A month long yoga retreat brought me to Southern Oaxaca in the spring of 2019 with my partner, John. We thought we were just going to learn more about yoga and hang out on the beach for about a month. But by the time the retreat was over, we realized we were not only able to stay in Mexico but felt like we needed to. I was feeling frustrated with my art and desperately needed a break from the business I had been single-handedly building for the last 6 years. John had been planning an extended trip abroad from some time so we followed that call to stay in Mexico and didn’t look back. It lead us from Mazunte to Oaxaca City, Merida and Vallodalid in the Yucatan, and then a 3 month house stay in Tulum, Quintana Roo. We saw ruins, swam in cenotes and were exposed to so much incredible food and even more incredible Mexican culture.
Then we spent a year in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato where John took sculpture classes at the Instituto Allende and I studied painting with an extremely talented Mexican draftsman, painter, and teacher, Gilberto Guerro. I learned a little bit of Spanish in high school and that was enough to get me by as my vocabulary grew. John had studied abroad in Spain and was also taking Spanish classes at the Instituto, so he was thankfully the chief communicator and that made our experience even richer.
It’s interesting that we ended up staying longest in San Miguel de Allende – it was a place we had both mused about visiting before we had even left San Antonio. Its charming cobblestone streets, the peaceful mix of locals and expats, and its 2 year status as the #1 city to visit in the world had us enchanted. And somehow, a door was opened and we gratefully called it home. Life here was slow, intentional and just what we needed. I bought most of our food from a local market and we walked most places. We made friends with some expats from the US and some Mexican locals.
Us both being the voracious bookworms we are and thanks to Amazon, we had amassed quite a collection of books on topics like permaculture, astrology, yoga, manifestation, Vedic wisdom, the Kabbalah and more. We may have been resting our busy bodies but our minds were often deep into a book or discussing ideas with one another. We were a little concerned about how we would end up getting home when it was time to leave, because we didn’t want to end up leaving our books. We made good friends with an artist couple and we shared books on several occasions. Some of the best friends I’ve made in my life are ones that have similar taste in books.
We stayed in several different homes – our first being an architectural beauty designed by an expat that gave us a perfect view of the hot air balloons that floated through our windows every morning. Then we stayed out in the campo, which was about a 20 minute bus ride from the city. We loved the quiet but without a car, we did get cabin fever from time to time. Then stayed in an apartment right in the city, just a few minutes from my favorite park in San Miguel, Parque Juarez. You could often find artists selling their work and rowdy men and boys playing basketball. We had an incredible view of the city, especially at sunset. This where John and I became engaged in February of 2020. He planned on buying gold locally and making our rings, so until he took jewelry classes, we kept our engagement to ourselves. Our favorite stay was our longest and was near the Centro where we were lucky enough to have a backyard garden. This home was owned by a woman who actually lived in Austin and her mother moved to Mexico after her divorce and designed the home herself. You could feel the love and intention everywhere in the home. This is where John first experimented with growing a few vegetables in preparation of the farm he planned on starting once we returned to Texas and I had a small room on the 3rd floor where I could paint and I also began putting my astrology studies into practice and did readings by donation for friends. My yoga practice deepened and I explored chanting and created our first altar here, which to me, was a visual representation of how far we had come spiritually since landing in Mexico.
We often felt like we needed to pinch ourselves, staying in a place that was full of so much beauty and peace. No one was hustling to get things done. Each day was completely our own and there was no rush, just enjoying the each moment in greater solitude and with one another.
A few months into 2020, we saw all the unrest in the United States and felt quite insulated in Mexico, so we decided to ride out the madness as long as we could there. In Mexico, we had time to dive deep within ourselves and with one another. Neither of us had planned this adventure, but with faith in the Universe and ourselves, we found more than we had ever hoped to find. With space came room for a new perspective to emerge. Those feelings of frustration and even depression that consumed me after I had reached many professional milestones were transformed into greater understanding – the external world I had built for myself was based on a shaky foundation. Mexico was like a womb where I was allowed to crawl back into the dark, peel back the layers that weren’t working, that were heavy or just untrue. I think we all have our own baggage we carry, baggage that we get used to but don’t know how to how quite to let go. I had been running from things I thought I had long resolved or didn’t want to face – like the remnants of my eating disorder and my fears about starting a family.
And then just as strongly as we felt we needed to leave the US, we felt both our hearts simultaneously calling us back home in the Fall. We were ready. John had finished our beautiful gold engagement rings and we made our announcement to friends and family. And so just as swiftly, we made our trek back, feeling totally complete with our experience. Before we left, we bought a used truck from a friend and they drove us back up through Mexico. The trip was hellish for me because I was sick, nauseous and vomiting the entire 9 hours. But by some great miracle, the truck decided to die the day after we landed in Laredo, Texas not while we traveling through Mexico. That granted me some time to rest and recover before the homestretch back to San Antonio.
I get often asked why I left San Antonio and stayed in Mexico for as long as we did. For John and I, it was like an extended honeymoon and sabbatical. We met amazing people and amazing experiences we will always treasure. But I think we found out the real reason for this trip as soon as we returned. The day after we got back to San Antonio, we learned I was pregnant and suddenly it all clicked into place for us. I came to realize in Mexico, after years of ambivalence that I did deeply desire to become a mother and by some grand design, my prayers were answered shortly after that realization. I’m grateful it all unfolded they way it did and I was able to be back home when I learned I was carrying this little life inside me. I truly believe our time in Mexico was a necessary preparation for us to bring this new soul into the world.
And now I’m back in Texas, feeling more inspired than ever to get my business started up again and to create new work with clients while John and I build our nest for our baby we’ll soon meet. I already have several shoots booked for November and will be working throughout my pregnancy as long as I can. I’m still shooting boudoir, portraits and headshots. I find myself excited creatively for my boudoir and maternity work because of the creative freedom it allows me and these clients trust my vision to help them make art of their experiences with me. I find myself bringing my painting experience to my photography and it feels good to find a more expanded perspective to create from. We’re living in Seguin, just a hop away from the land that John is farming and I have a beautiful natural light home studio I’m working out of.
If you asked me what I learned in Mexico or my greatest take away, it’d be this – that when I open myself up to life, it pours out nothing but goodness. An open heart is defenseless and that to me can be the scariest yet sweetest way to live and I strive to practice that with my personal and creative life as much as I possibly can.