Final weeks in San Miguel de Allende

The last few weeks have been a hive of activity here in SMA. Not only is it busy season at work, but we’re in the process of packing up as we prepare to return to the UK.

One of the highlights was the opportunity to hear David Ebershoff, author of ‘The Danish Girl’ speak about the process of writing his first novel and turning his words into the award winning movie. He is a delightful authentic speaker and it was such a joy to meet him.

We’ve also had the usual flurry of final dinner parties with friends and visits from friends from the UK and US.

Southern California!

Last month we headed up to Southern California for a little work and a little play with friends. We spent 5 days in the LA area visiting friends, exploring Santa Barbara boardwalk and running errands.

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We then headed down to the San Diego area and stayed with a wonderful family in Rancho Santa Fe…gorgeous area. A true highlight was making new friends and exploring a part of the country I know little about.

A day in Bernal

With our departure from Mexico fast approaching the last few weeks have been a flurry of activity. To celebrate our birthdays last month, our dear friends (practically family!) Susan and Larry took us to visit nearby Bernal. Founded in 1642, Bernal is best known

Founded in 1642, Bernal is best known by the monolith rock that dominates the skyline. At a height of over 1,000 ft, people come from all over the region to climb the rock. For some it’s a pilgrimage as there is a chapel at the top of the rock. While we didn’t have the energy to climb the rock, we did marvel at it’s magnificent presence over the town.

Instead we enjoyed a long lingering lunch, some ‘light’ shopping and a relaxed wander around town.

Happy New Year!

We had a great time ringing in 2017 here in San Miguel starting with a party on our dear friends rooftop overlooking the Paroquia in the centre of town followed by a slumber party back home. Great views, great people, lots of fun. Here’s a bit of a sketchy video of the fireworks but you get the gist!

 

We became honorary Texans for the day. In the South of the USA there is a tradition of eating black eyed peas on New Years Day as a mark of prosperity. This is a tradition Joseph takes very seriously but given that he doesn’t cook…and his usual ‘go-to black eye peas chef’ was out of town (who also happens to be Scottish!) – it was down to me to cook them this year. Following Linda’s recipe, we soaked the dried peas in beer overnight. We drained these the next morning and then fried up some onions, garlic, ham hock and bacon and a few spices before adding the peas and chicken stock to the pan and cooking them for HOURS until they were deliciously soft. I also made a big vat of chilli, rice, cornbread, guac, spinach and artichoke dip, salad and brownies. Enough to feed 30 hungry mouths yesterday afternoon…and then some!

 

 

2016 in pictures Pt. II

Hold on to your seats folks – here’s the second half of 2016 in pictures.

July/August

We headed back to Europe for the Summer and over the course of six weeks we visited the UK, Switzerland, France, Andorra and Spain with our friend Susan. We saw family and friends along the way and explored new views. Fabulous fun!

We reunited with our Sacred France friends in the Languedoc for 10 days which was fantastic fun. It was special to continue to explore the unique history and energy of the region through the eyes of our dear friend Kathleen McGowan. We celebrated our 11th Wedding anniversary while exploring the deeply significant village of Minerve. Lots of sparkling, lots of laughter, lots of great times with fabulous friends – new and not so new!

Following our escapades in France and Andorra we headed to Spain to see my brother Jason, Amber and little Zeph in time for her birthday near Barcelona. While in the area we visited Girona and the incredible monastery at Monserrat.

After leaving Barcelona we drove down the coast to Valencia for a night and on to the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Southern Spain to stay with our fabulous friend Terry near Lanjaron for a week. Time spent at El Rincon is always magical and it was wonderful to take a slightly slower pace for a week. We did spend a day exploring the magical Alhambra Palace and Gardens in Granada though. At the end of the week we drove north to Toledo (just south of Madrid) for a night and on to the airport the next day so Susan could fly back to Mexico. Matt and I then continued to drive north through the Pyrenees and Basque country back to the Dordogne. Incredible scenes en route!

Back home in Cladech, we also spent precious moments with my other brother Robin, Marie Helene and our nephew James and our cats Ronnie and Reggie. Cladech is home and it’s always wonderful to arrive, but so so hard to leave.

The final stop on our epic Summer was a few days back in the UK visiting family and friends. We had a big Ash family reunion and it was great to see Matt’s cousins Liz, Debbie and their family – all back in the UK together which is rare! Our dear friends Liz and Kevin were visiting from Boston and we managed to squeeze in a sublime lunch in Richmond. And of course, no visit home would be complete without time with the Guildford gang – great to see Nic, Peterkin and Bob too.

September/October

After all that travelling it was good to get home to Mexico. September is a big month in Mexico as it’s when we celebrate Independence day and since the movement began here in San Miguel the celebrations here are huge!

Joseph and Eduardo finally moved into their new home and we helped them to kit out their kitchen….and I started cooking for them…still hoping one of them might actually learn to cook before we leave the country next year!

In October I headed back to the UK for a week. Great to see friends and family again!

And we celebrated Eduardo’s birthday

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November

A big month of Day of the Dead celebrations (BIGGER than Halloween here!), dinner parties, visits from friends and Thanksgiving.

We celebrated Joseph’s big 40, a visit from Ed over Thanksgiving and our friends Amanda, Rody, Michelle and James visiting from Portland.

