Posted in animal death, Devastating sadness, family, Grief, happiness, life lessons, Live your best life, Uncategorized

Senior Animals Show Us How to Live Our Best Life.

I have been procrastinating during the past few months. I have all the words I want to say inside of me, yet I can’t bring myself to write them down. I have watched my dog Marley decline. He has arthritis of the hips. He will no longer climb the stairs to the third floor at Villa Migelita Ecolodge because he cannot get down those same stairs. I help him down the small stairs that reach the patio area where I feed all of the animals. I worry how he will continue to walk down any of the stairs at the Villa in the upcoming months as he grows older. As Marley continues to age it brings to mind taking care of my mother when she lived with me years ago. Animals are not so different even though they don’t get to live a long life. How I wish they could.

Marley smiling

Cats are like the comfy blanket we use when we are feeling down. They are always nearby in a spot they have picked out to be the favorite place for a while. They have their habits as we adapt to their idiosyncrasies. Dogs are the smiling faces that wag their tails when they see us. They anxiously await us when we leave the house. Cats not so much as they are such independent creatures. They show their love without a lot of fuss. Cats are insistent and determined in their show of affection. Often in the middle of the night when they decide to climb up on your body or rub a whisker on your face to startle you awake.

All animals age differently. My dog Marley doesn’t look old. He has few grey hairs, but the giveaway is arthritis in his hips. Marley walks with a hesitant gate. He is a bit crooked in his form. When sleeping, the mouth opens in a creepy grin. I often check to see if he is still breathing. Franchesca, my old tortoiseshell cat, could be found sleeping next to Marley on most days. They were friends for many years and came with me to Colombia from the United States. Franchesca passed away suddenly on Thursday. In this video, she looks healthy and very content. I don’t know what happened to Franchesca. Wednesday evening, she was with me in the kitchen talking to me. She always would meow, and I would answer with a meow. She was often in the living room relaxing when she wasn’t outside on a patio taking in the sun. When she didn’t come to the food dish on Thursday morning, I started calling for her. I found her under the small steps that lead to the first-floor patio. She looked asleep, but I knew she wasn’t. I reached in to pick her up, thinking she might be sick. She was dead. I won’t go into the details, but I broke down. She was intact without marks. She didn’t ever wander far as she had her favorite places. Usually, she was with me in the morning when I wake up. Thursday morning, she wasn’t at the end of my bed. I had my gardener bury her with a beautiful plant to mark her grave. Maybe Franchesca had an underlying condition that I was unaware of. Franchesca had a long and rewarding life with me. She was special because my deceased daughter gave her to me as a gift. Franchesca mellowed in her last years. I often would tell my guests she won’t let you pick her up or pet her and, Franchesca always proved me wrong. She was content, living her best life on my farm. I don’t think Franchesca suffered, at least I want to feel that. I want to imagine she closed her eyes and fell into an eternal sleep.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

I arrived in Colombia with five animals nine years ago. I have only Marley left with me now. Each morning I see Marley smiling at me is another reminder to live my best life. Marley has no worries as he is forever happy. I want to be this way. I want to let go of the burdens I have placed on my heart. I want to feel content in every moment as our senior animals do. They have pain we don’t know about because they never complain. They enjoy each day as if they will live forever. They never appear to worry about their futures. They exist for our pleasure. We exist to receive their love, hope for a great many years together. I can only hope that Marley passes peacefully in his sleep, as I imagine Franchesca did. In the meantime, I am going to appreciate the gift Marley has given me with his beautiful spirit. I am going to grieve my Franchesca as the loss of a family member. I am going to wake up every morning with positivity and a smile. I think my animals have taught me to cherish what I have at this moment.

R.I.P. Franchesca
Posted in animal rights, Awakening, Birders, chaos, Colombia, Colombian life, coronavirus, country living, freedom, happiness, letting go, life lessons, Live your best life, mother nature, nature, Patience, save our planet, Signs of the Universe, Uncategorized, Villa Migelita Ecolodge

Luci is Free to Fly.

What does freedom mean?

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.

Hike with Beeja, Luci on tree perch 018
When Luci was a juvenile and had all of her colors

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.

