Welcome new followers who found out about Believeitohrnot from On the Road in Mexico. I’m honored you signed up to follow my Mexican and world adventures.
If you want to read about my story from day one, it starts here.
I’m writing this post from Chia, located in the beautiful city of Morelia, Mexico. It’s a very cool & hip cafe located four doors from our house. They play great music, and their coffee is muy bueno. Bob Marley is blaring out some cool tunes at the moment.
This post is about overcoming fear and it’s about Mexico. I’ve written about overcoming fear before, but it’s such an important topic, I felt it deserved some further attention. Fear almost killed my dream of moving abroad and that would have sucked since my husband and I had talked about this dream since we got married almost 21 years ago. Fear has the ability to be a dream killer and that’s not cool. Since I started this blog, I’ve become inspired to help people realize that fear doesn’t have to paralyze souls. I’m not just talking about moving to a foreign country. I’m talking about it killing other dreams too, Let’s examine what living in fear can do:
- It can stop you from professing your love to someone who might reciprocate! Wouldn’t that be sad?
- It can stop you from making a job change for the better.
- It can keep you trapped focusing on how much life sucks, instead of how beautiful life can be.
- Fear can keep you from being happy and it can turn you into a miserable, angry SOB.
I started thinking, what if I shared my biggest fears with readers about moving to Mexico? What if my story could inspire YOU to make a major life change? It doesn’t have to be moving to a different place. It could be anything at all.
I’d be able to add the title of “personal cliff pusher” to my resume!!!
So, it’s time for me to bare my soul and tell you every single fear I had about moving abroad and how I overcame it. Some fears were big, and some were small. All were aggravating and made my brain hurt for many weeks before our move a little over one year ago. These are not in any particular order, but they all had the ability to keep me feeling stuck.
# 1-Would a gigantic cockroach crawl across my skin when I slept?
The Fear: I’m really scared of cockroaches and there are a lot of cockroaches in Mexico. I wouldn’t say my fear of cockroaches is debilitating, but I don’t think I have ever had the courage to kill even one. When I see one, I don’t run and hide, but just the fact that I don’t have the cajones to confront these pesky creatures says volumes about my phobia. So, naturally, when I thought about moving to Mexico, I wondered, “what would happen if a gigantic, black cockroach crawled across my head when I was in na na land? Seriously, this thought kept me awake some nights. Good thing I didn’t know then, what I know now. I just found out that cockroaches can live for a full month without their heads! Isn’t that disgusting? Here’s more about these disgusting creatures.
The reality: We’ve lived in Mexico for 14 months now, and I’ve only seen one cockroach in our house and it was dead. I’ve seen a few outside on the street and i think we’ve reached an awesome agreement. They avoid me and I avoid them. The longer we live in Mexico, the more I realize that a cockroach probably won’t crawl across my head while I slumber and invade my space. I’m now starting to think I have a better chance of being stung by a scorpion, but let’s not go there.
#2- Would our standard of living fall dramatically?
The fear: What would happen if our new living conditions weren’t as nice as the house we left in Oakland, CA? What would happen if I we could no longer lie on our comfortable large couch, or sleep on our perfect Tempurpedic mattress?
The reality: Overall, our living conditions in Mexico have been great. Every place we have stayed has been charming, well-located and diverse. Our living conditions have been up to snuff in every city with the exception of Guanajuato where this happened.
This is our cute living room in Zihuatanejo. Our standard of living hasn’t suffered since we moved.
We’ve easily found places well within our budget in every location. Sometimes we’ve used airbnb. Sometimes we’ve asked local people for recommendations, sometimes we’ve pounded the pavement ourselves. I’m happy to say that after months of living in many locations, mainly in Central Mexico, this particular fear has been squashed. I can say with 100% certainty that there are many, many charming places to stay (especially in larger cities) and that our quality of living equals that of the United States. I only miss two things. 1) Having a bathtub. 2) Having a large couch that Andy and I can both snuggle together on.
#3- Would we be able to afford to retire at such young ages?
The fear: Where would we find the money to quit our jobs, and embark on this great adventure? How would we pay rent and afford food, electricity and other living expenses?
The reality- Before we moved to Mexico, I worried ALL the time about how we would afford to quit our jobs. Even by renting our Oakland, CA house for well above our mortgage, I still worried. I shouldn’t have. Designated husband is working 15 hours a week remotely and I’m working 3-5 (some weeks, not all).
Even on a limited budget, we can live fine. The beach is free and cold coconuts don’t break the bank.
