What did I learn?


Tropical flowers growing at our friend’s house

I have been taking a week-long vacation some place warm during the last week of the year for 17 years now with my husband Jim. Initially we went someplace new every year (e.g., Hawaii, Bahamas, Jamaica), and then we found a place we love on the Pacific coast of Mexico in the state of Oaxaca – specifically in a little town called San Agustinillo which sits right between the towns of Mazunte and Zipolite. A little slice of heaven.

Since we’d been 10 times before, we had established some routines and patterns. For example, we always stay at Posada la Barca (“PLB” for short), a simple 8-room building tucked into a big hill overlooking a gorgeous beach. And, we liked to hang out under the palapas in the lime green Adirondack chairs at Mexico Lindo – we could lounge there with a good book all day every day on our holiday, watching the waves one after the other roll into the beach and listening to the mesmerizing sound of them crashing into the sand.


View from our PLB hangout at sunset

You’ve probably heard the phrase “All good things come to an end”? Well, Mexico Lindo decided to close its restaurant! Oh, no! We like our routines…

Sometimes things just point you in the right direction. For us, it took another unfortunate occurrence to help us make a new discovery. On our second night, when walking the beach after dinner, Jim somehow tore his calf muscle. Oh, no!

Overnight we iced Jim’s calf every 3 hours, limited his movement, and kept his leg elevated. Having no experience with this kind of thing and uncertain we were taking the proper actions for healing, in the morning I went next door to get help from our neighbors. They pulled up some information on the internet (we were electronics-free) that validated we were doing all the right things. Plus, their guest was recovering from a serious hamstring pull and advised us as well. And, the man who works for our friends made a walking stick from a small tree behind their house, which supported Jim getting around. Even so, his mobility was limited.


Late afternoon whimsical clouds and golden light

You’ve probably also heard the phrase, “Every ending is a new beginning”? Well, all the years of staying at PLB, and we were just now, on our 11th trip, discovering how wonderful it is to hang out under the palapa outside of our room! We had easy access to our stuff, and, even more wonderful, we had the company of the four-legged furry kind. Every day Celeste, the PLB owner’s dog, joined us under the palapa. (If you are a dog lover, you know what a delicious gift this is.)


Our PLB hangout, complete with Celeste’s company

While hanging out one day, Jim and I had a conversation about exploiting your experiences to maximize your learning. We agreed that reflective questions encourage being conscious of what’s happening. Being inquisitive, you can help yourself take-away the most from what happens. So, it’s with this curiosity that I now find myself asking “What did I learn?” from our 2016 holiday trip:

  1. Shaking up routines can lead to delicious new discoveries.
  2. Even when ‘bad’ stuff happens, with the right attitude, you can enjoy the experience.
  3. Staying close to ‘home’ can be the perfect way to rest and relax.
  4. Asking for help makes things easier and can be reassuring.


Playa Rincon – have walking stick, will enjoy the beach!

Other questions Jim proposed for consideration include:

  • What was difficult? (Letting go of expectations and truly going with the flow of what is actually happening)
  • What was easy? (Finding joy in the beauty and kindness surrounding us)

Do you ask yourself questions to explore your experience more deeply? Are there other techniques you use to learn from what happens? I’d love to hear your questions and techniques!

May 2017 be filled with moments of presence where we open to the awareness now and invite insight to guide us.

Feliz Ano Nuevo! Happy New Year!

Here’s to an abundantly delicious year ahead. . .


  • I took the photos in this post in San Agustinillo, Mexico.
  • For more photos of our holiday, check out our photo album HERE.
  • For dog lovers, you might enjoy our adventures with Celeste – click HERE.
  • You might be interested in these other posts as you start a fresh new year:


Our former hangout at Mexico Lindo

Author: Vicki L Flaherty

I am most alive when I am creating, whether through writing, photography, gardening, cooking, crafting, sewing, yoga. I enjoy traveling because it opens me to greater awareness and new possibilities. I find a special joy when I’ve helped someone see their brilliance and express their full potential. As I've focused on living more mindfully, I've found special joy in expressing myself through poetry and photography, and in truly being in relationship with those I meet along my journey.

9 thoughts on “What did I learn?”

  1. Wow! Vicki, this looks like an awesome DREAM vacation. Oh I loved to see all of the adorable dogs. It looks like they remembered you from before. 🙂 Especially Celeste! Rocky was a hunk. I saw another dog. He/She looked like a beagle/hound. She was the cutest little thing.

    About those wave sounds… that is my favorite thing to do in the world. I love just sitting and letting those sounds rock me to sleep. How serene!!!!

    I am so sorry that Jim hurt his leg, but I am glad that you made the best of your trip. It was ironic that Jim shared a similar pain as your neighbors…. empathy. It was a true act of kindness for someone to make Jim a walking stick. Kindness and heart goes a long way even in another country.

    Kindness transcends culture and geos. What other things transcend cultures and time?

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us.


  2. Hi Vicki, happy new year to you .. hopefully better after Jim repairs !! This all boils down to “change” and I think the older (or more senior) we get, the less likely we change .. However, working for Big Blue, if you do not like change you are in the wrong job .. IT makes us all encourage change .. look how far technology has moved in the last 40 years – apparently we have more capability in our smart phones today than was used to put man on the moon – frightening thought .. cheers gb

    1. Happy New Year, Geoff! Always great to hear from you. Indeed, our ability to move with change is so critical these days. Guess it always has been. Just seems the speed of change has accelerated, almost beyond comprehension. Wishing you a wonderful 2017. “And now let us welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.” -Rainar Maria Rilke

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