31 January 2012

How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others


To all of you dear WOMEN.  Yes, this post is for you!  (And your husbands can read along, too. We are just so glad many of you are reading!)

I wanted to address a few requests that have come in regarding a MAJOR, MAJOR TOPIC, I think, for women all over the place.... :)

HOW CAN I FEEL GOOD ABOUT MYSELF WHEN EVERYONE AROUND ME IS PRETTIER/SKINNIER/RICHER/MORE CREATIVE/HAPPIER/A BETTER MOTHER/IN A BETTER MARRIAGE/ETC.?!

And, HELLO PRETTY BLOGS!  HELLO GORGEOUS FACEBOOK PHOTOS!  They have a tendency to start up that damaging script in our heads that says we are not good enough/smart enough/creative enough/skinny enough/desirable enough, etc.  There is just so much access to other women & their lives, outfits, homes, parties, etc.  And it seems more than ever before, women all over are plagued with comparing themselves to others, all along their self-esteem is deflating.

A dear reader wrote in to say that she struggles to find a balance between tapping into her true identity & worth (mentioned in the post called "Best Beauty Secret in the World") while at the same time, balancing her desires such as...

-Being super model-thin.

-Being the girl with the best outfit at the party.

-Being rich.

-Being flirtatious with men.

-Being famous for something.

-Living in a nicer house.

This reminds me of some of the comments brought up in the response to the "Highlights from Alt Summit" post regarding comparing each others' fashion.  I know it's so easy to fall victim to this crap whether it is comparing husbands (or lack thereof), the size of your butt/thighs/waist/boobs, comparing children's accomplishments, the success of others, how quickly someone lost weight after having a baby, or even how much of that dessert you finished compared to other women sitting next to you at a girls' night.

Well, I've been thinking a lot about my answer to this reader and my answer to all of you.  For starters, can I just say, with all sincerity, that you women....ALL OF YOU....are wonderful.   I haven't met a woman yet in my entire life who was not a beautiful human being with either the biggest heart or the best intentions to offer something good to this world.   One of my greatest wishes ever is that we can all tap into our worth & end this horribly damaging cycle of comparing ourselves.

I know you can end that cycle.

Because I did.

Here's how....

30 January 2012

HARVEY FAIRCLOTH - Spring 2012

Can we think about Spring for a second?
HARVEY FAIRCLOTH, Spring/Summer 2012.  Loving it.  A lot.


I'll Take One of These, Please


Today, I'm thinking more about having a baby than usual.

It feels good.

Sometimes I worry that I have lost the giddy excitement of it all, you know?
So I really welcome the moments when my heart longs for it or flutters a wee bit when I think of
having a little Danny Kofoed running around my apartment with straight, bouncy hair (you should see how straight and bouncy Danny's hair is without his man wax.)  I still have some hope that it might happen.

In the meantime, I have enjoyed going through these infertility treatments now & in the recent past.  I know you must think I am crazy cause I just said that.  But I really mean it....even with every clomid pill, injection, blood test, temperature reading, ultrasound, homeopathic drop, Chinese tea, Bodytalk session and meditation. 

You see, it's a privilege to really be trying for a baby at all.  

It's a privilege to be married - let alone to the best husband ever who wants to be a parent with me & who thinks that I'll be a good mother!!  (Best feeling in the world!!)   It's a privilege to have the means to carry out some medical and holistic treatments.  It's a privilege to be developing more and more as a woman each and every month that it doesn't work out.  I have some very aggressive medical treatments ahead (actually much more aggressive than IVF).  But I really couldn't be more grateful for this experience.  And even if I sometimes forget about the end result of snuggling a tiny little baby (because it seems so far off), for now, just the process of it all makes me giddy.  Cause it's progress in more ways than one. :)

(Photo above is Danny.  When I went to Salt Lake to visit Danny's parents for the very first time, Danny's mom put  this photo in my room so I could see a baby picture of him.  I hadn't seen any until then.  I snatched a picture of it.  Boy oh boy, that cute, smiling face & happy eyes just about do me in.) 

What character or physical trait did you (do you) most enjoy about your children?

28 January 2012

Film Biz Saturday

One of our dear readers from Canada wrote to tell us about this great warehouse in Brooklyn (Gowanus) called FILM BIZ RECYCLING.  They sell props from film/movie/television sets.  She sent this link (from a Brooklyn blog that I already knew and loved) and I was intrigued enough that we headed right over there today to check it out.  It was worth the trip.  And the stuff was c-h-e-a-p.

 
 I have a soft spot for the Saarinen Tulip Chairs.  Anyone who's been to 
Baker Camp knows why.  (I need to tell you all about this
mid-century camp in the woods that we go to every summer.)

