The Covid Pandemic has changed everything for those of us in the tourism industry. There have been many times in my life filled with crises; I don’t know how I withstood them, except with a strength of spirit I developed over a lifetime. After the tragedy of my daughter’s death, I found myself living in Colombia. I know my mother would have supported me with this life-changing event if she were alive because she is the woman behind my strength. As the world opens up again, I wish her guidance as I contemplate what will happen next on my journey in another country. When I first arrived in Colombia in 2011, it was still considered a dangerous country for only the most ardent adventure travel enthusiasts. Now, this tiny country has overcome its unsavory past and developed into an adventure travel destination for people worldwide. But as Colombia has opened up, the tourists haven’t followed as they did before the coronavirus. Will nature travel be the next big thing?
As I live my life, my mother is always hovering nearby in my memories. My love of animals and nature is an intrinsic part of my being because she loved both. My brother and I were surrounded by animals as we grew up. Mom also loved the beauty of our world. I went on a class trip to Paris, France, when I was in elementary school. My family was not wealthy, but my mother found the money for me to take a class trip on an airplane to another country. She was instrumental in my applying for and landing my career-defining job as a flight attendant. Her ashes are here with me in Colombia. They rest beside my daughter under the most beautiful lilies that often bloom as butterflies flutter nearby. When I visit their beautiful garden, I like to imagine being embraced by them.
When the Coronavirus quarantine began last year, I was content. So many times in my life, my mother shared with me the greatness of solitude. I can still picture my mother sitting quietly in a chair, immersed in prayer meditation. Isn’t it ironic how we repeat what we learn from our parents? My times for deep thought are often, usually while practicing Yoga. Now my thoughts are looking for an answer to a gnawing question. What is in the future for all of us struggling to regain our businesses in the tourism industry? It is hard living in this new reality. Changes happen daily and without warning. I felt we were getting ahead of this awful virus, but now I am not so sure. As I look outside at my bird feeding gardens or all the hummingbird feeders, I know there is peace in my world. Perhaps, nature will be the answer as people find traveling to remote places with wide-open spaces are the safest places to visit.
My Ecolodge is healing for everyone, no matter your problems, because nature can restore anyone to a place of peace. Staying in my mountain retreat during the initial Coronavirus quarantine was never hard to do. After working so many years with the public, time alone is easy. Now that the world is slowly returning to a new normal, I realize that I had a different perspective than others on this life-changing virus. I have never felt the need to seek more than what I have right here in my beautiful mountain retreat. Life was a bit isolated, but again, I didn’t care. I felt grateful that I lived in a place of ever-changing moments. These Andes Mountains I am surrounded by and the nature that lives within them kept me centered during the last year.
Now I am welcoming guests to visit Villa Migelita Ecolodge once again. They seek the allure of outdoor activities in the purely natural air of the mountains. Nothing is more soothing to the soul than time spent immersed in nature. The latest trend in this year 2021 is Nature, Wellness, and giving back, as referenced in this Forbes Article. Tourists can feel safe from the pandemic in vacation destinations that are outdoor-oriented. My Ecolodge is entirely open air. Wide-open spaces with space to breathe are a luxury that is affordable and calming.
I am meeting many young Millennial’s seeking distance from the hectic city life encountered worldwide. They love to sit outside to look at the views or hand-feed the hummingbirds. They wander in my gardens to observe the Neo-tropical birds, sometimes with a book in hand. Our souls need time in nature. Our bodies release stress when we hear sounds that only the mountains and animals within can deliver. Listening to the harmony surrounding them, they find a balance between their work life and their home life. Peace, don’t we all want to feel it again? I am still unsure when we will have what we had before the virus struck the world with such ferocity. Anyone can tune out the rest of the world for a little while as long as they breathe in the fresh air, free of noise pollution and environmental pollution.
Songs of birds harmonizing outside my bedroom window in the morning will always be on the playlist of my mind. These songs hold everything essential to my well-being. I believe they can give others what I have obtained in my peaceful place of harmony with nature.
