'wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking. we're all wanderers in life.' -spanish poet, antonio machado

Thursday, December 30, 2010

zmena: 2010 in word cloud

Wordle: Zmena

I think this one speaks for itself...amazing reflection of the goings-on in 2010. What a year. More thoughts to come in the next few days about the last year and the crazy/amazing-change endured.

Wishing you all a very happy 2011, friends. Thanks for hanging with me this year and visiting the blog, following me from one country to another and one exciting change to the next. Looking forward to what adventures 2011 will bring.



Sunday, November 21, 2010

transitions aplenty

Yes, well, 'transition' seems to be the word of the year for me. In June I left Prague and moved back to Minneapolis to prepare for the wedding, while continuing to work as a freelance strategist for Bohemian Hostels. My gig was extended and I was hired to manage multiple projects for the group, including the official grand opening party for our investors and partners (which went very, very well). I apartment-hunted and job-searched in the midst of it all (while Tom wrote his 160-page research proposal and kicked booty in his oral exam)...and then moved into our new place one week before the wedding. We were blessed with the most beautiful weather on our big day (9 October) and we had SO much fun surrounded by all of our closest family and friends. Then, we took a quick honeymoon break to Galena, Illinois, where we had a wonderful time tasting wine at our friends' vineyard (Galena Cellars) and staying at our amazing Aunt and Uncle's cosy cabin. Not long after that I jumped on a plane and travelled back to Prague for the opening festivities, where I was (void of the new hubby) for two weeks as I wrapped up some work for them. In the meantime, I accepted a position with OLSONdenali. I returned to cold, wet (snowy and rainy) Minneapolis 1.5 weeks ago and tomorrow I will embark on a new journey, when I start my new gig. Phew.

I haven't had much time to reflect on any of these massive life changes, but I am grateful for each and every one of them. We have already been tested in so many ways, and I know there is a reason for this. As my mother so wisely stated during her speech at our wedding, if we can make it through 1.5 years of long distance, we can make it through anything. So, transition seems to be the word that defines our relationship thus far. I can honestly say I am looking forward to a bit of rest and relaxation and thankful the winter is upon us and will hopefully provide some much-needed nesting for us newlyweds. However, as I embark on this very large career transition in my life I am feeling a little anxiety...anxiety because change is never easy, but it is most often a good thing. I am excited for so many reasons. I am ready to learn, be challenged and experience a new work environment. Along with this excitement comes a little bit of sadness, though, as I say a more solid 'goodbye' to Prague, the group there and my experience...something I had been seeking out for such a large part of my life. It's done. But it's okay. Because I'll have more challenges, more excitement and more adventure with each new opportunity that comes my way. When I hung my pack up today (see picture) I surprised myself by shedding a few tears.

Thank you to all of you who followed my journey...though there are so many stories I have yet to tell on this blog, in a book, or in person. I'd love to share them with you someday. A very MASSIVE thank you to my amazing hubby, whose patience and support made it possible...along with my incredibly generous and loving parents. And, of course, all of my peeps in Prague and friends in Minneapolis too. What an experience. As you all know very well, I can go on and on and on about it, so I will stop myself now. But stay tuned for more stories and adventures...whether old or new. Who knows...perhaps a book will even make its way to shelves someday. Only time will tell.

Usmevy a slunce,


Thursday, October 21, 2010

What is home?

This will just be a quick post, as I am running out of battery life, and about to fly out of JFK to Prague. As I head back to Prague, another "home" of mine, I reflect on what "home" exactly means to me. For so long I haven't had a stationary home...Wisconsin has been my home, Prague has been my home and Minnesota has been my home. But, for the first time in a long time, I have found my "home" - and this song, which was appropriately played as the first song our wedding party danced to - explains it pretty well:

Man-oh-man, you're my best friend...there aint nothin' please me more than you..home...let me go home...home is wherever I'm with you. Ahhhh, love it! Now that I'm a married chick, I've found my "home" in/with Tom...and it is pretty awesome. I love it and am so excited about our future together!

Stay tuned for pictures from the SuperWedding...they're coming very, very soon. In the meantime, head out to our website to see the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner snaps.

Love to you all and safe travels (with my blanky in tow),


p.s. by the way, Tom is now obsessed with this song and plays it every chance he gets. ha.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Breaking the blog silence...WHOA!

(a sneak preview from the superwedding, by the fab cat norman)

I am sure you have all wondered, 'Will Megan ever blog again?' Well, I am here to tell you that, yes, I will indeed blog again (like it or not! :)). Life has been a chaotic-ally beautiful mess as of late between wedding planning, work (as a consultant for the Bohemian Hostels group), moving to a new place, finding a challenge to tackle in the future, etc. but now I am getting more of a chance to breathe. And, as I look back on the last few months, I realize more and more that the silence was quite necessary and purposeful.

On Thursday I will be heading back to Prague to manage the grand grand grand :) opening party for Mosaic House, continue to build out marketing materials for all properties and finish up that fancy-shmancy new Sir Toby's website! WOO-HOO! It's hard to believe that I've been back in the States for 4 months and equally hard to believe how much has been accomplished in those 4 months. I am starting to believe that my fiance...oops, I mean 'hubby' (still getting used to that) and I really are superheroes.

In the coming weeks I will detail my travel experiences as I return to a land I call 'home' (one of many) and reconnect with my team as well as some very special friends who I call my 'second family.' Then, I promise (you heard it here, folks) to take you through my planning process for the wedding and tell you all of the juicy details that I never would have dreamed of exposing prior to the wedding! SO many special surprises on the big day! We had a blast and are super-excited for this new leg of our journey together.

Oh happy day,

MEgan (suszynski!)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

1st month insights?! okay...

can't believe i've been back in the good ol' US of A for one month already! wow. time flies!

1st month insights?! okay...
1) i really missed burgers while in europe.
2) no working out in america = bad idea.
3) minnesota is really sunny.
4) everyone speaks english. yeah, duh, right?!
5) grocery stores = WAY too many options.
6) people have so much..."stuff".
7) along w/ #6 - i don't really care about "stuff".
8) i miss prague + the people gobs...and modry zub.
9) it's different here...not in a good or bad way...it just is.
10) i'm blessed in so many ways and thankful for so many reasons.



