15 November 2011

Best Beauty Secret in the World


Anyone who knew me in high school, college or during my first 6 years of my 7 year marriage knows that I am not the same woman I was back then.  People say I even look different and those that knew me before and after know what I am talking about.  Even my downstairs neighbor of 6 years in Brooklyn (whom I hardly see) recently told me that a few years ago, she could tell when my life changed for the better because I just looked happier & more radiant.  [She also mentioned that shortly after my first husband left, she knew things were better in my life when she stopped hearing me at 3 or 4 am, still awake upstairs.  It turns out I was actually listening to this, sometimes over & over & over with my lap top in my bed, and clinging to every word.]  

This photo is one of my favorite photos, simply because it was taken near the time that my life changed for the better.  I'll never forget that time because of the feeling of peace that I had, despite my circumstances.  This was in 2008, maybe a month before my first husband decided to leave.  I had been through years of feeling off and on rejection by him and also had just been through the first 2 years of infertility.  But by the time this photo was taken, my enlightenment had fully begun!  It had been in full force for awhile now!   Can you tell how happy and at peace I was, despite my circumstances?  I WAS!  Really and truly!!  

So what caused the change in my countenance in the year prior to my divorce & how did it remain strong during & after the divorce?? 
I tapped into my true identity.

THIS, dear ones, is the best beauty secret in the world! 

HEAR ME OUT......  :)

I finally realized that my truest & deepest identity was not a rejected wife.  It was not a woman that could not yet bear children.  It was not a woman who was unloved & who felt worthless.  It was not a woman who could barely feel comfortable in public because I felt so much disapproval.  It was not a woman who felt I had nothing to offer.  It was not a woman living in Brooklyn, working away at my job.  These were the things I HAD been identifying with until then.  As mentioned in a previous post, much of life is a self-fulfilling prophecy!!  When these things were my identity, there was no way out of pain.  There was no joy.  There was no hope.  There was no beauty.

The new identity I finally embraced for the first time trumped every other identity I had ever attached to.  It had a name that was familiar to me, and probably to you.   

I am a divine woman, a daughter of God. 

I had heard this my entire life, but the words had become so commonplace that they were nothing more than a pleasant sounding cliche & didn't really have any transformative meaning.  

But when everything had been stripped from me, I realized the power in that identity.  Because it was all I had.  Yet I found that it was more than enough....more than I ever could have imagined.   
 
Being a daughter of God means you are ALREADY empowered to face ALL your trials.  It means you can have love & joy & peace & wholeness deep, deep down in your heart, no matter what your crappy circumstances are.  You don't have to wait for these good things to come to you - - - you are already the possessor of them by your very nature!!!  Once you know your identity as a divine woman (or man), nothing can take that light away from you.  Nothing can take away your feeling of security.  Nothing can take away the fact that you have a divine purpose here.  And if THAT isn't beautiful, I don't know what is.  Knowing this will literally transform your life - - even the way you look on the outside.  It is the best way I know of to have physical beauty.   

Getting to this place was a huge thing for me to do.  You see, my former husband was not attracted to me and told me so many times over the years of our marriage (thus the very dim countenance that I had for so long, due to my identity as his unattractive wife).  Once I tapped into who I really was as a divine woman of God, I realized there was nothing he could say or do that could change that.  His disapproval didn't have to ruin me.  I knew I had an innate power to heal from the hurt and negative emotions I had been feeling for years.  When I finally owned this divine identity, I felt more empowered & beautiful than I ever had in my life.  This feeling did not miss a beat, even when my husband made plans to leave.  Yes, I was heartbroken beyond belief.  But by then I also knew that I could remain whole during that time.  I knew that being a daughter of God meant that I had the power & strength I needed to face that divorce.  It gave me all the confidence I needed.  The peace & happiness on my face says it all. 

Sending love to you all,
Mara

P.S.  Many of you dear readers have asked HOW did you make changes, HOW did you develop spirituality or happiness.....HOW did you begin??  It all started here.  Identity.  We all choose a positive or a negative identity every single day.  The best & worst part is....depending on which one you choose, that's exactly who you will become - every time. 

(Photo taken in my home by a friend & photographer, Chris Lindsay.)


27 comments:

  1. How we think of ourselves is certainly a defining factor. If we have a positive image of ourselves, the more confident we will be and a healthier self-esteem we will have as well. It is all inter-related.

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  2. Can I ask a question? How would you apply all your insights and thoughts to someone like your former husband? I know you do a great job of not painting him out to be a monster, but at the same time he still was "the bad guy" in that he didn't feel love for you anymore, wasn't attracted to you etc... Knowing people who have been in a similar situation I know they--the bad guy--struggle too. These thoughts and feelings aren't easy for them to handle. Do you think your former husband, or someone in a similar situation, could remain in their marriage and make it a happy one?

