Reflecting on the years past happen a lot lately. The months spent in the Villa as Covid ravaged the world brought to the forefront a lot of thoughts about my age. I found myself remembering times in my life that shaped me and the future I made for myself. So much whirled around in my head as life seemed to be running like a freight train speeding towards some final destination of which I could only guess. Years pass by quickly as we get older, and not so much when we are young. When my dog Marley started declining this past year, I felt the pressure of time take root in my mind. He passed away in December and took many years with him. He had been a constant companion through a lot of upheavals.
I am the same age that I thought was old when my parents were alive. I could always call them for anything I needed; advice, money, babysitting, to hear them tell me they were proud of me and my independence. How is it that I now am the one giving advice? How is it that I see so many of my daughter’s friends with families, buying homes, advancing in their jobs, doing what I did at the same age? It became clear to me during the year 2020 that I was now accelerating in a different direction, towards old age. My granddaughter grew into a teenager; while my son was learning to speak Spanish and help me with my hotel. My years on Earth are no longer passing without hurry but like a parachute falling from the sky.
How is it possible I have lived in Colombia for ten years? I look at photos of when I first arrived in this lovely country, and I see glimpses of the changing years in my appearance. I am no longer a skinny redhead filled with the need to appear more youthful than I am. I am similar to a bird in flight, searching for what will be my next landing place. I have learned to navigate my business, my life, and my thoughts without so much emotion. I don’t hold grudges; I eliminate anyone less than worthy of my time. I have concluded it is nice to be independent and fully capable of a good life which I direct completely. I land like a bird in different spots depending on the day and my needs. It is part of living life with a degree of flexibility. We all need to be flexible during this unusual time of the Pandemic. We also need to be patient. I still try to accomplish being patient, which is a struggle I acknowledge about myself.
Yielding to life’s changes doesn’t make me weak. I can differentiate between what is necessary and what is not. I find my day is not complete without coffee and photography in the early morning while enjoying my birds at the feeders. If I have plans, I give myself enough time to enjoy this part of my day. I have found that a sudden thunderstorm here in the Andes Mountains of Colombia is exciting. I know I have to expect lightning striking nearby, and sometimes so much rain I have to use a squeegee to remove water off the balconies. Sometimes, I need to push my Dogo Argentino, Cash off of me too! He is a big baby when he hears lightning and thunder. I need to exercise almost every day. I am feeling the pains of my youth and the dancing and exercise I subjected my body to. Yoga helps me, especially for maintaining a calm demeanor throughout the day.
My mind thinks like my twenty-something self. I might have more years, but I am still youthful in my thinking. I have many younger friends, and I appreciate what they bring to my life. They have given me the ability to see what an extraordinary life I have designed for myself. They deliver laughs; while giving me a lot of great ideas! I improve my business as they offer me new suggestions, including event planning at my beautiful Villa. I have to continue to grow into this uncertain future during the time of the Covid-19. Life might have changed throughout the past year, but I have adapted.
Finally, I continue to improve my Spanish language skills. I am living in Colombia, my first language of English is not my first language here. I have read learning a new language can keep the mind fresh. I think in Spanish as much as I use my native English now. I continue to grow as a person as much as I continue to march onward in years. I don’t want to be that older woman who longs for the “old days.” What fun would that be? I want to be part of the future of this evolving world. I believe that means that I must adapt, grow, and enjoy life as it is now in 2021. I will continue to refuse a stereotypical role of what some deem correct for a woman my age. I will accept growing older as part of the elegance I have strived to achieve my entire adult life. As I have always said, “I want to look and be the best I can be, no matter my age.”
Waking up in the morning to the sounds of the birds calling at dawn is my favorite alarm. Sometimes it is not even light yet as I hear the parrots overhead calling like a choir singing. I open my eyes and forget that the world is forever changed momentarily. I listen and stretch, and then it enters my mind. Another day of the same routine, except it is getting more stringent again in Colombia because our cases are surging. We have a holiday weekend in Colombia however we are all closed inside. No one can drive anywhere, especially into the mountains where people come to relax from city life to their country homes. Liquor is unavailable as parties are part of the reason for this new surge. It now appears that in Colombia that for so long was holding off the coronavirus is now falling victim to increased cases daily. People here are not following the rules set forth by the government while the virus thrives because of this.
My time is doing much as I did before this pandemic struck so suddenly. I don’t mind being in my Villa with my animals, nature, and the beautiful weather that is year-round here in the Andes Mountains of Colombia. However, I realize that it is a lifestyle I choose because I was surrounded for so many years by people packed inside an airplane, and I love my life of simplicity. I find myself busier than ever because I have to keep this hotel organized and clean. I am no longer hosting guests, who can know if I will in the foreseeable future, and I don’t have the help I once had. I get a day out for essentials, but I don’t enjoy myself because I am worried about contracting the virus. I wear the mask, carry the hand sanitizer, stay distant from others, and I hurry through my errands to get back to my place of peace in the mountains.
As we increase in cases here in Colombia, I am noticing parallels to the United States of non-compliance about such simple things we can all do to alleviate the spread of Covid-19. Wearing a mask is a must. It is proven to keep us safer and possibly eliminating the risk of contracting the virus altogether. In Colombia, we have rules to follow if a business is allowed to be open. As of now, hotels are not available, and flights are not operating due to the pandemic. Restaurants can deliver, or we can pick up food, but no one can enter an establishment. To shop, we have to show our country ID to the guard at the entrance, have our temperature checked, a photo of our ID, hand-sanitizer, and walk on mats to clean our shoes. These stringent measures were working until the parties started on the weekends, and the bicyclists started not wearing masks while exercising. Selfishness, impatience to return to our old lifestyle, and non-compliance are causing others to die.
