Update on MEL Tours 2019

Zinacantan, Chiapas

It is mid July, and the Merida English Library’s two fundraising tours are filling fast. A few people (who have never traveled with Jorge and me) worry that the itinerary allows for too much free time. We like to include group activities, but we also encourage individual exploration. Upon our arrival in each city, we provide a map, and Sergio takes us on a walking tour so that everyone gets their bearings right away. During the time we are in each place, we visit the highlights as a group. But often when we gather for breakfast or for a glass of wine in the evening, we hear enthusiastic stories of discoveries that participants made on their own.

There will be an orientation session in January (date to be announced soon) when Jorge and I will outline optional sightseeing, dining and other attractions that can also be part of your travel experience. Those who cannot attend the pre-departure seminar will receive the info kit by email.

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On the Guanajuato, and San Miguel de Allende trip (January 31 – February 7, 2019) we’ll see topography, architecture, and vegetation that is strikingly different from Yucatan – the music, food, shops and atmosphere are also a world away from what we see in this corner of the country. Although Jorge and I have visited both places multiple times, we always feel excited to go again. We know we’ll have unexpected encounters, eat at restaurants we haven’t tried before – and much to Jorge’s frustration – in at least one of the quaint shops or lively markets, I will find “something” I can’t live without.

We look forward to re-visiting all the places that are part of the itinerary. Dolores Hidalgo was the birthplace of Mexico’s Independence movement; it is also famous for its pottery and amazing ice-cream.  Atotonilco, a world heritage site features indigenous art and a marketplace that always makes our eyes pop out. In Queretaro, more Mexican colonial history comes alive.

The day trip to San Luis Potosi will be new for Jorge and me. This city’s wealth came from the silver mines in the surrounding hills, not from sisal growing in the flat fields as we see in Yucatan. We’ll take in the newly-opened Leonora Carrington Museum, but unfortunately the home and gardens of her compatriot and fellow surrealist, Edward James (Queen Elizabeth’s first cousin who moved to Mexico in 1947) is too far away to see this time – a good reason to return yet again!

 A painting by Leonard Brooks who went to live in San Miguel after WWII

In Guanajuato and San Miguel, art is everywhere. Many painters, sculptors, musicians and writers from all over the world have moved to these cities and become part of the creative community there. If anyone in the group would like to spend a few hours painting, sketching, talking about books or doing some spontaneous writing; I’ll be your enthusiastic companion.

Jorge, Sergio and I will always be nearby, and full of suggestions if you find yourself looking for something else to do.

Don’t worry – this is NOT the bus we’ll be on.

The second trip ( February 28 – March 7, 2019) all by bus from Merida to San Cristobal de las Casas and back again, is for women only. It will be different kind of experience than the first tour. Many of the women who previously traveled with me to Chiapas say it is as much an internal journey as it is an outward one.  Everything about Chiapas is special – you will see majestic places – and you will be touched by the people who live there.

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You can’t help but be impressed by the women working in the market and for me, a glimpse into their religious observance is humbling. On our last day in San Cristobal de las Casas, we’ll visit children’s home. The shelter was established about seven years ago in the middle of the night. Two brothers from San Cristobal de las Casas heard a knock at their door – a small boy stood outside, and in Tzozil Maya (he spoke no Spanish) he told them he was hungry and had nowhere to go – they fed him, and then they fed the next child who came along. Now there are more than eighty kids.

The two men knew nothing about looking after children. But they found a solution close by.  In homes all around theirs, lived many women with their own children. They had no reliable way to feed their families, so in exchange for food and other necessities, they cook and help the brothers with childcare.

The installations are as basic as they come. The children sleep wrapped in blankets, on woven mats laying on the floor – and it is cold in San Cristobal de las Casas. If you think this communal arrangement sounds disorganized and in need of structure, you would be right. But the brothers and the neighbourhood ladies are doing the best they can.

Our group will take them an assortment of useful and fun gifts. Sweaters, knit hats, warm blankets and towels are much needed – they also love any kind of toys or balls – crayons, paints, drawing paper and other craft items. The first two women who signed up for the tour are taking paper and instructions in Spanish on how to make origami cranes. They will help the children make a colorful mobile for the communal living /dining/playing room.  If you have an activity to share, you are most encouraged to do so.

