The Leap Has Been Good

We are back in NYC. Oh, it always feels so, so good coming “home” here. Though this could be one of the last “coming home to NYC” moments in awhile as we’re heading to Ecuador pretty soon. This made me especially delighted we were greeted last night by a freaking awesome poetry slam on the subway. 
After traveling and doing 4 events in the last few weeks, you can see that we were pretty exhausted yesterday on the “Vermonter” Amtrak train. I’m gathering photos and can’t wait to tell you more about our event in Vermont. It was extraordinary and quite honestly, we didn’t want it to end.
At this moment I’m just feeling really, really grateful for our new set-up. You know, not having jobs (!) and all. There have been moments that have felt uncomfortable as we were starting a life that is SOOO different than pretty much everybody we know. Usually life is all about security, security, security and that seems to keep us GLUED to jobs and things and our future and our surroundings. But it’s awesome to step away from that and take a leap towards what we really love doing. So far, I don’t regret taking this leap one bit. Just the first month of this journey has brought ridiculous amounts of freedom, opportunities, connections, flexibility, togetherness, renewed passion for our endeavors, and just breathing room. I’m starting to feel really, really good about all that we have ahead. 
And now I need to go edit my belongings some more. I decided to take even less to Ecuador. We were planning on taking 8 suitcases, but I’m hoping to reduce that even more. 
Have a wonderful day,
Dear readers, do you feel glued down? Do you dream of taking a leap? Any inspiring stories out there from people who have taken a leap to get closer to living your dream? 

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  1. Lauren March 3, 2014 at 6:08 pm - Reply

    I dream about that kind of freedom! Yes, I feel completely glued down, but for good reason. Since we started adopting children in 2010 (one here, working on the next one!), we have had to try to keep everything in our life exactly the same and stable- jobs, housing, health, finances- EVERYTHING. Sometimes it feels suffocating. However, my husband and I often talk about how every life priority has to have a spot in line- they can't all be first. If our first priority right now is adopting children (which it is), then I shouldn't feel disappointed about not being able to do things that are farther down on the list (like move around or change jobs). If I can remember to keep that perspective, it's not so bad. But it's so exciting to me to read about your adventure right now and dream about being that un-tethered one day!

    • mara March 4, 2014 at 12:34 am - Reply

      I love this comment. I hear you on the need to stay in one place, with the same job, housing, health, and finances in order to adopt. We knew that would be the deal if we started down that road. I think most people don't realize that part. I guess you could keep moving and changing things, but it seems it would make it even more expensive and complicated as much of the process would have to be repeated each time. Anyway, Danny was ready to quit his job and needed a break to figure out what he wanted to do next. So, that has led to no insurance, no permanent address, no job, no future plans set in stone, etc. The outcome so far has been good. But all of this did definitely take adoption off the table.

    • Anonymous March 5, 2014 at 8:21 pm - Reply

      I just wanted to say you ARE on a great adventure. After reading a bunch of comments, all I can think is, you don't have to move to a far-off land to live life. Not that moving abroad is a bad thing – I think it's great! Having lived in 3 countries on 2 continents, I think my greatest adventure – and certainly my greatest challenge – is having 2 small children and a medical resident husband. It's not all rainbows and unicorns, but I am certainly learning and stretching myself on a daily basis. I think you're completely right about priorities – there is a time and season for everything and I think learning and accepting that is crucial to (my) happiness. Anyway, good luck with your adoption! I hope everything goes smoothly!

