Posted in Awakening, child death, Colombia, Devastating sadness, Disappointment, Entreprenuer, expat life, freedom, friendship, Grief, happiness, love, Uncategorized

Sadness

Sad.  The word used to describe me recently was correct. To be honest that’s how I live inside my mind often, but I usually never give in to it. Even when I awake in the morning feeling deep heaviness of heart. I get up and get going, my mornings include watching my birds and hummingbirds: photographing and viewing them here at Villa Migelita Ecolodge. It is not always about Misha,  although she is certainly part of this sadness. This feeling is something different. It has been pushed back, hidden deep inside my being. Like a child who has been abused and has no recall until years later. As I’ve written before I get through this life after her death because I try not to think about what has happened in my life since she changed at the age of fifteen. I’ve questioned whether it is healthy to just not think about it. I certainly have found out others pick up on this side of me of which I am not aware is being projected. I let myself feel grief when I didn’t see Amaya recently and I found out the true character of someone. I was hit twice in the gut. After a few weeks of searching for why, I realized what really hit me so hard. First of all it has been almost nine years since my daughter was murdered. Why is there this constant need by those who are part of Amaya’s life to continue to persecute me about what Misha decided to do with her life? She had free will. I was her parent who did not believe the choices she was making were correct. That is being a parent! Now these same people are hurting a child. I’m used to feelings of despair, I can handle it because despite all the negativity towards me I’ve gone on to create a lovely hotel and lifestyle. Amaya is a child, she should have nothing but love around her. All love is good love, from anyone who is part of her life. Amaya is not a reason to hurt others through revenge. Again, because all of the decisions Misha made in her short life were hers, albeit she was surrounded by really bad influences in high school.  I just tried to parent her as best as I could parent a rebellious child who was doing really bad things. Look for it all in my book, and believe me I will be sharing every single detail. It is a movie in the making.

So back to this new self discovery. I discovered I am mourning happiness. Moving to Colombia was a good move for me to get away from those who continued to harass me despite what they knew about Misha. I was their person to bully. I am no longer going to allow it. I am going to tell the truth to the world, and I know there are many families who have a Misha in their lives. Hopefully, you can let yourself let go of what you had no control over. When I let myself  feel sadness after I was not allowed to see Amaya  recently I let myself cry. I don’t cry much since Misha passed. Not because I’m embarrassed or trying not to. I just don’t cry.  I can watch a really sad show and not cry, I can see awful news about children being taken from their parents over immigration, I even lost my dog Bruno Mars while I was on my homeless tour of the United States and I didn’t cry. I realize this is not normal, but this is how I cope. I have become immune to a lot of bad things. I do react when confronted with wrong, but I never confront anyone, it is really hard for me to do.

So when I cried recently about being kept from Amaya it wasn’t this hysterical crying, it was  a day of sad tears and a day of talking out loud. Just needing to speak about the positive and negative things. I talked to those closest to me during that time, and I was also very silent and reflective. I then get myself back to the place I keep my sadness inside my mind. That place of not thinking about how horrible the human race is. This is why I love my place in Colombia, I am surrounded by animals and nature. They don’t do bad things on purpose. To hurt someone without reason.

Since I’ve returned to Colombia I’m back to moving forward. I’m doing my normal routine and feeling content. The thing that is missing is that happiness I felt after so many years. My book editor wrote me I’m mourning the loss of affection, because I’ve become my own best friend after so many years. Such wise words. I haven’t felt much happiness for a long time. I have felt contentment, I have felt love from my extended family here in Colombia, I am loved by my animals. But happiness is elusive. My other mother called me last night and she said “Michele, you have never allowed yourself to grieve properly, you keep looking for that happiness, it might never be there for you again.” She is right. I might never have it again, but I will have peace and beauty. I will have the love of the people I know are by my side. That is a wonderful thing. I can live with that. So my homeless tour was filled with lessons, and my other mother Laverne  said to me what I needed to hear. “Michele let yourself grieve, you never have. You have always been defending yourself against things you had no control over. You left and that was good, but now you need to let yourself feel that grief.”

