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June 27, 2017

Our Greatest Lessons come from Pain, not Pleasure.

“If we have peace of mind, negative experiences do not upset us.” ~ H.H. The Dalai Lama

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Last year, I almost lost everything I owned.

I had an enviable lifestyle, living for over a decade in Asia at a stunning villa in Bali. I owned my own conscious company, had a beautiful son, and many cherished friends who I shared deep connection with. It felt like I would live this charmed life forever.

But the universe had other plans for me.

At the time, I was debating whether or not I should leave Asia after 25 years of living away. As soon as the thought entered my head, things began to unravel. I had to move from my home of nine years to a new villa further away.

Then, I found out that some of my important official documents were fake. As I tried to salvage the situation, the culprit was sent to prison on another charge, making it much more difficult to resolve.

Trying to remain positive, I employed someone to improve my company website, which was crucial to the business. They destroyed the code and disappeared. I lost nearly all my traffic overnight.

Faced with the decision of moving back to my roots without any steady income and a child in tow, I decided to sell an apartment I owned in the U.K., This would free up enough cash to repair my website, purchase a property back home, and survive until I was back on my feet.

But then I got hit again: The tenant renting my apartment refused to leave and promptly stopped paying rent.

With a mortgage on the apartment, company costs, my island rental, and all the expenses of being an ex pat (such as private school and visas), I was scuppered.

I prayed, I went to see Balinese healers, I talked to enlightened friends, but nothing abated the feeling of dread. If I had one major touchpoint, it was fear of financial poverty, and here I was facing exactly that. Should I try to stay where I was and attempt to pick myself up, or should I leave and start again?

I started selling furniture to feed us, piece by piece, until the villa was bare. I confided in dear friends who brought food, cooked for us, and paid electricity bills. Despite everything, my heart burst with gratitude.

Things were not improving, so I made the difficult decision to leave. My planned exit strategy was not going to happen. Reality had set in.

Once I made the decision and prayed for guidance, the universe conspired to assist me. I received a much-needed refund of school fees, the flight tickets got cheaper, and I managed to sublet the remaining contract on the villa.

Once back in the U.K., feeling reverse culture shock, I experienced the true milk of human kindness. Old friends, family, and even strangers donated furniture and all the items we needed for our new home. I loaned the money to fight the court case and regain access of my apartment. My son was accepted to a superb school (just a short walk away from our new rental).

After feeling like I’d been through the washing machine, I slowly began to exhale. I won the court case, sold the apartment, and bought a beautiful new safe haven for me and my son. I’m now building my company back up to the authentic, soulful business I always wanted, and I am loving the process.

Life is on the up-and-up!

So, what did I learn from this?

I’ve lived out of a backpack long enough to understand that material things don’t really matter, but when faced with difficulty to feed myself, it was time to experience a painful change.

Truth is, the more we have, the more we can help others.

I learned that our greatest lessons often happen through our most painful experiences.

I learned the true meaning of gratitude, something I value dearly now on a daily basis.

I learned that we can survive when we are forced to face our worst fears, and ultimately losing that fear is entirely liberating.

I learned that the best laid plans are just that—sometimes our will is not the same as the universe’s.

I learned that sometimes we need to ask for help and allow others to give it to us. We will have plenty of chances to return the favor.

I learnt that the only inevitable in this life is change. In Sanskrit, impermanence is referred to as anicca, which is part of my mantra now.

I learnt that life is more interesting and full when we include others in our stories, good or bad.

If I’ve inspired one person through this experience, that’s good enough for me.

One person at a time.

Much love and gratitude.
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Author: Joanne McFarlane
Image: Amen Clinics Photos/Flickr
Editor: Danielle Beutell
Copy Editor: Leah Sugerman
Social Editor: Yoli R

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Joanne McFarlane