15 April 2014

True Love

(by Danny)

I've been reading a beautiful little book by Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, called "True Love", because it was recommended to me by my 18 year old nephew.  He's been on a little journey of his own for the last few years and has been seeking healing and strength. 

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1590304047/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1590304047&linkCode=as2&tag=ablablo-20

After reading this book, and practicing some of the meditations in it, he had one of his first meaningful spiritual break-throughs.  He and I had many conversations before, and though he often understood the theory of the principle we were discussing and was even able to successfully apply those principles and feel a difference in his life, I remember when he called me and with great excitement told me that he'd just meditated for the first time, and something amazing had happened to him.

He said it's the best book he's ever read.

Well, ever since then, I've had it on my list of things to read.  It's a short little book, it is very simple to understand, and Thich Nhat Hanh is a master teacher.  It didn't take me long to understand why my nephew enjoyed it so much.  I'll probably be posting a few things related to this book, as I find some of the things he shares quite relevant in helping to further explain things we try to talk about on this blog. 
(Mara snapped this photo of me in line at the Ecuadorian visa office.)

The book covers some very simple meditations and ideas to encourage the reader to enter a state of mindfulness or awareness (something he believes is necessary in order to truly love yourself or another...which we totally agree with).  This really is a critical thing in the path to healing, and in learning how choose for yourself how you want to respond to something instead of letting the circumstance or the behavior choose for you.  It is the practice of mindfulness and awareness that actually allows you to respond to a situation with love instead of anger, hope instead of fear, gratitude instead of bitterness, and on and on. 

Today, I'd like to quote one analogy on this process of personal transformation that I thought was absolutely beautiful and relate it to my own experience of marriage and divorce...

09 April 2014

Time for Some Gratitude


 (This is in front of our new little home.)

Feeling grateful for:
  • Internet!!!! We're finally back in business here.  :) :)
  • Hard boiled eggs. They save me completely. A reader here said she takes them when she travels and I now carry one with me in my bag at all times in case I get in a pinch and I can't find something to eat. (Danny is making me some now as we're going big trip tomorrow.)
  • Water that we can drink out of the tap. Yes, I'm serious. The water in Cuenca is clean and drinkable! (Though this isn't the case in the rest of Ecuador.)
  • A magnetic knife holder that we managed to find here. (Better than storing knives on our tiny counter.) Little things are completely delighting me these days.
  • A huge knitting and weaving shop where I will take lessons from the most amazing Ecuadorian woman.
  • New friends in Cuenca. Yes, in a week we've already made four new friends (in addition to wonderful new neighbors and several friends that we made on our month long visit here.)
  • Popcorn that they serve at most restaurants before the meal (instead of bread). I love this tradition as it's gluten free.  :)
  • Wonderful, wonderful housekeepers who charge $20 for 5 hours!!!! 
  • A happy, kind, loving husband who (get this) LOVES to get all snuggly due to the cool nights.  :)  :)
What are you grateful for today? It's SO nice to sit and think about it and make a little list. Doing this regularly during the darkest time of my life was actually a huge part of how I transformed my life.

P.S. Danny and I are going to be off traveling...again. I really can't believe it. We mostly crave being put for awhile. But - my parents, sister, brother-in-law, niece, and nephew are all up in Colombia at a friend's country lake house near Medellin, in the town of San Carlos. How can we not go join them?! My brother-in-law says: "San Carlos is a waterfall wonderland with seven rivers intersecting in this hilly area. It's a beautiful home with more than enough room for all of us. It's a beautiful, old-fashioned town with a square and a church where everything is within walking distance and everyone knows each other." Off we go, my friends. Our first South American adventure begins!

08 April 2014

Talented Friends

Today, I just have to give a shout out to some friends of mine who are doing amazing things...

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Linsey Laidlaw, of Brooklyn, just launched her gorgeous new website, linseylaidlaw.com. I looove it so much and had to share. She is working on growing her design studio as she absolutely loves to design. She's available to help you with your websites, logos, businesses, invitations, book design, etc. She's currently art directing a book for a colleague from her days as an Art Director at Martha Stewart Living. Linsey is blogging, too, which makes me extra happy as she's got the best taste, ideas, and advice. And, hands down, one of the best business cards this year at Alt Summit was designed by Linsey. See it here.

www.linseylaidlaw.com

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An old friend of mine, Suze Yalof Schwartz, used to be the Executive Fashion Editor of Glamour Magazine.  :) A few years ago she moved from NYC with her family to California and now she is a spiritual entrepreneur. She just opened a meditation studio in L.A. called Unplug and I think it's one of the best ideas ever. You go in for a $20 meditation session the same way you would go in for a yoga class. You may have seen her new company highlighted on GOOP. I hope someday there's an Unplug Meditation Studio in every city. We all need this more than ever. Also, Suze happens to be one of the kindest, most supportive women out there. She was super helpful and encouraging towards me when I started the clothing line, Harvey Faircloth.

