Christmas in Florida

Normally, I (Josh) am not the type of person who likes to go to resorts and hang out around the pool.  I like being outdoors in the woods, hiking, backpacking and climbing the mountains.  But certain realities in life (snow, rain & cold) keep me from enjoying these types of actives in the winter.  With this in mind, I find a new appreciation today for being poolside on a warm (82 degrees) Florida day.  Back home, I would be inside looking out the window, wishing for better weather.  Today, I am working on my computer in the sun, going in the pool for a quick swim when I need to cool down.

IMG_0113 Taken Dec. 14th 3:30 pm EST

We made it to Florida on Dec. 4th and I got my birthday wish fulfilled (born Dec. 6th) by being in Florida for my birthday.  I celebrated heartily at the Outback Steak House with a prime rib steak, Cesar salad,  asparagus, baked potato soup, gourmet mac & cheese and mojito (yes, heartily).  We are currently staying in the central Florida city of Wauchula.  This last week we visited Orlando and Yemassee.  We will be staying in Fort Lauderdale for the rest of the month and will have the privilege of having my parents visit us for Christmas (who we have not seen for 4 1/2 months).

This part of our trip (in Florida I mean) has been, by far, the most relaxing part since we launched on August 1st.  Though our goal on this trip is not relaxing (again poolside vacations are not my style), staying out of snow is.  I am determined to keep our RV out of the snow as far as it is in my power to do so, and waiting the winter out in Florida is part of my power.  It has been nice though, staying in one place for more than a couple days.  The first 4 months of our trip were so busy, running from place to place and seeing all that this great country has to offer.  And though we plan on doing much more of that on the second half of this trip (yes our trip is almost half way over already), this time in Florida is a much needed reprieve, especially during the holidays.

As a whole, our family is doing very well.  Six people living in a 240 sq. ft. box has become our new normal.  Though quarters are tight which has lead to times of frustration and conflict, we are learning to live together better.  We are learning that abundant space is not a necessity for family health and that alternative solutions can be found when escape is not an option.  We deeply miss all our friends and relatives back home but have found a new depth of friendship within the six of us.  Making new friends and cherishing brief encounters with those friend we make is a new skill set we are also developing.  If the goal of this trip is growth and maturity, than I believe our family is succeeding.

For me personally I (still Josh) have experienced great joy along side of tremendous frustration.  My greatest disappointment on this trip is that fulfilling a dream (going on this trip) does not guarantee euphoric happiness (duh).  As much as I wish life were “easy,” experiencing a fulfilling life is hard work, regardless of my situation.  Making daily choices to act kindly with my family when I just want to strangle them instead is just as much work in Seattle as it is in Florida.  Said differently, changing my environment does not instantly change my character.  Character development is hard work and never ending.  This is the good news though.  Though I am not instantly changed by this trip, I am being changed everyday on this trip.  I may not see a difference in myself tomorrow, but I am become a better person as I struggle through life and continue to make the day-to-day choices I know are right.

One thing I am also especially grateful for on this trip is the time and space to think about and reflect on what is most important to me.  What do I really want to do with my life?  What really is important to me?  How can I refocus my life on these important things?  How do I shed those things in my life that are keeping me from what matters most?  These and many other questions take time and deep reflection to think about and even more time to wrestle with in an attempt to answer.  Though I have not “found the answer” to them, I do believe I am closer now than I was before we left on this trip.  And if this pondering is any indication of what is to come out of this trip, then I believe I will be a better person and will have gained a clearer life direction when we arrive back home in Seattle.

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