Author Archives: iamkaren23

About iamkaren23

I am a Canadian writer currently living in Leavenworth, Washington. I published When Glad Becomes Sad in 2009. My second book, Alive Again, was published in March of 2015. Both are self-help books. I am currently working on a third book, this time a work of fiction.

Dumbo……..Oh No!

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Dumbo……..Oh No!

I was a child back in the 50s. I grew up watching Disney movies which at that time portrayed all these fanciful characters whose home was Fantasyland. Dumbo was one of these. Originally released in 1941, Disney studios created a more modern film that was recently released in 2019.

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To my dismay, this new movie has a sinister twist to it and I would classify it in the Children’s Horror category.  Gone is the innocence and purity of portraying evil in a simple, animated manner. While at the end of the movie Dumbo and his mother are reunited, the black drama that precedes this event is definitely unsuitable for a young audience. In fact, the day I saw Dumbo here in Aguascalientes, the audience was all adults. There wasn’t a single child in the theater.

Years ago, on one of our visits to Disneyworld in Florida, my children and I were enchanted with Fantasyland. I can still see their smiling faces as we excitedly clambered into an elephant and were soon airborne on the Dumbo ride. In fact, it was one of their favorites and we rode it several times. I can still envision my daughter clutching that precious Dumbo stuffed elephant sold in the many kiosks on the Disney properties.

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Taking a young child to see the 2019 remake of Dumbo is not my recommendation. Some of the scenes are gruesome and more than scary and likely to cause nightmares. As an adult, I was disappointed and I wonder what Walt Disney’s feelings would be were he still alive.

On the plus side, I saw this film in Spanish with no English subtitles. I was delighted at how much my Spanish has improved over the years. 

One Church Aguascalientes

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One Church Aguascalientes

Finding a Christian church in Mexico is difficult enough as this is definitely Catholic country. Finding a Christian church where I feel comfortable and welcome is another hurdle. Finding a church where I am able to become involved is a blessing. I’ve lived in several places in Mexico and have attended a few Christian churches. The gringo churches were not my favorites. While I am still not completely fluent in Spanish, I still prefer the Mexican churches over the gringo churches.

Here in Aguascalientes I have discovered a gem of a church, and it’s only two blocks away from where I am staying. One Church is only two years old and has only fifty congregants. A husband and wife, both pastors, not only spearhead this church but they also financially support this church with outside jobs. Although One Church is affiliated with Redime (Redeemed Church), it receives no funding from this organization. Additional funding is provided by contributions from the congregants at the services. Tax receipts? Not in Mexico.

Services are held Sunday mornings at 11 am and Thursday evenings at 7 pm. The worship team lead the congregation in prayer and praise followed by a short coffee break. A nursery as well as a children’s program are available when the pastor next gives a sermon. The service concludes with more prayer and praise.

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The church has an active group for young adults that meets on Saturday afternoons. A time of prayer and bible study is often augmented by going out into the community and evangelizing. The church also sponsors a radio program on Saturday afternoons where the pastors and congregants participate. The pastors were also instrumental in establishing a drug rehabilitation center in Aguascalientes. Many of the congregants volunteer their time at this facility.

The pastors themselves come from very different backgrounds. Martin attended Ana Sanders Seminary in Mexico City and received a doctorate from Vida Nueva Para El Mundo. Elizabeth had traveled around the world with profeta Yalile Diaz, Interestingly enough, Martin and Elizabeth met on Facebook. They have been married for three years and have an adorable two-year-old son.

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If you ever find yourself in Aguascalientes, I highly encourage you to seek out this church in Las Flores. I’ve been in Aguascalientes for only three months, and I truly feel that I belong to this church family. The pastors and the congregants have been most welcoming to this gringa, and I know that I will miss them when I head back up north in a couple of weeks.

Into The Home Stretch

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Into The Home Stretch

Today is April 4th. In three weeks time I will be back in Washington. I’m now into crunch time with several last minute things to do.

Here in Aguascalientes I still have one museum and one church on my list. A day trip to San Jose de Gracia is still on my list. My one month stay turned into three months and even that isn’t long enough.

The Feria San Marcos is coming up and it is the largest fair in all of Mexico and goes on for more than two weeks. Some of the events are happening right at the end of my street. Friends have warned me of the 24 hour loud music and the millions of visitors who come here to Aguascalientes for this fair. My dilemma is do I stay here for that extra day or do I leave a day early and spend a day in Puerto Vallarta before getting my flight to Seattle.

