Why I Had to Quit FaceBook and Learned to Love Instagram…in just a week.

One day a couple of weeks ago, I just snapped. That’s how I have made many important decisions in my life…I snap and zap. This time it was FaceBook that finally pushed me in a new direction. I had progressively (no pun intended) gotten so extremely tired of all the USA politics on FaceBook. All my “friends” that I actually see are either liberals, or they are keeping it zipped. Anyone that I know and like and suspect that they are a Republican, I unfollowed until after the election. That’s because I really want to continue to like them. If they are someone I didn’t actually know, I just unfriended them. So, I wasn’t seeing pro-trump stuff, I was seeing anti-trump stuff….but, I was seeing it and seeing it and seeing it. I was tired of a steady diet of all this. Since I think you are what you eat, I also think it goes further than that. You are what you consume, no matter through your mouth or your mind. It was just trump…it was like the Bad News Gazette. I lost two actual friends who were Bernie supporters because I refused to allow anyone to post anything negative about Hillary Clinton in response to one of my own comments. Enough said about that.

And much of the reason I quit FaceBook was because of what I felt it was bringing out in me; my worst possible side. Every time I looked at my newsfeed I would end up pissed off, and twice I put up such scathing comments or posts that I immediately took them down. I was starting to see FaceBook as a big billboard that I owned and I often had the urge to just post “Fu(k You.” It really was fueling my anger in general. That is not healthy for anyone, although some people seem to thrive on it. To each her/his own.

I also must say, FaceBook was capable of bringing out my best side, too. I found myself compelled to get involved with people in order to make them feel better. I found myself really caring, and sometimes feeling a bit drained emotionally. I was sending unsolicited private messages, cheering people on. It got to be too much.

I have continued to check my own wall, and certainly to use FaceBook Messenger, a very good communication tool. I will still put up links to my blog on FaceBook because some of my friends who check that they like my blog posts seem to be too lazy to actually Follow it. Which, of course, makes me wonder if they read it, or just like the pictures. I truly think that social media has taught some people to be incapable of reading more than one or two sentences. I think this will profoundly affect the next generation’s ability to concentrate and read, and that is too bad. Hopefully, maybe, I’m wrong….

But, speaking of liking the pictures, most of the pictures I posted on FaceBook had been through a great deal of PhotoShop and nothing was spontaneous. I am a perfectionist and capable of spending hours on PhotoShop….removing things that shouldn’t be in the pictures, and making myself and others look more fabulous than we really look…especially pictures of me.

I had started an Instagram account sometime in 2012, but hadn’t done much with it. I would do a random post every now and then but it was always something I had taken with my Fuji camera and mailed to myself, since you can’t post from your computer. I didn’t really understand or connect with Instagram. Until I did. After my adios to FaceBook, I started to explore Instagram. I love its spontaneity. I have a whole different set of standards for my Instagram posts, and perfection isn’t on the list. I am capturing moments, and the words are no longer the point. I love photos and I love words. I will continue to use my blog for literary expression, and when appropriate, I will post photos from my camera with my blog. But, this time, instead of mailing a perfect photo from my computer to my phone, I am emailing a wacky selfie from my phone to my computer to use on this post. This is what my Instagram posts are like. The caption here is “Girl on the Run.” “Chica a la Fuga,” in Spanish.

This brings up another issue between FaceBook and Instagram. While there are many friends from Nashville I enjoyed keeping up with on FaceBook, I find that Instagram opens up more ways to connect with people and images from around the world. (And I’m not talking about the weirdos that show up in friend requests on FaceBook. I’m talking about people who take amazing photos.)  I am connecting already with many people in Mexico, so I will post my photo comments in both English and Spanish. I am not being pretentious, I am trying to be bi-lingual, one of my reasons for moving to Mexico. While I lived for many years in Nashville, I am now a resident of Mexico. While I used to love walking from our house to Burger Up, I am not all excited about “The New Nashville.” In fact that was one reason I needed to leave. I needed changes in imagery and changes in energy.

