Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Central Mexico and the Awakening

If you could go back in time and change something, would you??  Sometimes, when I was younger, I wished I had never grown up in Wisconsin but instead in Mexico. What I am about to write is a bit personal and connects to the magic within my heart and my soul....if I had not gone on this trip as a senior in high school, I may have never met the people who would change my life forever and lead me to my life's work. This entry relates to the garden in that these images below have inspired me in my own work from these travels.  Nowhere....and I mean this....nowhere has any place touched me as has Mexico. It is a country of many wonders and mysteries.  Here is the beginning of my journey into Spanish, gardening, and the spirituality that surrounds me.  I became the person I am today because of my many experiences in Mexico.  These pictures begin from 1991 until  present......
My Mexican Host Mother of 20 years

This pic was taken in Mexico City nearly 20 years ago.  We were all little kids back then and I had very little travel experience.  I was the most naive person back in those days, but that would change over the course of many years from study and time in Mexico.  Later I would study in Guadalajara and discover the powers of monsoon and the beauty of the deserts.  This pic was taken before I met my host family.  All I knew at that time was that the food was amazing....Mexico City was incredible....the parks were out of this world....and coming from my little town of Two Rivers, WI..... I discovered the world was a BIG place full of wonders that I had only dreamt of.....and dreamt I had......

People believe in many things....a God, Gods, The Nothing(like from the NeverEnding Story:)...I believed that I was meant to come to Mexico....that something called me here.  It would be years later that I would only understand what it all meant.  As a child growing up, I knew at a very early age that Two Rivers would be a place I escaped.  I had always known that I would leave....always.  It wasn't TV.  It wasn't from reading.....it was something more.  I would have dreams of meeting vague people who called out to me. I would walk towards them only to wake up....and it would make me sad. It was like a calling....the dreams weren't often, but they happened enough for me to remember them.  I didn't understand what they meant, and I admit that I was lost and bored as a child....so bored that I would get in trouble quite a bit just to pass the time.  I was awkward...and confused about myself....keeping secrets from people....never really embracing the person inside until later on in life.  I did alright in high school...but I had no passions about anything....not even, surprisingly, the Spanish language.  In fact, I almost dropped the course 2nd year as I had a D-, but my Mom put a kabash on that........

And so I went my Senior year of high school to Mexico....paid by me.....stuck with Spanish just so that I could go to Mexico because it was a dream......

I stepped from my bus in the city of Tlaxcala and met my host family for the first time......and it was like I knew them somehow.....and they knew me.  I experienced some sort of awakening that never before had I felt....a joy that cannot be described...but a feeling of contentment....that things would be alright. This pic below is my first night here with my host sister Elsa.  It was an incredible feeling of happiness.  It was like a piece of the puzzle came together and I was meant to be with these people.
The volcano of Popocateptl

And so I grew up......came home to Wisconsin....depressed because I didn't want to come back.  I spent nights crying alone...no one understanding the feeling of my heart being ripped out of my chest having to say good-bye to the people I had come to know and love.  It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.....saying good-bye to something that touched me spiritually.....breaking a connection that was newly established.....and it was a dark time for me in my life for the year that followed my first trip.  But I returned not once or twice......but many many times again....every time it changed....marriages, my nieces....friends coming....and friends going....and growing bigger, balder,  and older:)

It was on this particular trip below in '93 that a revelation was made to me....In my host family's house, there is a picture of 3 children playing on a beach.  I only knew of two siblings.....my host brother Sergio and my host sister Elsa.....the other boy was a mystery.  My Mexican mother saw me looking at the pic and pointed to that boy and said it was me and that I had come back to her.  He had passed away the year I was born. It was one of the most incredible things that anyone has ever said to me and yet, it made sense. Why did I have this pull to Mexico?  I can't tell you of any other time in my life when something so incredibly powerful took hold of me.....a moment of spiritual clarity.....and it gave me direction and a strength that made me come out of my cocoon. It wasn't that I was lost and looking for this to happen.....but I do know that as a child growing up, something called me.....and the dreams...the deja vus....lead me to this one singular moment.  I don't have those dreams anymore....I still have dreams of a different nature....not often, but enough times to remember speaking to my grandparents who passed and waking up with happy tears....making me wish I had spent more time with them when they were alive.  Time keeps ticking and we take too many things for granted. 
In the mountains of Puebla.....
Teotihuacan, Mexico CityDeath is a celebration! Marigolds represent death.A central park in San Pablo

