Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It Ain't All Sunshine and Cenotes

I know that usually I put on a happy face for the blog and other internet outlets, but I have to be honest, life isn't always easy. That's true for everyone I am sure, unless you're a pampered lap dog living in luxury, eating doggie cookies out of carefully manicured fingers. My doggie cookies are hard-earned and come from fingers worn down to nubs from the overuse of a keyboard.

I don't talk about it often, but I have a long history with clinical depression. Clinical depression that led to years of high doses of anti-depressants and hundreds of hours on the psychiatrist's couch. Since living in Mexico, I have overcome much of the disease and am med-free, but that doesn't mean that the depression doesn't raise its ugly head now and again. The sunshine helps, a LOT, if you've never experienced a dark and dreary winter you may mock the idea of SAD (seasonal affective disorder), but it's a proven fact that a lack of sun can lead to serious depression. I also think having a child has helped, perhaps a change in hormones combined with the pride in being a mommy to a pretty special kid. Since moving to Mexico (and becoming mommy), I eat better, I drink FAR less alcohol and am living a healthier life.
Whatever the reason for the change, I am grateful, I no longer feel empty and hopeless, at least not on a daily basis.

And then the dark days come. I don't mean the weather (though now that I think about it it HAS been raining a lot). I feel down. Listless. Zero energy. My get up and go has got up and went. Feeling this way leads to guilt, guilt that I am not being the best mommy I can be or the best employee or the best housewife (or the best blogger). I'd rather sit on the couch with the laptop playing Mafia Wars than venture outside to kick a ball around. Or write a blog post. Ahem. The guilt leads to further depression and blah blah blah, the circle goes round. Issues with my relationship with Hubby certainly play a role, I'm not going to get into that here but suffice it to say that "it ain't easy".

So here I am. Feeling depressed and feeling guilty about feeling depressed. I don't expect sympathy, seriously, I live in paradise and am able to see and do things that others only dream about. I have a great job and an amazing kid and the best parents and brother in the world. But that is not enough to overcome the "dark days". Talking about depression is tough, particularly to folks who don't understand the disease. If I hear "Chin up little buckaroo", I will scream. "Cheer up, it will all be ok" is another phrase that can make someone who suffers from depression want to bang their head against the wall. On behalf of depressed folks everywhere, I beg of you not to give advice, not to offer platitudes, just simply listen and be there for your friends. Visit them, even if they say they don't want visitors. Drag them out of the house to do something, even to just go for a walk in the sun for ten minutes. Offer to take their kids for an hour or two to lighten their load. If you have a friend who is truly in the pits of hell, take them to get professional help, they might resent you at first but will thank you later (depends on how close you are I suppose). Reach out, don't let them push you away, it's not easy being friends with a "depresso", I know that, but friends are often exactly what they (we) need.

I apologize for the downer of a post, no cenotes, no great adventures, just an honest statement of my current life. It doesn't suck, but it's no box of bon bons right now either. Back to our regularly scheduled "Sunshine and Light" posts soon....

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Work, Work, Work (or what I did on my summer non-cation)

"Oh man, next weekend I have to go to Cozumel on Friday, Xplor on Saturday, Tulum Music Fest at night, I'm going to be exhausted!"

"Um Canucka? Shut up! Wah wah wah, I have to live a life of adventure, wah wah wah."

And thus a close friend reminded me that I live a pretty sweet life and have a pretty cool job. The irony is I truly was thinking about how tired I was going to be rather than all the fun I was going to have. I appreciated the kick and quickly turned my frown upside down. I also got to thinking about the adventures I've had over the last couple of months and thought I would make a list.

Max teaching Grandpa how to snorkel the reef

1. Vacation with da folks- My parents were here in April and we managed to get a weekend on Isla Mujeres and a few days in Tulum, in addition to various trips to beaches and snorkeling in Puerto Morelos. Max loooooved having his grandparents here and was eager to show them how to live the life in paradise.

Looking down from the top of Coba

2. Tulum/Coba/Gran Cenote- In June we took a little jaunt down to Casa de las Olas in Tulum to visit dear Heather and had ourselves a totally fun-filled weekend. Visiting the Coba ruins was definitely a highlight, it's the last pyramid still open for climbing and I managed to get these old legs all the way to the top. I'm so pleased that Max was able to do it too, they will be closing the pyramid and I want him to one day recognize how lucky he was to be able to climb. Gran Cenote was fantastic, a beautiful spot to refresh. Casa de las Olas was a treat in itself, right on the boundary to the Sian Kaan biosphere, it was like having a totally private, serene beach all to ourselves.

Swimming with the biggest fish in the sea

3. Whale sharks- Every time I think about my experience swimming with the whale sharks, I get all "bah gah zah" and lack the words to fully describe the day. Phrases like "best day of my life", "out of this world", "totally surreal" and "unfreakingbelievable" come to mind. I'm still amazed, still all glowy and googley-eyed, this is a serious MUST DO for anyone with a little adventurous blood.

The night show at Xcaret. Truly stunning!

4. Xcaret- The eco-park Xcaret is one of the more "touristy" spots we visited this summer. We'd been once before when Max was tiny and thought it was time to do it again. We swam the underground rivers, snorkeled, went for a ride in the observation tower, fed turtles, investigated the aquarium, perused the butterfly pavilion and watched the jaguars. After all was said and done, we asked Max what his favourite part of the day was and he responded "Los viejitos!", referring to the night show which featured folkloric dance, including "La Danza de los Viejitos" from the state of Michoacan. I guess "adventure" is old hat to this kid, I LOVE that he felt the show full of history and culture was the best part of his day.

Lucky shot in Cenote Cristalino

5. More cenotes, more beaches- Hitting the beach is an almost weekly event for us (sometimes more than once a week if we're lucky!) We decided to introduce our "cenote virgin" friend to Cenote Cristalino and Xpu Ha beach. Cristalino is a really great spot, crystal clear waters (hence the name), a very cool cave and a "cliff" for diving into the 6 meter deep water. It was our first time to that particular cenote and I think we'll be back (after we explore all the hundreds of cenotes we haven't seen yet, haha!) Xpu Ha beach was divine as always, live salsa music, cold drinks and some decent waves for the boogie board.

Zip lining at Xplor

6. Xplor! This past weekend I finally got to visit this groovy adventure park in the Riviera Maya. Max was not a happy camper that he couldn't go with me (minimum age is 6), but after a fun-filled day of zip lines, underground rivers and amphibious vehicles, I have decided that Xplor will be the destination of choice to celebrate Max's birthday next year. It's really quite an amazing place, totally safe (which takes away part of the fun, haha), clean and never a dull moment.

That's really just a small sampling of what we've done. I watched a mama turtle lay her eggs in Tulum, admired the kiteboarders in various locations, toured hotels, snorkeled plenty, visited too many beaches to count, boogie boarded, visited Garrafon park, swam with dolphins and overall, enjoyed myself immensely. Some of this was work, even though all of it was play! Life may not always be perfect or exciting, but these moments of adventure make all the rest of it totally worthwhile. I hope one day Max looks back at all our photos (and this blog!) and is grateful for all that we've been able to share with him. Might be a long time before that happens, but I can wait.....

D is for Dengue, Depression and Dread

I'm currently sitting in my Cancun apartment, staving off the Covid 19 panic and using all my Jungle Kelly powers to maintain my cal...