30 September 2011

Healing From 9/11

healing from 9/11
Photo I took on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.

In the weeks and months and years (!) that followed 9/11, I found myself with some anxiety that I never had had before.  I feared death.  I feared losing my first husband.  I feared dying too young and missing out on this great life.  And mostly, I feared getting blown up by a suicide bomber on my way to work.  As authorities announced the "red alerts" on the news & reported on specific chatter from terrorists regarding another possible attack on New York, I became increasingly full of more anxiety.  It was just more apparent than ever that life was precious - that life could end at any time.  This carried over to my experiences while flying & driving.  Flying became crippling to me.  Tears, shaking, sweaty palms, terror at every sound and bump.  The entire flight I would be thinking...What was that?  Is something is wrong?  Why hasn't the pilot announced that all is well?  That guy has been in the bathroom WAY too long!  It was terrifying & excruciating to get through flights.  One day I had to fly to Rome out of JFK, with my boss  - - and it happened to be the day after a liquid bomb was found on that Heathrow flight.  This was day 1 of no liquids allowed on planes.  Can you imagine?  I really thought I was going to die.

Clearly, this was all before I figured out what life was all about.  This was before I embraced every-dang- inch-of-life...the good and the bad.  This was before I learned how to truly live with real peace and real happiness - - - the kind of happiness that is not dependent on circumstances. 

Once I began to realize that trials in life are FOR OUR GOOD and that I could quite deliberately embrace them instead of fearing them..... ALL OF MY FEARS MELTED AWAY.  I am telling you, they literally evaporated.   All of them.  It was remarkable.  And nearly immediate.  This is when I started to truly realize the POWER that I had within me.  I finally embraced this kick butt thing that I never really thought about much before called the Plan of Happiness [which states that trials are a part of this life so that we can have opportunities to learn and grow and to become at one with God and his ways.]  Guys, in case you think this is crazy, religious or not, just give this concept a try cause it works for anyone.  Or find your own source of strength and power.  I am telling you, it will change your life.  Since that day that I finally decided to just try it, I have been a changed woman.  I have not had anxiety about dying - - not even once!   I no longer have ANY anxiety or fear while flying.  I don't fear cancer.  I don't fear my husband dying.  I don't even fear giving birth to an unhealthy baby or to no baby at all.  Cause I now know that I can face anything that comes my way.  I am telling you that the peace is so all encompassing and so complete.  It affects me every single moment, every day.................I couldn't be more grateful.  And I just have to tell every single one of you, that you are capable of this, too.

Love to all,


In Manhattan on 9/11

manhattan 9/11

Can you guys hear another 9/11 story? I know I missed posting about this on the anniversary as I hadn't launched this blog yet, but I wrote this as a draft at that time and still wanted to get this out at least on the last day of September...

I lived in NYC on 9/11 (this photo of me was taken about that time.) That morning, I watched it all from the Manhattan Bridge, which was extremely close to the Towers. I wasn't supposed to be heading into Manhattan that day. I was renovating my apartment in Brooklyn and was supposed to be meeting a plumber that morning. But at 8:30 am, I got locked out of my apartment! And so off I headed to Manhattan (sans cell phone and with a borrowed Subway card) to retrieve the keys from someone who had a spare. Little did I know about the day that I had ahead. I had not yet heard the news as I went underground to the subway.

After lots of train delays and announcements warning of a "police investigation" at the World Trade Center, a train finally came and off we went, soon to see the most shocking scene; one we couldn't have ever imagined.

Love Story: More from "Day 1 of Danny + Mara"

brooklyn mormon, brooklyn young women

brooklyn young women
These pictures are of me as a single woman, prior to meeting Danny.  I love seeing photos of me during that time because I truly was so happy, despite the fact that my former husband had just left for good (which, by the way, was the worst thing I ever could have imagined at the time.)  My peace & happiness came because I was putting into practice some strength that I previously never realized I had to this degree.  It was exhilarating.  Most of that strength was fueled by serving/loving other people.  Here I am with some Young Women in Brooklyn....I got to be their mentor during that time of my life, and it was one of the greatest privileges of my lifetime.   This is what I was up to when I met Danny.  :)

So the Day 1 emails between Danny & Mara continued (did they ever! Remember how I said we knew we wanted to marry each other after Day 1??).  Here is our next correspondence:

29 September 2011

The Most Important Things I've Ever Learned (About Love) - #1

how to show love

what it feels like to be in love
i love you graffiti
This is some graffiti art in Park Slope.  One of these tags used to be across the street from my apt.  Photos of us, above, by photographer, Saydi Eyre Shumway.

Part 1 of a series.  Click to read Part 2 and Part 3

OK, I'll be pouring my heart out to you on this one, because....
This was the biggest wake-up call of my life...(and I share this with hopes that it can help you.)