So what happened? Well, you still have to continue living.  I no longer question my faith and I discovered an inner peace that I never had before. I also learned that you can't escape the demons even if you move to new places, and that you have to accept them...learn to live and resolve them inside. I have been blessed with two wonderful families....my biological and my Mexican:) What a gift to be given....that I can love so many people who have made a difference in my life.  Yes....there is a duality that sometimes separates me from ever feeling a part of one group, but I found Tucson is the best of both worlds for now until I figure out how I can live in Mexico one day...perhaps retire.  I have had to accept that and it wasn't an easy decision.  My garden reflects my travels...specifically Mexico...the plants....connect me to another place....a peaceful place that inspires and makes me dream. It is for that reason that gardening to me is more than just digging holes.....it really is a religion...a connection to that other world that awaits.
A plate of tasty grasshoppers
The volcano in the distance....

Cacaxtla, Tlaxcala

When I visit Mexico, I am truly in my happiest of spaces.  I laugh....I feel whole.....and it makes me complete.  Plus you can't go wrong with the food, the people, the parties....and the HOLIDAYS!!
Sometimes I wonder...if I had not taken that trip my senior year, would I be a lost soul today?  Where would I be now? But having gone, I created a longing to be a part of something that I couldn't have.
So the question is....If you could go back in time and change something, would you?


  1. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story. Strange but true. You mentioned death and birth within the same year. May I know what the time gap was like? I have always been curious but there wasn't someone I could ask till now.

    If you had not taken that trip, very likely you would have still eventually reach the same place. I guess it will happen sooner or later.

    If I could go back in time, I wouldn't change anything. The time to change is now.

  2. I have to admit that I am a cynic deep down and I live a pretty normal average life.....so when this happened, it was a pretty powerful moment. The incidents happened several months of each other...he(Miguel)passed in spring and I was born in fall. On this blog, I can write my thoughts down, but it is so personal that I haven't shared this story with others...it makes me uncomfortable to talk about such things as I am a private person about religion and these kinds of things. People just know that I am passionate about travel and teaching Spanish...oh yeah...and gardening:)

    That is an interesting idea....that we all eventually will end up at the place we need to be in our lives. I also would not change anything as I have lived a very full life and every experience makes us wiser. I love getting older....just wish my body could keep up:)

  3. I bet you never thought you would be living Arizona when you grew up either, did you? I sure didn't....but I wouldn't change a thing - I love it here. It is always so interesting to me how one decision can make such a huge impact and literally change the direction of our lives.

  4. That was an awesome post about your life, thanks for sharing it :D

    Most people can go their whole lives and not find the meaning in them. Not find real passion. Everybody's 'meaning of life' is different.

    Lately, the meaning of my life has been coming to me in flashes. I don't think it's a 'place' for me, although I think I was meant to move here from Canada. It's not necessarily my favourite place, but it was fate.

    I love when people share personal things about themselves in blogs, it shows bravery. Makes them seem more real. Not just words on a page. I try to do the same thing, even though my posts are humourous most of the time.

  5. Beautiful photos!!!
    Regards from Croatia.
    Zondra Art

  6. Thanks for such an inspiring post. (As a practicing Buddhist, your story makes perfect sense to me.)

    I used to do a lot of traveling, too, but these days, I'm as content in my garden as I have ever been on a new continent. Home is wherever the contented heart lies.

  7. Wow, a beautiful story and beautiful writing! Perhaps you should be teaching English as well in our fine schools. ; ) I'm one of the lucky ones, I guess. I've moved around a bit in my life, but I've come to learn that my heart and my body belong right here in the Valley, not so many miles from my place of birth.

    Such a touching thing for your host-mother to say, and I'm sure you have helped to fill a void in her heart as well. Glad you have found where your soul belongs and extra glad I have found your blog! Thanks for visiting over at PITV or I might have never known....


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