26 August 2016

Our Family Update


It makes me happy to connect with you and write a few posts lately.

Nothing major today. But here are few things we've been up to:

Danny:

-Burning incense (this one is a favorite) while researching, studying, and planning our upcoming speaking engagements.

-Cooking up a storm: Garden Rice Pilaf, Sea Bass & Quinoa Asian Salad, Lentil Stew.

-Checking on car options for our return to the States. (Technology has upgraded so much since our last car purchases. Oh my!)

-Building fires for our fireside Sunday reading ritual.

-Riding a bike daily on the river trail, with the doggies.

-Chatting with our nephew and making plans for a possible stay with us in Ecuador.


Mara:

-Listening to gorgeous songs like: O nata lux, Lux aeterna, Miserere de mei, Deus.

-Adding a few new foods: Sauerkraut (I get mine made local by a woman from the Ukraine which is kinda cool), Grass-fed Ghee, Grass-fed Jerky, Wild Sardines, Atlantic Dulse, SpirulinaTurmeric (capsules).

-Trying out: Primordial Sound Meditation (like this one.)

-Baking gluten-free/vegan chocolate chip cookies.

-Ordering a ballot to VOTE while abroad.

-Working on copy for our new site, coordinating with our web designer (getting closer and closer and closer, dear friends!)

-Watching real estate listings in Brooklyn.



Sila:

-Playing tug of war with Mama and her stuffed animals every. single. morning. She gets all the animals upstairs so she's ready the moment I get up. <It is darling every time.>

-Learning to sleep in her new doggie kennel (we're prepping her for flights later this year.)





Pip:

-Currently at a doggie training camp and letting her trainer's daughter play dress-up with her.

-Greeting each guest that comes to our house with her outstretched paw.


Rue:

-Also at doggie camp. Guarding her sister while she eats (to protect her from the other dogs at the camp.)

-At camp, she saw a guy that looked like Danny and watched him like a hawk for 10 minutes!


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Love from all of us!


P.S. The scoop on the new foods:

Sauerkraut - a fermented food that contributes greatly to the microbial flora.
Grass-fed Ghee - a super healthy fat (clarified butter) that has the casein proteins removed.
Grass-fed Jerky - I'm experimenting with adding in more meat.
Wild Sardines - one of the BEST sources available for Omega 3. They're also chock full of vitamins.
Atlantic Dulse - helps to chelate heavy metals. (see here.)
Spirulina - a major source of protein. Also helps to chelate heavy metals. (see here.)
Turmeric - one of the most anti-inflammatory foods you can eat. Hugely helpful for autoimmune disease.


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25 August 2016

When You Meet Someone Amazing - And Then You Choke!


Have any of you met someone unbelievable, like truly your DREAM guy or girl, and then you just absolutely choke? 


Perhaps you begin to not feel comfortable in your own skin; perhaps your personality and openness goes into hiding; perhaps you feel unlovable and not good enough. <breathe, breathe> And you may even be acting less lovable and irresistible than you really are. UGH.

Well, I have been there with you, my friends. In fact, I choked for a bit the very first weekend I met Danny. It turns out that the best-ever-version-of-Mara was there when I wrote Danny hundreds of emails and literally declared my love for him before we met; it was there when I first laid eyes on him on the corner of 42nd & 8th Ave. when he came to meet me; it was there when we went for sushi that night at Tao on 57th St. and had the entire restaurant watching us because we were just GLOWING UP THE JOINT (haha); and it was even there while we sat on my couch in Brooklyn and our souls communed and shared and we stared in awe at each other nearly all night long.



But then...I choked. Some fear showed up. 

I think it's because at that point, it felt like there was more at risk than I ever could have imagined. I was completely in love with Danny from head to toe - oh my goodness, so, so much. It seemed as though no one on earth could fit me as well as Danny. And, I let some fear get into me that he wouldn't want me.

Would I be good enough?

Was my whole person - in person - worthy of this kind of love?

The answer is yes!! It's always yes. It's yes for every single one of us.
We are ALL worthy of the most amazing love. We are ALL beautiful, lovable souls.

This doesn't mean that every partner will love us back or see the good in us. But, in order for our most lovable soul to shine, we. must. get. rid. of. the. fear! If we don't, the fear will literally kill connection and vulnerability. We all know this. Vulnerability will be gone dead. And the harsh reality: we won't get the relationship connection we desire, anyway.



So how do you get rid of the fear??

1. 

We HAVE to be okay with a relationship not working out. We have to make peace with that. We have to envision our life without this person and know that all will still be well - with or without them! And that we are always, always worthy of love, no matter what! There is simply no other way to get rid of the fear. 


