Posted in Colombia, Entreprenuer, Grief, hummingbirds, life lessons, Signs of the Universe, Uncategorized, Villa Migelita Ecolodge

A Tribute

Grief is something that I have learned to live with. I have a hard time when I read of an unexpected death. It happens a lot because I am connected to many people on Facebook. I especially loved the page Hummingbird Haven started by Faye, a very dear person I came to know many years ago. She posted such beautiful photos of hummingbirds she had taken at her home in Oregon on the Columbia River. An amateur photographer who taught herself to take great photos. She encouraged all of us who were not photographers with how fast she learned the artistry of nature photography. Hummingbirds are special messengers to the spiritual world, and I have many here in Colombia, South America also. Faye had her own stories of grief, hardship, and love which she shared willingly with all of us who followed her. She helped so many of us who did not actually know her personally, she was a brilliant diamond who drew us into her world, life, and her love of hummingbirds.

I would visit her page daily just to see the beautiful posts she shared of the world surrounding her along with the photos of her hummingbirds. She posted photos of Eagles, the Columbia River, scenic landscape shots of her home, and barns. I was enchanted to visit with her every single day. I would occasionally send her a photo of one of my hummingbirds and sometimes she would post them even though the quality of my photography left a lot to be desired back when I was learning about photography myself. She would direct people to my page Villa Migelita Ecolodge and tried to help me gain followers. She was so generous in her help to others. She was instrumental in getting me and my Ecolodge started.

One day a hummingbird flew into my office through the open window. I was able to video the miracle that occurred with my other hand. I kept trying to put this Fawn-breasted brilliant hummingbird back outside with the other hummingbirds. It kept returning to me. I am still convinced it was a message of love sent to me through the Universe from my deceased daughter. I wasn’t finished with the construction work on my Villa, my chipped fingernails and hands that were very chapped from working in my organic garden looked horrible. I look back at this video and think this is when my destiny took hold, and I soared with the prospects of a new and better future. I shared the video with Faye and she posted it on her page for me. I couldn’t believe it when the video went viral. I think over 500,000 people viewed it.

As a result of this video and dear Faye I was contacted by several people and had my first guests arrive to stay at my Villa here in the Andes Mountains of Colombia in the Valle del Cauca department. I now have a popular hotel visited by hummingbird photographers, nature photographers, nature lovers, adventure travel enthusiasts, and people who just want to visit and bask in the peace that surrounds me. I know it is because Faye shared the video of the hummingbird that wouldn’t leave that I had my moment to shine. I continued to pursue my dream as a woman entrepreneur and to meet people from all over the world.

I am living a life that any retired flight attendant would love, a life that I appreciate daily when I look around at what I have created. All the while having visitors come to my place of living. I get to share the hospitality I learned from being a flight attendant for so many years. I will be forever grateful for Faye. She helped me and I am sure she has helped others as well. If you were on her page she prayed for you. I know she did because she told all of us daily that she kept all of her thousands of followers in her prayers. I can only hope that she knows how many of us loved her so much, even though we didn’t know her personally. She was an inspiration to all. God bless you Faye Marie Miller for all you did for the people you touched. I know I am a better person for having shared some of my life with you. Now you are gone to a better place escorted by the beautiful hummingbirds you loved so much. I will never forget you. I hope you meet up with all who have gone before you and continue to spread the joy you gave to all of us. Thank you, Faye, I will always appreciate what you did for me. I also hope you meet my daughter, I will always feel she had a hand in our meeting and that very special video.

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Posted in Colombia, Entreprenuer, expat life, friendship, hummingbirds, life lessons, mother nature, nature, parents of deceased children, Perfection and Peace, Spiritual Presence, Uncategorized

A Dream Come True

It has been over eight years since I moved to Colombia. Many people felt that I was “loca” to move to Colombia. Joyful vibrations were in the air when I arrived on Christmas day 2010. Latin music, festive decorations, the country was alive! I fell in love from that moment and I am still in love with this beautiful and fascinating country. I am living my dream come true. Surrounded by nature, living in my castle in the air, and meeting new people from all over the world who share my passion for nature. I would never have predicted my future to be the owner of an Ecolodge in Colombia when my daughter was murdered in 2010.

I am writing this blog on the day of what would have been my daughter’s 30th birthday, July 22, 1989. Her final resting place is here under a beautiful garden filled with flowers. Butterflies and hummingbirds visit while she is surrounded by the mountains. She was always enchanted with the hummingbirds and mountains during our summers spent in the Smoky Mountains. I dedicate my accomplishments to her. She has been my driving force to find peace. She is in my mind whenever I achieve a new goal. I live for what she lost. Her life.

