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Pro-Ecuador Insiders' Newsletter #002 November 22, 2007: Thanksgiving in Ecuador
November 22, 2007
Giving Thanks for the Small Things

by Linda McFarlin

Thanksgiving Day in Ecuador

Since Tuesday of this week, while most Ecuadorians went about their business as usual, my thoughts have been increasingly focusing on the United States of America, my country of birth, and on Thanksgiving.

Because Gary and I spent so much of the last 11 years outside the U.S., we didn't always celebrate Thanksgiving. This year as well, Thanksgiving had slipped my mind until I went shopping for groceries on Tuesday. There were a number of North Americans filling their carts with turkeys and holiday libations. One of them wondered aloud where the cranberries were. I immediately got caught up in the energy of Thanksgiving and filled my cart, too, all the while proclaiming to myself that I had no intention of cooking a huge meal for just the two of us.

But I spent yesterday making homemade bread, cornbread dressing, gravy and a broccoli casserole, all traditional Thanksgiving dishes I grew up with. When friends arrived here yesterday from Canada, I invited them to eat with us. So I guess that Thanksgiving energy was stronger than I thought. Strong enough to propel me to cook despite having so much else to do and despite having no real intention to celebrate Thanksgiving with anything other than a prayer of gratitude.

As I chopped broccoli and stirred the gravy, my mind was full of thoughts about all the things I should be doing. And I have a lot to do, especially now that Gary has had an injury.

On Sunday during an exhilarating dash down a cobbled road on our mountain bikes, Gary hit a rut and dislocated his left shoulder. Thankfully he didn't break any bones or hit his head but he is basically incapacitated for the next 6 weeks with strict instructions to keep his arm immobile and securely wrapped close to his body.

I am Thankful For a Number of Things

So I have been extra busy taking over many of the tasks in our work and relationship that Gary generally performs as well as taking care of Gary's needs. As I chopped and stirred and watched all the stressful thoughts come and go, I began to appreciate my situation and to be very thankful for a number of things. Just the energy of thanksgiving alone brought to mind many of the things I am so grateful for, past and present: family and friends, good health, a lovely apartment. Simple things like clean air and the beauty of the hillsides and mountains in Cotacachi.

I even found reason to be grateful for Gary's injury since he can no longer spend so much of his day at the computer! We are spending more time talking and being together in ways other than work. I have a greater opportunity to be of service and have even enjoyed pampering him and helping him get dressed.

Shaking Me Out of Old Ways of Behaving and Thinking

Gary's accident has caused a disruption in our usual way of doing things and I know that a "pattern interrupt" like this is an excellent opportunity for shaking me out of old ways of behaving and thinking. In other words, it is a way to take myself out of some of the ruts, even trenches, that I have fallen into without realizing it!

There are certain things we do as a couple that, over time, we take for granted. There are certain jobs that Gary traditionally does and some that I do. I wait for Gary to empty the trash on trash collection days. He usually pays the bills and I usually cook. Now all of these jobs are my responsibility and while I have felt some overload, I am also enjoying doing things I formerly left to Gary. I see an expansion for me into areas I formerly left alone, like answering more of the emails we receive and practicing my Spanish, interacting with workmen more. So his fall will have positive effects as well as negative ones.

The United States has been in a rut as well. Our country for so long has been on its own headlong dash of expansion. There's an ingrained belief in business that unless you expand and grow your business, you are not really succeeding. Companies report their profits and we applaud those who make not just millions, but billions of dollars each quarter. We have to have bigger houses and cars. Money and success dominate our thinking and our lives.

I Feel Secure in Ecuador

Here in Ecuador I often wonder how a couple or a single mother with kids in tow, can operate a small street shop that consists of a table or even a wooden tray with a few items offered for sale and make enough to cover expenses, let alone feed and clothe the children. Yet there is little anxiety or worry. Rather, the shopkeepers hang out, laugh, talk, share their lives and their children with each other. There is an ease and a settledness, a security I feel here In Ecuador that I don't often feel back home in the states. I read about young billionaires who feel they must still work 16 hour days and who eat lunch in the office because they are too busy.

Perhaps the current housing/credit downturn in the states means that our country has fallen into its own rut and now has the chance to expand in a different way, to consider taking a new and different direction that honors smaller and slower and easier. That is an opportunity I see for North Americans to explore. And that is what my new country, Ecuador, is already teaching me.

When Gary fell off his bike, we called our favorite cab driver. He showed up in five minutes and took Gary to the local hospital. Then neighbors came to help and were able to locate a traumatologist from Quito who arranged x-rays and wrapped Gary's arm. The next day we went to a brand new clinic in a nearby town to have further x-rays. The total bill for one emergency room visit, a shot for pain, 2 x-rays, two exams, a immobilization brace and a prescription for inflammation came to $93 USD.

Living in Ecuador where the cost of living is so much less than in the U.S. and where the pace of life and the definition of success are so different, pulling myself out of my self-imposed ruts is getting easier. I can find happiness doing less, having less. And in the process I find that I have more of the things that really count, like peace of mind, balance and time to watch nature unfold from my fourth-floor window.


Linda McFarlin

Linda McFarlin is an adventure-seeking baby boomer, a keen observer of life's quirks and vagaries. She loves antiques, designing interiors and the art of wabi-sabi, finding new uses for old things, such as herself and Gary.

Click here to read Linda's bio

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