 This could be some cool, cheap wall art.

 If I had more space I'd take every one of these colored glass pieces.  
They look so great all together.

 The perfect carry-on!

 Books by the foot!  In every color...
 ...or you could just settle for stereo equipment in every color.

 Yes, the entire store was 50% off today.  

 And here we have the perfect couch to snuggle on and watch a movie.  :)

 
 I kind of wanted to buy all of these cheap paintings and tack them to my wall.  
Danny wasn't into it.

I loved these HOTT little numbers in shocking neon orange/red.


 I've always had a deep love for laboratory glassware.  haha.  I've dreamt of having an 
entire shelf of them in all shapes and sizes.
 
 Why, hello there, lemon heads...Should I buy all these perfectly yellow National Geographics?
 Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  (If only I had space for a several decades of you.)
 
But the greatest things I did today were...
-go on a run in Prospect Park with my running guru, The Mother Runner.
-Speaking of mother, I bought some apple cider vinegar with the MOTHA because anything this woman says to do with your face, I will just do (she has the most unbelievable skin I've ever seen).  Read all about her vinegar routine here.
-I had a lovely afternoon with my husband that ended with him playing the guitar, followed by a movie.  Couldn't be better.
-I made my bed this morning (THANK YOU, Gretchen Rubin.  Do you know that the author of the Happiness Project says you'll have more happiness if you make your bed each day?  Believe her.  Because it's true. :)

What did you guys do on Saturday that was productive or fun?  I think it's so great to plan little outings or projects that are set apart from your normal weekday routine.   Keeps life exciting.

27 January 2012

A Few Love Announcements...

-Did you guys see the comments from the last post on marriage (the story about a couple who moved overnight to save their crumbling marriage while the husband was having an affair)??  If you haven't, you might want to take a look.  They are incredible & heart warming.  Especially the comment from the woman's husband, John........*wow*.......... it will blow you away.

-I just spotted these amazing Scandia/Navajo boots on the street in Brooklyn and had to share!  They are by Tecnica, a new-to-me brand that sells skiing/apres skiing boots.  The woman said this pair is vintage & that the vintage Tecnica boots are the best...Here's a line up of what is available now on E-bay.  Lots of great options, including this exact style.


 
-The chairman's office of American Airlines just asked for our address.  They said they want to do something nice for us (because of this incident).  We appreciate their good gesture.  

-I LOVE these heat-generating crew necks from Uniqlo.  They are the perfect undershirt (well-fitted & thin!) and they really do keep me warm.

-I couldn't be happier I discovered the "Winter Leggings" from American Apparel last year.  They really are the perfect leggings for winter - toasty warm, but not too bulky.  They keep me warm on all my walks/runs in the park. 

-I just signed us up for the 5-Borough Bike Ride lottery for May.  The lottery ends Feb. 7th, so get your registration in now!  If you'd like to ride with us, let me know...(groups need to sign up under the same team.)

-I just discovered this great GF Cookie Mix.  I did my research and all the GF peeps on-line said this brand was the best one.  I agree, it's the best one I've had.

-Since I am dairy-free, I looove my sister-in-law's amazing vegan recipes that she recently started posting on line.  She's an expert and over the summer made us the best green smoothies, dips, and salads from my sister's garden.   Here is her latest recipe that both Danny & I went nuts over!!  It is a  decadent & delicious blender nacho cheese dip.  I swear it's better than the real thing.  All the adults and kids ate this right up.

-I just started a monthly womens' lecture series in Brooklyn.  The first event was packed!  Our first lecturer (a woman my age) has had a kidney transplant, 2 IVFs, twins with cogenital heart disease who were born just over 1 pound each and barely survived, and now...she has a terminal illness.  We couldn't believe her story.  But mostly, we couldn't believe her faith, strength & courage in the face of her trials.  We were so inspired and strengthened by her.  All are invited to come to the future lectures!  They will all be given by inspiring women.  I'll start announcing them here.

26 January 2012

Living in New York

Oh, how I love New York.  This place sits deep in my heart.
I came here a girl with big dreams and plans.
And I now sit here with the biggest heart, feeling grateful for the experiences I've been able to have here.  I have grown up here.

My long time Brooklyn friend told me she and her husband are trying to collect some books about New York.  I thought that was such a great idea!  I got one for Danny while bustling around SoHo in our last days before Christmas.  We ducked into a charming bookstore on Prince Street (McNally Jackson).  Danny was in the restroom in the bookstore, I was playing Santa in the New York book section.  And to my delight, I came across the sweetest little gem, New York Finger Paintings.  I love this book.  I just want to keep looking at it.  It's filled with places I know & places that make up this life that I love.  I feel I've seen every detail of this book with my own eyes.   

Presenting... New York Finger Paintings by Jorge Colombo.  
(HIGHLY recommended for a Valentine's Day gift!) 
I've had some of the best moments in taxi cabs.  I don't take them often... 

-Only if I was hauling our HARVEY Fall or Spring collection to meet a buyer (in the rain, feeling like my arms were going to give out from hauling so many clothes.  TRUST ME when I say that owning a fashion line in New York is not all glam!!  haha :) :)
 -or if I was driving home from JFK, feeling so happy to return back to New York (& anxious to get off the BQE with a crazy driver behind the wheel!)
-or if I was on a date, feeling glamorous & driving through the city, feeling spoiled that someone else would be paying (strange to have a date pay for everything when you're used to being married & forking out from your combined income.  But, well, it was quite wonderful to meet so many gentlemen who had jobs!  I decided to be comfortable with them treating me and to just enjoy it & be very grateful!)
-or if there was an EARTHQUAKE! (yep, I hopped in a cab the moment after running my heart down 44 flights of skyscraper, after feeling quite a rumble while sitting at my desk.  The thing is, you don't think "earthquake" in New York if something rumbles, you think "bomb".  Regardless, I had a nice cozy ride home to Brooklyn after my first earthquake.  I guess earthquakes and skyscrapers are not my thing.
-or if there was a 3 day Subway Strike (like in 2005).  New Yorkers all just crammed into cabs to get to work.  It was kind of awesomely communal.  I wondered why we don't share cabs more often.   
-or if I was taking a late night car from Midtown to Brooklyn after work (late night being 9:00, 9:30, 10:00 pm+?).  Oh, how I couldn't wait to get home....tunnel please!  (Luckily, in New York most companies foot the bill for late night cars & tolls!)  

I also think of some great conversations with drivers from all over the world...  
good bosses, bad bosses, going after your dreams, living in America, future parenting advice, making changes in your life, who will win the election?, best infertility herbs from India, a healer cousin in Africa, have you heard of the Mormons? Haha (a mormon.org ad is on the top of your car!), would you please slow down on the FDR?, thank you for getting me home safe, "You're a good wife" (after he hears me talk on the phone to my husband).  

And I think of the drivers that waited for me to get into my building safe late at night, as I fumbled for keys.  And I think of some stinky drivers, too. :)
***********************************
what it's like to live in new york
All New Yorkers love to peak inside windows while walking around their neighborhood (or looking out their own windows!)  There's always someone's window there, all lit up.  It's like your fourth grade  diorama came to life.  You can't help but look in to see the way someone else lives, to see if there is a life or a space there that piques your interest.  I love seeing a home's style.  I renovated (3) of my own apartments in New York and so I was always looking at other people's details.  Like..."how about that wall of books for the next renovation?  Or that modern crystal chandelier?"  Of course there's the... "I wonder how much they pay in rent" or "how many sq. feet do they have?"  "What are they having for dinner?"  "What movie are they watching?"  "Eww, did I just see them naked? " or even worse..."Did they just see ME naked?"  Oh, the windows of New York.

***********************************
Oh, the money I have spent at parking garages in NYC.  You see, in the early days, my Rover was the delivery truck of HARVEY FAIRCLOTH.  But the garment district is a "No Standing Zone".  That means you can't stop or a cop will be on your butt in two seconds.  Oh, the crazy moments we had loading up fabric & racks of clothes with interns as fast as we could before the cops could get us.  

***********************************

best pizza in new york
Do you have any idea how sad it is to not eat pizza?  The gluten free/dairy free diet really leaves no mercy for pizza.  But I still have great memories of grabbing a slice at Nino's in the heart of Italian Carroll Gardens.  Or at Sal's.  Or at Grimaldi's, Patsy's, Smiling Pizza, Anthony's, Guisappina's (one of our favorites), Di Fara's, or Spumoni Gardens.  Oh, the memories.  Sitting by the waters edge eating a "pie" under the Brooklyn Bridge with friends.  Tailgating across from the Statue of Liberty.  Or sitting in church and having one of my young women (who came to church alone her entire life & traveled 1 1/2 hours to get there) walk into class carrying a pie from the pizzeria next door. :) [Girl, you know who you are & I love you!]  Well, there is nothing quite like New York pizza.  In Paris, people tote baguettes.  In New York, people walk with a steaming hot pizza box.  And everyone within sight is jealous. 

Do any of these pictures invoke some memories for you?

More to come.

Have a wonderful day. And go have some pizza for me :)

Mara

25 January 2012

The Internet & Your Marriage: Another Woman Shares Her Perspective

Dear Readers, we think of you all so much.  You should see Danny & I reading and discussing your thoughts & emails.  Our hearts go out to every single one of you.  We really do feel love for all of you.

Today we want to continue the thoughts on "The Internet & Your Marriage".  One of our lovely readers read our last post on the topic (as well as the responses) and it stirred her to submit this post.  She said she has never written a blog post, but couldn't not respond to this topic.  I was touched by her story & the way she has chosen to move forward, despite her trial.  While her trial did not begin because of the internet, she wanted to make the point that EVEN IF you have a really healthy marriage, you still need to be diligent about avoiding inappropriate contact, whether it is on the internet or otherwise.

And, I just want to tell this dear reader thank you for writing this.  She said she has kept this experience from everyone as they have decided to not tell their children what happened to them & they are working on starting a new life as a family.  But she struggled with not being able to share what she learned with others, and she was grateful to have this outlet to do so.

*****************************
I, like Shiloh, felt like the luckiest girl in the world the day I married my husband.  We were best friends and completely in love!  13 years of marriage and 4 kids later we were living the dream.  We had a very healthy marriage.  We had a group of friends that we would go out regularly with, even vacation with.  I felt that a woman from this group was flirty with my husband.  We talked about it and he reassured me that our marriage was safe.  But, she started to pursue him through email and text.  It started out very innocent - - she was asking him for help with something.  As a friendship started, she would tell my husband how lucky he was to be in such a good marriage.  She confided in him that she was not happy in her marriage.  She began to ask for advice on how to make her marriage better.  He felt sorry for her and wanted to help, but he soon recognized that their connection was getting inappropriate & told her it had to stop.  The relationship was exposed and it broke my heart.  My husband felt awful and vowed it would never happen again (even though technically nothing happened!)  I was so hurt, and my husband was so ashamed that it was easier to bury it and pretend that everything was alright.  We wanted it to just go away.  I had been taught all my life to forgive.  I had felt so betrayed by this woman, but again wanted to move on.  I told her I forgave her and things went back to normal.  We still would go out together and I really tried to put it behind us.  A few years passed and it started up again.  After 9 months it became physical.  They were having a full blown affair.  Through this process my husband had completely changed into someone I did not recognize.  To spare you the ugly details, I will tell you that there is a happy ending to this story.  Not to say that we both have not been to hell and back.  My world was shattered, but not all was lost.  You see, I can honestly say I am grateful for this experience.  Our marriage is in a better place than it has ever been.  We have both gained a stronger connection with each other and learned to overcome this trial together.  And we have come to know God in a way that we would never been able to.  I once again feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

My whole point in telling you this is that good, healthy marriages can still be vulnerable.  Even if you're in what feels like a healthy marriage, you still MUST guard yourself from potential danger.  No marriage is safe.  And if you think yours is, it might not hurt to humble yourself and recognize that no one is immune to temptation.  

My marriage was saved, because we packed up our kids and belongings into our truck moved, OVERNIGHT!  We removed ourselves from the situation that had caused us so much trouble.  I will add that my husband played his part in this.  He absolutely had a choice.  I want to make that clear!  I believe not many go out looking to have an affair.  It does not happen overnight.  It does not happen because of email or facebook!  But if you want to protect your marriage from that temptation, you need to be aware that the danger is real.  It can happen to good people!  Facebook is not bad, but Facebook does give you the vehicle to start a journey that will lead to something bad.  There is an old proverb that says, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, so watch your step."  Looking back, we should have severed that relationship when it became inappropriate.

Our biggest defense in protecting our marriage is identifying all of the potential dangers.  Recognize how easily things can go from innocent to destructive.  When you are preparing for a battle, you identify the enemy.  You plan ahead to avoid any obstacle that you might face.  Facebook is great for keeping in touch with friends and family, but you should think ahead how you will react in the face of something inappropriate.  It is very hard to resist flattery.  We all want to be accepted.  We all want someone to comment on our picture, or our post or we wouldn't put them on Facebook!   If you find yourself seeking attention from this behavior, ask yourself some hard questions.  Seek to find your acceptance from within or from some higher source.  

I am an advocate of marriage.  I believe there are few problems that cannot be solved ( if both people are willing to try).  Marriage is the most amazing blessing.  Don't give up on it without a fight!  (Even if your husband has an affair on you!)  I want to give that hope to someone who might be going through this right now.  When faced with adversity, understand that it is not the adversity that is the test, but rather what you do with it.  Learn, grow, let adversity teach you.  I am grateful for the things I have learned and for the person who I have become through this trial.

-Anonymous

UPDATE:  Dear Readers, I meant to ask you...is there anything that you have changed or done to protect your marriage from crumbling?  i.e. moving overnight?  Or anything of the sort?  I think it's inspiring to hear about couples' efforts to save their marriages and turn things around....it is a huge deal to do that, for sure...  

(image)

24 January 2012

Highlights of Alt Summit


I learned so much at Alt Summit!  I thought I'd share with you some highlights that you might like:

1.  #1 tip for looking best on camera:  FAKE EYELASHES!  (Buy Modlash or Ardell from pharmacy.)
     (From Brooke White & Summer Bellessa of The Girls with Glasses Show)

2.  Know where you want to be in 2014, and think backwards to plan the building blocks.

3.  If I cram my life with things that I love, there's no room for things that I don't love. (Gretchen Rubin, author of the Happiness Project)

4.  Imitate your spiritual master.  (Gretchen Rubin)

5.  To regain some energy in the afternoon, jump up & down.  (Gretchen Rubin

6.  Stop talking about it and go do it!

7.  To be entertaining on camera, you need to overcome your fears. (Brooke White)

8.  Try something new and jump in with both feet.  Be ok with failing at it. (Liz Stanley)

9.  If you have a good idea, just do it.  Execute the bare minimum if needed.  If you wait, the ideas become less powerful.

10.  Happier people are more concerned with the problems of the world. (Gretchen Rubin)

11.  One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy.  (Gretchen Rubin)

12.  The best way to make others happy is to be happier yourself. (Gretchen Rubin)


I hope I can be a good blogger for all of you!  I have lots of ideas for how I can make this blog an even better experience.  I promise to always provide content from my heart and I hope that it can somehow make a difference in your life.  I want to make this a place that is worth your time!  Cause every minute counts.  Know that I am always open to suggestions and feedback!  If you'd like to see more of something, let me know.  If you'd like a specific topic covered, let me know (I am still getting to a few suggestions that have come in already.)  For example, at Alt, so many people asked if I would post more about fashion & beauty.  What do you think?
Here's one of my outfits.  I added in a little HARVEY FAIRCLOTH & totally went for the double bright belts!  They were a big hit.
Two dear friends from Brooklyn:  Brooke & Merrilee.  Loved sitting by them at classes & lunch as old friends.
Two wonderful women (Jenny & Christina) whom I got to spend time with til the wee hours of the morning.   I adore them both.  Christina has a set of triplets AND twins!!  Yep, she does!
Here's one of my other outfits.  I figured a "tangerine tango" dress would be appropriate as it is Pantone's "Color of the Year".  And yes, that is my bedroom the night before leaving for Alt!  I was planning out my wardrobe and pulled out way too many things to try on.  EEK!
Another HARVEY FAIRCLOTH outfit.  This one was such a huge hit.  Many said it was their favorite outfit at the conference.  What?!?!  Wowzer.  I'm glad people liked it.
Another outfit with tons of color....bright pink tights!  Green sweater & gingham shirt.  And a navy high waisted skirt from HARVEY FAIRCLOTH.  I was feeling less brave in this one, but went for it anyway.  Someone asked if I was a model for J.Crew.  Well, nope.  Just a girl hoping she didn't look like a clown!  ha :)
Don't you just love their glittered glasses? They said they were quite uncomfortable to wear. 
You guys just wouldn't believe how kind these two women are.  They hosted my opening night dinner and they couldn't have been more warm, kind & genuine.  They were some of my favorite people I met.  Thanks Erica & Flora!!  (And don't you just want to name a daughter Flora?  I do.  I need to let Danny know it's on my list. :)
Some all time favorites:  Jenny & Jordan.  Can we all hang out again soon?
Alt Design Summit 2012 - Friday morning
And add to that.... Stephanie.  LOVE her.  I want to be her neighbor.


And Jaimee is one of the most lovely women....and a writer for my home state newspaper in AZ!  And... her blog is awesome.
See below for more pictures of my favorites.....(Photos by the AMAZING Justin Hackworth & b.a.d photography.  I can't tell you how lovely these two photographers were.  It was awesome to meet themPlus Brooke Ashley Dennis had some of the coolest hair ever :)

23 January 2012

Alt Summit 2012



You guys,
I just arrived home to my Danny in Brooklyn.  I have SO MUCH to tell you!!  Alt Summit could be one of the coolest thing you ever could do if you are a blogger.  I was inspired by every woman (& a few men) there that were putting their guts out there to achieve something great.   I feel like I have 30 new best friends. 

See those sweet business cards?   They were designed in New York by Micah Heiselt & letter pressed in Salt Lake City by The Mandate Press.  And passed out by me to all the wonderful people I met at Alt Summit.

I felt so lucky to reconnect with some dear friends from my days in NYC:

Brooke Reynolds of Inchmark
Merilee Liddiard of MerMag
Natalie Holbrook of natthefatrat
Rubi Jones of She Lets Her Hair Down
Caitlin Creer of Caitlin Creer Interiors
Roxy Marj of Roxy Marj

(I love, love, love their blogs!  Oh my, these women are really some of the most talented I've ever known.)

And, I met so many people whom I already felt I knew online but had not yet met them face to face.  Well, I adore them in person.  All of them.  I can't wait to see them all again:

Gabrielle Blair of Design Mom
Stephanie Brubaker of StephModo
Jordan Ferney of Oh Happy Day
Jenny Komenda of Little Green Notebook
Liz Stanley of Say Yes to Hoboken
Sarah Bryden Brown of Blogstar
 
And, here are some women that I was introduced to there and was so grateful to meet.  They are truly all wonderful:


Erica Dublin of See Jane Fly
Flora Lels of Federated Media
Catherine Connors of Her Bad Mother 
Brooke White of The Girls With Glasses Show
Summer Bellassa of The Girls With Glasses Show
Christina Brian of Full House
Susan Petersen of Freshly Picked (see the handmade baby moccasins!) 
Melanie Blodgett of You Are My Fave
Margaret Mason of Mighty Girl 
Allison Faulkner Robertson of The Alison Show
Rachel Jones of Black Eiffel
Erin Loechner of Design for Mankind

See you all soon!

XO, 

Mara

20 January 2012

In Case You'd Like To Know...

In November Mara was invited to write a guest post for Blogstar's series - "My Life As a Blog".  Mara's been meeting so many new people at Alt Summit that ask her what her blog is all about and why she got started, we thought this would be a perfect way to share what drives us.


I’m on a mission, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

I always wanted to tap into my life’s “mission”.  I always envied people who knew what they wanted to do and gave their heart and soul to it every single day.

I guess during most of my last 12 years in New York, my main goal was SURVIVAL.  Surviving long New York workdays.  Surviving this expensive city & providing for myself.  And later trying to survive the dark pain of infertility, followed by a crumbling marriage.  But just “surviving” was no way to live.  At times I was hanging by a thread.

But about 5 years ago, the luckiest thing ever happened to me!  Someone pulled me out of the deep end and began teaching me a better way to live.   I began applying everything I was learning, and my life could not have taken a more complete turn.  IT WAS A MIRACLE.  I was so amazed that I had the power within me to change like that & to actually become a happier person.  I figured out then that there is NOTHING better in this life than knowing what you are made of.  Literally nothing.

I knew early on that this information was not just for me in my living room.  I knew I had to share it!  Ahh…I FINALLY HAD A MISSION!  Now I just needed an outlet.

I started by sharing all I knew with those around me, but that wasn’t enough.  I felt I could do more.

Along the way I met Danny,who had experienced many of my same trials, had learned the same truths, and was just as committed as I was to uplifting those around him!  The two of us got married, and together we are completely joined in our desire to help others.

It seemed like every time we were with friends, family, and even strangers, the conversations would always lead to things that matter the most: how can I love in a healthy way?  how can I face marriage, being single, dating, trials, divorce, infertility, etc?

The more people we helped, the more we wished that some of this stuff was recorded or written down.  The more emails we sent to friends, the more we wished that others could read those same words of hope.  But we didn’t know how to do it.  I would nudge Danny jokingly that we should write a book.  Ha!  But that seemed too far off.  I couldn’t wait for that!!   I was bursting inside for MONTHS, wanting to do something NOW to start helping people on a larger scale.

I started taking notes of some of the conversations I was having with others to see if writing could be a successful way for me to get my message out.  At the time, I was working at a hedge fund in Manhattan.  And everyday on the subway, or while sitting in my infertility clinic, or on my walk breaks across the street in Central Park, I would write my brains out, jotting down ideas that came to me, recording the messages that made the most impact in my life & the lives of others.  And with the collection of these notes came the idea: I should start a blog!  Did I have what it took?  I didn’t care!  I had to try.  What better way to reach family, friends, and strangers all over the WORLD!  I finally had my platform!

Writing this blog has been one of the most joyful things I’ve ever done.  I love it.  I can’t get enough of it.  I wish I didn’t have to sleep so that I could respond to more emails and write more posts!

I received many kind emails and comments during those first few weeks of being a blogger.  One reader going through a very difficult moment wrote the following:

“A few days ago, my husband said, ‘What changed in you?  You’re whole countenance has changed in the last week. What is it?’  So I showed him your blog and said, ‘That’s what’s changed. I’ve found someone who is teaching me how to handle my trials better.’”

Could there be any better words to hear?  I knew I was doing exactly what I should be doing.

I’m not writing this blog for me.  I’m writing it for you, whoever you are.  Because maybe you are “me” 5 years ago, and you need someone to show you a better way to live, just like someone showed me.

(Image via)

19 January 2012

Love Story: Lists of Adoration

Mara just called to say she had a wonderful opening night dinner at Alt Summit.  She is already meeting some absolutely wonderful people and is so excited about finding ways to share this message with even more delightful readers like YOU!

That means I'm sitting here alone in Brooklyn, eating one of Mara's forbidden foods...Pizza! (is there anything more cruel than going off gluten and dairy and being denied pizza??? I don't think so!)  Appropriately, tonight's post and pictures will be in honor of all the bachelor foods I used to make myself while typing away love letters to Mara before we even met.  In case you need to start this series from the beginning, click here.


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Pizza from Anthony's - just half a block away!

Dear Danny,

I'm IN LOVE.   I'm in love with a man I have never met.  How is this possible???

No matter what happens, I think we'll just look back and laugh at these first few weeks.  I've had enough giddiness in one week to last me for a very long time.  I am so very deeply happy right now.  I am just smiling.  And longing to know if this could be the beginning of an amazing journey.  We will see.

Oh Danny, how is it possible that I could feel I miss you? Yet I have never met you?  You have been SO very good to me.  And I appreciate every drop of you.  THANK YOU for being so kind, happy, humble.  And thanks for being so open with me & so willing to put yourself out there. 

I should be doing so much work right now.  But I simply cannot resist writing you.  :)

Let me just say that I love so very much about you:
  • that you honor your church callings and truly care about the people you serve.  I wouldn't have a thing to do with you if you didn't :)
  • that you are SO solid.  So unbelievably grounded...how did I find you????
  • your very positive outlook!  I simply love positive people.
  • your excitement for life and so many things (including me!!). 
  • your ambition! seriously love seeing that in you.  
  • your smarts
  • your meticulous and heart warming writing. :)
  • your logical /planner side...i seriously love and appreciate that.
  • your willingness to go the extra mile with important things (helping people, mentoring, teaching, etc. you are a SAINT)
  • your smile - and oh so handsome face.   I hope I am not intimidated of your good looks!!!  :)
  • your ability to rise above what is/could be one of the worst human experiences. [you SERIOUSLY kick some butt.  Holy moly, Danny!!!  We really rock, you know.  I felt super human doing what I did and I am sure you felt the same.  Of course we know it's not our strength!!!  We just know where to get it !! :) ]
  • your complete enthusiasm for your faith.
  • your willingness to show love to me and to take such a huge risk here!
  • your guts.  I can tell you have them. 
  • your desire for BIG and GREATER things for yourself and your family and your marriage.  I, too, want only the best!
  • your desire to do good for this world and your desire to have a work life that will allow for that.
  • your desire to travel.  And I can tell that you have such an open mind with all people.  I love that.  (many people are not this way)
  • your seriously funny comments and funny things you write.  I laugh so hard (or cry) with nearly every email.  I love it.
  • your desire for a family. 
  • your complete acceptance of me and appreciation of my goodness and strength.
Well..... i could keep going.  But I'll save some.

Know that I am crazy about you!!  You seriously have EVERY SINGLE QUALITY that I could ever dream of in man.  You have it all.  I appreciate and adore every bit of it. 

I am listening to Hard Headed Woman. Over and over and over. :) And every other love song makes me think of you right now.  Ohhhhhh..... so hard every time to say.... 

Good night!

Mara

18 January 2012

Nature & Its Lessons

Growing up in Utah I often went into the mountains.  It was a family thing...my dad is an eternal scout master. I can't think of a time when he was not working with the young men in the neighborhood as their scout leader, Sunday school teacher, young men adviser, and now Bishop. I don't think he's really held any other church calling or responsibility in all my life.  And it's a good thing...he loves the outdoors, and loves to share that passion with others.

All that time spent in nature has made it so nature itself feels like home...no matter where I am.  The beauty of nature experienced anywhere in the world brings the same familiar feelings of my youth and my family.

As a child, I remember being distinctly aware that connection to nature somehow made me different.  My ability to appreciate nature made me different than those that did not yet know or recognize it's beauty.   I was convinced it made me calmer, gave me a sense of peace and security, filled me with awe and wonder.  I often felt sorry for those who grew up in the city with no idea of what a connection with nature feels like.  I guess now I feel a little sorry for myself for having so few opportunities to reconnect here in NYC (this explains why I told Mara that I felt like we were in heaven when we went here).

Anyway, I was reading a book the other day that got me thinking about the hidden power and message of nature.  The book recounted the experience of Brother Lawrence in 17th century France (page 486-91) and the beginning of his spiritual awakening (you can read more of his truly remarkable insights in this collection of his letters).   In the dead of winter, returning from years of war where he served as a soldier, he comes upon a barren tree, stripped of leaves, flower and fruit.  In a "flash of God" he realized that what only appeared dead was full of the presence of patient life, life that was just waiting for the abundance of spring. This moment proved to be a metaphor for the rest of his life.

We often speak of the four seasons as representing life in it's stages...spring and it's new birth, summer and it's bright youth, fall and adulthood, winter and inevitable death, and then new life or resurrection at the returning spring.  And though there is beauty in this big picture understanding and noting that "all things bear record of God"...the thought occurred to me today that nature not only teaches us of the grand symbols of birth, life, old age and death...but also presents a picture of the day to day.   I love the imagery of a tree that appears dead due to winter, but in reality is teaming with life that is patiently awaiting the warmth of spring, at which time it will seemingly burst forth all at once.  The tree does not dread the winter time, it is not afraid of the cold and barren times of it's life...it waits patiently, full of inner life, until it can burst forth in due time, stronger and more vibrant than it was the year before.

Hopefully, that is the story of us all as we pass through the trials and winters of our lives.

With Love,
Danny

(image by Nick Boyer)

17 January 2012

No More Alt Design Summit Butterflies, OK? :)

This is my first year going to Alt Design Summit, of course.  [Alt Design Summit is one of the most sought after conferences for bloggers, taking place in Salt Lake City.]  Last year I never would have even dreamed that I'd be a blogger someday.  I really didn't see it coming.  I never thought it would be in my future.  And even now, as much as I love what I'm doing, I barely even feel like a blogger.  Afterall, I just started this gig not even 4 months ago.  But the good news is....I love it.  And I am so excited to attend this great conference and mingle with the best...and learn from them...and think about what I can do to be even better at this new endeavor.

In the last few weeks/months, one thing I've sensed in tweets and on blog posts from other attendees is ANXIETY & BUTTERFLIES.  It seems everyone is panicked about what to wear, what to present, how to represent themselves in the best way, etc.  And I'll admit, the thoughts have crossed my mind, too, as I have a seedling little blog and all.  So I thought I'd just say a couple of things to anyone going....I am such a dork, I know.....but here are a few things that might be helpful to us all (myself included.)   :)

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1.  BE PROUD.  Go there feeling PROUD of what you're doing, no matter the level you're at!!  You're trying to do something worthwhile whether it is for a hobby, a career, a creative outlet, a feeling of community.  THAT'S JUST AWESOME.  So do not for a moment go there feeling inadequate!    Let's all go there and just feel good about what we are trying to do & feel good about our desire to improve.  :) 

2.  WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER.  Each one of us is just trying to make a positive difference in some way.  It will be great to all be there together cause we're all working on the exact same goal.   Everyone there will be our friend in that way.  We're all in the same boat.  Some people have just been in that boat longer.

3.  NO NEED TO COMPARE.  Every single person has something unique to offer!  I wouldn't dream of having a blog like anyone else's as it just never could be.  We can only share what we have. 

4.  THINK OF OTHERS INSTEAD OF OURSELVES.  Instead of thinking of  - - What will *I* say when I meet people?  How will *I* be able to survive this presentation?  Let's think about how we can make others comfortable & help them.  Let's think about how we can share friendship & kindness or generosity with others & take the focus off of ourselves.  We'll have a much greater experience if we do.
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And yes, of course the place will be crawling in the best fashion ever.  Can you imagine?  I can't wait to see all the amazing outfits.  I'll try to take as many photos as I can to share with you....so that we all can see the latest and greatest style ideas.

Here are a few of the outfits I am considering wearing.  I am still not sure which items will make the cut. There is a great stylist at J.Crew (Marina Dobreva) who told me I am so feminine that I need to "borrow from the boys" to be a little more edgy.  Yes, good idea.  So, there may be a man's sweater and a bow tie appearing.  I still need to google "How on earth do I tie a bow tie???"  And if I can figure it out, I'll be sporting one at the conference.  And Danny may need to guard his wardrobe as already I'm checking it out for things I can borrow.  :)  And now it's REALLY time for me to pack....:)


 
  
  


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