What I Look Forward to Most of All, About This Fall.

Ah, Fall! Just the word alone drums up images of vibrant colors abound, the cool, crisp air, and the smells. You can literally smell the pumpkin, just thinking about it. Where I come from, fall is a very prominent season. In fact, it may be the most revered and highly loved season of all. I should dare say, I believe it may well be more loved than summer. I love fall. I always have. But, I believe this year, it may hold a more dear and special meaning than ever before.

For me, no matter how much I loved fall, there was always something not quite fulfilled within me. There had been this unsettled sense of longing for so many years. The first time I stepped out of my car in Biloxi, Mississippi, I learned what that was. The smell of the salty air, the warm coastal Gulf breeze, and the sound of the gentle waves lapping as they made a continual reintroduction of themselves to the shore. I was a beach girl at heart. I had never really been to the beach, save for the local homemade beaches at the lakes around my area, but once in my life. That had been a very long time ago and during a quite tumultuous time in my life, and I do not believe I had to opportunity to really see the beach life for all that it could be. But, after that first trip to Biloxi, it was all over for me. I spend the next nine years obsessing over living in the Gulf of Mexico. It became the status of my ultimate dream life, and eventually, part of my five year plan.

As luck would have it, nine years after I first sank my toes into the sugar sand beach of Biloxi, I had an opportunity presented to me to move to Southwest Florida. It wasn’t exactly the part of the Gulf that I have envisioned living in, but it was still the Gulf. And at that time, given the circumstance, it was the only viable option for me. There was no debate for me. Without even questioning it, I got rid of everything that I could to downsize, packed what I needed to take, and moved to the Gulf of Mexico.

Settling here in my new apartment with its top-notch amenities that included a beautiful fishing lake complete with a walking trail bordering its perimeter, a stunning resort-style pool, grounds around the entire community bathed in the most lush tropical landscaping I had ever seen, and an impeccable gym that featured top of the line workout equipment and windows that overlooked all of the aforementioned, with only a twenty minute drive to the beach, I thought I had it made. Finally, my dream had come to be a reality. I was living life in the Gulf of Mexico. Oddly enough, however, we had made the move here during the last weekend of September and began our official move-in during the first week of October. Up to this point in my life, I had never really had an opportunity for beaches and swimming in October.

Now, it was still relatively warm back home in north Georgia during this time, so it wasn’t initially a huge difference. But as the month progressed, a huge difference was being noted. We made plans to take my granddaughters out to a local farm for some “fall” inspired fun. It was a little difficult to think of pumpkins and fall themed decor, while it was still above ninety degrees here. But we decided to give this a chance. Later that month, we found a local church hosting a trunk or treat just before Halloween, my daughter in law dressed the girls up in their beloved and highly anticipated Halloween costumes and we set out for an evening of fun. Ironically, long before the end of our night, the girls had shed about half of their costume pieces. None of us had ever experienced a ninety degree Halloween before, and we were not acclimating very well. There was still hope for Christmas! Lo and behold, December came around, and things did not change all that much. I knew there had to be some way the South Floridians celebrated the holidays, they deserved fall and Christmas too, right? I found a few local events such as a holiday light show complete with Christmas carols, hot cocoa, and a bonfire. Yes! It was a perfect picture of everything we loved to do back home. The girls were dressed in holiday themed attire and off we went. No one could bear to drink the hot cocoa and we all avoided going anywhere near the bonfire like it was the plague. The temps had begun to fall here in Southwest Florida, but still being in the mid-eighties, it proved far too difficult a task to feel in the holiday vibe. On Christmas day, my husband had the idea to make it a special day and spend our first Christmas here on the beach. After all, that is what we moved to the Gulf for anyway. Well, as luck would have it, we were not even able to get across the bridge to get to the beach. This was the height of “snowbird” season, and everyone in the state seemed to have the same idea. It seemed that living in a beach town was all well and good, until the reality hit that the seasons and the holidays were going to be nothing like they had ever been before. We really missed snow.

