Posted in Achievements, Live your best life, minimalism, Order, structure, Uncategorized, Villa Migelita Ecolodge

Minimalism: The Next Step to Organization of Your Home and Life

My last blog Minimalism 101 gave you some ideas on how to organize your home while we find ourselves sheltered in place during this unprecedented time in history. I want to expand on the next steps to keep your household straightened out. If you are still working on projects don’t feel frustrated. Just keep on trucking along!

Recently I organized my office which is the only place that has often gotten cluttered since I moved to Villa Migelita Ecolodge in Colombia. I often procrastinate about filing paperwork. I have made a rule that I will not let myself go a week without putting my different receipts I collect in the appropriate file. I find when we give ourselves these rules, we follow them if we make them a habit. That is the secret to becoming minimalist. Make it your normal to keep your mind in a decluttered state by keeping your area of living uncluttered. Make it a routine.

In Colombia we are in strict quarantine, there are no exceptions and we have to follow the rules, no exceptions. I have found that I have to become a very patient person. I wait in lines on my day out for essentials, and I do not panic buy anything. I don’t want to have to find space for too many purchases when I return home. I don’t have my maids who always accompanied me before the pandemic and came home and put away the groceries and had places for everything. I now have to do this myself, my son cannot come with me to help. We are given our day to go out by our country ID and only one member of the household may leave. I find these days exhausting because of the time spent waiting and then returning home to put away everything. I am sure you can understand that I buy just what I need, nothing more. In Colombia, there is nothing that is unavailable and I am assured of my day out each week.

I mention routine in my last blog and now in this blog. As each new day starts I know what I have planned just as if I was not made to stay in my home all the time. I believe this is key to keeping up with cleaning and not allowing yourself to use staying in your apartment, farm, big or small home, lots of lands, no land, wherever you are sheltering in place as an excuse to do nothing because you don’t have a reason to do it. Your reason should be because you like to be surrounded by an atmosphere of peace and relaxation. When you know what your plan is for the day and you complete it you can then do whatever it is your want to do without looking around at the chaos that can creep up in a few days.

My mother used to tell me when I got my first apartment and was living on my own to do a few things each day and your home will be clean. It works. I also give myself one day where I don’t do anything. That can be a reward to yourself for having a home that looks nice if you take a day off. Usually, on my reward day, I read and enjoy sitting outside or hanging in my hammock. I have found I love to try new recipes that I can use once I have tourists visiting Villa Migelita Ecolodge again. Every day after I finish the chores I do Yoga. Yoga is calming for the mind and helps relieve the stress we create by worrying. I have one day that is a very heavy cleaning, which my son helps with. It is amazing how quickly we finish and the Villa looks wonderful.

In my last blog, I suggested that you go through your home room by room and write a list of what needs to be done in all areas that bother you. In this blog, I want you to continue with your projects, and for those you have completed I want you to keep them in their new state. Make your agenda for each day and follow it. Again make it a habit. I just like everyone have days that I don’t feel like doing what is on my checklist for the day. However, my mind will nag at me if I don’t do what I have planned. This is because I have created my routine and so can you! Also, it doesn’t have to be confined to the inside of your house, it can be your yard, your garage, planting spring flowers, anything that is an area that you think about but procrastinate because you feel it can be overwhelming. Just say to yourself, what else do I have to do that is more important and start chipping away at the activity.

Believe me when I say I was a bit overwhelmed at keeping this huge Villa clean with just my son who is helping me with the cleaning. We have worked it out and my place is cleaner than ever. Even on the day to do nothing, we find time to sweep the floors and put in a load of laundry. I am sticking with my environmentally friendly ways even as the world is becoming less polluted during the pandemic. My next minimalist blog will discuss ways to be more environmentally friendly so we can keep the Earth clear like it is looking now with less human pollution being sent into the atmosphere. Let me know what you think and sign up and share my blogs!

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A Bridge We Can All Cross

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

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

These are my Truisms from Colombia.

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

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

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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

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Lessons, Learning, Loving

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

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

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

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

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