I thought when I had my Brokeback Mountain moment with FaceBook that I would free up a lot of time. I did. I must confess, however, that I am spending a lot of it learning how to use my phone camera and how to use Instagram. Learning is learning and it keeps the mind alive. Plus, I never do anything half-way.

I have made a couple of guest appearances on FaceBook during this hiatus. Fred sometimes finds FaceBook posts that he can’t resist telling me about. Kind of like offering an alcoholic a martini. One of them was so fabulous, I had to comment. I have cruised my newsfeed a couple of times in a moment of lax discipline. I sometimes, on purpose, look at Jerry Rife’s wall because he is such a wonderful photographer and his work inspires me. I always check my messages, and here you go with a blog post. There may be more blog posts, because…well, after all…you know (if you’re my FaceBook friend) that I have many opinions and I do love to run off my big mouth.

If you would like to follow me on Instagram, it’s just margaretellis. For now, I won’t be sharing these photos to FaceBook.

 

 

Parade of the Locos…and a nice party

The photo here is Fred waiting for the parade to start. The quiet before the storm.

Fred and I really enjoyed viewing the parade today from a roof top. It was fun to see, but I would have been overwhelmed to be in the midst of it. There were thousands of people from all over Mexico who showed up in costume and filled the streets. Thanks to Plata for a lovely rooftop party. I ended up liking the pictures of the people at the party more than the pictures I took of the parade.

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Women of a Certain Age. Part 5

This is the final part of this series. For now…The woman pictured here was selling hats on the square at Patzcuaro. Fred and Pinky and I took a recent trip there for a few days just to check it out. I have a friend here in San Miguel who has a wonderful hat from Michoacan, and I did have the idea of hat-shopping on my mind. Most of the hats that this woman had for sale were pretty generic, but there was a pile set aside that had the feeling I was looking for. I saw the perfect one. I tried it on. Perfect fit. It now appears on my head in my FaceBook profile picture.

This lady has a certain air about her. I don’t think she messes around much. I seriously doubt that anyone messes around with her. She was wonderfully dressed, in the Old Mexico style of the women you see further south. I somehow managed to get the nerve to ask if I could take her picture. I loved the way she looked. She said okay, without registering any emotion one way or the other. The fact that I hadn’t tried to bargain with her about the price of the hat probably earned me some points. There is something in a face like this that says, “I see through all the crap. Don’t waste my time.” I snapped three and my nerve ran out. This is the one I like.

I have no idea how many years on earth this woman has accumulated. She could be younger than me. I don’t even know her name, or any part of her story. I just know when I look in the mirror at my own face, I would like to see more of this kind of strength.

 

Women of a Certain Age, Part 3.

This lady is one I see frequently on the street in San Miguel de Allende, usually helping out a flower seller who works near a sidewalk cafe. There is something compelling about her. I was pleased and rather surprised when she agreed to let me take her photo. She doesn’t have the strong, outgoing personality of the woman in the first of these posts, and she doesn’t seem to have the confidence of the woman in the second post of this series. In fact, in this woman I  always sense a feeling of vulnerability and shyness. I always say hello to her. Sometimes she holds out her hand to me, sometimes she doesn’t. When she does, I always find some pesos for her.

As a woman growing up in the USA I have certainly dealt with issues of strength and vulnerability. I have always thought that a woman could be one or the other…strong or vulnerable…but not both at the same time. My life in Mexico has taught me that only when we realize our vulnerability can we really find our strength. As a child growing up in a fairly dysfunctional situation I always felt vulnerable. The same vulnerability carried over into my first marriage. I was always expecting someone to come in the door in a really hostile mood, and even if it had nothing to do with me, I always felt it was my job to fix it. At around age 35 I managed to see that I could also be strong, and I saw being strong as the key to my survival. I saw strong as good, and vulnerable as not so good.  My experiences in Mexico have helped me to see that I can actually be strong even when I am most vulnerable. In fact, the only way to be truly strong is to be able to accept my vulnerabilities, love that scared child within me, and then to find my strength. I now see that we cannot really know our strengths until we also see our vulnerabilities. It is the ability to see both these sides of ourselves that matters most. So many women, especially women like me (old enough to have been strongly affected by the Feminist Movement..and to know what life was like before it), are not willing to see how vulnerable they really are. It’s always got to be Wonder Woman, all the time.