As time went on, and luck would have it, there was about to be a shift in our lives that would take us into another direction. Shortly after the beginning of August, and following a recent trip back home to visit family, there was an opportunity for us to go back home. Our family clearly wanted us closer, and Henry was really not as much in love with living the south Florida as I had once hope he would be. Truth be told, I think missing my family began to outweigh the picturesque lifestyle imagery that I had envisioned for myself ten years ago. So, without hesitations, we graciously accepted the offer presented to us and will be making the necessary arrangements to leave the Gulf of Mexico and return home to North Georgia. Our journey home will not be until October, which, ironically, will culminate a year of living the beach life and be at the heart of the Fall season.

It will be with bittersweet emotion that I will bid adieu to the Gulf. Yet, in the same regard, my heart is so happy and full to be returning to my family. And, with that, this year Fall will be so much more special to me this year. In knowing all that I have learned about the value of family and in seeing firsthand what life is like for those who do not get to enjoy a proper fall. What I look forward to most for this fall is taking my grandchildren to the pumpkin farm, and to indulge in hot cocoa or cider to provide a warmth and help knock the chill off. I look forward to getting to wear hoodies. In my entire fall and winter in south Florida, I had to opportunity to wear a hoodie only twice. There is just something about hoodies that are a natural a part of fall as chili and other beloved comfort foods. I look forward to seeing all the children dressed for trick-or-treating on Halloween. I look forward to feeling that first frost, the one that signals snow will be on the horizon. Mostly, I look forward to football. I had to learn the hard way that moving out of state will put you in the network for your new state’s professional sports team, and I missed every single game my football team played last season. But, I really want to bundle up in my favorite hoodie and go out to enjoy a local high school football game. Nothing truly says fall quite like bonfires, pumpkins, and football, and I greatly look forward to getting to experience them all again this fall.

A Story of the Undone Summer Bucket List.

This past spring, as the days became just a little bit longer, and the temperatures became just a little bit warmer, I sat down to gleefully write out my Summer Bucket List. Little did I know at that time, that before Summer’s end, my life would be taking a drastic shift. I still have things left on my bucket list that I haven’t had the opportunity to complete! Now, I am faced with the daunting dilemma of how to accomplish some of the most desired items on my summer bucket list.

When my husband and I made the move to South Florida last year, it turned out to be quite a difficult transition, teetering on the brink of down right depressive. Being so far away from our family and friends, combined with the cost of living being substantially higher than where we came from and employment pay scales not faring comparable to those increased costs of living, it was a rather challenging adjustment. Yet, we were determined to make this work, and believed we could enjoy Florida and all it has to offer for as long as we were living here. I did some research on the area we live in and the surrounding are and compiled a beautifully constructed bucket list of things to do, see, and experience this summer. Being our first summer to live here in South Florida, we were determined to make it a most memorable one. One of the first things we learned was that a summer in South Florida is not that easy to get out and enjoy. Between the sweltering heat and humidity, the continual barrage of daily thunderstorms with their intense lightning make any outdoor activity a battle. We have visited New Orleans in August before and were somewhat familiar with the humidity and heat of the Gulf of Mexico. However, visiting for a few days does little to prepare you for enduring those unfamiliar conditions as part of your daily life.

We recently made a trip up to visit our family back home in North Georgia. While there, everyone made it abundantly clear that they wanted us to move back home. We miss them dearly. Given the fact that we have no family or friends in Florida, and the increased cost of living with decrease in earned wages, we expressed a desire to come back home as well. It just wasn’t in the cards at the moment. During our trip back down to Florida, we talked of little else than how much we enjoyed seeing the family and wish we could be closer to them. The drive is ten hours. While that may be closer than many people who relocate here are from their family, it was still a bit far for our peace of mind. A few days after arriving back in Florida, we were presented with an unexpected opportunity. One that would put us back in North Georgia close to our family and provide an opportunity to save money for a home. Without hesitation, we accepted the offer.

The reality of leaving Florida washed over me in a bittersweet flood of emotion. I miss my family and truly wish to be close to them, but I had come to really love Florida, and still had plenty of things on my bucket list yet not done. That being said, there are still a lot of things unchecked, not only on my summer bucket list, but also my whole Southwest Florida wish list. I still have not had the opportunity to dip my feet in the majestic waters of Islamorada, or eat authentic Key Lime Pie in Key West, or visit the Naples Zoo, or tour the infamous gardens along the river at the Edison Estate, or drive up and see Clearwater Beach, the current number one voted beach in the nation. As my time here in the Sunshine State draws closer to an end, I will attempt to complete as many of those as I can. However, the problem with many of them is that, given the cost of living, I have been unable to collect the spare funds needed to accomplish them, and I do not see that condition changing in the time I have left here. Although, I will be here through summer, and I have the utmost intention on stealing away every possible moment I can to enjoy an ice cream and watch the sunset at the beach, and I will enjoy the resort style pool located at my apartment complex, and I will take hundreds of pictures every where I go. Yes, I will savor these final moments and I will forever hold this place and this time in my heart and my memory in the most beloved of regards.

