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Inspirational Women Writers in Mexico–Monique Alvarez

So, we’ve reached the half-way point for 2017.  Remember those goals you made back in January? (See Resolutions) Well, do ya?  So how are they going?  If like me, there are still a few things you are working on making manifest, it’s time to revisit the subject.

Therefore, today’s inspiring woman writer in Mexico is Monique Alvarez, author of Success Redefined Travel, Motherhood, & Being the Boss.  Perhaps reading about how she has created the life of her dreams will help you reaffirm those goals you had back in January.

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I’m originally from Colorado and I now live in Guanajuato, Mexico. On May 1st of 2016, my family and I decided to travel Mexico and a friend highly recommended Guanajuato.

I would say my relationship with my family and friends started to change when I moved overseas for the first time about seventeen years ago. Making the decision to travel long-term changes our world view so dramatically it’s often difficult to return to the same relationships and even when we do they are not the same because we have changed so much.

My belief system changed when I was 19 and on my first overseas trip to Myanmar. I’m from a very small town in rural America and I had no world view. I was raised with a few thousand people that for the most part are exactly the same. There’s not much diversity for the fact that they don’t welcome it. I saw how close minded I was and how I had been taught (mostly silently) that people who are different from me are less than or bad. I realized that there was so much more to see and experience. I realized how different and how alike we all are. I also learned that we always fear what we do not understand and that would impact me until this day.  I wouldn’t say I have overcome fear. I have got comfortable feeling fear and acting anyway. Every time I do something new I feel fear. Every single time.

I returned to the U.S. ten years ago after getting malaria in Kenya. I knew Colorado would be a tough transition for many reasons including the change in climate. I decided to move to Tucson, Arizona and a few months later I met my husband on a blind date. We traveled together for a year before having kids and now we are traveling with our two sons. I feel like my husband and I have a much better relationship when we are traveling. Life, in general, is lighter and more carefree. We have more time and more fun and that’s always good for our relationship.

In some ways, our life is very similar to how it was before we moved to Mexico. Toddlers are still toddlers. We still own our businesses. My husband and I started a business together in 2008 and it has evolved into my consulting business. He does a little web design but for the most part, he is fully in his art business. He paints on the iPad and sells limited edition metal art online. I facilitate masterminds for female entrepreneurs and I have recently written a book called Success Redefined Travel, Motherhood, & Being the Boss. We still work and play. I would say the thing that impacts us the most, however, is the change of environment. We are living in a country where I feel much more supported as a mother. It’s very family friendly in Mexico. They love kids. They expect kids to act like kids here. In the U.S. kids are expected to act like adults. Parents have many pressures on them and it feels nearly impossible to do “good enough” there. In Mexico, we take more time to do fun things. Meals are longer. We walk everywhere. We spend less time working. We go with the flow more.

Because of my travels, I have changed entirely. I’m not who I was raised to be. I’m not religious in the traditional sense. After I started traveling I began an inward journey. I sought out to find what spirituality meant to me. I am pretty liberal. I’m inclusive. I believe everyone should be able to love and live as they choose. I don’t believe that anyone on the planet is illegal. I see borders as absurd. I don’t buy into the philosophy of hard work or martyrdom. I believe in living well and deliberately choosing my life. I would like to believe I have become a more compassionate and tolerant human being. I also have to say I have become more protective of my time and energy. I am incredibly particular who I allow in my inner circle and that has been very good for me. I would say the most valuable skill I have learned here (and everywhere I’ve lived) is to ask for help, to ask questions and to receive help.

There have been challenges, though. When I first started traveling I went everywhere by myself. That in and of itself was a huge challenge. I lived a very sheltered life and so this shift to independence had lots of growing pains. Looking back it was the single best thing I did for myself, my husband and my children because I know who I am as a woman. I overcame getting the deadliest strain of malaria while living in Kenya. I had always been healthy and suddenly I was bedridden for almost a year. The contrast in life helped me see how valuable good health really is. Later when my husband and I traveled together we had to overcome our clients backlash about out decision to leave the U.S. for a year. After we returned to the U.S. I had two babies in twelve months and had severe complications after birth that were life threatening. We also almost lost both our boys as babies. As a mother, this is extremely painful and yet it’s also when I found my strength. I fought for my own life and the lives of my children.

