When I moved to Florida in 2011, I knew I was leaving the familiar behind. That familiar consisted of my huge family that lived predominately within 90 minutes of each other in northern Michigan along with the friends I’d made over 27 years. I didn’t feel like I had a choice to make. Life had gotten progressively more difficult with the death of my dad, my divorce, the closing of my shop and then losing my home. I needed to start over, away from it all.
My prior knowledge of Florida consisted of small vay-kays visiting my folks as they wintered on the Gulf. While it was a great place to visit, I never imagined living there. The beach was beautiful, but if you didn’t actually live on it, it was hard to get to. I didn’t care for the landscape of highrise after highrise.
Cue Florida. Palm Coast, to be exact. Divine Providence led me here to this small planned community in northeast Florida on the Atlantic Ocean. 30 years ago, this place never existed. Now it’s a beautifully planned “Tree City” nestled between St. Augustine (the oldest city in America) and Daytona Beach, “The World’s Most Famous Beach,” with my own little throwback gem of Flagler Beach just minutes away.
I knew the trade-off. I knew what I was leaving. Certainly people would come visit. Who doesn’t love a place to stay in warm weather when you live in the snow belt? And we did get visitors, and it was wonderful. The years went by, and I grew to really love the area. My life changed in more ways than one, and over the course of the last couple of years, God has smiled down on me and brought not only my life partner, but two out of three of my kids to live nearby.
I hear people ask when is it their turn, or when will I catch a break, but the truth is you kind of have to just pray for guidance, pray for patience, and pray that you listen well enough to hear. That’s not always easy. Our timing is our timing. What seems like years is just a blink in the scheme of things. Waiting is so hard. Wishing seems fruitless. The old adage, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade,” should read, “When life hands you lemons, make a lemon-tini, and don’t forget to laugh.”
Was it all worth it? Was leaving everything I held dear to my heart worth it? I still have wonderful memories that I share with those that helped make them. I realize that nothing stays the same. But nothing worth having comes easy, and while the life-changing events that led to my move were anything but easy, I will say it was all worth it. Our past leads us to where we are. Everything endured influences who we are today. Would I change anything? Most definitely. But I believe even with that, I would have ended up with my David, my kids and grandkids nearby, in this beautiful little slice of heaven.