Lessons learned through hardship are saved in my soul now. I am not the same person I once was. It seems so long ago that I lost that person I once was. I am filled with the wisdom I never knew I could achieve in life. It is not important that people I  thought would want to see my Paradise in Colombia have never visited. I have so many people from the world over who come and stay at my nature retreat in the Andes mountains of Colombia. The delight I see in their faces when they experience everyday moments is sufficient to remind me I have created something special at Villa Migelita Ecolodge.

I have made so many friends from different places I knew nothing about! I always thought I was an expert in travel because I was working in the skies for years as a flight attendant. I have visited so many countries, states, and smalltown cities. I knew nothing about any of the above until I experienced a different culture and moved to a really small pueblo. I have learned to honk at everyone I pass in my truck, to give a lift to someone going to Palmira our main city, and to speak in Spanish about how life is going for them. I have found that every guest leaves me with a fresh perspective on what I have created. I have made so many friends that I may never see again but I will always keep them in a special place in my heart that has opened up so much since the death of Misha. I appreciate all that is given to me through the knowledge of others who bring experiences that I can learn from. The sadness from the loss of my child is replaced with the happiness I feel when a guest gets to hold a rescued hummingbird, or they feel the wind against their faces while riding horses in the mountains,  or they see the mist of a waterfall that touches them with tiny droplets, while they soar above the clouds and look down onto the mountains below them with awe when experiencing Parapente. These are moments that I keep with me after they leave. Then someone new comes and I get to start again with new adventures.

Everyone who follows my social media sites knows that hummingbirds are my spiritual reminder of Misha. They surround me with their rapidly moving wings, flying backward just like I experience sometimes when I think of Misha and my memories of her. I know hummingbirds surround me with ethereal knowledge of life that exists beyond this earthly world. Misha is with them in every flutter of their wings. I am blessed when I have a guest who comes to photograph them. Each guest gives me more knowledge than I have taught myself. I have made some very special friends through these special jewels that bring peace and tranquility to Villa Migelita Ecolodge.

Recently Carole Turek of The Hummingbird Spot on Facebook came for a short visit from California. You could say we “clicked” immediately. I had joined her group and began posting hummingbirds from my Colombian Villa. Carole has a goal to photograph all the hummingbird species of the world. She had never been to Colombia but has a trip planned for November 2019. I am honored she decided to visit Villa Migelita Ecolodge first. She spent five days photographing Colombian hummingbirds and wrote a blog featuring her time at my Ecolodge and showcasing the species she was able to photograph while at my home. She also taught me a lot about photography and more about hummingbirds, myself being self-taught through the internet over the years. She is an anesthesiologist in Los Angeles and she also is an expert on hummingbirds.

I had a lovely family come in June who brought with them a love for hummingbirds and photography, but also the delight of having a precious little 6-month-old with them who gave us smiles all day long. Then, of course, my friends from the airlines that come to experience Colombia for the first time, and find a totally different experience than what they expect. I am able to dispel all bad rumors about Colombia immediately and show the magical realism of this country through ecotourism and adventure. There are people who find me through this blog, or my Facebook pages, Instagram (all at Villa Migelita) and the many groups I belong to. They come from Canada, Australia, Europe, and many states in the USA. All become lifelong friends. This is the blessing of customer service, interaction in a personal way. We definitely strive for that here as I never take more than one group at a time. I like to keep my Ecolodge exclusive and the personal service and customized menus are all part of the experience.

My hummingbirds are the most prized gifts that I show to any guest for whatever reason they come to visit Colombia. This is because they fly free in nature, glittering in the sunlight, sharing something special to all who view them. Besides the beauty of the hummingbirds, I have many species of Neotropical birds and butterflies that flit around all my gardens on the property.  I like to think all who leave have been blessed in a way that only nature can achieve.

 

 

Posted in Colombia, Colombian healthcare, exercise, expat life, friendship, hip surgery, Journal of surgery for hips, life lessons, strength, Uncategorized

Fast Healing

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.

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My quiet little neighborhood 

Posted in child death, family, freedom, Grief, happiness, hummingbirds, mother nature, nature, Nature Symbolism, Uncategorized

Hummingbirds

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The Brown Violet Ear hummingbird

The Brown Violet ear hummingbird looks like it has two black eyes when you see him on a branch. The light bit of purple is picked up by the camera. I love this little guy who keeps hanging around my feeders. I have only one. Perhaps I should name him? I certainly enjoy his antics, and I love watching him primp and preen. He is beloved by me, as all of my hummingbird species are. At Villa Migelita Ecolodge we have over 30 species!

