Sorting, Packing and Clearing!

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This is our storage space,

(Ok, let’s try this again, I inadvertently published this last night before it was completed! I know… A rookie mistake! )
Sort through the attic , check! Sort through the basement, check! Sort through all the stashed stuff in all the closets, check! Now there are piles! Piles in two bedrooms, piles on the pool table,and piles on the dining room table! Yikes! Turns out, sorting is painful, OUCH! In the course of a lifetime we accumulate, and accumulate until every nook and cranny is bursting with stuff!

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And…..Let The Packing Begin!

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Well, here we go….. Packing! I’ve got all the necessary material needed for packing up boxes. Bubble wrap, packing tape, packing paper and boxes galore! I’m ready! Rolling up my sleeves…. And here It goes! Now, I’ve been living in this house for eighteen years! Lucky for me I’ve had a couple of opportunities not too long ago to ,’edit’ my material possessions . First when we had to move out of the house for our remodel . We moved into the studio cottage in our backyard and rented a storage container that we kept on the property for all our household possessions . Before moving out of the house we got rid of quite a bit. Then two years later we moved back into the house and I realized much of what was in the storage container we really didn’t need. If we lived without it for two years do we really need it? I think not! So again we cleaned out unnecessary possessions before moving back in . More recently when Pat moved into our house I had yet another glorious opportunity to purge .( Can you tell I love getting rid of things?) I had to clear out two bedrooms so I got rid of even more things that I really didn’t need. Yet here I am again, purge time! And I’m stunned by how much stuff I still have! So, here we go again with yet another opportunity to clear out excess material possessions! What to keep, donate and attempt to sell in a massive yard sale? There are many things I can pack up right now like some of my many dishes, wine glasses, serving platters, a few decorative things , mirrors , things we will be bringing with us but we don’t need right now.

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Bubble Wrap, Boxes, Packing Tape and Storage Spaces!

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Today we began shopping around for packing materials in preparation for packing up our belongings. We found the best pricing through Uline. Of course the best pricing is for buying in bulk, not a problem. We ordered all the necessary packing supplies, bubble wrap, packing tape(54 rolls!), packing paper,about 140 various sized boxes just to get us started. This all came to a whopping $1,100.00! Yikes! All these goodies have been shipped to our home and should arrive tomorrow!(11/6/12).

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Casa Carter Continues To Evolve…

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Rainbows in Boquete never stop amazing me!

Rainbows in Boquete never stop amazing me!

Four weeks from now we will be living up there in our new house. Four weeks! Wont be long now! Yesterday was Easter and we had some friends up for a wonderful Brunch. We took a stroll up to the house to show them our progress and I was telling them how nice it will be to finally be settled into our home. Thinking about finally settling into our new house makes me think about just how transient this last few years have felt for us, well, by ‘US’, I actually mean “Me”! I don’t think Scott’s really been phased by all this moving around, I’m much more of a ’nester’ than him. But, I was thinking about how our journey began way before we even set foot in Panama. Read the rest of this entry

Another Wonderful Day Living In Our Casita In The Trees!

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I wake up everyday feeling so happy to look out the window from my bed and see nothing but the sky and trees. It’s such a peaceful place. Well, especially now that the Flower and Cafe Festival has ended…whew! For the last ten days we’ve heard the sounds of so much revelry going on in the pueblo. Music until 4 or 5 in the morning. All night long! And what sounded like hordes of people . And the fireworks various times of the night and early morning. Oh, the Panamanians love to party! Let me tell ya! The nice thing about the wild parties is that it’s just good fun. You really never hear of any violence or muggings , no , they just have a good time with no need for any of that nonsense. Well, with the exception of the Indigenous men! They love to fight. Its common to see Indian men in town with beaten and sometimes bloody faces. I was in a store on Saturday morning , getting beer for Scott, and I was standing in line behind and Indian guy who looked like he’d been in a pretty good brawl. His face was bloody and his hands as well. But I’ll be damned that guy looked as happy as could be, he was all smiles. Of course I’m pretty sure he was still pretty toasted too! Hah! I just have to laugh to myself. To each his own I guess! I don’t really understand why you’d find getting your face beat to a pulp a fun pastime, but that’s just me. Hah! Read the rest of this entry

Home Sweet Home…

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I’ve been slowly writing this post as we’re moving and settling into our new home. I don’t have internet yet in the house so I can’t publish it quite yet. We’re exhausted, but happy, and really busy trying to get all the last minute things done in order to be able to live in our new casita. As I’ve told you before, Scott is always going in so many different directions each day, so often the small details end up being the last things to get done. Small details like, oh, I don’t know, a toilet! And, running water…Ugh! I don’t care one iota about the ‘no cabinets’, thats no biggy. But….a toilet and running water are two pretty nice things to have in your house. Even the fact that we have no electricity isnt really freaking me out, because I know we have a generator, so we have a source for lights. No problema. But no water to the house….that’s gonna be a bit of a problem! And bless his heart, he actually managed to get the pump, connected to the water tank that feeds the water to the casita all hooked up and wired just before our first night staying here. Sadly, the water guys had been here the day we moved, to install the UV purification and the filter system and when the water hit the casita there were leaks, ugh! We called them and they came the next day, but that meant that we had no water on our first night in the casita…meaning, no toilet! ugh! So, it was sorta camping our first night and morning…at least we had the generator so we could make coffee. Well, we don’t have our oven yet , but one of our workers had actually brought a small microwave here to heat up their lunches when they’re working. Its sitting out on our terrace so I used it to warm up water to use in our French press. Coffee in the morning is a must, especially when you have to pee outside! Sheesh! Can I just enjoy one luxury? Hah!

