18 September 2013

New Beginnings



This stunning short film called New Beginnings just took my breath away.  It's by the New York City Ballet and it took place at sunrise on the 57th floor of WTC4.

When I visited New York City for the very first time, my older brother worked at the World Trade Center.  I remember him telling me that if you ever get lost, just look for the Trade Centers.  He took me with him to work one morning, just because he said I had to see the rush of people in suits pouring into the buildings.  I had the best bagel and cream cheese of my life in the concourse underneath the towers. And I was amazed at his stories of the speed elevators that took him to the 100th+ floor of the Trade Tower in a very short time. He later bought an apartment in Brooklyn - across the water from the Trade Towers.  The apartment was on the top floor and came with an additional high loft surrounded by windows  He had a telescope in there that was so good you could see what kind of soda someone was drinking at their desk in the Towers.  My brother left Cantor Fitzgerald not too long before 9/11 and was out of harm's way.  But his name was still on record at the building and they called my parents to make sure my brother was alive. Cantor Fitzgerald lost over 2/3 of their employees that day.

I sure am grateful that life is full of so many new beginnings.  So many.  What have some of your new beginnings been? 

With Love,

Mara

(video via Swissmiss)

Here is a photo I took on 9/11 this year.  I was with some dear women on the rooftop of my church in Brooklyn.  I felt lucky to also see my former sister-in-law that day.  We were in New York together on 9.11.01.


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16 September 2013

Happy Monday!


Hi Everyone!!
We are catching up after speaking at the conference in Manhattan.

All went well!  We spoke about (3) things:  Identity, Choice and the Pursuit of Virtues.  We spoke side by side up on the stand and I just kept thinking what a gift it is to speak with Danny. He LOOOVES to speak and teach so much.  And he gives me the best moral support in the world before we speak.

It was really something to be speaking at that particular church by Lincoln Center.  That was where I went 14 years ago, when I first moved to New York and decided to visit the Mormon church after 5 years of not attending.  I had zero spiritual strength then, I had very little knowledge about living a spiritual life, and my identity was based on things that I later came to realize didn't matter one bit.  I only went to church then to meet people.  About 9 years later, I returned to that same chapel to meet people again.  This time I was newly divorced and had years of infertility behind me.  And I was a completely different woman.  I was happily living the most spiritual life I knew how.  I kinda love going to that building, just because it's such a reminder of my own transformation.

And, we loved the people who attended the event.  I got all teary over them.  New Yorkers can do that to me.  :)
 

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13 September 2013

My Assistant, Sarah Hendrix



I just wanted to introduce you to someone who has been an absolute gem to me in the last bit. Her name is Sarah Hendrix and she has been helping me behind the scenes.  She'll do a bit of research on something if I need it, or reach out to various vendors, or send me great links and things that you all might like.  She has been a dream to work with.  

She is looking for additional opportunities to be a virtual assistant.  If anyone is looking for someone to help them, I can't recommend her enough.

Here is a note from Sarah:

Are you spending too much time doing administrative tasks when you’d rather be creating new content? Is your in-box overwhelming? Does your schedule feel out of control? Is social media taking up too much of your time? You need a virtual assistant!

I’d love to help in any of the following areas (& I'm open to other ideas):

- email & calendar (personal or editorial) management
- social media setup & management (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest)
- product development assistance (organizing a brainstorm!)
- content research (contact bloggers/companies for guest posts, product reviews, etc.)
- general research
- post preparation (editing, proofreading, formatting)
- event planning/online event management

Please contact me at sarahmhendrix (at) gmail.com if you are interested in working together or have any questions.  I’d love to get to know you and your blog!

P.S.  If you’re debating whether or not you could need help, please take a look at this post on Tips for Hiring a Virtual Assistant. You’ll be glad you did.

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

And just for fun...

The photo above is where I work.