She is right. I am writing it down in my book. It is hard. I have been remembering and discovering memories that cause me a lot of pain. I will get through this phase in my life, just like I get through everything, with grace and with patience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Alternative Lifestyle, Colombia, Colombian life, Entreprenuer, freedom, happiness, hotel, Uncategorized

The Life I Have Made in Colombia. End of 2017 Reflections

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/proclivity/

In order to be free we have to be willing to think for ourselves, learn for ourselves, and to live our lives as our real true selves. Being free is when you are able to get past others opinions, when you are able to make decisions on what is best for you based on what is happening in your personal life, and not worry about what others may think, say or do. Being free is making choices that might not conform to a standard expected by a majority of people, but following your instincts and persevering no matter how many obstacles you may encounter. This is why some people are successful and others are not. I have found that quitting is not an option for me. The strength I have obtained because of stumbling blocks in my journey is invaluable. I thought the one thing I lost when I moved to Colombia was independence, but in actuality I have gained it. As I progress on this journey, I learn more about myself and what I am capable of. I am able to do what I need to do to secure a life filled with my passion for nature and animals.

Recently I had this lovely couple visit Villa Migelita Ecolodge.

Elaine and Marshall
My friend of many years and her husband at La Ruiza, Valle del Cauca, Colombia

The gorgeous woman you see has been my friend for almost 40 years. She came to visit Villa Migelita a couple of years ago with our other sidekick from the 1980’s Janet. She wanted her husband to see what I have done after such tremendous loss(the death of my daughter) in my life. Their visit has been another turning point for me. Before they arrived I had a lot of upheaval here in Colombia. I have handled it well, but it hasn’t been easy.

Elaine’s husband Marshall was very impressed that I had started a hotel, could speak Spanish and was accomplishing so much while still learning a new language and culture. He is the kind of person who offers sound advice and has a very kind way of saying things that I found comforting, even when it was constructive criticism. I don’t often speak about the things that have gone wrong while living in a new country, because so much has been right I don’t want to dwell  on the times I have struggled. However, I haven’t really had many people say to me ‘”hey you’re doing a great job!” In fact, hardly anyone says much as I move forward each day with my growing business. I have a proclivity to self talk negatively to myself since my daughter died. I try not to, but to be honest I do. So when someone I didn’t know said he couldn’t believe what I had done here with my life and my business,  I was delighted to have someone validate the strenuous undertaking of creating a hotel in another country. He also said the entire time I should have Netflix come and do a documentary on my life.  I have been featured in Yahoo Finance and International Living, all because I reached out to them. So maybe I will start reaching out to other venues to see if they are interested.

Hummingbirds and Cali at Christmas 046
In Cali, Colombia 2017 at the Festival of Lights in December
Michele 6years ago
6 years ago when I first bought Villa Migelita Ecolodge

 

Colombia has agreed with me. I know many still judge why I left the United States after my daughter was murdered. If you are really interested go back to the beginning of my blogs and read. It was a dreadful time in my life and I just couldn’t make any progress, I felt my personal growth was gone. I made some difficult choices. That is all we can do in troublesome situations. We should be the first priority for our well-being. If we are not, then we can’t show a good example to our children, family or friends.

I keep plugging away with my business. I have had a couple of people work with me, but I have been the one driving the business forward with my social media sites that publicize how Colombia really is. Me alone. I have done this, and I am not really that great with these things, but somehow I have figured out how to do more than I thought I could. I have created a following of people who never knew how wonderful and beautiful Colombia is. The days of old are gone, and Colombia is thriving. The government is really focusing on the tourism industry. So all the hard work I have done over the years I have been living here is starting to pay off. People from all over the world are discovering what a bio-diverse and gorgeous country Colombia is.

So with the lovely words of my friends husband inside my head still, I am feeling pretty good about my life in general. I have learned to deal with unpleasant situations without allowing them to affect my daily life. I know I can handle anything anyone wants to throw at me, I will catch it and throw it back. I will no longer allow others problems to change my way of thinking, I will continue to be the person I am. Yes, I am kind, I am compassionate, and I am strong. Perhaps, the only thing that has happened from my struggles here is that I am less trusting. I am losing that vital part of myself. I have found it is not in my best interest to be trusting, as I have been taken advantage of. Lessons learned and filed away for now.

