27 March 2015

Save-the-Official-Dates for the Summer Ecuador Retreat!


Hello from our little home office here!

We've been working away from the kitchen table (oh to have a kitchen table! Still not quite used to that after so many years in NYC). We have plans galore in the works for our events in the States and yes, we're planning another Body+Soul Camp in Otavalo, EcuadorAugust 2 - August 8, 2015! Mark your calendars and begin checking the flights to Quito! You won't want to miss that event. We've already had several spots verbally claimed.

I promise all our event details will launch SOON so that you can sign up!! (We have a new event website we'll be sharing with you all. It kinda makes me giddy.)

This picture above is me with a dear woman from our last retreat. I miss all of our retreat guests so much. It's a privilege to say we'll be bonded for life after spending such a meaningful week together. I just CAN'T WAIT to meet more of you in the U.S. and abroad. It's seriously way too fun.

With Love,

Mara

P.S. My hair is getting crazy long here in Ecuador! I haven't used a hair stylist here yet. But that day may come soon.

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25 March 2015

When We Have Expectations of Those We Love


By Danny

I've been thinking about one of the comments received the other day on Mara's "bra post". An anonymous reader commented on how her husband's porn addiction had altered the way she views herself, feeling a greater need to represent herself in a "desired" fashion, even to the point of considering breast augmentation. She mentioned what a relief it is to see a post encouraging someone to embrace their body as it is naturally.  To that I say, Amen!

Her comment got us chatting about how all sorts of cultural, societal, and religious influences impact our view of self and others, and how we impose those views and unrealistic expectations on others, much to the detriment of ourselves and those we say we love.

The fact is, all of us have probably done this at some time. We are all that husband, and we are all that wife. All of us are, in some form or fashion, doing this to our partners right now. In each of our expressions of our individual egos, there seems to be the need to make our partner (or our children) after our own image and into a reflection of what we value. Those who are closest to us (and who form a larger part of our identity and sense of self and worth) are the ones we are most likely to manipulate in order to satisfy that ego and that false sense of identity.

Perhaps one person, affected by habitual pornography use, will demand or manipulate their partner into looking and acting more like their fantasy.

And yet another person, informed instead by deeply held religious views, will manipulate and shame their partner into looking and acting more like their fantasy or ideal, which will be altogether different from the fantasy of someone who views pornography.

And yet another, whose sense of value is influenced or dictated by appearance along a particular social or wealth class, may manipulate their partner on whether or not they meet subjective class or style distinctions, and not according to sexual fantasy or religious restrictions.

The truth of the matter is, no matter where this compulsion comes from, no matter which form of the ego it is trying to feed (sexual, religious, wealth, etc), it is always damaging. It is damaging to be unable to see the inherent beauty in a human being as they are. It is damaging to demean, diminish, and manipulate because someone does not meet your specifications -- to judge their value on something so superficial. It is damaging to the soul that does it, and the soul that receives it.

There are some social ills, like pornography, where it is easier to see how it can lead to this kind of damaging behavior.  Most all will recognize the problem in a scenario like that.

What isn't so easy is to look searchingly into our own souls and recognize that we engage in similar patterns of behavior around ideals that are much more socially or culturally acceptable.

Can you think of examples in your own lives or in others where you have seen these unhealthy expectations play out? 

-Danny

P.S. Mara loves the above mid-century inspired illustration by British designer, Paul Thurlby. He's got some really great prints!

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24 March 2015

Doggies & Babies



We have this little Sila girl and we adore her so...

We call her our baby and she doesn't want to be away from our sides for one minute.

She waits outside the door while we shower.
She hangs out by our feet in the kitchen while we cook.
She sleeps below our chairs while we're at the kitchen table.
And...she snuggles as close to my side as possible every time I'm on this laptop (swoon!).
I call her my little blogger. Because one of these days she's going to edit and delete or publish with her often erratic little paw.





She happens to be THE MOST PLAYFUL & FRIENDLY dog in Ecuador! At least compared to every single dog we've encountered while being here for nearly a year. She runs like a mighty girl and plays HARD & CUTE like none other we've seen.

Yesterday, however, she got a little injury while at her favorite park. While running and skidding mightily after a ball, she somehow damaged her little inner dew claw quite badly. Her wound was tender so we took her to the vet where she had to get a little surgery. Oh my goodness - our hearts! She is now supposed to rest for 3 days. I don't know how that's going to go over with her...

How do you parents do it? We keep thinking of what it must be like when a little baby is sick. Do you handle your baby's (or doggie's) sickness in the way that you thought you would? 

k ewr UFfew.....zcvbm...

(Sila sends you some love.)