I have also begun investigating in earnest the joys of travel health insurance plans. Not all plans cover the USA and apparently not all plans cover the state of Washington either.

I just returned from a whirlwind weekend in Culiacan with my family. My new grandson is a month old today and I met him for the first time last weekend. There is also nothing like having your six-year-old grandson crawl into bed to cuddle with you at 6:30 am on a Sunday with a Mamut (chocolate-covered marshmallow cookie). Or playing Spanish card games with him and his two brothers. The weekend flew by all too quickly.

I’m off to explore the Thursday tienguis in my neighborhood now. I enjoy engaging the vendors in conversation and always find something to buy.

 

 

Traveling Solo This Winter

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Traveling Solo This Winter

This has been a very different winter for me here in Mexico. When I left Culiacan back in November, I was determined to explore parts of Mexico that I had never seen before. When I lived in Guadalajara, I traveled to various pueblos on the weekends. I visited friends in Mexico City. I lived in Irapuato for a few months and checked out Guanajuato. But there was still lots of new territory left to explore in central Mexico.

Many of my friends back in Washington were skeptical about my plans. You’re going to travel alone? You’re going to take overnight buses? You’re going to a place where you know no-one? You’re not sure where you will wind up or for how long? But that’s exactly what I have been doing for the past few months and I have enjoyed every minute of it.

When I first arrived in San Ciro de Acosta, I marveled at the quaintness and the simplicity of life there. The town didn’t even have a bank. You couldn’t use a credit card here if your life depended on it. It was like stepping back several decades in time. And I thought that a couple of weeks here would suffice.

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But I was mistaken. I spent two of the most relaxing months of my life in San Ciro. I had time to work on my book without interruption. More importantly, for the first time in a decade, I had time for ME. I had time to contemplate life, time to process all the changes, time to reflect on my experiences and time to think about what lies ahead.

When I felt ready to leave, my destination was the city of Aguascalientes. Former students had raved about the beauty of this city and I was eager to see it for myself. And I have not been disappointed. The museums, churches and parks are amazing. It is such a clean city and is right up there with the Yucatan in terms of safety. Initially I planned on a one month stay.

But as the one month mark drew near, I knew that a second month was definitely in the wings. And when the second month drew near, I knew that a third month was indicated. And as the third month is drawing near, I am seriously considering returning here next winter for several months.

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Years ago my therapist remarked to me that I was fortunate that I made friends easily and adapted well to new situations. Sometimes this blessing is also a curse. While the transient lifestyle has its appeal, it also has its downside.The older I get, the harder it is to say good-bye to people I meet on my journey. However the friendships I have made are priceless and the growth I have experienced has been incredible.

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                                                     And that’s OK.

 

A Day in Zacatecas

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A Day in Zacatecas

Last week I went on a day trip to the city of Zacatecas. My primary destination was the silver mine that had been made into a museum, La Mina del Eden. The bus trip from Aguascalientes took about an hour and a half. The taxi from the bus station to the mine took another 15 minutes.

Admission is 100 pesos, but half price for seniors and children. To my surprise, I was told that a tour in English was available. I decided to opt for that one. I have taken several tours in Mexico in Spanish. While I do grasp most of the content, sometimes details are missed.

Clad in hard hats, we boarded the train that would take us deep into the mine.

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We disembarked in the darkened mine. To my delight, I was the only one on the English tour so I had the tour guide all to myself. Ruben is Mexican but had lived in Illinois for a while and his English was amazing. He was very knowledgeable and I thoroughly enjoyed my private tour. We stopped several times as he explained the history and the logistics of the mine. We were several meters below the surface ourselves, and we were able to view the water running through several meters below us as well. This photo shows just one of the many displays along the way.

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We continued our tour and it was interesting to see the gold and the quartz embedded in the rocks overhead.

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My guide further explained that there is still untapped silver in the mine. However the city of Zacatecas has grown and is now encroaching on the mine, so official mining has stopped and the mine is strictly now a museum only. My guide also pointed out that there is actually a night club  in the mine that is open in the evenings and nights on weekends.

After I left the mine I decided to walk a little, no easy feat in this city. The streets are extremely steep. I found myself at the teleferico, the cable car that goes up to the top of the mountain. But that day my fear of heights triumphed and I wound up taking an Uber to Centro instead.

