It was during the filming of my short documentary “The Curandera of Teotitlan del Valle” in 2006, that I first heard of the importance of faith in healing, in Mexico.
The curandera (traditional medicine woman who heals with plants) said it’s faith that matters in healing. She offered that If you have faith, your ailments will go quickly so that other good things can come in. Without, they won’t.
Something that I noticed soon after arriving to Mexico in 2006 was the (to me) strange and inefficient way things were done here.
Example: At a little stand that is offering something novel like hamburgers. That’s all they make. You get a hamburger on a bun with ketchup and mustard if you want it.
Suppose you go up to the stand with three of your friends and each one of you place an order for a hamburger, all the same. The lady or man will start with the first hamburger, cooking it, heating the bun, making the sandwich, adding the condiments, and serve it. Then they will start cooking the second hamburger. It proceeds like this, with all the attention on the entire process of making each hamburger, one after the other.
The wake-up and get-ready music from the iglesia, the religious hub of the village, started at 4:30 a.m.
I put on my warmest clothes and took my candle with me, leaving home a little after 5:00
The procession was scheduled to begin at 5:00 arriving at the church for Mass at 6:30. From previous years’ experience, I didn't rush to arrive at 5:00 sharp.
I walked down the quiet road to the meeting place just past the town square: the altar for the Virgin of Guadalupe (La Guadalupana). It’s one of my favorite spots. Many nights I walk from my house down to the glassed in space built into the wall of someone’s house, taking a few minutes to view the various statues, images, flowers and usually, unlit candles. I send love and appreciation for Her, my divine mother who accompanies and rescues me many a dark moment.
Upon arriving, I approached the altar, candles glowing as they do only at this time of year. I observed that everyone else did the same – paid homage to this beloved representation of the earth, feminine, divine. She is our caretaker, a mother, still recognized as Tonantzin a primordial deity that has nothing to do with Catholicism, although it is through that vehicle that she is largely acknowledged and honored by the masses.
I didn't know I'd be experiencing a new level of self-love when the other morning I felt led to walk to a place I treasure but don’t often go to. First, I don't go often because it’s so close and too easy and short a hike. Second, I haven't been going because right now with the rains, the river has been flowing and uncrossable (unless barefoot).
But I felt called, so I went.
I found myself walking slower than normal, which means more mindfully – which to me is a good thing.
Despite having had months and even years here in Latin America to simply sit and be, and even though I have done a lot of that, I still tend to be in my head, racing along both mentally and physically, thus missing out on experiencing the moment directly and consciously.
So, walking slower and seeing more on this morning, was a wonder.
The path was clear, the foliage in its full greenness. I felt, as I have almost every time I’ve gone walking out on the mountain trails these past 13 years in Mexico, that I was on a new path, one I had never been on before, although that was far from the truth.
It’s so easy in the States. It is comfortable, physically. Walls are smooth, carpets offer cushion, water runs endlessly from the faucet.
Yet, this is exactly what troubles me about the luxurious life.
Separation from the root source.
Why is this important?
Hasn’t our whole culture built itself with the idea and goal to hide nature? To surpass her?
Impossible of course, as EVERYTHING is nature, and comes from nature. Besides the obvious like trees and birds – how about
“My life now, after so much turmoil, was good. On paper it looked virtually perfect.
Yes's and No's
When I was growing up, we didn’t talk about feelings in my family. It was as if they didn’t exist – except for happiness and maybe a little sadness.
When my mom reached midlife, however, I could tell something was brewing. She seemed more angry and less tolerant–in a good way. Good because these hot emotions weren’t directed toward her daughters, and good because she shared some of them with us. And mostly good because midlife was leading her to set limits, consider her wants and needs at the risk
Following your heart. It’s the second invitation in the subtitle of my memoir.
How did “Following Your Heart,” earn its prominent place?
What’s so important about following our heart?
More important: Why is it so hard to do? What gets in the way?
One piece is, as we grow up and move through the ranks of formal education, we are trained
I was filled with grief this morning. It hit me: what kind of times are we living in?
