Following My Heart (All the Way to Mexico…)

Following My Heart (All the Way to Mexico…)

About a half hour north on a dirt road off the highway is a small tin roof stand selling Coco Frio, ice cold, fresh coconuts. We stop for a drink. They slice off the top of the green football sized fruits, plop in a straw and the cool watery liquid slides down into the depths of my heated body. It’s the rainy season and oh, so hot and humid. I feel a breeze from a passing car, my eyes following it with longing. Any breeze is a sacred gift.

We drive another hundred meters or so to another dirt road, this one guiding us far from the sounds of the highway into rolling fields and then…the jungle. It surrounds the river like a lush elegant cloak, vibrating with life, with energy, with humidity I can taste. We drive through mud, rocks, even fording the river once or twice. We get out, gather our back packs already wet with heavy air, and begin our trek. The birds tempt me to miss my steps. What color was that one? The plants whisper secrets. I am glowing with intrigue, hardly able to act like a normal human being. It’s all too much for my senses to hold in with composure. And then, we see it.

The river rises up, the jungle reaches down, everything leads us there. I hear the rushing, anticipate the sight, but I am still without a voice. The white water pours over the boulders echoing deep into my ears. Down it falls with compete conviction. I look below to the pool it forms; crystal clear, bubbling like soda ready to tickle my skin. I can hardly wait! And then…the butterflies. Some orange, some iridescent white, and they’re everywhere. They swirl and dive, playing like fairies alive with life’s secrets. They come and greet us, kissing our shoulders, dusting the air with magic. I want to weep but smile. I want to cry but only cover my mouth. I can’t believe the treasures of my life. Is this what it means to follow your heart?

To get to this place, to dwell in the sweet spots I unknowingly but intuitively craved, I had to surrender, to slow down enough to feel the arms of the Universe wrap around my starving, struggling soul, to let its raw energy flow through me lest a life of a starved soul would prevail. I didn’t know why this uninvited energy chose to course through my veins, how to interpret what I was feeling, nor even what it was that chewed away at the very fibers of my perfect, hyper-normal life. My intellectual self, she who for so many years held the reins, was engulfed in chaotic mystery. It was terrifying. And yet, from a place I now know as my most authentic Self, it was one of the most hopeful, beautiful, life-affirming times of my entire life.

A Perfect Life?

I lived as a ‘perfect’ wife with a ‘perfect’ husband in a ‘perfect’ community with a ‘perfect’ life. I kept a spotless house decorated as if it fell from the pages of your favorite catalogue, cooked ravishing meals, kept an ever-blossoming garden, even managed to work a full-time job, a job I enjoyed. My husband was pretty attentive, he seemed to want the same things I did, he even surprised me now and again like he used to when we were dating. I didn’t analyze much about what I had or what I did, I just followed the rules, did what was expected of me—lived. I considered myself a conscious individual and this was the life I had always dreamed of. Wasn’t it?

How many of us live lives we think through to be best for us, lives our minds tell us we should appreciate, lives others would do anything to have? If we do ever wield our swords in an effort to carve out our own paths we might be called moody, unreasonable, hormonally imbalanced, sometimes even mentally ill. We wonder to ourselves if these protests to our desired change of path, no matter how small, are indeed true, if we are crazy to be turning our heads from something ‘perfect’ in favor of something unknown, something our hearts beg to taste. And what if I do leap and for the first time in Zen history, the net does not appear? What then? Will I be left all alone shivering in the darkness surrounded by nodding heads all taunting I told you so’s? Is there an intellect that can possibly comfort me on this intuitive journey of mine? Is anyone out there, we bellow out into the unknown.

The law of attraction tells us that ‘like attracts like’. If we honk our horns in anger, we create anger in others and should expect another horn, literally or figuratively, to be blown back in our direction. What we exude will return to us. If something inside us calls us to change our paths, to honor our hearts in a new way, and if we choose to listen, the net has no choice but to appear, for we will attract it, we will create that which we need. The challenge comes in letting the energy of this wise, heart-centered aspect of our deepest Selves flow through us so thoroughly that we don’t miss what sits before our eyes. In order to be used, the treasures we have attracted to help us on our paths must first be seen.

