30 April 2012

Our 20 x 24 Polaroid Portrait


Here it is....our photo from the legendary 20x24 Polaroid camera.  We felt so fortunate to get our portrait taken.  And I must say it took our breath away when we saw it seconds after it was taken - simply because the detail is unreal.  I just love looking at Danny's kind expression.  Every time I look at it, I think, "That's Danny" and I am reminded of how I felt the first time I saw him - he just exuded so much kindness and warmth.  That camera just captures so much.

We'll be getting this framed for our anniversary, which is right around the corner.  And I guess one day our kids will have the option of schlepping around a big poster size photo of their parents.  :)

Here's the camera and the studio managers, who happen to be associates of mine from one of my past jobs....

Photo by Evan Kafka
This is the very same camera used by Andy Warhol, Lucas Samaras, David Levinthal, Chuck Close, etc.  (Crazy!)  It was built by Polaroid in the 70s and then when they closed in 2008, a small group rescued the camera and the large format film stock and opened 20×24 Studio in New York.

Currently the camera is also being used to photograph celebs and filmmakers who come to the New York Film Society at Lincoln Center.  [While our photograph was drying, we just may have been able  to watch the next photo shoot....which happened to be with Alec Baldwin.] 

Have a great day, everyone!

Mara 

Follow @ablogaboutlove on Twitter
Take our 1 hour on-line class about facing trials this Thursday, May 3 @ 8 pm

27 April 2012

Love Announcements


-I keep thinking of summer!  Danny & I are going to Brazil and I'm oh so excited.  I'm finally going to get on the all-natural sunscreen band wagon.

-The last couple of days, about 20 of us friends here in Brooklyn got our hair cut by a hairdresser who flew out from Utah to do our hair!  We all so appreciate Utah hair prices  :)  :)

-Speaking of hair, I wish I had enough guts to get this haircut.

-Evernote is my favorite way to categorize notes, ideas, plans.  Danny hooked me up and I'm obsessed.  It's the hub of ABAL.

-We are really trying to remove as much refined sugar from our diets as possible.  One of our favorite treats are these raw vegan cookie dough balls.  Though I want to experiment with using dates as the sweetener instead of agave.

-Want to rev up your weekend?  Go buy a brightly patterned panty.  haha.  I don't even like the word panty but I'm telling you, for $10 it's fun to run errands all day while thinking about what you and  your husband could do later.  It's all in the thinking & the anticipation :)
________________________________________________________________________

AND, a few direct quotes from participants of our last "Class About Love" (most of these came from the live chat box during the class)................



"This class blew it all away.  Seriously, exceeded all expectations and I learned so so much.  I have a bunch of notes that my husband and I will discuss soon.  I LOVED when you went into step-by-step depth of what to do in that moment to seek after virtues, and also listed specific virtues.  Exactly what I need to learn right now.  So practical and also inspired.  Love what you and Danny are doing so much.  Amen and amen. :)

"Thank you so much for taking the time to have your class tonight.  You have so much to teach, and I am so grateful for you having made teaching a priority.  I am, for sure, a loyal member of your ever-growing cult following!! :)" 

"You are both so good at expressing yourself!  So helpful, even for someone married for 41 years!"

"I got so much out of this - THANK YOU!!"

"I'm looking forward to all the classes--I just signed up for the whole series. Thanks again! :)"

"These classes came right when I needed them most.  And I want to tell you that reading your blog makes me feel happy and hopeful.  So, I'll see you next time. :)"

"Thank you so much for the class!  I will be taking as many of the others that I am available for!  thx again xoxo"

"Thank you so much - so inspiring and wonderful!!  Can't wait for future classes!"

"Thank you for such a wonderful class.  You both are so amazing and inspiring... from a distance, thank you for bringing out the best in all of us."

"Wow... that was so very powerful."

"Thank you.  thank you.  thank you."

"Thank you so much!  That was so moving.  I took so many notes."

"Thank you so much!  What you said about cultivating virtues really hit home with me and now I know what I need to do.  Thank you so much!  Choosing happiness always seemed like a goal I didn't know how to reach." 

"Thanks for answering my question. You were really helpful and the class was amazing.  Thank you!"

"It was incredible.  Thank you Danny and Mara for sharing your life for our benefit."
"I'm looking forward to all the classes--I just signed up for the whole series. Thanks again! :)"

"Thank you! That was very helpful."

"Thank you, this was really great, and gave me practical steps to move forward."

"Great class! You guys are amazing :). Thank you!"

"So grateful for this past hour.  The value of what I have learned today exceeds everything that I have learned in the past few weeks.  Thank you for helping me to learn such life-changing things so quickly!"

"This was so fantastic.. Thank you SO much!"

"This was really valuable, and I hope to join for more classes."

"Thank you!!!  This was great!"

"You guys are amazing!"

"I love the weekend-long conference idea! I would be in.. And I'd bring along others as well :)"

"You are a blessing to us all!"

"Wonderful!! Thanks to you both- I feel a little more peace already!"

"You guys rock. Thank you!"

"Thank you for your insights tonight!"

"Thank you so much for this."

"Thank you so much!  What an amazing hour."

"Thank you for a-ha moments!  off to practice virtues!"

"Thank you so much.  Your answer really spoke to us."

"You guys are darling.  Thanks so much for letting us spend your night with you!"

"Great class, thank you.  I loved the quotes."

"I think your guy's advice was spot on for the myriad of situations the question could have applied to."

"If only we could all sign up for a weekend-long conference with you two!  If not that, you two would make for excellent commencement speakers"

Have a fantastic weekend, everyone!

Love,

Mara


Our next 'Class About Love':  Learn How to Face Your Trials.  Thurs., May 3 @ 8 PM Eastern Time
(I can't wait for this class.  We'll share lots of tips that really, really work for us every single day.)
 