Etiquette is having the decency to respect the lives of others. Every single day I see on my various social sites that someone I know has become infected. Some of these people would post pictures of themselves without masks, with others having fun without social distancing, and being deliberately defiant to the guidelines that are proven by scientists and doctors to correspond with mitigating the virus. Those of you who support these dangerous conspiracy theories are the reason the cases are surging. Do you want the world economy to crash? There are simple directives for us all to follow. I cannot understand anyone who deliberately risks their own life as well as the lives of others for any reason. The virus is apolitical. It doesn’t care who you vote for, what your lot in life is, whether you believe in these stupid conspiracy theories, and will strike without a thought if you surround yourself with someone who is a carrier. Remember, there is no way of knowing if someone has the virus until it is too late, then you have it.
Young people are particularly affected by these new guidelines that keep them so confined. My son is here with me in Colombia. He just told me that he is beginning to understand the true meaning of patience. He has been stuck in my Villa for over three months without leaving. I can’t bring him with me on errands as Colombian rules specify one person per nuclear family is allowed out on our designated days. He is learning Spanish, he is playing with his dog Cash, and the other dogs. He has learned the names of many hummingbirds and Neotropical birds, and chats with my neighbors from across the fence. I explained to him three months is not a long time. It feels that way to us right now. We all have issues with the continuous monotony of our daily lives during the pandemic. I miss making appointments that are needed to have my teeth cleaned, or to see a doctor because I have a pain in my shoulder. I can get an order for an x-ray without a problem by phone. However, I prefer to wait until it is less risky. I can get my teeth cleaned, but this can wait until the virus is gone. We need to have a mindset of compliance for the better good of our society, for the world economy, for future generations.
So I ask all of you who follow my blog to follow the guidelines put forth by the experts, the doctors, the scientists, they know what they are saying is the only thing that can bring back our world from the brink of disaster. We have been in lockdown in Colombia since March. If we look at this amount of days compared with our entire existence, it is not that much time. Toleration is tantamount to getting back to what we once knew. I implore everyone to turn off those sketchy conspiracy theories in your mind, to listen to the experts, to contribute to getting our world back to a place we can live comfortably, and interact with others again. We might not have our old lives back in the same way we once did, but we can certainly obtain a good existence that will guarantee our children and grandchildren will have a future.
If you haven’t signed up for my blog you can click on follow in the sidebar and add your email. My last blog was about letting my sweet parrot Luci have her freedom. We all desire freedom, nature shows us patience. Luci returns almost every day to say hello, and little by little she brings more parrots with her. She has found her flock but still remembers the love and care I gave her. Let’s give each other love and care during a difficult time in all of our lives. Some of us more than others are suffering disproportionally. Let us show empathy, let us show concern by honoring those we care about. Even if it means sacrificing some of your freedoms.
The state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint.
Luci was free, but I cut her wings. I have had her since she was 3 months old, she had turned 6 years old this past April. I had noticed Luci was finding spots in the ground to try to lay eggs, which Luci could not produce. She was restless, she was damaging anything that she could, my outdoor bathroom doorframe, the cement on the wall surrounding the frame, and then she went up inside my new washing machine and chewed up cables. There went that warranty! I decided to let her wings grow. This is the last video I have of her enjoying a rain shower. You can see her wings which are almost fully grown. She had a boyfriend who came to visit almost every single day and called to her. She called back, but she couldn’t go to him. I decided she needed to be with him. I worried that she would not know how to eat in the wild. I hoped if her wings grew in and she flew off she would find her happiness and her novio could teach her what to eat in the wild. I struggled with my decision as I loved Luci like I love all of my animals, and I know she loved me back.
Luci started to fly recently. She flew low so I worried about my decision. We would find her almost every single day in a weird spot. She would call out for me which I would follow, find her, and bring her back to her perching area. She would enter her cage, which is always open to sleep for the night. This past Wednesday, she called for me, and I couldn’t find her. I looked everywhere. She called but with all the beautiful plants she blends in. She slept outside for the night.
Thursday morning I listened for her. I was hoping she was still at my Villa. She didn’t disappoint and called. I couldn’t find her. She was further away, her sound was distant. I knew she was higher in a tree. When the workers who are installing a new fence at Villa Migelita Ecolodge arrived I asked them to listen for Luci. She called again and one of them found her high up in a fruit tree. They ran to get the ladder, but alas Luci is smart and knew she would no longer have freedom. She flew off and down. I watched as she entered my neighbor’s yard. She would never be found now. We looked and we called her. She didn’t answer. It was around 8:30 am and I hear her boyfriend in the same tree he is always in. I talked to him and said Luci was gone. I was in tears, to be honest. I know I had prepared myself, but I wasn’t ready to say goodbye like this. He squawked and squawked. Then I heard a squawk from far away in the corner of my property. It was Luci answering! He flew away immediately.
In my wildest dreams, I felt he was going to meet up with her. I wanted to believe this. I went to sleep that night telling myself this happened. I awoke and told my gardener when he arrived about what had happened. Everyone told me she would be fine, the companion will teach her to eat and we have plenty of food in Colombia for parrots. I was so sad all day, I went to rest and I hear her calling. “Luci is back my inner voice said to me!” She was and she was high in a tree on my other neighbor’s property. I called for her and she just watched. She remained in the tree. My heart was full because I realized she could fly high up and she was alive. Then yesterday my son called me, she was in the same tree with her sweetheart. She had called to show us that she is around and happy.
