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Stretching My Mind and My Life

What we think determines what happens to us, so if we want to change our lives, we need to stretch our minds.”

― Wayne Dyer

I love this quote by Wayne Dyer because before my daughter died I was not really stretching my mind like I do now. I did not believe in a lot of spiritual things, nor give the right amount of importance to what can only be referred to as our passing thoughts that occur to us on a daily basis. It is up to us to listen and be still long enough to actually hear them and to respect what these inner thoughts can actually mean to us and our daily lives. I had a premonition two weeks before my daughter passed away that she was not going to live much longer. It was a momentary thought that came to me while walking home from the beach, a path we walked together many times with my granddaughter in the stroller. I did give the thought credence because I was worried about her, she was living in another state and I was not in touch with her at the time of her death. I called my best friend and discussed the flitting of this horrible thought through my mind. We talked and came to the conclusion that I was a mother worrying about my child who had made choices that I really did not approve of. I also awoke at the exact time that her body was thrown by the car that hit her the night she died, the exact time of her death. I never went back to sleep after I was startled awake until I was called late that night about her death. I know it was her saying goodbye to me. I believe wholeheartedly in our spiritual connections to loved ones now. I have had too many other occurrences happen in the last 3 years that make me certain that we are always surrounded by our loved ones even if they are no longer on this earth. I believe my move to Colombia and the subsequent events are all in someway inter-connected with her death, and she is with me on this journey I have taken.

First photo I took of Villa Migelita, you can see the light that is an orb in this picture
First photo I took of Villa Migelita, you can see the light that is an orb in this picture

It takes a lot of courage and honesty to follow your own feelings about things. If you think of your feelings as a road map, they can guide you on this journey called life.
~James Van Praagh

When I first arrived in Colombia our friend brought his truck over to go look at the farm I was going to buy, I really was excited about this farm and moving forward in my life . That day we were to bring a few things to leave there and were almost there but a huge tree and mudslide blocked our path. Buying this farm was the reason I was able to move to Colombia quickly because I would have a place to live without a lot of work or renovation, and my house in the USA was being sold. I craved a life of tranquility. I wanted to have peace. I was sure I could find all of the above in the mountains of Colombia. It was a darling little farm. It was NOT Villa Migelita. It had very little land if you compare it with the amount I have now. It did have amazing views. However, it was super high in the mountains, and would not have been convenient to get into the main city quickly. I say all the time now “What a blessing that the mudslide happened and I did not end up at this sweet farm that was not in a practical location and without any real business opportunities for the future.” Life is always re-directing us, but we need to take notice.

1st farm I was going to buy
1st farm I was going to buy

That day I was surprised, as I had not really done the research on what could happen in mountainous regions. A valuable lesson was learned, and now I knew wherever I moved needed to have public transportation and be in a place that I would not be so isolated. Wanting peace is one thing, but to be without a real community would not have been wise nor practical. My partner’s family stepped in to find us a place to live while looking at new real estate options and we found a delightful little home in the small town of Santa Elena. It was built at the bottom of the mountains in the flat plains, and the views on my street looked up at the mountains. I was particularly sure this was the right place as the mountain that faced my area had a distinct shape of an angel. I loved going for walks with my dogs and having that angel follow along with us. I felt it was my daughter and parents sending a sign they were protecting me on my bold new adventure in a foreign country. The search for a new farm began in earnest soon after we got settled in our rental home. I looked at several farms, many around St.Elena, and even made an offer on one. However, once again something happened, this time with the paperwork and that the deal fell through. I still think Villa Migelita was waiting for me, and the first time I saw this farm I fell in love. I took photos of all the farms I looked at and the photo pictured on this blog of Villa Migelita’s property had an orb of light that can only be described as other worldly. I feel that was my daughter’s presence and love .

The Angel on the Mountain
The Angel on the Mountain

As we got settled into our new rental home, we also started doing the things that were needed for me to stay in the country. I found out quickly that I needed a Visa. I should have done this in Florida at the Colombian Embassy in Miami before I left the States. I did get my Visa but it was a lot harder than just dealing with the people in the USA, and where I now obtain my Visa every year. I discovered what it is like for anyone who moves to a new country to get the correct paperwork and what they go through to stay in a country legally. It is just as strict here in Colombia as it is in the USA. I can have dual citizenship in five years. The other thing that was important was to get my health insurance in Colombia. It is a process that also took a long time, but I did get it and have the best they offer. I learned to be persistent. I learned that Colombia is not like the USA and is very backward with things like paperwork and computers, and that the simplest things require many steps. You can not just call a place and get questions answered, you have to show up and deal with a real person who then tells you what you need. Then you have to return with those items, and sometimes it is still not right, so you have to go through the process again. I have only been living here 2 and 1/2 years and I have all I need, so it really was not a long process, but at the time it felt like it was!