School’s In! Tips for Getting Organized for the New School Year.

It is with a degree of difficulty that we think about giving up that last little slice of the summer pie we have been afforded year after year. But, alas, as summer draws to a close and fall is upon the horizon, it is time to prepare for that ever daunting task of getting back to school The time doesn’t have to be stressful, however. And, I have created some tips to help get you organized and all set for the new school year with a degree of optimism and enthusiasm like never before.

Morning Routine– No matter if you are a busy mom with children heading back off to school, you are a college student, or you are a more non-traditional adult with no small children, but have a full time job and are working on college courses, either online or in a brick and mortar university, having a solid morning routine can substantially set you up for a more successful school year. Morning routines are as varied as the individual that is executing them. Perhaps, you are a stay at home mom who only needs to be mindful of the time in which the children need to be ready for the school bus or time to leave for the school drop off line; or maybe you work outside the home and have a specific time that you have to have everyone ready to leave the house in order to arrive to work on time. It is simply a matter of taking into account any times that have to be allotted for non-negotiable things, such as school times, work times, and commute times. My current morning routine consists of two components- house chores and self care. My morning house routine is to being my day with unloading the dishwasher, swish and swipe the bathrooms, make the bed, and begin a load of laundry. Likewise, my morning self care routine is brushing my teeth, applying my morning power serum, day cream with sunscreen, make up and hair. I’m both cursed and lucky in the regard that my hair is short and thin, so I do not have to allow for extra time for hair straighteners or curlers. My whole morning routine takes me less than thirty minutes to complete. I currently work from home, so I do not have to stick to a rigid time frame for completing my morning routine. However, that was not always the case. I used to work outside of the home and I knew what time I needed to leave to arrive to work on time, taking into account that I was in the heart of the rush hour commute in Atlanta traffic. I made allowances by getting up thirty to forty minutes earlier to provide the time needed to complete my morning chores and maintain my morning routine.

Make a Plan– I cannot stress enough the value of a functional planner. I put emphasis on the word functional, because it is all too common and all too easy to start preparing for a new school year by purchasing a crisp, clean, and gorgeous new planner to keep track of all of your important dates and reminders, yet after a few weeks or so, the planner seems to fall by the way side and gets written in less and less as you find yourself forgetting more important things. The planner system that I currently use is the Happy Planner brand. I chose it for its functionality as well as customization. I have played around with a variety of planners from the generic Walmart planners to Franklin Covey and I have a set up ready for 2020 from the Agenda 52 line to go back to a binder style planner. Regardless of what brand or style of planner you choose, it should be one that is functional for all of your needs and user friendly enough to inspire you to refer to it and write in it daily. The idea is that keeping a planner is essential to tracking appointments and assignment due dates.

Prep for the Evenings– As important as a morning routine is, having an evening routine can be just as vital. Evening routines include tasks such as dinner, cleaning the kitchen, baths, and laying out clothes for the next day. A good way to prepare for the evenings, and alleviate a lot of undue stress is menu planning. By planning out your menus in advance, you can adjust day by day, according to any after work or after school appointments or errands and prep easy to fix meals on the days that you have commitments that would otherwise take away time needed to prepare a complicated recipe dish. For instance, ball practice after school? Toss an easy roast in the crock pot, set on low, and when you arrive home dinner will be ready with only a quick side dish or two. Side note, steam vegetables make a wonderful quick side dish on those busy nights! In an effort to try and have an easy and stress free evening, try to implement planning for the evening and night routines as much as you can early on in the day or on a Sunday evening, to alleviate a lot of the juggling and panic to try and decide on a dinner choice or locate the baseball mitt on the fly.

