An Expat In The Petri Dish: My First Year In Ecuador

P1070688My one year anniversary of living in Ecuador is on October 9, 2014. I’d like to share  with you some of the things I’ve learned so far living a year abroad and also more about why I moved here to Ecuador in the first place.

“Why did you move to Ecuador?” 

Over this past year, many people have asked me “Why did you choose Ecuador of all the places in the world that you could have chosen to move to?” There are many different aspects to my answer to that question: Why Ecuador? After a year of living here, I have to now admit that in some ways, my Soul was ahead of my conscious mind in the decision to make such a huge change in my life. I Knew, deep down inside of myself, that if I did not begin to make different choices, my life would end up the same as it was….full of personal and financial stress, illness, accidents, disappointment and depression.

Dr. Bruce Lipton’s book, “The Biology of Belief” really got my attention. 

While still living in the U.S., I read Dr. Bruce Lipton’s book, “The Biology of Belief.” That book really got my attention. Dr. Lipton says that there are two signals that cause a cell to respond. One is a physical chemical. This would include things like hormones, growth factors, neuropeptides and drugs.  The other signal is vibrational energy field.  The most recent biochemical research shows that cells prefer and respond better to vibrational  energy. In other words, allopathic medicine focuses more on physical chemical signals while physicists endorse the role of  energy fields being more important to controlling life.

When Dr. Lipton did experiments with cells in a petri dish, he made a remarkable discovery. Cells that were exposed to a bad environment became diseased. Normally, the cure for disease is to inject the cells with a “treatment” chemical. In his research, Dr Lipton tried a different approach. Instead of injecting his diseased cells with a “treatment” chemical, he simply placed the cells back into a healthy environment. The cells then healed without chemical intervention. Dr Lipton’s research was revolutionary in medical science. He proved that we are a compliment of the environment we provide to our cells.

Something was clearly wrong and my body was sending SOS signals.

I gave a lot of thought to Dr. Lipton’s research before I left the U.S. I had many questions. What environments had I been providing for my own cells? Were those environments conducive to my cells being healthy and filled with life force?

The past ten years had been filled with pain, suffering, illness, surgeries and hospitalizations. At one point, I nearly hemorrhaged to death in a hospital and at another, my tear ducta closed up completely and all my tears spilled over the bottom lids of my eyes. I could not even cry in private anymore. Something was clearly wrong. My body was sending SOS signals of distress, but I didn’t know what exactly these signals meant or what I could do about any of them.

I had certainly been subjected to many different “treatment” chemicals over the years for cancer, pain, blood clots, and other illnesses such as depression, as well as the standard allopathic medicine approach of surgery or the axiom, “To cut is to cure.” I have used all of those approaches to varying degrees of success over the course of my life. I had also lived in roughly four geographic areas, The Bay Area of Northern California, Los Angeles in Southern California, New York and Seattle, Washington.

While I loved each of these physical environments for different reasons, I had to consider that the “environments” I had placed myself in were both physical and mental. While the physical environments included things like food, drink, the chemicals and the pollution levels around me, my levels of exercise etc, I had not really focused much on my mental environment of massive stress and how that was constantly bombarding both my internal physical and emotional environments .

 Was I just a rotating duck in some Cosmic Shooting Gallery?

I began thinking about how much, if any of what was happening to me, physically or mentally, was under my control. I began to wonder if I was just a rotating duck in some Cosmic Shooting Gallery or smack dab in the middle of the bulls eye on Gods Menacing Dartboard? I was even beginning to wonder, after so many illnesses and accidents occurring right in a row,  if I was being punished for something I had done in some previous life?

“What can I control here?” 

A person’s answer to the question, “What can I control here?” at any moment of our lives will, of course, vary depending on how one views oneself. A victim will say and think they cannot control any of the variables. A person who considers themselves an enlightened co-creator will think they can control all of them. Most of us find ourselves somewhere in the middle between these two extremes of victim and co-creator.

