You might think that by moving to a very beautiful and tranquil place like Ecuador, that you would feel equally tranquil yourself. Well, I’ve noticed a curious thing over these past ten weeks of living here. As the external noise and chaos in my external environment has greatly diminished, the internal drama in my head has increased. It’s really rather bizarre and not at all what I expected to happen.
Of course if one examines it all logically and objectively it makes sense. This year of 2013 had been another for my personal stress record books:
1. Two major surgeries for a possible metastasis of cancer. The first surgery was botched badly so it had to be done over by a different doctor. Oh. Yay. Turns out, I did not, Thank God, have “The Big C” again. But just the thought of having to go through it all again and making yet another trip to “Death’s Door” felt very scary.
2. After much medical testing and several independent specialists agreeing, I learned that two of the drugs I had been prescribed for post cancer treatment and a rare blood disorder, I’d never actually needed in the first place. That was fun. Next came the challenge of going through the slow and very careful process to remove these strong and very toxic drugs from my body. Think: Physical and Emotional Roller Coaster.
3. Two personal injury legal cases finally settling, after 5 and 2 years respectively. Both cases were completely resolved in my favor, but after paying the lawyer, all of the fees and also holding all of the medical bills for that long, it all had the net effect of bankrupting me in the process. Another joyous outcome. I may have stayed alive after two near death experiences and been judged “Right” in the end (which was indeed very satisfying after all that time) but that being “Right” came at a huge cost.
4. I got married again after being divorced for 14 years.
5. I moved to live in a foreign country.
Yeah. Looking back over this year, I guess there’s just a little bit of stress there!
So, you might be wondering what I had expected making a move here to Ecuador. Was I adding or removing stress from my life?
Well, before moving here, with all that had been going on in my outer world back in the U.S., I had had very little time to reflect with everything taking a back seat to all my many medical and legal appointments. I was just trying to get through everything and survive one thing after another. I also felt like I was a far cry from who I wanted to be and how I wanted to feel.
Moving to this beautiful country of Ecuador and making this huge “Life Change,” I truly had expected that I would get away from all the stress on my body AND all the drama going on in my head. But, I’ve discovered, much to my dismay, that I should know better by now: We ALL live with our own personal drama going on inside our heads and we take ALL our inner drama with us wherever we go!
It’s very curious to me that now, when I have all the time in the world to both rest and reflect, I would feel even the least bit agitated. I can say for sure after ten weeks that the stress on my body has definitely decreased with all the great fresh non GMO food, warm lovely sunshine, healthy long walks on the beach and enjoying reading non business books for the first time in a very long time. But while that daily stress of “physical fight” may have disappeared from view living here in Ecuador, I’ve noticed a kind of “internal fight” inside my mind that has surfaced.
As a result, I’ve watched that internal fight “mind morph,” if you will, from subject to subject, idea to idea, concept to concept. It’s like my mind goes out looking for “Trouble.” This “Trouble” shows up in the form of worrying about “The Future.” Or I go around beating myself up for some choice, decision or action I made in “The Past.” Sometimes, when I did manage to stay in “The Present” I just felt unexplainably forlorn, like I didn’t “Fit In” anywhere, anymore with anyone. Sitting with all these conflicting feelings and emotions has been far from tranquil or “La Vida Tranquillidad” that people speak of so often here in Ecuador.
Other times, I’ve noticed that I’ve gone looking for distraction and entertainment out on the Internet, (when the Internet signal actually works here?!) I’ve felt grateful for my Facebook Friends from all over the world, with whom I can converse and share interesting news. I’ve called friends and my kids on the phone via Skype or Facetime. I’ve read International newspapers and local newspapers from “Home” online. But all that distraction, while it momentarily eased the noise in my head, ultimately left me feeling a little depressed or “out of sorts” for reasons I have been unable to fully explain either.
I have to also admit that there have been moments of Peace and periods of Calm where, looking around at all this beauty and feeling the warmth of the Ecuadorian people here, I felt like I was right where I was supposed to be. It seemed that everything was clearly in a “Larger Order.” And I truly believed that, as a wise woman once said, “All shall be Well. And all shall be Well. And all manner of thing shall be Well.” So it has not all been a bummer for sure.
Overall, moving here has just been a kind of emotional collision of feelings, a bit of a roller coaster from moment to moment, day to day, as I searched for a new definition of my “Self” and “Home” and my life as “A World Citizen” now.
I called my GP, Doctor Jared, yesterday to check in, as I do every two weeks. I began regaling him with all my current colliding experiences and concerns. Gradually I could hear his familiar and gentle laughter over the phone. When I asked him what he was laughing about, he said,
“What did you expect Mary Anne? Really. C’mon now. What, exactly, did you expect?”
I blubbered, “You mean, moving here to Ecuador?”
He said, “Yes. Moving there. To Ecuador.”
I replied, “I don’t know!? Complete and Total PEACE???”
And then we both laughed!
My wonderful doctor Jared reminded me that all functions of the body, including the brain, look for Balance. He also suggested, ever so gently, that given all the events of my life this past year – and – after just ten weeks of living a completely different life, in a new and totally different country, in a new language, that it is far too soon for me to expect either sense of “True Balance” or the “Complete and Total PEACE” that I had so meticulously planned on.
Doctor Jared then asked me if I could TRY to be just a little more gentle and patient with myself. He reassured me that everything I was going through was all “A Process” and that I needed to “Trust that Process” – which had it’s own way of working and it’s own timing. He suggested that if I would just relax a little about everything I was worried about, that I would gradually and surely find a more “True Balance” in all areas of my life, including that feeling of “Compete and Total Peace” that I was so deeply seeking.
“Hmmmm. Good advice. Perhaps I can try THAT plan.” I thought as I hung up, feeling greatly relieved and not quite so lost.
I’m glad it’s nearing the end of the year here. As I told you in my previous post from yesterday, the Ecuadorian people have many delightful and wonderful New Years Traditions such as the burning of Monigotes to address letting the past, “El Año Viejo” (“The Old Year”) go and also traditions to celebrate “El Año Nuevo” (“The New Year) that is to come. I will spend the day today writing down EVERYTHING I want to LET GO of. Hmmm. Perhaps I just did!
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WORDS TO THRIVE BY FOR WORLD TRAVELERS: FOOTPRINTS IN ECUADOR by Mary Anne Dorward
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