Orion has passed. I am still coming to terms with his death. I have trouble writing it down or speaking of it. He grew tired. I feel guilty. I brought Kira home and he did his job. He trained her. She is perfect and is a protector of her new home. He is gone. I am devastated. I couldn’t talk about it and will have a hard time with all of your sympathies because I loved that dog so much. He was so special and then I had to make a decision. I couldn’t do it. He became sick and was at the Veterinarians and it was quite sad. He was always free and then he was in a kennel without me and all of us at Villa Migelita Ecolodge. I brought him home and my Veterinarian came to my home to put him to rest.
I wasn’t going to write this blog yet because to be honest just writing it down causes me grief. This is why you haven’t heard from me in a while on my blog. I haven’t been able to process the grief I feel. Yesterday, I found out that someone who worked here with me posted that Orion had passed. I don’t know how he found out because very few people knew about it. I was quite upset because this person had nothing to do with Orion’s care or any part of Orion at all. In fact, this person pushed me one time and Orion bit him in the ribs. Orion broke two. That was the only time I saw Orion become aggressive with a human, a human he did love, but he knew he was no one important. Orion could have killed him but he chastised him instead. Quite painfully, but this person is lucky he didn’t do more damage. I am devastated that Orion’s death was sensationalized by a nobody who was a worker at my wonderful nature retreat Villa Migelita Ecolodge.
That being said I need to give Orion the wonderful accolades he deserves. Because of this menial person I am forced to write before I have felt ready about my life with my beautiful Orion.
Orion came to me by chance. He had four previous homes and I was his last. He was the forever loyal dog we all want that was the King of Villa Migelita Ecolodge. My customers loved him, and he was always so gentle with everyone. He was the master of my Villa. He was the gorgeous fixture who was so gentle despite his intimidating presence
Orion was the dog you want for a farm. Many people do not understand big dogs need space to roam. We rescued Kira and we are now looking for an older male Dogo Argentino around the same age of Orion when he became part of my fur family. He was forever happy at Villa Migelita Ecolodge. It pains me to say that he was ready when he crossed the Rainbow Bridge. He never had a leash on for most of his life. He just had my large area of land and he didn’t go outside of my Villa much. I put a leash on him when the veterinarian came up to put him to sleep. He went willingly to the spot in the back of my property where I have buried some of my pets who have passed. He knew. He was ready. I covered him with hugs, kisses and my actual body. I couldn’t quit crying as I am now while I write it down. He crossed his legs and just waited. I kept saying how sorry I was to do this to him. He was noble and everyone was crying when he finally went. I then just lay with him for a long time. I will never forget my Orion, nor the love and protection he gave me.
Kira is now the guardian of Villa Migelita Ecolodge. She sleeps where she did with Orion and she runs outside at any noise she hears. She is growing and Orion made sure she was perfect for her new position.
My life is forever changed because of Orion and I know he is still in spirit with us at Villa Migelita Ecolodge. The first night after he passed, Jazmin heard him snoring outside of her room where he slept. She kept opening the door and he wasn’t there. One of the twins went in the hallway one night and saw him in the same spot. He is still here guiding Kira, and watching all of us.
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 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
All who follow my blog know I believe in the Universe and spiritual signs. The Universe, nature, and the environment are my religion. I’m not a believer in organized religion. That is not to say those that do have it wrong. This also doesn’t mean I am an atheist or an agnostic because I have no doubt that God exists. I’m happy to do my meditation within my world of beauty at Villa Migelita Ecolodge, because I consider nature to be my church. I believe that if we allow others to influence our thinking through their opinions and bias we cannot be free thinkers.
Everyone who follows my blog knows I am in Cali, Colombia because I have had hip surgery. I’m challenging myself every single day with physical therapy and it is not easy. I’m weak after my hour of intense exercises. I’m also shaky and hungry. Yesterday while riding the bike I felt a pain in my right leg and it is difficult to accept that I am in for a long process to get back to where I was before I found out I had CAM, and started living with undeniable pain in my hips. That pain is gone, but new pain is arriving as my physical therapist demands more from me at every session. I’m walking as much as I can now without crutches. This week my PT told me to use them less. I bring one crutch with me now when I go out because I use it if I need to stand anywhere for a long time, for hills, and for stairs. I don’t use them at all in the house. This is new territory for me, a transition perhaps, I have to accept I’m no longer the exercise queen, but an older woman who still thinks young.