Follow @ablogaboutlove on Twitter

26 April 2012

Love Story: Good Ol' Kip & LaFonda



 Mara,

When you write me an email like the one you just did, I find myself trying to think of new words to describe you and how spiritually/emotionally/miraculously beautiful you are to me.  I haven't thought up any good ones yet, but I'm thinking I need to start to read more poetry to become better versed in how to describe a woman like yourself.  I am just laughing reading your email, because it just fills me with happiness and joy, I can't help but let out a giggle here and a chuckle there.  And I just shake my head and think "this cannot be happening...how can I be this blessed!?!!"  I mean, I know I went through some hard times, but could I have possibly deserved this?  I mean this is just TOO GREAT!  You're TOO GREAT.  Seriously, just go back and read the email you just wrote me and tell me how I'm not supposed to feel humbled to my knees.  I don't even know anyone who gets to feel this way, so why me?  Well, if there is one thing I have come to know, it is that God is much more merciful than we often give him credit for.  And I will receive this mercy and kindness with the greatest of gratitude.  Mara, I really do thank God everyday for you. 

Oh, and what you said about peace...I know exactly how you feel.  I'm actually less nervous each day (less nervous but more excited!!!).  The anxiety I felt has just been replaced with warmth and confidence.  Yes, all will be well...in fact, I think I speak for both of us when I say that at last, all is finally well, everything is coming together for the ultimate good.  I could not possibly feel happier (and yet something tells me it's only going to get better, so GET USED TO IT).

Aahhhhh!  Your words give me life!  You are the very definition of amazing.  I love that I am your sweetheart!  Mara, nothing will give me greater pleasure than loving you!  I mean it.  Loving you, not to mention being loved by you, is the most satisfying feeling I've known...it is like it is life itself pounding through my veins.  But goodness, to be loved by you, the way you love me for all the right reasons, absolutely melts me.  I am determined to be a better man, I am confident you will bring out the very best in me.  So thank you!

hahaha...oh man - I just got an email from my sister....apparently she's talked to my mom.  She just said "Heard you have a Kip & LaFonda relationship going on!!!  Best of luck to you this weekend!"  Hopefully you don't need me to explain the Napoleon Dynamite reference...it's pretty funny.  I love her. 

So anyway, the news is out...I'm a happy man!  And I'm in LOVE!  And apparently my family is happy too :)  Isn't this great, and aren't our families just awesome! 

And oh yeah...one more thing.  In case you feel like dressing it up just a little more, I did happen to buy one killer tie that would look great with my new jeans :)  Otherwise, I'm fine going casual...it's just fun to have a reason to get a little dressed up every now and then. 

Well, you'll probably be working pretty late tonight.  Sweet love will be sent your way to keep you company, I promise!  Okay, need to give me cheeks a rest from smiling, they're starting to hurt.  I love you, I'd say more than you can know, but I have a feeling you know exactly what I'm talking about!

Danny


Danny

Oh yes, the shaking of the head....and the laughter...just from sheer disbelief.   I do the same every time.   And I usually make some sort of sound like ahhhhhh..... HOW can this be?!??!?

I should be working and preparing for your arrival (which is TOMORROW!), but I am telling you I just feel so calm and peaceful (and cozy on this chilly autumn night) that I am taking a bubble bath.  Is that the worst thing to tell a guy other than your husband?  Maybe so!  (Sorry!)  Well, I do love taking bubble baths and someday I'll beg you to take them with me.  Hahaha.  Just warning you now.  

Btw, I LOVE what a risk taker you are!!!!!  I love it that you're so willing to just put your heart on the line for this.  And that you even have the guts to tell your family about our unbelievable few weeks.  I must say, won't your parents be soooooo happy to see you married and in love?   Mine will be elated. They just want the best for me.  They have given me a lot of strength and comfort and have boosted my faith that good things are ahead.

And yes!  Wear the tie Sat. PM.  Can't wait to see it.  And I can't wait to be dressed up by your side.

Oh my goodness.  I don't know if I can pull this off tomorrow before you arrive, but I have been longing to go to the temple (I just loove the temple btw.  Didn't always, actually.  But I do now!!)  I just feel so much gratitude and peace right now and it seems that the temple would be a nice place to be.

Danny, it's crazy to think how historical this weekend could be.  There is potential for this to be the end of life as we know it and the beginning of a shared journey.  How I hope that is the case.
 
Saying goodbye for now.  You are in my heart, as always.

Longing for you, as usual.

With so much love,

Mara


______________________________________________________________

How about you guys?  Any movies come to mind that remind you of your courtship?  "You've Got Mail", of course, fits us perfectly.  We watched it together in those early weeks after meeting.  :)


Our next 'Class About Love':  Learn How to Face Your Trials.  Thurs., May 3 @ 8 PM Eastern Time

Follow @ablogaboutlove on Twitter
 

25 April 2012

Ladies, Let's Be Better :)


I hope this won't send any bad vibes by me pointing this out so bluntly, but I think some of us women have a problem.  At least a lot of us do.  I've just seen way, way too many of us do stupid things & make bad decisions when it comes to relationships.  And I did, too.  (Oh my.)  And mostly, it's because we are often times SO nice and SO loving and forgiving and it can often work against us when that is not coupled with confidence and strength and a clear vision of the kind of woman we want to be and the kind of man that we want to be with.

SOOOO...we end up putting up with men who aren't marriage-quality or that don't even treat us well.  We fear that we'll never meet anyone else.  And we end up thinking less of ourselves and thinking we should just stick it out or that things are still good (despite horrible behaviors such as A, B, C...Z).  And even though we are in situations that seem so ridiculous to any outsider, in the moment....we can be BLIND!  So let's change that ! :)

Here are a few ideas:
  • If you are dating a man who is abusive to you verbally or physically, END THE RELATIONSHIP and for heaven's sake, do not still "desire" his love or his approval.  PLEASE. Believe that you deserve more.  
  •   If a man tells you he just isn't ready for marriage or a relationship or just isn't ready to commit.......SAY THANK YOU VERY MUCH, AND GOOD BYE!!!   I have seen WAY too many women stick it out, hoping that he just needs more time, making the whole thing even more difficult on him, making him second guess his decisions, etc.  All along, the woman's self worth is going through the shredder and she feels more and more desperate and needy to be loved by this man who is trying to tell her the answer is "no".  I always say that NEWBORNS need to be baby-sat.  Not 30 or 40 year-old men.  Let them figure out their lives on their own time at their own pace, without you standing by and waiting/hovering/pressuring.  If you have to convince someone or talk them into it, deep down you'll always wonder.  I say end the relationship and find a man whose timing matches yours.  
  • If a man you are dating has cheated on you or is even dishonest with you about where he is, who he has been with, etc..........cancel any and all plans to stay in that relationship & feel grateful that this leaked out now instead of after marriage.  I have seen WAY too many women continue to date men who have cheated on them and they actually even still long for him to give them love and attention.  BE BETTER THAN THAT.  DO NOT DESIRE DISHONORABLE MEN.  

