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.

Posted in Alternative Lifestyle, Awakening, child death, Colombia, Entreprenuer, expat life, family, love, Signs of the Universe, Spiritual Presence, strength, Uncategorized, Waiting

The Surprises in Life

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

This blog is a follow-up to my blog about finding love when I least expected it, I was astonished by all the outpouring of support that was sent my way when I wrote about  the surprise of meeting someone special. So take a moment and read this blog first before you continue on.

Life is like a river, it flows one way and then it sometimes changes directions. I compare my life to a river often. I believe I have lived two lives in this lifetime. One was as a mother to my children, and the next life started when I decided to move to Colombia after Misha was murdered. It was not an easy decision and I carry a lot of guilt for leaving, but I have found that you cannot control destiny. Everyone has free will, even our children.  I have not stopped thinking about my past life, I really wouldn’t want those memories to be gone. Cherished memories. So I accept I have had two separate lives. Both have had wonderful times, and terrible times. We do have many chances in life, even if those chances cause pain to us in other ways. My choice to move has been wonderful for healing, but whenever I go to the United States the past rears its head. Always so dramatically. I left that, I don’t want the drama, I don’t want the pressure of trying to be the best at whatever it is anyone is trying to be the best at, I don’t want that life anymore. So I need to write about how strange I felt this last time I visited the United States after two years.

The night I met Avi was special because of things I have found out since this fateful encounter. First of all, and I mention it in the blog you need to read first, I asked him to dance. I say this because apparently it is still not a common occurrence for a woman to ask a man to dance. I have been told this by Avi and by my friends also. This shows you I live differently in the jungle of Colombia. We dance here when we have parties at our homes. I ask anyone to dance and this includes my women friends. We just dance. It is that simple. So, what do I mean by this? Avi found it delightful that I approached him and said do you want to dance? I was so amazed by that, which will show that I have become more innocent since living in Colombia. I don’t think nor know about any of the things that could be socially inept. I just live. I have deliberately isolated myself, and with that comes social incompetence. But I do have a lovely and simple existence. I am successful to a degree with my hotel Villa Migelita Ecolodge, and I am very happy to be alone with just me. I might be writing my book, or I might be photographing the nature I am so accustomed to, or I might be studying the Spanish I am still struggling with. I think many people would not like my uncomplicated life, but for me it is perfect. I like being alone. I like my own company, and I love nature and my animals. A perfect combination for me.

Let me say a bit about Avi , he is a person of great integrity. He knows what he wants in a woman and has been looking for someone for a while. I can’t say the same about me. I am flawed, and imperfect to a great degree. I have not been looking for anyone. I changed when my daughter was murdered. I just don’t care what anyone thinks, says or wants from me. I am truly and completely direct with everyone. So this probably makes me a bit unusual. Avi says it is a great thing, I am not so sure. I will say this relationship has gotten better with distance and the wonderful world of being able to talk and see each other through social media. I am way too uninhibited in my thoughts, but to someone like Avi this is a good thing. He finds it refreshing, unusual and to use a word my mother always called me : unique. I am that for sure.

That night Avi and I met we danced and I found out the next day the earring I wore of Misha’s that I had in my second ear-piercing was gone. I was devastated. I had already lost one earring from when she had passed that I took from her body before she was cremated. This earring her best friend gave me without knowing I had been wearing another earring and had lost it. I remember her saying I only have one when she handed it to me. When I woke up and I realized the earring was gone and there would not be another earring to replace it, I was sad. Here is a video of my television interview in Baton Rouge when I was trying to get a trial for my deceased daughter. You can clearly see the earring that I lost the night I met Avi, Gabrielle had given it to me the night before my interview. That morning when I left the cruise ship I felt I left a part of Misha behind at sea.

Now as time has passed and Avi is coming to see me this week, I am beginning to think there was a reason for the loss of the earring. Maybe it is time for me to move on with my life. Maybe I have a future, because I haven’t really looked at my life as having one. I have just lived one day, one step, one moment at a time. The loss of this second earring; maybe it is a message to me from Misha to allow myself to love again, to let go of her, to begin fresh.

Avi has his work cut out with me. I am surely different which he discovered the first night we met. I am also an innocent in this world now. I didn’t turn hard from the lack of justice, I turned inward. I often feel that I can never trust anything again. This man killed my daughter, yet the judge gave him the correct sentence and then she suspended it. She even acknowledged the thousands of letters she received to give him jail time. She didn’t. I felt so betrayed. I withdrew into myself even more.

