My Heart is in Two Places

This spring has been unbelievably busy and I’ve not had the chance to do much writing. I hope I can get back to blogging and other projects soon, but BIG changes are in the wings. In fact, until winter rolls around, I won’t be “Writing from Merida” .

I plan on spending the remaining six months of this year in Canada, and if the sun, the moon and the stars all align – winters in Mexico and summers in Canada will become my annual pattern. Some people have told me this shocks them because I have always been a staunch supporter of Mexico.

And I am still a staunch supporter. In 1976 I left Canada to marry Jorge, an amazing man from Yucatan. He taught me about the history, culture and geography of this unique country. We built a home, raised our children and founded a college in Merida. We have a rich, meaningful life here, but as I’ve already said, it is time for “Changes in our Lives”.

I will miss the colors, the music, the food and the flair of Mexico. I will miss my friends, my neighbors, people I know in the markets, and the countryside. Most of all, I will miss my family here.

Not all of them fully agree with my choice. Jorge would prefer I stay here full time, and he doesn’t want to spend half the year in Canada. He will join me there for two months this summer – maybe more as he gets used to the idea?  Our grown children are now building their own lives – they don’t want me to go either, but we will stay in touch by phone, facebook, and whatsap. I have to say though, my eyes fill with tears when I think about not being able to read, play, paint, read, laugh, sing and swim – whenever I want to – with my darling granddaughter, Emma.

I keep reminding myself and others that I’ll be back before we know it. But still, there’s no way to ignore the facts. This is a HUGE change and many wonder why I am making it.

The reasons are complex. I love Jorge, my family, friends and my home – I am truly grateful to have lived four magical decades in Mexico. Nonetheless, full immersion in a country where the language, culture, climate and politics are so different to what I grew up with – has not always been easy. Up until recently, with Jorge’s support and the insights he shares, I have always been able to deal with any challenges that come along. But now we are older, and my priorities are different than when we were young.

When I married Jorge at 24, health care was the furthest thing from my mind. At 64, it is an important consideration. IMSS, the national health care system in Mexico, provides basic coverage but it does not meet all my needs. At my age, I cannot purchase private insurance.

I am fortunate though – even after such a long time away from Canada, I am still a citizen, and therefore eligible for Canada’s health plan. To receive this benefit, I must reside in Canada six months each year. I think the Canadian government is more than fair, and I am  appreciative. I have kept up my relationships with my Canadian family and friends, so I don’t think living there will be hard.

However, as happy as I’ll be to live closer to my loved ones in British Columbia, I know there will be days when I’ll wish I had never left Mexico. As I check items off my to-do-before-departure list, the consequences of my choice weigh heavy.

Yes, change is complicated, and because I am no longer a sweet young thing, I can’t let fear or uncertainty dictate my actions. I have to follow what seems like the best course. I wish Jorge would be flying up to Vancouver with me, but he wants to live in Merida, where he grew up. He is respecting my decision, and I must respect his. Forty years ago, at our marriage ceremony, my aunt read from The Prophet, by Kahil Gibran, and this stanza stuck with me:

“Let there be spaces in your togetherness,

And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.”

This is not the first time Jorge and I have swum against the current – it gets harder as we get older – but we do have a lot of experience. Truth be known, we have been swimming upstream for most of our lives.

So, we’ll see how it goes – this time.

My new blog is (appropriately) called:

CHANGES IN OUR LIVES

https://changesinourlives.wordpress.com

Go to the link, and scroll all the way down to the end of the posts. When you arrive at the footer, you’ll find some general information about me and my writing. You’ll also see the FOLLOW button – click on it if you wish to receive an email alert each time I post.

I look forward to hearing from you.

