Sweat out the muck in a Mexican Sweat Lodge

Temazcal at el Chaeco

If I think about it too much, I can get totally freaked out about the amount of collateral damage I’ve done to my body over the years, even though I strive to do the right thing now — I have had many mortal failures. I was quite rowdy in my youth even though I always knew that was not my right nature, I did it anyways.  I have not always treated my body with the respect it has deserved and my struggles in the wee hours of the night are how I hopefully have not done irreversible damage. I always keep getting back on the well-being horse. The human body is a miraculous healing machine with magical powers and I will always look to improve and heal thyself — even though I still stumble.

Being here in San Miguel de Allende this time around, I am all about taking better care.  I am experiencing this town with different eyes and a whole new world is available to me here, when once I had very limited vision.  There are many places to heal thyself and I am on a mission to experience these people, places and things.  It has been challenging living in my old house that is full of my old behaviors, but I am making the best of it. I am grateful to my ex-husband and the opportunity we’ve had to mend our relationship. It’s been a glorious and exciting couple of months here in the city of St. Michael the Archangel.

Once a month, on the weekend closest to the full moon, there is the opportunity to sweat out all the muck in a three-plus hour sweat lodge ceremony, called a temazcal, using aromatic herbs and wood-burning steam in a hut made of clay, at San Miguel de Allende’s 170-acre botanical gardens, El Charco del Ingenio.  The gardens themselves are not quite lush or perhaps even all that interesting, but it becomes more endearing to me each time I visit. When I mentioned to a Mexican friend that I was going to spend the afternoon there, he looked at me wide-eyed and said, “What?? Are you going to bring your cane and wear a big floppy hat?” So maybe it doesn’t have a great reputation as a hot spot, but it IS a place away from the bus and car fumes of Centro, and I am all for escaping the city buzz and taking in the many species of cacti, birds and even the cafe has a great little (mostly) organic lunch.

One really cool tidbit, in 2004 El Charco del Ingenio was proclaimed a Peace Zone by the Dalai Lama during his visit to Mexico. Five Peace Zones were designated in the country, places free of violence and arms, dedicated to the conservation of nature and community development. In a country that is being somewhat ravaged by a fierce and on-going drug war, it’s nice to know there’s a few places free from the violence and mayhem.

I attended the temazcal ceremony in January, 2014, just two days before the actual full moon.  Upon arriving and registering for the event ($350 pesos), I set out across the preserves to the historical ruins of Hacienda Las Colonias on the north side of the park and meet the Shaman who leads the ceremony, as well as his helpers, who keep the fires aglow.  The ceremony is in Spanish, and I was the only American in the group of 11, which was fine as I understand Spanish, but am not so great when speaking it.

A temazcal is an ancient cleansing ritual of Mexico’s indigenous people, very much like a sweat lodge. If you think you are going to freak out about being in such a tiny enclosed hut for a long period of time with a bunch of almost-naked strangers in unbelievably hot conditions, you are not alone.  I almost backed out, but Humberto, our Shaman who led us through the day, assured me that I could leave if I wanted to, but it really is okay once you get settled.

He was right. It was unbelievably hot and I thought I was not going to make it, but I’m so glad I did because I felt AMAZING when I emerged 3.5 hours later. I felt as though I was being smothered and freed all at once, and my mind kept playing freaky movies that I knew were in my head, but I watched as if they were on a screen. A scorching-hot-flame-engulfed-screen. We sang songs, doused ourselves in herb-soaked water and could lay down if we needed to, because the air was cooler at the ground. Suddenly time had gone by and we were able to emerge from the hut. I crawled out on my hands and knees and kissed the ground and thanked my God, the Clouds and Guides Above.

As I walked through the land after the ceremony, I felt high as a kite and precise as a falcon. I ate a nopal omelette at the cafe and drank a liter of water. I slept like a rock that night and hope to experience this again, but not every month. Twice a year sounds about right to me.

I sweated out all the demons that afternoon and felt completely grateful and sparkly to be alive. I highly recommend this experience!

Under the Spell of the Mexican Moon

Venus at el Charco del Ingenio

When I lived in San Miguel de Allende ten years ago, I started to write a book called, “Under the Spell of the Mexican Moon” and my personal downfall was that I showed it to too many people and the fear I experienced from hearing the feedback caused me to set it aside indefinitely. Until then, I kept all my writing under wraps — and since then I mostly have kept it private.  I’ve written AMAZING letters to friends over the years. And to my mom.

