Death Does Not Become Her

Muertos

I am not going to review all the death and dying I was close to this past year; I’d rather focus on what it has inspired me to do.

I came to visit my ex-husband in Mexico rather unexpectedly, and I certainly did not plan to stay as long as I have, but my lessons are starting to appear in front of me and I do not want to miss this opportunity to grow.

Watching my mother’s death was a huge wake-up call for me. I changed everything about my life and felt like I had the opportunity to elevate myself to higher spiritual lessons.  I was completely inspired and ready for such a drastic change, so I suppose it’s no coincidence that I lost everything in my life at the same time.  Well everything except my good health.  I lost my job, my apartment and my reason to be in Woodstock, Illinois, but this situation afforded me the opportunity to extend my stay in San Miguel de Allende. I felt guilty about this at first, but not anymore.

When I first came to Mexico many years ago, I was a healthy and spiritually minded woman, eager to achieve many things in life. I am still this same woman, but I certainly did lose myself along the way for a number of years before waking up and seizing my potential once again. A few weeks ago, I said to Reed, “this is a country full of bad decisions.” He responded with, “perhaps you just made bad decisions while here”, and I agreed he has a point.  I can’t really blame Mexico for the decisions I made, I alone am responsible for my choices in life and want to make sure I make the best choices moving forward. I know I have not been alone in making bad choices while here; I have seen so many Gringos destroy themselves when they move here.  I have seen some ugly things and now is my opportunity to heal thyself and come full circle.

I made a joke in yoga class that I needed lots of yoga while here because I need strength to combat the devil. Everyone laughed because they know.  This country, this town makes it so easy to fall into trouble.  It’s a lovely pretty little colorful town, with lots of artists, writers and free thinkers and you can absolutely get caught up in the charm of it, but if you are not strong in your personal convictions, you can get swallowed up by the never-ending fiestas.  After Reed & I were married, I needed to leave this town because, well because I had had enough of the party and needed to get back to real work.  Looking back, I didn’t fare so well in Texas either; it was not the place for me, just as San Miguel is not the place for me.

Here I have been presented with an opportunity to come full circle.  A chance to fight back the devil and be the woman that I want to be.  It was easy to be super-healthy while I was living in Woodstock; I never saw the party and was very comfortable with that — but I was always alone, and I was not comfortable with that. Here in Mexico; the party is everywhere — and especially at Reed’s house.  I see him struggling with his health and with feeling good. I am being the good wife that I was not while we were married and attempting to make him comfortable without enabling his behavior.  I had my own little slip with smoking when I first arrived but have stopped that outrageous behavior because smoking sucks donkey dicks.

A long-time frind of mine who lived here in San Miguel for many years, but returned to her home town in Northern California, has recently been diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer.  She is essentially me and there, but for the Grace of God go I.  In my few weeks while here in San Miguel, I have been writing long, detailed emails to my friend, filling her in on my adventures and news of the town.  It has been a positive way for me to share what’s going on and to stay honest about my intentions.  We don’t really talk about cancer, we talk about adventures.  She has been gearing up to begin her aggressive chemotherapy treatment but was just haneded the news that her heart is not strong enough to endure the treatment and other options must be reviewed and decided upon now. NOW.

When I read her email yesterday, it launched me into a mood I was not quite prepared for; I sat in stone silence for quite some time before I found ways to distract myself.  I had horrible nightmares and woke up in tears.  I did not respond to my friend after she sent me that email to tell me her “heart-stopping news”, but when I awoke, I said to myself, “imagine how she feels” and reached out to her on the spot.

I want to have no regrets.

I want to make good decisions, no matter what country I am in.

I want to have more children in my life (not mine, silly)

I want to live a full life, full of loving relationships.

I want to be barefoot in the grass as much as possible before I die.

I am so very grateful for all the lessons of 2013 and whole-heartily look forward to the lessons of 2014.

hi, i'm meag
hi, i’m meag

All Aboard the WOO-WOO Train!

meagburnt ham

Being your true self is the coolest decision you’ll ever make.  — my yoga teacher, Leslie.

That’s it! I have officially acknowledged myself as a WOO-WOO. I have the sweat and guts and tears to prove it and I couldn’t be more delighted about it!  This is my reality and I have decided to finally embrace it.

