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.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Dreams of Youth are the Regrets of Maturity

Happy Mother’s day! I hope this blog post finds you happy and well!

Warning…I am going to get a little existential here.

I find myself in a state of constant reflection here in Baja. The shock and trauma of the car accident we were in is fading, and in its place something is growing within. Inner strength and renewed awe for life.

I came here in February searching for something. I thought that I was running away, and maybe I was, but I was also searching for myself. Over the past five years I have become a whisper of the person that I was before having kids and something needed to change.

I chose to leave Orange County for a spell, which got me on my way; but the most clarity of all has come now, after the accident. My life and the lives of my beautiful kids flashed before me. That day, when we were flying through the air, I accepted that we were going to die. Then the truck landed on its tires, the dust settled and I rushed to safeguard my children. We were okay!

I think some sort of quantum leap occurred. I am now living in an alternate reality with new perspective.

My kids have been talking about what they want to be when they grow up. My daughter wants to be a musician and a performer and my son wants to be a firefighter, pila truck driver, and a fisherman. There is no question in their minds that they will become what they want to be.

I had a dream the other night about mediocrity. In this dream, we were in Thailand; I was with the kids, my husband, a friend, and some random people. We were getting foot massages on the street, when all of the sudden a grave sense of mediocrity over took me. I saw my own mediocrity and felt like everyone else did too. It was awful.  

I awoke from the dream feeling disturbed. It really got me considering how I look at myself.

Since I’ve had my kids, I have felt an overwhelming sense of social anxiety overtake me. I have an inner battle where I fear that people don’t like me. Why do I feel that way? Why do I care or worry about it? I have wonderful friends, so what’s going on inside of me, where I worry so much about what others perceive? Well, the dream, was my answer. My anxiety really isn’t about other people…It’s about me. It’s about how I see myself.

There is something about the decade of life between fifteen and twenty-five years old. It’s an infectious time where limits and boundaries are nearly non-existent. You basically don’t give a fuck. At least that was my experience.  It’s a time for dreams, aspirations, and adventure. It’s a magical time in life. So enchanting, that pop culture is obsessed with it. That is especially true for women, youth is admired.

Life is so new and fresh at this time in our lives. We haven’t yet allowed experience to darken our hope and we pretend that our invisible emotional baggage isn’t there. That catches up to us later.

I knew who I wanted to be when I was fifteen. I wanted to be a journalist for National Geographic (so that I could travel every corner of the world) and even more clearly, I saw myself writing fiction novels. Then life happened.

I am thirty-six years old and have lived an amazing life full of adventure, excitement, sadness, joy, education, travel, beauty, friendship, love, and triumph. The thing is, I found myself just sort of rolling along with things, making small goals and enjoying the adventure. I forgot all about those youth filled dreams that seemed simple to attain. Back then, I had a, "I'm just going to do it," outlook. At some point, instead of seeing the future as limitless and my goals and aspirations as reachable. I began to see myself as mediocre, because I never gave myself the chance to really live up to my dreams and be the person, fifteen-year-old me, had imagined I would someday become.

Well, as we get older, we begin to accept that life is a what it is and that we need to grow up instead of chase our dream. As mother’s we often lose who we are as we take on the role of caring for others. These two things make it easy to forget our original ambitions; we forget what once drove and inspired us when we were young. We allow ourselves to accept our plight, to blame others and to make excuses for why we haven’t achieved that silly naive visualization of our youth.

For the last two years, I have prayed/visualized a life where I would travel the world with my family and teach, revel, and connect in the beauty of cultural differences. For some reason, I thought that I would have to wait until my kids were older and I was making more money. But last March, because I had always dreamed of doing it, I decided to begin writing a book. It set in motion something bigger than I can even understand. Things got so overwhelming in Orange County that I leapt across the Mexican border looking for salvation. The wild thing is, I had been mentally abstracting change with my thoughts and prayers every day. Ask and it is given! What did I expect would happen?

At some point I started thinking that my own reflections of mediocrity were more powerful than the limitless dreams of my youth. It's time for a reset.

I think it's time to drop settling for mediocrity. The time is now. Someplace between being a wife, a daughter and a mom; I intend to finally find the person I had hoped to become outside of those things that are me, but aren't a full representation of who I want to become.

*** I am still collecting used car seats for San Juanico and will be starting a gofundme to raise money to supplement with inexpensive new seats. More to come on this front!

*** The fiestas continue to be off the hook in this little town!

Hasta entonces, mas tarde


Monday, May 1, 2017

Compassion and Commonalities

Hello Friends and Readers!

