Tag Archives: Inspiration

This Is Your Assignment

21 May

As I sat and pondered a topic for this week’s blog, I was approached on Facebook by Camille E. Torok de Flores for inclusion in a series she is putting together on Blogs About Mexico Worth Reading. I expressed interest so she sent me a list of questions to complete. While I have blogged in the past on most of these topics, I realize that four years into our life in Mexico perhaps it’s time to revisit the answers.

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Why do you blog? What is the purpose of your site? For whom do you write? In the beginning of the whole move to Mexico process, the blog was a response to the questions asked by family, friends and strangers, why and aren’t you afraid?

Then there was the retiring, planning, packing and never ending garage sales. My brain was spinning and the blog was an opportunity to process and share.

When we arrived in Bacalar, everything was new and exciting. We were adjusting to a new life and every aspect was intriguing. There were endless blog topics just walking around town.

The next few years were occupied with jumping through hoops to begin construction of our home, the construction itself and its completion. Mixed in were our various travels both within Mexico and to the States.

Where do we go from here? It’s a good question. September 2017 begins our fifth year in Bacalar. I do not know my readers well. I would love to hear from you what you get out of the blog?

Where can you be found? (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest etc)
I am on Instagram at dos_tortas Pinterest at Bacalar, Mexico and on Facebook at The Adventures of Dos Tortas.

What is your favorite blog post? Why? No favorite stands out for me, although my readers clearly have a favorite, First of All Have Fun (February 2017).

What has been the most difficult for you to blog about? Why? My most difficult blogs have been the ones that I share the pain of having left our family or the death of friends. Being vulnerable is required to live an honest life. But it’s hard.

What advice do you have for those planning to move to or travel in Mexico? I can see that it’s going to take more time than I have today to answer these questions. It’s time for a personal reassessment so look for future blogs to cover these topics.

What has been the best experience you’ve had in Mexico? What did you learn from it? To be continued.
What has been the worst experience you’ve had in Mexico? What did you learn from it?

DOS TORTAS

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Go With God Sandy

23 Apr

The recent visit to our hometown of Austin, Texas included a drive through the old neighborhood. You could tell which houses had had a facelift or complete makeover and likely changed hands. One house stood out with its overgrown yard and clunker parked in the driveway. It looked absolutely the same as when we left almost four years ago. We laughed and wondered aloud how Sandy was doing.

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Pulling out of our driveway August 2013

Leaving Austin after having lived there forty years for me and more than twenty for Lisa meant lots of goodbyes. We visited with friends, some of which we hadn’t seen in years, but who wanted to connect before we took off for the wilds of Southern Mexico. We even threw a party in our yard, complete with live music. There were many opportunities for folks who wanted it. But we never saw Sandy.

She was our neighbor a few doors down. She played softball with Lisa’s team for a few years. I remember hanging out in her hot tub with a group of women naked and laughing. It was a first for me but lots of fun.

Over the years, Sandy became more and more of a recluse. I stopped by her house more than once to invite her to some event and she was clearly uncomfortable and did not invite me in. The house reeked of cigarette smoke. She promised to show, but never did.

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Sandy’s trusty little white truck.

I knew Sandy had retired from her job as a surgical assistant to an eye doctor. She also volunteered with children. I wonder what happened. Lisa and I had dinner last week with some mutual friends who informed us that Sandy had died. When she didn’t show for a cancer treatment, the clinic sent the police for a wellness checkup. They found her in her recliner.

I believe a lifelong struggle with depression and alcohol contributed. She only died the first of March and it makes me so sad. I just came from the grocery store and saw someone who looked like her and did a double take. Then I remembered.

Adiós means “go with God”, so adiós Sandy. I know that you are at peace. We just never know when we say goodbye if we’ll ever see anyone again. So hug them tight and tell them you love them, even if they’re your neighbor.

DOS TORTAS

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Inspiration And A Plan (3)

26 Mar

This is week three and the final week of my #21EmBody paint along. Who knew that a seemingly small commitment could have such a profound impact. But again, isn’t that how life is when you’re open to the unexpected and unplanned?

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BREASTS

It all started when a friend posted to Facebook an invitation to paint, heal and show respect for our various body parts. Mmmm what an interesting idea! The event was orchestrated by Connie Solera a well known artist’s guru. I was intrigued.

