30 July 2013

Busy in Brooklyn

Hello Everyone!
Hope you had a wonderful weekend.  I missed you yesterday.  Yes, I do love having a post here. Though sometimes life gets in the way and I try to honor that.  Yesterday we spent time with our nephew and brother in law; I called about a foster child that our doctor friend told us about (it turns out he's already being adopted by someone..but I now have a new interest in foster children); I also took care of my new plants (I'm obsessed!!! haha.  I got some new plants and I really should take pictures of them and show you :); and, we had a rather full and beautiful weekend.  And this is why:

7:00 am - 4:00 pm
Spent the day with a crew out at Gerritsen Beach, one of the hardest hit areas during Sandy. Many families are just barely able to start rebuilding their homes.  Funding has been an issue for many of them as they have still been waiting on insurance checks or FEMA assistance.  In the meantime, one amazing organization we know of has been stepping in to help families rebuild. It's called Heart 9/11 Healing Emergency Aid Response Team and they were founded soon after 9/11 by a retired Port Authority Police Department Lieutenant (whom we met...he is amazing).  Currently they're focusing on the Gerritsen Beach area (here's a news article about them) and projects are being funded by The Robin Hood Foundation.  We were greeted by the founder upon arrival and he said their main goal is to bring some hope healing to people's lives by showing love, support and interest in their well being - while also sheet rocking, painting, and finishing homes (demolition and mold remediation has already taken place on the homes they are working on).  He also said that being able to help people sometimes feels like a selfish endeavor - because doing so also blesses the lives of the giver so greatly.  Well, I felt some of that out there.  Truthfully, there were a hundred other things I could have been doing that day and I was definitely being pulled in the direction of my own home projects or to do lists or endeavors.  But I'm glad that I went. Joining with humanity to help fellow people in need is never, ever going to be something that you regret.  (If anyone feels inclined to go out one day and volunteer, they are in great need of people and have MANY homes to still do.  You could contact them and set up a time to join in. Better yet, put together a group of people to go with you.  :)

10:30 pm
Danny returned home from a business trip.  He got delayed getting out of JFK which was a bummer as he so wanted to hear the Robert Plant concert in Prospect Park.  Luckily the bandshell is close to home and we literally just RAN there when he arrived.  As soon as we entered the park, we could hear the roar of the crowds just screaming and cheering.  For sure the show had just ended.  The screams and cheers just kept going and going as we ran, and Danny kept saying, "Pleeeease let there be an encore!!" Sure enough, a song began.  Danny was the happiest guy in Brooklyn.  :) We got to then hear (2) great songs and sit among hundreds just soaking it all in.  Sometimes I have these moments in Brooklyn that just take my breath away.  :)

1:00 pm  After church we met up with a wonderful reader of the blog for a "walk".  Oh man, every time we do it we have the most amazing experiences ever.  We just have such fond memories of every person we've met and every discussion that we've had.  We're so grateful for that little corner of our lives.

3:00 pm  And then we came home and made dinner for a family who is in the process of packing up to move.


Now, I'm curious about what your lives look like...
You see, we do a lot of the service related stuff because we're just used to it...our entire lives we've had so many opportunities provided daily/weekly by our church congregation.  So we've learned through experience that this way of life really is what makes us the happiest.  We seek to live our lives that way as much as possible.  Though I often wonder what my life would look like if I didn't have all those opportunities at my fingertips on such a daily basis.  Would I have developed that pattern for living? Would I have ever found out that it really was the way to live the happiest kind of life?  And the happiest kind of marriage?  I have no idea.  I shudder to think of how my life was before I truly started to live this way. And so I'd love to hear...how is it for you?  Have you found a way to work in charitable efforts into your life regularly?  What does that look like?  How have you found opportunities?  Is it a rewarding part of your life (or is there something else that you find is more rewarding?)  Open to any answers. I'm just really curious how it is outside of what I know.

And, later today I'll be sharing more about my journey to greater health.

See you soon, friends.

