About ten years ago, Kate Taylor Mills and a group of her friends in her home state of California got together in Carmel to watch the new movie, “The Bucket List,” with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Naturally, the movie inspired each of the women to write out their own bucket lists.
Kate was in her mid-sixties then and not about to retire from her long real estate career and the agency she and her daughter shared in the southern California town of San Clemente.
But when Kate turned seventy, she was ready to find that list, which she’d conveniently tucked away years before. As often happens when we reach our seventieth birthday, Kate felt the pressure of time.
“Where’s that bucket list?” she asked herself. “I’ve got to get going on it! How much more time do I have?”
At the top of that list, it turns out, she’d written: “Live in a foreign country for three months and take language lessons.”
So, with the boldness that comes with seventy, that’s just what she set out to do. She did some online research and finally settled on the charming, historic, beautiful, colonial city of San Miguel de Allende, in the central mountains of Mexico.
Then, after only three weeks in San Miguel, she’d made up her mind.
“When I went home,” Kate told me during our interview in her sunny and colorful apartment here in San Miguel last week, “I told everyone I was moving to Mexico. San Miguel had the energy I was looking for and the view of life I was looking for. It all just clicked for me. My family was really shocked that I should pick up and move to another country; but they’ve since come to visit me here, and now they love it too.”
Kate has lived in San Miguel happily as a single, retired woman now for two-and-a-half years.
What Kate appreciates most about her life here, she told me, is the peace and tranquility. Also — and especially — the creativity. She’s found that at this stage of her life creativity is very important to her.
“I really feel that there’s a creative energy in this town that is contagious,” she said. “I don’t think if I had moved anywhere else I would have given myself permission to just GO FOR IT.”
As a self-taught artist, Kate does mixed-media paintings that express her new-found joie de vivre and unexplored whimsical side. She works in acrylic, stenciling, collage, pen-and-ink, and whatever else strikes her fancy. Having never taken art lessons, she feels unconstrained by rules or conventions. “It’s just FUN,” she says. “It makes me happy. It fulfills me.”
Here are just some of Kate’s many joyful, whimsical, mixed-media paintings:
Kate told me she recently joined an online organization, called Fine Art America (www.fineartamerica.com), which bills itself as “the world’s largest online art marketplace,” where she might sell some of her work. “Just for fun,” she said, “not to make a bunch of money.”
She added, “I’m just thankful that I found this place and I can live here and have a lovely life. I feel I have found myself. You know, somebody said to me, ‘This is not a place to find a man, it’s a place to find yourself.’ I think that is so true.”