Tuesday, January 2, 2018

An Adventurous Journey of Grief, Boundaries, and Trust

Happy New Year beautiful friends! May this New Year be full of love, adventure, blessings and spiritual growth for all. How wonderful that the first day of the year began with a super moon!

Wow! I haven’t posted since May! How time flies. It feels amazing to be finally sitting down to do a bit of blogging!

Our time in Mexico was astounding in every sense of the word. Even the car accident played an important role in helping me find myself and heal from personal wounds that I didn’t even know existed.

I can close my eyes and hit rewind on 2017 and see true transformation. A phoenix rising!

It was this time last year that I suggested to my husband that we move to Mexico for a spell. Leaving our home was one of scariest decisions I’ve ever made. It was terrifying to depart from the kid’s schools, pack up, and move, but it was also the most rewarding thing I have ever done.

Christmas 2016, just before our move. You can't tell from this picture, but our family NEEDED a change.
Hindsight is 20/20. I realize now that I was suffering from cancer grief. In February of 2016, after spending 10 months doing everything I could to help my mother-in-law through brain cancer, she died. I was the last person to see her. It was just after midnight, she was barely breathing and as tears silently ran down my face, I held her frail hand in both of mine and told her that it was okay to go. She died two hours later. It was tragic relief. It had been awful to see her in pain, lose the use of her body, lose her memory and eventually her ability to communicate. It was her time.

She and I didn’t have the healthiest relationship. I’ll come right out and say it. She was abusive to me. I was terrified of her and she said and did some cruel things during our 20-year connection. I spent most of our relationship scrambling and stressing about making her happy. I’m a people pleaser and I allowed her to treat me the way she did. Things could have been different had I had fortified boundaries. She was beautiful, independent, adventurous, strong, intuitive, fierce and smart. I loved her very much.

My beautiful mother-in-law
Us adventuring on bikes many years ago.
Through the cancer, I learned more about her and began to understand her better. She was persuaded to give up a beautiful baby girl when she was eighteen years old. It was during an era when having a baby out of wedlock was against societal norm and so she was forced to stay in her bedroom her final four months of pregnancy.  Then she handed her beautiful baby over, never fully recovering from the heartbreaking experience. Who would?

A husband, three sons, and a divorce later, she found her daughter Linda after spending several years searching. A common result of adoption of that era, their relationship was a tumultuous one. They stopped speaking for years at times. Linda had been raised in Texas and lived there her whole life. She married her husband young and had three beautiful babies of her own. Her life had its own struggles.

In November of 2016, we called Linda and told her that she should come to California because mom was losing her memory. She flew out. She hadn’t flown since she was a little girl and was terrified. It was an important trip and the following four days were magical and sad. My mother-in-law had a moment of lucidity and remembered Linda. They were able embrace and say goodbye. Linda and I spent four peaceful days reflecting on her and her mom’s lives. What was and what could have been. It bonded us and we became sisters.

Jesse and I with our sister Linda.
By January 2016, Linda was diagnosed with mouth cancer, her mom died in February, and in August of 2016 Linda passed. In Texas, I cried with her adopted mother, husband and her children as I held her hand and watched her spirit leave her body.  

It was heavy and I didn’t deal with it. I drove directly from the airport in Orange County to a meet and greet at my daughter’s school. I hadn’t slept and was in shock by Linda’s death, but I carried on like it was a normal day. As the weeks passed, the pressure of being a wife and mother in fast paced Orange County, while simultaneously not dealing with my grief caught up to me.

The rest you can read about in my first two blog posts:

So we moved to Mexico. Our life slowed down. It was busy, but in a much different way. We got away from consumerism. We were immersed in culture. We spoke Spanish. We attended fiestas. We surfed. We hammocked. We ate and ate and ate! We watched and learned how people live life differently. It was powerful and dreamlike. We made amazing friends, both Mexican and not Mexican. Some lived in San Juanico and some were just there to visit. I became connected to wonderful people because of this blog, some readers even visited us! After our car accident, I did my best to bring awareness regarding Baja road safety and car seat use to anyone who would listen! Thanks to you generous readers I was able to bring 20 car seats to families in Mexico. Thank you to all who donated!!

Some photos of our 8 month adventure in Mexico

Moving to Mexico provided me with an opportunity to face my grief and also really look at myself. I began to see that I’d spent most of my life lacking boundaries with people. I realized that much of the conflict and judgement I’d been facing in Orange County were a direct result of my own inability to draw boundaries with people.

