House-Sitting San Miguel de Allende March 22

So this is the view from the rooftop patio (one of them) at the house that I am watching now (3/21-3/29/18). The house is 300 years old and it is quite amazing.

I am here until 3/30 then to another house here in San Miguel de Allende that I have watched before and I am there until April 17th. Then there is a good possibility that I will be back at this house Casa La Comena in May and June.

(I have already bonded with the dog "Bella" on the first day. I think she thinks that I am a dog whisperer. She responded unusually well when we first met in front of her owners.)

More pics and story on the house-sitting page
House Sitting  or Updates page. 

The Amazing Masks of Mexico

From the video Mexico in Your Senses - on this blog
There is a private museum in San Miguel de Allende called Casa de la Cuesta. A collector has over 1000 masks and 600 of them in the museum which is also a part of a B&B. I went there a few days ago (March 5 2018) and was so impressed with the collection, the displays, and the descriptions of the masks heritage. Seeing so many masks in one place was a unique experience. I saw rooms full of masks of all varieties and regions, all looking at me with those painted eyes, those expressions, and the vibes of cultural traditions and mystery behind each one.

from the video Mexico in Your Senses
Mexico is a diverse country of regions, traditions, geography, and has over sixty two languages. It is also a country known for its celebrations, fiestas, and holidays. Masks are used in many or most of these ceremonies and celebrations, and tell a story in themselves relating to pre-conquest traditions, Christian liturgy, occupations, agriculture, and entertainment.

Masks were used up to 1000 years before the conquest, and after, sometimes mocking the Spanish, the devil, and their traditions. The Spanish caught on and used theater and masked dances that were so familiar to the indigenous populations to teach the religious concepts and stories of the Bible and the Catholic events and feast days.

Many celebrations and festivals combine ancient pre-conquest traditions with the Catholic traditions.

The Dias de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, is one of the more popular Mexican festivals that has its roots in Aztec traditions and masks are used extensively and are seen in most photos of the event.

The diversity of the types of masks in the museum represents the wide range of uses and traditions. It is a part of Mexico's heritage, still actively in use today, that is not discussed as much as other topics.
 
from the video Mexico in Your Senses
There is a beautiful art book The Other Face of Mexico that was created by the collector, Bill Levasseur. It has full page color photos as well as vivid descriptive information.

One page has a collection of various quotes - here's two ..."Masks serve as symbols and guides in rites of passage and festivals of renewal", "From Paleolithic times to the present, people have used masks to add power and mystery to religion, warfare, and entertainment'"

The book is on a coffee table at the house where I am house sitting in San Miguel de Allende. By reading and scanning through the book I knew that I had to go. It's one of those lesser known treasures that you discover "off the tourist track", and there are so many more. Visits to the private museum are usually by appointment only. The day I called there was an open house, and they also had a rug maker from Oaxaca that was a fourth generation artisan. His samples there were strikingly beautiful.


Another Look at Another Face of Mexico 
Then I looked at the book again after my visit to the museum. Pictured left, Another Face of Mexico (Amazon link here - priced at $97 ) is a masterpiece art book that not only shows the photos of the masks, but how and when they were used, including titles and descriptions of the dances they were used in, and the symbolism of the mask design.

This experience of the museum combined with the book is a prime example of the type of deeper cultural experience that I savor here in Mexico. It's not just about the well known sites filled with tourists. It's about the people here, their rich and diverse heritage, and the hidden gems of their culture such as was "discovered" at the Casa de la Cuesta.

If you have not seen it yet, or even if you have, I strongly recommend viewing this amazing video titled "Mexico in Your Senses. It contains many stunning images, and more than a few with masks, combined in a moving collage of the diverse cultures of Mexico with inspiring music.

It's on the "home page" of this blog...here's the link:
Mexico in Your Senses


House-stting a Coastal Retreat

Did this message just come into your email inbox from Magical Mystical Mexico Adventure? Amazing how that works :) This blog post is briefly about a another house-sitting opportunity

Far from any tourist areas and right along a stretch of the coast away from cities, this "adventurers ideal beach retreat" is in Teolan, barely even on the map....near Caleta de Campos. I would have the whole two story house to myself and watch two dogs. July 1 -31.

There would some isolation and although I do enjoy social contacts in Guanajuato, this description that they have of a retreat vibe is fine by me. Besides, I do have the company of two "well-trained well- behaved standard poodles and 2 outdoor cats."

The photo on the listing was so captivating, I immediately messaged the owners and will be interviewing on Skype with them soon.

Besides not having to pay rent for a month, I look forward to being near the ocean. I miss it.

.If I get this amazing house-sitting gig, I will do such a great job for them so that I may be able to come back again when they travel. Such is the case here in San Miguel de Allende, where I am in a large casa until Friday. Then back to Guanajuato for three weeks, then back here in San Miguel March 29-April 17 in the same large casa.

