Archive | March, 2011

Day 90: the contrast

31 Mar

It’s hard to believe today is the last day of our Mexican excursion.
Tomorrow we leave.

But not before we completely absorb one last day beaching, sunning, swimming, reading and relaxing in the sand.

To try something new, we headed north to San Pancho.
While it is marked as San Francisco on maps and guides it is lovingly referred to as San Pancho by locals (as if the name it shares with the city by a bay in California wasn’t confusing enough!).

It is different there.
The tourists are few.
The vendors are even fewer.
The brightly colored village is piquino too.

But the food is fantastic!
A traveling gourmands dream.
(The only downside is the flies have already found this gourmet mecca and dwell table side in hopes of a mid-life snack.)

As I sit back in our villa above the casita and palms trees typing my final Mexican post, I am reminded of what makes life beautiful.

The Contrast.

Take my promise not to shop for example.
If I could just go buy the bright pottery, local woven arts, dresses and sandals I am pretty sure I would appreciate them less.

They would be just things to me.
Things to buy, gather, take home, negotiate for and keep.

Instead, The Promise 365 has taught me their value.
I see the livelihood they support of the local women who paint by hand every little crook and crevice on a pot or plate surface.

Speaking of crevices, mine are covered in sand.
If I had cleavage it too would be sandblasted.

You see, even though the town is much smaller, the waves in San Pancho are much bigger.

And one of those waves decided to first toss my cookies and then throw me into the sand butt first. As if that wasn’t enough, it then completely removed the top of my bikini. All in three seconds flat.

After recovering my top, regaining my footing and then my composure, I appreciated my dry towel on the still beach with great resolve.

It was The Contrast.
From wet to dry.
From churning to stillness.

Speaking of churning, my stomach and heart did a flip flop for about thirty seconds this afternoon.

Right after I left my party to go to el bano for a little potty break I missed the show of the day.

What I caught was this:

When I returned to the beach my party was dispersed.
As I looked around all I saw were four people standing above a man hovered over a large stack of drift wood.

When I looked closer I recognized the man.
It was my love.
What was Justin doing there I wondered?

My heart skipped from my throat to my pinkie toe as my mind determined every possible horrible thing that must have happened while I was in el bano.

He puked?
He had a heart attack?
The ocean broke his body in five million pieces?

Turns out while I was in the bathroom, that same nasty wave that took off my bikini top returned a few hours later to take him down on one shoulder. And his shoulder in anger decided to dislocate itself.

But what I saw was Justin bent over driftwood.
What I missed was Justin walked himself calmly out of the water and asked for help relocating his dislocated shoulder.

I only caught the last 5 minutes of the show.
And it dislocated my heart for a full 30 seconds.

I missed the preview.
He was fine, just needed a little pull.

That too was The Contrast at play.

And it is The Contrast that makes vacation so beautiful.
To leave your home, work, commute and bills in a far off land called “real life” and to absorb the way “the others” live, eat, breathe and shop.

Tomorrow The Contrast ends, but not before we soak in every last drop of this Mexican sunset.

With love and light filling my head, heart, body and soul (and may I add no items purchased!) I bid this special spot on earth a fond adieu. Or adios. Or buenos noches. Or whatever they say in your part of town.
xo-Jamie


Day 89: redo. redone. rerun?

30 Mar

Last night, I promised to post the miracle photos from our exploration day, and I will at the bottom of this post.

Last night, I also hinted at the latest newsflash as it was feverishly developing — we were locked out of our first floor villa.

The good news is we all piled onto cushions from the couch which were dutifully re-purposed as make-shift mattresses on the tiled floor.

I can’t complain.
It was warm and dry.

It was much like what Justin’s sister would call “Glamping”
You know:  Camping + Glamorous = Glamping.

The villa management showed up this morning bright and early, fixed the broken lock, and we were back in business and off to the village for my morning… wait… wait for it… MOCHA!

And you wouldn’t believe who I ran into.
I mean seriously?
In Mexico.
In a little village town halfway across the world from the coast I call home.

Yup, you guessed it.
The bride and groom from my first trip.

