The moment I spotted this little treasure I felt chills. It was early morning and I entered my kitchen and my eyes were drawn to this tiny feather on the tile. It is so minute I do not know what drew my eyes to it, except Misha, my deceased daughter. She left it for me. Just one white feather, like an angel wing. I stopped and inhaled slowly because a white feather that is from a hummingbird is a sign, a sacred encounter with the ethereal. How my eyes saw this beautiful little quill; so small it is about the size of a babies fingernail. I could easily have walked past it without notice and it would have blown away as I was opening the doors of my Villa for the morning.
Open doors define my life in Colombia. Not only actual open doors but the doors that have opened for me since I left the United States on this journey to a new country. Colombia, a country that many do not understand nor have an accurate account of how life really is here in the most bio-diverse country besides Brazil in the world. Colombia is full of happy people, beautiful mountains, birds, flowers, and moments. I need moments.
Happiness, unfortunately is elusive to me. I feel happiness, but rarely since Misha passed. Happiness is a gift that we need to strive to achieve, all of us. We need to grasp the split second that we feel any form of hopefulness, and keep it in our hearts. This little hummingbird feather made me smile this morning. It was like she was giving me reassurance of her love. Confirming to me that she is with me, even though not in a physical form. So now I am going to frame this jewel and keep it nearby for those days I feel down, when I have had a sleepless night which so often plaque me. I will have it to look at forever.
I wasn’t sure how to photograph this tiny plume so I put it on a crack. The cracks represent my heart since I lost her. I doubt my heart will ever be whole again, but the magnitude of these moments keep me going on with life. A life I appreciate more than I ever did before she left this world. I know what grief is, I know that I will always feel it, but I also know that I can make a life in her memory. This Villa is all for Misha. She shows me her appreciation in small ways. The little feather of a hummingbird.
When I hear the word layered I think of my life. If I go back through time I can actually envision in my mind peeling the layers away as it unfolded. When I look at this photo of the mountains I think of each layer as representing portions of my life. The green foliage in the front portion is me starting to grow and move in different directions, as do the lines of the trees. Which way will shape my future, which path did I choose? The sun hitting the front row of trees points directly to a path of beauty and more sunshine. You can follow that path all around the picture and see the sun illuminates it. The right side shows the trees ending in a shadow, cut short from completion. The left side is cut off and we the observer’s are left without knowledge of where the trees end up.
When I think of all I have lived through, the good and the bad, one of the hardest parts of life is deciding to walk away or try harder. As we get older memories encompass us, thus making us question our choices and decisions in life. Normal thoughts because our younger selves think we will be young forever.
So which path is my life story ending? Am I going to walk the straight path that follows the mountain around bathing in the sunshine? Am I going to go to the left which leads me to an unknown future waiting to be discovered? Am I going to turn to the right that is in the shade and then just stop and stay forever in obscurity, questioning all the memories that find me, thinking about what could have been?
Maybe I will be the second photo where small storms enter but exit quickly. Sunshine appears again and I am happy for a while and then another downpour erupts which I deal with; then the sun comes out again. This scenario makes the most sense and is what most people encounter as we live our lives.
Hopefully, I won’t peel my layers back on life and find the last photo. Dark, disturbing clouds full and ready to burst with a torrential downpour. Because I am tired of the copious rain in my life. I have had these layers in my life before, when my daughter was murdered, when her murderer was let to go free. I have more resilience in all aspects of my life because of her death, I am wise like I never was before, I am forgiving and thoughtful about many things that happen to me.
Since I have moved to Colombia I have had these dark clouds appear and deluge me with situations that seem impossible, but I have been able to get my life back to the second photo that is just a quick storm passing through. In reality the first photo where the trees go off to the left and we don’t know where they will end up is probably my route. Preemptively the direction most of us take. Because as much as we want the passage through the mountains with all of the sunshine and the happiness this is not reality. It is the movie you watch that has the perfect ending.
So I will continue to peel those layers that are actually years in my life and let each day help me discover a new beginning. One that is the mountain path of sunshine, but I will accept those storms that trail me sometimes and I will conquer them.
The loss of a pet is devastating. I have had too many losses here in Colombia. Life is different from what those of you who have pets in your home with a fenced yard. Especially when you have a farm. The smaller dogs know how to escape even if you have a fence. Which I do. They can squeeze through the smallest spaces. This is what happened to Yuki.