Ladies, BE STRONG and know that you can & will meet someone better if you take the actions necessary.  I am rooting for you!!!  Just remove yourself from bad situations and focus on being a better, stronger, happier person and soon enough you'll be aligned with other people who share your ideals.  I don't think we always realize the amount of control we have over the kind of men that we attract.

Has anyone been stuck in a situation like this?   I think it happens to all of us at some point in our lives.  How did you know to get out?

Our First Ever On-Line Class!


We did it.  We hosted our first ever on-line class!

I'll admit, I had to fight away those "what is going to happen?" demons.

And the "what if I totally screw up?" demons.

But over and over, I applied everything we talk about on the blog.

It may sound insignificant, but we dismissed fear, doubt & worry - and instead embraced the virtues of hope, love, charity.

It worked.  Oh man, it always, always does.

A *HUGE* thank you to all of you who joined us.  You gave us such positive energy during the class and we loved interacting with you in this new way. 

Our next class will be next week on Thursday, May 3 and the topic is on learning to overcome your Trials.  This is one of my favorite topics ever (yep!  I'm a total dork, I know.)  It's all about the specific stuff that helped me to face my divorce and ongoing infertility (but the same principles can be applied to any trial).  We'll talk about how to embrace your trials and see that they are a gift to all of us....you might actually learn to be grateful for your trials.  We hope to help you get there.   

With Love,

Mara & Danny

(image unknown)

Follow @ablogaboutlove on Twitter

24 April 2012

Heaven is Here


I recently read "Heaven is Here" by Stephanie Nielsen of the Nie Nie Dialogues.

Dang.  That book will do a number on you.

It seems everyone by now knows of Stephanie Nielsen, but in case you don't, she is a Mormon woman & mother of four from Utah who survived a plane crash, but was burned on 80% of her body.

I didn't know of Stephanie until her plane crash story surfaced on many blogs.  It turns out her plane went down in August of 2008.  That was the exact month (nearly the exact week) that my first husband left the country on a trip and then never returned.  At that time, my husband's exit was already becoming a sanctifying experience for me.  By then I had already become at peace with my infertility as well as the years of pain I experienced in my first marriage.  And so I was just applying all that I had learned to my upcoming divorce, too.  And it was working.  Even as I was alone in New York, being left to pay the mortgage & bills, working my butt of at my job by day and packing my husband's stuff by night, feeling further away than ever from becoming a mother, & not knowing at all what my future held, I was still at peace & feeling more fullness, consciousness, and joy than I had ever felt in my life.  I felt like I was truly living.

And, so, when I started reading Stephanie's words of deliverance & peace as she went through her healing process, I felt amazed and excited that the principles that were working in my life were working in hers, too - yes, even in such a horrible human experience as a plane crash and disfigurement.  Our trials and emotions could not have been more different, but the source of our deliverance and peace was the same.  And it is available to every single person in every single circumstance.

Now, I'll warn you - a lot of this book is not necessarily an uplifting read (how could it be?)  It's heavy.  I just couldn't believe the story as it unfolded.  She shared the raw reality of going through that near death experience (and the aftermath) and of course that included many of her darkest times.  I often felt kind of awful after reading it.  BUT, I kept coming back for more.  Because I knew that things got better for her.  While her doctors helped her to survive physically, her faith and family helped her to survive spiritually & emotionally.  And so I was rooting along as I read - "It will get better!  It will get better!"  I'm glad she shared the dark times, because it just gives power to what her message is today........That life is beautiful - - even though really horrible things happen to us.  That faith and hope and love for this life can trump any trial we could ever face and that "it's a beautiful heart, not a perfect body, that leads to a beautiful life."

Have you guys read the book?  What did you think?

-Mara

P.S.  April 24th has arrived.  Tonight at 8:00 pm Eastern Time (5:00 pm PT) we will host our very first ever (!) on-line class called "Choosing Happiness.  The Basics.  101."  And I guess this means I need to shower and tidy up my work space.  :)  Cause you'll get to really see us and hear from us.  You guys, it's going to be so good.  I can say that because Danny happens to be a really, really great teacher and will cover for me if I choke while looking at the computer camera instead of your beautiful faces.  :)  We wish you could all be in our living room for this, but doing it this way will be the next best thing.  We hope that it will be uplifting, moving and inspiring to all of you.  (Note: You need to sign up and register in advance and you can do so here.  See you tonight!)



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23 April 2012

Dinner Time

When I worked in Manhattan, I couldn't get home fast enough to spend my evening with Danny.  We ate dinner together every single night.  We don't have a table in our Brooklyn apartment, but we do have some bar stools and a counter.  And that has been the place of many great conversations, some lovely prayers as husband and wife, and lots of drooling over my husband's cooking (the line he hears all the time is "every meal you make for me is the best meal of my life."  And it really feels true.  Every bite is that good.)

But lately, since we both work from home, the hours just fly by.  We've been quite busy and find ourselves not setting aside as much time to "dine" together like we used to as we're often planning, emailing & working at night.  And so, I loved getting this short little reminder from The Marriage Nurse..... :)

What is dinner time like at your house?  Do you eat as a family, as a couple, here & there, at the table, in front of the T.V./Computer?  I'd love to hear!

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20 April 2012

Love Story: Calling Each Other Sweetheart


(This is my response to Danny's last love note....)

DANNY!!!!!!

Oh my gosh.

I am just beaming over here and so happy....

I missed you like crazy tonight.  Strange that I could miss you and I've never met you.  But I do.  A friend stopped by to say hello so I couldn't email you.  And the whole time I could barely concentrate on the conversation cause I just wanted to get to this computer... haha.

