My Shedventure to the Mexican town of San Miguel de Allende

I was graciously asked to be a guest writer by Bindu Wiles for The Shed Project, an 8-week adventure in letting go that she launched in early September. The project is about coming together as an online community, to support each other in letting go of excess baggage, of whatever is weighing you down. It could be your need to let go of material goods, negative thought patterns, a job, a lifestyle, etc. It’s still going on, so if you haven’t joined in, learn more here.

So, here’s my story about a time when I let go of all that was comfortable, of a life I was no longer happy living, and the details of the results yielded from taking a risk and following my heart’s desire…

Every act of creation starts with a feeling.

Mine came about after returning from my honeymoon touring Italy, Spain and France. I knew how great life could be and didn’t want to just exist. I heard things like, Do what you love and the money will follow, and the words haunted me. I began to question everything about my life and felt a change coming.

The feeling became so strong and I didn’t understand why. I was complaining more- apartment’s too small, I need more closet space, my job sucks. Frustrated and ready to act, I moved apartments and switched from a job sitting behind a desk for one that had me standing practically all day. Wrong move! New apartment, more space, nope. New job, longer commute, hell no. Neither change worked. I had to switch paths completely- leave banking for a writer’s life. What did that mean? How would I do that?

One night while flipping through Oprah Magazine, I saw the author, Beverly Donofrio who wrote the book-turned-Hollywood movie, Riding in Cars with Boys featured. She couldn’t find solid ground anywhere, moved a lot, never bought a home until she went to the central Mexican town of San Miguel de Allende. Her picture’s caption said: Beverly Donofrio at her home in San Miguel de Allende.


I said “That’s it. I’ve gotta go.” Instantly, I knew I was headed for San Miguel de Allende and just for kicks, I decided to look for Beverly once I arrived. Beverly said, “If you trust and go for what you want, like a hurricane, the universe pushes open one wharp-stuck door after another and showers you with its gifts.”

I was done with being an escape artist. No more crying to friends over the phone on lunch breaks about not doing what I loved. I was starting new, starting over. I would follow my bliss to Mexico.

It’s no coincidence San Miguel was my destination. It had chosen me five years earlier when I met and fell in love with a town local, my husband, Martin. I’d been there once, after we’d married, and my first taxi ride down those cobble-stoned streets and through those colorful alleyways brought a rush of excitement I couldn’t comprehend.

When I declared my desire to leave, Hubby thought I was crazy.

Quit your job to become a writer?

A far-fetched idea, but it made perfect sense to me. Resistance showed up. My husband didn’t reject me going to San Miguel- he had family there, though I didn’t know them.

He wanted to know, “What’s your plan when you come back?”

I said, “I don’t know…yet. But I’ve gotta do this.”

Girlfriends were saying, “You shouldn’t leave your husband alone…” Now I needed to worry about my husband cheating!

My manager tried to convince me to stay, saying, “You know…I tried that whole starving artist thing. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.”

Sorry! My ticket was booked and I would decide for myself. Discouragement translated to gibberish. My mind was unchangeable.

Martin and my parents accompanied me to San Miguel and my excitement was off the charts once we arrived. Eventually everyone had to leave, except me. Oops, this was for real. I thought, “Oh shit, they’re really going back without me!”

My parents left early and when it was Martin’s time, I was extremely quiet as he rolled his luggage to the taxi. On the ride to drop him off, I closed my eyes, fighting back tears. I felt like a kindergardener being dropped off at school for the first time. Who were these people I would stay with?

What the hell was I doing?

I had left my job, city, country, currency, language, and now my husband was leaving me. I told him I was scared and he kissed me and said, “Everything’s gonna be alright.” He gave me the strength to say good-bye to him.

As he walked to the terminal for boarding, I waved and blew him one last kiss. He was gone and my adventure had begun. That night, I had a dream the world ended and a new world replaced it.

For four months, I slept in, letting the sun’s rays and birds singing wake me and read several books. I roamed the city, discovered great food, belly-danced, sat in the Jardin eating my favorite ice cream, helado de guanabana, and attended events with The Authors Sala. I experienced San Miguel as a foreigner and as a local, especially over dinner, chatting with new friends and relatives while feasting on made from scratch, home-cooked Mexican meals. The pan dulce accompanied by creamy atole every night was unforgettable.

Local shop owners became my friends thanks to Paulo Coehlo books and great jewelry pieces. I even tested the potentially wharp-stuck doors of Atencion San Miguel when I said to the editor of this ex-pat newspaper, “I have no journalism background, but I want to write while in town.” The door opened! I worked for the paper and filled notebooks with my own writing in cafes around town, on rooftops overlooking the city, and in the Jardin. I went from rubbing elbows with bankers to mingling with published authors. My Spanish got really good and as promised, I met Beverly Donofrio!

I lived a moment and experienced a place where the memory remains forever. Though nothing lasts forever, the beauty comes in sharing the story. This is one full circle experience I never thought to have, but here it is, and here I am, grateful for it. I leave you with…

Five Things I Learned:

:: Take risks, constantly.
:: Fear wants you to run from something that isn’t after you. Do it anyway.
:: You can do anything you put your mind to, really.
:: Be bold. Ask for what you want.
:: Follow your own path. Be courageous and create it.

The universe came through for me because I came through for myself.

Cheers to letting yourself go!

Cheryl Chavarria
*To view photos of my time in San Miguel de Allende, click HERE.

*And for a closer look at the colonial city of San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, watch this 3-minute VIDEO.


6 Responses so far. Add Your Own.

I’m currently in a really tough time in my life where i feel so trapped. These past few months all I do is cry and think about what my options are or could be. I started off with hopes and solutions but now things are crumbling. I had a buyer for a condo I can no longer afford, but that buyer walked away from the negotiation. I took my dog for his shots so he would be healthy only to find that his liver is not functioning right and will probably need more tests which I definitely can’t afford. The 3 yr old relationship with my boyfriend is still strong but with all this stress I have shown him a side of me not many have seen. Unfortunately his slow motivation to obtain a better job hasn’t helped matters. The company I work for has so many new changes that I am working overtime almost every day of the week. All these things simply are making me bitter and I keep pushing everyone away from me.

However reading your article has made me realize or better yet, REMEMBER, that it really is up to you what the universe throws at you. Every morning while walking my dog, I thank God for another day of life, and although I try not to ask for much, these few months I have been asking for help. I’ve decided to stop. I will continue to thank him for each day of my life, but I will no longer ask for favors, because it is up to ME to make things happen.

Thank you Cheryl for the reminder!!!

Pookie Martinez
13 Oct 10

Just as I once felt the way you do, and STILL find myself with those feelings- it’s never going to end. It’s just life making us stronger so long as we step up to the challenge. Adversity breeds change…your change is just around the corner. Just as my husband told me, “Everything’s going to be alright.” thank you SO much for sharing your feelings. You’re not alone ever.


“Discouragement turned to gibberish.” I laughed out loud at that one. Totally been there! I love your story of leaving and arriving, letting go and finding. Like Danielle LaPorte said in her post for Shed: get rid of the ugly chair. Thanks for the reminder!


Thanks Roslynn! (psst- my middle name is Lynn:)


have i told you lately that i love you? your writing lately is fiery and bold. LOVING it and loving you.


Thank you for being a mirror to my deepest heart’s desires…and an amazing and local example for me. Your words are nourishment to my creative body.


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