Un regalo para mí – Yelapa part 1

On this cold, rainy, gray spring day, I am reaching into my storage of Vitamin D that I tucked away in my core while I was in Mexico for a month earlier this year. I also stored patience, perspective, joy and some lush green and blue skies to hold me through to warm Colorado days. I left the Mexican folk music there.

Last year my wonderfully inspiring friend, Carrie, a.k.a. Wild Mama, invited me (and my family) to join her (and her family) in the small fishing village of Yelapa, Mexico. They have been going for years for months at a time and she has written great essays and talks with a spark in her eye about how this magical place feeds her soul and spirit of adventure.

It was an unmissable opportunity! It was a gift.

She found us a great palapa

Casa Iguana. My home away from home
Casa Iguana. My home away from home

that would accommodate all of us and via a Skype phone call, we booked it for a month. I decided to go ahead of Chris and the boys for two weeks by myself to paint and just be. It was a gift for myself! Un regalo para mi!

I was excited to escape the cold brown winter of Colorado that makes my insides feel the same. I was nervous. What was I thinking? I speak three words of Spanish and understand less when it is spoken to me.

Alone in the jungle? Even just alone!! What would that be like? I’m never alone for more that a few hours. Two weeks?

Scorpions… snakes…. spiders…

EEK!!! I killed it with a skillet!


But the promise of the beach, salt water, warmth, sunshine, flowers, time to read, paint and think far outweighed any fear.


So mid February, I packed my bag with paints, brushes, bathing suits, hiking shoes, books, journals, bug spray, sunscreen and colorful dresses. Carrie and her family greeted me at the pier in Puerta Vallarta. We loaded onto the water taxi and were off to Yelapa. The Sierra Madres rise up out of the bay with the clouds sitting on their tops! The salt water sprayed my face taking me back to my childhood and suddenly I’m 12 again. Watching my friend mother her two children on the bumpy ride to the cove we would call home for awhile was pure sweetness. When we turned out of the bay  to Yelapa, the sun streaked through the clouds shinining down on the pueblo and beaches. I could see the waterfall behind the white dome of the church. A lovely yellow house sat on the rocks at the water’s edge reminding of my yellow house back in Colorado.

I love this yellow house



Orange, blue and white umbrellas lined la playa.  The palmed roofs of the palapas are sprinkled amongst the brightly painted buildings. And that green!!! EVERYWHERE!

Arriving in Yelapa. We had a wonderful beach landing! Fun!
Arriving in Yelapa. We had a wonderful beach landing! Fun!

At the beach, Carries’ husband, Chris greeted us and enlisted a friend to carry my bags up the VERY STEEP hill to my palapa.

About half of the hill to my gate, then stairs up to the Pelapa
About half of the hill to my gate, then stairs up to the palapa

I’m not sure how I would have done it without them. My two story casa for the month was lovely! A huge table to paint on, a laundry line to hang them to dry, a wonderful space to read and write, a magnificent ceiling of woven palms to sleep under,

palapa ceiling


an incredible out door shower with a heart made of shells and rocks under foot


and a palm tree “roof” along with hibiscus, bird of paradise, bougainvillea, geraniums, ferns, a view of the beach down below, and electricity (which I wasn’t expecting)! There were fresh flowers on the table from my hostess, cookies and wine from my friends and two weeks of time ahead of me to enjoy. My cheeks already hurt from smiling.

The kitchen... soon to be studio!
The kitchen… soon to be studio!
My view of the cove
My view of the cove
The hibiscus out my back door.


For the first few days, I read, set up my new “studio” and hiked all over the place to get the lay of the land. I battled tremendous waves of guilt for getting to be in this space and time. I had sensory overload in the best possible way… vibrant colors, new people and culture, new foods, new sounds… like the chachalacas that wake you up every morning, new smells…. like the soapy smell of the Bella Donnas,

The canopy of Bella Donnas I walked under before reaching my hill towards my casa.


not to mention a new language which I was butchering.  I thought I would journal, but there was so much to take in, I found it impossible. They only way I could was to paint. Hours would pass and I would be covered in new colors of this wonderful place and I managed to get some on canvas too.