So I will continue on with my love of Colombia being shown to all. If Colombia has changed it’s image from a turbulent past, so can I. I can become the best person I can be while living a life in Paradise. You see I know Misha is with me in every endeavor I undertake even the ones that are really difficult. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but I do make goals for myself that I try to follow, this year is to let go of fear. Ever since Misha died I have that fear thing inside of me. I am always waiting for another horrible situation to arise. I have to stop that. I have not allowed her death to stop me from creating what I have. I have to stop the negative talk and start the positive talk inside my head. I need to be proud of what I have accomplished and continue to achieve.

So with that I am going to do my  best to make Colombia a great tourist destination known around the world for nature lovers like myself. I am going to continue my journey of living in the now. I am going to be the free spirit I have always been, but I lost for a little while after my daughter’s death. I am going to try to say I am happy, because I really don’t say that much. I do say I love my life, but I have had trouble with that happiness thing. It seems elusive still, but I am working on it.Michele 2017 in water at Chipichape

 

Posted in Alternative Lifestyle, ambiance, Colombia, Colombian life, expat life, minimalism, nature, Nature Symbolism, Perfection and Peace, photo challenge, Uncategorized

It’s a Jungle out there!

Out and about on the Rainforest hike 026
Trees growing high into the sky while the forest is the backdrop
Out and about on the Rainforest hike 008
Clouds descend upon my mountains surrounding Villa Migelita
Out and about on the Rainforest hike 015
The condensed look of one sweet horse on a hike
Rainbow, bird photos and out and about 009
Foliage captures the sun as a Chachalaca hides in the trees
hike and hummingbirds video 001
A butterfly sunning on leaves in the forest
hike and hummingbirds video 023
The capture of an intense rainstorm coming towards Villa Migelita
hike and hummingbirds video 008
The sounds of silence of the forest captured in this one photo

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/dense/

Living in the forest makes for wonderful photo opportunities. The jungle is real in Colombia. The forest is dense, the trees seem impenetrable, the cloud cover comes and goes as I hike. A close-knit Eco-system of  beauty that has to be seen in person to take in the three-dimensional quality. A step inside a real life painting. That is how I live. I am constantly amazed by the views I see when taking my tourists and adventurers out on hikes. It is like a Disney movie in 3D. Here are a few photos I have captured while on my hikes around Villa Migelita  . They will never capture the beauty you can see when visiting Colombia, but hopefully you will be able to see how dense the forest is, how the clouds descend upon the mountains, and how I embrace my minimalist life. Nothing can compare to what I feel when I wander the mountains near my home and Bed and Breakfast Villa Migelita.   I sense freedom from the hectic lifestyle of the Western world, I feel empowered as a woman who moved to a new country and often want to shout to the sky,”Look at what I have done! Look at how I live! Just look at this substantial life I have made for myself!” This is a tiny semblance of how I am touched when I roam the mountains  near my Villa.  Remember this: I spent many years wasting money on things that are not important to a meaningful life. Now I spend my time instead of money on things that are important: my quality of life and my love of nature. I just want to live surrounded by the clouds, trees, birds, butterflies, and the calling of nature to my soul.

Posted in Colombian life, hummingbirds, nature

An Imperfect World

My rescue hummingbird has passed. It happened suddenly and without warning. Just a couple of days ago he was escaping through the slats of his little cage. He was so active. I had to put a mesh net around his cage so he couldn’t breakout and be killed by a predator. I am not sure why he died, but I knew he wasn’t well anymore. It happened so fast and I wasn’t prepared for it.

I have a cage coming from the USA and some additional food supply that hummingbird rehabilitation experts use. The wonderful thing that has resulted from his care is I will have a nice cage and products  anytime I rescue any  bird at Villa Migelita from this day forward. All of these products sent from loving friends in the United States  and will be in remembrance of Grigio. When I put another bird in this new cage I will have his spirit guiding me. I know this with my heart and soul.

To say I am sad today is an understatement. I awoke to a table without his cage that I have looked at for over a month. The joy of removing the towels I put on his enclosure every night to find him moving and drinking his nectar of smashed insects and sugar in the morning is a wonderful and loving experience in my lifetime. The hope I felt that maybe, just maybe he would be my miracle.

I am sad, frustrated and of course I am blaming myself. If only I had added even more insects to his water. If only I had more resources available to me here in Colombia . If only, if only. I became very attached.

He was fighting to live to the end. His last breaths were in the palm of my hand. He was still charging his wings, which gave me unrealistic hope. I felt he could pull through this with my loving care. I watched as one eye closed but the other eye was wide open and staring at me. That eye kept contact with me until it closed with his final breath inside my palm. So tiny, so precious, so magical. I will never be able to describe adequately the joy he brought to me by being able to care for him.

