Posted in Alternative Lifestyle, Awakening, child death, Colombia, entrepeneur, expat life, freedom, friendship, hummingbirds, life lessons, nature, Perfection and Peace, Spanish speaking, strength, Thanksgiving blessings, Uncategorized, Villa Migelita Ecolodge

Bohemian Rhapsody

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.

Bohemian Rhapsody

 

 

 

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Posted in Colombia, Colombian life, expat life, photo challenge, Uncategorized

I am now a Resident of Colombia!

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It took almost 6 years but I am now a legal resident of Colombia. If you relocate to another country it is always a process every single year for your Visa. I now have my residency and I don’t have to do another thing for five years. However, I can start the process of being a dual citizen in 3 years. Which of course I will do! I love my extraordinary life of adventure and friends here in Colombia. I love that even though I have endured many hardships, including some here, I have persevered. I haven’t let anything stop me. Now I am a legal resident. No more E for extranjero before my cedula number. The ID we all carry when we live in Colombia. I am full of satisfaction for an extraordinary life! One full of friendship, color and adventure. These photos were taken by friends at immigration. They know me very well. I like them so much. It seems la gringa en Colombia is here to stay!resident 1

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My friends at immigration who know me by name
Posted in Uncategorized

A Bridge We Can All Cross

I have discovered so much about myself in the last 5 years. I have found out I can continue to grow even when heartache lives inside my soul. When I lost my daughter almost 6 years ago, I wondered how I would go on. I have discovered that I can center myself in what is happening in my life now instead of what might happen or might not happen. For instance: I was devastated in 2014 when the murderer of my daughter was given probation instead of jail time for her death. There are really no words for heartache like I felt and still feel about the outcome. I read every single day people who get sentenced appropriately for the same kind of crime, but I also read stories like mine where a corrupt judge lets the killer walk. I entered 2015 with a mindset of anger over the outcome of the plea deal he got. I was extremely vexed as my daughters date of death approached in January and the killer Christian Cvitanovich was putting photos up on his Facebook page showing him drinking and without a care in the world. He even lists his occupation as ‘retired’. I would not be human if I said I could forgive and forget. I can’t, I just can’t. However, I have moved on with my life. I have lost a child, and I have moved forward, so if I can do it we all can. It is a bridge we all can cross no matter what our personal problems are: that bridge leads us to a better way of living. Her death has taught me to be a kinder more loving human being and to live my life with substance and integrity.

So, let me share some thoughts about my year 2015 with you my readers.

These are my Truisms from Colombia.

  1. No matter what you must live your life the way you want. Do not let anyone else influence your belief in yourself. I have progressed, not regressed. It is not easy, I have had many sleepless nights these past years.
  2. Walk your path in life the way you want. I have lost touch with some people in my life, including my brother. He doesn’t approve of my move to another country that he thinks is dangerous, yet here I am 5 years later with a Bed and Breakfast. Colombia just made the Forbes list of the 14 coolest places to visit in 2016! It does make me sad that my brother is not in contact with me, and I continue to send him notes, they go unanswered. All that I  have done has begun to heal my life and the suffering I have felt. Sometimes, we will feel we are not doing the right thing based on other’s beliefs…but we are actually where we should be!
  3. I think at Christmas we give too much to our children. They expect too much and have no idea about the hardships all over the world, including the United States. Why not do something like give your child a pen pal from another country? Join the Christian Children’ s Fund or another worthy cause and let your child write the letters to the child you are helping? What a good way to show compassion to those less fortunate! The cost is minimal and the lesson is wonderful. Your child, grandchild, or family member will learn a valuable cultural lesson. Not everyone receives a large number of gifts under the Christmas tree! My own son CJ actually wrote me and asked I give my gift to him for Christmas to the charity of my choice. I was so proud.
  4. Working hard for something you do not care about is called stress, but working hard for your passion is called peace.
  5. Stop looking at what others are doing for your definition of happiness! I can attest the internet is full of a lot of bullshit. I started my own personal Facebook page when my life was going downhill. I would put photos up that looked perfect but they didn’t tell the real story. I can guarantee this is true for 99.9 percent of the internet.
  6. Stop holding grudges over silly things that happen with people in your life. I had a friend, someone I adored and loved for many years. When I retired I gave all my uniforms to her. She came to my house to get them. We had wine and I opened my mouth and said “the last time I flew with you, you were horrible to another flight attendant. You were wrong, he was a great worker, perhaps you are making this job too much of your life.” I was wrong for criticizing, but she is wrong for giving up a friendship that was 3 decades long over that! She left (with the uniforms, LOL) and 30 years of friendship went with her.  Always apologize, because there are always two sides, which I did, and let go. If someone reaches out and apologizes accept that apology. I haven’t heard a word from my daughter’s murderer, perhaps if he apologized I could go on to forgive. I will never know because he hasn’t ever acknowledged any responsibility for his crime.
  7. Look at any obstacle in your life as an opportunity! I believe hardships are in your life for a reason and they show you what is worth fighting for! I am living a lovely life now, but I still have bumps along the way. I get past them and so can you. Do not let fear get in your way! There have been many times where fear of the unknown has kept me awake at night. I always remind myself that I have so many possibilities that are in front of me.
  8. Believe in your dream! I did and was recently published in International Living (scroll to page 8). Now I am adding a bar to Villa Migelita because I believe in my abilities. If you don’t try you will never know what you can accomplish. No one is entitled to success, so you must look for ways to find it.
  9. Be happy with what you have. If you have food on the table, clothes on your back, a place to live, then you are doing pretty well considering there are people all over the world who can barely get by. Choose simplicity and try to appreciate what you have instead of wanting more.
  10. Stop being a material person, our lives are defined by not what we have but what we go after. A sense of accomplishment is the best gift you can give yourself.
  11. Travel more, experience a different culture, learn a new language!
  12. Get the drama out of your life! I have stopped anything that can lead to negativity in my own personal space. What a relief it is not to have it around me. Even when I feel hurt by another person’s actions I try not to react.
  13. Have a plan for your future, a vision. It will get you through tough times!

