I haven’t hit the something to enjoy sequence in a while. Quite a while! To say I’m distracted is a most obvious observation.

While I would rather be in Oaxaca than anywhere else at this time, I have been contending with rather significant challenges and frustrations with this final dissertation process. The short: it’s written. The good: it’s written. Yay! The bad and the ugly: my chair and I don’t see eye to eye on the result so I’m  – still writing.

Which means I haven’t been to Spanish classes in a month. So, in other words, my language only improves by the few instances I force myself out of my house and peel away from the computer to interact with locals. I’m most familiar with the ladies in the mercado. I’m hiding from the yoga instructor who, to his credit, tried to lead the class in English for me but that just didn’t go great.

I transitioned into my new community with as much awkwardness as a baby deer on new legs. But don’t let my whining betray how happy I am here! I believe I made the right choice to leave the U.S. when I did.

Without any doubt, I made the right choice selecting Oaxaca. The city is as charming and beautiful as the sweet nothings courting Oaxacanos whisper in my ears. The climate is as delicious as nearly every meal I’ve eaten here. Seriously… the food lives up to, and in my opinion, surpasses its reputation!

Few places are as electric, vibrant, and creatively energetic and inspiring as Oaxaca. I’m actually heartbroken I have only six more days in the city – it feels like I just arrived here – before I head to the coast. From what I have been told, I’m about to experience another sumptuous feast for all of my senses!

Something I’m Listening to…. Stardust – Music Sounds Better with You

This one is fun, for sure. It’s a throwback and is a tiny tribute to a friend of mine, here, in Oaxaca. To protect the innocent I will not name him, but refer to him as Cutie Chilango (he’s from Mexico City). Cutie Chilango, or CC, for short, was one of my first friends in the city. he loves this song, so I learned earlier in the week.

Earlier this week, underfed and dehydrated, I had a couple of mezcals and because that liquor is so strong, I went full The Weeknd a la not being able to feel my face. We ordered some more, him believing I was drinking within my limit as a grown woman should be able to do…. The short story is my emotions erupted into a panic attack resulting in a “scene.” Like, I’ve personally witnessed rabid bobcats behave better….

This week was the anniversary of my dad’s death. I thought I was doing ok with the anniversary. This year made for five years. I wasn’t doing as well as I thought.

Oaxaca is actually a small town once you enter the social scene. As in I heard from people who weren’t even in the bar that night about my little show. CC wasn’t quite as lucky and his friends, and boss, were witnesses. I’ll spare you all of the details that poor CC had to endure. Rabid bobcats have been known to behave better.

Man of the year goes to my friend who stayed with me and nursed me through the crazy emotions, even after I threw up on him, and took me to a breakfast of mineral water, coffee, and a lot of fruit to get something in my system to endure a proper hangover.

And is willing to laugh about it – at me, I’m sure – and not let me hide and wither under the rock beneath which I wanted to put myself. Artisenal mezcal is a beautiful liquor, friends. Especially cuixe and tabola… at least these are the two I like the most. Artisenal mezcal can also pack a 52% alcohol volume punch. Which means….

Be very smart when drinking mezcal.

For women who like to travel alone this is especially important: be very smart about your surroundings when drinking alcohol in any foreign city. I was lucky because I was with someone who respects and protected me in what could have been a very dangerous situation if the character of my companion was not so strong as his.

Something I’m Reading…. The Black Flower and Other Zapotec Poems by Natalia Toledo

The Black Flower and Other Zapotec Poems Something to Enjoy Round Up

When most people think of indigenous cultures of Mexico, Aztec and Mayan are the ones that primarily come to mind. In Oaxaca, Zapotec culture runs deep, wide, and is still lived. I found this book inside Amate Books, located on the Alcala about one block south of Santo Domingo Plaza.

Half of the book is a translation from Zapotec to Spanish and the other half translates the same Zapotec poems to English. The poems are beautiful.

My heart’s sky hold you as the night does her stars.

