How often in life do you meet a real and true, Anne of Green Gables? Mind you, she didn’t have red hair and freckles – actually, she’s from Columbia. But she’s really Anne of Green Gables in disguise, though. “Whatever is not positive, I don’t maintain in my life. If it creates negativity or stress, I get rid of it. In the end, I feel stress affects your health. I get rid of that.”
Carolina moved to Canada in 2007. She was born in Columbia and her father worked in the mining industry.
“I’ve lived all over and we were always moving. I loved it and had no problem with it. I actually enjoyed making new friends, seeing new cultures. It all stopped when my Dad passed away. I speak Spanish with my Mom – she lives here. We’ve gone thru economic ups and downs. I have 3 half sisters but consider myself like Cinderella.”
I got to know Carolina sitting on a bench in Barrie. We sat and talked and I walked away feeling like I’d been uplifted. Carolina explained to me how important perspective is in life and shared a bit of her youth.
The Power of Positivity
“I was bullied when I was 16 thru social media. It depends on how you deal with it; you move on. Learn a lesson from actions. I also feel like you attract who you are. On Social Media I don’t try to portray myself as something different. When I wake up, I always wake up on my right foot. You are never promised a tomorrow; you never know what will happen from one second to the other. I don’t feed on negativity.
My social media is all about positivity. Like today, it’s Monday! A lot of people think Mondays are shit but to me, it’s a fresh start to a new week. I look forward to getting on with it. I like to portray positivity and surround myself with it. Some people think I’m too happy go lucky.”
Talking to Carolina helped me to realize that perhaps being happy go lucky is this secret skill that has somehow eluded me in life. Maybe even eluded many of us? How do you let go when you are accustomed to having a plan A and a plan B? I asked her what could help?
“Nature plays a huge part in my life. If it rains, it drives me nuts when people complain, plants don’t get green if it doesn’t rain. Everything is not just pink and happy, its thanks to things like the rain that something green happens. When I drive to work, I look at something and get mesmerized by nature. Like music too, I love music! I listen to a lot of Latin music because its upbeat and happy. I’m not gonna lie, there are moments when I sit and think and miss my dad, or think of memories. Everybody has their ups and downs, and that’s when I listen to more mellow music. Then I’ll be like, okay, I’ve had my moment and go back to fun music. “
Carolina’s father passed away when she was 23. She believes she’s a lot like her father. Carolina did many things while she was young, like buying a house when she was 20. That’s something that her father taught her.
“I have a lot of both my mother and my father. Mainly, my Dad. My Dad was very chill, very laid back and didn’t stress a lot. My Dad didn’t know about tomorrow so he’d go do it today. If it meant buying a new car, he’d buy a new car today.”
“I’ve jumped on chances. My father was ill for many years and it taught me that things can disappear this fast. If you don’t jump on the train when its going by, its going to go. Its your choice. You can’t blame anybody else if you don’t jump on that train and make the move. The worst thing that can happen is a “no” or “rejection”. There is nothing wrong with asking. I don’t want to ask myself What If.
Doesn’t that make you think? How many times have you asked yourself that very question? “What if?” It was pretty clear after sitting with Carolina for just the first 5 minutes that she is a woman with a plan. She is the kind of person who makes lemonade from lemons and then shares it around. She works for what she has and then reaches out to do more. Are we missing that today?
“Not everything is replaceable. You can’t just break your phone and get a new one. Have an appreciation for what you have. Don’t just throw away and buy new. Show an appreciation for what you have and take care of it. A lot of people don’t know how to sew. If I have a rip or a button missing on my shirt, I can sew it myself and I choose to do that. I used to make Barbie clothes when I was little. Sewing, crocheting and knitting from a very young age is a great brain activity. You learn how to organize. You should look up the benefits of knowing how to knit from a young age. I work with kids and I love them. Seeing them always being so positive and happy shows me the way. I go home fulfilled.”
Maybe somehow, we are missing the ability to cherish what we have. The world is getting cluttered because so much is cheaper to replace than fix. Are we missing out in life because we aren’t grateful enough for what we have?
It starts with exercise
“I exercise every day. I go to the gym everyday, I bike, I’m also a black belt. I did karate for 18 years. I had my own Dojo in Peru. I did many tournaments with karate, you name it, tennis, high jump…I love sports. Up to 4 months ago, I was doing ballet. But then my knee got really sore. So, I dance at home. I dance at home a lot. I can do a little bit of salsa. We may not have all the money in the world but we don’t need that to be happy. Gratitude is huge. If you live mindfully and gratefully, it makes a big difference. If you are mindful, it makes you live the moment more.”
Carolina shared with me that having a positive attitude encourages her to do good things. Yet, the power of positivity is becoming more challenging as the world is evolving.
“When I was younger, I felt like I didn’t fit in or I wanted to fit in. It didn’t last very long. After thinking about things, I decided that I wouldn’t change who I am. My parents were very involved in my life, I’ve always been close to my family and they’ve always been very supportive. If I were to do something different, my parents would question me about not being true to myself. I got to hang out with a lot of adults because I was an only child. My maid of honour is 23 years older than me. I feel like being an only child forced me to mature faster. I went to private school and I loved it. It taught me that there are rules and that you just can’t do what you want. It shows your respect for hierarchy.”
Funny how it all seems to come together. Carolina is a strong, positive woman. As I was talking to her, it was very obvious that she was comfortable in her skin. She had a “this is me” attitude. She also came across like she was tough as bones deep within. Some of us search our whole lives to find that.
“If you want to tell me that I’m a horrible person, I’ll listen to you, but I’m not changing who I am. The door is right there. There are people who love to complain and love the drama or attention. I’m not gonna change who I am, it’s my life and I’m the author of my book.”
I’d read that book. Anne of Columbia in Barrie. Hmmm, well it isn’t catchy, but it’s the truth. A quote from Anne of Green Gables really finishes this all off nicely,
“It’s not what the world holds for you, it’s what you bring to it.”
Thanks, Carolina, for reminding us and making us think. 😊
Written by: Sharon Johnston | Images by: Stephen Elliot and Sharon Johnston
Barrie Benches, Coffee and Conversations is a new weekly feature that will highlight Barrie Citizens. We will share the stories of locals in an effort to make our big community just a little smaller. If you’d like to share a story of hope and inspiration, email me at [email protected] Perhaps we can sit together on a bench sometime.