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.
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.
Habits of a lifetime are part of our make up as a person. As my surgery is getting closer I find myself worrying about the outcome. I can’t imagine not being able to hike anymore, or ride my bike, do Yoga and exercise like I have all of my adult life. So I have been reading a lot about the procedure and it seems that I should feel a reduction in pain immediately after my surgery. Reading this group study has helped but I am still very worried about everything, including that I will be the same as I always was before when the surgery and rehabilitation are completed. I am writing questions down as I think of them for my meeting with the surgeon this week. This blog is part serious and part funny. One of my questions is can I bring cute pajamas to wear and not those horrible hospital robes where the naked butt shows?After reading the above article I am not certain if I will be put to sleep or just have my hips numbed. I will ask this of the doctors because I also will see an anesthesiologist who will evaluate my health. I am not sure why I have to stay in the hospital three days, because it would probably be outpatient in the USA. However, when I asked at my first meeting with my surgeon he did say I am having both hips done, and they remove a bony obstruction on both sides. He is very famous for this procedure and when I visit his office I see many people with crutches. They all look healthy and happy so I am just trying to accept my situation. Hopefully, when I am the person in the waiting room, I will look happy too.
Part of this situation is that there is not one pill that relieves the pain I feel. Nothing works. I am just living in pain. I have found one solution for the night. I have said many times that cannabis is legal here in the home. I can even grow up to 20 plants if wanted to. I don’t want to. Cannabis is so inexpensive and I have found that all pharmaceuticals I have taken for my various back and neck problems from being a flight attendant are no longer needed. I started using cannabis oil under my tongue a few days ago. It is strong, and it works for the night pain. However, I would not consider it for daytime, except when I am on bed rest for ten days. Then maybe I will use it. I do smoke a little weed at around 6 pm in a pipe. I have done this for a little while for pain also, but not much and only if I am not going anywhere.
Now on to the funniest part of this admission about the use of weed for pain management. Yesterday I bought the weed oil for the outside of the body to rub on my hips from the natural medicine store. It smells like Vicks Vaporub ointment. I have used it three times today and I have noticed my pain is better. The smell to me is awful. My mother used Vicks when she was old for everything! I don’t like the smell, and it reminds me of nursing homes.
So I am not going to get any mosquito bites before my surgery, I am going to be able to breathe very well at night because you know that Vicks is great for respiration, and hopefully I will get a bit more relief from the pain.
Many people have no idea how I have struggled to live in my Paradise here in Colombia. I believe that I am meant to be here, but it has not been easy. I came with someone I totally trusted and had known for quite a long time before I made my decision to move to another country. He turned out to be an awful person. I wrote an essay about my conflicts and was given great feedback on it by a prestigious magazine. They encouraged me to submit the essay elsewhere as it was not right for their magazine, but I am using it as an outline for my book. I have started writing chapters and I am also continuing on with my blog, and how my past has intertwined with my present life. My last guest brought front and center what happened to me and why I am behind in actually speaking Spanish.
This latest guest here at Villa Migelita Ecolodge is a really wonderful person, so wise and a really commendable Spanish speaker. She wanted to get better at conversational Spanish and to talk with locals while enjoying the nature and beauty of Colombia. A world traveler, she has been all over the world to places I have never heard of. What a pleasure to have her at my Villa for two weeks. She made me realize my Spanish needs drastic improvement. One of the reasons my Spanish is not so great is because my immersion was not what it should have been for many years due to the person I moved here with. He became different when he returned to Colombia, and I found myself quite isolated much of the time. It was interesting because my guest noticed I understood quite well and had a good vocabulary, but I have trouble with tenses and putting sentences together correctly. I have never had real formal study and she has done formal study and has many Spanish-speaking friends in the United States. Fortunately for her I am never the teacher in my Spanish lesson classes. We do speak Spanish all day because my contratista only speaks Spanish, and so do all of the people who are my friends. I have just learned through computer programs and speaking with those I am surrounded by now. I have improved drastically since that person who I came here with is gone. I am independent and do everything with Jazmine, who works with me now. We only speak Spanish. However, after Susan came I knew I need more, and I set out to accomplish just that when she left. She also inspired me in another way. She had a knee replacement 6 months ago and is still in a lot of pain. Even with the pain she exercised and did so much even though it was hard for her. She walked to the top of Nirvana the natural reserve with me and it is not an easy climb.
