21 August 2014

Our Interview on 'Mormon Stories'




While in Brooklyn, Danny & I did a big 2 part interview with John Dehlin of the Mormon Stories podcast. We talked a little bit about our religious experience, infidelity, infertility, divorce, and ways we have healed. I often get a little teary eyed to think of sharing what I know with a large audience - especially when I think of people who may be in the same shoes I was once in. And well, the teary eyed part happened on this day, too, right before we began. 

It's been great to hear peoples' thoughts on the interview and we'd love to hear your's, too. Also, you might also like to see what Danny wrote in the comments section.

Sending out love to you all, 

Mara

P.S. I saw a quote by Deepak Chopra on twitter and I thought it was pretty great...

"Religion is belief in someone else's experience. Spirituality is having your own experience."

20 August 2014

Love Announcements



[The pictures above were taken on the award-winning public transportation tram above the city of Medellin, Colombia. It's a ride you MUST take if you ever visit that amazing city. Your eyes just won't believe the views.] 

We're about to sign off for Vipassana in Quito... (I probably should be meditating right now about just heading into 10 days of meditation. ha. Because holy crap, it's really something preparing to be out-of-touch for 10 days!  :) And it's also humbling to embark on an experience that already feels as though it's stripping us of everything we "think" matters so much. We both found ourselves in tears tonight as we talked about our goals and our purpose in this life. Sometimes we feel so meager and lowly and we feel our offerings to the world are so inadequate. We go to Vipassana with a hope that we can have clear minds - free from all outside influences - and be reminded of our light. We pray that our hearts can commune with God and our greatest purpose. I guess it's not unlike having a clearer view of the world from on high.

Before we go, here are several good Love Announcements... 

-Mint.com wanted to do one of their Personal Finance Interviews with me awhile back. If you'd like to check it out, you can see it online here. (Mint.com does personal financial planning and we totally use and recommend their service!)

-A great movie recommendation for your next date night movie at home: The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler. This is really, really a beautiful, inspiring film. It's about a woman who rescues thousands of Jewish children during the holocaust. I didn't want the story to end.

-My dear cousin in Arizona has two sets of young twin girls. Instead of having more kids, she & her husband decided they wanted to help other families in need and so they've become foster parents to a newborn. Here's a very honest account of what their experience has been like so far.


-In case you missed it, Pope Francis gave his "Keys to Happiness" and I just love what he says. 

-Have you experienced infidelity or porn addiction in your marriage? A woman named Jacy has made it her mission to help you. She is hosting a conference for women like you in Utah in October. See The Togetherness Project. We were asked to speak at the event and we wish we lived closer so we could do it.

-5 Ways Sleeping Naked Can Benefit You. Can we get a yes please on that???  :) The nights get chilly this time of year in Cuenca. I think we need to do this more often then we do.

-These two wear-with-everything shirts have totally caught my eye from Kate Spade Saturday:




Plackets Shirt. I just love the button detail on the shoulders.


-Cozies are a priority around here. So I was glad to see that my favorite lounge pants ON EARTH are now available in more colors at Uniqlo. I have bought them for 3 seasons now.


Danny even got a pair of the men's version while we were in NY and LOVES them. (see here.)


-My Brooklyn friend, Lizzie, wrote a post, "Yes, My 7-Year-Old is Old Enough To Stay Home Alone," and ever since she's been fielding interviews, including with Good Morning America! (What do you all think? On my end I'm all for it if your child seems ready. Do you have a different age in mind?)

-And, Parsons has accepted this Brooklyn mom of three into their design program. She is desperate to attend but needs the financial support of the community. She hopes to be able to give back to the community tenfold. Check out her story here on indiegogo.

Alright. That's quite a list. Hopefully something was of interest to you.

Off we go.

Much love to all,

Mara

P.S. I have a few blog posts scheduled for while we're away.



19 August 2014

Three Back-to-School Must Haves


It's drizzling outside as I write this and I'm thinking about fall and back-to-school days.

Some of my favorite little people will be starting school soon and just thinking of them heading off with their back packs makes me melt. I'm hoping so much that they have a wonderful year!

Back-to-school always makes me want to start a new class of some kind myself. I've never actually done it, though. But good news: we scheduled our art classes with Gustavo (classes will start just after the retreat)! I'm so excited. Do you have any traditions for yourself at the beginning of a school year?