Following My Heart

When my husband could not support me on my path, when he could not find the space for the energy within me that ached to be set free, I had no choice but to go ahead alone. I could not survive in an environment that required my wings to be bound. So with nothing but raw energy, I set out to leap and to discover what nets lay waiting to catch my fall. I went back to a time when I felt truly happy. I visited my wildest dreams. I unearthed my childhood fantasies. And there, amidst the rubble, I found a little voice that called me to travel to rural Mexico. Was it really speaking to me? I didn’t know, but I was certainly going to find out.

A few months later I was walking on the beach, alone, in a small fishing village on Mexico’s Pacific coast. A friendly couple, one I had seen numerous times in town and found to be particularly kind in the way they smiled at me, walked toward me, holding hands. As we neared, my heart started to beat faster. Why do I keep running into them, I said to myself, might they have a message for me? As they neared, my anxiety grew, my heart now practically yelling at me to speak to them. “Excuse me,” I said gently, “I keep running into you and I can’t help but wonder why. There are many people here and still its just you two I seem to keep finding on my path. It might sound silly to you, but might you have a message for me?”

“A message?” the man said. “Gosh, let me think. No, I don’t think we do. Do we have a message for this young woman, dear? Oh, yes…wait…yes, we do. Remember that other young woman we ran into a few months ago?”

“Yes…yes…I do.” She said to her husband. “Yes, that’s the message we have for her, you’re right.”

“We met a young woman a while ago who lived her whole life in the States. As the years went by she realized she was disenchanted with her life, nothing inspired her anymore, nothing except a dream she had to move to Mexico. So, one day, she packed up her bags, and left everything behind to follow her dream.”

“Except her dog, honey. She took her dog.”

“Oh yes, she took her dog. And she told us she has never been happier, that she wished she had done it earlier so not to waste even a single moment living anything but her dream.”

“Wow,” I said, dumbfounded, my brain in hiding, my heart still beating wildly.

“That’s our message to you,” he said with a smile, “I hope it helps you somehow.”

“Thanks,” I said. “Yes, I am sure it will.” And it did. Because I honored my deepest Self, the catalyst inviting the all-knowing energy to flow through me, because I listened to my heart, I didn’t miss a valuable message, a bright light illuminating my heretofore unknown path, the net that lay right before my eyes. I had always dreamed of living in Mexico and here was a message telling me that was just what I was meant to do. So….less than a year later, not knowing a single soul, not speaking the language, not even having a job lined up, I left behind my ‘perfect’ life and set out to live my dream in rural Mexico.

The magic of the Universe didn’t die in me the day I took that leap. It didn’t emerge to help me make a change in my life just to simply return to its hovel of silent oblivion. No, this vibrant, energy-filled quality within each and every one of us, something that begged to once again inhabit its rightful home after so many years in hiding, surprised me yet again. The more I honored it, the clearer it spoke. The more I listened, the more obvious it became that it was a vital part of me, that without it, I was not, could never be, whole. It didn’t exist for one time assists. It wanted season tickets, to become a necessary, everyday part of my whole.

It has been almost five years since I moved to Mexico. With each day that passes I see myself living more and more from my heart, tasting, perhaps for the first time, the flavors of living from my most authentic Self. As I open my heart, I find myself naturally exploring the deeper aspects of my Self, affirming that a holistic Self, honoring all aspects of the whole, no matter how uncomfortable or challenging they can be to our current lives, can create immeasurable joys. As we honor our most authentic Selves and do the same for each other, we cannot help but find less reason to fear and more and more reasons to open our hearts to the wonder and awe of life that we all desire.