Tuesday, July 13, 2010

ahhhhh....the lakes...

enjoying one of my most favourite parts of minneapolis - lake of the isles

this one's for lo and shannon, back in prague...the lakes send their love.

(and the lakes)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Day 7 of the 'změna' series - Barbara!

I adored this cafe.

Barbara and I enjoying trdlo...one of my fav. czech goodies!

Beautiful Barbara at Mirek's bar - Antre!

I love this town.

The window from our beautiful little writer's room at Krumlov House.

What a fab stay in my second home!

Day 7 of the 'změna' series is dedicated to a beautiful friend with a super-sweet soul, Barbara Bindasova! Last night I returned to Minneapolis to a beautiful mess of a package from Prague! The first I've received since I've been back.

It arrived tattered and torn (literally)...but with all of its splendid belongings i...ntact! Pico ballas, Nivea deodorant for Tom, Aloe Vera drink, and a gorgeous long letter from Barbara! SUCH a great surprise!

I had a chance to sneak in one last trip to Krumlov (my second home) at the end of May before the Mosaic House madness really ensued, and was blessed to have Barbara join me. We had a fabulous time in my favourite lil' fairytale town.

Thank you SO much, Barbara!

Love, Me

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Day 6 'změna' series dedication...my sweet Lucie!

Day 6 of the 'změna' series is dedicated to my very dear friend, Lucie Vanaskova, whom I admire more than words can describe. This chick is incredible and I am a better person because of her!

Lucie and I became close friends pretty quickly, and I had the honour of travelling with her to her cottage near Strakonice in Southern Bohemia a few times, where she made me the yummiest strawberry dumplings and her grandpa filled me up with Slivovice! Pure bliss! We also had the chance to travel to Berlin, Cesky Krumlov and Valencia....which were all memorable adventures.

Lucie is an amazing friend for so many reasons. I love you and miss you so much, Luc!



Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day 5 'změna' series dedication...PROST!

Day 5 of the 'změna' series is has come and gone (it was yesterday...oops...well, I was busy launching the new @Czech Inn Hostel website - www.czech-inn.com)!

As I was looking through my European travel images today, I came upon the shots from this year's Hahnenkamm men's world cup downhill race (Kitzbuhel, Austria). One word: PROST! Hands-down one of the most memorable excursions I have taken thus far in my (short) travel life.

If I could describe the race in one sentence I'd say: Oktoberfest on a ski hill. It was an absolute spectacle and I can't wait to go back. Didier Cuche came out on top both races, Shevy provided some great lodging at the Alpenrider, the Londoner lived up to expectations...it was all good.

I even had the chance to join in on a group of Swiss bell ringers' show...check it out. Pure brilliance...my ski heaven.

Livin' in ski bliss,


Sunday, June 27, 2010

day 4 'změna' series dedication...rockin' the (mosaic) house!

Day 4 of the 'změna' series is here! Hmm...what to do, what to do...yep, it's a hard choice when you love so much about a place. Alas - I've made my choice.

As many of you may well know, during my time in Prague I worked on a little project called Mosaic House (which I am technically still working on)...I had the chance to see the project through its opening and I absolutely fell in love with everything about it - the design, the dynamic offering it provides, the bar and restaurant (with stage!)...and most of all - the people. I feel blessed to have worked with the group of people I was able to work with day in and day out and I miss them immensely.

I recommend this place to anyone travelling to Prague - it is an absolutely gorgeous space full of character and good vibes.

The other day I jumped on the Mosaic House/Belushi's webcam and had the pleasure of seeing Twig and Eddy Passey for a brief moment...yep, a bit stalker-esque, but it made me feel reconnected and I oh-so-appreciated it. Thanks boys!

@Eddy - just in case you're wondering, I have those Bad Gastein race results in my portable office, so there's no forgetting what went down in Austria this year! Rematch in the future?! You better get training...;)



day 3 'změna' series dedication...what a gem!

Day 3 of the 'změna' series has arrived...well, actually it arrived yesterday but it was a Saturday - so give me a break.

So, yesterday's fb post dedication to Europe goes to this random guy pictured below. When on a recent trip to Poděbrady with Christina Mei Hicks and Lauren Backenstose, I came across him and my iPhone could not be contained. What a gem, huh?! Socks with sandals and blue patterns galore!

This one is for all of the amazing sights I came upon while in public places in Europe (most notably public transportation...oh, how I miss it!). Na zdravi!

Friday, June 25, 2010

a dynamic duo in my life

Are you ready, friends?! Day 2 of the 'změna' series has arrived.

Today's shout-out goes to a dynamic duo: Lauren Backenstose andTalitha Brauer. Not only did I receive the longest and most amazing, love-filled Prague email update yesterday from Lauren, but these gals skyped me today and it filled my day with pos. vibes!

They arrived in Prague just after I did (early in 2009) and we became instantly close...dinners at our favourite restaurants (sans peanuts, of course!), Latin parties, dancing at Bar Nota and Groove Bar, dress shopping, hen parties, long walks and meaningful talks and more...these girls mean the world to me.

Love you ladies...thanks for being!



Thursday, June 24, 2010

introducing: the new daily 'změna' fb post

Here goes, friends! First pic of the 'změna' ('change' in Czech) series. Today's inaugural shout-out was a hard one to choose...but he is very deserving: my bro, Zach Harrod. I am blessed to have lived in the same city as him, 4,000 miles from home, and I miss him like crazy.

The day before I left I dropped off Jesus to him. For those of you who are not familiar with Jesus, I received him in Poland fromThomas Suszynski's amazing uncle Jurek, and he (Jesus, not Jurek) travelled with me throughout my Polish countryside train adventures.

There is not a more deserving person of today's post. I love and miss you, brother! Na Zdravi!



Monday, May 24, 2010

bienvenidos a valencia...

This was my office in Valencia. Unreal, huh?!

A couple of months ago I was playing the Valencia vs. Lisbon game. Valencia won. I was initially a little bit worried...a bit of buyer's remorse flowing through my veins post-ticket purchase. But, I can honestly say Valencia, Spain has been cemented as one of my absolute favourite holidays thus far. There is something about the Mediterranean beach culture that makes it just reek of good vibes. It suits me. For so many reasons. I don't know...maybe it's because I was embarking on unknown territory, never having taken a true beach holiday where I just chilled out like this. Maybe it was the people I travelled with, met and interacted with. I recently came across this quote, 'chemistry happens when people interact' and felt like it really summarized this trip and the people I met. Wow. The things people have experienced...the challenges people have tackled. Seriously impressive.