This morning I was up early feeding the dogs and I heard her. She was calling again, and I see her land right next to my property line with her companion. They were grooming each other. I walked over and I stood directly under the tree. They both looked down at me as Luci did a little twirl. I called her name and she cocked her head. I said I was happy she is free. I stood there and watched for around 2 minutes and then they flew away together.
To be free is something that we humans are missing right now. We are confined, we are given rules we don’t like, we are not sure about what the future will bring. Nature can give all of us a perspective on this. Luci certainly has taught me an important lesson. Sometimes, patience is necessary in life to achieve our goals. Luci communicated to me her needs, I listened. One day she may bring her babies back to Villa Migelita. I do know she loves me as she keeps showing up to see me. It might end, she could migrate, but I will know she has found her happiness.
I wish all of my followers happiness and peace during this turbulent time in the world. We need to find our peace, within ourselves, during such an undetermined world of complete and utter chaos. Nature can show this to us. The animal kingdom is so patient. They are wise and communicate their needs without being so utterly selfish. They are compliant and wait for what they want. I am missing my Luci. My heart aches when I see her cage which I am leaving open in case she wants to come back. I know in my heart she has found her peace. I wish that to all of you who follow my blog. Find your peace and live your peace.
I wrote a blog many years ago about becoming minimalist. It was one of the most popular blogs I have ever written. During this time of isolation, you can change your habits. Why not organize your house (and your life) and get rid of all the stuff you have taking up space? I can guarantee the feelings of being in charge of your living area will free up so much time for all those things that are on your wish list. Why not change your diet to healthy foods, try to drink more water, and eliminate sugar? Minimalism is not just about living simply, it is about living healthy, learning to live without depending on social media, constant cable news, going out to just get out. Learn to be happy with yourself and your own company. I have found no real difference in my life since I have been in quarantine because I always would leave my Villa very early when I had errands so I could get home as soon as I could. I want to be in my home, and in the tranquility, it provides me and my spirit.
I have a very large Villa. It is a hotel, but with the novel coronavirus, it is now just my home. I don’t have maids anymore, I am responsible to keep it clean and in good condition in hopes that I will return to my business soon. In Colombia, we are not in the same position as other countries dealing with this Pandemic. Colombia, the country started to restrict activity at an accelerated speed. Thus, we have a much smaller amount of the disease than other countries. Colombia also has the best-rated health care system in Latin America and is rated number 22 in the world as having a preeminent health protection system above the United States and many other wealthier countries. Many people who were here on vacation when the coronavirus struck have extended their tourist Visa to stay longer, and they are trying to obtain a longer Visa to live here. The reason I bring this up is that moving to Colombia is how I became a minimalist. When you leave your country of birth and move to another country all advice given by experts is to get rid of everything except the most special memories and buy anew. I did this with great difficulty, but I have yet to regret my decision or my lifestyle change.
The steps to becoming more organized in your life are to start with getting rid of all the excess baggage hanging around in your mind first. Start with a routine. Routine is the actualization of becoming a minimalistic person. I start my day the same way every morning. I am sure many of us do. However, then we get sidetracked, distracted, or overwhelmed with what seems to be too much to do to get our lives and homes as we want them to be. Routine is key to minimalism. The most important part of your routine is to have a clean, well-maintained home. To have a home that is simple to maintain is to get rid of excess. It is just that simple. I suggest that you go room to room and look at what bothers you in each place. Make a list and start slowly. If you try to tackle too much you will become disillusioned and you will quit. Now is the perfect time to start the process while you are staying at home to be safe from the virus.
There is much to say about being a real minimalist. It progresses through little steps. I will continue my blogs each week with more advice on how to continue to a well-organized home and mind. With a simple home, your mind becomes less cluttered just as your home will. You will sleep better, and find you have more time for things that you do but feel guilty about because you know you should be cleaning up your office, or organizing your kitchen. I have no excess food in my house, even during this time in isolation. I buy what I need because I know what I need. I know how much toilet paper I use in a month, I don’t have canned foods, and I hardly ever eat out. It is less expensive and it is also healthy. We control our lives, our lives don’t control us!
Let me know what you think of my first blog about becoming minimalist in the comments. Sign up by email so you never miss a blog. In the comments please write what is hard for you to achieve, questions, and if you have any suggestions for others that can help them get to a place of peace that only an organized life can give you.
Some musings from the year 2018 and how I have found patience to be my most valued possession. The year 2018 started off so wonderfully as I was leaving 2017 with success in my business and starting with customers in January. I had new-found independence. I was pleased with the way my Spanish was improving after two men who worked with me had left and I was able to start working with Jazmin. I actually felt comfortable in my home for the first time in years. Working with Jazmin in my business and having her as my assistant, along with her family as a support system totally changed my life.