Because it’s so cheap to live here, we have enough money to cover all of our monthly expenses and we are using minimal savings. And if we limit our monthly entertainment expenses, we have enough money to travel and go other places. I can’t tell you not to worry about money. I can’t tell you that money isn’t a real concern because it is. What I can tell you is that Mexico is cheap and that we can afford a really nice lifestyle here on way less money.
Maybe you are stuck in the worry about money mode? Maybe you want to change careers or start a new business. I can only offer this simplistic advice. It’s possible to do more with less. It really is. Start by creating a budget and then scale back on monthly expenses (cooking at home, not buying fancy clothes). By taking these steps, you may find the income you need to make the change. If you have one, talk to a financial adviser and plan, plan plan. But most importantly, don’t let your fear of what “might be” cloud what “really is.”.
#4- Would I be able to get high quality medical care? And would I know when (and if) my ovarian cancer returned?
The fear: My cancer would return and I would not have access to good medical care.
The reality: My ovarian cancer may return at any time. But my amazing Oakland-based oncologist, Dr. Liz Han, told me to live my dreams now, and I heeded her advice. If and when my cells decide to party it up, I will need to return to the Untied States for treatment in the form of more chemotherapy, most likely an 18-week commitment. But until that time happens, it’s time to celebrate life.
But before I had a pow-wow with Dr. Han, I would lie awake night after night, I’d worry about what would happen if and when my cancer came back. Some days I thought that I would never be able to leave the U.S. What if they didn’t have the medical tests in Mexico to detect its return? What would happen if I woke up in the middle of the night with another bowel obstruction? Where would I go for treatment? The list went on and on and my mind just wouldn’t stop spinning. Worrying about medical concerns was all consuming and almost became a deal breaker.
Then I met Dr. Miguel Flores.
Miguel Flores is my Morelia based oncologist. I can’t remember how I found him, but I think another Mexican doctor referred me to him. He’s the bomb. I see him every three months when I’m in Mexico. First I go to his very modern office to get a blood test to detect the ovarian cancer marker. Then I get a pelvic exam to check for tumors. My concerns about the possibility of me not receiving top-notch medical care in Mexico have proved to be unfounded–at least so far. Dr. Flores takes good care of me. He speaks great English and he knows his stuff. Another plus? He’s my Facebook friend! I know if I ever need him in a pinch, I can send him a Facebook message or personal email and he’d be right by my side helping me get the medical care I need. When I’m in Morelia, I never worry about medical care. There are many top-notch hospitals here.
Zihuatanejo is another story since it’s so much smaller and four hours away. But, if I get seriously sick in Zihuatanejo I know a very competent English speaking Dr. who many ex-pats use. In a pinch, I would probably be able to utilize his services and work with him to figure out next steps.
While the fear of getting seriously sick in Mexico is still here, it’s not at the forefront of my mind, and it’s in no way a strong enough fear to make me want to return home.
#5- Would I miss California and my friends & I would I suffer from loneliness and heartbreak?
The fear– I would be homesick all of the time and greatly miss my friends.
The Reality– I’m lonely. There I said it. I miss my friends every single day. Many have come to visit us and our time together means the world to me. In general, I’m finding the longer I’m away, the more it hurts. I don’t have the luxury of going out for a cup of coffee or grabbing a beer with my posse.
There are strategies I can use to be less lonely, like connecting with other ex-pats, and making friends in places where we will be staying for a while. I’ve done all of those things. But it doesn’t replace cherished girl friends you’ve know for years and years. I’m less lonely in Zihuatanejo because my mom lives there six months out of the year. But as a highly social person, it sucks, period.
Out of all of the fears I had about moving abroad, this one turned out to be true. Some days I feel empty inside and it’s very, very hard to reconcile. But as lonely as it gets, I wouldn’t trade the experience. Living in a foreign country, learning a new language and doing this experience with the man I love feels important and is so worthwhile. I can deal with the day-to-day loneliness, I don’t have a choice.
If you managed to read through this entire blog, you can see that every fear I had about moving abroad didn’t really come to pass. A giant cockroach didn’t devour me as a slept and I never lived in sub-standard living conditions.
Imagine if you could have the same experience managing your fears. What if your fears were simply fears? Fears that could be managed, conquered and expertly defeated?
Would you be ready to make a change?
In the past year, I’ve seen many friends make amazing life changes all for the better. One left the San Francisco Bay Area, sold her house and opened a Bed & Breakfast in a very small town. Another left a high-paying tech job and bought and opened a restaurant. They took a huge leap and haven’t looked back. I’m in awe. They are so courageous!
Are you ready to jump? Do you need a personal cliff pusher?
Tell me what’s holding you back. I’m ready to help.