AND, this is just a fun coincidence, but earlier tonight I also spoke to my parents, too!!!  They are absolutely giddy over this.  Yes, they know I'm in love with you.  And they are so grateful that they got to see me recently and see (in person) how happy I have been.  They are so excited for us to meet.   I think their hearts are pounding, too.  They are just so happy to see me happy, too, after all I've been through.

You know, something so beautiful is happening to me.  I am normally full of so many butterflies that I think I might just die before I even get the chance to say hello to you!  But at this moment, I just feel sooooo much peace.  I don't have one ounce of worry about the outcome.  Not at all.  I just feel like all will be well!  And I just feel honored that I get to meet someone that has meant SO much to me, in such a short time.  I could not feel more more happy, more content, more grateful and more at peace.  This entire experience has been such a gift.  I actually just said a quick prayer of thanks... for this is truly a miracle to be free of all worry. 

And yes, I cannot believe that you have become my sweetheart in only 3 wks!  (yes, I want to call you sweetheart!!!)  What a miracle.  This is the kind of love that people dream about and write love stories and poems about.  hahha.  Yet I think many never feel this.  You know, I always dreamed of being with a good, good man.  So just even knowing you has been a dream come true.  These 3 wks have changed my life...you truly are someone that I would just be so incredibly proud & & honored & happy to be with!!!!!!

Danny, I love you beyond what I can even express.  I love you for all that you are.  I love you for kicking some butt this last year and being such an amazing man despite all that you have been faced with.  I love you for the forgiveness that you have for your ex-wife.  I love you for all that you want for your life!  I love you for knowing who you are and for knowing how to be truly happy (the way God provides for us to be, if we choose to be), I love you for being so giving of yourself and for accepting me and recognizing all the good in me and loving me for so many good reasons.  (I find that so many people look for all the wrong things to make them happy!!  Looks, money, success.  I love it that we love each other for who we are and not all of those things. )

In a way, meeting you will not at all feel like the first time.  Even though it's you that is coming, it feels as though I have family coming to town or something...because you already are such a dear loved one to me.  I feel so close to you and feel so much warmth and love for you and from you that it will feel so comfortable and cozy to have you here.  AND, it's chilly in NY today!!  I wonder what the weather will be like this weekend.  All day I've been thinking how much I want to just cuddle and get warm with you.  :)

I simply cannot believe that tomorrow is Thursday.  And then it will be Friday...and then I will meet you.  This is all too exciting.

I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!  I am thankful every single moment that you have been in my life.

I could just have a prayer in my heart all day because of the gratitude I feel.

Sending you so much love....  
 
Good bye, sweetheart, for now!!!

M

_______________________________________________________________________

Dear Readers, in my early twenties, before I had self-worth...I remember being with boyfriends that I knew were not meant for me.  I never felt fully comfortable deep in my soul.  I really believe that the deepest parts of us know if we should be with someone or not!!!  Please, do not ignore those feelings.

For me, here's one way that made it harder and harder to ignore those feelings..... telling my parents or friends about who I was dating.  It was like I could get away with being in denial myself, but I couldn't fake it so well with them.

TIP:  If you feel uneasy or embarrassed in your gut while talking about your relationship or boyfriend/girlfriend to your friends or family or people who care about you - - consider this a huge red flag. 

Thankfully, that uncomfortable feeling in my gut helped me to get out of some situations that I know ultimately would not have been good for me.

How about you?  Do you (did you) notice yourself ever feeling uncomfortable telling other people about a relationship?  Or the opposite?

Lots of love to you all for the weekend.
We're getting very excited about our very first ever on-line class on Tuesday!

xo,

Mara


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19 April 2012

Hen & Chicks & Baby Chikoo

My dear friend from Brooklyn found out she was pregnant while in India, visiting her father.  He suggested it was best to plant a tree to signify roots, growth, and birth.  They planted a chikoo tree for baby chikoo.  Isn't that the sweetest idea?  I think it would also be great for anyone moving to a new home or a new city, too.  Or maybe someone getting married or starting school.  Plant something.  Grow some roots.

Tomorrow I'll be planting my Hen & Chicks Succulents in my window boxes, for good things to come.  The gardener at the NY Botanical Gardens said they are hearty & they multiply.  :)


Have you ever planted something for a special reason?



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18 April 2012

Register Now for "A Class About Love"

It's official!

Registration is here for "A Class About Love"!
A Class About Love
(THX so much for all the class title ideas, by the way.  We loved reading them in the survey.  "A Class About Love" seemed to be a winner  :)

Please go to this LINK (which will also now be permanently accessed on our sidebar) to see the schedule and register for our classes on our official class "Channel".  Class size is limited, FYI.

We are starting out with a SIX-WEEK SERIES of live classes.  You will be able to see us, but unfortunately we will not be able to see you...though you can send in questions by chat (anonymous, if you wish) as the class goes along as we'll have Q&A at the end.

It is our hope that you will be able to take all of these or as many of these classes as you can & dedicate some time to nourishing yourself and getting inspired to live a better life.  The first (6) classes are foundational - they will be geared towards everyone, no matter what stage of life you are in.  They are topics that we feel are necessary to incorporating into your life as you seek greater happiness & a life motivated by love.

Tues., April 24, 8:00 pm ET - How to Choose Happiness.  The Basics.  101.
Thursday, May 3, 8:00 pm ET - Trials & Tribulations.  They happen.  How do we face them?
Wednesday, May 9, 8:00 pm ET - How to Build & Enhance Self-Worth
Tuesday, May 15, 8:00 pm ET - How to Develop the Language of Love
Wednesday, May 23, 8:00 pm ET - How to Create a Better/Happier Marriage or Relationship
Thursday, May 31, 8:00 pm - How to Forgive, Truly 

We hope you can see this as a journey worth taking.  When I first called to make an appointment with the woman who eventually became my spiritual guru, she asked me by phone if I would be willing to change, willing to go on a journey, and willing to make an effort to really, once & for all, improve my life.  It is something each person needs to be willing to do if a class is to make a difference.  I was desperate.  I was willing to try anything.  I said yes, and the result was a transformation.  I wouldn't be here today without that willingness.

We now hope to help guide you along that same path to discovering who you really are.  Cause I'll admit, it's pretty sweet living a life full of peace, happiness & joy, regardless of what we face.  We want to help you to get there.  And ultimately, I think as each person learns to do this, we can all, together, change the world.  We can share what we know with others, we can teach our children the best way to live, we can be husbands & wives & individuals with greater love, we can share our light with all.

