Tag Archives: Inspiration

I Want To See You Be Brave

12 Jun

As we plan our upcoming July trip to the US to attend to some long overdue medical issues, I find myself awash in fear and sadness. The reports of surging Covid leave me wanting to chuck it all and pull the covers over my head.

I found this timely reminder on Facebook this morning…

In times of trouble, carry on small steps.
Do what you have to do, but a little at a time.
Don’t think about the future, not even about what could happen tomorrow. Wash the dishes.
Remove the dust.
Write a letter.
Make some soup.
Do you see that?
You are moving forward step by step.
Take a step and stop.
Get some rest.
Compliment yourself.
Take another step.
Then another one.
You won’t notice, but your steps will get bigger and bigger.
Time will come when you can think about the future without crying. ❤️

(Elena Mikhalkova, ′′ The Room of Ancient Keys ′′)

We have arranged house sitters and bought airplane tickets. I am working on transportation and housing. One step, one day, one action at a time.

We learned this week of another dear friend whom we saw and hung out with in Austin pre-Covid, is in hospice. She has a neurological illness that the doctors can’t figure out. She was next on my list of friends to ask for space in her spare bedroom. Some days there just are no words.

On Wednesdays I make myself go to my drawing group. It is a brief foray out of the house, that provides social interaction and a break from the sadness. Plus I get to draw naked people! I can see the improvement in my drawing. It’s the little things, the small steps.

Lisa got her second shot. We are now both fully vaccinated. Another step.

Brave by Sara Bareilles is my new theme song. Today’s blog is me being brave, refusing to push down my tears and sadness. One thing Covid has done is bring to light people’s mental health struggles. How could we NOT be sad. I would love to hear from you. We will sit and hold hands together. Small steps.

DOS TORTAS

Death Knocks

30 May

It was a sucker punch to the stomach this week, when I received the news on Facebook that a dear friend has cancer. And not just cancer but stage four, liver, lung and bone cancer. Suze and I have been friends for almost thirty years. We met on a shuttle from the Michigan Women’s Music Festival in the 90’s. My life has been so much richer knowing this crazy woman who makes me laugh. We’ve been to each other’s weddings, and a boatload of parties. We’ve had sleep-overs for New Year’s Eve and watched the Texas low-budget, cult classic Sordid Lives in our pajamas. When she retired from social work, this dynamo took up real estate and sold our home in 2013 so Lisa and I could scurry off to be Dos Tortas in southern Mexico.

In 1999 Lisa and I had a commitment ceremony before marriage was legal. Suze was there.

There was a year of tests that came back negative until they didn’t. No treatment, 3-6 months, get your affairs in order, say your goodbyes.

Suze is the queen of having your affairs in order. In her long career as a social worker, she was the head of Texas Partner for End Of Life Care (TxPEC) which helped develop directives for physicians and clergy to better assistant the dying. It’s because of her fearless advocacy that many have had the hard conversations and their wills are in order.

I am glad that Lisa and I will be back in Texas this summer. We will sit together, hold hands and create final memories. I love you Suze and you will always be in my heart and at least you’ll never have to go on another diet!

DOS TORTAS

Life is A Blooming Delight

23 May

We had a bit of long overdue rain last night. There are many flowers blooming, but I thought you might enjoy seeing the orchids popping up here and there. I once tried to raise an orchid in Austin, Texas. Epic fail. It can be done, just not by me.

This little orchid is currently blooming by our dock. It is very fragrant,
Aren’t they gorgeous?

There are more than 25,000 species of orchids worldwide. In the Mexican tropics, where we live, orchids pretty much raise themselves. They thrive in the humidity and shade, clinging to a tree trunk. They are epiphytes, non-parasites, living on another plant, wild and free. They’re a delightful surprise to find while walking around the property, a pop of color and in some cases a whiff of sublime fragrance.

So delicate.
This beauty ( Phaelaenopsis or moth orchid) bloomed for three months in the earlier part of this year.

So kick back. Enjoy whatever is blooming in your life, yard or neighborhood. Life is good and I’m grateful.

DOS TORTAS

Finding My Way

25 Apr

Swimming has now become a daily routine. I no longer have to brace myself for the plunge into chilly water, as days are creeping into the 90s (32c) on Laguna Bacalar in southern Mexico. The water is getting noticeably warmer and in a month or so, it will feel like stepping into a bath.

