Updated: Jul 1
While the Red Beanie had stopped posting to round out 2021 due to crazy hectic life responsibilities in Belize, there have been some major life events that have been calling us to put our thoughts down here once again. So, the Red Beanie returns. And, we are returning to talk about our new adventure--and it's a big one!
But before I get into those details, I need to give credit to my Daniella, who wrote the title of this post. She chose this because today marks the first day of my PTO from an extremely stressful, yet very rewarding new job. It's not the same job I moved to Belize with. While we were in Belize, an opportunity presented itself, and it is a dream job. It's global, which is one of the biggest benefits for me because it involves my anthropological passion around understanding human behavior in a culturally relevant way. I know for certain that talking to, and empathizing with people across the globe are the critical things that will help companies really succeed, especially if they define success as more than just a bottom line profit. But, that's all besides the point here, so let's get to the point!
San Pedro, Belize was a test of sorts for both of us. Could we live abroad, in a 'developing country'? Would we thrive...would we even just survive? As a Mom, these thoughts kept me up at night. And with most forces against me, I proceeded, as that's just inherent to who I am. I thought to myself, am I making the right the decision for my daughter? I can say that if I had to consider the opinions of what I had thought of as a strong network of family, friends, and acquaintances, I was about to enter the worst and most selfish decision of my life. And, the worst part was that no one hesitated to express these unsolicited opinions and it definitely broke me, but also made me even stronger as a person. I have forever lost friends & family over their judgment of me in these decisions. There were many nights I would cry because I realized that my support network wasn't at all supportive and that I was way more alone than I could have ever imagined. In this journey of the past couple of years, I've lost almost all family and what I had considered good friends, because of their inability to not judge me. I say almost because I still have some of you out there that are rooting for us. However, after this eye-opening realization, I refuse to settle for little 'polite niceties' (elevator conversation, if you will). Nope. I'd rather just not see you, talk to you, or what have you. I don't do fake and I can't pretend if I don't have to and I refuse to do it anymore.
What I do know as an absolute truth is that while a lot of people have judged me as selfish in my situation to move abroad with my daughter (to a third world country, blah, blah, blah) was actually the most selfless thing I've ever done in my entire life. If you've taken the time to read my story via this blog, you will understand that since moving to Belize on July 1, 2021, everything I've done has been for my little Daniella and not for me. I don't go on dates. I can't go out with girlfriends (I actually have not even been able to meet very many) because no one wants a 12-year old girl coming along for the ride, though she's the most mature, funny, and insightful pre-teen ever. So, I don't normally get invited to events, but in all honesty, I could have tried harder too. Pero, esta bien.
On July 1, 2021, we walked into this journey abroad knowing that we couldn't stay in San Pedro when she goes to high school, because as of now, unfortunately, the island of San Pedro isn't the most conducive for kids. It's not a negative knock on the country or the island, but I will say it is hard to be an expat (especially a 'gringo') and try to make positive changes. We did try and we did have little successes with Daniella's school, Ambergris Caye Elementary School (ACES)--a school that will forever be in our hearts. WE LOVE YOU, ACES!!!
With only one more year before I had to start thinking of where my baby girl will go to high school, I started researching International IB World Schools. What I've come to learn is that they are literally all over the world. And, knowing that neither of us want to go back to Los Estados Unidos, we found a school that became top of our list in a country that for some unknown reason has been calling both of us--Panama! What I love most about our nomadic life is that it took about a week to get an interview with the school in Panama and about a week to pack 3 suitcases to prepare for a summer in this country to see if this school is the right fit and if we can live here. Once we decide on her high school, we will not move, so pressure is on for this next huge decision! It's at least a 5-year commitment!
A new post is forthcoming about our experience here in Panama (which so far WE LOVE) but I really needed to post one of the most rewarding things that's ever happened to me IN MY ENTIRE LIFE while in Belize. Daniella sent me a song, Rockabye (by Sean Paul, which is so Caribbean), because she said it was about me and if you listen to the words, you will realize how much she appreciates my single mom role in her life and how much I do for her (she’s seen me break down on hard days; she sees my sacrifices, and she knows it’s so I can give her a better life than I had). When I finally listened to the actual words, tears rolled down my face uncontrollably. The song is spot on.
So, while I may be totally solo with no support, we have each other and the fact that she sees it will always make me cry. This song inspired one of our fondest moments and memories in Belize--when we got the coveted invite to help raise money for the animal shelter (SAGA). I had to participate in a human dressage event during the Kentucky Derby (but the song was Rockabye as was our horse name, which was designed by my artist daughter). My favorite part of the video is her laugh in the beginning, because I feel her authentic happiness and it makes me cry happy tears. I know I'm doing a phenomenal job raising her and anyone that might think I'm selfish, well I invite you to walk a mile in my shoes and I guarantee you will have a change of heart.