Family Vacation | Islamorda, Florida Keys

Today’s blog post is brought to you by Mark Pasternack and Florida sunshine. As beautiful as the Florida sun was that doesn’t mean that it comes without life lessons. We are always grateful for a calming vacation break, but we’re even more grateful for the challenges that push us toward a stronger marriage, business, faith, and life! Now, for Mark’s reflections:


I often find that marriage and business are more alike than they are different. In both it’s the honesty and vulnerability on the daily that allows you to be successful. When something is not going the way I expect it to or envision it I have to get down to the root to truly improve it. Getting down to the root though is extremely uncomfortable and often unfamiliar for me. It’s reveals things about myself that need a lot of love and attention. It’s a place where my vulnerability must arrive so I can accept my faults and imperfections to improve and grow. Sometimes I can arrive at this place quickly and other times it takes the help of my best friend.

Our recent vacation was a much needed one but also a difficult one for me. I often think about vacations as a relaxing time. A time of long breaths of fresh air and deep reflections. This vacation though hit hard at my deep reflections while just scratching the surface on the other two. It hit me so hard that I felt it down to my bones. I felt lonely and didn’t know why. For me this is not only an uncomfortable feeling but also unfamiliar and it took me days to realize how uncomfortable it actually was and why I felt that way.

Growing up I vacationed every year for the first 22 years of my life with my family and another family. So I was used to having a large community around me. Even vacations with just my family there were a lot of people because I have three older brothers. I now have my own family with my wife and two very young kids. Obviously a different type of community. I’m not around my family and my brothers nearly as much as I was used to growing up. It’s new and to be honest a little scary. I always dreamed of having a family of my own but I never knew what it would take, the challenges that would arrive, and the new emotions it would bring. I couldn’t have planned completely for them either because these are new experiences and new situations that anyone simply can’t plan for. My surroundings and my community changed.

Nicole on the other hand grew up in a very small family. She quickly became accustomed to my now uncomfortable and unfamiliar feelings of loneliness when a large community was not around. She quickly learned to adapt and intentionally find the community that would fulfill that need. She knew from early on that she needed that community to grow and thrive.

Since getting married and especially after having kids I took that community for granted. I had to learn the lesson that my wife and two young kids can’t support me in the same way that the community of my family and brothers growing up supported me. It’s a different type of community that supports me in a different way. I didn’t realize what the community of my brothers gave to me. It strengthened my sense of self, it helped direct where my true worth came from, and ultimately gave me the ability to give so much to those around me and love so much to all those I met in my daily life.

After this vacation I realize I need more of that type of community in my life. It certainly won’t and hasn’t looked the same as it did growing up on the daily but it needs to be present in my life on some type of routine fashion. I need that brotherhood to challenge me and push me beyond what I can do on my own because on my own it’s difficult to grow. This is the hard realization that I felt down in my bones this week. I need a strong community of brothers. I need support outside of my own family that helps support me and challenges me so I can love my own family in a greater way.

This I now know is what God has been trying to teach me recently and helped me realize. He wants me to realize this now so I can actively build and sustain this necessity of community for the rest of my life.

Nicole realized I wasn’t being myself and tried to start a conversation. When the conversation started it was an argument and we had to work towards the baseline of understanding each other while leaving our own egos and feelings aside. It was only once we got to this place that we could truly help each other work through the challenge and struggle that I was feeling.      

This is the beauty, challenge, and joy of a faith filled marriage. Nicole and I were willing, once we got over ourselves, to dive into what was actually going on and truly figure out the why. This not only helped reveal what was actually going on but it strengthened our marriage moving forward. This is what I’m so grateful for in Nicole. She teaches me and pushes me to be better.

Vacation is the last place I wanted to learn this lesson and it’s certainly the last place I want to have an argument with my best friend. But this is life and life often does not go as planned. It is a lesson that I’m grateful to have learned sooner rather than later. Just as all lessons go in my life, once I learn them I can transform them into tools that can help me continue to grow and improve to build a stronger marriage and a stronger business.


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