Friday, March 11, 2016

Explore Your Town

Last week I got to take a few of my students all over Tampa Bay to discover restaurants of different cuisines.  We called it "The Taste of Tampa."  We definitely ate quite well and had a terrific time trying out new foods.  But, the true joy of the week came from discovering our city.  The kids were in awe of how incredibly diverse and multi-cultural Tampa Bay truly is.  What was the take away of the week for me?  I'll tell you...

We romanticize other places so much sometimes that we fail to see what's right in front of us.  I began traveling early on.  My first trip was when I was 6 months old and I've travelled extensively since.  Mostly because my parents were immigrants and so I travelled back to Nicaragua every summer to visit my grandparents throughout my childhood.  As I got older, the travel bug had definitely been a part of my life since birth, and so I continued to make travel a big part of my life.  I still do.  No, I don't take fancy, shmancy trips to the islands, but I do make trips to see family and friends and such.  One thing I always found myself doing, and I think most of us do... is thinking the grass is greener on the other side.  Think about how many times we've been in a new city or a new country and we've said the words, "I want to live here! This place is great! I feel 'at home' here!"  I've definitely whispered this to myself many, many times.  Especially that one summer I visited Savannah, GA.  I thought "I could die here and die a happy woman." Seriously.  It was like I'd found my mother ship.  No lie.  The times I went to Europe, I thought the same thing.  Every time I go to Chicago or New York City, I find myself having dreams of living in a brownstone and walking everywhere.  Yep.  I'm sure some of you have had this very same thing happen. 

Then, I started exploring my own backyard.  Long before I took my students out to explore, I began to appreciate the city in which I live.  The city that educated me, gave me shelter, friends, family, love.  I began looking around and falling in love with my very own town.  I discovered that I've got it pretty good here.  Tampa Bay is beautiful.  It's friendly.  It's a tight knit community in a large tri-city area (Tampa, Clearwater, St. Pete).  And let's not forget our neighbors in New Port Richey, Lutz, Lakeland, Land-o-Lakes, Largo, so on and so forth.  It's actually a huge area with incredible people and fabulous diversity.  

A simple life is about looking at what's right in front of us and appreciating our blessings.  Let's stop taking our blessings for granted.  Let's appreciate where we are for the time we are given there and make the very best of it.  Let's go out into our towns and cities this weekend and explore our very own backyard.  Whether we are in our home town or a new town we've just moved to, let's discover.  Discover the people, the neighborhoods, the diversity, the food.  It will be as if we took a trip out of town, I promise.  Let's just give our town a chance to prove itself.  I don't think we'll be disappointed.