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  3. This is very powerful. I love your insight and the fact that you are willing to share. And also, you are so very beautiful!

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  4. again you offer some awesome food for thought! that last part of your post about choosing a positive or negative identity really resonates. my husband and i are constantly talking about "self-fulfilling prophecies". it's so true, the more you think badly of yourself the more you believe it and your stuck in a vicious cycle. so mind over matter- do you use it for or against yourself? i'm trying to ask myself that more often.

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  5. Thank you, Mara, for sharing this!

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  6. Chills. I have chills because I know that this is one of my biggest hurdles. Finding love in myself so that I can grow and move on and become a better version of myself. Thank you for your positive outlook and for your passion to help others! I want to be where you are in your life!

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  7. Beautiful post, beautiful photo, beautiful woman!

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  8. I just came across this blog and am finding it to be so timely and such a tender mercy for me, as at 25, I am going through an unexpected divorce. I just came back to blogging yesterday actually after 3 months. Anyways, I find myself repeating "I am a daughter of God" over and over and over and OVER to myself every day. Once it seeps in, it's amazing how at peace I feel. I am so lucky to know that.

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  9. sadornia ChmielowskiNovember 15, 2011 5:01 PM

    I came across your blog by chance or by God. I can relate to the things you are saying and thank you for your testimony and God has put this ministry in you so other people can face their trials and tribulations and know that there is hope. My marriage last year was not good it took God removing my husband and seperating us to another country for us to realize the importance of love and marriage and kindness. My husband never use to tell me he loved me or that I was"hot" or special in anyway. It got worse when I met Jesus in my trials. He thought I was crazy and going over board with this God thing. This faith thing, this church thing. He at times told me that he was disgusted by me and my faith, and soooo much more. anyways he decided to move back to his homeland because Canada had nothing for him and I was asking for a divorce. It was very hard. But I did not give up I did not think I could make it or be on my own. Everyday God proved me wrong he blessed me in so many ways all I could do was cry and thank Him. I followed Him and got baptized and is still on my journey with Him. When you decide to take that journey with Christ there is nothing sweeter. Now my husband and I have a great marriage. He apologised for treating his family badly and now he thinks I'm the sexiest thing, and a good woman. I will by God's devine grace be moving abroad with our children to join him. He never use to tell me he loved me or want me to say it to him but now he is not tired to hear it. Let God work out our problems because when He works it for us it will work out, but when we try on our own it won't work. Never give up on salvation. Now everyone tells me how great I look, how pleasant I am, WHY because I am not letting my worries and problem or sin control my life I gave it to Jesus to take full control of it. Jesus gave me peace in the storm and I love it everyday. Now I want to give back to the world what He gave to me. Salvation is SWEET. Sorry for this very long comment.God does nothing without a reason He sometimes put us low so He can bring us up stronger and humble us, to do His work. In the last year I have learned alot about Christ, marriage, myself, and people, and the world and everyday I ask God/Jesus to keep on enlightening me. sometimes in trials you also learn not to blame, because there were things about yourself that also needed changing. Be blessed.

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  10. I have loved reading your posts... and this one is magic. Finding yourself - sinking into you own skin, your own spirit is an awesome place to go.

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  11. I think you're absolutely lovely. I think it is commendable and one of your gifts that you so openly share your testimony of life, God, and self-worth with nary a shred of self-consciousness or piety. I think your words, over and over, speak to all women regardless of religion or circumstance. What a blessing it is to witness a woman such as yourself who has only been emboldened, strengthened, and made more beautiful by her trials. It gives me hope.

    Now, for a question: I struggle daily with my spiritual identity as it often conflicts with my worldly identity. You and I share the same faith, and I believe in everything you're saying, but what stops me from progressing is that I have one foot planted in heaven and one firmly on the earth. I want to be all that you've described, but sometimes, I want more to be supermodel thin, or the girl in the best outfit at the party, or flirtatious with men even though I'm married, or richer, or famous for something, or in a nicer house, or...

    How do you wrestle these worldly demons? How does one truly embrace being a daughter of God when it means surrendering the desire to be a woman of the world? I ask sincerely, because you seem to be doing well.

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  12. Thanks for adding the "address" that you listened to over and over when you were struggling. I chose the "listen" option and enjoyed hearing the message. The encouragement to trust was timely. Thanks again...

