Posted in Alternative Lifestyle, Colombia, Colombian life, Entreprenuer, freedom, happiness, hotel, Uncategorized

The Life I Have Made in Colombia. End of 2017 Reflections

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

In order to be free we have to be willing to think for ourselves, learn for ourselves, and to live our lives as our real true selves. Being free is when you are able to get past others opinions, when you are able to make decisions on what is best for you based on what is happening in your personal life, and not worry about what others may think, say or do. Being free is making choices that might not conform to a standard expected by a majority of people, but following your instincts and persevering no matter how many obstacles you may encounter. This is why some people are successful and others are not. I have found that quitting is not an option for me. The strength I have obtained because of stumbling blocks in my journey is invaluable. I thought the one thing I lost when I moved to Colombia was independence, but in actuality I have gained it. As I progress on this journey, I learn more about myself and what I am capable of. I am able to do what I need to do to secure a life filled with my passion for nature and animals.

Recently I had this lovely couple visit Villa Migelita Ecolodge.

Elaine and Marshall
My friend of many years and her husband at La Ruiza, Valle del Cauca, Colombia

The gorgeous woman you see has been my friend for almost 40 years. She came to visit Villa Migelita a couple of years ago with our other sidekick from the 1980’s Janet. She wanted her husband to see what I have done after such tremendous loss(the death of my daughter) in my life. Their visit has been another turning point for me. Before they arrived I had a lot of upheaval here in Colombia. I have handled it well, but it hasn’t been easy.

Elaine’s husband Marshall was very impressed that I had started a hotel, could speak Spanish and was accomplishing so much while still learning a new language and culture. He is the kind of person who offers sound advice and has a very kind way of saying things that I found comforting, even when it was constructive criticism. I don’t often speak about the things that have gone wrong while living in a new country, because so much has been right I don’t want to dwell  on the times I have struggled. However, I haven’t really had many people say to me ‘”hey you’re doing a great job!” In fact, hardly anyone says much as I move forward each day with my growing business. I have a proclivity to self talk negatively to myself since my daughter died. I try not to, but to be honest I do. So when someone I didn’t know said he couldn’t believe what I had done here with my life and my business,  I was delighted to have someone validate the strenuous undertaking of creating a hotel in another country. He also said the entire time I should have Netflix come and do a documentary on my life.  I have been featured in Yahoo Finance and International Living, all because I reached out to them. So maybe I will start reaching out to other venues to see if they are interested.

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In Cali, Colombia 2017 at the Festival of Lights in December
Michele 6years ago
6 years ago when I first bought Villa Migelita Ecolodge

 

Colombia has agreed with me. I know many still judge why I left the United States after my daughter was murdered. If you are really interested go back to the beginning of my blogs and read. It was a dreadful time in my life and I just couldn’t make any progress, I felt my personal growth was gone. I made some difficult choices. That is all we can do in troublesome situations. We should be the first priority for our well-being. If we are not, then we can’t show a good example to our children, family or friends.

I keep plugging away with my business. I have had a couple of people work with me, but I have been the one driving the business forward with my social media sites that publicize how Colombia really is. Me alone. I have done this, and I am not really that great with these things, but somehow I have figured out how to do more than I thought I could. I have created a following of people who never knew how wonderful and beautiful Colombia is. The days of old are gone, and Colombia is thriving. The government is really focusing on the tourism industry. So all the hard work I have done over the years I have been living here is starting to pay off. People from all over the world are discovering what a bio-diverse and gorgeous country Colombia is.

So with the lovely words of my friends husband inside my head still, I am feeling pretty good about my life in general. I have learned to deal with unpleasant situations without allowing them to affect my daily life. I know I can handle anything anyone wants to throw at me, I will catch it and throw it back. I will no longer allow others problems to change my way of thinking, I will continue to be the person I am. Yes, I am kind, I am compassionate, and I am strong. Perhaps, the only thing that has happened from my struggles here is that I am less trusting. I am losing that vital part of myself. I have found it is not in my best interest to be trusting, as I have been taken advantage of. Lessons learned and filed away for now.

So I will continue on with my love of Colombia being shown to all. If Colombia has changed it’s image from a turbulent past, so can I. I can become the best person I can be while living a life in Paradise. You see I know Misha is with me in every endeavor I undertake even the ones that are really difficult. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but I do make goals for myself that I try to follow, this year is to let go of fear. Ever since Misha died I have that fear thing inside of me. I am always waiting for another horrible situation to arise. I have to stop that. I have not allowed her death to stop me from creating what I have. I have to stop the negative talk and start the positive talk inside my head. I need to be proud of what I have accomplished and continue to achieve.

