Sunday, July 21, 2024

Becoming a kid again: How Mexico has unleashed my inner childhood superhero

A few weeks ago, someone reached out to me to do a podcast on my “story.” This person profiles leaders in the healthcare industry who are trying to address a big problem or change the world through their innovation.

I was quite intimidated and my first reaction was that I don’t really belong on the list of accomplished leaders he had shared with me, but he convinced me otherwise.

We got talking, the time flew and the recording of the podcast lasted over two hours — he said it was the longest one he has ever done. I told him that I hoped that he had a good editor!

A very memorable part of the podcast was a conversation we had around the concept of fiction vs. non-fiction.

I grew up reading many comic books written by brilliant writers/creators from the U.K., U.S., Belgium and of course, India. Many of them were rooted in exploration, adventure, magical powers, history or folklore. I remember getting completely immersed while reading them over and over again.

My favorite comic book series was based on stories of adventures in Latin America. I remember feeling as if I was being transported back in time with the characters — I was right there with them, discovering the Aztec pyramids and searching for treasures and gems in the caves and caverns of Mexico. My mom would also read me fascinating stories about real-life female heroes like Hellen Keller, Marie Curie, or Amelia Earheart. I think that her objective was that she wanted me to believe that I had unlimited potential as a little girl, no matter what I chose to do.

As I told the podcast interviewer, “it was precisely that ability to imagine, to fantasize, to dream and to aspire that I wanted to get back to when I quit my professional healthcare career and moved to Mexico.”

Above all, I wanted and needed to reclaim those abilities. As an adult, I had lost the ability to play, to create an imaginary world and from time to time, give myself permission to get lost in it. I missed that feeling of child-like optimism, as if there was no limit to my super powers. I wanted to feel again that I could be anything and anyone I wanted to be. As an adult, I longed for that little girl that my adult grown-up version wished for and needed as a friend.

Little did I know that I needed an environment where I could recreate an adult version of comic books from my childhood and transport myself into them — Jumanji style. I loved watercolors when I was a kid, my two favorite colors were fuchsia pink and parrot green; bright and happy colors.

I loved painting nature scenes — mountains, rivers, trees with kids playing in nature together, it felt all very timeless now that I think about it. In my heart, I knew that I needed to be surrounded by colors, plants, plant lovers, and adorable little kids, who would teach me how to slow down time. You could say that I needed a new playground and serendipitously, I chose Mexico.

Allowing myself to be a kid again has not been an easy process for an intense, workaholic, efficient person like me. The most interesting self-discovery I have made is that an essential part of staying optimistic as an adult is to allow yourself to stay curious but playful.

Here are few qualities that I am re-embracing from childhood and my grown-up interpretation of them:

  1. Short-term memory: Forgetting the past, shedding negativity, creating new memories.
  2. Imagination: Experimenting. Dreaming. Enjoying the process of creation without worrying about an outcome: Building a business.
  3. Play: Smiling more often. Fully immerse in the act..gardening, cooking, painting, reading, swimming, talking to friends, watching it rain for hours.
  4. Ignoring noise: Realizing that whatever doesn’t bring me joy or growth is “noise.”
  5. Observing: Less scrolling and less talking. Remembering how to use my other senses. Intuition.
  6. Forgetting time: Not celebrating years in birthdays. The best anti-aging treatment.
  7. Disregarding: The stumbles in life and work and trying again and again. This one has been hard but very satisfying.
  8. Curiosity: Letting go of a scarcity mindset. Being a life-long student.
  9. Love: More hugs and kisses.
  10. Super powers: Believing. Manifesting. Focusing on where I want to go, what I want to be — without looking around.

As an adult, the world feels so heavy in today’s political environment. When I turn on the TV, whether it’s news or Netflix-type shows, what I watch brings a lot of anxiety. It feels like all media platforms are trying to spike my dopamine (related to addiction) or epinephrine (related to flight or fight response).

As a result, I find myself increasingly limiting my consumption to what I find inspiring or relaxing. Sometimes, it is watching cartoons or drawing cartoons. Other times, it is real-life stories of inspiring people — just like what my mom used to read to me. All of this helps me balance my “other” neuromodulators that increase brain health, well-being and overall happiness.

My Mexico life so far has been a delightful reminder that life shouldn’t be all grown-up seriousness all the time.

Who could have imagined that all this time I just needed to channel my inner five-year-old self to dream again? I have rediscovered that there is immense power in play, curiosity, and a healthy dose of believing that “I can be a superhero if I want to!”

So next time you feel the world getting you down, remember, it’s perfectly okay to grab your favorite crayons and dream up a world where you have the most magnificent (and possibly slightly ridiculous) superpower ever.

After all, who wouldn’t want to take on the challenge of a media business in Mexico and in the process attempt to protect the sovereignty and independence of the human brain from being programmed by AI? Now that sounds like something to write a comic book about!

More articles by Tamanna on MND:

Mexico and mental health: Exploring the power of traditions and faith

Behind the scenes at Mexico News Daily: Our interview on ‘Mexico Matters’ podcast

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

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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