Cynthia Viola Photography


Five Lessons from Florida

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For what it’s worth, it’s never too late to be who you want to be. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you find the strength to start over.
— F. Scott Fitzgerald
Florida Marshes

It’s about time for an update on all things Florida and what the next few months are going to look like for me. I’ve loved every minute down here in the glorious sunshine but sometimes life and business just have other plans. Yep, I'm moving back to North Carolina. But I'll get to that part in just a second.

It doesn't take long to glean a wealth of knowledge from a place if you enter it with your eyes, heart and hands wide open, ready to receive whatever may fall into your lap. Florida has been no different. It took no time at all to make friends and begin learning new rhythms and new ways of doing life. In case you missed it, you can also check out my Life Lessons from NC if you're so inclined. 

Florida Lesson #1: Stay Cool

I'm not talking about the air conditioning. Florida people have the chillest vibe of anyone out there, and that crosses all generations. Retirees on sail boats, teens with long boards and surfer hair, neighbors who meander into your yard while you're working just to say hello - no shirt, no shoes, no problem. Seriously though, life moves a little slower down here, people aren't nearly as focused on arriving to a meeting on time as they are arriving with a smile on their face. I wasn't sure what to expect when we moved down here, but this was certainly a pleasant surprise. I feel like I fit right in instantly and am quite sad to say good bye so soon.

#2: Tervis Cups and Yeti Coolers are Legit. 

When I lived in NC I'd receive these weird plastic cups with weird shirt-like patches inside them for Christmas and birthdays and I couldn't for the life of me figure out why someone would think I'd want that. Dude. They're sooooo handy on the beach. Just swallow your pride and get yourself one. 

#3: Water Doesn't Have to be Scary

Apparently I'm no longer afraid of water. Well, that's not true. I'm definitely less afraid though. I'd only had a half dozen experiences with the ocean from birth to 30 and three of those ended in me being rescued by a lifeguard because the undertow seriously has it in for me. I may be strong, but I'm not a great swimmer. I never did learn how to put my head under water without holding my nose. But clear water springs, bioluminescent plankton, 75 degree weather in February, pool floaties and friendly manatee opened me up to a world I never knew existed. I'm not 100% sure where I'll be living next, but I'm thinking water will need to be close by. 

#4: Don't apologize for being who you are

I feel like I keep coming back to this lesson over and over because I'm such a people pleaser. It's so easy to fall into the trap of making everyone else comfortable with your decisions. (Hiding tattoos in front of grandparents, drinking certain beverages around some friends and other beverages around others, changing language in front of parents, listening to certain music while alone and other music around people, agreeing with one friend politically in one conversation only to agree with the opposite point with the next friend...yes I've been guilty of all these things through the years) Why do we do this? It is a never ending battle that will never be won. If one decision could please every single person on the entire planet, yet leave you feeling empty or fake, it would not be worth it. Knowing yourself is half the battle, but once you do, own it. Be you, no one else can. 

#5: Plans Will Fall Through

And that's ok. My thriving photography business had a hard time catching on in the Florida market and I keep finding myself spending more and more time traveling back up to the Carolinas in order to pay the bills. I’ll still be traveling back and forth but I’ll primarily stay in NC at least through this wedding season. As always, you can find my schedule and whereabouts pinned to the top of my Facebook Business page and I frequently post them to Instagram as well. Travel for all my current (and new!) NC clients is no longer an issue and I’m looking forward to seeing all my favorite NC peeps again!

Also!! Bonus Lesson, I've found that I'm never more in my element than when I'm off on a new adventure. For an ENFP, the driver of my car is Exploration and Florida has some incredible opportunities to explore new and exciting things and the more I do, the more I want to. Next weekend I'll be taking up the Appalachian Trail again for about 15 days. I'll tell you all about it then, but I am so excited to challenge myself in a new way. Conquering a mountain is one thing, conquering yourself alone in the wilderness is quite another. I never want to be too comfortable for too long, growth requires change and challenge and I've never been more ready. 

A person does not simply exist but always decides what their existence will be, what they will become in the next moment.
— Viktor E. Frankl
Colorado Mountains