Back in the day (when I was married to my first husband), I wanted a baby because of the so called "love" that I had in my heart for my unborn children or for my husband.  All that "loooove" & desire & nurturing instinct that I felt was so "strong" that when I wasn't able to have a child, the disappointment made me feel hopeless, depressed, unhappy, miserable, worried, & so sad.  Oh, the drama!  Ha!  Believe it or not, I never saw where I was going wrong here.  I thought my behavior was NORMAL.  In fact, every one I knew thought it was normal, too.  I actually would have thought then that my sadness was actually even a display of my love for my husband and unborn children!  Hahaha.  Oh my.  How wrong I was

Well, I was lucky enough to have a wise woman (my acupuncturist) point out to me, that  REACTING IN A NEGATIVE WAY IS NOT HOW TO SHOW LOVE!!!  It's called dysfunction.  Oh man, this kicked me in the butt.  You see, if you are reacting negatively and with so much misery & drama, you are actually poisoning the world around you - including the world of your spouse and children.  That's such an awful thing to do to someone!  Especially to someone that you claim you love. 

The BEST KIND of love requires that you think more of someone else's needs instead of dwelling in your own misery & selfishly bringing everyone down with you.  So even if your spouse is doing anything from being short with you to cheating on you,  instead of biting back and being just as dysfunctional & spewing all that poison around, remain still.  And in those trying moments, out of REAL love for them, you are actually able to think of their needs instead of your own, and you can actually help them, as they clearly need it.  This made so much sense to me!  When I figured this out, I was shocked.  I had totally misunderstood what it means to truly show love to someone.  Immediately I wanted to adjust my ways.  And I did.  It was hard at first.  But I did it deliberately.  And I haven't stopped doing it since.

28 September 2011

Love Story: How it All Began

This photo was taken in the few weeks before I met Danny.  But I was too shy to send him this one. 

modern love story
 I sent this one, instead.   Apparently sending him a picture of my butt was easier?!?  (I was actually showing him  my new haircut :)  This was the first photo I sent him.  

So Danny and I were set up by a friend (by way of email).  Danny lived in Boston.  I lived in Brooklyn.  We basically knew we were going to get married after just one day of emailing.  Yep.  ONE DAY.  The many emails we exchanged that day were just that good.  And we already knew exactly what we wanted.  And we were really good at recognizing it.

Want to read the very first emails we exchanged??  Here you go.  They actually introduce a lot of the things we'll be writing about on this blog.  The notes were pretty simple!  But I can't tell you how meaningful they were to us both at the time.  Little did I know what would happen when I pushed send on this note and sent it off to a man I had just heard a tiny bit about.  Little did I know he would soon be my husband. 

  • Subject:  hi

Hi there. Sorry if you don't know about me yet, but Ashley Harris says we must meet each other, when the time is right.

I normally would not write a guy like this. But I thought that because of your situation, you may be hesitant to write me. So I thought I'd just drop you a line to say hello.

Also, i am so sorry to hear about your situation. Same sort of thing happened to me. I still can't believe it happened. And I am sure you feel the same way. But in my case it turned out to be such a life changing experience for me, in a good way, that I wouldn't trade it. I've realized that life is just full of trials...which is the whole point of being here. So in the end, these experiences can be positive aspects of our lives. Life really is so beautiful. The good and the bad. Hopefully we're both onto a lot of good !

And hopefully you get through this next phase. I remember those days. Drop me a line if you'd like. Or not. Whenever you'd like. It would be fun to get to know you, especially because we've had similar experiences. I actually have not yet dated a guy that has been divorced, but lately I have been wanting to... just because, in my book, guys that are or have been married certainly have an edge on the single guys out there. They just seem to understand life at a different level.

And all the best to you as you try to redefine your life.  It will come together.  You'll be making out with women in no time.  What a trip !  Seriously.  You will die. It's so crazy to be out there after being married....oh my, i can tell you stories.

Alright.  Better get back to work.

All best,


p.s. you are so dang handsome !

And Danny's response to me is right here.... enjoy  :)  [Personally, it made my jaw drop.  But he was just my kind of guy & I could tell right away.  We just spoke the same language and you can't make that up!]

27 September 2011

An Introduction...

going through a divorce, not able to get pregnant, infertility

Hello & Welcome !

My husband and I have had extraordinary lives.  More than we ever could have imagined.  We have had life changing experiences that have caused us to truly live in a better way now.

Many people have been interested in what we have to say about it.  It has been one of the greatest joys of our lives to share what we know.  And so, we decided to start sharing some of it here.

We've each experienced a divorce in our prior marriages, long-term infertility, and many other challenging experiences that life brings.  But we've also experienced deliverance in ways we never knew was possible.  We've learned how to be really, really happy & at peace no matter what our circumstances might be.  We hope this blog can be a great resource for anyone interested.  If we can be of inspiration to just one, this effort will be worth it to us. 

With Love,

Danny & Mara

going through a divorce, not able to get pregnant, infertility
(Photos by Saydi Eyre Shumway, an amazing photographer in Boston.)

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