The latest travels brought many questions to my mind about what career adventures I may tackle next...and further down the road, and also reminded me how both scared and excited I am to be moving on to something new (and of course, how super-psyched I am to be getting married to the most amazing man I could ever dream of marrying!). Change. Zmena.

I'll make sure to jump on here in the next couple of days with more stories and images, but for now, I just wanted to wet your palette a little bit. For those of you looking for a change of pace...head to Valenthia (oops, Valencia ;)). Buyer's remorse no more.

Muchos Besos,


Sunday, May 16, 2010

i got hen'd in praha

the weekend in review:
thursday: try to sleep more than the avg 5 hours in order to prep for weekend
friday: hen party. wear ridiculous(ly amazing) props imported from states, including a corona beer hat. dance with table of gay men (who informed me that getting married was a bad idea...until they saw the picture of my custom-designed dress. typical.). dance a lot. sleep very little.
saturday: my birthday. eat an incredible brekkie, work, try to nap (to no avail). get ready for round 2: birthday outing with lo and tal. eat indian food. dance even more than the previous night. laugh loads. sleep very little. again.
sunday: my bro's 30th birthday. try to sleep (to no avail). suffer from stomach ache from indian food the previous day. pack for valencia. meet bro for lunch. leave for 7-day valencia holiday. bliss.

net result: very little sleep. loads of laughs and dancing. and, of course, one very blessed gal!

love, me

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I can't sleep...

...so I am telling my mind to 'give peace a chance' per this John Lennon wall inspiration wall I received the other day while on my Mala Strana walk.

Lately so many things have been on my mind...namely the changes associated with leaving one place I love and heading back to another place I love. During these transitions, it is always very difficult for me, as I tend to dive in and become fully engrained in my surroundings. Sure, it's great that I am adaptable and have a passion for exploration and new cultures, but it also makes leaving just a tad bit (okay, not just a 'tad') emotionally-taxing for me. Hence, the reason I am awake now, and have been since 5am.

I honestly believe I have the most scattered thoughts of most people I know. At any given moment I am thinking about hundreds of different topics and therefore my sense of direction is sometimes off (we all know I am absolutely terrible with directions) and my to-do lists become insanely-and-utterly-stupidly lengthy. This is what keeps me up at night.

Sad to go...happy to be going. It's an internal dilemma consuming my thoughts right now. At this particular moment I am thinking about:

_how amazing it will be to be with my fiance in a few short weeks,
_adequately marketing Mosaic House, the new property we're opening (went by for a site visit yesterday and was BLOWN AWAY by its essence-of-cool surroundings)
_continuing to market the existing three properties effectively, transitioning work to my awesome colleagues and the amazing new 'me' (Shannon, who is also from Minnesota with an agency background!),
_trying to enjoy the remainder of my time here with some holidays (Valencia this weekend...hopefully I won't have to work while away),
_planning my 'super' wedding and working with my Czech designer to create 8 dresses, 8 boleros, 1 veil, 1 handbag and 1 tie,
_readying my mind to head back home away from all of my ultra-amazing friends in Prague, packing (not quite sure how I am going to do this)
_departure from the nomadic lifestyle I've been living,
_trying to enjoy myself and take in the city and the European way of life for just a tad bit longer, _preparing myself for a shift in environment and mindset and culture,
_readying myself for the job search, flat-hunt and settling in to a new pace of life,
_and more.

Change. It's what this blog is all about, right?! I guess I wouldn't be here right now, at this second, if it weren't for the joys and woes and beauty associated with it. So, I'll say a big 'Na Zdravi' to 'Zmena'.

On top of all of this, I turn 27 this weekend. What happened to time?! I swear it was just yesterday that I was seven-years-old, running around our country home without a shirt or a care in the world, singing (awful voice back then too) and dancing (oh yes!), unaware of what life would be like when I was 27. I know, I know...27 is young (it's the new 17, right?! ;) I was told the other night - again - that I blend right in with my 19/20-year-old travelling peers. Yes!), but time flies. And, I'm having fun.

I'm happy. I'm blessed. I'm in love. Now all I need is for my mind to...give peace a chance.



Sunday, May 9, 2010

'mom magic'

Okay, so yes - I am stealing my brother's blog post today, but I just couldn't resist...because it is just THAT good. I couldn't have said it better (I never would have imagined I'd say this;)), bro.

Many of you know that it has been very difficult for me to keep in contact with my family (and specifically my mother) while I've been in Prague and this has not been easy for me. An ocean, and thousands of miles, have set us apart...yet I still seem to feel my mother's love. Tonight I was able to talk for my mom and I was reminded (as if I needed a reminder) of just how special she is. Her love and generosity was flowing across the ocean and thousands of miles and just so beautifully enveloped me, as one of her big hugs would. How did she do that?! It's mom magic...something that only mothers could do. Thank you for your magic, mom.

Thank you, mother, for being a constant source of love, support, encouragement and strength for me. I am blessed to call you my mother and...finally (after so many years)...my friend. I love you.

p.s. Oh, and thank you, brother, for writing such beautiful words and allowing me to recycle your eloquently stated post. You are incredible.




Posted By zharrod on May 9th, 2010

Happy MOM’s day to every Mom out there, but especially to my Rock Star, Diva of a mom, Kate Harrod! Below is one of my fav pics of my mom!


So here is my Mom’s Day post for you Kate Harrod!

I pray you have a great day and know that your kids one-third of the world away from you miss you and adore you so much!

Thanks for everything you have done for you us and will do for us!

As I was thinking about you this morning, I thought of many things about you that have insprired me (or us) in our lives, so I thought I shared them with you and the two readers of zACHhARROD.com! Mom, thank you for inspiring us to…
…put our whole hearts into anything we did!
…not be afraid of emotions. It’s okay to cry.
…be in touch with our roots, your roots.
…travel. My mom would take us kids with her to her midwifery conferences all over North America. I think this is where her kids’ travel bug came from. (So mom, I guess , in some ways, it’s kind of on you that we live overseas!;-) Thank you for taking us with you!)
…work hard.
…never quit.
…be good citizens, even if we voted differently than you voted!
…never settle for mediocrity.
…strive to excellence in all do!
…make the most of what we have.
…love learning.
…be more than the status-quo.
…and much, much more….