I had not had a real date with a man in a long time, so when I had lunch with Avi I was nervous and socially awkward. I then had dinner with him later that evening after I missed my flight back to Colombia and I felt like an alien from outer space. I looked around and every person had their phones out and no one was interacting with each other. I don’t do that here in Colombia. I use it for communication, and some of my social media work sites. I remember looking around at a lot of noise and lights, and feeling very uncomfortable. I can’t imagine that I even kept up a normal conversation with Avi. But now since I have returned  to Colombia we have such profound discussions, and I am slowly learning to trust him.

I have made it clear to Avi I am difficult to understand, I sometimes appear cold, unreachable. That I like being alone. I don’t need to have anyone entertain me, nor do I need to be out and in crowds. I am never unkind purposely, but I am distant sometimes. It is who I am now. He accepts this about me, in fact he loves this about me. My directness.

He will be here for Mother’s Day, a day I really find so distressing. He says we shall go out and celebrate you as a mother, you are a mother and deserve to be admired as one. I hope I can enjoy the day with him. He is certainly kind and thoughtful, and I believe he truly loves me, even with my baggage.

Stay tuned, the future is in front of me, but as usual I live my life one day at a time. Some days are not so great, while others are beautiful and full of hope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Colombia, Colombian life, expat life, faces, photo challenge, Portraits, Uncategorized

Random shots of Faces in the Crowd

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/a-face-in-the-crowd/

Some shots of faces in the crowd in the country of Colombia. Always an opportunity to show the lovely country I live in now as an ex-patriot. Beautiful biodiversity wherever I travel to, whether it is a small pueblo, the countryside, or a big city. Random snaps of the camera show a lot about my life here in Colombia.

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Just taking a swim

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A small town parade

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A street dog taking shade under my truck

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Me getting a head wrap at the Pacific Coast festival in Cali, Colombia

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Street art 

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Just riding the back roads of Colombia

Any photo taken spontaneously tells a story. Even the street art has a way of showing emotions of the people who paint it.

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I never get tired of grabbing the opportunity of showing my life and adventures in Colombia. Come visit and see this beautiful country for yourself.

(Credit to the parade photo and the street art photo of the smiling face given to a guest here at Villa Migelita Ecolodge. Thank you for allowing me to share.)

Posted in Colombian life, Dogo Argentino, expat life, family, farm life, friendship, photo challenge, Uncategorized

Orion the Magnificent Through the Years

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/variations-on-a-theme

Orion my Dogo Argentino is magnificent. He was given to me by a neighbor the night before I moved to Villa Migelita.

He had 4 homes before he came to me. He is a very delicate dog, although he looks fierce. He has broken two bones, his skin is problematic and he is always needing attention by the veterinarian for some reason. Here are some of my favorite photos of Orion. He is now almost 8 years old. I have lived in Colombia since 2011. He was a young guy when I adopted him. Enjoy the beauty of Orion, my big boy.

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My Big Boy with me looking fierce

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Orion and Luci all animals at Villa Migelita Ecolodge are rescues

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Orion eyes

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Happy Orion

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Sleeping Orion

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Orion with me recently

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Orion getting acupunture

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Me and the big boy

 

Posted in Birders, child death, Colombia, Colombian life, country living, Entreprenuer, expat life, freedom, happiness, hotel, hummingbirds, mother nature, nature, Perfection and Peace, strength, Uncategorized

The Sounds of Silence

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/silence-2/

 

I have avoided silence since January 31, 2010. The day my daughter was murdered. I have learned lessons, and I have worked hard to get to the place I am in right now. I feel free. I am free of abuse, I am free of negative energy in my home, I am free of judgmental people, free of machismo men who thought they could control me, I am free of everything that was keeping me confined to thought processes that were obsessively full of fear and sadness. When you lose someone suddenly this is normal. But what I did was not normal, I left my own country and changed my life completely. I will never regret my decision to do what I have done, I have evolved and I know another language.

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New orchids that bloom overnight

I wake up to silence, not my iPad on a news station saying the same things over and over. This is how I would go to sleep since Misha died, almost 8 years now: cable news blah,blah, the same noise said again and again. Sad isn’t it? To think it took me 8 years to get to silence when I live in Paradise. The only sounds I should want to hear are the birds singing, the rain falling, the sound of music I put on when I make my coffee in the morning.

 

 

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Villa Migelita Ecolodge

I could lay in bed on many days and not get up. I don’t allow myself this luxury. I know I need to get going and function. I have known this since the shock from the death of my daughter left me. I would not allow myself to fall off a cliff in despair. I would not allow myself to use as an excuse her death to become a sad human being, or to become filled with anger at her murderer. I used her death to better myself. But still I lacked silence. My brain would not quit.