And today, I thought I'd share with you three back-to-school items that are pretty genius. They're two things I've heard chatter about and one thing I just saw on my own. Maybe some of you already know about these things. But just in case, here you go....

18 August 2014

See Our Gorgeous Flyer

So happy to share this flyer with you. We're so thankful for the design work of Linsey Laidlaw, of Brooklyn. Just looking at this makes me want to drink a melon smoothie on the beach!! If you have a blog and care to share this with your readers, we would be so thrilled.


I have been not blogging as much lately and it's for good reason. We are in full retreat mode around here! We are getting really giddy about what is ahead. Menus are being perfected. Schedules are being upgraded and refined. Our wonderful masseuse said she would even offer facials to our guests for those who want them (what a treat). We are trying to go all out completely and we're just THRILLED to have so many attending. We have a nearly sold-out event. Though if you are considering coming, do contact us for sure as there is still some space.

Several have asked...

Q: Do you plan to host another retreat in the future?
A: There are no guarantees, but we hope that all the stars align once more and that we can do it again! 

Now, here is an important note: Danny and I are actually going to be off-line completely for about 10 days starting this Wed. (Aug. 20-31). We're going to be traveling to the Vipassana meditation course in Quito. In our absence, our colleague, Tony Spencer (tonyspen63@yahoo dot com), will be the contact person for all questions related to the retreat. Don't hesitate to reach out to him. He is beyond excited to help any and all of you.

Much love to all,

Mara

P.S. End of September is still whale-watching season in Ecuador in case you wanted to extend your stay for an adventure.  :)

P.P.S. I can't believe we will be off-line for 10 days, sitting on a cushion!!  I'm afraid I'm going to miss talking to and falling asleep next to Danny for 10 days. This will be NUTS. I hope my mind can settle into the experience. It will not be easy - not one bit. At the end we will get to reconnect with each other and with all of you while we hole up for a few days in another gorgeous hacienda near Otavalo: Hacienda Cusin.

05 August 2014

Our Recommended Anniversary Gift

Danny and I recently celebrated our 4th anniversary.

We had such a lovely, lovey day together. I don't ever want to take that for granted for one second. I felt myself beaming all day just to be by this guy's side.


One of the highlights of the day was visiting Gustavo López Moreno, an artist who has become a friend here in Cuenca. We met Gustavo last November when we were traveling through Ecuador for a month. We passed his tiny art studio and couldn't help but be called straight in the door by all the amazing colors. We fell in love with so many of his pieces and made a hopeful plan that if we moved back to Cuenca, we would love to buy a piece of his work. In the meantime, Gustavo took us out to lunch and introduced us to his sons and his wife. He's one of the first friends we made here in Cuenca.









So, it was quite a treat to go in 7 months later and purchase a piece of artwork on our anniversary. Luckily one of the pieces we had previously admired was still available. It's of the Cajas Mountains here in the Andes...

04 August 2014

Our 10 Day Summer in NYC



People have been signing up for the Retreat, and my heart is about to BURST!! Soooo excited for anyone who will be able to make this trip. It's an investment in your HEALTH and your life and your happiness, but it's one that I feel is worth taking. Years ago, I had to start making those investments. I had to learn (from scratch) to respect myself enough to put my body and my health and my well being first. I had to adjust my lifestyle. I had to give up and sacrifice things. But the fruits of doing so have been never ending. It changed my world, my marriage, my happiness, my self worth, and my ability to LOVE & LIVE fully. FYI, there are still some more slots left. Please don't hesitate to write or chat with me if you're on the fence and trying to figure out if you should do this. 

---------

So, New York. Oh, New York has me wrapped around it's finger. And here's how we unexpectedly got to experience it's summer magic...



My computer busted many weeks ago. Blogging got a little complicated after that. Oh dear.

But there was a silver lining in the form of rooftop parties, Central Park, and a sunset on the Hudson River. And that is because Ecuador has some insane import taxes on computers. Believe it or not, rather than buying a computer in Ecuador, it was CHEAPER for us to buy a flight to NYC *AND* buy a computer at our cush 24-hour Apple Store on 5th Avenue. Isn't that nuts?!!

I didn't need too much convincing to hop on that plane, I tell you what.

Here are some pics from our absolutely glorious 10 Day Summer in NYC...