There, out of the corner of my little eye I spotted the most adorable little girl on earth with curly hair, bright blue eyes and the spark only owned by a  two-and-a-half-year-old running into the cobblestone street. Her mother hurried after and scooped her up.

Just then, for a brief second I locked eyes with her mama.
And, I knew in an instant that I KNEW THIS WOMAN.

Could it be she?
Would she remember that, I, was me?

We held that universal three second stare, you know the “I-think-we-know-each-other” eye lock.

And we indeed did.

In this little Mexican village, with years and miles between us we embraced and caught up. I announced I was divorced and caught her up-to-speed. And, I met her two adorable daughters for the first time.

This trip was indeed my Re-Do.
Original bride and groom included.

I firmly believe I am entitled to a re-do for every place on this planet that holds a memory from my previous life, my married self. It’s much like a ceremonial burning of sage or spring cleaning.

It is not lost on my heart that I was meant to return to this sunny spot on earth.

I mean, what are the chances I would run into this couple?
It was their last day here.
We could have chosen different roads to walk down on this sunny Mexican morning, but we chose the same one.

We met in the middle of the street.
But we were different.

This time, I arrived in this Mexican village a different woman.
I am much stronger, clearer, older, and some days even wiser.

Last time I saw those two they were just bride & groom, today they had two beautiful angels in their arms.

And, I, clearly have one sitting on my shoulder.
There must be some little angel looking out for me.

I would like to thank her for the re-do.

It is now officially re-done.
And, that’s an investment in my head, heart, body & soul if you ask me.

Plus, I kind of get the feeling we will will return to this sunny spot for the re-run of this place some day in the future too… maybe even before I get the chance to visit all those other vacation spots on the Master Re-Do List.

Until then, the miracle of yesterday sits below:
Vaya con dios!
xo-Jamie

Day 88: don’t stop before the miracle

30 Mar

Posting this one late, 11:14 pm Mexico time. We just piled out of a rental vehicle and made it up the hill in time for me to send this one home.

I was going to write about miracles, and I will.
But, ironically, as we return to our villa after a long day of driving and exploring, we find ourselves (of all things) locked out!

Yes, it’s ironic.
I find it funny.

Mostly because this is not the first time I have been locked out of my villa in this small Mexican town, but at least this time we are only locked out of one level of the villa and there is a second floor we can all access, with running water, toilets, blankets and beds.

I will update you on this new adventure tomorrow.

But, for tonight, here’s what I have to share about today:
We rented a car and drove north in search of ancient ruins and an elusive waterfall.

However, this is what we found instead:

  • long dirt roads that led nowhere
  • natives who did not speak English but nodded their heads and pointed a lot
  • good spots for road side potty breaks behind our rental suburban
  • one small spot for a party member to puke
  • banana farms
  • watermelon fields
  • goats
  • iguanas
  • geckos
  • pigs
  • ducks
  • dogs
  • cats
  • skinny cows

 

As we drove down our third dirt road of the day, only to be stopped by a barbwire fence, we were ready to give up.

The waterfall just wasn’t going to happen.
Despite all the directions, our tour book and a decrepit sign that read cascade, it was nowhere to be found.
The roads were ending, we were on a wild Mexican goose chase.

I blame the tour book published too many years ago to be accurate.

As we stopped and took a break at that barbwire fence, we sent one party member down the hill just to confirm there was indeed water on the other side of the hill.  I mean, where there is water and a hill, there must be a cascade somewhere.

On the jog down our party member found a man on a horse with a dog.
He confirmed the cascade was just down the road.

But which road — it was becoming the ever elusive question.

It was in that moment that we took a vote.
It would decide the rest of our day.
Either we turn back home or we try again, one more time.

We had come so far, no one wanted to turn back, but the long and dusty road was the last thing we wanted to drive down for a third time.

We voted to move forward.
To try again.

And we did.
What did we find?

The tallest, most beautiful waterfall, cascading down the mountain into a pool of turquoise water.

As we splashed in the water, jumping from rock to rock, it made me think of something Debbie Phillips says all the time:

“Don’t stop before the miracle.”
(a quote from Marianne Williamson)

And, that’s just what we did.
We didn’t stop.
And, there was a miracle.