Flying through the air, violently rolling our truck and accepting that my kids and I could quite possibly die were paramount to my personal and spiritual growth. The behavior and reaction of my family and friends to the accident was also essential to better understanding myself. Being in a severe accident has a recovery period similar to that of grief. The what-ifs, and what I could have done differently hit you hard. It was a lot to process, especially when my driving reaction put my children at physical and emotional risk and traumatized my husband and mom. We've all recovered, but the experience was powerful.

Read about the entire accident here:

In my processing, I realized that I had allowed many people to be abusive toward me over the years and it was time to take responsibility and stop allowing it. Facing things like people treating you poorly, cancer, car accidents, and death make you evaluate your relationships in a new way. When we first arrived in Mexico, my friend Deserei intuitively sent me the video below and I think it speaks volumes.

The accumulation of everything that happened made some things very clear:

  • I am responsible for myself and my own happiness.

  • It's okay to acknowledge and face my own trauma and grief.

  • I am not a victim of other people and their trauma.

  • It's up to me to be the best version of myself.

  • It's up to me to think the best of others (we are all trying our hardest!) 

  •  It's up to me to have clear boundaries with people.

  • When people don’t respect those boundaries, it’s okay to keep them at a far distance or say goodbye to them all together.

  • If I am in situations that aren’t fulfilling, it’s okay; but it's up to me to not engage and to create change.

  • It's important to acknowledge my dreams and chase after them and it's okay for me to do that. In fact, it's necessary.

  • I am a better mom, wife, friend, and daughter when I am taking care of myself, while simultaneously caring for others.

  • And last and most important, change is detrimental to our personal development and happiness. If you feel unhappy, shift something! That might mean something extreme like taking a life sabbatical and moving. It might be changing your job. It also might just be signing up for an art, music or language course, or trying out a new exercise class or changing your diet. It might simply be changing your driving route to work, going to church or going on a spiritual journey. Don’t be afraid to shift something and allow yourself the opportunity to grow on a personal level.

This past August we returned to Orange County. I’ll be honest, I didn’t want to. I wanted to bask in the bubble of that sweet Mexican pueblo for as long as possible. But it was time to go and we were meant to return. We enrolled our daughter at the local Spanish Immersion school down the street from our house and our son in Spanish Immersion preschool. This school is the perfect fit for our family. The school community is low key, but is truly invested in our daughter’s emotional and academic well-being. It is a huge benefit that we can carpool, walk and ride bikes to school. We've made wonderful friends and our sweet girl is thriving as a first grader. She is speaking, reading and writing Spanish beautifully! Our son is doing awesome too as he prepares for Kindergarten at the same school next year.

The biggest question that I continue to ask myself is this; how can we make it financially possible to satisfy our gypsy spirit and adventure the world while simultaneously remaining grounded and fiscally responsible?

In short? The answer that comes to me every time is trust, prayer, and belief that anything is possible. You alone are the creator of your limitations.

During all the grief I went through, I did one thing daily. I imagined a life of travel for our family for over two years. Not a day went by that I didn’t trust that it would happen and with childlike curiosity, I would daydream about how it would someday become possible.

Ask and it is given. Our move to Mexico was just the beginning. Our family went on a life changing adventure to Cuba in November (A blog post dedicated to that trip coming soon!), we head on short trip to Mexico in the next few days. We go to England this April and I have quite an experience simmering for summer. I continue to pray and ruminate with gratitude on how to make travel and adventure possible and affordable for our family. 

Stay tuned friends and readers, the Beck Family adventures have only just begun!

I send each of you light and love for this new year! What a beautiful life! I hope this post resonates with you and enjoy and make the most of 2018. God bless.

Hasta, entonces mas tarde.


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Ten Reasons Why You Should Consider A Life Hiatus

Ten Reasons Why You Should Consider A Life Hiatus

*For those who haven’t followed my blog: in December of 2016 I hit a personal emotional rock bottom and had to make a change. I convinced my husband to move to Mexico, pulled the kids from their schools, rented our house out and we are now nearly four months into our six-month hiatus. As much as my Instagram feed may portray it, it hasn’t been all sunshine and pineapples, but the experience has been and continues to be life altering.

1. You are stressed out and don’t even realize it (or maybe you do).

Seriously though, nearly everyone I know is maxed out and burnt out on life. Life is stressful and it’s nearly impossible to remove all of your stress, but taking a hiatus will remove you from your regular stresses and offer you new (more fun) ones! My hiatus has brought me stress about when and if we have enough water stored, whether or not it is too windy to hang the laundry and if we can get a ride to the beach so that we have a long board to surf. Additional stress is leaving the beach in time to make dinner at a decent hour. Okay, fine, confession…there are other less fun stresses; like parenting, family dynamics, travel for my husband, school, etc…but my hiatus provided me with time to breathe through it. (In the future, I will write a blog post about some of the real tribulations we have faced with our break and what I have learned from them!).