I started this blog, I learned to take photos and use them to share the beauty I live in. To show my hummingbirds to the world, to show my flowers and a different way of life to all. It has not been easy but I have found the silence I crave inside my brain. With that all the photos and videos I take enrich me more than ever. They bring me to a place that I have been striving to find. Quiet. Pure and complete stillness of being, and sometimes that elusive happiness.Hummingbirds and rainstorm 017

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My birds in Paradise

 

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The Colombian and American flag represent who I am now

Posted in Colombia, Colombian life, Perfection and Peace, photo challenge, Uncategorized, Weathered

Weathered with Love

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

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Looking out at the street below

The hands of the old man are full of history, the face of the woman so interested in what is going on below her, the bridge I am standing on. The old man just sitting and watching. Wisdom, weathered faces, old wood rotting but still beautiful on the bridge. Beauty in different ways. I carry my camera and just wait for these moments. Moments that tell stories. Stories of life that we will never know, but we can imagine.

Michele on bridge with camera

I came to Colombia to discover a new way to live. Life without a need for anything but my camera and my animals. I found this and more. I found out material things mean nothing to me, just give me a walk in the forest, a drive through a small pueblo, a random moment that I will never see again except through a photo I have taken. This is the way I want to live my life.

Michele in old chair

I just want to sit in an old chair and look for those moments where I find that freedom from caring about anything but living in the now. I am still working on this, but every day brings me closer to that freedom.

Posted in Colombia, Colombian life, country living, Dogo Argentino, expat life, farm life, minimalism, mother nature, nature, Perfection and Peace, photo challenge, Uncategorized

On a scale of one to ten…I give Colombia 10!

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/scale-2/

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This cow, this window, these hats.

The scale of this photo through the window of a rustic farmhouse in Colombia is a favorite of mine. Look carefully. You have the shutter, the hats and the tiny cow. This cow was huge in real life. The window shutter looks bigger than it is and the hats are perfect because the proportion is exactly as they were. Splendid meshing of all elements. I am going to use this photo in my Villa. It is like I step inside a painting when I explore, I live a 3D life. I see three-dimensional views, and sometimes I can capture the beauty and sometimes I can’t. It is impossible to describe unless you are right here with me, but these photos tell my story of life in Colombia. Simple, lovely and in real-time.

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The Andes mountains of Colombia, and one tiny branch of bamboo captured in sequence

The scale of a photo shows up without warning. This photo below was taken  from below. My Dogo Argentino Orion looks huge, His head is huge, but in this photo the angle makes it look larger.

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That Dogo Argentino head!

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Tenerife, Colombia the clouds are bigger than the valley with homes

The ratio is incredible in the Valle del Cauca, Colombia with the clouds and mountains.

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The scale of the clouds overtakes the entire picture.

On a scale of one to ten I will give  life in Colombia with nature a twenty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in child death, Colombia, Colombian life, Order, Perfection and Peace, photo challenge, photo challenge, Spiritual Presence, storms, Uncategorized, Waiting

The Layers of Life

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

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The sun upon the mountains in Colombia

When I hear the word layered I think of my life. If I go back through time I can actually envision in my mind peeling the layers away as it unfolded. When I look at this photo of the mountains I think of each layer as representing portions of my life. The green foliage in the front portion is me starting to grow and move in different directions, as do the lines of the trees. Which way will shape my future, which path did I choose? The sun hitting the front row of trees points directly to a path of beauty and more sunshine. You can follow that path all around the picture and see the sun illuminates it. The right side shows the trees ending in a shadow, cut short from completion. The left side is cut off and we the observer’s are left without knowledge of where the trees end up.

When I think of all I have lived through, the good and the bad, one of the hardest parts of life is deciding to walk away or try harder. As we get older memories encompass us, thus making us question our choices and decisions in life. Normal thoughts because our younger selves think we will be young forever.

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A  small rainstorm in the Valle del Cauca

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Storm clouds completely cover the landscape of the Colombian mountains

So which path is my life story ending? Am I going to walk the straight path that follows the mountain around bathing in the sunshine? Am I going to go to the left which leads me to an unknown future waiting to be discovered? Am I going to turn to the right that is in the shade and then just stop and stay forever in obscurity, questioning all the memories that find me, thinking about what could have been?

Maybe I will be the second photo where small storms enter but exit quickly. Sunshine appears again and I am happy for a while and then another downpour erupts which I deal with; then the sun comes out again. This scenario makes the most sense and is what most people encounter as we live our lives.

Hopefully, I won’t peel my layers back on life and find the last photo. Dark, disturbing clouds full and ready to burst with a torrential downpour.  Because I am tired of the copious rain in my life. I  have had these layers in my life before, when my daughter was murdered, when her murderer was let to go free. I have more resilience in all aspects of my life because of her death, I am wise like I never was before, I am forgiving and thoughtful about many things that happen to me.