So many of you have helped spread the word about our blog through word of mouth, social media & blogs.  We can't thank you enough - especially as we take this effort to a new level.  It's exciting and scary all at once.  But we feel inspired to do this.  So we're taking a leap of faith.  Off we go.

With lots of love,

Mara & Danny




Follow @ablogaboutlove on Twitter

Love Story: Telling Family that We are in Love


(The collection of our 'Love Story' emails are published here on this blog in all their unscripted glory. These are letters between two people who had never met, two people who had also each faced a divorce in the year prior.  If you are new to this series and want to read more, click here for the very first exchange.)


Danny -

I could not stop smiling if someone offered me a million dollars.  
The smiles just continue & continue….

DO NOT CALL ME !!!  :)
...but my number is xxx-xxx-xxxx.

It just feels strange that you don't have it.
I guess I can't get Friday out of my mind.  Plus you'll likely need my number then to text me.  So I'm just thinking way, way, way far in advance.  :)

______________________________________________________________________________

Mara -

My goodness, I am in heaven.  Yes, the laughing and smiles are uncontrollable, and did I just put a few of your pics on my iPhone an hour ago???  Maybe!  I needed to put a picture in to match your phone number, and a few others just decided to come along for the ride. 

Good night to you dear Mara....I don't even know if I'll be able to sleep.  My heart is POUNDING way too much. 

Can't wait to wake up tomorrow, one day closer to meeting you. :)  Though I will treasure these days and the hope they brought with them.


Thank you for everything that you are doing so that we can be together this weekend and just soak it all in.  I can't wait! 

Dreaming of you.

Much Love (and many scattered and delightful thoughts as you can tell above),
Danny


Dear Mara,

So, last night I started a small little project out of silly curiosity...how many pages would our 200+ emails take up if I just stacked them end to end in a word doc....at Times New Roman font size 10?  NINETY EIGHT PAGES.  How bout that!!!  I guess we have spent some considerable time writing each other. 

Oh, and I started re-reading some of my favorites (but honestly, which one isn't), and I am just blown away.  Mara, if these aren't some of the most important and beautiful words ever written and read between two "strangers", well....I'd be shocked!  I truly treasure what has happened here, and the way in which it has happened.  This is really quite wonderful, and I am ooohhh so excited to finally meet you, face to face.  I think about it all the time! 

Hope you're having a good day and that you're getting plenty of stuff done.  I know I'm trying (in between getting carried away in thoughts of you).

My best to you for all the happiness you bring me!

Adoringly,
Danny

______________________________________________________________________________


Danny,
98 pages????  Holy moly.  You are just so cute to even figure that out.  I love it.  I re-read our very first emails recently and just smiled.  I could tell from day 1 that we were on the same page.  You have just felt so good to me from the beginning.

I'm on the train.  My stop is near.  I'll take with me all your adoring words and love.  You make me melt sooooo much.  Danny, thank you for loving me.   It just means the world!!!!

I can't wait to see all of you.

With so much love,

M


Mara, I love you!

I just got done with an hour long conversation with my mom.  Until now I'd kind of been holding out on them.  I told them about you, I told them I thought you were great, that something could happen, etc....but I was very cryptic because part of me felt so stupid trying to explain this miracle that had happened between us by email.  Not even that really, it's not that it's over email....it's that I love you AS MUCH AS I DO in just a few weeks of email.  So anyway, I hadn't quite unloaded on my mom yet, hadn't found the right time to say "Mom, not only am I doing just fine, but life is actually amazing, and I'm in love with a girl that I haven't even met, and I've told her I'd marry her RIGHT NOW if I could.  She is everything, everything you would ever want for me, I feel closer to God now than any time before, and I couldn't be happier." 

But, I just did that, and I am simply beaming...it makes you all the more real to talk about you so freely to my mom.  She's just laughing and excited and amazed and grateful, I think mainly because she knows I couldn't be happier.  So, the secrets out...my family now knows that I'm in love.

So Mara, I love you!

Yours,
Danny




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17 April 2012

"How To Overcome Your Problems" by a Teenager with Cystic Fibrosis



I have had the honor & privilege of recently emailing and talking with the woman who sparked within me everything that I now write about on this blog.  I love the way she speaks about things.  She talked of the potential of every single woman to find the treasure in her suffering; to give birth to who she really is.  She reminisced that the work we did together resulted in me becoming who I really was - and that I just needed to peel away all that other stuff that I was holding in the way.  She said that there is nothing infertile about me, that I am more of a mother now than I would have been, even if I had ten kids.  What a wonderful woman she is.  So thankful that my life crossed paths with her.  So thankful each & every time that I can soak up some of her wisdom.

She recently sent me this video of a young girl who is just rocking her trial of cystic fibrosis, and just rocking life in general.   I just had to share this with you...... it is so, so good.   You will be amazed.

-Mara

P.S.  A few Love Announcements today that I can't keep from you any longer...


-Have you seen the exhilarating videos about the Holi Festival of Colors (a Hindu event that welcomes spring)?  For anyone who loves color AND love, take a look.  As you can imagine, I am a complete sucker for both.  (Here is my favorite video I've seen so far.  I want to keep watching it over & over. And here are a few more from around the world.)

-I never would have imagined that kitchen knives could create something so beautiful.

-I'm loving these cube aeriums containing small plants, a lovely version of a terrarium and an easy way to bring a little nature into your home.

-My friend had on these sandals and they were just so bright & cute!  I'm loving these, too: 1, 2, 3

-I love cross-stitch & would love some hanging on my walls.  It takes me back to summer projects with my 4 sisters.  So naturally, I'm loving this cross-stitch jewelry, too.  One day I'll sit around and leisurely do something crafty.  Ha.  In the meantime.....