I know I said one thing I was looking forward to about his new Adventure was simplifying our life, but come on…I didn’t mean quite so simple. A girl’s gotta have a toilet. Paleeeeeease! It is Saturday as I’m writing this portion of the post and we got an email from Price Mart, where we bought our oven, it’s there and ready to be picked up. We plan to go on Monday and get it. So we should have that installed by Monday or Tuesday, we shall see. Of course we won’t be able to use it until the gas is hooked up, which requires an inspection by the bombero’s. I’m crossing my fingers this is a simple process, we shall see. As you may know, I don’t have internet at the moment. So I plan to just keep writing this and just publish it as soon as I can. The internet people are coming on Wednesday to get that all installed, so that should be good. We don’t have cabled internet just yet up in the area where we live so its satellite cable with Planet Telecom. Its 150.00 dollars a month for 2 mb. And so, we shall see how that goes. If we want to increase to 3 mb it will cost $200.00 a month. We are thinking that we won’t get cable TV and try to watch what little television we do enjoy watching just by streaming from Hulu or Amazon Prime. We just have to see how well our internet will stream with 2mb. If its too slow we can change to 3 mb, which should be sufficient. Read the rest of this entry

Summary (I’ll try to summarize!), of our experience getting our residency visa…

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Summary (I’ll try to summarize!) of our experience getting our residency visa….

I received a request from one of my readers to post a summary of our experience getting our Pensionado Visa. Obviously this process varies “a lot” for every person. There are, of course, endless different accounts of how this process goes, some good and some not so good, some easy and smooth (although not many!) and some complicated and frustrating as hell (Some serious Tranquilo killers!) . In the end, so much seems to depend upon the attorney you use because they set the pace, and will guide you, or let you flounder, during the entire process. I’ve heard nightmare stories of attorneys giving bad advice or just not doing their jobs. Some who have been through the process read my account and wonder why it was a bit more complicated than it was for them. One things for sure, anything I tell you about my experience will not be the same for you. It’s important to keep in mind that you can’t count on any other persons tale to be what you will experience. Unlike some places in the world where there are clear and concise processes in place and you have access to all the answers to all your questions, here, one seems to just muddle through as best you can and just try to hold onto some semblance of ’Tranquilo’…Good luck with that! Hah! Read the rest of this entry

Back in Boquete, It’s Good To Be Home….

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We had a great trip to California, but isn’t it always good to be home? The nicest thing about being back in California was seeing our friends and family, of course. And taking care of getting our container packed up was something we’ve been waiting to get done for a long time, so that was an accomplishment we were pleased to finally make. The logistics of seeing to the packing of the container was a bit of a challenge, and, I might even say, a pain in the you know what. !@# But in the end we were relieved to finally have it all done. Read the rest of this entry

Going Back For A Visit For The First Time…

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Going back where? Going back to California. We’ve been gone for nearly 14 months. Sigh… Can I be honest? I’m feeling a bit torn between excited and a little nervous about this first trip back to our old stomping grounds. I don’t really know why…but maybe by the time I finish writing this post I’ll have figured it out.

We’ll be in California for 10 days. Our biggest mission is to meet with the shipping company at our storage unit in San Jose and oversee the packing of all our belongings that have been patiently awaiting this day. We’re hoping this will take up only three or four of our days . But we also have to deal with a bunch of paperwork and things that we need to take to the shredder and dispose of. Do I really need to hold onto 30 years of tax returns? I think not. And it might be okay to let go of all those carefully filed receipts for the remodel we did on the house in Los Altos. I may not need to ship old PG&E bills and Water and Garbage bills either. I think the coast is clear to dump all those papers in that big shredder and just walk away…or runnnnn! Hah! The other job we have amidst the packing is to hold back a few things that we’ve decided are not absolutely essential to bring, just in case all our goodies don’t quite fit in the shipping container. We have a list of items that we will then need to figure out what to do with. Anyone wanna have a garage sale? Read the rest of this entry

The Casita project update…

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All this traveling and leaving Boquete has created a bit of a difficult crimp in our project, but progress continues in spite of it all. Luckily for us, we have a very dependable crew of hard working guys who we can trust to continue doing what they are supposed to do even when Scott isn’t there to watch their every move. It’s not everyday that you end up with men like that. It means a lot to us that we can leave them unsupervised for short period of time and come back to see that they kept working hard and doing a good job. And our neighbors are also a huge help when we have to go out of town. Al has very kindly taken care of giving the guys their pay when we are gone for a payday. It is something that is more helpful than he even realizes. We are so blessed to have such amazing neighbors who I can tell will be like family to us when we live there. I often marvel at our good luck. 🙂 Read the rest of this entry

One Big Step Closer To Being ‘Legit’ In Panama…

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Our trip to Panama City was a mix of good and not so good. The good is that we’re now ‘officially’ in the system and we have our temporary Panama ID’s in our hot little hands….Yes! Our permanent ID’s should be in our possession in a few months time. The bad part of our trip was the disappointing realization that our plans to fly to California had to be cancelled at least temporarily. This due to a tiny little detail our attorney neglected to make perfectly clear to us clueless Gringos…. When I asked our attorney if it would be okay for us to plan to return to the states as soon as our application was in process she said,”yes, as soon as your application is in process you can leave Panama”. Okay, that seemed clear to us so we booked the trip for the day after meeting with her. But when I mentioned we were leaving on Saturday, (the very next day) I got…”What?, you cant do that!” SCREEEEEECH! (this is the sound of our plans coming to a screeching halt!) Read the rest of this entry

That illusive residency visa may be in our hot little hands soon!

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Our attorney in the city has received all our documents for our application for the Pensionado visa. She says they have processed them and that we need to come to the city this Thursday & Friday to sign all the paperwork and get the application process going. Wow! I cant believe it’s finally almost there. This news has started a whirlwind of activity for us because we’ve been patiently waiting to begin the process of shipping our belongings from California to Panama. Read the rest of this entry

A Party For The Roof!