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BELLY

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NAVEL

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SPINE

And as I am prone to do, being the Torta that I am, I jumped in with both feet. Paintings are posted to Instagram and Facebook for the world to see. Not only did I get to follow the amazing work of artists from around the world painting the same subject, but I got to see my own work evolve. I have never produced an art journal before, and my 5×7 sketch pad is now a treasure.

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HAIR

I appreciate the many comments from other artists and friends alike. Even last night I ran into a friend out and about in Bacalar who had seen and appreciated my work on Facebook and is talking about picking up a brush.

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EARS

I couldn’t complete this story without a shout out to George W. Bush. Our forty-third has become an amazing artist with no background but a lot of heart. He was making the rounds of late-night talk shows and I caught him on Jimmy Kimmel. He was friggin inspirational. The man is amazing AND funny. I know, who knew?

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LEGS

What did I learn? The creative process cannot be rushed. It forces me to slow my mind and listen to my inner voice. At the same time, I need to NOT listen to the inner critical voice. It showed up loudly when painting my breasts and belly. Especially my belly. That was the hardest. I learned that my work is mine and doesn’t compare at all to anyone else’s. I love looking at others’ paintings of the same subject. Their amazing work does not diminish mine in the slightest. I had so much fun.

DOS TORTAS

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Inspiration And A Plan (2)

19 Mar

The painting challenge #21emBODY with artist extraordinaire Connie Solera continues this week with the prompts EYES, LIPS, NOSE, TOES, SHOULDERS, NECK and HIPS. Retired and living in Mexico, I appreciate the creativity, structure and opportunity to nurture my artistic spark. The idea is to heal our body, one part at a time. I don’t know about healing, but it sure has been fun.

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Hazel Eyes

Staring into my 65 year old eyes, with the wrinkles and skimpy lashes was hard at first. After awhile I became fascinated with me.

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Lips

I used the painting of lips as my experiment with color. I’ve wanted to use myself as the model for this process and a blue painting was my attempt at playfulness.

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Nose

A change from staring a my own face I decided to switch it up again. I choose another nose that is dear to my heart these days. Our dog Luna provides never ending entertainment. This is a replication of one of my favorite pictures of her.

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Toes

Ah, yes, toes. I got down on the floor and played with camera angles to get this upside down perspective. Sketching has also been a fun part of the process. My need to be perfect is falling away.

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Shoulders

Continuing to play with color resulted in this blue/green rendition of myself. I experienced  a lot of shoulder pain at one time and would wake at night with my shoulders reaching for my ears, my body’s response to stress. No more! I’m loving these relaxed shoulders.

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Neck

A bit more stylized, this self portrait hardly resembles me today. It was fun to paint and I added a scarf as an afterthought. You who know me are familiar with my pleasure in making, collecting and wearing scarves .

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Hips

And finally this week, I celebrate my hips. I went to the art supply store yesterday in search of some oil pastels. I’d like to branch out and try new techniques. I like the colors and texture the pastels produced.

As life has spun around me this week, painting has provided an anchor and a focus. I’ve surprised myself with the outcome. I am loosening my grip and need to control. If that’s not healing, I don’t know what is. DOS TORTAS

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Inspiration And A Plan

12 Mar

Painting and being more artistic, whatever that means, has always been a big part of my retirement vision. It’s funny how I’ve had this corner of my brain where I put things for “some day” when I am no longer working. Of course that vision has changed with actual retirement. (Now Is As Good A Time As Any). Joining with other painters for Rendezvous 2015 and 2017 was fun and pushed me to paint but I returned home with no idea how to continue. No clear plan in retirement means trolling Facebook and playing solitaire  

When my dear friend Alison (Deva Designs, San Antonio), posted an invitation by artist extraordinaire Connie Solera to participate in a 21-day paint along, I jumped at the chance. I respond well to pressure and structure.

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I’m all about self-exploration  and making peace with whatever is getting in my way. After all, what else have I got to do? In this case my body seemed like a good healing target. Lots of material there.

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LUNGS for the kicker.

My first day was a blast. I never would have thought to paint lungs. I went in for the medical illustration, a career that I would have loved if I knew it existed. I have recently discontinued all asthma medication thanks to my Mexican pulmonologist. Woohoo I can breathe!