-Registration for "A CLASS ABOUT LOVE" will be up very soon!  :)  :)  We are just working out the fine details.  In the meantime, mark your calendars for our series of (6) classes.  We hope that you will join us:

Tues., April 24, 8:00 pm ET - How to Choose Happiness.  The Basics.  101.
Thursday, May 3, 8:00 pm ET - Trials & Tribulations.  They happen.  How do we face them?
Wednesday, May 9, 8:00 pm ET - How to Build & Enhance Self-Worth
Tuesday, May 15, 8:00 pm ET - How to Develop the Language of Love
Wednesday, May 23, 8:00 pm ET - How to Create a Better/Happier Marriage or Relationship
Thursday, May 31, 8:00 pm - How to Forgive, Truly



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16 April 2012

Our Personal Hero: Clayton Christensen

Hope you all had a fantastic weekend!

We started our Saturday by seeing the 6:00 am sunrise on Saturday from the Verazzano Bridge.  We were traveling by bus to Albany for a youth conference for 16-18 year old kids from the entire New England area.  About 800 people were there, 30 of which were our dear kids from Brooklyn.  The experience we had there was unforgettable.  We were able to listen to a keynote talk given by one of our personal heroes & mentors, Clayton Christiansen, one of the kindest, most insightful and accomplished individuals we've ever known.  (The commencement address he gave at Harvard Business School can give you an idea of what this man is like.)  Danny had the privilege of working with him closely in Boston on some church & community endeavors and Clayton later played a sweet part in our Love Story as he was one of the first people to know that Danny & I were dating.  :) :)  He was so very happy for us then & later attended our wedding.  It was purely delightful, inspiring, and even life changing to be around him again and to hear him speak, especially since he recently had a stroke and has had to retrain himself to speak.  As we listened to Clayton speak about dedicating your life to a greater good, I just practically sobbed.  This man has done that so fully & completely despite a million opportunities to do otherwise, including worldwide work demands, cancer, heart attacks, and a stroke.  He truly is an example of everything that I would aspire to be. 

Do you have any heroes?  I'd love to hear who!  If you don't have one, I highly recommend choosing one!  :)  It's truly amazing what influence another person can have on your life....


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The Marriage Nurse

Today we met the most wonderful woman.

She is a nurse and came to our home for a blood test related to insurance.

She was telling us about her wonderful husband, who was waiting for her downstairs in the car and who accompanied her to her appointments as he wanted her to be safe while going into strangers' homes.

She started talking to us about marriage......and we were just smiling from ear to ear.  This woman had some of the most sound advice I've heard and she spoke of it so passionately.  Danny & I just smiled at each other and later told her what we've been up to on this blog.  :)

She just kept going on & on with more and more advice and I kept thinking - - - holy crap, I wish I had this recorded.  This is too good.  And so, I asked her if she would mind if we shared some of this with you.  She was absolutely delighted.  She didn't stop talking so I could barely get the recorder going, but here is one little clip we captured.  It's so good.

Presenting......The Marriage Nurse: 



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13 April 2012

The Human Experience

Have you guys seen the documentary, The Human Experience?

If you haven't, I practically want to beg you to see it.

It is unbelievable.  And it was the winner in over 30 Film Festivals.

Here's the trailer:



The film will bring tears to your eyes.  It will make your heart swell.  It will inspire you to get out of yourself and be a better person.  It will fill you with the greatest LOVE for this life and all that we have the privilege of experiencing here.  (available on Netflix, Amazon)

I want to watch it again this weekend if I can possibly pull it off.  Though we have lots in the works over here at ABAL......  :)  :)

We will be launching a series of (6) classes that we hope will inspire the heck out of you.
We will be working our hearts out in order to do that.

We want to tell you all our secrets to being happy & living a life being motivated by love.  There is nothing better.  We want to share all that we can to help you have more happiness.  The stuff we will be teaching has literally TRANSFORMED our lives.  We can't not try to pass it on. 

Please spread the word.  (This would be the biggest favor you could ever do for us!)

And please mark your calendars for (1) hour on:

Tues., April 24, 8:00 pm ET - How to Choose Happiness.  The Basics.  101.
Thursday, May 3, 8:00 pm ET - Trials & Tribulations.  They happen.  How do we face them?
Wednesday, May 9, 8:00 pm ET - How to Build & Enhance Self-Worth
Tuesday, May 15, 8:00 pm ET - How to Develop the Language of Love
Wednesday, May 23, 8:00 pm ET - How to Create a Better/Happier Marriage or Relationship
Thursday, May 31, 8:00 pm - How to Forgive, Truly

Registration will be available soon & announced here.  (It will be limited, FYI.)  I'll also announce it on Twitter the moment registration is available.

We will be using the same awesome platform (developed by the founder of Alt Summit) which they use for all of the fabulous Alt Channel Classes.  But we'll have our own channel for A Blog About Love!  So exciting!  We couldn't be more delighted to be working with them.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Love to all,

Mara

P.S.  Our survey will continue to be available all next week!  (I realized many could be out of town due to Spring Break.)  If you have time to take it, we would appreciate it so much.  It's helping us a ton.  Thanks!

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Thinking of Motherhood...

For 8 years, I have wanted to become a mother.  But, because so many years have passed by, I have learned to become truly content in my very full day-to-day life & sometimes I go for days or weeks without really thinking that much about being a mother.  But when it happens, I embrace it.  And I am thankful for those few slivers that I do have when my mind wanders fully to the vision of me as a mother.  In fact, because I do live such a mother-less lifestyle, lately I have tried to purposefully make more time to practice envisioning myself as a mother...just so I don't have to squint so much to actually see it.  These photos helped me one day - a bunch - to bring some of those thoughts into my mind.....
When I saw these photos, I was overcome with thinking about what it might be like to feed a child.  I tried hard to envision myself breastfeeding, staring at a breathing baby on my chest who needed nourishment.  I tried hard to envision ME carrying a baby on my hip, having one fall asleep warmly in my arms, hearing a wee cry in the night and waking to attend to a little one (and actually wanting to), smelling my own child, letting it's little hands hold my fingers during a feeding, changing diaper after diaper and not being bothered, just feeling so motherly as I care for a new, young life.

 I hope by making time in my day to have this vision that it will help motherhood to feel less & less foreign, despite the time that goes by.  I know this may sound crazy, but I hope when it happens, that it will feel real and natural and that it will really feel like me, and that I will, indeed, feel like a mother....

