It must be five o’clock somewhere!

I like to drink. I’m not shy about admitting it.  I’m an equal opportunity drinker. I’ll pretty much drink anything alcoholic, my favorite things being.

  1. Ketel One vodka
  2. Cocktails such as martinis, mojitos and other interesting mixed drinks including basil margaritas served at Las Palmas. 
  3. Craft brews especially Indian Pale Ales (IPA’s and Double IPA’s)
  4.  Lesbiana

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In my old life in Oakland, CA one of my favorite thing to do was go out with a group of women to a nice bar and enjoy a few cocktails. I  particularly loved ultra lounges (photo below) that played  down-tempo chill music, but sadly there are no ultra lounges in Zihuatanejo.

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Grey Goose or Ketel One martinis are the perfect lounge cocktail.

Thankfully, even with my love of drinking, I have always had a relatively healthy relationship with alcohol. That being said, I went to great lengths to keep it healthy.  I had a few informal rules I tried to live by.  I wasn’t always perfect, but these are the general rules that guided my relationship with alcohol.

  • Not drinking at home alone (with rare exceptions)
  • Not drinking after having a bad day. (broken a few times)
  • Not drinking Monday-Friday
  • Not having more than 2-3 drinks in one sitting
  • Not pre-drinking at home before I went out for the evening

Then I moved to Mexico…Hello lushdomness (a great made-up word, right).

There are just too many opportunities to enjoy catching a buzz here. Why not have a margarita or a rum punch while sitting on the beach enjoying a book?  What’s a second pina colada going to matter when there are no obligations in front of me?  6:00 PM already?  Why I’d love to participate in 2 X 1 happy hour!

A beer overlooking the serene and exceedingly beautiful Bay of Zihuatenejo before we mosey to dinner?  What a lovely idea!  That sounds delightful!

See what I mean?

The opportunity to indulge in an orgy of small umbrellas is everywhere and the longer we live in Mexico, the more ex-pats I meet who share their stories of knowing other ex-pats who drink more than they probably should.  While researching this blog, I read several internet stories on ex-pat websites about alcohol and drug addiction facing ex-pats and after living here, I’m not surprised. Every day can be a party if you want it to be.

A few weeks ago, I was invited to a “ladies luncheon.”  Every participant was asked to bring a bottle of wine or champagne. I think there were  15 of us. By the end of a wonderful and festive lunch, there were not ANY bottles of wine or champagne remaining.  Now I hope the ladies invite me again because I had SO much fun and I don’t want anyone to think I’m judging them. To each his own, yes?  I’m simply describing my experience. After my 3 glasses of white wine and 1 (or was it 2) glasses of champagne, I  walked home, laid down, passed out, and woke up an hour later thinking it was the next morning.  It wasn’t. It was only 4:30 PM in the afternoon. Oops!   Mr. Andy had to set me straight.

After that party, I went on the wagon for six days.

I’m not thinking that I have a problem with drinking, but I would like to drink less for a wide variety of reasons including to reduce my caloric intake and to improve my overall health, but it’s hard because I really enjoy being a social drinker and there are all sorts of occasions to be social here.  But I’m better off monitoring my drinking because middle aged, highly educated women (me in a nutshell) are more prone to have problems with alcohol.

The citation below comes from the Institute of Alcohol Studies based in England, so the citation below focuses on UK women, but it’s interesting anyway. You can see more about their report, here.

Women and education

“There is evidence to suggest an association between education and consumption levels. A 2010 study based on the drinking habits of individuals born in 1970 found that the more educated women are, the more likely they are to drink alcohol on most days and to report having problems due to their drinking patterns. The relationship is stronger for females than males”

and  The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has this to say.

Risky drinking for women is defined by more than three drinks on any single day (a standard drink is a 5-ounce glass of wine, a 12-ounce beer, or a 1.5-oz shot of distilled liquor like vodka or whiskey) or more than seven drinks per week.

I’m not even close to the seven drinks per week. I’m probably closer to 3-5,  but even so, I’ve decided to implement the same rules I had at home here. I’ll allow for some exceptions, like when we go away to celebrate our 20 year anniversary in December and stay at an all-inclusive resort, but for the most part, I’m going to be slinging back more mineral waters and coconut waters and less tequilas and Modelos.  A cold coconut always tastes good. Not quite as good as some other things, but…

 

How do you keep your relationship with alcohol healthy?   I’d love to hear from you especially if you are an ex-pat. Do you worry about how much you drink in paradise?  Feel free to share your stories.

How I chose happiness and Zen on the beach

In light of the recent election, I know a lot of unhappy, angry people. Most of my friends and my family are fearful about four (or  even eight) years of Trump. They spend their time on Facebook flaming others who do not share their views, or surfing for news stories or political commentary bemoaning the state of our failing nation.

Most of my friends (though not all) would argue that our nation has gone to hell in a hand basket, and we must fight to 1) get Trump impeached and 2) ensure the civil rights of immigrants, LGBT people, Muslims,  African Americans and even Jews are protected in the Trump era.

