Moving to Oaxaca, Mexico has been a a dream of mine since I first discovered this magical place back in 2000.
I’ve managed to visit and live here for brief periods since then, always with a desire to be here more. No matter where I’ve traveled all around this beautiful world, and Oaxaca always pulls me back.
I returned to Oaxaca to live in 2010, but only stayed for four out of the eight months I planned, when a bunch of chronic health issues forced me into a literal and figurative fetal position.
I soldiered through a month of really scary symptoms (turns out I had Dengue Fever on top of my “usual” issues) and finally had to admit to myself that being alone and deathly ill in a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language very well was just not working out.
So I reluctantly came home.
When I left Oaxaca back in 2010, I had to cancel a bunch of other travel plans, kick my long-term tenants out my house (one of the hardest emails I ever wrote), put my business on “float”, and spend my time, energy and money on getting better.
For a couple long years, I felt as if I were both inside a cocoon and that there was a foggy cocoon of cotton where my brain and energy used to be.
Though all of this, I did keep painting and writing (even though I pulled the plug on most publishing for awhile).
Doing my creative work gave me energy. I plugged into a creative current and that kept my spirit aloft while by body recovered.
Part of the bare-bones strategy I crafted while emerging from the cocoon was to rent out my live/work space near San Francisco and experiment with making Oaxaca my base for awhile…maybe forever. Who knows?
All I knew was that I had to follow up on a big dream that kept pulling at me.
Where is the dream taking me, exactly?
I don’t know.
Which is why I love using travel metaphors when teaching creativity.
Whether you’re facing the blank page, or moving through foreign lands, it’s the same experience: Being willing to tolerate the discomfort of the unknown long enough to trust that it’s taking you where you’ve always wanted to go.
Right now, I’m in the process of reinvention.
I’m reinventing what my business and work and travel life looks like.
I’m reinventing how I manage my health and energy.
I’m reinventing how I make and spend money.
I’m reinventing my life by moving to a foreign country, alone, at age 46.
It’s all at once daunting, exciting, confounding, freeing, and full of all the “normal” ups and downs of life, just different ones.
From the cocoon were gifts and tangible products that came to me from engaging deeply in my creative process, which I’ll just quickly point you in the direction of:
1. Creating online versions of my workshops, which share my entire process and strategy for starting and sustaining creative work (even when you feel like crap!)
2. A new book: Sketchbooks, where I open up my own personal sketchbooks that document the process of art-making and life navigating and business-building.
In particular, it’s been the students in my workshops and the folks reading Sketchbooks (which was first published as monthly installments before it became a book) that have helped me so much over the last six months in helping me see the value in surrendering to the cocoon and reinvention, and then taking action of what has been given.
I feel immense gratitude for their participation in this process and confidence in my work.
I can’t wait to share more about life in Mexico. I’ve learned, over the last month in my new apartment in Oaxaca, that I can even live and work without my very own wifi. I just did it all slower.
I’ve been on Mexican time, ready or not. And this is what the blank page of my life looks like today.
How about you?
What is reinvention looking like for you, these days? How are encountering the blank page of your life?