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Today is a first for us… Celebrating the completion of a brand new roof! We had no such celebration when we built our house in Los Altos. These Panamanians just love to celebrate and they seem to find any excuse for a Fiesta! This is just one small thing that I love about living here in Central America. Scott & I fit in just fine here, we too love a party! Although, truth be told, I could do without the Cow stomach soup! This could have fit in nicely for our Halloween Parties thought! Hah! Actually, I jest, I also really love the fact that they not only have a traditional celebration for a new roof, but a traditional dish to serve for the celebration! We too have certain dishes that are often reserved for celebrations, Turkey for Thanksgiving, Ham for Easter, and Hamburgers and Hot dogs for the 4th of July. So who's to say a little cow stomach soup is so odd for celebrating a shiny new roof! I'm really excited to do something special for our 7 workers who show up 6 days a week and work side by side with Scott to build our new home.

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Feeling just a little homeless…

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When we signed the lease for the house that we’ve been renting we agreed to this one week away at a hotel payed for by the home owners. That was back in June when we did that . So We gladly agreed to this and knew is was coming. You know how it is though….it felt at the time, like March was so far away. And here we are, all packed up, living out of our suitcases again. Hmmmmm….how time does fly by! It sort of feels like a subtle reminder of our semi-homeless state in the beginning of this adventure. That nomad, gypsyish state of living that we so gleefully set off for nearly a year ago. I can’t believe it will be one whole year in May since we arrived in our new home and started an entirely new life. This new home in Boquete, Panama, that we’d dreamed about and planned for for such a long time. It had been seven long years of research and travel and preparing not only us but also preparing all the people around us as well for what would be a major shift in our lifestyle. When we first arrived we spent the first two months living in a temporary apartment, not unpacking all our belongings because it was just a short stay until we secured more permanent lodging, no need to get too comfortable. It was so wonderful to make ourselves comfortable and unpack everything once we moved into the house. Even though it isn’t our house, it was ours for at least 10 months. And ten months back then felt like a long time. We’re nearing the end of our lease on the house, the owners are relocating from the states to begin their retirement in July. So, now what? Well, we don’t know exactly quite yet. Here in Boquete there’s a fairly large amount of people who rent out furnished casitas to snowbirds who love to escape the harsh winters in Canada and other similarly snowed in spots in the States. By July many of those snowbirds have flown back to where they live and there’s a good selection of places available. We shouldn’t have too much of a difficult time finding our next spot to live. Except that we’re a bit limited due to the fact that we have a cat. There’s a lot of landlords who, understandably, prefer not to rent to us poor suckers with pets so it can be a bit tricky. Read the rest of this entry

Wow! December 1st. Already!

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November 28 marked our sixth months living here in Boquete, Panama. I don’t know how six months flew by so quickly but I can only say, we were definitely having fun! Which would explain it! Now we’ve entered into our first holiday season living in another country. And I find myself thinking , “what were we doing this time last year?”. Well, this time last year we seemed to be experiencing an emotional whirlwind. We were in the midst of many “lasts”. And this year we’re in the midst of many “firsts”. I must admit, the “firsts” are way more fun.

One thing that Scott and I really have agreed upon since we’ve been here is to let go of big expectations about many things. And the holidays are one of those things we’ve really ‘let go’ of. This has been a period of time for us to reestablish ourselves in a completely new place. We’ve had much to adapt to and have done so with as much care and ease as we can muster. As far as Christmas goes, we don’t yet know what that will look like for us. We may or may not find a tree to decorate, that would mean buying some decorations, given the fact that we haven’t shipped our belongings out here quite yet. I’m not sure I’m up for buying more things that I already have, we’ll see about that. We’re in the very beginning of redefining this new life of ours and that means new traditions too.

There is a possibility that our trip to the states to facilitate the packing of our container may coincide with the Christmas holiday. We wont know for a week or so, but we’re very close to having all our necessary documentation ready to hand over to our attorney and begin the process of getting our permanent visa. Once that’s all in process and we get our mulit-entry visa, we will be able to head back for a week or so and oversee the packing of our container to be shipped out here. This pending trip also has us very limited as far as our plans for the holidays here. We should have a more clear handle on this soon, which will be nice to know. Good thing we don’t have any big expectations for our first Christmas in Panama.

I’ve seen a couple of cars with big Christmas trees tied on top and today I saw a photo of our friends in California cutting down their tree in the Santa Cruz Mountains. These familiar sightings give me small pangs of “ahhhh, that looks fun”, but then I remember that, this year, at least we just aren’t quite ready to go along as normal. I already have two invitations here to attend some holiday gatherings and I look forward to those events. This community here in Boquete is quite welcoming and we already feel so much a “part” of this new place we now call Home. And I’m also looking forward to visiting California and spending time with those that we love. In spite of not quite having our new holiday traditions ready to begin, I know each and every day we find so much to be grateful for . Even without a traditional Christmas tree in our house we can celebrate what the holidays are truly about, which I believe is looking around at the PEOPLE who are so very special and feeling gratitude for each person we love and are loved by.

Daily Prompt: Come Fly with Me

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Share a story about the furthest you’ve ever traveled from home….

Well that’s an easy one, New Zealand! This was my “Maiden Voyage” all by myself. I was about 31 years old and had just experienced a bunch of crazy tragedies in my life. I was about two years in to being a single mother after having gone through a divorce. Two years prior to this was what I like to refer to as my “Oprah” year! Yes, in one year I went though losing my father( who I loved dearly), my husband decided to fall hopelessly in love with our nanny(insert big eye roll here!), I had just opened a business and purchased a home, whew!. My father had helped me buy the house before his death and my ex-husband had no claims to it so I unexpectedly found myself alone with a huge mortgage, not exactly what I had planned for. Whew! I was holding myself together by a thread. You may be wondering what all this personal drama has to do with traveling solo to New Zealand?

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Let’s Talk Shampoo….I know, exciting !

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This is a trivial post about a seemingly trivial subject but a subject that is near and dear to my heart, my hair. I found humor in this new experience and just thought to share it with you. Sometimes, it’s the trivial things that make me laugh the most…

First let me warn all my hairdresser friends who might be reading this…..you may want to stop reading right about…NOW! What I’m about to divulge will shock and appall you and if you do decide to continue reading,well… you may want to sit down first….