2.

You must take your relationship off of the pedestal. (And this includes a marriage.) Your life must center around a higher purpose, not the status of the relationship or the treatment or behavior of your partner. Your higher purpose is LOVE. It is PEACE. It is SELF-WORTH. It is practicing again and again and again your ability to react to your life WITH LOVE. When this is your higher purpose, you can put your energy and focus on this instead of worrying about whether or not you are lovable.

I love you all! Every single one!

Mara

P.S. If you like this idea and need more help with putting this into practice (with tons of examples, way more explanation, stories, tools and support) - well, you know where to find us. This is one of our favorite things to teach at the retreats and in our mentoring sessions. We want to help you all be the best you can be!!


Don't Miss:

1-Day Love Boot Camp, Sept. 17th in Salt Lake City, $395
7-Day Body+Soul Camp, Oct. 9-15 in Ecuador, $2,750
Love + Happiness Mentoring by Skype (or phone) - anytime, $150

24 August 2016

Lesbians, Bikinis, and Feminist Professors


When I was 18, I got myself on a plane and flew from AZ to the east coast with my own money and enrolled in Randolph-Macon Woman's College. (I went sight unseen as I couldn't afford the college visit. I went off the catalog!)

It was the red brick liberal arts school of my dreams - and my dorm room looked out one of these windows you see here. 

It was my brother at Caltech, who hung out with smart women, who said, "You should really think about applying to women's college." It was empowering to have him say that - for him to envision me going down an academic and ambitious path. The teeniest seeds matter! My brother was one of the only adults I knew that had gone to college. 

Off I went. I experienced fall for the first time (!). I had open lesbian classmates, who always sat together in the dining room (I pretty much didn't know what a lesbian was prior). I daringly went to a campus therapist for the first in my life and talked about my guilt for wanting to wear a bikini as a Mormon girl. I got mentored by a wicked smart feminist professor who assigned books by Alice Walker, smoked in her office (with me in there) near a velvet couch and piles of books. I was kind of scared of her. But I felt honored that she was taking me under her wing. She gave me an A with honors in writing, which was indeed one of the honors of my life as she was so cool it was intimidating. And my actual school-appointed mentor on campus was the school chaplain, a man who believed in me - and asked me to speak at the college Christmas celebration in the chapel. I was shy and to be honest - scared to death to speak publicly and also uncomfortable to even be in another church. I pretty much had never been in a another church other than the one I grew up in. I tried to get out of it. He wouldn't let me. So I did it. I stood up to this lectern below a huge cross. And I shared a Christmas message. 

It's really fun to look back and see moments when the needle began to move in this evolution of my life; in my own development. This was a start - a start to pushing boundaries and getting to know this world in more intimate ways. I WAS SCARED back then. Scared of lesbians, people who smoked, public speaking, other religions, people. But how grateful I am for every bit of that exposure, and especially for every amazing human being that was a part of it.  

When was a time when the needle began to move in your own evolution - when your eyes began to be opened wide to the outside world or new ideas? Did you find it frightening - or exciting? 

With love always, 

Mara

Don't Miss:

1-Day Love Boot Camp, Sept. 17th in Salt Lake City, $395
7-Day Body+Soul Camp, Oct. 9-15 in Ecuador, $2,750
Love + Happiness Mentoring by Skype (or phone) - anytime, $150

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19 August 2016

My 3 Indulgences for Delicious Sleep


Recently, I had a sleep scare.

It was before some of our retreats in this last year. I wasn't nervous about the retreats themselves, but I developed some anxiety about not sleeping well before the retreat - and also having to get up a bit earlier than normal. It's kind of like that nervousness before an early flight. Perhaps the flight itself is not the worry, but the early wake-up and the great need for a good night's sleep is causing some anxiety. Argh! It's so ridiculous! But it also scared the crap out of me because for awhile, I wasn't shaking this sleep anxiety, which, of course, just led to future anxiety. Maybe some of you can relate.

So today - out of my now undying compassion and empathy for all of you who experience any sleep anxiety - I wanted to share...

3 things that have helped me have delicious sleep again:

1. PRETENDING THAT I CAN SLEEP IN UNTIL 11 AM.

Ha! I feel silly even writing this out. But I swear, this "pretending" has helped me THE MOST. Now, even if I know I have to get up early, here's how I do it: I just lay there in bed and think about how delicious it will be to sleep in - and more importantly, I envision myself the next day, barely waking up at 11 AM, feeling so fully rested and safe and cozy, with not a stress in the world and no deadlines, after having THE most deeply, restful sleep of my life.....

