Taking a Break

I realize that some people who read my blog are not connected to me on FaceBook or Instagram and are possibly wondering why I haven’t been posting. Fred and Pinky and I spent the month of January on the beach. Believe it or not, it gets chilly in the Mexican mountains in January. The days are sunny, warm and spectacular, but the late nights are sometimes in the thirties. The houses get cold, and don’t warm up much, even in the afternoons.
Fred and I have managed to take a winter beach vacation for the past 25 years. These trips have ranged from two weeks to three and a half months, and have gone down both coasts of Mexico. Going to the beach has been a very sustaining part of my life. There is something about going to a new place and staying there for a while that gives me a new way of looking at my life and a new way of seeing myself and my situation. Fred and I tend to treat our beach trips like little honeymoons. We got the honeymoon idea early in our travels, on our first trip to Puerto Vallarta. The tradition on many beaches in Mexico is for a guy to stand outside the bars and sort of flag people in for happy hours. And, every hour seems to be a happy one. There was one guy whose line was, “Hey, Honeymooners…two for one.” We loved that line, and did see ourselves as honeymooners, and all our beach trips give us a new look at what being together means to us. We have enriched our last three beach trips by including Pinky, making it a family affair.
This particular trip has been especially important to me. When I finished radiation on November 2, I was kind of a mess. I was shockingly skinny, had just started to get my hair back, and my muscle tone was pretty much shot. In spite of this, physically and mentally I felt really good. But, it was hard for me to reconnect with my physical self. I almost felt like I’d been picked up and reinserted into a different person’s body. I spent very little time without being wrapped in very concealing clothes, and struggling to recognize the woman I saw in the mirror. I also knew that my outlook on many things had changed. My boundaries were stronger (a good thing), and my patience much shorter (sometimes not such a good thing).
One thing being in a tropical beach setting does is force you to confront your physical body. I have managed to gain eight pounds since I was officially declared finished on November 8 (I won’t forget the date, or fail to see the irony of it). I brought my exercise mats and bands to the beach and have managed to get enough discipline together to get my workouts on a roll. I see muscle tone again. My skin looks less like it is draped over my bones. I have hair, and that hair has a definite mind of its own. I started coloring my hair as soon as I had a quarter inch of it, because that’s how I am. I have been redecorating my face, changing my make up. Changing my mind about my face, too.
But, most importantly, I have continued to write. I have been writing, just not posting. So, now that we have wrapped it up and are back in San Miguel de Allende, I have several new posts ready for you. So, more to come.
I have enjoyed Instagram very much on this trip. I have had a creative dry spell for the past many months, as most of my energy has gone into just taking physical care of myself. I have been thinking about that and looking for what I will do next in that direction. I think one of the most interesting phases of the creative process is when you have the drive but aren’t quite sure how to channel it. Writing has been so good for me during all this. I have been encouraged to hear from some readers that my posts have been good for them, too. I am glad to know that. I am writing this particular series not only for people who find themselves slammed by a health crisis, but also for myself as I walk my own way down this path asking “Where have I been, where am I now, and where am I going?”…

The 30 Day Challenge

Why I Love to Live in Mexico. The Thirty Day Challenge

Yesterday my new friend in San Miguel, Donna Myers, sent me a challenge via FaceBook. The assignment is that each day, for the next 30 days, I will give a reason for why I love living in Mexico. I have been here in San Miguel for 2 1/2 months and will be traveling in other parts of the country for the next 3 1/2 months. This trip is an exploration, not just of Mexico, but of a new way of living. Fred and I have fallen in love with San Miguel, and have already rented a house here for 6 months next year.
Since we have been here, I have posted very little on this blog, but quite a lot on FaceBook. My theory has been that one picture is truly worth a thousand words. But, I have decided to use Donna’s challenge as a motivator to talk a little bit more about what is going on. As another blogger said the other day, “If I don’t tell my story, who will?”
So I hope that those who have seemed to enjoy the photos will go a little deeper with me for the next 30 days as I tell you why I love living life in Mexico.
REASON NUMBER ONE. NO BAGGAGE.
Not to imply that we are traveling light. The back of the Rav 4 we are driving is pretty full. You need a bit of stuff to travel for 6 months. What I mean is that when I am in Mexico, I feel that my identity is solely defined in the moment. It has nothing to do with what I did for a living, my accomplishments, or any preconceived notions that someone may have of me. I am also learning to free myself from expectations that are self-imposed. I feel very anonymous here, and I like that feeling. I have started to realize that life is like a play, except there is no dress rehearsal. As I enter the third act of this play called My Life, I would like to recreate myself a bit, and to truly feel that I have turned a page. I want my days and experiences to be new. I want to feel a sense of adventure, and being in Mexico provides that opportunity.

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A State of Mind

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Sometimes it’s just time to shift a gear and move on to the next thing. People who know me seem surprised that Fred and I have sold our business and retired. Not that it’s so unusual for a woman approaching 70 to be ready for a change. It was great to get in touch with what I really wanted to do-design jewelry-and then to somehow manage to do it, and do it with a fair degree of success, for 30 years. It was a wonderful life for Fred and me to both quit our day jobs and do something that seemed so risky and adventurous. And we did have an adventure. We went places we otherwise would not have gone, and met some very interesting people along the way, but when it was time to move on, it was time to move on. Personally, I had reached a point where I wasn’t enjoying my work as much. My motto for the past few decades has been, “Always leave while you’re still having fun.” I wasn’t having much fun and I was completely tired of selling things to people.

I had jokingly said for about the past five years that I liked photographing the jewelry more than any other part of my job. I really only had time to do one portrait a month which was the ad for my jewelry. I needed to spend more time on photography in order to see my photos become art. I wanted to spend more time studying Spanish, and to turn our 3 week vacations in Mexico into much longer stretches of time. I also wanted to have time to cook more and develop wheat-free, vegan recipes. I felt I needed more time every day for physical workouts. As I was approaching 70, I realized more every day how fleeting time really is.

Fortunately, my husband and partner, Fred, is a good planner and he had starting to thing about the economics of our retirement. That is huge, and you are never to young to start thinking about this. We found a great financial advisor, and realized that we actually could retire without living in a cardboard box.

It took a year from the day we knew we were both ready until we actually left. In the midst of that time we sold our business to Mclaine Richardson, a very talented young woman who had worked for us for about three years. She is young, doing an excellent job, and I believe she is having fun in the same way I did so many years ago. I was so happy this happened; for many reasons. Obviously, it’s great to sell your business. It is also a very good feeling to know that your loyal employees will still have jobs, and to see the name of something you have worked hard to develop for a long time be continued.

I’m sure everyone who has ever retired has had their own process to go through. For Fred and me there was some stress to get here, but for now, it’s absolutely the best life I’ve had so far. I don’t really think of myself as “retired,” just as someone who has changed her state of mind.
This blog will be about how this journey unfolds. I will focus a lot on cooking, and try to be helpful to people who want to eat healthier. I will explore issues that relate to gender identity, as this is currently the subject matter I am most interested in photographing. When we travel I will share those destinations. Next trip up is to San Miguel in the mountains in Mexico. The photo for this piece was taken there last summer. I don’t want to define and confine this writing on the front end. Who knows where it will go? Who knows where the journey will take me? I’d love to have you go along for the ride.