Happy New Year! Hello 2018!


Girls trip to Boca Chica!

Another year is behind us and a fresh new one awaits! Whew! I don’t know about you but I’m looking forward to a new beginning. 2017 was a mixture of so much up and down. I don’t like to get into politics, it’s just really not my thing..but I suspect we can all agree that it was quite a divisive year in the U.S. I have a tough time processing all the crap that comes at me via the internet. I’m so glad we don’t watch much television. Being so far away from the states is often hard but stepping away from so much of the media blasts is good for my soul. To be totally honest I don’t miss all that. I can’t imagine what it would have been like if I were still working in the salon. Ugh! I’ve never been one to enjoy political debates …yuck, I sure wish things were not so ugly.

I’ve neglected my blog for a long long time. Many things play into the reasoning for this drop off in my writing. I don’t know how honest and revealing I ought to be as I tell you about this past year. How much do people really care to know? Well, as I’ve always been pretty honest with my posts I feel drawn to just let it all out.

This blog began as my way of keeping all my friends and family up to date on our life and how we were settling into our new life at expats. Blogging was my way to keep some small connection to so many people I miss so much. Writing about our move was also a really good way for me to process all the changes I was going through. But, time sorta goes by, life happens and things sorta fade. Seems like my life now isn’t much different or worth really writing about like I felt it was when we first moved to Boquete. I feel somewhat melancholy about this. My enthusiasm for sharing has faded somehow. Shrug.

8 of my neighbor kids on our way to the Children’s Holiday party in town!

I’ve put quite a lot of thought into what I should write about. I enjoy writing. In many ways It feels really good to share my insights and my experiences. But, it occurs to me…you’ve heard all about our move, about our process of deciding how and where to move..I’ve written in great detail about our great big construction project up here in the mountains of this beautiful place we now call home. I’ve shared my thoughts about adjusting to living abroad. Learning Spanish, making all new friends, falling in love with so much of what is now just life to me.

So here’s where I share some of the really tough, emotional stuff , you know, the ‘REAL” stuff? My hope is that this part of this post doesn’t sound like whining. If you know me at all you know I never like to whine about my life. I may vent now and then, but when it comes to challenges I face I try like hell to plow through it with as much grace and strength as possible.

Visiting Lauretta and Mariah in California!

So, now your wondering what ‘challenges’ Ive been facing, right? Like I said, this is where sharing my story gets real. And, I’ve touched on these things a little in past blog posts. I think the biggest challenge for me has been redefining myself in my retirement. Not only have I begun an entirely new life in a different country, just walked away from all my friends and family and a huge support system , but Ive ended a successful, very satisfying 30 year career at the same time, and then on top of those very real life changes (as if I needed things to be even more complicated !) I found myself going through menopause! Gasp! Guys, this part may bore you but the women who follow this blog will all agree that this is an epic perfect storm. I wont lie, Ive had and am currently still having, a hard time.

I’ve tried to quietly process what all this means for me. I’ve wanted to remain the strong, independent , successful Holly who I knew myself to be before this move to Central America. But, somehow I seem to have lost touch with that woman. This Holly who is struggling to make it out of a cloud of melancholy and blues is someone who I just don’t know. I find myself being cranky, angry, sad, lonely, and just generally lost inside my own skin. There , Ive said it. Humph!


I’ve really wanted to keep this all to myself. I’ve been through some tough shit in my lifetime (as we all have!) and managed to stand strong and push through it. And Im confident I’ll find my way through this too. I know I’ll eventually see the other side of this time of my life but at the moment Im just not exactly sure who I am. To be honest Im not especially happy with this current Holly. Pathetic and sad, I know… Humph! Im not trying to be a drama queen and as I re-read what Im writing I feel embarrassed. But hey..I gotta be me!

