Evolution of Self

Evolution of self~ return to center

I met Valentin early one morning as he stood outside my apartment window on a ladder. He was part of a roofing crew and had woken me up with his rapid fire spanish. When I opened the window to get a better look, he said hello but kept working. As the job wrapped up, we decided to go out on a date. Later that month I bleached my hair platinum blonde and updated my wardrobe, ditching my hippy garb in favor of more “Mexican” attire. It was a fun change of pace and nothing I hadn’t done before. A year later our first daughter was born, followed every two years by another, until we had three plus my big kid. I slowly ditched the colored hair and fashion fabric, and began returning to myself over those years….

Until we moved to rural Michoacan.

For the first year, I minimized my true nature in order to assimilate. I made myself meak as I absorbed the new world  around me. I kept my mouth shut and my ideas hidden, I tried my best to play the game and blend into the rural Mexican scenery. I hand washed, cooked on my fire and learned the local dialect. I never drove myself anywhere and didn’t drink. I even tried to keep my tattoos covered at times. And, despite never failing at anything in my entire life, I failed miserably at trying to master the art of making nixtamal and tortillas.
I asked the locals for help and advice, attempted to make friends in my new language and kept my children tidy. I tried to cultivate my skills as the smiling hostess and accept the double standards for men and women. I listened to the people, who lived here in this valley because they may know better than me, and they told me to do this or not do that, even though it often went against my intuition. I never took into account that their experience was limited. As time passed, I realized that despite my best efforts, none of this was working. My repeated failure was evident in everything I did here. I began to internalize this misalignment and successfully trapped myself in a multi-layered cage. It took two years to see that I had done this to myself.
By the second year, I had begun to see the pitfalls of the deeply ingrained cultural ways that I was trying desperately to mimic. I became radical and a great upheaval followed. I pulled my children out of the rural school and began homeschooling. I quit making tortillas, sold my corn grinding mill and I began cooking non-mexican food in my kitchen. This was met with a tsunami of disapproval that tried to knock me to my knees. Time and time again, I withstood the cultural battering and didn’t crumble in the wake. I started doing yoga again and envisioned my life a little different. But still there was this ever present energy of fighting against the norm, proving myself and feeling angry that the people here didn’t support and couldn’t relate to anything I was about. I was constantly in battle mode and unable to clearly focus on anything that mattered to me. I was shooting myself in the foot with each step forward. It all felt so heavy.

I remember two years ago, my oldest son said something that has stuck with me. He said, “mom, what you are looking for doesn’t exist there anymore. It hasn’t been there for a long time…” I wasn’t ready to accept that truth, in it’s depth and accuracy, until this point in the journey. The ramifications of acknowledging that the dream that I was seeking for years simply doesn’t exist in this time-space are at once overwhelming and liberating. This powerful truth is requiring me to reexamine everything. My whole life. Everything I have been moving towards for years, even before making the leap to move to Mexico. The old ways are gone. There are still echoes and reflections of these hanging around, but time has moved forward. People have moved on and where I stand today has finally inched it’s way into the American 1950’s and become stuck. The reality I am facing, two and a half years later, is that this is not where I am at in my own spiritual-physical-emotional evolution. I have evolved well past the 1950’s and continue to evolve rapidly, no thanks to where my feet are planted. This, is the struggle that has been hiding beneath everything, discreetly demolishing the entire Mexican experience.
My rural Mexican fantasy dream life has exploded. Now the question is, what can be salvaged? I do not believe that this is a total loss, although it has certainly felt like it at times. I am feeling out an alternate route here, and have taken the first steps in returning to what I know. I know I love camping, which is different than just living on land in a rural location. I know I love gardening, which is not the same as subsistence farming. I know I love reading and writing and creating, all of which are viewed as an absurd waste of time in this community, unless they create wealth. I believe in health and wellness and beauty. Not in a superficial way, but in a lasting, deep and natural way. And here I am, in the heart of Mexico, surrounded by the epitome of natural beauty…. And yet for years, it has remained untouchable.
Many of you will read these words and think, “I knew moving to Mexico was a mistake…” But it wasn’t. The mistake I made could have happened anywhere. The mistake was abandoning my sense of self. I lost myself when I tried to become a part of this place. A place I didn’t even understand….
I had to dive deep into the underworld to find my drifting consciousness. A painful solo journey into the abyss. I had no idea that I would find myself, intact, amongst those jagged rocks of misconception. Nor that I was even searching for that. I just felt like an insurmountable obstacle was keeping me from living and loving in my truest way. I knew I had to face it but had no idea what it was. How strange that it was my own dream and my momentous attempt to reach it……….
Here I Am! I am finally ready to shed those old worn out dreams and forge a new trail.  At this time, it’s important for those who choose to walk with me to know that I turn on a dime when least expected. I veer off when I see an alluring fork in the road and I give myself permission to change my mind at any time along the way. In a not so hypothetical sense, I can do whatever I want. I create and follow beauty. I live inspired. And if it doesn’t feel right, I am not obligated to participate. Those who know me, know I have been here before. Cycling through the ages with new energy and information. 
I am not lost…. The path I choose is never straight.  Now the wild waters are calling me.

