It was June of 2012 when I decided to begin this blog. I thought It would be a good idea to share my experiences of moving to Panama and starting a new life. I had two reasons for doing so. At first publishing a blog was meant for all my friends and family as a way to keep them updated on our new life and to maintain some small connection. The other reason was to ‘pay it forward’ for all the invaluable help we received from so many who had gone before us in this expat adventure. As an avid blog reader myself I found endless inspiration, encouragement and support from other bloggers who generously shared their own experience of making a new life in a foreign land. So I wanted to do the same for others who were on a similar path.
If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time you know I have a tendency to be very forthcoming and open about my life. Some may say, Ahem… a bit too open at times, but shrug…I gotta be me! hah! I find that when I’m authentic and I share my truth I’m rewarded by others who in turn share their lives with me. This gives me great joy and a feeling of connectedness. I recently spoke openly in my blog about my inner struggles, of feeling sort of adrift in my new life here in Panama. Since I shared my truth about these unsettled feelings I thought it only fair to update you on this part of my journey and how Im dealing with this very real part of transitioning into a new life.
Its not easy to share the more challenging aspects of our move, because telling you all about the wonderful things is way more fun! Hah! But, seriously, we all know how hard transitions like the one Ive made can be and that its obviously not always rainbows, beautiful views and incredible new friends. So, here’s a little peek into my emotional transition and how Im traveling through that part of my Adventure…
As we all know life is just that, a journey. Admittedly I ‘try’ to embrace that belief. The ‘journey’ in itself is what it’s all about and not simply the ‘destination’. I love this mindset! But,somehow I strayed from this one small truth. I had begun to spend way too much time looking at my current life as having finally ‘arrived’. I was flummoxed at having reached my long awaited destination which should have somehow provided some magical feeling of gratification. And yet, here I was and …all I could say was, “Now What?”. How could I have lost sight of the fact that my Journey is what has always given me those feelings of continued joy.
Never having made a move from my country of origin,( hell, not even from my State, or city of origin!) and ending a rewarding thirty year career all at the same time, was way more emotional than I gave myself permission to admit. One can get caught up in all the preparation of a move such as this, always looking forward and not paying enough attention to the moments that are creating the actual ‘journey’. I simply forgot to pay attention to the ‘here & now’. My focus had been on forward momentum. What, where, how, when!
What a huge burst of forward momentum my life has been! Once Scott & I made the decision to do this move and to become expats we spent seven years obsessed about where we would go. How we would go about our exit plan and end all we had built in the U.S. Implementing a move to another country was all consuming. Then once we finally arrived in Boquete we had our sights set on building our new life, starting with buying property then building our physical home. Again, more major ‘forward momentum’. We’ve been on a burst of moving forward for so long!
As the dust has begun to settle I’ve felt myself slowly facing the realization that I had no real idea of where or how I would fit into my new life. Does that sound weird? Maybe…sigh…But the truth is, I lost track of my Journey. I was tumbling through so many changes and working so hard to make things happen for so long that I somehow forgot to pay attention to me.
Im happy to report, It took me a bit of time but Im actually, slowly beginning to find a different outlook. The journey is coming back into focus once more. I had to slow down, back myself into a quiet place where I could see my path more clearly without the distractions of what other people need and all the scurry of building a life anew. Instead of feeling like I was in the middle of a flurry of movement I gave myself permission to take some time to truly feel all the changes I chose to make when I left my life in California. To be honest, after having made lots of new friends here I unintentionally ended up losing a few because of my seemingly sudden need for quiet and solitude. Not an easy thing for me to swallow, people are so important to me. But, I console myself with the realization that those new friendships that couldn’t respect, support and understand my need for solitude are not people who really care about me, so I had to just let it go.
As soon as I let myself just slow down it didn’t take long for things to begin to happen. I began to spend time focusing on the things I feel passionate about. My garden, I love plants and just being outside. Animals, my dogs and my cat make me so happy in so many ways. I just love to love them. I have been anxiously looking for a way to feel like I can explore my creative side. I found a group of water color artists who gather for Plein Air painting. This was a term I had not heard of before ,”Plein Air Painting”, and it really excited me! Not only do I get to play with colors and shapes and designs and learn to paint in water color, but I get to do so outdoors and, Bonus… with a group of really cool, like-minded women!
Then, I wanted to feel like I was making a contribution to my new community in some small way. There are so many wonderful organizations to get involved in here in this small town. I found a place where I feel needed, an Organization called Casa Esperanza. They take care of needy indigenous children here in Boquete. I have begun to volunteer as an art teacher and let me tell you, my heart soars when Im with those loving kids. And My mother in law is really excited to join in this new venture right along with me! Pat is overjoyed to do art projects with the kids as well, and seeing her happy really warms my heart! Yep…Im on a roll now!
All this to say, fear not, I’ve found my footing here in my new home! My journey is clearly in focus once more and my heart is happy. I just really needed a bit of ‘down’ time. Sometimes we need to slow down, readjust our focus maybe even just ‘Be’ for a bit. I know I really needed to give myself permission to reset my priorities and to let the universe bring into my life all the things that would feed my soul. Life is good and this girl is still embracing her adventure, but paying a bit less attention to my ‘arrival’ and more attention to this awesome JOURNEY!