    • mara March 5, 2014 at 11:36 pm - Reply

      Dear Lauren, yes GOOD LUCK with the adoption! I seem to have left off some sentiments in my comment. You are, indeed, on a great adventure!! Such a beautiful one. I'm so, so rooting for you and may all the strength and love that you need be with you during this time. XOXO

  2. Unknown March 3, 2014 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    Dear Mara and Danny and readers! Long time follower here! Thank you for the beautiful work you are doing. This post really resonated with me. I was in a pretty intense career for 15 years and left it last year- partially my choice, and partially the choice of my boss. I wanted to leave, and was grateful that he basically pushed me out the door, but it was also super hard, as those things tend to be. Anyway, I have a 4 year old and a great husband, and I've never NOT worked. Being in this time without a "real" job has been an incredible gift- a big leap- and it's a little challenging when most people I know either work a lot or have kids at home. I have neither- my daughter is in school most of the time, and I don't have a big time job. It has been really hard to ENJOY it, to soak it up, to sit with myself, and to figure out how I want to spend my time.
    Thanks for sharing your journey. I'm excited for you!

    • mara March 4, 2014 at 12:42 am - Reply

      Wow – congrats on a new beginning and cheers to ENJOYING it.
      I know how that is to not relish in "down" time – it seems I always have something going on that is calling my time. That book I recently posted about has your name written all over it – Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I think you'd really feel inspired – she talks a lot about time and the life of a woman.

      Thanks for writing in!

  3. La Vie est Belle March 3, 2014 at 10:12 pm - Reply

    It's wonderful and scary at the same time. We took our four kids to France for a 10 month home exchange…and 7!years later we are still here! I'm getting the 7 year itch!! Enjoy these moments at the beginning-it's like falling in love with someone for the first time.

    • mara March 5, 2014 at 9:31 pm - Reply

      Wow – What a journey you've had. Any idea where you'll go next? Do you guys have work that is portable?

  4. Anonymous March 3, 2014 at 10:46 pm - Reply

    I dream of taking a leap daily, but I am waiting for someone to give me the opportunity to take it–ie, I am trying to find a new job that will allow me to relocate because I am too nervous to relocate without one. I've been working at it, with varying degrees of focus, for about four years now. And I'm repeatedly told the same thing: we can't consider you a serious candidate if you're not already living here (New York) … or, call us when you get to New York. I just feel like it's too risky to make such a leap with a small reserve of cash and some debt and too many unknowns. What would you advise, having moved and settled into New York and knowing how difficult or easy it is to do that? (I should add that I did pick up move cross country once before, 14 years ago, when I was 29 years old, but now it feels more daunting somehow.)

    • mara March 4, 2014 at 1:04 am - Reply

      When I moved to NYC, I was very lucky as I was able to rent a room from my brother for the first year. I also was able to live rent free until I found a job. pretty sweet, huh? I feel so thankful I had that opportunity.

      I think it would be hard to move to NYC without a job and without a money reserve or a place to stay. But, it also happens all the time and people get through it. You could prob. find a temporary sublet (in summer time, craigslist is full of sublets). To save money, you could perhaps just rent a room, instead of renting an entire apt. I recommend moving here with as little as possible. Too often I see people bring a full household of things to their tiny new apt. and it's just a disaster.

      Also, if you rent an apt. through a real estate company, the fees are exorbitant. If you can rent a place directly from the owner, you can avoid paying the agent's fee. The best places to find no fee apartments are craigslist, NY Times, and Village Voice. There may be others.

      Finding a job can sometimes take a few months, so a temporary lease somewhere for about 6 months is probably a good idea. This gives you some room to both find a job + check out other neighborhoods and look for a permanent apt.

      A lot of people here definitely use employment agencies to find jobs. There are TONS of agencies. You can maybe line up some interviews with them before you come, so you can at least can dive right in when you arrive. You can also do as much networking as possible in the areas in which you have interest.

      If all else fails, there are tons of temp jobs available. They are often times more flexible, which could allow you to continue job interviews.

      GOOD LUCK!!!
      It's a crazy town to get settled in, but living here is an extraordinary experience. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

    • Anonymous March 4, 2014 at 10:31 pm - Reply

      Thank you for the helpful advice, Mara! I appreciate it. I'll keep you posted if/when I make my leap! I look forward to reading about your adventures in Ecuador.


  5. Gardenella March 3, 2014 at 11:39 pm - Reply

    Reminds me the book eat, pray and love.

