Anne Nicolai has found a very unique way to connect people—and we love it so much it makes us want to sing a little tune! Read on to get inspired by this San Miguel de Allende, Mexico resident.
What is your occupation?
Writer, Editor, Karaoke Host, Blogger at MoveToMexico.org.
What are you passionate about right now?
I’m passionate about karaoke because singing together creates community. As a host, I watch people transform from wallflowers to confident performers, from loners to tribe members, and from suffering souls to joyful celebrants. Karaoke unites locals and travelers, young and old, racially and ethnically diverse, queer and straight, wealthy and not, bold and shy—I’ve never seen anything like it! I feel privileged that as a foreigner I am welcomed as the leader of my “congregation” here, and that I’ve been able to learn so much about the Spanish language and Mexican culture through karaoke.
What is the most important thing you do every day?
The most important thing I do every day is to relax with my partner, a Mexican musician and teacher who is the love of my life, and with our rescue dog, Amigo. One thing I’ve learned from ten years of immersion in the Mexican culture is that maximizing our leisure time, hanging out with loved ones, isn’t laziness—it’s the whole point!
Who is your role model for Aging Boldly?
I’m inspired by my grandmothers, both of whom lived fully, each in their own way. Until her final days, my maternal grandmother, Myra Blessington Rooney, fished off the dock at her cabin on the lake, cleaned the fish herself, and fried up sunnies and bluegills in a cast iron skillet, singing hymns and wartime tunes at the top of her lungs. When my grandfather lost his driving privileges due to bad eyesight, Myra bought herself the new Toyota she’d always wanted. When he was too sick with emphysema to travel, she flew with friends to Ireland. My paternal grandmother, Bernadine Glynn Nicolai, kept the double-wide trailer she and my grandfather lived in before he died, living on her own there for 30 years before moving to a senior living community but never to a nursing home. She stayed independent until she died at 93. Bernadine loved to show off her ability to bend and place both hands flat on the floor. She was skilled at nearly every game of cards. She sent hand-written letters inside birthday cards, never forgetting a date, and made Christmas ornaments annually for over 100 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A devout Catholic, Bernadine died with a smile on her face, anticipating heaven.
What’s your personal motto for Aging Boldly?
For me, aging boldly means taking more responsibility for myself and less for others. Giving myself permission to pursue my passions without apology, and walking in gratitude.
What movie/book/TV show are you loving now?
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon.
What countries are on your bucket list?
India, Japan, Chile and Ghana.
If you could live any where in the world where would it be?
I already live there! San Miguel de Allende offers beauty, rich history, warm climate, fabulous food and the world’s best music and other entertainment. If I didn’t live here, I’d be in Adelaide, Australia.
How do you cope with the current craziness in our political world?
I read news from outside the U.S. to maintain perspective. I manage a political Facebook page to encourage action based on understanding and to discourage knee-jerk reactions to the news. I also participate in voter registration and get-out-the-vote campaigns for U.S. voters living in San Miguel. I take what action I can (mostly writing) because I believe racism, misogyny, homophobia and greed have become the norm in the U.S. as in certain other countries, but for some reason I still believe that “this, too, shall pass” and that we won’t destroy our planet or eliminate human diversity. Maybe that’s what it means to be progressive.
What will you be doing in 10 years?
Ten years from now I will be enjoying proceeds from the sale of the children’s book series I’m working on now, and maybe writing a memoir. Kids will be watching cartoons based on my characters (a cactus, a hummingbird, a lizard, some insects, and a chicken). Instead of hosting karaoke three nights a week, I’ll attend the shows of younger hosts I’ve trained at clubs that don’t exist today. Karaoke hosts and fans around the world will be sporting gear from the online store that I’m about to launch.
What would you tell your younger self?
To my younger self I say, “Thank you for taking your education and career opportunities seriously, for generating the income that allowed for world travels with your son, and that enables you now to live abroad without working so hard.”
What did we forget to ask you?
What is the one core belief that drives you to be who you are and to do what you do?
I believe in heartfelt desire. I believe that’s what overcomes both personal and social obstacles and keeps us persevering to achieve our goals. How do we discover our purpose in the world? How do we find fulfillment in life? By doing what comes naturally. By saying yes to our dreams even when those around us are saying no. “Should” is the enemy.
Examples: I graduated with an English degree and went into business because business interested me and teaching and journalism didn’t—and once I’d been in business for a while, I had something to teach and write about. I’ve taught public relations at a prestigious university and have landed stories in the Wall Street Journal. I went into business for myself when my accountant said quitting my job would be stupid, and within a few years I was earning six figures. I don’t have a pleasant voice but I hosted three radio shows and learned to sing and host karaoke. I am a single mom and once my son started college, I moved to Mexico. Now I’ve been here 10 years, met the love of my life, and am getting to know my granddaughter via Skype and occasional visits. I will die happy because I did what I wanted, not what I was “supposed to do.”