I moved to Colombia to find myself, and I did. I felt stuck in circumstances that were harmful to me at the time of my decision to move. We always have choices. I had an ex-husband stalking my every move, and fallout from a bitter divorce. Then I realized I didn’t need to live the way I was living. I could find a better way. So I did. You can too. No need to allow anyone or anything to control your life choices. End of story. I am proof that another way to live is possible and just around the corner if you keep your options open.
What I thought about when I wasn’t searching for an answer to my life situation was unpleasant. I was wracked with anxiety about the future. My healthcare, my home which was being foreclosed on because of vengeful ex, my animals, my life in general. I needed to find a way to survive the madness of a time in my life that was my worst nightmare. With my decision to move to a new country came a freedom I doubt many people have. I live authentically. I don’t care what anyone thinks of me, I don’t watch posts on Facebook as they are never the real story. I just look outside my window as the hummingbirds fly around me for validation.
So how did I come to this place in my life? I will admit when my daughter was murdered by a drunk driver in the middle of that horrific divorce, I hit rock bottom. But still I got up and got going again, because that is who I am. I am not a person who is sedentary. I am an action person to the maximum I can be. I remember walking into my Pilates class a week after my daughter was killed while my friends and classmates looked shocked to see me. I had to go on. It is a choice one must make no matter your circumstance. You can choose to be sad and depressed or live your life. I decided to live. I am not happy all the time, no one can be. We have a life to live and with that life comes reality.
A life that may appear wonderful to others, can fall apart in a second! Too many people live their lives to impress others. I have learned I don’t need to do that. I live my life for myself only. I am a free spirit. I am an eagle in flight flowing through my current life with knowledge I didn’t have previously. I am a person who is alone, but yet very connected to others. I am happy to the best of my ability. No matter how many times I have erred in my life I am way ahead of those who do nothing to change their circumstances.
Even when you make mistakes during a turbulent time you can stand strong. How you react to happenings in your life is a definition of whom you are. I have discovered that being alone is often better than being around people who mean nothing to me but a night out. I love my alone time. I study Spanish, I write, I watch nature around me, I hike, I enjoy my animals, I appreciate my home and the views I see that would never have happened if I was still in the United States. If you really want change you will find a way. You will live your authentic life. I have done it. I will never say it is perfect. It is not. There is NO such thing as perfect. It is a myth. But there is such a thing as living authentically. I have found it.
The 3 C’s of life: choices, chances and changes. You must make a choice to take a chance or your life will never change. Unknown~
The first time I read this quote I remember thinking that I was a living example of these words. I had made a choice, to take a chance and move to a new country, and change what was wrong with my life situation. It was a very sudden choice that I didn’t really contemplate like you would think I should, and it has worked out well for me. I really didn’t think a lot about what it would entail. I am sure most people think I was crazy to move to a foreign country without knowing the language, nor the culture, but I did it. I am loving life here in Colombia 4 1/2 years later. It is a life many strive to achieve but never actually do what they need to do to get there. I think desperation drove me to a place that made taking chances not so alarming as they normally would be. I was sad, hurt, and misunderstood by many people. Gossip and innuendo followed me and there came a point that I just wanted to escape the hell I was living in. So I picked up and moved after I visited beautiful Colombia.
It has been a journey. I have had incredibly wonderful moments, frustrating moments, and learning curves. I am a firm believer in living in the now. I am still struggling with Spanish. It is not so easy to learn a new language. I can comprehend most conversations now, I can watch a movie in Spanish and understand, but I still struggle daily with my verbal communication. Some days I can talk away like it is my second language, other days I struggle. I have always been a confident person, but speaking Spanish has made me timid. I realize it is a real feat to speak more than one language and I appreciate all who do. I also have learned to live simply. I am a minimalist. I do not have anything in my life I do not need. What a nice change that has become for me. I no longer shop unless I need something. My Villa is not cluttered. I no longer want a lot of clothes, jewelry, nor items to decorate that have no purpose. I just want simplicity in my life. I look to nature and my animals to find the love I used to seek while collecting a closet full of clothes, a jewelry box full of jewels, and a house full of the latest trends. Nothing is trendy about my house. It is classic. I think of myself as classic too. I seek no-ones approval.
