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!
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.
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.
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.
This is my eighth year of living in Colombia. I am a resident of this wonderful country. Colombia can’t escape a bad reputation no matter how hard she tries. She is like the girl in high school who was called awful names, the girl whose rumors were spread no matter how untrue, she just could never escape her past. She changed as she grew up and into her beauty. That is Colombia. Colombia is growing into a major tourist industry despite the reputation she has. She is winning, but then something happens. Just one thing and she has to fight again to regain respectability.
Bogota had an attack in January by a rebel group. A fringe element after the peace agreement was signed and President Juan Manuel Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. This was the first such attack in nine years. Meanwhile, in the United States, there is a mass shooting of some sort almost every week. Some are so horrific that the rest of the world, including Colombia, cannot comprehend why these guns are easily available to these domestic terrorists. In Europe, we read of terrorist attacks frequently, sometimes I worry because I have friends who still are working in the airlines and the places attacked are popular layover spots. So because I haven’t needed to write about how wonderful Colombia is in quite a while, I thought I would share some facts about life here in Colombia. Why Colombia is an undiscovered Paradise and the most bio-diverse country in the world.
Colombia doesn’t meddle in other countries problems. Colombia is a democracy and modeled after the United States with similar governing styles. However, Colombia is pretty much self-sufficient and doesn’t need to go after other countries oil. They are really helpful to Venezuela right now with the humanitarian crisis that is happening. When Colombia was going through bad times, Venezuela was there to help the Colombian people and Colombia has never forgotten.
Colombia is a frugal nation of people. The people pay in cash more than with credit cards. I don’t live in a big city but in The Andes Mountains, the children are raised very much like I was raised in the 1960s and 1970s. They are raised to be self-sufficient, the boys by the time they are adults can fix and do almost any repair, the girls know how to cook, clean and do their own laundry, they can also do almost any repair too! When the children have a vacation from school they go with their parents to jobs and work alongside them. At the schools here in the country, the children keep the school clean. They all have assigned chores for once a week, and once a month is a day that all the children clean the school completely. The school system is really good. They have a bus that transports the children to school and back. School starts at 7 am and for the older children, it is over at 3 pm. They have many classes and homework just like the children do in the United States. They also have physical education, art, and music. Exactly like I had at Nova elementary and high school in South Florida in the 1970s. Art is encouraged with all classes.
Colombian people are brought up to be polite. They will always be attentive and respectful to everyone in person. However, they love to gossip and embellish on any story and usually by the time you hear the “chisme” it is so untrue and I can only compare it to the novelas they watch on television It is part of the culture and I have learned to just ignore and live my life. Everyone here thinks I am a wino who drinks wine every single day. I do. I don’t care if they like it or not. I enjoy my wine, and my health is good. Colombians will never act rude to your face. They will just talk about you later. I find that as I grow older, I enjoy my solitude from anyone who is a fake person. No matter if they live here in Colombia, or in the United States. Fake is fake, and I have no room in my life for this. If I find out a person is fake, I let them go without thought. No matter what you think of a person here in Colombia, you greet them politely. This is how it is living here. Personally, I find this the best way to live. I just let things go. I say hello, but in my mind, I am saying goodbye.
I live in the Valle del Cauca department of Colombia. I am in a very safe area. There is a department called Cauca (This department has some warnings). This is not the same as the Valle del Cauca. I am a birding paradise in the mountains. My Ecolodge is Western style with mountain views surrounding the entire villa. My area is called La Buitrera de Palmira and the areas encompassing us are filled with the biodiversity Colombia is known for. Neotropical birds are abundant, along with many different species of hummingbirds, small mammals like the black jaguar, monkeys, armadillos, and owls. I have yet to see an owl on my many eco-hikes but I see many photos of them from a friend who is a guide in the mountains. Colombia is colorful whether you are in the city or in the countryside. Flowers are bountiful, including orchids, roses, lilies, bougainvillea and many species of Heliconia and exotic plants. Fruit is everywhere in the country, and you can just pick it right off the tree, so are butterflies. Colombia has the most species of butterflies, birds, fruits, and is considered the most biodiverse country in the world. I live 20 minutes from Palmira the city and an hour from Cali, Colombia. There are many fun tourist activities in the Valle del Cauca, including my new favorite tour of birdwatching while on a small motorized boat through a nearby jungle reserve. We are also known for Parapente (para-gliding in English) which is a wonderful bucket list adventure. I am a legal hotel Campestre registered with the Chamber of Commerce but do my taxes in the USA because my guests are always from another country and they do not pay taxes for lodging in Colombia.