Something Pretty for My Self Care….

I can only accurately say this week wasn’t really great about my self care. I wouldn’t have drunk more mezcal than my limit can tolerate if I was. Right? Drinking to the point of, and beyond, drunkenness (public intoxication nonetheless) is not caring for the self.

But, something I find a lot of comfort in is the sharing and support among the female blogging community. I don’t consider myself a travel blogger but I belong to several networks and communities because it’s good for me to have someone to help me normalize my current nomadic lifestyle. One of my friends, Cory, has a beautiful blog that is a great escape from the 9-5 drums. In this post, I share a small tidbit about why I travel in the manner I do. She also has some vignettes from other “travelettes.” Read some if you’re needing an extra push to make your 2017 travel plans.

Whatever you are looking ahead to with the rest of your weekend and heading into next week, make it beautiful!

XO,

Jennifer

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A Wedding in Oaxaca | How to Crash a Calenda

Okay, no, I am not actually advocating crashing a wedding. But when the wedding, as with many celebrations in the state of Oaxaca becomes a community event, well, why not partake in the fun? If you’re in the area, consider yourself invited and welcomed to join in the celebratory wedding processional known as a calenda.

Oaxaca Wedding Party Calenda

My late lunch of guacamole and chardonnay was interrupted with the every present fireworks. Here, they love to blow things up. The occasion could be “it’s Thursday – let’s shoot off firecrackers… the dog had puppies – let’s shoot off firecrackers….” Well, do you get my drift? When they are directly overhead? Aiyee…. I jump like I’m ducking for cover.

Oaxaca Wedding Party Calenda

I’m getting to where I can now hear the whistle and anticipate the boom. But I still cringe and jolt like a manic pup on the Fourth of July.

Oaxaca Wedding Party Calenda

So…. when there is a celebration, such as a calenda – wedding parade – the firecrackers are in force!

From the interior courtyard patio perch where I was celebrating the successful language exchange of my new haircut and blowout with a glass of vino blanco, I could hear a band. I missed a calenda two weeks ago, and this time, I was not about to snooze and lose.    Oaxaca Wedding Party Calenda

Sure enough, as I approached Santo Domingo, I could see the float and the giant human-like paper mache puppets – monos de calenda – of a bride and groom. Bridal party and wedding guests were dancing along with colorfully costumed dancers and a brass band. Fireworks and fireworks galore!

Tourists gawked and anyone who had a camera suddenly was furiously shooting like it was 2004 and they just saw Brit-Brit and K-Fed. And this is the day I don’t have a camera with me. Of. Course. The wedding party fashioned into the order of the calenda and down the steps and onto the Alcala began the procession for the parade!

Women were dressed in traditional, brightly colorful skirts swirled and swayed with baskets of flowers on their heads. The bride and groom proceeded down the street surrounded by their family and friends. The parade would stop and there would be more dancing, then the procession would continue on down the Alcala.

Oaxaca Wedding Party Calenda

Musicians’ songs were punctuated by firecrackers whistling and exploding overhead. Mezcal bottles were passed around and everyone – old and young – danced. Bystanders joined in marching alongside and behind the band. Anyone not joining in the actual celebration was stretching and scrambling to take pictures and videos.

Oaxaca Wedding Party Calenda

Oaxacanos know how to throw a celebration. They can pull off crowded, colorful, loud, and proud without the slightest obnoxious or guise. If you happen to be lucky enough to come across a calenda, stop your agenda and partake in the pleasure of this celebration. 

Oaxaca Wedding Party Calenda

In Oaxaca, every day can be a cause to celebrate. The verve and enthusiasm for life embodied by Oaxacanos is extended in invitation to visitors. You’re only a stranger if you insist on being strange. Otherwise, bienvenidos a Oaxaca!

And congratulations Gloria and Gerardo!!