Photo by Joel Olive

Brynne Betz

Brynne Betz is a writer and transpersonal therapist who lives in Mexico. You can read more of her articles at her blog, Presence of Magic.

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23 Comments

  1. Wow. This is a beautiful piece of writing. Thank you for sharing your story, Brynne.

    Reply
  2. I’ve been wanting to escape my country’s city-like (my entire country is basically a city) environment for the longest time. I think I will. Not sure where, but am just my journey will take me somewhere. Thanks for sharing with us. :)

    Reply
  3. Maria, Juliet, Winnie Lim–thank you, too! You inspire me to delve still deeper and to continue to share what I find. WIth love…Brynne

    Reply
  4. This is a beautifully written article Brynne. Thank you so much for sharing your inspiring story.

    When living in Australia, I never gave much thought to Mexico or even South America. But since arriving in Canada this has changed. I have spoken to many people who love South America. Plus, there is a lot of travel agencies selling Mexico as the place for sun seekers to go to get away from Winter. Basically I’m saying I would love to travel down there at some stage. :)

    PS – I had meant to comment earlier but I had server related problems all weekend that gave me an error when I tried to leave a comment. Perhaps other people also experienced this? Anyway, should be all fixed now….

    Reply
  5. Hello Brynne,

    Thank you for sharing your story. It became a portion of the catalyst I needed to make a major leap. I posted that story here.

    Reply
    • Ari,

      I’m so happy to hear this. I strongly believe in the power of peoples’ stories to inspire and motivate others to change their lives. Hearing someone simply say “follow your heart” does little to inspire me, but listening to their personal story of how they followed their heart, and how this has made all the difference, is powerful stuff.

      Peter

      Reply
  6. Dear Ari,
    Some people may think we are somehow selfish or foolish to follow our dreams, to listen and heed our intuitions, but when someone responds as you have, to the realization of another’s dream (mine)….I am left speechless and touched beyond words. Its so simple and yet we have created a world that all too often makes it so difficult. You and I together have affected the vibration of the universe….inviting still more to listen to their deeper Selves. Maybe all of us together, slowly, can affect great change. I will hope. Thank you, Ari, for being YOU.
    love,
    Brynne

    Reply
  7. Brynne:

    It’s quite refreshing to read a piece so well written and something that transcends the emptiness of “inspiration without action” I see all too often in the “blogosphere.”

    Your story reflects my own experience that the “authentic self,” as you call it, becomes covered by social conventions; we often wear disguises until we become disguised before ourselves; we act in the way that society has defined for us; and the path we mistakenly follow is the paved road — not the path we have created for ourselves.

    The metaphorical “net” that you speak of — the net that “catches us” when we have finally let go of social conventions — is actually our authentic self. The reason we cannot see the net is because we cannot see our self.

    “Nearly all mankind is more or less unhappy because nearly all do not know the true Self. Real happiness abides in self-knowledge alone. All else is fleeting. To know One’s Self is to be blissful always.” ~ Ramana Maharishi

    Thank you, and to Peter, for provoking thought this morning…

    Kent

    Reply
  8. Thanks for this post. One thing that stood out to me was your description of the ways you’re enjoying Mexico — seeing butterflies around you in particular. The article isn’t about what you “do for a living” in Mexico, or what kind of relationship you’re in, or all the factors that are “supposed” to make you happy according to the conventional wisdom. My sense from it is that your love of your life right now comes from your ability to just appreciate and be fully engaged moment by moment.