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20 March 2015

The Power Of One

What happens when a single person digs deep, pushes through pain and loss and challenge, and overcomes? How does that change their own life, their perspective, their attitude? How is that likely to influence their family, friends, and those closest to them? How often does one person's transformation spread well beyond their most intimate relationships to affect their community and even the world?

I love that one single person working towards and experiencing greater wholeness has the power to influence and change people all over the world.

Yesterday, long time reader and internet friend, Miggy, shared a video in the comment section that we thought the rest of you might enjoy. It's about just this kind of woman.


Have a wonderful weekend!

19 March 2015

Kick Guilt in the Butt





Today I wanted to talk about guilt. The kind of guilt that you might have when you read of tragedies in the news and wonder how it is that you have a roof over head and a meal to eat. The kind of guilt that depresses you and puts a sick feeling in your gut.

I felt this kind of guilt, big time, after Hurricane Sandy in NYC. I felt guilt that we had the warmth and comfort of our home. Guilt that we had a refrigerator and stove that worked, lights and warm meals, and all chips and salsa and crocks of homemade chili that we wanted. People literally across the street from my living room were displaced from their homes and in a rescue facility sleeping on cots.







But I was smacked in the face by how debilitating that guilt was. At times, it literally paralyzed me motionless on the couch because it was such a depressing feeling.

And so - duh...what did I know I needed to do? I needed to pursue a virtue, instead. And I mean- pursue with all my heart -because there was work to be done and the guilt was getting me exactly no where. I know darn well by now that pursuing a virtue can literally uproot your unfavorable state! It's quite insanely impressive, actually. We're talking one big good-bye to guilt. Pursuing a virtue is hands down the-most-healing-action I know of!







In this case, it was clear to me that the virtue I needed to pursue and embody was Gratitude- gratitude that someone out there with a destroyed home could have me show up to rip out their soaked walls and perhaps relieve just a speck of their hopelessness, gratitude that I had resources and food to offer people, gratitude that I had health and auto-gas and the ability to get out to the hard-hit areas, gratitude that even a warm bowl of chili at home could fuel me to go out and do more. I knew that gratitude needed to dominate my soul. Yep, I needed a complete takeover. You see, gratitude brings positive energy and a positive vibration; it's capable of moving you forward into compassionate action - with your work boots on - instead of being depressed on the couch. Gratitude gives you the positive energy you need to be a good influence. Gratitude fills your heart with love. Guilt, on the other hand? It only makes you a slug...heavy, weighed-down, useless, conflicted and preoccupied in your heart and mind, unable to propel forward or to be of service.

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

With LOVE,

Mara

P.S. I think transforming guilt to gratitude also works for other kinds of guilt. The kind of guilt related to something crappy that you did. That guilt can ONLY weigh you down. So, focus on gratitude. Gratitude that you can move on. Gratitude that you had a crappy experience that you learned from. Gratitude for this imperfect life and our imperfect actions - because they TEACH US WHAT WE NEED TO LEARN. Gratitude that you can now have compassion for others like you - others who also feel imperfect. It is often our imperfections and pain that unites us together.

(photos by the amazing Melissa Hope, fellow moldy wall ripper outer.)

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18 March 2015

Sharing 7 of My Green Home Tips

Hi friends! Just a little post today about some things we've done around this house to reduce some waste. I'm so into this! Not only does it reduce waste and respect the planet, but it saves money. It's really a win, win, win. Besides, this is about LOVE! And that includes love for Mother Earth. 

Here we go...

1. Bambooee Paper Towels
If your household normally buys paper towels - I have the BEST alternative for you: Bambooee paper towels. I simply cannot recommend them enough. They are washable/reuseable/super absorbent "paper" towels that can be used hundreds of times. We don't even use paper towels anymore and in a couple of years, it has saved us roll after roll. No more Costco paper towels for us. We have been using just one pack of 30 of these bamboo towels over and over. (It saves on storage space, too.)

A Tip: For immediate accessibility in the kitchen, I keep a large jar on the counter and just stuff it with these towels when they come out of the wash. So, so handy.



2. Silpats
Silpats are a DREAM, my friends. They are silicone sheets that you place on your cookie sheets and baking pans. They are non-stick and washable (dishwasher safe, too). They even prevent the food from burning and prevent your pan from getting baked on grease stains. I sometimes get ahead of myself and think that everyone must know about Silpats. But no. They do not! Here in Ecuador all the expats go on and on about how they cannot get Pam Spray here! SAY NO TO PAM, my friends! Get these silpats and you'll be set for life. Your baking pans will likely be set for life, too. And if you're like me, you'll enjoy their typography and "made in France" reminder each time you bake. Macarons anyone? They actually make a sheet for those - with a template for the exact measurements.  :) 2 mats for $16.24.




