On a leisurely stroll to the drugstore this morning, I was reminiscing about what a typical Tuesday was like in my previous life in the U.S. As a marketing rep my days were a perpetual blur of rushing from one appointment to the next. I was constantly checking my watch and hoping I’d have time to cram down a quick and often unhealthy lunch.
After five days of that stress and pressure I could look forward to a weekend of yard work, chores, and errands. And maybe there would be time for a dinner out with my wife.
Does any of this sound familiar?
As these memories came flooding back, I literally stopped walking and asked myself, “What in the heck was I thinking?”
You see, my wife and I decided to get off the “hamster wheel” over two years ago. We moved to Cuenca, Ecuador. And we’re now living “life in the slow lane.”
After my visit to the drugstore I decided to stop off for a $3 manicure. Shortly after I got back, my wife Cynthia returned from yoga class and is now off to a “ladies’ lunch.”
I’ll spend the afternoon writing and painting (I’m pretty sure a siesta will somehow find its way into the mix), then we’ll prepare and enjoy dinner together before maybe watching a movie.
It wasn’t always this way. When we first arrived in Cuenca we brought our Type A multi-tasking selves with us. The delays and frustrations began to pile up like a train wreck, and I felt myself on the verge of blowing a gasket.
A local friend then gave me some wonderful advice that changed everything. She said, “Here you should plan on accomplishing one thing a day. Everything else is a bonus.”
Wow. I’ve since discovered the truth of these words over and over. Latin America is slower paced, and what North Americans view as a commitment is merely a suggestion in this culture.
And none of it is going to change for you.
By relaxing into this very different lifestyle I began to understand maybe it didn’t matter whether something happens today or manana or whenever (which is often the same as manana).
I recognized that I could create my own life instead of letting my career or cultural expectations define my experience.
And most importantly, I realized I could never go back to that old life again.
Perhaps writing, painting, and yoga don’t appeal to you. I’m guessing there’s something else you’d rather be doing than whatever is now occupying most of your time.
If so, let me ask you a question: What are you going to do about it?
“Wishin’ and hopin’,” as the lyrics to the old Dusty Springfield song say, are not the answer. I encourage you to entertain the possibility that you have options.
Living overseas is certainly one of them. Decide what you want, then be open to locations around the world that might support your dreams.
In Ecuador, Cuenca was our answer. Find the place that’s right for you. It’s out there.
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