So with that I am going to do my  best to make Colombia a great tourist destination known around the world for nature lovers like myself. I am going to continue my journey of living in the now. I am going to be the free spirit I have always been, but I lost for a little while after my daughter’s death. I am going to try to say I am happy, because I really don’t say that much. I do say I love my life, but I have had trouble with that happiness thing. It seems elusive still, but I am working on it.Michele 2017 in water at Chipichape

 

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!

structure 5
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 Colombia, Colombian life, photo challenge, Uncategorized

Passing Strangers

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

The different people I capture during my travels around Colombia always fascinate me. I wonder what they do, where they live and if they are happy. I always make up stories in my mind when I am especially intrigued.  The man on my cover photo made me smile, as he smiled back with his sailor cap on. How wonderful that he transports boats around Lago Calima, Colombia with his tractor.

Lago Calima 075
Where is he going on this beautiful horse
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What is he thinking
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Does this man have a family
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Swimming alone in a great river
Lago Calima 133
Where is the person who has this tiny tienda

Every image I have inserted tells a story to me. The one that especially stands out is the man sitting in the park alone. I saw him cross the street with the poncho he is sitting on around his shoulders. I found him fascinating because he was alone, but yet so proud. The man swimming in the river saw me photograph him and he looks directly at my camera. I wish I could know what he was thinking at that moment.  The tiny tienda has no one there, but it captured my attention with details. Who owns this little store? The chairs in front are inviting anyone to stop and rest awhile.  Colombia is a country of such color and beauty in all the simple things of life. My camera captures those little moments that are transient because they are fleeting moments that I will not see again.

 

Posted in Alternative Lifestyle, child death, Children of deceased parents, Colombia, Colombian life, friendship, nature, Perfection and Peace, photo challenge, Spiritual Presence

Reflections on Motherhood and Other Things

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

Mother’s Day is coming this weekend. I have a hard time with this day. I spend the day reflecting on the past with my children. One who is deceased the other who doesn’t really have a lot of contact with me. It makes me think what could I have done differently? I was the Mom who was always involved with their activities. But then I took care of my own mother for years who had dementia. It took a great tole on me and my children. I  now think should I have kept my mother in my home? Should I have divorced sooner than later? I don’t know. But I love my memories of happy times in their lives and all the happiness they grew up with. That just left when I decided to divorce and then my daughter was murdered.

Misha and I with Marley
One year to the day my daughter was killed.

I reflect on this photo, and realize Misha was a reflection of me, she looked like me and was very headstrong like me. I treasure this photo. I could beat myself up over and over again because I might have changed something in our lives and maybe she would still be here. But as I grow older and I meditate daily with Yoga, I realize we all have free will. We cannot change the path of our destiny, because we can’t control others, just ourselves. Most people do not want to change, and they will never do it. Me, well I wanted change after this horrible time in my life and I have become a different person. The problems in our lives are often brought on by thinking too much and worrying too much. Once we let go, we find a solution. Maybe not immediately, maybe not for a few years, but the solution is there. We just need to look for it and we need to accept that people come and go in our lives. Even our own children.

I have discovered while living in Colombia I do not live a life full of plans. Plans here are often disrupted with the littlest things. A battery has died in the car, and you need to wait for the local mechanic to come and give you a jump, the weather changes and that walk you planned on is now going to be later in the afternoon, the party you have at 3 in the afternoon with friends turns into an all night dance fest. Or it is a beautiful day and you take off in the truck to visit a place that is beautiful, remote and in the middle of the Rainforest. jungle-fever-and-buena-ventura-073jungle-fever-and-buena-ventura-096

Reflections in life are usually in the moment, not in memory. I have discovered this in my time as an expat in Colombia. I reflect often, but usually I reflect on how I can make my life better, to improve, not to waste time on mistakes or others who contributed to those mistakes. It is all about being the best person you can be. I reflect on that often. I know I am not there yet. But I will be before I die. At least I will die trying.

 

 

Posted in Colombia, Colombian life, Dogo Argentino, nature, photo challenge, Uncategorized

A Path to Success for 2017

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/path-2016/

When I moved to Colombia in 2011 I never thought I would be enjoying the wonderful life I have today. Colombia has moved on, just like I have. Peace is on the horizon in Colombia. I have a life filled with peace and nature.

