Friday, Sept 15, 2017

Got Control?

I have had a rough week. I know what you are thinking…”How rough could you have it Todd, not having to slog into a job everyday, living on a beautiful beach, and having your biggest problem be whether it is cloudy or not?” Ok, fair enough. I have it pretty good.

Still, let me share. Maybe I can find some good life lessons by the time I finish. 🙂

It’s Just a Plan

So, my intention ever since moving to Ecuador was to develop an income that is all online driven. My main online source of income is to be through my coaching efforts and any related digital products I create. So that is going ok, and slower than I would like.

I came across an online opportunity to teach Chinese kids with Vipkid so I thought I would give it a shot. With the time difference between Bejing and Ecuador, it ended up I could teach in the early morning hours when I am up anyway yet nothing is happening here. I thought it sounded like a good plan.

It is a good plan…but not an easy one. The infrastructure where I live on the coast is sub-optimal for both internet and electricity. On Sunday afternoon I lost internet service and as much as I hounded the local owner of the internet company I could not get service restored until 10 am Monday. Guess what? My classes on Monday were from 5 am until 9 am. I missed every one of them!

OK you may think, “Shake it off.” I actually did, at least I thought so. But then guess what? On Tuesday morning the utility company decided to do some maintenance work on the power lines and the power was shut off from 5:45 am until 10:30 am. I was not able to teach my classes on Tuesday either. Ouch!

Control Has Limits

What does all this have to do with anything? I think it has to do with recognizing what I can control, what I cannot control, how that makes me feel, and what I do as a result. Basically, I went through two days of trying to navigate my thoughts and feelings to not self-condemn and not feel like a loser. Honestly, it was really hard to let go of the angst I had.

I am not, nor have I ever been, “that guy” who is late for appointments. And missing an appointment altogether has never been a reality in my universe…at least outside of an Ecuadorian universe. So here I am in Ecuador, choosing to do something (teach online) that I am dependent upon good working technology, and have little to no recourse if it fails. So what does that do to me?

It’s All In The Definition

It forces me to not attach my self-worth, my self-perception, to things outside of my control. That is the bottom line. In what situations have you been prone to attach your self-worth to things outside of your control? Like someone else’s opinion maybe? And this part is even more important, do you attach your self-worth to your imaginations of others thoughts and feelings about you? It is complete insanity.

I can beat myself up pretty badly. “Oh, they are going to think I am a total flake.”, I tell myself. “You are a flake!”, I start hearing my inner critic say. Now, someone at Vipkid may have thought I was flaky. A student may have thought that too. But is it really true even if they had thought it?

I’m not a flake, AND I do not have the power or authority to get an internet tower working when it is down or electrical lines restored. It is an event that affects me, but it does not define me. Only I get to do that. How do you define yourself in those situations that you don’t control? Where does your self-talk go?

What good does beating myself up (or yourself up) do in these situations? Does it shut you down? Do you get a sick feeling in your stomach? I did, at least for a bit of time; and to what purpose? How can I continue to move forward and find brilliance if I am tearing myself down?

I Control How I Define Myself

I had to take control of my self-talk. I had to be clear with myself on what I controlled, and let go of what I didn’t. In those moments that followed the events, I had to decide how I would define myself, and then what actions I would take moving forward.

What couldn’t I do? I couldn’t change the fact I missed the classes. I couldn’t change the fact students had to change their plans because of me being unavailable. I couldn’t change the fact the company expected me to be there and I wasn’t. Am I flake? No.

I did get the situation on Monday and Tuesday straightened out to the best of my ability. I contacted the company and explained what happened. I tried to schedule some more classes each of those days when the internet became available. I did what I could to lessen the impact of the event. I took action where I could. No, I am not a flake.

Responsibility Is Different Than Control

I am responsible for some things. I am responsible for choosing to live in a place where the infrastructure is unreliable. I am responsible for choosing to commit myself in a specified schedule to teach kids online. I am also responsible for choosing to give my best to every endeavor I commit to. I accept and am willing to take responsibility for these things regardless of my level of control. I am responsible for my choices.

There is also a reality I have to accept. It is the reality of living with uncertainty and limited control in a foreign country that is, at least as far as where I am living now, very different than the United States in its customer service and technology options. It is also a place very different in its cultural expectations, effort, and pace. I’m not going to change it. Any change has to come from within me.

So what does this reality mean? It means I continue to create and build the life I want to be living using what I have available. I continue to cherish the love and relationships in my life while I do it. I continue to become the best man I can. I don’t stop. I don’t give up. I keep going.

In reality, why else are any of us here?

Now For The Local News

On Sunday I went to Montanita to get a haircut. Unfortunately the place was closed. I was with one of my friends so, not to make the trip a total loss, we decided to grab a beer. On the way I passed this guy who looked as though he had several beers the night before. I love the crazy things I get see in Montanita.

no control

Sunday morning. “Turn off the light!”

Heidi and I have been walking the beach and once again we found a dead sea turtle. This one had just washed in.

We passed a group of vultures on the beach and I got a pic of this one just sitting on the fence post with his wings spread out thinking he “was all that” and maybe a little more. 🙂

Look At Me

Orphanage Fun

Olon Orphanage

Happy Faces

When Heidi isn’t walking with me on the beach she is doing craft projects with the kids at the orphanage. The project they are now finishing up is a rock holder with each child’s picture and an encouraging message they can keep on their dressers.



Puerto Lopez Fun

Chicas On The Loose

Heidi did find some time to have a girls day out in Puerto Lopez with two of her friends, Teresa and Saraya. She had a great time and was gone almost the whole day.

When she returned one of the first things she told me was,”It was so nice not having anyone in a hurry, and being able to look in all the shops without having someone say we need to get going.”

Huh, who was she talking about?





Where In The World Are My Sons?

Easton With His Grandpa Hibbard

After a successful summer working a fishing boat in Alaska, my son Easton is now in Portland visiting family. Next week he is going to visit his brother Chase in Seoul, S. Korea, before coming back to Ecuador.

Both Chase and Easton had a great time living here with us in Ecuador. I’m sure they are looking forward to, and will find, some great adventures to do together while in S. Korea…like maybe visiting the DMZ. (Shhhh…don’t tell their mom.)