All my life I’ve only ever used professional products on my hair. Growing up in a household of two hairdressers , (my parents actually met in Cosmetology school!), nothing but the Best was ever allowed in our showers! If you called us “product snobs” I would have to concede to the title. Deciding on what shampoo and conditioner to use on my hair has never been a subject of great worry to me. My parents would keep us stocked up on whatever they were selling in their salon (they were also salon owners, but you probably already knew that). And being a salon owner myself for the past twenty years, I never had to worry myself with such mundane issues as what Shampoo and Conditioner to buy! I just grabbed whatever I was selling to my clients in my salon and that was that, no thinking, no deciding. While we were packing for our move we were only allowed to bring four bags and we had to keep the weight to 50 pounds each. I really had to prioritize the contents of those bags. It turned out, shampoo and conditioner didn’t make the cut. (Now, my “very special” styling gel on the other hand, was something I brought a good supply of! I’ll have to address that in a few more months , for now, my issue has been shampoo & conditioner.) So I arrived here in Panama needing quickly, to find something to wash my hair with, no problem, right?

I’ve written posts in the past about several different “firsts”. Well, this was the “first” time I can ever remember going into a grocery store and looking at the haircare shelf! And what a strange feeling it was to not recognize anything on that shelf. What? No Paul Mitchell Or Alterna, Aveda, Biolage, or Logics? HuH? Well, to be honest I wasn’t really expecting to find any familiar professional products but I thought maybe I would find at least Prell, Pert or Herbal Essence, or some other such product that I had seen advertised in magazines or on tv (products that I had always thought of as sub-par, crap, not to be used on “MY” hair! NOOOOO!) Ha! . I will admit to suddenly wishing I had brought my own familiar shampoo, but hey I signed up for a “change” of lifestyle, right? Well Holly, Just pick one and go with it! “How bad can it be? right?” Soooooo I continued to stare at the shelf of foreign shampoos and conditioners with an unfamiliar feeling of bewilderment. Who knew this much thought would go into choosing something so simple as a bottle of soap to wash my hair, Geesh! I did finally spy a bottle with a semi-familiar brand name, Schwarzkoph. I had never actually used the products myself but they make a professional hair color,and I know many stylist who use it . So that is what I bought.

For the past thirty years I’ve been hawking professional shampoos and conditioners and looking down on those “poor souls” who used “grocery store” crap on their hair( I know….Not nice, sorry!) . And I’m sure that all those expensive professional haircare products are indeed very high quality and very good for your hair. But , and here’s where my former colleagues will cringe, my hair feel great! No difference really. And I’m humbled as I recall my snobby,brainwashed attitude of my former life. Granted, it’s only been about three months worth of using my new “grocery store” shampoo (cue the snobby- nose in- the- air!) and any day now my hair may begin to show signs of abuse and neglect. It may start to break and become brittle and listless or Gasp! Dull and flat! FLAT? my hair? Not likely! As a matter of fact, I did finally find a familiar brand of product at Price Mart (similar to Costco) , Herbal Essentials, which , now that I’m typing I’m realizing that I had originally thought it said , Herbal Essence, oops! Ha!Ha! Ok, well, it’s not bad and it’s English on the packaging so it says it’s made from “essential herbs and flowers from the earth”! So that must be good, right? HUMPH!

I’m no scientist and I don’t really have any legitimate scientific proof about the superiority of professional hair care products over grocery store products. I cant quote research or studies done to prove that expensive professional products sold only in salons are exclusively the absolute best , healthiest way to wash you hair. All I can say without a doubt is, my hair feels just fine after subjecting it to inexpensive shampoo and conditioner. Could it be the crisp clean air here in Boquete? Or the healthy lifestyle I’m living as a retired gal? Possibly less stress,lot’s more fun? Or is shampoo just shampoo after all? I don’t know, but my hair is happy and that;s all that matters. I’m learning many things not only about hair care products but about myself. Learning to think differently about many things and to be open to trying to do things a little differently at times. One things for sure, there’s not just “one” way to do things in life and there’s definitely not just “one” good shampoo to buy!!

Our First Full Day In Boquete…

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Well, our first full day here has been really great. We are still a bit foggy-brained but all in all not doing half bad! We began the day with breakfast here at the Inn, Villa Marita. They serve a lovely little breakfast with eggs, sausage, some bread thingy (kinda puffy, doughy, fried goodness), and fresh fruit, papaya, watermelon, cantaloupe. And did I mention Coffee?? Well, in case you didn’t know it, we are in Coffee country up here in the Highlands of Panama! So the coffee is Devine! A great way to start our first day.

We sat outside at the big table on the veranda and there were three very friendly ladies sitting there too. Of course we began to chat, ( to Scott’s glee ) And it turns out one of the ladies is a Salon owner and stylist in Panama City! Too funny! It was good to have someone to ask about what brands of professional hair color are available here, nothing I recognize. Well, I told them I have a supply to tide me over for about 6 months and that Scott would be applying my color for now, they had a chuckle over that. So, I have no doubt I will eventually find a very talented stylist to help keep my gray hair hidden. It would be great to learn some spanish first though!

After breakfast we loaded our raincoats in the backpack and took a nice long walk into town. Its not bad going down but a bit far to walk back. It’s a breeze to hail a cab and only $3.00 just about anywhere we want to go. Easy breezy! This time of year is rainy season and we aren’t quite acclimated yet so we were not sure what time the rain would start and believe me, you don’t want to get caught in a downpour here without a rain coat or an umbrella. We stopped on our way into town at a coffee shop, Cafe Ruiz, and I enjoyed a Frapacino while Scott had a Mochacino. MMMMMM! Yummy! Then we continued our trek into town. We were on a mission to get a few little things accomplished, our mail forwarding at Mail Boxes Etc. and A new SIM card for Scotts phone. Those two missions were accomplished, well kinda, we had to leave Scotts phone at the phone store so they could unlock the AT&T part on the phone, we pick it back up tomorrow. We also thought we would see if we could find a french press so we can make our own coffee instead of having to go downstairs to get it, and a blender so we can start concocting some fresh fruit smoothies. We failed with the french press and blender, maybe we will take a trip to David another time.

