Immigration Anniversary

Gabriel Urzua tapete
America, all of it

I’m coming up on a year as an immigrant to Mexico. A full year drinking in the beauty and the kindness, the colors and the unhurried ways. Reveling in the sacred lake and her white pelicans. Walking out my door for all my daily needs, using my own body for transportation.  A year of absorbing the common cultural courtesies of greeting passersby on the cobblestone streets, of making friends with other immigrants and with my Mexican neighbors.

At the one-year anniversary of emigrating from my original culture, I notice that I have breathed into my days a new and gentler rhythm. I have seen myself change. I no longer live so much ahead of myself, only planning a few days at a time.  I make plans with friends spontaneously, more often in person on the street than on the phone. Then, instead of counting on things happening as scheduled, I count only on something wonderful happening– whether it’s the thing I expected or a surprising something else. I am becoming more patient with myself and others. As I immerse in a culture of patience and affection and acceptance, I find myself growing in compassion.

I am immensely grateful to live in Mexico, where the values and expectations are ones with which I have wanted to align myself. Mexico has been my Teacher and her lessons have changed me. Her challenges have morphed into opportunities. Her humility and authenticity has chastened my sense of entitlement. Living outside of my native country for this past year has lifted and widened my perspective. As an immigrant, I have become more a global citizen than a resident of a single place. Even while my days are simpler, my concerns reach further in the world.

I sum it up for myself in the word, presente, translated variously as real, actual, true, or present. To me, it signifies an integration within myself. Mexico has put me present. Present for my interactions with others, present for my own emotions and experiences, present in my daily activities. As esDoy gracias!

Above Ajijic

Climate March Gratitude


15125036547_9d5481884a_zToday on the autumnal equinox, on the day after the largest climate march in history, the tilt of the Earth’s axis is inclined neither away from nor toward the Sun, making the lengths of night and day equal. I find this day’s balance deeply significant.The beginning of Fall signals birds and butterflies to migrate, plants to end their growth cycles. For humans, the coming of Fall has long meant a time to pause for gratitude. Yesterday, by turning out in thousands to petition for 100% clean energy, people at 2808 solidarity events in 166 countries showed gratitude to the Earth.

May all of us acknowledge our bounty and balance our consumer habits with a practice of gratitude for life on earth, with authentic praise and valuing of our harvests, whether it be the reaping from our work, from our loving relationships, from our community contributions or from the garden. How do we start a daily practice of gratitude for life on earth? Like any practice, it simply has to be begun, and then continued, until it becomes an attitude that shines out from us every day. Scientists tell us that the habit of gratitude strengthens relationships, improves health, reduces stress, and makes us happier. I believe it can also change the world. Today’s Autumn Equinox is a wonderful day to begin cultivating the habit of noting exactly what it is we are grateful for each day.

Here are brilliant photographs from all over the globe of people just like me and you showing gratitude yesterday in the People’s Climate March.

And here’s a youtube to get you going, a TEDxSF talk on gratitude by Louie Schwartzberg    

Child in Melbourne at People's Climate March September 21, 2014
Child in Melbourne at People’s Climate March September 21, 2014