So there you have some of my thoughts on the last year. I have learned from my past and can talk about my future like it has already happened. I have learned to trust myself and the decisions I make without need of anyone’s opinion. I have used the struggles from my past to shape my future. Sometimes taking a risk is worth the journey.

Posted in Uncategorized

Lessons, Learning, Loving

I have lived on my farm in Colombia, South America for over three years now, and what a learning experience it has been! When I first moved into Villa Migelita, I was not pleased with the way life on the farm was turning out. I had moved from a house in a small thriving city that I could walk down and get bread in the morning, or go to the pizza place at night. I had access to a store with fruits and vegetables, most anything I could need. I had neighbors and family nearby. My quest for the perfect farm was fun. We looked a lot; it was interesting and the farms were all beautiful, but they all had something that I did not like or not suitable for my needs. Then one day I saw Villa Migelita. I knew from the moment I set my eyes on my Villa she was the one I had searched for. She was old; close to 100 years on this earth. She was in need of lots of renovation, but her basic structure was so perfect it reminded me of Italian Villa’s that I had seen during my travels as a flight attendant. Then I took some photo’s and one photo had an orb in the picture and I knew this was my deceased daughter Misha telling me this was my farm, the one I had searched for; a clear sign from her. I made an offer and soon was the proud owner of Villa Migelita.
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January of 2012 was the month I finally accomplished my life long dream of retiring in the mountains, a dream I have had since spending summers in Tennessee as my children grew up. Villa Migelita had basic renovations completed before my move. Her rooms were all painted; along with adding large windows throughout the house. All the views surrounding her were magnificent. She still needed much work, but living there would be fine; or so I thought. My first months were a learning experience. Colombia has two seasons; rainy and dry. There is no real seasonal change here in my department of Valle del Cauca, Colombia. I loved the temperature immediately upon moving in. Very chilly in the mornings and evenings; enough to always need a jacket, but then by the middle of the day comfortable without a jacket and no need of air conditioning. The doors and windows were always open with the fresh breeze flowing throughout my home. My animals were thrilled with the wide open spaces they had to wander the farm, and the dogs loved the walks they took with me while I discovered the mountains and rivers nearby. Sounds perfect; but then little things started happening that I was not so happy with. The rain would cause mud, mud would be all over the house, patio and my laundry area as my dogs would walk in it and carry mud wherever they went. One day I was down in the laundry area and there were little worms everywhere! I was horrified. My gas water heater did not work with the plumbing and would either let out scalding water or not work and the water would be ice-cold. The first week I threw a tantrum of sorts after not having a hot shower. I look back at that morning and laugh now. It was a simple fix of just buying electric shower heads. The construction was ongoing, and I knew things would get better, however I was neglecting to see the beauty around me and focusing on the annoyances. Going to get groceries or going to a restaurant seemed a far distance now. I thought to myself “Could I have misjudged my love of solitude and life in the mountains?” I started to dislike the rain, even though I have always loved rainy days. I started to feel lonely, even though I have always loved spending time without a lot of people around. I started to second guess myself. Along with that I had not been to the States for a very long time and I missed my friends and family. I booked a trip to the USA to get a taste of my old life.