The house I rented in St Eleana
The house I rented in St Eleana

During all of this time I also needed transportation. We had a small motorcycle and started looking at vehicles. The motorcycle was fun, and we enjoyed touring all the areas with farms for sale and seeing the beauty of the mountains surrounding us in the process. We did upgrade the motorcycle to a stronger one fairly fast, but finding the right car was a challenge which took months to find. Like I said the paperwork for anything in Colombia is quite complicated and needs to be done right. However, riding on the motorcycle became second nature to me and I had fun even when I did get rained on sometimes. It was all part of the adventure! I also took public transportation, something I really never did while living in the States. Everyone in Colombia takes public transportation, even the most wealthy. It is accessible, inexpensive and comfortable for the most part. I started to stretch my mind and way of thinking about a lot of my habits I had from a lifetime of living in the USA. I would see a family of three, child in the middle on motorcycles, or someone with their dog riding with them. I would see babies breastfeeding, or a child being held while sleeping. I know it sounds shocking to us from the United States, but a motorcycle here is the way people get around. They do not have the money to go out and buy a car. I learned about my new culture just by observing the new sights around me. I saw horses pulling carriages full of construction materials on the same road as the taxis, cars, trucks, public transportation and bicycles. Everyone got where they needed to go and it looks chaotic to me still. However, it is part of the charm of life in a new country.

Riding a motorcycle is fun, and it is always an adventure
Riding a motorcycle is fun, and it is always an adventure

My first months living in my small Colombian town were very busy, very fun and very enlightening. I believe that the farm that I did not buy sent me on a journey to discover the real Colombia. The Colombia I needed to live in to understand the culture. I needed the experiences I was having to make the right decision to buy a forever home. I saw all of this as the days unfolded, each one had a new discovery in store for me. I would wake up and look outside my door and see cows walking down the street or a horse grazing by my door. It was an awakening that would never have happened if I had just moved into the first farm I wanted. I was living an adventure out of a novel and I loved it!

In front of my house in St. Elena
In front of my house in St. Elena

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My Move to Colombia

Have you ever thought to yourself “I wonder what it is like to live in another country?” I did as soon as the travel bug hit me. I went on a school sponsored trip when I was ten to Europe. I read that silly book from so long ago “Coffee, Tea, or Me” when I was about twelve and then I re-read it! I was hooked. I wanted to be a stewardess. I relished the thought of traveling all over the world. However, I did all the things my parents wanted; made good grades, graduated early from high school, going right to college when I was only seventeen with a major in journalism. The thought of travel and working as a flight attendant was always in the back of my mind. Then one day I got really sick at college, sick enough that my parents came and packed me up and I left for the Spring quarter to go home and recuperate. I was back home and almost twenty so my mother suggested (because mom’s always know right?) I get some professional photos done and submit some applications to airlines. As it turned out only two airlines hired anyone at the age of twenty, National Airlines and Delta Air Lines. I submitted to both, threw in the photo’s and had an interview with Delta immediately.

At that interview I was a stand out, and not in a good way. I remember walking in with a dress that had a full skirt and Chinese style jacket. It was a very disco style dress with a skirt that would twirl when I danced. I had embraced the disco phase in college, was also a hair model, and I thought everyone dressed like me! As I looked around at every one of my fellow interviewees’ and they
looked back at me, I felt a little bit anxious. They all had on blue suits and white shirts, hair pulled back and black pumps. There I was in platform heels, a hairstyle that was short, wild,stylish and a disco dress! Needless to say I amused the interviewer’s immensely with my go for it “I dance disco in contests” attitude and got through the interview at the young age of nineteen and went on to be in the next class of flight attendants. My mother had always told me to “be an original not a carbon copy” and it worked. To this day I wonder why my mother let me wear what I wanted to that interview, as she never said a word to me about my choice of attire. Maybe she was letting me be an ‘original’ which worked out for me. I started training class and they called me ‘disco’ as I and one other girl were the youngest in the class, and we were kind of the ‘mascots’. I still remember my first years of flying as some of the best of my life as I grew to love travel and grew into a responsible young woman. The years flew by and I had a family but still worked part-time as a flight attendant. Towards the end of my career I flew international, finding these flights and layovers the most rewarding in my career. I had many layovers in South America and found all the countries I visited to be warm and welcoming. I could see myself living there, as the culture was inviting and the people friendly. After thirty years as a flight attendant I was able to retire. I missed the travel and my fellow co-workers but not the job itself. A job that is very hard on the body, not from just the time changes, but long hours and hard work.

