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What 2015 Taught Me: Shit Happens

Musings

What 2015 Taught Me: Shit Happens

Megan Harrod

This blog post is brought to you from the sleepy little mountain village of Barboleuse (near Gryon/Villars), Switzerland... where the espresso is a-flowin', the croissants are aplenty and the fog is rolling in with a force. It's quaint here. A sanctuary. The pace of life is slower, and I like it. The sound ofthe cog railway train's horn is even music to my ears; it's cute. Last night, on New Year's Eve, I stayed in...which was probably the first time I've stayed in on New Year's Eve since I was 13. But, seriously. And I was totally okay with it. In fact, I preferred it. And this morning, I woke up at 10am, so I guess my body needed it.

I'm here in Switzerland visiting my dear friends from my past hostelling lifeMatt and Elizabeth and their son (my new best friend) Sterlingon a little break between World Cup action in Santa Caterina for the men's downhill and Santa Caterina once again for the women's and men's slalom (relocated from Zagreb, Croatia). Do you ever stop and think to yourself, "How the hell did I get here?!" I do. Quite often, actually. Stopped in my tracks by the magic that surrounds me. In the past three weeks I've traveled from Val d'Isere, France to Val Gardena, Italy to Český Krumlov, Czech Republic, to Prague, Czech Republic, to Dorfgastein, Austria, to Lienz, Austria, to Santa Caterina, Italy to Patsch, Austria and now to Gryon, Switzerland. Like a ping-pong ball through Euroland, with the one and only #TrixiBM (my Audi Q5). Catch me if you can! 

Bonjour from one of the most stunning sanctuaries in my travel arsenal: Gryon, Switzerland.

Bonjour from one of the most stunning sanctuaries in my travel arsenal: Gryon, Switzerland.

The biggest lesson I learned in 2015 can be summed up in a few words: I pooped my pants in India. You might giggle, or think it's gross...but it's been a great icebreaker and conversation starter in awkward situations since. I often follow it up by telling others that you haven't lived, I mean REALLY lived, until you've pooped your pants. Without fail, it makes a group laugh and lightens the mood. Laugh with me. I love laughing. So what lesson did I learn, exactly, is what you're probably wondering? The situation was uncomfortable. It was out of my control. I was alone in a completely foreign land where very few people spoke my language. It's one example, of many, where I learned to just let go. Shit happens.

I have this tank top from my great friend Jes that says, "Chitta Happens". In Sanskrit, "Chitta" translates to "memory". It is derived from the root chit, "to be conscious". It is is the subconscious mind. It is the mind-stuff. It is the store-house of memory. What "Chitta Happens" means is that all of that shit up there in our minds can easily weigh us down and keep us from moving forward on a positive, clear path.

It’s pretty simple, really. Even so, it seems to take us so long to learn this lesson to let go and move forward with a clear mind. Some of us live our entire lives without learning—either because we’re not willing to learn or because we’re not capable of learning due to a healthy combination of #zerofucksgiven and a lack of awareness. In 2015, I learned the importance of letting go. Letting go of ego. Letting go of toxins. Letting go of expectations. Letting go of fear of how others perceive me. Letting go of feeling obligated to be everything to everyone. Letting go of things outside of my control.

Through it all, I’ve learned a little bit more about myself. Through the darkness, I found light. I’m always learning more about myself, and I’m constantly surveying the world around me—really trying to be in tune and aware of what is happening around me and what kind of emotions, mind and soul I’m bringing into a situation in order to get the most positive outcome possible from the situation. Don't be fooled, though—it takes work. In fact, it's a seemingly endless stream of learning and working on myself and requires periodic check-ins.

The wound is the place where the light enters you.
— Rumi

I learned that my heart is really big and it’s incredibly challenging for me to not feel deeply. It’s hard for me to find a balance between my head and my heart. Their relationship, to me, is entirely symbiotic. I remember a very good friend and mentor of mine, Beatrix, had told me once that her husband had a challenging time separating his head from his heart. I remember thinking that this notion was something I could really identify with. I’ve always had a hard time with it, and in 2015 I learned more than ever how challenging it is for me. It’s always going to be there, I just had to learn how to live peacefully with it. It’s part of the fabric woven together to create my spirit, and I've come to terms with the fact that it’s both my kryptonite and one of my biggest strengths.

Life is amazing. And then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing again. And in between amazing and the awful it’s ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That’s just living heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it’s breathtakingly beautiful.
— LR Knost


So what changed and how did I learn to get by? I guess I've learned how to harness that and channel it more, and differently. I've learned how to sit with something that’s difficult; to reprogram my mind through meditation and prayer and to shift the way I’m thinking in a direction where I know that I am okay...trusting and letting go of the control and allowing things to happen organically.