2. Everyone around you is stressed out too.

The recent political climate, coupled with life and routine doesn’t only have you stressed out; it has everyone else in your life stressed out too. Add all the media and branding being shoved down your throat and we find the answer to the infamous paraphrased words of Rodney King, "can't we all just get along?" The answer is no. The world is too complicated and we all see things differently. What we can do, is destress so that we communicate and respects our prospective differences. At times it can be nearly impossible to guard yourself against other people’s stress and their reaction to it. It's not just you, but don't blame others. Change your tune, dare to try something different. Take a hiatus.

3. The monotony of your life has left you uninspired (or bored even).

Are you living in your own version of the movie Groundhogs Day? Are you constantly wishing you had more inspiration, but are so busy going through the motions that you continually put things for yourself off? Well, a life hiatus is for you! A hiatus is just a pause or an interlude from your current life. It is more of an extended experience and less of a vacation. It takes letting go, determination and creativity to make it happen. But try it, take a hiatus.

4. You are too focused on the micro.

Western culture is one of introspection upon introspection, upon introspection. It’s meta to the 10th degree. Navel-gazing can be frustrating and confusing. Life becomes about reading labels and freaking out about how to stay healthy and sane in an otherwise toxic world. The problem? All that labeling and information just makes us crazy!!! You are allowed to change your mind. You are allowed to worry less. You are allowed to relax and do less. You are allowed to just be. Breathe it in, you are allowed to step away.  You are what you think. If you want to make a change, try a hiatus. This will look like something different to each of you. But, if you spend too much time worrying about stuff, you won’t get anywhere. Stop focusing on the details and live a little! Take a hiatus.

5. The first thing you look at and the last thing you look at before bed is your phone.

Take a hiatus. No further words needed.

6. You are over-committed.

Do you suffer from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)? Yeah, me too. Someone once told me that not everyone has to like you, and this is kind of like that…you don’t have to do everything. Sometimes trying something completely different means slowing down and it can be the best thing you can do for yourself. It's okay! You don't need to go to every party and festival and so on and so forth, In my humble opinion, slowing down is actually the cure to FOMO. You begin to enjoy other people telling you about what you missed. 

7. You don’t have the money.

As my favorite lyricist once said, “money rolls and flows through the pockets of your clothes.” If you want to take a hiatus, don’t use money as an excuse, use it as your reason. Money comes and goes, we spend it on crap all day long. It’s just money. Paper and coins. Figure it out. Minimize, spend less, go out less, think smaller so that you can live bigger in the end. You won’t ever remember being broke off your booty, you will remember how your hiatus shifted your entire life for the better. Take a hiatus.

8. You need a change in perspective (and scenery).

When we live in our world of routine, we begin to lack perspective. The way we look at the world is the way we really are. Truth and beauty are in the eye of the beholder, but the beholder is constantly changing. Taking a hiatus is a choice to fast track change. When we move out of our life routine and attempt to live life in someone else’s shoes, we begin to learn compassion and empathy. Take a hiatus and make that a hiatus someplace where you may have to see the world, yourself and the people around you from a completely different advantage.

9. You're worried and scared about everything.

Fear and worry do nothing for you. Don’t let fear eat away at your hope. I know what that fear inside feels like and the closer you come to actually taking a hiatus, the more the fear will eat at you and try to scare you out of actually taking the plunge. Don’t let it. Don’t be afraid of what might happen or what might not. Don’t be afraid of what might occur while on your hiatus or what will take place once you return. Jobs are jobs. Friends are friends. Family is family. And so on and so forth. It will all be there when you get back. You can do it! Take a hiatus.

10. You used to have a dream of who you would be and now you don’t know who that person was or who they could have been.

You lay in bed at night or find yourself staring off into space and you aren’t quite sure how you got to where you are and you don’t quite remember who you once wanted to be when you were full of youth and dreams. A life hiatus is just what you need. You won’t ever be the person that you thought you might be because you grow into who you currently are. But by taking a hiatus and choosing to take a risk, you will intrinsically create space to personally grow with reflection on your life, your future and your happiness.

**Caveat: Your life hiatus is your own. It can be whatever you want it to be. Just remember that the key is taking a break from your normal routine. It takes creativity, determination, and letting go of fears and doubts. It may take multiple attempts if you have a family with whom you have to consider and involve. If you commit to a life hiatus, you will have daily freak-outs and that is okay, because guarantee, you won't regret the choice!

Hasta entonces, mas tarde.