Our BIG bus has room for each participant to bring two suitcases. The idea is to use one of them for Children’s Home donations. The items need not be new. On the first night, we will collect the donated items to sort and distribute later. The participants will then have an empty suitcase where they can put anything they buy along the way.

And it is easy to fill a suitcase. When I was in Canada, I went to a thrift store and told the manager about what we plan to do in Chiapas. She said I could go through the store and take anything I wanted – for free – she even gave me a suitcase to put it in. As well, Westjet allows their passengers to bring a free “humanitarian” suitcase. If you live in Mexico, it is not difficult to get people to help you donate, and you’ll find stores downtown where you can purchase inexpensive items. If you have house-wares you no longer use (pots, pans, bedding, etc) these too will be most welcome.

During your free time, you can be as busy or contemplative as you wish. Optional trips to other nearby towns are easy to arrange. You can have a massage; attend a performance at the local theater; visit the amber museum; or come with me to paint.

As I say, space is filling fast, so let the Merida English Library know if you want to come along.

info@meridaengliahlibrary.com

Proceeds from both tours will be donated to MEL’s expansion fund. You can see full tour descriptions on MEL’s website:

http://www.meridaenglishlibrary.com/explore-central-mexico-mel-special-fundraising-tour/

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Flor Amargo

A few days ago, my husband forwarded a YouTube video. In the subject line, he wrote: “You’ll enjoy this, in fact, you’ll be fascinated.” Jorge does not usually predict how I’ll feel about what he sends me, and I opened the link not knowing what to expect. OMG! I should have remembered how well he knows my taste in music –  fascinating – does not begin to describe this artist. Her name is Flor Amargo.

Apparently she first gained a wide audience through her participation in one of those TV network-sponsored talent shows. I rarely watch those programs so probably this is why I’ve never seen or heard of her before.  However, I bet that the producers of that show did not know what to do with Flor Amargo,  because she is certainly not a pop princess.

In the clip Jorge sent me, she is playing her accordion and singing, “La Bruja”, inside a moving wagon of the Mexico City metro. At times she had to stop as the train swerved and lurched, but she kept on belting it out. I heard jazz, swing, bebop, rock and roll, and even some sweeping classical chords in her interpretation. “La Bruja” is not her own composition, but she “owns” it.  She’s as authentic as I’ve ever seen.

But something distressed me about the video – her fellow passengers were not happy – in fact they looked extremely displeased with this beautiful and talented young woman who had interrupted their daily commute.

It struck me that lots of us claim to admire women with the guts to be who they really are. We “love” Frida Khalo’s art, Chabela Vargas’ throaty voice, Leonara Carrington’s surreal sculpture, Elena Poniatowska’s  brave writing. These icons are not close enough to touch; we remain at a comfortable distance from their non-conformity and unconventional acts. However, when a young person with the same kind of individuality shows up in our midst, many people do not feel blessed; they feel their personal space has been invaded.

Flor Amargo’s birth name is Emma Mayte Carballo Hernández , and from an early age she showed uncommon talent and determination to perform. She is an actress; she composes, sings and plays multiple instruments. She tap dances too. In an interview she said:

“My message is love, made into music. We are all one, and – what you do to, and for others – you do to, and for yourself.”

She explains that her music is the result of deep self-searching. She finds shelter in music, poetry and her own way of life. She wants to reach her fans but also those, who by chance, happen to hear her voice. (Like me, and maybe you too?)

“Through my messages, I urge others to search inside themselves, find their essence, and share it with as many people as they can, just as I have done. I took painful roads before I got to the point where I could say: I am Flor Amargo.”

Some insist that introspective reflection, soul searching, and the like are a luxury of youth. But others seem to feel it is vital to never stop exploring our deepest recesses, and to use the gifts we find to improve our lives and those of others.

I think the women I mentioned earlier, the unconventional, non-conforming, ones we admire – Frida Khalo, Chabela Vargas, Leonara Carrington, and Elena Poniatowska – have done precisely that.

Maybe several decades from now, the same will be said of Flor Amargo.

Poster for the Flor Amargo concert in Auditorio Nacional

A Red Rose in her Hair (1)

Last week I attended the Merida Writers’ Group that meets each Thursday at the Merida English Library. Everyone had something to read, and today I started a story that I’ll add to from time to time.