I think that this is a lesson everyone could learn: a lesson in patience, and a reinforcement of a lesson that I’ve learned in the past and always lived by: that every situation doesn’t need to look the same. Every relationship doesn’t need to look the same. How we approach situations or problem solving in the work environment doesn’t need to look the same. And that, my friends, is the beauty of this world. Though we as humans know this and are cognizant of the fact that differences are beautiful and make the world a more colorful, vibrant place, I think it’s a very human tendency to get locked into a singular way of thinking—this notion that if something is a little bit different, it’s wrong. It’s odd how we can get sucked into that too. Ironic, because as odd and unconventional as I am, I’m guilty of this behavior too.

With relationships, for instance, I’ve heard friends talk about unconventional relationships in a negative way…they’ll say it’s not right because of this or that reason. Based on what, though?! What is the baseline for what a relationship needs to look like or how it should function? To me, the measurement is happiness. That’s it. It’s simple. Really, people. Apart from that, I cast no judgment. That’s something I’ve learned, though, and it hasn't been the smoothest path to understanding. It’s easy to judge from the outside. No one knows what it’s like to be in that particular relationship. I think it’s an important aspect to check in with from time to time…to take a moment to dig into why I am feeling the feelings I am feeling. Am I sad, frustrated, or upset because something isn’t the way society thinks it should be or am I sad, frustrated, or upset because something isn’t the way it should be for ME? For me, this is a distinction that needs to be made and a notion that needs to be reflected upon.

True surrender requires an opening of the heart to the unknown.
— Gurmukh Khalsa


The other day I read this article on Elephant Journal entitled "The Commitment Illusion". It made total sense to me, and I think it's a worthy read for others who struggle with the notion of unconventional relationships. "We need to come back to the core definition of a partnership, the stuff that creates the reality between two people: affection, care, thoughtfulness and dedication. Maybe we should simply go with what we see, let things flow and trust life." Let go. Let it flow. Trust. Find that magical place where you are okay with what was, okay with what is, and okay with what is to be.

Like I said, what it boils down to, is SHIT HAPPENS. Simply. In the end, it’s always okay and you can laugh about it and/or learn from it. That’s a good metaphor for life’s ups and downs in general. I’m happy now. I feel good. Even though I thought last year was a clean slate to move forward from, it wasn’t clean. It was muddy. I wasn’t ready for relationships of substance. I was reminded that I could only receive so much as my heart could give, which wasn’t my whole heart. I thought that I could give my whole heart, but in reality that wasn’t the case.

It was a powerful lesson for me in understanding what really, it means, to be healed and feel whole again—and the work and the steps that you need to do/take to get there. It doesn’t come from external forces; I think we always believe a soul-searching adventure, another relationship, material possessions, whatever, will heal us. But it’s not the case. All of these things are a Band-Aid solution to a larger problem, or in my case a unicorn mask on a broken spirit. Internally we need to find happiness and our spirits need to soar, in order for the external forces to align. I’m fully healed now. I’m starting over. I'm full of gratitude for where I am, because it's where I'm meant to be right now. At this moment in time.

We shouldn’t live as if [other worlds] mattered more than this life in this world, because where we are is always the most important place.
— Philip Pullman

2016 is my year to soar. I'll turn 33 (aka #theageofjesus) and I have no anxiety about it at all. There's no ticking time bomb for me. I'm at peace, because I'm confident that what is meant to happen will happen. And, I'm having a blast. I adore my 30s. For me, it's been the decade of understanding and growth. I’m thrilled about it. I’m excited about the prospect of experiencing deeper awareness, living life as a better, truer version of myself, and finding freedom to do what I need to do for myself, while at the same time the open heart and mind to receive what is meant to be received. I think that’s a really healthy place to be, and it’s a place that I wish others could experience as well: happiness and trust that what is meant to be will be, along with the awareness to acknowledge that finding this place doesn't happen magically, but rather as a result of setting intentions and creating essential building blocks in order to get you there.

I’ve given up New Year’s resolutions long ago. People create lofty goals and rarely reach those goals. My advice? Shed the expectations and pressure on yourself. Instead, set intentions and create healthy steps to reaching those intentions. And remember, oftentimes the best journey never ends up the way you had thought it would.

My 2016 intentions:

Be true to yourself
Move purposefully through life
Approach every situation with an open mind and heart
Do things that serve your soul and that make you feel good
And, of course, continue to dance, laugh, wear crazy leggings, unicorn masks and costumes, and attempt to make others smile (aka ask yourself, "what would Amelie do?").

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art—write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.
— Neil Gaiman


Bonne Année,

The Vagablonde