Leap Into Life
One day, while sitting in a meeting with several male executives and watching them maneuver through a game of “Oneupsmanship,” a voice from within me whispered, “Run.” I shook my head, trying to understand what had just happened. As I gained clarity, I realized I no longer wanted to be part of this high-stress jungle of Silicon Valley.
I had just turned fifty. What did I want to do? I had no idea.
Later that month, I visited my mother in Idaho for a week of what she calls “hyacinths for the soul.” She’s always provided a loving, non-judgmental environment where I could sort things out.
“I’ve never seen you so at odds with yourself,” she said to me.
Mom was right. I’d always laid out my goals and marched forward, ticking them off as I passed by. I’d raised two children by myself. I’d progressed from secretary to vice president over the course of many careers. What I had figured out was that something was missing in my life. And I knew that doing more of what I was doing and getting more of what I was getting wasn’t going to fill this unidentified void. I’d have to redefine “success” in some other way.
The last night in Boise, I had a dream. When I awoke, only one word remained in my consciousness. I looked it up in the dictionary: Enclave—a minority culture group living within another culture. Having no idea how it could have meaning for me, I promptly forgot it.
Upon my return home, I found a complimentary edition of International Living in my stack of mail. The headline read: “Lake Chapala: An Enclave of American Retirees.” Goosebumps crawled up my arms. A sidebar advertised a “Retire in Mexico” conference in Guadalajara the following month.
Enclave. I picked up the phone and made my reservation.
On my flight to Mexico, I sat next to an extraordinary Mexican woman. Brightly colored silk scarves draped around her body giving her a gypsy aura. Atop her graying auburn hair, Iona wore a huge chartreuse and white polka-dot bow. Daffodil earrings dangled above her fragile shoulders.
After we had talked awhile, Iona withdrew a velvet-encased package from her yellow straw bag. “Do you know this Tarot?” She asked, un-wrapping a deck of over-sized cards. “See how beautiful are the pictures.”
I shook my head and smiled. “No, I’m afraid I’m not much of a believer in mystical phenomenon…except for dreams.”
Iona pulled down the food tray, swathed it with her burgundy velvet cloth and reverently set the cards on top. “Would you like that I am reading for you?”
Why not? What have I got to lose? I thought. “Will you tell me my future?”
“No. These cards are telling only what you know about yourself, but maybe are being afraid to see.” Iona tipped her head slightly and peeked at me from the corner of her eye.
I nodded for her to continue.
“Bien, Karina, I am reading for you now from three cards only.”
As instructed, I closed my eyes and concentrated on discovering what was missing in my life. I took a deep breath, shuffled the cards and placed them face down into three separate stacks.
Iona turned over the top card from each pile, caressing them with her milk glass fingers.
“Now, Karina, we begin. This card says who you are. The Fool, he means a new beginning or going into the unknown.” Iona smiled at something she chose not to share with me and I wondered what new venture would greet me when we landed in Guadalajara. She continued. “When you are facing a difficult decision, the Fool, he tells you to follow your heart no matter how crazy it seems.”
Maybe she could read my mind.
"Karina, you are The Fool." Her black eyes twinkled. "Such joy that is waiting for you."
I leaned back and closed my eyes. She’s just a little old lady with a bunch of cards, I told myself. Then, unbidden from someplace deep within me, a little voice whispered, "Listen."
"This next card, The Hierophant, says that some things are getting in your way. They are keeping you from living the joyful life. This card says you are too much going along with what other people are expecting you to do—maybe from churches or work."
Iona turned my chin toward her, forcing me to look into her deep mysterious eyes. "This was being comfortable for you, I think; but now is time for you to be not so comfortable and to be starting a new life, a life you live from here.” Iona touched my heart. “And not from here,” she said, tapping my forehead.
"Right now,” I sighed, “I need to decide if I stay in my career or leave. It's scary. I know I've had enough of corporate America, but I don't know what else to do." I thought a minute. “I define myself by my job.”
"Si," Iona said, "this question is being the first step into your new life."
"And the last card?" I asked, with a pinch of sarcasm and a dash of hope. “Will it tell me what to do next?"
"Let us see." Iona pressed the third card onto my palm. "Look. It is the Page of Wands." She cradled the back of my hand with hers. "Close now your eyes and pretend you are being at a train station." She spoke with a soothing, melodious voice. "A boy, he is holding out his hand to you from a train which is leaving. He smiles and yells, ‘Jump! My train, it is going to marvelous places!' That boy, he is the Page of Wands.” Iona paused, still holding my hand in hers. "Please to open your eyes now. The question is, Karina, are you jumping on that train with him?"
"It sounds tempting.” I said, grinning. “But I have no idea where the train station is or where the train is going.”
"These questions, they will soon be answered.” Iona squeezed my hand. “Leap into this new life, Karina, and you will be finding your destiny."
That encounter with Iona occurred two years ago. Shortly after, I escaped the corporate rat race and moved to a wonderful cobblestone village in Mexico. I left behind my spreadsheets and security, trusting that little voice within and those synchronistic signs planted in front of me to guide me along my way. I sold or gave away most of my possessions. My life is simpler now. It’s balanced. It’s happy.
I’ve identified that little voice inside me who begged me to listen. She is my little artist. She’s been responsible for my writing and publishing a book, for my ventures into doll making, gourd crafting, pottery, and painting. She’s taught me to reprioritize my values, give back to the community, and discover my own spirituality.
Living in the middle of Mexico without a watch, pantyhose or a cellular phone and without the need to compete, succeed, and acquire possessions has freed me to reprioritize my values and to discover what was missing in my life: Balance. Wholeness. Spirituality.
(Ed. Note: Blue is the author of Baby Boomers: Reinvent Your Retirement in Mexico and Midlife Mavericks: Women Reinventing Their Lives in Mexico.)