Posted in Achievements, Live your best life, minimalism, Order, structure, Uncategorized, Villa Migelita Ecolodge

Minimalism: The Next Step to Organization of Your Home and Life

My last blog Minimalism 101 gave you some ideas on how to organize your home while we find ourselves sheltered in place during this unprecedented time in history. I want to expand on the next steps to keep your household straightened out. If you are still working on projects don’t feel frustrated. Just keep on trucking along!

Recently I organized my office which is the only place that has often gotten cluttered since I moved to Villa Migelita Ecolodge in Colombia. I often procrastinate about filing paperwork. I have made a rule that I will not let myself go a week without putting my different receipts I collect in the appropriate file. I find when we give ourselves these rules, we follow them if we make them a habit. That is the secret to becoming minimalist. Make it your normal to keep your mind in a decluttered state by keeping your area of living uncluttered. Make it a routine.

In Colombia we are in strict quarantine, there are no exceptions and we have to follow the rules, no exceptions. I have found that I have to become a very patient person. I wait in lines on my day out for essentials, and I do not panic buy anything. I don’t want to have to find space for too many purchases when I return home. I don’t have my maids who always accompanied me before the pandemic and came home and put away the groceries and had places for everything. I now have to do this myself, my son cannot come with me to help. We are given our day to go out by our country ID and only one member of the household may leave. I find these days exhausting because of the time spent waiting and then returning home to put away everything. I am sure you can understand that I buy just what I need, nothing more. In Colombia, there is nothing that is unavailable and I am assured of my day out each week.

I mention routine in my last blog and now in this blog. As each new day starts I know what I have planned just as if I was not made to stay in my home all the time. I believe this is key to keeping up with cleaning and not allowing yourself to use staying in your apartment, farm, big or small home, lots of lands, no land, wherever you are sheltering in place as an excuse to do nothing because you don’t have a reason to do it. Your reason should be because you like to be surrounded by an atmosphere of peace and relaxation. When you know what your plan is for the day and you complete it you can then do whatever it is your want to do without looking around at the chaos that can creep up in a few days.

My mother used to tell me when I got my first apartment and was living on my own to do a few things each day and your home will be clean. It works. I also give myself one day where I don’t do anything. That can be a reward to yourself for having a home that looks nice if you take a day off. Usually, on my reward day, I read and enjoy sitting outside or hanging in my hammock. I have found I love to try new recipes that I can use once I have tourists visiting Villa Migelita Ecolodge again. Every day after I finish the chores I do Yoga. Yoga is calming for the mind and helps relieve the stress we create by worrying. I have one day that is a very heavy cleaning, which my son helps with. It is amazing how quickly we finish and the Villa looks wonderful.

In my last blog, I suggested that you go through your home room by room and write a list of what needs to be done in all areas that bother you. In this blog, I want you to continue with your projects, and for those you have completed I want you to keep them in their new state. Make your agenda for each day and follow it. Again make it a habit. I just like everyone have days that I don’t feel like doing what is on my checklist for the day. However, my mind will nag at me if I don’t do what I have planned. This is because I have created my routine and so can you! Also, it doesn’t have to be confined to the inside of your house, it can be your yard, your garage, planting spring flowers, anything that is an area that you think about but procrastinate because you feel it can be overwhelming. Just say to yourself, what else do I have to do that is more important and start chipping away at the activity.

Believe me when I say I was a bit overwhelmed at keeping this huge Villa clean with just my son who is helping me with the cleaning. We have worked it out and my place is cleaner than ever. Even on the day to do nothing, we find time to sweep the floors and put in a load of laundry. I am sticking with my environmentally friendly ways even as the world is becoming less polluted during the pandemic. My next minimalist blog will discuss ways to be more environmentally friendly so we can keep the Earth clear like it is looking now with less human pollution being sent into the atmosphere. Let me know what you think and sign up and share my blogs!

Posted in Achievements, Colombian healthcare, expat life, freedom, happiness, hotel, life lessons, Live your best life, minimalism, Patience, Perfection and Peace, Uncategorized, Villa Migelita Ecolodge

Minimalism 101

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.

 
Posted in Achievements, Be Kind, Colombia, expat life, family, Flight attendant life, Happy Chanakuah, Live your best life, love, Materialism, Merry Christmas, minimalism, nature, save our planet, Stop Using Plastic, Uncategorized, Villa Migelita Ecolodge

No Holiday Rush at Villa Migelita Ecolodge

It is December 23 and we are not panicked nor running off for last-minute gifts. Here in the countryside of Colombia, we are living life, as usual, preparing for tomorrow to have our Christmas which is celebrated on December 24th. Christmas day is a holiday but for relaxing, not opening gifts. We are deciding on a meal to prepare as I write this blog.