Then, out of the blue, I was sued by the man I had been working with here in Colombia. He had already been given a liquidation amount for his time working at Villa Migelita Ecolodge. In Colombia, apparently it is OK to sign off on a liquidation agreement as a paid employee, but then sue me again for 1/2 of my Villa. I had paid him a lot of money already and now I had to hire a lawyer to fight this ridiculous lawsuit. In the meantime, I had hired another man to work with me. He left without notice and broke his contract. The first man who was suing me had not done any work with my customers or on the farm for over two years and was just living here, even though I had asked him to move out. I fired him with the help of the second man and a lieutentant of police here in Colombia. I will always appreciate them, and I didn’t mind the second man breaking his contract as this forced me to change myself and my attitude of needing help with driving, translating, and dependence on others. The first man lost the lawsuit and was forced to pay court fees, and he also had to pay me for some of his things left at my house for over a year and a half. So out of this situation I found self-sufficiency.
I began chatting with my son again this year. I have found it very frustrating that through many attempts to make peace with my son, my ex-husband has found a way to hide truth from me and sabotage our relationship. My son who is an adult now also has to accept responsibility for keeping things from me, and he is old enough to know that I have always been a good mother, and someone who has his back. We were supposed to go on a cruise together in March, I even trusted his word enough to buy tickets for this cruise which he cancelled on me out of the blue. This cruise was the beginning of another bad episode. I brought my very best friend of many years with me on the cruise and met lovely people and enjoyed all three days. Before the cruise I spent a week with my grandchild. She was different also. Before when I would visit she was a delight and filled with joy and happiness. This time she was very withdrawn, quiet and even had an episode of extreme sadness and anger, asking why she couldn’t go with me on the cruise, who did she belong to and more. I had no answers as her other family told me they didn’t have her birth certificate, which I offered to get for Amaya. It is quite simple. I was then told they didn’t know her social security number, nor did they have papers for who had custody of her. In other words, they lied to me. They also didn’t tell me they gave Amaya away to a family Misha knew from her school years. Yes, I found this out later. I didn’t realize it is legal to just give a child away. It is in Florida. It is not legal to collect my daughter’s social security death benefits and not use them for Amaya, which they are explicitly meant to go to. I found this out also.
I met someone on the cruise the very last night and he seemed quite nice. He knew my friend from high school so I gave him more trust than I usually would with a new man. I realize now this friend new he was a con man, a loser and someone who doesn’t even have his own home. He was living at my friend’s house which he said was temporary because they needed help with a hotel they own on Hollywood beach. I visited with my friend and had no reason to believe anything was untrue as my friend didn’t tell me that he was in dire straights and they were helping him out. He came to visit me here in Colombia and brought gifts, paid for everything we did, and was quite charming. I had no reason to believe he was after me because of my hotel or what he assumed I had. I made plans to visit Amaya in June and see him again. My plans to see Amaya were thwarted. I was not allowed access to my granddaughter and this man put me in the hotel on Hollywood beach in a tiny little room and said he would upgrade to another room as soon as it was ready. I was miserable. I live in a mansion here in Colombia. This room was about the same size as my office here. The internet was spotty and I was sad to be in the same State as my granddaughter and not be able to see her. I also didn’t have a car because this con man was supposed to let me use his. I was very unhappy and cried for a day off and on. He dumped me, thank God! However, I stayed in Florida and rented a car and lived at different places waiting to hear from my lawyer about an emergency hearing in front of a judge, which did not take place. So I spent money I didn’t have, and it was a total disaster. Including seeing my son, which was not a great encounter either. As I am trying to find positivity in everything that happened this year, I will say that living in Colombia is the best thing I have ever done for myself. I am at peace here and I have many great friends and my business is fun also. I meet new people and enjoy new friendships.
Meanwhile, through all of this drama I found out I had a rare condition called CAM in both hips and would need surgery. I had to live in Cali, Colombia for one month after the surgery and I lost a lot of business because I was unavailable during the best months of August and September. I also had to do therapy full-time and could not participate in the many activities we offer at Villa Migelita Ecolodge. I have great insurance here, and I didn’t have a lot of medical expenses, but I did have to pay for two households. I had Jazmin with me in Cali and I had her sister staying at my place in the mountains. To say I was thinking about that disastrous trip to Florida and the unnecessary money I spent is an understatement. The positive part about my surgery is this: I am completely healed, I had the wonderful support of my friends and of Jazmin and her family, and I can now participate in all activities offered at my hotel. I find that my clients like for me to accompany them, which I really enjoy also.
I had to also have a lot of work done on my Villa this year, more hits financially. When I returned to my Villa I was so happy to be back but was still dealing with the work being done and doing my physical therapy. However, I found myself enjoying my life so much because that short time I lived in Cali, Colombia made me appreciate how peaceful my Villa is, along with being a perfect temperature year round. I found myself relishing my time writing, watching my hummingbirds, Neotropical birds and enjoying the cool breezes that pervade throughout the house. I end the year feeling exhausted from having no contact with my granddaughter, the people who have her don’t let her call me, nor does Amaya have a phone number I can reach her at. I have been speaking regularly with my son, and I was feeling positive about that, but that ended recently when my ex-husband became involved. My son was supposed to come here and live for a while. I was really happy about that. Then I had a phone call with my ex and he gave me a list of demands that CJ needed, and frankly I found this quite absurd because my son is a grown adult and in our conversations we had discussed some things he would like and I would be able to accommodate him with them. I had also discussed how we live here in Colombia. We live quietly and peacefully. We live normal hours of going to bed at night at decent times, and getting up in the morning at normal hours. We are a place of order. Even the dogs know their schedules. I explained this to CJ and he was fine with that. I wanted him to start college online and would give him some outdoor chores that my gardener would oversee. I tried to explain to my ex-husband how to get a Visa for CJ so I could put him on my health insurance. I also asked if I could send Amaya a Christmas gift to his house as I am unable to communicate with her anymore. This is when it got ugly. My ex used Amaya as a way to blackmail me and to make me listen to his demands. I am no longer married to him, nor do I approve of the way he has raised CJ. He did the same thing with CJ when we divorced, it is called parental alienation. He is doing this with Amaya now. He knows she was given away, he is the executor of her estate, so he knows that Amaya is not getting the death benefits of our daughter Misha. He should be concerned about this, and he should take action that the money is used for Amaya only. So he ended hanging up on me, my son will no longer talk with me again, and I don’t know if my granddaughter received her Christmas gift which I know arrived at their home.
