Monday, May 5, 2014

6 years

Today, Cinco de Mayo, marks 6 years since we left our life in the US behind. 6 heartbreakingly, wonderful years. We have learned so much, we have come so far. Two children added, a million life lessons learned, and so much behind with so much left in front. A bittersweet anniversary that was never planed. 6 years, Living South of Sanity.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

2 for 1

I recently stated that for every negative about living in Mexico I could list 2 positives. Today I make good on that. Yes, I love a good gripe, but I'm not immune to Mexico's charms.

Gripe: Electricity costs more.
Sure, my electricity costs a lot more here than it would state side. But there are positives, too.

1. Reduced carbon footprint.
I don't use nearly what I would in the states.
2. A more natural way of life:
My children are growing up exposed to things that are blocked out in the states. Less Wii, more dirt on the shoes. Less TV, more mud pies. Less... well, you get the picture.

Gripe: Toys cost 2-3 times what they would in the states.

1. Less material, more imaginative.
I don't need a department in a major (read: expensive) toy store designed for toys to engage the imagination... a rock and a stick gives them that.
2. Less spoiled.
It takes a lot less to keep my kids happy. They no longer need the newest toy (though that doesn't mean they won't inquire, just that they are OK when it doesn't happen). They are thrilled when they do get a toy, and don't just toss it aside like they would state side.
3. (OK, this one has a third) The value of money.
It takes them 4 times as long to save up their money to buy that desired toy. Thus, rooms are cleaned more, toys last longer, and less whining... win as a parent.

Gripe: No toilet seats in public bathrooms.

1. Squatting is better for intestinal health.
2. I gave you and extra on above, lets call it even.

Gripe: Pay for toilet paper (sometimes).

1. Learn when you really have to go. In some ways, assists with potty training. When can you hold and when can't you?
2. Learn to bring toilet paper with you at all times, even if it's just a few sheets in your back pocket or an entire roll hidden in the glove box.

OK, so sometimes there are more negatives on any given subject... but sometimes the positives are greater on other subjects. No, this wasn't a life I would have chosen or predicted. But, it's the life I have and the life I love. I'm allowed to complain and still love it. Anyone who says otherwise has some deep seated issues that should be properly addressed in a doctor's office and possibly consider a straight jacket. Because loving something means acknowledging the faults and loving it/them in spite of it. And it's OK to gripe. It's OK to whine. As long as it is balanced. I live my day in strive of balance, and those I know and accept as my friends do as well. It's also OK to agree to disagree on subjects without saving it for a cheap shot later.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Cheaper in Mexico

One thing I am so tired of hearing is that everything is "cheaper in Mexico". That phrase drives me up a wall, across a bunch of roofs and down one the next neighborhood over. HA! Maybe when you think in US/Canadian terms. Oh sure, it seems cheaper on a surface glance. I've had the electric company out twice to verify no one is jacking my power and my meter works (I still think they lie). They claim it's fine. And sure, I only use about $100 USD each month (at the least), which seems cheap to those US based. However, let's consider what it is I'm getting for that money. 1 fan running 24/7 (minimal for Mexico... my house is still 84 degrees downstairs during the day and 88 upstairs where the fan is running each day. I have thermometers and pictures to prove it), 1 TV that runs while the kids are awake almost constantly (it's one of those energy saver kinds, and no, the kids aren't on it 24/7, but someone is at all times), 1 computer that is my lifeline to sanity and is only plugged in 7 hours a day (the rest it runs on battery) and is also supposed to be energy saving, 1 fridge, during nap time: 1 radio (energy saving, supposedly) and one extra fan, and during bedtime: 2 nightlights (both only 4 watts), an extra radio, and that's about it. I play on the computer at night, in the dark. We use the bathroom, in the dark. I'm not getting my money's worth like I would in the states.

I'm coming up on what we call "Birthday month" (July is big on birthday's too, but as it's my husband's and I as well as our anniversary, we are well prepared to pretend nothing exists and accept just a word acknowledging that it's that day). April is big. I have 2 children's birthdays within a week. Buying toys is huge... "Cheaper in Mexico" becomes a pain in the butt. $30 USD for a $12 USD toy in the states. Clothes cost the same. Electronics at least 3 times more. Dollar stores are really $10 stores (and I don't mean pesos). The kids are learning the hard way to adjust. There are no more "Can I have candy or a cheap toy?" when doing our grocery shopping. And grocery shopping is so much fun. I spend at least $100 USD per week on groceries because there are some things I just can't cut. Diapers must be gotten. After all, he is only 1 and it's not his fault that he only fits 1 brand of diaper in their biggest size available at only 1 store (pharmacy really). Sure, he'll be 2 in a couple weeks, but he's still young yet. Potties, even toddler ones he thinks of as a punishment/time out. The only thing he likes peeing in is his bath. Allergy issues make it harder... what we can live on, he can't.

