Tubac Time and Flipping Coins


I ran away.

I have never understood the saying “same old . . .same old” when somebody asks you what’s up. Nothing in my life stays the same for even 24 hours.

This story is about dilemma and big life decisions and I think you will find it entertaining.

We are not happy with the performance of our gallery since the landlord moved a competitor in two doors away, and the restaurant next door failed and closed. This village is too small a market for one gift gallery, let alone two. Without a restaurant serving lunch in the courtyard, foot traffic is not good. Our lease ends December 31 and we would have to re-up for three years with a rent increase. We have to tell the landlord NOW, however, whether we plan to stay.

First big question – whether to re-sign or not.

So, we wandered into Santa Fe downtown one Sunday to look at what retail space might be available. We looked all afternoon and saw nothing suitable. We were walking back to the car and cut down a little side street one block off the Plaza, which I think is one of the prettiest streets downtown – tree shaded and all.

And right there was an adorable small gallery space – directly across the street from one of Santa Fe’s long time popular clothing boutiques, and next door to a trendy restaurant with a rooftop bar. The space was all brand new inside – tile and wood flooring, corrugated tin ceiling, all new lighting, rubbed plaster walls – the whole building had just been gutted and redone. I would call the look “urban rustic”.

I called and found the rent to be less than we would be paying out here, and the landlord is well liked by his tenants. But we couldn’t move until January because we can’t break our current lease.

Unbelievably, the landlord is willing to wait for us! And we can try it out with just a one year lease! This stuff is unheard of in Santa Fe.

At first, you may think this sounds like a no-brainer. But Mark has a 1957 Chevy in the garage that wants to be a car again, and he is discouraged with how business has been this year, and he basically wants to quit.

So, the second question – whether to retire or not. That is kind of a joke in my case because I would be “retiring” to just my full time online business.

But, for some crazy reason, I have been drawn to the gallery business for the last twenty years, and actually been in the business for thirteen of those years.

Next question – do I want to go on without Mark as a partner in the gallery?

And BIG question – what would it be like if I just concentrated on making and teaching art? Would I be a more relaxed version of me?

Is there such a thing?

We made one decision – neither of us wanted to continue the gallery where it is. That had obvious downsides that could be measured, and not much going for it except convenience.

But the rest of these questions were much more difficult – the choices had enough good and not much bad, but try as we might, we could not land on one thing or another.

At the point a couple weeks ago, when my eyes looked like pinwheels from sleeplessness, and my brain felt like it was trapped in a traffic circle without a clue which way to go, I called Vesta, one of my DFFL (Dear Friends For Life), and she said “Get out of there and come down here for awhile.”

So, I ran away . . . to wonderful Tubac, Arizona.

I started my drive listening to a podcast by Freakonomics radio. Freakonomics was a best selling book a few years back, in which a couple of economists interpret life and society – in terms of economics. I know that sounds as exciting as watching grass grow, but trust me, they are very entertaining.

The title of this episode was:

“Making Major Life Decisions by Flipping a Coin”

WTF? But I listened to the whole podcast anyway, because I certainly was trying to make some major decisions.

Freakonomics started a website where they invite people facing choices they can’t seem to make, to flip a coin (electronic flip) and go along with the result. The economists will follow up at 6 month intervals to see whether you did go along with the flip and how things turned out. They are hoping to study whether flipping a coin is as valid as other ways of making a decision. Here is the website:


I was driving, so I didn’t go to the website. I just pondered the podcast.

The next morning, I was sipping coffee on the veranda of the best B&B in Tubac (or maybe the world) with April, who owns the B&B (Tubac Country Inn), and who is fast becoming one of my DFFL.

I told her about my quandary. She listened well, she asked all the right questions, and then she saw how difficult the choices were.

“You may as well flip a coin,” she said.

I laughed and told her about the podcast.

I then proceeded to go inside my head and heart, sketched a lot, fell in love with a Red Bird of Paradise plant outside my room, spent lots of time in silence, and lots of time chatting with Vesta and April, and ate a bunch of Blood Orange Gelato.

By Sunday morning, I knew that I had gotten as far as I could without knowing what Mark had decided.

I had decided I did not want to continue the business without him as a partner.

I had also decided that I would be OK with the idea of having a lot more time and energy for my art and photography, and with letting go of all the work and stresses of a retail storefront.

So I called home and convinced my DH it was a time for a decision.

He said he really did not want to do it, but he knew I did, and he loves me, and so he would do it.

I said I really did want to do it, but knew he did not, and I love him, so I was willing to not do it.

There we sat on the horns of dilemma. Seconds passed . . .

And then he said . . .

wait for it . . .

“We may as well flip a coin.”

Silent shock on my part.

“I think that’s a good idea.” I said.

“Huh?” he said.

And I told him about the podcast.

So, he flipped a coin, I called Heads (which I always do), and we are going to try our gallery in Santa Fe for a year.

I think.

Unless something un-flips our coin.

I hope I haven’t bored you with this story, but if I have, I reward your patience by showing you the Red Bird of Paradise with whom I had the affair of the heart . . .

redbop1 redbop2

I’m back home now and a little more settled, so you should be hearing from me more often.

