The gift of gratitude from Cuba to Key West

This and every holiday season brings me to a place of gratitude and intention setting for the new year. 2017 in particular has been very profound in regards to gratitude. ALOT has manifested , a lot has changed, I am so grateful for everything. I continue to appreciate this life and the moments we have and the amazing opportunities we are presented with each day. Experiencing the effects of Hurricane Irma, which I could have allowed to shatter my dreams, and also traveling to Cuba and experiencing life there, has brought a deeper sense of appreciation for the little things in this life … Love,family,loyalty,friendship,food,water, and freedom.

Cienfuegos Cuba Hotel Jennifer Montgomery Key West Artist Philadelphia Miami www.jennifermontgomery.net

Cienfuegos Cuba Hotel Jennifer Montgomery Key West Artist Philadelphia Miami www.jennifermontgomery.net

My first trip to Cuba came upon me unexpectedly. I was in the midst of what felt like absolute chaos in my life and a derailment from the plan I had. That seems to be the theme of the spiritual awakening journey I’ve found myself on over the past few years. As a result, I’ve learned to surrender, accept and roll along with it …. like a blank slate . I went to Cuba out of love,curiosity and an opportunity to experience the reality of Cuban people. I appreciate different cultures and have traveled to several different countries. I appreciate experiencing life as the locals do. I can honestly say that my experience in Cuba was by far the deepest and most meaningful I’ve had so far.

Cienfuegos Cuba Castillo de Jagua

Cienfuegos Cuba Castillo de Jagua

I’ve wanted to travel to Cuba since the very first time I saw it on the travel channel about 15 yrs ago. I remember watching a show about the island on TV from Philadelphia and really having a strong desire to visit the island… the beautifully colored water really resonated with me. I’ve felt curious and intrigued with Cuban people for awhile. I think about the courage it takes to want an escape from your homeland so deeply that one will get on a boat and take a chance at a better life not knowing what is on the other side besides a dream of what one thinks it is. As I’ve written before, my life is divinely guided by spirit and I believe in a divine plan. So, a couple of years ago in Key West I met a beautiful man… he’s Cuban…… I had no idea what was going to evolve would be a love story but here’s a snippet of my first experience in Cuba.

Cienfuegos Cuba Castillo de Jagua Jennifer Montgomery Key West Artist Philadelphia Miami www.jennifermontgomery.net

Cienfuegos Cuba Castillo de Jagua Jennifer Montgomery Key West Artist Philadelphia Miami www.jennifermontgomery.net

This trip, October 2017, was probably one of the most organic experiences I’ve ever had. I was excited despite the news reports about so called sonic attacks and lack of US Embassy staff. A friend practically begged me NOT to go, but…. me being me, I followed my heart and own intuition. Immediately ,I noticed that visiting Cuba is like traveling back in time. I should add that this trip was not to a heavily tourist populated area.The landing spot was Santa Clara,Cuba. Upon landing,the evidence of the effects of Hurricane Irma were obvious. Aside from that,the energy felt,slow,peaceful,polite and quiet. Again, It’s an absolute shift in reality which is noticeable right away. Initially,I noticed the cars,(which are awesome) are from the 1950’s,fashion is different than in the US… Looking good is a priority in Cuba it seemed. Also,Cuba operates with their own money system.Paper and coins, no electronic funds,make sure you have Cuban money to get what you need !Leave your cell phone ALONE. There is no international calling or data plan for Cuba, put the phone down, be present or pay a ridiculous bill ( I can attest to this, I did it) People are friendly and seem willing to help each other out which was nice and comforting. Another interesting thing I quickly learned … Have your own toilet paper on hand,each public restroom in Santa Clara AND Cienfuegos that I visited didn’t offer any .😂😂😂😂 Certainly,little everyday things we take for granted in the US were not readily available in Cuba.

Cienfuegos Cuba Castillo de Jagua Jennifer Montgomery Key West Artist Philadelphia Miami www.jennifermontgomery.net

Cienfuegos Cuba Castillo de Jagua Jennifer Montgomery Key West Artist Philadelphia Miami www.jennifermontgomery.net

Cienfuegos Cuba Castillo de Jagua Jennifer Montgomery Key West Artist Philadelphia Miami www.jennifermontgomery.net

Cienfuegos Cuba Castillo de Jagua Jennifer Montgomery Key West Artist Philadelphia Miami www.jennifermontgomery.net

My time there was very eye opening and touched my heart. People are very happy despite the lack of luxuries we have in the US. I appreciated that very much. We have opportunities for more “stuff” and “things” in the US but also a strong disconnect from each other in many places as well. Experiencing and observing the people of Cuba, I felt a connection and deep compassion for the people of this country for some reason. As an American,there’s many things we take for granted. Something simple like an abundance of food choices,or job choices or living options. That’s simply not the case in Cuba as I noticed .The one word that speaks to me is- opportunity. We have so many opportunities in the US, the freedom to choose, to aspire, to set goals and to grow as human beings to our fullest potential. I felt a sense of suppression while I was there. For me, getting up and doing the same thing day after day would drain my spirit. Simple, basic everyday living requires efforts we know nothing about in mainstream USA. For example, you want to shower, you might have to get your water in a bucket and no it won’t be hot. Food? No supermarket or fast food drive through….. acquire it and cook it yourself. Travel? Well… you can walk, ride a horse, take a boat or bicycle. Daily reminders to appreciate everything.

