When the Air is Clear…

The earliest hint of fall brings back a flood of memories to me, and I am sure it always will.  It was early fall when my first husband let me know, by text, that he would not be returning to New York, to our 7 year marriage, to our very established life together.  He had quit his job and left the country 30 days prior, with the intention of returning.  But he never did.  I never saw him again.

So there I was, with a rug ripped out from under me.  The quietness in my home was profound.  It felt like it was just me and the walls.  I slept in an empty bed (which felt so strange that I left a pile of clean clothes next to me.  It actually helped.)  As I walked through my home or brushed my teeth or went to work, it felt as if another person was doing it.  I mean, how could this be ME?  How could my life be this different now?  Everything just felt so foreign.

But…there was something miraculous happening.  I will never, ever forget it.  And the feeling in the air now just reminds me of it. (It was exactly this time of year.)  Not only were the colors of my beloved Brooklyn changing a little and the air turning crisp and clear, but I was realizing that I was alive.  My “family” was gone, my life as I knew it was gone.  But I was still here.  I could feel my heart.  I still wanted to live and have a meaningful life.  I felt I could still have a purpose in this life.  I felt if I held onto that goal, that I’d be a better wife and mother someday.  But even if that day never came, I knew that I would be OK.  Because I was OK then!

I credit that triumphant time with one thing – – the pursuit of virtues.
I pursued virtues with all my might- like my life depended on it.

This gave me life.  This gave me purpose.  It was a very, very deliberate thing that I finally had learned I could do.  And so – I pursued forgiveness (which was actually extremely difficult at times).  I pursued love for this person – in and out of moments when it was way too easy to feel hate and anger.  I pursued patience while taking on the full time job that it is to find an attorney, box up his belongings, go over financial statements, etc.  Oh man, I pursued forgiveness again and again and again!  I pursued hope that I could have a wonderful life still.  I pursued love for those around me by deliberately serving others with all my heart and taking my service endeavors and church callings very seriously.  I pursued my self-worth and worked to dismiss all the thoughts related to fear, inadequacy or rejection as I faced my new life as a single woman.

I was not perfect at these things.  Oh man, there were some moments that I failed at this miserably.  But overall, the pursuit was there.  I could feel it.  Strangers could feel it.  I was trying to align myself with the Divine, with his virtues.  And that made all the difference in the world.

I realized that pursuing virtues was really all that mattered in this life.  My unfortunate circumstances couldn’t stop me from doing that.  (In fact, those hard experiences actually only gave me MORE opportunities to do it.)  Every little triumph I had during that time while trying to pursue virtues was so empowering and fulfilling, even joyful –  I cannot even describe.   It was like I was stripped of everything I wanted, but it didn’t matter.  I could still feel the glory of what this life is all about.  I could still feel joy.  And feeling that so clearly – as clear as the air during those fall months- was one of the greatest miracles of my life.

Little did I know, a wonderful guy named Danny was experiencing much of the same thing, but in Boston.  His wife decided to move out of their home the very same week my husband left the country.  And he was experiencing many of the same miracles as he, too, sought to align with the Divine- to pursue virtues, even in the face of the unimaginable.

And then, a year later – when the first hint of Fall was upon the East Coast – I experienced yet again one of the most beautiful transitions of my entire life.  I met Danny (ahhhh!)  It was then when we exchanged these emails, site unseen.  We could easily tell we were living for the same thing.  We felt united.  And the love and joy we had cultivated in our lives during that year prior just multiplied as we then shared it with each other.

OK, now I’m overcome with emotion.  This life is way too beautiful sometimes.  I really can hardly take it in.  Especially when I hear from so many of you and hear your beautiful stories and heartfelt words.

Much love to you all,


(If you’d like to see an example of how we pursue virtues in our marriage now – this past post explains it pretty well… How to Have a Happy Marriage While Traveling)

P.S.  The photos are from a new favorite book of mine…The Native Trees of Canada by Leanne Shapton.  It’s a wonderful keepsake book just full of these beautiful paintings.  The parents of the two children we baby-sat bought us this book as a thank you (they had traveled to Canada :).  We just adore it.  The children loved looking at it, too.

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  1. Marie September 11, 2012 at 10:06 am - Reply

    This is so beautiful. I think I've experienced a little of what your saying–when the particular virtue(s) I'm working on is really tough, the reward of choosing it is this deep joy and more grace for the next hard time.
    Reading this makes me all the more excited for fall. Love you both.

  2. {Jessica} September 11, 2012 at 12:39 pm - Reply

    It's truly amazing to me how God allows things to fall apart so that he can put them back together even better than they were before. After following your blog for a while now, I truly believe that you and Danny were meant to be together, even though you both had to go through some pretty tough stuff to get to a point where you could be. Your story is so beautiful. Thanks for sharing and being so open!