    Would love to do that journey,


  6. Anonymous March 3, 2014 at 11:59 pm - Reply

    I love to hear about your adventures but at the moment I am feeling the opposite. I want to be glued down.. or settled. I have been moving around the country for the last 20 years for school, jobs, etc. Along the way I married and had 3 kids and we still kept moving and it just keeps getting harder. The longest we've stayed anywhere is 3 years and it seems as soon as we make friends and start to feel attached to a place we move again. We have one more move in just a few months. This time we are excited for a permanent home. We want to develop friendships that last (and not just on Facebook), we want traditions we can keep, we want to decorate and stay long enough to see it get dated, we want to feel like we are finally home for good. I told my husband I'm not moving again after this last move unless the house burns down or I go to a retirement home. That doesn't mean we don't want to travel and even stay some places for months at a time, we just want a home we can come back to.

    • mara March 5, 2014 at 9:38 pm - Reply

      I hear you on having friends, traditions, a place you can call home. I definitely have that in Brooklyn and I've never taken that for granted. It's such a gift and at this age, most of me prefers to have all that. I actually wasn't itching to leave at all. My dear husband was more anxious to take a break from a traditional job and try something new – so that's when Ecuador came about (going abroad seemed like a better option to me opposed to going to the suburbs! 🙂 Anyway, ENJOY feeling settled and glued down. I think it's a beautiful thing. 🙂 Another friend of mine just returned to NYC after living abroad for a couple of years and she came back for the reasons you mentioned – she wanted to feel settled. She wanted to grow roots.

  7. kirsty March 4, 2014 at 1:35 am - Reply

    Mara and Dani, have a look if you can find the Bare faced cheek series – two frenchman start with nothing and travel throughout france relying on the friendship of strangers. It is so positive, lovely and quiet charming. Will help you reduce the suitcases, if that is your desire. Kind regards and looking forward to seeing you in Australia xx Kirsty

    • mara March 5, 2014 at 9:52 pm - Reply

      sounds so lovely. thank you for the recommendation!

  8. cali March 4, 2014 at 4:24 am - Reply

    times and seasons…. I feel totally glued to my job right now, but its where I am at right now, and in a little while things may change, but exciting for you to be in such a free season of your life

  9. pneu March 4, 2014 at 4:55 am - Reply

    In the last 10 years, I've lived and worked in five overseas countries. I'm home now but still have 'itchy feet' so it's great that I can travel vicariously through blogs like yours right now. 🙂 My experiences have taught me so much, but a couple of things stand out.
    First, you can be "living the dream" wherever you are. Life in another country can be much harder or more complicated than living in your native country. It always made me laugh when family and friends thought my life abroad was super-exotic–I got up, went to work, bought groceries, hung out with friends, cleaned my bathroom…the normal stuff we all do, only with constant misunderstandings and mistakes due to language or cultural barriers. Your attitude is what makes traveling amazing, and there will be negatives to any situation but there's always so much to see, learn, and enjoy, whether you're travelling or not. I appreciate Canada a million times more than I did before I moved away.
    Second, you can never have every option. Living in Ecuador means you can't live in New York. For me, choosing to be near my growing-like-weeds nieces and nephews means I won't be living in Asia or Europe for the next few years. I know, I know, this seems painfully obvious (!) but it took ten years for me to learn how to shut down regret about things I was missing out on because I had made a different choice. Now, an eminently logical, "Well, I have THIS so I can't have THAT right now" is what works for me when I start to feel pouty about my life, haha.
    Mara and Danny, your wise words and examples have also really helped me to be content with what I have, and I'm sure that the above will fit in well with your philosophy of life. Have a wonderful time in Ecuador; I'm so excited about this next chapter in your lives!

    • mara March 5, 2014 at 10:05 pm - Reply

      I appreciate this comment so much. It's so worth keeping in mind throughout our entire lives as circumstances, jobs, families, and locations change. We really, really can be "living a dream" wherever we are!! It takes a serious attitude check sometimes and some creativity, but even small adjustments can go far. I've definitely learned, too, that sometimes if we actually GET the dream that we so wanted, it may not be what we thought it was cracked up to be. This was definitely the case when some friends and I started the clothing business. whew. that was nuts and while glamorous in some ways, it was a mess in others. Anyway, I think the best kind of joy comes from HOW we react to our circumstances, not necessarily what our circumstances really are.