CHINATOWN

We went straight from the plane to dinner in Chinatown with my now Brooklynite sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew. Ah, it was magical and lovely beyond words to be there and to be dining with family. I can't tell you how my heart just raced to have my feet planted on those familiar streets...and to be eating Vietnamese!!! Ah, we were in heaven. You must add this restaurant to your lists: Pho Bang Restaurant at 157 Mott Street. The husband and wife owners were as adorable as can be.





31 July 2014

Announcing the Next Detox Retreat in Ecuador: September 20-27


The post today makes me really happy.

So many people were interested in attending the detox retreat that we wrote about, so it just excites me to no end to officially announce the dates of the next retreat:

DATE: September 20-27 (Saturday to Saturday)

WHAT: An 8-Day Cleansing Retreat

WHO: All of you! Anyone who would like to heal their lives & live with more health, joy, & love. 

WHY: It just might be life changing. :) :)  I'm banking on it. 

LOCATION: Olón, Ecuador

HOW MANY: To allow for the most attention and care, the retreat is limited to 20 participants.

PRICE: $1,250* 
(This includes all meals & accommodations for 8 days on the beach + the most amazing therapies and activities each day to assist and support you like crazy in cleansing and healing your body.) *UPDATE: We have decided to offer a discounted rate for couples. Please email us for details.

SIGN UP: Click HERE to book your spot and register.  

Danny & I were so impressed with our retreat experience that we have decided to join forces with Tony and Alexandra for this retreat. We wouldn't be doing this if we didn't believe completely that this would be an AMAZING, INCREDIBLE experience for anyone who would be able to come. We'll be helping behind the scenes and teaching some workshops. You will even find Danny as a sous chef in the kitchen. :) :)



I've been trying to think about what someone might want to know before deciding to come, so here are some questions and answers:

Who is the retreat for?

This retreat is for anyone wanting to put a spark into their lives by spending a week taking care of themselves in the BEST WAY POSSIBLE!

Do you want to take a break from stress, worries, and hectic schedules and just BREATHE and have the time to rejuvenate your soul?

Do you feel the need to heal, to re-center yourself?

Do you want to head back into your life, your marriage or relationship, your family, or your endeavors feeling RENEWED and able to offer your love and good energy to the world?

Do you want to cleanse your body and be amazed by the rise in energy, health improvements, and glowing skin?

Do you want a jump start to help you free yourself of food and sugar addictions?

Do you want to lose some weight and begin a healthy lifestyle?

Do you want to explore the practices of yoga, meditation, reflexology?

Do you want to prepare your body for a future pregnancy?

Do you have some health issues that you want to work on healing in a natural way?

Do you want to learn how to be happy and whole in your life and in your relationships?

Do you want to feel cared for and loved and supported?

This retreat is for YOU!

Of course individuals of all ages, couples, single people, and friends are welcome. This retreat is for English speaking guests.

Tell me about the retreat staff.

The retreat is managed very professionally by two extremely experienced and loving individuals, Tony Spencer and Alexandra Molina. Tony is a raw food educator and cleansing consultant. He has studied and been immersed in nutritional healing practices in India where he saw first hand people being completely healed from "incurable" illnesses, such as cancer. He has spent the last ten years helping others in Canada, India, Mexico, and now Ecuador. Alexandra is a Gestalt psychologist, yoga teacher, and an Ayurveda educator. She has had specialized training in Argentina, India, New Mexico, and Ecuador and has ran many, many retreats for people wanting to change their lives. We felt very blessed to be under their care during our retreat and felt they were SO loving, full of light, and full of a desire to help people transform their lives. There will also be a yoga teacher, a masseuse, and some retreat helpers on board. Danny and I will also be there to help, teach, and support all of you during the week.

Where is the retreat located?

The retreat will take place in a very quiet little beach town called Olón, which is 3 hours from Guayaquil, a large city in Ecuador. Plan on seeing lots of fresh coconut vendors, beach towns, and hammock shops on your way to Olón. We found a CUTE property right on the beach that can sufficiently serve 20 participants. Think a beach summer camp with grass hatched roofs and hammocks a-plenty. We love that we'll be on the beach as the ocean and sounds are so ridiculously healing and calming and gorgeous. Our group and the staff will be the only ones at the property, so it will be an exclusive experience for us all.






What will we eat?

