Wednesday 31 January 2018

Our Mexican Adventure, Part Two: “Well, the Good Thing Is…”

I give myself permission to fully experience whatever comes up during this trip, knowing I am safe.—Martin Baker

As I described in part one of this series, Fran is in Mexico right now. I am keeping a journal throughout the trip, and compiling my day-by-day notes into a series of weekly blog posts.

This post covers Fran’s first week in the town of Ajijic in the State of Jalisco, on the north shore of Lake Chapala.

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five

Our Mexican Adventure, Part Two: “Well, the Good Thing Is…”

Wednesday, January 24, 7:35 a.m. UK time

I had a nice call with Fran yesterday (Tuesday). She’d slept better (the first night she’d woken freezing cold and had to put on extra layers) and sounded calm. She was glad she’d decided to stay in and rest the night before. The call set us both up for the day.

Fran went out for brunch in Guadalajara yesterday, checked out from Hotel Frances at noon and then caught her ride to Ajijic (“Hola, Enrique!”) She picked up the keys to the apartment, and started to get settled in.

Unfortunately, when she unpacked she discovered one of her tops has gone missing from her suitcase. She was understandably upset and it did nothing to help her feel at ease.

I’m nervous about this whole trip. My Bali top going missing really pissed me off, along with all the other things. I brought my best ones goddammit. I should have brought the old ones. I cannot get these any more. They don’t make them.

“… all the other things” include some issues with her phone charger. I’m not sure what is up with that, but she will be able to charge her phone and her back-up battery pack via the PC at the apartment if necessary. She enjoyed dinner at her friend’s place, though. She let me know when she got home.

Back.. horizontal.. whew.. Evening was fun.. Ted walked me home..

Her choice of words didn’t escape my notice.

That’s nice, Fran. It is home, for the next few weeks.

Wednesday, January 24, 1:30 p.m. UK time

“I’ve had enough now.”
“Shall I send the helicopter?”
“Yes, please.”

That’s how our phone call began just now. Despite how it sounds, Fran’s hanging in there. It’s just all very new and also very exhausting for her. She plans to meet up with friends again today at some point, possibly for a jaunt to Chapala market, and then dinner this evening. The issue with the phone charger doesn’t seem too bad after all. It might just be a dodgy connection. Fran took two plugs and several USB cables, so she should be okay.

Thursday, January 25, 7:30 a.m. UK time

Fran went out exploring yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon. She got a bit lost when she went looking for a particular coffee bar / café, but a nice lady helped her out and she got there in the end. It threw her a bit though. Later on, back at her apartment, we had a great video call—our first of this trip. She gave me a tour of the apartment and I also got to see the mountains! Seeing it all live helps me get a feel for where (and how) she is.

And how is she? I’m not going to say she’s struggling but she isn’t settled in yet and things like getting a bit lost, and not knowing the language, and her Bali top going missing, and having a bit of a sore tummy, all add up to her not enjoying it as much as she’d like to. She is also uncertain about how it will be once her friends return from their vacation tomorrow (Friday), so she no longer has the apartment all to herself. On the other hand, that could help her. She is feeling a bit—not lonely, but on her own having to do things, make plans and decisions herself.

She has travelled on her own before but not for quite a while, and the times I’m thinking of (trips to Europe before I met her) were distinctly mania-fuelled. Thankfully, that is not the case this time. She said last night she’s realised she prefers traveling with a companion. (Yes, I am with her, but it’s not the same.)

As for me—I’m doing okay! Last evening I read some more of the book Talk Like TED, and chatted online with a few folk. I had a beer, watched some TV, and had an early night. I am keeping busy, but also allowing space and time for myself. My Wellness Plan helps. I have referred to is a few times and it helps keep me on track.

At work today (Thursday) I learned about a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course they are putting on in March. I put my name down for it (at my boss’ insistence—she is incredibly supportive of all my mental health work). It’s four years since I took the course and I’d love to refresh my skills. I am encouraging colleagues to consider it too.

