My life in Colombia

Welcome to the blog of Chip Wiegand

Beach between Puerto Colombia and Puerto Valero

Formatting text in Facebook

Saturday, Sep 7, 2019

In Facebook there are no options for formatting the text you use when typing a new status update to your timeline, or wall, or whatever it's called. And depending on your message, that sucks. For years now I've been posting lessons on my Chip's English Help facebook profile in just plain boring text. I don't like converting all those lessons to graphics which people then have to download. At least with my text lessons the person can simply copy/paste the entire lesson into a file on their computer. That's much easier for saving the lessons. And gives them the ability to edit them if they want to.

But there is a way to do some formatting to your Facebook text. I found a couple websites that have some formatting tools. The formatting options are extensive but they are a far cry better than none at all.

The first site I will tell you about is "https://www.gschoppe.com/projects/fbformat/?status=#.XBH1aosza02". Yeah, it's an ugly url, oh well. The site appears to be set up for mobile use only, and has only five formatting options and a long list of icons. The one good thing is you can paste your entire message into the box and select the words you want formatted, then apply the formatting to only those selected words. I use this for the basic adding of bold, italics, and bullets to my lessons. I paste the entire lesson into the box and can then select all the headings and make them all bold, then the same for bits in italics and set up bulleted lists easily. In Facebook it's not possible to do bulleted lists, but with this tool it is. This site is the easier, but more limited, of the two sites.

This next site is "https://yaytext.com/". It has many more options including different fonts, but is much more finicky to use. You paste your text into the box, select a format, then it applies that format to all the text in the box. So you can't use this for an entire posting unless you want to only change the font. If you want to add bold, italics, underlines, etc you have to paste only the words you want formatted, select and apply the format, they copy/paste that formatted text into your message. So, if you want to do many formatted words it can be quite time consuming. But, you do have many more available formatting options.

In the yaytext site there are numerous styles of underlines and strikethroughs. There are comical fonts and useless effects, like upside down text. And quite a few fonts to choose from. I have done a demonstration post on my Facebook page.

I suppose some people reading are well aware of these sites, but I have yet to see anyone actually using any of these formatting options on Facebook. They do work, you can see them on my profile and in my Chip's English Help lessons.

Next time you post a message on Facebook go ahead and check out your formatting options, you might find it adds some fun to your posts.

The little bridge over the arroyo at the Malecon in Puerto Colombia

New section on the site

Friday, Sept 6, 2019
If you haven't noticed there is a new menu option at the top of the page - My Writings. This is a section where I will be putting my miscellaneous writings and ramblings, poems, essays, etc. Please leave comments on anything you read there.
Beach between Puerto Colombia and Puerto Valero

I Chose the other Path

Sept 1, 2019

Sometimes you find yourself on a path you didn't intend to take, but that doesn't mean it won't take you to a wonderful place.

Sometimes you find yourself on a path you did intend to take, but that doesn't mean it will take you to a wonderful place.

Sometime you might choose to take a different path, the path less taken, less popular, but that doesn't mean it won't take you someplace wonderful.

Sometime you will have to make a choice - the path to the left? The path to the right? Which should I choose? How do I decide? Do I go down the popular, well-trodden path? Or the path with many uncertainties?

Nobody can make that choice for you, for me. That is a choice we each have to make for ourselves. Search your heart and you will find the answer. Not just 5 minutes, but hours over days, weeks, months if necessary. Search your heart and you will find your answer.

My life suddenly changed paths without me having to make any decisions about it. It was thrown upon in a moment, in an afternoon. For a year or more afterward, I lived the life of a living hell. Everything I did failed. I lost everything, even myself.

Then I realized I needed to search within myself if I were to climb out of the hole I dig myself into.

I spent many hours over many days and weeks and months sitting alone in the desert. Not a metaphorical desert, but a real desert where I could hear only the sounds of the birds and insects. Where I could see only the creatures created before mankind set foot upon the earth. It was in this time of self-healing, meditation if you will, that I started to find myself again. And from that point on I started the long climb out of a deep, deep hole, out of my personal hell.