Cars are expensive in Colombia. I bought a 4 x 4 Toyota Hilux when I arrived and it is old. I just replaced the motor, because having a truck is important when living in the country. The roads are dirt in many outlying areas. If you are thinking of relocating to Colombia, you cannot bring a car with you unless it is brand new and shipped here. We keep our cars forever in Colombia. The cost of maintenance is very low, and to buy new is really pricey. I love my old truck and it takes my tourists on many adventures, many into the jungle surrounding me at Villa Migelita Ecolodge. I keep it safe and always up to date with repairs and maintenance. Colombia is about being humble and not showy at all. When you buy a good car, you keep it. I became a minimalist since relocating here. I also live like a millionaire. My views, my lifestyle are completely different than the life I left behind in the United States. I live simply, but elegantly. I was very lucky to find the home I did and for the price I paid. Real estate is expensive in my area now.
I have made a good investment, and I hope to continue to live like I do well into my old age. I can never describe the views I experience while watching the sunset in the evening, nor the climate I live in. I have perfect temperatures year round. We are on the cool side, but perfectly cool. I advise my guests to bring real pajamas for sleeping and jackets because we are cold in the morning and evenings. Palmira just 20 minutes away is hot. I do my errands early because I hate the heat now. I am spoiled with this wonderful lifestyle I live. I love to be at my villa more than I have loved anyplace I have ever lived. You just never know what bird will show up and even enter through our open windows and doors to the balconies. A completely different lifestyle than living in an enclosed space of regular homes such as I grew up in and lived my entire life in the USA. I enjoy the fresh air, no air-conditioning, and the food.
The food is always organic in my area. Even when buying produce from the grocery store the locals sell to the markets. The fruit and vegetables are sometimes still covered in dirt. For example, when I go to a local fruit market and buy potatoes, they are sold by the pound and just taken from the earth. The meat, chicken, and pork come from a store that is always fresh from the country, all free range. Fish comes from the Pacific coast and is caught by local people. I have special stores for all my purchases. I don’t just walk into a store and do all of my shopping. I have a store for the meats, and one for the seafood, a regular grocery store for staples. I haven’t been sick with a cold in a long time. We eat healthily, and we cook food that is tasty and with the Colombian flair. Breakfast is at around 8:30, then our main meal is at around 1:00 pm. We eat light at dinner, which is usually a soup, sandwich, or salad. We make desserts from bananas growing on my land, or oranges. We don’t have junk food here. There are fast food places in the cities but I never see many people inside if I am around one of these locations. Colombians eat well and food is a serious business. We always have food in the house that is fresh, no boxed juices that are so common in other countries. We make our juices, lemonade, and we use very little sugar.
Colombia has the most holidays in the world also. There are many three day weekends throughout the year. Colombians do not work on Sundays ever unless they are employed by a supermarket or restaurant, or health professional in a hospital. Sundays are for your family and friends. This week is called Santa Semana. The Easter week. It is as special as the Christmas holidays. Forget doctor appointments or anything important during a week of celebrating in Colombia. However, you will find many fiestas and fun. The Colombian people love to party. They also enjoy any time they can spend with family. Nothing is ever stressful here in the countryside. I just look out at my view and I remember I live in complete peace, in a mansion surrounded by nature. I never had this in the United States. Never. I have it here and I appreciate my life more every day.
I could continue and I will in another blog. Life is delicious here in Colombia. I have a manicurist come to do my nails every week. She does designs which are another special part of Colombian life. You must have a Colombian manicure and pedicure if you visit this wonderful country. You will see for yourself the myths perpetrated for years when you visit. Just remember to be humble, to leave jewelry home and buy some of the beautiful artistic jewelry sold here by the Indigenous people and locals, and to relax. Colombians love to wear jeans and nice shirts, and pretty shoes. We are simple and we are fun. Come visit Colombia. Look for more soon in my next blog. Michele
Just like the branches of these raspberries growing in the wild, or me in front of this tree with extensions that are contorted, life has so many connections that intertwine. I have found that these connections do not happen by accident. Especially with my new love. How much my life has been changing since I met Avi that fateful night on my cruise to the Bahamas. I know all who follow my blog know I believe in the Universe directing our life paths. Now if only others can follow their life paths and know when something happens that is good, they should embrace it and use the opportunity to better themselves. I find myself getting so stressed when I return to the United States. It is hectic, it is full of people who want to cause harm to others for no reason, including me. I am going to try to come over more often because of my new love. I have made it clear I do not want to live in the United States full-time ever again. I do not like it there anymore.
Why? Because the people are mean, they are without any kind of patience, they do things I do not understand. I live so peacefully. I have no quarrels with anyone here in Colombia. I enjoy my guests, I enjoy my animals, I enjoy the nature surrounding me. I have my routine. I like it. When I come to Florida all gets twisted. I don’t desire this nor want it. I want to live in peace with those I love. I wish others could learn to live peacefully. Maybe a visit to Villa Migelita Ecolodge and Colombia could help? I know living the way I do has left me with very little patience for those who seek to harm others.
Hammocks or hamacas in Spanish is a way to ground myself. I just look up at the sky and meditate. I talk to the Universe. I find a lot of answers. Now I am waiting for answers to what I always try to do. Help. When I see wrong I will not let it go.