Friday, January 26, 7:35 a.m. UK time

Fran and I Skyped twice yesterday (Thursday) evening. On the first call, I helped compile and send the first of her “postcard” emails to friends. I downloaded the photos we’d selected from her iCloud, and resized them in Photoshop. We emailed them out, and also posted them to Facebook. Fran only has her phone to work on and it is easier for me to do the fiddly bits on my PC.

Time to fess up! I got rather frustrated and grumpy when the technology wouldn’t work the way we wanted it to. Fran stayed calm, though, rather than getting cross at me for getting cross. That helped me move through what I was feeling without it blowing up into more than it was. Fran is tired, for sure, and feeling a bit “off,” but she wrote something today which shows how well she is handling things.

It hasn’t all been easy but my new mantra is “Well, the good thing is…” That way I can turn it around and be ok with whatever is. Ajijic is a simple sweet town with lots of color and complexity. I’m glad to be experiencing all that it is.

When we met later we checked through Fran’s spending, and then put “work” aside and just hung out for a while. This included me reading some more of Outlander. I imagine it is the first time this story of 18th Century Scotland, written by an American, has been read in the UK by a Brit to an American in Mexico!

Saturday, January 27, 11:00 a.m. UK time

Fran and I had a nice voice call last night (Friday) at around 11 p.m. (her 5 p.m.). She’d been out and about throughout the day, including visiting one lovely looking café (Casa del Cafe) after another place she’d gone to had been closed. I was looking through some of her photos and bounced one back to her that I especially liked.

“Oh, this is gorgeous, Fran.”
“That’s where I am right now!”

Later, she met up with her two hosts, who had returned from vacation. After spending some time with them, Fran retired to her room, which is where we had our call. We talked about what we’d been up to, and our plans for the next few days. In Fran’s case that included a boat trip today (Saturday) to Scorpion Island, and a visit to some hot springs on Monday with a lady she’s met here. We need to research the hot springs a bit before then!

I feel we are doing really well: individually, and as a team. I spent my time last evening working on the website, and I started reading the 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge, by Rachel Thompson, which arrived yesterday. I was immediately inspired to update the cover image and bio on my Twitter account—so I figure it’s already working!

When I came into town today (Saturday) I planned to go to the Starbucks across the road from Central Station, only it was full. I went back into the station to check the other coffee bars but they were also pretty busy. So, I stomped off to walk to the library. I could feel myself getting stressed and angry because things weren’t going the way I’d wanted them to. But I remembered my Wellness Plan, and Fran’s “dropping the hot coal” strategy. It worked! I could feel the stress leave me as I walked. I thought also of how Fran had handled having to change her plans for a burger the day before, when the first place she chose was shut. She is generally better than me at this stuff, but I’m rather proud, how I handled things this morning!

Saturday, January 27, 2:45 p.m. UK time

I’m at Costa Coffee in Blackwell’s Bookshop, and just had a fun video call with Fran! It was 8:45 a.m. for Fran, and the house cleaner was due at 9 a.m. so we didn’t have very long but it was good to catch up. She went out to a local festival last night with one of her friends, then for something to eat which included some kind of “Aztec soup” and a “medium” beer that turned out to be huge!

Sunday, January 28, 1:10 p.m. UK time

There’s not much to write today as we didn’t get to have any more calls yesterday (Saturday) with Fran out all day on her trip to the island. I’ve seen her photos—lots of them!—and I’d say she had a good time. We did chat a bit, though. Fran messaged me this yesterday evening.

“I don’t have anything planned for Sunday except TSA [completing her compensation claim for the loss of her Bali top] and photo processing. You will be blown away. It will be hard to choose.”
“That’s cool. I can help with that if you want.”
“Yep. Are you keeping track of my activities day by day?”
“Yes. That’s what’s in my journal, and will be in the weekly blogs.”
“I’m settling into this new place and people.”

That final comment is so important, and so healthy. One week ago, Fran was on her outward journey from Portland to Guadalajara. It’s been quite a week for us both! But she’s doing fine. I am too. Last night (Saturday) I typed up my Mexico journal notes and started working them into what will be this week’s blog post. I watched some TV, chatted with friends online, and watched a documentary on YouTube.