You will eat the most abundant gourmet raw food meals - all made with vegetables, fruit, and raw nuts/seeds from the fertile farmlands of Ecuador. There will also be 3 days of raw vegetable juices. The diet for the week is all raw/live food as it provides the BEST circumstances for your body to cleanse itself and free itself of all the addictions we normally have (especially to sugar, caffeine, processed foods, unhealthy fats, and chemically laden foods.) And the best part, the food will be prepared with a lot of LOVE.  :) :) I cannot even tell you what a difference that makes as we care and respect our bodies. There will be a raw food chef (he is currently training Danny as Danny will be working in the kitchen with him and the team.) And I'm telling you, you will be amazed by what comes out of the kitchen. The food is DELICIOUS and flavorful and is made with the loving intention to help you heal and nourish your body.

Will I be starving?

Danny and I were a little scared going into our retreat thinking we would be STARVING and that we would be weak and miserable. But, it turns out the process was very gentle and we didn't feel hunger at all due to the abundant raw foods and juices. All the other participants reported the same experience. Though depending on how severely you are addicted to certain foods, you might feel some withdrawals. But it will be 100% worth it and doable!!! I promise!!! An entire staff of people will be there to offer you the love and gentle support you need to do it. And, it's incredibly empowering to eat this way as a group and in a setting other than in your own kitchen or work place. Cheers to green juice all around.

Will I lose weight?

You will almost definitely lose weight. At the last retreat, people lost from 4 to 12 lbs. The average weight loss was 7 lbs. You could physically see a difference in peoples' bodies and faces.

There will be several courses at the meals. Each person is able to eat the amount that makes them feel comfortable and full. The meals will include plant-based fats and proteins as well.

Note: If you are underweight and want to rebalance your body or return wellness and a healthy appetite to your body, this retreat could still be very effective for you. When you give your body the highest nutrition possible, your body will respond and begin to perform at it's best with greater energy and vitality than ever before. It is also hugely supportive to eat healthy food as a group and in an environment where you will receive all the support in the world.





What changes do people notice during/after the retreat?

Most people experience a noticeable rise in energy due to the nutrient rich foods, exercises on the beach, and the breathing techniques.

It's almost guaranteed that your skin and countenance will GLOW!! You may likely find that any skin issues (acne or rashes) clear up or improve. It was amazing to see the faces of all the people at the retreat. You will feel more beautiful than ever!

You may also notice any aches, pains, and stresses improving due to the meditation and yoga. Your body will feel stronger, more balanced and coordinated as the days go by.

You may feel a greater connection to your body, spirit, life, the world, nature, and those around you.

Your mind may feel clearer and sharper.

Your digestion will likely improve.

You will feel more capable of love and healing.

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Doing a cleanse can also bring on some withdrawal and detox symptoms in the beginning. You may experience fatigue, light headedness, constipation, emotional heaviness, etc. But it is likely these symptoms will only last for a short time and then you'll begin to feel better than ever.

What will we do each day?

We'll follow a similar schedule to this one I shared in a previous post, but there will even be a few upgrades.

EVERYTHING you will do the entire week is designed to cleanse your body.

The days will begin with at 6:00 am with Tibetan bells and the sunrise, followed by oil pulling and lemon juice cleansing.

The remainder of the days will include these activities (and many more):

-Yoga Daily
-Meditation Daily
-MASSAGE! (yes, a masseuse will be joining us the entire week to do lymphatic massage on us all.)
-Reflexology Classes
-Cleansing Breathing Exercises Daily
-Raw/Live Food Classes - Learn how to incorporate more live foods into your daily life
-Running & Walking Daily on the Beach
-Workshops on LOVE - Learn how to heal your soul and be happier in your life
-Optional Private Meetings with a Professional Psychologist
-Full Body Mud Masks on the Beach (!!) - This will feature a special mud from Vilcabamba, known for the most mineral rich soil in the world.
-Movie Nights - Watch some fascinating health-related documentaries each night
-Bonfire on the Beach!!

Do I need to be experienced with yoga or meditation or have a healthy lifestyle in order to attend this retreat?

Absolutely not! Do not feel out of place or worried about your current lifestyle. This retreat is a loving, non-judgmental environment and is designed for people at pretty much every level of health, weight, and experience. And you are welcome to participate in the activities as much as you are able. Things can be customized to meet your needs.







What about airfare & transportation?