I don’t know the difficulties that some of the women I see here experience every day. I don’t know their joys. But, what I see is their magnificent survival. It is a simpler life here, and people aren’t all worked up about impressing each other. There is a kindness of spirit that I see in the faces I meet on the street. There is a shyness, just waiting for me to make the first move and say hello. I suspect they wonder about me sometimes, too. While I know that our lives have been very different, I also see more each day how similar we are.

One of the most important things I have learned about living in Mexico is that I simply cannot judge the lives of others. Many people come to a country like this and think that somehow the people’s lives are inferior because of the standard of living that they see. But, wait. Stop and look. This is not inferior, it’s just different. If you can put aside your own standards and expectations you can find a world very different from what you have ever experienced, but a beautiful world, nonetheless. And, you can look inside yourself and find strengths you didn’t know you had. And, when you need to feel vulnerable, you can just do that, too…without judging yourself at all.

Women of a Certain Age. Part One.

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I am so moved and amazed by the older women I see in Mexico. There is a strength of character in their faces. Some of them have lived hard lives, but they are a true inspiration to me. The lady in these pictures is Publita, I see her occasionally on the streets of San Miguel. I always stop and give her money. She gives me a smile. She has so much personality. She seems like a force of nature. I know very little about her, but I always look for her when I am out and about. What a wonderful face she has. I am going to show you five women in this series. They are just the ones I have been lucky enough to capture. There are many more that got away. All of these faces have made me change some of my ideas about aging. I no longer see it as something to dread. I see it as something to aspire to.

The Magic Garden

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Alfonso Alarcon of Terra. He is a very popular landscape designer in San Miguel de Allende.

One of the things that Fred and I liked most about the house we bought in San Miguel de Allende was the little garden off the living room. We knew we would need to “tweak” it a bit, but it was basically pretty nice. There is a dining area, a sitting area, and lots of cacti and succulents, which are my favorite plants. Pinky took to it immediately, and while it is small, it is still big enough for her to run around just a little bit. She loves to sit outside in the sunshine. We love to sit outside in the shade of the big umbrella. One of the best things about this garden is the huge pencil cactus that looks like a big tree. It has some flowering vines clustered inside it that the hummingbirds really love.

The past few days have been devoted to tweaking the garden. We engaged the services of a wonderful landscape designer, Alfonso Alarcon. Interestingly enough, the name of his business here in San Miguel is Terra, which is the name of the service we used in Nashville. He and his crew came in for about four days of work, and we ended up with the garden looking exactly right. I might also add that they left everything each day in perfect order. They moved some of the plants we already had around to different spots, and added a few new ones. The most exciting of the new plants  is a little grove of five organos. They rediscovered an old fountain that had been hidden under vines and brought it back to life. Alfonso did the original landscaping for this garden when the house was first renovated, many years ago. Then the owners that we bought it from undid that, and did what we had when we moved in. It was nice for Alfonso to come back to the site and work his magic touch. We are so very pleased with our garden, and look forward to enjoying watching some of the new plants grow up to maturity. Our little touches are the glass balls, most of which we found at a dump! (San Miguel manufactures lots of glass and there is an actual glass dump, when you can get lucky and find rejects.) The big mirror one I found in a shop. I think the reflection is a nice contrast to the plants and the rocks.

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The showcase corner, with the organo, the fountain, and the glass balls.