December

And so we made it to December. I started a month with a thrilling three day trip to Hermosillo in Northern Mexico to see some clients…who I now count as friends too! I was able to be a part of their amazing Game of Thrones themed Christmas gathering….and Mexican’s know how to work hard and party hard too! We then escaped to Puerto Vallarta for a fun weekend with Amanda, Rody and lots more friends on the beach.

We then escaped to Puerto Vallarta for a fun weekend with Amanda, Rody and lots more friends on the beach.

San Miguel looks gorgeous at this time of year with the Christmas decorations up and lots of celebrations taking place in town.

We’re getting ready to cook a big Christmas dinner for friends and our Mexican family. Wherever you are…have a peaceful joy-filled Christmas and a fabulous New Year!

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2016 in pictures, Pt. I

January

We said farewell to a wintry Blighty and arrived in San Miguel de Allende! Celebrated our birthday’s and settled into life in the high desert!

February

Our great friend and colleague Traci visited from Iowa – and escaped the winter! We had fun exploring the town, visiting with friends and watching Eduardo participate in a Storytelling Festival showcase.

 

March

Miranda made a quick trip to San Francisco and spent time with clients and friends!

Back in San Miguel is was Easter season – Semana Santa – which is taken VERY seriously in this town. Parades every day…some more reverent than others – each is colourful and unique.

April

Not too much happened this month as Miranda prepared for conference season at work! But in between all that, we enjoyed cherished moments with friends and more exploring!

 

May

Summit time meant that Miranda was in Miami for a week or so working hard and having fun!

And not long after returning to San Miguel we had four of our friends from Romania visit for 10 days. It was great to see SMA through their eyes. We also spent a wonderful weekend on a friend’s ranch and made the most of the warmer weather! Hot Springs, Mariachi bands on our roof and birthday celebrations made it a great month!

June

The beginning of rainy season here in the high desert – hot days, balmy nights and some welcome moisture.

We had a new neighbour for the month – one of Joseph’s closest friends from San Angelo – Matt. Matt is a Spanish teacher and came down to SMA for a month to hone his language skills. Both Matt’s hit it off…bit of a bromance going on…and enjoyed afternoons putting the world to rights over a few beers on our roof. They also have a shared passion for Monty Python…lets just say that there were a LOT of laughs in our house in June!

Part II coming soon! 

Hermosillo fun

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Take 250 people who love to self-manage themselves and what do you get? Nearsoft.

Nearsoft is a self-managed IT outsourcing organisation based in Hermosillo in North West Mexico. When we moved in Mexico earlier this year I was determined to make sure that I took the time to visit our friends at Nearsoft to see the secrets of their success with my own eyes. I’m so grateful that the People Team at Nearsoft decided that the run up to Christmas was the perfect time for me to pay them a visit!

The company has been growing rapidly over the last few years and has achieved 12x growth using the tools of Freedom at Work™ and self-management where people engage in peer-to-peer relationships, make decisions together and support each other’s individual and collective growth.

To say that I was impressed by Nearsoft is an understatement. They have created something so rare. Over the course of my few days in Hermosillo I asked so many of the team what their secret sauce is….no one could give me an answer. Freedom at Work comes relatively naturally to the team. They are all mature thinkers and understand to whom and to what they are responsible. Many teammates commented that one of the reasons they love working at Nearsoft is the ability to determine their own destiny because each person is trusted to get the job done. All said that this was in stark contrast to previous jobs in command and control style organisations.

When people arrive at Nearsoft, they may have a job description but this doesn’t mean they can’t explore other interests and activities. In exploring the WorldBlu 10 Principles of Organizational Democracy™, Nearsoft utilised the principle of Choice through project exchanges, mentoring, work sharing, and discussions, where employees get the chance to learn and decide how they want to develop their career and/or change their role. By doing all they can to ensure employees are in the right role, the company ensures that all individuals are happy, engaged, and working at their best.

It’s not unusual to find groups of Nearsoftians getting together for dinner at the weekend or going to see a movie together. This year a number of teammates are expecting babies and they recently held a giant baby shower for all the expectant mothers. In addition, they actively hire women (unusual in the IT sector) and have implemented a number of practices to make it easy to flexibly manage their work schedule around the needs of their children. The office games room turns into a play area for some of the children after school and children are included in holidays such as Halloween.

One of the things I love about Mexican culture is the great sense of family values. Family is number one here. And family come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. By the time I left Hermosillo, I realised that the secret sauce at Nearsoft is that they behave like a family who express unconditional love and Ubuntu – lifting the company higher in the process.

At a time when our sense of freedom and democracy is being challenged by certain ‘politicians’ and mass media who often negatively portray Mexicans as lazy and unworthy, Nearsoft shows the real story…the story the media choose to ignore. To anyone wondering what it really is like to work in an organisation where everyone is valued….take a look at Nearsoft. They are the real deal.

And being Mexicans – they work incredibly hard, and play hard too. We spent days collectively strategizing future needs for the organisation and their clients and by night we explored the town including some of the amazing food Hermosillo has to offer. I even attended my first baseball game in years and the icing on the cake was joining the company End of Year Party….Game of Thrones style. It was epic! I can’t remember the last time I went to a work Christmas party – being a remote team, it’s hard to get together at Christmas.

Our fabulous friends at Nearsoft took me into their hearts and made me a part of their family. I can’t thank all the Nearsoftians enough. You’re all a part of the WorldBlu family too.