I felt my brain and heart expanding and settling simultaneously. It was a wonderful way to be.

relaxed and happy in palapa
relaxed and happy in my palapa

It is impossible to sit and write all that those two weeks by myself meant, not to mention the magic of two weeks with my family. I will have to break it down into parts. But the biggest truths are that Carrie’s invitation was a gift that changed me at what feels almost a cellular level. The time and support that Chris gave me to go off for two weeks by myself, restored a part of me that I didn’t realize had been so completely buried and depleted. And the gift I gave myself was to be in the present moment, enjoy my own company (easier said than done for two weeks straight), and challenge myself to soak up everything that I experienced, thought and felt; all of it!

Stay tuned for the dance of the chickens… another day!

* I just type and publish… I’ve got paintings to do! Yay! Boys to take care of! Dogs to walk. Chocolate to eat. Gardening to feed my soul and I probably need a shower. Sorry for not editing!


Every now and then, everyone “hits the wall”.

Last night I hit it full force and felt like the flattened Tom from Tom & Jerry whose 2 dimensional self melts down the stairs into a puddle on the floor. If only we popped right back up into our energetic 3 dimensional selves ready to chase the mouse. Except I am so tired of chasing the damn mouse.  I attempted to keep going but then Chris walked in, my guard fell and I melted onto the sofa. He took over and I was so grateful to just close my eyes for a bit.  Within the hour I spiked a pretty good fever and chills. By the next hour, I had convinced myself that I had cancer of some sort or another or an autoimmune disease. My mind is a scary place. I’ll be first to admit.

I finally gave up, read Chachi a few chapters, took a hot bath and crawled into bed before it was completely dark outside.

Today, I feel better, but not great and I am trying to tell myself that it is okay to let go, say no and not feel guilty.  Is it guilt or having to face that fact that THE (overwhelming) LIST will only get longer and drown me a bit more.  It’s both. Where does this come from? It’s a bit insane and all perspective is lost. Completely hidden. I’ve had several slaps of perspective over my life and yet, here I am doing the same cat chase mouse routine. I am afraid I’ll never learn.

Then serendipity came into play and I got this from author Seth Godin’s daily emails.

If you believe that you must keep your promises, over-deliver and treat every commitment as though it’s an opportunity for a transformation, the only way you can do this is to turn down most opportunities.

No I can’t meet with you, no I can’t sell it to you at this price, no I can’t do this job justice, no I can’t come to your party, no I can’t help you. I’m sorry, but no, I can’t. Not if I want to do the very things that people value my work for.

No is the foundation that we can build our yes on.- Seth Godin

 I think I need to paint this on the wall in every room in my house. There are so many yes foundations that I want to build on or go back and repair with some mortar and remodel. Things and people that have been overlooked, pushed aside and done in the 11th hour all for the sake of chasing the stupid mouse. And I KNOW in my heart and mind that all over the world people are dealing with really hard things; next to impossible things.  I know it, and yet I still react to the mouse. Why? It’s not cohesive in my brain. The thoughts in my brain and my actions don’t match. That is a problem and why the mouse keeps dropping a cinder-block on my head. I am not paying attention and don’t even see it coming because I am too busy reacting.

So today, I am going to try to learn to live in peace with that mouse (aka THE LIST and my spinning brain) in my house. I hope I can shake my Tom personality a bit and be less reactionary to every thought, “obligation” or interaction.

I might go call a friend I haven’t talked to in some time while I prep some canvases…. you’ve been warned if your phone rings, HA!  I might take a cat-nap (sorry, couldn’t resist.. I am my father’s daughter) later today and I might just sit and stare at the Aspen leaves shaking in the wind and do nothing. Perhaps, we just take in so much. The problems of the world are so overwhelming, perhaps reacting like a TomCat is all we have left in us when it feels like we are helpless. I don’t know… or will ever pretend to know. I am off to paint to try to find some peace and make something beautiful. And maybe, I’ll eat some ice cream, too.


A funny graffiti of tom and gerry on a wall in patan,near kathmandu in nepal.december 2010.


Perhaps then, I will pop back into my three dimensional self and not feel so flat.

Sincerely yours,