I love you so much Mom! Thank you for everything you are and more over thank you for being my friend! Happy Mom’s Day!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

'the nature'

I'm heading into 'the nature' with my beautiful Czech friend, Lucie, for the weekend. Her family's cottage is on the German/Czech border and it is absolutely serene and gorgeous down there. I am blessed to have Lucie in my life and I am blessed to be here! One month from today I will be heading back to the States after nearly 1.5 years of living and working in Prague. A bit surreal. I am so blessed to have had this opportunity, and for all of the stunning people I've met and experiences I've had. I am excited to spend this time with Lucie, one of my very best gals here, this weekend in 'the nature' (very Czech of me:))...reflecting on the past, enjoying the present and looking forward to new beginnings in the future.



Sunday, May 2, 2010

a little follow-up...

...I want to make sure I took a few minutes to follow-up on the (very passionate) blog post I wrote the other day.

The other night I was challenged by my (sweet) fiance about what I had written. He posed a question to me something along the lines of, 'So, are you saying that everyone should take a gap year? There is a reason that the traditional path is is around and there's a reason why most people take it...it must work if it is the conventional path.' Interesting. And so we entered into a (sort of) heated dialogue about this notion...a dialogue that prompted me to write this little follow-up on my blog post.

Although somewhat frustrated upon hearing this, I am glad Tom challenged me, as now I am able to elaborate a bit more on my feelings and why I have taken this stance. Just as I don't believe the path of convention is right for everyone, of course I don't believe that gap year or study abroad travels are right for everyone. A one-size-fits-all approach to teaching our young people is not the way to go. I don't feel the need to back the current way things are done throughout the States because it is already being done this way and I don't believe significant change or a shift in behaviour would occur if I approached it this way.

As I said, I learned heaps of amazing lessons from the corporate world and was given great opportunities...but they weren't necessarily the right opportunities for me. Regardless, they steered me into the direction I am going today (bitter taste or no bitter taste) and that is what matters. My hope is to reach young people with this message before they experience it themselves, and waste years of their life or end up unhappy down a path that wasn't meant for them in the first place. That's it (or not 'it' as it is a large undertaking, I suppose).

The more I talk to people about this idea, the more stories I hear about how necessary something like this is, and how travel and experiences have shaped their lives. From starting a medical practice in the bush of Africa to two southern Italians travelling around South America in a small, beat-up car (www.movingslowly.com), I've heard stories that have moved me and brought tears to my eyes. It's incredible what kind of things people do, if given the exposure to new opportunities. And that's really what it is all about...exposure. If we at least give children exposure to many different life paths, it's up to them whether or not they choose to follow the path of convention or take the path less travelled.

Who knows?! Before you know it, the path of convention may end up changing and the path less travelled may become more travelled, and eyes of our young people - students and young professionals alike - may very well become more open to new experiences too. Let's just hope.

Here's to change, or 'zmena' (how appropriate),


Monday, April 26, 2010

shippin' away + coming out of the expat closet.

Hey all of you faithful blog readers!

It's been too long, I know...and I've been using recycled words too. Yep, I'm guilty of lack of originality. But now I will give you some more recycled words (my way of being 'green' today;))Okay, and I'll throw some original stuff in the mix as well. For a long time now I've been considering what challenge I'd like to tackle next. Do I want to get back into the agency world? Do I want to work on the client side? Do I want to look into event management? These are the questions I ask myself these days...constantly searching... exploring...dreaming...wondering where my path will take me. I'm excited for new opportunities and new beginnings.

One of my dreams (outside of opening a cafe/gallery) is to reach the younger generation of the United States with a message. It's a message that I have always understood myself, deep down inside, but it took living abroad and heaps o' genuine interactions with travellers for it to surface.

In my gig here, I've learned so so so many invaluable lessons, but I can say - without a doubt - that the biggest lesson I've learned is the importance of travel and taking the time to experience foreign cultures. To be thrown outside of our comfort zone - I mean REALLY outside our comfort zones - is exhilarating. It's a feeling that cannot be understood until it is actually experienced.

Of course I can attempt to convey to you how life-changing it has been to live in a different country with a different language and different mindset, to travel to unknown destinations, get lost on trains around Europe, interact with people from all over the world (dance with the locals on an island off of the Emerald Isle...or gypsies at the Gypsy Bar in a small Czech town...or to trad'l Polish music at a wedding in a small Polish village...yes, I like to dance;)), hear hundreds of inspirational stories that have shaped my experience, and so much more - but it really won't be the same as actually experiencing it.

I wish I would have heard a stronger message like this when I was younger. I wish I would have heard a different message than the conventional message engrained into our minds as children in school and university by our parents (thankfully my parents are rockstars and have been supportive in this realm), professors and advisors: go to school, get good grades, make sure to be involved in as much as you can so you can get into a good college, take out a college loan because you haven't saved enough and can't afford school, get good grades so you can get a good job, get a job that pays well so you can pay off your school loans, get married, buy a house, work your way up the corporate ladder so you can get a raise (so you can pay off your mortgage)...and of course, work as many hours as you can and take as little vacation as possible because if you take vacation you're lazy, blah blah blah. Oh! And you better not take a year off after high school or college because then you're really going to be behind. All of your peers will have a head-start and you would be crazy not to take the path of convention right now. In fact, nearly everyone around you would criticize you because they don't understand (but it's not their fault, after all, because this is the path society has taught us). Oh, I've been there. I know this all too well. Something needs to change. I want to take part in creating that change.

But I resisted the path of convention...and because I did I've become a more well-rounded gal. Sure, some could argue that I'm a gal who doesn't know what I want to be when I grow up. Well, that's true. What's wrong with that?! I, however, look at it in a glass-half-full kind o' way. There are so many paths I could take. What fun is it to take the beaten path?! This is the message our young people need to hear. And I'd like to be the one to share that message. If you'd like to participate, or if you have thoughts/ideas/suggestions, let me know.

So now here's a little background on the rest of this post. I am reading a book called Linchpin by THE marketing man, Seth Godin. This is a must-read for everyone - whether you work in a business role or otherwise. A few weeks back I received this blog post email from Seth...and it prompted me to connect the dots and reach out. Or, in Seth's lingo, to 'ship'. Read away.