We have opportunities here that we didn't in the states. I'm grateful for them. Eventually, we won't have to struggle so. I'm grateful for that. I'm also tired of people expecting it to be easier than it is. To them, I invite them to live in Mexico without starting with US/Canadian dollars and discover just what it is to fall in love with a life that is more of a struggle than it seems. Do it with a family and no way out; maybe you will see why I want to throat punch the next person who tells me "It should be easier. I went on vacation and everything is so much cheaper in Mexico." Bite. Me.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Giving thanks when thanks are hard

I get overwhelmed a bit easier than most. Than again, my life is a bit more difficult than most. I'm not complaining on that, just stating that I recognize that the battle I fight daily is not really one that most of my friends would fight. But I do it gladly. Because there are things worth fighting for.

Lately things have been piling up. From the simple (the cost of beans and tortillas rose along with other necessary living costs) to the difficult (trying to deal with legal crap in various directions). My husband tries to shield me. He takes it on. He takes the flak when I'm the one who is saying "screw this... things are gonna get done". Lemme set this straight... he's the good one. He's the one who wants to believe that people are decent and buys the BS. People can be good, but some are just feeding others a line or really not keeping track of their own funds and opportunities. I feel for those who don't have either, but for the people who have both and squander it? Good luck. No pity from me. They have no time for my perspective, I have no time for them. I have never pretended that I will put other people ahead of my family. Only God belongs there. As to the rest, if you truly need it, I will help if I can. Provided it doesn't interfere with my first two priorities. But play me for a fool and I will cut that off quicker than anything.

My husband does his best to keep the outside influences from me, and as a contrast, keep the outside stuff safe from me. Because the truth is, I'm one stupid excuse from loosing it. I'm one more 6 cm cyst, you need this, he needs that but you don't qualify, scholarships available but not to you, do this and we will help you no wait we want more, not enough English yet too much English, not enough Spanish yet too much Spanish away from loosing it. And if/when I loose it, it would be spectacular. Think the best fireworks show in the world. No, I'm not homicidal or suicidal. I mean in a different way. Be it the electric company or regular people.

I have bipolar. I've been unmedicated for a bit too long. I own it. I'm working the legal system so that I can change the unmedicated part. But the bipolar part? That's forever. Then again, a lot of people would break given the right situation that have no mental illness. So I don't feel so bad. I've done more than many could. However, I've done less with more than what other have with less. Which brings on a guilt trip to end all guilt trips. But, I'm learning to accept my failures and live with my life.

The whole "Giving Thanks" thing has been hard to remember, but it's a lesson that has kept me going and sane. Yeah, things are lining up to kick our butt. That's life. However, we lose one thing that was meant to be lost to gain another or more. Something better. The fight isn't for naught. Lose a country, gain a different one as well as a new perspective. Learn or be doomed to a bigger loss. Some never learn. I'm determined. Loose a home, gain 2. Loose an opportunity, hey look! 3 new ones appeared.

Life is hard. It's like if a fire breaks out in three spots in your kitchen. Which do you put out first? What do you do if you can't get out and just call it a loss? I feel like I tamp out one fire for another to appear. But you know what? I'm not putting them out alone. Behind me, there are others putting out a spark I didn't see. I have an awesome support net in various people. And, for them helping me put out the fires I don't see....


You guys help me get through and remind me that none of us are alone. It could be as simple as a smile and kind word. It could be as profound as a hand up when I've fallen. It could be a passage in Church that strikes home. It could be a napkin from a stranger when a child has spilled their juice on me or funds when I'm picking between food or doctors...


Sunday, March 2, 2014


So many times I've come across people saying "learn English or get out." They talk about how their ancestors learned English right away upon arrival, despite many, many research articles proving that first generation immigrants learned very little. Not because they didn't want to, but because it is so damn difficult.