I uploaded my first vlog about my past few months and I look forward to adding this medium to the mix, because sometimes words should be spoken. I recently attended a night of storytelling by three seasoned storytellers and it really moved me.  Good ol’fashion spoken stories, like the days before we all stared at tiny electronic screens.  No really, something in my heart jumped, I loved it.  I’m knocking around the idea of trying this artform live on stage — a lost art that appears to be making a comeback and I welcome it.  From wiki:

Storytelling is the conveying of events in words, and images, often by improvisation or embellishment. Stories or narratives have been shared in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation and instilling moral values.  Crucial elements of stories and storytelling include plot, characters and narrative point of view.”

I also watched a beautifully made documentary, “Mythic Journeys” that looks at the role of mythology and mysticism in modern society and storytelling — very informative and pretty too!

mythic-journeysr

Twenty years ago I embarked on a spiritual quest that took me from Chicago to San Francisco to Europe and back; I learned so many incredible lessons about growing up, relationships, personal responsibility, shamanism, religion, spirituality, the 12 Steps, Gabrielle Roth’s 5 Rhythms, FeldenkraisLaw of Attraction, ETC., so now I am adding on this foundation I started a few decades ago.  I admitantly walked away from all of it for about a decade.  I was frustrated and felt like nothing was working.  This past decade had it’s own lessons and the journey carries on.  How lucky am I that I have this opportunity? Thankyou Universe! xo

I participated in a “Trust Your Vibes” workshop with Sonia Choquette this past weekend and also saw Sonia in London a few months ago.  She is brilliant and her courses require brutal honesty, something I have now become prepared to face.  This is not easy.  I saw Sonia 20 years ago before I moved to San Francisco and I recall only ONE THING she said to me, “I would suggest eating more spicy foods because you are smothering yourself with all your self-imposed rules and your soul wants to live.”  Lord that was true, I was the biggest food nazi around and I’m happy to say that even though the search for healthy foods is a wee challenging, I do allow myself some comfort foods because I no longer think it’s cool to punish myself.

There’s no lying about this; this is no weekend-warrior-self-help-workshop-stuff that allows me to compartmentalize my internal calling for knowledge and compassion, and then allow me to slip back into the comfortably numb mentality, come Monday morning. No Siree Bub, this is all or nothing and as much as it’s kicking my ass, I have officially surrendered to the process, have great trust in the plan and am super-excited about the adventure that lies ahead.

I’ve lost it all and I’m not dead or nor without hope.  I still have a sparkle in my eye ;D

I also respect all the folks who are doing the weekend workshops and whatnot to improve their personal well-being, because I believe my years of participating in those made me ready for the commitment to greater health possible today.  Baby steps.  I applaud them and take them.

In this weekend workshop, I broke through some huuuuge barriers and let my intuition (read: psychic) flag fly high — I loved it and have been told that now that I’m proudly waving it, there’s no going back.  It was brilliant and I saw and learned things I will never forget.  I will write about these experiences some day, as soon as I swallow them all.

The other day I received a “thanks-but-no” letter about a job I believed I was P-E-R-F-E-C-T for, and also heard absolute crickets on another job I was really hoping to hear a good word on.  After a good cry and stomp-about over a slap of rejection, I stood up and said, “FUCK IT, LET’S GO HAVE SOME FUN MEAG.”

I am off to San Miguel de Allende tomorrow to climb the Mexican mountainside, breathe the high altitude air, swim in the healing hot spring waters and cook a turkey dinner with my ex-husband, whom I still adore and am very excited to see.

View of lovely San Miguel de Allende, from the Rosewood Hotel
View of lovely San Miguel de Allende, from the Rosewood Hotel

ANDALE! Happy Thanksgiving, peace to all.  Don’t forget…… I see you!! xoxo

Energy Balls… got ’em?

Slacker Meag

The urge to label myself as lazy or unproductive may be at the tip of my tongue, but I am refusing to let those words or thoughts slip through, because I am not lazy nor unproductive, nor am I a slacker.  Although one may arrive at that impression if you were to look at the surface of my life — a regular Life of Riley as it were, but let’s be honest: no one is really sizing up my life with nearly the critical eye as my very own critical eye.