Many of you know I am getting hip surgery soon. I have not wanted to think about the surgery or the therapy needed because I am an avid exerciser. She is too. I have many guests come to visit, and I make friends with all but I feel she was a miracle sent to me to help me deal with this surgery that is upcoming, and to inspire me to get better at my actual Spanish-speaking. As many of you know, when I make up my mind to do something I get right to work at doing what I feel is necessary. I mean if Susan can ride on a motorcycle when she just had knee replacement then I can get my mind made up to conquer the dread I have been feeling about the hip surgery.
The day after she left the perfect opportunity presented itself to me. My dear friend and partner of my hair stylist was at the salon I go to here in Colombia. He can speak some English and wants to learn to speak correctly, I can speak some Spanish and want to learn correctly. We made a deal. He will be coming twice a week and we will be working together to help each other. He will speak conversational English to me and I will correct him, and I will speak conversational Spanish to him and he will also do the same. It is a win/win situation. I am starting this afternoon. I can’t wait. As for Jazmine, she is also no longer going to let me say things wrong, she is also correcting me and she will be joining us for our two times a week to learn English.
I know everyone who follows my blog understands that I do believe the Universe provides us with what we need. This is another example of this. I was worried about my surgery and now I have a date, I have all the information I need and I am also telling my bi-lingual friends to speak Spanish with me and to correct me. It is not an easy process. However, I will be bedridden after my surgery and will have much time on my hands. I will use it to continue writing my book and elaborate on the struggles I have had here, learning Spanish, having to learn to navigate my life in a new country while not speaking Spanish correctly, but overcoming everything to live the best life I can live.
I have to mention that the surgery would have been incredibly expensive in the United States and I still believe the Universe directed me to live in Colombia, although it has not been an easy process. This doctor being only one of three in Colombia who actually performs the surgery I am having. That in and of itself makes me realize I am exactly where I should be living. Now to get on with my life, a life that is incredibly peaceful, even with the difficulties I have had. Opportunities present themselves to us and we need to use these opportunities to make our lives better if we can.
Susan came and visited and her influence on much in my mind was wonderful. I didn’t realize it, but I needed someone to just talk with. I will probably never see her again but I know we will remain in touch. I feel really blessed to have the good fortune to have people like her visit, and to have done what I have here in Colombia. It is not always perfect, but I doubt it would be perfect if I had stayed in the USA. Life is interesting here, I am determined to conquer my last phase of Spanish speaking, as I can read it pretty well, understand others, and have a good vocabulary. Now I just need to put it all together. I will, just like I will write the book I hope will explain much about why I live in Colombia.
When I start my journey with my hip surgery I will keep everyone updated with regular blogs on my recovery. I am sure it will be interesting because I have never had a surgery that has required me to stay in the hospital overnight. So look for my next blogs to be kind of a journal of my time in the hospital and the road to recovery.
That time I went to jail I have never written about. People who are close to me know. I am writing a chapter for my book now about my 36 hours in Broward County jail. It is still so fresh in my memory. It was horrible, I was shown a side of society I didn’t know existed. Jail was something I read about in books, or watched in movies. The reality is very different. No matter your place in society, the treatment is disturbing from the moment you are arrested to the time inside the jail, the lack of compassion, the complete cruelty I experienced by the police and the people who worked in the prison. However, the other inmates were pretty darn cool with me. It was obvious to them I didn’t belong there. They comforted me, they gave me a lot of reasons to write it down, but I never did. I have never written about it before because it shows my daughter in a way that is not flattering, something that I have not wanted to do. I need to heal myself, recent events have made me realize I have not done that. Even with therapy, my move to Colombia, these moments in time exist and they bring me to places I only think about when I awake at night and cannot sleep.
I was arrested on false charges. I was an innocent to what the rules are when the police show up at your door. I had no clue about anything about police visits to your home. If I had known, this experience would never have happened. It was a nightmare that you dream and then wake up with your heart beating fast inside your chest. Surreal, incomprehensible, I am sure my mug shot exists somewhere even though all charges were expunged. I didn’t even understand that they were taking my mug shot. I was sobbing uncontrollably. I didn’t understand all that was happening and it was very harsh, with a lot of merciless treatment by all involved who work in the system of Broward County, Florida.
