It has been a year. One full year of Florida living. A year filled with sand everywhere, sunsets, tons of ice cream, unbelievable amounts of sweat, missing home, new friends, laughter, tears, and every conceivable emotion in between.
This year was a risk, an adventure, a “who am I and what am I capable of” kind of year.
Rewind back 18 months and you would find Chad and I in the middle of long conversations about what direction we wanted to point our future, about how much change and loss we could handle, and mainly about how to escape the snow.
There were endless lists of “pros and cons” that we reviewed each time, trying to weigh our options and make a logical decision.
But the more we circled the topic, we eventually realized that we could circle the topic forever. There was no right answer. Any decision we made would involve loss, but also, positive gain.
We finally agreed that we should stop wondering and start doing.
I laced up my shoes by the light of my phone flashlight. I recently discovered that if I don’t turn on any lights, I’m able to sneak out of the house for a morning run without waking our lightest sleeper, Avery.
I quickly opened the badly in need of WD40 door and stepped out into the early morning. The humidity immediately hugged me, as if I was covered in a blanket.
The neighborhood was quiet, and the houses themselves took on the personas of sleepy giants. After I completed my usual gaze at the stars, I slowly walked out the front gate.
Once I was through the gate, I began my slow shuffle. My body groaned and my brain tried to warn me that this was not what it had hoped for this morning.
I watched the first glow of morning light tint the sky while I waited for my heart to catch up with the self-inflicted increased oxygen demands. Breathless, I reflected on a podcast I recently listened to called, “The Happiness Lab.”
Shout out to my lifelong friend, Regina, for getting me hooked on this podcast.
The podcast is narrated by Dr. Laurie Santos, a psychology professor from Yale. The topic is obviously, happiness. The episode I recently listened to talked about how sometimes… often, your brain thinks you can achieve happiness by doing things that won’t cultivate happiness: sleeping in late, skipping a workout, watching 8 hours of TV, scrolling endlessly through social media, wealth.
She argues that happiness takes work. It is not a state you can reach and stay at forever, nor can you buy it. And sometimes, oftentimes, it is putting in tough work that doesn’t feel fun that will lead to an end result of happiness.
I knew this was true from a running perspective. I am not a fan of waking up at 6 to get a run in, nor am I usually a fan of running while I’m doing it. But the endorphins I get at the end, or the feeling of finishing a long run… those make it worth it.
While I continued to let my brain ruminate on the topic, I watched as the sun rays broke through the humid atmosphere of Florida. The sun rising here looks exactly like the pictures 5 year olds draw of the sun; the big ball with rays of light streaming out.
I was struck by the beauty of the sunrise. A moment I would have easily missed had I listened to my brain and slept in.
I shuffled on, realizing that this entire year has been reflective of the fact that happiness is something to be worked for.
Selling our Minnesota home was a lot of work, saying goodbye to my family was a wrenchingly* hard decision, being outgoing and making friends in a new state was not within my comfort zone, etc.
BUT, the people we’ve met here have been so gracious, kind, and welcoming. Southern charm, I guess you would call it. We love being minutes away from Chad’s parents and grandparents for 5 months of the year.
We have enjoyed the ability to get outside every day in a t-shirt and shorts, no matter what month of the year it is. We love our family swims after dinner, the way that sunsets and rises involve a lot of pink and purple, the summer storms, and the chance to be on an adventure, together.
What I learned from this year is that we are never stuck. Nothing is holding us captive in one situation or another. Change is always possible. And sometimes the best way forward is to simply start moving forward.
Perhaps my favorite part of this whole year has been rediscovering my love for writing. I have loved reading all of your comments and feeling connected by words. Thank you for being the best bunch of fans.
Love to all,
*I’m aware that “wrenchingly” is not a word, but you know what I meant and it sounds right.