And bam! As I think of that vision, I am in love with sleep! I am in love with coziness! I am in heaven in my bed and as restful and stress-free as I could imagine! I am as relaxed and heavy as I could possibly be! There is no messing with my imagination, apparently, because whenever I do this, sleep overcomes me with no delay.


2. ROMAN CHAMOMILE ESSENTIAL OIL.

If you google tips for sleep, essential oils will make a grand appearance. Many people swear by Lavender. Others recommend Cedarwood. I tried both of them and actually LOVE the scent of both, but the truth is, these didn't help me to sleep. But then I tried Roman Chamomile.....AND IT SMELLS LIKE A DELICIOUS BABY!!!!! It's actually used regularly in baby products as it's one of the most gentle oils. And somehow, this scent just did it for me. I rub a bit on my forehead and temples and the scent helps me feel as snugly, safe and cared for as a sleeping baby. It's dreamy.  (This is the one I currently have.)


3. EYE MASK.

I had never really worn an eye-mask until this last year (aside from red-eye travel on planes and trains). But now, I love the ritual of wearing one. The extra darkness just seems to be a trigger that it's time to get cozy and relax. And it also brings on a feeling of safety - knowing that the next day I can sleep until I need to, regardless of how early the sun comes up. I'm still using an old eye mask from American Airlines (ha), but I have my eyes on one of these pure silk ones as I'm convinced my face would be in heaven.



So there you have it.

Friends, do you have any rituals that lead to delicious sleep? 

P.S. The top photo represents every morning of the last year. Imagine 3 doggies stampeding up to my room every morning at 6:00 am and sandwiching me tightly until we all decide to get up. It was heavenly. But...our doggie trainer said that this ritual needed to end immediately as the dogs need their independence. Dang it!!!! It was good while it lasted. So now, we're all adjusting and somehow, surviving.  :) 


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Register now for:
1-Day Love Boot Camp, Sept. 17th in Salt Lake City, $395
7-Day Body+Soul Camp, Oct. 9-15 in Ecuador, $2,750
Love + Happiness Mentoring by Skype (or phone) - anytime, $150




17 August 2016

Announcing Love Boot Camp in Salt Lake City!



Dear friends and community,

I MISS YOU! I've lost my blogging mojo for a bit. I so wish that wasn't the case, but I do feel it will come back. In the meantime, I've been reading, enjoying every second with Sila (as her two sissies are at doggie training camp), and trying to lean into this "retreat" of my own, so to speak.

We are also feeling humbled and grateful as our events continue on (we recently returned from hosting 4 events in the States). Every time we put a new city up on the white board in our kitchen, announce the event, buy a plane ticket, and then go out into the great unknown, we find that it is rewarding beyond belief. Every stinking time we do a retreat, we have that much more CONFIDENCE that we are on the right path and that we absolutely must continue hosting these events. So, plan on many more in the future. We hope to eventually meet as many of you as possible.

And that brings me to announcing our next retreat! 

It turns out we have a speaking gig in Utah next month. So, due to requests (yea!), we decided to host another 1-Day Love Boot Camp in Salt Lake City on Saturday, September 17th, 9 AM - 5 PM. We just launched the sign-up page yesterday and also updated our class descriptions. We would LOVE to host you and teach you every bit that we can about love. There is nothing more we'd rather do right now.

Don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions about the retreat - or just want to say hi.  :) Also, if you'd like to request an event in your city or have a living room where you can host 10-15 people, please let us know (we'd be so grateful!). We are in the beginning stages of planning out the schedule for 2017.

With lots of love and lots of hope,

Mara

P.S. My favorite books as of late:
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Our Remaining Events for 2016:

-Sept. 17: 1-Day Love Boot Camp, Salt Lake City. $395
-Sept. 23: Opening Keynotes at the Int'l Affirmation Conference (for LGBT+ Mormons & Allies)
-Oct. 9-15: 7-Day Body+Soul Camp, Ecuador. $2,750
-Avail. via Skype/Phone Anytime: Love + Happiness Mentoring w/ Mara & Danny. $150

16 June 2016

What Do You Do When The World Feels Scary?


(By Danny)

Last evening we received a letter I think many can relate to this particular week:
Hi Mara & Danny, 
In light of everything that's been happening this week (and this month, this year, this decade, this lifetime), what do you do when the world feels like a scary place to live in? 
My immediate reaction is to stay at home. Lock the doors. Don't let anyone in, and don't let myself out. Stay where it's safe. But I know that's not living, and I know that's letting the darkness win. 
My heart feels so heavy, and I don't know what to do with that weight. Even though I try to be kind and bring joy to the people in my immediate circle, it doesn't seem like enough. I can't change the laws that need to be changed, I can't stop the hate that causes people to do terrible things, I can't stop every bad thing from happening. So what do I do?
Warmly,
A Reader 
Her note prompted a quick reply which I thought might be worth sharing...