And what about for you?  Was it/is it hard for you to envision yourself as a mother?  And, for you mothers....did you FEEL like a mother right away?  If not, did it eventually kick in??  I think about this stuff all the time.  So curious.

-Mara 

[These photos (more here) are of our amazing wedding photographer and her baby.  I believe she was first pregnant about the time of our wedding in Boston.  :) :)  I just like thinking that it was a new, exciting chapter for both of us.  Btw, Rachel will be in NYC for shoots the second week of May in case you need any portraits or commercial work done.]

12 April 2012

A Date Night in Bed


More sex tips from ABAL, oh my!  :)  I hope it's ok with you if we talk about intimacy openly from time to time...after all, this is A Blog About Love :)  And we think it's important to talk about it as it is one of the most important & beautiful parts of a marriage.

I hope this doesn't sound too Cosmo.  Eeks!  That is not my intention.  Just want to share a tip that I think is really great & that I think might be helpful for a lot of people out there....

Have a date in bed - - in other words, set aside some time to be together (no clothes allowed :) and here's the key...do not make sex the agenda.  Yep, no sex  :)  You know how much I believe sex is so important in a marriage, but to vary the emotional intimacy & connection from time to time, I think it's so nice to be together in such an intimate way without the expectation that this moment is leading to sex.  It allows you to have some set aside time for intimate, loving & kind conversation with your spouse...the kind that maybe doesn't happen in such a powerful way so often due to time/schedule/work/kids/etc.  (And I'm guessing that long, natural conversation & completed sentences aren't exactly happening during sex, either, right?  ha!)  So....

-Ask your spouse to just cuddle.
-Lay very close to each other. 
-Caress, etc., etc.
-Speak as kindly as possible to one another.
-Tell each other all the things you appreciate about each other.
-Tell each other thank you for all that they are doing for your family.
-Ask if there's anything you can do for the other person.
-No rush.  Just many moments of togetherness and closeness & tender conversation.
-Fall asleep together.......OR........yes, finish with sex.  Whatever strikes your fancy.  Either way, you'll feel very connected to your spouse. 

Nice, right?

And, put those candles to work.  They really do something magic.

-Mara

P.S.  Danny is blushing more than me.   :)

P.P.S  If you haven't taken our survey yet & wouldn't mind helping us out, you can click here to take it.  I decided to leave it open through next week, too, as I realized a ton of people are out of town during this spring break week.  



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11 April 2012

Thoughts From the Subway


This week I've taken the train a few times for various appointments.  It feels like the old days.  I was a commuter for 12 years.  But now I work from home and so my train time is very rare now.  But when I do ride, I love to sit, breathe, respond to emails, listen to music or meditate, & feel a connection with all of the faces around me.  I love looking to see what people are reading.  Sometimes you hear what music they're listening to.  I love seeing what people are wearing.  What they are drawing.  What they are knitting.  Almost always people are alone.  I always wonder if they have a loved one to go home to, if they have a job, or where they are going.  And most of the time I can't help but wonder why so many people are looking so sad.  They could just be tired and worn out, which New York is known for doing to us.  Or maybe they're dealing with something crappy.  Or maybe they just don't know yet how beautiful & meaningful this life can be, even in difficult times.  (I once was in those shoes.)  But every once in awhile I see a soul full of life, full of a sparkle.  Sometimes our eyes will meet.  A small smile and understanding is exchanged and there's a connection in the great human chain.  I'm thankful for all the good souls that are capable of doing this.  I know it's a big deal to be able to send some good energy into the world.  And I hope that I can do the same.

Love & gratitude to all of you,

Mara

P.S.  The hugest thank you to all of you who have taken our survey.  You guys are the best!!!  If you haven't taken the survey yet & wouldn't mind helping us out, you can click here to take it.  It will be available for the rest of the week.

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10 April 2012

Forgiveness


Mara and I are so grateful for the responses we received in the survey.  So many of you took a great deal of time to provide wonderful feedback and encouragement.  This post is in response to something I saw on the survey.  When we asked what things people would be most interested in learning more about, one of the topics that received a lot of votes was Forgiveness.

Surprisingly, I don't think Mara and I have dedicated a post to this topic, despite the fact that both of us feel it is truly one of the most important virtues/concepts for us to understand & we talk about it all the time.   In fact, it is something we meant to write about in great detail from the very beginning (and I think we have written about it quite a bit, though mostly indirectly as it is sprinkled through so many other posts).  Perhaps it is because it is so important to us and the way we try to live, we kept putting off writing about it until we felt we could do it justice.  I'm not sure that time has arrived, though I suppose it's time to stop delaying and just start talking.

I'll begin with some quotes from a book that has been on my mind for a few months now:

"When we are hurt, deeply or slightly, physically or emotionally, and we lie awake at night replaying angry scenes in our minds, staring at the ceiling, rehearsing what we will say and do next:  thinking, worrying, planning...we are enslaved and imprisoned by that over which we obsess.  Removing that obsession, "forgiving" it, has nothing to do with an apology extended or received; it has nothing to do with the other person at all.  And [Jesus] is telling us it has nothing to do with God either.  From God's point of view, we are always forgiven - seventy times seven - but that's only half the equation.  We are the other half.

"Forgiveness is the surrender of our victimhood--taking back the power of full personhood that was stripped from us by another or ourselves.  Either we find our way to let go of the victimhood of unforgiveness or we don't.  Either we stop thinking, planning, worrying about it and become free from it and delivered from it, or we don't.  God won't do it for us.  Until we forgive [and] set ourselves free, we are not forgiven [or] set free."

He then speaks of a time in his life where he experienced significant betrayal.  He talks about the sleepless nights, the constant worrying, the plotting and planning that I imagine all of us are familiar with to some degree or another when we hang onto the pain we've suffered at the hands of another (or our own for that matter).  That negativity surrounded him until the day he finally chose to let it go.  Interestingly, he recalls that the feeling of release and deliverance and forgiveness happened "without and apology offered or accepted, without any face-to-face contact at all."

A few pages later he makes this important statement: "The evidence of true forgiveness is the freedom to continue to act lovingly despite the hurts and tragedies we endure."  I couldn't possibly agree more.