Delegate- As mothers, we tend to want to do everything for everyone. It is, in essence, in our nature to be nurturers. But, being a nurturer and being a martyr are two completely different things. While we love our families and love taking care of them, we do not have to do it all. It is possible, and essential to delegate our work to the other members of our family. Even small children can benefit from being assigned to pick up their own toys or put their clothes in the hamper for washing. Taking on everything can be stressful and limiting in the amount of quality time we spend with our families. So, take a few items off your to-do list, and graciously gift them to family members who can handle those tasks. The work will get completed much quicker, and you can enjoy a few moments of blissful silence relaxing in the bubble bath with a glass of chilled wine at the end of the evening. Oh yeah, and enjoy time spend with the family as well. Now, the important, and I do me the most important thing to remember when delegating tasks to the other members of your family is – do not expect perfection! Perfection is an illusion best saved for fools. Be grateful to them for the help they provide you. Do not go behind your children and re-make their beds or re-fold their clothes in the drawer. Just enjoy that you had the time freed up and enjoy sitting with them on the couch enjoying a movie before bed time.

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Finding One’s Self

            The quest to find one’s identity is the heartbeat of humanity. The quest for identity can be attributed to many things that lay the foundation to one’s identity, such as race, culture, sex, or even personal history. Daniel Keys’ writing of “Flowers for Algernon” is an example of one man’s journey to find himself. Everyone lives their life as a journey to simply find their one true self.

            Everyone deserves to be treated as though their life has meaning and value. Incidentally, Charlie Gordon defends his right to be seen as somebody. “” But I’m not an inanimate object” I argued, “I’m a person.”” (Keys p 89). This argument of his has the haunting element of the many peoples who have been trapped in the bonds of slavery over the years, proclaiming their right to be seen as equals, also that statement can be ingrained in a society of oppressed people such as the Jews who were horrifically persecuted and maimed simply because of being Jewish and their desperate cries to be seen as a real people, who deserved a place and a right in society as much as any other nation of people.

            Another standard by which some choose to use as a form of personal identity is one’s status. For some people, the more they have, whether it is friends or possessions, the more popular or revered they will be. Charlie Gordon believed that if he gained more intelligence, was smarter, everyone would like him more and he would have more friends. He recorded this theory as he was writing in his progress reports before he had the surgery to make him smarter. “If your smart you can have lots of friends to talk to and you never get lonely by yourself all the time.” (Keys p 15). This is much the same way of thinking by people who believe that the more nicer things they have, such as, expensive sports cars, boats, or expensive material things the more status they will have and therefore people will look up to them and admire them. It also correlates to the idea that others have, in that, if they “go with the flow” and do what the “in crowd” does, they will have more friends and not be lonely; such as, if they go clubbing or to bars and drink and party like everyone does, they will always have lots of friends around and never worry about being lonely. However, sadly enough, this way of thinking is shallow and generally lends itself to reckless actions that leads on to finding themselves in a much worse place than they were before they tried to use their status to forge friendships.

            Charlie learned after his operation that intelligence is also an identifying factor in one’s identity. People become categorized by the level of their education or intelligence and others react to them accordingly. Often times people of higher intelligence tend to look down or dismiss the validity of someone else because they are of lesser intelligence. In a conversation between Charlie and Alice, this idea was addressed as she pointed out to him that he, in fact, made her feel awkward following the operation because she could not keep up with him intellectually and stated that next to Charlie, she felt dull-witted. She went on to say to him that now, most days that they see each other, after she leaves him, she goes home with a miserable feeling that she is now slow and dense about everything. She explains that she reviews things that they have said to each other and thinks of things that she should have said and thinks of all the bright and witty things that she should have said, then feels like kicking herself because she did not think to say them when they were together. This kind of intelligence segregation begins early in life. One can see it in schools where the smart, or more commonly referred to as, “preppy” kids demean or simply ignore the lesser aptitude students. It is also prevalent in the workplace as higher up the management chain. The more educated and higher salaried employees do not really do any kind of socializing wither the lower educated and lesser salaried employees. In many cases, it falls back to the status ideology, but mostly in these situations, it simply rests on the principle that at different intelligence levels, they do not have very much in common and do not have the ability to communicate on the same intellectual levels.

            From birth, one’s family, culture, heritage, and ethnicity begin laying the groundwork to their identity. As one progresses through life, factors such as education, work experiences, status, friends, and relationships mold the clay and help to define their one true identity. Each individual lives out their lives in a way so as to find that quest on one’s true self. Charlie Gordon gained just enough intelligence to realize that no matter how much one can alter their life, deep down, there is no changing who a person truly is. The core value of the idea is that all men are created equal, but society sets the standards by which all men are perceived.

