Counseling

Have you heard the saying “You can’t pour water from an empty pitcher?”  If your family needs more than you feel able to give, we can begin the process of change by focusing on you.  I offer individual counseling focused on stress management and wellness. Your personal needs matter, too!
Groups and Workshops
Inspired Family Coaching can be done individually or in a group setting.  If your are interested in forming a group or holding a workshop at your church, preschool or day care, please contact Michelle for group rates and availability.  Participating in a group is a wonderful way to gain social support, exchange ideas and build community.  A workshop can be an affordable and timely way for numerous people to acquire knowledge and skills.
Michelle is an experienced group facilitator with training in several parenting curriculums including

Parenting with Love & Logic, Simplicity Parenting, NICASA Parenting Project, The Incredible Years as well as the divorce related series Kids Turn.  She can present on a variety of topics to fit the interests and needs of the group.









Remember how Dorothy didn’t know that she had the power all along to get back home to Kansas?  Turns out all she had to do was CLICK HER HEELS.  What is the magic ingredient in changing your health for the better?  YOU.  You’ve had it all along!  A lot of times clients get really excited at the beginning of sessions and think the coach is going to magically transform their life and their problems will just melt away.  It doesn’t exactly work like this, although you can and will experience RADICAL transformation if you jump in the river and GO WITH THE FLOW of the coaching process.  Your coach or therapist DOES play a crucial role in your healing journey.  This is true, and you should be excited.  A compassionate, non-judgmental relationship with a coach or therapist goes a LONG WAY toward change and healing.

HOWEVER, the most radical, beautiful, change happens because of YOU!  This is a good thing, trust me.  When you realize YOU have the power to change your life, this is where the real MAGIC HAPPENS.  How does change happen then?  And why does it feel like work? When you change for other people – to please them – or when you change out of FEAR – so you won’t feel humiliated on the beach – you are changing for EXTERNAL reasons, and that, my friend, is HARD WORK.  In fact, it feels like you are carrying the weight of the world on you.  Who wants to do that FOREVER?

When you change because you LOVE  yourself, and VALUE yourself, change FEELS GREAT and EFFORTLESS often.  Here’s a tip, figure out what your very HIGHEST IDEAL is, and change FOR THAT REASON.  When you change a health habit because you desire so strongly to stay true to and be there for your VISION – what you VALUE, YOUR HIGHEST IDEALS – change is not only effortless, it’s enjoyable, because you are FOCUSING ON YOUR VISION, AND SEEING IT COME TO FRUITION.  Real change also happens when we build a sense of self-confidence, that yes, I CAN DO THIS.  Self-confidence comes by achieving, small, attainable goals.  One…goal…at…a…time.  This is another way a coach can really help you along your JOURNEY.  Yes, there are so many benefits to wellness coaching.  But the most important benefit of all is that you get to meet your amazing, powerful SELF in the process.  And your POWERFUL SELF, my friend, can do and be anything she wants.   Just look within, believe in yourself, and click your heels…









Are You a Wellness Warrior?  Are You Getting The Support you Need to Truly Thrive?

Loneliness is becoming an epidemic, and we are more isolated than ever these days.  Loneliness can lead to or exacerbate health issues as well. 

Connection and Social Well-Being are the missing pieces in well-being.

No matter our circumstances, we all need support.   Click here to learn more about how you can get the support you need to thrive along the way:




About the Author


Edie Summers has positive recovery from ME/CFS and is a tireless advocate for those facing chronic conditions such as MS, RA, ME/CFS, Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Cancer, etc.  Her goal is to empower as many people worldwide who face chronic conditions and to inspire true well-being no matter what the body experiences.   She is the author of the book The Memory of Health, to be released in the spring of 2016.   The Memory of Health details her personal journey through ME/CFS and how she tries to live each day with as much mindfulness as possible to cultivate well-being in mind, body, and soul.  Her comprehensive book also covers environmental toxins, theories of ME/CFS and chronic fatigue, self-care, stress management, positive psychology, and much more.  It is designed to be a resource for well-being and to live well with chronic illness.  You can find it here:

She offers the wellness support website an intimate social networking site for wellness retreats and masterminds both online and offline, healthy living, as well as support groups for ME/CFS, chronic illness, self-coaching programs, telecalls & webinars, etc.   She is an author, wellness coach, and yoga instructor:

She is an executive for the health and fitness tech start-up Smashon:  She offers the self-coaching program Coach Your Way to More Energy!  which is a comprehensive self-coaching course designed to empower and support people facing ME/CFS or those looking to improve energy and well-being or manage stress and learn how to practice more self-care by cultivating mindfulness:

She offers a year-long wellness program to help people learn how to feel good and practice well-being, no matter their circumstances.  Topics covered include self-care, yoga, mindfulness, stress management, getting in shape, eating well, fitness and nutrition coaching, body image, self-esteem, weight loss, living well with a chronic condition, and the importance of social well-being.  The group is run online with live group tele-calls, and private support on FB, as well as meeting twice a year for wellness retreats.  To find out more and sign up, click here:

She runs these Facebook support pages:



I spent a few weeks on the East Coast of Florida a few summers ago, where I was spending time with my parents. My dad was recovering from esophageal cancer. He was stage four and really sick when I arrived, but started doing much better after we made some changes in his diet (cultured foods, superfoods, protein shakes, and herbs). I also did some energy work on him and we moved a lot of toxins out from his last rounds of chemotherapy and radiation.