*Road Trip!

Digital interactions are highly leveraged and widespread, but there's nothing like face to face time to hammer home an idea. To that end I'm noodling with the idea of doing a series of day-long talks and seminars around the US this year (probably every three weeks). I often am hired to do private talks for groups, but it occurs to me that it might be more efficient and open to organize my own public talks as well.

Rather than just dreaming up the entire plan, I thought I'd ask for your feedback, connections, and suggestions, as well as see if anyone wants to help out. No promises, none at all, but if you have something to add to this, let me know. As always, thanks.*

So, I decided to reach out to the MAN and send this note to Seth Godin:

Alright...I am waxing on...are you ready?! I have an idea.

And to be honest, I've had the idea since before I received your 'road trip' email with this blog post. It was at this point, though, that the light bulb went off. But I haven't been able to ship. I haven't taken the time to sit down and write you with these thoughts. Maybe because I'm skeptical and reluctant to think you'd read this...let alone respond. More likely because I am currently living and working overseas and consumed by tasks from marketing a group of hostel/hotel fusion properties (http://www.bohemianhostels.com/) - including opening a new green design hostel/hotel (http://www.mosaichouse.com/) - to trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up (and travelling Europe and planning a wedding - and of course reading Linchpin - in my 'spare' time).

So, now I am shipping. Finally. I can't promise it will be good but here goes...

Half the time, people think I (and my ideas) am (are) crazy. I have always taken the path less travelled...gone a bit against the grain. I prefer it this way. In fact, life has been more fruitful because of it. You could say I am a bit of a dreamer...a believer in possibility and opportunity...and the power of human connection. When all of my high school peers were considering schools close to home and a path of convention, I decided I wanted to ski for a small liberal arts school in the middle of Minnesota. At first I didn't get in. I appealed the decision and became the second student in the college's history to appeal and get accepted. During my time at Olaf, I lived in Sweden the summer after my first year, and studied abroad in England my junior year (travelling to Scotland, The Netherlands, Ireland, France, and more).

The summer between my junior and senior year I participated in an internship program that would change the way I perceived business. It was an entrepreneurial internship. I didn't have a defined role but was meant to create a position for myself within the company. I did. It was challenging and frustrating and uncomfortable (and sometimes I cried), but it was amazing.

My senior year of college when everyone was looking for careers, and interviewing with behemoth corporate machines like Target, Best Buy and General Mills, I was planning an adventure overseas full of exploration and reflection and increased cultural awareness. I almost surprised myself by not diving into a career. For nearly three months I travelled around Europe, to England, Norway, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic (where my brother has lived on and off for 5 years). I met people from around the world and saw things that many people only dream of seeing and experiencing. And when I returned to Minneapolis, it took me four months to find the right fit for me, but I did and landed a great gig at a marketing agency where I was given opportunity after opportunity, but didn't receive the one opportunity I really wanted: a global experience where I could have the chance to draw global offices more closely together, build relationships, break barriers, share ideas and live in a foreign country.

I pitched a development program to numerous individuals in upper-level management, including the CEO. I had numerous people rallying for me, people whom I had believed were on 'my side'...but after 3 1/2 years with no change, broken promises, and working my way up a ladder I didn't really want to climb (I didn't care about making more money; the one thing I wanted was the experience), I realized it was time for me to leave the organization (I'd like to take a moment to note that although I wasn't entirely happy with the role, I learned so incredibly much from my supervisors and peers, and was exposed to great opportunities...just not necessarily the right ones for me.).

I learned more than most of my peers early on in my career...about the positives and negatives of business and working in the realm of a corporate environment. I'll be honest, though, I learned more so about the negatives than the positives, and these are the things that drove me to leave the organization. Low morale. Colleagues trying their hardest to work against each other rather than as a team. Unhappy middle-aged coworkers who liked to talk…a lot about nothing. Resistance to new, fresh ideas (and most of all, change). Broken promises. Lack of authenticity. I guess it was a sort of early mid-life crisis. Either way, I realized it wasn't the right gig for me. I wanted something more...something more than the petty office gossip and the money. I wanted a meaningful experience that would shape me and at the same time enable me to somehow shape the lives of others. 'Operation: leave corporate America' was in full-force. The beauty of it was, all of my (amazing) colleagues supported my vision and new I had to leave in order to grow.

Inspired by travel memoirs like 'Eat, Pray, Love.' and 'Three Cups of Tea' I dreamt about working in an ashram, with orphanages in a third world country, teaching English (quickly nixed this idea...too cliche for me, no offense friends...just not my style), and I seriously considered the idea of adventure tourism in India, South America, Australia, South Africa or New Zealand. That's when the power of social/human connection really made itself known to me. My close friend had a friend who owned a small adventure wellness tourism company called Bodhin (yoga, hike, bike, scuba, surf) in Nicaragua, and she put us in touch. After months of great conversation, it didn't work out...but it was such a blessing because it really allowed me to believe that there were so many more opportunities out there to explore.

It always seems that when one door closes, another opens...and it is completely meant to be. Just around the time I decided not to go to Nicaragua, an opportunity in Prague presented itself. I never once had imagined myself living in the same city as my brother, but I believed I should explore the opportunity. And I did...two weeks later when my then-boyfriend (now fiance) travelled to Europe (Italy, Poland, Czech Republic) and I interviewed for the position of 'Experience Manager' for a group of hybrid hostel/hotels in Prague. Wow. Cool. It was so right...and so oddly humorous to me that a small organization didn't look at the work visa acquisition process or paperwork as a barrier to bringing me over, despite the size of the organization and the limited budget (this was the main barrier for my former organization). Everything fell into place and three months later I found myself living in Prague and working in the hostel industry. And what an industry this is.

I am touched by the numerous interactions made on a daily basis at our properties. I had once thought I'd leave the marketing world because it was unethical, but I have learned through this gig that it isn't really a question of ethics if you believe in the brand, and if you are doing something to make a difference. So, even though I wasn't working at an orphanage or saving lives, I have been able to have an influence on the travel experiences of hundreds of guests...to connect people and share stories and experience and build relationship. Because, after all, that's what marketing is all about...building relationships. I've met people from around the world, learned about different cultures, listened to hundreds of amazing travel tales, travelled to Spain, Germany, Austria, Ireland, England, Poland, Hungary, Switzerland, and more. On these excursions, I've met people and opened myself up to new challenges that I never could have done within a cubicle. And so we've come full circle.