I had just come back from town and the market where I “stocked up,” upon recommendation of a friend from my village. I’d run into her in the zócalo and she told me the sobering news that on Monday our tiendas are going to be closed. I have felt quite fortunate to live where I do during this time. If the local stores close, that brings the Coronavirus scare even closer to home than it already is.
I returned home and sprayed my keys, coins, backpack and shopping bag with the lavender disinfectant I’d made. Next order of business: I took off the clothes that had perhaps touched someone on the combi or brushed against a shopper or vender in the market – and hung them on the line in the sun. Then I set to disinfecting the produce I’d purchased. This time, not just to kill any bacteria from water the fruits and vegetable might have been sprayed with. At the top of my mind was that surely the venders had touched the fruit or greens and who knows if they might have it? In batches, I let the produce soak in the tub I use for that. Fortunately, the mountain spring water that comes via garden hose was trickling sufficiently today to at least disinfect my food. Washing clothes would have to wait.
I was struggling with how I wanted to take and handle the news of the Coronavirus. Normally I distance myself from political news and health scares, not giving either much relevance in my life. Choosing to live on the edge of a village in the mountains in south central Mexico is not only a calling and a joy, it is also a fitting metaphor. I live on the edge, on purpose.
I stopped watching the news during the first George Bush presidency. Just two seconds of his voice, appearance and vibe and I could feel myself crumbling into a heap of despair, depression and hopelessness. I’m that sensitive. I remember deciding in that moment, “Well, I guess I won’t be watching the news for the next four years.” The determination was effortless to implement and has remained so. Many may see me as irresponsible and denying “reality”, but first, I get the gist of what’s happening. The details aren’t important and it’s not new, it’s been going on for ages. I get it and know enough of myself and my values to distance myself from it for self-preservation. Second, we all have different strengths, gifts and ways to share them for the betterment of the world. Mine is by maintaining myself in the purest, highest vibration possible so that I may radiate that to the world and hopefully be of service by what I model.
I normally am unaffected by world events. Even Trump, I choose to ignore and in that way continue on my path and life without that distraction and upset. So when I became “infected” with fear of the Coronavirus, I didn’t know what to do. I’m accustomed to distrusting the media. If I were to isolate myself socially, wouldn’t than mean I had fallen prey to the fear virus? One thing I fear is being a fool. I didn’t want to be one at the end of this world drama. But, I did feel afraid, and so struggled between these different parts of me, not trusting either and not knowing what to do.
When I was little I remember hearing my mom share that the rationale she learned from her mother about changing her underwear daily was to avoid the horror of being in an accident and the hospital or ambulance people seeing that you had dirty underwear. That was my grandma: behaviors were taught, motivated and performed based on what others would think.
Despite my rebelliousness about doing things because of what others would think, I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that some mornings I look at yesterday’s underwear, cock my head and consider, “Could I wear these again today?” I feel I have a little more permission to do this knowing my older sisters used to reuse hers Inside-out when she was in college and responsible for doing her own laundry for the first time.
I do my own laundry by hand outside where the mountain spring water arrives via garden hose. But sometimes it doesn’t come, or the weather is too wet and the pile accumulates. It is on those rare occasions that I might (grimace) turn a pair inside out and use them, praying I don’t get in an accident so everyone would see the seams on the outside and know. Though here in my mountain village in Mexico I don’t think people would judge or even notice that!
I love wearing white. When I lived in the States and had an executive-type job I often wore white. The conflict is that I’m like Pigpen – I attract dirt, so all my white shirts soon had embarrassing stains on them: spots of turmeric or hot sauce that I couldn’t scrub out. Fortunately, there were plenty of good second hand clothes stores where I lived, so I treated myself at that time to a hearty selection of two dollar white tops.