That stops now. I have made a promise to myself that I will not lambast myself anymore. I have been filling my head with some incredible books, words, lessons, music, activities, exercises, ETCETERA, all in a headstrong dedication to raise my vibration, because in order to live a magical yet smart, smart, smart life, I need to operate and thrive on a much higher level on consciousness.

Energy. Energy Balls.  Energy balls are atoms.  Everything in our world is made up of atoms.  Including every single person in the world. Everything is atoms, moving around at various frequencies, which creates their density.  The slower the frequency, the lower the vibration. The lower the vibration, the darker the energy.  The darker the energy, the more depressed it is OR SOMETHING LIKE THIS AND COULD I BUY SOME POT FROM YOU????

I am kidding because I hate pot — but it’s true I sometimes get so wrapped up in these conversations about energy balls, I feel like I’m tripping the light fantastic on some transcendental meditation exploration hippy trip — and I love it!  Years ago I threw myself into books, workshops and seminars on the Laws of Attraction and saw some pretty powerful fruitions come to be.  My San Francisco years were achieved by practicing these principles and I truly enjoyed those years and all that I learned. But I am absorbing this on an entirely new level now and strongly believe it is because of the extraordinary experience of witnessing my mom’s death, which snapped me out of my post-divorce, post-Mexico funk. I am ready to be in the world again. And this time it’s going to be magical.  It already is — I have seen magic!

To raise my energy, I do yogaqui gong, breathing exercises, reiki, walking in nature (LOVE) and meditation – which is still challenging, but I’m always learning and staying open to new lessons as I quiet the noise in my head.  I am in a seven-week online  TAPPING course right now, and this is pretty powerful stuff as well.  Tapping on meridian points, who knew? As far as books, there  are so many books on the subject it could make your head explode, but these days I rely on my intuition because it has proven to be trust worthy.  The first one I was drawn to was an ebook, written by Caroline Shearer of Absolute Love Publishing.

I found the first one, “Raise Your Vibration: Tips & Tools for a High-Frequency Life“, downloaded it and devoured it almost immediatley.  I like her writing style because she sounds like she would be a girlfriend of mine.  It’s real!  I then followed her/her publishing company on all the social media channels and soon learned that Absolute Love Publishing was offering to give away some of their books in exchange for a review. Voila! I was planning on reading them anyways, but now I had access to them on the spot!

I followed up my reading with the next book in the series, “Raise Your Verbal Vibration: Create the Life You Want with Law of Attraction Language“.  This book is spectacular for making you aware of what current language you are using and how it may be negatively affecting you and also provides a broad list of alternative words. I have printed this list of words out and pinned above my desk (Pinterest in real life!) so I can easily reference them — I also read them aloud to my dog every morning.  He enjoys this activity. 😉

Next up was, “Raise Your Financial Vibration: Tips and Tools to Embrace Your Infinite Spiritual Abundance“. When it comes to the topic of money, earning power and guilt, there’s no shortage of issues over here.  As women, we are not supposed to talk about money but our generation of mothers (generally speaking), did not offer a great education, nor dialogue on earning money and how to manage it.  Money is energy as well and yet another relationship in our lives.  And my relationship has not been so great. That changes now!

The past few years have been really challenging for me; I have not been stably employed or otherwise engaged in about two years, and so my finances have been running amuck.  I have made great effort in the past few months to tackle some old haunting issues and have succeeded!  And while I celebrated this victory, there is more work to do.  First steps are to get my money issues OUT OF THE CLOSET and face them head on.

When I read this quote in the book, I knew I was reading the right book, “We are in a time when the world is hanging precipitously. Not in a financial sense, but in an energetic sense, and this is because we are beginning to understand that where our energy goes, our reality will follow.”

These books are really a very basic and elementary lessons, delivered gently yet firmly and rooted in a nice balance of spirituality, which is important to me.  But these lessons, I believe, are so very easy to ignore.  No one really wants to belittle ourselves on a daily basis, but it’s amazing how quickly we do just this.  I am punishing myself for things that happened years and years ago that no one but ME even remembers.  I don’t want to do this anymore.