I find myself in the opposite position. I'm trying to learn Spanish. I've spent the last 6 years on and off in Mexico (for a year or so at a time, and for now, permanently). I haven't learned nearly enough to survive. I have barely learned enough to conduct a simple conversation. To those who speak no Spanish, I sound great. To those who speak Spanish and don't know me, I sound like an idiot they can't understand. To those who speak Spanish and know me, I sound like I'm trying. I have a good accent... that much I have picked up. I can read in Spanish, and I can take dictation. As to coming up with a response on my own? Maybe if I have several minutes to respond. Even then, I will probably sound like an idiot unless it is in present tense.

However, it goes beyond the language. There's the culture. After all this time, I continue to struggle daily with remembering if it is "Dias", "Tardes", or "Noches" (morning, afternoon/evening, or evening/night... if you just say hello, you are rude to women and hitting on men). I struggle with remembering that I'm supposed to greet EVERYONE I see. Even if they are in the middle of a conversation as I pass them. If not, I'm stuck up. Then again, interrupting them means the same. I struggle with the fact that perfect strangers will often ask my advice on what the best diaper is while standing in line... or, if they don't need to know but notice I am buying diapers, ask how old my child is and/or other personal details that people in the US would never dream of asking a stranger.

I have to be more than. I have to do everything everyone here does, even if it contradicts what they or others would do. And I have to learn more than what they are able to learn themselves. Even if they had lots of money and years of school, I have to learn, minus all the assistance. So yes, I sympathize with the immigrant who struggles with the U.S. language and cultures. Because, it's not that I don't want to or they don't want to. I desperately do. I try daily, and do everything I can to improve. Just as they do daily. But, it will always be slower than what others expect, and in the end, they have already judged them and I. Just as so many others judge those in the beginning or middle of their journey.... Judge not, lest ye be judged.

Saturday, February 22, 2014


Whenever we go through any trouble, we create a fantasy world in our mind. One where there are no problems and we are sailing. These dreams change as the deadlines we create pass. One of my reoccurring dreams? I win the lottery. A common enough dream. But what I do with that may be different. I get my husband into the US. And then I donate to others to get their spouses into the US. We set up shop somewhere with snow during the winter yet where it doesn't get too cold, nor does winter last too long or summer get too hot and last too long then either. Or, sometimes we stay in Mexico, and we build a great house in a secure area with a business that thrives and can afford solar panels and climate control. Somewhere calm yet busy. No, I have no clue where in reality these places exist.

My children have their own dreams, and I know my husband dreams of his ideal place. For my kids, it's somewhere with kind teachers, their grandparents within 20 minutes, and central heating/AC. For my husband, somewhere he can fish, open his own business, and be able to take time off to travel. The common thread is "more than survival and filled with people who truly care and don't take advantage of kindness.". The problem is, that place doesn't exist. But I'm sure we all dream of it. Different people, places, and themes... but the same commonality.

We've had our battles, and I know they are less than others. Yet, they are more than others. On the surface, we aren't that bad off. But hidden are the battles that we fought, the struggles and saving and choices that ended with us having what we have. The things we have struggled and battled for I will not give up. Be it figuratively or materially. If I had to, I would. However, if I have other options, why give them up? I've given up enough, my kids have given up enough. Why put them through more?

For now, I continue dreaming... and when my children dream their impossible dreams, I refuse to pop their bubbles. Because, sometimes those "impossible" dreams become possible. And other times, those "impossible" dreams keep us grounded until a more realistic dream is within our grasp. Keep dreaming. Never give up. Your dreams will adapt to your situation, and one day, you will get to live that dream.

This is not the post you are looking for

I had typed up this long, drawn out blog post calling out all the entities who had done me wrong... well, all 3. In the end, I decided I'm not yet ready to go into those stories. I realized, if I only had 3 stories that were eating at me, I'm well off. Two were things beyond my control, and will eat at me probably forever. The other, a story as old as time with two sides. Basically, more personal. So... if those were the posts you were waiting for, you will have to wait for me to proof-read that when it isn't after midnight and I'm not up with 2 sick kids.

So, instead, I offer you a different post. I'm writing to you here, south of sanity once again (in more ways than one), yet enjoying what I have. I have my family whole. I have possibilities. I have years worth of material items I have saved up both before and after Mexico.  And I have friends I never knew I would meet here, both of the US variety and Mexican. Restarting, in a way I would never imagine. And trying to refocus on what is important, despite the little things trying to draw me into their tiny battles that they will never win. Because, in the end, I know my path is right. I don't have to second guess. I don't have to think about "what ifs". Because I know.