And this is where Danny works:


Now, if you could hire someone to help you in your life, who would you hire???  I think of this all the time! :) 

I would take a graphic designer to change my blog completely.  A local assistant to help with errands and tasks. A tech support person.  An editor to proofread my posts.  An SEO expert - because making our posts SEO friendly might actually be helpful to some people out there.  A film maker.  A housekeeper to come once a week.  And...someone else to manage all those people.  ;)  Ha.  That would be heaven.  And I'd definitely want Sarah on board.

My problem?  I do this blog the old fashioned way and write all the posts myself.  I am realizing that if I want to make any improvements to the blog - even the basics - I will need to step back from writing posts as much as I do.  We'll see what I can work out.  

xo,

Mara

P.S.  Sarah Hendrix is going with me to Alt Summit in Salt Lake.  I'm so excited to meet her for the first time.

11 September 2013

On Changing My Name

I cannot even tell you how mad I was about the hassle of changing my name after the divorce. It was not one of my best moments...haha.  I don't think I was pursuing very many virtues while I sat on the wooden benches for hours at the courthouse.  eeks.  I guess the hassle of that moment seemed to represent to me the overall ugliness of divorce.  It's like an oil spill that leaks onto every bit of your life. Nothing goes untouched by it.  Honestly?  Getting divorced and trying to clean up the mess of it all felt like a full-time job on top of my full-time job (the Brooklyn courthouse is no picnic).  And then I had to seriously breath deep in the months and months (even a year?) following as I worked on getting all my accounts changed.

I also sent this email to friends and family, announcing that I was changing my name....

Dear Friends,

Some of you may remember Mara Papa.
Well, SHE'S BACK!!!  :)

Please make note of my new & active email addresses:

xxxxxx

My home address in Park Slope will remain the same:

xxxxxx

Thanks and love to all,

Ms. Papa
I got the sweetest emails from people after I sent that note.

Once I got my name change straightened out, I was thinking at the time that there was NO WAY I was ever changing my name again.  Nooooo thank you.  It wasn't like I was a 20-year old with one suitcase to my name and one account at my local credit union.  I had mortgages, investments, a business, titles, deeds, accounts galore, etc.  

10 September 2013

My Goals for This IVF


We haven't started the hard core IVF drugs just yet.  They first have me take birth control for a bit.  It's all a part of the process.

But as we anticipate what is to come, I have been thinking of a few goals I have with this next cycle...

Come Hear Us Speak in NYC This Sunday...


Hi everyone!
Danny and I will be speaking this Sunday (Sept. 15) at 7:00 pm at the Mormon church at 125 Columbus Avenue, just across from Lincoln Center.  I believe we'll be the only speakers that night. The event is part of a singles conference, but anyone is invited to attend (you do not have to be single or Mormon to attend.)  Also, there is no charge.  We'd love to meet you!

Subway:  1 train to 66th St./Lincoln Center or A, B, C, D, 1 to 59th St./Columbus Circle

(We're also speaking at a conference in Washington D.C. Oct. 11-13 and in New Jersey October 19. More info. to come, but also feel free to let us know if you're interested.)

(image)

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09 September 2013

Love Story: Companionship



Danny,

Oh my...I am sitting in church.  I am completely convinced that I am the happiest person in this room right now.  I tried ever so discreetly to read your email at intervals during ward council this morning. But it was hard to conceal my smile.  

My heart is pretty much always feeling the same these days.  It just feels love and longing and gratitude. 

I better go.  But know that I just loved your email.  And it makes me want to drive to Boston right now. 

I love you so much it hurts.  Haha.  

Mara

_________________________________________________

And later that same day...another note to Danny...