  3. Jenny D. September 11, 2012 at 2:02 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for this post Mara, today especially! Today is the anniversary of my divorce, it drives me crazy sometimes that it is a date I can never forget, but it also gives me the opportunity to reflect on how my life has changed. I remember having a similar experience as you. As the season changed to fall I could feel myself changing too, I was rediscovering myself, embracing life and everything it had to offer. I am happier today than I ever thought possible!

  4. kelly September 11, 2012 at 2:21 pm - Reply

    you are so inspiring, mara. much love to you and danny. <3

  5. Laurie September 11, 2012 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    Beautiful post Mara, I have missed the insights to your soul. Thank you so much for sharing. I know your strength and determination will inspire many, as it does me.

  6. Lottie Simm September 11, 2012 at 4:31 pm - Reply

    i always think everything happens for a reason and we just don't know the bigger picture yet and then you met danny and there was the bigger picture.

    i remember when i lost my job a couple of years ago and i was devastated. but now i realise it wasn't for me and was the best thing that could have happened. my husband got some amazing opportunities which we were able to do and now we are expecting our first child which wouldn't have been a possibility if i was still working. God works in mysterious ways ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Maria September 11, 2012 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    wow, what a blessing this is to read as I start my day! Just yesterday I was confronted once again by a very difficult situation/person that I thought I had moved beyond. This time around I am facing this trial with excitement at all the strengthening and learning it is brining about. I am realizing that I can face this situation with courage and joy whereas in the past I would dread it and try to ignore it or trudge through it with some confusion. What freedom to be putting the power of choice into action.

    Amazingly just before I started reading this post, I was thinking about the trembling aspens and how they get strengthen by being blown by the wind. I was reminding myself that this "wind" that has recently come into my life is doing the same work and I will be the better for it. Then I go and scroll through your post and see the painting got the trembling aspen and KNOW that God is in everything!

  8. Chantel September 11, 2012 at 4:53 pm - Reply

    I relate to this post to a T! One year ago, that same text, never to be seen or heard from again…. It makes my heart go out to you because the pain is so deep, and the way you just picked up and decided to pursue a life of virtue is beautiful to me! When you're at "ground zero," it seems to be the only path. I've pursued it as fully as I can, and I feel that I'm in a much better place now. Still healing though. Do both of you still have days where you are healing?

    • mara September 12, 2012 at 11:15 pm - Reply

      Chantel – I've tried a couple of times to think of what to say – about whether or not we are still healing. And you know what, it's something we hardly ever think about now. The emotional tie to the past is just long, long gone. It doesn't even phase me. I have to think hard to even remember that life. It's not something that pains me at all anymore. I guess I just feel grateful as the experience was such an opportunity to apply what I had been learning. Again, there's a virtue! ๐Ÿ™‚ Pursuing gratitude helped a lot here. There are some physical reminders, though, that come up every once in awhile…i.e. there was major, major financial loss (it turns out that I was by far the breadwinner). That kind of thing was hard to swallow, no doubt. But I've had to let that go – the anger, the feeling of being taken advantage of, etc. I've had to just say to myself, 'It's only money' and be at peace with the losses – and again, see it as a spiritual exercise. My mom said to see those losses as an investment in my spiritual growth and my ability to have real peace ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Chantel September 13, 2012 at 4:30 pm - Reply

      I love what your mom said! That is true wisdom. I love everything you said, and I'm SO grateful to know that you don't think about it any more! That it's just a story, somewhere in the confines of your memories. That is very hopeful to me that people do FULLY heal. I remember people who have gone through similar things telling me they were GRATEFUL for what happened, because of everything it taught them. I do feel like I have learned so much, but I don't know if I'd say I'm grateful for it. I still would have liked to avoid it all together ๐Ÿ™‚

      I think you just have a very good head on your shoulders. You handle everything with such poise and application of virtue, even with the physical reminders that surface sometimes. My friend says it's like a giant octopus, and its tentacles keeps reaching in and dirtying things up again, just when you think you completely freed yourself!

      Thank you for being a modern-day trailblazer. ๐Ÿ™‚ I think there are going to be an increasing number of women that have to go down this same path.

  9. Emily September 11, 2012 at 9:47 pm - Reply

    I love this, Mara! Thank you for sharing the importance of aligning with the Divine. I've struggled over the past couple years with having the most sincere desires of my heart be seemingly denied. I would like, more than anything, to be married and have a family, but that hasn't been Heaven's plan for me so far. During the often painful process developing patience and trying to understand the larger plan for my life, I have found so much strength and fulfillment in placing an emphasis on service and aligning my will with His. Thank you for the beautiful reminder.

