In May of 2015, my husband and I relocated to Englewood, Florida to be closer to my elderly parents, who lived in the nearby town of Venice. By May of 2016, both mom and dad had died (and within seven weeks of each other; they were married for 67 years). After the parents were gone and the post-funeral dust had settled, I realized that I felt a deep emptiness inside and that there were wide gaps of time in my life that needed to be filled with something meaningful, positive, healthy, and social. I was angry, sad, depressed, out of shape, and friendless. I remember seeing a billboard from a local Yoga business called Loving Light Yoga that offered Beach Yoga at their “outdoor studio.” I tried it, and at first it was hard. Getting out of bed, driving the 4.5 miles to Englewood Beach on Manasota Key, not knowing ANYONE, trying to hold back tears. Everything at first was emotionally and physically draining.
Thank goodness for the kindness and guidance of Lata and Robert, who are the owners for Loving Light Yoga. First off, they are EXCELLENT teachers, but they offer so much more to their students, like how to gain peace, serenity, and gratitude! I was becoming immersed in the very best attributes and in the most beautiful surroundings. Little by little, I talked to the people that I would see every morning at the beach between 8:30 and 9:30. I got to know them and they got to know me. I started developing friendships with some of the most interesting people from all walks of life and they were becoming TRUE friends. It took about six months for me to realize that this environment, coupled with the NICENESS of the people, were what saved me from emptiness, anger, depression, flabbiness (HA!), and loneliness. This is why I am submitting this article to Reader’s Digest nominating Englewood Beach on Manasota Key to be one of the Nicest Places in America.
The first random act of kindness was in the Starbucks drive-thru in Venice, Florida. When my dad was alive, I would take him to get a mani/pedi, and afterwards we would go get a fancy Starbucks coffee drink. He and I REALLY loved this ritual! On one of these festive occasions, we pulled up to the drive-thru window and the barista said that the car ahead of us paid for our drinks. That really made our day that much more special. I have since adopted this practice and have paid the niceness forward at the Englewood Dunkin Donuts. It makes me feel good to possibly make someone’s day. I truly hope that the people I am nice to will be nice, in turn, to someone in their future. Let’s everyone PAY NICENESS FORWARD!