Two fundamental components provide for life.

Dr. Lipton discovered that there are only two fundamental components that provide for life. They are our cells and the signals they receive. There are also only two possibilities that create disease. Something is either already wrong with the cell or something is wrong with the signal. Statistics reveal that less than five percent of the population has a disease as a consequence of a birth defect. That seems to suggest that our fundamental beliefs are causing lots of problems for us. Clearly a thought we think over and over becomes a belief.

If we want to change our lives, we need to make different choices.

So if any of us want to change our lives, we need to make changes in our beliefs, make different choices and start truly listening to our intuition about what the beliefs are and the changes that need to happen. This is what moving to Ecuador was about for me: making new choices, making new adjustments to where and how I lived, reducing my stress on all levels.

It was only then that I could begin to practice truly listening to my intuition so that my every choice for the well being of my cells, my mind and every other aspect of my life were healthy ones. Before I moved here to Ecuador, I had experimented with the more allopathic approach most of my life. Moving to Ecuador has taught me a tremendous amount about life from a more physics perspective and how important energy fields are to my own personal health and well being.

My move to Ecuador had several aspects 

My move to Ecuador had other aspects beyond my physical and emotional environment for medical reasons. For starters, I’ve always wanted to know what it would be like to actually live in another country. I am satisfying my curiosity about that being here beyond just a time of vacation for a few weeks. My experience so far has given me the courage and curiosity to consider now exploring other places in the world and see what it might be like to live in them for awhile.

Before I left the US, I had also been under an enormous amount of stress, both professionally and financially. I worked hard seven days a week and still could not get ahead. I had lost my home and my savings thanks to my back to back cancer experiences and I was trying as hard as I could to rebuild my finances. Then I had two serious accidents, neither of them my fault, and the medical bills began stacking up again. It seemed that the harder I tried to pay off my many medical bills still remaining and now the additional ones, the farther behind I got.

Do you think you are going to get a medal for being a nice person? 

My doctor told me, “So, do you think you are going to get a medal or some kind of brownie points for working so incredibly hard and at the same time beating yourself up for not keeping up all the time? How’s that working for ya so far?”

“Not so well” I replied with tears in my eyes.

He sat back in his chair and said, “MA I think it’s time you took a very serious reality check. You could work every day for the rest of your life to try to pay all this medical debt off.  Your medical debt is burying you. Do you want to make yourself even more sick by working so hard all the time? You think working yourself to death is the answer here? What about creating a life for yourself instead of serving The System? The System in the U.S. is set up to crush you and it’s doing a pretty damn good job on your life right now. You want to go down again be my guest. But my suggestion is to take a year and a half off and give yourself a rest. Then figure out what your next move is.”

I looked at him with disbelief.

“Mary Anne. Listen. Most of my patients are absolute wimps. The first bad thing that happens to them, they go down in a heap. But you? You have been through more than one human should have to go through in ten lifetimes. You just keep getting up and getting up and getting up no matter what life throws at ya. Seriously. I have tremendous respect for you. And that’s why I need you to take a rest so you don’t get clobbered again by something else. I’ve been a doctor for over 45 years and I see what’s going on here with you. I’m serious here. ”

“Yes. I know that tone Dr. Smart. I totally trust you. I’m listening.”

“Ok then. Your life depends on this decision to take a rest. NOW. You’ve never rested a day in your life. Ya think there is going to be an awards ceremony for all your honor, ethics and always doing the right thing? No there’s going to be a FUNERAL, that’s the ceremony there’s going to be if you don’t stop this. And by the way, I think your kids will be seriously pissed off at you if you die because of your damn pride. Not to mention, your working yourself to death. Is that what you want? Really? Now is your chance. It’s your turn. Take it.”

I left Dr smart’s office feeling relieved. Dr Smart had never steered me wrong. I decided that I would take his advice to take my year and a half off. I moved to Ecuador and finally got a rest. This past year has been a welcome break from working for other people and meeting their needs, no matter what the cost to my own health and well being.

