Collecting colors in San Miguel

orange wall with sky blue in window

When I thought of this trip to San Miguel all these months, I saw a doorway in my mind’s eye. A doorway to new possibilities, to something big and wonderful and unknown. When I strolled that very first morning out into the streets I was struck by how the entire city was a maze of colorful doorways. Gorgeous, multi-colored walls and massive wooden doors with beautiful carved hands for door knockers every few feet. I walked each cobblestone street capturing doorway after doorway after doorway.

I could have walked for hours, for days… but there was painting to do! And there was a wonderful constellation of creative women to meet, from all over the world and of all different ages. Patsy was one who stole everyone’s heart. Patsy is 83 years old and flew, by herself people, all the way from Sydney, Australia to be at the workshop. Whatever courage I mustered to take the leap and come was trumped by Patsy’s vibrant, alive and curious spirit. “We all want to be you when we grow up!” I told her. “You are engaged and curious and vibrant and so brave…” With tears in her eyes she thanked me and said, “I forget my age when I’m with you girls.”

Patsy painted beautifully, but more than anything we were all taken by her spirit. She absolutely glowed. “At my age, every day is a gift,” she said.

It was easy to feel like each day in San Miguel was a gift. I woke up each morning to a beautiful breakfast that was cooked for me (and always included bacon!) a stroll in a colorful city of cathedrals and terracotta walls and papel picado strewn across tiny cobblestone streets. I got to fling my camera over my shoulder and snip snap in the morning light, plotting my next cappuccino. I got to have mexican hot chocolate, perfect brioche and transcendent guacamole each day. I got to get my hands thick with paint in the afternoons, touching brush to canvas and exploring the colors of my heart. It was easy to appreciate that every day was a gift.

As I re-enter my life, as I hugged my boys this morning and kissed them over and over again, I felt it still. Every day is a gift. And, as if I was afraid to lose this burst of deep sustained joy, I hid from my computer that first morning back and went straight to a cafe. The one with the best soy lattes and poached eggs on toast, the one with servers from Morocco and Cuba, the one that plays the best world music, so that I can immerse myself just a few moments longer in the pleasures of the world.

I tiptoe back into my life, trying to hold onto all of the sweetness I possibly can and bring it to my boys and my home. But of course, life happens… and instead of publishing this blog post days ago, I spent the last few days in bed with a stomach flu. Every day is a gift. Every day is a gift… I kept hearing Patsy’s voice in my mind. And I tried, I tried people!

I look forward to sharing more photos and stories with you in the coming days as I feel stronger. For now, I’m excited to share some of the colors I collected while I was away. San Miguel de Allende is really extraordinary.

rusty red and yellow wall

red walls in san miguel de allende

28 Comments

  1. Posted January 26, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    Luscious!!! Such beautiful photos, thank you for sharing this little bit of heaven with us. Despite that nasty bug – I hope you find some sand in your shoes and smile. :)

  2. Posted January 27, 2012 at 1:37 am | Permalink

    What a beautiful trip, and such lovely photos and sentiments. I’m so happy that you had this experience. xoxo

  3. Posted January 27, 2012 at 2:25 am | Permalink

    Beautiful photos. I have been looking forward to hearing about your trip and it sounds like it was amazing. Every day is a gift…..it’s just so true. Thanks for the update.

  4. Posted January 27, 2012 at 2:35 am | Permalink

    Andrea!!! :) Gorgeous! wonderful photos – I’m so glad that you had this wonderful time – you deserve it and all wonderful things – so happy for you!! xoxo Beth

  5. Posted January 27, 2012 at 2:51 am | Permalink

    Beauty everywhere. Thank you for sharing Andrea…. It’s so good in sharing your joy. A reminder of what we all can reach for ;)
    Txo

  6. Jenny
    Posted January 27, 2012 at 3:08 am | Permalink

    I am so, so happy to see these photos and to read about your experiences in San Miguel! My husband and I got married there 1.5 years ago–it was an extraordinary experience. I think every wedding should have a parade and a tequila donkey! We crave that place and hope to return soon.

  7. Posted January 27, 2012 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    I love these photos! Especially, especially Patsy’s hands. One of my favorites of yours, ever! Thank you.

  8. Posted January 27, 2012 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    ok, i am sold! Is there somewhere i can get some info about this painting class? I’d love to try it next year!

  9. Posted January 27, 2012 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    I love all these colors — so much beauty and inspiration. Wow! Be well.