I saw so much potential in the spirit of these people but nowhere for it to be nurtured. Somehow the people manage to be happy and welcoming. It seems as though the focus is on being happy in the moment, which is in direct correlation with my view of life – anything is possible and life, to me is about meaningful moments … We can choose to make the best or worst of our lives with our minds , perception and belief system . The sense of gratitude I felt upon returning to the US was immense I’m mostly a very present, peacoefilled, balanced, calm person but this really brought a deeper sense of that to me and for that I am grateful.

Happy Holidays and 2018 to everyone:) Peace, love, sunshine and sparkles:)
www.jennifermontgomery.net
Face Painting and Body Art in Philadelphia, Miami and Key West call 610.764.0853

Hurricane Irma Aftermath… The Florida Keys for Real

So its been about 2 months since Hurricane Irma whipped through Key West and The Florida Keys. The news coverage was minimal in comparison to some of the other storms, which has benefits in my opinion . But whats it REALLY like for the real live human people that have experienced this??? Yes, Key West fared well in consideration of the storm. But what about the other Keys? Most especially the Lower Keys.. Cudjoe Key, Big Pine Key, Marathon and others? I lost the place I lived. I consider myself lucky as I’ve been very lucky and fortunate with the help of perfect timing and excellent friends and protective energy always on my side. My first trip back was just 2.5 weeks ago. While a lot has been done since the disaster initially struck.. the drive down the Keys was much less exciting and breathtakingly beautiful than each and every previous drive. The energy is different for one and of course the destruction is obvious the closer to Marathon you get. After that, its really real as you enter Marathon, Big Pine and Cudjoe Key. The heaps of debris speak volumes. Then, its very sobering . It’s people whole lives as they knew it reduced to a pile of debris.

After Hurricane Irma Florida Keys Key West Artist

After Hurricane Irma Florida Keys Key West Artist

After Hurricane Irma Florida Keys Key West Artist

After Hurricane Irma Florida Keys Key West Artist


For me its been a very grounding experience in the sense that… its only stuff. I’m alive , well, happy and moving forward in positivity. Unfortunately , not everyone holds that same attitude. I recognize the challenge . It was easy for me to pick up and find another place to live. First, I was renting , I’m a minimalist, a gypsy soul and all my stuff was destroyed so there wasn’t much to do in that regard, LOL! But think for a moment…. What about the residents that have live here more stationary? The self employed residents that experienced huge income reduction? The psychological effects of this life altering experience? Its all real. We all process differently. Some people recover faster than others. These are the things that are important in this life. How are people managing all of this? Everything counts, its important. I love that the Florida Keys are a community of loving souls that really do help each other. I see love and camaraderie all around and thats one of the many things I love about Key West and The Florida Keys in general.

I will say ,fortunately for me, there is a huge benefit in having less than more and remaining unattached to stuff. In the past week at the events I’ve been doing henna in Key West, it seems that the energy is on the upswing. I realize people are tired, in fact exhausted, but still trucking along rebuilding their lives. I think it’s a big fat lesson in compassion, patience and loving each other. I choose to believe everyone is doing the best they can. I think the biggest blessing of the hurricane for me is focusing more on the present moment, loving people and moments and cherishing each day as the gift it really is. Have a beautiful day friends!

After Hurricane Irma Florida Keys Key West Artist Key West Sunset

For Face Painting and Body Art in Key West,Miami,and Philadelphia PA contact Jennifer at 610.764.0853 www.jennifermontgomery.net

Hurricane Irma Update Key West Artist

Hi Face and Body Art friends!! Just a note to say I’m so grateful for all the support and love I have been receiving during the Hurricane Irma situation . Fortunately, I was in PA for the actual happening… packing up to shift full time to my favorite place on Earth!!! The good news is, I am safe and so are all the people I love in the Keys. I’m asking for your patience with me over the next couple of weeks, I’m doing my best to figure everything out right now. Where I live down there, Cudjoe Key, took the eye of the storm … still unsure if I have a place to live .. or not. I’m rolling with it, keeping positive and rocking out wth paint in glitter in PA for the moment:)

Key West Artist Hurricane Irma

Key West fared very well during the storm so Fantasy Fest will be a blessing this year!!! I am so excited!!! See you all there:) Treasure each day, every moment, every second!!! xoxoxo

www.jennifermontgomery.net 610.764.0853