Mindfulness in Mexico Part 1

"Can you remember the last time you lay in bed wrestling with your thoughts? You desperately wanted your mind to become calm, to just be quiet, so that you could get some sleep. But whatever you tried seemed to fail. Every time you forced yourself not to think, your thoughts exploded into life with renewed strength. You told yourself not to worry, but suddenly discovered countless new things to worry about. " Williams, Mark. Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World
It's 2:45am Thursday morning 3/1/18. I woke up with some inspiration and grabbed my Amazon Fire HD tablet. I seem to have a pattern here of waking every two to three hours, and have a lot of dreams. I usually go back to sleep fairly quickly although being up around 2am for an hour is not that uncommon. I just needed to write about this new mindfulness book that I started to read.

Recently I subscribed to Amazon's Kindle Unlimited. It allows you to read books for free that are listed in the program and there are thousands, maybe millions. I have wanted to read more and this is happening.

I have had an interest in mindfulness for some time, although not an expert. I included the word as a keyword in my book 333 Keywords to Change Your Life.

“We teach what we need to learn and write what we need to know.” ~ Gloria Steinem

Now I have some insight into why I wrote the 333 book....I needed to know more about how I perceived the possibilities of the deeper meaning of life using keywords to describe it....or, well, that may be a part of the picture...hey it's almost 3am and this writing right now may be showing me what I need to know about what it is like to write at 3am in the morning ! Clearly some editing may be needed later! An excerpt from my book 333 Keywords to Change Your Life :

Mindfulness
“In Asian languages, the word for ‘mind’ and the word for ‘heart’ are the same. So if you’re not hearing mindfulness in some deep way as heartfulness, you’re not really understanding it. Compassion and kindness towards oneself are intrinsically woven into it. You could think of mindfulness as wise and affectionate attention.” ~ Jon Kabat Zinn

"The invitation to the keyword “Mindfulness” is to recognize it as one of the most important keywords in this book as it relates to how we are present with our thoughts, words, actions, and those of others in any given moment. Using affirmations mindfully can enhance the experience and results of mindfulness. Writing your own affirmations and recording them on a CD for your own listening can also be a form of mindfulness and “heartfulness,” as you can be mindful of your own voice saying keywords that you want to use to make positive changes in your life. If we integrate mindfulness into our affirmations and affirmations into our mindfulness, living in the moment of now, consciously creating a newer fresh perspective on life, we will have accomplished a lot. It’s not easy to do every moment, and it is a process, not a destination. Mindfulness is also an endless process of seeking to be aware of what is in the moment and allowing our consciousness to also participate, as well as our mind and heart, without judgment. Like a meditation in motion, mindfulness can be experienced while doing dishes, walking the dog, eating and sharing conversation, and within the world of business."


So Why All the Fuss About Getting Up at 3am to Start Writing About This?
Moving to Mexico as a permanent place to live is a life changing experience. I have been here two months now and thousands have done this before me and I have a lot of resources and support to not only make this work, but to have it be a fun adventure as well as a sacred pilgrimage.So the book that I am reading now that has me so fired up and inspired is by experts in mindfulness.

Adding this 8 week course in mindfulness will enhance this experience in Mexico as well as in my life regardless of location. This is like adding a whole new adventure on top of the one I am already on....so please read this excerpt in the Foreword of this book titled Mindfulness - An 8 Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World. 
.."To be effective, mindfulness requires an embodied engagement on the part of anyone hoping to derive some benefit from it. Another way to put it is that mindfulness, as Mark Williams and Danny Penman point out, is actually a practice. It is a way of being, rather than merely a good idea or a clever technique, or a passing fad. Indeed, it is thousands of years old and is often spoken of as “the heart of Buddhist meditation,” although its essence, being about attention and awareness, is universal.

The practice of mindfulness has been shown to exert a powerful influence on one’s health, well-being and happiness, as attested to by the scientific and medical evidence presented in this book in a very accessible fashion. However, because it is a practice rather than merely a good idea, its cultivation is a process, one that of necessity unfolds and deepens over time. It is most beneficial if you take it on as a strong commitment to yourself, one that requires a degree of stick-to-it-ness and discipline, while at the same time being playful and bringing to each moment, as best you can, a certain ease and lightness of touch—a gesture of kindness and self-compassion, really."

It's now 3:15am and I am going back to bed. At least I got started on this blog post and got some thoughts and posts down, saved and can revisit later. Buenas noches


Williams, Mark. Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World (Kindle Location 50). Rodale. Kindle Edition.

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I am in Palenque for two weeks, revisiting an amazing Mayan site. I was here twice in 1987.  I will be updating this blog post with new i...