I would say the biggest challenge I face as a full-time traveler is the amount of criticism I receive. People who never travel or don’t feel the have the means to travel are the first to say my life is not good for my kids or that I am out of touch with “reality”. Truthfully I am out of touch with a reality that blames others for circumstances. In my life and business, I am passionate about empowerment. Most people don’t realize the biggest challenge standing in their way of having an amazing life is that they are unwilling to take ownership of their decisions.  Spanish has also been a challenge for me.  However,  I’m focused on classes this quarter and I am excited to learn this language.

Professionally, the accomplishment I am most proud of is creating reoccurring monthly income for nine years in a row. Most people who start businesses dream of steady cash flow and I have experienced it. Personally, my kids make me incredibly proud. They are complete miracles and bring me tons of joy.

I can’t say I miss anything about living in the U.S. but that took time. In the beginning, I did. I missed some foods and some systems and procedures. Now what I miss is how simply my life was when I first moved overseas. There was no social media and I rarely even used email. I appreciate how technology connects me to my clients around the world and yet it was very nice to live without it.

Stuff, in general, is no longer important to me. When I moved to Tucson after being out of the U.S. for most of my twenties I thought I had missed out on something.  My friends had gone to college (I did not), they were married, they had bought houses and cars and I had a suitcase of dusty clothes. My husband and I bought a house our first year of marriage and the second we did, I knew I didn’t want it. I didn’t realize how travel had given me a taste for experiences and I lost so much of my desire for status symbols in my country.

The defining moment of my life since leaving the U.S. nine months ago was when a client wrote a nasty blog post about my choice to travel. I lost clients over it. I lost friends over it. At first, it was painful and confusing and then I found my fierce, take no prisoners self. I raised the bar in my life and that was the best thing I could have ever asked for.  I have a good life and a good family. I don’t need the whole world to understand it, I simply enjoy it.

I spend my free time downtown and in our favorite plazas eating street tacos and churros. When the boys are napping I sometimes sneak away for yoga, a walk or nap myself. My boys just turned two and three and the move has been good for them. They are loved by so many and are very happy. I believe kids pick up on the energy of their parents, particularly their mother in the early years and so having me happy and light is a good thing for them. My life is meaningful because it’s deliberately simple. I love a good cup of tea or playing Legos with my boys or having a nice dinner with my husband. I wouldn’t change a thing about my life. It has brought me to the beautiful place I am today.

Powerful women inspire me. Women who don’t take no for an answer. Women who reach for more. I love them! I have a practice of focusing on what makes me feel good and not on what makes me feel bad. I’ve found it’s good for my relationships, my bank account, and my health.

Ready to work on those goals again?

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Inspirational Women Writers in Mexico–Lynda Lock

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Hello, I’m Lynda Lock. I’m originally from British Columbia, Canada and now live in Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico. It’s an island about seven kilometers long and a kilometer wide 15 minutes by boat from Cancun. It has all the peace and quiet of island life combined with all the big city amenities, including a large international airport just a few minutes away.

I came to Mexico with my husband. We are both from British Columbia Canada, having lived in a variety of small communities and large cities. My original hometown, located in the coastal mountains of British Columbia, is now a deserted ghost town. It was a thriving gold mining town that shut down when the mining company ran out of easily accessible gold. My husband, on the other hand, grew up in the city of West Vancouver, located directly across the harbour from the much larger metropolis of Vancouver BC. We met on a similarly sized island in BC Canada called Bowen Island in 1975. We have been together since 1980. We married in 1987. My husband and I are currently retired. For the most part of our working lives, we were self-employed entrepreneurs with a wide variety of businesses that included an antique store, a freight boat business, a solid waste disposal company, an award winning bed and breakfast, and a micro-brewery, to name just a few. He was also the Fire Chief and I was a volunteer firefighter for many years in another small island community in BC Canada. I’ve also been an ambulance driver, a control centre supervisor for a high-tech computer-driven train, a park attendant, and have written a safety magazine.