Posted in Uncategorized

What a Ride!!!!

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/jubilant/

Gabe Parapente 5
Gabe is sideways because he asked his pilot to take him on a crazy ride, which he wrote about later…he had the best time ever, and is still talking about it. He went sideways, almost upside down and with the air current wherever it took them!

I had a bucket list adventure with my best friend recently. It was something I thought about for over five years. I finally did it, and believe me that day we left I was in a panic. Who jumps off a mountain? How could I commit to this? YIKES! I have to admit I always thought this when I take my guests on the Parapente adventure here at Villa Migelita. I would say ‘Oh, wow this is the most famous sport for our area of Colombia!” While I was thinking OMG I am not brave enough for this! Guess what? I was fine. I committed to it because my best friend and his partner were here and I thought ‘now or never’ because if I was going to do this it would be with my best friend. I did it. I still feel elated and surprised by such an amazing experience and will always recommend it for everyone who visits because now I have done it.

Parapente 22
Flying above The Valle del Cauca, Colombia
Parapente 21
Floating

It was a very peaceful experience for me. It was not scary. It was a gentle lift and I was soaring over our precious Earth, looking down as if I was an astronaut in a space shuttle. I felt as if I was a flight attendant looking out of the window of the airplane after we took off when I worked for Delta. It was so harmonious with what I believe in. It was the Universe and being in touch with the cosmos. It was quiet, it was tranquil, it was not a rapid descent but a very slow floating above the beauty of the mountains. I never even had a flutter of trepidation when my pilot strapped me into the little chair I sat in. I just lifted up like a cloud into the sky before I even thought that I was leaving the mountain.

With all the Parapente offered here in Colombia, you can enjoy a ride like my best friend who went all in for a ride of a lifetime, with a lot of turns and ups, downs and roller coaster adventure. You can do what I did and just float down to the ground enjoying the views while the cool air brushes against your face. It is about what you want. I highly recommend this wonderful sport to anyone. I see young children on the Parapente all the time. Anyone, any age can do this. It is not an extreme sport it is a gentle passage into the sky that will leave you breathless with excitement and wanting to do it again!

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Why I Am a Minimalist

Everything in life is temporary. When it rains, it eventually stops and the sun comes out. When we go to sleep, it is just for a while and then we wake up again. A bad day is just that: temporary! We start all over the next day with new hope that this day will be better. When we examine our lives we need to remember our time on Earth is not guaranteed. We have no guarantee that there will be a tomorrow. The only assurance we have is of this moment now, this day now. When we grasp this way of thinking it makes it easier to let go of the excess baggage we all have in our lives. When you look around your life and what you see overwhelms you it is time for you to embrace change, a change that can help you in all aspects of your life. A primary cause of unhappiness is disorganization, often inside our own minds. If we look to what is causing the disarray it is oftentimes our own living space. It is our office with unnecessary papers that we need to throw out or file, it is our car with garbage or things that just collect and stay there, it could be our closets which overflow with items we want to keep, our bathrooms with too many products, or how about that kitchen, do you have tons of excess everything that gather dust and sit for years on the same shelves? If so, it is time to become uncluttered! Time to get rid of the possessions that you never use! It also could be a habit of buying too much ‘stuff’ just because the bit of happiness we get with something new takes us away for a while from discomfort, sadness, a stressful day, boredom, the addiction of needing to have the latest trend. I gave this up when I moved to Colombia. I no longer go anywhere to just ‘window shop’, I always have a purpose when I enter a store along with a list of what I need. I am a minimalist and I am proud of it! A person who lives minimally does not live in poverty or without beauty. I think my Villa and the surroundings show this.10917359_779044682161600_7268934190294602342_n A minimalist has just decided to get rid of the chaos that surrounds them in their personal space. We don’t feel the need to have the newest car, but a car that is functional for our lifestyle. We don’t feel the need to have the latest clothes, or fashion of the moment, our phones do not need to be the latest development  shown on social media, we have no need for the paraphernalia being fed to us constantly. We keep only the most special possessions that mean something to us and we make the space we live in functional and clear of debris. We do not let our property overtake our lives; we live our life based on what we actually need. Starting with our living space! If someone enters my home, they will see the areas of living free of unnecessary clutter. My favorite pieces of art, including my collection of African pieces and Highwaymen paintings are main focus points. I brought only my favorite items with me to Colombia. I have a Pie Safe from the 1700’s that I bought when I was in my twenties. A fabulous piece used for storage here at Villa Migelita, just like it stored pies so many years ago.blog photos and hummingbirds 001 I love this Pie Safe, it brings to me a sense of timelessness; and that is what you need to look for when deciding on what to keep and what to let go of. That is what minimalism is, our personal space filled with really great memories, but done in such a way that the house looks put together without too much of those trendy space fillers that only gather dust. So how do you do this in your own life?