When we began to feel drizzles falling in our faces we realized it was a good time to take cover someplace where we might find food and drinks! Baru is a place we had visited last time we were here and we love sitting outside under the big umbrellas and people watch. It’s located right in the center of town across from the town square, perfect spot to people watch. I don’t think it has the best reputation amongst the expats as far as service and quality of food but we were feeling pretty easy to please and just wanted something simple and mostly to kill some time while the rains barreled through. It wasn’t bad at all. After the torrential rain abated we took off to Romero’s. That’s the big grocery store in town. We wanted to get a few essentials for our little apartment at Villa Marita. We got eggs, milk, fruit, cereal, and I had to buy shampoo and conditioner. Sadly, I was forced to abandon my Alterna shampoo and conditioner when we were packing because we were having a hard time staying within the weight limitations. So I bought something that I think “Controls” volume, but it’s very possible it say’s “ADDS” volume?? Yikes, I’m in trouble if it’s the latter! I have enough VOLUME all on my own, especially with all this mist and fog and rain! I’m quite Fuzzy at the moment! Oh Well!

As we were walking out of Romero’s a Cab was driving by and I very quickly hailed him . That was lucky! So we got back up to our room loaded down with groceries and ready to spend a nice quiet evening with our two traumatized cats. Sadly, we are going to have to give them both a bath because they are extremely stinky at the moment. This is a bad thing because they like to be on the bed with us and it’s not pleasant to be near them right now. I hope they like the Baby shampoo I bought for them while we were shopping, they should be soft and shiny by the time I finish with them! Yes, I cant help myself, still doing hair even while I’m retired! lol!

I just cant even describe how happy I am to be here. I look around at the beauty of this area and tears well up in my eyes, I feel so fortunate. And the people are just as beautiful as the land they live in. As we sat at Baru enjoying the shelter of the umbrellas and sipping on my wine I found myself looking around the town square and at all the people milling about and thought to myself, “Where is my place here?” This is something that I know will reveal itself in time. In the meantime I plan to soak up all the beauty around me and I hope I never loose the feeling of gratitude that I feel right now for having such an amazing opportunity to redefine my life and the way I choose to live it day to day! Life is good and Adventure abounds!

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Finalizing Our Storage…

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As you know, we plan to ship a 40 foot container with our household belongings off to Panama. The plan is to leave all our belongings in two storage units until we return later in the year to facilitate the packing of the actual shipping container. We opted to do it this way in order to take advantage of one of the perks of the particular Residency Visa we plan to apply for, the Pensionado Visa. This perk is a one time only exemption on the import taxes on one container from your country of origin. This import tax would be 21 percent of what Panama values the contents of the container. whew! That would be quite a bit. ( this is the most recent information we have gotten , but if It’s different I’m sure we will soon find out, these things often change) This Residency Visa is one that is offered to retired people and although there isn’t an age requirement, there is a requirement to prove that you receive a lifetime income , of a minimum of $1,250.00 per month. Most retired folks could satisfy this requirement with a pension or Social Security but given the fact that we are too young for social security, we decided to purchase an annuity that will provide us with the required proof of lifetime income. This is what is causing the hold-up on shipping our belongings because the document proving we will have this income couldn’t be provided until we got our money from our house in the bank. Then they want to see three months statements from the annuity. Sooooooo we will come back to be here while the packing company packs the container.

We have rented two storage containers to hold all our belongings. It took us some time to find the right place that would work for us. There wasn’t a place that had a single unit to accommodate our belongings , One big unit would have been ideal but , oh well! So the shipping container is 2900 cubit feet , give or take, and our storage units equal 3700 cubic feet, so we are banking on the professional packers being able to pack that puppy much more efficiently than we packed, cuz we have those units packed to the rim. Of course we have a list of things we can abandon but we will just wait until packing day to just be sure we have to give up those things.

The very last big job we have had to accomplish , which by the way, we finally finished just yesterday,(Sunday), is Getting the last of our things into those storage units. We had a bit of a complication because one of the two units was a bit small to fit what we planned to fit so we decided to exchange it for one that had 5 more feet of space! The new unit was one row over from our existing unit so Scott and Me and a worker spent Saturday,(Scott and the worker were also working on it on Friday ) schlepping everything from one to the other! Yikes! Thank God for Dollies! This gave Scott an opportunity to pack the new unit much more efficiently and Voila! It all fit! Whew! Sunday, yesterday, we had to complete this task. On Friday while I was working for my last day, Scott was getting all the final things out of the house and he didn’t have enough time to get it all over to the storage so he left it all in our next door neighbors ( Janet ) garage. She kindly let us do this and she also let us use her pick up truck to get it all to the storage. We had two loads including my 10 boxes of my personal belongings from the salon. We were very relieved to have finished this last big job.

Now, today we have Lunch with Scott’s mom, Pat and Then I’m meeting Natalie and Elisabeth at the salon to get my hair colored one last time before I set out on Tuesday. But before we start the day we are about to get our final pack done here at the hotel. Tomorrow, (Tuesday) the plan is to meet Mariah at 7:00 am for breakfast then return the economy rental car that we have been driving this week, And pick up the SUV we will drive to LA with our four bags and two cats. Off We go! Soon we will be on the airplane headed to Panama , Big smile! What an Adventure it’s already been!

13 more days of work!

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It’s count down time folks! (like you didn’t notice!) Now we’re down to the very last bits of the planning and Strategizing for this big move to Panama. When I think time is moving sooo slow I just go back and re-read some of my early blog posts. It gives me a fresh perspective on just how far we’ve come and how much we’ve accomplished in this last year. Whew! Boy, oh Boy, have we gotten a ton accomplished ! Of course, when I look back I feel like time has flown by fast.