I met my spirit guides fairly recently, even some of my angels, and I have been advised to stop the practice of Meag-Bashing.  DONE.  Of course I can only do this with a little help from my friends…

friends

Take me to your Leader, but make sure he’s not Nuts!

spiritual awakening, larkabouts, grief, creativity, wellness, meagburnt,

Here’s the thing: tell someone you believe in UFOs and that’s perfectly acceptable.  It’s out there, it’s controversial, it’s vague, it’s elusive, it’s relative, it has hard evidential proof, it has changed some people’s lives forever, it’s got a slew of groupies…. and it’s perfectly acceptable to most if this is what your floats your boat and what you want to devote your personal time to.

But mention you’re having a “spiritual awakening” and people may give you the side-eye and back away slowly.  Because that’s crazy — or I’m crazy because I am starting to see and feel some results (wow that’s a lousy word to use in the context of spiritual awakening!) of all the personal work I have been doing.  The meditation.  The yoga. The breathing. The walking. The reading. The energy experiments. The changing of my diet. The re-routing of my normal thinking patterns (Lordy this is HAAAAARD).  And the silence.  Ohhh the loads of silence I have come to adore and require now, just as I require air to breath.

Silence

Why is it that an actual spiritual awakening is somewhat mistrusted?  I’ve seen eyebrows go up and felt the proverbial, “ah boy, we lost her.” sentiment because I’ve mentioned, in my joyous exaltation, that my beginner’s mind is starting to see and feel some magical new ways of thinking — and I could NOT be more thrilled about this.  These ways of existing in the world have always been available to me, just as they are to you, but I am discovering for the first time because I am practicing new principles. And I became ready. But it’s not perfect nor pain-free! Ahh but it IS perfect for right now.

This reaction… well it’s ironic if you ask me, because many people strive for a more spiritual way of being; in their personal relationships, in their careers, in their every level of life — because it’s cool, and I completley agree.  Twitter is rampant with quotes and retweets of our spiritual leaders and beyond — because it IS COOL to talk about being spiritual.  It’s not cool to be religious; but spiritual is awesome — because religious is crazy, right?  And don’t even think about getting crazy about being spiritual, because that’s just nuts!!

Although when it arrives — if it arrives, it may perhaps change the way you tweet, change the way you participate in the world, rock the very core of your foundation, make you burst out in tears for no other reason except that the love thumping in your veins can’t be contained; it may force you to spontaneously hug people and trees, walk around on your hands at the beach and then blow your head up right off your shoulders.

Sunrise Yoga

This is what I have been experiencing lately.  And I like it. Except the bit about my head blowing up. That has not happened. Yet.

I spent my late twenties and early thirties searching for a spiritual awakening and never found it, much to my chagrin. I worked with shamans, I became a diligent student of religious science, I participated in drumming circles, had soul retrievals, spent countless hours on a therapist’s couch — because I was convinced that something was wrong with me and that a spiritual awakening would be my way out of it.

But it has occurred to me: I don’t want to read the biography of a person who has not lived a full life; where they’ve not crawled through their own personal never-ending hell and survived, not celebrated to excess and beyond when success was achieved — and survived; and everything in between. Perhaps no one is allowed to have a spiritual awakening until life has been lived in all corners of darkness and light.  I don’t think I’m anywhere near my end, nor sampled all corners, but I have done my fair sharing of crawling and celebrating. Perhaps not in that order.

I sat with my mom when she died and was with my two twin uncles when they died — separately — as well; all within the past recent years.  I saw things happen to them as they were “transitioning”.  I had emotional conversations with each of them that seared my core; my mom knocked me out of the park with her parting words for a couple of weeks.  I saw “someone” come get them, “be” with each of them and even shine a light on my mom’s face when there was no light. I absolutely HAD to change the way I participated in my world because of these experiences.  It was very different for each of them — I can only sum it up by saying their spirit was delivered by whom it should have been delivered. errrr something like that!

My Three Holy Ghosts:

My Three Holy Ghosts

I have also been fired from three jobs in the past year as well — I even quit one job, so these past few years have completely made my head spin round and round and round. And cry and cry. Although I shed no tears for this last job — I was on my way, so the feeling was mutual.