A Red Rose in her Hair

Monica pulled aside the curtains to breathe in the aroma of the early dawn. Outside, the light was still muted but the glow in the east promised a sunny day. Although she’d have enjoyed a few more minutes of musing, the Melita’s spluttering and hissing called her back to the kitchen counter. I should get a quieter machine, she thought, but it does make good coffee, so what’s a bit of extra noise?  Ten minutes later, she sipped her first cup of cafe con leche; and while her laptop booted-up, she wondered what miracles this day would hold.

Leaning back in her pink padded chair, she looked up at the orchids and ferns hanging in her studio window – her mini jungle thrived in this space – and so did she. A quick glance at the still-in-progress watercolour perched on her easel, confirmed that yesterday’s changes had improved the piece. I’ll keep working on this one, she decided.

The lap top pinged, alerting her to unread messages, but she ignored the queue in favor of Craig’s List. She got a kick out of reading about Houses to Rent or Buy, Employment Opportunities, and Used Furniture – not that she needed a single thing – but on occasion she found a treasure. Sadly, today didn’t look like a day of discovery  – until she noticed the small post in the Travel section. She read it three times. A hot-cold tingle ran down her back; excitement flushed her face and her heart pumped like a runner’s.

– If you are a Canadian named Monica Turner, I have an offer for you. Please email me at: jilted2018@hotmail.com –

“That’s me,” Monica said out loud. Her curiosity intensified until it felt like a hot flash. Should she ask her daughter whether or not she should contact “jilted 2018”? Or maybe one of the women in her book club or knitting circle?  She weighed the pros and cons of sharing this startling news, and realized she did not need anyone’s input because she had already made up her mind. She would find out what this was all about; she didn’t need anyone seeding fear and negative worries into her soul. Clicking on the hotmail website, she opened a new account: gobsmacked2018@hotmail.com and sent off her message right away:

– I have the name you’re looking for. I am Canadian. Do I know you –

Within the hour, he wrote back:

– I am Peter McLeod, and I was engaged to a woman who shares your name and nationality. Hopefully that is all you share, because if you are anything like her – in looks or personality – I will revoke my offer. That said, you must be wondering what this is all about. So, here’s the deal – I bought a dream honeymoon package for Monica and me – it is non-refundable and can only be used by a woman with my ex’s moniker. I assure you, I don’t expect “anything”; I just hate to see money go to waste.  If you join me, you’ll receive a free first class ticket, and your own wing in the villa that I rented for a month in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. If we mutually decide to spend some of our time together; that’s fine. If not, we’ll meet-up again at the Merida airport for our return flight to Vancouver.

Monica couldn’t wait to discuss this highly unusual proposal with Peter. He suggested they meet at noon in a popular restaurant at the Lonsdale Key. “I’ll wear a red rose in my hair,” she said. “That way you’ll recognise me.”

She was right; walking into the crowded eatery he had no trouble picking her out – not only did she have a rose in her hair – she looked to be about 80 years old.

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Leap of Faith

Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO): President-elect of Mexico

Unless you have been in a coma or participating in a contemplative retreat on some remote mountaintop, you probably know that on Sunday July 1st, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) won the Mexican national election.

He will be instated as president of Mexico on December 1, 2018. There is much speculation about AMLO’s “true agenda”, and in fact rumours are already spreading like wildfire through the national and foreign press.

What are we supposed to think? Who should we believe? Who is Andrés Manuel López Obrador?

He was born on November 13, 1953 in Macuspana, Tabasco, Mexico. Like 80% of the Mexican population – he is mestizo – his forefathers include Europeans, indigenous Americans, and Africans. He attended the Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM); and entered the political arena while still a young man. Social justice coupled with responsible stewardship has always been his hallmark. Prior to his federal aspirations he held many political offices, including Mayor of Mexico City; where his approval rating reached 85%. He is a well educated, experienced politician.

Nonetheless, the first label usually attached to AMLO, is “leftist”, which raises the fear factor in the minds of many nationals and foreigners.

The philosophies of the right and left factions differ substantially with regards to resources and distribution of wealth. Perhaps the major conflicts between these ideologies are about the concept of “fairness”. Both the right and the left factions agree that basic human rights must be upheld; but how do they agree on what is “fair”? Should one country accept the unemployed that its neighbours cannot support? Or is it possible for nations to work together and create conditions that will promote prosperity in both countries?