I have often written about my life and how I live as a minimalist in Colombia. We love the decorations, we buy gifts but not in excess, and we enjoy spending time going to visit places to see lights and to enjoy the season simply. That is how we celebrate at Villa Migelita Ecolodge.

I am writing today to say “slow down and don’t overdo gift buying” because that is not what is important. For young children, I believe gifts are fun, but not too many. For children who are growing up, show them the gift of giving to others. Whatever your cause is give them a donation to that and show them material is fun for a couple of presents, but try to steer them into a less selfish state of mind. My intention is to spread what I believe from now on. Even with my granddaughter. I believe in saving our Earth from destruction by humans. If we just contribute a little to saving our planet, we are going to make a difference. Share some good intentions instead of a present that will certainly be discarded in a couple of months.

Finally, share the gift of love. Give a smile to a worker in a store, a flight attendant on your flight who is working the holidays, an older person who might not have a family. Bring your children to volunteer for the homeless, at a nursing home, a hospital. There are so many photos on social media of happy scenes others do not enjoy nor have a life that is filled with so much love. Some people have no one.

I end this simple blog with what means the most to me. What I have created here in Colombia is my gift to myself. Villa Migelita Ecolodge is a place filled with the joy of nature, animals, and beauty. I continue to work to improve every aspect of my Villa. I want nothing more than to wake up in the morning healthy and surrounded by nature and all that I love. I want to celebrate with a heart that is filled with accomplishment. If only one person starts to watch their use of plastic, to become more conscious of what is happening to our planet, to our environment, to try to make a little bit of change in your habits that can make a positive change to the world we leave to our grandchildren, you will give me a wonderful Christmas gift.

Posted in Achievements, chaos, Colombia, Entreprenuer, expat life, life lessons, Live your best life, Materialism, minimalism, Uncategorized

Materialism vs Achievments

My guests at Villa Migelita Ecolodge of Colombia always ask me the same thing. “How did you do this?” By this, they mean my move to Colombia and opening a hotel in The Andes Mountains. Many of my customers come to see in person what I have achieved. Curiosity about living in another country along with the love of all things nature is a driving force for many of us living in what is a chaotic time in the world. As I said in my last blog: Living Your Best Life, we must stop trying to impress others, we must breathe, live, and be ourselves. We must give up what we think others expect of us and do what we enjoy. We must change, materialism and achievement are two different things. Materialism is a preoccupation with or emphasis on material objects, comforts, and considerations, with a disinterest in or rejection of spiritual, intellectual, or cultural values. Achievement is something accomplished, especially by superior ability, special effort, great courage, etc.; a great or heroic deed: both are definitions from the dictionary. I believe we all have it inside of us to achieve the goals that we set for ourselves. It might take 8 years as I have done, or you might be able to achieve your goal in a matter of weeks.

We should reflect on achievements in our lives and not materialism. I am a spiritual human being. The Universe is my religion. I am not a believer in organized religion. I am not saying it is unacceptable, it is just not for me. I believe in a God of all people who made the beauty of nature that surrounds me in Colombia and the rest of the world. I am worried about the upcoming generations and what is happening to our climate. Spiritualism is my way of life. I do not expect others to follow my beliefs. I do believe we should be civil to each other and respect the Earth. I have shown this is possible by my lifestyle change. I live what I write.

Achieving my goals took time and I have a beautiful hotel. I worked hard and went through difficulties to get to where I am. I didn’t do this when I was young. I did it in my 50’s and now I am a senior citizen according to the definition. I don’t live as a senior. I play volleyball, I hike, I include myself in many adventure travel activities offered at Villa Migelita Ecolodge. I am surrounded by many young people. I work with them, and I have them as guests. I laugh when I realize they don’t ever consider my age and expect me to keep up on all things adventure. I am thrilled they feel this way. I enjoy my life and all that I have accomplished. I am doing what I love, and you should aim for this too. Do what you love, do not look at other’s lives to decide what you need for your life. Do what makes your heart happy.