There is a Dolphin Conservation Center in Marineland, which is about a mile up from where they live. I got into the habit of walking up there at sunrise every morning either along the beach or road, depending on high tide. My first morning I didn’t make it very far because it was mid-tide on the beach and I was thoroughly distracted by the gorgeous beach and abundance of shells.

With my eyes trained below me I saw the imprint of a large starfish buried in the sand, waiting for high tide. It felt like I had struck gold. This was my first time finding one. It was orange, blue, beautiful, and unreal looking. I immediately thought to take it home so my dad could see it. I carried it on my water bottle up the shore in the hot sun. The wind was blowing and kept knocking the starfish off my water bottle. Each time it fell on the sand my intuition would say, “leave it here.” But I wanted my dad to experience the wonder of it so I would pick it up and place it back on my water bottle. After while it started wrapping its arms around the neck of the bottle. When the wind knocked if off my bottle right before I reached the condo I picked it up and broke one of its arms. I started to panic. I felt for sure I had made a mistake bringing it home.

My mom and I immediately put it in water, and I brought it in to show my dad. He was thrilled and said he hadn’t seen one in years. I then high-tailed it out to the ocean and put it into the growing high tide.  I promised myself that if I were ever lucky enough to find another one, I would kiss it, make a wish, and send it back to the sea where it belongs. I don’t regret showing it to my father, but I had tried to hard to hold onto the experience of it, when it was clear where it was the starfish was meant to stay.

The next morning, I made a silent wish again that I would have the opportunity to find another starfish. Since I had never found one before it seemed like a long shot. Within minutes of being on the beach I found a baby starfish right in my path. I picked it up and it immediately started squirming. Who knows, maybe it was afraid. The other one had been so still. So I did what I said I would do: I kissed it, made a wish, and put it into the waves. A few minutes down the beach I found another medium-sized one. I felt blessed and the power of prayer. I made a wish and sent it back to the sea.

I’ve had trouble in the past truly appreciating the beauty of fleeting moments, but the abundance of my wish fulfillment with the starfish stayed in my mind. A few days later, I had the opportunity to meet dolphins for the first time up close at the Dolphin Conservation Center in Marineland Florida. I have seen them before in the wild at a distance, but never up close. They were so light in being and happy and playful, just like you hear all the time. My dad made the tremendous effort to come watch me play with them in the hot Florida sun. Not easy if you’re sick and in a wheelchair. The experience was amazing for my parents and me. I met a baby dolphin just a few months old and her mother –a blond dolphin — which are rare. We talked about the experience all day long.

Another day, my mom and I took a walk at sunset to the river with the hopes of seeing more wild dolphins. We had seen some together at this location a few years ago. There were none that night. The next morning, we both got up early to take a final walk on the beach, tide permitting. We walked down to an empty, crystal white beach with a luminescent ocean glimmering pearl white, pastel blue, green, and pink. After a few minutes of walking down the beach and staring into the ocean, I spotted a dolphin arcing through the water, and then another, and then another. It was a family feeding at sunrise. We saw the baby dolphin up close, very near the ocean’s edge. The dolphins arced through the water and traveled with us as we walked. We stopped again to stare when the ocean turned all pink and a pink sun began to rise. We saw a fourth dolphin — a blond one — arc through the water. It was stunning, and much more than for that which we could have wished or hoped.

In Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s book Gift from the Sea, she quotes Blake on recognizing and appreciating the sacred in fleeting moments of beauty and joy:

“…(s)he who kisses the joy as it flies lives in Eternity’s sunrise.”

The fleeting, unexpected moments we experience are often the best and the most meaningful.

My dad has since passed away.  It wasn’t his time here anymore.  It was bittersweet, seeing him for the last two weeks in Florida that I did.  But it was profound and beautiful too.  We got to spend quality moments together, and to say a proper goodbye.  And he filled me with his steady wisdom like he always has.  “Never give up,” he said.  “Too many people lose the light from their eyes.”  I’ll remember that more than anything beyond our final games of battleship.  Never give up and remember from where you came.  Stay awake and keep your hope alive.

My heart is filled from these unexpected gifts from the sea and my time spent on the beautiful Florida coast. I can see why people retire here. It’s about returning to our deep origins. There are so many dreams we come from, so don’t be afraid to ask for what you truly wish. The world is limitless, and wishes are often granted in ways even better than you could ever imagine. All you you have to do is ask/pray and be grateful for its fulfillment no matter which form the universe decides it takes. Even for only a few moments of divine grace, the memory will last with you a lifetime.