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36 thoughts on “My Heart is in Two Places

  1. Thank you for your insight. I also have two lives that I love. I live in Ontario six months and Yucatan the other six months. I also have a home in Western New York we are trying to sell. I moved back to Ontario, as a resident just last May for access to affordable health insurance. I am suffering through a cold spring and desperately missing my farm and animals in Yucatan. My husband is happy to be out of the heat!!!so many things resonate with me that you have said, that I will look for your blog. We actually did meet in Merida once, introduced by Marie Barcus

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    1. I am glad you could relate to the post Diane. It is a big step and good to hear you have weathered the storm so far. I know it can’t all be wonderful, but I think trying the 6 months here 6 months there is the best option for me right now. We will hopefully meet again in Merida next winter…

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  2. Great photo of Maple Bay. To those of you who do not know, I live on the island in the background in the photo, to the north (left) of Maxwell’s Bluff shown here.
    Changes are a part of life, not necessarily better or worse, just different. Still, I was determined to come back here after I retired. The concept of one’s ‘own place’ is an interesting one and is probably more universal than most of us realize. I used to talk about it with my students, who came from many, many parts of the world. Almost all had some place, perhaps at a grandparent’s, a place they had visited, but not necessarily lived, that was theirs. My father, Joanna’s grandfather, came to Canada as a young man but 60+ years later, he still referred to England as ‘home’. He returned to England to fight in WWI, but never went back again until he was 80 – he was afraid that it would have changed too much from the place he remembered.

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    1. Jorge and I were with you and Auntie Dot when I took this picture looking out over Maple Bay. This was my mom’s own place, wasn’t it? I always feel close to her when I am there. We have A LOT to talk about… soon we’ll have the chance to do so.
      .

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  3. Thank you for the great update Joanna. I’m sure this is not an easy choice for you in many respects but also a very necessary one in others. God bless you on your journey I hope to see you in September and will say prayers for Jorge as he lives with his choices right now I love you both

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    1. Jorge and I are spending a week in Mexico City before I leave for Canada on Saturday. The “changes in our lives” have begun and so far… so good! Some decisions take a little getting used to, but with love and resolve, everything works out as it is supposed to. See you soon!

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  4. Happy trails. I know you will keep us informed. Many of us US extranjeros keep our Medicare & supplemental while living here full time. I know you know that. However, if something serious comes up, I have to GET to the US! I looked onto like coverage here, and felt is was too much & the company was located in Baja! Being relatively healthy for 79, I have been lucky. One broken leg & cataract removal oh and kidney stones have happened in these almost 7 yrs. These expenses were relatively easy to absorb. I could never move about now as I have acquired 10 rescue fur babies. Their preventative medical expenses & teeth cleaning are more than my expenses! My choice.
    Your life will sooo very different. It’s only my opinion, but as good as your med insurance might be, they hold you hostage to live their 6 mos a year. How do they document that?
    We will keep in touch, Joanna.

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  5. Yes, perhaps Jorge will change his mind and stay “up there” longer; or perhaps you will as well find that such things as the overall high cost of living in Vancouver, or the paucity of Mexican civility and such, outweigh the other variables you have mentioned in your post.

    As I have often said, ¨there is no perfect city¨. I wish you luck, and await more news.

    Alinde

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    1. Dear Alinde… thank you for commenting. My life in Mexico is the busy one. I am hoping for a slower pace in Kamloops, the British Columbia town where I’ll be living. I will keep you up to date with my discoveries there… I know it will be different and hopefully I will find it is what Jorge and I need

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  6. Joanna,

    You will be sorely missed! Good luck in your new adventure. I’m sure it is a dream-come-true for your Canadian family and friends to have you close-by again.

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  7. Joining the ranks of the “snowbirds” is not so bad; I look at it as a chance to have 2 lives, both full, peopled with friends and family, and visitors in both places! How lucky we are! And sometimes the 2 lives intersect; we connect with people from one life in the ‘other’ one. I hope that can be so with you Joanna- if you are EVER on the island, please let me know!!!

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  8. Hi Joanna,

    Please let me know if there is anything I can do here,…….North of the border. Welcome back to Canada!

    It’s sort of a bit of weird karma that you are heading back to Canada when I have just purchased my retirement property ‘dream’ in beautiful Yucatan. I too look forward to sunny winters and summer both North and South. May our paths cross at every opportunity. You know you are always welcome on the East Coast!

    And please (all readers) please don’t forget to vote for St. Andrews by-the-sea for the top ‘must see’ Canadian destination as per the USA Today poll. We are currently in 2nd place!! Please visit and vote here:: http://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-destination-in-canada/st-andrews-new-brunswick/share/

    All the best.

