I’ve been a Floridian all my days up until this year when we made the wild (and quite sporadic decision) to move out west. In just three short months of entertaining the idea, we found a house to lease, put all our coastal furniture in storage, rented a five-by-seven Uhaul trailer, and began our cross-country road trip. Mind you – it was in the thick of winter and this Florida native had only experienced snow once (and that was a five-day vacation in Park City).
In over my head? Maybe just a little.
We are now four months into living in Paradise Valley, Montana — a beautiful country right outside the small town of Livingston. And the past few months have been nothing short of spectacular. We don’t regret our decision one bit but, there is something I brought with me into this new environment that is making all the difference in my time out here and, I think, may alter all my days going forward, too.
I’m currently on a flight back to Florida as I type this, to celebrate a dear friend’s wedding and pay a much-needed visit with family.
As I sit here, unable to work on client stuff as planned because Southwest Airlines decided not to include wifi as an option on this flight – it got me thinking about a note I had quickly jotted down on my phone during our final weeks in Florida before the big move.
Josh and I were laying on the beach in Key Biscayne, right underneath the beautiful Cape Florida Lighthouse. At the time, this park where the lighthouse sits was only about an hour from our place in Fort Lauderdale yet we had never been to it. We decided to go considering we wouldn’t have the luxury of going “whenever” in the near future.
As I lay on the beach, looking up at this beautiful, historic monument, I suddenly started thinking back to a conversation I had earlier that week and I got inspired to write it down.
My note reads…
Someone recently asked me if I actually go to the beach since I’m a Floridian and unfortunately, I can count on two hands how many times I’ve been to the beach in the past year… and I live 2 miles from it. At that moment it struck me — why is it that we don’t embrace the beauty of exactly where we are?
Nothing You Don’t Already Know
We’ve all heard this before — “you don’t miss something until it’s gone.” I often think of a relationship or friendship ending whenever I hear this statement… or maybe a loss of a loved one. But this phrase can be so appropriate to our environment and overall lifestyle as well.
I mean, this quick little decision to finally go see the lighthouse is a prime example. Because we knew we’d miss out on even having the idea of going.
Maybe you can think back to a time you wished you would’ve embraced life more fully…
- Childhood memories, soaking up time spent at grandma and grandpa’s house
- High school days, enjoying being a kid before real responsibilities set in (rather than stressing out about boy-girl drama and SAT scores)
- College years, wishing you would’ve spent more time on campus, at sporting events, and meeting new people (or maybe the exact opposite)
- Early stages of a relationship, the times filled with spontaneity, flirtation, and thrill before marriage
- Alone time, with yourself or your significant other before full-on family time
- Expecting mother before mother
- Employee before boss
- Renter before homeowner
[insert your moment in time here]
Here’s something we are all guilty of — we tend to get ahead of ourselves and miss out on embracing our current moment.
I say this every chance I get to every bride, mama to be, college student, or any other person about to experience a big life milestone — just be present in it because before you know it, it’s going to all be over. Wear all the white for as long as you’re titled fiancé, receive all the praise and sweet compliments leading up to your babe’s arrival while all the attention is still on you, enjoy being a learner and remain open to new ideas and opportunities while in school, DO ALL THE THINGS!
But that’s just the thing — it’s SO easy to preach this to other people. Especailly when we hear things like, “I just want to be married already.” “I can’t wait to finally have this baby and get back to feeling like myself.” “I just can’t wait to graduate and start a real job.” “Everything will start to fall into place once we’re married, once we have a house, once the kids go to college.” etc. etc. etc.
The thing is… in these moments, you aren’t in a “waiting” phase. You’re in a living phase.
An experience that enviably will come and go. And yes, there can be a lot of relief or results in those moments coming to an end but there is also always an inevitable loss. (Which I don’t think we recognize nearly enough).
A moment that was once alive is now a moment only able to be remembered.
That’s technically a loss and it’s kinda sad, espeically if you’re not paying any attention to it. What’s the scariest to me? It happens instantaneously so if we’re not aware of it, it’s just happening without any meaning or weight being put to it. Instead of constantly thinking about what’s next and what’s to come, what if we aimed to live out each moment fully so once it’s really over, remembering it actually feels complete and dignified? It’s full circle rather than half-assed? It’s meaningful rather than blurred? It feels valued because it actually was.
Whatever life phase you’re in, each moment is significant. I didn’t realize this until I uprooted my life from all I’ve ever known to see how significant each moment really is. I’m not saying that once I move back to Florida, I’ll go to the beach all the time but it was in that moment that I told myself, I will always make a conscious effort to embrace where I am (and I mean that literally speaking too) — where I physically am.
This year, life looks a whole lot different. Our days are slow, unbothered, quiet, and filled with exploration. It’s amazing and I also know it’s not forever. Do I miss Florida? Of course. Am I already thinking about when we’ll move back? Guilty. But man, I am alive in these moments. I’m not focusing so much on what I miss back home or what my plans are once this chapter is written — I’m just immersing myself in each page, enjoying the surprising twists and turns, and reflecting deeply on what I’m learning through each and every word written.
Each season of life is a beautiful blessing filled with time that’s meant to be enjoyed and most importantly — lived.
Ask yourself: What are ways I can better embrace my environment, my lifestyle, my relationships, and my circumstances right now?
For me, it’s savoring the silence. I know especially once I have a family, quiet will go out the door so I just listen to nothing and indulge in it. I don’t want to take it for granted. I’m aware of my surroundings and I know change is inevitably coming. Will there be times when I still miss my quiet mornings out west when it was just the two of us? I’m honestly not so sure. I know that may come as a surprise but I trust and firmly believe that God places us exactly where we need to be at all times. And I know, life isn’t always glamorous or filled with amazing moments. Life is going to be hard but I think we’re meant to feel that fully, too. Time is inevitable but the way you feel about each moment that passes by is entirely up to you.
I want to be the kind of person that gets caught staring into a sunset with a smile on my face.
I want to be the friend that greets you with a hug that lasts just long enough for you to notice the embrace.
I want to be that girl at every wedding, tearing up, the minute the bridal party starts walking down the aisle.
I just want to be present and feel it all. I don’t want to miss it. I want to live it.
Rather than catching yourself planning and waiting and longing, try catching yourself living. I’m telling you – it is one of the most gratifying feelings that we can experience within our humanity. This isn’t the final destination but it’s surely worth enjoying the ride while we’re here.
Katie Dyal is the founder and editor in chief of The Collective Source, an online media source and full-service copywriting agency. Her motivation stems from her deep-rooted passion for words and incredibly talented team. She aims to build a company culture like no other and assemble an online publication that’s available to anyone who feels led to read it. She is a Christian, aspiring author, and Florida native currently living in southwestern Montana.