Much Love,


P.S.  I was inspired to share this post based on one of the questions from the recent "Q&A With Danny + Mara":  "How do you add so much 'life' into your life?"  The best formula we have found is by doing service related stuff like what I listed above.



  1. My day to day is busy. I have an autistic son, he's 3. He attends speech, ot and ABA therapy 4 times a week. My 4 year old is out of school for summer. I also have oncology appointments and stage 2 breast cancer. So my M-F is booked!!!! - Kimberly

  2. I have to work hard to not compare myself to others when it comes to how much "life" I put into my life. Ever since high school I have known that my plate gets fuller a lot quicker than other peoples. I have had to learn to accept that just because I don't juggle as many balls doesn't mean mine are important. Dealing with depression and anxiety forces me to take things a little more slowly and to say "no" even when I want to say "yes". I do agree that service is a great way to help alleviate my own issues. Visiting teaching is one of those areas where I sometimes struggle to get going but in the end I am always so glad I reached out and made a connection-either with an old friend or with someone new.

  3. When I read your blog I'm always impressed and sometimes exhausted by how many service projects are jam-packed into your weekends! But I know from personal experience that these projects are more energizing and inspiring than exhausting!

    We don't often get full weekends together because usually one of us is working at least one of the days or on call all weekend. But when we do have the weekend off together, this is what it looks like:

    Relax on Friday night, home cooked meal, a few drinks at home, early night
    Wake up early Saturday morning to go to the farmer's market
    Come home and work out together
    Cook lunch from farmer's market goodies
    Shopping/art museum/festival in the summer
    Maybe a nap
    Go out for dinner/see a band/local symphony Saturday night/meet friends for drinks
    On Sunday we always try to go to church together (both Catholic)
    Then we come home and go running/work out
    Eat brunch at home
    Take day trips around the finger lakes to farms/vineyards
    Sunday night we're always at home preparing for the week

    We also both play Irish music, so sometimes Irish sessions are figured in there. We also have family about an hour away. Weekends are usually a time to catch up on being real people and enjoying time together! We love trying new restaurants, working out, craft beer and vintage cocktails.

  4. Service really is the best! Now that I am a stay at home mom, I often am glamorizing the "busy" in my head. Like if I get lots of errands and cleaning done that day, my day was productive. But I try to stop and realize that raising a child IS my job, and if I just stay in and play and read to him all day, well then I am succeeding...even though it can make me a little stir crazy. I have learned the best kind of service a stay at home mom can get is friends and company, so I have tried reaching out to other women and inviting them to do things together. It really makes a huge difference!

  5. Hey! Those are some good looking feet up there! My weekend was truly excellent and included a lot of time with dear friends new and old, walks in parks, looking at art, good food, and a wedding. That mini trip to NYC was just what I needed to rejuvinate my soul. Thanks for the walk, it tied it all together.

  6. ah! zina told me she walked and talked with you and i nearly did a back handspring. i'm so glad! bennions gotta look out for one another... i'm so glad we could both walk around the park with you guys. now... next time you're in SLC... you know you've gotta track us down!

    you guys are rays of sunshine... truly! so hopeful and happy and i'm so grateful for this online venue that brought us all together!

  7. i'm so glad you did write this post! when i moved to LA, i joined a synagogue that put a tremendous amount of focus on service and social justice. every member is asked to join a service or social justice committee, and the members who serve the most during the year are given a special honor at rosh hashanah services. anyway, going there changed my entire perspective on what being an active member of a community and of my religion meant. i volunteer helping them get ready for holidays and i am also a member of their loving-kindness committee. i go to shiva minyanim (the services at home following a funeral) to help comfort the mourners and i also cook and deliver meals. because of my community, i also donate monthly to social justice causes as a way to make my money more holy.

    yeesh! that was long-winded. i do go to services about every other week, so when i do, my day looks like this:
    wake up, walk mah dog
    get ready, head to services. make it usually before torah reading. usually. :)
    stay for lunch and learning.
    head home. nap. read. walk the dog.
    get dinner ready. call family. paint. walk the dog again!
    sometimes i head to dance class, too.

    i am trying to disconnect from the internet and phone on shabbat--i did it for many years, and it was wonderful, but am finding it so difficult to put that practice into motion again.