What about you?  Can you relate to David Brisbin's definition of forgiveness?  Do you believe in forgiveness without apologies offered or accepted?  As we begin to tackle this most important topic of forgiveness, feel free to let us know what you struggle with or would like addressed in the future.

                                                                                                      (photo credit via Maiko)

09 April 2012

We Need Your Thoughts, Please! Will You Take Our Survey?

 (photos by Rebecca Baust of The Daily Muse)
Dear Readers,

Would you do us a very kind favor and answer some questions to a survey that we made for A Blog About Love?

It was kind of fun thinking of what we wanted to ask you.

I'll admit, I'm excited to see what you say.  We want a peek into your lives and your minds as we would sincerely love to make this blog the best it can be.  In fact, we have been working hard on a HUGE project that is in the works  - - one that will be announced on this blog very soon.  :)  :)  Your answers to our questions will help us in making this big project as successful & helpful to you as it can be.

Please CLICK HERE for the survey.  

The survey will just take just a few minutes and I promise, it is completely anonymous.  :)  If you aren't able to finish the survey, any & all answers that you are able to submit will still be helpful.  The survey will be available all weekUpdate:  We decided to make survey available another week, due to Spring Break.  The survey will close on Sunday, April 22.

We thank you in advance for taking the time to do it!  We really are so grateful for your time!

-Danny & Mara

(FYI, Rebecca is available for shoots!  Contact her here.)

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Easter Dresses!

Today at church, seeing all the children in their Easter clothes reminded me of when I was a young girl.  There were 5 (!) of us sisters and my mom would make us all dresses, often matching.  Since we couldn't afford the real thing, she made us Gunne Sax knock-offs (ones that I now see for high dollar all over Brooklyn in hipster vintage shops.  Yes, even the ones covered in gobs of lace with huge sleeves.) 

 
                                                                                                      (Easter egg photo credit)

Today I wore what I call my "Easter skirt" by Harvey Faircloth (reminds me of pretty colored Easter eggs!); my taupe shoes from Target that I actually got on sale for $7!; and yes, my white (brite!) shirt from Uniqlo (you'll see a lot of these shirts on this blog.  I'm telling you, my dear husband can't get enough of them. :).  And maybe for old times' sake I'll get my hands on some vintage Gunne Sax like these (to wear with oxfords, of course :)... 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5.

And someday, I'd love to make dresses like these for some little girls.  My dear friend (of Katiedid) made these and I don't think there could be two cuter Easter dresses. 


Is it just me or do you still like to wear Easter clothes, even as an adult?  Do your children seem to like dressing up for Easter?  I'm such a sucker. 

xo,
M

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06 April 2012

The Skinny on Being Skinny - Part 2

How to stay skinny
(Polish Poster:  "Three Women" by artist Mieczysław Wasilewski, 1977.  
I always wanted this one for my kitchen!)

How do I stay skinny?

This is a question I get often.

Well, for starters, genes & family habits have a lot to do with it.  My mom raised all of us six kids to be health conscious.  And our family generally had healthy eating habits (minus homemade icecream & Navajo tacos :).  Really, I have had it easy.  I know that.

But I've tried to figure out what I might do differently, if anything, so I can give people some helpful tips.  And I've come up with a few things.  

(Major disclaimer:  I am not a nutritionist/weight loss expert.  Just passing on tips/philosophies based on things that I do that I believe have led to me being naturally thin most of my life.  I don't want to advocate being "thin" according to any standard, but rather a healthy weight, whatever that is for you.  I did tell this stuff in detail once to one person and the next time I saw her, she was laughing...she had dropped a ton of weight...and she said it was because she tried what I told her.)

So here you go........

In addition, to trying to maintain a whole foods diet rich in protein, fat, vegetables, legumes, rice/quinoa, & moderation in all things, here are a few other things I do.....

05 April 2012

The Skinny on Being Skinny - Part 1


 Ok, my friends,

I feel a bit strange writing this post.  But a lot of people have asked me about how I stay thin.

I want to be sensitive talking about this since weight can be such a challenging thing for many.  If maintaining a healthy weight is a difficult part of your life right now, my heart goes out to you!  I know that internally, for many, it can really be a major hardship.  But I do have a few things to share that might be helpful, so I figured I'd pass them along.

But first, I wanted to open with my thoughts on being thin.  So this is Part 1.  Part 2 will come out tmw.

04 April 2012

Love Story: Yet Another Day Closer

best love story ever, you make my heart leap for joy, love letters, love quote


My dear Danny,

Darling, so much for retiring to bed early!  I am too excited that I cannot sleep.  I am laying here in love, trying to visualize you in person, and going over and over in my mind the moment we will meet.  I am so very much in love.  Know that I am all yours!  I really can't even think of a reason why I wouldn't want you.  Really.  Can't think of one.  The things we have already talked about are what I truly care about the most...and you have it all.  All the other little details are so very insignificant to me.  I mean that.

I love you.  I can't wait to see the man that houses such a beautiful soul.
 
Yours,
M


03 April 2012

Love Actually Changes The Wiring In Your Brain

Maybe you've seen this article in the NY Times about how love can change your brain (thx for sending, Sharon!)...

If you haven't read it yet, I hope you will. 

I love it. 


02 April 2012

The Best Laundry Tip I've Never Heard Of - It Saved My White Laundry!

how to make whites whiter, how to remove deodorant stains,

This is off topic today, but I couldn't help myself.

Let's talk about dirty laundry. 

You may know that anti-perspirant can cause some nasty discoloration on clothing.  Yep.  Does anyone have a pile of whites that are just old & ratty due to this problem?  I do.  ICK.

I have used natural deodorant in the past, which does not cause this problem & is a heck of a lot healthier.  My all-time favorite one is this Swiss brand in either Wild Rose or Sage.  But, somehow I recently got out of the habit of wearing my natural deodorant & now I have some downright embarrassing whites to contend with.  (Nothing like announcing this to so many people.  ha! :) 

I've tried everything I could find on Google: soaking my whites in vinegar, Oxiclean, bleach, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide.  Nothing really worked.  I figured many of my clothes were just ruined & I should just give up and throw them out. 

BUT.  JUST OVER THE WEEKEND, I DISCOVERED A MIRACLE!  haha.  I can't help but tell you all...
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