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Florida's West Coast Thriving Beach Life

Week one on my Beach Blog adventures landed me in Clearwater, FL and then on to Sarasota. It is not my first trip here. Even though I lived in Orlando area and Debary/Deltona for almost 20 years, I rarely visited the west coast beaches. East coast was closer, we owne time share there, went to church there and made yearly trips to Destin after our family reunion. To be honest, I was not quite yet the beach snob I am today. While I have amazing memories on Florida east coast beaches, my need for that clear blue/green water seems to be my driving need over the past 10 ish years. Keep in mind reading this blog that you will see me pretty much looking for clear water wherever I choose to explore (and not too cold).

Clearwater is a great tourist spot and has a nice beach walk area, second only to Miami's South Beach, in my experience. The sand is powdery, the waves are mostly gentle and the water is relatively clear. I have now been there a number of times. Honestly, it doesn't quite speak to my soul as I thought it would. My heart feels home in Florida. I identify as a Floridian, but I can't find a sense of personality that jives. If I were to guess, spiritually, Clearwater is the home of the Church of Scientology and they own a great deal of the footprint. Maybe that is what my spirit picks up there. Not sure. Nonetheless, my 5-star opportunities in Clearwater Beach will keep it pretty pristine in my memory of being spoiled. The beaches are mostly public and a little more crowded than my preference, but finding undiscovered beach treasures may be an impossibili

ty in the US. in any good weather season. The Sand Pearl restaurant is one that never disappoints. The ` Columbian (also in Sarasota) has pretty amazing atmosphere and cuban/south American food and is over 100 years old.

On to Sarasota, about 1-1.5 hour drive from Clearwater can be a beautiful scenic drive if you take the coastal waterway. Many gorgious multi-million dollar beachfront properties to ooh and awe about and cute little shopping centers along the way through St. Petersburg. Sarasota was surprisingly beautiful, pristine and upscale in the downtown area. Great restaurants and boutiques (not in my price range) comprised the most populated area. New condos and construction all the way to the beach made it evident that many people are moving here. we stayed in a cute and tastefully decorated Airbnb close to downtown in an area of older floridian architecture. (spanish looking) I loved this vibe itself. It didn't feel faux, it felt like a genuine attempt at creating a safe, happy and pristine atmosphere. The beaches/keys are just a short drive over several bridges. All of these west coast beaches are keys just over bridges from the mainland cities.

Last fall I had been to Anna Maria Island visiting my brother. While a quaint town a little reminiscent of Cape Cod feeling to me, I couldn't quite match the price of the real estate there compared to its neighboring areas. The whole area is blowing up in price and new construction but I was not super impressed with Anna Maria beaches. Lido Key was a great little beach area,

similar to Clearwater beaches and maybe a slightly more Floridian vibe. I was looking forward to the day at Siesta Key. Keep in mind its around 100 degrees on both of these days. The trek from the public beach pavillion to the ocean across deep and soft sand was a little shocking for this beach snob. I thought they should have a shuttle to the ocean from the edge of the beach (I literally thought this). I was a long haul. I couldn't imagine carrying children and a lot of stuff that far and the space was not utilized. It seemed like about 200 yards (2 football fields) In hindsight, Lido was the better choice for that reason. We didn't make it to Longboat Key which has very little commercial construction or shopping and is private golf communities and condos primarily. The beaches are pretty identical.

Shout out to Fifi's Fine Resale Apparel in Sarasota and Venice. Fifi's carries some amazing High quality and designer apparel that met my budget and I walked about with some amazing boutique clothes.

Now for the personal sharing. When I started imagining this adventure a few months ago, my excitement was wrestling with a few thoughts. Would I get too lonely? I know I see clients almost every day and connect there. Its more those evening hours. I hoped

I would recruit some travel buddies here and there (like on this trip) The beach is so much more delightful when you are having deep and important conversations with people you care about. My second thought is that I would miss my kids and grandkids too much. I countered this idea by assuring myself I would fly back into Austin often and get my fix. Sometimes time is more appreciated when it is less available The past five years there with all of my children has been a sweet season. One of my girls has also just moved as well. My third concern was how would I do without feeling like I had my own place, bed, etc. to operate from. I am hoping I can make that mind shift with having this adventure mindset, also knowing it is for a season and not indefinite. I have my four-inch memory foam topper already on the guest room bed at my daughter's house waiting for me.

It's a little soon to process what kind of shifts I will see by letting go of the traditional American mindset and embracing something different. All shifts bring good and sometimes surprising changes to one's soul. As you know, I am all about shifts and transformation. My past seasons of change have all brought something deep and significant in the fruit that resulted. I have struggled my whole life feeling like I belonged. I didn't belong in Massachusetts where I grew up. Florida was the first place I found a sense of belonging. I didn't belong in Dallas, and I haven't belonged in the Austin area. I know this is part of my calling because I was called to be a pioneer and forerunner. I am weird. Fortunately, by creating a training program for my modality, I have created a tribe for those who have similar to me. God always had me on this alternative journey, even before I was born again. I am comfortable being a forerunner and a non-conformist and now we are our own tribe, all over the world. For a number of years, my closest friends did not always live near me and now I get to visit them all over. I will see many of them, along with family these next couple of weeks.

Next beach, Panama City Beach, FL.


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