LIZ HARROD

Happy with 2011 and Happy for 2012 to be here

In Au Pair, Travel 2011, Writing on January 1, 2012 at 3:25 am

Arriving back from Paris has been a bit of a whirlwind.  With all the holiday travel and preparing for the launch of the we.are.america2012 website tonight, I will admit that I have been a bit of a blog slacker; but, if there is one thing I’ve learned this year,it is that. . .

things don’t always go as planned, and that’s part of the fun.

Reading that sentence a year and a half ago probably would have made me cringe.  At that time, I knew that I was going to quit my job, and I knew that I was going to spend 2011 traveling; but my way of preparing involved excel spreadsheets, lots of notes from travel guides, and a very detailed calendar of where I thought I would go and when.

Thank goodness things got too busy, and I wasn’t ever able to set those plans into stone.

On February 14th, I left for Dublin, with only a vague idea of where I was headed.  I just knew it wasn’t home.  For the next 5 months, I traveled over most of Western Europe, eventually making the decision to follow my heart back to France.  I never really had plans more than two weeks in advance, and it is because of that that I met people who have affected me immensely. I’ve been places I never thought I would go, and I did things I didn’t think I was capable of.

It is immensely gratifying to look back on this year and know that my proudest moment, the instant in time that I was most at peace, was when I was on my own.  I can remember riding into the Sahara Desert on my camel, Mali, with everything except my eyes covered in protection from the wind and the sand.  Without realizing it, I was entirely in the present moment, not thinking of where I was heading next, or what reservations I needed to make.  Instead I was simply in awe of the world in front of me, the fact that I had always dreamed of going there, and the fact that I had gotten there on my own two feet.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget what it was like to lay in the sand of the Erg Chebbi, look up at the sky, and simply revel in the fact that it really doesn’t get any better than this.

I’ll also never forget what it’s like to have conversations with people like the Winters in Portugal, or Orly and Spiros and all of the other enlightening people at Tao’s Paros in Greece.  People who, when they look at you, really see you for who you are.  People who push you to not only embrace the truth in yourself, but to seek out and love the truth in the world around you.  It is these people who taught me to embrace my instincts, to believe in my heart and my desires, and to take the risk to trust myself.  It is the people at the Dublin Film Festival, the friends who welcomed me into their homes, the numerous fellow travelers who I met in hostels, and my fellow work-study practitioners on that beautiful island in Greece.  It is all of them who pushed me to grow, who helped me become the person writing this blog – someone I am very proud to be.

I am proud of where I have gone this year, both literally and figuratively.  I am proud that I processed and let go of a lot of emotions and pain that I was carrying with me.  I am proud that I learned to unashamedly trust and follow my heart.  I am proud that I had the courage to be open to all the things the world decided to throw out at me; and I am proud that for now, I’ve been able to continue carrying these lessons and new habits with me.

These past few months in France, though trying, were any incredible opportunity for me to use the things I learned.  In a situation where I could have felt powerless, because of the first half of 2011, I knew the strength was in me, and the choice for happiness was with me. In a community of beautiful energetic and patient young women, I found kindred spirits who were as content as I am to simply enjoy the open-ended elements of life.

And now I’m here.  I’m sitting at my new desk, a beautiful antique Singer sewing machine table.  There is a lavender scented candle burning on a wooden chest by my window.  It’s sitting in a bowl, surrounded by rocks from the beaches of Greece. Behind my word-processing window is the finished we.are.america(2012) website, ready for launch, and on my desktop is a picture of the Erg Chebbi in Morocco.

This is me.  The elements are all there.  Whatever, changes and whirlwinds 2012 has in store, not only am I   ready for them, but I welcome all the excitement of an old friend.

On the Winter family farm in Portugal, in April. I was so blessed to be able to return for a yoga retreat with Vonny in October.

When the wind is blowing across the Erg Chebbi of the Sahara, it isn't hard to appreciate the beauty and awesomeness of life around you.

Enjoying the wind on my moped in Greece. Complete and utter contentment.

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