“Life isn’t about finding yourself; life is about creating yourself.”
Some people on this earth seem to know exactly who they are– or at least, what they want to do– from an early age. Others seem destined for more of an exploratory fate, a path that goes from job to job, passion to passion. I introduce to you: the wanderer. Some people handle the wandering better than others, living into it rather than resisting it. As a wanderer myself, I dabble in many passions– teaching, writing, traveling, health– and I was drawn toward Bob Higgins, an expat in Cuenca, because of his wandering passion– community work, health, and hypnotherapy. We sat down to have a conversation, and discussed the path of his professional life, his work with sustainability here in Cuenca, the power of manifestation, and honest advice on how to live a healthier, happier existence.
Bob is a doer: he has worked as a magician, an actor, a hypnotist, and a therapist for kids, couples, and returning veterans. He’s worked in soup kitchens and restaurants. He’s given presentations to large corporations like State Farm and Ford about strategy and theater. And now, his adventures have taken him on a journey of sustainability, as the founder of the Sustainable Cuenca health groups and the Holistic Health Network (HHN). Working in sustainability came out of necessity, and out of hope– we, as humans, have to learn how to be content, healthy, happy within ourselves before we can truly do the hard work of helping others.
Bob’s journey to Ecuador was, to say the least, unexpected. “I didn’t come down here with any ideas. I knew I didn’t want to live in Arizona or New Hampshire. I had friends in Ecuador. I found it on a map. There was no resistance; I just needed an adventure. I packed my bags, sold the house, and moved.” Instantaneous response to a new situation, tapping into his background with acting and improv, and Bob found himself here, in a city of 600,000 tucked inside the Andes Mountains. He wasn’t retired yet, but he knew that his work in the past would help him find something here.
“I’ve always been off-balance. It helps because I gravitate toward start-ups; I love to create organizations and solve puzzles…In Cuenca, the challenge is saying no because there are so many projects…I have to stay within myself.”
That work, of learning how to say no, is one of the things that brought him, and many of us, to the importance of sustainability– starting first with the self.
There is power in the word “No.” Sometimes, there’s even more power in “No” than in “Yes.” Ideas are, as they say, a dime a dozen. But to birth an idea into reality, to pull it from its cord of inception and deliver it into this world– that is motherhood, nourishment, and trust. Ideas need to be encouraged and made, rather that live in labyrinths of lingering thoughts. Bob has found himself the mother, the creator, of one such idea: the Cuenca Holistic Health Network. It’s a place where his own journey with health and wellness can help others. The mission of the network is to inform others of alternative ways to prevent, and treat health problems. “There is no need for us [humans] to get sick,” he claims. But, it’s not always easy to be healthy in the modern world.
Some of the ways that the HHN (Holistic Health Network) is educating Ecuadorians and expats about healthy living is through the website, weekly seminars, wellness groups, and an annual Expo. This year’s Health Expo is tomorrow, Saturday, October 21st at Mall del Rio from 10am-7pm. It’s a gathering place for doctors, psychologists, and business owners with healthy products to gather in one place and share collective knowledge.
The 2017 Expo has a 70% Ecuadorian vendor presence, embracing another mission of Bob’s– to bridge the gaps between the expat and local communities. Personally, I was excited to hear that so many Ecuadorians would be sharing their knowledge and skills at this event. I go to a naturalist Ecuadorian doctor and I’ve begun to pay much more attention to the wisdom of the naturalists in Ecuador: manzanilla (chamomile) for headaches, garlic or papaya seeds for stomach parasites, mint and ginger for inflammation.
I want to rid my body and mind’s tendency for the quick-fix of antibiotics, but to do it isn’t easy. Health isn’t easy. How funny, in a heartbreaking way, that something so formative to who we are has become so convoluted. Our health has become a product, a promise, an ideal through capitalist culture. Often, I’m not sure who to listen to when it comes to health– doctors, articles, friends, family, my body. But I know that information is vital, and the Health Expo presents a great opportunity to learn about possibilities, and to decide for yourself.
When it comes to healthy living, I believe most humans want to life a live that they can enjoy– physically, emotionally, spiritually– while sharing it with others in community. I believe most humans want to make their small patch of the world’s garden better, in some way. To do that, we have to ask the difficult questions and hold ourselves accountable. Bob simply says, “We have to take personal responsibility to change the world- get a clear picture of your beliefs, whatever happens is in part your responsibility.”
We have all the answers, Bob says, but the problems can seem so complicated. Starting with a healthy diet can lead to a happier body, a system where you wake up without a stomach ache in the morning. From there, you have more energy to make choices throughout the day- what food to buy, what projects to say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to, when to change things up, and when to stay and accept. Everything is connected, from the bites of food we put into our mouth to how we treat one another to how we do the best we can do.