Thanks for writing,

I'll admit, normally I'm quite verbose in these email exchanges.  But this time the answer came to my mind in a very short and simple phrase.

Just love the person right in front of you.

I'm not sure what else there is to do, but to be one of the distribution points of love in what at times feels like a sea of darkness or hate. Sometimes, doing that small and simple thing -- loving the person in front of you -- can still take a decent amount of work. But it's worth it.  

This week, I had one of those moments where I felt offended towards someone. Stewing in that offense felt awful, it pulled me back from things and people I care about for a few hours, even a day.  

When I pulled myself enough out of the fog, I committed to a ritual I oftentimes perform. I lit some sweet smelling incense, set it on the floor, laid a folded over blanket next to it to sit on, calmly observed the swirling smoke for a few minutes...and when my mind was sufficiently cleared of other thoughts....I started to figure out how to love again.  

What would it mean to love those that offended me? What would it mean to understand them, and replace offense with compassion? What would it mean to willingly release that overhanging feeling I'd allowed to pile up inside of me by my own stubbornness? How could I change the story I'm telling myself about the offense, so that I can move on and restore connection again?

While it was a great mental exercise, and it did indeed free me quite a bit...it was missing something. Where I'd previously withdrawn, I needed to connect. I needed to go Love who was in front of me. In this case, it meant loving Mara, and our 3 cuddly puppies. I needed to finish my mental release by actually going out and doing some authentic connecting. 

So I did. And if felt good.

So the answer, while simple, takes effort...and sometimes a little preparation to clear your head and heart of the weight that at times presses upon them.

So....go love and be present for the person in front of you, and relish in the connection that is formed in that tiny world that exists in the moment the two of you share.

If anything good is to come to this world and those we love...it will begin right there.

Best,
Danny

The last few days certainly have created a space for heaviness and contemplation.What little rituals or ideas do you use to get yourself back to a place of connection?

06 June 2016

Our Holiday in The Valley of Longevity

Last week, Ecuador was beautiful. We went on a 4-hour Ecuadorian road trip and saw a new area we haven't seen before: the small town of Vilcabamba - known as the Valley of Longevity. I'm so thankful for this week. It was good for my body & soul.


The property we stayed at had the most lush views. Out among the vegetation, they had a yoga shala! A small path led us there each morning for yoga. It was truly divine.


The sun, warmth, the views, the sound of birds, and the huge spider in the rafters were all enlivening. Of course the yoga, too. My body relished in it as it had been awhile. Moving your body is never, ever overrated.



Danny braided my hair when I discovered I forgot a hair band. Yep, that man's kindness still makes me melt. Later, an incredible masseuse worked on us, did avocado & banana hair masks, aura cleansing, clay and cucumber facials...oh my.



Around the small town, there are so many trails going up into the Andes. Hiking for a few hours before lunch seemed to purify the soul and make anything seem possible. I thought about our new website and always, always the dream of getting a property in the states where we can HOST you in our home. 



Being at the top of the world really does make you feel on top of the world. :)




A friend we were with was impressed that I was so game to go on a hike! ha. I've heard that around here, outdoor activities like hiking or camping are not as common, especially among women. Though it turns out that hiking with Danny is one of my favorite things to do. 



Healthy food is extremely difficult to come by in Ecuador. But in Vilcabamba, they have a handful of healthier places to eat, including The Juice Factory, where they make superfood smoothies. I mean, this is a rarity folks. They even had some homemade flax seed, gluten-free graham crackers and a few local items I picked up for our next retreat guests. My kind of place.


Being from New York, the simple life in Ecuador is something I'm drawn to as a tourist, but not necessarily for my place of permanent residence. I know. That may be a tricky one to understand. But this week, I relished in many simple moments...a chicken at a gas station; cows along the highway; sitting among the sounds of birds; branding from the 1950s; colorful houses; coffee beans drying on a porch; and a colorful church. It was wonderful to see so much beauty.
















So thankful for all of these unique experiences.

Over the next few weeks, we'll be preparing for our July trip: our U.S. Tour in Pennsylvania, Portland, Mesa, and Austin. Please do come!! We'd love to meet you.

Love,

Mara

P.S. The October Body+Soul Camp in Ecuador only has 3 spots left! Many people are hustling for them. And don't miss what people have said about the retreats. This is why we do what we do.  :) :)






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