I have been working on my swimming stroke for years studying and practicing Total Immersion Swimming. I point my nose toward the bottom, keeping my neck and spine aligned. Catch and pull toward my thigh while cork screwing my body through the water. Pull, rotate, pull rotate, 1, 2, 3. Kicking is not the frantic churning of feet in an effort to propel oneself through the water. Stroke, kick, stroke, kick. It’s a beautiful dance gliding with the grace of a porpoise (at least I try) rather than laying flat like a squat tugboat. 163, 164, 165.

Sometimes I count, sometimes I sing, “Imagine all the people, living life in peace, you ooo may say I’m a dreamer….” I also like to float on my back watching the clouds and the birds. An occasional kayaker passes but for the most part the lake is all mine.

There is one thing, with all this pulling, and singing and counting, I am swimming all over the place. There are no lane lines as in a public pool and I’m not sure if it’s the currents, the wind or my uneven pull, but one minute I’m paralleling the coast and the next I’m heading for open water. I zig and zag and without repeatedly lifting my head, I never know where the heck I am.

My goal is to reach that point off in the distance.

I suppose it’s all a metaphor for life. Some days I certainly am going around in circles. Regardless, when I climb the ladder out of the water, I am flush with gratitude, a feeling of supreme accomplishment and a laugh at not knowing where I am or where I’m going, but so happy to be alive.

DOS TORTAS

Creating Our Own Happiness

15 Nov

When the high point of my day was reporting both dogs’ bowel movements after our morning walk, I knew it was time to take action. The daily routine of COVID isolation was getting to me. When an invitation showed in my inbox for a Zoom “Painting Circle” with my friend and teacher, Connie Solera, I didn’t hesitate to sign up.

Gazing at the far horizon.
Night time musings.
Not Knowing.

I have also subscribed to Audible, audiobooks. Laying in the hammock to read, makes me feel lazy and puts me to sleep. Listening to The Secret Room by Corrie Tenboom or some equally interesting book, both inspires and motivates. I can prep dinner, clean out the refrigerator or give the dog a bath, all things I tend to put off, while feeling accomplished and lifting my spirits.

I have also picked up my crochet hook and am working on a colorful afghan during the evening TV time. I have told my mother-in-law Alice that the blanket is a gift for a friend who is expecting a baby. That way she can ooo and aaah without knowing it is a gift for her.

As Covid quarantine stretches on for months and perhaps years, reading about what the Jews who hid out during WWII experienced keeps me humble. I suppose reading The Diary of a Young Girl could also be added to the audio list. Keep occupied, look out for your neighbors and please, wear a mask.

DOS TORTAS

When Communication Is Not Your First Language

8 Nov

Sometimes a comedic line on a TV series can hit a bit close to home. As was the case when Patrick’s said to David on the Emma Award winning series Schitt’s Creek, “I understand David that communication is not your first language.

A must watch tale of love.

While I had a good laugh, I’ve also had to ponder (as my wife would say) communication as a language skill.

A relationship takes a commitment to love and communication.

Since moving to Mexico, I have been daily studying Spanish as a second language. My foray into learning Spanish began in high school. It continued during a junior year abroad in Mexico and with additional college coursework and a job where I spoke Spanish daily.

Regardless of how hard I work, I am clear that I will never pass as a native speaker. Between idioms, accent and constructing new cognitive frameworks, I have a lot to learn.

I think the same can be said of communication. When my kids were little, I used to teach a course called, How To Talk So Kids Will Listen. Also for ten years, I have been a student and coach of Real Love by Dr. Greg Baer.

Learning the language of communication takes daily effort and attention. Remembering that most people have never worked to improve the skills that mom and dad taught them, helps me to have patience. It also reminds me to not take things personally and lower my expectations. I don’t think communication will ever be my first language either, but remain a lifetime study for as long as I live.

DOS TORTAS

Moms Are Pissed

26 Jul

This week has been a stellar week for women and moms in the US news. While I have held to the commitment that this is not a political blog, I simply cannot fill it with pictures of my dog (as cute as she is, and as happy as she makes me) which was where I was leaning this week.

My own artwork.

The news broke in Portland with the “Wall of Moms” being tear gassed. https://youtu.be/fNBiWnl1H8g Their motto brought tears to my eyes.

Then there was the fiery response by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the floor of our seat of government. https://youtu.be/LI4ueUtkRQ0

Our hope, our voice.

And lastly I read a blog by Jon Katz https://www.bedlamfarm.com/2020/07/24/one-mans-truth-aoc-moms-women-mayors-its-on/ which puts it into perspective beautifully.

Author, blogger and keen observer.