Would you trust a big decision to a coin toss? Have you ever done so? How did it turn out? I would love to know.




17 thoughts on “Tubac Time and Flipping Coins

  1. Mary Darling

    You might as well flip a coin. I enjoyed your whole article and hope everything goes well for you. Mary

  2. Dorothy

    I have never flipped a coin to make decisions but I don’t have a partner to consider when making such. When faced with big choices I have always gone with what felt right at the time and made it work.
    Some of my best decisions felt like snap decisions at the time! :-)
    Good luck with it all.

  3. Diana in Texas

    Thanks so much for sharing the entire process with distress and de-stress you’ve been going through. Whatever you do, it has to be right for “you.” Also, I’ve wondered for over 20 years what that shrub was that was outside our lodge in Tucson which I dearly loved to see every morning. Now, you’ve identified it for me. And yes, an affair of the heart would be most easy with this gorgeous specimen. Wish I could see one again.

  4. Susan

    The journey towards your final decision was entertaining, as always, to read. Ultimately, the coin toss was an easy remedy. Nothing is forever and I’m looking forward to finally being able to shop in your gallery some day! I’ve never used a coin toss for a big decision. Best of luck!

  5. Susun

    The Susan comment should have signed Susun! Still here in Houston and wishing I was coming to your retreat! At least I ordered the art journal bag! Thx!

  6. Menno

    Somewhere I heard a remark about the coin toss that I found interesting. The result does not matter, but when you flip the coin, in the moment before it lands, if you are hoping or wishing for an outcome, you know what you want.

  7. jessica Post author

    That is a good thought, Menno, but at the time of our coin toss, we both knew what we wanted – it was just that we wanted opposite things!

    Wish you were coming to the retreat too, Susun! We have had one cancellation so we can still accept one more adventurer.

  8. Christine in Neotsu

    I wish I had thought about the coin toss years ago. “To dust or not to dust”—don’t need a coin for that one. Some decisions are not that easy to make, but there are sure a lot in the middle where a coin toss would be an easy fix!

  9. Cathy in AZ

    Dear Jessica,

    I did not flip a coin, but I had a similar experience about moving from Tucson to Hereford. I did not want to leave Tucson. All my friends were there. My professional business was there. My nice home was there. My life was in Tucson. But, my husband wanted to move down south. I was scared. I did not want to. I tried to control the situation and work something out. None of my control tactics were going to work. So, I prayed. I had to let go. And yes, love for my husband prevailed. For me it was like diving off a diving board in the deepest, unknown part of the ocean.

    So, I took the plunge.

    I did not lose my Tucson friends. I did not lose one single client in my business. And I have had the best life ever. I have the life I never dreamed I would have had…it is better than I had expected. I also would not have had the opportunity to have met you as being down here is what opened the door for me to you. And you have opened the door for me and my photography and artwork. When one door closes we never know what is behind the next door. And we never know how or why people are placed in our lives.

    If you get anything out of your experience, I would think it would be the love you and your husband have for each other. You both were willing to give up something of yourself to please the other. That certainly is a precious treasure.


  10. jessica Post author

    Your comment may be the most uplifting and heartwarming ever (although, my dear readers, there have been so many of your comments that have enriched and comforted my heart, and made me feel, that, although we may not have met in person, we are the best kind of friends).

    Some think it a cliché, but the truth is that love is all there is, and anything born of true love brings what is best,

    Thank you so much!

  11. jessica Post author

    I have thought about that, and I may write t them and ask if we can be part of the study. We did not flip the online coin, but we would have if I had not been driving through the middle of nowhere!!

    Maybe they will include us. I will keep you posted.

  12. Jeanne

    jessica, while I have never flipped a coin for a major life decision, it is an intriguing idea and I think I will try it. Certainly, it beats the angst and teeth-gnashing I have used in the past.

    Since I met you, both online through your blog and in person, I have found you to be courageous and willing to jump into new things, or do old things in a new way. You inspire me to do the same. And FWIW, I am sure that things will work out for the best—for both you and Mark. Either the new gallery will prove to be a huge success and make him (well, both of you) very happy, or it will not, and you will be content that you tried and gave it your best. I tend to think that things happen for a reason (helps me to stay sane), and the “accidental” discovery of a great location for a gallery with reasonable landlord was no accident, IMHO.

  13. jessica Post author

    Oh Jeanne – you are such a sweet friend, and you have such good insight.

    Since we have had the great gift of being able to meet in person, not once, but a couple of times, you are also a constant reminder of the fact that our online relaionships, although they may seem imaginary at first, are the best kind o9f friendships because we first know each other from the inside out.

    This is all really worth it, girlfriends!

  14. Deb Sims

    Hi Jessica,
    We only met once when I stopped by the original gallery. At the time my thought was “why aren’t they across the street in that nice plaza.” So when I heard you were moving there it sounded like a good idea! Being in Santa Fe sounds even better! You will certainly have the foot traffic and art community to support you. Best of luck with the new adventure! I hope I get a chance to visit you there!
    Deb Sims, Winter Park, FL

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