Posted in Alternative Lifestyle, Awakening, child death, Colombia, entrepeneur, expat life, freedom, friendship, hummingbirds, life lessons, nature, Perfection and Peace, Spanish speaking, strength, Thanksgiving blessings, Uncategorized, Villa Migelita Ecolodge

Bohemian Rhapsody

I recently went to see Bohemian Rhapsody here in Colombia, South America.  I did not know a lot about Freddy Mercury’s  history, or upbringing. I  had to read a lot about him before going to the theater to see this marvelous movie in Spanish (I was a bit worried about my Spanish but I understood everything). He was an amazing talent, a true genius. I was young when he became famous, and to be honest his music was what I liked to dance to. I didn’t care about his personal life, and in reality I preferred music that was not Rock as I was a Disco loving girl. His music captured people like me, people outside of his genre, people who were not Rock fans, but who loved a good beat. This is where his true gift showed itself. Everyone could value and appreciate his talent, even those like me who enjoyed a different style of music. I am listening with new interest to all the songs that made him famous.

I love to watch the sunset at night here at Villa Migelita Ecolodge while listening to music. The other night I was listening to Stevie Wonder sing Ribbon in the Sky.   How interesting to think this man who is also an inspiration to all, just like Freddy Mercury, sings about sunsets. He cannot see what he is singing about but I felt like he was seeing the sunset with me as I sat watching the sun go down. This is when I realized that life is a gift to all of us no matter our limitations. We all share heartbreak, it might not be the same, but we all share that shattered heart in some way. With that realization, I believe that Thanksgiving is truly a time to be grateful for what we do have in our lives that is good, that is of value, how our lives can change in a moment and we should appreciate anything that brings us blessings.

We alone have the ability to move forward in our lives, even when the situations around us are bringing us down. We are not without distractions that throw us off path, but we can always redirect ourselves forward again by staying positive and persevering with determination. I find myself thinking about these sorts of things when I watch the sun go down while listening to music. Music is a great healer, and for me has always been a way to help when I have a bad day. Music is always playing at Villa Migelita Ecolodge, often Spanish music which helps me with my Spanish-speaking. Speaking a new language is an obstacle that I have overcome, one I should give myself credit for. We should give ourselves kudos when we accomplish great things. Learning a new language and becoming very independent here in Colombia is an achievement I am quite proud of. I drive alone to do errands now, I run into friends and speak in Spanish easily if not perfectly to all. I write to my friends on Whats app chat in Spanish and have an active social life filled with new friends from this different phase in my life. This to me is a blessing, one I have worked eight years to achieve, along with running a hotel in the rain forest of Colombia.

Many thought I was crazy and perhaps I was a bit erratic when I moved to Colombia. After all, I was still recovering from my daughter’s murder and a horrible divorce. In my mind Colombia was only a 3 1/2 hour flight from South Florida. I knew I could obtain great healthcare and live well. I didn’t take into account that many people still felt Colombia was unsafe, nor that I was actually isolating myself from many people by moving. I found out that there were many who disapproved when I returned for a retirement luncheon and found myself being given the cold shoulder by people I had known and loved for many years. I was still very overwhelmed with grief, and in actuality I was a different person from the one these old friends knew in the past. I was beaten down inside. I will never forget that luncheon and how I felt like a deer in the headlights.  As the years have progressed and I have made a life for myself here high in the Andes mountains of Colombia, I no longer feel that sense of insecurity I felt that day surrounded by all the people I had grown up with as a young flight attendant. I feel blessed. It turned out I made the right decision for myself, even if others didn’t understand. It was my destiny, and who would know that I would need such a rare surgery that would have cost so much money in the United States. The great healthcare I have here was such a wonderful blessing this year and I have healed quite successfully from my hip surgery.