I had forgotten about the letters I used to write my mom, but while cleaning out her condo earlier this year, I found all the letters I sent to her.  I was hilarious — and still am.  I laughed and cried as I read my letters and postcards.  Here’s a postcard from I sent from Santa Fe, New Mexico after arriving via Amtrak from Chicago:

Hi Ya Ma! If it’s an Indian you want, get your buns out here! They are so beautiful! This town is beautiful! The weather is beautiful! What can I say, I am in love. I met a guy from Italy on the train, we will stay in touch! I’ve fallen in love 8 times in Santa Fe and I’ve only been here 2 days. I think I’m going to move here if I can get my migraine to stop. Love you like an adobe Ma xoxo

Over the past few months I have been told by friends and complete strangers I should write a book. It’s always been in me, I’ve thought about it over the years but again, the fears have stopped me.  “Who wants to read what I have to say?” Although many many times, when I share a story of my past, the response I hear often is “you should write a book about that.”

Since my mom’s death, this idea is coming more into focus.  My mom apologized to me and said she wished she had been nicer to me.  Said she was wrong about me.  These words have completely changed my world — even I am surprised at the impact of her parting words.  I mean I was knocked flat on my back after she spoke these words.  My mother’s apology has been life-altering for me and I no longer want to be that passive girl. I want to be the woman who moves through grief and loss without losing herself. even if that means I lose my way for a bit.

I had thought for a spell that I was choosing to “duck out on life” by returning here to San Miguel; returning to my ex-husband’s home and this town that I angrily departed from several years back.  But this is so not the case.  This was the perfect time for me to come back here and make peace with my past.  For years I had been feeling bad about who I was as a married woman — that I was the sole reason why our marriage did not survive, let alone succeed.  Good Lord this is not true.  I love Reed dearly and we are family; we are just not the “one” for each other, nor do we “get” each other.  I care for him deeply and I know he does for me as well.  We are family and sharing this holiday with each other has been healing beyond belief.  Well for me it has been, I don’t think Reed would ever admit to this, but when I ask him if he wants me to leave, he says no.  We have fun together! I also cook for him, I don’t ask a lot of questions (!!!) and I busy my time out of the house with things that are important to me — and he provides me the resources to pursue my interests because he likes to see me happy.

I have been using this time of unemployment to get right in my head.  The recent deaths in my family have broken my heart and then to have lost so many jobs at the same time….. I was operating from a place of desperate grief and needed to step out of my hamster-cage life. I cannot take another job with a fear-driven company — because honestly it offends me to the core and I then operate from a place of asking to be fired. “But you’re not independently wealthy, Meag, are you!?”  No, I am not, but the desire to not work with these four companies was so huge, my time with them was no more than six months, when in the past I would suffer for years with miserable jobs.  This last job was probably the quickest in terms of synchronicity; I had thought I found my tribe, it was a healthy foods company and seemed to be generally interested in living a healthy, complete life.  I quickly realized this was so not the case and my time with them was under two months.  This was my personal tipping point.

(note: no disrespect to the companies I worked for; there is nothing wrong with them; I was not the appropriate person for the job.)

So when I leave this pretty home, I spend my time doing the things that make me happy and peaceful.  Yoga, swimming, hiking, walking, looking at art, meeting up with old friends, etc.  But I recently took a huuuuuuuge back step.  I smoked some cigarettes — the thing I hate the most and have since been berating myself that I’ve destroyed all the good work I have done.

I am flawed. I have more work to do.

Everywhere in Reed’s house, there is an ashtray. And a pack of Marlboros. They have been taunting me. It’s no excuse. Well I made it an excuse. And I could TOTALLY sit here ALL DAY and beat myself up and tell myself what a damn loser I am and how I’m going to die a horrible death… whoops, I’ve already done this…. but this is a HUGE waste of time and I want to do things that will get me out of the hole, not keep me in it. I don’t normally use ALL CAPS, but I am totally fired up about this as I pound out the words.

Smoking makes me feel bad.
You know what I don’t want to do anymore?
Feel bad.

This quote found me this morning:
The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.” ~~Ferdinand Foch

My soul is on fire so that must mean I am still alive and that I care deeply.
I’d rather my soul be on fire than my lungs.

All is not lost, I just lost my way temporarily, but I am determined.
I was under a spell.
I can no longer blame the Mexican Moon.

Full Moon in San MIguel de Allende

I now will be more focused about my writing and tell my story of being flawed yet never settling. Mending my broken heart. Always growing, always looking for a way to improve — at the same time while not damning myself to the depths of hell for being human. I need to stop over-thinking every little detail…. and this is the hardest thing in the world for me to do.  I have struggled with this my entire life.

FEAR FEAR FEAR fuck everything and run.

I really want the fears to stop stopping me from being awesome, know what I mean?

After I did my morning thing to get right (journaling), I like to listen this this because it lifts my spirits.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgWeNEHcsh8<

Two books by John Amodeo Ph.D. have been recommended to me by Sonia Choquette, to get me through these next hurdles: “The Authentic Heart: An Eightfold Path to Midlife Love” and “Dancing with Fire: A Mindful Way to Loving Relationships“.

Respiro profundo Meag… Exaaaaah

(deep breath, exhale…)