On our hike back up the mountain after playing in the cascade, we saw it.
Perched just feet away from us was a vulture waiting to take flight.
He stood there long enough for me to catch a photo, (which I will have to share tomorrow because this borrowed computer doesn’t have a card slot).
As I type this tonight, I have one thought in my mind.
If you want to go sightseeing, purchase a ticket, get a guide and stick to the schedule.

But, if you want an adventure to remember for a lifetime, get in the car and drive.
The miracle awaits.

Day 87: never say never

28 Mar

Have you ever had a terrible vacation?
A trip where everything goes wrong?

And, I mean everything.

Like it rains all week and the little Mexican village where you are staying doesn’t have paved roads, let alone a drainage system to handle unexpected water overflow.

Which is mostly apparent by the chickens stuck in the middle of the muddy streets who can’t pick their poor little chicken legs up out of the muddy goop that used to the be only form of village transportation.

What’s a little rain you say?
It won’t prevent me from having fun.
Or a vacation.

But, it doesn’t stop there.
You rented a totally quaint and cozy villa with friends and the one person who has the key to the place is M.I.A., and for some reason decides not to come back for the night (after the drunken wedding party you all attended).

You are now cold, in a foreign country, with only your cute sundress and strappy sandals (so very perfect for a tropical Mexican destination wedding if only it weren’t pouring rain and the streets weren’t mudslide washouts).

And, you are now officially locked out of your Villa Bonita.

But, then you think, (because you are good at thinking) you could just sleep on the beach — it is the perfect solution!

After all, you flew in from the cold Northeast and you can handle it.
Except that you can’t handle it, you can’t handle the fact that it feels like 40 degrees near the water and the sand feels like the princess and the pea on peyote, poking right through your silky sundress.

Finally, after walking the beach for hours, you eventually meet up with other wedding party attendees to mooch a side couch slot in their hotel room while your husband (now ex-husband) leaves you for a marijuana smoking all-nighter.

In that moment, shivering, alone, in your soaking sundress and lying on a twin mattress surrounded by someone else’s luggage, in someone else’s hotel room, squeezed between a bumpy adobe wall, you vow never, NEVER EVER TO RETURN, to this wretched little place on earth.

And, that’s before you found out half the wedding party was food poisoned with some strand of Ecoli.

Well, six years later, here’s what I have to say:
Never say never.

As I sit, writing this post, poolside in that same little Mexican village, I am thinking that this time around I am blessed with beautiful sunrises, sunsets and hot beach-y days in between.

And, of course, this time I have the keys to the villa and am sleeping on a comfy bed.

But, the difference between a terrible vacation and a cherished one easily comes down to this:  the people you share it with.

Even though I vowed never to return, I am so thankful I said yes.

Buenas noches.
Adios from the pool.
My margarita and mi amor awaits.

Day 86: se vende?

27 Mar

It feels like summertime and the shopping is easy.
Here in Mexico one can’t escape the local vendors.

They come to you.
Whether sitting at a restaurant or sitting on the beach.

Se vende?
Want a new silver bracelet?
Want a bright pink strapless beach dress?
Want a kabob with shrimp and papaya?

It’s so not easy not to shop!

Today we popped into Hotel Hafa just for a second.
The bright red wall beckoned me with an embrace.
“Come inside!” she whispered. “Just for a quick visit!”

Inside I found this amazing mirror.
The borders were bunches of roses made out of metal.
It was beautiful. It was so well crafted.
And, it was just the sort of thing I would take home …if I were shopping.

I would show you a photo but when I asked the shopkeeper if it was okay to snap a quick pic, she said, “the owners prefer you don’t.”

Clearly, they get the question frequently.

I told her about this blog, and begged for a little snap of the camera.
But, she declined. Good employee!

But, she did tell me this:
She has lived 6 years away from her Canadian homeland.
She traveled from South America to Mexico over these years.

Unfortunately she had to return home to Canada to visit an ill family member, and she described it as culture shock …because of the shopping.

When she returned to Canada, she observed this:
Consumerism runs rampant with her Northern sisters.

