The other day, I was in a taxi chatting with my driver. He asked how long I had been in Colombia. I did the math and was amazed when I answered twelve years. He responded: “You’re a Colombiana!” A lifetime has passed by in the last thirteen years. Some of those years were not easy for me, but I persevered. I have found my peace after so much time has passed. Stress is not part of my life anymore. My life revolves around my business and nature. What is better than earning money while living at home? I can wear my yoga clothes, drink wine, and discover new friends who come to enjoy my glamping cabins and lodging. I go to bed at night feeling grateful, although sometimes tired from my increasingly busy glamping business. It is far better to be exhausted from days filled with adventure and nature than to be tired from a long day without purpose. Nature brings out the best in people. Nature also heals the soul. It has been over thirteen years since the death of my daughter, Misha. I think of her every day, wishing she hadn’t left this world so abruptly and too soon.
This blog has been therapy to me during all the years that have passed. I have always written about what was on my mind, in my heart, and in my life. I have made decisions based on my gut feelings and inner knowledge guiding me. This last year I have found that I needed my blog less because living the life I do balances peace, activity, and accomplishment. Of course, I will always grieve for my daughter’s life, but in some ways, it is less forceful. I look around at what I have built and know Misha would have loved it here in Colombia. Misha is the reason I have been relentless in my pursuit of a business that I can pass on to my son and my granddaughter. I feel her gentle push to keep going with my future vision of what my Glamping Place can grow into. When I hear the birds singing in the morning, my heart smiles. I am ready for a new day, a new adventure, a new beginning to my life story.
As I move forward, I find forgiveness in ways I never thought I would be capable of. There are people we can never forgive in our lives, such as the murderer of my daughter Misha. There are people in our lives who do something we can not understand, and perhaps we do not want to forgive them, but we do because it is better than holding on to negative thoughts. Forgiveness clears the mind. Some people become distant, maybe they have a lot going on in their lives, and we should reach out to them. We all have pasts that include glorious moments or moments we might not be proud of. We all have made choices that were not the best ones. But we all get to start every day anew. Now, I am living my best life. Even with all the ups and downs I have experienced along this road I have traveled, I realize my life has been good. Let a moment be what it is. Embrace it when it is good, and don’t dwell on it too long when it is terrible. Give up that wish to impress. There is no need to show what you have to everyone. Post a little less on social media and immerse yourself in real life! A flock of parrots living in a nearby tree causes me to pause throughout the day to listen to them. As I grow older, I become quieter, and the moments in my day when nature shows itself humble me. I think this is why my nature retreat is successful. When people experience these moments, they feel humbled, too. At night, when I am in my room after a long day, my cat is lying at my feet; I think about happiness. What is happiness? Is it the feeling of contentment? Is it the feeling of satisfaction? Is it the feeling of a good life, a fulfilled life that brings joy? I think happiness does include all these things, but it is also about accepting what has happened in your life, both the good and the bad. Not caring about what others think because you know you are doing and being the best you can be. My mother used to say the grass always looks greener on the other side, I am too busy with my grass to notice if yours is greener!
Palmira, Colombia, is a small city, but the congestion and traffic are intimidating. I remember being afraid to drive when I first arrived in Colombia. I was terrified by the traffic, the crazy drivers, and the motorcycles that passed on both sides when they sped by. It is still like that! I am thankful for these struggles that I have overcome. I didn’t let them break me! I drive myself everywhere now, always listening to good music that calms me. The secret to my life here is letting every situation be what it is instead of what I think it should be. I made the best of it and gained my independence. I have made friends in all the stores I visit while doing errands. My imperfect Spanish has served me well. When I arrive home after my chores, contentment fills me up. Independence is satisfying when you have moved to another country. Something we take for granted becomes a challenge when we move out of our country of birth. I haven’t waited for the perfect path to appear because tracks are made by walking, not waiting, and for that matter, I walk a lot when out and about—something we don’t need to do when living in the United States. Many people would miss the easy access life provides them in the USA. I don’t. It is all part of life for me now.
After twelve years in Colombia, I think of life like a budget. I cannot afford stress, envy, negative vibes, or doubt. I will only receive peace, love, positivity, trust, and loyalty. Life for me is no longer about having several friends but the quality of my friends. I love people who get excited about sunsets, hummingbirds, birds singing in the morning, a full moon, a beautiful view of the Valle del Cauca, heart-to-heart conversations with kind people, and people who don’t mind a rainstorm or the noise of parrots chattering. This is my kind of life. I am grateful for where I am today. It was a new beginning back then. Now it’s where I want to be. I embraced uncertainty when I moved here, and I know I still have many chapters left. Branches that will unfold year by year. I have given myself space to listen to my inner voice and not the noise of the world surrounding us all. Maybe I am living in a bubble, but it is a lovely bubble I have created through perseverance and unrelenting strength. I choose what matters and what doesn’t. I relax, I breathe, and I stay positive. I control my life and how I respond to all situations. Thirteen years after Misha’s death, I am blessed with the wisdom acquired through hardships, learning, and life lessons. I have messed up, but I got wiser; I have gone to bed at night in fear of the future, but I didn’t give up. I have let go of what doesn’t serve me. I am grateful for where I am now. Every day is a new beginning. That is how I live thirteen years after my daughter’s death.