So this week I will rest. My eyes burn from crying. I just bought a book on Mary Magdalene. I will fill my time wrapped in her inspiration. She was another strong woman beyond my experience. I’d love to hear your thoughts on where you find peace and inspiration. Stay home, stay safe, until next week.

DOS TORTAS

Dealing With The Burn

26 Apr

This week there have been fires burning all around us. There were black clouds billowing from the landfill across the laguna.

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Farmers have used controlled fires to clear fields for centuries in Mexico. When you drive through the Yucatán you see where gasoline has been poured along the sides of the road to clear overgrowth. With the drought we’re having it’s a wonder there’s any jungle left.

At times we couldn’t see the other side.

With my asthma, we closed up the house yesterday and stayed indoors. It was another layer of quarantine.

Clearer skies today.
And some days even that’s not easy.

DOS TORTAS

 

 

Te Quedas En Casa (Stay Home)

12 Apr

The Adventures of Dos Tortas has been retired for a year and a half. Up until today, I had not seriously considered continuing our saga. I began the blog in 2012 with the intention of keeping family and friends apprised of our decision to retire and live in Mexico. I was tired of the endless questions all beginning with, “is it safe?”

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The blog evolved from chronicling the move from Austin, Texas, to the building of our house on beautiful Lake Bacalar. 

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The View From Our Yard

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Our House Completed 2015

We continued with our world travels and day-to-day small town Mexico life. Everything felt new and exciting. Eventually we settled into a routine and the search for interesting stories grew tiresome. When I got few Comments or indicators of interest, I decided after six years to retire the blog. There were at least a gazillion blogs at that time offering how to retire and live in Mexico and I felt like mine offered nothing new. Little did I know that I would continue to meet people who had been devoted followers and related how they missed my weekly musings. Who knew?

So for some unknown reason, I feel compelled to share our new boring life in the time of a pandemic, social isolation and lockdown. I read somewhere that it is our responsibility to keep a record of this crazy experience caused by Covid19.

Lord how the world has changed.

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In 2019 we lost our beloved Frida to a car accident.

and added Stella, a blind pug to the mix.

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Stela is a Gift from the Goddess

I still share photos on Instagram at dos_tortas if you wish to catch up.

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If you are new and stumbled onto Dos Tortas, know that there are no politics here. I am completely committed to living a happy life no matter what. So come along from wherever you are holed up and join us to wherever the hell we are going.

Comments encouraged. 

DOS TORTAS

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Adiós Amigos/Amigas

4 Nov

Dear Followers, Friends and Family, this will be my last blog post. I have been toying with the idea of discontinuing DOS TORTAS for sometime and the decision is final. With over six years, 310 posts, 5,848 views from all over the world, 195 likes, and 341 followers, it’s been a wonderful experience and a lot of fun. I’ve grown as a writer and pushed myself in ways that I wouldn’t otherwise have grown. I remember being thrilled at having 100 followers, woohoo!

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Our original route from Austin to Bacalar September 2013

There are so many blogs about moving, traveling and living in Mexico. I have veered off topic quite a bit lately which is death for a blogger. Any “how to” guide will tell you to be narrow in topic and write to a specific audience. I’m afraid that ship has sailed. 

A few things we have learned on this great adventure:

  • Living in Mexico is not easy. There is a gaping cultural divide. It is not insurmountable but there is a price. 
  • Living in a gated expatriate community is not living in Mexico. 
  • If you don’t speak Spanish you better have money to pay someone to help navigate a system that is frustrating and complicated at best and incomprehensible at worst – renting, construction/renovation, banking, immigration, shopping, medical, veterinary, etc. etc. 
  • Air travel back and forth from Mexico to wherever has only gotten more problematic. The easy travel that we imagined no longer exists. Missed connections, flight delays due to bad weather, the cost of rescheduling tickets and the unexpected need for a hotel room adds up. Not to mention the inconvenience of lost passports, credit cards and other identification. 
  • Be fearless no matter where life takes you. It’s so much better than the alternative.

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My hard won permanent residency card.

None of this is said to discourage anyone. We love it here in Bacalar and have no regrets or plans to return to the US. Even at 55 and 66 we talk more frequently about aging in place. Illness and disability are probably the main reasons foreigners pack it in and head “home”. Life can turn on a dime. It’s good to have a plan B.

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Lisa’s mother’s tumble which resulted in multiple broken bones, surgery and physical therapy.

I would still love to hear from you with questions or comments. I will continue on Instagram at dos_tortas.  With much gratitude, blessings and peace. 

DOS TORTAS

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Emilie Vardaman

travel and random thoughts

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