Amanda Kingsbury, an editor for IndyStar, has gone through a lot of heartbreak in the past few years.
Her first relationship post-divorce was messy and ultimately devastating. The relationship left her feeling “like someone had taken a potato peeler to my arms, neck and face — raw, blistered, exposed, like I needed long sleeves and a hat to venture outside.”
One night while sitting on her bed, her 11-year-old daughter, Violet, looked up from her phone and delivered some blunt truth. Violet compared her mom to a hermit crab.
“You like to stay in the darkness and sadness. Once in a while, you like to tiptoe out onto the beach — where the happiness is — but then you go right back into your shell,” she elaborated.
The 11-year-old then went on to describe herself, her grandmother, and even the cat as dolphins, curious and playful. Amanda’s sister was compared to a turtle, “ambling along, content, but receding quickly when provoked.”
Violet encouraged her mother to become a dolphin. “I know there’s one inside of you,” she said. It was one of those “out of the mouth of babes” moments.
After spending the rest of the year wrestling with what her daughter said, Amanda finally broke down on Christmas Eve and admitted to her daughter, “I don’t know how to be a dolphin. I don’t know how to feel joy.”
Recognizing that her daughter could be the perfect role model, she began to observe her dolphin child. She watched Violet celebrate small moments and be content in them. She watched her find amazement in the most unexpected places.
Amanda has deemed 2018 “The Year of the Dolphin” because her goal is to embrace the inner dolphin her daughter sees in her.
Violet even made her mother a sign for inspiration that hangs on the refrigerator. It reads, “Hi, Mommy! Don’t forget to be a dolphin today!”
Since the beginning of 2018, the single mom has gone out of her way to create dolphin moments. Moments like dancing to “YMCA” in the middle of a Dollar General to rolling down a grassy hill with a friend’s toddler.
She even made a list of “37 Reasons 2017 Didn’t Suck As Much As I Thought It Did.” She has shared her story with a USA Today network editor and spoken to 300 people about the need for organ donations in Indiana.
As she is learning to push past her hermit crab tendencies and embrace the dolphin moments, she has discovered that being a hermit crab isn’t so horrible. She learned that they molt about once a year which allows them to shed the old shell so that they can grow.
“There will again come a time when it’s time to shed my current outer layer, but it will be out in the open. No more burrowing into the darkness,” she said. “Now you can find me on the beach, working my way toward the surf.”
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