Since I have moved to Colombia I have had these dark clouds appear and deluge me with situations that seem impossible, but I have been able to get my life back to the second photo that is just a quick storm passing through. In reality the first photo where the trees go off to the left and we don’t know where they will end up is probably my route. Preemptively the direction most of us take. Because as much as we want the passage through the mountains with all of the sunshine and the happiness this is not reality. It is the movie you watch that has the perfect ending.

So I will continue to peel those layers that are actually years in my life and let each day help me discover a new beginning. One that is the mountain path of sunshine, but I will accept those storms that trail me sometimes and I will conquer them.

 

 

 

Posted in Colombia, Colombian life, Color and Colombia, expat life, friendship, nature, Order, photo challenge, structure, Uncategorized

Nature and Structure

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

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This Bamboo! The symmetry is incredible!

I know I should only share one photo but I never can because I have so many I want to show all my followers. This is more than just a photo challenge for me. It is my life in Colombia. Recently, I started riding my bike through the mountains again.  I have had some falls. It is a lot about my Vertigo (I have balance related Vertigo), and it is also that I am riding with experts. They say “Hey Michele, you can do it!” Even when I fall so much it makes me frustrated!

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A bunch of cows and bulls who wanted us to give them some food

I even shed a few tears the last time I rode with them. But I did it. Enjoy these photos, because I worked really hard riding around rocks, cow poop, branches, barbed wire, and cows.

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It is flat land here but the rocks are still there. I need wide spaces to avoid them. The structure of this photo is perfect in every way.

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When I was avoiding the rocks I enjoyed the views. You can see them very clearly in this photo.

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Look at the circle with the arrow pointing at us on his shirt! I love this photo with the Jacaranda trees, the colors the way my biking wear picks up the colors. It is really a perfect photo structurally.

With the last photo I say “hey even though I fell a lot and still have some bruising on my body, I will be doing this again soon. There is nothing like riding mountain bikes in Colombia. We all do this sport here. It doesn’t matter your age, height, weight! Just get on and ride. Oh and try not to break anything!

Posted in Alternative Lifestyle, Colombia, Colombian life, expat life, friendship, nature, Nature Symbolism, Uncategorized

Thousands of Parrots

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

The other day I went on a journey with friends. We explored the mountains of La Buitrera de Palmira, Colombia near my Villa. 

We drove around in my 4 x 4 Toyota truck stopping when we found beautiful views.

Look at the size of these Elephant Ears!
I can hold this leaf up so we can pass!

Hiking and viewing flora and fauna
Right before we saw all the parrots come home to the trees where they live

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The elements of Colombia are so intense, there is no description unless you are right there in the moment

We ended up at a farm that is filled with so much organic and biological study of nature and plants. We were given a tour. There is a weather station for our area located at this super high altitude. When I check my phone in the morning this tiny little station lets me know the weather. I found it fascinating.

Weather station
We have stations like this all over the mountains in all areas of Colombia, tracking weather and currents

But then I heard them, the chorus of parrots that sound like angels to me. It is a sound you can never imagine unless you are right there. These parrots go over my Villa every morning around 5ish and return at around 6ish. I have always wondered where they go to. I found out. It was a moment of realism for me. Because I can only describe to you what it was like. I didn’t have my camera with me, just my phone which was out of battery.

I heard this sound of such beauty and noise, beautiful noise. Then I see them all flying to the trees on this farm much higher than mine at Villa Migelita. My question of 5 years was answered in a moment of them landing together in trees that were very near to me. They were green and they looked as if they were falling when they moved to lower trees. I was mesmerized. I couldn’t take my eyes away from what I was seeing. It was a first for me in Colombia. I have many parrots visit my farm, but this, this incredible sight was something that touched my soul.

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Internet image, but they were just like this snuggled together or free-falling to different trees.

So I watched without moving for at least a half hour. I will never forget this amazing spectacle in my life. But it even gets better. The cover image is the trees they were in while driving back home. The sun was setting and we had left this amazing farm with so much cultural history.

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1000 year old Indigenous pot

We were all talking about how amazing the elements were on this farm. It was an experience of a lifetime! Including holding a pot made by Colombian Indigenous people and of course the thousands of parrots. I am not exaggerating this at all, because my cover photo does not show the parrots but we were driving down and there were more parrots all in the trees with the sunset surrounding them. They were flitting about, and we were just watching from my truck. They were highlighted by the sunset, but not enough for any photo. They were snuggling each other, they were squawking, they were happy. They were free. That is the way it should be for all animals and nature.

So I can only describe it to you, this sighting of where the parrots go when they fly over my Villa. It was so wonderful, so fascinating, so amazing. Always in my memory and now I know where they go and live. Where the parrots nest. I will always be so happy so many parrots fly free here in Colombia, the way it should be.