I’m currently living in Woodstock, Illinois (although I watch the sunset in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin when I can) and I have honestly made peace with this town that I once despised, and even thanked Mayor Brian Sager for a job well done last week.  I met him at Woodstock’s festival nod to Broadway; he and his administration have really opened up theater options in Woodstock, as well as welcoming more new businesses in town. The day was much like a day right out of the pages of “Waiting for Guffman.” and I was tickled! I no longer have angst for this little town and have honestly enjoyed my time here.  The aforementioned silence can be found in this town, as well as in the surrounding area towns I once hated while growing up, but ahhhh no longer 🙂

Mayor Woodstock

I was hoping to leave Woodstock now that I have made peace with it, but with the recent lose of yet another job, I find I must stay put a while longer.  Apparently I have not yet learned what I have come here to learn in my little hometown neck of the nape, and OY please don’t make it last forever!  Because I hear the call of the West.

I recently stumbled upon this video and it stopped me cold in my tracks because….. well because I have experienced ALL of these things in the past few weeks — and I’ll be honest, it’s a bit scary at times.  Somedays I have no idea who I am and where I’m headed, but I have faith. I have faith!

… so ask me if I have any idea who I am right now.

And I will say I AM MEAGAN BURNS!! My eyes are open and I love it! These experiences with death have showed me a beautiful side of life, even if I can’t stop getting fired! I have never felt more sane in my life…

meagburnt sept 13

I feel tremendous gratitude for all the people that have helped me through these past few months and I keep meeting more and more of these kindred souls; I am excited to learn more through them and with them.  Below is a list of a few of the books that have also helped me through some of these issues, but don’t forget about being silly and laughing!  Because really, why else keep plugging along if you can’t laugh about it? xoxo

Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Diet
Marianne Williamson: A Return to Love
Marianne Williamson: The Law of Divine Compensation: On Work, Money and Miracles
Cheryle Strayed: WILD
Doreen Virtue’s Angel Therapy
Denise Linn: Soul Coaching
Gerry Gavin: Messages from Margaret
Sabrina Reber: How to Raise Your Vibration
Caroline Shearer: Raise Your Vibration: Tips and Tools for a High-Frequency Life
Dr. Christiane Northup: Lightening the Mother Load: Healing Strategies for Daughters
Dr. Steven D. Farmer: Animal Spirit Guides (I AM A TIGER RAWWWWWRRRRR)
Pam Grout: E-Squared: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments 

Going Green, Take Two

I've been waving to the sunsets for decades now; here's me in Big Sur in 1998
I’ve been waving to the sunset for decades now; here’s me in Big Sur in 1998

When I think back to the last half of 2012, it occurs to me that I was in a rather suspended mode and did not make many waves as I waited for yet another holiday season to roll on by.  I knew something was up with my mom, but I was not allowed to get too close, so I numbed it out of my mind.  I remember walking out of my office and I could feel my feet walking down the sidewalk, but it felt like my head was staying in the same place.  I was trapped in a tunnel.  It’s all rather surreal when I think back, because it was literally right after the holidays ended that my mom went south, after her youngest brother went into the hospital and was told he had about a week to live.  Tom did not make it past three days and the night of his funeral was when I first had to bring my mom to the Emergency Room.  They told me they couldn’t keep Mom, they said excruciating pain was not enough of a reason to admit someone.  WHAT?

It was a snowy Friday January evening; I took the bus home across the Loop and arrived at my West Loop neighborhood in record time.  I didn’t want to go upstairs just yet; I don’t even know why because I never usually hesitated.  I walked through the alley behind Girl & The Goat because I didn’t feel like looking at all the beautiful people on Randolph going to dinner.  I smoked a cigarette in the alley and it tasted God awful, I couldn’t even finish it but I held it and looked at it in the falling snow.  I hated that thing.  I flicked it at the dumpster and made my way home.

Twenty minutes later the call came in that Mom was really sick and I needed to head out there.  Ninety minutes later I was there with mom.

I took a leave of absence from my job.  A job I knew I was not right for, but so many of us know that we are not right for a job and do it anyways because it’s 2013, and dammit we should be grateful that we have a job at all, so fake it ’til you make it.  All bets were off when my mom got sick, I knew the gig was up.  I will make amends for this when the time is right.