So I have decided Amaya will someday contact me when she has control over her life. She must be so sad that she is not chatting with me. I can’t imagine what is going on in her mind if adults are saying bad things about me. It is so damaging psychologically. I know this because it was done to my son. Many think I abandoned my son because that is what my ex husband said to everyone, it is not true. Now my granddaughter who has loved and adored me is being kept from me. Living in Colombia has made me realize that even when I am super sad, I can find joy in the little things around me. I am starting the New Year off with a houseful of guests here at Villa Migelita Ecolodge . I am busy, my hips are healed and I have Jazmin and her family as my family. Sometimes, we just have to accept the bad things people do to us and get on with our lives. That is what I have done since my daughter died. I am filled with joy every single day because we have a sweet new puppy Kira. She has been a light in the darkness that has followed me this year.
Kira has learned quickly because my other dogs are seniors. She follows their examples, and therefore is quite calm. She sits when they sit, she sleeps with Orion when he sleeps. She eats when they eat, and is quite orderly with learning potty training. She has really surpassed all my expectations of bringing a baby into the house with older dogs. The one who accepted her unconditionally was Orion. The others have followed suit because Orion is teaching her to be calm. She has been disciplined by the other two dogs a few times and has learned to not wake them up, bite them and to sit quietly by them if she wants them to be her friends. She is an exceptionally intelligent dog, her breed is Dogo Argentino. She goes places with all of us here at Villa Migelita Ecolodge. She is leash trained and loves attention from everyone.
Orion plays with her, and is so gentle. He has taken her as his own. I am so overjoyed by this, because he is 9 years old and I wanted him to train her to be just like him. She even follows him out when he barks at noises. She is learning from a pro! He is the most patient and loving father Kira could have.
So I end this year with jubilance in my heart. I have let go of the difficult year of 2018 and have a good plan for my future in 2019. I am going to let go and let be. I have learned since the death of my daughter and even the years before her death, we can only control ourselves. What others do is their decision. We all have free will. I choose to be kind, peaceful, and forever hopeful to have my relationship returned to normal with my beloved granddaughter and my son. Amaya cannot control her situation, but someday she will be able to. She will have all of our many memories made together during my times with her. She will never forget them, even if others tell her differently. I believe my son has all those memories in his heart too. I know he knows the truth about what happened during my divorce and Misha’s death. I will be covering all of that in my upcoming book. I will leave nothing out. I am going to write it down for both my son and my granddaughter. If they have been told one thing by me it is to never lie, to be strong and to show people who you are by the way you live your life. I live my life now that I am free of a bad marriage in a way that exemplifies who I am. I am transparent and without any kind of subterfuge. I want to share this with everyone. I want my lifestyle to show who I am. The unacceptable actions of others are theirs to bear.
I wish everyone who follows my blog a very Happy New Year 2019. I wish for all who have had a bad year to begin anew, just like I am going to do. Leave the past behind and head into the future with love and peace in your hearts.
I have been telling everyone for the last year I need to find a new Dogo Argentino puppy. Orion is getting old, and unfortunately for all of us dog lovers we know life expectancy for large dogs is not a long time. Orion is our big boy here at Villa Migelita Ecolodge.
I never thought it would be possible to find another dog of my dreams here in Colombia. I wanted another Orion. I thought this would be impossible, how can one find perfection again? I was given him by a neighbor before I moved to Villa Migelita Ecolodge because he grew huge and ate so much. He was in a tiny house and needed space! Orion came with health problems, he has broken two bones since I have had him, is allergic to any collar he has ever worn. My veterinarian put this blue rope on him which they use for cattle, but he still gets small outbreaks of irritation. I give Orion Kumis a pure yogurt without sugar every morning for help with his skin. He never waivers in his loyalty, nor his job of protection and love. My guests who visit adore him. He is a dog who is gentle but has a tail that can cause bruises from wagging. He is that strong, and I always have bananas around for everyone to give to him, they are his favorite treat. He is the main man in my life. Orion is intelligent, he listens, he is kind, and he is gentle with my new baby Kira (Key Ra) whom we just adopted. He has the intelligence that some humans do not have. He is why I was determined to have a Dogo Argentino puppy when I was ready to adopt again. He is probably not pure (his color) but in every other way he is a Dogo Argentino. Maybe this is why he had so many homes, he wasn’t perfect, possibly the runt of the litter. I have always wondered about him as a puppy. I am finding out with Kira. She is strong of personality and determination.
Orion would be perfect a Dogo Argentino if he was white as snow. He was given to me after 4 different people gave him away. He was so scared that first day he came to me, right before I moved to my farm. He was so happy to be fed a good meal, he accepted all my animals, and he became my most loyal companion and protector. For me to make a decision to look for a puppy was difficult. I didn’t want him nor Marley to feel sad, insecure, or upset. Well, guess who accepted Kira (Noel) unconditionally? Orion. Marley can no longer hear and when Kira surprises him he acts out a little bit, Nayela is jealous, while Orion is being patient and kind. He even allows her to sleep with him in his bed. She follows him and copies him, which I want. He is her teacher for the future and as of now he is doing a perfect job.