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  13. Fabulous post... if everyone could remember this simple, yet powerful truth, i know the world would be a different place. Women, girls, young men, and men of all ages would certainly walk around with a smile and glow knowing that the God of the universe, who created the heavens and earth, knows your name, and loves you!!!

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  14. I really appreciate what you are trying to do with this blog. I got divorced earlier this year and have tried to find blogs/websites that discuss this experience from an LDS perspective. I was instantly impressed with your candor and the overwhelmingly POSITIVE vibe of your posts. You have articulated so beautifully many of the personal experiences I have had in my new life post-divorce. I often find myself nodding along or smiling to myself as you share the lessons you learned about finding inner peace and purpose during times of adversity. I would never have thought that I would find those things in such circumstances, but I have. It has been a great miracle to me.

    I agree with what you've said in this post as well. In the months since I've been separated and then divorced, I have been amazed by the number of people who have told me how much better I look--that my eyes are brighter, my presence lighter. I already knew in my heart that I had made the right decisions, but hearing these remarks on my countenance were sweet validation.

    Thank you for sharing your journey. I look forward to reading more...and hope that someday I'll find some of what you and Danny have found in each other.

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  15. Anonymous - great question. I am going to try & answer your question in a post! Hopefully soon! THANKS

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  16. Amy - bless you, dear. Sorry to hear about your divorce. Keep moving forward! In a way, this is a huge opportunity for you to learn a lot at such a young age. And I can't tell you how much I love what you say to yourself everyday..."I am a child of God." But letting that seep in is the hardest, sometimes!!! SO GOOD FOR YOU for making that happen. That's huge. Even now I am working on letting it seep in fully...I find in most ways I can fully accept who I am, in others I may struggle here and there a teeny bit...trying to let my divinity seep into every area completely.

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  17. Sardonia -wow, so happy to hear that your life is on a great path now. You sound like a determined woman and I know that will serve you well as you continue on that good path.

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  18. Amanda - I freaking loved your question. I am going to make it into a post. Thanks for writing. But for now - I'll just say that the idea here is that we need to recognize that worldly things are not going to bring real, lasting happiness (being thin, famous, having a great house, great outfits, etc.) That kind of happiness is only fleeting. That's why a cute outfit no longer makes us feel cute after awhile as it will be time for something new again. So really, if we want to choose a route that is full of only fleeting moments of happiness & also full of more frustration, more longing, more inadeqaucy, more comparing to others, more insecurity...we can. OR...we can choose a route that is full of the deepest, most lasting happiness you've ever known. It's just really up to us to decide what kind of experience we want. Thx, again, for writing. More coming!

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  19. Jan - ahhh....thanks for writing...so wonderful to hear that you came to similar conclusions. It's a miracle, isn't it? So fun to hear that your countenance also changed, too. So powerful. Thanks, thanks for sharing.

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  20. I also have stumbled upon your blog at a really important time. I have been married 15 years and we have 3 children. My marriage is good but not GREAT. We certainly snap at each other and criticize and blame sometimes as the demands of a busy life with 3 children make us tired and cranky sometimes. I love and agree with all that you write here, I really do. And I try it. I am a Christian and I read the Bible everyday. I believe I am a child of God. I know happiness comes from within. But living it is so hard. I woke up this morning thinking about how much energy I had for the day and how I would spend it (per a prior post). I did great when my 10 year old made a snarky remark to me. I chose to respond to it with peace and love. But then my husband said something that sounded like criticism to me and I snapped at him without any pause. I hate that I did that.

    It is almost automatic sometimes. I have a pretty darned good life BUT Life is hard sometimes. The day to day get tough. I don't want to believe that your perspective is naive. I want to believe that it is correct. But I do sometimes wonder if you and Danny will be this peaceful and joyful and forgiving all the time after 15 years of marriage and 3 kids.

    I am working hard on things you have written and I hope they will help me because I feel like I am at a bog crossroads in my life. I would ask though that you be a little more specific in HOW you change your thinking and perspective because it is not as easy and just deciding. It really isn't.

    Thank you so much for sharing here. I think you will help so many people. You are helping me to think about things so differently and I really appreciate that. i hope I don't sound skeptical or insulting because I am not coming from that place. I just want what you are suggesting to work for me. I want to get there.

    Thank you,
    Jenni

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    1. Hi Jenni,

      Thanks for leaving such a thoughtful comment. First, I don't think either of us felt like your comment was insulting or skeptical...I felt like what you wrote was very sincere and I appreciate how hard you are working to find and carve a better path through life.

      First, we try to be very specific, but we both recognize the limitations of our ability to express such a personal/spiritual thing through something as simple as words. Words that hold great power to me when I use them to describe the process, may not hold the same power for you. I often wish I could speak with people in person to remove some of that barrier to understanding.

