What A Year, What A Life

Steve and Coffee Framed

Thank You, and

Happy New Year 2014

It’s an ADVENTURE.  Adventure must be spelled in all capital letters, and with bold emphasis added.  What’s an adventure you ask?  My life is an adventure.  Since I flushed my earlier life down the toilet in 2011, with the help of some of my dear friends (namely an ex-wife and JPMorgan Chase Bank), it has gone in a completely different direction.  I am not without blame; looking back (and knowing that hindsight is often 20/20) I must find myself a culpable co-conspirator in my demise.

I stood on the precipice, looking out at the world beyond, with fear and anger in my heart.  It must have been similar  to what a suicide feels before he leaps to his death.  I looked and then I leapt, with no assurance that I would survive the plunge.  But survive I did.  I won’t rehash all of the grisly details again—if you’re interested you can either look through my earlier blog posts in 2011 and 2012, or you can purchase my book Expat Journal (Top toolbar > The Book).  It is available as either an inexpensive Kindle eBook or Softcover edition.   Some of my anger has dissipated towards my ex-wife, as I realize that I also played a part in our breakup (divorce is rarely unilateral), but I can’t find it in my heart to forgive my former employer.

The last three years have been about my death and resurrection—pursuing the “Road less traveled.”  How do we choose which fork in the road to take when the time comes?  The only counsel I can give is a Buddhist invitation to listen to your small inner voice.  Somehow, when your life is in deep crisis, the small inner (intrinsic) you knows what to do.  But you must listen deeply and quietly—a Christian might say this is God shining the light and leading the way.  Other Wisdom Traditions say the same thing, but in a different coded language:  All paths, though different, lead to the one summit where the view is universal.  I believe this.

I started this blog in 2011 with the intent of using it to document my transition (for better or for worse).  I made a commitment to keep it honest from day one.  I’ve received some flack at times (not a lot) for that honesty—sometimes the language is crude and full of vulgarisms, and the humor harsh and seemingly inappropriate.  But my honesty has remained intact.  The blog has also been a cathartic tool in that it forces me to think while I write.  It is much easier for me to explore emotional feelings via a written soliloquy, than it is to engage these same emotions in a verbal dialogue with another person.  Bottom-line this blog was meant to be personal—but a strange thing happened along the way, it also became extra-personal.  Others, many others, have taken an interest in my personal thoughts and babbling.  This blog is eclectic in content; I just puke up on the page whatever happens to be on my mind at any given time.  And folks often find that interesting and relevant to their own lives.

What started as a one-man conversation has grown to 286 followers from 110 different countries.  This is beyond anything I could have imagined.  And I find that I am not alone. Feelings and thoughts I imagined to be unique to me, I now find common and universal to many. And friends?  I’ve made so many new friends—virtual and otherwise.  Most of you I’ve never met face-to-face, but others of you have come into my life in a real physical way. It is so exciting to finally meet a blog follower in person, but a little disconcerting too:  After all, you know everything about me (my deepest thoughts and feelings), and I know little or nothing about you.  But that’s the dynamic isn’t it?  It’s the risk I took three years ago when I decided to change my life, and its been so worth it.

Its been an exciting year, filled with ups & downs.  For you longtime blog followers you’ve experienced it all in real-time (as its happened).  For you newer followers playing catch-up, you’ve had to do a little detective work in the archives.  Expat Journal has enjoyed over 25,000+ hits this year alone, covering 324 new posts and 1,113 new photos.  And it all started three years ago with one person (me) and one post.  Some popular posts this year included:  Yesenia Got Married; Passing Of A Dear Friend; Cyber Bullies; Chu Lai Vietnam 1967-1968; Mexican FM3 Visa and Traipsing Down Memory Lane.  Yesenia is the beautiful and talented young lady who helped me, almost two years ago, to get my Mexican FM3 Resident Visa through the Mexican governmental bureaucracy, and she also works full-time at SoHo Galleries (where I’ve sold some of my work) here in Merida, Yucatan.  I lost my Dear Friend Chris, co-owner of Cafe la Boheme, a couple of months back.  Those that follow the blog know how important Cafe la Boheme has been to my Mexico experience.  Cyber Bullies was my rant about social media and the cyber bullies it creates—this post triggered a huge response (it really touched a nerve).  Chu Lai Vietnam expressed some thoughts about my time in Vietnam, and as a result I added some fellow Vietnam Veterans as followers and friends.  Traipsing Down Memory Lane grabbed the Baby-boomers amongst many of my blog followers, and was my reminiscence about some of the beautiful women who influenced my early maleness.  I mentioned before that the blog is very eclectic in content.

This past year also included travel.  Although I’ve lived here in Ciudad de Merida, Yucatan, for almost two years, 2013 was the year for further exploration.  I was able to set foot in all five states that comprise the Yucatan peninsula:  Yucatan; Quintana Roo; Campeche; Tabasco and Chiapas.  This exploration included extended visits to Ciudad de Campeche (Campeche), Isla Mujeres (Quintana Roo), Ria Celestun (Yucatan), Palenque and San Cristobal de las Casas (Chiapas).  

2014 will be the year I depart Merida (probably no later than April) to continue my world travels and adventure.  My daughter Kristina will be arriving in about a week for an extended visit before commencing her own travels through Central and South America.  I would still like to visit Cuba and the Maya Riviera before leaving, and I think that will probably happen sometime after my daughter’s visit.  Its been a wonderful stay and experience here in Mexico, and Merida was a great choice for a first stop—but I’m getting itchy feet and the desire to move on.

Before winding up this post, I would be completely remiss if I didn’t express my sincerest gratitude to you all: My family, friends and followers.  This past year would have been sorely lacking without you in my life.  Knowing you, I can be alone without being lonely, for no matter where I travel in this world you travel with me.  I am grateful for your friendship, support and patronage.  A special thanks to those of you who participate by sharing your comments, rating my posts and sharing my posts with your family and friends. My blog would not continue to grow at the phenomenal rate that it does without your participation.  It may not have gone viral (like a FB or YouTube post), but it sure blows me away.  A final heartfelt thank you to my financial patrons out there.  When you purchase my photographs, my art and my books it helps me to continue the pursuit of my dreams. The profits from every purchase go into my travel fund, and so every photograph I take, every post I blog, every country I visit and every new experience I have is done with your help and support.  But even more than that, it clearly demonstrates your acceptance and appreciation of my craft  (my art).  That gives me the confidence and desire to continue. I do try to Pay/Play it forward when I can—I’ve donated a substantial amount of my photographic time and talent pro bono, and I’ve gifted a number of my pieces and digital images to individuals and worthwhile causes when I can.  Before leaving Merida, special thank you’s and shout-outs to:  Chris Ewan & Alex Martinez (Cafe la Boheme); Alfonso Galindo (I GO YUCATAN); Raul & Sylvia Ponce de Leon (The Yucatan Times); James Callaghan (Director, Kaxil Kiuic Biocultural Reserve); Markus Tellkamp (Director, Puuc Jaguar Conservation) and Nic Lavroff & Adele Aguirre (SoHo Galleries).

Thank you for a wonderful and exciting 2013, and may each of you have a terrific New Year in 2014.

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