Let’s see, this is what this last few weeks look like for us:

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Our Calendar is getting more and more busy as each day goes by. This period of time was not possible to have planned until we got to where we are right now. The last few bits of the details, selling the truck, getting the rest of our possessions cleared out of the house, renting a car for the last few days,organizing all the cat paraphernalia for travel(travel crates,harnesses and leashes, food,water,flea medicine, toys,scratch pads,Blah,Blah,Blah!) ,staying in a local hotel for the last week,planning our financial situation,setting up a Trust,organizing the storage and packing it appropriately for the shipping container,getting all the documentations gathered properly for importing the cats,finishing up all the details of the transfer of my business to Stephanie,canceling utilities and all the other bills required for living here but unnecessary for Panama (like car insurance, health insurance,PG&E,you know the list, it goes on and on). When I begin to feel overwhelmed I just look back at all we had to accomplish to get to this point . Then I realize, that these last few remaining details are really very minimal in comparison. It wont be long now and we will be looking back at this time with a sigh of relief.

Once we arrive in Boquete We have a studio apartment rented for the first month. That will give us plenty of time to shop around for a more permanent situation. From all we’ve read about Boquete, it’s quite a Mecca for snowbirds during the winter months and about the time we are arriving many of those folks should be heading back home. Which means there should be plenty of longer term rentals available for us! The trick will be finding a ‘pet friendly’ rental! The right situation will turn up , of this I am certain. In the meantime, we are focused on the tasks at hand, and at the moment, that’s my glass of wine…tomorrow it will be a haircut, or maybe a bit of haircolor, maybe a highlight! One thing for sure, time is going by as it should and when we get to Boquete and get settled we’ll look back at this time and wonder how the time flew by so darn fast!!!

Strategizing about our last few weeks…

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Soooo, let’s see, we know we have to be out of the house completely by May24. We fly out on May 28. We still have to finish emptying the house of our last few belongings and get it all packed up into the storage unit. We also have to sell Scott’s truck. This all means figuring out timing of when to sell the truck and when to begin moving our things out of the house and when to go to a hotel and then how long we will need to have a rental car before we go. Of course we need to do all these things while making sure our cats are also safe and cared for. One other kinda big thing I have yet to mention is me packing up what I plan to take from my salon. Gulp! I haven’t really been ready to sort through the nooks and cranny’s and pack up things that are personal to me. I will also bring all my hairdressing tools, just in case. I plan to retire from my career but, you never know! I just might miss it soooooo much and eventually beg my new friends to let me at em’! This may be when all my new friends run screaming!!! Hey, that sounds like a pretty good exercise that could replace Zumba! ” Run from the crazy hairdresser!” LOL!

Our first best guess is, to plan on staying in the hotel for about a week, beginning on Tuesday, May 21 until our departure on Tuesday , May 28. We think listing the truck for sale on Craigslist on around May 7 or 15? Not completely sure about the timing of that quite yet. If we sell the truck we will then need to use the moving truck that our storage place provides for free for their tenants (a very nice service) . Scott is thinking he may need to rent a moving truck with a lift-gate to move his bigger tools, at least for one day. The big part for Scott is going to be repacking the storage unit to fit all the remaining things from the house. I think there are probably a few things that are already in the storage that we can do away with if we need to.

The whole, ‘ storage and shipping container’ part of our plan is proving to be quite a big P.I.A! I wish we could be as low maintenance as many other people I have spoken to who make this move, but alas! As much as we have purged and minimized our worldly possessions, there are still just too many toys we are planning to have much more time to enjoy in our early retirement. Between kayaking and camping and sculpture and woodworking and entertaining our new expat friends with fun-filled pool games and Scott cooking his little heart for anyone who will let him, we are just not scaling back enough to be able to be as footloose and fancy-free as we would like. Wellll, maybe fancy-free, but not so footloose! While some folks who choose this path for their life are able to just minimize their worldly possessions to a few suitcases and simply begin all over again, it’s not the case for us. So we shall endure the pain of this last scurry of prep work as we near the end of this portion of our adventure preparations. In 16 more days I will be done working, ( May 24) then I’ll have a few more days to help Scott with any of the remaining organizing and , oh,my daughters birthday is May 25 so that will require a bit of celebrating! But, of course! After all that, it’s TTFA! We’re almost there folks! Can’t wait! Can’t wait! Can’t wait!

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A very ‘chill’ day for us…

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Today we had several things we accomplished but the most important things we did was spending time with important people. We began the day with a yummy breakfast with Scott’s mom, Pat. It’s always a good day when we start it with her ( and with cinnamon brioche french toast!). After breakfast we came back to the house and then my friend Cindy came to get me and we went on a mission. I have these beautiful hanging moss baskets that I just love. I had replanted them so they are bursting with color and they were a beautiful accent in our yard for all the open houses. I really want to take them with me to Panama so that I can someday use them in my new yard, but I would have to pull out all the plants and throw them away, Nooooo! My friend loves them so I suggested that if she wants, I will let her take them and she can just purchase new , empty ones for me to take. Great Idea, right? She thought so to. So our mission was to go to the nursery to try to find the same ones. They are 24 inches and they are made from pretty heavy duty black metal, not the wimpy ones with the chain that gets all tangled. Our mission failed but we did find one place that said they could special order them for us. Given the fact that we will be back to California at the end of this year to see to the packing of our shipping container, there’s no hurry. It will be a great excuse,(not that I need an excuse!) to visit with Cindy when I’m back in town. But we did enjoy looking at plants and smelling roses and we even saw a beautiful display of a huge amount of different varieties of Fuchsia plants. I think it was a smashing success of a shopping trip cuz’ it was time well spent with someone I adore.

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Whew! One more day to pull it all together on the inside!

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Whew! Today was yet another productive day at our soon to be on the market house. I did a bit of running around while Scott was working on the never ending job of finishing up cabinetry and overseeing the finishing up of the drip system one of the workers was working on. My mission was to try to find a replacement for the missing safety pull out doohickey that makes the jacuzzi run, ( I failed miserably) then mission number two was to locate and order or buy pieces of glass for the four cabinet doors in the dining room area. I’m pleased to report that my mission was a success! Aside from the fact that the guy made a booboo on one piece and I have to go back tomorrow to get it, no big deal, I was just overjoyed to be able to walk out with three beautiful pieces of glass.