You're probably wondering why I am sharing my story. Well, I am too. Here I am, in a coffee shop in Prague...trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I've been away from corporate America for the last 1.5 years and this time working for a small, entrepreneurial, family business has shaped me in ways previously unimaginable. And now I don't know what I want to do. I can't stomach the thought of going to work for a corporation, dressing up in a suit and putting on a fake smile and working 80 hours a week in a role that doesn't really resonate with me. But, I have ideas.

I know, firsthand, that corporate America is flawed. Deeply. I know all too well the unhappiness that exists. You can't even imagine how many times people told me they wished they had done something different, or engaged in a global work experience...but that it was 'too late' for them. Sad. Sad that Americans are bogged down by debt, unhappiness (in their job, or marriage...or life in general), and more. So as I was reading Linchpin, your words struck me to the core, and stirred up inside me a passion to create change and do something more.

Something I've become very familiar with in my time spent here in the hostel industry is the notion of the 'gap year'...taking time off post-high school or post-college rather than diving into a path of convention. It is pretty incredible what this does for young people. Australians, in particular, are taught from a very young age the importance of saving their money, and the notion of the 'gap year'. As a result, they defy convention (or 'convention' as Americans see it) and travel the world, finding themselves in unfamiliar and sometimes uncomfortable situations...experiences that shape them and enable them to determine what they want to be when they grow up.

In the States, on the other hand, we're taught to take out hefty school loans, go to university, get a job (and if we don't get one right away, we're going to be behind all of our peers - GASP!), get married, get a mortgage, have babies, and on and on. If one strays at all from this path of convention, then their actions are ridiculed and their behaviour is seen as reckless and infused with a lack of responsibility (I've heard it all, believe me). As a result, young professionals find themselves in their mid-late 20's (and early 30's) unhappy with the fact that all they've experienced is a seat behind a computer, a steady flow of raises (their bosses know how to bait the hook and give them just enough to stay, continuing to do work that oftentimes isn't meaningful and certainly doesn't define them), 80hr work weeks, no vacation (they haven't even used the two weeks they've been given...I could go on and on about this one...how crazy Americans are to not take the vacation and how crazy their employers are to only give them two weeks=sad), no experiences, and through it all the lack of opportunities to share their true gifts. This needs to change.

I have an idea. But, I haven't been sure how to tackle it. That's when I received your 'road trip' blog post and it evoked a feeling that has remained with me since. So, I am shipping. A book like 'Linchpin' is full of against-the-grain notions that corporate America...and Americans (and beyond) in general need to hear. I've recommended it to the masses. The one problem I see is that it doesn't speak to the younger generation...the generation that has the ability to make these changes right now, before they travel down the path of convention and get into the corporate rut.

I want to reach younger people with a similar message, framed differently. I want to bring to them the notion of gap year and the importance of exploration...continuity of their vivid imagination, dreaming and sharing their gifts. I want to speak to them through the voices of travellers I've met from around the world...young people who have had dreams to start hostels in foreign countries, who have travelled form southern Italy to south Africa helping people along the way. Visionaries who have built hostel 'empires', reaching thousands of travellers each year and crafting a unique and meaningful cultural experience...who have dreams to open a hostel in Ghana and employ locals in an effort to improve economic conditions. People who make a difference. I want to reach them through these stories...to travel around the States to universities and high schools and speak about these ideas, in hopes that it would cause change in young people and create a movement. A movement that the nation needs desperately.

I've been following your blogs since I embarked on my corporate America adventures, and have continued to do so, and they've always been a source of inspiration for me. I'd love to engage in a dialogue with you about this idea and I'd love any suggestions/help/ideas you could give me as I do so.

Waddayathink?! This would be one heck of a road trip, wouldn't it?!

Wax off.

(please email me if you're interested in creating a dialogue. oh, and thank you for 'Linchpin'...for saying things in a way that really resonate with the masses.)



Megan S. Harrod
Chief Word-Spreader
Francouzska 76 Praha 101 00 Czech Republic
mosaic house - opening 2010 become a fan of 'mosaic house' on fb

*Hey all...thanks for making it down here. Whoa. Gold stars for you! We'll see what comes of this. If you have any ideas, or would like to be involved, let a gal know.*



Oh, and P.S. I am having a love affair with the ellipsis - it is my favourite puncuation mark. I just love it...as you can tell. ;)

Friday, April 16, 2010

When a stranger reads your blog (from Seth Godin's blog)

I had a surreal experience the other day. I was sitting in a coffee shop and watched someone (at the recommendation of a friend who didn't realize I was within earshot) open up my blog and start reading it. Right there, out of the corner of my eye, someone was experiencing me (well, digital me) for the first time.

Here it was, my first impression writ large. No fair running over and saying, "no, skip those two, those two aren't so good, go back a month or two and read the generous, thoughtful ones I wrote..."

It's like DNA. One cell carries the coding for all of them.

That meal you served at lunch yesterday might be the first impression, or that comment you left on someone's page or that customer service interaction with the new guy at your big client's office...

There's a riot of information racing by, and to survive, we snatch little bits and then magnify them into what we embrace as the full picture. Nuance? No time for nuance.

Every interaction might be the whole thing.

-Seth Godin

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

berlin: runde drei (?)

Piggybacking on my post yesterday about fashion, funk and freshness in Prague at Code Mode last weekend, I thought I'd write a little about Berlin, my fav city.

Ventured to Berlin with one of my dear friends and colleagues, Chicks, a few weeks back and still haven't had a chance to report back to you all. If you've never been to Berlin, I highly, highly HIGHLY recommend it. In fact, it is very likely that Berlin is one of my most commonly recommended cities-to-gander-at (second to Cesky Krumlov, of course). When I was in Munich back in September for Oktoberfest, I remember one Bavarian we met saying something to me like, "We don't consider Berlin to be the capital of Germany...it's not authentic like Bavaria. Berlin is a melting pot of cultures." Melting pot indeed. And this gal likes to stir the pot (hopefully there are some yummy noodles from a berlin noodle bar in that pot:))!

