One of the things I love about writing this blog is that it often serves as a very helpful way for me to process this profound life-change I’ve chosen to pursue. Most of the posts I publish tend to be expressions of happiness, peacefulness and some may think too often I’m expressing pure bliss as I soak up these new surroundings. I enjoy sharing my experiences for a couple reasons, as a way to pass on information to those of you who enjoy reading my blog as research for your possible future adventure living as an expat. I get comments and questions from so many great people who are in that early stage of researching . I get great pleasure in passing on any info I can share, and hopefully contributing to other peoples research. I know when we were just starting to look into moving to another country other bloggers where so incredibly generous and it feels great to pay it forward. Mostly though, I write this blog as a way for me to maintain my connections with all of my friends and family in California. Our decision to move to Panama has opened up amazing amounts of opportunities for me to grow and change and for me, sharing my journey with all of you makes me feel like you’re all with me in some small way. Does that make sense?
In the course of this journey when I choose to share the challenges that are a natural part of my adjustment, I hope you can appreciate these times as just that, a necessary period of ‘adjustment’. I celebrate these periods of challenge or difficulty because I know that when I travel through a hard situation with my mind focused on growth and transformation I’ll always move forward having gained something of value from the challenge. All this to say, try not to worry about me too much because in my mind, a little stretching isn’t a crisis. I see these times as fine tuning and as I write about it and share my perspective, it’s all part of my process of standing back and taking another look at it from yet another perspective. I get valuable input from so many others who’ve traveled a similar path and many generous people who offer gifts of encouragement which I hold dear to my heart and read and re-read over and over again, smiling each time I read.
I preface this entry with these words because I’m entering into a particularly personal and I suspect , for me, a difficult phase of my Adventure here in Panama. Finding my purpose. I really want to feel safe sharing the hard things about my adventure without feeling like my friends and family fear that I may have made a mistake or that I may regret my move. No, on the contrary, I’m not complaining or whining , or in any way wishing I were anywhere other than where I am right this moment. When I started publishing this blog I did so with the promise to myself and to you, that I would share the good the bad and well…maybe a bit of ugly, but I soooo dislike the ‘ugly’ so I’ll admit to often placing my ‘rose colored’ glasses onto your eyes as well as my own. 🙂 There’ve been a couple of difficult transitional experiences that I’ve shared, like when, early on, I was feeling so “out of my body”, and very uncharacteristically nervous while out in public. And also my tendency to feel great success when accomplishing relatively mundane everyday tasks. These are only two very small examples of instances when I’ve felt myself struggling to adapt to so many different experiences here in Boquete. I don’t even know if the word,”struggle” is even correct in describing my experiences. But If your wondering, I no longer feel that strange sensation that I described when I’m out and about in town, running errands and such has become much more familiar. I very confidently say ‘Lo Siento’ when I bump into someone or do something dumb :). People are always so kind and patient, giving me a smile or a knowing nod that says, in any language, “don’t worry, I understand”.
I’ve been officially ‘retired’ ,(Yikes! I still can’t really believe I’m actually RETIRED!) for nearly 5 months now. So far I’ve taken the time to just take a lot of deep breaths and say to myself…”Ahhhhh”. I’ve been reading a lot, which everyone who knows me, knows how much I enjoy reading. I’ve also taken the time to write a lot as well, which has become a very new passion for me. Another thing I’ve spent a ton of time doing is relaxing, (of course) and enjoying the freedom of ‘owning’ every hour of my day. Sitting outside and playing games on my iPad, just looking out at the view and soaking up the vast, incredible beauty of nature that surrounds me . Words just cant even express my great love of nature and how much I appreciate every moment I have to be so close to it here in this place of unending beauty. I love walking and I’ve had the time to take hikes with Scott and to simply walk into town. Yesterday,(I gotta tell you about this experience cuz it made me so happy) I walked into town for the first time since we’ve lived in this house. It was a little under two hours of walking and It was just great! (Scott had spanish class and I decided to walk to the school and meet him when he was done) I had an audio book which I love to lose myself in as I walk, but about half way through my walk I met a young Indigenous kid who was also walking into town, he was 20 years old and very friendly. We started to walk together and I , of course began to attempt to talk with him. I wish I could remember his name but darn it! It started with an A but after that, I lost it. Well, as you know, the indians here are very poor and he of course asked for money, (very politely and humbly, I wasn’t surprised.) so I gave him two dollars and told him that he would be working for his money by practicing Espaniol con Mi. Nosotros hablamos mucho caminábamos. We talked about food and about where he lives, (in Bocas Chica) and about Estados Unidos , about mi Hija and el harmonos y el padres y harmonas. I had such a great time on that last half of my walk with this adorable kid. That was the best $2.00 Ive spent in a long time.