So now I continue on this incredible journey that happened so quickly with the opening of my Bed and Breakfast. It is a new exploration in entrepreneurship for me. I was always the employee and I am now the owner. I enjoy this odyssey I am on. I believe it will work out. However, I know life is one day at a time, there is never a guarantee. I struggle with that. I WANT a guarantee, but after I lost my daughter to tragedy I realize that this is just not possible. So I will keep on writing about my journey and hopefully when the reality of old age overtakes me I will have established a legacy that will show my commitment to an exploration of new beginnings.
“The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with all existence.”
― Rabindranath Tagore
I do not believe in death, I believe in life after life. I am in harmony with my surroundings, I have found an existence that fits me, my truest self. When it is time for me to leave this world, I will go with happiness in my heart as I have fulfilled a dream I often thought about when I was younger. I wake to the beauty of nature every day, I do not seek more than that. For when we meet our inner desires we have found a place of spiritual refuge.
I used to be a person who wanted too much, the void of not having everything I desired kept me seeking more and more. I reject that way of life now. Looking back on my past I realize my best moments in life were with my children in the Smoky Mountains every summer. Showing my children the beauty of nature, showing them life was more than new clothes or the best video game. We would spend those summers exploring and enjoying time outdoors. A precious memory held in my heart was with my deceased daughter riding our bikes through Cades Cove. We had to get up super early to take the hour and a half drive, but Misha was as excited to do this ride as I was! Every summer we would look for hummingbirds to come to the feeders and we would look for bear sightings. This particular morning we arrived at Cade’s Cove to ride our bikes at around 6 AM, the park closed to cars on Saturdays until noon. We saw many deer, squirrels, birds and the beauty of nature in glorious quiet solitude while the clouds occasionally graced the path we rode. It was lovely. We rode in the splendor surrounding us, we saw wild turkeys, more deer but no bears. Then when we were nearing the end of our journey there they were in front of us! A mama and two babies, we both stopped quickly and stood and watched. The joy we shared was exhilarating! We kept our distance. The mother was aware of us but we felt no danger. The little cubs played and climbed up and down the trees. We spent a half hour sharing this wonderful experience, our only communication was through our eyes. Finally the mother wandered off into the woods with her precious babies following her. My daughter and I rejoiced in the moment. These memories carry me through days of sorrow when I miss her so much it hurts. These summers were what made me dream of retiring somewhere that had mountains, nature, and streams. I held my dream in my heart in times of turmoil. I always felt if I could just be with nature I could correct the problems that plagued me. We went to the mountains until my daughter was sixteen and my son ten. It was after the last summer in the mountains my marriage really started falling apart and I put my dream into the recess of my mind.
If I can say anything favorable about the death of my daughter it is this, her death gave me the strength to move forward with my life. I filed for divorce twice from my ex. The first time was after the last summer I spent with my kids in the Smoky Mountains. It was a summer unlike the previous summers. The family of my ex would send the abusive cousin to stay alone with no supervision at my in-laws residence. He was drinking and getting high every night, destroying their mountain residence. He picked on my daughter constantly and rode a golf cart around at night drinking and smoking. She wanted so badly to fit in, but I did not want her to be around this kind of behavior. Our time in the mountains was no longer fun, but stressful. One time he even cornered my children who had taken two tubes into a lake in the resort. This cousin and a friend took a small boat and cornered them and held them hostage under a man-made waterfall, scaring them both, as the water was strong and soaking them while they desperately tried to return to shore. My daughter came back when she was finally able to get away crying because her little brother became terrified, and she felt responsible. I had enough and told my husband this and we left the mountains early never to return. It was sad. I filed for divorce for the first time shortly after that summer. I eventually went back to my ex for a short period.
The second time I filed for divorce I would to never go back. I wrote about my relationship and how I finally got the courage to leave here. The following years can only be described as hell. I found a great lawyer who kept saying to me “I will get you divorced!” I never knew from day-to-day what my soon to be ex would pull. He called the police on me, he tried to have me committed, he sent the Department of Child and Family Services to my house and this was all before my daughter died. I never knew what was coming next. Then my daughter died by a cold-blooded hit and run driver who left her on the side of the road for hours, until her body was spotted by an early morning motorist. I hit rock bottom the moment I learned of her death. I was in shock for several months after, not even knowing what each day would bring for me. My move to Colombia saved me. Now it is six years after the fateful day I left a marriage that was a sham. I have the peace I sought for many years. I no longer neglect my heart. I no longer make excuses for myself as to why I stayed in that situation for so long. I now focus on the place I am now, and I genuinely appreciate my life. I still have problems but I no longer try to rationalize anything. I accept this is part of life and I spend my days trying to make myself a better person for my well-being, I have put myself as number one in my life. I left a situation that became unbearable, and I started the long journey that has brought me to this place of peace.
