Rank and File

The Institute for Economic Peace just released the international ranking of over 180 countries on safety. Ecuador ranked 84th moving up and the USA ranked 94…interesting. Canada ranked an awesome 7th for peaceful so maybe I should be moving north. The article was based out of S.A. so it was focused on those countries and cited Ecuador as being in the top 3 South American nations as most peaceful right after Chile with Columbia being the most dangerous.

So with that in mind, I’ll stay away from my new northern neighbor once I get there and keep south instead.

I haven’t posted in a while as we’ve busily been sorting through things to downsize from a 4 bedroom home to a 2-3 bedroom apartment. Our home here in Ohio has been almost 3,000 sf living space and we have had it full for some time – most of Nick’s life actually has been spent right here. So now faced with moving internationally and weighing costs, we have truly scrutinized everything very closely to determine real value – economically and emotionally.

This has not been easy. Going through precious memories and realizing that we may not be able to take some things with us that we have valued yet really may not survive shipping or may cost more to ship than it costs – well, makes one question “things.”  And question “things” we have done with items from appliances to what felt like cherished treasures or memories. Making some of these decisions has been really quite emotional yet Nick and I have really worked as a team in balancing each other’s concerns. And, knowing we have a place where we can store those few things we simply can not part with is certainly a bit more reassuring.

But we have gone from this 4 bedroom house to no furniture (having donated or given things away), no appliances (again-donated or given things away), maybe 12 boxes to be shipped (including small, medium and large), and putting a few items into storage in N.C. We are shipping some linens, some of our artwork, some clothing, and a few of our “things.” We’ll also be shipping a large screen TV, Nick’s dj equipment and of course, our dog’s items (which go into one of the 12 boxes.) The only other items to be moved will include a few oriental rugs. The rug won’t be customs free – don’t ask me why but rugs will require a customs fee as will the TV and if we take in extra laptops or extra cameras they would also require extra customs.

Next week we’ll be chatting with international movers to get estimates for a door to door move to include the customs.

We are actually going to fly down on a tourist visa which will allow us to fly in with up to 5 suitcases each (3 checked and 2 carry on each, one of the carry on will be a dog on this first journey.) Then later I’ll fly back and get the cat.  Granted we’ll have to pay extra for the suitcases but – we will have most of our clothing and personal items with us without paying customs and will not have to shop for anything for a very long time. Brand products and electronic products are very high there.

So I will be taking extras of my brand name cosmetics and personal care products with me when I go down. This way we can take in a laptop and camera each and then later can ship in a laptop/notebook and camera in without paying customs on them since we’ll already be there. A HA! You say! So there is a method to my madness in doing it this way.

We’ll go there then apply for the visa once we get there. Our lawyer said it would  take 45-60 days to get the visa. Once the visa is in our passport we will then have up to 6 months to ship our personal goods to Ecuador from home. At that point our shipping point will be from N.C.back where I grew up.

Wow, this part of the journey is almost over and we’ll hopefully be setting a date for the trip soon. Scheduling and logistics is the next step along with finding a short term rental in Cuenca, Ecuador that accepts pets. Now that should be fun to find.

But soon we must because in today mail we received the last piece of the document puzzle! YES, we are now official! We have every single piece of documented paperwork duly notarized, appropriatly state apostilled and ready to go to Ecuador! Included in that list are the below items. While the list seems small, I have been married more than once and Nick and I were not born in Ohio so we have had to work with 3 different states to pull everything together.

  • birth certificates
  • divorce decrees
  • legal name changes
  • FBI criminal background check
  • state criminal background check (which some cities no longer need in EC but Cuenca still does at this time)
  • Passport photo copies (yes, they had to be notarized and apostilled)
  • Pension documentation (also apostilled by the Ecuadorian Embassy out of D.C.)

Nick and I have a total of 15 documents plus our 2 passports ready to go to Ecuador with us.

Once there, our lovely attorney will have all documents translated into Spanish then will notarize and apostille each one for the Ecuadorian Ministry to review. Once reviewed, if approved, our visas will be stamped into our Passports and then we will receive our Cedulas or our citizen cards. Whew, what a lot of paperwork.

I’ve read recently if we want to have an Ecuadorian driver’s license we need to also take copies of a high school or college diploma with us. That may be something to dig up and have available too but I also read that having your U.S. license serves just as well so that is conflicting information to ask the attorney about which is going into email this evening. On sites you may read that you need your parents birth certificate copies but my lawyer said that was not true so you can mark that off your list.

So more to follow as we begin to work on our logistical timetable.  I’m off to email my attorney the good news that all documents are in hand and we’re ready to go!




