I am a Geography Girl

By: Peggy Willms

(5 min read)

If you know you know! Period. And I have known since I was about six months old. I am a Geography Girl.

I have a photo of me building sandcastles before I could walk. My family would take me to Old Orchard Beach, Maine, whenever we visited my Aunt and Uncle. This lasted for decades. But, I grew up in northern New Hampshire. THE MOUNTAINS. No beaches.

I must admit, however, my discontent for the frigid, irrational weather never kept me from enjoying outdoor activities. I have many treasured memories of ice skating, snowmobiling, igloo making, cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, and sledding. I played along for the social and physical activity not for the joy of the fresh fallen snow and dancing icicles on the roof’s edge. Hell to the no!!! In addition, who really enjoys putting on fifty layers of clothes before you even get the party started? Not I. Throw on a swimsuit and sundress and call me ready!

Speaking of sun, fun and water. I did spend every minute at the town pool. The four, short months it was open. Memorial Day – Labor Day. Awww summer in New England. I began swimming lessons when I was about seven. Of course, the pool wasn’t heated which meant you took a deep breath and dove in praying the water was at least 55.

I competed in every stroke, was a synchronized swimmer and went on to get my water safety instructor certification. I became a lifeguard at age 15. In addition to the water, I also worshipped the sun, and I am being literal! If the sun was out, so was I. I became a Vitamin D junkie early on. The golden rays were my medicine. It was and still is my Dr. Feel Good. Of course, back in the day, along with the feel good, came the “need” to become as scorched as possible. Tan lines! You remember…grab your tinfoil mat, lay on the black tar after you have slathered up in baby oil.

Mountains. Deserts. Beaches. NOT THE SAME. Growing up in the mountains, did allow my family and I spend time together picking fresh berries and bottling water from the streams. The mountains offered me nothing else, at least in my mind. I remember no thoughts or conversations of going hiking or exploring. I am not even sure hiking was a thing back then.

I wanted to see as far as the eye could see. Where the land started with tan and ended in blue – the ocean. I wanted the sun and beach. I wanted to smell the salt in the air, not pine trees. I became laser focused on moving out of dodge in search of the water’s edge. My intentions were clear. My visions unstoppable. It was a duh!

At age 19, I moved to Monterey, CA, and began enjoying the first phase of my adult life living near the white beaches of Carmel. Funny story – Clint Eastwood was Mayor then. I kid you not – look it up! Many stints over the years took me across the world, and trust me, not being near water made Peggy one unhappy camper. I am not one who is caught up in the vacation bliss that comes with living near palm trees and birds of paradise. I literally am a different person. I am not depressed. I see life differently. I am more creative. I am less emotional.  

I ended up moving from California to Germany. Seriously. OMG. The weather and landscaping there is polar opposite of turquoise waves and dolphin sightings. I know the country’s weather is not just cold and rain, but that is all I have registered in my pretty little skull. And no the Rhine River didn’t do it for me.

My next geographical stint was raising my sons in Colorado. What to hell. Not my choice as you can guess. It is definitely a land-locked state. I agree it is one of the more beautiful choices, but still – where is the ocean? IT IS THE DESERT.

There I was stuck in another location with four-seasons. I “suffered” for a quarter of a century. Dramatic. I don’t want to damn this neck of the woods, but sand storms, 10% humidty, and lack of oxygen are just not my gig. 

In my 40’s, I began my annual vacations visiting my best friend in Florida. Sea level. Yes, I can breathe! After spending time with her, and vacations in the Dominican and Jamaica, I was more confident than ever, Florida was my destiny. Again, when you know you know.

Timing is everything. When I started my own business in 2016, an opportunity fell into my lap to move to Florida permanently. We will call it a Divine Intervention. The best gift from Santa I ever received. I had been mentally packed for 50 years. Now, I would physically make the move. I quickly donated my entire business and “non-Summer” attire. I kept a few pair of jeans, five sweaters, three pair of dress boots, and some hoodies. No scarfs and mittens. No ski goggles or ice scrappers.

To this day, I feel at home in and near the water. For some, they love the mountains and the four seasons. For me hopping on my bicycle or kayaking makes me jump for joy. For others seeing the first fallen snowflake is heaven. For me, I have won the lotto with daily temperatures in the 80’s not to mention I love humidity. So many people, are stoked to fly down the hills on their snowboards. I would rather slit my wrists. Many cannot wait to throw on a cowl neck sweater and watch the leaves fall. For me, I’d rather not wear a sweater another day in my life.

I respect anyone who knows what they know. And I know I am a Geography Girl. It matters to me where I live. My personality and physical being literally changes wherever my body is. When I visit my family in Colorado, I can feel the anxiety build and the elephant sit on my chest as the plane begins its descent. My skin shrivels. My hair breaks off. My irritability and sadness returns. As does my minute-by-minute self-talk. “Peggy, shut up and enjoy the moments with your family. You can do this. You will soon be hopping back on a jet plane. No one is making you move!”

I head west a few times a year. They are all old enough to also visit me. It is no family secret Momma is happier and healthier where the blue skies meet the blue waters. MOUNTAINS. DESERT. OCEAN. I confess proudly, I am a Geography Girl…Ms. Ocean here.

Peggy Willms
                                                                     All Things Wellness, LLC
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