I will never say I am completely happy, I don’t believe it is possible. But I will say I am grateful. I am grateful I had the strength to go through 6 years of improvement. I have worked hard. I have turned my life around. I left a destructive and very dysfunctional life. I have found my niche in Colombia.

Be kind to yourself. Stop the mad dash for a Christmas present that will probably be put in a closet to be re-gifted. Christmas is for children, and they enjoy those wonderful presents. As for adults, isn’t it better spent enjoying the beauty that surrounds us? Whether it be family, nature, inspiration, happiness where you can grab it, friendships, animals, travel, anything that really moves you in your core. Embrace that, not material things. You can stop right now. Just be you. Enjoy those who you are blessed to have in your life. Nothing is ever perfect. I know that. But look around and make a list of all that fulfills you.

I live in a beautiful home in Colombia. I have the love of my animals. I have my business and wonderful guests who give me new perspectives on everything. They give me companionship, they give me laughter, they give me their thoughts on my Villa in Colombia, they teach me new recipes, they give me comfort and support, they give me a life filled with purpose. I have discovered all those years of working as a flight attendant has given me a lifetime of training to become the mistress of my own domain. But, I have learned to include other’s opinions. That is a path I embrace.

When you have a life of meaning you have it all. This is the best present  to yourself. I know that from my past. Life is too be lived in the now. If you can appreciate what this season really means, no matter your religion, your beliefs, you can find your path. If you can look around your home and see anything that makes you smile with fond remembrance, just one thing you are grateful for, you will be ahead of others who are rushing to buy a present that means nothing. Carve your own path to success in 2017. It might be a small path, but it is a beginning.

Stay strong, stay focused, stay determined and you will find your path to success. I have.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Simplicity: Let’s go fly a kite.

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Let’s go fly a kite!

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “(Extra)ordinary.”One day I was visiting another farm near Villa Migelita and I hiked around their property. I took the most amazing photos. They were of a family having fun, doing what they do here in the Valle del Cauca. They fly kites in the summer when the breeze is just right, because families in Colombia don’t sit in front of a computer or a television. They do not have the money for that. They go out and do things with their families. This is a perfect photo depicting just that! I have lost my phone habit since I moved to Colombia. It is the best thing I have ever done. I still am able to run my business, and go on with my life. I don’t need to be connected to everyone all the time. This photo shows that. Go out and enjoy your world, wherever you may live. Look around and take in the beauty. Stop worrying about the little things, because they are not important. Take a breath, look around, and think I need to change from this circus of social media and go to a new place of minimalism. Even my clients who visit me at Villa Migelita enjoy  the simplicity of my farm and the way I have nature as the focus. Simplicity speaks volumes, and this picture is a perfect example of just that.

Posted in Uncategorized

Five Years Later: I’m Not Looking Back

When all is said and done, the last five years have brought me to a place of discovery. I have learned no matter the life we are given we must strive to walk a path that sets an example for others. We must show the world we are vulnerable but strong, loving to all who surround us even when sometimes that love is not returned. We must be fierce to protect our own self-worth, if we do not than how can we expect others to respect us? We must always be kind.  Kindness  shows strength of character; character is what defines you to the world. Without character what are we? We are just another grain of sand in the vast terrain of life. We would not stand out in any way if we follow the opinions and listened to the majority instead of following our own instincts for survival. By survival I mean our own endurance of the life given to us. Of course our lives are not perfect, we struggle every single day with something. We self-talk in our minds about mistakes we have made on our journeys, but the point is this is a journey only we take  so we must make it count.

When I was going through my divorce I had much hate thrown at me, frankly it was awful. I thought life could not get much worse and then my daughter was killed. Life did get worse. All the self-pity I felt from the onslaught of nastiness and alienation, the gossip that always got back to me, meant nothing anymore. I realized that the only thing that mattered was life, and it is very short. With that I chose to walk a path that others did not agree with. I did for myself what I needed to do to heal. Frankly, many did not understand what I chose to do. I had even more innuendos and disapproval thrown at me. I knew what I was doing, and what others thought was not my concern. I and only I knew the facts that were my life. Those facts were not pretty, nor were they fair. They were a big mess and I was not going to live that way anymore. So I left that old life. I had very few who supported my decision, yet today I think all can see it was the right decision for me. The point being I am living the life meant for me, not what others thought my life should be.

