A New State

I used to drive from Missouri to California every summer when the girls were little. When they got older, the route changed from Oregon to Missouri. There was also the stretch from Oregon to California and the 5 and 101 that I know so well. The Western States take up a lot of room and time to travel through. I always noticed that once I began nearing the perimeter of a State, the geography began to change. It would take on bits and pieces of the upcoming State. Once I passed the State line, I knew I was no longer in the same place.

I’ve been feeling as though I’m nearing the perimeter of a new State these past couple of weeks. Tonight, I’ll be crossing the State Line and I’ll be in a different place. El Sur Experiment has been meaningful and magical geography to travel through and appreciate. But I’m going to leave now and begin something new. It feels like a natural place to end this blog. I do know one thing will stay the same, and that will be to follow the advice my father hollered at us on family roadtrips from the steering wheel: “Wake up and look out the window. You don’t want to miss the scenery.”


Day of the Dead in La Luz

Yesterday, seven of us piled into Julie’s truck and went to the panteon (cemetery) in La Luz, a small community located in the hills about 20 kilometers from Valenciana. We wanted to spend a few hours in the afternoon together to recognize Day of the Dead.

It was a special afternoon that felt a bit removed and detached from everything. I saw a father and his two young children sobbing at a grave while mariachis played in a circle around them. There were two guys in their twenties reverently sipping on their Caguamas next to the grave of their primo who died five years ago at the age of 25. I watched families carrying large bouquets and placing them gently on grave beds. Joy and laughter stood alongside grief and tears as I made my way through the cemetery spaces. The mariachis went from one group to the next, replaying the same songs. The light felt long and tender, and even cinematic as it skipped across the gravestones, caressed the tops of children’s heads, and washed every blade of grass in soft amarillos.

Morning of Day of the Dead

The banks are closed. School is not in session. It’s Day of the Dead. Folks are remembering their loved ones who have passed by resurrecting alters, paying homage at the cemetery, and creating mosaics from beans, rice, oats, and flower petals like the ones you see here. I carried my camera on my morning walk through town to share some of the street scenes with you. By the time afternoon comes, Juarez will be covered with skeletons and saints.

Look deep

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. ~Albert Einstein


This is Madre Piedad, the latest addition to Buen Pastor. She spent over twenty years in Mexico City working with girls and women and now helps Madre Bertita with the girls in the internado. I saw her yesterday when I went to Buen Pastor for a special going-away lunch.

Yesterday, the madres collectively prepared a spectacular lunch of fried fish, guacamole, squash, spanish rice, and Madre Bertita’s special dessert. It was a delicious feast! They invited Katie and Liz which made it even more special, and gave me parting gifts including special silver bird earrings that are typical of the work here in Guanajuato. I thought I was going to hold it together and make it a tear-free afternoon, but towards the end, Madre Elvira got to me with her sweetness, telling me how I much I meant to them and not to forget them. At that moment, I realized how much I was going to miss them and how much I love them.

Buen Pastor and these madres have meant so much for me these past six years in Mexico. They’ve anchored my heart while revealing to me an all encompassing love that’s very much included a kind of mothering-daughtering relationship. And while they were thanking me for these little things, I wanted to tell them I owe them so much, for truly the biggest lessons in life: love and community. I hope they could see it in my glistening eyes, and feel it in the solidness of my hugs for I couldn’t speak at that moment. I will never forget them.

Nube Tóxica

Shiny table at Truco reflects Salamanca’s toxic cloud story.


This bakery is Farley’s second favorite stop in town. The first is the taco stand near Alhondiga.

Both Fernando and Farley have a sweet tooth and a soft spot for doughnuts. Whenever Fernando walks out with a treat (we call them “Choochooloukus” which is slang for treats), Farley places 100% of his attention on it. Yesterday, for instance, as he focused on the doughnut, he missed the alluring French Poodle on the other side of the street wearing fashionable puppy clothes and wagging her tail at him. In Farley’s world, Choochooloukus trump making new friends.

New conversations

We are not talking about passive agents of transformation;
we are talking about an intelligence,
a consciousness, an alive and other mind, a spirit. . .
Nature is alive and is talking to us.
This is not a metaphor. ~Terrence McKenna

One of the ingenious ways the egoic mind protects itself is by projecting its shadow parts on to another and then closing the door to dealing with those parts by using the keys of resentment and anger. Resentment and anger ensure that the shadow parts will be locked in and safeguarded as qualities of the other and not as projections of self which in fact, they are.