Now it’s the middle of May and I have radically changed almost everything about my life.  My current reading and doing list:

Crazy, Sexy Diet by Kris Carr
(Eat your veggies, ignite your spark and live like you mean it!)

The Rainforest by Victor W. Hwang and Greg Horowitt
(The secret to building the next Silicon Valley)

Soak Your Nuts
(Karyn’s Conscious Comfort Foods and Recipes for Everyday Life)

Astrology for Beginners (just because!)

The Holy Bible (I pick it up, give it a side-eye, then toss it aside)

Modern Qi Gong by Lee Holden
(a 27-part online series to learn & live the basics of Qi Gong — wonderful to learn how to breathe from my toes and awaken the Qi)

Mother Daughter Wisedom by Dr. Christine Northup
(
also attending the Doctor’s 4-part workshop on Lightening the Motherload, which has been super super helpful and freeing)

I’ve changed my eating, drinking, breathing, address, job and spare time since my mom passed away.  I go to yoga, I meditate with Buddhist Monks, I hike the hills (mounds?) of McHenry and Walworth Counties and every day I learn something new about where our food comes from and how screwed up the American food system is today and I am trying to discover a healthier ways through this.  I teach social media at a creativity incubator and also am doing in-store demonstrations for a smart phone company (I made this connection while at a funeral, so always remember to keep your options open).

I was Meagan the Vegan many years ago when I lived in San Francisco; however things were so very different back, but then again not really.  The cool thing to do was to jump on the “John Robbins, “Diet for a New America” bandwagon; I did it and I loved it, but I think I took everything too far as I was known to do. This was when I first learned how wrong the American diet was (is!), how proper food combining was necessary to thrive, all about food allergies and how poisonous Baskin & Robbins ice cream is to a body.  I soon became convinced I was addicted and allergic to everything under the sun.  I attended 12-step meetings, saw several therapists, tried different religions, worked with shamans in the forest, went to women’s drumming circles, had soul retrievals, studied expressive creative dance, did ecstasy naked on the beaches of Big Sur with hippies, rode my bike all over Northern California (mostly because I didn’t have a car for the first two years) — honestly it was an incredible time in my life and I will never forget the San Francisco years.  I worked in SOMA’s South Park neighborhood (the exact park where Twitter and Instagram were born!) as a 35mm slide designer and then I tripped the holistic light fantastic at night and on weekends.  I lived in Mill Valley with my pastry chef boyfriend and rode my bike to the Sausalito ferry to ride across the bay each day, right on past Alcatraz Island — could there be a more beautiful start the morning?  No! It was cold of course, but absolutely gorgeous.

So here I am going green again twenty years later and I am basically re-learning everything — which is the cool part because I always love a challenge, and naturally it’s all different.  My mother is dead now.

I don’t say that flippantly.  Losing my mother was such an incredible kick in the guts, I was so not prepared. Even though I thought I was and had been preparing myself for the past two years.   The lessons have been hige; my mom’s death is teaching me so much about myself and about life.  I am extremely grateful for this bittersweet message that has changed my life.

I am not saying that it isn’t difficult for sons, but the mother-daughter connection is such a powerful connection, even if the two were not friends. My mom and I were occasionally friends, but mostly not.   I’ve been amazed at some of the stories I’ve learned in the past few months; both heart -breaking and inspiring.  Never in a million years would I have thought it would be me to have a complete meltdown after my mom died, in fact I would have wagered big money that I would NOT be the one to lose it.  No Siree Bub, not me.

I did lose it.  But I quickly crawled up to gasp for air and asked for help in turning my life around.  I was in bad shape. Not on the outside necessarily, but my insides were all topsy-turvy.  I was empty and then shattered.  My mom apologized for being so mean to me for so many years.  She apologized.  I laughed at her when she said it, but it was a nervous laughter because I did not know how to respond.  Then I saw the look in her eye.  She looked away and stared out to nowhere with an empty sadness in her eye.  I knew she meant it.  I knew right then that she was going to die soon.