Berlin has been a sort of escape for me, an escape to subtle reminders of Minneapolis: bright colours, people, personalities, foods, shops, markets, flavours and more. Welcome to a place where originality is pivotal to the vibe of the city. Not only is it accepted...it's the norm (hmm, how could originality be considered the 'norm'?!).

A special place where hipsters run wild, frolicking (okay, you got me there...hipsters don't really 'frolick' so much, do they?!) from shop to shop looking for their next pair of skinny jeans, plaid shirts and hipster shades (ahem, hee). Local designers' creations spill out of storefront windows. A place where you worry more about dodging cyclists than cars. And of course, a place where you can go to bars called 'white trash' and DJs dress up in drag.

Ahh, yes...sweet, sweet Berlin in all of its odd glory and bold eccentricity. I love it.

And, I HIGHLY recommend it.

In Berlin this gal trusts,


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

artsy musings and not-so-melodical meanderings

This past weekend I hit up Code Mode Free Fashion Weekend at Karlin Hall. Located in a massive, unfinished warehouse - the event was the perfect mix of vintage and urban/mod a fashion-lovin' gal could ask for. Complete with a funk-fresh-fashion show, DJ, essence-of-cool-tattoo artist and more, Code Mode was a boutique-vintage-shopping-diva's dream (yours truly included).

For more than just a moment, I felt as if I were in Berlin. Totally unreal atmosphere. Prague needs more of this. My dream for Prague is that it would have more of this...not just twice a year during Design Supermarket and Code Mode, but cool flea markets galore and much more influence from the young and fresh designers. I am quite confident this will happen.

It also reminded me of one thing I'm really going to miss...interacting with expat and Czech artists here in Prague (particularly the young Czech artists). With the introduction of a more structured gallery at Czech Inn, I've been blessed with the opportunity to interact with the local artist community - both Czechs and expats alike. What an exuberant and creative group of individuals I've been able to interact with in my time here!

As I reflect on the last 15 months of my life, I think about the beautiful artists I've met...not just the painters, illustrators, musicians, photographers, comedians...but really, the numerous individuals I've met who are really living their own unique artistic abilities out every day (including conversationalists, mothers, yoga instructors, language teachers, dancers, friends, missionaries, etc). Seth Godin focuses heavily on this theme of artistry/gifts in his latest book, Linchpin, which I strongly recommend to everyone I know (seriously). I will dedicate a more detailed post to Seth Godin in the near future, as he and his new book certainly deserve it. But, for now - what I am trying to get at is that everyone has a gift and I've had the chance to come into contact with so many gifted individuals in my experience here who have made a huge impact on me and my life in ways previously unimaginable. I tell myself every day that I am truly blessed. Beyond belief.

From my perspective (very likely skewed), the uniquely different and beautiful thing about the artist (what we traditionally know as 'artist' - aka painter, photographer, designer, musician, etc) crew here in Prague is the sheer number of 'em. There is an artist influx in Prague! I swear, at times I feel like the only one who can't create something gorgeous with my hands or voice. Everyone is an artist (of course in reality, everyone IS an artist, as Seth Godin has taught me...but for the sake of this blog post, you know what I mean). And, because of this, the artist community has a sense of excitement and humility I had not previously encountered in artist communities. The musicians I've worked with are excited to fill a room with their sweet sounds. The painters and illustrators and candlestick-makers (just sounded right here, k? ;)) and photographers are thankful and overjoyed for space to showcase their creations. And they all seem to have an edge of authentic ingenuity (Did I just make that up? Ah well, I'm going to go with it, because I think it sounds cool.) and enthusiasm behind their gifts I hadn't encountered in the States. It is a truly special place for this reason.

And that, my friends, is one of the many, many reasons I have been blessed in this experience in Prague. Oh how I will miss it. Let me count thy reasons.

Wishing you all of the authentic ingenuity possible...today and beyond,


Friday, April 9, 2010

we know your type.

vintage one day. mod the next. you've redecorated your living room almost as many times as you have pairs of shoes. you're style is hip, yet classic, funky yet timeless...and that's just on tuesday. you crave variety. you loathe monotony. you are a piece of work-in-progress.

yeah, we know your type.

(totally random, i know...but couldn't resist. saw this on stationary in patina and instantly identified. also, if i may add, love at first sight.)



walking barefoot was rad!

yesterday we celebrated 'one day without shoes' at Czech Inn and had a blast. It was such a great event and felt so good to spread the word about TOMS and their vision.

More pictures can be found on the @Czech Inn Hostel facebook fan page (click on facebook badge in the right nav. on this blog), taken by the beautiful and talented Cat Norman! Kudos to my amazingly crafty friend and colleague, Chicks, for organizing the event!

our bare feet

I know I've been horrible at keeping up with blog posts lately, and owe you some from Switzerland, Berlin and Maiken's visit. I will try to get to an update this weekend. Until then, random thoughts will have to suffice.

Smiles and thanks for walking barefoot yesterday!


Monday, March 29, 2010


NEWS ALERT from Prague...we're short on votes and we need your help!!

The situation...460 votes, need around 900+ total in two days. WHOA.
The voting period ends Wednesday. If you haven't yet, now's the time to help Tom and I out with a vote, as we try to make it into the top 50 finalists. VOTE NOW!

If you all vote, we have a chance. I know what you're thinking...'I am not going to vote, because loads of other people will.' WRONG. You should all approach it with a mindset that no one else will vote, and vote with as many email addresses as you can. :) TIP: You CAN indeed use multiple email addresses, but you have to vote from computers (/IP addresses/browsers).

'What's in it for me?!' How about a free weekend stay in Prague?
I know this whole time you've most likely been thinking, 'alright, yeah - so this is cool and everything, but what's in it for me?!' Well, now I have your answer.

We've decided to sweeten the deal a little bit, giving you the chance to win a free weekend stay in a private ensuite room at our three existing properties, if you vote.

Here's how it works...
_Simply visit each of their fan pages: Sir Toby's Hostel, Miss Sophie's, Prague and Czech Inn Hostel
_Look for the promotional post, click on the url to vote (or vote by clicking url at top of this email)
_Reply to post with 'i voted'
_Tell all of your friends about it by forwarding this email, or posting it on your facebook page.