      Second, I'll be the first to admit that parenting is going to require a different skill set than I have currently developed. Remember our second post on marriage being difficult/hard? We had an analogy about climbing mountains, and everyone is on a different kind of slope and needs a different skill set to successfully navigate the ascent. Well, when kids come into the picture, I think Mara and I will have to grow to meet that. While I also don't feel like we are naive about the realities/difficulties of "real" life (especially since I was applying these things in the most difficult moments of my life during my divorce and it is because they worked so well that we try to share them here), I do recognize that there is still so very much for me to learn as I apply this to other areas of my life, like parenting.

      That's a long way of saying that I respect the difficulty that you are experiencing in applying this.

      My invitation to you is be patient with yourself. When you find yourself not succeeding, instead of beating yourself up for screwing up, simply recognize where you went wrong and apologize immediately. Admit to your husband or children that you're trying to be better and you're working to break habits. Maybe even ask if you can try that again so you can practice doing it better next time. Combat whatever sharpness or harsh words you previously let out with an outpouring of sincere love and a determination to reflect that love more consistently. My sister has been doing this with her kids (she's got 7, so you can imagine the potential for chaos :) ), and though she'll never be perfect at it, it is improving communication they have with the older teenagers.

      Finally, you're statement about it not being as easy as just deciding...I think there is some truth to that (especially considering "just deciding" may mean very different things to you than to me), and it's got me thinking about a better way to describe the process. I'm going to work on a post to hopefully better address that idea.

      Thank you very much for describing your efforts.

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    2. One final thing in relation to this very post about the best beauty secret in the world (that beauty secret being a choosing an empowering and elevating identity). Please make sure that the identity that you are adopting as your core belief is that you are capable, that you can, that growth is possible, even if it happens slowly. (all of that is embodied in the identity Mara described - being the daughter of God means you are capable of unlimited amounts of personal growth)

      Henry Ford wisely said "whether you think you can, or you think you can't - you're right." If there is a part of you that is always telling yourself "well I just have a hard time controlling my anger, I have a short fuse, I can't help myself"....realize that's the way we subconsciously say "I can't" and end up stopping ourselves from growth - our negative self talk is one way we "choose" an identity other than the one Mara described - and whether we are conscious of it or not, the identity we choose through positive or negative thought is often what reveals itself in our day to day interactions.

      Be very careful to dismiss thoughts that limit your growth, that unnecessarily beat up on you for any mistakes, or that tell you that you can't. If you're not careful, those thoughts will become the norm and will be the "can't" that Henry Ford predicted would result in failure.

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  21. Thanks for sharing. I came across this post after a day full of struggle with myself. Falling back into bad habits. But I know this feelig you mention. Being all at peace, because I know my true identity. And that has nothing to do with pain and selfhate but love, love, love.

    Greetings from germany and thank you again for sharing your experiences, Julia

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  22. You wrote this about a year ago, but it is still touching hearts today. I just read this during a touch trial in my life. I feel like I am losing everything, but that I am also gaining everything in Christ. I feel like he is breaking me down so He can build me up to be who He wants me to be, a true daughter of God. I still cry tears, but they are sweet tears because I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. That I will get through this and He will heal me and I will be better for it. It doesn't matter what people think of me, it only matters what I think of myself and what God thinks of me.

    I now understand what Paul meant when he said that he can find joy in his suffering when he writes Philippians. That no matter what, our joy comes from Him and Him alone. How beautiful.

    I am new to your blog and I am reading from the beginning. Thank you for letting God work through you to touch others. Words are so powerful and I hope to change mine so that they only bring positivity into this world.

    Keep living life in the Lord!
    -Liz

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  23. Mara & Danny,
    I have related to every blog post of yours. I found it while working today and it gave me great pause....too much actually because I sat at my desk reading for a good part of the afternoon. I can't get enough. We have sooo much in common and I so desperately want to find peace. I am a Child of the One True King, as you described and really am on my way to healing and restoration. I, too, had a husband that had an issue with the way I looked. I, too, have had stomach issues, bloating, etc and I need to reclaim who I am. Thank you for your blog. I am at a time in my life where I need to make decisions. I'm praying for a mentor and friend that could come into my life and lead me in the way of peace on this journey. Many blessings Mara & Danny! I will be reading every day~
    Have to get back to work :)

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    1. Anon - this is lovely! Thank you for writing and sharing where you are in your journey, and where you hope to head. The peace you seek truly is out there, and you will find it! You are well on your way and we hope that this post and others will help inspire you along the path. Truly, God bless you!

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