Hi darling, 

It's amazing to me that we can be so far apart, but yet you are so much a part of my life here.  I had quite an unexpected day.  And it made me think of you and want to be with you.  Well, life is full of so many surprises, as we know...and today there was a rather big one.  Just after church I found out that my Mom and Dad were in a car accident late last night.  :(  They are doing well.  But they are very, very lucky.  My mom said they are lucky to be alive.  They just came from my Dad's 67th birthday party at my Grandma's house.  They were actually waiting at the light at this quiet intersection by their home, and a drunk, college aged girl came speeding down the road and tried to brake, but instead skid into their car and t-boned the side of it, on my mom's side.  They got released from the hospital today and are home resting and being cared for by my sister and brother-in-law and grandma and aunts and uncles.  Oh man, life is so precious.  Every moment of it.  It makes me want to be so grateful for every loved one in my life.  And it makes me want to also make the most of my life.  Oh, it makes me so sad to think of losing my parents, or to even think of them aging.  It will really be hard to let go of them someday.  But, of course, I am so grateful that I've had good parents for as long as I have.  

Oh, Danny........it has been a tender day.  And, of course, you've been in my heart all day.  It was nice to be at church and to think of you.  It was nice to read and re-read your emails.  It was nice to tell good friends about you.    

And, then, when I later found out this news, it was nice thinking about the comfort and love that I already feel in my life because of you.  I know we have not been together in the traditional sense, but you still have been a companion to me since I've known you.  And it is so nice to feel that on days like this.  

I hope you've had a wonderful Sunday.  And I hope that you've been well fed today.  I got invited over for dinner and had an amazing time with some women from church.  And then Sara, my dear friend you met, also brought over dinner (some quiche and salad) just to be nice.....honestly, I can't believe how spoiled I am to have such dear friends.  

Right now I need to get a few things done before my week starts.  I hope you're having a great evening!!

Can you believe that I'll see you on Saturday???????   I simply cannot wait.

Sending you so much love,


Mara 

_________________________________________________

These letters today made me think about companionship - and how it is hands down one of the greatest blessings in life!!  Do you guys feel some companionship with someone?  I so hope you do!!!  I think it can come in so many forms - through a spouse, sibling, friend, child, parent, or pet.  I've heard moms talk about their one year olds as their little companions.  So cute.  And well - I think potential boyfriends & girlfriends that you meet on line can even feel like companions on those days you would otherwise be alone.

Today I had to post this picture of this CUTE dog whom we love.  Molly is the dog of our dear friend. And yes, her mouth is always like that (could you just die?)  From what I hear, dogs can be some of the best companions.   :)  

Who is your companion?

Danny is mine.  Through and through.  :)  

06 September 2013

Harvey Faircloth & A Thank You To...

Hi everyone!  Just got back from an evening walk with Danny.  And I just picked the random recipient for a thank you gift.  Honestly, I wish I could send you all something.  That's the only problem with these thank you gifts.  :)  But I hope you all feel our gratitude for the good conversations that go on here.  Today we have a gift for Katie Fisher.  Katie, thank you for your beautiful words on the post, "Gathering Strength for a New Season."  You are such a dear. We feel honored to have you read our blog and we hope this thank you gift will be something you enjoy.    
Today's gift is this Apron Top from Harvey Faircloth.  I founded this company with two friends. What an experience it was to run a clothing line in NYC.  Holy smokes.

(The fabric on the Apron Top has this red graph paper pattern on it.)  

The company is now owned by another group and they have a different designer.  But the original line was designed by my business partner, Katie Hatch.  And, it turns out you all probably love her designs more than you know.  She is the Senior Design Director at Kate Spade Saturday.  :)

And just for a little Harvey nostalgia, here is a little Harvey film from back in the day.  It will get you very excited to start wearing fall clothes.  :)


Hope you all have lots of good things happen this weekend.

Our to do list:
-Get my bicycle porter crate screwed onto my bike.  (I got one, too!  I can't wait to use it.)
-Go to the farmer's market tomorrow.  Oh, how I will miss that place when the harvest season is over.
-Spend as much time outdoors as possible.  (September in New York is unbelievable.)
-Make some stovetop popcorn tonight with coconut oil, sea salt, and cracked pepper.  I've been craving this for days.
-And, of course, CLEAN!

Much love,

Mara

On Fridays we give a thank you gift to a random reader who has left ANY comment during the week on ANY post.  We just want to say thanks to the community here.  