XO,

Jennifer

 

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The Day After Election Day | It’s Time to Start to Heal

I feel so many emotions, so much heaviness, and am overwhelmed with how to put everything I’m processing and experiencing into words. Last night we elected the 45th president of the United States of America. The election fatigue surpassed any remaining stamina within me. This morning, the day after Election Day, I woke, exhausted. I need sleep. I bet you do, too. I woke up, and I craved a hug from – anyone. More than anything, I felt lonely. Desperate for a loving embrace of consolation and assurance that we will be okay. I invaded my little dog’s space and hugged her, cried onto her, so hardcore (I think she’s still rattled by my unhinging).

 

This morning, I had breakfast with a long time girl friend. We voted for opposite candidates. And we talked about our fatigue, our fears, and feelings. We lamented the incredible outpouring of fear, shock. Shock and awe. We regarded how much anger and disappointment is being shared. The shame… and shaming. Shaming from Republican voters who wrote smug admonishments to supporters of Clinton. Blaming and shaming from the other side toward people who voted for Trump. In quick time today (almost immediately upon viewing brief scrolls through news feeds), I deleted multiple social media apps from my phone. I knew it would not be good and healthy for me to give myself such easy access to such strongly and negatively felt reactions. I’ll reassess in a few days and I’m sure before the weekend is through I’ll be happily liking and loving status updates.

 

Whatever you happen to be feeling about the outcome of last night’s election, your feelings are yours and they are valid. No matter what you feel, have all the feels. Take extra care of yourself if you are particularly discouraged. For me, one step was removing easy access to social media. What it looks like for you, take care of you.

Election fatigue love trumps hate, today is the time for self care, love, and compassion

I write this with devastated acknowledgment my candidate did not win the Electoral College. In fact, the man elected for the greatest position in leadership I observe, represents nearly everything directly opposed to what I believe is needed to be a good person. I have a lot of friends who voted for him. Who are loving and lovely people. I know of people for whom his messages of anger and division were appealing.

 

I write this while I come to my own terms that the President Elect has been a daily reminder to me of my abuser. He physically resembles, speaks in similar patterns, has familiar rhetoric, the temper… of a man who physically, verbally, and, in every way that he could, abused me – for years. It took me years of healing and hard work to understand my abuser and his effects on me. I know this is uncomfortable information to disclose to you. I share this not to be shocking or gain sympathy but to share a bit about how hard this is for me and how determined I am to find peace. I’ll offer you my apology if my disclosure causes you discomfort. I may have overshared. Watching the campaign was painful. Watching people support him, and minimize the effects of his behaviors and words, was at times unbearable. The election was especially inconceivable for me and I’m still reeling. To me, it was not about “never him” at any cost. For me, she wasn’t the lesser evil. I had, on one hand, a candidate I loved and admired. I volunteered and canvassed for, and donated to her campaign. On the other hand, though, was a candidate who was my very trigger.

 

But – I know I will be okay. Not because I am moving to Mexico, which I AM moving to Mexico, but not for any reason connected to the election. Because I accept the internal work I must do to accept profound setbacks in my life.

 

I believe we will be okay. Because I believe in America. I believe in us. I mean, come on, we survived Nixon.

 

We need to breathe. Deeply, and exhale fully. Instead of pointing fingers and attacking… and further dividing us amongst ourselves. We need to love. Love does trump hate. We need to respect each other. Respect and celebrate how diverse our dreams, our skin, our faith, or heritage, our love, our families, are and not be afraid. It’s not easy for me to write this, but I believe in the power of positive thought and intention.

After Election Day

People are scared. People are in pain. People are angry. Fear, pain, and anger are contributing factors for how we arrived here. Let’s get to work. We have a lot of inside work to do for ourselves and each other. This is our opportunity to step up. United we stand.

 

 

 

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An Amelie Memory and What Does it Mean to Take the Hit As a Gift

Missing Paris, and I decided to pop in Amelie for a little reminder of a beautiful, brief respite of solitude and beauty in an otherwise emotionally tumultuous time in my life, and one of the last points in time I ever felt wholly optimistic. Soon after, a fated meeting with someone resulted in a sequence of events, after which, I have been holding onto a certain amount of cynicism.