My husband and I frequently say that we have Adult Attention Deficient Syndrome. As soon as a business was running well, we got bored and sold it, only to immediately start a different type of business. In the later years of our working careers, we switched to managing businesses for other companies. He managed a large winery and restaurant complex and I managed a mid-sized hotel.

We had enjoyed short vacations on the western side of Mexico for many years and then we discovered the Caribbean side in 2002. Wow! The turquoise water, good food, friendly islanders; we were hooked. After four visits to the island, we purchased an oceanfront lot in 2006 on Isla Mujeres with the idea of building a home. Since we were still working at that time we had planned to live part-time on the island and the balance of the year in Canada.

When it was time to return to work we happened to arrive in the middle of a late spring snow storm. A meter of snow! That was it for us. We told our employers that we would be leaving permanently in October of 2008, and worked until it was time to move to Mexico. In the meantime, we sold our home, furniture, paintings, decorations, books – everything. The only possessions that we kept were some articles of clothing and a few tools or special mementos. Our rule was; if it won’t fit in the car it isn’t going.

We drove from the Okanagan Valley to Isla Mujeres in our Nissan Hybrid car, taking twenty-three days to sightsee across the south-western USA and central Mexico. Our then nine-year-old cat, Thomas, had to wait until we arrived on Isla Mujeres before he could fly with my sister to his new home in Mexico. Thomas starred as the hero in my children’s book The Adventures of Thomas the Cat: Las Adventuras de Tomás el Gato. He thrived in Mexico, living until his seventeenth birthday.

Since moving to Mexico, my relationship with my family hasn’t changed. I still see everyone almost as frequently as before. We have an adult son and two grandchildren. They love that we live in Mexico. They visit as often as possible. As for friends, some I see less, others more and I’ve made many more new friends. As I was already retirement age when I moved here, learning a second language has been a big challenge. I miss the easy, silly conversations with the locals, things like chatting about the weather, what’s happening in their lives and how they are doing. I should have learned Spanish about 30 years ago when my brain was younger and I was smarter. It’s a daily struggle, but I keep trying to pick up new words and phrases. I don’t take lessons because I don’t have the patience for classroom learning. Like all things in my life, I learn as I go. My Spanish is limited, but I keep trying.

I love Mexican culture. It is like being transported back in time to the 1950’s. There are large and close-knit families who look out for each other and easy freedom for the kids, not so many organized and scheduled activities, just outdoor fun with friends. I especially love the climate by the ocean in the tropics.

Living in Mexico has helped me to discover the ability to just live and not worry about the silly stuff that we have no control over. I have learned to be patient, when to give up and when to move on. For example, having a guarantee doesn’t mean much. You have to be calmly persistent to get service for any appliance or piece of equipment that is theoretically under guarantee. After seven weeks of polite and daily phone calls with the help of one of our Mexican friends, we finally got our new refrigerator fixed by the manufacturer. My friend’s words of wisdom regarding guarantees were “It’s a game of Survivor. You have to outlast, outwit and outplay your opponent to win.” That really made me laugh.

The accomplishment that makes me the proudest was self-publishing my first book in hardcover “The Adventures of Thomas the Cat: Las Adventuras de Tomás el Gato.” It involved figuring out how to get it printed in China as the printing costs in Mexico, USA and Canada were too much for my budget, arranging the shipping to Mexico, clearing the shipment through customs and arranging for trucking to our city. It was a great learning experience.

In my free time, I write for my own pleasure, walk on the beach with our low-to-the-ground rescue mutt, socialize with friends, enjoy the sunset and a glass of wine with my husband, who is my best friend, and take pictures.