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HEART

A shout out to my Catholic roots. This time however, it’s MY Sacred Heart with no thorns, thank you very much.

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BACK

A bit more playful this time with a selfie in the bathroom mirror. This may be my favorite so far.

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BONES

I started with an X-ray of my pelvis from a fall of a couple of years ago. This painting really took on a life of its own. Some days you have to get out of the way and let the creativity flow.

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HAND

My other retrospection of late has been my relationship with God. This painting is from a pendant, a hamsa, which represents “the Hand of God”.  I like hand images and have a few.

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FEET

Feet are not the easiest subject. I did notice that I hit a wall with each painting, doubting my skill, doubting myself. Mmmm I wonder how often I do that?!

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ARMS

I chose to celebrate the hug, the hugger and the huggie. My life would be so much less without them. My biggest lesson so far has been that I don’t need to compare myself to the other artists. My work (or play) is my own. Please visit, comment and share at #21emBODY on Instagram and Facebook to see the amazing art being produced by participants of this challenge.

DOS TORTAS

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First Of All Have Fun

19 Feb

I’ve always considered myself a creative person. After all, I was an “art major” in high school which translated into hanging out with a cool crowd and having fun! In college I quickly learned that my lack of marketable talent meant bleak job prospects. I ended up with a degree in English and a blog. And so it goes.

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What all the fashionable watercolorists standing in a cemetery are wearing.

Upending our lives and retiring in Mexico has given me a chance to recreate myself. Part of that recreation, besides napping in a hammock has been watercoloring. Painting has always been one of those “back burner” dreams for someday when I retire.

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A sweet mother and child park scene. Learning about perspective.

Last week’s blog was a walk down memory lane as I participated in Rendezvous 2015. I haven’t painted much since, and I was excited to travel to Merida, Yucatán for Rendezvous 2017.

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Carolyn, our mistress of ceremonies  is a painting unto herself. The entrance to Hacienda Misné day one.

The gist is, we paint on site at a different location daily for five days. Merida is enchanting with its mercados, parques, churches, a massive cemetery and of course, the nearby beach in Progresso. The hard part was picking a subject. Each evening we critique each other’s work. It is a growth opportunity or a fork in the eye, depending on whether you take it personally.

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Progreso beach scene.

The agreement is to produce five paintings, all matted and ready to display. We had a gallery showing/party on Saturday evening and felt very accomplished and exhausted.

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My favorite of the week, a lovely little market scene.

Our happy little band of participants has varying levels of skill and experience. People always say, “oh, I can’t do that.” NOT! I’m here to tell you it doesn’t matter if you’ve never painted. My motto is, not know what I’m doing has never stopped me before. Be fearless, be bold, but most of all, have fun!

DOS TORTAS

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A Story Like The Wind

5 Feb

When our children were young, I read them bedtime stories. Little Women, The Indian in the Cupboard. I love to read aloud. Maybe it’s because my dad did too. He read the Sunday comics with a different voice for each character. He should have been a voiceover actor.

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My dad like to read, travel and he liked parades.

For twenty-three years we have continued with the bedtime reading ritual. I read aloud, Lisa listens. I wish I had kept track of all the books we’ve read.

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The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings Series, the Harry Potter books, the seven Chronicles of Narnia, the Eragon series by Christopher Paolini (I highly recommend them although we’ve never read the fourth book.) and two of my favorites, A Story Like the Wind and it’s sequel, A Far Off Place by Laurens Van Der Post to name a few.

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If I had to pick my favorite book of all time, it would be The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye. I think I’ve personally read it three times. And many, many more in twenty-three years. Why did I not write them down? I don’t think I imagined I’d be reading for so long.

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Presently we’re reading the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith.

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Not all books lend themselves to being read aloud. Choosing from the adolescent section is a good bet. We’ve slogged through many books that should have been retired early on. We’ve also shied away from anything that might prevent pleasant dreams.

This week I will be in Merida for Art Rendezvous, so no reading before bed. We’ve tried reading over the phone, but it’s not the same.

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So you might try reading someone a bedtime story, a child, elderly person or your spouse. It is the absolutely sweetest experience. And who knows, it could create a lifelong habit.

