Tag Archives: Mexican Journey

Day 96 – Role Models: Giant Leap

Life is not how perfectly you do. It’s about doing it. ~ Shelagh McNally

When I was 40 years old, with my nose firmly pressed against the corporate glass ceiling, I sold the entire contents of my house, packed my 8-year old daughter into our Ford Festiva and drove down to Mexico.

This was a dramatic solution for the malaise of my life. But, I had stalled change in my life for so long that I had reached a critical point. Instead of having to make a small jump, I had to make a giant leap.

I wish I could say I approached it with grace and style followed. I didn’t. All I felt was fear—deep in the gut I’m-going-to-throw-up fear. I looked for every excuse for not moving knowing that was a stance that no longer served. It was leap now or fall asleep for the rest of my life.

My family disapproved of this huge change. I had a good job, a rented townhouse in downtown Toronto, my daughter enrolled in a decent school. Why would I throw all that away?

The only confirmation of being on the right path was the deep feeling of calm elation as each box was packed and each piece of superfluous belonging sold. I also lay awake at night frozen with doubt wondering if I would pay for my stupidity and for being a bad mother.

If I had let my fear stay dominant, I would still be sitting in that townhouse with even more belongings piled around me. My daughter would be a very different person. The other voice as louder, the one with her eye on the goal saying “GO, Just GO.”

We left later than scheduled but I got us across the US-Canadian border. It was an El Nino year, so I drove through the USA in torrential rain. White knuckled, I grasped the steering wheel, navigating with a map and my cheery eight-year old. I pretended we ended up at Graceland in Memphis, Tenessesse at 10 pm on a Thursday night. I still have that Elvis magnet bought at Graceland and memories of how much my daughter loved his Las Vegas period.

We spent our first night in Mexico in the border town of Juarez. The next morning, while we were on our way out of town I got lost in a barrio. While reading a map at the stop sign, a car pulled up and grazed my car. Men jumped out and pointed to the gaping hole in the side of their car. They surrounded my car. One casually opened his pocket to show a gun. They wanted $600 for the damages. I gave them $150 US—all the money I had at the time.

They let us go and I turned around to head back to Canada. My daughter looked at me in astonishment. “Mom, we’ve come all this way. Why turn around? The fun is just about to begin!”

She was right. We continued on our journey and ended up staying in Mexico for six years. There were still moments of fear, depression, sadness and doubt. Also present were feelings of excitement and confidence, renewed faith and sheer blessed relief that I had let my comfort zone to be stretched. Life is not how perfectly you do. It’s about doing it.

When I was 40 years old, with my nose firmly pressed against the corporate glass ceiling, I sold the entire contents of my house, packed my 8-year old daughter into our Ford Festiva and drove down to Mexico.

This was a dramatic solution for the malaise of my life. But, I had stalled change in my life for so long that I had reached a critical point. Instead of having to make a small jump, I had to make a giant leap.

I wish I could say I approached it with grace and style followed. I didn’t. All I felt was fear—deep in the gut I’m-going-to-throw-up fear. I looked for every excuse for not moving knowing that was a stance that no longer served. It was leap now or fall asleep for the rest of my life.

My family disapproved of this huge change. I had a good job, a rented townhouse in downtown Toronto, my daughter enrolled in a decent school. Why would I throw all that away?

The only confirmation of being on the right path was the deep feeling of calm elation as each box was packed and each piece of superfluous belonging sold. I also lay awake at night frozen with doubt wondering if I would pay for my stupidity and for being a bad mother.

If I had let my fear stay dominant, I would still be sitting in that townhouse with even more belongings piled around me. My daughter would be a very different person. The other voice as louder, the one with her eye on the goal saying “GO, Just GO.”

We left later than scheduled but I got us across the US-Canadian border. It was an El Nino year, so I drove through the USA in torrential rain. White knuckled, I grasped the steering wheel, navigating with a map and my cheery eight-year old. I pretended we ended up at Graceland in Memphis, Tenessesse at 10 pm on a Thursday night. I still have that Elvis magnet bought at Graceland and memories of how much my daughter loved his Las Vegas period.

We spent our first night in Mexico in the border town of Juarez. The next morning, while we were on our way out of town I got lost in a barrio. While reading a map at the stop sign, a car pulled up and grazed my car. Men jumped out and pointed to the gaping hole in the side of their car. They surrounded my car. One casually opened his pocket to show a gun. They wanted $600 for the damages. I gave them $150 US—all the money I had at the time.

They let us go and I turned around to head back to Canada. My daughter looked at me in astonishment. “Mom, we’ve come all this way. Why turn around? The fun is just about to begin!”

She was right. We continued on our journey and ended up staying in Mexico for six years. There were still moments of fear, depression, sadness and doubt. Also present were feelings of excitement and confidence, renewed faith and sheer blessed relief that I had let my comfort zone to be stretched. Life is not how perfectly you do. It’s about doing it.

Shelagh McNally is Montreal based writer who describes herself as an out-of-touch writer living in her own world who sometimes likes to kick ass. You can follow her on twitter @SHEwhoMUSTbeHRD