Never in my life would I have ever thought that I’d live in Florida.
I arrived on March 14th with plans to only be here for a few weeks for speaking, workshop, and book talk engagements, to visit friends, and housesit for a wonderful family and their pets. However, I ended up “living” here—in Groveland, about 30 miles west of Orlando—for over 3-1/2 months because of the shelter-in-place rules of COVID-19. The homeowners, although unable to come back, have continued to call it “a win-win.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Now, I’ve always loved Florida. I've been here many times before, spending time in Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, St. Petersburg/Clearwater, Daytona Beach, Miami, Amelia Island, and St. Augustine, among other wonderful places. And each time I’ve been struck by just how incredibly beautiful a state it is, spanning 500 miles from north to south and 160 miles from east to west, with a population of just over 21 million denizens.
And similar to other very sizeable states, like California and New York, each region has its own culture, traditions, flavor, and flair. But among the things I learned in this longer span of time, is just how many bodies of water there are in between its aqua borders - the Gulf of México on the West Coast, and the Atlantic Ocean on the East. I had no idea there were 12,000 miles of rivers and streams, nor 7,800 lakes! Those numbers alone are jaw-dropping.
And did you know that Florida is also home to the third largest freshwater lake—Lake Okeechobee—situated in its entirety within the U.S.? That’s just behind Lake Michigan (which borders Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana) and in Alaska, Iliamna Lake.
But expanding my knowledge about the geography here was not the only thing that happened during this 3-1/2 month-stay. My time in the Sunshine State offered an incredible opportunity to deepen an understanding of myself.
During the first six weeks it kind of seemed like a punishment - no going out to eat, strolling through a bookstore, nibbling on a tasty pastry at a coffee shop, aimlessly meandering around beautiful downtown Clermont—the main city next door, or conversing with strangers I encountered on the street.
It was a complete lockdown except for trips to the grocery store, walking the dogs, and bike rides around the neighborhood and along the recreation trails of nearby Lake Minneola.
Luckily, although all of my Florida engagements after mid-March were cancelled or indefinitely postponed, I still had some income-generating projects from private clients. This, in addition to writing future motivational talks, facilitating online workshops, lots of outreach for future engagements, planning my travel schedule for the rest of the year, and the first drafts of my next book (Yes! I have been actively working on it for a few months now!), added up to about 8 to 10 hours of work a day – 7 days a week.
The in-between, and this is where it tended to get sticky at times, has just been me, myself, and I. And there’s only so much listening to those thoughts running on the hamster wheel inside my head I can take!
In retrospect, shelter-in-place became the aforementioned and Divinely Guided opportunity to deepen that understanding of myself.
It was one of three intentions I’d been putting out to the Universe for a few weeks in my daily prayer and meditation time; a desire to learn more about why I’m here in this physical form at this particular time in history (since my birth and up until now); what is it I need to learn and what is it I have to share; how I can be of greater service to my family, friends, and the world around me; and the path toward being a beneficial presence in the link in the chain of consciousness that goes on forever and ever.
This time has been a forced, and when I relaxed into it more, welcomed “silent retreat” where I was called to step off the ledge, dive into the deep end, sprout wings when I thought I had none, and, as a friend of mine says, “to crawl out onto the skinny branches, because that’s where the fruit is.”
It’s been intense, invigorating, emotional, thought-provoking, irritating, and refreshing – all rolled into one. A rollercoaster without a harness; a storm where getting into the “eye” often felt unachievable; a chance to attend my own lecture (another saying from that same friend) and know that God is in all of it, I wasn’t brought this far to be abandoned, and that even greater things are on the horizon.
Trust. Keep the faith. Listen to that still small voice - and know.
So although the quarantine guidelines have begun to loosen, the homeowners are planning their return, and I’m ready to hit the road again for the next leg of my journey, I feel a little conflicted and anxious about leaving.
It means going back into the fray. Entering a much different world than it was only a few months ago. Intermingling with other people who—whether they know or accept it or not—have been changed in many ways as well.
Yet despite all of that uncertainty, I know that the blessings I've received—and that are yet to come—far outweigh any spiritual, emotional, physical, monetary, or other challenges this time may have brought to the surface. Not just for me, but for those across the state, this country, and around the world.
It's all part of trusting the Universe to provide everything I need in Divine Timing. I may have “not wanted it this way” (or quite frankly, planned it this way if I tried), but it's all good - and it's all God. And all is well.