Ok I’ll admit it. I’ve had many times in the last four months when I’ve gone into a hairpin turn and become really, really, REALLY bored here. I thought that living full time in Ecuador was going to bring me total peace and tranquility. Serenity at the very least.
I thought Ecuador was going to be the place where I finally healed my body completely and for the first time in my life allowed my mind to totally rest.
Wasn’t that the point of all this? I was taking a period to TOTAL TIME OFF after all wasn’t I?
Imagine My Surprise
Imagine my surprise when I found myself struggling with capital B, BOREDOM!
I’m. Sooooo. Boooooooored!
I have to laugh when I read that last sentence. Remember how your parents would react when as a kid you whined, “I’m sooooo boooooooored!” They’d shake their heads and say, “How can you possibly be bored? Go outside and play?!!!” Then you’d be shooed out the door.
Well I wondered that myself as I heard my fathers voice in my head as I sat on my balcony looking at the beautiful Pacific Ocean,
“What is wrong with you? How could you POSSibly be BORED here? It’s so beautiful here! People would kill to be sitting here where you’re sitting right now! What’s the matter with you Mary Anne?”
Funny how those parental voices never really go away isn’t it?
Help Me, God, To Figure Out this Boredom Thing
So I sat down in meditative reflection and asked for Help from The Universe. I had already learned in my life that it was a Spiritual Law that you had to actually ask for help before you could get it. I figured it was worth a try before I went totally out of my mind:
“Help me God to figure this boredom thing out. I cannot go on like this. I’m just getting more and more annoyed and angry about being here. What do I do?”
First I saw that I needed to figure out what was wrong before I could fix it and make some changes.
Living In Rural Ecuador Is Very Different
I could see clearly that living at the beach, while a life long dream, perhaps just wasn’t stimulating enough for me. It certainly didn’t have many of the things I had been used to in the US.
The beach on The Coast here is a really very rural environment. That has been new and very different for me to adjust to. Dirt streets. No live music. No live theaters. No coffee shops. No “shopping” period and not even a movie theatre unless I wanted to take an hour bus ride into the closest city, Portoviejo. In fact I only saw my very first take out coffee cup yesterday after 4 months time of living here?!
The people here are fishermen or restaurant owners. I could have a conversation with people here only if I was buying something from them. I could only buy so much food and stuff for a week.
On the other hand, living at the beach without any distractions could be great if I had a project to work on. Lack of distractions by outside stuff could make me very productive.
But my issue of boredom was clearly deeper than all that stuff.
No Distraction From Myself
In short, I realized in one hard slam of awakening, that here living at the beach, THERE WAS ABSOLUTELY NO DISTRACTION FROM MYSELF.
And there was nothing providing me with the adrenaline rush of my previous daily life either. This meant that I finally had to face all those feelings I had been avoiding by running from this job to the next, from this project to the next, from this appointment to the next.
So what’s left when there’s no adrenaline rush and no distractions to distract you from your own thoughts and feelings?
Well, you have to deal with yourself. Uh. Oh.
(Can you suddenly hear that old Twilight Zone Theme Playing?)
Stepping Into Intellectual Free Fall
I realized I had to embrace what was here and what it was provoking inside of me rather than fighting it.
On the one hand, I became aware that being here has given me the free time I’ve always said I wanted. I had set it up so I didn’t have anything to do that I really HAD to do in any given day. That was initally a very healthy instinct actually.
I just hadn’t planned for the feelings that would come up as a result of my decision to give myself all this free time.
I also felt like I had gradually worked myself into a kind of intellectual free fall, coming down from my increasingly obvious addiction to work and relying on work as my identity.
I Had To Do Something Different
I decided I had to make some changes and do something different or I would go mad.
Boredom Is Not A Bad Thing. It’s What you Do with It That Matters.
Boredom isn’t a bad thing as long as it doesn’t paralyze you. So I decided to take some specific steps to find a way to see if I could work with it instead of resisting it:
5 Ways To Alleviate Boredom
1. A Dedicated Place to Work:
Since there are no coffee shops to go sit and work in, I had to figure out a place to work in the condo where I live. I went into town on the bus and for $25 I bought a very small desk that is barely wider than my lap top computer. I set it up in the bedroom right next to the air conditioner and in front of my window overlooking town and the ocean.
