Tuesday, April 16, 2024

3 things I learned from moving to Mexico and buying a business

In December, I wrote my first article for Mexico News Daily in which I shared several quotes that resonated with my journey and what I have learned in moving to Mexico and buying Mexico News Daily.

The outpouring of comments and support I received from many of you was humbling —thank you for that!

I thought I would share some additional details about a few key realizations that led me to those lessons. I love reading inspiring books but often, they are “in retrospect” with a clean start and finish.  As a result, I can struggle to find them relatable or to apply the what I’ve learned to my life in real-time.

With that in mind, I want to continue to share my ongoing process: my journey of Mexico and Mexico News Daily as I see through my art, to engage with you while I am in the thick of it. I encourage you to share your journey and experiences in the comments to help inspire and energize others as well!

Realization #1: I like myself

It has taken me a decade to realize that true self-care starts with being brutally honest with myself. A decade ago, one of my yoga teachers suggested I read Louise Hay, and I learned about the power of affirmations.

Artwork by Tamanna Bembenek
“Love your self” by Tamanna Bembenek (mixed media on paper)

It took me a while to literally look into the mirror, to learn to look into my own eyes, to “sit and talk” to myself, to listen, to ask questions, to check-in, to probe deeply, to discover my values, to figure out what mattered to me. Self-care starts with self-love. Eventually, this journey led to more self-awareness. This is why, to me self-care is not about going to a spa or getting a massage or taking a vacation — while that might provide temporary relief, it doesn’t lead to personal growth.

In this context, self-care is a hard, messy, convoluted, continuous process of self-reflection that most of us would rather avoid. However, whenever I have pushed myself to go through this, it has been incredibly rewarding, energizing and calming. I think it is because it tethers me and makes me feel comfortable in my skin. It has helped me protect myself against the noise and influence of social media. It has kept me curious and driven me to be the best that I can be. It took the pandemic for me to realize that I was not prioritizing self-care and since then, and especially since my move to Mexico, I have been working hard to prioritize that. It has become my daily practice.

Realization #2: Diet is not just what we eat

The pandemic shut-down gave me the space to push myself to get uncomfortable, to get in touch with myself again, and to check if I was on the path I wanted to be on — everyday. The thing is, as we age, life humbles us and we begin to realize how much nonsense we have wasted time on — often in an effort to gain external validation.

Aging brings maturity, wisdom and experience; we increasingly realize that our existence is finite. Isolation during the pandemic made me think much more about the environment I had created for my life over the previous years: If I was so happy, why didn’t I get up in a good mood every day? If I liked my work so much, why did I feel so exhausted at the end of every day? Pretty soon it was evident that I was riding on a negative “energy-bank” balance more often than not.

With that realization, I started to evaluate what things in my surroundings gave me energy and what took away my energy.  I started making mental notes about family, friends, my work environment, events I attended, things that I had bought, things that I wanted to buy, books I read, hobbies, etc.

Many of us focus on exercise and diet to stay healthy, which is a great start. I am learning that “diet”  is not just limited to food — it is related to consumption in general. Consumption is also related to our environment, our surroundings. I didn’t have all of the answers but it was clear that I was not going to find all those answers in the comforts of my everyday routine.

I had to get uncomfortable. Listening to a couple of podcasts on a treadmill one day, I realized that I needed a catalyst to produce a sweeping change in my life, to get in touch with myself again. This led to quitting my current job, moving to Mexico, and ultimately buying Mexico News Daily with my husband.

My epiphany is this: my diet is not just what I eat, it is what I consume: what I hear, what I observe, what I watch, what I read, what I think, and who I spend time with, and how I spend my time. All this either adds to my energy or takes away energy. People who feel good about themselves, help others feel good about themselves — at home, at work or in a community. Remember that and pick your company wisely.

Realization #3: Mexico teaches me joy

I have always been attracted to Mexico as I feel that there is a certain warmth and energy in the surroundings, no matter which part of the country I am in.

It is a feeling that reminds me quite a bit of my formative years in India. There are many cultural similarities, both cultures like celebrations that revolve around faith, food and family; there is something profoundly grounding about that. Mexicans tend to smile and laugh a lot more, they go with the flow of life more, they deeply value connections with family, friends and community.  If I could sum up what I always feel in Mexico in one word, it is: joy.

This country has a lot of poverty and violence, and yet strangers smile a lot more, and greet me a lot more than anywhere else I have been — without expectations. Over the years, I have repeatedly seen humble construction workers, working and smiling while playing music from their cell phones. I have seen groups of strangers laughing, sharing delicious street tacos after work or warm tamales before heading to work. Mexico teaches me to look for joy in little things. Here, joy lives in daily moments, in human interactions, it is not an end goal.

Mexico has given me the space to re-prioritize self-care and re-discover my love of learning. Mexico has taught me to be more aware of my consumption. Mexico teaches me joy. My time in Mexico is reconnecting me with my quest for learning. And all of this continues to give me confidence to be an entrepreneur, despite the daily challenges I face.

Tamanna Bembenek was born in India, studied and worked in the U.S. and lives in Mexico with her husband, Travis. They are the co-owners of Mexico News Daily.

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