The Journey… Oh yeah, I almost forgot!


     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!



About hollycarter184

Life is Good! But it's time for a change, and more adventure! I'd like to share the whole experience of preparing then actually making a reality of expatriating, and moving to a new country. It's an exciting, and slightly scary move full of possibility . I'm looking forward to learning a new language and making new connections with the people who share our spirit of adventure. This blog is my way of continuing my connection with my friends and family in the States. Sooooo here it goes! :)

18 responses »

  1. Holly, what beautiful words! I am so happy for you. I understand the struggle, having changed our lives so much in these past months. I often have to check in with myself, sometimes have a little cry, release the emotions and move forward. While it’s all very exciting there is a huge part of yourself left behind too. Learning to embrace that and appreciate who you are and what you have accomplished is a big part of moving on. I am sorry we have not been better at keeping in touch, we think of you guys often. I am also so Happy you have found a focus and that Pat is settling to it with you. Sending you big hugs and all our love.
    Caroline AND Jason.

    • Thanks so much Caroline. I know you can totally relate to what Im talking about in this post! And you are so right about having left a small part of ourselves when we moved. And, you’ve done this multiple times in your life! I really appreciate the supportive words and I gotta tell ya, we miss you both more than you could know. Glad your doing well! Love ya!

  2. Holly,
    As you know, since I have publically credited your inspiration for our blog, you ARE paying it forward and I am eternally grateful for your writing, your insights and, most importantly, your friendship and guidance to me and Roque. I believe that while in the US, our culture pushes us, whether we realize this or not, toward constant movement and we are not taught much about self reflection, inward journeys or taking the time for being in the moment. It is no small wonder that at our ages (allow me the liberty of putting myself into a generation that also includes you), we are having to learn skills that are completely foreign and unfamiliar. I believe that just being aware that we are on this journey is a step in the right direction and, as with yoga, we will have to continue our practice for our lifetime. I look forward to hearing more about your journey and traveling it with you when we arrive in Panama. Xoxox

  3. I was and am so proud of you and Scott for taking this adventures. Since I was there quite often, staying with Mariah, Hearing your excitement when you returned on serval of those different searches for your move. I was so happy when you decided on Panama because of the joy, and yes a little scared all at once was what this new adventure was giving you. This was going to be the Adventure of your lifies much GREATER than the search now really doing it :). I so much enjoy you sharing all your adventures and all the different cultures. I know you finding places where you are needed, the art classes and those amazing women and now these children that are enjoying your love and your artist talent is just what you and Pat needed. I am a very proud and happy Mom 🙂

  4. Holly Dear,

    Thank you! I love this post! I think it’s one of the most thoughtful, self-reflective pieces I’ve read. It truly warms my heart to hear you rediscovering your journey amongst the many practicalities of daily life. As always, I miss you and also wish you and Scott the very best. Walt

  5. Always knew you would find the road for your continued journey, and you will certainly have a great book at the end of your journey. Time for looking at belly buttons is always well spent. Lots of Love

  6. Hi, you and Scott took time out of your busy schedule when you were just moving into the casita to meet my husband, a friend and me for dinner at the amazing Peruvian (?) restaurant. You also took us up to your roped-out building site! How I envied you on your adventure in the gorgeous surroundings of Boquete.

    Like you, I am happiest when I have a goal ahead of me and like to stay busy. Lately I’ve become aware that staying busy may be a distraction and that my real “meaning” is more likely to be revealed in the in-between times. Thank you for the reminder to slow down and smell (and grow) the flowers.

    I also love that you’re enjoying your time with children. What better way to give and get at the same time. And it’s a way to share your passion for art.

    We only met for a few hours but I feel a lot of kindred spirit in you.

    If you ever travel to the Olympic Peninsula, please be our guests!

    Embrace the journey! Neva Miller

    • Neva! Of course I remember you guys! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me, they mean so much! And, if ever we find ourselves in your neck of the woods we will most certainly
      look you up!!! cheers!

  7. Hi Holly, it was nice to go on your site and read two new postings. So proud of you for finding your footing again. We all loose track of what we want to be doing with the lives we’ve been blessed with. Love your new new and old furry ones. And always remember , you never ever , loose a true friend. You have more support and love in life then you know. And so many more blessings to come your way. Enjoy!!!!
    Best wishes to you always, when you get time keep writing. 🙂
    Can’t wait to meet you one day. I’m just one of your sisters from so many different other mothers .

  8. Holly, you pulled me through the toughest art class of my life – I had my computer read your words to me while finishing my book. Your spirit kept me going. After I finished, I was out of steam for quite awhile, feeling at a low point. I wanted instant gratification! I had thought this class would be a showcase of my inborn talent to illustrate books, but instead it showed me I have years of practice needed. You said it! It’s a journey. Good to hear your ‘voice’ again! Let’s go!

  9. Holly, I’m really enjoying your blog and congratulate you on your ability to tell it like it is about your experiences.
    I will be visiting Boquete at end of May ((the 27-31) to research it for a possible place for my husband and me to retire at the end of this year. The hubby has some health issues and cannot travel with me right now so I have a couple of college friends coming along.
    I’d love to be able to meet up with you if you have the time to get more info on the town (I’ve been doing a lot of research as well.) I’ve heard the Tuesday market is a good place to meet up with expats so I will do that as well.
    Sara Crocker

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