Winter In Paradise

I share a life-lesson learned every weekday. Today’s lesson is about living where you love to live.


December 7 , Tampa


This picture is from December 7th, 2015. Nicole and I were at Clearwater Beach in Florida, enjoying the sun and sand. We weren’t on vacation. We live in Tampa Bay.

For most of my adult life, I have lived in places like Michigan and Indiana, where cold weather encompasses nearly 8 months of the year. We moved to Tampa at the beginning of 2015. This is our first full winter in Florida, and I have to tell you… I should have done it sooner.

I never liked winter. Sure, the leaves are pretty in the Fall, for a week, and then I am ready for Summer again. I always figured the trade-offs for living in Grand Rapids and Detroit were mostly worth it (MUCH better vegan food, more art and culture, nothing in the water wants to eat you, etc.). I was wrong.

Looking at a tent full of Christmas Trees for sale next to a bunch of palm trees is both jarring and satisfying.  Having one wardrobe is great. Being able to be physically active all year round is great. Maybe most of all, having weekly moments of zen while sitting on white sand or paddling blue surf is great.

I lived up north for the last 23 years. The only thing I wish I had done differently is move south sooner. The ironic part is, it was not my idea. In fact, I resisted it. I wanted to move to Portland or Chicago, and I am sure I would have been happy in either of those places, but only for a third of the year.

If you know where you want to live, go. Don’t wait to live there–waiting is the enemy of success. Living is about living, not waiting to live.




What Would You Pay For It?

Today’s Lesson:  Value is in the moment, not in the price.


Yesterday was expensive. Typically, a day at the beach costs Nicole and me around $30. That’s $10 for parking and $20 for lunch. Yesterday was a beach day and we breezed through $160.

Because there was a festival at the beach we thought it would be fun to participate (and it was). Parking was at a premium, $25, plus $20 for tickets to the festival, $20 for lunch, $12 for drinks, $7 locker rental, and a rather bland $76 dinner at a fancy restaurant that made a fairly sad attempt to cater to vegans.

Overall, we had fun. It was worth every penny, even counting the bland, expensive dinner. However, if someone told us before we left our apartment that our trip to the beach was going to cost $160 (not counting fuel…this beach was an hour away from home), then we would definitely have stayed at the apartment and watched Netflix or something.

$160, honestly, turned out to be a bargain for the privilege and joy of spending the day playing in the ocean, enjoying amazing art, walking the shore, and watching fireworks on the beach.

It almost was not a magical day and it almost was a cheaper one. We almost headed for another beach when we found parking was more than double the normal rate but that would have meant another half hour of driving and more time spent looking for parking plus time lost when we could already be in the ocean. We paid it and we were glad to have a parking spot considering the festival’s turnout.

What something is worth, I realize, is whatever you are willing to pay in the moment. Don’t bother regretting it later. You spent exactly what you were willing to, and the best way to get your money’s worth is to be certain you enjoy parting with it.


Sees The Day

Today’s Lesson: A day is about more than what happened. It’s about what you noticed happen.


Yesterday was a near perfect day, if you ask me. It almost wasn’t until I noticed it was. Here is the breakdown:

What we planned to do

Wake up early, look at kayaks, go to the beach, grab lunch, go for a long bike ride (bicycles), yoga, watch a bunch of episodes of Daredevil on Netflix.

What we actually did

Slept in with all the windows open, woke up and cuddled for a while we watched the day wake, made lattes and had breakfast, took a nap, made lunch and ate it on the veranda. Headed to Honeymoon Island about 1:30 where we rode our bikes to a walking trail and then hoofed it, enjoying the sights of tortoises, baby and grown-up ospreys, pelicans, nesting horned owls, and quite a variety of lizards along the way. Finally ended up at the beach around 4 and played in the ocean for a few hours–the water was perfectly warm and clear as green glass. Then we came home, made dinner, showered, and watched 2 episodes of Daredevil.


The funny thing is, at the end of the day we almost missed the miracle of the day itself. We were bummed we didn’t do yoga or ride our bikes as long as we meant to!

Every day has lessons and miracles in it (trust me on that–in 53 days, I will have written a lesson a day for an entire year!). A person who will truly “seize the day” starts first by becoming a person who “sees the day”.



Beach Bum

Today’s Lesson: Live where you feel alive.


A warm breeze, the smell of salty beach and the electric energy from lively people (not too few, not too many) socializing around Pier 60 tonight makes me feel like I would be fine if nights were a week long.

Living in Tampa and strolling along Clearwater Beach with my parents (who are visiting from Detroit) reminds me how great it is to live where Nicole and I chose instead of where we just happened to be or ended up.

It’s good to live where you feel life pulsing, where you draw energy, and where you find yourself saying over and over, “I can’t believe I live here.” Wherever that is for you, my advice is take the hard road of finding a way to be there. It’s worth it.


There’s Always Tomorrow…

Today’s Lesson: … until there isn’t.


Sitting on the beach, watching the sun make its descent into the horizon, it is easy to remember all the times I have put off moments like this, saying “Oh well, at least I got a bunch of stuff done today. There’s always tomorrow for appreciating the beauty of the day or joy of living…”

Except, of course, eventually, we all run out of tomorrows.


Should I Stay Up And Have Fun or Go to Bed Early?

Today’s Lesson: You have to pay if you want to play.


Yesterday was Monday and we were invited to have drinks on the beach with some friends. Nicole had to get up early for work today so we had to consider the trade-off. (I made extra strong lattes this morning!)

We decided we could stay out until 10:30 which ended up being closer to midnight (on the beach, beautiful crescent moon, hanging with friends… how do you give that up before midnight?!?). It was a good time but as with any choice, every minute past 10:30 came at a price, to be paid this morning: waking up feeling sluggish, consuming extra caffeine and sugar, using more energy to focus, etc.

Whenever we choose to do something, we are also choosing not to do every other thing instead. When we choose to stay out late, we are also choosing not to have a relaxing evening at home and choosing not to have needed rest, and not to watch our favorite show, not to have spare time while preparing for bed, etc.

There is nothing wrong with the choice to stay out late once in a while but I often hear stories of people waking up regretting their choice because they did not realize it was their choice. They speak as if the night before happened to them instead of the other way around. We make our lives happen. Every choice is valid of its own accord but it is good to remind ourselves that for each choice we make, we are also choosing many other things by default.

Put another way: nothing in life comes free. We have to pay to play.