DOS TORTAS 

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Relax and Hug A Tree

29 Jan

The commitment of a weekly blog brings on a certain amount of pressure. While there’s no one with a gun to my head, I feel an internal pull to produce. It’s also been a habit I’ve established for over four years. So here goes…

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The pyramids of Dzibanché selfie with US visitor Harper, Lisa, her mom Alice and me.

Nope, I’ve got nothing this week. I’ve been happy and the weather’s been beautiful. Absolutely nothing interesting bubbled up this week in my middle-of-the-night musings, what do I blog about?

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Giant palms. Note the human in bottom right corner.

Given the state of the U.S., it’s almost embarrassing to be filled with joy and gratitude for each day as it presents itself.

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Majesty growing on a pyramid.

So I’ve decided to share the recent photos of amazing trees we saw while visiting local Mayan ruins with our friend and visitor, Harper. I admit it was her astute eye that grabbed my interest.

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Trees have stories to tell if we take time to listen. These certainly are beautiful. I love the way their roots adapt to barriers. No fuss, just go around and in some cases, go through.

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So if you’re feeling afraid, hopeless or disconnected, or happy and grateful, go hug a tree. They ask nothing of us, except maybe that we don’t destroy the planet.

DOS TORTAS

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My Fixation On Guadalupe

8 Jan

Apparently I have at least one image of The Virgin of Guadalupe in every room in the house. I did not do it intentionally. As a matter of fact, I did not even realize how much she graced our home until our recent guest pointed it out. How on earth did that happen?!

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A gift from my sister-in-law, at home in the living room in her own niche.

A bit of herstory, I was raised Catholic and about age 16 turned my back on it all and refused to even go to church. My mother was crushed.

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An original  watercolor by my friend Cat hangs in my studio.

For most of the years that followed, I refused to think much about religion. In the 80’s I developed an interest in women’s spirituality. Books such as The Mists of Avalon, The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries, The Spiral Dance, charged women with seeking the holy feminine. Goddesses from around the globe, Brigid (Celtic), Artemis (Greek), Diana (Roman), Kali (Hindu) and many more replaced the dominant concept of God the Father. I loved the idea of God the Mother and irreverent as I am, resonated supremely with Guadalupe and her vulvar shape.

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Stock photo.

Slowly and over time, my life filled with Guadalupes.

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Pantry wall hanging by Alison Schockner, San Antonio fiber artist and dear friend.

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Every house needs at least one refrigerator magnet.

 

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Bathroom window.

One of the my most cherished spaces is the groto that greets visitors at the top of our stairs. It was built by our contractor David Gowen-Smith. My mother gave me the statue.

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If you think that I have become a bit over the top loca, you could be right. Before you decide, watch the Netflix documentary “Marias-Faith In Womanhood”. It is difficult to describe the connection I have with Guadalupe, but I am clearly not alone.

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This large wooden relief from Yucatán has a prominent place on our patio.

As I seek more spirituality in my life, consciously or unconsciously, Guadalupe plays an important role, front and center. My mother would be so pleased.

DOS TORTAS

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The Kayaker Or The Photographer

4 Dec

I knew a professional photographer who wanted to take his own fiftieth birthday portrait. He set the scene with a throne, crown and regal cape to mark his auspicious anniversary. Setting up to take the shot with his foot, he expressed frustration. When taking the picture, he became the photographer and was no longer the king. He had to get someone else to capture his royal essence.

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This morning I set off early to enjoy the sunrise from one of my favorite places, my little blue kayak floating peacefully in the middle of Laguna Bacalar. The morning was cool. We had rain overnight and the sun was beginning to show on the horizon.

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Love the clouds ☁️

I pushed off as quietly as possible. Sound carries and everyone was still asleep.

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Our house as seen from Laguna Bacalar

As much as I wanted to capture the beauty that I was experiencing and share it with you, I had to put the camera down and simply be. We are so used to seeing the world through a lens and “sharing” it through any number of social media sites that it’s easy to miss the experience entirely.

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I hope you enjoy the pictures I did take, but the seabirds soaring overhead, the changing colors and the breeze will be stored forever in my memory. Make your own memories today.

DOS TORTAS

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