When I was watching the movie of Freddy Mercury I was struck by the loneliness he felt, it was subtlety presented but I picked up on it. I  have felt that same loneliness myself. A loneliness brought on by being different. When you don’t follow the norm, people will find a reason to be critical. I now try to accept when people are not what I expected them to be, when they hurt me, when I am let down. I am surrounded by peace, nature, beauty,  and wonderful friends here in Colombia. I found a beautiful spot to heal from great tragedy. When I am out doing errands, I am always thinking just this one last thing and I can go back to my Villa and enjoy the wonderful place I alone am responsible for making a place of comfort and joy. One I share with guests who come to stay with me, and become friends with new people from all over the world. I recently had a young couple who are also doing what they want with their lives, and doing it while young and healthy. They wrote about my hotel in this blog. I was so flattered, because they captured in their writing and their fabulous photos Villa Migelita Ecolodge perfectly.

My greatest reason to be thankful this year is that when I think of my daughter now, I think of her watching the hummingbirds with me, or hearing the rain fall, or watching the fog move in and then move out over the mountains. I feel her presence in all the symmetry of nature that surrounds me.

Bohemian Rhapsody

 

 

 

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Posted in Awakening, Colombia, Colombian life, Entreprenuer, expat life, friendship, hip surgery, Spanish speaking, strength, Uncategorized

Struggling Still

Many people have no idea how I have struggled to live in my Paradise here in Colombia. I believe that I am meant to be here, but it has not been easy. I came with someone I totally trusted and had known for quite a long time before I made my decision to move to another country. He turned out to be an awful person. I wrote an essay about my conflicts and was given great feedback on it by a prestigious magazine. They encouraged me to submit the essay elsewhere as it was not right for their magazine, but I am using it as an outline for my book. I have started writing chapters and I am also continuing on with my blog, and how my past has intertwined with my present life. My last guest brought front and center what happened to me and why I am behind in actually speaking Spanish.

This latest guest here at Villa Migelita Ecolodge is a really wonderful person, so wise  and a really commendable Spanish speaker. She wanted to get better at conversational Spanish and to talk with locals while enjoying the nature and beauty of Colombia. A world traveler, she has been all over the world to places I have never heard of. What a pleasure to have her at my Villa for two weeks. She made me realize my Spanish needs drastic improvement. One of the reasons my Spanish is not so great is because my immersion was not what it should have been for many years due to the person I moved here with. He became different when he returned to Colombia, and I found myself quite isolated much of the time. It was interesting because my guest noticed I understood quite well and had a good vocabulary, but I have trouble with tenses and putting sentences together correctly. I have never had real formal study and she has done formal study and has many Spanish-speaking friends in the United States. Fortunately for her I am never the teacher in my Spanish lesson classes. We do speak Spanish all day because my contratista only speaks Spanish, and so do all of the people who are my friends. I have just learned through computer programs and speaking with those I am surrounded by now. I have improved drastically since that person who I came here with is gone. I am independent and do everything with Jazmine, who works with me now. We only speak Spanish. However, after Susan came I knew I need more, and I set out to accomplish just that when she left. She also inspired me in another way. She had a knee replacement 6 months ago and is still in a lot of pain. Even with the pain she exercised and did so much even though it was hard for her. She walked to the top of Nirvana the natural reserve with me and it is not an easy climb.

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The green and blue of the Barranquero bird which we saw on our walk to the top of Nirvana Reserve in La Buitrera

Many of you know I am getting hip surgery soon. I have not wanted to think about the surgery or the therapy needed because I am an avid exerciser. She is too. I have many guests come to visit, and I make friends with all but I feel she was a miracle sent to me to help me deal with this surgery that is upcoming, and to inspire me to get better at my actual Spanish-speaking. As many of you know, when I make up my mind to do something I get right to work at doing what I feel is necessary. I mean if Susan can ride on a motorcycle when she just had knee replacement then I can get my mind made up to conquer the dread I have been feeling about the hip surgery.

Susan on moto
An inspiration to me and now a good friend

The day after she left the perfect opportunity presented itself to me. My dear friend and partner of my hair stylist was at the salon I go to here in Colombia. He can speak some English and wants to learn to speak correctly, I can speak some Spanish and want to learn correctly. We made a deal. He will be coming twice a week and we will be working together to help each other. He will speak conversational English to me and I will correct him, and I will speak conversational Spanish to him and he will also do the same. It is a win/win situation. I am starting this afternoon. I can’t wait. As for Jazmine, she is also no longer going to let me say things wrong, she is also correcting me and she will be joining us for our two times a week to learn English.