Isn't her new studio gorgeous? I just love it.
http://unplugmeditation.com/

http://unplugmeditation.com/
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Our dear friend Kelsey Nixon (in Brooklyn) just launched her cookbook, Cooking With Confidence. Kelsey has her own Cooking Channel show & blog, Kelsey's Essentials, and recently has traveled around the country for her book tour. Fun insight: Danny knew Kelsey at BYU in an accounting class and she was hell bent on learning some accounting for starting a business. She was also talking to the design department about getting logos designed and getting mentored by Danny as he was the accounting T.A. She had so much ambition. It's just SO, SO AMAZING to see all that she has accomplished since then. We're huge fans.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0770436994/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0770436994&linkCode=as2&tag=ablablo-20

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Ralph Spencer Steenblick, our Brooklyn architect friend, recently launched his portfolio website. I really loved browsing through it. And, he designs the most gorgeous chandeliers!! He's able to produce these and is currently looking for shops or clients who would like to buy. He and his wife happen to be very dear friends.
http://www.rdzin.com/
http://www.rdzin.com/#/sonata-chandelier/

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Another designer friend in Brooklyn, Scott Savage, started Savage Works where he designs and sells the coolest things. I especially adore the walnut bike racks and the wooden cube wall hanging.

http://savage-works.com/home/#/bike-rack/

http://savage-works.com/home/#/analog-form-finding/

07 April 2014

On The Other Side: Our First Week in Cuenca


We are freaking in Ecuador.

I can't believe we're here!!

No regrets.

It's feeling good, exciting, and just...fun.

We've spent the week just soaking up the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of Cuenca, our new city.

We've said to each other more than once, "We're going to have a really good life here."

HERE'S AN UPDATE:

28 March 2014

Thank You to New York


The day has come. 

We leave for Ecuador tonight.

I really can't believe it.

My heart has been bursting with love for New York and for our friends here.

I wrote this a couple of nights ago and sobbed all the way through it.

New York...

Thank you for chewing me up and spitting me out. So many times. On the curb, to be exact. Once when my first purchased apartment caught fire. Once on 9/11 when I got locked out of my apartment. Many times while working late nights and sacrificing my health and well being. Once on Park Ave. when my husband called off baby-making, marriage, and love. I'm thankful for all of it. I have learned so, so much. I wouldn't change any of it.


Thank you for the best meals of my life. For introducing me to hummus and grape leaves and the best black and white cookies in New York. Thanks for making some ridiculously amazing pizza that I still crave, the best falafel ever, Thai food I have eaten more than any other meal, pho soup that has become Brooklyn comfort food, and thank you even for my first taste of sushi. (yes, it's true. I had my first sushi in New York.)

Thank you for being the place in which I would transform my life. I learned about the real kind of love here. I felt love. I cultivated love. I feel like love changed my life.


Thank you for streets I walked while feeling empowered, songs I listened to (over and over) while healing my soul, people's faces I loved on the subway and on the street as I learned to love the world, and love my life.


Thank you for small apartments and gatherings of friends. Dining on couches and floors. And small living rooms that were creative think tanks for business ideas, conversations about religion, politics, renovations, life, love, families.

 
Thank you for the amazing Brooklyn children we know and love (I'm straight up bawling as I write this). For their unbelievable love for us. For coming to find us and sit by us at church. For running to us and drawing pictures for us. For being such a beautiful and joyful part of our lives. And for thinking we're the same thing as they're grandparents (true story :). And also, for their dear parents who loved us, too, and involved us in their lives.

Thank you for surrounding me with the best women in the world (and their amazing husbands). They're the best friends I could ever ask for. So talented, so kind, so strong, so creative, so smart, so giving, so everything I want to be. (sooob) I truly feel like one of the luckiest women in the world. I've had the best Brooklyn family.

Thank you for all the wonderful gay and lesbian friends I've made in New York. Thank you for a Mormon bishop who came out of the closet. For lesbians who are dearest friends and mentors. For dear gay neighbors who have been together 30 years and will marry in June. I didn't know a gay person before coming to New York at age 23. I still had lingering childhood stigmas, fears, judgements. ugh :( :( . But I'm thankful, oh so, so, so thankful for experiences that have helped me move past all of that.

 (photos from the NYC Gay Pride Parade, June 2013. We walked with the gay Mormons.)

Thank you for coworkers who made me laugh so hard I cried. For being family at work. For amazing conversations.

Thank you for a precious baby named Beatrice. Helping to plan her funeral was one of the greatest honors of my life. The tremendous love and care and tasks of Brooklyn men, women, and children made that week one I will remember forever. The love we all felt for each other and the love we felt from God was as near to heaven as I think I've ever been.


