2019

Ghosting

This blog is not just about upcoming travel and early retirement plans, this blog is meant to inspire people to be a little bit braver than they already are in order to get the most out of life. As humans, we grow and change over our lifespan, at least we are supposed to.

Ghosting and being brave is an oxymoron. Ghosting is a fairly new term but the practice is not. It is described in the dictionary as, ” The practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication. ” This is a blanket explanation that applies to all personal relationships; family members, friends, romantic interests, can all be potential victims or perpetrators.

I wanted to write about this because yesterday, I stumbled across an article in the NY times about why people ghost. Being ghosted in a romantic relationship can be difficult but what about when a family member or supposed good friend does it? The article was well written and it focused on the many different ways one can be ghosted and reminded the reader that it isn’t on you, it is on them. So this is my message to those of you who do it. It might be time to look at your communication style and why you can’t express your thoughts and feelings. You wouldn’t be reading this blog if you weren’t interested in being a little bit braver, a little bolder,and overall more comfortable in your own skin, right? To get there, you have to do things that make you uncomfortable. Anything inside your comfort zone does not qualify as personal growth.

I have been ghosted over the years by friends and family. I understand that while it may be their preferred way of (not) handling conflict it is very damaging to both parties. The choice is personal but it certainly isn’t any way you should treat someone you claim to love. (Note, none of this applies to anyone in a toxic relationship. ) When I came “out” this happened. When I got divorced, this happened, when I started a new job..etc. etc. Admittedly, I am not one who has a problem expressing my feelings.


Maybe you think ghosting is a way to avoid conflict, thus, sparing the persons feelings but studies have shown that social rejection of any kind activates the same pain pathways in the brain as physical pain, meaning there’s a biological link between rejection and pain. That goes for friends, partners, and family members.

What about the person who caused this pain by trying to avoid conflict? If you are honest about your feelings, you will have better self esteem, improved mental and physical health and you don’t have to worry about awkwardly running into them at a store, family function, or a funeral. You will feel much better about yourself and reap the benefits of being less stressed if you can communicate (write,text, send a pigeon) . There is nothing wrong with saying, I think we have grown apart. Own your feelings and remember that relationships have to work for both parties. If it isn’t working for you, you are being a little self absorbed to think the other person would want to continue a friendship. Most people would never be upset by someone sharing how they feel. Most people are upset by the way the message is (not) delivered.

In the famous words of Maya Angelou-Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.

Be Brave! Embrace Change. Express yourself. You only die once.

Advertisements

Decisions, Decisions


Where is my magic 8 ball?

When it was decided that our family needed to move from our state of origin (California) in 2011, it wasn’t all that hard to pick a location. We knew we wanted to stay on the west coast, we wanted a small city with plenty of things for the kids to do, we wanted good schools, good weather, and decent home prices. We were able to whittle our list down to one city in no time. We flew up to visit during the rainy season to ensure it was tolerable and then moved that following summer. From the time we decided to move to moving day was about 8 months. Pretty short considering we had never lived more than 2 hours from where we were both born and raised.

While you would think moving a family of 6 to another state knowing absolutely no one would be difficult, it was surprisingly easy, no 8 ball needed. If only identifying a country to retire in could be the same. If you Google, “best Countries to retire in,” or “best Countries for expats,” there are some really tough contenders. What I do know is, it needs to be affordable, it needs to be easily accessible from the States, It needs to offer good healthcare, people need to be friendly and welcoming , my marriage needs to be recognized (No countries like Malaysia that criminalize homosexual behavior-You can be sentenced to 20 years with or without fines and whippings.  ) but more important than all of that, It needs to call my name. We are talking about leaving all my family and friends, not only does it need to call, it needs to SING my name.

So who’s on the list? Colombia to start. Mexico is also in the running. Costa Rica is out and so is Panama. While both of those countries make the top 5 list according to International Living, they are too expensive and too far away to be worth it. Yes, Colombia is further but it is about half the cost of Panama and half as empty (this is a +!) as Costa Rica. While the Riviera Maya area of Mexico may be more expensive than the Caribbean side of Colombia, it has some real benefits. Most people that I have encountered in Mexico speak at least a little English.
The majority of people in Colombia do not speak English. Given that I only speak a little Spanish, this is a big plus for Mexico. Though I am dedicated to spending the next few years working on my Spanish. Since the majority of my top retirement contenders are in Latin America, this seems like a no brainer. I used to fantasize about retiring to Italy, and I might! Even in that situation, a good Latin base will be extremely beneficial.