  10. Barbara
    Posted January 27, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Oh! I would give anything to have been part of this! It breaks my heart to read of it, see your gorgeous photos, and to know I had no idea it was happening….and missed it. San Miguel has called me so strongly, and to do art, to do it with such fabulous women…. Sigh.

    Thank you for sharing. I hope you are feeling yourself again, and look forward to more pictures.

  11. Posted January 27, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Gorgeous, can’t wait to see more!

  12. Sandra
    Posted January 27, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been waiting to hear about the trip because it sounded so good – looking forward to hearing more, too.

  13. Posted January 27, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    so exciting to see how we captured the beauty of the place in our own special distinctive ways :) these are beautiful, andrea!

  14. Posted January 28, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    So strange that Kelly had to miss the trip because she was sick (so sad!), and then you got hit after–illness does have so much to teach us about gratitude and grace.

    I can’t wait to see what impact this experience has on your work, your vision, what you share with us. I am a writer, but Superhero Photo made me want to be a photographer, and now this makes me want to be a painter. Do me a favor: don’t join the circus, okay?

  15. christer1979
    Posted January 29, 2012 at 2:38 am | Permalink

    Your photo of Patsy’s hands make me tear up. I’ve always loved photos of hands colored with paint, but hers were so graceful and aged in such lovely ways. I love the idea that creativity will follow us our whole life through. Helps me chill out when I get anxious about not writing/songwriting/photographing more. Every day is a gift, but there is also time…

  16. Posted January 29, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Gorgeous photos! Wish I was there!

  17. Posted January 29, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    wow…such cool photos! those hands and the story of patsy…truly beautiful.

  18. Jennifer Hagedorn Dizon
    Posted January 30, 2012 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Truly happy for you. Thank you for sharing the beautiful things, the beautiful stories, the beautiful images… everything. Hope you’re feeling better. :)

  19. Posted January 31, 2012 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    tear in my eye. have written engaged curious vibrant and brave and stuck it up on the wall in front of me. every day IS a gift. xx

  20. Posted February 1, 2012 at 3:14 am | Permalink

    Lovely.
    Plus, just got one of the last three tickets to WDS in Portland. I think I am still in shock over how awesome this is going to be. Everyday is a blessing.

  21. Kerry Cutler
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    This reminds me of a photography assignment I had in digital photography class. I need to spend more time collecting colors. Thank you for the inspiration. :)

  22. Posted February 3, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    every day is a gift. i love this.

  23. Posted February 3, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    Oh. Andrea. It makes me so happy that you had that time in Mexico. Just, yay.

  24. marilee pittman
    Posted February 4, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    You are going to be a magnificent old lady one day and will be saying wonderful inspirational things to young people just as you do everyday.

  25. Posted February 4, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    Patsy sounds like a wonderful woman, and I plan to have that same spirit, vibrancy and curiousity when I reach her age!

  26. Posted February 5, 2012 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    We have the same name and I’ve always said that every day is a gift! But I’m not yet 83 years old and I’ve never flown by myself and doubt i ever will! Great post! Patsy from HeARTworks

  27. Posted February 6, 2012 at 1:58 am | Permalink

    Mesmerizing! I’ve been dreaming of a camp-for-grownups like this. Infused with travel, creativity, and beautiful souls…your photo of Patsy’s turquoise splattered hands and your description of her spirit brought me to tears. I’m a new reader of your blog, but if I’m not mistaken, I recognize your name from a book or two of SARK’s I read what seems like a lifetime ago. Nice to “meet” you! Be blessed.

  28. Patsy
    Posted December 13, 2012 at 2:08 am | Permalink

    Darling Andrea,

    You made me cry ,again!! with your beautiful words ..I m very humbled by your comments and say how much I miss you all wish I was coming to San Miguel with you all again again but I will be there in spirit..I think the beauty you see in others is just a reflection of your own essence. My beautiful son Andrew (whom I spoke about when with you all ) has sadly passed away ,6 weeks ago so we are still grieving his loss. How I long to be with our gorgeous Flora and with my sweet friends from San Miguel
    love you dear Friend ,your photos are amazing thank you Patsy xoxo

2 Trackbacks

  1. By Joy Jam « A Thousand Shades of Gray on February 10, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    [...] working on a tiny painting. The hands remind me of a similar picture of an 83 year old painter, hands splattered with paint, that Andrea Scher shared on Superhero Journal recently. I want to be old like that, I want to be [...]

  2. [...] And if you’ve played in her world for a while, you’ve probably fallen in love with her euphoric photography, paint-splattered artistry and just-in-time urgings to keep it simple, [...]

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