The moment I awake hearing the songs of birds I feel gratitude. I know I have been given a gift that I cannot explain. I know it took courage to move; to drastically change myself and my lifestyle. However, when my child died I transferred all that was amiss into worthy, and I did it in her memory. Life will never be the same. I live and grasp each moment like life support. Her death made me look at everyone and everything differently. You must do what is right for your soul. You can’t wait until the moment is right, because that moment may never come. We are all going to die someday, and with that thought we must choose to live. We must make hard choices if we are in a situation that we find detestable, if you wait for the right day you may never see it. I am firmly embedded in Colombia, I know I can never go back to what I had before, and I do not want to. When we make strong choices it is usually because we have a past that was destructive. My choices will continue to be my own from this day forward. I will accept the consequences based on my decisions. I have found a time for peace now, and I embrace it.
Have you ever thought to yourself “I wonder what it is like to live in another country?” I did as soon as the travel bug hit me. I went on a school sponsored trip when I was ten to Europe. I read that silly book from so long ago “Coffee, Tea, or Me” when I was about twelve and then I re-read it! I was hooked. I wanted to be a stewardess. I relished the thought of traveling all over the world. However, I did all the things my parents wanted; made good grades, graduated early from high school, going right to college when I was only seventeen with a major in journalism. The thought of travel and working as a flight attendant was always in the back of my mind. Then one day I got really sick at college, sick enough that my parents came and packed me up and I left for the Spring quarter to go home and recuperate. I was back home and almost twenty so my mother suggested (because mom’s always know right?) I get some professional photos done and submit some applications to airlines. As it turned out only two airlines hired anyone at the age of twenty, National Airlines and Delta Air Lines. I submitted to both, threw in the photo’s and had an interview with Delta immediately.
At that interview I was a stand out, and not in a good way. I remember walking in with a dress that had a full skirt and Chinese style jacket. It was a very disco style dress with a skirt that would twirl when I danced. I had embraced the disco phase in college, was also a hair model, and I thought everyone dressed like me! As I looked around at every one of my fellow interviewees’ and they
looked back at me, I felt a little bit anxious. They all had on blue suits and white shirts, hair pulled back and black pumps. There I was in platform heels, a hairstyle that was short, wild,stylish and a disco dress! Needless to say I amused the interviewer’s immensely with my go for it “I dance disco in contests” attitude and got through the interview at the young age of nineteen and went on to be in the next class of flight attendants. My mother had always told me to “be an original not a carbon copy” and it worked. To this day I wonder why my mother let me wear what I wanted to that interview, as she never said a word to me about my choice of attire. Maybe she was letting me be an ‘original’ which worked out for me. I started training class and they called me ‘disco’ as I and one other girl were the youngest in the class, and we were kind of the ‘mascots’. I still remember my first years of flying as some of the best of my life as I grew to love travel and grew into a responsible young woman. The years flew by and I had a family but still worked part-time as a flight attendant. Towards the end of my career I flew international, finding these flights and layovers the most rewarding in my career. I had many layovers in South America and found all the countries I visited to be warm and welcoming. I could see myself living there, as the culture was inviting and the people friendly. After thirty years as a flight attendant I was able to retire. I missed the travel and my fellow co-workers but not the job itself. A job that is very hard on the body, not from just the time changes, but long hours and hard work.