Katie Fisher, please send me your address within 3 weeks!

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If You're Feeling Sick About A Relationship...

(I took this photo in Prospect Park.)

To any of our dear readers who are dating -

I'm guessing that most of you have or will at some point be in a relationship that just makes you feel unsettled.  But let's throw this in there to make things tricky...perhaps your partner actually has many great qualities.  They might even be kind to you and be on the same page with you in many areas, etc...but because of a few things, you STILL feel uneasy or anxious, you still wonder if "this is the one", you still have that pit in your gut because you can't decide what to do.  Perhaps something about the partner just holds you back and makes you wonder if this really is what you want in a partner. And...that feeling doesn't go away.  Ugh.  Maybe there are good days.  But no matter how much you try, no matter how many justifications you try to make, no matter how many months or years go by, you can't completely shake that feeling that you just don't feel totally at peace with this person - or with the idea of moving forward.

Have you ever been in this situation?  I was once.  It was AGONIZING.  My heart goes out so much to anyone trying to make a difficult decision like that.  If I can help, I'd love to...

Here's a tip....

04 September 2013

Love Story: A True Miracle From Day One



Dear Mara,

I couldn't agree more with you...this has felt like a true miracle from day one.  I'll admit that some of the shock of it has started to wear off because every day...and especially after meeting you and finding out you're REAL...it becomes a reality instead of a pipe dream.  It's like I just expect it now, I expect to love you more, to be excited to see you again, I expect to have you in my heart all day, I expect to get a wonderful email from you confirming my every hope and dream. So in some ways that miraculous feeling fades just slightly because I've come to accept it...this is really happening and I just LOVE it!!  But every time I sit and think about how unlikely this whole thing is, well I am filled with gratitude to God, but also to you....for living your life in such a manner that I have something so concrete to be thankful for. 

You know what's interesting?  I think it's normal for people to date and "love" in part for what they see in someone else....what they could be...what potential they have.  And it's a wonderful sentiment to be determined to try to bring out the best in them to help them realize that potential.  But with you, I love you for who you are and what you've become!  For maybe the first time in my life I love a woman exactly for who she is right now!  I already know who you are, I know what you've learned, I know your character and your heart - and I LOVE IT ALL!!! 

I guess in some way, that was my answer to never loving someone the way you love me.  Thank you Mara for saying those things to me and letting me know where I stand with you.  Let me assure you I do not compare myself with anyone else.  I trust in you completely that you would not give of yourself so freely unless that is how you felt about me.  THANK YOU for trusting me enough to do that, to love me so completely.  I can confidently say that I too have never loved a woman like I love you, never so completely and never for the all the best reasons I could possibly think of. 

And Mara, I think you said it much better than me, the part about marriage and joining lives.  I thought about it after, about how it won't ALL be amazing.  And I realized in some ways I was wrong.  The fact is, I have every hope that it will ALL be amazing.  You were right on talking about the silly quarrels about little things. And though I know the potential for those will always be there, I'm with you...it's so immature and it flies right in the face of love/patience/long-suffering.  I don't envision my home to be like that either.  I plan and hope to be able to look past the small stuff in such a way that it IS all amazing and wonderful.

And Mara, you're so cute...yes, I happen to know that you're patient, loving, and kind.  If what you're trying to ask is would I be okay with a ridiculously thankful wife (specifically one named Mara), well...I know I'd be MORE THAN OKAY with that...just sayin :)

Okay love.  A good morning to you.  I'm so grateful to have you in my life.  I hope you have a great day!  Thanks again for all of your love and how freely you give it to me!

Yours,

Love Story: You Just Feel Like Home To Me

(Note from Mara:  This post was supposed to go live earlier today - - but it didn't.  Oops! I guess I made a mistake.  It was supposed to post before Danny's response.  Ah well.)

