Archived Opinion

Living in the moment, cleaning the mind

Living in the moment, cleaning the mind

I’m writing this column from Playa Del Carmen, Quintana Roo in Mexico. We just watched the sunrise over the Caribbean Sea, and now I’m sitting on our balcony listening to the euphony of tropical birds and relishing in a fleeting morning breeze that will soon turn to heavy humid heat. 

When we decided to vacation at an all-inclusive resort this summer, I told my boyfriend that I did not want to partake in a booze fest where we lounge around the pool all day drinking watered down piña coladas from plastic cups. I’m a fan of staying at a resort when visiting Mexico because of the amount of money one can save; however, it's easy to get trapped (metaphorically) in the safe confines of the resort and leave an amazing country not having discovered anything but the myriad of pools and cocktails. 

We like this company because it has incredible food and beautiful grounds and works to be eco-friendly, having completley eliminated plastic water bottles and other wasteful materials. They’ve been around longer than other companies so their buildings feel more authentic, in my opinion. Their staff is kind, patient and helpful to us Americans and Europeans, although I have a feeling that’s the case at any Mexican resort because the people of this country seem to be big-hearted in general. 

Before we got on the plane to fly south, I stated to the universe that I wanted to watch every sunrise, sit on a balcony and write, take long walks on the beach, paddle board or kayak, meditate to the background sound of the ocean, explore some ruins of the Riviera Maya, and treat my body to healthy, fresh foods and beverages. I want to leave feeling energized and revived, not drained and exhausted. 

When the sunrise concluded and I sat down to begin this column, I was reminded of an article I read recently called “6 Ways to Clean Your Mind.” Below were the six tips. 

1. Start unfollowing

Related Items

2. Be selectively social

3. Live in the moment 

4. Eat healthily 

5. Meditate alone

6. Take a trip 

Throughout this summer, these have been my goals on a quest to reset my life and create an existence I’m proud of. This trip to Mexico touches on the final four tips. I’ve always found it hard to live in the moment instead perseverating on what’s already happened or what’s yet to be. I’m working hard to be more mindful of present moments and convince myself I have no control over the past or future, so there’s no point in wasting mental energy on such nonsense. 

Eating healthy has become a lifeline for me. I see food not only as nourishment for the body but also for my heart and soul. I know that fried foods, sugar, too much dairy, alcohol and lack of water basically kill all the good stuff going on within the bodily system. For my body, these foods stimulate fatigue, inflammation, depression and anxiety. As they say, moderation is key. 

Here in Playa Del Carmen everything is beyond fresh. They have platters upon platters of papaya, pineapple, mango, kiwi and cantaloupe. They offer a plethora of salads and steamed vegetables at every meal. At breakfast, they serve oats, seeds, ancient grains and other delicious alternatives to empty foods such as bagels and American cereal. Even their coffee, milk and cheeses taste less processed. You can also sense the TLC behind all of the meals served. Early this morning as we walked down to the beach we could hear sous chefs and other kitchen staff already chopping and preparing food for the day, as opposed to pulling things out of freezers or coolers. 

The final item on the list is “take a trip,” and here on the Yucatán Peninsula, far away from North Carolina, I’m feeling more aware than ever. Every time I leave the comfort zone of home and travel abroad, I not only learn about the world, I also learn about myself and the kind of person I want to be. I continue to see that we’re not all that distinct from one another, no matter our race, culture, religion or place of origin. Travel expands my scope of thinking and deepens my compassion for other living beings and our ailing planet. 

The sun still rises and the sun still sets no matter where on the globe we land. People say “good morning” and “good night” no matter the language on the tongue. A wave and a smile are universal, no matter the color of the skin. I’m hopeful the human race will one day soon move into an age of enlightenment where we come to understand these things more fully, where we come to realize we are actually more similar than different.

(Susanna Shetley is a writer, editor and digital media specialist with The Smoky Mountain News, Smoky Mountain Living, and Mountain South Media. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Leave a comment


  • Beautiful treasure trove of wisdom for a good life.

    posted by Mary Jane Curry

    Thursday, 08/11/2022

  • Enjoyed. Going to try to use the 6 points

    posted by Peggy Mrlvillr

    Friday, 08/05/2022

Smokey Mountain News Logo
Go to top
Payment Information


At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.