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car seats, rain and bursting the illusion

In searching for my long forgotten freedom, I realized that a car seat was an obvious part of the equation that I had somehow managed to overlook. In my quest to leave the civilized world behind, I had actually caged myself in the rural Mexican 1950’s illusion. I became an isolated housewife, barefoot and pregnant, cooking and washing with no way out. 

The notorious child restraining device of the industrial world, was all at once a symbol of freedom and mobility. The very thing that I had shunned, had become my way out.
We loaded up in the truck  late in the day, as ominous black thunderheads were gathering. Too late, I thought, to find a deal at the tiangus. As we parked and began to walk, the air was thick and humid; we were all sweating. The sun was gone and the odd light was a sure sign of what was coming. We jumped in a taxi that took us across the city and dropped us off at the giant crap sale. Multi colored tarps overhead creating strange lights and shadows on the piles of made in China nic-nacs, vegetables and assorted used items. We practically ran through the long, crowded walkways, dragging children, looking here and there for a good deal on a used car seat. But as I suspected, we were too late. The people were rolling up their junk, in a hurried attempt to flee before the skies opened up. Thunder rolled as tarps crumpled and snapped. Hand trucks piled ten feet high barely missing my sandaled feet. This was chaos.
We decided to leave. We hopped into a combi that was empty except for a giant speaker behind the back seat. Reggeton and cumbia blared as we made our way through congested city streets. The children were dancing and I was enjoying the craziness of it all. Somehow, that big bass was rattling me out of the depression that had settled around me in the past months. Maybe this is what I need, I thought to myself….. Maybe everything else would be ok if I just came into the city periodically and rode around in the ‘Cumbia Combi’….. Just as the thought began to gel, the door flew open and it was time to jump out with all the kids into the hectic street scene.
We walked quickly back to the truck as thunder cracked overhead. As we drove across town, the drops began to fall. The store I remembered that sold used baby things appeared to be gone, and we were left driving around somewhat aimlessly, towards a street full of crap stores and funeral wreaths. As we rounded a corner on the top of a hill, we were struck by the sound of a bomb. Lightning bolts hit metal poles on both sides of the truck, electrifying the air and making every passenger jolt and scream. The sound was enormous. Valentin clucked his tongue at us and kept driving slowly as the sky unzipped. The windshield wipers barely made a difference, I could not see where we were going at all. The street quickly became a river and we watched two buckets and a wheel barrel slide by. A man was chasing them with no luck. We watched the brown, garbage filled water swirl around us as we inched along. We pulled into the bodega parking lot and waited. The storm raged on, people with inside-out umbrellas dashed by and shopping carts were swept away. We wondered about the drains and moved the truck to a high spot in the parking lot. The rain hammered the roof as we all peered out the cloudy windows in disbelief. 
Eventually the rain slowed down and we all went into the large super store. There were buckets and puddles everywhere. We found the car seat section, picked out a brand new one, and some hot-n-ready chicken nuggets as a “treat” for the kids. They devoured them. As we were waiting to check out, I wandered into the coffee shop in the front, contemplating blowing off my usual health regime in favor of a milky, sugar-laden coffee drink. I decided not to buy one but did notice that they sell fresh whole bean coffee by the kilo! So I bought two varities, Chiapas and Uruapan.  This new found coffee source eliminates the need to run through the disgusting, chaotic “chicken market” as I call it each month. And these days I’m all about making things peaceful and easy.
The drive home was quiet. Kids were tired from the adventure and unusually sedated from the fast food. There were trees and boulders in the road here and there from the heavy rain, but nothing impassable. We made it home before dark. Fish tacos and beer hit the spot and we discussed our plans for the hot springs trip next week. For the first time in months, I felt myself relax a little. The heaviness of the self-imposed, rural, third world mind-trap was beginning to lift. 
The deepest truth is that I did this to myself. I came here to find something real. But in my attempt to become an accepted part of this community, my real self all but disappeared. How could anything around me be real if I, myself, was not real. I also noticed, standing in that aisle full of car seats, how much my relationship with money-abundance has changed. My perception of what I can or can’t afford, self-worth and what really matters to me, versus perceived limitations and cultural standards. I have unconsciously taken in many unwanted beliefs over the last couple of years and it’s time to dump those, once and for all. I have become complacent and that’s not where I want to be. In my persuit of freedom, I actually lost it. And the crazy thing is, no matter who I am, or what I do, or whether or not I change… I will never fit in here. I will not become a seamless part of this place and nor do I want to. This is not why I came here. 
At this time I’m slamming on the brakes and returning to what I know. I can really do whatever I want. The only thing that has been stopping me, is me.