    Allan

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    1. I think we’ll be in Canada and in Mexico during the same periods each year… so we have doubled our chances for getting together. Jorge and I would love to go to NB again… especially St. Andrews. I have already voted for recognition of St. Andrews. It is one of the quaintest, prettiest towns in Canada… for sure! I’ll call you from BC

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      1. Mi casa en Canada es su casa…..you always have a NB place to nest here! All the best Joanna!

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  9. oh yes it will be so much fun to have you closer! Hopefully you (& Jorge too) will be able to spend some time with me/us on the Sunshine Coast 🙂
    Moe has good friends in Kamloops so perhaps we can also coordinate a visit with you if I ‘chauffeur’ him up there.

    love to all

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    1. Yes indeed Marilou… we will have new adventures. And this is the 50th anniversary of our “starring roles” in the re-enactment of the Battle of Waterloo. I will never forget you playing the part of Wolfe and me that of Montcalm) See you soon!

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      1. OMG. I shall have to find that picture of us on the plains re-enacting that moment! Such wonderful memories – of growing up in North Van, of that great trip back east and, of course, our adventures in Merida & places with you & Jorge!

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  10. Joanne, your news certainly took me by surprise and I too will miss seeing you, as I, at the age of 70, along with my husband, have chosen to relocate to Merida from Toronto. I have been doing the yearly commute………. 6 months in Canada and 6 months in Merida for the past 22 years. Well, you are never too old to reinvent your life, so while my husband has decided to retire, I have gone back to school. I have always loved a challenge, so why not continue!

    I can appreciate how torn you must feel, but following your heart is always best. Good luck to you on the next phase
    of your life……..it ain’t over until it is over!!!

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    1. Oh Bonnie, you are so right. It is never too late to reinvent ourselves. I wish you much happiness in this new stage of your life. I am a bit nervous about all these “changes in our lives” but I am also curious and excited… Let’s keep in touch.

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  11. Dear Joanna,

    Thanks for your blog and I really can relate to so many things you write about. Have been away from home since I was fourteen years old… imagine that! Have a safe trip and enjoy your stay in B.C., Canada. Normally, when we follow our hearts, things have a way of working themselves out in time. Know that you have been and continue to be a blessing. Know that you are loved. All will be well, my friend. And, we’ll see each other when you return. Abrazos para ti y para Jorge también. Les quiero mucho, los dos.

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  12. Best of luck to you Joanna! There are so many of us who want to hear about your experience…because we’re all thinking about the same thing. I love the title of your new blog, so poignant and on point! Carry on!

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  13. Merida will not be the same without you here. We will miss your smiling face and soft voice. Thank you for all your support and understanding in my hopefully new writing career. I don’t know if you can call it a career at 75, but it brings joy to my retirement. You have been a guiding-light on my road to a new adventure in life. We will keep in touch and look forward to your return to paradise next season when the “snowbirds” fly south.
    Abrazos,
    David

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    1. David, it has been a pleasure getting to know you and John. I am so proud of you for publishing your first book – Tales from a Country Inn (available on Amazon for those who have not read it yet…) The story is charming and you tell it so well. I will be back in Merida before you know it.

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      1. We will celebrate your return when that happens. Meanwhile,enjoy your family in the north country and have a safe journey. We will rty to keep Jorge out of trouble.

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  14. Although it is a MAJOR decision, I´m sure you will enjoy your time in BC especially when you have family waiting. Once you start living in two places each year you will find it hard to give up the lifestyle. When I began coming to lovely Mérida I was very uncertain if I were doing the right thing but for some quirky reason that place kept pulling me back every year and I kept extending my stay and can´t wait to get there again. So far have been lucky in the health department but would find the Ontario health benefits hard to give up and the cost of private insurance at this stage of my life is prohibitive even though I have been blessed so far with good health. So enjoy your new lifestyle and Jorge may come to like it too especially during the summer months when it is ghastly hot in Mérida. May in southern Ontario not nice this year and June cold up to now although it is forecasted to be 30C within a few days. Hear BC has milder weather than Ontario so am sure summer out there will be pleasant.

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  15. Hello Joanna!
    Sounds like today will be a BIG day for you. Wishing you and all of your family patience and care as you cross the continent. After you have settled let me know and maybe we can connect this summer.

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