Gimme a break..

Gimme a break…you know that Kit Kat commercial where they sing that song, “gimme a break, gimme a break….” well, I’m singing it because I need a break not a Kit-Kat bar.

A month ago we were waiting on final documents and we have now have them being apostilled. Everything will be finalized by the first week of July on the paper side of things. Our Ecuadorian lawyer says my son will be welcomed in Ecuador with his legal last name which is the same as mine (so no refund for me after all!)

As far as packing, we have narrowed down a 4 bedroom house to no furniture (we’ve donated or given the furniture away to friends), some linens (we’ll buy new), a very few momentoes, a bit of artwork, clothing and personal items. Wow! We’re almost done.

It has been a long and hard road. I’ve just started a project team group meeting with some folks who are actually looking for work and while I’m not looking for work I am reporting in on my activities related to moving. It is nice to be back in the professional environment if just for an hour every two weeks and share ideas with such a great group of people as we’re all facing different challenges – they in networking and looking for career opportunities, and me networking and simply broadening my horizons professionally.

Next week is our meeting with the international moving company and now we can actually talk projected box numbers and sizes so I can get a realistic estimate together. Once our visa is actually stamped we have 6 month in which to ship our personal goods with no customs tax on the majority of items. That should be plenty of time to find our new home and schedule shipment.

It is late here as I’m writing this because I keep thinking of all the things that still need to be completed – yet I’m pretty excited at all the things we have already accomplished. So think I’ll call it a day and take that break for now.

Take care.


Boxes, and luggage, and bags! Oh my!

Ok, one night I must have come home from work, pulled out a world map, closed my eyes (after too much to drink maybe) and simply picked out a place on the map. Plop here we are – Ecuador. Not some place close to home – no, too easy, just 2,773 miles away. An easy move right?

So 11 apostilled documents later, 1 document received from Virginia we were waiting on and now another one that we find we need from N.C. Wow, the fun just never stops. Tally all – we’re up to 15!

Pension document is in D.C. at the Ecuadorian Embassy being certified now hopefully and I’m looking forward to having it back safely in hand soon.

Then it starts all over again on the Ecuadorian side of the border with translation into Spanish, notarization (which there is by a lawyer who is their notary) then will be apostilled again by them.

Not sure if I will be on the groud for that part of the fun or not. At some point we need to apartment shop and move some vital things down. Like clothes, a few things, our pups, us.

Now why “boxes, luggage and bags”? Well, dear, because I keep pulling things out to pack, store or toss. Nick said it reminded him of the, “lions, and tigers and bears, OH MY!”

He also said I keep changing my mind and that is why we need boxes, luggage and bags but we’ll get there. I feel the sword of damocles as the date draws closer and closer and I find more and more “stuff” that we need to deal with here.

But that said I am excited to be on the other side of the 2,773 miles!


On my toes so much I could be a “Dancing Machine!”

Some days doesn’t it just feel like you are just “on?” I mean, you could not be doing things any better right? I’m having one of those. I’m doing so well, I could be a dancing queen about now.

I just got a call from the Public Records Department in Virginia. I am so “on my toes!” I had prepared the paperwork for the document needed for the visa as I had mentioned in my previous post. It called for a fee of $12 per copy requested. I had very carefully requested 3 copies. That would cost $36 dollars which I had indicated was paid with a money order.

The money order was purchased. Oh yes..I’m doing good right?  But silly me – I did NOT include it with the application. Dancing, yes, I’m dancing!

So the lovely lady in Virginia called me instead of sending the application back to me which would have been the normal thing to do. Instead she just asked that I send the money and put her name on the outside of the envelope.

Now how many govenment officials do you know who would do that. The stars must be aligned today just right. That envelope (with money order enclosed this time, yes oh mighty Jupiter) is now in the mail.

Oh yeah, I’m dancing all right! But not to the right tune lately. But let’s just say the lovely people in the Virginia public records offices are being very helpful these days and I’m extremely grateful for their kindness!

So looks like I will get my document all signed, sealed and ready to send right back to the Secretary of State, VA for apostille! Oh wait, Virginia is not a state but a Commonwealth. Back to the drawing boards to figure out how to get an apostille since they won’t do one without an in person Virginia notary stamp. It’s always something right?

We did get our FBI Criminal Background Checks back from the DC Secretary of State with Apostille! One set of forms are now officially ready! Piece by piece, step by step, inch by inch….

This process is a bit more time consuming since our documents are from multiple states. Most will be taken to Columbus next week for the Apostille. That will help morale wise to see the largest chunk of them completed.