Dispersing the Illusion…

Though this may be irrelevant to everyone reading this, I have decided to go public, with the intention of spreading the energy of my own transformation far and wide. I am deeply supported and setting these intentions under the full moon lunar eclipse, taking root on the complete solar eclipse during the new moon. These are potent times to create and release.

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I am coming into a time-space where my imprint is moving back to center.

I am moving forward embodying loving self-care, consciously moving through each moment in a slow and intentional way.

I am honoring my deepest soul-agreements to restore the balance. At the cost of convenience and societal acceptance.

I will no longer be putting the needs/wants of others ahead of my own. I will not spread myself thin or stifle myself to make others comfortable.

I will be leaning towards low-tech, potentially disconnecting my radiation device, in favor of listening to the trees.

This and so much more…..

May we all return to the center and walk in beauty.

waste… revisited.

The true cost of convenience….

Ponder this for a moment. Every single piece of non-paper garbage that I ever threw into the burn barrel, for the past 2.5 years, is still there. 

Yesterday I made a bonfire with many of my unwanted posessions. I saturated the pile of goods with gasoline, and assumed it would all just burn away. It did not. I had to stir the stinking pile of toxic burning plastic materials for over an hour, before most identifiable traces of the objects were gone. 

When the smoke cleared, a full 24 hours later, I went out with a bucket and shovel to clean away the melted black pile. While I was at it, I dug out the burn barrel. 14 buckets of sludge, hidden behind the retaining wall and covered with heavy rocks. Forever. 

That was a huge lesson in consumption and waste. Possibly my  biggest ever. The everlasting filth that I created, in the name of convenience, just became inconvenient. Most people will never be directly faced with handling their waste, years later.

This is the turning point. Turning knowledge into wisdom at the deepest level. There are no recycling trucks. The jumex bottles that I bought in my first days here, are still on the land. There is no value village donation station. Worn out clothing and shoes are don’t ever go away. How many times would you be willing to repair or repurpose a shitty, made in china garment? At this point does it even make sense to buy them?

I’m finally seeing the true cost, outside of the convenient solution. Garbage barge of goodwill rejects to India is not a real solution. Neither are shipping containers filled with plastic recyclables floating across the ocean. 
So when you think you’re being green by filling your curbside recycling bin, or tossing your bottle into the correct hole at the co-op…. Think again.

What if you personally had to deal with every scrap of your own consumption and waste instead of handing that responsibility to someone else?

That’s when shit gets real. 
That’s where real change begins.