First of all just let go. Do you need those dishes that were your grandmother’s passed down to you? I had them and I sold them before I moved. They were not my taste, they were someone else’s taste. Do you need the dishes you picked out for your wedding long past? If they sit in a break front not being used you should sell them. You should sell or donate all items that gather dust and have not been used in the last 6 months; including clothes. If you love framed photo’s of your family, you should make a special wall for your favorites and then have all the others put on a Zip drive. You do not need all of them on your walls and tables. Make photo albums if you prefer, but take away all the many items just filling space. I did this before I moved and believe me when I say I am not reminiscing about anything I no longer have. The most significant thing is eliminate clutter and your life will feel more peaceful. The point being you gather freedom when you let go of the consumer culture we are fed daily through television and internet. You want to make all parts of your life peaceful and stress free. Think about how easy it will be to keep your home clean without all the furniture that you have bought to store the items you don’t need and no one even looks at. My house here in Colombia is large, but the rooms are kept simple and the cleaning is not a long process. I enjoy my time outdoors hiking in the mountains, or sitting by my lake watching the sunset in the evening with my animals all around me. We tend to give way too much importance to things and not enough importance to the life we live and the natural beauty that surrounds all of us. Minimalism is a way of life all of us can embrace no matter where we live. We just need to let go of the priority we place on stuff and use this thought process as a tool to free our lives of the excess so we can focus on what really is important. If you clear away distractions you can create something incredible! I like to think of the Villa Migelita suite as my incredible personal space. I have a bed, soon to be made large chaise lounge, two end tables and a television.bird singing 011 The bathroom has a huge closet for clothes, and bedding including much-needed blankets for the cool nights. The room is quite large, but the space is free to enjoy the views of the mountains seen from the glass walls. You do not have to give up style to be minimalist, you need to give up things you do not use nor need. It is that simple. It is that easy. It is a way of putting yourself and your needs before the needs society has filled your head with.

Being minimalist does not mean giving up really nice things. I have lovely furnishings, but not in excess. I have made my space filled with the best of the best. That is all I want. I also must emphasize that I have very little debt. That will be the subject of another blog, but minimalism includes living a debt-free lifestyle too. First though, look around you and get rid of the things that are unnecessary in an environment that will create peace. That is the first step. If you cannot do it yourself, hire someone. There are many out there who can be hired to help you unload. It will be money well spent. Remember minimalism is about quality over quantity. Spending money on someone to help you achieve your goals will be money well spent. Now I leave you with this thought, everyone has a different idea of what minimalism is; you do not have to give up your iPhone or iPad, you can still enjoy luxuries like great sheets, beautiful clothes, manicures (everyone knows I love my great manicures who follow Villa Migelita), a nice car, beautiful antiques or paintings. It is about making your life simpler, and yes giving up some things to enjoy the other things you love more. That is a start. Now I say go for it. Look around your space and make a change now. Remember to be kind to yourself, this is about your peace. If you have to do this slowly then do it slowly, if you cannot let go of something then put it aside to decide later, but start to make small changes. Small changes can then become medium changes and then you will be where you want to be. Remember it is all about your own personal freedom. You are the reason I am writing this blog. Let me know how you do in the comments below. I am there for all of you with anything you want to ask me. I was not always this way. I was always organized but never minimalist. So don’t be hard on yourself, just try to start the change and be consistent and determined. Remember this; “Minimalism is a tool used to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.”

Footnotes:
The last quote is taken from The Minimalists
You can find me everyday on facebook. Come share in my life in Colombia, South America at http://www.facebook.com/VillaMigelita
My website to visit is http://www.villamigelita.com