This is a complex question and yet solutions must be found because human migration will not stop until people feel safe and able to provide for their families. Hopefully Andrés Manuel López Obrador will be the strong Mexican president who will gain the respect of his American counterpart, and both will understand that healthy immigration, trade and cultural exchanges are not only profitable, they promote peace.

Fear of what “might” happen is a waste of energy – we need to embrace this change – open minds and arms are best for us all. Life is ever-evolving and in the times we face now, we need to take a leap of faith.

 

 

July 1, 2018: History in the Making?

 

It has been several weeks since I last posted; my two months in Canada passed by as though caught up in a whirlwind. I love the country of my birth, my family and friends who live there. But on Saturday June 30th, I returned to Mexico – the other country and people I love – just in time to vote. Was July 1, 2018, history in the making?

There are 80 million registered voters in the country, and we all knew this would be a decisive election. The advance polls predicted that Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) would deliver a fatal blow against the established order; and many feared that violence and fraud would be part of the process. I was relieved when I learned that international observers and other watchdog groups were called in. I felt grateful for social media.

Truthfully, for the past few years I’ve despaired over Mexico’s problems – violence, corruption and scandal – in many important ways, this no longer seemed like the country I moved to in 1976. I felt we needed a change in attitude and a different approach to leadership; without this we would be doomed. And I do not write these words as a ploy for melodrama. Economically, it has been increasingly difficult for those of us who live on peso-based incomes. Those of us doing business in this country have been at the mercy of inefficient, often corrupt authorities. While the wealthy, elite class lived in luxury, our quality of life eroded and our currency devalued at an alarming rate. My Mexican family, friends and employees were so discouraged with the never-ending escalation of excess. We agreed that the high-ranking “mafia of power” that has long ruled Mexico had to be sent packing.

“The corrupt regime is coming to its end,” López Obrador said at his final campaign event last Wednesday, “We represent the force forged from  below.”

Along with millions of others, I believe Andrés Manuel López Obrador is the only potentially transformative force in a sea of self-serving bureaucrats and politicians. This is the third time he has run for the presidency.  It is no secret that he believes fraud and intimidation were responsible for his losses at the polls in 2006 and 2012. This time around he stressed the importance of each vote and urged all Mexicans to get out and participate.

Millions listened, including me. I traveled from Canada to be here, and so did my daughter. The Immigration hall was overflowing and many of the people told me that they too had “come home to vote”. Early in the morning my family was waiting in line and we stood there for 2 hours. It was hot but the shade of a big tree shielded us from the sun, and I experienced a feeling of unity and solidarity among my neighbours. We shared chairs and let the elderly move forward in the queue. As each person emerged from the voting booth, nods of approval and smiles lit up their faces.

The entire length of the campaign,  AMLO’s rivals were united in their fear.  During the three official debates, they spent more time criticising Lopez Obrador than they did on explanations of their own positions. The Establishment warns that AMLO’s proposed economic reforms, social policies, and his vow to end impunity and corruption at all levels will be “too much”. His kind of radical change will set the country back even further, they admonish us.

This was Lopez Obrador’s third run for the presidency. I voted for him in 2006 and 2012, and now finally in 2018; he is the clear winner. I believe that AMLO will be able to deliver on many of his promises. He has solid support and a longing for change has been in our hearts for so long. Until now, we did not realise the power of our vote.

I feel honoured and privileged to have voted in this election. There is MUCH work to be done and we need to support our new president. We won’t like everything that he wants to do. But at least, it seems as though most of the constituents are willing to try.  He has put the poor at the top of his agenda – a move that has been too long coming.

If our futbol team can manage to win against Brazil this morning, we’ll feel we’ve gone over the moon and back again. As well, Jorge and I have another happy event to celebrate – our  41st wedding anniversary.

 Jorge and Joanna: July 2, 1977

A Meeting of the Minds…

Former First Lady, Michelle Obama and the Actress-Activist Tracee Ellis Ross

At the store this morning, I started up a conversation with a man behind me in the check out line. He looked tired, and I soon found out why…

“My wife had a baby on Wednesday night,” he said, “a little girl.”

“You’re kidding! I had my 65th birthday on Wednesday,” I replied.

That surprised and pleased him. He added that they already have a 2 year old son, and this little girl will complete their happy family. His smile stretched from pierced ear to pierced ear. His cart overflowed with baby stuff, He also had a bouquet of red tulips and a yellow Tonka truck… presumably for his wife and their little boy.