3. Join a CSA (Or Buy Directly From Local Farmers)
I cannot recommend a CSA enough! We joined one in Brooklyn (in Greenwood Heights) and it's INCREDIBLE to join with the community to get GOOD, CLEAN food delivered - package free! I will sign up for a CSA again in a heartbeat when we move back to the states. I know in Brooklyn the CSAs had waiting lists - so it's probably best to sign up as early as possible before the new harvest season. Another recommendation: Find bakers and local food makers in your area. Here in Ecuador, we can order smoked fish, kombucha, pickled garlic, kefir, organic meat, and gluten free bread directly and they even deliver it door-to-door! In Brooklyn, we purchased eggs, wild salmon, and freshly baked bread from local farmers/bakers.




4. No. More. Processed. Foods!
This is one incredible way to both save the planet AND save your body. We have basically eliminated processed foods 100%. That's just crazy to me. We had thought for some time that it would be the ideal way to live and I just can't believe that it's now a reality. One of the best side effects of making pasta sauce or hummus or almond milk or crackers or tortillas from scratch is: no more packaging. No boxed goods. No plastic containers or bags. Our trash accumulation has gone significantly down. (Disclaimer: It's much, much easier to live this way here in Ecuador. It helps that the packaged food products and branding and ingredients are just not as appealing to us. I hope that when we return to the states we can resist the organic corn chips and coconut milk icecream and all those snacks from Trader Joe's and Whole Foods! How are all you doing on the processed food front? I know it's a difficult thing to break away from them - but it is possible to do little by little. :)

5. Compost Pile.
We've been composting down here and I cannot recommend it enough. We probably do it wrong (we are no experts). And the truth is we haven't actually even used the compost for a garden yet. BUT...composting cuts back significantly on the amount of trash bags that we need to go through.  For the first time in my life I don't even own larger "kitchen sized" trash bags! Nearly all the trash can go out to the compost. (This is the compost pile at Casa Mojanda, the eco-lodge where we have our retreat. Photo by Amanda Glenn.)



6. Menstrual Cups Instead of Tampons
I'll admit, my first experience was a bit traumatic. And it's still not my favorite thing in the world. BUT...I love that it offers a safer, less toxic, green alternative to using tampons and plan to use it as needed, while mainly still using my reusable pads. I highly, highly recommend giving this a try (I use this cup here). You can see 67 comments here on a previous post here where so many women raved about using these cups.

7. Save All Glass Jars 
I have finally realized how nice it is to have glass jars around. From time to time we do have glass jars coming into the home for raw honey, kombucha, pickled garlic or olives. I now save every one and use them to:
-Store dry flours, nuts, coconut, oats, grains (I don't mind the mix matched look in our pantry)
-Package jars of food and beverages for the road or for picnics.
-Store homemade cleaning products.
-Use for water & green juice jars around the house.
-Deliver soup to a neighbor.

For another HUGE list of ideas, see this post by Trash is for Tossers. This trash-free woman is seriously raising the bar!

Other Green Tips I've written about in the past

-Norwex Micro Cloths/ Cleaning with Water Only 

-Wool Dryer Balls

-Reusable Pads

-Green Reusable Vegetable Bags

-Reuseable Sandwich Wraps & Planet Lunch Boxes

OK, you dear, wise people - what else can we add to this list? Please share in the comments ANY green home tips you have. I would so love to get some more ideas!



17 March 2015

The Second Annual Love Limerick!

from Danny

Why is it so fun to write limericks?  There's something about their simple and delightful cadence, so playful and child-like, writing and reading them just makes you smile.  Or at least it does me.  

So, following on last year's Love Limerick, I've written a few more:  


My one-eyed cute little buddy
Does not like to get one bit sudsy
She runs and she hides
On wet tiles she collides
But after she's soft and so cuddly


My two-eyed beautiful girl
Said "Retreats? Let's give those a whirl!"
Now daily we plan
for events in all lands
It's enough to make my head swirl


In Cuenca, a man lives named Tony
with raw foods, this man is no phony
spend one week with him
you'll probably get slim
You'll look and feel great, no baloney!


If you've never worked with a healer 
- A powerful woman, a dreamer - 
There's this Alex I know
Puts on quite a show
After, you'll be a believer

Now it's your turn.  I'm serious here, I want to see some great entries this year!  For anyone who for sure wants to put a smile on their face today, or chuckle a little bit in their cubicle....get those limerick gears turning inside your brain and let out the joy in the comments below!

Happy St. Patricks Day!
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