There is a major airport in Guayaquil, 3 hours away from the retreat. We recommend that you arrive by 3 pm at the latest on Sept. 20, if possible. (If needed, you could take a red-eye arriving Saturday morning or you could arrive on Friday). There will be a welcome dinner the evening of Sept. 20 at 7 pm. When you arrive at the airport, our greeter will be there to meet you and help you get to the  transportation/private drivers that we will be arranging for you. Once we get everyone's flight info., our staff will be able to determine some departure times that make sense.

If you arrive on Friday, by chance, we will have some hotel recommendations for you. There are several within minutes of the airport. Or, depending on the time of day, we could also whisk you straight to the retreat a day early where you could settle in.

Price for the arranged transportation to & from the airport: $50 each way. We have made this a separate fee in case some of our participants will be arriving from different locations in Ecuador.

Flights are surprisingly inexpensive from some big cities and often times those flights can be direct. Some flights also have common layovers in Miami, Dallas, or Panama. With the flights we've booked to Ecuador, we've also noticed that prices don't fluctuate a ton. That's why we've been able to fly without a lot of notice. We know that buying a ticket will be an added expense, but there is nothing better you could do for yourself than to care for your body. This retreat is definitely a really, really great way to do that in a huge way. :)

Is it worth the money?

We sure think so. Going into our retreat, we were actually quite hesitant to spend the money. But after meeting Tony and Alexandra, we really resonated with them and felt like this would be an amazing experience. On the first day there, we looked at each other amazed and felt that it was TOTALLY worth every penny to be there. We were SO glad we spent the time to care for ourselves in such a powerful way and feel it is one of the best things we've ever done.



Can I talk to you on the phone to ask questions prior to booking the retreat?

Yes!! If you would like to speak with us or if you have more questions, we'd be delighted to speak with you. Let's schedule a Skype or phone call ASAP. Please write us at mara@ablogaboutlove.com. We are flexible and could speak morning, afternoon, or night. Tony and Alexandra are also available to speak with you if you'd like. Also, feel free to ask any questions in the comments.

Do you recommend extending my stay to see more of Ecuador?

Yes! If that is something you are able to do, that would be incredible. Here are our top  recommendations:

-Galapagos, of course.
-Isla de la Plata. This is a tiny island Ecuadorians affectionately call "Poor Man's Galapagos" as it has many of the same animals and experiences, but it is closer to the mainland and costs less money to get there. It's actually only a few hours away from Olón.
-Cuenca or Quito. These are colonial cities with lots of churches, markets, museums, and colonial architecture.
-Otavalo/Cotacachi. Otavalo is world famous for it's indigenous market. Cotacachi is a nearby leather town nestled between two green, gorgeous volcanoes.
-Hiking in the Andes. There is a famous 3-4 day hike called the Quilotoa Loop, which takes you through small indigenous villages and also a stunning crater lake. Also, Cajas National Park is incredible and has loads of hiking & fishing options. We also went on a shorter hike near Cotacachi around Lake Cuicocha, which was gorgeous. You can also hike the famous Cotapaxi Volcano or Chimborazo, near Riobamba.
-Stay in a Hacienda. I absolutely love doing this. We highly, HIGHLY recommend Hacienda Ruma Loma in Quito and La Mirage in Cotacachi. We have gotten to know both the owners and they'd be delighted to hear we referred you.
-Baños. Visit a town full of several hot springs. There are also incredible hiking opportunities nearby.
-Cloud Forest in Mindo. Think bird watching, butterfly reserves, and amazing flora. If you want to totally splurge, you can also stay at the nearby Mashpi Lodge. This place is absolutely off the charts.
-Eco Lodge in the Amazon Jungle. This is on our bucket list.
-Train Ride. Tren Crucero offers several train routes. One is supposedly over the top luxurious and has received awards.
-Visit Indigenous Craft Towns. There are entire towns that specialize in leather making, baskets, guitar making, hat making (Panama hats!), pottery, embroidery, shoe making, jewelry, weaving of textiles and rugs, and wood furniture.

You can travel through Ecuador easily by bus, plane, or train. Buses are extremely common, extremely cheap, and readily available. Flights are quick and rather inexpensive within the country. Trains would be more expensive, but would offer the scenic, train experience. You can also hire a driver, which is common and very convenient, though this would not be an economical option if you were traveling long distances.



For more details about the retreat, I wrote two other posts about our experience as retreat participants:

1. The Best Vacation We Can Think Of
2. Retreating

Friends, let's do this!!! It will be an experience of a lifetime. We'd love to have you. And we'd be so appreciative if you'd share this post with others. 

Book your space now.




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