I have self-published two books and three more are in the process.

The Adventures of Thomas the Cat: Las Adventuras de Tomás el Gato, a bilingual children’s book.

Treasure Isla (a great summer read)

Books in progress:
Trouble Isla, sequel to Treasure Isla, planned launch October 2017
Temptation Island, third book in the series launch date as yet unknown
Named by the Enemy, historical fiction set in Canada. Planned launch is July 2017
The Adventures of Thomas and Sparky, the bilingual sequel to The Adventures of Thomas the Cat: Las Adventuras de Tomás el Gato. Planned launch December 2017

I write a weekly blog called Notes from Paradise–Isla Mujeres with my husband. Whoever has the bright idea for the week, writes the articles. I take 90% of the photographs because I habitually have a camera attached to my hand. Since we began in September of 2011, we have had over 434,000 page views with the weekly average now hitting around 10,000 pages views. The response is astounding!

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I don’t specifically volunteer for any one charity, just help out where I can with student scholarships, donations to helping animals, and entertaining the island’s youngsters during the Christmas Golf Cart Parade and the Day of the Kings, with our Mickey and Minnie Mouse costumes.

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New Year’s Resolutions

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Mexico has some interesting ideas about New Year’s Eve and how you can get what you want later in the year. What do you think of this list of dos and don’ts from Focus on Mexico?

**Wear red underwear for love. Wear yellow underwear to assure happiness and good moments. It is better if the underwear is a gift from someone else. To have many new clothes during the year, wear your underwear backward. (In our part of Mexico, yellow underwear brings the wearer financial prosperity for the coming year.)
**Eat lentils for prosperity. Make a little package of lentils and carry it in your purse all year long so you will have money.
**Walk out of your house with suitcases in your hands at midnight to make trips during the year. You can also walk around the block.
**To have your wishes come true in the new year, eat 12 grapes during the 12 times the bells ring at midnight and make 12 wishes.
**Sweep the floor of your house through the door and out to avoid bad luck. (In our area of Mexico, there is a special cleansing called la Limpieza de las 7 Iglesias using holy water gathered from 7 churches during Semana Santa and chlorine)
**Throw a bucket of water out of your house to clean it from bad vibes.
**Sweep money inside to have prosperity. Put money in your shoes for prosperity.
** Write on a paper everything you don’t want anymore in your life like sadness, anger, etc… and then burn it.

This year, the Flores family bypassed every single one of these traditions. We didn’t even head up the hill for the yearly BYOB (bring your own bucket) family bonfire. And you know what? Nothing bad happened! At least, so far.

On the other hand, there are some new traditions in line with our resolutions that we’d like to implement. I have already begun the Transition Year, as I have dubbed 2016-2017. Along with some personal goals that will be revealed in due course, I have some blogging goals that begin today!

Each month, I will endeavor to find a Woman Writer in Mexico to feature and share with you. In line with starting things out right, this month’s inspiring woman writer is Monique Alvarez.

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“Your life is your adventure’ …say Yes to whatever beckons your heart. Make decisions that line up with your soul…..Push yourself past where you think you can go. Surprise yourself with what you can accomplish…..cherish your uniqueness. Create your world and fill it with all the things that make you happy.

With these inspiring words from “Success Redefined, Travel, Motherhood, and Being the Boss” by Monique Alvarez, I challenge you to rethink your New Year’s resolutions and traditions too.

Use these inspiring questions from Monique to define your resolutions and make your change:

**What are 3-5 things you want to accomplish in the next year?
**What must you do in order to reach each one?
**What must happen for them to fall into place that you have no control over?
**What will it feel like when you accomplish these things?
**How will you celebrate when you accomplish them?
**What is one area of your life on which you’d like to focus over the next 6 months?
**How do you want to grow in this area of your life?
**What is one daily self-care practice you can start right now?

So, armed with our resolutions firmly in mind, let’s begin 2017, shall we?

blessing

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