I try to embrace “diversity and individualism” but some kinds of “diversity and individuality” are easier to embrace than others.  And piercings and tattoos are not my personal preference.  Nonetheless, I had to admit that the man behind me radiated all the IMPORTANT “good daddy attributes”.

I walked in the same direction as him through the parking lot, and I caught a glimpse of an energetic little guy bouncing in the front seat of an older model sedan. A woman I assumed to be the boy’s mother cuddled her pink-blanketed bundle of joy… she was conventional-looking with flowing chestnut hair… She waved at her husband, and he hurried to her side.  Their happiness touched me.

The young family stayed on my mind. And today, I watched a video that I wish I had seen as a new mother. In fact, I hope everyone on the planet will watch it. The 40 minute clip features former First Lady, Michelle Obama and the Actress-Activist Tracee Ellis Ross having a conversation on stage at the “United State of Women Summit 2018”, in Los Angeles, CA.

http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/wzZunHRn_uz/United+State+Women+Summit+2018+Day+1

The two celebrated women speak about the importance of helping children to keep the openness they are born with and to use their unique voices. They believe children come into the world with no negativity… but it doesn’t take long for others’ opinions to influence them.  Obviously, the children who are shown love and acceptance fare best. Good mommies and daddies raise strong-minded sons and daughters who have values,  work hard., and do not feel threatened by differences… They thrive on change.

The father whose path briefly crossed mine, and the words spoken by Michelle Obama and Tracee Ellis Ross reminded me once again, to be accepting of change… and respectful of others’ differences and personal choices.

On the road again…

Women weavers of Zinacantan, Chiapas

Today I have some news I am sure will interest you… links for two fundraising tours that will be taking place next winter. For those unfamiliar with these these tours… here’s a little back story…

I met my husband Jorge in 1976; both of us worked in tourism… me for a Canadian airline and he for a receptive tour company in Merida. After we married, we went on to other pursuits… Jorge to his law practise and me to my new life in Merida and motherhood. In 1990, we were lured back to the industry that introduced us, and we founded Tecnología Turística Total (TTT) a tourism college. As part of the program, Jorge and I helped students organize bus trips to many diverse parts of Mexico… and for about a decade, we found ourselves accompanying 100s of international students, our own TTT students, and life-long learning folks. Our friend, Sergio Solis joined us as the “official licensed guide”… the three of us have greatly enjoyed our friendship and our many adventures .

Time passed, our college grew and more programs developed. Our staff continued with the students and their tours. But after not-too-long… Jorge, Sergio and I missed the road trips, and we started leading fundraising tours for the International Women’s Club. The tours helped support the IWC’s scholarship program and we introduced many international residents to other parts of Mexico. We only stopped the annual tours because we have been extremely busy over the past few years.

And now again, Jorge, Sergio and I find we can’t stay away! We will now be helping the Merida English Library raise funds for the expansion project. The improved facilities at MEL will allow the creation of many new programs for the members, and we are excited to be a part of this!

San Miguel de Allende

The first tour is open to all, and will feature three nights in Guanajuato, followed by four nights in San Miguel de Allende. My husband Jorge and I will be the escorts on this tour, and Sergio will be the guide. The state of Guanajuato is romantic and full of history. The topography is hilly, and when your eye tries to take in the whole scene, it’s like looking through a camera’s wide-eyed lens. The restaurants and shopping are magnificent. Everyone I know who has visited this area comes away wanting to return… Here’s the link:

http://www.meridaenglishlibrary.com/explore-central-mexico-mel-special-fundraising-tour/

San Cristobal de las Casas

The second tour is to Chiapas, and it will be for women only. I will escort this one on my own, with Sergio as guide. We will travel by bus to Villahermosa for one night, spend four nights in San Cristobal de las Casas and two nights in Palenque. Of all the wonderful places I have seen in Mexico, Chiapas holds a special place in my heart. My admiration for the people is matched only by the rugged beauty of the land. Here’s the link:

http://www.meridaenglishlibrary.com/explore-chiapas-mel-special-fundraising-tour-joanna-rosado/

(Don’t worry this IS NOT our transportation!)

I hope you’ll join us “on the road again”. The tours will fill fast, so make your plans as soon as you can. MEL will be handling all your enquiries and reservations. Here’s the link:

http://www.meridaenglishlibrary.com/

 

 

The Sabbath Day

The entrance to my Kamloops home

I don’t think the admonition to “keep holy the Sabbath day” extends to working in the garden. Actually, I believe that a plot of earth is as holy as any huge cathedral… and that gardening is a prayerful, transforming and spiritual experience in and of itself.