This past weekend I had so much fun with Jazmin, she is my rock. I find myself focusing on many things that are important to my physical self. Without her support it would be quite difficult to be in Cali for a month! I’m sure I would not have plans like I do, nor go out as much. She keeps me young in thought and in style. Including, making me wear shorts and changing the color of my lipstick!
While we were out this past weekend I was thinking so much about Misha and how Jazmin takes care of me. Jazmin is close to the age Misha would be if she was still alive. Sometimes, I feel Misha is inside of Jazmin. I know that sounds strange, but Misha would be telling me to change my lipstick, to wear shorts and she would be making me get out and do things. She was always that way with me, even when we didn’t get along. Misha was always in my closet using my clothes. Now Jazmin uses my clothes also. She is so much like Misha, but there is no other side to Jazmin, she is who she is and never changes. Jazmin is a young mother like Misha would be and a person who appreciates what is happening in her life as we work together. She also is funny, inspiring, kind, and my best friend. Jazmin brings thoughts of Misha to my mind often.
After a fun evening with Jazmin on Saturday, when we got home there was a photo waiting for me in Facebook messenger. My cover photo of Misha as a young girl, with a little friend . It was from a friend I hung out with in the early years of my marriage, before everything went wrong. I’m not really in touch with her much anymore, but it seems Misha always reaches out to me through different ways, always unexpectedly. The photo had been sent only minutes before I arrived back at my rented place here in Cali, Colombia. I had never seen this photo before, and it took me by surprise because as I said before I had been thinking a lot about Misha recently.
I have discovered over the past eight years that you make friends, lose others, make new bonds, but the emotional pain doesn’t change, it holds on with a grip that cannot be undone. More sadness and grief are always waiting in the corner ready to punch you in the gut when you least expect it. I’m still trying to make peace with losing touch with my granddaughter. I speak to her every so often, but she is being controlled and she can do nothing about it at her young age, she sounds very sad and scared to say much when I do talk with her. I’ve learned to accept that bad people will hurt children and destroy their self-esteem to get even for long ago slights. Not even my slights, but maybe something Misha had done before she was killed.
When I was out that evening with Jazmin I kept thinking about how much Misha would enjoy the lifestyle I lead in Colombia, a life filled with adventure, peace and lovely friends. I often think she could really be herself here in Colombia, as I have found out myself. When I saw the photo of Misha’s sweet face with freckles, I teared up. Somehow, she is watching me. I can’t explain everything that has happened since she passed, but it seems when I have some difficult times she sends a message. This time it was her smile. Still the same as she grew older, lips together and mischievous. Honestly, she must know someway that I’ve been missing her a lot while I heal from surgery. She let me know she misses me too.
I’m 15 days post hip surgery and 3 days into my physical therapy. The cover photo is after my third therapy and as you can see I can stand and also walk without crutches but only for short periods of time. I’m so impressed with my care and the organization at the center for physical therapy at Imbanaco Medical Center in Cali, Colombia. I had my first check up Tuesday by one of the interns who works with my surgeon. He was very pleased with my progress, took out my stitches, and said I could stop taking my medication except Tylenol. He even did a Yoga pose and told me that I would be back to it soon. He made me laugh with his antics. He wrote out my order for physical therapy and said they would send them through email every month, and that I would be able to go back to my Villa soon.
Jazmin and I went over to the physical therapy office to make an appointment. In Colombia all medical centers have every need right in the same area. It is the same in Palmira the main city closest to Villa Migelita Ecolodge. We just had to walk a 1/2 block. We entered and I was registered and scheduled for an appointment that same afternoon. My doctors know I’m renting in Cali and want to get back to my animals and home. To say they are accommodating is an understatement!
When I arrived that afternoon I had been told by my doctor the first week would be very gentle therapy. I was asked questions about my pain level, they used a ruler type device to measure my range of motion in different positions and had me on ice and then heat. Then I did a few similar exercises to what I had been doing during my rest period after my surgery. I had an appointment Wednesday morning at 9:30 am and everything changed. This was funny to me because there was nothing about my second therapy that was easy. I had balls to hold between my legs while lifting one at a time for many repetitions, they even had me sit with 5 lb weights on my ankles and straighten my leg out and down , then the other leg! Believe it or not I had no pain!