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White necked Jacobin

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White necked Jacobin with Valle del Cauca in background of Colombia

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Misha my daughter with Amaya (who is now ten) one month before her death

I relate to the hummingbirds at Villa Migelita Ecolodge because they are spiritual beings that bring joy to my heart. They are representative of my daughter’s nonphysical form who now flies free in peace. I truly believe I ended up living in Colombia to be surrounded by hummingbirds. They lift me up with their presence in ways I can’t describe. The highlighted sentence above can give you much information about hummingbirds and how they have represented many cultures throughout time.  I am blessed to have them year round at my hotel.

I know my daughter knew how much I loved them because every year we would go to Tennessee and spend almost 3 months in the Smoky mountains. When we would spot our first hummingbird we would be delighted.  So even though she is not physically present, she is with me through my hummingbirds.

 

Posted in child death, Colombia, Colombian life, family, Grief, hummingbirds, mother nature, nature, Nature Symbolism, parents of deceased children, Perfection and Peace, photo challenge, Signs of the Universe, Spiritual Presence, Uncategorized

A Little Sign from the Cosmos

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Hummingbird Feather

The moment I spotted this little treasure I felt chills. It was early morning and I entered my kitchen and my eyes were drawn to this tiny feather on the tile. It is so minute I do not know what drew my eyes to it, except Misha, my deceased daughter. She left it for me. Just one white feather, like an angel wing. I stopped and inhaled slowly because a white feather that is from a hummingbird is a sign, a sacred encounter with the ethereal. How my eyes saw this beautiful little quill; so small it is about the size of a babies fingernail. I could easily have walked past it without notice and it would have blown away as I was opening the doors of my Villa for the morning.

Open doors define my life in Colombia. Not only actual open doors but the doors that have opened for me since I left the United States on this journey to a new country. Colombia, a country that many do not understand nor have an accurate account of how life really is here in the most bio-diverse country besides Brazil in the world. Colombia is full of happy people, beautiful mountains, birds, flowers, and moments. I need moments.

Happiness, unfortunately is elusive to me. I feel happiness, but rarely since Misha passed. Happiness is a gift that we need to strive to achieve, all of us. We need to grasp the split second that we feel any form of hopefulness, and keep it in our hearts. This little hummingbird feather made me smile this morning. It was like she was giving me reassurance of her love. Confirming to me that she is with me, even though not in a physical form. So now I am going to frame this jewel and keep it nearby for those days I feel down, when I have had a sleepless night which so often plaque me. I will have it to look at forever.

I wasn’t sure how to photograph this tiny plume so I put it on a crack. The cracks represent my heart since I lost her. I doubt my heart will ever be whole again, but the magnitude of these moments keep me going on with life. A life I appreciate more than I ever did before she left this world. I know what grief is, I know that I will always feel it, but I also know that I can make a life in her memory. This Villa is all for Misha. She shows me her appreciation in small ways. The little feather of a hummingbird.

 

 

Posted in Colombia, Colombian life, expat life, hummingbirds, minimalism, mother nature, nature, Nature Symbolism, Perfection and Peace, photo challenge, Uncategorized

Outside my Windows. All of Them.

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Window where I blog
The view from my office, filled with nature and hummingbirds

This butterfly is truly a part of nature that is so miraculous. The first time I saw this species Diaethria neglecta which can be found throughout South America occurs from Panama to Bolivia. I didn’t believe what my eyes were seeing. This is a window of the Villa Migelita Suite. We have a lot of butterflies enter when doors are open, also hummingbirds.  These butterflies that enter sit for hours even if I open the screen to let them out. In Colombia the doors and windows are open all day.  At Villa Migelita I do have screens on my windows in the bedrooms, but I also have some very old windows I chose to keep when I updated my Villa. My office window is very, very old. I do not have a screen on it. I have left it alone, along with the front door and another window in the main living area. As I look outside at the hummingbirds and the lemon tree they perch on, I feel peace.

A view form the VM suite
The #89 butterfly of Colombia

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Orchids outside my office window

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The Brown Inca Hummingbird outside my window

There is nothing but photos to explain how wonderful my view is from the window I write at. I will leave you all with this video of all the hummingbirds having a great time feeding and dancing in front of my window. This is where I sit and spend much of my time when I am not entertaining my guests. Sometimes I wonder what I would do if I didn’t have this view to keep me at peace. I can go to bed feeling sad and then the next morning sit at my desk and see the natural beauty that surrounds me and all is right with the world again.

