Happiness is Happening

Jan, 14th 2022

A Love Letter to Mexico
“Happiness is happening.” In a multicolored thread, this simple phrase caught my eye while shopping in Mexico City last week. It brought light and joy to a plain creme bucket hat (which I never buy, they aren’t easy to pull off), and to the relief of the retail attendant, I bought the hat after browsing for what seemed like a solid half hour in a store that couldn’t be bigger than 10’x10’. I haven’t been able to get the phrase out of my head, or off my head, because it sums up the vibe I want to cultivate. And that is that… 

Happiness is happening. As in right here and now. Not over there or next year. 

Happiness in America is built up as a quest. "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” is engrained in our minds starting as children learning the great (strategically framed) history of our nation. As adults, we see so many different versions of how to pursue happiness. Get the job, the partner, the body, the house, the clout, the followers. And let’s be real for a second… money may not buy happiness directly, but having money sure as hell helps. Or maybe it’s just me who has expensive-ass taste and enjoys activities that cost money. Nevertheless, based on my own scrolling, eavesdropping, and personal conversations, so many people seem to be exhausted trying to figure out how to be happy. Despite our efforts of mastering self-care, life continues to happen. Which includes complicated and difficult situations that are out of our control. Oh, and of course, pandemics, which seem to not be exiting quietly anytime soon. 

My quest in finding happiness has coincidentally led me to four different parts of Mexico in the past three months. On one hand, people might be thinking I’m balling out and living the life (I’m not, Mexico is in my budget and easy to get to from LA) and on the other hand, people might be wondering if I’m having a mental breakdown, leading to my own Eat, Pray, Love moment Mexican-style. The short answer for so many trips south is because people asked me to go. Birthdays and weddings are a great excuse to take off, right? The long answer, however, is I was craving an excuse to leave LA. 

I love LA. I know it has a bad reputation from nearly everyone who doesn’t actually live there but it’s my home. However, LA was starting to feel very hollow over the last year. With so many changes due to Covid, the city had lost a bit of its sparkle. And ultimately, I’d lost my own sparkle in the process. Without having various outlets to express myself, and having to sit still amidst the chaos, I was struggling to be present. And I didn’t enjoy being Pandemic Mikki. She was a miserable little monster who felt trapped. And this overwhelming feeling of suffocating caught up with me leading to a spiritual demolition of self that resulted in igniting the biggest personal change I’ve ever been through in my life. 

Over the past six months, thanks to an incredible therapist, various lifestyle choices, encouraging friends and a personal desire for positive change, I’ve been learning how to tame this little monster which has led to experiencing new sparkles of joy. And I’m grateful that Mexico has been able to play a role as a beautiful backdrop for this period of growth. 

I’ve always enjoyed trips to various parts of Mexico over the years because there is a general sense of presence that can be felt. Locals don’t appear to be stressed, rushing off to the next meeting or appearing in a way where they’re trying to prove something. People seem to truly live their life in the moment and exude a level of happiness that isn’t emphatic nor put on but simply a level that seems like genuine contentment. 

I’ve always found this quality admirable but something that seemed out of reach as an American. However, my recent trips to Mexico in tandem with my personal inner work have me thinking that I don’t have to work so hard to find happiness. Maybe I can experience it in a simpler yet equally fulfilling way… What started as a quest to find happiness abroad, away from the emptiness I was feeling at home, blossomed into an acceptance of happiness within, and a newfound commitment to continue to build and foster a beautiful life in LA.  