I first started talking to my friends here in Colombia about getting a puppy early this year. I wanted a little girl because Orion would accept her much easier than another male. I also wanted to find a rescue. I thought this would be impossible, but decided to start looking after the beginning of the New Year. Little did I know my sweet Jazmin, who is always doing kind acts and is a daughter to me, was secretly looking for months on rescue groups in Cali, Colombia for a baby Dogo Argentino for Christmas. She found Kira. Exactly what I wanted! She contacted the person who had Kira listed and was told come quickly, we have many who want her. But this lovely woman became friends with Jazmin when she told her about how beautiful Villa Migelita Ecolodge is and what a beautiful place for Kira to live. We arrived in Cali after two days and were handed this sweet little baby who is forever part of our lives now. She is not easy, but learns quickly. We refuse to crate her, our dogs are integrated and she is learning the schedule and adapting quite well. Nothing is perfect with a new baby, and Kira is a baby! She is a smart and cunning baby though, and we can’t take our eyes off of her, even though she already knows during the day to walk down the stairs to go out to the bathroom.
Now for the part I have been holding back about. It involves Misha my deceased daughter. I know I bring her into a lot of my blogs, but she is really part of my life still. This will give you the chills about the name for Kira. Kira pronounced Key Ra is Kara in English. I didn’t pick her name the twins who are Jazmin’s girls did. Cara (spelled with a C) has the same pronunciation as Kara was my deceased daughter’s middle name. They told me the name they wanted and I was floored. I had no words except to say, I love it.
Kira is special, and like Orion I believe she was given to me with a lot of love from above. Whatever you believe in spiritually, you cannot deny when you see a real life miracle happen. Kira is that. She is difficult, she is headstrong, she is beautiful and she is my Misha in a way. I will never look at her without thinking of my daughter Mikel Cara Carson. Because no matter the difficulties of culture, language and more I experience here in Colombia, love always finds a way into my life.
After many years of avoiding Christmas and all the festivities, I am embracing and holding them close. I have the perfect gift. Her name is Kira and she was sent from above.
I recently went to see Bohemian Rhapsody here in Colombia, South America. I did not know a lot about Freddy Mercury’s history, or upbringing. I had to read a lot about him before going to the theater to see this marvelous movie in Spanish (I was a bit worried about my Spanish but I understood everything). He was an amazing talent, a true genius. I was young when he became famous, and to be honest his music was what I liked to dance to. I didn’t care about his personal life, and in reality I preferred music that was not Rock as I was a Disco loving girl. His music captured people like me, people outside of his genre, people who were not Rock fans, but who loved a good beat. This is where his true gift showed itself. Everyone could value and appreciate his talent, even those like me who enjoyed a different style of music. I am listening with new interest to all the songs that made him famous.
I love to watch the sunset at night here at Villa Migelita Ecolodge while listening to music. The other night I was listening to Stevie Wonder sing Ribbon in the Sky. How interesting to think this man who is also an inspiration to all, just like Freddy Mercury, sings about sunsets. He cannot see what he is singing about but I felt like he was seeing the sunset with me as I sat watching the sun go down. This is when I realized that life is a gift to all of us no matter our limitations. We all share heartbreak, it might not be the same, but we all share that shattered heart in some way. With that realization, I believe that Thanksgiving is truly a time to be grateful for what we do have in our lives that is good, that is of value, how our lives can change in a moment and we should appreciate anything that brings us blessings.
We alone have the ability to move forward in our lives, even when the situations around us are bringing us down. We are not without distractions that throw us off path, but we can always redirect ourselves forward again by staying positive and persevering with determination. I find myself thinking about these sorts of things when I watch the sun go down while listening to music. Music is a great healer, and for me has always been a way to help when I have a bad day. Music is always playing at Villa Migelita Ecolodge, often Spanish music which helps me with my Spanish-speaking. Speaking a new language is an obstacle that I have overcome, one I should give myself credit for. We should give ourselves kudos when we accomplish great things. Learning a new language and becoming very independent here in Colombia is an achievement I am quite proud of. I drive alone to do errands now, I run into friends and speak in Spanish easily if not perfectly to all. I write to my friends on Whats app chat in Spanish and have an active social life filled with new friends from this different phase in my life. This to me is a blessing, one I have worked eight years to achieve, along with running a hotel in the rain forest of Colombia.
Many thought I was crazy and perhaps I was a bit erratic when I moved to Colombia. After all, I was still recovering from my daughter’s murder and a horrible divorce. In my mind Colombia was only a 3 1/2 hour flight from South Florida. I knew I could obtain great healthcare and live well. I didn’t take into account that many people still felt Colombia was unsafe, nor that I was actually isolating myself from many people by moving. I found out that there were many who disapproved when I returned for a retirement luncheon and found myself being given the cold shoulder by people I had known and loved for many years. I was still very overwhelmed with grief, and in actuality I was a different person from the one these old friends knew in the past. I was beaten down inside. I will never forget that luncheon and how I felt like a deer in the headlights. As the years have progressed and I have made a life for myself here high in the Andes mountains of Colombia, I no longer feel that sense of insecurity I felt that day surrounded by all the people I had grown up with as a young flight attendant. I feel blessed. It turned out I made the right decision for myself, even if others didn’t understand. It was my destiny, and who would know that I would need such a rare surgery that would have cost so much money in the United States. The great healthcare I have here was such a wonderful blessing this year and I have healed quite successfully from my hip surgery.