Retired life was different, as I had been employed since I was fifteen. Then the worst happened. My marriage fell apart and my daughter was killed in a horrible hit and run. I was no longer that young confident flight attendant that grew up along with her career into a mother and working woman. I became a grieving wreck who did not know what the next day would bring. I was in shock for several months after my daughter was killed. I really do not remember a lot of those months, or how I got through them. My divorce was still going on, and it was nasty! I could never really grieve as something unfathomable was being thrown at me every day by my ex-husband and his lawyer. It was like he wanted to punish me for her death. I would never have thought the father of my children could be so cruel. This was a time I would never want to go back to. I woke up every morning wondering what would be next. During the week of the funeral preparations I saw my ex and his sister drive up to my house and put a note in my mailbox. It said “you did not deserve to be her mother”. I still think about why they did that, what if felt like to them to actually write such a despicable statement down and give it to me 3 days after I learned of her death? The hateful things going on kept me from allowing myself to grieve properly and I did not get real help until I moved and found a wonderful counselor here in Colombia. I became a person who was afraid. Apprehension became part of my existence. I always had been self-assured, very social and always ready to meet new people. Now I worried about everything, my mind would race with so much anxiety and heartache. A change was needed so I started taking little steps to do just that! I knew I had to get away from such a toxic environment, I prayed and meditated for answers. Then one came to me.
Enter my companion and partner. He was friends with a nanny I used for my children while flying. He heard about the terrible tragedy of my daughter’s death. He looked me up on Facebook, asked to be my friend. He is a Colombian American, who spent his first fifteen years growing up in Palmira the area I now live at in Colombia. We got to know one another and found we had much in common. We spent hours talking about life and dreams. Dreams that were similar; wanting a farm, the love of mountains and animals, the beauty of nature and solitude. He told me let’s take a trip to see Colombia. I had never been to this country and thought “why not?”. We arrived on Christmas day of 2010 in Bogotá, a city alight with Christmas decorations in vivid colors and music vibrating around the streets that was festive and enticing. I was impressed with the beauty of the season, a day I had dreaded for my own heavyhearted reasons, became a wonderful memory for me. We spent a couple of weeks traveling and ended up at his aunt’s for New Years Eve and Day. A delightful array of Colombian traditions awaited me. A meal is served at midnight and there is always lots of salsa dancing at any fiesta! New Years Day continued with more family and meals. I found myself embraced by his family that just met me. I wanted to feel alive and happy like this for the rest of my life! It had been too long since I had really smiled. Then off we went to Palmira the city in the Department of Palmira Valle Del Cauca, the agricultural center of Colombia and where my partner grew up. We took a carriage ride through the city, we rode a motorcycle around in the mountains, we visited the tourist areas nearby. I had the most wonderful time and my sadness was replaced for a few weeks with the joy of new beginnings. I realized I could live without fear if I let myself, and that I could live my life while honoring my daughter’s memory in the process. My children spent most of their summers in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, making beautiful memories of our time there with hummingbirds, hiking, tubing and nature. When I returned to the United States, we started to plan on going back to look at real estate. In late February we returned and I actually found a farm I wanted to buy. I started negotiations with the owner and putting into place all that I needed to do to move to another country.
How does one move to another country? Well, I just started researching the internet and found most answers there. I realized it is best to sell all of the possession’s you have and bring minimal items with you. I started selling everything; the house, my car, furniture, everything in my house, jewelry, clothes, basically all my material things that were not of special value to me. I looked into how to get my beloved pets into another country and I just did what I had to do! I look back at that time and wonder how did I do it? I think I was so traumatized that anything that kept me occupied was good. I could think about something other than my daughter being gone. Things began to fall into place as I slowly packed up my possession’s and made the final arrangements for my move to Colombia. I look back at what I accomplished in three months and just shake my head. I had strength I did not know I had.
I moved to Colombia in April of 2011, pets and partner with me and not knowing any Spanish! My belongings were to follow in a few weeks by cargo ship. I did have some problems when I arrived. My two large dogs were sent on a different airplane because of their weight and I could not get them for 24 hours. My dog Colleen was twelve years old and she was hoarse from crying when I finally was able to get them through all the inspections and paperwork. I was able to see them and comfort them, the airport workers gave them food and water, but it was very unfortunate for them and me. We also found out that the farm I was going to purchase had a mudslide near it right before I came and that deal fell through, which turned out to be a real blessing! However, we needed to find a place to live with our animals because my partner’s family home was not comfortable for us or the animals. We rented a little place in Santa Elena, a small Colombian town and the adventure truly began.
My next blog will continue my story. I hope all who read will join my blog and share it. I can be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/VillaMigelita. I will also write about my daughter’s accident which I am still waiting for the trial of her killer. It will be four years in January and there has still been no justice. It is a source of anguish to me, I pray for closure soon. The killer was found within a week when he took his car for repairs and is awaiting trial.