    Reply
  9. dear Kent,
    I enjoyed….”The metaphorical “net” that you speak of — the net that “catches us” when we have finally let go of social conventions — is actually our authentic self. The reason we cannot see the net is because we cannot see our self.” Lots of good thoughts there! I agree with you that maybe we cant see our net but maybe we can ‘see’ it? I think the more I emerge as my authentic Self, the more I feel the essence always there. That, to me, becomes a way of knowing, trusting, seeing. (not to mention that when I express myself creatively I actually do *see* my Self, albeit thru brief partings of the clouds) I wonder if one continues long enough with this…if this ‘knowing’ will transform us enough so that we no longer question it or even think about it. It just IS. Maybe we move into a place sort-of like outer space where we are cradled by our surroundings, by our Selves….not me mine and you yours but all of us ourSelves together. Is this another way to look at the fact that we are all One? It brings to mind certain wise sages I have met. They dont seem to think about their authentic Selves, nor even communicate such a relationship…they just ARE, everything just IS. Nets/Self becomes like the air they breathe, or the very fibers of their being.
    Or am I just a bundle of gobble-dy gook?
    with love,
    Brynne

    Reply
  10. And Chris, dear Chris,

    Your words bring to mind something Mark Nepo once wrote “…when we dare to move past hiding, a deeper law arises. When we bare our inwardness fully, exposing our strengths and frailties alike, we discover a kinship in all living things, and from this kinship a kindness moves through us and between us. The mystery is that being authentic is the only thing that reveals to us our kinship with life.”

    I continue to go thru extraordinary changes even after this article was written…I have started an amazing relationship and have had a baby girl, and time and time again….as you so beautifully reminded me…its the ability “to just appreciate and to be fully engaged moment by moment” that colors the rest of my life….not the things that happen to me or do not happen to me.
    thank you for your words,
    with love,
    Brynne

    Reply
  11. Thanks for your message Brynne. I can feel the joy that you’re bringing to each moment of your life in your message. This story seems to me like a great way of guiding others toward that by example. Best, Chris

    Reply
  12. Hi Brynne,

    Is this the same Brynne from Burlington, WA? If so, maybe you remember me. We went to school together. I really enjoyed your piece. It’s so inspirational to read about someone who has the courage to follow the path to true happiness wherever it may lead.

    David

    Reply
    • @David,

      Thank you, David. Tell me your last name! I would love to reconnect!!!
      love,
      Brynne

      Reply
      • @Brynne,

        My last name is Kern. I’d love to reconnect too! Mexico is my favorite place to travel!

        Reply
  13. What a beautiful story! Sad, I think I have rarely listened to myself to that level, though have much interest in that being actualized fully one day. Negative self-talk I imagine my worst enemy. I know I don’t have even the faux perfect life, yet giving up on the happiness in whatever current state I am in is definitely not productive for myself or the energy of the world. Your story was inspirational, and maybe a “message” to me. :o) Proud of you! (I went to school with you as well….small, small world)

    Love & Light,

    Erika

    Reply
    • Thanks, Erika! I am cheering for you from afar!
      love,
      Brynne

      Reply
  14. Thank you for sharing your experience and insight. I just returned from an extended visit in central Mexico and can appreciate your desire to live there. Its magical. But it’s the complete opposite of living in the US, so one has to be ready for it. Glad you are happy.
    Renee

    Reply
    • Hi Renee! I found myself nodding at your comment about Central America being opposite of the US but then realized you may have a different idea than I do. I would love to hear what specifically you were referring to. I am heading up to the US tomorrow and honestly….feel surprisingly frightened. When I visualize it, I sense busy, big, and lots of people with hearts in hiding. I know thats not everywhere but thats my first impression.
      thanks for sharing yourself.
      love,
      Brynne

      Reply
  15. Hi Brynne. Beautifully written. Thanks for sharing your story.

    I’ve recently moved away from the corporate world into the world of blogging – I chose to follow my heart. Scary choice and a difficult decision.

    Your article was good to read. Thanks for sharing it.

    Reply
    • Dear Ash,
      I wish you could see my smile. And my heart, I think it just twirled…and all because of you! Ohhh, how happy I am for you! Why not share your blog here so we can all support you from afar? And please come play on my blog if you ever need a little magic in your life. I would love to have your energy there! Congratulations, brave soul! Your life will never be the same…in all the most beautiful ways. :) http://www.brynnebetz.com

      Reply

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