Me, I’m not so much of a fighter. Instead of fighting, I’m choosing happiness.

Because of my past brush with death,  I feel OK  justifying my political apathy and choosing happiness. It’s not so easy to choose happiness when you feel the country you love is moving in the wrong direction. The choice is even harder when respected friends and family members are constantly angry and really, really scared.

But here the facts as I see them. I  don’t have the time or energy to live any other way but happy. I don’t have time for the “unsocial” network such as Facebook where people are now de-friending one another and calling each other out because of who they voted for. I don’t have the mental fortitude to read editorial pieces on where our country is headed and why wherever it’s headed is the wrong way. Whatever time I have left to live, I don’t want to spend it  making enemies (real or imagined). I just wanna have fun. I just want to be. And after two surgeries, four blood transfusions and 18 weeks of chemo, I think I’m entitled to do just that. So I’ve made my choice.

Choices, choices, choices

I’m choosing  warm ocean breezes, watching great documentaries and enjoying precious time with friends and family. I’m choosing to be  kind in my daily life, even kinder than I normally am. I’m choosing to respect diversity of opinions. Especially when I don’t agree with them. It’s time for me to be a better listener, and now it’s not so easy. Not easy at all.

Here are some simple steps I’ve taken which I hope will lead me on the happiness path:

  1. I am limiting my time on Facebook  to 10-15 minutes a day, but I’m trying for even less. My Facebook addiction is awful, but the longer I’m away from Facebook, the happier I feel.
  2. For the most part, I have stopped reading political commentaries. Goodbye anxiety!
  3. I am limiting the amount of news I read and for me it’s very hard. I love the news!

You might say that I’m burying my head in the sand. You might say that I am taking the lazy person’s way out. You might think that my approach is just plain wrong and very short-sighted. You might think turning the other cheek is so much easier because I’m not living in the United States. I’m OK with the varying opinions. I just know that I’m choosing happiness and, to me, it feels like the only choice and the best choice for me.

Being happy by the beach

I’ve always been attracted to water and to fish. I wish I was a Pisces, but I’m not. My mom is, but I got stuck being a goat. I even have the chin hair to prove it. Ha!.

Knowing how much I love beach life, we decided that any place we retired to had to have very easy beach access. Zihuatanejo fit this requirement. Zihuataenjo has two main beaches, Playa La Ropa and Playa Madera.  Our new six month rental is a four-minute walk from Playa Madera. To get there we just walk out our back gate, walk 1/2 block, make a left turn, and saunter a little more. Then we make a left turn, walk down a short hill and there’s the bay!  It’s simply paradise and we are so lucky to live so close to it.

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Playa Madera at sunset.

Another beach, Playa La Ropa is a 25-minute walk, or an easy 6 minute bus ride.

Here are just a few ways we’re digging the beach scene:

  • In the morning, we get coffee from a little coffee stand and we bring our coffee to the beach to enjoy it.
  • Andy has begun taking surfing lessons. Unfortunately he’s only had one lesson because the waves are too small in Zihuatanejo Bay to learn how to surf this time of year. Once they pop back up, he’ll be “hanging ten” for sure.

    andyandsurfinstructor

    Andy’s surf instructor was very encouraging!

  • At the end of the day we go down to watch the sunset. I like this time of night. Families come down with their coolers and to catch the evening breeze and there are tons and tons of kids swimming in the Bay.  It’s serene and special.

As far as visiting other nearby beaches,  we haven’t gone as often as I thought we would, but we’re getting there at least once a week. I anticipate we’ll go more in the upcoming weeks once a routine develops.

andyonsurfboard

First step, practice on land. Then hit the waves

More blessings

Final blessing of the day… my mom’s friend lives in Chicago but her and her husband own a beautiful condo near our house above the Bay.  It’s rarely rented, and she only comes down once or twice a year. She’s worried about her property so she recently gave me the key to her condo and asked me to check on it once or twice a week to make sure water isn’t leaking and that everything else is up-to-snuff. She said that we might want to use her kick-ass community pool while we’re there.  Sweet!  Who doesn’t like sitting by a nice pool?  Key is in-hand!  Here we go!  If the photo below doesn’t give you an incentive to visit us,  I don’t know what will. She’s got a great tw0-bedroom available right in the heart of Zihuatanejo. What a view of the Bay it has!  Let me know if you want to rent it when you visit us. You won’t be sorry.  Look how beautiful the community pool is!

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This person is warming up my seat!

 

Cancer and Day of the Dead

9:45 a.m. Nov. 9, 2016 … The day after election day

Dear Diary,

There is so much I want to say to you. First, I have to write about the most important news! I’ve been in remission from advanced-stage ovarian cancer for an entire year!  I’m feeling pretty good. Some people with advanced-stage ovarian cancer never even get into remission, so I know that I am one of the very lucky ones. I’m really concerned that it might come back since it does 70 percent of the time, but as Andy often says, “Someone has to be in the 30 percent, so why shouldn’t it be you?” Maybe it will be me. Remember when I was bald as a baby’s bottom?

