connection

Networking happens on a completely different level in Mexico. If you think networking is useful for getting things done in the States, it doesn’t even begin to compare to how things work south of the border. In Mexico, relationships are the primary currency for everything. And I’m talking about in-real-life, in-person relationships, not the internet kind (not liking someone’s Instagram post, or connecting to them on LinkedIn, or friending them on Facebook). Actual in-person, daily interactions are how all of life gets done here. It’s how work gets done, problems get solved, and how everything moves forward. I can’t tell you the number of resources I’ve learned about the past few months that only came by word of mouth, and when I later searched for the business, class, person, opportunity, etc. online, it was nowhere to be found. So much of life here does not have a corresponding internet presence.

This in-depth, relational currency that takes center stage in Mexico is much more time-consuming than surface internet exchanges. It requires showing up somewhere, taking time to talk to people, and being much more present to your surroundings. But it is by far more rewarding. You lose something profound when efficiency is the main goal, as it is in the States. Technology aides this American fixation with efficiency, but it is prone to taking over real life in a negative way. Technology is an incredible tool, but instead of simply being a tool, it seems to replace real life interactions with greater and greater frequency. It does not surprise me that people in Mexico, both expats and Mexicans alike, seem so much happier and content than their U.S. counterparts. We’re relational beings, and when real life relationships get crowded out by smart phone and computer connections, people’s spirits suffer.

So instead of being fixated on the online world, here my energy is captured by the real world and all it offers. That’s where life is happening. And the best part is, there’s no need or compulsion to post about any of it. (And if I do, like this blog post, ha, it’s because it flowed through me sheerly out of inspiration, not out of obligation.) This in and of itself is a breath of fresh air.

unfolding

unfold

I’ve been struggling with left brain/right brain tension since arriving here in San Miguel. Because I’ve been mostly in left brain/production mode for the past few years in LA, that’s left very little time for true exploring. It’s been awhile since my right brain has had a chance to come out and play without a strict structure set around it. I’m finding that the creative energy here in Mexico is much more conducive to exploring and simply receiving. It feels much more flexible and open than left brain energy. It also feels much more feminine.

Moving from a more linear, straight path production mode to a winding path of receiving and exploring asks for letting go of agenda for a while. Instead of zeroing in on task completion, we are better served by focusing on serendipity. This energy simply calls us to pay attention to what is. To observe what is happening, unfolding, and appearing around us, often at the exact right moment. The discipline here is presence, not production. Are we able to attune to the current moment and pay attention to the signs of guidance that are calling us forward.

As we deepen our ability to be present, we will find that life unfolds with very little prompting. And in fact, this process of unfolding serves to make more linear ways of thinking and approaching tasks feel quite limited in their movement. Instead of being regimented and measured, unfolding allows for something completely new to emerge because there are no restraints in place. When we are able to allow life to unfold, we find ourselves getting catapulted to places we never could have imagined previously, leaving us transformed in deep and unexpected ways.

kindness

After my recent excerpt about kindness in Mexico, I’ve decided I will occasionally write about kindness encounters south of the border that impact me. If for nothing else, to counter the steady stream of not so kind news.

Here is kindness report #2:

This hot afternoon I was in a cafe getting a cold drink, and the man next to my table accidentally bumped into me with his chair. He immediately apologized profusely and then went back to conversing with his wife and child. A few moments later he turned and asked inquisitively where I was from and struck up a conversation. As I chatted with him and his wife, I learned they were from Guadalajara and were visiting San Miguel as tourists for a few days. But in a few weeks they were headed to Ontario, CA to go camping with extended family there. When I told him I was from LA, he joked that LA was pretty much like Mexico, to which I laughed and agreed. The conversation continued for a while about their family in the States and details about my stay in San Miguel. They asked how I was enjoying their country and sincerely welcomed me as a foreigner multiple different times, saying repeatedly that they hoped I enjoyed my stay and that I was truly welcome.

This display of unexpected kindness moved me and I could not help but think with chagrin how many times the reverse scenario happens and a kind welcome is not the first thing extended.

It again gave me hope that citizens can rally and repair and restore relationships even when governments cannot. Despair is not the right response in these increasingly bizarre times we are living in. Hope is. Kindness is. Understanding is. Connecting is. Forging solidarity with whomever comes across our path – this is a way forward out of the division that is sprouting around us.

movement

When I moved to Mexico at the beginning of June, I heard these words in my spirit: “Enjoy flowing in the river on this trip, not climbing a treadmill. Both allow for movement forward.”

I am well accustomed to moving forward, it is one of my strengths. But in American culture, the way we are often taught to move forward is with brute strength, grit, or sometimes with sheer force. I compare forward movement in America to climbing a treadmill. Great exertion is required, and the goals we are trying to reach are always “out there,” just out of reach.