If they don’t have the right boots in the right color, they will just go out and buy new ones.

Yes. I know!
She could have been describing someone I know (me 87 days ago!).

Being here, makes me want to buy.
Because I want to remember the trip.

I want to remember the roosters crowing in the morning (why not buy that hand painted rooster pottery?).

I want to remember the beach and surf and long afternoons sipping margaritas sitting on the sand (how about those totally adorable Reef sandals?).

I want to hold onto the memory of Hotel Hafa’s welcoming boutique with the red walls and the silver sculpture adorning each wall (why not get that mirror?)

I want the feeling of vacation.
I want to take it all home.

And I will.
On my camera.

Se, vende?
No, gracias!

Day 85: time for vacation

26 Mar

nWe have safely landed in Mexico, with margarita in hand.
This post is officially uploaded on Mountain Time (I think….), at least my computer reports that it is 10:39pm.

I don’t really know because I am on vacation.

I am proud to say I bought nothing, Nada, for this trip.
No purchase of shoes, clothes or accessories for vacation.
Not even a new bikini!

I am not so proud of my track history of taking vacations.
I have a tendency to keep checking in with reality, work, email, voice-mail and obligations.

So, my promise to myself and my family is: not this week.
Other than The Promise 365, which will get at least a photo of the day.

Here is today’s photo below:
Warning: objects may appear larger than reality, sip, sip!

Now, signing off and officially on vacation.
Which, I remind myself, is an investment in my head, heart, body & soul.

xo-Jamie

Day 84: f*ing friday :: food

25 Mar

TGIF.
Today continues the weekly series, F*ing Fridays, which will coincidentally occur on Friday. I mentioned some of my favorite F words back on Day 5, including: Fearless, Fabulous, Fine, Fun, Faith, Freedom, Forgiveness, to name a Few.

Last week I dove into the word Fuel.

Today’s F*ing Friday is dedicated to the word:
Food.

As in, what you eat.

Food is love.
And love, is also Food.

Whether it be radishes or relationships.
We digest both.

Formaggio and Friends.
Frankfurters and Family.
They are both Food.

Here’s my point:
We wear both and both wear on us.

Food drapes our body, hips, face, mind, spirit.

Food nourishes.
Food provides.
Food comforts.
Food builds.
Food transforms.

And it adds more than just love handles.
Do you have a handle on your food?

What about junk food?

And I’m not just talking about the pre-packaged Twinkies, Ding Dongs, and Yahoos of the edible kind.

I may not be able to cook a 7 course meal, but I do know this:

If we let Twinkies, Ding Dongs, and Yahoos into our relationships, or our work, family, and friends — well, it will tear down the head, heart, body & soul.

Unfortunately, there was a time when I lived it too.
With a bad marriage, a bad boss, a bad commute, and bad friends.

Junk is junk.
And sometimes it’s not just on your plate.

Since I have spent an intensive year studying at Integrative Nutrition, I have learned over 100 diets and the way people eat.

But above all else, I have learned this:

Food is love.
Love is food.

We can’t separate the two.

And, it is the most important reason to watch what you eat.

Buon appetito!

Day 83: make new friends

24 Mar

As I sit here at The Holiday Inn, rocking my favorite sweats and sweatshirt, I have something brewing inside.

There’s this thing about clothes, and image, and stories I am starting to feel.

Take these black and white sweats I am wearing, for instance.
They have been with me from the island of Martha’s Vineyard, through an entire cross country drive to the west coast, just to turn around and go all the way back the Eastern Time Zone.

These sweats have seen dessert, mountains, plains, beaches, arid cactus fields, and the entire width of Texas (almost three days worth of driving–JUST in Texas!).

They have zoomed through New Orleans for a beignet and coffee, and finally touched down on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico.

They have flown to Austin, Boston, Michigan and New York.

And, now, here they sit, in the Big Apple.

These sweats are becoming a part of me.

As you know, I’m not buying this year: no clothes, no shoes, no service.
Which makes packing for several climates quite a challenge.

But, as I leave the shopping behind and invest in myself (instead of my closet), I am appreciating my head, heart, body and soul more each and every day.