I checked out the Basilica and some stores close by. That was when I noticed the tour bus.

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The tour itself was in Spanish. The bus navigated the steep, narrow streets providing me with an amazing view from the upper deck of the city below. Our guide pointed out the various historical buildings, parks and statues along the way. It was most informative and interesting.

After the tour, I came across this man sitting on a bench.

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I realize that Zacatecas has numerous museums and other attractions, but it was getting late and time to return to the bus station to board a bus back to Aguascalientes.

While I can envision another day trip in the future, the silver mine was definitely the highlight for me on my first visit to Zacatecas.

The Power of Prayer

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The Power of Prayer

Prayer has been on my mind a lot lately. Actually, it’s been much more intense in the last few weeks.

I participate online in a home group with Church of the Rock in Winnipeg, Canada. We watch a short video and then discuss it. One of the pastors serves as a host. The series we are currently studying deals with prayer. And it has me thinking about prayer a lot more than usual, especially the circumstances surrounding when, why and how I pray.

We tend to pray for ourselves when we are in need much more than when things in our lives are going smoothly. Somehow praise for God isn’t always included. But there is a reason why our church services begin with praise. This strengthens our communication and relationship with God.

I plead guilty to praying for others more often than praying for myself. But I am trying to change that. My prayers with God have become more like conversations with a friend. I take more time to pray each day, always including praise.

And now, what prompted me to write this post.

Last week, someone in my past contacted me, someone I haven’t heard from in years. We are blood relatives and although we lived in different cities in Canada,  we were quite close. But it’s interesting how my divorce and my becoming a Christian has completely changed our relationship. While I have reached out to him when he has experienced crises in his life during the last decade, I have undergone four major surgeries without hearing a word from him. My daughter got married. My first granddaughter was born. Still no acknowledgment on his part. And yes, he was well aware of all of these events. Last week I received a text on Facebook Messenger from him. Not a text to sincerely inquire as to my well-being. Nope. He had an agenda. He had a new venture on his mind and he would have benefited financially had I gone along with this.  Needless to say I have had no response to my text informing him that I was not interested in this venture. And I wonder if and when I will ever hear from him in the future.

When he needs me in his life and it’s convenient for him, then he reaches out. Otherwise I am ignored and forgotten, like a book that gets put up on a high shelf never to be dusted.

However God forgives my sins and I need to forgive others. There is no room in my heart for anger or bitterness. I want my heart to be filled with peace, love and tranquility.  So I have chosen to pray for this cousin instead.

Prayer is powerful.

The Power of Prayer

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The Power of Prayer

Prayer has been on my mind a lot lately. Actually, it’s been much more intense in the last few weeks.

I participate online in a home group with Church of the Rock in Winnipeg, Canada. We watch a short video and then discuss it. One of the pastors serves as a host. The series we are currently studying deals with prayer. And it has me thinking about prayer a lot more than usual, especially the circumstances surrounding when, why and how I pray.

We tend to pray for ourselves when we are in need much more than when things in our lives are going smoothly. Somehow praise for God isn’t always included. But there is a reason why our church services begin with praise. This strengthens our communication and relationship with God.

I plead guilty to praying for others more often than praying for myself. But I am trying to change that. My prayers with God have become more like conversations with a friend. I take more time to pray each day, always including praise.

And now, what prompted me to write this post.

Last week, someone in my past contacted me, someone I haven’t heard from in years. We are blood relatives and although we lived in different cities in Canada,  we were quite close. But it’s interesting how my divorce and my becoming a Christian has completely changed our relationship. While I have reached out to him when he has experienced crises in his life during the last decade, I have undergone four major surgeries without hearing a word from him. My daughter got married. My first granddaughter was born. Still no acknowledgment on his part. And yes, he was well aware of all of these events. Last week I received a text on Facebook Messenger from him. Not a text to sincerely inquire as to my well-being. Nope. He had an agenda. He had a new venture on his mind and he would have benefited financially had I gone along with this.  Needless to say I have had no response to my text informing him that I was not interested in this venture. And I wonder if and when I will ever hear from him in the future.

When he needs me in his life and it’s convenient for him, then he reaches out. Otherwise I am ignored and forgotten, like a book that gets put up on a high shelf never to be dusted.

However God forgives my sins and I need to forgive others. There is no room in my heart for anger or bitterness. I want my heart to be filled with peace, love and tranquility.  So I have chosen to pray for this cousin instead.

Prayer is powerful.