Suddenly I had a comfortable place to work at whatever I wanted to write or research. This felt good. Like I had my very own dedicated “thinking spot.”
2. Changing My Morning Routine
Funny thing. All this time I’ve lived in front of a very large and beautiful hill and truthfully, I hadn’t really noticed it. I spent most of my time looking out the front of the condo overlooking the ocean side. But when I sat down at my little new desk, I finally really SAW the hill. Suddenly, I wondered to myself, “I wonder what’s up there? Perhaps tomorrow I will go up there and find out.”
Ever since, this walk up “La Loma” (the hill) has been the beginning of my morning routine. Before food. Before opening my computer and getting on my email to see if anyone has (hopefully) written me a message. I now walk La Loma BEFORE everything else.
My morning walks have changed my perspective on everything. I suddenly love being here in this space. It may have something to do with having a place to actually go outside of it to get away, even briefly. I don’t feel so much locked in the big white tower of condos here.
I also didn’t know there was an entire reserve of birds and kapok trees and paved streets and beautiful homes right above me. Now I delight in listening to the birds and sitting on the top of a concrete water cistern at the top of the mountain overlooking the Pacific Ocean way high above the condo to meditate, think and relax in nature.
3. Exercise Comes First.
I gather my thoughts along the way as I sweat massive amounts amounts as I huff and I puff up the nearly vertical hill. I’ve lost 13 pounds so far just putting exercise first in my day.
Before, I would wait until the sun was overhead and it was 100 degrees and then I would blow the whole thing off telling myself, “It’s too hot. I’ll get a bad sunburn.”
After I get home, I drink two glasses of water, have breakfast, take a shower, write out my goals for my day and only after all those things are done, do get to work at my computer with all my new ideas. It feels great.
4. Reducing Sugar and Caffeine
I had also noticed how I reached for sugar and caffeine as way to cope with my boredom. So I decided to feel more of the difficult feelings and reduce the things that prevented me from feeling them. That was a bit rocky at first but I’ve come to really enjoy tea and drinking lots of water rather than reaching for the cookies and other substances like coffee that always shot me into the adrenaline stratosphere.
Let me be clear. I did not totally eliminate these things, I just reduced them. I’m the kind of person that if you tell me I cannot have something, it’s all I can think about. So I took the more moderate approach and so far it seems to be working.
5. Getting To Bed At A Reasonable Hour
Now instead of piddling around on my computer in my bored haze at night and then being angry with myself that I wasted time doing nothing productive, I shut down my computer at 6, have dinner, read a good book and then go to bed at a reasonable hour. I’ve read 13 great books so far (I read fast) and it has been such a delicious luxury and fun too!
When I get into bed, I tell my brain, “The MA Brain Shop is closed now. Any new thoughts, feel free to come on back in the morning when I will be ready to hear you. But don’t bother me when I’m trying to sleep. Good night thoughts!”
I’m Not Bored Any More
As a result of these 5 simple steps, I am channeling all my creative energy into writing a new book, writing this blog (And my Words To Thrive By and Mary anne Dorward Blogs too!) keeping up with all my social media things like Twitter, Facebook etc, ghost writing a new book for a client and still having time in my day to read, rest and reflect.
So I’m feeling more internally tranquil and my daily life is much more balanced. As a result of that, I am feeling more rested and also much more productive.
Moving To Ecuador Is Turning Out To Be A Great Decision
Ecuador is turning out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my own total health and well being! Whoo! Hoo!
How Have You Dealt With Your Own Boredom?
So I’m curious. How have you dealt with your own boredom?
PS: Would you like more ACCURATE, AUTHENTIC and UP TO DATE INFORMATION about ECUADOR?
WORDS TO THRIVE BY FOR WORLD TRAVELERS: FOOTPRINTS IN ECUADOR by Mary Anne Dorward