Monday, June 17, 2019

Love Letters to my life #12: Finding my third stage calling, a gift from Mexico

by Joyce Wycoff
Afternoon light in an Ajijic house.
(We know the day we were born, but most of us do not know the day we will die. This love letter to my life is written on the day I've designated as my death day, the 17th of every month, and reminds me to be grateful for my incredible life.)

"Things gotta change around here.” 
— Mavis Staples

One of the first murals I fell in love with in Ajijic.
I could blame Mexico.

Two years ago I moved to Lake Chapala, selling almost everything I owned: house, car, furniture and miscellaneous treasures. I followed all the dots to become a permanent resident of Mexico and intended to stay forever. 

However, I’ve lived with myself long enough to know that change happens. Knowing that didn’t prevent the shock that came as I walked through the neighborhood on the first morning after arriving at my daughter’s house for the graduation ceremonies of both granddaughters.

"Come Home"

It was a lovely crisp, cool morning, and when the tears began, I was baffled. Even though this was a neighborhood in a city that I’ve long admired but never lived in, the thought that came was that I wanted to come home. 

That puzzled me because I’ve called Mexico home for two years. I've been delighted to be here, making new friends, exploring new places. What then was this thing pulling the tears, urging me to make such a huge, unexpected change?

Zacatecas man in front of Cathedral
I have loved Mexico so much … it’s beauty, food, history, culture … even the rockets shocking my system at odd hours … and, most of all the strong, kind, generous Mexican people. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to many parts of this incredible country, learning more about the rich blending of cultures that stretches back thousands of years while still showing up in the art and costumes I saw in many villages and city streets.

During my latest Mexico trip, where I spent three weeks in Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, I met a historian guide who unlocked more of the history of Mexico. I was thrilled as we sat looking at the Juan O'Gorman mural in the  Biblioteca Pública Federal Gertrudis Bocanegra seeing the layers of history that have made Mexico such a fascinating country. (See more at Murals: The first Twitter of Mexico?)

One segment of the O'Gorman mural
I wanted to know more and began planning other trips to other murals and places, including a month-long, possible-move exploration of Morelia. I remember having a conversation with a friend where I wondered why Mexico history fascinated me so much more than US history. The question hung in the air as I left for Reno three days later.

It’s now a week and a half since the morning walk that prompted the complete about-face. Synchronicities brought me the perfect place to live and the perfect car, but left me to face the inevitable bureaucracies on my own. (Since I gave my car to my daughter when I left for Mexico, I have been uninsured for two years dropping me from good-driver rates to “there must be something wrong with you" highest rates.)

The biggest question continues to be: what now?

Some say Confucius said it first: no matter where you go; there you are. Mexico or Reno, in many ways, it doesn’t matter which one … it’s still me making my way through life.  

After making the decision to move to Reno next month, I've begun to feel like I am coming home to my own story … my country with all its glaring problems, my family as unconventional as it is, my self and my own crooked but unique path. As much as I love Mexico, the Universe put me in the United States, and, for me, I think it’s time to embrace this story and the lessons it offers me.

Being a project-oriented person, I wondered what project might appear in this new chapter. After mindmapping possibilities, I remembered an interesting model found in an article on Ikigai, a Japanese concept meaning "a reason for being.” 

That's what I was looking for ... my reason for being, my reason for leaving the life I thought was forever. Copies of the model were all over the internet … such as this one found at

It’s not unusual for me to see models and want to tweak them. The one above was no different. It didn’t quite fit my older-adult, retired-self who is done with jobs and new businesses (I hope). 

So here’s the revised version that I wound up using instead:

I turned the questions into a quadrant and added to it over several days. I now think I have a set of criteria for judging potential new projects that might show up when I actually arrive back in Reno.

What am I good at or 
want to learn more about?

What are my gifts
What is still possible?

What does the world need?

 Thank you, Mexico ... you have given me many gifts
and you will always be part of my heart.

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