Through the years I’ve been witness to so many of my close friends going through menopause. They all talked about how much their bodies had begun to change. The weight gain, the mood swings, hair loss, troubles sleeping, head aches, depression, inability to drink red wine (gasp!), of course hot flashes and on and on, blah, blah, blah. I always listened to my friends discuss these things with a certain feeling of quiet detachment or possibly denial? That I would ever experience these things they were describing didn’t really seem real to me. Were they just being hypochondriacs? Could so many crazy changes really be happening to them? Nahhhh…in my head I never really thought about what it would be like for me. I guess I thought I would just breeze through it. But…I had to combine it with early retirement and a move to Central America all at once! Hahahah! Good plan Holly! Pfffft!

I dont have a large family, no women to compare notes with. Im the oldest of two girls and My mother had a hysterectomy at a young age and she never went through menopause so I could not ask her what it might be like for me. But, I did listen to all my girlfriends. I remember very vividly now that Its happening to me and I’m aghast to find my body changing in ways I somehow naively didn’t expect! Sheesh!

As if going through so many changes in my body were not enough, my subsequent early retirement and move to Panama has resulted in a total and complete Identity crisis! Cuz’ what the hell! Let’s just dive in and create a total and complete internal storm! As you can see, I haven’t figured this all out yet. Im trying to give myself permission to just “Be”. To let go of expectations I put on myself and to try to focus on being in the ‘moment’. I have this constant internal conversation about what feeds my soul nowadays. And I question What my purpose is now. I haven’t found the answers. But, I promise Im gonna keep on searching and trying to heal this lost soul I have become.

These things I know for sure, I need meaningful connections with girlfriends. I need to feel needed and I need to feel like I am making some sort of contribution to my community. I need a bit of solitude and I need art in my life in some way. And of course I need nature. Being in my garden is one thing that feeds my soul! And my sweet animals feed my soul to no end! I am making a concreted effort to surround myself with these things. These aspects of life are my medicine and Im taking a healthy dose on a regular basis!

I started out here in Boquete really putting a lot of effort into making new friends. Im good at that! I love people, Im pretty outgoing and I have always thought of myself as a good friend. But, I had no clue that I was about to crash and burn emotionally. Somehow, I gradually began to drift into a sort of depression. I say, “sort of” because I really hate to admit to being actually ‘depressed”! I am a firm believer of being optimistic and choosing your reality. But, that belief crashed and burned for me when I slowly began to pull back from social interaction. Not like me at all. I just somehow was totally bewildered by a feeling of just heavy sadness and I just wanted to be alone. I lost a few friends as a result of this need to pull back, one friend in particular who was hurt by my seemingly uncaring treatment of her. A first for me.

How much of my reaction to menopause is related to my simultaneous retirement and move to another country ? I’ll never know. Who knows if I would have had the same emotional meltdown I seem to be experiencing now if I had continued working in the salon? The fact remains, Im here. Im going through it now and I know beyond a doubt I’ll find a way to travel through this time and discover a Holly who is every bit as strong, and happy and confident ,loving, caring, and productive as the one I knew before I moved to Panama and hit menopause! Seriously, I’ll get through it, lots of women go through this and find the light at the end of the tunnel.

So, this is now a big part of my expat story. Its not only about the good stuff. Making a change such as I chose to make when I moved to Panama comes with so many different and not all easy or predictable challenges. I find myself longing for some sort of purpose and I am searching for that which will feed my soul.

It occurs to me that Ive never really had the opportunity to actually purposefully choose to search out those things. In those early years of establishing myself as an adult I recall feeling as though I were tumbling through my life, sort of just falling into life rather than taking time to intentionally make meaningful choices for myself. Well as Im writing this I realize, I’m pretty fortunate to be in a time of my life when there’s really no hurry. I have an opportunity to begin a fresh new chapter. And although Ive been programmed to feel bad and lost without all the things I worked so hard to have in my former life, somewhere deep down inside I know Im just where I should be. My Adventure is beginning again.

All this to say, gosh, Im having a hard time right now. Im not super happy all the time…but not unhappy with where I am. Ive got some work to do…its not gonna be easy, but in my experience, some of the hardest, most painful periods of my life have always ended up making me a better, stronger, wiser woman.

Happy New Year Everyone!! 2018…wow!