I was fired twice in 2012 from two shitty jobs, and these back-to-back firings were very challenging to recover from their blows. I didn’t get fired for lack of trying, that’s for sure.  I took this last job out of desperation — even my co-worker mentioned that I seemed “very hungry” when I first started working with the group.  It’s true, I was literally hungry and scared because I had to sell my truck, my jewelry and anything else of value to stay afloat.  It was very scary and I avoided calling my mom for several months because I did not want her to worry.

My Monk buddies tell me there is no such thing as being “balanced”, there is only “balancing” – I agree!  I will continue to attempt to balance things through thick and thin, but I realize there will be challenges and setbacks, along with the successes, and perhaps those setbacks may require a strawberry sundae.  It’s starting to sound less and less appealing but perhaps some rainy day may call for a cheeseburger to make things feel alright.

I couldn’t be more inspired than I am right now to live a right life.  I don’t expect perfection, in fact I don’t want perfection   — I want the real deal.  I intend to remain soft, spongey and teachable as I enter the autumn of my life.  I want this to be the best time of my life and live well for both myself and my Spirit Sister; my mom Juls.

The Bounce Back!

Lake Tahoe

I have never ever been afraid to be out in the world, that was until my mother passed away.  I felt trapped and scared and believe me, that was death to me.  I had a dream that powerful blue waters spoke to me and so I went to them.  I went to the blue green waters and purple green mountains of Lake Tahoe and became alive again!

I challenged my heart to give out on me. I begged it to stop dead in it’s tracks because it appeared to have been taunting me.  I climbed that mountain and my heart did not stop!

Thank you World.

 

How safe is Central Mexico these days?

View of lovely San Miguel de Allende, from the Rosewood Hotel

In 2001, before 9/11, I set off on a 2-month sabbatical to San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, to teach a dance class and take a well deserved break after completing a project on a global business theater in New Jersey.  I chose San Miguel because I had taken a Gabrielle Roth workshop at Escalon in Big Sur the year prior and wanted to further my studies.  One of my friends from Escalon had already moved to SMA and was teaching yoga.  She called me one day and said, “Hey Meags!  The dance teacher here is about to leave because she’s having a baby, why don’t you get your butt down here and teach for a while?”

After planning and whatnot, I arrived in San Miguel on June 29, 2001, ready to begin my two-month sabbatical and to get to know Mexico, a place I had not yet seen before.  It’s a beautiful mountainous town, not desert-ee or covered with cacti and lazy donkeys, but rather it’s considered to be the San Francisco of Mexico; it never gets too hot or too cold (well, not for too long because I certainly was hot and cold), has a bustling international artist community and has a big gay community.  Oh and Texans, plenty of Texans. Gay and straight.

I was not afraid of anything about this Mexican town yet had I listened to my mother, I would have never gone, which is why I have never listened to my mother.  Oh wait, there was one thing I was terrified of and that was scorpions.  My roommate didn’t even think of them; I looked for them all the time and guess what?  I found them all the time!  And usually in my bedroom! On the wall above me!  In the middle of the night!  I can still literally hear them stitching across the walls… even today the thought of it gives me shivers. Blaaaaah scorpions.  And fuzzy spiders. Ok I’ll stop!  But other that insect fears, I was totally at peace with this little town and all the new sights and sounds it offered.  I adored it.

Today there is a much bigger community of younger people as well, involved in all sorts of digital and technological art projects, but this community has dwindled compared to about 5 years ago.  When I arrived for the first time in my mid-thirties, I was considered one of the younger ones, but that would not have been the case had I arrived 10 years later at that age.  I was there this past March and saw how the town has exploded with people and construction, yet had also crumbled.  When the US has an economic sniffle, Mexico has full-blown pneumonia.  And the US had much worse a sniffle.  So many businesses have shuttered their doors, much like here, and people have packed up and returned to their homelands, including the people of Mexico.  When jobs are scarce here, the Mexican men cannot send money home so it’s a quadruple whammy of hardships in Mexico.

I’m not going to pretend to be educated on the exact reasons why the business of drug cartelling has exploded in Mexico, nor am I going to get into the stats of it, but it’s fairly obvious that this is where the money is in Mexico, if you can stay alive.  To read any mainstream news you would think that they are all killing each other throughout the entire country and hanging the bodies over highways so the public can see them die as they shoot them from hidden hillsides.  The stories of heads rolling into a night club or even night clubs being set on fire — now these stories make it to our media and it sends a chilling message that all of Mexico is completely corrupt and extremely dangerous.

