Dianne and Mike Lough are proof that playing in the sand is fun at any age. They started building sand castles with their son when he was young. As he grew older, his interest in sand castles waned, but Dianne and Mike were just getting started. They continued to visit Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina building various sand sculptures. The couple who call themselves, Sand Mates, traveled to Sarasota, Florida in 2013 to compete in the Siesta Key Crystal Classic International Sand Sculpting Festival , where they won first prize.
“I love being out here by the ocean. When I look out there at the sea, it just makes me feel like there are infinite possibilities, we can do more,” Dianne says. “I feel so renewed and rejuvenated after I have been to the beach.”
The doctor couldn’t have ordered a better therapy than going to the beach right now as Dianne has just finished recovering from breast cancer treatment. Dianne first discovered the amazing healing power of nature when she had a mild stroke after being electrocuted in an elevator.
“I was left with a chronic knot in my back that became scar tissue. I tried dry needling, massage and other techniques, which helped, but the pain never went away. When I come to the beach and build our sand art, however, I noticed the pain totally goes away and I am pain free for days. I’m not sure how it happens.” She smiles.
Art alone doesn’t relieve the pain. Dianne has been an artist all her life, her specialty being oil paintings. She recently added author and illustrator to her creative repertoire with her first children’s book, The Unique Sheep.
The couple, who hail from West Virginia and fell in love during their college years, work together to create their art sculptures. Mike builds the foundation, setting up support structures, digging up the sand, watering it down and packing it in tight.
When the sand is hardened, he gently removes the supports so Diane can begin her magic.
Some of their favorite tools come right from the kitchen; melon baller, spoons, knives and a cheese grater.
While most sandmasters use a straw to blow away extra sand from their sculptures as they go, Diane uses a balloon pump. “I was getting way too dizzy trying to blow away the excess sand,” she laughs.
“We do it for the love of it,” Mike says. “We only use natural elements found on the beach; shells, driftwood, seaweed. My favorite part of all this is the people we meet. Just yesterday a teenager stopped by and told us how he loved it, and you know how tough it is to connect with them.”
“We meet so many nice and interesting people. The kids are the funniest,” Diane adds. “I was making a turtle one year because it was turtle hatching season. A little boy watched me while he held his stuffed turtle. He asked me, ‘ Does it hurt when you carve into his face?’ ”
If there ever were an example of the healing power of nature, Diane is living proof. To look at the two of them playing in the sand, they may also be showing us that nature is also the fountain of youth.
What do you think? Pretty amazing, huh? Like the Sand Mates new facebook page to continue following their creative sand journey.
Do you have a healing with nature story? Contact me, I would love to hear it and maybe share it with your permission.
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