Posted in Signs of the Universe, Spiritual Presence

Visa, Bogotá, and Signs from Above

Getting a Visa is not hard in Colombia, but recently I went through some major stress trying to get my residency here in Colombia. All Visa requests now need to be done online, this is where the stress came in. I had to enlist my friends for help. A form that says takes only 15 minutes to complete took over two hours by an expert. I ended up getting several messages back from the Cancilleria in Bogotá requesting more information, different file forms which can only be a certain number of megabytes, you name it they asked for it! I ended up coming in 4 days short for the Residence Visa, but my Pension Visa was approved quickly in about two hours. That was a major relief as it took so much time for the residence application, I was down to 5 days before my current Visa expired.

Once the Visa was approved I needed to fly to Bogotá and pay the 211$ fee while getting the stamp on my passport. I was so relieved to get this process over with that I was really excited to take a short trip, visit tourist spots in Bogotá and have some fun. It was last-minute as I thought I was going to have to get an extension on my Visa. So I called my friend Monica hoping that she could come with me even though I only gave her two days notice.  She teaches English here in Palmira, Valle del Cauca. She is my friend and my teacher of Spanish also. I can converse one on one with most anyone now; but when it gets complicated I need a translator. Not only is she the best at that, but she is also so much fun, I felt like I was on a layover again!

We took off at 11 am and landed quickly at the BOG airport, a short hop from Cali, Colombia. I had made reservations in a quaint hotel near the consulate and areas of interest I wanted to see. We had a short 24 hours to have fun, and arrived early despite the traffic of Bogotá, our room wasn’t ready yet. We were not concerned and just checked our luggage in, and took off to explore. The first place we went to was Usaquen, a barrio in Bogota that is so delightful and full of treasures to explore and to buy.

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Usaquen, Bogota, Colombia I bought amazing Colombian hand-made jewelry that I give as gifts to all my guests at Villa Migelita. I also bought for myself!

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I bought this gorgeous necklace for myself, a work of art!

We were beginning a fun adventure in Bogota, and I cannot stress enough how pleasant it was. I was with my friend, enjoying myself and getting rid of the stress of over a month of trying for my residency. I want to emphasize to those who are considering Colombia for retirement, they will welcome you, but it is all about rules. If you don’t comply they don’t give exceptions..Simple, but in a way reassuring. I know that my new place of living does the homework it needs for anyone entering the country.

We were shopping and sightseeing and entered the church in the main square of Usaquen. I lit a candle for my daughter immediately. I do this often in any church I see that is open to the public here in Colombia. I was raised as Catholic, but I identify as spiritual; that being  said I don’t want to identify as a  specific religion. I know there is a higher power. You need only go to my Facebook page Villa Migelita to see my many videos of hummingbirds coming to visit me, while I rescue them. I believe it is my daughter showing me she is with me still. I love that I get these signs! There is no other way to explain what happens.

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I lit a candle in this small room off of the main church

The actual church was not open. I sat silent for a few minutes contemplating about Misha and where my life has taken me since her death. I think I have done well. I have a Bed and Breakfast hotel and I have peace. I have the knowledge of someone who believes in the Universe. I know there is another dimension. I don’t care who would  try to argue this point with me. Nor do I want to go into what your religion is.  I know. I have the signs.

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Photo taken after I had lit candles for my daughter

 

The photo above was taken while looking at the street art in Bogota. I see the light in this photo and the beauty of the this light, can you? It was a wonderful end to my day when I went to look at the photos I took while visiting Bogota. It is surreal. It is mystical, it is full of a presence. I know my daughter was with me after lighting candles in the churches I visited.

I know Misha heard me talk to her that day as I visited these historical churches,including the famous mountain of Bogota, Monserrate.  She knew I needed this Visa to stay in Colombia. She helped me; I will admit I went through some sleepless nights, and told her about them in my prayers. I usually go to Florida to the embassy in Miami to get my Visa. This time I didn’t because it was for my residence. I learned a lot, enjoyed Bogotá, had a wonderful time and now have a year to apply and get my residence. I always say things happen for a reason and we must accept them. Even death. We  must show others that we can continue, despite the sadness we might endure. We need to be strong.  I am enjoying my life as an expat in Colombia.  The USA needs to stop this nonsense about immigrants ( I am an immigrant in Colombia) and start accepting other cultures. Enjoy and travel..do what you need to do to love your life. Stop reacting and start welcoming others to your country , even if they don’t speak your language perfectly, or they have to learn your culture. They want to live and start a new life like I have in Colombia. I believe it should be easy for anyone to live anywhere if they have proper documentation.

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Same tour of the Graffiti and me enjoying Bogota

We might never agree on everything,  but we can live peacefully wherever we are. Peace out…and love sent to all of the world.

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Cheers or Salud!