Conversely, flowing in the river is more about alignment. Are we aligning our lives, our energy, our actions with what is already forming and wants to come forth? I’ve observed that Mexican culture supports flowing in the river much better than its neighbor to the north. There is a deep-seated acceptance woven into the fabric of life here that is missing in America. This acceptance supports flowing in the river and trusting its movement.

I’ve often wondered why more people don’t choose the way of the river, myself included. Perhaps because flowing in the river requires surrender. It requires relinquishing control over what direction you travel and how fast you go. Flowing in the river also asks for trust and ushers us into an embrace of mystery. It teaches us to partner with the energy surrounding us and relinquish the role of dictating outcomes.

Synchronicity, flow, alignment, ease – these are all hallmarks of stepping into the river and moving through life with a feminine spiritual lens. Our actions and movements stop being forced and become aligned with a larger energy; our part is simply learning to discern it.

Climbing a treadmill or flowing in the river – the truth is, both allow for movement. But it doesn’t take much convincing to realize the latter is far better for soul, body, and spirit.

divided times

I have been spending a lot more time living in Mexico these past few years, and one of my earliest observations was of how extremely helpful the culture is. At every turn, if I need help, I am always responded to warmly and graciously. This is so often not the experience in the U.S., a culture of extreme self-sufficiency, individualism, and pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps. Figuring things out on your own is a prized virtue, and there is a fierce independence that tends to diminish the value of the giving and receiving of help on a daily basis.

(As a relevant side note, my Spanish teacher in LA, originally from Mexico, said one of the hardest things for her to get used to living in the U.S. was that people rarely offered help to strangers. She would joke about how irritating it was to her when people would say “just google it” in response to a sincere inquiry.)

So anyway, on a recent trip back to LA from Mexico, as the passengers on our flight were being shuttled to the customs area, you could literally feel a sense of anxiety on the bus. The smell of fear was in the air, and of course, why wouldn’t it be. The current global climate certainly warrants it. As I proceeded through customs, I was ushered over to an extremely short line. And initially I was like, great, as who wants to wait in a super long line. The problem was, I saw another American citizen from my same flight, a Latino man, being sent to a much longer line. Our passports were the same, and as far as I could tell, the only difference between us was our skin color. This was disturbing on many levels, and was made all the worse when after exiting the customs area, I encountered a massive video projection on a huge wall of the Statue of Liberty. As if somehow, it was supposed to symbolize the warm welcoming of people into this country. But of course, nothing about this symbol of liberty rang true with the fear I had just felt from those around me on the flight, as well as the re-direction of fellow citizens into different lines.

As I stood at the arrivals curb waiting to be picked up, an elderly Mexican woman (probably close to 80) asked me hesitantly if I spoke Spanish. I replied “un poco,” and we began a conversation about her attempts to contact her nephew who was supposed to pick her up. She had come from Mexico City to visit his mother who was quite ill. Her cell phone didn’t have international service and she wondered if I could call him on my phone. Several times she tried to pull up his number on her phone to give to me, but couldn’t access it, and her hand was shaking the entire time. Eventually we found his number, I called, and we were able to talk to him and tell him where she was waiting. After speaking to him, she was visibly relieved, stopped shaking, and said how nervous she had been about finding him amongst all the crowds. LAX can be an intense airport at any age when it’s extremely busy, and navigating it not knowing the language or having anyone familiar with you is understandably anxiety-producing. I told her how happy I was to be able to help her, as I had just experienced daily help from people while in Mexico, and to be able to reciprocate even a fraction of all the assistance that had come my way felt so appropriate. Kindness tends to work that way, after all. As it’s given away, it wants to be duplicated.

These separate, but related vignettes are intended to illustrate a little bit of what is needed now more than ever around the globe. Interactions on a personal level between individuals from countries at odds with one another can have tremendous energetic impact and produce important fruit: things like a shared understanding and an affirmation of one another’s common humanity. But most importantly, these interactions work powerfully to mitigate the culture of fear we are currently living in. Any governmental policy, action, or failure to act that is based in fear will never ever produce something positive. But as fear has become the weapon of choice in these divisive times, a determination to come together in whatever way we can grows increasingly vital.

The good news is, we have much more power to move towards unity than we realize. Despite broken governmental systems, we need not be passive bystanders, nor should we ever downplay the significance of what may seem like small actions. Collectively, we can shift darkness towards light. No step towards kindness and understanding is ever, ever wasted. And at the end of the day, it will carry far more potency than fear ever will.

abundance

Recognizing abundance in the universe is first and foremost an act of being present. In a future minded society, we are regularly robbed of the flow that is available to us right now, and in fact, is *only* available now. In straining for the future, we relegate ourselves to less because we miss this dive into magical, abundant living that is only offered in the moment.

To dive in literally requires a change in vision, a change in sight. We need new eyes that perceive an energetic field of provision instead of an illusion of deficit. We have a choice as to what we see. Vision is everything.