For more info about each property: www.sirtobys.com / www.miss-sophies.com / www.czech-inn.com

Thanks for your time, guys! And, thank you for your support!

Love from Prague,

Megan (and Tom too!)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

why should you vote?

1) register, 2) verify email, 3) your vote counts! no spam - i swear!)

Were pretty confident we have no chance at landing in the top 50 finalists for this contest, but we're having fun a freakin' blast with it anyway.

Just to give you a little snapshot of what we're up against: the top couple has 18,000+ votes and a heart-wrenching story. Numerous couples have battled terminal illness, losses in the family, distance as a result of the war in Iraq, horrible discrimination because of same-sex relationships and more. Wow. Rough, for certain. They definitely deserve it more than us.

And Tom and me? Well, we're just a healthy-happy-heterosexual-gummi-food-lovin' couple who has - truth be told - endured some struggles due to distance, but has also been blessed both with wonderful experiences and good health, but also with some of the most lovely family and friends around.

So, let's just say it's highly unlikely we'll reach the top 50. And, as competitive as we both are, we'll be okay with that. It's been fun in the meantime!

Thanks to you all for supporting us throughout this long-distance love affair. We are blessed beyond belief, and so, so, SO thankful for what God has given us...each other (and you).

Gryon/Villar from Thomas Suszynski on Vimeo.

Love and Wishes for plenty o' gummi food in your lives,

Meg and Tom

Sunday, March 21, 2010

what i write...

...says something about me. And about what I value.

My rockstar friend Steph took the time to put this visualization together for me, highlighting the most commonly used words in the last 6 months of my blog. How fitting that 'love' would be number 1, huh?! I think this is so cool, and I'm thankful Steph put it together, as it is a beautiful reflection of my experience here in Prague and the things that matter most...love, people, Tom, experience, facebook (ha! jk.), time, travel, friends, and more. Thank you all for being such an amazing support system and blessing.

(click on image below for larger view)
I feel loved. And blessed.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

love is in the air!

Tom is en route as I type this!

Me = overly excited (what's new?!)! :)

Our Travel Plan:
10 - Prague
night of 10-15 - Gryon, Switzerland
15-17 - Prague




Sunday, March 7, 2010

MHTV special...meg(ski) and bro(ski): ski ještěd, cze!

As I was walking home last night through the dimly-lit cobblestone streets of Prague, it began to snow. Not just any snow...it was bit, fluffy, beautiful flakes of joy...swirling around my head and up and down and left and right with no seeming convention whatsoever. It was free and floating and eccentric and gorgeous. It made me smile.

It's March in Prague, and whereas I am used to Minnes(n)o(w)ta winters with heaps of March snow, Prague is certainly not. In fact, Prague isn't used to snow much at all these days. Before I left for the States at Christmas it started to snow. And, it wasn't just a fluke thing...because it continues to snow today. The snow brings to the surface moments of magic into my life...up in my office on the third floor of Czech Inn I feel like I'm in a snow globe...last night as I walked through the dark and eerily quiet streets in my neighborhood, I found myself sticking my tongue out, playing a game to see how many of the oversized, fluffy flakes I could capture in my mouth...today the snow began to fall again - with wild abandon - and I started singing (loudly - pretty sure the locals thought I was crazy), 'if all the snowflakes were milkshakes and cupcakes...oh what a snow that would be...standing outside with my mouth open wide...' (like Cass and I used to sing at ski races). Magical and delicious. I love the snow.

So it would only be appropriate that I spend the weekend - after it snowed on Friday - bussin' it to the north of the Czech Republic to conquer the Czech (big) hills. And what's more...my bro was able to strap on the ol' skis and boots with me. I've quite sufficiently fed my love and passion for snow in my time here by heading to Germany last winter for the world cup, Switzerland to board (Laax and Flumserberg), Austria for a work/ski outing, Austria for the world cup (kitzbuhel!), CZE (Liberec with bro), and now to Switzerland (Gryon - hittin' up the Frenchy side with my fiance!)...I am so truly blessed to work in the business of hospitality where contacts in faraway lands are easily established. I have met some of the most amazing people. Wow.

I am still holding out for one more large snowfall...JUST ONE...please GOD?! Come on...just one more. That's all I am asking for. :) Funny to see all of my southern friends hatin' on the snow, when I just continue to love, love, love! Okay, okay...hang with me for a sec. If it snows once more - more than 3 inches - I will make a vow to ski Petrin hill in the center of Prague and get it on video for all of you to see. I promise.


Check out the Winter Wonderland below...

the snow globe effect in my office

with the goods in karlovo namesti - totally (not) normal

breakfast of champions (in honour of tom) with crazy guy in background (ha!)

smilin' in the sunshine!

beautiful tracks (not ours...it just looked pretty)

meg(ski) and bro(ski)!

alpenrider: no friends on powder days! hardcore...ha. :)

the sibs smilin' atop ski jested, liberec, cze

skiing: cze-style. ha.

snow surprise

Oh yeah...you're probably wondering how the skiing in the Czech Republic is? Well, let's just says it's no Alps...but it isn't Buck Hill either. It's respectable, and probably would have been better had we arrived earlier (bus got in at 11 and we spent the better part of an hour trying to figure out where to go and how to maneuver the ski area...not super self-explanatory, as you can imagine). Snow was rock-hard ice, a lot like the midwest.

But...surroundings were epic. Tons o' tree coverage...very cool and beautiful, although they could have had a few more good runs had the trees been cleared (don't hate me, environmentalists...I like me a good tree-hug every now and then too. but come on..that's skiing land! :)). Zach and I were talking about it, though, it's interesting why there are so many trees. You see, the trees are fairly young (post-Communism)...as many of the natural resources had been cleared out and land built upon during Communist reign, with little or no regard. As a result, there are regulations to how the land can be used now. Good if you like trees...bad if you like skiing. But what if you like tree skiing?! Well, not so fast, mister. Tree skiing'd be sketch here. We czeched (ha! never gets old!) it out and it was sketchy indeed.
But really, at one point I said to Zach, 'It looks like Narnia!' Shortly thereafter he informed me that this was probably because Narnia was filmed here. Oh. That could be why. Duh. :)

What a gorgeous gift...these little white flakes. So simple, but give me such joy. It's the little things in life.

Let's just hope there are a lot of little things...Petrin, here I come. :)

Ski fast,