Rich with Freedom

I’m so excited to have not just a guest blogger but a beloved writer who had seen her book, Simply Salsa fly to the top of the Amazon chart. Janet Perez Eckles has faced many changes in her life.. Born in Bolivia, she moved at a young age to the U.S. with her family. At age 31 she developed Retinitis Pigmentosa and lost her sight. She has had to face many trials such as infidelity and the murder of her son. But with the grace of God she is a constant reminder of God’s grace. Her new book, Hola Happiness is available on I encourage you to check out her website: and watch this encouraging woman’s videos. It will make your day!


On December 12, 1964, an old taxi cab waited outside our home in La Paz, Bolivia. My Mom, my 11-year-old brother and I at 12 tossed a few suitcases into its trunk. My stomach tightened and I fought a lump in my throat.


My grandmother held me close, her wet cheek against mine as she whispered, “Honey, I will miss you.” The scent of her stale perfume stayed with me.


“We’ll write as soon as we can,” Mom reassured her with apparent composure. But her stream of tears revealed different feelings.


We slid into the cab and headed to La Paz airport. I turned to look out the back window, knowing this would be the last time I’d see my neighborhood, my familiar surroundings and my home. I glanced at the old, worn-out playground where my friends and I spent hours flying high on the swing set. The splintered wood of the swing swayed in the wind as if waving a sad good-bye to me. I thought of the shouts of glee as we slid down the rusty, old slide. The neighborhood, although not pretty, held a secure familiarity for me.


The next day, we arrived in St. Louis, Missouri. In contrast to what I knew, the huge airport looked strange and big–bigger than anything I’d ever seen. Unfamiliar gadgets greeted us everywhere including electric doors that opened on their own–a frightening scene!


“Hold on tight,” Mom instructed. She held my hand and placed it on the black banister moving along the side of the escalator. I froze as my heart screamed: “But Mom, they’re moving!”


The next step in our new home was even more frightening—adjusting to the language.


Father shook his head. “No, you cannot stay home from school. The only way for you to learn English is to listen and begin to speak it.”


As if entering another planet, all I heard was incomprehensible noise echoing through the classroom. But to my parents’ delight, in the months that followed, my brother and I began to learn the language faster than ever dreamed possible.


Eventually the ability to speak English was the rope that lifted me up, keeping me from drowning in a strange culture.


Years swept by, turning the seasons of adjustments. The spring that ushered a new life in a new home. The summer’s warmth with opportunities we never knew before. Thefall with a refreshing embrace of new American ways. And the winter ushering the beauty of Christmas with the gift of exciting adventures wrapped in shining freedom.


We received these gifts with gratitude. They were presented to us in a ceremony where my family and I gave our oath declaring our allegiance to the United States of America.

That day, I knew what Mom meant when she had said, “When we get there…you will see, it will be better than any dream.”


Through the decades, we committed to contribute our talents, skills and dedication to our community, workplace, church and neighborhood in exchange for the privilege of being called “Americans”.

Looking back, the tears my grandmother shed might have been because of joy. She must have known a new home, rich with opportunities and freedom waited for us.


Although blind, Janet Perez Eckles has been inspiring thousands to see the best in life. She is an international speaker, writer and #1 bestselling   author of Simply Salsa: Dancing without Fear at God’s Fiesta.

She loves to salsa, to play on the floor with her grandchildren and cruise with Gene, her hubby of 35 years. And from her home in Florida, she travels across the country to ignite a passion to overcome and triumph.


Janet Perez Eckles, inspiring you to see the best in life.

For inspiration and a bit of humor, watch Janet’s video:

Facebook, Twitter and Youtube channel links at:

Hola Happiness: Finding Joy by Dancing to the Melody of God’s Word 

Available at:

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