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A lovely detail, our big agave. Note the little sculpture. It was a gift from a dear person, Margaret Beasley. I have always treasured it, and this is such a happy home for it.

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Another detail…a succulent (with babies) and the big mirror ball.

 

So Very Nice to Meet You

I had a lovely experience today. I met Eva Hunter for a late morning coffee at the little cafe in the Instituto Allende, here in San Miguel. I had only met Eva via FaceBook. I think what happened was she commented on  a post from a mutual friend and I found her interesting. Since we had several mutual friends  (In many ways San Miguel is a very small town), I decided to send her a friend request. Somewhere in the world of FaceBook I learned that she is a writer, and, in fact, had a book that I could buy on Kindle, “Little Mormon Girl.” I read the book and found it very well-writen and honest. I started to look forward to seeing her posts, not only because she is such a good writer, but also because she usually said something that resonated with my own thoughts.

Eva has always been a professional writer. She works with other people to help them write books…a book coach. Also magazine articles; she has a way with words. But, she is always working on her own writing…a new book is in the works and I look forward to reading it.

I reached a point that when she “liked” one of my posts I found it quite flattering, as she herself is such an excellent writer. I begin to see many posts from her about an upcoming trip to Greece. I decided that I really needed to meet her before she left. We had already reached the point of a few FaceBook messages, so it was pretty easy to set up a time.

You never know when you meet someone that you like from a distance what will happen if you have a visit. I am happy to say that this visit was splendid. Her conversation is much like her writing, and we covered lots of subjects. Everything from politics in the US (on the same page), to finding ourselves “women of a certain age” in San Miguel, both of whom have slightly younger husbands. We talked about the importance of knowing you are loved.

I love Eva’s style. I always admire a woman who wears red lipstick. I believe that we will have more visits, and more conversations. She is definitely my kind of woman.

This is a post she put up on FaceBook this morning, talking about the weather here yesterday…

“Last night the winds came in, sudden and without warning; whipped boughs of trees in my garden, slammed windows on my yellow balcony doors: flashes of vertical lightening, then monstrous pelts of rain. The cobblestoned street two floors below ran with water like a river.
This is the rainy season in San Miguel de Allende, and the end–we hope–of high-eighty-degree heat. Spring and summer are times of late afternoon rain; the rain that in the fall brings fields of rose-colored cosmos and scratchy-stem sunflowers. Sudden hard rains, scary to get caught in, catching us unaware. This is the time for the umbrella in the satchel; for not making plans to go out around five or six p.m.
This morning the sky is razor blue over the white Moroccan-style house with turret punctuation across the way.”   See what I mean?

Communication….The Goal of Creativity

The picture here is a screen shot of the beginning page of my blog. I was talking the other night about the creative drive. Is it a desire for fortune and fame? Or, is it something more primal? For me, it has always been an extreme need to communicate. Sort of like, I create, therefore I exist. There is nothing more frustrating than being a creative person without a means of self-expression. Since I stopped designing jewelry 2 1/2 years ago, my main form of expression has been my blog. It combines two of my favorite forms of communication, photography and writing. In the midst of the busiest summer I have ever had, I have found myself spending a lot of time developing my blog. I have tripled my followers since June., and I now have followers from many parts of the world.

My blog has become my way of communicating about the world I see, and telling my story. As Fred and I now reach the beginning of our new chapter—living in Mexico—I realize that I will have lots of photos to take and stories to write. Writing my blog has also helped me to realize my mission, which is to inspire people to go for their dreams, and to find as much happiness as possible. I hope to be an example to people who don’t want to “cash in their chips” just because the years are piling up. I like to encourage people to dream, and to live big. I would love to share this with as wide an audience as possible. I know that many of my friends on FaceBook read my blog, because you tell me that you do. I am going to ask you to go that extra step, and actually go to my blog and click on to follow. It takes a second or two, and it would really mean a lot to me. Think of it as a little present to send me on my way. Thanks in advance.