  8. Our lives are full. And getting fuller. Which, I guess is good, but I long for the "just married days" sometimes. The ones where we could wander endlessly with no goal in mind. But now with a 7 year old and my husband in the Bishopric and me trying to figure out my life with our kid gone all day and friends and family and and and...well. Sometimes I long for the slower days and truly try to seek them out.

  9. Hi Mara and Danny, love this post! I want to add to miss M's comment. I belong to a Reformed Judaism Temple, my husband being Jewish and I'm Roman Catholic. We brought our children up Jewish (my temple accepts other religions) and it wasn't difficult for me to make that decision as I loved everything about the reformed jewish way of life. Reformed Jews believe that social justice is central to being a jew. Every act of goodness we perform furthers God's purpose on earth. When the world was created, coutless "sparks of the divine" were scattered throughout the world and jews are Expected to help bring those sparks together into one great light of justice and goodness. This mending the world is called tikkun olan. Of course, there is so much more to this and I find it very beautiful.

    I am also very involved in Girl Scouting, leading, mentoring toward their highest awards (Siver and Gold), GS community delegate, Operation Cookie Drop (cookies to our trooops overseas)etc. For the past 13 years we have been involved in over 200 hours of community service from projects and helping at Hope's Door (domestic women's shelter), nursing homes, soup kitchens, etc. (oh, the fun and lunacy of this and camping and daytrips and Savannah keeps an eternal flame in my heart) It has and still is an honor and privilege to be a part of their journey toward womenhood. (and the scholarships for community service that my girls received was a tribute to their dedication).

    And the gazillion hours throughout the school years, class mothering, chairing countless committees, creating and developing countless programs, wow, I have been truly blessed to be touched by dozens upon dozens of children and young ladies. I used to tell them that every hug I received will make me a day younger and by that calendar, I think I'm a newborn!

    And now having an empty nest (really not empty because this summer my home is loaded with college kids)I blessed to create a new chapter. My weeks will be filled with a little work, a little post-college classes, several creative projects and alot of volunteering at a couple of programs. Of course I am very, very grateful that I have the opportunity at this time in my life, please know that I spent many, many difficult years caregiving young and old and employment to arrive at this point. It's like I'm at the top of a mountain, looking down and I don't regret one single minute or dollar or energy spent on how I lived my life and spent my time on earth. These are my riches, the smiles and hugs and love...

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  11. its hard as a mum with young kids as the last thing you want to do when performing service is bring along a bunch of kids to make your service void :) So at this stage in life I try to smile and be kind to those I meet. I live in a high immigrant/ex pat area so I am often helping new families at my kids school and at church (lds) find the right places to shop, house hunting, learning all the Australian lingo (and they thought we spoke English here ;)learning to drive on the other side of the road, or many don't own cars so I offer lifts if I'm headed somewhere. Small things but hopefully they brighten someones day.
    I volunteer at my kids school and with all the service opportunities church gives us we are kept nice and busy!

  12. Hi Mara and Danny, wonder if you do remember me.
    I am from Malaysia and currently studying in Australia and I left a comment previously in one of the post mentioning I get to learn some English through reading your blog :)

    As an international student, I am only 18 years old and I am apart with my family studying alone in Australia.
    Thank you guys for having this blog as it makes me feel really good every time after reading it.
    Some of the posts are so encouraging and it makes me appreciate more of what i have and what God had given to me .

    Mara and Danny, you have such a big heart and I really enjoy reading your blog:)

  13. Hi Mara! I find that being a member of the LDS (Mormon) church our life is focused around service. Whether it is a family in need of a meal or a youth activity that needs to be watched over we spend many hours a week serving. I also find that my challenge is include my children in our service. We have them help cook meals, help prepare supplies for activities they may not be old enough to attend yet, and include them in delivering said things.

    We teach our children that we will always seek and take and opportunity to serve our fellow man, not only does the recipient benefit, but we benefit as well.


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