Notes on My One Year Panama Anniversary

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“There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”  — Rumi

One year ago I moved to Panama on a whim.  When Mom fell and fractured her hip, I immediately flew from San Francisco to Panama to be with her.  While visiting for two weeks I received what I now refer to as *a calling* guiding me to move here.  I was kind of shocked to consider this relocation since, at the time, I didn’t even like it here.  Panama paled in comparison to San Francisco; it’s wasn’t nearly as beautiful, interesting, technologically sophisticated nor socially progressive.

But, as they say, no one leaves a great relationship.  For all of the amazing things living in San Francisco provided me, the City and I were not getting along well.  I wasn’t doing work I loved, I wasn’t being emotionally supported by my friends and family the way I wanted to be supported and I led an overly-independent, mostly single and often lonely life.

So after giving it just 2 weeks of thought, I packed up my California condo and brought Billy and The Maven with me to Panama.  If I’d taken more time to think about it, I would not have moved.  I didn’t have much of a plan, my Spanish was terrible and I would have to live with my parents.  The transition was fierce.

So, yeah, I went from living alone to practically never being alone at home.  Dad doesn’t get out much and there’s always someone here to help take care of him.  I’d wake up in the morning and immediately have to talk to someone.  Why are they talking to me?  What are they saying?  Is this really important before I’ve had my coffee?

I went from being surrounded by college friends, city friends and people my age at work to not having any friends at all.  I socialized for months with family friends and people Mom introduced me to until I made new friends on my own.  I accepted every invitation.  I eagerly gathered numbers in WhatsApp.  Every acquaintance was a possible BFF.

I also went from being overly scheduled to being able to fully control my time.  Over the past year in Panama I’ve taken time to get settled — get a driver’s license, buy a car, get lost, find my way, register for health insurance, unpack, etc. — and to give myself a break from the hectic life I had created for myself.  Back in the Bay each day was a long day due to work and commuting.  Morning planning included tricky arithmetic as I tried to maximize efficiency in my personal life versus work requirements of me at work:

24 hours minus at least 9 hours sitting at a desk minus 1 hour for exercise minus 1 hour to get clean, dress and eat breakfast minus 2 hours for commuting minus 1 hour for dinner minus 7 hours of sleep =

an unsatisfying way to live

Undoubtedly, the best part of my new experience is that I lead a more fulfilling and intentional life.  Surprisingly, my intent stems not only from a desire to create my Ideal Life but also from necessity.  You see, it’s much harder for me to be a leaf-in-the-wind when I don’t like where the wind blows.  Here I’m forced to figure out what I really want because the default kind of sucks.  Things other people love to do or love about living here don’t really interest me.  Not to sound like a snob, but chances are I’ve seen them done better or had a better experience doing that same thing somewhere else.  I’ve bathed on beautiful beaches. I’ve partied at awesome street fairs.  I’ve lived in and visited amazing cities filled with the best art and culture.  Lots of things really are better over there.

But the incredible part of my intentional life experiment is that it’s actually working.  About a year ago, I wrote a lengthy description of what my Ideal Life would look like.  I remember feeling weird writing it, like who am I to declare to the Universe what I want?  What makes me think I can actually have it?  I mean, if it were this simple, why wouldn’t everyone do it? Don’t be silly, Laura, this won’t work.

Today I not only love reading my description but willingly share parts of it with others.  Frequently I catch myself saying things like “My dream is to…” which I was way too embarrassed or scared to articulate before.  And although I’m not yet doing exactly what I want to be doing, I’m certainly getting there.  Here is a list of qualities I’m working to incorporate into my days:

  • Billy goes to work with me

  • I do not sit at a desk for 8+ hours each day

  • My days include doing more than one thing — I have several lines of works or projects

  • I work from home or office that is nearby

  • I have time for myself each day

  • My work and lifestyle allow me to be fully self-expressed

  • My work is location-independent and provides with me flexibility to travel

  • I work with people I like/ability to choose who I work with

  • I am respected in my community and have a positive impact

  • I enjoy sunshine and fresh air each day

  • I donate 5% of my earnings

The other amazing thing about my life is that I am opening to love.  You know how I said I didn’t feel supported in SF?  Well now I understand that being perfectly supported means being open to a deep level of love and support.  Today I have more support than I could ever imagine simply because I choose to accept a level of support that has my greater good at heart.  If abundance is being aware of and receiving what has already been provided, then I truly have an abundance of support in my life.

As I write this I’m nursing a slight cold.  Mom and her scooter enter my room.  “Laura, I have your honey and lime.  And Naya is making you chicken soup.”  Because I’ve already decided to juice for the day, the thought of eating chicken leads me to say something along the lines of, “No, I don’t want it.  And don’t do me any favors.”  Really, Laura?

You see, as much as want to be supported my ego still fiercely resists it.  Yeah, I know, it sucks to be me. It also sometimes sucks for the people around me.  A couple of weeks ago I met an amazing person at a party.  We proceed to go on 4 dates in one week and one week later — since it was going so well, I suppose — I practically ruined everything one night for no reason.  Crap.  What am I doing?  Why am I creating separation?  While my change of location has created a real shift in my life, my complete transformation cannot occur until I change as well.

So that’s really what I’m up to, folks — self-discovery and transformation.  Like it or not and whether I was ready for it or not, Panama is my crash course in creation and love acceptance.  Not bad lessons to learn so I’m grateful to be in this ride.

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