I took a break from blogging last week, but am back! I took the week off for a couple of reasons. The first, was that the internet was down Saturday night and much of Sunday. How wonderful to unplug! The second, was that I was feeling a bit uninspired. The post about my accident got a lot of traffic. There are reasons for that. People shared it and friends were worried about me. Thank you everyone for caring! Unfortunately, the follow-up post basically got about a sixth of the views. For those who did not read it! The post essentially said: We are okay! We love living in San Juanico and I NEED YOUR HELP to bring used car seats to the people of our sweet pueblo! Aside from a couple of amazing folks who reached out to help (you know who you are! And THANK YOU), I didn’t hear much from anyone.

Some of our past times this week. The mini olympics in Zaragoza! What fun!
Lola writing a book about fairies, giants, and surfing
Back to School for both the kids!

Today's post is inspired by the lack of response to last weeks post, and also reader's reactions to the fact that no American’s helped me during our accident.

What is it about despair and tragedy that people respond to? And what is it about being okay, but asking for help that detracts people? What makes people want to help and/or not help? What pulls at people’s at people’s hearts and why? Do people really need help? And do we help others simply to make ourselves feel better?

I am reminded of once upon a time, back in 2006, in the most northern reaches of India, I traveled with a group of teachers and students. We came from many walks of life and were all there for different reasons, but that summer we were brought together by the spirit of adventure and curiosity.

The most breathtaking views in the world are in India!
The magnificent Taj Majal. My goodness, that was some hot humid weather!
Some of the folks we adventured with!
I’d never intended to travel to India, but found myself there, in awe of the magnificent beauty of the himalayas. To this day, I proclaim it the most influential trip of my life. The poverty there is astonishing and I think it tends to leave Western travelers in deep retrospection over what they have. The cities in particular are the most humbling. People sleep in the streets with their only possessions. They look hungry. The empathy I felt was sobering and over a decade later, still leaves me in quiet reflection of gratitude.

Fresh off of my BA in Anthropology, I was full of excitement and inspiration for the culture. I had written my undergraduate thesis on the death and dying rituals of Tibetans and ended up in India in the hopes of learning how Tibetan refugees were practicing their funeral rites differently. I ended up on more of a cultural tour versus an opportunity to do research. This travel experience incited my lifelong fascination with the polarizing impacts of global tourism and transnationalism.  Certain memories stick with us and one particular event, that I refer to as The Rain Jacket, is an incident that I think of often.

Our group was lucky enough to be introduced to the Changpa people in the Changtang region of Northern India. This is a region in Ladakh, as well as Jammu and Kashmir. We were in Ladakh. They are the 'people of the Changtang plateau'. Chang (region) and Pa meaning 'people of'.  They are a pastoral nomadic tibetan tribe whose existence is endangered due to globalization and political strife. The only indigenous group to have free reign on the tibetan plateau across the political borders, they sustain themselves off the land and have for centuries. They raise yaks and goats and nomadically travel with their animals to fresh grass pastures for food.  When they find new pastures, then all set up their camp until the grass is gone and they move on. The yak is very important to them culturally, and they use every part of the yak: bones and hair for the huts and clothing, and the milk. Their homes/tents are called repos and made of all yak hair.
The Changpa

We were introduced to a small tribe and welcomed into their tents; where they made us yak butter tea and shared their food with us. The floor of the yurt was covered in hand made yak woven wool and there was a cooking fire in the middle. They were clothed in a mix of western clothing and traditional garb and showed us how they wove rugs and blankets and made clothing out animal pelts. I found it to be absolutely beautiful. What a miracle these people were and what a far cry they were from the technological and consumer driven world that I lived in. Twenty-five years old at the time, I was inspired by the simplicity and beauty of their nomadic life on the Himalayan plane. As we stepped from their tent and headed toward our van, an eighteen or nineteen years old from our group tearfully hugged one tribes women. She then removed her brand new North Face rain jacket, worth several hundred dollars, and handed it to the women. I observed this in shock and disapproval. I wasn't that I disapproved of her empathy, compassion, or generosity, in fact, for that I applauded her. But as we returned to the van and began our way back to our campsite full of expensive western camp gear, I asked her if she thought the woman really needed the rain jacket.

From my perspective, she needed that rain jacket about as much as she needed a new computer. This woman was nomadic and lived a life completely different than ours. This was not an impoverished woman on the streets of New Delhi. This was a person living a life connected to her environment and living off of her environment. She was not living in poverty, she was simply not living in a world that was driven by consumerism that provides products that separate us from the land. Her life was beautiful, from my perspective, she didn’t need the rain jackect, she had everything she needed. For me, I felt, that we needed to learn from her and better understand her world; not project our own cultural standards of poverty on to her and then try and fix it.