I’m not happy about it, and not resigned to an indefinite state, but right now, it is what it is. There is a limited, stunted, amount of vulnerability and how much of myself I will open up to others. I miss the me who wasn’t so suspicious and guarded. I miss the me who was optimistic and hopeful when meeting someone new.

Paris Eiffel Tower Take the hit as a gift

A quote from the movie said by Monsieur Dufayel (Glass Man) “So, my little Amélie, you don’t have bones of glass. You can take life’s knocks. If you let this chance pass, eventually, your heart will become as dry and brittle as my skeleton. So, go get him, for Pete’s sake!

To me, this sweet little gem of a film illustrates vulnerability, taking risks, and putting one’s self out in the world, even if that means uncertainty and the unknown. Last week, somewhere I heard “take the hit as a gift.” I really cannot remember where, and it’s entirely possible this was a line from one of the movies I half consciously watched while trying to sleep on my flight from CDG to PHL…. Maybe I hallucinated it in my sleep deprived state during the 48 hours I subsisted on about five hours of sleep and the kind of jet lag that makes a person see triple.

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Awaken and Uplift Your Mind

“The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.”~ Henry Miller

One of my yoga teachers, Dave, spoke about awakening and uplifting the mind from the body. Or something very similar. It’s hard for me to listen to every single word when I’m wrapping, binding, and then positioning myself to stand in the bird of paradise posture all without toppling or crying. But I’m not supposed to listen and stay up in my head space. Inversions, well, I need to uplift my mind from my body, for sure, because the head trip that is flipping my feet over my head…. Yikes! The very purpose of my yoga practice is to help me find that state where I can awaken and uplift my mind, my heart, and my body, and connect them.

Matthew Kane photographing yoga session on the beach : Shirshasana

What this means to me is a reminder to get out of our heads. To dial in, turn in, and develop awareness of the extraordinary wonders in completely ordinary moments. How many times have you driven yourself to work and not remembered the drive? How many times have you paused during an that early morning commute, or the late drive home, and took a silent moment to quietly remark on the orange hue of that sunrise or sunset? Finding something beautiful and extraordinary in a routine motion.

We can live numbly and in a semi-conscious state concerning ourselves over ironing, IRA and 401K growth, shrinking the AMEX bill, or what stupid thing said in front of 100 coworkers in a meeting weeks ago. Ok, those may be some of my obsessions, but I know I’m not the only one.

We can stop the distraction of guilt for having all of that dessert or the extra pint of beer had during laugh out loud happy hours with friends. Or the nagging interrupted attentiveness of wondering about the creep who didn’t call. Or of the one who won’t stop calling, et cetera et cetera, blah-da-da-blah-da-da-blah.

The possibilities of berating and bemoaning the things that are not right are unending, if we let them. And when we let them, we become distracted and lose presence.

By being present in each day of life, I’m probably going to – you’re probably going to – come out a winner on top anyway. So, Dave gave the reminder, that I’m passing on to you, to stop hitting the figurative snooze button on our wake up alarms and be awaken, every day.

Vivo — “alive”
Sveglio — “awake”

Awaken to moments of merriment, delight, and discovery. To be awake = breaking down indifference that leads to taking life for granted and missing chances to realize and savor life’s best moments.

Matthew Kane photographing yoga session on the beach : Hanumasana

POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS MAY INCLUDE: moments of elation, a fulfilling happiness, the ability to appreciate our reality and acknowledge the gifts we have in our very own lives.  Sight lines to see small miracles and wonders everywhere. YOU SHOULD NOT CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN IF: happiness sustains for hours, days, or even longer periods at a time.

Let’s hear from you! What are the ordinaries you fret  about that you want to put away to make space for extraordinary moments? Comment below and let us know?

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