Still leaves the question about my son … but I’m very hopeful he will prove out to be my son…fingers still crossed on that one. And of course now the challenge with Virginia. May be a road trip in store just to get apostilled documents.

Two steps to the right, a backwards twirl and maybe a couple of back flips thrown in might help.

See you next time.







The Limbo state, no not doing the Limbo.

I mentioned in my first post that I am now retired – realizing I am retired took some time.

Not only am I retired but I also mentioned having back problems. There are other medical issues I won’t get into here. Just suffice it to say I can’t just go out and get a job but really wish I could.

Having worked for about 40+ years of my life I’m quite used to having those lovely corporate challenges to deal with. I am quite used to the quarterly and annual objective lifestyle. I like that lifestyle. I am an over achiever type. Give me an objective and I will take that mountain.

I’ve had all types of jobs over the years from short-order cook, secretary, office manager, active duty in the U.S. Army Reserve, bartender at a biker bar (yep, in my younger days), executive assistance, production analyst, facilities and territory manager, internal consultant, project manager of all types of large national projects, negotiator, contract manager, security director, crisis manager,…well you get it, the list goes on and on. I love dealing with things that make other people crazy. I’m great in an emergency. I tend to thrive in a brain-storming kind of gig. Details are not my thing but give me a project and I’m flying high.

Luckily I’ve worked for several amazing people, also for a few not so great people, and I’ve learned from them all. I had the opportunity to team with remarkable people and luckily friendships gained across the years have been incredible. I’ve truly been blessed.

Over these 40+ years, a few unique situations or opportunities stand out. Then the not so great stories I could share with you include things like:

  1. A gun fight at the biker bar over a July 4th celebration – real fireworks – not so sure that happens to everyone.
  2. My house caught fire one night and my cat saved our lives, yes my cat!
  3. I was mugged dropping off a date in D.C.

Ok, those were not so fun but they were exciting. The following were lots more fun.

  1. Finally got to be a mom! I knew at the age of 5 that I would have a son – but it took a really long time to achieve this incredible goal.
  2. Got to testify before Congress
  3. Was quoted in the Washington Post, and a book
  4. Got to watch my son learn to surf this past year and was telling all the Ecuadorians on the beach how great my son was in English and they just smiled and acted like I was a crazy Gringo – I was.
  5. Got to join Nick on his very first dive ever this past year off the coast of Ecuador! (This one is bittersweet as I am hanging up the scuba gear due to my back but it was so much fun to get to do with my son.)

But back to this transition thing. Now unable to work I have been a bit lost without the normal focus my past jobs provided. As I said, I’m quite used to the normal business objectives one has complemented by personal goals.

I have found I needed to redirect myself and spend several months developing a whole new set of goals and objectives which are all totally personal. I’ve never spent so much time focused on just me. It’s been strange to have to recast life just around me and my son without worrying about work at all. For the first time in 40+ years, work is totally irrelevant. How totally strange that is to me.

To be honest it was not easy to transition thinking just personally. I was somewhat lost. Let me frank, I was completely lost. This lost/limbo state has not been easy to shake off for a bottom line oriented, business type A like me. Probably for people not ready to retire I expect this is what happens to them too. I had planned to retire in 2 more years not now. And I had not planned to completely retire but to continue to work part time. But my job was eliminated and now being unable to work – that plan changed. The change was out of my control.

Sometimes life throws curveballs our way. Or at us.

I just shared with a friend of mine how I have learned no one is guaranteed their next breath. I am remembering this more often as I stop, breathe deeply, and remember to be grateful for what I have, even if things are not what I expect…or, what I exactly wanted either.

Just typing “I’m retired”… relatively easy enough to type, or say now…but it took me 4 months to figure it out. Yes, 4 months of deliberation, anger, frustration, meditation, prayer, my son’s and close friend’s love and support, sadness and a few cocktails. My control and focus was gone. I felt lost in transition. In Limbo – no, not doing the Limbo. Although in retrospect that would have served a more useful purpose perhaps.

Having a focus for one’s life or goals….no matter if they are corporate or personal is an illusion of control – remember, that guaranteed next breath? The illusion of control is becoming clearer to me – it is only an illusion. Things can change so quickly. Life can change so quickly. And so many times the change is out of our control.

Maybe all this has all really just been a lesson in letting go.

I’ve certainly had to let go. I’ve let go of a lot of things these past months. Hum….something to think about as I keep dodging those dang curveballs.

With gratitude, I am hopeful the lost in transition stage is truly over and I can more easily say I’m retired with a bit more ease. And if this whole transition has been a lesson in letting go, or in recognizing my own lack of control or in focusing on self or others or perhaps in simple gratitude

I am thankful this stage is over, at least I hope that it is.