I had a change in employment here at Villa Migelita . Yuki was never really my dog. He was rescued by my former employee from the street in Palmira, Colombia. I took care of Yuki. He was fed by me, he was vaccinated by me, he was living on my farm in luxury and if he needed the Veterinarian he went. He had such a will to live. He was almost killed twice by Orion my beautiful Dogo Argentino. They never liked each other.
Yuki had a warrior spirit. He was a little dog with a big attitude.
He was always happy, a smile on his face constantly. He actually loved swimming with Orion in my natural pool at Villa Migelita.
He would get along with Orion most of the time, but sometimes he just provoked Orion and twice he almost died. I guess his time on this Earth was ready to end when the latest situation happened. I had been keeping Yuki separated from Orion for a long time. They were fine as long as they were outside. I have a beautiful doghouse and patio area for all of my dogs on the first floor.
When the last employee left Yuki left too. I would go for a hike and I would see him. I would call for him to come home. He wouldn’t. He kept waiting for his rescuer to come for him. I would call for him, and sometimes he would appear and I could get him back to my house to feed him. This is the last time I was with Yuki.
He had lost so much weight. I was able to bring him back to eat. He stayed overnight, but the next day he was gone again. Then I had the veterinarian come to the house with the yearly vaccinations. I had him bring Yuki’s also. They are still in my refrigerator. I need to remove them, but I can’t. It is so final. I was always calling for Yuki when I fed the dogs. I know he heard. My pueblo is small and he knew when dinnertime and breakfast was. He would no longer come. That day I went out searching for Yuki. I knew he was now living in the street.
Yuki died of a broken heart. I know this. The last photo above is the last time I spent with him. He was sad. His eyes conveyed to me his sadness. I tried with all of my heart to get him to come home. He wouldn’t. So I feel such responsibility about this senseless death. Dogs are so loyal, they will die when they lose a person they adore and love. Yuki loved me but he loved the employee more. I couldn’t save him.
Every morning I am waking up sad. Then I remember why. Yuki. The dog that was found on the street and died on the street. Senseless. I hope he is with my other dogs in doggie heaven.
With that I say thank you again for all the wonderful messages about Yuki. I can understand a death from old age, from an accident, but this was just senseless to me. Yuki choose to die because his best friend was gone. He loved me but he loved him more.
Mother’s Day is coming this weekend. I have a hard time with this day. I spend the day reflecting on the past with my children. One who is deceased the other who doesn’t really have a lot of contact with me. It makes me think what could I have done differently? I was the Mom who was always involved with their activities. But then I took care of my own mother for years who had dementia. It took a great tole on me and my children. I now think should I have kept my mother in my home? Should I have divorced sooner than later? I don’t know. But I love my memories of happy times in their lives and all the happiness they grew up with. That just left when I decided to divorce and then my daughter was murdered.
I reflect on this photo, and realize Misha was a reflection of me, she looked like me and was very headstrong like me. I treasure this photo. I could beat myself up over and over again because I might have changed something in our lives and maybe she would still be here. But as I grow older and I meditate daily with Yoga, I realize we all have free will. We cannot change the path of our destiny, because we can’t control others, just ourselves. Most people do not want to change, and they will never do it. Me, well I wanted change after this horrible time in my life and I have become a different person. The problems in our lives are often brought on by thinking too much and worrying too much. Once we let go, we find a solution. Maybe not immediately, maybe not for a few years, but the solution is there. We just need to look for it and we need to accept that people come and go in our lives. Even our own children.
I have discovered while living in Colombia I do not live a life full of plans. Plans here are often disrupted with the littlest things. A battery has died in the car, and you need to wait for the local mechanic to come and give you a jump, the weather changes and that walk you planned on is now going to be later in the afternoon, the party you have at 3 in the afternoon with friends turns into an all night dance fest. Or it is a beautiful day and you take off in the truck to visit a place that is beautiful, remote and in the middle of the Rainforest.
Reflections in life are usually in the moment, not in memory. I have discovered this in my time as an expat in Colombia. I reflect often, but usually I reflect on how I can make my life better, to improve, not to waste time on mistakes or others who contributed to those mistakes. It is all about being the best person you can be. I reflect on that often. I know I am not there yet. But I will be before I die. At least I will die trying.