Staceybald2

Chemo made me bald. I felt like a bad-ass walking around bare-headed.

Having cancer was brutal on so many fronts. But it does feel good to not think about it coming back every minute of the day. Some days I don’t think about it much, but other days I feel really scared and I can’t let it go. I think this is how a lot of people feel. Attending Day of the Dead festivities in Patzcuaro gave me much to ponder about death and dying. More about this in a minute.

Like many people I know, I’m pretty distraught about the election results, but I’m trying to focus on being grateful that we live in a democracy and that people have the luxury for voting for who they want to vote for. I’m surprised more of my friends haven’t shared that same opinion on Facebook.  I’m just so, so sad that our country is so divided, but I’m happy that I’m not in the U.S. to feel this rift day in and day out. That’s a big blessing, I think.

Early this morning, after I found out about the election results, I started wondering what will happen if  soon-to-be President Trump repeals the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). What will I do about health insurance? What will Andy do?  Will we be able to afford insurance?  Will we go back to a system where applicants can be denied for having a pre-existing conditions? If this happens, I’m screwed. Will I have to move back to the U.S. and return to the workforce to get health insurance? Will Andy? I’m scared. I can’t dwell on this, though. I have living left to do. Sunsets to see, warm oceans to swim in, cold beers to enjoy. I just can’t focus on all this negativity! It’s not how I want to live my life. I have so much to be thankful for.  I’d much rather focus on that.

So now on to the positive. I had such a great time at Day of the Dead in Patzcuaro. I felt really happy to be celebrating alongside so many lovely indigenous people. We had an amazing time visiting their cemeteries on our nighttime tour, from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. It was super cool to see so many people celebrating the lives of their loved ones, instead of mourning them. (On Noche de Muertos, many families sit graveside all night long and welcome the return, in spirit, of their loved ones. The graves are lavishly decorated, and it’s also cool that people bring the dearly departed’s favorite foods and drinks to the altars, as they’ll be hungry and thirsty when they return.)

When my time comes, I’d love it if people would celebrate my life, instead of mourn me. I’d be so honored if people would come to my graveside once a year and celebrate my spirit (and bring some good beer and vodka for me). Maybe it wouldn’t be so hard for me to die if I knew my life would be celebrated instead of mourned?

The whole tradition is great. I love the fact that in Mexican culture, death isn’t something to be feared. When I was visiting the two graveyards on our Night of the Dead tour, a true sense of peace and calm came over me. It was kind of surreal. I want to keep that feeling inside me because it helped me feel no so scared of dying. It made me feel like it could be and would be OK, right?  Anyway, it was really awesome. Aren’t these photos great?  I had so much fun getting my face painted (which many, many Mexicans do in celebration of the holiday)!

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patzcuaro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

oaxaca-day-of-dead-altar-by-borisnightchurch

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In other news (back to the election), I now really feel like an outsider in Mexico. I feel like the average Mexican will judge me because I’m American, and they will think I don’t like them and that I support building a wall. Obviously, nothing could be further from the truth, but walking down the street now feels funny. I feel like people are judging me. I decided I had to tell others that not all Americans feel like Trump and his minions do, so I posted the following on the Facebook page “On the Road in Mexico.”

“I am not celebrating the decrease of the peso against the dollar. I want Mexico to have a strong economy for all of its businesses and for the extremely hard-working citizens who reside in this amazing country. I want to pay my landlords a fair price for my lovely rental and I would gladly pay an extra dollar or two for a nice dinner out. I do appreciate the good value living here provides, but at what cost?  If you are a Mexican resident reading this posting, let me publicly state that I love your country, I love your people and I respect and appreciate how warmly I have been received since I moved here in May. Please do know that you are valued, loved and appreciated by many. I am so honored to be a guest in your country. I am sorry the next U.S president and some of my American counterparts feel differently.”

Mostly expats go onto that page, but people seem to appreciate the posting and a lot of them have made nice comments.

In other news … Life with mom is good. So far it’s been fun living in the same town with her after all these years of living 2,500 miles apart. She’s giving Andy and me plenty of space to do our own thing. Sometimes I wish she wanted to do more stuff. I’ve asked her to go swimming with me in the pool at her condo complex three or four times, but she always says no and I can’t understand why. It’s a nice pool! It’s hot. Why doesn’t she want to take a dip?  And she’s not a fan of going out for coffee, either, something we love to do. But today she did join us at Zihuatanejo’s newest coffee shop, Quattro. She seemed to like it. We went for  a pedicure this week and it was fun. I like when she comes over for dinner and when she cooks for us on the one night a week we stay the night over at her place. She’s a much better cook than I am and whatever she makes always tastes great. A few nights ago she made a fantastic shrimp and coconut milk stew. Tremendous.

I guess that’s all I want to say for now. Thanks for listening. I gotta split. Mom has a friend in town whom I haven’t seen in years. We’re all going out for a nice dinner tonight and I’m going to meet her new husband.

Adios.