Posts tagged ‘mexico’

March 1, 2018

Writers’ Paradise

by lisa st john

#ebags #eaglecreekWelcome to March 1st. From now on, I am going to post here on the first of every month. Not that often, right? Except that I now have another blog: Widows’ Words. This one is focused on my memoir, The Beds We Live and Die In. It’s about loss and widowhood and moving through it all.

I also launched a website to keep everything together:

I hope you check them both out. I am excited. I really am living the writer’s life and I wake up every day full of energy and ready to work/write.

I am forever grateful to the International Women’s Writing Guild for starting me on this path. If you haven’t been to their amazing online webinars and real-life conferences you are missing out. They are “a global powerhouse & digital village for mighty, soulful women writers.” I can’t wait for the Boston Retreat in April. The summer IWWG Conference is where I heard about the San Miguel Writers Conference in February. I got to attend, and it was like a gift from the ancient gods.

Parish Church

San Miguel de Allende is not only a UNESCO World Heritage site; it’s a mecca of culture and beauty. I have been to this amazing city before–once with my late husband and our son, twice to visit friends, and now to experience the writing community. It was beyond amazing. Workshops in tents outside the gorgeous grounds of the Hotel Real de Minas, round table discussions with authors, pitch sessions with agents, excursions, and fiesta! The keynote speakers are world famous: Rita Dove, Sandra Cisneros, Wally Lamb, and Joseph Boyden just to name a few. 

The air was electric with creative energy. I re-focused, rejuvenated, remembered, and released. I worked on the memoir, but also crashed into some poetry with the astounding Judyth Hill. Here is an excerpt of a fragment that will someday grow into a poem, thanks to Judyth’s prompts.

“Blue brushstrokes of longing
are the impasto of my memory,
and my heart is in Orion’s star.
La Llorona comes for me in a blood moon the texture of hunger.”

Hill was so right when she said that “poets are the grievers of culture.” It’s our job as artists of all kinds to bear the heart of our time.

Check out the CDC Poetry Project, for example. Check out Amanda Palmer’s “Strength Through Music.” Dictators fear artists and intellectuals. Why?

“Art creates pathways for subversion, for political understanding and solidarity among coalition builders. Art teaches us that lives other than our own have value.” (Eve L. Ewing)

There are beautiful, loving groups everywhere who believe in art, who promote art, who value voice. Check out this Children’s Art Foundation in San Miguel. Check out the American Library Association. They need us now more than ever. 

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By the way, loved Interjet Airlines. I left San Miguel to fly to Puerto Vallarta to visit a jungle village they don’t want me to talk about (even though it’s all over the travel sites). I guess I’ll just say I may not miss the Chachalaca birds in the early morning. 

January 9, 2018


by lisa st john

“Who is that pretty mask for?”IMG_0018
“For me.”
“You can give yourself presents?”
“Yes. We have to give ourselves presents.”
“To tell the universe how grateful we are.”

“I’m telling Santa.”

If giving feels so good, why don’t we give ourselves gifts more often? And why do we give people gifts on their birthdays? We should give the gifts to their moms, no?

1. a thing given willingly to someone without payment; a present. “a Christmas gift”
synonyms: present, handout, donation, offering, bestowal, bonus, award, endowment; More
2. a natural ability or talent. “he has a gift for comedy”
synonyms:talent, flair, aptitude, facility, knack, bent, ability, expertise, capacity, capability, faculty; More


I am Cleo, and I will be around 21 years old this August.

My old cat wakes up sometimes and yowls like a B horror movie beast. I think she wakes up and wonders where she is, who she is, and why she is still here. But what do I know? Cats can get senile I am told. I give her the gift of gabapentin; she’s lucky I don’t put it in my coffee instead.