 The Grand Adventure 

Not the least in my priorities, nor last of them, was I met a man who shared my same beliefs,values and world view. We decided to get married and try this adventure together. Our adventure is unfolding every day. My environment is ideal for my cellular health. I have the company of a very relaxed, evolved and positive partner. I am eating really well and getting good exercise every day. Ecuador is a place in the world where there are no toxins in the foods or the air. I’m enjoying the pleasure of relaxation too, doing needlepoint and art again. I now make time for reading interesting and thought provoking novels instead of trying to constantly improve myself through applying the strategies of self help and business productivity/achievement books. I have slowed way down and have reduced my daily stress to a huge degree. I meditate and laugh more and worry less.

I can finally hear my intuition

One of the most significant observations I have made over the last year is that I can finally hear my intuition. My intuition speaks to me now as my own true and nurturing voice of support and insight rather than constantly haranguing me about how I am “falling short,” “not measuring up” or “not enough.” Developing and listening to this kind and nurturing voice inside my head has been a huge breakthrough for me.

Under my doctors careful guidance, I have eliminated all the drugs I had been prescribed for cancer, blood clots and pain up until a year ago. My head feels clearer and my body feels strong and healthy.

As far as expenses go, I had been paying $865.00 per month just for health insurance, with my doctors  and hospital visits costing well into the tens of thousands per year. Here, the worst thing I have had over this past year has been two infected mosquito bites and a root canal, all at the total cost of $260.00. Yes, two hundred and sixty dollars medical expenses for the entire year.

I live well and securely here in Ecuador on what would force an average person in the U.S. to live out on the street. This lack of financial stress has been a huge relief for me. I am deeply grateful for the privilege of living in Ecuador, with lovely, warm, generous and tranquil people and in an environment completely conducive to my cells becoming healthy and filled with life force.

I feel regular periods of peace and tranquility

Overall, I am feeling a sense of constant Freedom to choose my life as I want it to be on a daily basis. If I want to sit and read a book or do needlepoint or cook or write for the entire day, I can make that choice. I can also work with clients via Skype and on my own time schedule.  Bottom line: I am happy with my decision to take care of myself and how I am living my life right now.

For the first time ever, I feel regular periods of peace and tranquility. Like Dr Lipton’s diseased cells in that petri dish, I simply placed all of my expatriate cells back into a healthy environment. My cells have responded extremely well to this new healthier environment here in Ecuador and my body and spirit have healed.

Breaking the log jam

I know I can always change my mind and go somewhere else and pursue another dream. But for now, living as an expat in Ecuador is the dream I am exploring and I am content to try this for another year and see where that journey leads.

Before coming here, I knew I was conscious of things not going well but I didn’t know what to do to fix any of it. After living here in Ecuador for a year, now I know that I have truly broken the log jam of my life. I am now living my life every day, for the first time, totally from my heart, by my own rules and in a truly healthy way that works for me.

Will these kinds of choices work for you?

Will the kinds of choices and changes I’ve outlined above work for you? Only you can answer that question. Each person’s life and circumstances are so different and I don’t presume to tell you what to do or how to do it.  I only hope that your life doesn’t need to become as desperate as mine was before you start looking for a new petri dish.

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Mary Anne Dorward. CEO and Founder of My Real Voice. Author of “Words To Thrive By: Powerful Stories Of Courage And Hope.”


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This blog is an excerpt from the upcoming book, “Footprints In Ecuador: An American Woman’s Life Changing Journey.”

Note: All photos in “Footprints in Ecuador: An American Woman’s Life Changing Journey” have been taken by Mary Anne Dorward. All photos and writing on this blog are protected under the U.S. Trademark: Words To Thrive By.  Please do not copy or reproduce any part of these blogs without express permission from Mary Anne Dorward. For more information or to schedule and inspirational speech or interview, please contact Mary Anne at



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