Now I am writing it down in a chapter for my book. I am leaving nothing out. The dreadful side of my daughter, the crappy friends she had, one who has my sweet grandchild in her care right now without any legal papers of custody. I am telling the story. All of it, the lessons I learned from experiences I had no control over. Including my daughter meeting the father of my beloved grandchild. I am going to tell you the entire experience from the time of my arrest until I was let out to the street outside the jail of Broward County without a charged cell phone, no shoes, and no money.
A wonderful cab driver gave me a ride with my promise of payment if he could just take me to my house. I didn’t even have a key to get inside my own home! I will always remember the kind treatment I received from the other inmates, from that cab driver, the father of my grandchild: who when he heard what Misha had done made her immediately go to drop the charges. This is hard just to say in a blog. I went to jail. I was 50 years old, I could have lost my job, that is what Misha did. Wait for it. Coming soon to all who want to buy my book. I am writing the chapter now. It is funny at times, but it is also very terrifying to anyone who might think it could never happen to you. It can and I experienced it.
I let someone in my life because he was friends with my friend from high school. I would never have done this without knowing her and what a sweet person she is. Then I started to see cracks. Just little warning signs. However, I allowed myself to look past some of the signs because I think he had a really great side, and still do think that. We all have problems, I am the first to say that. I have many problems I left behind in the United States. I am the last person to judge anyone. But, I have the sixth sense. I didn’t really want to go to the United States this last time I went. I could have taken care of what was happening with my granddaughter with my lawyer Howard Friedman over the phone. This person insisted and I really should have listened to my inner voice, but I didn’t. I say this over and over in my blogs. I don’t listen like I should to my innermost feelings. We need to accept and adapt to these feelings inside of us! So I spent a lot of money that I did not need to spend and learned a lot of lessons while getting dumped by a person who is probably still thinking about me and wanting me. He blew it, and believe me, one chance is all you get with me. I am special, I am smart, I am unique and he lied just to get me. I am sure no one has just looked at him and said F%^k You. I did immediately when he dumped me for no reason except his selfish behavior and his need for me to be happy while in the United States. My friend’s husband who is very clear he is a Trump supporter came to me and hugged me, and said you will prevail. I was constantly told by ‘this person’ how awful this friend was and what a horrible husband he was to my friend. I should have let that be a warning sign too. My friends husband came and hugged me on one of the worst days of my life, but this person did not. So let me be clear I don’t like Donald Trump, and I am not saying all people who voted or supported him are bad, I am saying I can never nor would be with someone who is a supporter as a partner. As a citizen of the United States I believe in our right to vote for who we want, and I believe that is why we are such a great country. I don’t need to make everyone agree with my position. I will not allow someone lie to me. You know, if this person had been honest with me, I would have listened. It was a simple thing. We could have been friends, but never lovers.
First of all, I do not like Donald Trump. These images of the children being ripped from their parents arms are causing me such sadness, I am in distress beyond anyone’s imagination. He dumped me for being sad about my granddaughter, he is cruel and he is a supporter of Trump. I know that his friend he speaks so badly about knows I am not. Yet that morning I was so sad, he came to me and said I love you Michele, I am so sorry. Yes, the Trump supporter came to me to comfort me but not my boyfriend. So I have been feeling very ashamed for this romance. I bought into it. I believed him for what I thought he was. He was not that way. I can never express the coldness of how he said I can’t be with a person who comes here to the USA and is sad. So here is the lesson. No matter your political preference, you can still be a decent human being. My high school friend and her husband are really decent people, and ‘this person is not.’
So where do I go now? I am extremely saddened beyond recognition of my own self by this ripping of children from the arms of their parents. I can’t sleep, I compare my situation with that of my own granddaughter. Why do people have her that have no rights, nor position to justify having her? It makes me scared about what I am thinking when I see these girls are missing in the Trump system of justice at the border. Is it something sinister? Is my granddaughter safe? I see that something is terribly wrong in the system of the United States. I know many feel Colombia is dangerous, when in actuality it is not. I am happy and free here. I have no need to even lock my doors. But the USA they rip children from the arms of parents and lose them. I can’t get a correct answer from all the agencies I call about my granddaughter’s well-being. Why do these people who have no connection to my granddaughter have her in their custody. I am hoping someone will find out.