When a person does something controversial, something that does not go along with the norms of societal views it is unfortunate that instead of being embraced for being different we are frowned upon.  I needed change from the negativity that surrounded me, and with that change I have found myself. So many people say “I need to find the real me.” But they never do. They search and search but come up empty. I searched and am fulfilling a dream. Will this dream be without mistakes? No of course not. I have made mistakes in the last five years, but they are my mistakes which I will learn from, gain life wisdom and hopefully correct. I will persevere with the knowledge I lived through hell and withstood it. I am in a place now of peace in my soul. I no longer need to push my opinions on others nor be confrontational with those I do not agree with. I have learned to walk away with my head held high from those who try to harm me with words and actions.

My daughter’s death was not in vain as she taught me to live life when she died. Her death gave me strength to change what was a dysfunctional existence that was not doing me nor anyone else any favors. Now I have mended past relationships through perseverance and single-minded knowledge of what I want to carry out. Instead of reacting with anger to others bad behaviors I react with patience. I do not seek their approval, I seek their respect. I show them my real self, the one hidden for so long inside of me.

So here I am five years later leading a life of accomplishment. I would never have thought while raising my children I would one day start a business in South America, that I would speak another language nor foresee I could revise the person I used to be. A person who was fearful of living because life events had broken me. Instead of sinking to the bottom of the ocean and drowning, I swam to the top and took a deep gulp of air and dog paddled until I could swim to freedom. This freedom I feel now is not without sadness, the killer of my daughter walks free, and I still grieve deeply everyday for my daughter. I will always long for the life I lived as my children grew, for those memories that are precious in my heart. I ache inside when I look at old photos of that life long gone now. I will never replace those days, but I will make new memories that will take me to the place I seek. You see life is continuous, we must keep going forward. We must accept that circumstances change and we must do our best to learn from these transitions, even when they are abominable. Today is all we have, because yesterday is gone and we cannot know our future. My future is looking bright, but I will never take it for granted. When someone learns the hard way to live life like I did, we accept bad times and we accept great times, we accept relationships that come to us and accept relationships that leave us. We accept our imperfect selves, and we live the life we have with gratitude. We follow our own path wherever it may lead us.

Hike photos 040

Please visit my Facebook page to follow my journey http://www.facebook.com/VillaMigelita

This is my website if you want to visit my Bed and Breakfast. http://www.villamigelita.com

Posted in Uncategorized

Connections From the Past; Do they Shape Our Destiny?

“The Universe wants to be noticed” I love this quote from a book I just read. No matter how hard we try to control our lives something always steps in and changes the outcome. I believe it is the Universe and we should take notice. We often have fleeting messages in our minds that we should pay attention to. We also have instances where situations are similar to our past which bring memories back to us; again the Universe. I was not aware during all those years long gone in my younger days that my thoughts and my life connections would determine my future. We all have this ability to see the unfolding of our lives if we pay attention to those moments in our minds or in our relationships that can convey to us to change a path we are on. Think to yourself how many times you look back on a period of time and wonder ‘if only’ or ‘I should have seen that coming.’ Is it really possible that we can shape our own destiny or does our life unfold according to a pre-determined plan the day we enter this world?

When my children were born I knew they would have the best and brightest futures. I devoted myself to caring for them with all my heart. The future I envisioned was one of greatness for them both. I knew they would grow to be well-educated productive members of society. I spent many nights worrying about the schools they would attend and who they would be influenced by; I was financially able to put them in the best schools thinking this would keep them safe from the kids that could shape them negatively. Little did I know that in every school, church, synagogue, work place, summer camps, summer vacations, there are bad influences. I even know my own daughter was a bad influence to my son before she passed. So where does this leave us? As my life unfolded, so did the people who entered my life, whether through the schools, neighborhood, friendships from work, friendships through my children’s friends,the families of my ex-husbands and on and on. The list is endless.

I now believe there is nothing we can do to change the trajectory of our future, unless we listen to our inner voice and follow its direction. When we feel unease around someone we should not make that person a friend, when we feel uncomfortable with a decision we should look for an alternative, when we are unhappy in our lives we should change the situation even when it is difficult or next to impossible. I know it is not easy to make changes when you are firmly entrenched in your life, your job, your family and you do not want to hurt those loved ones around you. I know this because I chose to stay in a bad marriage, which is one of those ‘if only’ thoughts I have often. If only I had left when my kids were young, I could have avoided the tragedy that unfolded as they grew into teenagers with a husband that was not united with me on anything. If only I had not married him when I left him during our courtship, but let my father influence me to go back to him because of his profession. If only I had not stood idly by when his sister’s kid bullied Misha every chance he could and no one said or did anything except me. If only I had not let my daughter influence me to put her in another school when she was in 7th grade, she would not have met the friend that changed her in a way that made the following years so difficult for me and my relationship with Misha. If only I had more time with my children, and did not have to care for my elderly mother who had dementia and also work as a flight attendant. If only, if only, if only!