Feeling super lovey today as I prepared this post.  I just melt to pieces every time I read these letters from the first few weeks that Danny and I were in touch. (If you're new to our letters - you can follow them on the sidebar link called "Love Story").  After our divorces, Danny and I were set up by a friend via email.  Danny was in Boston and I was in Brooklyn.  After one day of emailing, we felt we had found our spouses.  :)  We met 3 weeks later on a street corner in NYC and it was the best day of our lives.  This photo was me practicing what I was going to wear when I met him. :)  And this letter was days after our first meeting...

03 September 2013

Gathering Strength for a New Season






I heard these words (below) over the weekend and I just thought they were beautiful.  They made me think of so many of you.  I thought of friends of mine who are going through tough times right now.  I thought of this new season and the desire that it can bring to focus on our personal growth and development.  I thought of our next (very long) IVF process that will begin with the first appointment today (these photos remind me of what a joyful time it was for us the first time we did an IVF.  I am working on getting myself mentally prepared to face it all again with the same love and joy and patience.)  I thought of anyone who might be in a rut and needs some strength to get out of it.  I thought of dear Gabrielle Blair who has been open about feeling down lately.  (This certainly can happen to all of us!)  So today, I share with you some uplifting words/statements to read in case you are working on healing, gathering your strength, or becoming your better self. (This is from a meditation by Belleruth Naperstak.)  Maybe some of these lines will resonate with you.  They're all beautiful, but I've highlighted the ones that I love the most because they remind of the sentiments that began to help me heal during my own darkest hours many years ago.  I'll never forget that time of my life, when some of this stuff actually began to take root.  

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

I declare my intention to heal in body, mind & spirit.

I invite assistance from friends and loved ones - past, present & future - to lend me their support and their strength.  I request assistance from the invisible forces all around me.  And welcome their love and support.

More and more, I understand that my healing will happen in it's own way, and it's own time.

I see myself surrounded by the love and caring of those who have come before me - whose banner I carry now.

I know I am better and better able to accept how I feel - as my inner truth of the moment.

I know that the more I can acknowledge and accept how I feel - without criticism or blame - the more I allow myself to heal.

I am better and better able to be kind, gentle and appreciative toward myself.

I welcome my increasing ability to sense the assistance around me - guiding me back to my own strength, courage, and resourcefulness.

I know my heart will heal with the energy of it's own life force.

More and more, I can see and feel my own beauty, value and worth.

I am better and better able to define myself and value myself independent of the behavior of others.

I see and feel radiant sunlight warming my body - sending comfort and solace deep into my heart.

I salute my ability to survive - and my courage to heal.

I know that when I appreciate my body, respect it, and take good care of it - I allow myself to heal.

I can feel a soft warm healing energy pulsing deep into my heart.

I can feel my heart filled with it's own healing energy.

I know that I am held and cradled and affirmed by the generations that have gone before me.

More and more, I understand that my value has never been defined by the behavior of others.

I know that torn places will repair, and my heart will be made whole.

I will find my center, heal my heart, and reclaim my strength.

I understand that beautiful and wise and worthy people know devastation and loss, just as I have.

I salute the generosity of my true nature.

More and more, I remember that I deserve to give love and receive love.

I am the exquisite result of the combined lifetimes of my ancestors.

I know that even great pain can be a valued teacher.

I will grow compassion, wisdom and kindness from the sorrow of my past.

I know there is a part of me deep inside that is sufficient and whole - and it can never be diminished or demeaned.

I know that beneath the darkness that sometimes overtakes me, there is a place where I am radiant with the beauty of my being.

I look to the time when I will reclaim my strength and express the full range of my gifts.

I know that my heart is large is enough to hold my suffering and strong enough to transform it.

More and more, I can see the beauty all around me, and draw nourishment from it.

I welcome my awareness of the peaceful power within my heart, the seed of my strength, the home of my spirit.

I know that I have things to do, gifts to give, purposes to accomplish.

I know that I am held in the hands of God and am perfectly, utterly safe.

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

May this week be full of love and goodness for you.

Cheers to a new season.

And lots of love,

Mara


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