A Few Days Later, Tuesday, March 19

It’s been a grueling few days! Remember those beautiful pieces of glass? Well the painters broke all but one of them! Rats! Well, back to the glass store! It took them a few days to order more of the glass so I picked them up yesterday, we should be good to go on that! I also ran around while Scott was chipping away at the remaining details of his woodwork for the interior. I went to the storage unit to drop off a few more boxes. We have just been trying to empty out all the little nooks and crannies in the house so Ive been just tossing things in boxes taping them up and throwing them in storage. We may end up opening some of the boxes when we get to Panama and wondering why in the heck we brought that! lol! Like I said, I was the, ‘Run Around Girl” yesterday, after picking up the replacement glass I went to the hardware supply place to get more drawer slides and cabinet hinges and 14 more cabinet handles. Then back to the house, anxious to see what the stagers had done to my house. Then after the flurry of people left I tacked installing the covers on the plugs all through the house and making sure all the hardware is installed on all the windows. I also cleared out my glorious closet and made it look beautiful.

Today I’m back to work, the work were I actually get paid! : ) I just hate not being at the house helping with all the last bits of final work but I guess we do still have a mortgage to pay so we just have to divide and concur ! The Realtor is stopping by the house to check out the staging at 8:30 then the stagers return at 9:30 to polish it all off then the virtual tour photographer arrives at 12:45 and the Realtors have invited some of their top producers over to help determine pricing. and then at 6:15 when I’m done working we will meet Christy and Ed to discuss all the listing details. Whew! I think the biggest job Scott has left to accomplish is packing up his workshop which is a pretty big job but should be able to get at least a big amount of it done by the time the open house happens on Saturday. One of my favorite blogging friends posted a blog that included a phrase she and her husband learned in Spanish class, ‘”Poco a Poco”, Little by Little! Yes, We can see the light at the end of the tunnel and Poco a Poco we will get it done.

Work, Work, Work…

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This is a picture of the detached garage in the backyard and the dirt that will soon be lawn. We are building an arbor over that glass sliding door and I have a beautiful pot to plant a topiary to the left of the door.

Each day off work is a day to work. There really isn’t any time to just have a day off and recharge. We have set a very tight schedule for ourselves and it will take every spare minute we have to get everything done. We have two weeks left to get this house in perfect shape. The painters will continue tomorrow and Scott and his four workers will continue pulling the backyard together, while simultaneously finishing off woodwork projects that are not quite complete . Today (Sunday) we bought four beautiful trees to plant along the fence in the back. We already bought a lot of shrubs to plant and three vines. Scott plans to order the sod tomorrow. We are supposed to get some rain on wednesday so hopefully all the plants will be in by then. Today Mariah helped me empty the attic and haul my last load to Goodwill. The biggest project that Scott has to complete is probably packing up all his tools and transporting them to storage. There is a pretty long list of little details to address. I have taken the week of the 11th off work so that I can help pull together the moving out and the front yard planting as well as anything else I can tackle while Scott is finishing up all the details he is working on . We need to plant a bunch of color in the front yard. Our Realtor is coming on Wednesday with her cleaning person so he can give a bid. The plan is to be out of the house and moved into our short term rental by the 15th. The cleaners will be scheduled to clean on the 16th and then the stagers will begin on the 18th. Then the realtors will have photographers in here to begin a virtual tour and photos for marketing brochures and such. Then the Brokers tour should be the 22nd and open house beginning on the 23. The clock is ticking, we shall see if we make it! If not , then oh well, we will just have to push everything out a week or so, not the end of the world! This entire timeframe is our own, nothing says we cannot change it if we aren’t ready. Whew! Sounds exhausting, huh! Well, it kinda is!

Movin’ Right Along…

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I mean “literally”, we are movin’ along with all the necessary steps needed to take to get this boat sailing ! Today, (Sunday, 2/10/13) was a very productive day. We decided to divide and conquer! After we managed to drag down a truck load of more donation things from the attic and loaded the truck ( load number 5, one or two more to go! ), I took off to our local Goodwill while Scott took off for his workshop in the backyard to Finish off the last coat of poly on the carcasses for the entertainment center. I then returned to the house and continued packing up clothes and odds and ends like artwork, and other various things that are still laying around the pool table area. We really need to clear out the area around the pool table so Scott can disassemble it and we can get it packed up in our storage unit. The stagers have decided that we will transform that area into a formal living room for the sale of the house. Im also getting ready to call my friend Charleen who owns a carpet cleaning business and get her to send her guys over to take away our four area rugs to clean them and pack them for shipping. But first the pool table needs to go in order to get to the rug below the table. So, as I was saying, after I got through packing more boxes, we loaded the truck again and made yet another trip to our storage unit to drop off all the boxes I got packed up today. whew!

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It’s Crunch Time!

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Here we go…. It’s “Crunch” time! I’m Beginning to feel the pressure of all the many and varied aspects of organizing such an enormous move . At the same time I’m getting really excited to just be there! But first before the adventure can begin,we must soldier through and carefully choreograph each part of our preparations . Lets not forget , Scott and I are also working 8 to 12 hour days while simultaneously organizing so many things. We must try to remember that this is part of the Adventure! Are we having fun yet?? Humph! :0 Read the rest of this entry

Going Home

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We spent five nights with our good friends, Jason & Caroline. They live in Santa Cruz but have a beautiful home in the mountains above Calistoga. The area is called Lake County and its a great place to have a relaxing getaway . It just happened to be my Birthday weekend but we really just wanted to spend time with our friends before we leave for Panama. The weekend was a very productive one , we spent plenty of time not doing much at all, reading, lounging in front of a roaring fire, watching movies, chatting , laughing, ample wine and beer drinking (of course!) with a little hike thrown in just so we weren’t compete and utter slugs. We can check off yet another ‘Last’ on our list of last times. We will not likely make it back up to Lake County again before our move.