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! :)

15 responses »

  1. Holly, your honesty is so refreshing. Listen girl, menopause sucks! It throws you into a whirlwind of emotional ups and downs and at times the emotional turmoil wears you down so that the only thing you want to do is sleep it away! I know, I’ve been there. I’m reminded of the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes” when all Evelyn could do was cry to Mrs. Threadgood and eat candy bars. Mrs. Threadgood recognized the symptoms and said, “All you need is hormones” Then, when Evelyn got hormones, she was a changed woman.
    Evelyn Couch: Towanda! Righter of Wrongs, Queen Beyond Compare!
    Ninny Threadgoode: How many of them hormones you takin’, honey?
    Do a search for foods that provide natural hormones or find a doctor that can give you some natural hormone replacements. It won’t be long until you are Towanda! Righter of Wrongs! Queen Beyond Compare!
    Keep the faith! Get lots of sleep and exercise, and don’t worry! You are entering a time in your life when you soon won’t be controlled by the fluctuations of your hormones. I call it the Zen of PostMenopause. Everything eventually evens out and your emotions are on an even keel. I can honestly say, it is the best time of my life! And I know it will be for you, too!
    Sending lots of hugs! Happy New Year.

  2. Holly, you are so much better off in Panama going though menopause in your beautiful new world than doing this in California. You are so fortunate to be retired and living in a place with so much beauty around you. As your mom I wish I could make all the bad feelings go away however being a women this is just another stage of life. You still bring your light of love, caring and giving with you every place you go 🙂 I am just so glad your got a break when you were here with me and then with Mariah :). We both love you so much and miss you so badly when your not with us. In saying that I am just happy for you to be where you are :). I promise things will get better:) This stage of womanhood will pass and you will be ready to be there really understanding when Mariah goes though this :). I love you and I pray 2018 will bring that light at the end of you dark tunnel:) Happy New Year my precious girl 🙂

  3. Thanks for sharing this, Holly. I had been missing your writing and wondering how you were doing.

    Months ago, Tara and I were discussing one of your blog posts in which you sounded a bit blue, and we swiftly came to the menopause diagnosis. I know it’s hard to believe that missing hormones can cause such a huge array of physical and emotional problems, but it’s absolutely, unfortunately true. I’m pretty confident in saying that you would have had these same symptoms even without the upheaval to Panama. Good news is there is a simple fix. Hormone replacement therapy has gotten some bad press in recent years, but unless you have been diagnosed with an estrogen-fed cancer, I think that’s the way to go.

    I had two OB-GYNs during my 50’s and 60’s, and both were strong believers in HRT. The first doc said he’d seen so many depressed women that he routinely prescribed Prempro at the first sign of menopause. The second doc was herself on HRT and said she planned to take those pills forever. I took the regular dose of Prempro for about ten years and then the low-dose form for another ten. I went off them last year (age 69) thinking I might not even notice the difference. Wrong! Hot flashes, achy joints, thinning hair, maybe slightly crankier than usual (although in my case hard to say since I’ve never been Miss Sunshine), but at least no depression. I’d go right back to the pills if I started feeling depressed. I strongly urge you to give them a try.

    We had a quiet Christmas in Los Altos. Katie was here briefly (from Austin) and then Bob’s daughter Emily with her husband and four year old (exhausting but fun). Little Tara stayed in NYC for the holidays so there was no gingerbread house construction 😦 And I didn’t bother with my giant Christmas tree (a sure sign of old age — the tabletop tree!). Got a few complaints about the missing tree, so next year jumbo may make a comeback.

    Jake sold his little company for a lot of money, and he and Candace have moved back to NYC for at least the next year. It will be interesting to see what he does next. Age 39 is pretty young for retirement, especially for a man with zero hobbies. First they are traveling, Costa Rica in Feb. and Italy in April.

    Did I miss a blog post with photos of your finished house? I’d love the complete house and garden tour!

