Monday, December 22, 2014

Three Things I've Learned This Year

This has been an incredible year of discoveries. Here are our top three:

Making myself at home on a house-sit in Port Townsend.

What's not to like about a free place to stay? This year we joined two housesitting websites: Trusted Housesitters and Housesitters America, and we house sat in Port Townsend, Santa Cruz and West Hollywood.

When you join a housesitting website, you create a profile that includes a description, photos and references. There's a fee for sitters; for homeowners it's free. Most homeowners want you to take care of an animal--or ten. We don't want to care for someone's cattle herd, but we gladly have taken care of dogs, cats, rabbits, and fowl. Because we travel so much and can't have a dog of our own, it was fun to hang with two golden retriever brothers (in Washington) and a pug named Duke (in WeHo).
Each place we've stayed has had Wifi, comfortable beds, and nice settings with great places to explore. A nomad's dream.

We've spent the year in (in this order):

Tahoe, Maui, Newbury Park, Ontario CA, Big Bear, Marina del Rey, Palm Springs, Sedona, Zion, Cedar City UT, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Ely NV, Shasta Lake, San Jose CA, Santa Cruz, Oregon (Ashland and Portland), Port Townsend WA, Cannon Beach, Humboldt, West L.A., Newbury Park, West Hollywood, Solana Beach, Mexico City, Tepoztlán, and Baja Mexico.

Sounds exhausting! But it hasn't been, for the most part.

Living on the road, we've learned we are more flexible and adaptable than we ever imagined.

Dave and Duke

We know to allow for a little adjustment time when we first land. Sometimes I feel anxious when we step into a new place. It's like I'm trying to fit the unknown in a box marked "known."

It may take a day or two to get in the groove. If we're moody or tired, no big deal. Once we've found a place for our suitcases and toothbrushes, have done a session of yoga or taken a nap, and have filled the fridge with food, we're golden. That doesn't mean suddenly everything's perfect. It means we plunge into the newness and enjoy the ride.

As Joseph Goldstein says, "You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf."

When we decided almost two years ago to leave jobs and home to live on the road, I called it "plunging into the fertile void."

Voids are scary.

But opening up to them is how we make space for new things.

And new things always come.

That's not just a theory for me anymore. I know, for instance, when we stepped out onto the edge of change, we made space for this casita in Mexico to appear in our lives. Not to mention all the new people we've met, experiences we've had--and the book I've written that I hope comes out next year.

I don't want fears to run my life. I want my guides to be openness, joy, and a willingness to take risks.

What's happening next year? A few months in Mexico and then, who knows? Something will appear. I know it.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Gracias, Mexico

Why are we wearing these funny hats and formal clothes? Read on.

Okay, now I know the truth about my Spanish: It sucks! But people are kind, especially when I try. A few words go a long way. I constantly remind myself not to be self-conscious, just dive in. How else to learn?

Sometimes Spanish is really fun. Other times my inner child gets a little whiny. It wants someone to fix it all, to make everything clear. RIGHT NOW.

It's helpful to watch Dave in action. He knows less Spanish than I do, but he has no problem making up words, pantomiming, drawing pictures--even throwing in a Japanese or German word. Okay, that last part is unintentional. It's just the language center in his brain igniting languages he knows.

Last weekend we were at a wedding where we met a lot of fascinating people. I craved being able to talk to them more in-depth. Serious Spanish study is high on my list.

Speaking of the, what an incredible experience. On Thanksgiving day we flew from Cabo to Mexico City. When we arrived at the home of our friend Paul, the groom, we met a small group of his friends who served us a turkey dinner with all the trimmings--and I'd thought tacos and beer in the airport would have to suffice.


The next day, we rode with Paul to the wedding location, a town called Tepoztlán. A "Pueblo Mágico" outside of Cuernavaca, it's a beautiful place, with cobblestone streets and surrounded by mountains. It's reputed to be the birthplace over 1200 years ago of Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent god.

Up and up with Sarah.

The morning of the wedding Dave, our friend Sarah and I hiked up Tepozteco mountain (a serious climb with a 1,200 foot elevation gain). At the top are the remains of an Aztec temple. People say this sacred place has a high vibration and that there are regular UFO sightings. We didn't see UFOs, but we saw a lot of these creatures:


The wedding took place at a beautiful open-air chapel. Although dress was formal and the service was Catholic, the Beatles "Let it Be" and "All You Need is Love" played as everyone filled the seats. During the ceremony, children ran around and blew bubbles while the musicians played Ave Maria and the Hallelujah Chorus.

After the "husband and wife" pronouncement to a glorious sunset, cocktails were served on the lawn. Suddenly, music predominated by drumming filled the air, and Aztec dancers in wild costumes appeared. Their traditional, freaky masks originally mocked the Spanish invaders. Everyone was invited to dance with them.

We moved into a gorgeous hall for the reception. During dinner, the band performed opera music. Later that very same band broke out into a wild array of music for dancing. A medley of songs from Grease. Disco. Salsa. A bunch of Beatles songs, "performed" by Dave and three other guests who'd been pulled aside and shoved into costumes and crazy wigs.

The bride and groom appeared in super sexy red and black outfits and performed a super sexy tango (watch here). We danced for hours. Crazy cartoon characters and props and neon flashing accoutrements for us to wear kept popping up.

There were even fireworks!

A colorful spread of quirky desserts appeared. Champagne, wine and tequila flowed freely. At 1 a.m., we were served breakfast! And then a mariachi band strolled in.  Pablo and Rosalba, longtime friends of Paul and Mari Carmen, sang the most beautiful, impassioned song. I get gooseflesh every time I watch Dave's video that captures the moment:

My Spanish may need some work, but I certainly know how to say: "Gracias, Mexico."