Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

End of Year Reflections and a Really Big Change

One reason I love blogging is feeling connected to a larger community of writers. Exactly why I started this blog 4 years ago, and why I titled it "Coming Down the Mountain."

As writers, we must seclude ourselves for long lengths of time to get the work done. To me, it's like being on a high mountain away from people. And then it's time to come down to re-enter life, because after all, life fuels the writing.

The past year I've felt the desire to "get back on that mountain." Not just with the writing itself but by providing myself with an environment to better support my creative nature. I craved such an environment.

If my fondest dream were granted, it would be to live in the south of France or an Italian cottage and write full-time. To get out of the Western suburbs where we've been for so long-- a wonderful place to raise a family but too full of distractions to suit my current needs.

Of course, I knew it was an impossible dream. My husband and I raised a large family on one income--his-- and now we run a publishing company: neither of which point the way to wealth and prosperity.  No way could we escape to the south of France.

But if there's one thing I've learn it's that dreams do come true. Sometimes they're tweaked a bit to fit the circumstances-- in which case they often turn out better than imagined.

In January, my husband and I will be moving to Panajachel, Guatemala, where our daughter and son-in-law are preparing to open a small resort hotel. Bruce and I will continue to operate WiDo with the assistance of our staff in Salt Lake City and Houston. And we will become part of the vast expat population migrating to Central America from the US and Europe, seeking a simpler lifestyle where one can live well on less.

Most of all, I am excited to leave behind the traffic and noise and shopping centers and constant coming and going of the suburbs where we now live, and get back to that "mountain." We won't even have a car. We won't own a home. I may not have a dishwasher. Or a cell phone. There's no Costco.

We will, however, have the Internet. Thankfully. WiFi allows us to continue working for WiDo and to stay connected online and to Skype with family members, while we live on a third of what it costs us to manage in the States.

And giving up so much will give me what I really want: the kind of environment and schedule I crave to write more books. A year ago when I mapped out my year and wrote out my New Year Resolutions, I never imagined all this was in store for 2014.

My new goals will be very much like they were last year (lose weight, exercise more, eat less sugar, write another novel, be nicer to people) only set in a different locale, even a different country, with one stand-out addition: Become fluent in Spanish.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas Transitions

Our parents loved to take photos of their four daughters, especially at Christmastime. The traditional Christmas photo in front of the tree is scattered in our old picture collections.

In this one, I got to hold the new baby, our youngest sister. I remember feeling so special that I was the one to hold her for this picture. You can see a much bigger smile on my face than usual. Normally I just stared at the camera with big eyes as though to say, "Huh? Really?"

Here we are as teens/young adults. My sister set the picture in front of a pie made especially for our recent Christmas gathering. Can you guess which one is me?

And so this weekend when we all gathered in Minnesota for a sister reunion, we of course had to recreate the Jones Girl Christmas photo:

Leaving to go home is tough. I sure love my sisters! And I'll miss them until next time we can all get together again.

Merry Christmas to all of you, my dear blogging friends, as you celebrate the season with your loved ones. I will see you all next year!