Know your garden

I am a third world rural subsistance farmer. I was not born into this life, I chose this. Every day, I descend a steep, narrow footpath with my baby tied on my back, to bring the sheep to graze. I return with careful steps, calves burning and quick short breaths. Today I stretched a fence over rough cut posts to secure our large garden. Infant clinging to my back as we worked in a cloud forest. Onions, garlic, squash, zucchini, pumpkins, cilantro, potatoes and peas… I’m tired of going to the market with all these kids, so I’m going to try to make it all myself with hand tools and bunny poop. The skeleton of the lean-to greenhouse is complete. Ready to stretch plastic- a temporary solution until I can afford to buy something more durable. Heirloom tomatoes and peppers will live inside. The small garden near the sheep house is full of carrots, purple beans, cabbage, kale, mixed greens and strawberries. The pomegranates are nearly breaking the branches of the small tree. Oranges, lemons, manderinas. Guavas, peaches, plums. Macadamia and pistachio. Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries. Wild grapes and bananas. Avocados and a daily supply of fresh chicken eggs….. Some of these things wont be ready for years, but they’re here and growing. This land was cleared by fire four years ago. My back hurts but soon my basket will be full and it is all so worth it. The dirt under my nails and my tattered hem line tell the story of living deeply. I’ve felt a huge push lately to work the land so it will work for me. No more hesitation or excuses. I have many mouths to feed. There is a wind at my back making it all flow like water. Know your garden. This is life.

When Mexico wins

Let’s talk about Mexico for a moment, shall we? 
We are sitting here in the heart of the Sierra Madres, in the middle of the dry season. This whole village, with it’s several thousand permanent inhabitants, relies on a water system that mimics a rainbow gathering. Somewhere, far away, there is a river. There is a large pvc hose that carries the river water to a large concrete tank. Many hoses come out of that tank, run down hill, and gravity feed many smaller tanks. Each of the smaller tanks have many hoses that carry the water to houses. You can see the potential problems with this kind of system. These pvc hoses run through forests, along the sides of roads and cross foot paths. Trucks drive over them, horses step on them and men clearing brush chop them with their machetes. Air gets in the line, beetles plug the flow and the people who are supposed to open the tanks each day simply forget. This is a crazy system to rely on for such a precious, necessary commodity.
Here we are at the end of April. The water doesn’t flow from the hose anymore. It hasn’t rained since December. We have a gas powered pump that we use to draw water from the river this time of year. We fill a tinaco in the back of the truck and drive the water to our house. This takes a lot of time, muscle and gasoline, but it works.
Unless it doesn’t. 
We live deep in a valley, down long dirt road that becomes hard to navigate in the rainy season. Last year, the government began fixing this road, but stopped halfway through. The residents petitioned the government, they agreed to finish the road, and dumped several loads of sand, gravel and concrete. The big machines began re-flattening the area and two days later disappeared. The workers never returned. The government decided that they didn’t want to pay anymore and pulled out. The residents held a meeting and they agreed that the people who live here and use the road would finish it. For free. This means that the families that rely on the meager income that these men earn clearing or planting each day, would have nothing. Men who are the sole providers for rural families would need some serious motivation to walk away from a hard to find paying job in order to move rocks and hand mix concrete in ninety degree heat for free. So, the people decided that they would make the road impassable until the work is complete. The road that we use to haul water and buy groceries. Thanks, Mexico.
This is obviously the worst possible time for the water to stop coming. V is busy working on the road and can’t walk the line to check the problem. There is a back road, but it is steep, deeply rutted, washed out in places and not quite wide enough for the truck to pass without scraping the sides. It is windy and rocky and long. 
So the other day, he loaded up the tinaco and the pump and took that back road all the way around to the river. When he tried to start the pump, it didn’t work. He filled the tinaco with a bucket. Dip it in the river, climb into the truck bed, dump into the shoulder high tinaco, back to the river, dip the bucket again…. He returned as it was getting dark and started taking the pump apart. Thirty minutes later, the pump was in pieces and there was gasoline all over the porch. He covered it all with sand and gravel to soak it up, and went to bed. He left earlier than normal to check the water line before going to his mandatory volunteer road crew shift. I woke up to the mess. No water to clean it and kids that wouldn’t stay out of it.
Later that day I heard the sound of water! The water was flowing from the hose. I grabbed the five gallon bottles and filled them. This water is filtered for drinking and used for cooking. I used most of the first bottle that day. When I got to the bottom third, I saw something in the water, so I took it outside to get a better look. My worst fear was revealed when I discovered that there was a WORM swimming around in my bottle. It was alive and moving. I dumped the water, bleached the bottles and now we wait again. 
Sometimes, Mexico wins. 