Today was my third therapy and it was different again. I used the ball between my knees while I lifted my hips up and straightened my leg out and held for 10 seconds. I also had a band that I had to use while on my stomach and lift up one leg at a time for a series of repetitions, then sitting doing the same thing. My final exercise was balancing on a tube which was very hard for me because of my vertigo but I did it!
After my therapy Jazmin and I make fun plans as I am in much better spirits now that I am out and about. Cali is like New York City and we are discovering new things every single day. Today we took a ride on a cable car to a barrio where the citizens of Barrio Seloe used to have to walk up stairs to incredible heights to reach their homes! It was fun and we were so entertained! Perfect for me because I could sit and enjoy the views after doing my physical therapy.
I’m also impressed with how kind every person I encounter are to me. Opening doors , making sure I have a seat, telling me where elevators are, such care from complete strangers. Then there is Jazmin, my person. We are having fun while she takes such great care of me. I don’t know how I could have done this without her. I feel I might be leaving earlier than 30 days because my physical therapist told me today I was doing so great. I have to laugh because this week is supposed to be my easy week. What comes next week, weight lifting with squats? Don’t worry my blogs will keep everyone updated. Stay tuned, and remember no matter the challenge we all have it within ourselves to overcome any obstacle!
There is something resilient about me, and it is a quality that I like about myself. When I decide I’m going to do accomplish something, I do it. Sometimes it might take me awhile but I do what I say I’m going to do. I also don’t dwell on negativity, bad energy, or the mistakes I’ve made in my past. I just get on with my life. We should always put ourselves first before anyone, so that we can enjoy healthy relationships with others. To love oneself, to respect oneself, and to achieve respect from others are great gifts in life. I have suffered, but through my suffering I have become very wise.
I have realized since I started writing my book that I cared too much about what others thought, and not enough about what I need. Now, when I encounter situations that are unexpected, I figure out ways to fix the problem if there is one, or to embrace good news wholeheartedly with joy in my heart. I also have found what real friendship is since moving to Colombia. My friends in my tiny little pueblo have been contacting me every single day to see how I am. Some of the people who have contacted me I didn’t even know they knew I was having surgery. I love this quote “when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time” Maya Angelou. I believe that I have people who truly care for me here in Colombia and I also believe I’ve earned the respect of many with what I have accomplished and continue to accomplish.
I don’t necessarily believe that the goal in life is to have unconditional happiness. I believe that life is about learning and growing. I don’t seek out anyone with persistence, in fact I like being alone with my contemplations. I allow myself to have space and time when I’ve made mistakes to ponder what I can do differently the next time. Oftentimes, it is listening to yourself and not letting others influence you in decisions that should be yours alone.
I wrote about being afraid before my hip surgery in my last blog. There is one thing I’ve counted on all of my life and that is exercise. I envisioned not being able to hike nor do Yoga because of the rare hip condition I developed. Exercise is sanity to me. It is healing to me. Exercise is a habit I can’t imagine being without. As I write my book, l realize it is integral to everything that is part of my history, both good and bad. So I had a basis for my fear. Once again, I needlessly worried and my results have been spectacular. I have steadfastly done what the doctors have asked, including taking a lot of medication that makes me sleepy, and exercises that physical therapists showed me while I was in the hospital. I’m free of the pain in my hips and I have not even started my 20 days of special therapy ordered by my surgeon.
Yesterday l walked two blocks down the road to the hairdresser with my crutches, and of course Jazmine was with me. I was slow, it was a bit nerve wracking because I thought maybe I’m doing too much, then I walked back up the hilly road. Today, I could walk without crutches if I wanted to, but I’m not going to. I’m following instructions. I’m certainly surprised by my progress. I am hoping that perhaps I won’t have to stay as long in Cali, Colombia when my surgeon sees me next week. That perhaps he will release me after a short time of therapy here to finish physical therapy in Palmira and I can be back to my Paradise and my animals. If he won’t I am ok with that too. Oh, and this morning a hummingbird came to the feeder I put outside on the patio. If that isn’t a good sign I don’t know what is.