Flash forward to now. I do that ‘if only’ thing way too much. I have always had a 6th sense; my mother had it too. However, I have never acted on those random thoughts that are actually the Universe telling us to be prepared. I know this because before Misha’s death I had two very strong thoughts about her death. One was so clear that I called my best friend, and I did not act on this thought. I wish I had. I wish, I wish, I wish! Oh so many things could be different, but then again “the Universe wants to be noticed.” I have to stop all of this because I would not have my son, I would not have Amaya my beloved grandchild, I would not have Villa Migelita my wonderful new home and Bed and Breakfast in Colombia, I would not have the life I have lived and the lessons I have learned. I actually do not think that any of us can change our trajectory; I believe we have a life that is given to us at birth and how we deal with the lessons that unfold is what shapes our futures. However, I do believe our past connections are involved in our future life but even if we listen to that annoying thought that tells us we should not do something, or befriend someone, or marry someone, or act on an impulse about something, we will still have an outcome that was destined to be our life and only our life. I heard an interview recently with a clothing designer who said women are all very strong, but it takes a tragedy for them to show the strength they have laying dormant inside them. That line spoke to me. I have had tragedies before my daughter’s death, and I have shown my strength many times in my life. Now my strength is who I am, not something I show in crisis. I am strong, self reliant and a good example. I always have been; but it took my daughter’s death for me to show others who might not have thought this of me.

I recently was in Florida and spent time with my grandchild. We went to The Chesapeake Resort in Islamorada to see a friend I met through my FB page Villa Migelita. I would not have met her without a friendship I had with someone else. I am no longer friends with this person as I have learned to listen to my thoughts and feelings. However, she passed through my life to bring me to this wonderful new friend. I wrote about the connection to the mermaid painting in this blog. When I visited once again after a lovely invite from Ilona to please come down and bring Amaya, I felt that spiritual connection again. This time through Ilona’s mother who she takes care of just like I did my mother. We arrived on a Friday evening after a quick 2 hour drive and were greeted with such warmth and love. I met her mother when I was there in October of 2013 and loved her spunk, her wonderful intellect and her ability to project her thoughts and her 6th sense. Yes, Nana has a very spiritual side with a presence of love in her aura. What I found fascinating is the way Amaya wanted to spend time with Nana who is usually sitting in a recliner in a lovely room looking out at the beautiful nature of the Keys. My own mother spent her final days in a beautiful room looking out at nature also. My daughter Misha was very close with my mother, to the point that she would do her homework in the room my mother lived in, help me with my mother before it became to difficult for us to care for her by ourselves. Amaya and I had dinner with Ilona and her partner, and Amaya got up and left on her own to sit with Nana, not near Nana on the couch but with Nana in her chair. They had serious conversations, they watched a Disney movie together, Nana talked to Amaya like she was her own grandchild. I was surprised as little kids usually do not go to older people on their own, but Amaya wanted to be with her. Amaya loves Nana. I think they have a connection that I can not explain, but I had Déjà vu from my time with my own daughter and her connection to my mother. The next day as soon as Amaya woke up she asked to go to the mermaid painting. We went and she sat and contemplated that painting a long time; she is only 6 so believe me when I say she sat still for a long time! We stayed two nights at The Chesapeake Resort and the next evening had dinner again at Ilona’s personal home with her family and Nana. Again, Amaya ate and then went to be with Nana. It was extraordinary, it was delightful. I snuck near them to hear their conversation and it was all about how special Amaya was, how she was a wonderful girl, how lovely she was, what a good person she would grow to be. I was teary eyed. When we left the next morning we stopped by the house to say goodbye. Amaya ran up the stairs and went to find Nana, and Ilona told me a beautiful Finch had been circling the house for a few days, but today it was hitting the window. I saw the Finch. It was gorgeous; it rested when it saw Amaya and I in the house on the hammock situated outside on her balcony. It looked at me for a long while then it started flying around the house in circles again stopping to peer in at Amaya and Nana. I know it was Misha; she always sends birds.

Footnotes:
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green is the book I took the quote from “the Universe wants to be noticed”
The Chesapeake Resort in Islamorada is owned by my friend Ilona and I highly recommend it to anyone who visits the Keys.10421609_728019933930742_7812431481361452190_n