Ever watch the 10pm Sunday night news in Chicago?  It’s a death toll of how many were shot or wounded in the city in the past few days; how many children were injured, buried, mourned.  It is perhaps the saddest time slot on TV, which is one of the reasons I don’t watch TV anymore.  The killings in Chicago are completely out of control; in a city that claims guns are illegal.  Does this news stop people from visiting Navy Pier? Water Tower Place? Wrigley Field?  No. No it does not.  It may stop some people from getting on a train to come to the City, but for the most part tourism is loud & lively in Chicago.  So while there are certainly precautions that need to be taken when heading off to Central Mexico, by no means is it a 24/7 blood bath.  Like it is on the South Side of Chicago.

The places that I would avoid in Mexico right now are the border towns and the main highways to move north/south through the country.  Although the violence is rather widespread yet focused on the northern part of the country, because this is the main and final push to get the drugs into our country and some would say it’s an all out war zone at the borders.  So avoid the border towns.  I wouldn’t even do a day trip there as many people used to so, it’s just not worth it.

I would no longer take a bus to Central Mexico as I have many times in the past, because of  the growing presence of the Mexican Army and Mexico Federal Police on the highways.  And the growing number of rogue police, army or cartels who impersonate these groups so you can never be sure who or what you are looking at — or dealing with.

Once on a bus to Phoenix in 2003, I was awakened in the middle of the night somewhere in the State of Chihuahua, by a machine gun nudging my shoulder, asking for my passport.  I did not flinch, I simply reached for my passport and handed it to the soldier.  After checking everyone’s passport, the soldiers hauled four Guatamalian immigrants off the bus and then we were on our way.  Looking back, I wonder why I wasn’t more freaked out.  I had never seen a machine gun before let alone be awakened by one.  But when I traveled the buses throughout Mexico, I always went into some sort of altered state, knowing that you have to roll with the punches becasue weird things happen out there in the middle of nowhere.  I have also driven through the country a number of times by myself and suffice to say nothing majorly scary or even close to heart breaking happened.  Today I would never drive through the country I once called home.

The buses and trucks that travel through Mexico are always being stopped and searched for drugs and immigrants, but these days you can’t be sure if the Mexican solider who is pointing a gun at you and asking to see your passport is an actual Govenrment official, a cartel dressed as a Government official or a Government official who has been paid off to act on behalf of the cartel.  Which is why it’s best to avoid busing around Mexico, a once very popular and economical way to travel the country, ever since the train lines were discontinued.  These days I would fly directly to the city I am headed for, and for San Miguel de Allende’s it’s Leon/Guanajuato Del Bajio or BJX.  Then take a taxi directly to your destination, because no one picks you up from an airport in Mexico, even if they are crazy head over heels love with you!

This past week, I learned of an incident of a Canadian couple that was severely beaten and robbed in their homes in San Miguel.  These incidents happen here and there and are never a story we want to hear but it’s especially sensitive when it happens to ex-Pats living in a foreign city.  One thing Mexico has always known is that you DO NOT MESS with the foreigners that are visiting or who have chosen to live in Mexico.  They are putting money into the country and economy and again you DO NOT MESS WITH THE TURISTAS.  But it happens, unfortunately. There is speculation — and only speculation at this time —  that it is a small group of disenchanted policemen that committed the crime.  So another couple has now returned to their homeland and the stories will be shared, as they should.

Would I go to Mexico today? Yes.  If I had the sufficient funds to get me from Point A to Point B directly, and had a secure and safe place to stay.  Do I want to go to Mexico right now?  No.  I think I’ll wait until things start to turn around.

I love Mexico and think it takes a LOT of hits for being a reckless, careless and violent country, but it is a big country, full of many people, places and things and you simply cannot place a generic label on a country of its size. It’s complicated.  It’s gorgeous.  It’s ugly,  It’s rich and it’s poor.  And unfortunately there are places in the country where violence is out of control, so just like the South Side of Chicago, I will avoid it for now.  But not forever!