  10. Lisa September 11, 2012 at 9:55 pm - Reply

    Dear Mara, the way you write your personal posts is so simple yet so captivating. There are so many emotions dancing through your words, carefully chosen but perfectly tied together. I could read long posts written by you all day (hint- a book!).
    Actually, as I was reading, it felt like a movie, fall in a big city, someone leaving, stuff changing, loneliness, work, inspiration, keeping sane, friends, reflecting, work again, then spring, summer and heyaaa fall again. And then a guy, digital connection, butterflies, sharing, love, meeting…I am stopping right here where you stopped.
    Seriously, how about a movie? You have it all, the story, the memories, the letters, the passion, the lessons learned…Maybe I am inspired by Sex and the city – the 1st movie, you know that period after Carrie being left with a gown and a honeymoon and no husband, that kind of contemporary direction style.
    Anyway, I am a dreamer so it is up on you to choose your path and what makes you happy. I'm sure whatever you do will be great. Stay blessed!


    • mara September 12, 2012 at 11:20 pm - Reply

      Lisa – you are a doll. This note made me smile. Thanks for such kind words. I must say, I could see our story as a movie. haha. I bet a lot of people could say that about their lives. But I do love the idea of a REAL LIFE love story being shared – and not just the Hollywood love – but the real kind of healthy love that comes from a very deliberate way of living. There's not enough of that kind of love portrayed!

  11. Anonymous September 14, 2012 at 2:29 am - Reply

    I admit, I just don't get it. How does someone end a 7 year marriage by text?!! I know you have handled this situation so well, but really, doesn't something of that magnitude at least deserve a conversation? I just hope I can learn to forgive as well as you have. Also, how do your former spouses feel about being discussed in your blog? You are brave to be so open about your experiences. Thank you. I learn so much from you.

  12. Anonymous October 12, 2012 at 1:14 pm - Reply

    hear! hear!! ๐Ÿ˜€

    and again!

    and again!

  13. Riri January 10, 2013 at 4:15 am - Reply

    thanks for sharing. around a year ago, one day after Christmas I know that my husband was having an affair (I thought it was the best Christmas gift I got from him), can not explain the pain in my heart, now Iโ€™m still in the recovery process, but I always try to remember; โ€œdo not ever give up on yourselfโ€. the life that God gives to me is precious and worth to fighting for. I still standing beside him until this day in our marriage, the marriage that looks and feels so different than before. I know I'm worth it, worth to be loved, if he was not so to me it was not my fault, he can not appreciate an amazing woman God has given to him. regret and loss that he felt would be more than I am. one thing I know, I'm not a superhero, but I knew I'm a 'wonder women' (you too!). wishing all the best for you and your Danny ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Anonymous September 9, 2013 at 10:54 pm - Reply

    Similar to a commenter above, I sometimes wonder about your ex-husband, where he is in his life, if and how has he grown, and how your blog affects him. He is mentioned so frequently in your blog posts that he has become famous (or infamous) in his own rite. I am a huge fan of yours and am inspired by how you live your life and how much you continually influence your blog readers. Please dont take this as a criticism or judgement but rather as a "wondering"… We all make mistakes and, with the help of God and our friends and family, we often change and evolve. Perhaps, he has evolved. Perhaps, we can understand the sadness and despair of your prior life without so many direct references to your ex-husband in your future posts. We all deserve a second change (and third and fourth… :))

  15. southernbelly September 9, 2013 at 11:40 pm - Reply

    My goodness.
    A friend sent me your way today. Knowing that I was going through the beginning stages of a very fast and unseen divorce of a five-year marriage. Some days I can't think of anything to do but cry, I think you know how that might feel.
    It all seems so very fast, doesn't it?
    Anyways, this post was beautiful. Thank you for writing it, even a year out, especially as Fall is coming through my window. Thank you.


  16. thefoxkids September 10, 2013 at 12:15 am - Reply

    I have been following your blog for a while but have never commented but felt compelled.. I have never had to move on after divorce but have had some pretty significant losses and what your saying holds true with any heartbreak or loss.. we lost our 2nd son at just 20 days old due to a heart defect there are some sounds, smells, even the coldness of the hospital can evoke emotions or memories I wasn't prepared to remember.. its been 13 years since we held our baby boy for the last time and about a year ago our oldest son (age 17) was diagnosed for the first time with a congential heart defect, an otherwise healthy athlete was giving a diagnosis that went from him playing football and soccer and track one day to the next day benched for good. it was a whirlwind of emotions and prayers that we felt we had prayed the exact same prayers just 12 years prior.. I spent the first few weeks/months mad at God, Mad at my own (or the hubs) DNA (the contributor to the defect) and just finally when I gave it all away and decided to rely on the divine is when I realized how LUCKY we were.. because so many just like us get this very same diagnosis in the autopsy of their young son or daughter that just suddenly died of sudden instant death!. anyway this has rambled (i'm sorry!) but the atonement is for all of it, to sooth my rough edges to help me heal to help me understand as much as I can (because I know i'll never ever REALLY understand it all!) and to heal my broken heart..and then to do it all over again 12 years later… thank you for being so honest and willing to share your story!

    • mara September 10, 2013 at 6:38 pm - Reply

      This comment just touched me so much…thank you so very much for your powerful words.

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