The art of being jubilada

Tell people that you are having a baby, starting a new career, getting married, taking up ice climbing, running a marathon, studying to be an iguana trainer and they will all say ‘How fantastic – congratulations!’ But tell people that you are getting off the hamster wheel, selling everything and moving to Mexico and the collective response seems to be…
“But what will you do?!?”
I happen to think that regaining my sanity, my health, my sense of humour and my joie de vivre is ‘doing’ something in spades, but I now realize it’s all a bit ‘nothing’ in our fast-paced, accomplishment-driven society. Which is why I’m doing it. Nothing I mean. And moving to Mexico.
I like Mexico because they like to do things a bit differently down there. For one, they move more slowly. Partly because it’s hot. But mostly because they get distracted by the little things in life – like stopping to chat to an old friend on the street, then going for a coca cola instead of the meeting they were headed to. Or popping in to see if the old abuela across the street needs anything from the market. It’s frustrating at times, when you are the one at the other end of the meeting agenda, but after awhile you find you are doing the same. And no one thinks lesser of you.
What I have noticed about this culture is that they spend their time doing the things that give them joy. I suppose that is why they refer to retirement as ‘jubilado’, or ‘jubilant’ in English, which needs no explanation although ‘exultingly joyful ‘ comes to mind. In our own less passionate language, ‘retired’ is defined as 1. Having left one’s job and ceased to work or 2. Quiet and secluded; not seen or frequented by many people. As I’m doing neither 1. or 2., I think jubilado suits me just fine.. Or in my case – jubilada. Which brings me back to that pesky, puzzling and self-esteem denting question…“But what will you do?!?”
Although I am not sure what I will be doing down the road, I can tell you what I won’t do.
  • I won’t get out of bed until I’m damn well ready.
  • I won’t put my personal health and well being behind everything else.
  • I won’t forget to kiss my husband in the morning.
  • I won’t say “I don’t have time’.
  • I won’t say no to a game of golf.
  • I won’t rush through lunch with a friend because I have something else to do.
  • I won’t neglect to brush my dog and clean his ears.
  • I won’t wait 2 weeks to phone my mom.
  • I won’t wake up 5 times a night worried about work.
  • I won’t leave the lentils cooking on the stove for 2 hours because I’m writing a proposal and I’ve been procrastinating – again.
  • I won’t say no when I can say yes.
  • I won’t get out of the tub when the water gets cold – I’ll add more hot water.
  • I won’t work til 7 pm every night.
  • I won’t work on the weekends.
  • I won’t worry about staying up late because I have to get up early.
  • I won’t do anything I don’t want to do.
  • I won’t worry about money, even though I probably should.
  • I won’t worry about it being a ‘school night’.
  • I won’t care if I don’t make the bed.
  • I won’t wait til 10 pm to read my book.
  • And most important of all…
  • I won’t feel bad because I’m not ‘doing’ anything.
I know I am my own worst enemy when it comes to this doing nothing stuff. I’ve already started to get a bit twitchy and wonder at what rate my brain cells will start to dissolve, now that I am not multitasking like a demon or working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. So I am trying to get into a new rhythm, a new mindset. One that is less about what I did today and more about…did I do today what I enjoy most in life.
Right now that means leisurely coffee in the mornings, reading the paper, maybe breakfast at the local diner, a great yoga class, lunch with someone interesting or fun, walking my dog, cycling for groceries, writing, working around the house and garden, reading, studying some Spanish, making plans with friends, collaborating with people I like to work with, planning and cooking a great dinner, hanging out with my husband and best friend in life.
The way I see it, my job will be to leave enough space in my life for something to happen. And trust me, when you’ve been a do’er all your life, that’s a tough gig.

In October 2012, I drove 6,800 kms with my artist husband, Ric Kokotovich (, and my dog Iggy, to spend 6 months in our adopted city of Merida. Leaving the fast paced world of Calgary behind, I packed my books, art and entrepreneurial spirit, and set off to explore what lay beyond the borders that had become my life. In October 2013 we hit the road south again, hoping to find out what ‘living the dream’ really means. This is my adventure.

3 comments on “The art of being jubilada

  1. Oh my gosh! I’m going through the same thing. I sold my house, quit my stable job at a university, and am now living in a teeny duplex near downtown San Antonio, painting 100% of the time, being poor again. No other income. I’m actually doing quite well though, but find myself panicking about things anyway. I’m conditioned to worry, to plan, to schedule, to run, run, run. I’m learning to slow down and FORCE myself to relax and not worry if I’m not being super efficient, 24/7. It’s tough. I have to go through little mental exercises and say to myself every day, “Look. It’s another great day. All your bills are paid. You’re healthy. Relax!” OK, so San Antonio is not Mexico, but in Texas, it’s one of the closest places to it, right? Haha! I’ve experienced what you mean about things being slower and more relaxed here. Proud of you for chucking it all and embracing life. You are really inspirational to me!

    • You go girl! I am so sorry I was too ill to see you on my way through SA – I think we are kindred spirits! I also want to commission a small painting of Iggy, for Ric’s birthday July 15th but I need to take more pics of Iggy first. Let’s talk as I know that might not give you enough time! and have you ever considered doing greeting cards from your paintings? I am a bit of a greeting card freak, as are so many others, and I think your paintings would be brilliant. You could even offer a boxed set of cards, at a reasonable price, to each client when they commission a painting. Then sell the collection to stores around the country. What can I say, I love your work! And thanks for the kind words 🙂

  2. I would love to paint Iggy! If you commission it now, I can have it done by July 15th, but we have to get started this week. My email address is Wait. You know that. You sent an email there yesterday. Duh. 🙂 And I will get back to you on that, btw.

    Anyway, yes, I’ve definitely considered greeting cards, t-shirts, etc. etc. but I don’t have enough time in the day to do the research on how to get all that started, which images to use, where to sell them, etc. etc. I just paint all the time and correspond with customers, other administrative work, and a little free lance design for an architectural firm. Oh, and every now and then I’ll have a booth at an art festival, which is time consuming. So busy, but I love it!

    I need an assistant. Or maybe just to manage my time better. I’m trying to organize my schedule where I do administrative work two days per week and paint the rest of the week – something like that. As it stands, I jump from one thing to another every 20 minutes or so, trying to do it all, all the time. I’m making myself ADD!

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