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Playing to Your Strengths

by sanmigueltimes
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As anyone who has raised children can attest there are certain personality traits even babies possess that will carry out through the person’s life.  You had them too and they’ll catch up with you even in retirement in Mexico.

Often when answering emails I’ll play YouTube music videos in the background.  Recently a song by 1980s-90s chanteuse, Jody Whately, played.  I had forgotten what a lovely voice she had and stopped writing to actually watch the video.  In it she was filling stadiums and flying about concert dates in her private jet.  Oddly enough the next morning the Chicago based TV station we get here in Mexico on basic cable was interviewing her now three decades later.

Still charismatic, Jody had put on some pounds (who hasn’t?) and is so old now, she could even be my age.  Jody was plugging her evening performance at a local Marriott ball room that still had tickets available.  I instantly liked her.  She knew the private planes and filling coliseum days were behind her but she still enjoyed what made her famous – combining a flair for hoop earrings with hit pop songs and dancing.

Others only retire when they face the brick wall of rejection and their time in the spotlight is obviously over.  For famous folks, like Norma Desmond and Greta Garbo, they go into hiding often in the valley of the dolls and Jack Daniels.  Yet, with their basic personalities still blazing others simply switch areas of focus like Liz Taylor that made more money from perfume than the combined salaries of all her movies.

It reminded me of a years ago conversation with two of my parents’ pals then residing in Hilton Head Island, SC.  Hilton Head is divided into plantations, or more PC-term we call neighborhoods, with a variety of volunteer opportunities between the churches and home owner associations.  When asked if they enjoyed their plantation opportunities my parents’ pals replied “There are too many chiefs and not enough Indians.”  The implication being too many folks wanted to be in charge and too few wanted to do much.

For me, it was never the desire to be the boss, rather curiosity has always ruled.  Sure it may kill cats, but what do I care?  I’m allergic to them anyway.


As a child I did reports on the history of our suburban neighborhood not because Sister said to.  I just wanted to.  Then I got old enough to work and became a trim-the-tree expert at the local Sears.  I was amazed how many adults asked 16 year old me how to decorate their tree (FYI – monochrome gold, as yellow was and is my favorite color).  When the holidays ended I went to Personnel (the precursor to Human Resources) and promised to work anywhere they asked for the extra hours.

Smartest move of my young life.  I learned all about slips, tires and became the first male operator at Sears.  (I still recall the closing announcement of “Thank you for shopping at the Sears.”  The Sears?  Like it was the Vatican or the White House!)

Within what to me was an excruciating amount of time (a handful of years) I started a technical writing and training company and became what is now part of that dreaded 1% of income earners in the US.  I wasn’t fascinated by technical anything, or being in charge, but I was wildly curious how I could work from home being a single parent raising babies and later attending soccer games, mock court, and improv events my teens were in.

When a sudden, and unexpected, offer came to buy the company as my kids went off to college I jumped at the chance to retire.  I was curious where that opportunity could lead.

Speaking of opportunities, measure your retirement ones and know yourself.  If you were an entrepreneur, like me, take the chances to start new stuff here.  A teacher?  Plenty to teach in Mexico.  Someone who was content to organize events?  You can be content doing that here too.

For us in San Miguel, I’ve not run into ex-pat chiefs looking for Indians.  Those folks have second or third homes here and come down to absorb themselves in the culture and enjoy the perks like history, food and dancing in short doses.  Most resident ex-pats are retired government folks on pensions, or artists.   Both enjoy the perks of Mexico.

My point is know yourself and play to your strengths, whatever they are, and be patient even at this late stage of life.  The right opportunity will come your way just like it always has.  Don’t be distracted volunteering or doing other activities that aren’t really what you’re good at, or are even needed.  It’s easy to be a martyr and pretend whatever cause you volunteer or work for will fail without you.  Perhaps it would.  But like with Norma Desmond’s career, the time for that cause has ended and you need to find your perfume rather than be a bat-shit crazy gal placing a dead person in the pool.



Joseph Toone is the Historical Society’s short-story award winning author of the SMA Secrets book series.  All books in the series are Amazon bestsellers in Mexican Travel and Holidays.  Toone is SMA’s expert and TripAdvisor’s top ranked historical tour guide telling the stories behind what we do in today’s SMA.  Visit HistoryAndCultureWalkingTours.com, and JosephTooneTours.com.

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