Being the Author of Your Own Life

By Deborah Bickel

“You may not control life’s circumstances but getting to be the author of your life means getting to control what you do with them.»

These are the words of the physician and writer Atul Gawande, the author of “Being Mortal,” one of the best and most timely books on growing older and facing mortality with grace. It is full of simple but life-altering wisdom of self-agency and planning. His observation that, «Our ultimate goal, after all, is not a good death but a good life to the very end,» fuels a critically needed change in perspective for physicians, patients, and their families about end-of-life medical heroics. 

Gawande uses the Buddhist concept of approaching aging as “the third stage of life.” For more information see both “Being Mortal” and the excellent “The Third Stage of Life: Aging in Contemporary Society” by Daisaku Ikeda. Ikeda is a Buddhist monk who advocates an understanding of aging not as a period of decline but as an opportunity to bring own’s life to a satisfying conclusion. 

In the spirit of imparting critical knowledge unique to living in Mexico during this “third part of life,” Deborah Bickel PA MPH from Be Well San Miguel joins guest speaker Wendy Jane Carrel, MA, for a joint two-hour presentation on March 15 at 11am at the cafe at Kubo Hotel on Stirling Dickinson, San Antonio 28. 

Both topics are of central interest to expatriates interested in planning for the third and final stage of life. Bickel will discuss how to create a time-saving and cost-effective advanced medical directive legal in Mexico. Guest speaker Carrel joins us from the Lake Chapala area and will give an update on the current status of palliative care and hospice in Mexico, including a brief introduction to the end-of-life doula movement in Mexico.  

Carrel has travelled Mexico for several years researching health systems, senior care, and end-of-life care to connect Americans, Canadians, and Europeans with healing options for loved ones. She is a compassionate companion and palliative care liaison, legacy writer, co-founder of Café Mortality Ajijic/Death Café Ajijic, and founding member and speaker of the Beautiful Dying Expo (USA). She is a trauma-informed, gentle, end-of-life doula (National End-of-Life Doula Alliance proficient) and a speaker and published author on subjects related to senior well-being. Her web site is

Bickel founded Be Well San Miguel eight years ago. She is a graduate of the Stanford University Physician Assistant program and has a master’s degree in public health from the University of California at Berkeley. She was a clinician in a busy inner-city clinic for nine years while teaching medicine at Stanford. She has lived and worked in many countries, including the United States, the Netherlands, Mexico, Guatemala, Cuba, Nicaragua, Zambia, and Mozambique. She is fluent in Spanish and has been a clinician in the United States, Mexico, and Guatemala. She has a particular interest in geriatrics and helping people choose the highest quality of living even when that may mean shortening our span of years but vastly improving our experiences moment by moment. 

For reservations, contact Deborah: