Our Weekend: Speaking at a Retreat in Washington D.C.

Sometimes I can’t believe our lives.  The situations we find ourselves in kind of take our breath away.
This weekend was one of those moments…  

We were asked to be the keynote speakers at a retreat for some single women in Washington D.C.  A lot of the women there have
been reading our blog and so they wanted us to come speak to them.
We felt completely honored, of course, to be asked to do this.  But we had no idea what goodness was ahead for us…

Mormon single women, Washington D.C.
Mormon single women, Washington D.C.

We drove to D.C. on Friday night to give a 1 1/2 hour keynote address.  The next day we were asked to run a 2 hour workshop.  We were the ONLY speakers for the weekend.  Normally the pressure of this would have scared the living day lights out of me.  But, I applied the same principles that I always talk about on the blog (I apply them to everything), and I’m telling you….it totally works!!!   🙂


Here’s the way this works for public speaking:

When I feel a welling up of fear, doubt, worry, or anxiety – I choose to pursue a virtue.

In this case, I pursued LOVE for these women and desired to be a channel through which they could feel uplifted and loved…..I pursued COMPASSION for any trials that they may be facing…..HOPE that I could be my best self….FAITH (belief) that I could do this, and that I already had years of preparation and experience already within me to draw from…..GRATITUDE for this amazing opportunity to learn and grow and bond with some amazing women…..GRATITUDE for Danny, my partner in all things……GRATITUDE for the message of the blog, and that by some miracle at this time in our lives we have had this opportunity to share it with others…….JOY for this life and the experiences that we get to have….SELF-WORTH as in, I will still have self-worth, even if I fail….and again, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE for these women who are seeking good things and want to live the best lives they can, and who will likely remember my love for them more than what I say.

As you pursue a virtue and deliberately make these thoughts the script in your head, it’s like the effort/energy of doing that literally uproots and replaces the fear/doubt/worry.  I’m telling you – it’s ridiculously effective!!!  Try it!  And the more you do this, the easier and easier it becomes as you develop what I call “muscle memory”: the pathways in your brain actually get rewired and your mind and heart and body become more accustomed to responding in this way.  Over time, you can truly begin to fully embody these virtues from the inside out. 

The result of doing this is nothing short of a miracle.  And I saw that unfold this weekend.  I mean, I once would have been terrified to no end in this situation, but actually went into the weekend with confidence & love.  We were able to speak from our hearts and have the most beautiful experience with these women.  I’ll never forget it.

washington D.c. singles ward

And now, let me just say that the women we met were beautiful, impressive, smart, creative, educated, loving, articulate, inspiring, and with hearts full of charity and a desire to be the best women they can be.  Seriously – – – they were AMAZING – the kind of women you’d love to associate with, hire, be friends with, have a conversation with, marry, etc!!  If I was a single guy, I would be heading straight to Washington D.C. to meet some of these women.  Haha.  I wish I knew some really great guys to set them up with…they were that impressive.

Two of the women have blogs and wrote out some lovely posts about the weekend retreat, including some of what we shared with them:

One of the best parts was speaking to the women afterwards.  Friday night after we spoke, we should have headed to our hotel – but we couldn’t pull ourselves away and ended up sitting in the kitchen jam packed with women until 1:00 am, sharing some thoughts about what matters most in a marriage, learning about feeling empowered and whole as a single woman, and tapping into self-worth.  It really was one of life’s most beautiful moments.

And the guys from the Mormon singles’ congregation in D.C. (where these women attend) came and decorated their cars during the night and left cute messages and candy all over their hoods and windows.  SO CUTE!


And thanks from the bottom of our hearts to all of you women we met over the weekend.  We’ll never forget that beautiful experience. 

Lots of love,

P.S.  Awhile back I came across these performance tips by music performer, Mindy Gledhill.  These are really great and I’ve tried to remember these things this last year as I’ve had more and more speaking opportunities.   

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  1. Utah Girl Am I October 15, 2012 at 11:41 pm - Reply

    We feel so blessed to have had you guys come speak with us! Your message truly inspired and uplifted, and we really enjoyed just being with you. Please come back to DC ANY time! Y'all are wonderful! We love you!!