Wednesday morning, as we were packing up to drive back home I couldn’t help realizing that although we had completely enjoyed our time , I was looking forward to going home. There’s always something so good about getting back home. I began to think about this, going ‘Home’ thing. There is a time, (fast approaching for us), when we will not be,’Going Home’. Hmmmmmm….. That’s interesting. Of course it’s not an epiphany or a sudden realization! I really do realize that moving to Panama means I won’t have a home to come back to here in California. I’m sure it will only be a matter of time before we have established a place in our new location where we feel ‘at home ‘. I have to believe that our home will be wherever we are. As long as we have a cozy bed and a kitchen where Scott can cook, (let’s not forget a place where I can charge my iPad !), we will feel at home.

I am really looking forward to discovering our new life. I’m certain we will have an enormous amount of adjusting to do and lots of work , but I’m ready for it. And a time will come when I have a home to look forward to going to!

Progress Report

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This is Scotts workshop, he also has a big tent outside where the big table saw lives because as you can see, this space it teensy!

Progress Report!

Scott is making great progress on all the remaining cabinetry for the kitchen and dining room. All the interior door trim , baseboards, and window trim is installed. He is currently working on the range hood cover. The upper cabinets for the kitchen are being processed, there are 21 doors currently being prepped for assembly. The front door needs to be finished off with moulding and trim. We finished the design of the built-in entertainment center in the great room . That will be the last big piece of interior work for Scott.

On Monday we had a consultation with a stager to get an idea of exactly what that will entail. Next Monday we have set up two more consultations with two other stagers . This should give us a good idea of what to expect in terms of packing up our remaining household. We need to know what furniture a stager will likely bring in and what pieces of ours will need to stay. It would be really good to have a paint consultation as well because my paint choices definitely won’t appeal to the masses! Our goal for listing the house for sale is still pretty on target for March. I’m being told my many different realtors that houses in my neighborhood are selling very fast so our fingers are crossed! Yesterday I was told that a house was listed for sale on Monday and there were ten offers the very same day! Yowsa! We seem to be hitting the real estate market at a great time! Maybe we’ll be “LUCKY”! Lol!

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Tick, Tick, Tick, Time Is Flying By!

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Everyday gets us closer and closer to our goal date for our big move to Panama.( May-June) Scott’s focus has been getting our house ready to sell. My focus , naturally, is much different . My business , mostly the people, is becoming extremely emotional for me. As we’ve entered the new year I really have a sense of the ‘end’ coming quickly. Many of my clients,(friends), have been telling me that they prefer to stay in denial that I’m really leaving. I suppose for now being in denial will work for them because we still have several more appointments set up. But for me, it’s not quite so easy as I am faced with seeing such a large number of people who I know I must say goodby to soon. It’s going to be one of the most difficult aspects of this adventure , saying goodbye! Gulp! As for my two dear colleagues, I am also beginning to feel deep sadness for abandoning them. I must say that both Natalie and Elisabeth offer nothing but the kindest , most genuine support I could ever hope for. They make me feel so cared about and I’m grateful for their desire to take care of my clients and that Natalie will take over the salon when I’m gone.

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The Journey is The Destination!

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We love the journey! It starts with a dream or an idea or just a curiosity. Hearing my clients talk about far away places , exotic sights, sounds and flavors ! My mind begins to wonder. I dream of jungles and beaches with soft white sand and warm water, old historic architecture , cobbled streets crowded with merchants selling thier goods. Foods I’ve never tasted, smelled, or even heard of. Even the animals, bugs, Butterfly’s and birds lure my imagination to faraway places.

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Comfort…..What Gives You Comfort?

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Routine, schedule, predictability,stability and familiarity ? These are the first adjectives that come to my mind when I pose this query to myself. Familiar people, places and things make me feel a certain amount of comfort. A routine that I can predict is also vastly comforting . A place to call, my home, to me creates a feeling of comfort beyond description! I do love my Home! So with this very clear , specific list in mind, I wonder, why would I abandon all these very comforting aspects of life as I know it ? Hmmmmm? That’s a very good question?……. Let’s see if I can articulate that as I write this post…….

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“You”re LEAVING the US?”, And US! 😱.

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Many people wonder, “why?”. Why do you want to leave the States? Well….. How to summarize five years of much contemplation. It began with a conversation we were having during a desperately dark , scary and sad period in our lives several years ago. We were dreaming of escaping our sorrow and the difficulty life at that time had presented to us. Im not sure if it was me or Scott , probably me, who said,”let’s just leave ! Move out of the country! Just escape!”.
It was an appealing dream at the time to just run away and start over. We both knew at the time that it wasn’t anything even remotely possible for us. But, boy was it therapeutic to just talk about what it would be like to move to a different country and start a new life, learn a new language, assimilate into a different culture, make new friends. Where would we go? What would our lives look like? How would we do it? How would we shed all this baggage we’ve accumulated , house, business, cars, debt, all the material possessions that define this life here. It all just began to feel so unimportant and burdensome .
Our priorities were definitely beginning to change. As we looked around at all the things that we were working so hard to have, we just felt like we were ready for something entirely different. This change of heart was likely precipitated by this very challenging period of time in our lives. When life gets very precarious it tends to make you stop in your tracks and really look clearly at what’s important to you. Both Scott and I now realize that we are just done spending the majority of our life working really hard for a really costly house in an expensive area and taxes. Both of us want to slow down, work less and have more time to enjoy each other and life.
Now that we’ve survived that most difficult time and life is good, our dream is rapidly turning into a reality. And that reality is no longer a means of escaping unhappiness but packing up our happiness and taking it on an exciting adventure! So this is the shortest answer I could muster to a Query that has many scratching their heads and saying….”You’re leaving us? Why?”. We are really hoping to have lots of house guests in our new home, where ever that may be! I’ll be bribing you all with Scott’s delicious food and a private tour guide , if that doesn’t do it well then you’ll be missing out on an adventure. 😊