| June 14, 2016 |
Some places leave a certain imprint on our hearts and souls. After my initial three-month internship in South Florida during my doctorate program in Physical Therapy, I knew I’d have to return to the Sunshine State. Though I ventured to the Fort Lauderdale area with no family or friends in proximity, I quickly adapted to the salt life and developed a support system and family. When I left to finish school in New York, I set my intentions to return to Florida. My entire room at my family’s house on Long Island reflected my desire to be by the sea – from my newly-constructed “Salt Life” shadow box to the nautical memorabilia imprinting my walls, it was undeniable The Universe would give me the opportunity to return.
Approximately one year later, in April of 2015, the doors of opportunity opened and I made my second voyage to South Florida to embrace the Salt Life and live freely. I truly fell in love with the area, which is rooted in my experiences both at work and play. I feel a deep connection with the Sunshine State that will never be severed. In my 13 months, I not only connected more deeply to my intuition and self, but discovered new passions and built relationships with incredible people.
Being in New York for the last week has allowed me to reflect on all the reasons I will miss South Florida, and what drew me back to begin with…
My original pull back to South Florida was due to a job opportunity at the clinic I interned at during school. Gosh, I feel beyond blessed to have a career I am unbelievably passionate about. The past 13 months, I worked as a Pediatric Physical Therapist alongside other brilliant, passionate clinicians. I am entirely convinced I had the best caseload of children at the center, and I will forever be connected to the children and families I worked with. I empowered so many families and children to grow, learn, and surpass perceived limitations. I will undoubtedly return to see the continued progress of my patients and their families, as they have forever changed me and will stay close to my heart. My team of coworkers at Halloween 2015:
Living in the sunshine.
One of my favorite quotes by Ralph Waldo Emerson is reflected in my “Salt Life” shadowbox, and I certainly embraced it in sunny Florida. Though some days were a little too hot, the endless sunshine fueled my body to pursue countless seaside adventures.
Florida is filled with surprises, and natural springs are one of my favorite not-so-talked-about geographical phenomenas in the state. With crystal clear water at 72-degrees year round, the springs are truly awesome for diving, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, snorkeling, and viewing wildlife year round. There are a ton to explore in central Florida close to Orlando and Gainesville.
This artsy area of Miami quickly became one of my favorite spots to visit (except for during the monthly Art Walk where it gets way too busy). Tasteful, impressive graffiti lines the walls of industrial buildings and art galleries, local bars play old school hip-hop music, and the foodie scene is abundant.
Yay for new hobbies! When I first moved to Florida, I elected to pursue my SCUBA certification as a priority. Through Gold Coast SCUBA (ask me more if you want to get certified here – they’re the best), I was certified in one week’s time, and I thereafter went on eight dives during my time in Florida. More on SCUBA in Florida later, but I’ll definitely miss easy access to warm water and tropical sea life…
Yoga. A lot of yoga.
Disclaimer: I never truly found a yoga studio I adored. However, I did indulge a little deeper into the yoga mentality and discovered ACRO yoga! Through a local gym, I took my first acro yoga class, and quickly fell in love with the connection between two people combined with challenging my body to new flexibility and strength limits.
I got obsessed with hammocking as a verb in Florida. With my purchase of an Eagle Nest Outfitter SingleNest and DoubleNest hammock, I was well equipped to put my hammock up between two palm trees at any time – solo or with a friend!
My line dancing obsession was born when I began taking lessons at Round Up Davie about three times per week when I was in South Florida during my internship. Line dancing has since become a part of me, and you’re likely to see me busting out a dance at any location. It just so happens that Round Up and Cowboys Saloon were close to where I was living (coincidence? Maybe not), and Wednesday through Sunday, country nights were always available. Yee-haw!
Palm trees and sunsets.
I don’t think I will ever get sick of looking at palm trees. Or sunsets. Or the combination of the two.
I’ve never been a “morning person,” but I couldn’t help occasional runs along the beach or meditation with an early morning glow from the Florida sun. It truly was invigorating.
Especially at South Pointe in Miami, the water in South Florida is beautifully warm and (based on weather) incredibly clear. Unless the water was filled with seaweed due to recent storms, I was always running into the water without hesitation year round.
The Florida Keys.
Key Largo was only 1.5 hours away from where I lived, and I am happy I took advantage. From day trip for SCUBA diving to weekend camping and boating, the Florida Keys were abundant in adventure. I also went on my favorite skydive thus far at Skydive Key West. Here’s a quick video my collaborator and best friend, Tallymark Productions, made during our camping weekend at Bahia Honda State Park:
Shawnee’s Greenthumb popcorn.
Local, organic, DELICIOUS popcorn available at WHOLE Foods (but luckily also online!). I think I bought a fresh bag (or two… or three) every week. And it also came on EVERY road trip I went on.
I know they’re jerks, but for some reason, they’re my favorite birds. And they were everywhere! I also enjoyed visiting the Pelican Harbor Seabird Station to see the rescued pelicans.
Nights that turned into mornings.
Miami and South Florida knows how to party, that’s for sure. There are too many nights to reflect on, but one of my best friends was undoubtedly the luckiest girl I’ve ever met and won ENDLESS FREE TICKETS… like tickets to Miami’s Fontainebleau Club LIV where we got to meet Pitbull, then danced the night away VIP style next to Brody Jenner. No joke.
I got down and dirty with all kinds of hippie vibes. From Miami’s full moon drum circles to cocreating awesomeness with a group of like-minded individuals to weekly meditation circles, I exploded into the spiritual being I am today. Of course, there is always much more to learn, but I’m eternally more connected than I ever have been.
I loved being able to speak Spanish at work and in grocery stores. I advanced greatly in my Spanish-speaking abilities, plus embraced all aspects of the latino culture in South Florida from salsa dance lessons and Latin nights to daily café con leche (or café cubano, colada, cortadito if I needed a bigger, sugary kick) and empanada options. I learned the difference between Colombian, Venezuelan, Peruvian, and Cuban cuisine – with indulgence in all the above. My belly was very happy in South Florida.
The opening of many doors.
South Florida was the spark for many passions and inspirations, from SCUBA diving to the freedom to travel. The people I met certainly lifted me higher, and I am now entirely comfortable with who I am. I know what I want, and have trust in the path unseen because the magic I created in Florida was pure bliss. My move to South Florida allowed me to develop a sense of independence and confidence in the ability to chase my dreams. I can’t wait to see what other beauty will come of this life!
I will miss you, South Florida.
Thank you for all you have done for me.
It’s not goodbye; it’s see you soon.
With love and gratitude,