Then I moved to a mountain village in Mexico where I’m soon to complete twelve years. Yesterday I was trying to recall what it was I knew and envisioned when I decided it was the place where I could and would to live in accordance with my values. The first image that came to mind were the clothes drying on the flat roofs of the houses I viewed from the roof of the house where I was staying. I also vaguely remembered some ideas about living slower with less technology. But clothes drying on the line was concrete: Here I could wash my clothes by hand and hang them outside to dry. “But,” I argued with myself, “I could have created a life in which I hand-washed my clothes in the States as well. What is special about doing it here?” Somehow being part of a place where this is how life is normally lived (versus an anomoly) is important to me. It gives me a sense of belonging; that although a foreigner and stranger to this place and culture, I fit here. We fit together
I still love washing my clothes by hand and hanging them on the line. It remains a part of my lifestyle, a value, and a pleasure. But here’s the irony: I’m not very good at it. And even though I’m resigned to the belief that I’m not good (tidy) enough for white and so rarely dress in it, avoidance has not made me immune to accruing stains when I do wear it.
I'm struck by the triviality of my life. The tabs open on my computer when the earthquake hit included: Shopping for a new backpack because the one I have is faded and sags and has some holes. Then, a page that explains something I recall hearing about: using vinegar to wash and disinfect veggies. Finally, how to remove rust stains from clothes. And I think my life is meaningful.
Such are the concerns of a life with so much abundance and freedom it can spill over into decadence and mis-led energy investments.
When I finally made it out my door in my pink clogs and the ground had stopped shaking I called for my landlady who lives on the same property to know if she was okay. She was fine and wanted to go see what the horrible deep rumble had been, maybe a house had fallen. We went out to the street and neighbors were talking. A house that is being built across the street had cracks in some of the lower adobe bricks. Would they have to start over from scratch, I wondered? The men who had been working on the second floor told about how they couldn't get down for the shaking and wondered if the house would crumble and them with it.
Maria came back minutes later from down the road in the direction of the deep rumble and said that part of the mountain that faces us had broken off. Soon, her sister came crying, holding a plastic cup with a swig of jerez in it, sharing with Maria that their other sister's house had fallen. While Maria went in to get her house keys her sister turned into my arms for an embrace. They went off to see about Rosa's house.
I stood in the middle the street talking to various neighbors, some of whom I did not know, all of us sharing stories and agreeing on the degree of shaking and fright, and realized, "I'm not enough part of the community. I don't know my neighbors. I need to get out more, make more of an effort to interact with the people." In this moment of survival standing at the crossroads I saw: what matters is community and love. That's all.
I went to buy emergency supplies in Inez's tienda, just in case. She showed me where a wall had separated from the ceiling, revealing old timber. Then she told me about the church cupula and how it was damaged. We stood in the doorway together and I noted with sadness the poignantly crooked cross on top of the dome. Behind it, in the distance, la ventana, a sacred natural "window" high on top of the mountain. Inez told me, "All during the earthquake I was worried about our dear ventana, would it be alright?" The ventana is intact, but in our village and nearby towns, the poor crosses are eschew. As with all the natural disasters lately, with the crooked crosses it seems blatantly significant. I wonder, "What would it mean to right the crosses in a way that they felt heard, understood and respected? And our dear Earth?"
For the past two years I have been spending half the year in the states to be near my elderly mother. Going between places is trying for me. As much as I don’t want to and am not aware of attaching myself to the reality of wherever I am, I must do it, because changing places is both frightening and unsettling for me. Especially coming home to México. Odd because it’s the place I love, yet it’s been difficult to return each time.
Going between the States and México is like landing on different planets. It’s not funny, it’s hard. I seem to do okay upon arriving en el Norte, but coming back home is ironically conflictual.
Why would coming back to the place I love be anything but joyful? There are different sensibilities in each country which challenge my beliefs. In México, I work constantly to let go and flow, as that is the primary energy of the place. In the U.S. I enter the flow of information, resources, answers and help. As my time to return to México approaches I find myself fearful and furiously investigating supplements and other items not available where I live. I become increasingly unhappy, tense, exhausted and edging into a percieved state of
I am consumed with how to live a good life, with the question: what makes a good life?
I am re-searching what is my core passion and desire in terms of making a positive diference in the world.
I’ll tell you something: helping people who want to take better care of themselves is a cover for something.
Two days ago a dragon fly entered my house. It flew up to the skylight and tried to get out for hours, it’s wings buzzing incessantly as they struck the hard surface of the skylight.
How can you discover your happiness?
Robin Rainbow Gate
I help people midlife and beyond to find their inner power, health and well being through slow living
Ready to live Your True Life?