Hair model days
Hair model days

Retired life was different, as I had been employed since I was fifteen. Then the worst happened. My marriage fell apart and my daughter was killed in a horrible hit and run. I was no longer that young confident flight attendant that grew up along with her career into a mother and working woman. I became a grieving wreck who did not know what the next day would bring. I was in shock for several months after my daughter was killed. I really do not remember a lot of those months, or how I got through them. My divorce was still going on, and it was nasty! I could never really grieve as something unfathomable was being thrown at me every day by my ex-husband and his lawyer. It was like he wanted to punish me for her death. I would never have thought the father of my children could be so cruel. This was a time I would never want to go back to. I woke up every morning wondering what would be next. During the week of the funeral preparations I saw my ex and his sister drive up to my house and put a note in my mailbox. It said “you did not deserve to be her mother”. I still think about why they did that, what if felt like to them to actually write such a despicable statement down and give it to me 3 days after I learned of her death? The hateful things going on kept me from allowing myself to grieve properly and I did not get real help until I moved and found a wonderful counselor here in Colombia. I became a person who was afraid. Apprehension became part of my existence. I always had been self-assured, very social and always ready to meet new people. Now I worried about everything, my mind would race with so much anxiety and heartache. A change was needed so I started taking little steps to do just that! I knew I had to get away from such a toxic environment, I prayed and meditated for answers. Then one came to me.

Watching a horse show at a restaurant
Watching a horse show at a restaurant

Enter my companion and partner. He was friends with a nanny I used for my children while flying. He heard about the terrible tragedy of my daughter’s death. He looked me up on Facebook, asked to be my friend. He is a Colombian American, who spent his first fifteen years growing up in Palmira the area I now live at in Colombia. We got to know one another and found we had much in common. We spent hours talking about life and dreams. Dreams that were similar; wanting a farm, the love of mountains and animals, the beauty of nature and solitude. He told me let’s take a trip to see Colombia. I had never been to this country and thought “why not?”. We arrived on Christmas day of 2010 in Bogotá, a city alight with Christmas decorations in vivid colors and music vibrating around the streets that was festive and enticing. I was impressed with the beauty of the season, a day I had dreaded for my own heavyhearted reasons, became a wonderful memory for me. We spent a couple of weeks traveling and ended up at his aunt’s for New Years Eve and Day. A delightful array of Colombian traditions awaited me. A meal is served at midnight and there is always lots of salsa dancing at any fiesta! New Years Day continued with more family and meals. I found myself embraced by his family that just met me. I wanted to feel alive and happy like this for the rest of my life! It had been too long since I had really smiled. Then off we went to Palmira the city in the Department of Palmira Valle Del Cauca, the agricultural center of Colombia and where my partner grew up. We took a carriage ride through the city, we rode a motorcycle around in the mountains, we visited the tourist areas nearby. I had the most wonderful time and my sadness was replaced for a few weeks with the joy of new beginnings. I realized I could live without fear if I let myself, and that I could live my life while honoring my daughter’s memory in the process. My children spent most of their summers in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, making beautiful memories of our time there with hummingbirds, hiking, tubing and nature. When I returned to the United States, we started to plan on going back to look at real estate. In late February we returned and I actually found a farm I wanted to buy. I started negotiations with the owner and putting into place all that I needed to do to move to another country.
102 year old great-grandfather
102 year old great-grandfather

How does one move to another country? Well, I just started researching the internet and found most answers there. I realized it is best to sell all of the possession’s you have and bring minimal items with you. I started selling everything; the house, my car, furniture, everything in my house, jewelry, clothes, basically all my material things that were not of special value to me. I looked into how to get my beloved pets into another country and I just did what I had to do! I look back at that time and wonder how did I do it? I think I was so traumatized that anything that kept me occupied was good. I could think about something other than my daughter being gone. Things began to fall into place as I slowly packed up my possession’s and made the final arrangements for my move to Colombia. I look back at what I accomplished in three months and just shake my head. I had strength I did not know I had.
Cali, Colombia
Cali, Colombia

I moved to Colombia in April of 2011, pets and partner with me and not knowing any Spanish! My belongings were to follow in a few weeks by cargo ship. I did have some problems when I arrived. My two large dogs were sent on a different airplane because of their weight and I could not get them for 24 hours. My dog Colleen was twelve years old and she was hoarse from crying when I finally was able to get them through all the inspections and paperwork. I was able to see them and comfort them, the airport workers gave them food and water, but it was very unfortunate for them and me. We also found out that the farm I was going to purchase had a mudslide near it right before I came and that deal fell through, which turned out to be a real blessing! However, we needed to find a place to live with our animals because my partner’s family home was not comfortable for us or the animals. We rented a little place in Santa Elena, a small Colombian town and the adventure truly began.
Having fun driving in the mountains!
Having fun driving in the mountains!
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My next blog will continue my story. I hope all who read will join my blog and share it. I can be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/VillaMigelita. I will also write about my daughter’s accident which I am still waiting for the trial of her killer. It will be four years in January and there has still been no justice. It is a source of anguish to me, I pray for closure soon. The killer was found within a week when he took his car for repairs and is awaiting trial.