The wood carver

​The wood carver
I had been in Mexico for about six months when I set out to find some wood furnishings. I hoped to find a cabinet for my dishes, amoung other things. 

We drove through the congested city streets, parking periodically to get out and walk. We looked in furniture stores, outdoor markets and junk shops. It was hot. I was not seeing anything I really liked and had decided maybe I would be better off building my own. So we drove around a different area of town searching for a building supply store. I saw a truck parked on a side street with a display of wooden stools and end tables and stopped to talk to the woman. We asked where we could buy wood to make a shelf to hold our dishes. “Oh, my husband has some nice shelves back at the shop. I didn’t bring any today… Would you like to go take a look?” And with that she gave us directions and we found ourselves driving out past the edge of town.
When we reached the shop, there was a young man sleeping on a rough wood bench. Laundry had blown off the line and there were two dozen unfinished projects scattered around. He startled when we called out to him and almost fell off the bench. We told him that the woman had sent us and he brought us around the side to look at the cabinets. There were many to choose from. I liked the one with the calla lillies carved on the front. The young man called out to an older man who came down to happily chat about his work and the prices. He was soft spoken, made everything by hand and there was somethhing unique about him… He had only one good eye. His carving was detailed and meticulous. I was very impressed by this artisan. We spoke for a long time and eventually loaded up the unfinished cabinet and agreed that he would come to our house the following week to stain the windows and doors.
The next week the man came to do the work and we all ate tacos for lunch.  Before he left, I showed him a picture I had saved on my phone of some sunflower benches I loved. He studied the picture with his good eye and said he could make those. We paid him for a job well done and he drove off into the sunset. I admired my first piece of Mexican furniture, pleased that my kitchen was starting to look “real” and went to bed.
Time passed and I forgot about the sunflower benches. Soon I found myself pregnant and started seeing hummingbirds everywhere. So many each day, it seemed as if they were attracted to me. I had never seen so many before! A few months after the baby was born, we were shopping in the city and ran into the woman selling the stools on the corner again. This time she invited us to come look at a love seat she had in the truck. As soon as I saw it I wanted it. There were hummingbirds drinking from tropical flowers carved into the light wood. It spoke to me and I felt like it was made for me. The woman said that the matching chair and couch were back at the shop. I didn’t really want to go see them because I had no money to buy them. I knew I would be wasting our time and would end up leaving disappointed. We went anyway. 
When the wood carver saw us get out of the truck he smiled. “It’s a miracle!” he said, laughing. “Come inside…” he said excitedly. He moved some things aside and uncovered the other two matching hummingbird pieces. They were beautiful! He said he made them for me after I showed him the picture the year before. He tried twice to come find us and had given up hope that I would ever come for them. I nursed my baby resting my back against a hummingbird while the men negotiated in Spanish. The next thing I knew they were being loaded up into the truck. I couldn’t believe it! The wood carver agreed to trade them for some tools V had but never used. On the long drive home I imagined how I would arrange them in the room with the fireplace.
It took several weeks to start painting them. I couldn’t decide on a color scheme or if I wanted paint or stain. Little by little I started to see it, and as I saw it, I painted it. Halfway through, my idea changed drastically. The vision was so clear that I had no choice but to go with it. When they were finally finished they were so vibrant and alive… And nothing at all what I thought they would look like. I loved them. 
We invited the wood carver back to our house to see how they turned out. He stood back staring at them for a long time, taking them in with his good eye. I could tell that we had seen eachothers vision…. He smiled and said they were beautiful. He seemed very pleased. The funny thing is that I never would have chosen those colors. And for some reason he carved hummingbirds instead of sunflowers…. He had no way of knowing about my connection with hummingbirds throughout my pregnancy…..
It seems that he sees more with one eye than most people see with two…. And those benches are a beautiful daily reminder of the synchronicities that arise when you are on the right path.