The clothes I do own are beginning to feel like old friends.

In fact today, when I posted this photo on Facebook from our adventures at Sirius XM radio with Debbie Phillips and Janette Barber, my high school friend Christi (who I adore despite the years and miles between us) wrote this on my wall:

“I’m starting to feel like those boots and I are old friends. :-)”

And, she’s right.
They are old friends.
Just like Christy is to me.

It’s got me thinking of that Girl Scout song from my youth:
Make new friends and keep the old.
One is silver and the other’s gold.

What The Promise is teaching me is this:
After the year is over, I will go back to buying, I’m sure.
But, the body, the inside, the spirit, heart and head will never go back to playing second fiddle again.

The sweats and boots can come along for the ride too,
(if I’m not ready to burn them at the end of this 365 day experiment) as material friends may come and go.

But, my head, heart, body & soul,
now they are learning to be life-long friends.
(some silver, some gold).

And with that dear friends, I say goodnight from the Big Apple (just under midnight!).
xo-Jamie

Day 82: do what you love

23 Mar

It’s Day 82 and raining in New York City.
Also hailing.

I swear it was also snowing when we first touched down at JFK airport …nonetheless, it was an opportunity to bring out the rain boots and sport my new super warm and cozy hand-me-down Michigan rain coat from Mary Ellen Jones!

Tonight’s big event was seeing Ina Garten and Anna Quindlen on stage at the 92nd Y in New York City. (Thanks to you Debbie Phillips!)

There clearly was a lot of respect between Ina and Anna, and it kind of felt like a large dinner party hosted between the dynamic duo and a few hundred friends (without the homemade food of course).

And, what an amazing dynamic duo they are!
One a writer extraordinaire, one a cooking goddess.

The last time I saw Anna live on stage was at my Smith College graduation where she gave the commencement speech and I received a very important piece of paper (one that cost a lot of time and money, which ironically, I have since lost in many moves).

I remember being spellbound then.

That was fifteen years ago, and Anna’s message on feminism stuck in my head like glue. It was (paraphrasing): men and women need to come together, they need to meet in the middle.

I had the same warm-hearted feeling tonight, listening to Ina.

Ina shared the approach to creating her own brand of success:
She didn’t set out to be a brand, with a long-running TV show, bestselling cookbooks, and a whole culinary line of fabulous-ness.

She just did what she loved.
(with high standards!)

Thank you, Ina.
It is clearly proven advice.
I love it.

And, it makes me think:
The Promise 365 reminds me everyday that
Life should be lived from the inside out.

Tonight, Ina just added frosting to the cake.
Because when we all do what we love, we get to have our cake and eat it too!

How sweet that is.

Day 81: the magical T-shirt

22 Mar

Let me tell you something I know about clothes and Americans…

T-shirts are magical.
If you need to sell something, raise money, start a movement, or end an argument, I say this:  design a T-shirt.

I know from experience.
When I was a sports marketing newbie at University of Michigan Athletic Department, I was given an almost impossible task at the time, which was:

1) Fill the bleachers.
2) For a soccer game.
3) For the women’s team.

We’re talking about a Big Ten school and alumni base that lived for Football Saturdays, (note that was not spelled Futbol).

As a former athlete, I was a firm believer that the women’s team was the biggest, absolutely most deserving, recipients of stands full of fans.

The problem was … it hadn’t happened yet.

So enter me: young, optimistic, not one to shy away from a challenge.

What did I do:
1) Got a sponsor (Thank you Pepsi —> that’s another story for another day)
2) Used money to buy tons of T-shirts.
3) Plastered the campus with signs that read “Free T-shirt to first 500 fans”

Voilà!
Packed Stands (overflowing!).
Happy Fans.
Deserving Team.

All because of a T-shirt.

T-shirts are a magic elixir.
And not just for college kids.

Want more proof?
This showed up in my in-box today, from RueLaLa:

And, I’m not buying it.
Because of The Promise 365.

But, I do respect the campaign.
Hey, if it takes a T-shirt to help save the world, I’m all for it.

I might not be shopping,
But, who said shopping can’t change the world?
!
Maybe we just need some more well designed T-shirts?

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