The Life Enthusiast Chronicles with Abby

Last month Dannie Hill reminded us that we should all open ourselves to the wonders of life, be humble, and keep loving. In my monthly series, The Life Enthusiast Chronicles, lovely humans from around the world talk about why life rocks.

Today I’m overjoyed to welcome my girl Abby Smith from VSVEVG (Very Simple Very Easy Very Good) all the way from Mexico. Abby’s quite the woman, an expat living on a farm with her husband Felipe, with many adventures and stories to tell. They left the US in search of a simpler, sustainable life.

As a lover of poetry, she talks about life with a passion and depth that I find captivating. Her survivor spirit is truly admirable, so she’s a natural as a Life Enthusiast.

Connect with Abby on Twitter.


Bucketing, not my favorite task.

First, I’d like to thank Britt, not only for the honor of writing a post for her blog, but also, for asking me—what makes you enthusiastic about life?

Honestly, I wouldn’t have considered myself a candidate for this project. Enthusiasm suggests optimism and, well, the charming energy of say, someone who posts “happy dance” videos.

I think of myself as more of a cynic with a desperately hopeful streak. Or a poet, one committed to exploring life’s paradox of beauty and pain. Adamant seems an accurate description of my approach to life.

So, as I often do when I’m trying to figure something out, like why Britt saw me as a Life Enthusiast, I went to the words.

Enthusiast = fan, fanatic, buff, devotee, supporter, aficionado

Adamant = unwavering, immovable, resolute, stubborn, steadfast

And that made me think of this story. 

Once our well was flooded by heavy rains, and it filled with sludge: stinking, black, gooey mud full of sharp rocks, sticks and dead lizards.

My husband Felipe and I set out to clean it, with a bucket, a pulley and a wheel barrel. (We don’t have such things, as sucking machines or any real services to speak of where we live, in middle of nowhere, Mexico.)

He lowered himself up to his armpits into the slime, filled the bucket, and hoisted it over his head. I then pulled it out with the rope and pulley, filled the wheel barrel and heaved it away from the well. 

The process took two days—two days covered in disgusting slime the wasps loved (we were both stung multiple times), working wet for so long, hunks of flesh peeled from our feet and hands.

On the second day I was panicky and exhausted. Every muscle hurt. I was covered in cuts and bruises.

I wanted to quit, but we had to have water, and I knew Felipe would never allow his discomfort to hinder us. He would work until we’d succeeded or all our options failed. 

The well, my Bodisatva (1)

I grew still and acknowledged the sensations I was experiencing.

I didn’t think about them, I just noticed them: the pain, the grittiness, the slippery things, and the different layers of stink. I felt my muscles and I quit fighting the bugs.

I breathed deeply—until I was completely present.

The earth shifted. It was just me and sensation, and the sensations were neither good nor bad, they just were. Suddenly, I was awash with joy, outside of time. Transcendent.

A horrid mud bath had awarded me a glimpse of nirvana.

I changed in that timeless place. I am not always joyful, not even close. But there’s a truth that lingers and informs me.

This is a day I will never forget.

The day Felipe inspired me to really live, not to turn away from difficulty, and to know the joy of being because I was willing to experience it fully regardless of the pain. This lesson made me the adamant life enthusiast I am.

*Readers, please note…Abby’s responses may be delayed as she has internet difficulties in rural Mexico. But she will respond to your wonderful comments as soon as she can. – Britt

38 thoughts on “The Life Enthusiast Chronicles with Abby

  1. danniehill says:

    I’ve gotten to know Abby from her blog and poems and this is a perfect story for the Life Enthusiastic series. Having lived ‘in the middle of nowhere’ and farming in Thailand I can so related to your story, Abby. Things that not only have to be done, but must be done to survive truly bring you to a fine, sharp point and you do travel to a place in time you never knew existed. And you see so much more than just life. I felt your pain and your world opening to the matters of life. Thank you for reminding me, Abby.

    Britt you are the one person that can draw the essence of life from people.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Abby is really an incredible gal and I’m happy to know her along with other amazing people like yourself, Dannie.

      I’m just happy people feel comfortable opening up when they participate in The Life Enthusiast Chronicles. It’s not a requirement, but the true person always shines through. So cool!

  2. Letizia says:

    So wonderful to see Abby here; I absolutely love her, her blog and her poetry. What a beautiful story, sitting still and being present with the pain. Being present… how important that is.

  3. Browsing the Atlas says:

    Abby, your words reminded me of something that often goes through my head, especially on days that I think I’d rather get through and forget. I think of the play, ‘Our Town,’ and I stop in the monotonous/painful/frustrating/infuriating moment and think: if I were dead and had the chance to come back and relive this awful day, would I? And the answer is always, yes! Yes! Yes! Between this day and nothing, I choose this day.

    • vsvevg says:

      I must see the play Juliann, it sounds great. I think in the case of that day, I would actually choose it over many others. Especially days that I don’t challenge myself. A lot of my life in Mexico has been about learning to accept, and that perception creates how we experience things. If I don’t perceive it as bad, or difficult, generally it isn’t. And even if I can’t experience something without suffering (like the death of my dogs) I often gain insights, and certainly I would always choose the moment over death. Life is indeed grand 🙂 Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

    • vsvevg says:

      Funny you should mention the zombie apocalypse Roy. I have often thought I would definitely rather be in La Tigra if the proverbial Sh@$t hit the fan. The people here are significantly more capable than I am. Felipe on the other hand…superhero. 🙂 I’m very pleased you enjoyed the post.

  4. Kate Johnston says:

    What a wonderful story of seeing through the “sludge” to the other side. Sometimes, there really is no choice. We just have to get it done. I feel like that when I’m overwhelmed with my kids and everything else. I’ll get panicky and wonder how I’m ever going to get it all done. But, I do it. Somehow, if it has to get done, we will find a way.

    Great post!

    • vsvevg says:

      Very honestly Kate, I have no idea how a person has kids and a life and a job and a house and, and, and…I admire anyone who can do that and not hide in a closet (that’s where you’d find me most days 🙂 So, hats off to you! Glad you liked the post.

  5. Minuscule Moments says:

    Love this post. Sometimes the hardest things can bring such joy. I remember my Tai Chi instructor saying the days we don’t feel like doing something is the day we need to do it most and when we finish it feels just right.

  6. vsvevg says:

    I agree, since this experience I have been able to face difficult things with much greater ease, and even embrace them! Ok, so I’m hoping for that nirvana moment : ) but I’m not disappointed if I don’t get it. I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to learn this, mud and all. Thank you for the compliment.

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