    Happy New Year, dear friend. Sending you much love and many good wishes.

    xox Janet


  4. Holly, I feel your pain! Menopause is a bitch.But you do come to grips with it and that starts when you realize what is causing the problems. You really need to come up and melt some metal with me.Lin

  5. I totally agree. Have a bright new year! Al

    On Dec 31, 2017 5:55 PM, “Let The Adventure Continue!” wrote:

    > hollycarter184 posted: ” Another year is behind us and a fresh new one > awaits! Whew! I don’t know about you but I’m looking forward to a new > beginning. 2017 was a mixture of so much up and down. I don’t like to get > into politics, it’s just really not my thing..but I s” >

  6. Happy New Year Holly! I sure wish I was in your flip flops right now … 10 or 15 years younger and settled in a beautiful home in a lovely country .. but I completely understand your melancholy too. Whether it is menopause related or just a woman thing, we all feel it. I’m 66 and retiring SOON .. the sheer scope of the packing / selling house / finding house / moving BY MYSELF with my pets makes me keep postponing firm quit date although my.body gets more sore daily
    The other thing is the thought of isolation and loneliness once I’m there (I think I am going to go to Ajijic Mexico because I can drive there with my car and my pets). I lost the few friends I’ve had this year ..they didnt die, they just voted for trump, we have different visions of the direction our country should take so we just stopped being friends. So it is a good time to move. I wish I would have called you to meet for lunch when I visited Boquete, you told me to but I always think it is just something people say to be nice and I didn’t want to bother you so I didn’t follow up even though I was there by myself ..that’s a great way to make friends isnt it. My resolution to to become an extrovert expat in 2018. Thanks for your honest post, I hope you get more great friends in 2018 .. if you want you can visit me in Ajijic, all 3 of my sisters said they are NEVER coming there to visit me even though that was also a reason for the Mexico move; shorter and less expensive air fares. My two sisters in Pa can’t understand why I don’t retire up there. I went there this weekend, I had a terrifying drive through a white-out blizzard over the icy mountainv where I could not see 2′ in front of my car. It is 11 degrees F there going down to 2 not counting the wind chill. I have a terrible cold and cough ..but as they say, it’s only for about 5 months out of the year ….

  7. Happy New Year Holly! I guess I knew I wasn’t alone but just reading your post makes me feel so much better about feeling so blue and unhappy in such a beautiful place. Just something to work on. I know there’s a way through and another side where I will be the strong, joyful Linda again. Thank you for the friendship:)

  8. Holly, I’m so glad you posted this. I can’t believe it’s been 3 years since we met you and Scott and you so generously showed us you casita-in-progress. First of all…is that cute little guy in the picture the same boy who dressed his dog up in his clothes? That’s been a favorite memory of mine.
    On to the “Big M”. I can relate to what you are experiencing. I didn’t even recognize myself during that time. Nor did I give a damn about what came out of my mouth. It’s a wonder I’m still married!
    I hope you’ll find a supportive group of women to make you feel “OK”. You are a precious gift and you’ll come out better on the other side of this.

  9. You’ll get through this, Holly, and will be stronger for it. You are such an encouragement to the rest of us! Was excited to see that there was a new entry in your blog–you have such a talent with your writing and allowing us to see the real you. If you ever need a break and want to experience ‘snow in the mountains of BC’, let me know 🙂 ❤

  10. Holly, I thank you for your honesty. My husband and I are coming for a “check it out visit” next April. To be honest, the thought of moving and starting over is scary. But then, I’m an army brat and have spent a good part of my life moving. I already know I will cry when we first move. That’s my M.O. I cry for two weeks, then pick myself up and move on. I can so relate to your moods, and fears, just who am I now. As you said, “let the adventure begin” ! /

    • Barbara, it sounds like you can totally relate to my journey and I bet you will embrace your next chapter and make it GREAT for you! Do contact us when your here, we will try to connect with you!

  11. Good Morning Holly … I just read the recent comment and re-read my own uncertain one from December. An update: I am frantically packing right now, getting rid of so much stuff .. my move date is Aug 1, I am finally doing it. I have so many mixed.feelings but mostly excited, I can’t wait to settle in my beautiful Mexican rental. I am sure I will go through more uncertainties, doubts, etc as you have / are / will but all of it is a part of life and I’m pretty sure we will both make it, one day at a time.

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