It has been many moons since I did much “real” work in our Merida garden. We are blessed to have Don Irineo and Miguel who help us with the heavy chores. My contribution involves mostly watering, trimming and re-potting.

But in Kamloops it is NOT like this. And yesterday… I made my re-acquaintance with the shovel, rake and hoe. I sort-of channelled my mother, who was a dedicated gardener… and then got right into it!

I pruned, transplanted and turned sod. Yes I did. I could barely move once I had finished, but I felt most satisfied to see how I had transformed a dandelion-infested patch of earth into a place where veggies and flowers will soon grow. I trimmed back a shrub that had over-run the side wall and I moved a rose bush so it could keep the other one company.

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Then it was time for a bath, some delicious left-overs and a relaxing read before climbing into bed.  I slept like a baby… I should do this sort of heavy physical work more often!

A River Runs Through It…

Kamloops is a thriving small city with all the services and conveniences one needs… and it is a natural wonder. Yesterday I took a long walk along the river, and I could not help but think of the romantic title of a film directed by Robert Redford back in 1992  This is a sample of all I saw…

 

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Amen

An earlier airport goodbye…

On Sunday night, hugging Jorge goodbye at the Merida airport, I wondered, What on earth am I doing?

I love Mexico, and I intensely love many people who live there… especially Jorge. In my hand I held my Mexican and Canadian passports and the boarding passes for two flights that would carry me to the country where I was born. My feelings for Canada and my loved ones there are also strong.

I have a reservation to fly back to Merida on June 30th, and knowing that I will see Jorge then, and that we will have 3 weeks together, is all that kept me from bolting. I felt devastated and I know Jorge did too… yet, I turned towards the security clearance area. My conflicting emotions made me feel as though my heart would tear in two.

I won’t detail my morose mood during the journey to Mexico City, but once I got there, I had to recover my wits, and locate the departure lounge for my red-eye flight. I managed, and shortly after our 01:10 takeoff, I mercifully fell asleep. Then, at 06:22 local time, the plane touched down in Vancouver.

I followed the other groggy passengers through Immigration, baggage claim and Customs. A pair of sliding doors opened, and my sister’s arms embraced me. At that moment, I felt (literally and figuratively) that I had arrived home.

But what and where is home? I left one “home” and now I had arrived in my other “home”…  My mind boggled. In 10 hours, I physically travelled so far, yet it will take many days for my mind and my emotions to catch up.

So many times, I have been asked: What is it like to be married to a person from another country?

Truthfully, although Jorge and I have been married for 42 years, it has always been, and still is: complex.  On one hand we enrich each other with all our differences, but on the other, those differences sometimes make our life hard to manage. And this is true for our adult children too. They are also living in culturally, emotionally, and geographically mixed worlds.

Maybe we have too many choices? I have the advantage of dual Mexican-Canadian citizenship and residence; to keep my legal status, I must spend 6 months in both countries. I want to do this because both places are important to me in many ways. Jorge is a Mexican citizen but his Canadian permanent residence is in question. Because of his responsibilities at our college in Mexico and his own emotional ties, he cannot spend the required minimum number of days in Canada. The rules say he cannot get a permit to enter Canada unless he finds a way to spend the required amount of time there, so as things stand he cannot come to see me.

Our family is an international one, and as such, I feel that unfettered access to both our countries should be a given. Jorge and I are not asking for any hand-outs from either government; we just want to be together, as we have been for so long.  It seems so obvious that we should be free to do this.

We are dealing with a confounding situation; nonetheless, I cannot help but remember the MILLIONS of other families who are separated, and living under conditions far worse than ours. The latest available statistics calculate that there are 100,000,000 homeless people worldwide. I cannot even begin to fathom that. Not only can they not travel to where they want to be; they have no home, no rights, no voice.

This is humbling… We never have to look far to find others who have it so much tougher than we do.

And I feel motivated by this quote from Melody Beattie: Gratitude makes sense of your past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

Indeed life is challenging, but I give thanks for the abundance of love our family has. I pray for the strength and creativity to discover strategies that will resolve our current issues.

We have found unconventional solutions many times in the past, and we will do so again…

Amen.