I know I’ve been sharing pictures of Quito lately, but that’s because I’m behind in posting. We left Quito weeks ago. We are currently in Ancón with my husband’s family, and my husband is in Galapagos. It’s been like this for two weeks now. Why aren’t we back enjoying paradise as a family? Well, it has to do with the complications that come with trying to move across borders. Technically I’m an alien of the illegal variety in this country (slightly ironic feeling, to be on the other side the immigration question) while I wait and wait and wait for my documents to be processed, my marriage to be recognized by Ecuador (it takes more than you would think), and then to get a visa. After all that, I still have to apply for residency in Galapagos, which is practically its own country, and it’s tough to get. It may be a month or more before we’re reunited. It’s been a challenge with our squatter status here, but we’re trying to make the most of it.
At first I had a hard time being positive about the whole thing. Ancón is not always an idyllic place to be, and getting anywhere else means a long bus right with two motion-sickness prone little girls. When it started to sink in that we’re going to be here for a while, I decided I needed to change my attitude about the whole thing, if I was going to keep from going crazy. Here are some things I’m trying to do, and maybe they’ll help you, if you’re struggling to love the place you’re at right now.
♦ Look for the beauty around you. It may be more difficult to find in certain places, but it’s not impossible. Even if it’s just the color harmony of the dilapidated buildings around you, or the abstract designs of the cracks in the sidewalk, there are things all around to delight the eye and enliven the mind.
♦ Read. And it doesn’t have to be escapist reading to help you deal with your living situation. Reading will enrich your life in a way that will give you strength to deal with the hardships of the real world. I personally find that reading the word of God can be particularly helpful, when nothing else seems to make your day right. If you think you don’t have time to read, consider listening to books while doing other things. I’m currently listening to Grimm’s Fairy Tales with my girls while I do chores or edit photos. Librivox.org has a ton of audio books available for free, including scriptures.
♦ Do what you can and don’t worry about what you can’t do. This is one I need to repeat to myself often. It doesn’t always work, but when I can focus on the things that I can do, it makes the day go much better. I didn’t bring a lot of supplies, so I’m pretty limited in the projects that I can do while I’m here. Sometimes I get caught up in thinking of all the things I wish I could be doing right now, but I’ve been trying to think of little things that I can do, and not only has it made me feel better, it’s helped stretch my creativity.
♦ Make the most of what you have. This goes along with the first and third item, but it deserves its own mention, too. This is another way that I have learned to push my creativity. Take a look at what you’ve got to work with (be it ingredients for a meal, supplies for a craft, places you can take your kids) and think of ways to put a new spin on them. This helps keep things exciting and gives you more bang for your buck.
♦ If all else fails, chalk it up to experience. No matter how challenging or painful your situation may be, there is something to be learned from every experience. For me, I feel that I am learning to see the world through new eyes. I have never really suffered, and I’m still not suffering, really (even though the cold showers feel pretty close to it, sometimes)? But I have seen true suffering here, and I it has taught me so much. To be grateful for what I have. To have compassion on those who do not have. And some things that can’t be expressed with words. For that, I will always look back on this uncomfortable, awkward time in limbo and be grateful for it.
What do you do to love where you are? It isn’t always easy, and I’d love to hear what works for you.
Have a great day!