Embracing the chaos in Mexico City

I am a person who likes lists and being on time. I like asking questions and getting things done.

I like efficiency and feeling effective. I like goals and solving problems. I like the feeling of crossing a finish line and understanding what got me there. So what happens when someone like me, lands in Mexico City. Both the lifestyle and business culture contrasts everything that I know regarding how to get things done. The streets are chaotic, the traffic is exhausting, meetings don’t start or finish on time, agendas are never adhered too and decisions are made in the last 5 minutes of a four hour meeting. But somehow it all works. The events happen on the day they are planned, the strategies are rolled out successfully, and the people you are counting on do turn up. And in a chaotic display of adhesiveness they all have the desired impact.

Night time traffic around El Angel de la Independencia, Mexico City.

Night time traffic around El Angel de la Independencia, Mexico City.

In this new culture I am adapting. I can not push my previous expectations and understanding of business etiquette, agendas, and timelines onto this new environment. I still ask questions, I still turn up on time (and regularly wait half an hour for others) and I still write lists. But I am trying to change my rhythm to match the beat of Mexico. I am trying to embrace the chaos.

And what I am realising is that when you embrace the chaos there is no finish line.

Just like the new 2km running loop that I am discovering. I always end up back where I started but I have changed. Everytime I go around I see something new and appreciate something that I missed before. Whether it be someone playing music, a woman weaving bags, a man walking his dog. As I run my mind also ticks. I do come up with new ideas and ways to tackle problems, remember peoples names, and practise my Spanish vocabulary. But I am realising that in this less structured and more chaotic environment there is no real end point and even if there was, I am not quite sure what it would be. Things are not linear with a start and a finish line.

When you embrace the chaos you learn. And although you don’t move forward in a predetermined structured way, you have achieved something. You have taken that learning, adapted, stepped sideways and moved towards a goal that is continually growing, strengthening and having more purpose.

Just like how on day one I was too scared to drive out into the mayhem of Mexico City traffic and now I thrive in it. Something about the freedom of driving without lanes or an indicator and being swept into a responsive network of exhaust is both exciting and a challenge. I like that.

I guess that works with my embracing the chaos theory… learn and adapt from those around you but continue on your own journey. Just like a goal, effectiveness is a fluid term that takes on meaning from the environment it is applied to. In a new environment I need to let go of both my previous definition of being effective and approach to getting things done. I need to breathe with the network that is Mexico and avoid creating a finish line for myself or those around me.

I will also just make the most of that 30 minutes I have before everyone else arrives for the meeting 🙂

Go local or Go Online.

We all know that technology is changing not only the way that we communicate, but also the way we organise. Whether it be organise our documents, our thoughts, our calendars or our life events. It is great when you can do everything without leaving your couch, but even better when this is contrasted against its old skool cousin – going local.

In an attempt to be less wasteful, lower impact, and generally more efficient in life while also being more connected to both my global community as well as my local one – my new approach to life is either go local or go online. So far it is working out well. Instead of getting in the car to drive and buy something – I either try to source it within walking distance or buy it online.

In the new model where sustainability and efficiency take priority those businesses in the middle of the spectrum fall through the gap. If they are not tied into my local community or they are not at my fingertips online then I don’t need them.

I tested this theory organising our wedding a couple of months ago. Not only was it organised in a really short time frame but as far bringing together 130 people for a party, it was relatively low impact. Lots of people have asked me for detail on where all the elements came from so I thought I would share that example here. Read on if you want the wedding detail – otherwise let me know if you agree with only going local or online?

Just married in an efficient and low impact way.

Just married in an efficient and low impact way.

In December last year my Mr Right and I got married. Growing up in a house with three brothers I was never a girl to dream about a big white wedding. I did want to have all the elements of the happily married life, the family, the house, the mess and the laughter. But I did not necessarily see the wedding as a critical element in reaching that.

But after 7 years together, a pending move to Mexico City, 2 years travelling, 2 years house renovating and 2 years living with my parents… we both decided that bringing our family and friends together to witness the happiness and love that we share as a couple was something that we wanted. So after making this decision, 8 weeks later, we got married. During this time I was also travelling a lot for work so I guess that cut the time down by a few weeks also. It is funny how such a short turn around seemed incomprehensible to many people. Lots of people have asked me how can you organise a wedding in a few weeks?

I say, either go online or go local.

Going local.

Engagement Ring
Melbourne Designer, Rebecca Pocock, from e.g.etal .

The ceremony location
We got married in the gardens of the See Yup Temple. A beautiful Buddhist temple right near our house. So I walked out the backdoor. We gave a donation to the temple for allowing us to be married in this spiritual space.

The Music
Having talented family members my brothers both shared their musical prowess on the ukelele and the didgeridoo.

Wedding Dress
I was lucky enough that my mum not only had a great fashion sense in the 70’s when she designed her dress, but also that I put it on and it fitted like it was made for me.

My mums wedding dress, bamboo arch from the garden and locally sourced flowers.

The Arch
My parents made an arch out of bamboo from the garden.

The flowers
Jess from Ivy & Eve did all the flowers. She is located across the road from the Temple gardens. Amazing.

The Reading
A very talented friend Nat Silber, read a poem she wrote for us as the solo reading at our ceremony.

The celebrant
We were lucky to already know Matt Finch and he added an amazing personal touch to a ceremony that was really ours.

Bicycles. It was 1km from the ceremony to the reception. So what better way to travel than by bicycle!

Best way to travel is by bike... even on the wedding day.

Best way to travel is by bike… even on the wedding day.

The Reception
The reception was at the community hall at the South Melbourne Commons. Great location, hall hire fee goes to the community.

Amazing Latino inspired catering by Let Me Be Frank cafe which is also part of the South Melbourne Commons.

The Cake(s)
We had a cake table with around 20 cakes made by amazing aunties, mums and friends. Lots of choice made with lots of love.

The Decorations
All our decorations were made by our awesome family members from recycled jars (mainly gathered from the parents at the school where my Mr works), resused wood and locally bought material.

The Photos
We were lucky again to have talent in the family and our lovely cousin Tori from Tori & Sal captured the day for us.

The cake table, bunting and jars all made with love.

The cake table, bunting and jars all made with love.

Going Online.

Dresses for the Special Ladies
Having been tainted by the bridesmaid title we went with term special ladies. The ladies got dresses by Sohomode who is based in New York. They chose their material and style and sent through their measurements and voila, two weeks later the dresses arrived.

Wedding Ring for Her
A second hand 1950s vintage ring with a story from GloryBeVintageWares on Etsy.

Wedding Ring for Him
An eco sterling silver wedding ring from Ephierell Jewellery.

As you can see from this list. We did not give any service to the guy in the middle. Without him, we were efficient, low impact and supporting our local community. We only went local or online. What is your approach?

Wedding ceremony in the See Yup Temple garden.

Wedding ceremony in the See Yup gardens.