It’s possible that when it is difficult to forgive someone, it’s because the very qualities we despise in them are the ones we ourselves carry. Once we begin the unfolding process of forgiveness, we learn that it’s not so much about understanding the other as it is about understanding ourselves. We will know we are making progress when a sense of ease begins to enter not only this particular relationship, but all of our affiliations.

Work space

Car hospital

The sun was setting as Fernando went for milk and I waited outside the tienda taking pictures of fading light.

It’s never easy to say goodbye to someone you love. When the time comes to travel along different paths, remember these three principles so that pain does not nest in you and your joy does not attenuate.

  1. It’s nice to have someone to love who loves you back. It’s human nature to want this. But remember that you yourself are love.  You are the essence of love.  It already resides within you. You do not need a beloved to reflect the love you have inside. It is who you are. Practice letting love emerge from within and filling your presence with it whenever you can.
  2. When you come to the end of a relationship, you can choose to celebrate instead of suffer. Celebrate the time you had together, the lessons learned, and the love shared. Remember that your souls made a contract to serve the other in this life and to bring home lessons that could only be learned in the unique relationship you created together. It’s all good. Celebrate a job well done and a contract completed even if you must celebrate alone.
  3. Nothing stays the same. We are always experiencing change in one way or another. Those lovely times together, they graced us for a moment, and now they have gone. The separation that now exists, that will change as well because someday, there will be no separation. The only thing that remains and does not change is love. So embrace this moment where love exists within and around you. And give thanks.

Heart centered work

Be careful what you wish for. You may just get it and even more wonderful things you couldn’t even have imagined. Then you have to be ready to accept and integrate the wish into your life.

While in Peru, I set an intention for heart-centered work and for finding a spiritual community. When I came home, I would spend a few moments every morning applying my posanga (sweet smelling liquid made from flowers by one of the Shipibo cuñanderas meant to attract things into your life) and meditating on the intentions I had set.

For three years, I had been applying to jobs. These last two years alone, I applied to over 100 positions. Twelve years ago, I had applied to two jobs while still in library school and had received interviews at both and a job offer at one. Now, the economy had made finding work extremely challenging.

I landed several interviews. Last summer, I flew to Portland for an in-person and was so close, I thought, to a good paying job with benefits, mentally stimulating work, and where people treated one another with respect. It’s not that I wanted to leave Mexico… I still love Guanajuato, and Fernando, very much. It’s just that I knew the work I was doing was not sustainable financially, emotionally, or intellectually.

I gave my two weeks notice the beginning of September. I didn’t have another job lined up, but I began trusting, believing, that heart-centered work would appear. I was ready for it and would attract exactly what I needed into my life. I began applying to jobs with renewed enthusiasm including one for “Community Relations Coordinator” at a Buddhist retreat center nestled in the Redwoods above Santa Cruz. Shortly after, I received a call, and then an interview, and eventually, I received a job offer which I gratefully accepted.

My new home is Vajrapani Institute. I plan on moving the first or second week of November. I’ll be living in a cabin and mostly “off-grid” in the heart of the Redwoods. The food is organic and I’m looking forward to meeting my new workmates that live there as well. I’ll be surrounded by wildlife, beauty, and a spiritual community. I feel incredibly lucky.

Felt like Fall

Every time I woke up last night, I heard rain falling. Today is the first day it’s felt like Fall.


You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life. ~Steve Jobs

Beisbol Stadium


Her eyes observed those things surrounding her: yesterday’s designs and coagulated thought-forms bordered by limitation of the past. She didn’t believe her eyes. Instead, she turned her focus inward, to the place of creativity and boundless inspiration. This is where something was waiting to emerge. She would raise her intention to allow it to manifest through her.

Clave Azul

An Extraordinary Traveller

It’s human nature to avoid the emotional roadblocks that pepper the path to spiritual maturity, to seek instead the slow and steady pace of the ordinary traveller. Yet reaching higher spiritual ground requires an extraordinary traveller. It demands the kind of sea change that arrives at key junctures and can transport you to a higher level of spiritual functioning. A spiritual initiation—an exceptionally difficult life passage that shakes your foundations and makes you question your purpose—is just this sort of sea change. It’s an opportunity disguised as loss; a chance to strengthen the thread of awareness that connects the outer part of your being to the inner, to descend deeper into the soul.

. . . A spiritual initiation refines and reshapes you, allowing you to reinvent yourself completely, to give yourself over to something greater. They are windows through which you can glimpse who you really are and what’s possible for you.

An excerpt from a longer article in Yoga Journal by Bo Forbes entitled The Awakening. Read a longer excerpt here.