Getting a Visa is not hard in Colombia, but recently I went through some major stress trying to get my residency here in Colombia. All Visa requests now need to be done online, this is where the stress came in. I had to enlist my friends for help. A form that says takes only 15 minutes to complete took over two hours by an expert. I ended up getting several messages back from the Cancilleria in Bogotá requesting more information, different file forms which can only be a certain number of megabytes, you name it they asked for it! I ended up coming in 4 days short for the Residence Visa, but my Pension Visa was approved quickly in about two hours. That was a major relief as it took so much time for the residence application, I was down to 5 days before my current Visa expired.
Once the Visa was approved I needed to fly to Bogotá and pay the 211$ fee while getting the stamp on my passport. I was so relieved to get this process over with that I was really excited to take a short trip, visit tourist spots in Bogotá and have some fun. It was last-minute as I thought I was going to have to get an extension on my Visa. So I called my friend Monica hoping that she could come with me even though I only gave her two days notice. She teaches English here in Palmira, Valle del Cauca. She is my friend and my teacher of Spanish also. I can converse one on one with most anyone now; but when it gets complicated I need a translator. Not only is she the best at that, but she is also so much fun, I felt like I was on a layover again!
We took off at 11 am and landed quickly at the BOG airport, a short hop from Cali, Colombia. I had made reservations in a quaint hotel near the consulate and areas of interest I wanted to see. We had a short 24 hours to have fun, and arrived early despite the traffic of Bogotá, our room wasn’t ready yet. We were not concerned and just checked our luggage in, and took off to explore. The first place we went to was Usaquen, a barrio in Bogota that is so delightful and full of treasures to explore and to buy.
We were beginning a fun adventure in Bogota, and I cannot stress enough how pleasant it was. I was with my friend, enjoying myself and getting rid of the stress of over a month of trying for my residency. I want to emphasize to those who are considering Colombia for retirement, they will welcome you, but it is all about rules. If you don’t comply they don’t give exceptions..Simple, but in a way reassuring. I know that my new place of living does the homework it needs for anyone entering the country.
We were shopping and sightseeing and entered the church in the main square of Usaquen. I lit a candle for my daughter immediately. I do this often in any church I see that is open to the public here in Colombia. I was raised as Catholic, but I identify as spiritual; that being said I don’t want to identify as a specific religion. I know there is a higher power. You need only go to my Facebook page Villa Migelita to see my many videos of hummingbirds coming to visit me, while I rescue them. I believe it is my daughter showing me she is with me still. I love that I get these signs! There is no other way to explain what happens.
The actual church was not open. I sat silent for a few minutes contemplating about Misha and where my life has taken me since her death. I think I have done well. I have a Bed and Breakfast hotel and I have peace. I have the knowledge of someone who believes in the Universe. I know there is another dimension. I don’t care who would try to argue this point with me. Nor do I want to go into what your religion is. I know. I have the signs.
The photo above was taken while looking at the street art in Bogota. I see the light in this photo and the beauty of the this light, can you? It was a wonderful end to my day when I went to look at the photos I took while visiting Bogota. It is surreal. It is mystical, it is full of a presence. I know my daughter was with me after lighting candles in the churches I visited.
I know Misha heard me talk to her that day as I visited these historical churches,including the famous mountain of Bogota, Monserrate. She knew I needed this Visa to stay in Colombia. She helped me; I will admit I went through some sleepless nights, and told her about them in my prayers. I usually go to Florida to the embassy in Miami to get my Visa. This time I didn’t because it was for my residence. I learned a lot, enjoyed Bogotá, had a wonderful time and now have a year to apply and get my residence. I always say things happen for a reason and we must accept them. Even death. We must show others that we can continue, despite the sadness we might endure. We need to be strong. I am enjoying my life as an expat in Colombia. The USA needs to stop this nonsense about immigrants ( I am an immigrant in Colombia) and start accepting other cultures. Enjoy and travel..do what you need to do to love your life. Stop reacting and start welcoming others to your country , even if they don’t speak your language perfectly, or they have to learn your culture. They want to live and start a new life like I have in Colombia. I believe it should be easy for anyone to live anywhere if they have proper documentation.
We might never agree on everything, but we can live peacefully wherever we are. Peace out…and love sent to all of the world.