And though it has been hard to get to right here, this moment in this presence……I take this breath in thankfulness, peace, and with gratitude.

But first there is that little matter of proving my son is really my son.

Hiccup, yes, there is a slight hiccup in our visa paperwork! OH NO!

The fun just keeps on rolling folks. And one would not believe this one but….

In order to move to Ecuador you can’t just swim down to South America…well, I guess you could if you are in good enough condition. But they will kick you out without the right paperwork.

So if you want to stay you have to get the right visa. We are going to use my pension for what is called the I-9 Visa so we can eventually apply for citizenship.

In order to apply for most any visa one needs the following:

  1. 1. birth certificates for us both
  2. my last divorce decree (you need only the latest one if you have more than one)
  3. since we are moving on what is called a “pension visa” we need documentation verifying the pension. If you are using social security than that, currently the required amount must be over $800 for one and $100 more for each dependent per month
  4. notarized passport copies which show you will have at least 6 more months validity from the time you enter Ecuador
  5. your visa applications
  6. a letter to the Ecuadorian Embassy expressing why you want to live in Ecuador
  7. 4 each (or maybe it was 2 but we’re going in armed) passport size photos on white background
  8. your migration certificate which you will get when you go through customs in Ecuador
  9. and you will need a certificate from the Ecuadorian Embassy in the country you are from verifying your pension funds
  10. for U.S. citizens you need an FBI criminal background check
  11. and your state background check for the last 5 years

The really fun part is each document must be notarized, then for Ohio documents the notary stamp must be “certified” by the Clerk of Court. Then each document must be “apostilled” by the Secretary of State in whatever state that document originated. So for me and Nick who have lived in 4 or 5 states, this is a really fun ordeal.

Now here is the hiccup. I’m getting push back from my CuencaEcuador lawyer because my son’s last name is the same as mine instead of his father’s (we’re divorced.) They don’t understand why his name is the same as his mom and not his dad – even though we’re divorced. It is on his birth certificate and they are questioning if he really is my son. This could mean he won’t get a visa. Like really?

Anyone have a cure for the hiccups? I have a bad case right now!!!!!

But wait, there is a bright side to this? Do ya think if they don’t agree he really is my son that I’ll get all the money back that I have spent on him up until now? Hum…..

Wishing you light and success wherever you are in life.

The start of something new

Hello world,

I’ve been encouraged to start a blog and share a few of my life’s laughs and challenges. You see I am hitting that magic age of recently forced retirement (too old, job eliminated, a few back problems – oh wait, a lot!) so I am taking my pension and moving to Ecuador.

The plan was to move to Ecuador, become an ex-pat but in 2 years when I was “Ready.” Yes with a capital R. Like my financial plans just right, my house sold at just the right time, my pension exactly where I had planned it to be.

Now if life had just played along with that plan – things would be a bit more smoothly going in my planned direction. However, somehow life didn’t decide that was what was going to happen.

So here we are going early, things all thrown into life’s little basket of upside down mishaps and craziness and nothing is going as planned. Nope, not a thing. I’m not ready, financial bumps, big ole major hurdles have hit, and we’re no where at kick off time.

But being told your plans are not your plans anymore and the job you had counted on is gone – well, you got to decide if you are going to go crawl into a hole or just pick yourself up and move forward. With some health issues I just can’t go out and get another job, after all I’m OLD. Not OLD like in ancient, but old enough that I know with my health I am not going into another corporate rat race. I simply can’t do it and try to get through the days. Nope. Not anymore.

So here we are. Trying to figure out how the heck we’re gonna get through and get out of Dodge. Dodge meaning Ohio. So we’re (we being my 22 year old son Nick and me) making some really hard decisions like:

  • can we afford to move things we love with us
  • we already know we are going to have to rent for now until we get to a place where we will be able to purchase a home – may be a while but that is ok – but when is the question?
  • will we be able to take our pets (a really hard decision)
  • with my health will we be able to start up the businesses we had planned for income
  • and just what the heck are we doing now? should we rethink this whole thing?
  • and who am I now that I have no heavy work objectives — I am sort of lost lately?

And along the way my son, Nick, and I are dealing with getting our visa paperwork together, determing what to keep and ship (or not), learning Spanish (he is so much faster than I am!) and finding my new place in this world after working all my life.

So I expect you’ll be getting to know us and hear a lot about us as we begin this crazy adventure of our’s and hear some of our questions as we move through this.

We know we are still going. But we also know it will be a bit tougher than we anticipated. However, we’re also up for the challenge.

Stay tuned. Wishing you light and success wherever you are in life!