Sayulita sunset
Sunsets are the best when shared with a good group of people. 
I actually enjoy swimming… when the water is warm. 
But oceans are terrifying and I need to build more muscle to not get flung around by strong currents. 
The death card in tarot is inevitable but doesn’t necessarily mean physical death. 
Not all freaky-looking bugs are harmful. 
Quaint reading nook
Massages never get old. Especially with the waves as a soundtrack. 
People in Mexico actually dance to music. It’s exhilarating to be around. 
My stomach will never fully understand Mexico. But I will remain vigorous in eating everything. 
Living in an indoor/outdoor type of home is clutch af and I need to figure out how to make that my permanent situation. 
Having zero plans + traveling with people who are loving and super chill is so refreshing and enjoyable. 
Iguanas have day jobs too. 
Iguanas present 9am - 4pm
Witnessing real happy love at a wedding is so magical. 
Babies in weddings are also magical. 
You definitely need a 4-wheeler driving on Valle roads.  
Wine tasing is not as interesting when you aren’t drinking so it’s okay to skip it next time. 
Mexican Jewish dancing at a wedding is literally the. Best. thing. Ever. 
I think I forgot how to dance in heels. 
Or at least I’m self-conscious now dancing in heels. 
Valle gets realllllly cold at night in November. 
Every airbnb should have a host dog that just hangs out. 
Getting locked out of an airbnb isn’t that bad when you spot a hot air balloon floating by. 
Fauna is literally one of my favorite restaurants I’ve ever been to. 
I want to live in a desert garden. 
This town is like a cool adult spring break.
Alaburger in La Punta
But what I imagine in my mind spring break to be, because I was a tightly wound Christian girl in college so never actually experienced “spring break” like normal people. 
I love flirting and being surrounded by hot, young attractive beach people from all over the world. 
Cooler ocean water isn’t that bad when it’s 90 degrees out. 
Again, sunsets are the best when shared with good people. 
I enjoy meeting new people and feel more confident when I know I’ll probably never see them again. 
But... the world is small and you will run into people you know.
Not me but my dream aesthetic
People who travel are my favorite kind of people. 
Go with the flow when traveling with a group. This means you may not get to eat at the best-looking taco spot but that’s okay. You’ll get by. 
This leads to the conclusion that you can eat non-Mexican food in Mexico. We had bomb peruvian and vietnamese which I would not have chosen on my own but it was a nice treat. 
Colorful buildings are guaranteed to lift your spirits. 
Make a dinner reservation on NYE or you’ll end up eating pizza at a quiet, empty restaurant and feel like you’re missing all the action.
Specifically, make a reservation at this vibey spot.
Your 30s bring better judgment. Embrace that. 

Ride with Capulin
Riding up a mountain on horseback with real cowboys is a life highlight. 
Especially when your guide explains the Mexican way is to simply enjoy life. 
And then he shares a song called, No Voy a Trabajar and it becomes your new life mantra. 
Homemade cooking hits different. Especially in Mexico.
I’m grateful I didn’t live in a time where I could have been forced to be a nun. Convents are spooky
I want to live in Condesa at some point in my life. 
The world is small (yet again) and you will run into people you know. So yes, wear mascara even though you’re in a mask. 
Asking for help isn’t that scary. People are likely to help you. 
Traveling solo allows you to practice a language more. 
Tree-lined streets are the ultimate neighborhood dream. 
Drinking good coffee every morning is a necessary luxury. (I finally bought a nice coffee grinder as soon as I got back home)
Eating a fluffy, buttery croissant every day is maybe a less necessary, but extremely satisfying luxury.  
Rosca de Reyes is delicious and I hope to find the baby Jesus someday. 
I value quiet walks through parks more than I thought I did. 
Not reading during vacation is totally fine. Exploring and walking is (oftentimes) better than a book. 
However, staying in at night and binge-watching a new show while on vacation is more than okay. It’s comforting.  
Vintage shopping is poppin’ in CDMX. 
Fashion, art and design, in general, is poppin’. 
I love fancy mushroom soup.
I must remember to plan ahead and make a reservation for Pujol next trip. Second time I’ve forgotten but still managed to have some solid meals. 
Researching the city ahead of time and adding detailed entries to your calendar prior to a trip saves a ton of time not having to be on your phone during the actual trip. 
Museums are food for my soul. Go to more. 
Except maybe skip the one that is super crowded and like 8 stories high and you’re stubborn and have to see all the floors despite being tired from renting a bike and feeling very winded and out of shape. 
I really need to freshen up my salsa dancing skills. I felt like a gringa at the salsa club and that did not feel okay. 
Journal qualities you’re grateful for while on vacation and use them as a reminder that you can bring those qualities with you back home. 
Don’t lose your temper on a plane when there are two screaming children sitting in front of you. Thank the lordt for masks that muffle your exasperated “What the f@%k” that *slipped* out. 
Keep in touch with cool people you met. They could make for a great travel buddy (or guide) in the future.
Museo de Arte Moderno, CDMX

*best read on desktop, pls excuse formatting kinks on mobile :) 

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