Resources

Keys, Daniel. Flowers for Algernon. Orlando: Harcourt, 2004. Print.  

Setbacks, We All Have Them!

Weight loss is complex. That is putting it mildly. It is truly a never-ending series of ups and downs. Highly unlikely do you come across the successful person who entails no setbacks or struggles along the path of their weight loss journey. No, those who set out to lose weight or gain overall better health and accomplish such with no road bumps along the way are quite the rarity. For the rest of us, setbacks are as natural a part of the weight loss journey as is anything.

I am myself working through such a setback in my own personal journey. To give an accurate idea of the setback that I am working through, at this time, I need to paint a picture of how I got to the place that I am mentally in right now. About a year and a half ago, my daughter decided to leave home to move to Minnesota to be with her boyfriend. Now, we lived in North Georgia, and that was a very long distance, and given that she had never been away from me since birth, I was crushed over this. Shortly after making her move to Minnesota, my son informed me that he and his wife had decided at the end of that year to move to Utah. Again, I am in North Georgia, and am being completely blown away by the idea of both my children (and now my grandchildren) moving so far away from me. After some thought I told my husband that if the kids both moved away up north, we should just get us a condo in the Gulf of Mexico. That way, the kids would have a good excuse to come visit me- beach vacations! Within two months of my declaration to move to the Gulf coast after the kids moved, my son and daughter in law decided that Utah was too far to move the grandkids from their family. They had now decided to move to Florida, and instead of waiting until the end of the year, they were moving in a month. Yet again, overwhelmed, that set the wheels in motion for me to make some drastic changes with my own life. I am fortunate enough to work from home for my corporate office, and after doing some research and questioning my management staff, I learned that I could, in fact, keep my current job and move to Florida. My husband and I had begun the exhausting task of selling, giving away, and trashing everything that we owned that was not considered a necessity, in order to downsize and move to Florida.

Things had not worked out for my daughter in her job as well as she had hoped it would, and she had made the decision to move back home with me and my husband three months before our planned move to Florida. We had gotten my son and daughter in law moved down to their apartment and settled in. My daughter had applied for and conducted several phone interviews for work. Things were going smoothly in preparation for the move. Inside of one month before we were to load the moving truck and move our entire life to South Florida to be with my son and granddaughters, my daughter had decided not to go with us. She had gone back to work at the job she had prior to moving to Minnesota, and things were going well for her there. She had decided to stay with a coworker and friend for the time being. To say the least, I was crushed, yet again. I had envisioned this dream life of having my children and grandchildren with me enjoying all the tourist-worthy things Florida had to offer. But I had to respect her decision, and as much as it hurt, I moved to Florida and left her in Georgia.

We got settled in the first week of October and things were going as well as planned. I was always searching fun things to do in the weekends with the girls. We had moved into the same apartment complex as them, and I could walk down on my breaks to visit, or after work, my husband and I would go down and take the girls to the park or for a walk around the pond. It was indeed a nice life. The only thing missing was Bree. However, I did not realize it was not to last. By December, Ryan and Teresa had informed us that they had not taken to Florida quite as well as they had thought they may and had made the decision to move back to North Georgia. Already crushed by Bree electing to stay in Georgia, I was now utterly devastated. Teresa’s parents had also, during this time, moved to the same area to be close to them and the girls. However, they had a daughter back in Georgia as well who was still in college, and they, too, had decided to move back home. Now, Henry and I were in a strange city with absolutely no one. We now faced a life in which we were truly isolated- no family, no friends, and, for me working at home, no coworkers. It was, without a doubt, the third most terrifying thing I had faced in my life.

Understandably, after Ryan and Teresa had moved the girls back to Georgia in January I had gone through a really deep depression. I had lost, for the most part, any motivation to do anything. I did not clean house, except what was absolutely necessary to function, I did not go out and walk around the pond- I tried, but I would just start crying every time I would walk past “their apartment” or think about silly things Elli would do or how Kenlee wanted to race around the pond, and I took to comfort eating. This went on for some time, and I knew it was not fair to Henry. He was devasted too by being here alone. He had to give up a job that he loved and good coworkers who had become great friends to come here and take a huge cut in pay with complete strangers to do this for me. I began talking about wanting to lose weight and researching ideas. Henry suggested that of the ideas I was tossing around, joining the local Weight Watchers made the most sense. He thought the idea of having a reason to get out of the apartment and socialize with other people would be good for me. Not only for support and encouragement in my weight loss endeavors but would help with the depression. So, I signed up.