As for materialism, let it go. You don’t need a new outfit for every occasion, or the latest phone, car, jewelry, or whatever is the flavor of the moment. Living in Colombia has made me see how superficial we all can be. I was that way. In Colombia we wear the same clothes over and over, we don’t have new cars. I joke with my guests about the Toyota truck I drive. They actually say they love my truck. Then they see it is a good investment needed to do all the adventure travel options offered at Villa Migelita Ecolodge. I wish I could have given myself this advice years ago. Being older has a lot of advantages, especially when you have lived through a lot of changes: good and bad. Take my advice and let the good things that surround you bring you joy, not material objects. Fun with your family, the beauty of a perfect day, frolic on the beach, in the mountains, or just play games with your children. We play volleyball almost every single day at Villa Migelita Ecolodge, even with our guests sometimes. It is the little things that bring joy. Not material objects.

Posted in Alternative Lifestyle, Awakening, Colombia, Dogo Argentino, Entreprenuer, exercise, expat life, family, farm life, friendship, happiness, life lessons, Live your best life, Uncategorized

Living Your Best Life

I recently watched a movie on Netflix that reminded me of myself and my life. A girly movie called Falling Inn Love. I haven’t fallen in love with a person, but I have fallen in love with a new country and opened a hotel. I have found that changing my lifestyle and country changed me also. I have a new outlook on how I live my life. So there were definite parallels between myself and the main character of this sweet movie. Although the woman in the movie changed her life and attitude in a short period, it has taken me 8 years. I moved to Colombia without speaking Spanish, and I had to learn to live in a new culture completely different from the United States. This movie made me think about all that has changed in my life, and how I have evolved into the person I am now.

For most of my adult life, I lived and worked with the perception in my head that I was doing what I did to achieve not personal freedom and happiness but to achieve a certain lifestyle I thought was necessary to live a good life. As every human being knows our intentions sometimes take a different turn and we find ourselves in situations that are beyond our control. We find ourselves with problems that pop up unexpectedly, usually not of our own doing. We find ourselves having to fight for what is best and we don’t think of ourselves but of changing others. As I have grown older I have found out to change others is an impossibility. We can only change ourselves. We need to live our best life and let even the most beloved people in our lives see that they must also live their best life too.

Living in the rural country of Colombia is a lifestyle change of a magnitude I never thought possible until I did it and adjusted to the lack of accessibility to ordering a pizza on a whim or running out of an item and just running across the street to the grocery or drug store. Buying everything you need in one place, not going from store to store to complete my errands as I do here in Palmira, Colombia. We have errand days here in Colombia and we have it down to a science now. The years leading up to my now complete organization were difficult. I was not able to do things by myself because I couldn’t communicate well and I was nervous about driving without being able to speak Spanish well. Now I just hop in my truck and go.

Recently my son moved to Colombia to live with me. He, fortunately, doesn’t have to go through what I went through except learning Spanish. He is enjoying complete cultural change without learning hard lessons. He came from the rat race lifestyle that many Americans live to my place of peace filled with the beauty of nature, birds, and animals. He even has a new puppy that he can nurture with love and attention. I am surprised at how fast he is understanding Spanish conversation and speaking some Spanish words! Jovenes, as he is called here in Colombia, learn quickly. We even have a volleyball net set up with all of my friends and family coming to play many afternoons a week. I watch with pleasure as I see him transform into a fun-filled person making friends quickly with all whom I cherish in my life.

Cash the new Dogo Argentino at Villa Migelita Ecolodge

There is an important lesson in this syrupy movie on Netflix that can teach all of us. Stop and take time to enjoy the life you live. Look for pleasure in the little things. Get out and go feel fresh air on your face, exercise more, meet your neighbors, open your curtains up in your house and stop living in darkness all day so you can see the television better, change your diet by actually cooking food instead of ordering from menus online, be kind, stop the political posts on Facebook because you will not change anyone’s mind and put nice moments from your day online, show people how to live their best life!

When you live your best life you live the life you deserve. It might happen quickly, or it might take 8 years as it has for me. I have found myself with a lot of difficulties, but I am the best person I can be. I am fulfilled, I still have problems because that is what life is about, learning to navigate problems and still be a good person. Show by example, stay strong, fight when you need to, and give complete authenticity with all you do. Don’t let others influence who you are. Just be the person you are, and be proud of it!