I eventually reached the top of the hole, climbed over the rim, and started the next part of my recovery - exploring what to do with the rest of my life. Which path should I take? The known path of an 8-5 routine, the doldrums of the same days repeated over and over again? Or should I look for something different? Something outside of my comfort zone? A path that would cause other people to ask "Are you crazy?"

I had a choice to make - the path known, or the path unknown. If I had chosen the path well known my life wouldn't have changed, not really. It would be the same routine, day after day, with the same people saying the same things. On the other hand, I could have chosen the path unknown, a path I had never set foot to before. A path people said was crazy and dangerous. Two choices - continue my life as it was, or start something new.

I chose to latter option - the path unknown. I had written a message a message to friends telling them about this choice and what I was thinking of doing and in the message I wrote that I was starting a new chapter in the book of my life. One friend I hadn't heard from in many years wrote back "Chip, you're not starting a new chapter in the book of your life, you're starting a new book".

I thought about that statement - I'm starting a new book, not a new chapter. Why is that significant? Taking the path well known would be a new chapter. That would be the same story continuing in the same book. No real changes happening there. It would be easy and comfortable, familiar. Is that what I wanted? Is that what I needed? Familiar? Comfortable? Easy? Or did I need something bigger than that? I decided that yes, I needed something bigger which is why I had decided on the path less taken. The unknown path. It would be full of difficult times, hardships, new friendships, missed loved ones, new loves, new experiences, excitement, a new routine. A new book? Would I be writing an entirely new book of my life? Yes, that is exactly what it would be, break out of my old routine, step out of my comfort zone, and start writing a new life story.

What would that new life story be about? I had no idea, I only knew that I had to do it. With my wife, Cheryl, gone from my life, starting a new book was the only real choice. To choose to stay on the path well known, to have maintained the routine, would have been spiritual death, mental death. A slow road to nothing but unhappiness, possibly bitterness and anger because of the way life turned on me. I had to start a new book; I felt I had no choice but to take the path unknown. However, the question remained - what would this new book be about? What would the plot be? How would it unfold? Only time would answer those questions. Was I nervous with these uncertainties? Afraid of what might happen in such an unknown story? Did I feel trepidation? Honestly only the slightest little bit which I pushed back into the corners of my mind. I felt excitement and wonder. I had the self-confidence to know that no matter what, it was going to work out fine. I knew it wouldn't be easy, writing this new book, but I also had the self-assurance and fortitude to go through with it. And I did.

The day came to step out of one life and into another; to step onto a plane that would take me to a country I knew little about and what I did know was based on what I'd seen on TV or read about on the internet. I left with my carry-on bag and two checked bags. That's all I had of my previous life. Everything else had been sold or given to charity. I decided to make a clean break, and I did just that. Leaving my sons, brothers, relatives, and friends behind wasn't easy. Especially when one son was happy for me and the other wasn't. But I couldn't let that effect my new life story. I love my sons with all my heart, there's no doubt about that. I always will. I may not be there with them, but they have their own life stories to write. That day came, I gave them each hugs, shook their hands, and said "See you later", then I was gone to start a new journey.

I came to this country, foreign to me, with no expectations. I was starting from a clean slate. I would accept my new life in all its glory and with all its defects. I knew it would be different from what I am used to, a new culture, a new society, new norms, different attitudes, and different beliefs. I came not expecting to find the same comfortable life that I had before, but I came expecting adventure and new experiences. That is exactly what I have found.

I am now a little more than 6 years into my new life story, my new book of life. It hasn't been easy, but it has been an adventure. It hasn't been fun-n-games, but it has been an experience that has changed me. Every day is different, I like that. No more 9-5 daily routine that never changes. I like that, too. Every day has had some uncertainties, some days more than others, but that is life, that is what makes it exciting. Without those uncertainties, without those small worries, life would be routine and boring. But, I don't let the negative aspects affect me. I push them back into the corners of my mind and I continue moving forward because that is the direction I am looking - ahead. If I had eyes in the back of my head, maybe I would be going backwards, I don't know. But, what I don't do is this: I don't turn my head and look back at what might have been, what could have been. I focus on the road ahead, always and only, on the path that moves me forward into the new pages, the next chapters, of this new book of my life.