Monday, January 29, 12:00 p.m. UK time

Fran and I met twice yesterday (Sunday). On our first call I shared what had been happening in my world. We then looked over her to do list for the day, which included getting her latest photos sent out to her “postcard” mailing list and posted to Facebook. Between us we selected ten photos: quite a challenge as there were loads of great ones! I downloaded them to my PC and resized them in Photoshop. We also composed a reply to an email from TSA (Transportation Security Administration) regarding Fran’s compensation claim for the top that went missing from her luggage.

When we met up again later, Fran was in a local blues bar! “Shall we do the TSA and photo things now? I plan to show you Ajijic after.” It took a little while but the emails and posting to Facebook went smoothly, and without me getting all frustrated like I had earlier in the week!

With our chores done, Fran took me on a Skype walkabout through the streets of the town. It was wonderful to see all the sights—the colourful buildings, the people, the murals, the dog and horse poop.

We ended up at the market in the plaza, which was buzzing with people. No one seemed remotely phased at the sight of Fran holding her phone up to the side of her head as we walked and talked together. Well, apart from one little girl in the market who did look at us a bit funny!

Then Fran bumped into someone she knew who invited her to join his party for dinner. Fran at first said thanks, maybe another time, but then changed her mind and dropped me to take up the invitation. Maybe I was being petty but it really hurt. I could have kept it to myself but that’s not how we do things, so after calming down a bit I messaged Fran to share how I was feeling.

“Oh shit.. I’m so sorry.. It was just in the moment.. I didn’t mean to make you feel that way.”
“It hurt, to be dropped like that.”
“I realize that. I would’ve felt the same way. I was trying to make it special then I fucked up.”
“It was special, Fran. I fuck up sometimes too! It’s ok. I just needed you to know.”
“It was fun carrying you around. We’ll do it again.”

It was pretty late by then, and we said good night. I thought about it a lot on my way into work this morning. I got to be honest. Fran got to be honest. We both got a bit hurt but there was no lasting harm. It’s what we do. I realised too that there was more going on for me last night than just having our conversation cut short. I’ve been feeling pressured lately in various ways. I’d looked forward to chilling out with Fran and things didn’t work out the way I’d hoped. (In NVC terms, my needs weren’t met.) That’s the top and bottom of it, really. I’ve not been taking very good care of my boundaries.

With this in mind, I decided to give myself some space today and posted this up on my Facebook: as much as a reminder to myself as anything/anyone else.

A bit overwhelmed with stuff at the moment. If you are waiting to hear from me I will get back to you when I can. Feel free to nudge me but I may not respond straight away. Thanks.

I will spend some time with my Wellness Plan today. It will serve us both well.

Tuesday, January 30, 07:30 a.m. UK time

What a difference a day can make! I feel so much better this morning! I kept off Facebook yesterday (Monday) and focused on my writing. Fran and I did some work together including further emails to TSA. We also looked at the hot springs she’s hoping to visit at some point.

Later on, we went on another walk around Ajijic. Fran seems very confident navigating the town. She put Glympse on so I could track where we were. It was fun to follow our progress on the map whilst simultaneously seeing what was going on via our video call. I know there are other parts of the town Fran would like to share with me. I hope so, because it was a lot of fun!

The only scary moment was when we crossed one incredibly busy road. I confess I held my breath as we dashed across—the cars seemed to flash by so fast! After our hiccup the day before, it was a great example of how it’s possible to move forward without carrying grievances and issues along with you.

Overnight I had an email from a great friend of ours; best-selling author Julie A. Fast. She mentioned an exciting new writing opportunity but having seen my Facebook post, wondered if I might needed time before taking it any further. I so appreciated her consideration. I wrote back and said no, I’m good. This short break isn’t about turning away people or opportunities that resonate with me. It’s about paying attention to my boundaries so I can focus my energies where they can do the most good.

And that feels very healthy indeed.

Continues here.

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five


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