Easy access to the States is essential. I have been playing with flight schedules over the last few months trying to figure out how to get to Colombia and back without wasting two days of travel each way. The issue is compounded by the fact that I am trying to travel on JetBlue because I have a hefty credit from when we decided to focus our time and money on early retirement instead of a lofty vacation in the Caribbean. This issue is further compounded by the desire to check out inland areas of Colombia, east of Medellin. You can’t just drive around Colombia, it would take days to get over the windy mountainous terrain so maybe that will have to be tabled for another trip. Most people can pop a sleeping aid and catch some zzzz’s on the plane. Not for the life of me do I fall into this category! I learned this the hard way on a red eye to Ireland. An Ambien and massive time change later, I was a mess for days. We will have a little over two weeks in November to explore Colombia-I don’t want to waste 4 of those days traveling with two of them sleep deprived. At least the time change is only a 2-3 hours,depending on our daylight savings, major bonus!

Traveling to and from Cancun or Cozumel is a piece of cake on just about any airline. It takes half as much time to get there than it does Cartagena. As you can tell from my previous post, Ahhhh the Riviera Maya there is much love for Mexico. That was my 3rd trip to the area. I have been to Cozumel, Cancun, Rivera Maya, and Progresso. Disclaimer, I have only been as a tourist. I think we are kicking ourselves now that we have returned for not checking out the local scene but what a better excuse do you need to return? I know the weather is warm and humid but tolerable. I fear that Colombia will be similar to Jamaica and I could hardly stand it there. The humidity is oppressive, even in the shade with a breeze. If we get to Colombia and it is similar, that part of the country gets a big red line through it on the list. There are much milder areas of Colombia, Medellin is actually named the city of eternal spring. Moving to a big city is not on my list though. I want the Caribbean Sea. I want to scuba dive frequently and do nothing while enjoying the white sand just as often.

Medical care in Mexico is not nearly as good as Colombia, touting a WHO ranking of 22. The US ranks 37 and Mexico claims the 61st spot. Interesting side note here. When we came back from Mexico, Lisa had a cold, then I got it. I have spent the last 9 days trying to fight off who knows what she caught on the flight down. I do take immunosuppressants for an autoimmune disorder so it may have been complicated by that. You can’t even assume you won’t catch measles anymore! Digression… Anyway, we picked up some cold medicine that worked really well in Mexico for about $1.50. I have some cold medicine that I had from Canada that works OK for about $5. Then I went out and bought somewhat similar (though not because of the regulations on pseudoephedrine) for $13 that didn’t work at all. $13 vs. $1.50- Works vs. Doesn’t. Hmmmm

As you can tell, it is all very much up in the air. One of the greatest benefits to writing is the ability to see things more clearly, however, If anyone see’s my magic 8 ball, let me know.

Next stop, Colombia

Though not why you would think. I have been extremely inspired over the last year or so to really listen to my inner voice and pay attention to what the Universe is trying to tell me . We had put an offer in on a house that we didn’t love but thought it would be a good investment. After a few bumps, and the sellers thinking they should have listed it for more, we walked away from it. We had already said that we would accept what was meant to be and clearly, that purchase wasn’t it.

Since I have almost always been self employed, I have no pension. I have a few small retirement accounts but nothing huge. My retirement plan has always been to sell my home and downsize. The falling through of our most recent financial venture has spurred some pretty interesting ideas. Kids are almost all grown, I am not getting any younger, I would like to retire from my rather emotionally draining and somewhat PTSD triggering , though very rewarding and at times, cathartic, career while I still have some physical get up and go and certainly before I end up being totally jaded and dead inside. I would also like to finish my second book but have decided I can’t tackle that while in my current profession. Lisa is almost at her 30 year mark at work, shes been there since she was 20. I’m sure you see where I am going with this.

We have decided to check out what Colombia has to offer us as expats. We are going to visit the Caribbean coast of Colombia from Cartagena to Santa Marta in November. Nothing has been decided yet, obviously, but my research on Colombia has proven to be very promising. It is very easy to obtain a resident visa, their universal health care is quite good, they even have a Johns Hopkins hospital in Bogotoa. The WHO ranks Colombia #22 in the world, easily beating out the USA at #37. Oh, and it is cheap. Really cheap. The cost of living index in Santa Marta is 74 compared to 196 in Seattle. If you were interested in buying a 2/2 new condo on the beach in Santa Marta, you could do so for about $100,000 USD, about 3.2m COP . The Colombian Peso is very weak against the dollar and has been for years.