Did she need the rain jacket?
I contemplate this all of the time. How can I integrate, try to understand and help people in global communities that are separate from my own? I have so much learn and gain when I travel. How can I use travel and tourism to uplift people rather than metaphorically consume them? How can respectfully enjoy another culture without overshadowing the experience with my own bias? These are tough questions for me.

The Rain Jacket experience will forever illicit relevant thoughts and conversations for me regarding privilege, poverty, relativity, consumerism, needs, wants, compassion and consumption.

I often find myself reflecting on this while living here in San Juanico.  I do my best to appreciate and accept this world, without projecting my own judgements onto the people here. It’s a confusing thing to try to fully understand. I was born into my American world and they into their life here. Most of the people would like to have more. Their world is certainly not as polarizing as the nomadic tribe in India. Yet, from my view, they are far more content with what they have than Americans. I imagine that they must think us Americans are a little crazy with all of our clean shiny new things.  Our strive for perfection. In so many ways our world perspectives are miles apart, yet we relate on a basic human level. We all want the best for our families and to live well. Our concepts of living well differ and that is okay! We all have a lot to learn and consider from each other.

A blurry photo of us coming together with the community!
This brings me to empathy and compassion. I think that girl who gave her rain jacket away had something a lot of Americans don’t have. She literally gave the jacket off of her back to her fellow man and she was probably really cold for the remainder of the trip! There is something incredibly beautiful about that, albeit, I think the jacket would have been better appreciated from one of the people in the streets of a city, versus the woman in the nomadic. Her intention was really admirable. I think, in general, the more that we have, it would appear, the less we give. Why is that?

I have still have a lot of emotional processing to do regarding the car accident that I was in with my kids. The terrifying images of flying off the road and feelings of terror that we were about to die still come back every time I close my eyes. My way of processing it, is to try to help other families stay safe in cars here in this town. I think there are a lot of things that I could give to this town that people would not need and perhaps not use…but I think the people here would use car seats if I brought them. I don't want to bring just a few. How would that be fair? I want to help every child in this town be safer when driving on the Baja Hwy 1.

Every mother I talk to here in town, says that she would love to have seats for her children. So many people here have shared with me their accident stories. The roads here are dangerous and the people here don’t have the access or the money to buy car seats to keep their children safe. I think you readers can easily help me out. I promise, I will send you photos of the families you help!

I am not asking for much here. Just that if you live in Orange County and have an older seat; to drop it at my house. If you don’t have a seat or don’t live in Orange County then donate $20-$40 for me to buy seats. Personally, I would rather have used seats, because it is more sustainable, but I intend to purchase these inexpensive Cosco seats with any money donated. 

The kids and I are really excited to bring seats to the kids this in town. I want you to imagine driving on one of the twelfth most dangerous roads in the world and having your kids in your lap of crawling or all over the back seat. If these people had the seats, I think they would use them! This isn’t a rain jacket situation. These people drive and they know car seats equal safety.

Please help!

Several people have referred me to the Target trade-in promotion currently happening and I am a little confused by this. Target says they will discount your next seat and recycle the seat you trade in. Perhaps they are suggesting that I contact Target about getting old seats? Am not sure. Thank you for thinking of me but...I WANT your old seats. Give them to me, not Target. Pretty please? Bring them to my house in Orange County if you live there. The folks in San Juanico don’t necessarily want brand new seats, they just want car seats. I am hoping to bring a mix of used and new.

Once I have thirty to fifty seats... I will put on an event in town where I discuss the importance of car seat safety and give the seats that you have so graciously donated!!

I want to personally thank you for providing the seats for this campaign! It means so very much! I officially have two donated seats from Diono, six seats donated from Alison Silverson and her friends, and one from Peter Garfinkle. I also have two that I am giving. Which means I already have eleven seats!!!

I have been asked why I don’t have a gofundme going. I am open to the idea, but gofundme takes a cut and so far I have had three people offer to donate money. For me, this isn’t enough to make it worth the gofundme. If it does become worth it, I will let you know. For now I am excepting donations via paypal. Thank you Ashlyn Terry, Shelly Mead, and Blythe Rowan!

It’s funny how things don’t work out how we plan. I would have never thought in a million years that I would be trying to bring car seats to a pueblo in Mexico, yet here I am. This week’s post was supposed to be about trash and how we deal with it in the States versus here in this little pueblo…instead it turned into nostalgia about India, needs, and compassion, and rant about how I want YOU to help me bring car seats to this town.

I suppose in a small way it is about trash, since I want your old car seats.  Next week I will dive deeper and share about our family’s visit to the local dump. Until me about how you can help at

Hasta entonces, mas tarde…

And thank you for your generosity!