Going to the States was exactly what I needed. I was not used to the big highways and hectic lifestyle of the United States,I realized this the minute I drove my rental car on I-95 from Miami International Airport. YIKES. My first big wake-up was getting used to the traffic I encountered. I had lived in Colombia for over a year and had gotten used to small towns, simple living and nature. I will admit the Colombian’s drive crazy, but the roads in the city are small and when I drive I go slow and take my time; if you do not drive slow you will hit a bicycle, horse-drawn carriage, wheelchair, pedestrian or someone pushing a cart with fruits or juice for sale! Another thing I noticed immediately was no one really looks you in the eye in Florida (and anywhere I travel when in the States), nor do they say hello when you walk into an office or store. In Colombia it is considered impolite to not acknowledge others when in offices or entering any building or business. This is a cultural difference between the two countries. I had forgotten that the people of the USA are more involved with their phones and electronic devices than connecting to the world by smiling and even just looking up from their phones. I had been just like this when I lived in Florida, my phone was always in my hand wherever I went. I have a little phone now in Colombia, it is a basic Nokia you all had in the 1990’s! I have a pre-paid phone without internet in the States. I had completely lost the habit of constantly being online, I had changed from my old ways to a new way of thinking and living. I did enjoy running to the drug store, or going to the super stores of all kinds. We do have some huge stores in Cali, Colombia along with malls and huge construction stores in both Palmira and Cali, however it is never a short drive to them like it is in the States. I found the shopping fun while I was back in Florida, but again it was so impersonal. The crowds inside all the stores would make me feel anxious. This was new to me; almost like I had never lived and grown up in South Florida. How did I change so quickly and forget the way I used to live? Colombia was my way of life now and by returning to South Florida I was able to see this clearly.

When I came home to Villa Migelita, my animals were all awaiting me with such love. I saw that some changes had taken place with a fence being constructed around the patio to help keep the mud at bay when it rained. The garbage from all the continuing construction had been burned and taken away. The little worms that had appeared never came back. The laundry room had been organized and cleaned up perfectly, and it was huge. I now had a perfect place to feed the animals and keep cleaning supplies. I will admit that I missed a dryer when I first moved up to the mountains. In the small town where I had rented before moving, the house had a laundry area inside and the clothes dried quickly on the line. During rainy season it can take a couple of days for clothes to dry on the line. I got used to it, and now I would never even consider owning a dryer. I like the way I can just take my clothes right from the line on a hanger and put them in my closet. I also realized I was a minimalist now. I have no need for a bunch of new clothes or the latest electronic device. I am so backward I have no idea how to work an I pad and am just now considering buying one. I know that sounds funny to everyone, but it is how I live. My trip to the States gave me a lesson I needed to see. I really loved the life I now was living in the mountains and I just could not see it when I first moved into a house that still needed a lot of work. When I came back I had a learned a valuable lesson; I was not whom I used to be, I was evolving and sometimes when we evolve we need a wake-up call to see just that!

So now I am almost done with the last phase of construction at Villa Migelita. Villa Migelita has been a work in progress for 2 plus years. I have become one with nature. I have made my outside farm beautiful by hiring a farm manager that keeps the flowers and plants in perfect condition. I have a huge front entrance gate that will have a sign welcoming my guests of my soon to open Bed and Breakfast. The entrance road to my house is lined with blooming flowers. I have hummingbird feeders everywhere. I have two beautiful kiosko’s that are perfect places to sit and read a book, while hummingbirds buzz by you. Hammocks are all around to take a little siesta. My lake was repaired and the landscaping is now full of plants I picked out and they are flourishing. I have acquired a menagerie of animals, and they all leave peacefully with each other. The mud problem is no longer an issue; but my dogs do have dirty feet sometimes and I don’t care. They are my loves; they are my friends. I have learned to let go of things that took me a lifetime to learn. I have learned to let go and let be. As I write this I look outside at the hummingbirds feeding and resting on the lemon tree. I have no desire to return to fancy clothes, jewelry and cars. I do not think there is anything wrong with that lifestyle, I lived it for years. I just like this lifestyle better. I have learned to love solitude. I have learned to love and appreciate seeing a butterfly land on my finger, or a hummingbird fly inside to visit me, which you can view here. 89 butterfly 002

I have realized the longer I live here in the mountains of Colombia the closer I am to accomplishing my dream of a Bed and Breakfast. This dream was always in my thoughts when I first moved to Villa Migelita. I was always considering this dream in the back of my mind as I continued to update my home. Then one day I decided to go for it. After all I had been a flight attendant for years and I love people, getting to know new friends, and entertaining in my home. What better way to do that than to bring people to see what I have accomplished in a short period? To show others you can fulfill your secret desires even when faced with crippling pain like the death of my daughter. Now I am so close to opening, it will happen soon. I am ready. I have no more frustrations or second guessing. I have only optimism for my future. I have learned to love myself for the person I have become since the past sadness I have endured. I want to show others it is not necessary to let life’s worst circumstances take you down. My future is firmly embedded here in the mountains of Colombia. I will prevail. This is Villa Migelita now. This is the view from the 4th floor balcony which looks out over the valley. Marley bite, video's from hike and pink tree 022
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Villa Migelita is a two short months from completion. My website is http://www.villamigelita.com with all the information in the tabs. I will have more pictures soon, but you can always look at my Facebook page Villa Migelita for continuing updates on the progress of the Bed and Breakfast and more of fun videos of my life and my animalsPicMonkey Collage in the mountains of Colombia.