Archangel Michael Celebration, San Miguel de Allende

Slowing Down: How I’m Learning To Live The Good Life In Mexico

La Buena Vida-“The Good Life”

That’s what they call it here, and you hear it a lot. But you don’t just hear it. You live it. I haven’t been here very long, but already I am learning to embrace the art of slowing down. I am embracing imperfection, and I am living fully in the moment in a way that I never have.

Oh, yes, at first, I tried my old ways.

Trying to do too much, scheduling too many activities in a day, but then something happened. That something that happened took me by the hand and called to my heart, and said, “Slow down.” “What are you hurrying towards? You are here now. Don’t miss it.” Something about this place brings these qualities out, but I do believe that you can learn to do this anywhere.

Slowing Down

I don’t have a car here, so I walk everywhere. I often  rush when I walk, always in a hurry to get to a destination. But here, it is literally impossible. There are cobblestone streets, and they are not smooth cobblestones cemented together, but more like jumping from rock to rock when you are hiking through a creek. When it rains, they are so slippery, that many people fall.

Also, the sidewalks here are very narrow. Two people can’t usually fit on them at the same time. Also, many times telephone poles are placed in the middle that you have to try to squeeze by. I quickly learned that walking fast was not going to get me anywhere here. I would need to slow down, take my time, and take the attitude that, “I will get there when I get there.”

Puddle in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Taking this approach, an amazing thing happened. I started noticing things in a deeper way than I normally do. It’s easy to see the beautiful doorways and the vibrant colors of the walls. But, I started noticing the way the light reflected shone on them. I started seeing the reflections in the rain puddles. I started seeing the yellow birds in the trees, the fat bumblebees buzzing through the flowers, the hummingbirds flitting around.

I started talking with the old man who sits on the sidewalk every morning and got invited into the lonely woman’s house who showed me her empty refrigerator. I started bringing things to them.  I sprayed the man with patchouli lavender spray to brighten his day. I gave the woman money so she could buy some tortillas. I looked at her art. I squeezed her hand. This place has warmed my heart in a way I don’t think it would have if I didn’t learn the art of slowing down.

Man in Mexico slowing down and resting

I now live in a kitchen without a food processor or a dishwasher, and so I chop the tomatoes, the serrano, the cilantro, and onion by hand while the dark green poblano peppers crackle over the fire of the stove top. I do things more consciously. I enjoy my food even more than I used to.

I found the tortillas by surprise, the ones I bought from the woman who was making them in her doorway. Ten pesos seemed like such a small price to pay as I put them in her gnarled wrinkled hands. I can’t taste one without thinking of the hard work she put into making them, so that they could be a part of my meal. The sun has usually set by the time I do the dishes, and having no light in my outdoor kitchen, I do them in darkness.

I feel the beauty of each hand-formed dish.  I laugh as I remember my mother used to tell me do pretend I was blind when I did the dishes. That they were only clean when you ran your hands along them, and felt no grease. Now I get to put that into practice.

Salsa in Mexico

I slow down when, even though I have work to do, I decide to sit on the warm bricks of my rooftop and let the sun hit my face for a while before I get to work. And, it is then, I feel the creativity come and give me inspiration to write the words I need to. I wondered what I would have written had I not taken this time for slowing down, for stillness, for enjoying this moment.

How You Can Slow Down Anywhere

Yes, you can give yourself time for slowing down anywhere, and I hope that, wherever you are, that you do. In America, I felt like I was in a microwaved society where even friends couldn’t enjoy a dinner with me without being on their phones, answering text messages, emails, and thinking of where they were going to be next.

You may think that where you live that you can’t slow down, but it is your life, and you are the one who creates it. Decide when you are with another person that there is nothing more important, and put your phone away.

Walk to the store instead of driving. Ask your boss if you can work different hours, so that you don’t have to be stuck in rush hour traffic. Set aside entire days where you won’t check your email. (Seriously, the world won’t end). Don’t pack every second of your schedule with things to do. This will give you time to be spontaneous. Being able to be spontaneous is the best thing for making yourself not feel like you are stuck in a rut.

If you want your life to feel exciting, it’s not about always having a form of entertainment. It’s about being, just being. Stick around for long enough in the moment and, trust me, things will start happening. Amazing things like women cooking tortillas in doorways, or an interesting person that you will start talking to as you walk down the street, or the most beautiful flower that you’ve ever seen will appear out of nowhere.

I think you will find that by slowing down, your life becomes richer and more meaningful.  You will get full enjoyment from each thing that you do much as when you taste a meal and truly savor it, you taste all the spices and flavors in that dish.  When you gulp a meal down without truly tasting it, you are bound to feel unsatisfied after that meal.  Such as in life.

Seeing the light in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Slow down. Life is short enough.  Why rush it?

Stay tuned for my upcoming articles on how I’m learning to live the good life!! Next up: “Embracing Imperfection.”

How do you find ways to slow down?  Comment below and let me know!!

By the way, if you are moving to Mexico, I highly recommend the book, “Mexico: The Trick Is Living Here.”  It’s filled with invaluable information about everything you need to know concerning your move to Mexico!

Val Dawson