So, as you can see, I’ve been enjoying this period of early retirement. Soaking up my newfound freedom. And here’s where my newest challenge comes in. I’ve had five months of relaxing and doing not much of anything especially productive. Well, okay, I suppose starting to learn Spanish is productive and getting settled in a new country, buying cars renting a home, getting car insurance and health insurance, making new friends and accompanying Scott for his hernia surgery……ya, ya, I have been productive, I take it back. But….I have recently begun to feel as though it may be time for me to explore… what will be my purpose in this new life? I loved my career as a stylist, it was most certainly a “Passion” for me. I found great reward in many aspects of my life as a result of my career. Unending amounts of personal satisfaction including socially, artistically, professionally and monetarily. I loved making people happy and helping them to walk out of my salon feeling good about themselves. If someone sat down in my chair and I sensed that they had something bad or unhappy hovering in their lives, I took it upon myself to make them smile or give them a bit of peace if only for that brief time they were with me. I also benefitted greatly from every single person I came into contact with throughout my thirty years behind the chair. During times of personal tragedy, as well as great happiness my clients (who became my community) gifted me with never ending support. I am very artistic and creating beauty for others was something that kept me feeling successful and energized. I feel as though I achieved a level of success in my career that I can be proud of and look back on and know that I worked hard and deserve to feel pride in myself. Sooooo now what? That’s where I’m at now. I’ve begun a new life and I’m at the beginning of something so exciting and at the same time kinda scary. I get to re-define myself and start anew. And for me, I need to determine how I’ll find my new “Purpose”. I mean, one can only relax and do nothing for only so long! Before I made this move, many people asked me, “what will you do with your time?” I didn’t have an answer then and the answer to that question still hasn’t revealed itself to me quite yet. I have no idea what my next ‘passion’ will be in this new chapter of my life , but I do know that it’s a mystery I will solve in time. I may fret about it at times but, luckily I’ve found other kindred spirits here who’ve been through this transition themselves and they assure me that my feelings are normal. My new friends here have gone through this period of renewed self- reflection and in time have come to find a path and a purpose that gives them the sense of belonging that I know I’ll eventually find for myself. In the meantime, I’ll write!!! Ha!Ha! Well, I suppose I’ll also continue to relax and soak up all this beauty around me which I’ll never tire of doing. When the timing is right I’m certain the right thing will come to me and before I know it I’ll be busy again with something I find great reward in and a new ‘passion’ will have begun! Isn’t it often hard to remember to just be in the moment! So often, I am so busy trying to see where I’ll be in the future that the moment I’m in doesn’t get the appreciation it deserves! I’m glad I’ve reminded myself, (the sound of screeetching breaks!)….Oh, look at that hummingbird! And those clouds seems to be moving so fast over those mountains…..Ahhhh, the breeze feels so fresh and cool….hmmmm I do believe it’s happy hour…
Holly, this is my absolute favorite post. Thank you for your honest reflections about reinventing your life and your eloquent ability to express the vulnerabilities that so many of us hide from the world. More importantly, you speak from your heart..that’s what counts. No matter where we are in the world, we all go through periods of self-reflection and rewiring our passions. I see that you have a passion for writing. Maybe a new outlet for your creative expressions? I love this post!
Ahhh! I gotta tell you, when I see a comment from you , my heart leaps! I just feel so touched by your words, seriously! We just have got to meet one of these days! I feel like we’ve been friends forever, you really get me! Cheers! Mi Amiga….
I agree! We must meet. 🙂
Holly–Just read this post–it’s been sitting in my email box for awhile now and just haven’t gotten around to reading it!! Your thoughts touch my own feelings somewhat–you are MUCH younger then me and to have “retired” at such a young age gives you ample opportunity to redefine and recreate yourself. I’ve been retired now almost six years and recently I felt that I may have retired too early!! I’m missing the “productive” part of my life–yes, I cook, clean, spend time with friends/family, read, walk, etc but still I feel like I’m not giving back–it’s all for me and not for the “greater good” so to speak—I’ll work it out eventually. But to you, I say—go for whatever gives you satisfaction in your life and makes you feel “whole and complete”!! Writing may be a good way to go, you do that so well but you did do something with sculpting while you were here, right? With your artistic bent you’ve got a whole world to explore in that area. Good luck—can’t wait to see where this all leads for you!!