Posted in Achievements, Birders, mountains, nature, Perfection and Peace, strength, Stress free environment, Uncategorized, Villa Migelita Ecolodge

The Woman Behind my Strength

The Covid Pandemic has changed everything for those of us in the tourism industry. There have been many times in my life filled with crises; I don’t know how I withstood them, except with a strength of spirit I developed over a lifetime. After the tragedy of my daughter’s death, I found myself living in Colombia. I know my mother would have supported me with this life-changing event if she were alive because she is the woman behind my strength. As the world opens up again, I wish her guidance as I contemplate what will happen next on my journey in another country. When I first arrived in Colombia in 2011, it was still considered a dangerous country for only the most ardent adventure travel enthusiasts. Now, this tiny country has overcome its unsavory past and developed into an adventure travel destination for people worldwide. But as Colombia has opened up, the tourists haven’t followed as they did before the coronavirus. Will nature travel be the next big thing? 

As I live my life, my mother is always hovering nearby in my memories. My love of animals and nature is an intrinsic part of my being because she loved both. My brother and I were surrounded by animals as we grew up. Mom also loved the beauty of our world. I went on a class trip to Paris, France, when I was in elementary school. My family was not wealthy, but my mother found the money for me to take a class trip on an airplane to another country. She was instrumental in my applying for and landing my career-defining job as a flight attendant. Her ashes are here with me in Colombia. They rest beside my daughter under the most beautiful lilies that often bloom as butterflies flutter nearby. When I visit their beautiful garden, I like to imagine being embraced by them. 

When the Coronavirus quarantine began last year, I was content. So many times in my life, my mother shared with me the greatness of solitude. I can still picture my mother sitting quietly in a chair, immersed in prayer meditation. Isn’t it ironic how we repeat what we learn from our parents? My times for deep thought are often, usually while practicing Yoga. Now my thoughts are looking for an answer to a gnawing question. What is in the future for all of us struggling to regain our businesses in the tourism industry? It is hard living in this new reality. Changes happen daily and without warning. I felt we were getting ahead of this awful virus, but now I am not so sure. As I look outside at my bird feeding gardens or all the hummingbird feeders, I know there is peace in my world. Perhaps, nature will be the answer as people find traveling to remote places with wide-open spaces are the safest places to visit.

 My Ecolodge is healing for everyone, no matter your problems, because nature can restore anyone to a place of peace. Staying in my mountain retreat during the initial Coronavirus quarantine was never hard to do. After working so many years with the public, time alone is easy. Now that the world is slowly returning to a new normal, I realize that I had a different perspective than others on this life-changing virus. I have never felt the need to seek more than what I have right here in my beautiful mountain retreat. Life was a bit isolated, but again, I didn’t care. I felt grateful that I lived in a place of ever-changing moments. These Andes Mountains I am surrounded by and the nature that lives within them kept me centered during the last year. 

Now I am welcoming guests to visit Villa Migelita Ecolodge once again. They seek the allure of outdoor activities in the purely natural air of the mountains. Nothing is more soothing to the soul than time spent immersed in nature. The latest trend in this year 2021 is Nature, Wellness, and giving back, as referenced in this Forbes Article. Tourists can feel safe from the pandemic in vacation destinations that are outdoor-oriented. My Ecolodge is entirely open air. Wide-open spaces with space to breathe are a luxury that is affordable and calming.

I am meeting many young Millennial’s seeking distance from the hectic city life encountered worldwide. They love to sit outside to look at the views or hand-feed the hummingbirds. They wander in my gardens to observe the Neo-tropical birds, sometimes with a book in hand. Our souls need time in nature. Our bodies release stress when we hear sounds that only the mountains and animals within can deliver. Listening to the harmony surrounding them, they find a balance between their work life and their home life. Peace, don’t we all want to feel it again? I am still unsure when we will have what we had before the virus struck the world with such ferocity. Anyone can tune out the rest of the world for a little while as long as they breathe in the fresh air, free of noise pollution and environmental pollution. 

 Songs of birds harmonizing outside my bedroom window in the morning will always be on the playlist of my mind. These songs hold everything essential to my well-being. I believe they can give others what I have obtained in my peaceful place of harmony with nature.

Posted in Uncategorized

You Are All My Daughters

The anniversary of my daughter’s death was yesterday. Such a dismal day: one I will live the rest of my life, an affiliation that no one wants, but many share with me. We are members of a somber club, one that only we as the parents of a deceased child understand. We carry extreme grief that has settled into our very being.  Many people assume we get better as the years go by, but we don’t; we continue with the same heartache year in and year out. In fact, if possible to feel anything worse after you lose a child, you do as the years go by as you imagine where they would be in life at whatever age they would be as the date of their death passes.

Every year as the date approaches I get anxious. I fear the day so much. Believe me that I hate a lot of the days of the year now: Mother’s Day, her birthday, Christmas, my birthday, and the list goes on. As she would be getting older, I imagine what she would have accomplished. What we could do together, what we would talk about as she matured, as her daughter Amaya was growing up. Those who knew my daughter and me; know she died when we were at a point of separation in our lives. Not only did I lose my daughter, but I lost her when she wasn’t speaking to me. It has taken me a long time to accept this, but I have. As her mother I am sure I made mistakes; but she made many also. I loved her unconditionally but I had to let her be whom she wanted to be. It never worked out when I tried to help her. So I had to let go. Letting go is not easy. I read her twitter posts and knew she was doing pretty well for herself. She was still going to school even with a child and lived with her best friend; she seemed to be happy with her life. I assumed she would grow up and we would grow close again when she matured some. I never had that chance to regain the closeness we once had because she was murdered by a hit and run driver. A harsh lesson for me. So as the years go by I imagine we would have reunited, and made peace. In fact, I know we would have been fine with each other within that same year, if she wasn’t taken so suddenly. I have made my peace with that.

Now when I look back on my life with my daughter I see so many photos of joyful times. Our summers in the mountains were especially wonderful. We had the most amazing years hiking the Great Smoky Mountains every summer, shopping for her back to school clothes, decorating her room so many times, having her friends come on vacations with us, enjoying our animals, leaning on each other more than a few times. We were very close. I know that now. A short period of growing up does not speak for the life of my daughter whom I raised to be a good person. She proved how special she was by the cause of her death. She was trying to help someone she saw get hit by a car.

As the years pass and the anniversary of her death approaches I have decided to look at all the pictures I have of Misha. I will rejoice in the short life she did have, and I will smile at the memories. I will share the milestones Misha never had with her friends whom are still in my life. They are all my daughters, as they grew up in my house with Misha. My house was one in which her friends were always welcome. They share stories with me still. I will enjoy their new marriages, births, photos of family like they are my own daughters. I know that is what Misha would want. When I meet  new young people who are the same age as Misha I will embrace the fact they are living their lives well and be happy for their accomplishments. I can’t have this with my daughter, but every time my granddaughter celebrates a milestone, I will say a prayer that Misha somehow knows from wherever she is now. I will continue to live my best life in the name of my deceased daughter. I will hopefully educate those who do not know any better that we who have lost a child, no matter what the circumstances, never get over it. We just get on with our lives. That is the best we can do.