The “gift-giving season” is a diabolical (irony intended) stressor. So this year I gave my family flowers. Bouqs was a hit for out of town people, but I like my local florist best. They are artists (gifted, if you will). The Green Cottage is like no other florist/store/magic place. For them it’s not just about making money–it’s about sharing beauty; and that is a gift we can give ourselves every single day. Like Blake said, it’s all about seeing … “a World in a Grain of Sand / And a Heaven in a Wild Flower.” The following two images are both extraordinarily beautiful to me. Why? In “The Neuroscience of Beauty,” authors Steven Brown and Xiaoqing Gao say that:
As much as philosophers like to believe that our brains contain a specialized system for the appreciation of artworks, research suggests that our brain’s responses to a piece of cake and a piece of music are in fact quite similar.

Louie Schwartzberg says that “We protect what we fall in love with.” Watch this video and see what he means.



The gifts we give ourselves are right here, right now.

I am on the hunt for the perfect, secular word for “grateful” and/or “blessed.” Please let me know if you find it. “Lucky” implies I have nothing to do with it, and I don’t buy that. I choose to see a bend of turquoise because if I don’t notice the magic of the world then I have nothing to give others. I send money to students in Mexico not because I feel guilty for some American white (ish) privilege reason. I give because I can. A new pair of shoes for me is a semester of college for them. I have all the Crocs I need.

My late husband, Kent E. St. John, used to get his college buddies to go out with him even if they had no cash. He’d say, “If I have enough for one beer, I have enough for two.”

With everything going on in the world, we need more gifts for ourselves and each other. We need humor

and music and art and gratefulness and dessert before dinner and swimming and snuggling and reading and cookies and things. Let’s share them. Let’s Tweet our gifts as well as our arsenals.  Right now, we need both.


You can buy my chapbook of poetry HERE at Finishing Line Press. This is Genevieve. She is asymmetrical but still wants treats.

February 6, 2016

What’s Wrong with My Head?

by lisa st john

“You live too much in your own head,” she said.

I am still trying to understand what that means. Where else do I have to go?


Ken Robinson explains that university professors, “look upon their body as a form of transport for their heads.” Why is that so bad?

I like the inside of my head—my mind. It’s safe there. I have friends there.

When I had my first kiss at age12 (yuck), I could go and complain to Meg. Any girl who can travel through wrinkles in time would understand.

When I had an abortion at age 16 I could go to Narnia and snuggle deep into Aslan’s fur. I had nowhere else to go.

My mind let’s me remember swimming in Isla Mujeres or walking through Central Park or rocking in my hammock. But spaces are not places and inside spaces are more difficult to navigate than outside spaces. So it’s not about where I am, it’s about where my mind is.

I can walk and walk and be back in Guanajuato when I was twenty-something traveling with the love of my life. And he was/is alive.

But it’s not just about confusion or comfort or memory. Isn’t it just one more place to travel? Not only can I go to the past, I can go to the future. Like AFP’s song, “In My Mind,” I can circle around to the almost-or-will-be places. Why not? I can spend a few hours visiting Future Lisa as she finally writes that novel or goes dogsledding in Alaska or becomes a grandmother or buys a house in Mexico. But after those couple of hours, I cannot tell you whom (who sounds better) Present Lisa was sitting next to on the train. Is that so bad?

I will never truly understand the phrase, “I’m bored.” I have never been bored. I don’t know what that means. Of course, I can define the word bored (lacking interest in a current activity? unoccupied?). But I am too busy wondering:

  • If Lolita came to life and wrote an answer to Nabokov, would it be as an adult looking back or in the voice of her child-self?
  • If we kept cats awake, would anything about them change other than their grumpiness?
  • Who is really the closest to my version of Sherlock Holmes? Benedict Cumberbatch, Johnny Lee Miller or Robert Downey?
  • If I could go into the world of American Gods, would I want to be Shadow or be his mate?


All I know right now is that when I Google the phrase, “too much in your own head” I get over 80,000 hits and too many of them are self-help garbage sites. I haven’t yet figured out what’s wrong with living in my head. Maybe I will walk some more and ponder the movement of light. IMG_3958




“Our minds are all we have. They are all we’ve ever had. And they are all we can offer others.” Sam Harris 





You can visit my author page at Amazon HERE.

You can also buy by book of poetry, Ponderings, from Finishing Line Press.

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