When I was watching the movie of Freddy Mercury I was struck by the loneliness he felt, it was subtlety presented but I picked up on it. I have felt that same loneliness myself. A loneliness brought on by being different. When you don’t follow the norm, people will find a reason to be critical. I now try to accept when people are not what I expected them to be, when they hurt me, when I am let down. I am surrounded by peace, nature, beauty, and wonderful friends here in Colombia. I found a beautiful spot to heal from great tragedy. When I am out doing errands, I am always thinking just this one last thing and I can go back to my Villa and enjoy the wonderful place I alone am responsible for making a place of comfort and joy. One I share with guests who come to stay with me, and become friends with new people from all over the world. I recently had a young couple who are also doing what they want with their lives, and doing it while young and healthy. They wrote about my hotel in this blog. I was so flattered, because they captured in their writing and their fabulous photos Villa Migelita Ecolodge perfectly.
My greatest reason to be thankful this year is that when I think of my daughter now, I think of her watching the hummingbirds with me, or hearing the rain fall, or watching the fog move in and then move out over the mountains. I feel her presence in all the symmetry of nature that surrounds me.
I have started the next part of my journey with this hip impingement surgery (CAM). I have found out my complaints about it being too easy in Cali, Colombia was a necessary part of my recuperation. I am now in my neighborhood. I know the Doctor who runs the facility, and there are many people, including students who are almost done with their schooling who speak English. I am learning that I had to do those simple exercises while staying in Cali to repair my muscle strength. All who follow my blog know I tell it as I see it. I was pissed off while staying in Cali. The secretary to my doctor told me no stairs for a month. I climbed stairs the day I was released from the hospital! I was told my doctor has a specialized therapy, and I found it so easy. All around me people were moaning in pain, and I would think I am done with this simple exercise and call ‘lista’ and my therapist would show me something else to do. I would be reading my kindle while doing exercises that were so easy. I didn’t like being in Cali, I guess you all know this. I have made this clear in all of my hip journal blogs. I was even more upset when I would leave therapy and think “What the f%^k was that?” I did nothing! I hated that I was walking without my crutches, but made to stay in heat and away from my beloved Villa!
When I returned to Villa Migelita Ecolodge I was ecstatic. However, I couldn’t start new therapy right away. As everyone knows we have responsibilities, we have life. I had my truck painted while I was in Cali, Colombia. It needed to go back for more work. I had to do my exercises and therapy at home. The exercises were so easy and I have a gym here and I could do everything. I was still so upset with one month in Cali that I was in no hurry to go to another place of therapy. I did all those simple exercises over and over, and I also rode my stationary bike for the alloted time. I began 20 minutes of Yoga. I was doing great, and felt good. I visited my doctor for my two month check up.
Alas, I was put in my place by my famous doctor. He was pleased, but worried also. If you read and follow my blogs you will know he told me “people like you scare me” because we are so athletic, we think we know better. I took his words in, I still think it was too easy for me and I could have returned to my home and relaxed in comfort and luxury. However, I am the exception and not the rule. So I am in good shape getting better every single day.
So let us talk about my new therapy. It kicked my ass. I was exhausted the first day. My doctor in Cali sent my history, and I am sure he talked with my new physical therapist. I am being put through the wringer. Maybe this is what my mother would call ‘divine justice’ because I am really struggling. I got sick, nothing horrible, but not feeling well. I lost my voice for a day. I still am doing my therapy. I am being stretched after I do all of the exercises, and I am so ready to leave when I am done! Below I am sharing photos for all to see.
I find it very interesting that many exercises I do are just the same as my beloved Yoga. So the good news is I did Yoga today, and I was able to do many of my normal positions, including almost sitting in the peace position. I still am only doing 20 minutes of Yoga, and 30 minutes of therapy. I will keep everyone updated as I go forward, but I believe that I am done with the pain of the hips. I just need to keep up my therapy, and all are in agreement, I need 6 months of therapy. However, I can start my normal hiking and more after these next sessions of therapy. I am ready to start walking my mountains right now. I will keep to my doctor’s plan and I will listen.
I was really apprehensive before my two month check up after my arthroscopy surgery on both of my hips. I am going to tell everyone something I have not admitted to myself. I hated the therapy in Cali. It seemed too easy to me. I felt very upset to be stuck in Cali away from my Villa and my pets. I would get up and go as instructed, but I hated that I was staying in Cali, while I could be in Paradise in my own home! I had a lesson in humility yesterday by my famous surgeon Doctor Bernardo Aguilera of Cali, Colombia. He said patients like me make him afraid. He said to me “Michele, you are in amazing shape, but you have to listen to me. I need you to take it easy and do what is instructed by therapy. You cannot do any hiking for at least another month, you need to start a new therapy in Aquaclara near you! I will send the therapy to them as instructed and you can memorize it. I understand you are an athlete, an inspiration to others, but you can ruin what I did after 4 hours of surgery.” I was not happy because I feel great, I have no pain. I wanted to hear my acclaimed surgeon tell me I am a miracle (which he did say..sort of) but he shut me down! He said “You need to just stop this, I have patients once in a while like you. You scare me.”He put me in my place rapidly. I was like look at me, and he was like NO you are doing things way to soon. Dios Mio! So I was totally shut down.