I know everyone who follows my blog understands that I do believe the Universe provides us with what we need. This is another example of this. I was worried about my surgery and now I have a date, I have all the information I need and I am also telling my bi-lingual friends to speak Spanish with me and to correct me. It is not an easy process. However, I will be bedridden after my surgery and will have much time on my hands. I will use it to continue writing my book and elaborate on the struggles I have had here, learning Spanish, having to learn to navigate my life in a new country while not speaking Spanish correctly, but overcoming everything to live the best life I can live.

I have to mention that the surgery would have been incredibly expensive in the United States and I still believe the Universe directed me to live in Colombia, although it has not been an easy process. This doctor being only one of three in Colombia who actually performs the surgery I am having. That in and of itself makes me realize I am exactly where I should be living. Now to get on with my life, a life that is incredibly peaceful, even with the difficulties I have had. Opportunities present themselves to us and we need to use these opportunities to make our lives better if we can.

Susan came and visited and her influence on much in my mind was wonderful. I didn’t realize it, but I needed someone to just talk with. I will probably never see her again but I know we will remain in touch. I feel really blessed to have the good fortune to have people like her visit, and to have done what I have here in Colombia. It is not always perfect, but I doubt it would be perfect if I had stayed in the USA. Life is interesting here, I am determined to conquer my last phase of Spanish speaking, as I can read it pretty well, understand others, and have a good vocabulary. Now I just need to put it all together. I will, just like I will write the book I hope will explain much about why I live in Colombia.

When I start my journey with my hip surgery I will keep everyone updated with regular blogs on my recovery. I am sure it will be interesting because I have never had a surgery that has required me to stay in the hospital overnight. So look for my next blogs to be kind of a journal of my time in the hospital and the road to recovery.

 

 

Posted in Colombian life, Color and Colombia, country living, Entreprenuer, expat life, freedom, friendship, happiness, hotel, hummingbirds, mother nature, nature, Nature Symbolism, Perfection and Peace, strength, Uncategorized

I Will Never be the Same. Colombia. Come Visit and Share in the Magic.

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

Lush landscapes, the sun shining through clouds upon the mountains, rainstorms at sunset, the hummingbirds that buzz by as you sit quietly watching, bananas growing on trees that surround you, Colombia is my place.rainstorm and hummingbirds 006

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Every part of Colombia is colorful, even the cities

I am forever in my place, never to leave to move anywhere else. I have a property that is incomparable to most anywhere in the world at Villa Migelita Ecolodge. I am in a small country with people who have huge hearts. My heart is full with gratitude. My heart is full with love, my heart is full of Colombia. moon 005Margie and Gordie 074

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, 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 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 Alternative Lifestyle, Colombia, Colombian life, expat life, minimalism, nature, Perfection and Peace, photo challenge, Uncategorized

It is just my life I am secure in.

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

 

Awaking to the sound of birds, falling asleep to the sounds of  frogs and crickets. The cool breeze that comes through my window while I write in my office. The sway of the leaves of the banana trees. The sun that is an orb of fire as it sets over the valley. The fog that comes up suddenly over the mountains. A high-pitched wail that I hear every evening around 6 pm coming from the mountains surrounding my Villa.  Like clockwork I hear the shriek of some bird or animal calling the day to a close. Comfort like a warm blanket over me when I am snuggled in bed, secure in the knowledge a new day will come in the morning with new adventures to discover. Where I see horses grazing, livestock who are so friendly they follow me on my hikes. The sound of a rushing river, and a random butterfly who finds itself trapped in a window at my home. The little church I own here in my pueblo, having a mass where the dogs participate also. This is my life in Colombia. I am secure in the knowledge that I have found my paradise. As I hike and look up to the clouds the sun is shining on me with an embrace I can feel in my soul.

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Rainforest frog
Pure nature

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