Thick clouds paper the sky on this lethargic Sunday afternoon. December is upon us, as the Canadian cold settles over Northern states and the tales of tropical tempest in the South come to an end as the beguilingly-named hurricanes abate for the season.

I sit here typing at the “breakfast nook” table glancing out to my petite parcel of land, and I am eyeing the orange tree that is set just fifteen feet back behind my fence, growing on the adjoining small undeveloped lot owned by a wealthy NY investor who is selling the land at an absurd price in an effort to capitalize on Sarasota’s overly inflated real estate market (which just recently appeared to have been punctured). The lot is not worth the six figures that Mr. Investor is asking. As for the orange tree… well, that’s priceless! So I’m thinking about a stealth-like pilfering of the low hanging, ripened oranges later tonight. I consider it my duty to consume those ready-to-eat citrus jewels, justifying my planned crime on the fact that no one is there to tend to the tree at present. Rationalizing minor crimes and petty theft is a gift. My small property is surrounded by awesome trees. All different kinds of them, ranging in shapes, sizes, and variations of green. It’s truly serene here- rich in texture with a peaceful ambiance. A lovely quietness can be readily heard- like that unexpected tranquility that comes about on occasion when the entire world disappears and a sweet solitary moment is yours to relish.

When, earlier in life, amid urban commotion, I often found myself starving for calmness. I struggled with the edginess and haste of the city with its muted emotions, momentary memories, and fleeting friends. I concluded somewhere along Hwy 5 that I lacked the wherewithal to live an express lane existence.

So a move cross country landed me in a bay side, mini metropolis that has enough zest to keep me entertained and plenty of subtle idleness to allow me to delve into my originality. Sarasota nourishes me with an abundance of untroubled amity and laissez-faire living. I adore my neighborhood and this uniquely undefined community that hugs the Gulf Coast located north of the wealthier, well known residencies of Naples, the Keys, and Marco Island and south of the more crowded, commercialized cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg.

Sarasota is a blend of artistic passions, retirement ease, aquatic affection, and uncomplicated associations. Roots grow fast and deep here. Neighbors are friends, and acquaintances know your name. Dog lovers are everywhere (thank goodness). It’s easy to be pleasant, and even easier to be genuine. I came here to this coastal paradise at the beginning of the year to start a new life with my husband, with great anticipation of having a child and inking a literary masterpiece (okay, maybe just something plausibly worth reading). I came here to relish the memories of childhood visits to Anna Maria Island, a short drive from Sarasota, where my grandparents lived in their twilight years. To savor the delight that exists deep in my soul, when I cast my gaze upon the glistening bay waters.

I came here to reconnect with my inner being- leaving behind the pressures, strain, and exigency I felt in San Diego. I came here to grow a garden, build a house, and endeavor to be imaginative, inspired and innovative. The year that unfolded could not have been scripted or foreseen. No one could have bequeathed me with insight. Had they tried, I would have likely discounted the message- as I was far too enraptured by the images of ecstasy dancing in my head. I was determined and dogged in my mission to create my white picket fence fairy tale. Resolute in my plan to live happily ever after. And my unyielding intent and finite purpose were, without question, reckless, imprudent, and naïve. Admissions for which there is no justification or reasoning to be offered. All that I can do now is accept the poignant outcome, recognize the worthwhile lessons learned, and value the inner strengths that carried me through.

I continue to grieve the loss of my marriage. The heartbreak is intense and, at times, overpowering. Strangely, though, a tremendous feeling of love and gratitude accompany the pain. It’s as if the experience of demise is formed by paralleled sentiments. In acknowledging my many deficiencies I come to better understand my considerable potential. Looking back, I never had a year of such tremendous change- internally, as well as in the world around me. These words come out of me with acute and raw emotion, tied to experiences that have brought about profound appreciation… for having humbled my charge and re-defining my priorities.

When watching 60 Minutes a few weeks ago, I listened intently to an interview with Tom Brady, the talented quarterback of the New England Patriots and winner of three Super Bowls. The commentator asked him which was the best (of the three Bowl wins). Without much thought, he indicated that he adopted his father’s philosophy which is ‘the next one is the best’. Almost instantly I felt an effect by those words.

Tom was not focused on looking back. Instead, he is driven by what he aspires to make of his future. As enchanting as it was to be in love, and as captivating as it felt to plan a life together, those distinctly wonderful experiences are gone now. I cannot be suspended in time, aching and yearning for past visions. I must concentrate on today. And tomorrow.

The best is out there. As long as I reach for my dreams, nurture my soul, challenge the boundaries, and always seek to be inspired… I have to earnestly believe that what comes next in my life will be the best. That sums up a year in my life… an unimaginable trek through time that I now bid farewell to, but will never let go of.