I will start a new therapy next week. I am being humble. I have so many who follow me and think Michele is amazing and strong. I am, and I am also obstenate, stubborn and think that I know what is right. Hah, I have met my match. This doctor is very good at what he does. In fact, he told me during my first visit. He gave me his percentage of success for results. I believe it is 96% success for surgery, but I am the person that gives this wonderful doctor the 4% of bad results. I think I know better. I do not. He was brought into my consultation yesterday because his young doctors learning from him are following me closely. I am NOT young, I am very athletic, and I am stubborn and I hate that someone tells me to do therapy that is too easy. I even asked my surgeon “how are the others at this two month mark?”He said not like you at all. AHHAH I felt vindicated, but alas, I was again put in my place. I am doing much better, but again in his words Ï am scared by patients like you”
So yesterday was a lesson in humility. He made the intern doctors do an exam of moving my legs and I was great, but he made them stop. He said “No more”and talked to me again. He speaks English, like I speak Spanish. We communicate fine. He was very explicit in his instructions of my next month before I see him again. I will do what he says, and I will be very careful. So that is where I am. I am starting a new physical therapy and I will do exactly as instructed. I know I am not the normal patient now, which I knew before. However, I think my world renowned surgeon prefers the people who listen and do exactly as he says. Stay tuned for a follow-up. I am admitting I was wrong, and perhaps I am overreaching. Michele
Sad. The word used to describe me recently was correct. To be honest that’s how I live inside my mind often, but I usually never give in to it. Even when I awake in the morning feeling deep heaviness of heart. I get up and get going, my mornings include watching my birds and hummingbirds: photographing and viewing them here at Villa Migelita Ecolodge. It is not always about Misha, although she is certainly part of this sadness. This feeling is something different. It has been pushed back, hidden deep inside my being. Like a child who has been abused and has no recall until years later. As I’ve written before I get through this life after her death because I try not to think about what has happened in my life since she changed at the age of fifteen. I’ve questioned whether it is healthy to just not think about it. I certainly have found out others pick up on this side of me of which I am not aware is being projected. I let myself feel grief when I didn’t see Amaya recently and I found out the true character of someone. I was hit twice in the gut. After a few weeks of searching for why, I realized what really hit me so hard. First of all it has been almost nine years since my daughter was murdered. Why is there this constant need by those who are part of Amaya’s life to continue to persecute me about what Misha decided to do with her life? She had free will. I was her parent who did not believe the choices she was making were correct. That is being a parent! Now these same people are hurting a child. I’m used to feelings of despair, I can handle it because despite all the negativity towards me I’ve gone on to create a lovely hotel and lifestyle. Amaya is a child, she should have nothing but love around her. All love is good love, from anyone who is part of her life. Amaya is not a reason to hurt others through revenge. Again, because all of the decisions Misha made in her short life were hers, albeit she was surrounded by really bad influences in high school. I just tried to parent her as best as I could parent a rebellious child who was doing really bad things. Look for it all in my book, and believe me I will be sharing every single detail. It is a movie in the making.
So back to this new self discovery. I discovered I am mourning happiness. Moving to Colombia was a good move for me to get away from those who continued to harass me despite what they knew about Misha. I was their person to bully. I am no longer going to allow it. I am going to tell the truth to the world, and I know there are many families who have a Misha in their lives. Hopefully, you can let yourself let go of what you had no control over. When I let myself feel sadness after I was not allowed to see Amaya recently I let myself cry. I don’t cry much since Misha passed. Not because I’m embarrassed or trying not to. I just don’t cry. I can watch a really sad show and not cry, I can see awful news about children being taken from their parents over immigration, I even lost my dog Bruno Mars while I was on my homeless tour of the United States and I didn’t cry. I realize this is not normal, but this is how I cope. I have become immune to a lot of bad things. I do react when confronted with wrong, but I never confront anyone, it is really hard for me to do.
So when I cried recently about being kept from Amaya it wasn’t this hysterical crying, it was a day of sad tears and a day of talking out loud. Just needing to speak about the positive and negative things. I talked to those closest to me during that time, and I was also very silent and reflective. I then get myself back to the place I keep my sadness inside my mind. That place of not thinking about how horrible the human race is. This is why I love my place in Colombia, I am surrounded by animals and nature. They don’t do bad things on purpose. To hurt someone without reason.
Since I’ve returned to Colombia I’m back to moving forward. I’m doing my normal routine and feeling content. The thing that is missing is that happiness I felt after so many years. My book editor wrote me I’m mourning the loss of affection, because I’ve become my own best friend after so many years. Such wise words. I haven’t felt much happiness for a long time. I have felt contentment, I have felt love from my extended family here in Colombia, I am loved by my animals. But happiness is elusive. My other mother called me last night and she said “Michele, you have never allowed yourself to grieve properly, you keep looking for that happiness, it might never be there for you again.” She is right. I might never have it again, but I will have peace and beauty. I will have the love of the people I know are by my side. That is a wonderful thing. I can live with that. So my homeless tour was filled with lessons, and my other mother Laverne said to me what I needed to hear. “Michele let yourself grieve, you never have. You have always been defending yourself against things you had no control over. You left and that was good, but now you need to let yourself feel that grief.”
She is right. I am writing it down in my book. It is hard. I have been remembering and discovering memories that cause me a lot of pain. I will get through this phase in my life, just like I get through everything, with grace and with patience.