He was right, the people at the weekly meetings were so supportive and welcoming. My WW coach is phenomenal and such a great leader for our group. I started out my first month really amazing, I had lost sixteen pounds. Things were going great again. I still missed my family terribly but was losing weight, so I was feeling better physically and mentally. Henry and I began getting out on the weekends to go to the local parks for hiking and walking. We started setting challenges for ourselves like getting twenty thousand steps in a day, then twenty-five thousand, and eventually thirty thousand steps in a day. As of this writing, we are still working on accomplishing a forty thousand step goal. I had regained my interest in going to the beach and doing things that I had basically stopped doing altogether after the kids left.

Then, the crash happened. We did not have a weigh in or meeting for Easter Sunday. That is when I go to my weekly meetings, on Sunday morning. It seemed harmless enough. The next week, my daughter and her boyfriend (yes, the same boyfriend from Minnesota) came down to spend a week with us. It was so wonderful to have them here. We did so much to enjoy their time down. We went to the beach, went fishing, showed them our favorite parks, and just all around basked in their presence. They left on that Saturday morning, and as it always is, it was so sad to watch them go. The sadness sinks in and takes a hold unlike anything else I know. I worked that Sunday, so I did not get to attend my weekly meeting. I worked the following three Sundays and elected not to attend any of the other weekly meetings during that time from Easter and Bree’s visit until the Sunday after Mother’s Day. What was the underlying reason, the reason of which I did not wish to truthfully admit to anyone, was not that I was working. I did, in fact work for three straight Sunday’s. But after Bree and Ryne left, the reality of missing my family and being isolated hit me again, just as hard as it had in January when Ryan and Teresa left. For two weeks, I did not want to get out of bed, let alone work out or track food. I had gained back six of the sixteen pounds that I had lost. This time, Henry was crushed to see me so broken and giving up on all the hard work that I had put into losing the weight. So, by week three, he had started going to the gym at our apartment complex, going for walks around the pond after dinner, and getting out on the weekends for a hike. Encouraging me to join him, he helped me snap out of the deep sadness that I was experiencing, and in that last week and a half, I had lost back five of the six that I had gained.

That following Sunday when I went to weigh in, my tracker recorded a 1.2 lb weight gain. I wasn’t happy about having any gain at all recorded in my official tracker, but I knew that I had busted my ass the previous week and a half to keep that number from reflecting the entire six pounds that I had gained. I share this story not to make excuses or to make out that I blame my family for my depression or my struggles with my weight. I chose to move to Florida to follow them, and I cannot make them decide to live here or to love it here. I can only control my choices and actions. No, I share this to say that we all encounter setbacks along the way in our weight loss journey. So, the question is never really if the setback will come, it is when will it come and how prepared for it will you be? I did not anticipate Bree’s visit setting the stage for a setback, and I was not prepared for how I would feel after her visit ended and she and Ryne had left. But after working through this difficult time and seeing for myself just how hard it was to get the weight back off, I know now that I need to be more mentally prepared for the next time. There are countless other things to do to work through being sad over missing my family. I could go for that walk around the pond, go out and lay by the pool, listen to some positive affirmation, or journal about my feelings. Also, I could always FaceTime them when I am sad and miss them the most. Now, that is a novel concept!

The reality is, that it is called a weight loss journey for a reason. It IS a journey; a process. There will be good days and there will be bad days. But everyday is a day to push through and remember what you are working for. To think about how much better I can be for my family when I am in better health. How much more I can enjoy seeing my grandchildren when I can run and play with them without getting winded and feel like I have been hit by a truck. But mostly, how they do not need to feel guilty for their decision to stay in Georgia because they have to feel that every time they see me, it makes me depressed and I spiral out of control. That is not their burden, and they must see me be strong, so that we can enjoy seeing each other and love each other. It is important to keep finding the things that keep me uplifted mentally and physically. Self help books, daily affirmations, journaling, and just sitting outside by the water and being in nature are the things that I have found that bring me back to a safe and healthy place. They say that the true key to long lasting weight loss is in that it is not a diet, but it is a lifestyle change. That is true, and this will be a lifelong journey, and a daily process. But, a process in which I am fully committed to giving my everything to.

