Mountains and meltdowns in Montenegro

Hello hello my sweet creative adventurers,

I’m writing to you today from the terrace of our Airbnb here in Ulcinj with a glorious view of the Adriatic Sea spread out in front of me in sapphire blue and turquoise. I’m home, well home by the sea at least, where I feel safe and free and at peace.

We’ve been in the mountains here in Montenegro for the past two weeks, spectacular, rugged, wild, stunning and a tad scary for this coastal mermaid.

There were highs and lows emotionally and physically as I pushed beyond my comfort zone and into places these shaky legs would previously never dared go.

Poor mi amor, part mountain goat, part ox, part falcon bore the brunt of my emotional ups and downs, and there were a few days we’d rather both forget.

A new virtual contract has been drawn up about the kinds of hikes we will and will not undertake together in the future and I’ve also decided against white water rafting  for the foreseeable future. To understand why you can read my Facebook post below. With hundreds of responses from readers who’ve had similar experience it feels good to know that those of us who deal with anxiety and panic are never alone.

If YOU are one of those people try to go easy on yourself. It’s a strange phenomenon we go through, sometimes disappearing and reappearing, deeply reactive in some situations and weirdly absent in others.

Click to read the full post.

Click to read the full post.

Not two days after my rafting decision I happily and willingly took off with Marco on a stunning but crazy narrow, high hike through the Mrtvica Canyon. A SEVEN HOUR HIKE!! Which took us through incredible moss covered enchanted forests, through open mountain orchards, past ancient stone homes and eventually onto a narrow cliffside trail with a sheer drop of 1000 metres down to the aquamarine river below that finally led to an open tunnel in the cliffside blasted out by the Yugoslavian army years back to strategically connect several villages! I DID THAT?!? Why yes I did! And look just how gorgeous it was! And hard and fricken scary and I was ok, that day.







Two days later we went for what was supposed to be a short and gentle walk up to one of the nearby peaks. The brochure mentioned meadows of wildflowers, picking wild blueberries and talking to the herds of mountain goats.  How romantic!

Things started badly when we couldn’t find the trail and Marco convinced me to follow him in another direction on a small trail that didn’t look very convincing. Things went from bad to worse after half an hour or so when I found myself on the side of said mountain peak, no trail in sight, and decided I didn’t give a flying f#%k about the beautiful freaking wildflowers blowing in the wind around me, I just wanted to find the damn trail and get OFF THAT MOUNTAIN. NOW! When your legs become paralysed and then start to shake, when your man keeps walking upwards and yells for you to follow and you refuse and he keeps going anyways panic turns to rage. Later after he finally returned he told me that he had yelled out to me that he was just going up a bit further to see if he could find the trail. I didn’t hear that bit and felt abandoned and terrified.

Finally, finally we found a road and both of us stomped sullenly down it, silent and emotionally spent, and not a wild blueberry in sight. This was the day we drew up our new virtual hiking together contract. Let me know if you’d like to know the rules, you know, for a friend.

Just a quick mention of some other awesome news!

I’m thrilled to be chatting with my wonderfully talented friend Laura Horn on her fabulous arty podcast in a couple of weeks. If you haven’t yet tuned in you can do so right here. Laura has a wealth of information on the show for artists of all levels and pursuits.

I also wanted to let you know that I’ve been having serious withdrawals from my studio and painting practice!

We’re moving from place to place here in Montenegro every few days and it just doesn’t allow for setting out paints and settling into a rhythm especially when there are always new places to explore.

Today however we’ve arrived at a new place and a new apartment and we’ll be there for a whole seven days!


The paints are coming out!!

So I’ll be able to actually participate in this weeks inspiration prompt over on my Mojo Dojo alumni group on Facebook! Yay!

Will you join me? I hope so! If you’ve ever taken a class with me online or in person you’re invited to come join the community! You can request to join by clicking here.

Here is this weeks prompt for you to paint, sketch, abstract, digitally manipulate, whatever you like, however you like! Join the group for more weekly prompts and inspiration!

You have two choices, both from the beautiful terrace of our Airbnb in Florence last month! Can’t wait to see your interpretations!



Oh and DON'T FORGET that the next session of one of my most popular classes Face Fascination begins July 29 and there are only a few days left to take advantage of early bird pricing so head on over to to read more and register.

Those of you who have taken the class previously are invited to join the upcoming session too (my gift)! You should be hearing from us in your inbox!

Wishing you a meltdown free week, beautiful “flat” fields of wildflowers and a handful of wild blueberries,


Lots of love,




  1. Leah Griffith on July 17, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    You’re a brave badass mermaid and an inspiration to many.

  2. Kandy Hague on July 17, 2019 at 1:22 pm

    Love that you’re blogging, Tracy, and hope that you’ll sustain it, as it’s so nice to hear how things are going in your life (the ups and downs). So, you mention this ‘contract’ that you made, and my question to you, is …. how do you know when to go and when not to go ‘adventuring’ whatever that may be for us, lol??? When do we know that it’s okay to just hang out where we are, even when we’re torn about going and not going?? Again, great blog, keep it going <3 <3

  3. Mary Enright-Olson on July 22, 2019 at 1:38 am

    I resemble your experience on some of my hikes. I prepare, feel I’m ready and then freeze. Sometimes, most, I’m absolutely fine, other times my mind~heart~body connection will not sync. I’d love to see your rules. I may have to adapt and share with my QT, aka mountain man md.
    Truly love hearing of your adventures and explorations.

  4. Holly on August 22, 2019 at 11:35 pm

    I have one of these men. I finally decided halfway through our many married years that I wasn’t here to please him. Our kids call it “dad miles, dad time”… “oh it’s only a short walk/event/drive/swim/visit, it’ll only take an hour, it’s not hard…”. Also the macho man comes out, all competitive. Been there, done that, no more. Trust comes into it too which becomes sadly missing after many disappointments. Now I just do my thing. Misunderstanding of EIF (Exercise Induced Fatigue, part of CFS) on his part didn’t help either. These men, as you’ve surely noticed, are not particularly empathetic and are very driven (so that when we nearly collapse, no kind words). I’m much happier now knowing that his thing doesn’t have to be mine, that I don’t need to fit into his expectations or agenda ?

  5. Home Sweet Home – Tracy Verdugo Art on September 9, 2019 at 8:12 pm

    […] on over here as several spots in Cambodia and Mexico 2020 have just opened up this week! In my last post I left you in Montenegro climbing mountains and having meltdowns and I’m happy to say that our […]

  6. Jen on September 16, 2020 at 11:31 am

    Oh you’ve described so many of my holidays!! I thought it was just me at first – all excited, then freezing in the moment and facing the wrath of non-empathy in my partner who just couldn’t understand. It has turned a lot of what could be wonderful times into traumatic memories. It’s less about pleasing someone else in my case – more about not realising that I have choices and I should be able to change my mind if I need to… but also knowing others don’t understand that anxiety that can flare up at the most inopportune times! Self-compassion and explaining your changing needs to those closest are both difficult things that take practise. But very, very necessary in life.

  7. Carol Heuser on March 24, 2021 at 9:54 am

    Thank you so much! Your words are as vivid as your paints!

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