  2. Liz October 15, 2012 at 11:45 pm - Reply

    You're right, Mara, I will remember what you said to me but always, always how much love we could feel from you! Incredible. Thank you!

  3. Lynnie October 16, 2012 at 12:46 am - Reply

    I LOVE those girls, too. I wasn't there this weekend but I know them and I can attest to how incredibly above average they are. I'm glad you were inspired to channel your energy into loving them, because they are SO EASY to love. I'm so glad you got to have that experience! I assure you, you won't find a better spirit of woman anywhere. Believe me, I've tried!

  4. Malissa B. Moench October 16, 2012 at 12:59 am - Reply

    Little did I know I would pull up your blog this evening and see a picture of my COUSIN, Laura Jayne! Haha, what a surprise!
    Great advice, btw.

  5. Kel October 16, 2012 at 2:34 am - Reply

    just chatted with a friend tonight about the little changes we're making in our lives since we heard from you. truly blessed to hear your experiences and spend a few moments with you. take care Danny & Mara!

  6. Maggie October 16, 2012 at 3:00 am - Reply

    Danny and Mara,
    It was an experience of a lifetime. We are all changed for the better…or at least trying! I can't thank you enough for coming and putting your whole heart and soul into our retreat. The only thing 2nd to the actual experience was reading about it here! You recapped some of the best take-away messages.

    DC 2nd Relief Society loves you forever!

  7. Caity October 16, 2012 at 6:01 am - Reply

    I'm going to take your advice and pursue a virtue next week when I have to teach a lesson in my high school practicum class. I'm getting my Masters in Teaching and while I'm really excited about getting to teach, I'm also super nervous about being observed, videotaped, and working with students I don't know very well. Pursuing virtue seems like a much more useful use of my time and energy than psyching myself out. 🙂

  8. Sara Estis October 16, 2012 at 1:06 pm - Reply

    Danny and Mara, while I am not a part of the Mormon Church – I am Jewish – I do strongly believe in pursuing faith and virtue and I am consistently in awe of everything that I see you doing. This retreat looks like it was an incredible experience and that both you and Danny, and the women at the retreat, truly benefitted from the experience. Thank you so much, from the bottom of my heart, for continuing to share your experiences.

  9. Eve October 16, 2012 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    Danny and Mara,
    Thank you so much for coming down and inspiring all of us! I really feel no one there came away unchanged by the experience that you brought us. Not only did you inspire us to be better people internally, but your message also empowered us to influence the world around us. It was truly amazing! I too have been making goals to apply the things that you taught, and had an experience this morning to share a piece of your message with one of my co-workers. We love you two so much!

  10. erin m. October 16, 2012 at 7:37 pm - Reply

    How neat! I'd love to hear more of what you talked about to this audience of single women and some of the insights you learned from their experience being single. I'm single and in my mid-twenties and would love to learn more from you (and them!) on the topic!

  11. Kati October 17, 2012 at 2:46 am - Reply

    Thank you so much for this experience. It was so lovely and we will always be grateful for the love you showed and shared with us!

  12. Susan Siravo October 17, 2012 at 6:50 pm - Reply

    Mara, thanks so much for sharing your tips on pursuing a virtue when preparing for public speaking. That is really great advice and can be applied to countless situations in life. I always feel uplifted when I visit your blog!

  13. Jelena Uppendahl October 17, 2012 at 8:19 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing yourselves…the best gift that you can give anybody! The weekend was truly inspiring. Your ideas are truly amazing. I am implementing those ideas into my own life! Yippee!

  14. Terrance Siler November 28, 2012 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    Wow, this is just so amazing! Hearing thoughts of love from other people also in friendsreunited.co.uk, and to those who hopes for true love as well, give this site a try!

  15. Moonsparkle September 18, 2013 at 9:37 pm - Reply

    I enjoy reading your blog, I especially like the posts on vulnerability. My favourite is Step One about knowing you have worth. I think it's important to have self worth. Do you have any tips about feeling empowered and whole as a single woman that you can share on here? Or maybe there's a post I missed? 🙂

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