5 Things to do in Fort Myers, Florida

Whether you decide to pay a visit to beautiful Fort Myers Florida during the summer or winter, it makes no difference. It is summer all year long down in sunny Southwest Florida. There will not be any shortage of sand, sun and sparkling beverages, regardless of what time of year you make the trek south to Fort Myers. No matter if you make the trip for a family vacation, a lovely couples’ get-away, or decide to be a regular snowbird and make The City of Palms your part time home, there are many things for everyone to do. However, there are a few things that everyone should move to the top of their bucket list for their visit to Fort Myers. It only takes on visit to Fort Myers, Florida to easily understand why so many people choose to call this place their favorite vacation locale, their winter retreat from the bitter winters up north, and, for many, home. Here are a few of the many things to do in Fort Myers that will guaranteed make it a memorable and exciting visit, and, quite possibly, have you returning again and again!

1 It goes without saying, that the first thing you should do when visiting Fort Myers, Florida is to see the beach. Florida is most notably known for its beaches, and Fort Myers Beach does not disappoint. While visiting the beaches at Fort Myers, you need to make a point to stop by Times Square. If at all possible, be sure to take in one of the Sunset Celebrations located at Times Square on Friday and Saturday nights. You will be entertained by some of Fort Myers’ local musical talents, and get to enjoy an infamous sunset, along with dozens of your “fans of Fort Myers Sunsets” friends, eben if you do not know them when you arrive. You sure do not want to miss out on any opportunity to drive across the causeway and see the historic and stunning islands of Sanibel and Captiva. If shelling is your thing, you will definitely want to take in the shell-lined beaches at Sanibel and Captiva. You may even get the opportunity to swim with dolphins or manatees while visiting the beaches around Fort Myers. It is no surprise that most people visit Fort Myers for its beaches. After all, they are among some of the most beautiful in all of Florida.

Sunset at Fort Myers Beach

2 Ideally, you will want to find some local favorite places to grab a bite while visiting Fort Myers. One of the places that should be on your to-do list, is 3 Peppers Burrito. While 3 Peppers is only one of the many dining options around the Fort Myers area, they are definitely worth putting on the top of your must do list. You can get a little history about how the brothers started up the restaurant, which is native to this area. However, whether your dining palette craves fresh seafood, beach-side burgers, or just a casual family dinner, there are ample choices around the Fort Myers area to satisfy every taste from traditional to a true cultural experience.

3 Peppers Burrito

3 Of course, no trip to Fort Myers would be complete without a visit to the Downtown River District. While visiting downtown, you will find many local eateries filled with folklore and history galore. One such place to stop in for a nice casual dining experience as well as some very conversational decor is Capone’s Coal Fired Pizza. For a fun-filled family outing downtown, you want to also stop off to see Centennial Park and take the family to the Imag Museum for an interactive science discovery center that the whole family will enjoy.

Cannoli from Capone’s Coal Fired Pizza

4 If parks and recreation are what you are seeking on your visit to Fort Myers, be sure to stop by many of the great parks that Fort Myers has to offer. These include Lakes Park, Six Mile Cypress Slough, and Manatee Park.  In addition, Fort Myers is home to both the Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox major league baseball training camps, so you can catch a game while they are in town, or maybe stop in for a minor league game and enjoy watching the Fort Myers Miracle at Hammond Stadium.

Lakes Park

5 Perhaps, a little souvenir shopping is on the agenda. Or, you just simply want to browse local shops. Fort Myers has plenty of options to get your retail therapy. Close to downtown, you will find the Edison Mall with plenty of space to take a break from the fun and sun to browse and shop. For a little more relaxed atmosphere, you will want to stop by the Shops at Bell Tower. There you will find more of an open-air type shopping, with plenty of options for a bite to eat or enjoy a tasty craft beer at the World of Beer, and a very spacious stand alone movie theater. Be sure to take the scenic route to your shopping destination, and drive down McGregor Boulevard

Driving down McGregor Boulevard

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