This blog is all about living life to the fullest and this is me, putting my money where my mouth is. For those of you who are wondering about the safety of Colombia, the days of Pablo Escobar are long over. Sure, there are places you probably should go alone or after dark but that is true even in my little town in the PNW. The Government in Colombia is set up very similarly to the US-three branches of government, a democracy, an elected president, etc. Colombia has a tragic history but it is one of the most beautiful,safe, and biodiverse countries in the world. It is also one of the best countries for Expats, continually ranking in the top 10 according to International Living, beating out Spain and Portugal. Colombia is one of the most LGBTQ friendly countries in Latin America and same sex marriage has been legal in Colombia since 2016.

Ahhh the Riviera Maya..

This vacation went down as the first one where I actually did not want to come home. If you are anything like me, you may have kids, a pet, a house, or even just a bed calling your name back home. Forget the job calling- that’s why we need a vacation to start with! And get this, Lisa (for those who don’t know, Lisa is my wife) had never been to Mexico! She was the inspiration behind this trip.

So, our last minute vacation plan started just a few weeks ago with the mention from Lisa that she wanted to take a couple of days off for her birthday. She works hard and long hours and has for close to 30 years. When I met Lisa, she was working about 12-14 hours a day and hadn’t taken any vacation to speak of in decades. She works so much that she can no longer accrue paid time off from work because she never uses it! This madness had to stop! Since we became a couple, Lisa has traveled more in the last few years than she has in her whole life. I am fortunate enough that I have a great group of colleagues who can hold down things at work for me if I don’t have anything big scheduled, which I did not. I also have a good relationship with my ex-husband who willingly keeps the dog and kids in check while I’m gone. I digress, I am the queen of digression so if that sort of thing bothers you, you might want to stop reading now 🙂 Back to birthday plans… She suggested a day or two to the hot springs or maybe a trip to the spa. At the sheer notion that she was willing to take ANY time off, I seized the opportunity. Hey babe, what about Mexico? You’ve never been, I have a ton of miles to use, it’s your birthday, we didn’t really have a honeymoon…. I would bet money that her bosses don’t think I am that positive influence on her.

Traveling as a lesbian couple can be tricky. One of the first things I do when looking to travel is research LGBTQ friendliness in the country we are going to and then identify resorts, excursions,etc. You wouldn’t think in this day and age but those issues are still very prevalent. And I want to be clear, this blog/post isn’t about being a same sex couple. We are just humans like the rest of you but it is something that needs to be considered when travelling abroad. You can probably imagine that there isn’t much need for research when it comes to Mexico aka MexiPlay. The customer service and general attitudes of locals are beyond welcoming no matter who you are. And for those of you who are interested, same sex activity has been legal in Mexico since 1871. Most of the states within Mexico recognize same sex marriages.

Moving along… Lisa’s few days off turned into an 8 night all inclusive adults only stay at the Royal Hideaway Playacar and IT WAS FABULOUS. Customer service was top notch, the room was wonderful, the flight was great, (we love Alaska! Never fly Allegiant btw, especially if you are a same sex couple. )
the food was out of this world. We had an excursion to Tulum and Jungle Maya where we experienced a Mayan blessing ceremony, rappelled into a Cenote, zip lined through the jungle and overall just had the best day of our lives. I underwent ankle fusion surgery 3.5 months ago so my I wasn’t sure of my abilities but was pleasantly surprised. The only black mark on our trip was Pro Dive International- you can read more about that terrible experience here if you’d like. Nonetheless, the dive that we did do at Planacar Reef was spectacular. I have been a certified diver for several years but Lisa just got her OWD certification in November in Maui. She is sold on Mexico and swears we will never go back to Hawaii again. Gosh, twist my arm.

I am so grateful I got to share all of this with her. The woman who has dedicated her life to her work is finally putting her own regulator on and diving into life. BBYODO

Life is short

No really, people say it all the time. It’s not some paradox that needs to be examined. According to a 2015 study published by the WHO, the average age of death for a woman in the USA is 81. I’m not going to say life expectancy because those final days (months, years?) for many people and their families is anything but life.

What being, “brave,” means is unique to each individual. For some it means pushing outside their comfort zone enough to say hello to a stranger on the street. To others, it can be jumping from an airplane and everything in between. What is important in this journey is that you do what you feel makes you brave, not others. If it feels slightly uncomfortable, then you’re doing it right. Bravery isn’t a title given to someone who’s a scuba instructor, a skydiver, or an 8th grade science teacher. For those people, that is every day life. What might make them uncomfortable (and brave) could be trying the new special of the day at their favorite restaurant. It’s stepping outside your comfort zone to experience all that life has to offer. It’s pretty simple, no risk, no reward.

This blog is for my fellow humans who want a little more from life. I hope to share my adventures and inspirations with you so that you too may never look back at the end and have more regrets than life experiences.

Salud