Thank you for amazing life experiences I would have only dreamed of. Suite box finals at the U.S. Open (even Andre Agassi's last match!), spring breaks in St. Barths, date nights with courtside seats at the Nets, galas at The Rainbow Room, Mets games from behind home plate, opening nights at the NY Film Festival, and sailing the Greek Isles and the Turkish coast. (my previous job had some perks!!!)

Thank you for a woman who lived in the projects at 191 Sands Street. She taught us how to think of others' needs before your own. Even as she was dying, she taught us how to call your friends on the phone to see how they're doing, she taught us how to dedicate her entire life to service. She inspired a community of women to join together to care for her in her last days. And she left a legacy of motherhood, faith, and sacrifice that we will never forget.

Thank you for the Brooklyn Bridge. It was the best thing to see after a road trip. It always made me feel like I was home.

  
Thank you for all those designer friends who have shown me what good taste is all about and for making me somewhat of a design snob in the making. (A tortured one, however, as I don't have the skills to design anything myself.)

Thank you for the most beautiful seasons in the world. They are perfection. The spring cherry blossoms and magnolias, skipping through the streets, and dining al fresco. The summer concerts and fireflies, overflowing window boxes, and endless days in the park. Fall mums on stoops, breathtaking trees of Brooklyn, the cutest Halloween on earth in Park Slope, and trips to Storm King and Sleepy Hollow. And yes, winter. The first snows and the cozy apartments, glorious Christmas in New York, sledding in the park, and a word only New Yorkers can appreciate: Trashcicles.



Thank you for walks or runs in Prospect Park, feeling alive, feeling creative, and sometimes feeling so happy or moved or full of love that tears would stream down my face. Thank you for all the walks I've had with friends and for evening strolls with my husband. And thank you for all the amazing walks we've had with new blog friends.

And, thank you for being the city in which I would meet the love of the life. I cherished you before, but cherish you even more for being the city where Danny and I loved for the first time, where we held hands for the first time, where we walked the streets together in union, where we made a home together.



Dear readers here, we can't thank you enough for coming along with us on this journey to Ecuador. We plan to put even more time and effort into this space. Because we believe in the goodness of every human being and their ability to grow and experience the miracle of peace, even in the worst of life's moments. We hope to get even better at sharing that message.

Thank you for ALL the unbelievable support and excitement you've sent our way. It means the world. We love you. We thank you. And we'll write you from Ecuador very soon.

XO

P.S. Has a city or town ever meant a lot to you? Tell me which one and why! I'd love to hear as I'm a sentimental mess right now. :)

 

24 March 2014

Our Copenhagen Scrapbook


Copenhagen is the land of...

-The most massive baby carriages I've ever seen (many parked in front of cafes with sleeping children inside!)

-Chic urban dwellers on handsome bikes

-One-piece zip-up snow suits worn by EVERY child you see

-Ridiculous amounts of well designed signage, branding, and home goods. 

-Delicious open-faced sandwiches that are works of art with all their garnishes

-Very fashionable, minimalist style (think subdued colored clothing with pops of color). My friend nailed it: Copenhagen feels more New York than New York :)

-Quiet/clean trains

-Stylish tennis shoes

-Hans Christian Andersen (The Princess & the Pea, Thumblina, The Little Match Girl, The Little Mermaid, The Emperor's New Clothes, The Ugly Duckling!)

-Licorice sold in bulk bins in every store

-Amazing architecture, old and new

-Bakeries that give a whole new meaning to Danish pastries
 
-Noticeably kind/happy/family friendly people

-Very chic eyeglasses, especially fun to see on older, fashionable women

Today, a scrap book from the days spent in one of my new favorite cities...

21 March 2014

Where Did You Get That?

My friends here in Brooklyn have the best style. It's so fun to just be around them and see what they come up with. And we're all about sharing tips and advice with each other because honestly, we are all so busy with either kids or endeavors or work that planning outfits seems to be pretty low on the list.

Anyway, one of my friends has 3 darling kids and lives on the 4th floor of a walk up. She is one of my favorite women in the world. She happens to be the one who teaches us all where to get the best vintage dresses in Brooklyn. And, she wears these shoes.

Last summer she was sporting these Native Shoes around the park and around Brooklyn. She wore them with vintage skirts and pretty pastel dresses and crown braids and we would all wonder how she could just look so cute and fresh all the time just showing up at the park. (She will shake her head and laugh and deny this when she reads this, but, it's true.)

And, when I asked her about these shoes - she got to business with telling me how much she loves them, that they are so very comfortable and that she wanted to get them in more colors. Hello, they are slip ons! So easy for summer! They're also waterproof and the official shoe for anyone who frequents NYC splash pads.

So there you have it. A shoe I really love and had to recommend. You can get them for $45, free shipping.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

And thanks for the AMAZING comments and great conversations this week. We absolutely love that part of having this blog.


XO,
Mara
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