Am I glad for the decision I made back in 2013? Yes. Do I have any regrets about making this decision? No. We all have to choose which path we will take. Think about your paths ahead, consider them, pray about them, think about them, but don't over-think them, don't take the rest of your life wondering which to take. Give careful consideration to the paths for a relatively short period of time, then make a decision, choose a path, and step out onto that path. The alternative - the same life as always. If that is what you choose I hope the best for you, if you choose the path less trodden I know you will find yourself in a new adventure, whether it is good or not is your choice, it is what you make of it.

Rock formation in the Santa Catalina Mtns, Tucson, Arizona

The healing path

Monday, August 25, 2019

Life is full of negativity, it is full of bad experiences, but what do you do when you confront adverse situations in your life?

I learned in that terrible year after the death of my wife what not to do.

I learned from the many deaths in my family that a person cannot live if he/she closes himself to everyone close to him.

That is what I did in that year that turned into a living hell. I hope you who are reading this will not do what I did if you find yourself in a life-changing situation. I hope you will read on and find out what I did to get on the path to healing.

After such a difficult time in life, we need to be open to other people. We need to talk to other people. We need to get the feelings out of our mind and out in the air.

Only then can we begin to heal ourselves. Only then can we begin to see that life continues, and those who are now gone cannot prevent us from continuing to live a good and productive life, a life with love in it. We cannot let those who are no longer with us stop us from living. I think it doesn’t matter if those people, or that person, are still alive or has gone on to a higher place. We must put them in the back of our mind and focus on our live going forward. I will never forget any I have lost, but my life is not ruled by the loss of them. My life is ruled by my love for them and the knowledge that they would want me to continue the best I can, even without them.

I have memories of my wife returning to my mind ever day, maybe only a few seconds, maybe many minutes. I remember my brothers often. Nevertheless, they are gone and that cannot stop me from living a life of happiness and fulfillment.

Sometimes I have negative thoughts in my mind, but when I do, I force those negative thoughts away by thinking of something positive. I do not dwell on the negativity; I do not dwell on the losses.

To live life to its fullest we must maintain a positive attitude. We must push the negative thoughts back into the dark corners where they came from. Once those negative thoughts are back in their corners we must leave them there, let them live there alone and untouched. We must not return to them and pick them and look at them over and over. That will only result in us becoming bitter and angry people. All our family and friends will see that bitterness and anger in our life, in our attitude, in our personality, in our speaking. There’s no hiding that from anyone. Push those negative experiences, memories, back into their corner and leave them there where they belong.

Try to begin living in the light of a new attitude, a new presence, a life that will bring happiness and joy into your soul. Find something that makes you smile. Find something that makes you happy. Then do that whatever-it-is you found. Do it because it will bring a smile to your face. Do it because it will help you heal. Do it because it will help you move your life forward.

I have always loved being out in the natural world – the mountains of Washington state, the Mountains and the deserts of Arizona. The beach of Rocky Point, Mexico. I found joy, peace, happiness when I was hiking, 4x4 off-roading, sitting in the sunshine and listening to the sounds of the natural world around me. That is where I found, and still find, peace and joy. Not so much in solitude, which is nice from time to time, but those times when I needed to recharge my soul, my spirit, and clear my mind.

Whether a person in such a situation as I was in back in 2010 and 2011, or is in a completely different situation, such as a broken heart, the outcome is similar. Not the same, but similar – we need to heal, we need to rejuvenate, we need to take the time to learn who we are without that other person in our life. It’s not easy. But, it is a choice. You have to choose – do I move forward or stagnate where I am? Do I look for happiness and joy, or do I settle for anger and bitterness? For me the answer was easy – move forward into a life of fulfillment, personal, spiritual, fulfillment. A life of happiness and joy in everything. I chose to change my attitude and change my life and I’ve had no second thoughts or doubts about what I chose to do. And remember this: there’s always hope.

Me on the old Muelle (dock)

Chip Wiegand

Barranquilla, Colombia

Contact me: Chip Wiegand

I teach english as a foreign language in Barranquilla, Colombia. I'm from Kennewick, Washington, USA. In my previous life, as I call it, I was an IT guy, systems administrator, computer tech, as well as a shipping/receiving guy and also worked as a merchandising guy for a year for a camping/RV accessories store.



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