  10. Michelle Bunt March 4, 2014 at 5:48 am - Reply

    Hi Mara & Danny,

    Just writing in to say I'm reading a book at the moment which I think you would both enjoy. It's called "29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life" and it's about a woman who has MS, who is challenged to forget her suffering momentarily to focus on others and see how that can heal her attitude. I hope you get a chance to check it out if you haven't read it already.

    Good luck for your final preparations for Ecuador.

    • mara March 5, 2014 at 10:07 pm - Reply

      what a beautiful, beautiful thing – a month of giving. I'm guessing that would be the best way ever to forget your suffering and heal. I know giving has done the same to me in some of my darkest times. thank you for the recommendation.

  11. Angela March 4, 2014 at 6:01 am - Reply

    Hi Mara and Danny! I've been a follower of your blog for awhile and love it. We, too, have infertility (through our 6 years of marriage). We decided as newlyweds that we'd take a leap and move to New Zealand for a year, since we work from home and can basically live anywhere. Well, five years later we find ourselves closing the chapter of New Zealand in our life (for many reasons). At any rate, we felt the chapter of our 5 year adventure here had closed around Christmastime and after reading your blog post about Ecuador, it struck a huge chord. We looked at each other and said, "Why don't we do something like this?" We spent many weeks talking and eventually ended up feeling really good about Italy, Switzerland and Austria. We found that the IVF there is affordable and extremely high quality in Vienna, so we thought why not sell everything we own (again) and move to Europe for 4-6 months to travel and then finish off with IVF treatments in Vienna. And we are doing it–we leave in six weeks and could not be more thrilled about the adventure that lies ahead!

    It's amazing how once you decide to do something, things just fall into place when they are right. It's a huge leap of faith but it first starts out with an idea that turns into reality. Regina Spektor has a beautiful and poignant song from the Narnia soundtrack that sums up our feelings:) How exciting for your new adventure! You will never regret it.

    "The Call"

    It started out as a feeling
    Which then grew into a hope
    Which then turned into a quiet thought
    Which then turned into a quiet word
    And then that word grew louder and louder
    'Til it was a battle cry
    I'll come back when you call me
    No need to say goodbye

    Just because everything's changing
    Doesn't mean it's never been this way before
    All you can do is try to know who your friends are
    As you head off to the war
    Pick a star on the dark horizon and follow the light
    You'll come back when it's over
    No need to say goodbye
    You'll come back when it's over
    No need to say goodbye

    Now we're back to the beginning
    It's just a feeling and no one knows yet
    But just because they can't feel it too
    Doesn't mean that you have to forget
    Let your memories grow stronger and stronger
    'Til they're before your eyes
    You'll come back when they call you
    No need to say goodbye
    You'll come back when they call you
    No need to say goodbye

    • mara March 5, 2014 at 10:11 pm - Reply

      Wow wow wow. This sounds incredible. Love your plans. Traveling Europe with an IVF in Vienna. Seriously -you guys have figured out something great. THANK YOU for sharing. And GOOD LUCK with this amazing leap. I'm so glad you have each other and may your travels be full of love and kindness and hope. Best wishes for the IVF. Don't forget to use a rice heat pack for those bum shots! (We just filled up a sock and tied a not in the top). Much love, M

  12. Alex March 4, 2014 at 8:48 am - Reply

    For me it sometimes feels like our life (mine and my husband's) has been a constant leap of faith… When we met, I was ready to take another leap, relocating to the island of Lanzarote, while he was planning his own escape. In the end we escaped together, to Greece. It has been endless leaps since, leaving jobs, leaving homes, changing careers, retraining and our current leap of faith, pursuing adoption. Although these kind of changes can really be invigorating and hold the essence of life in them, they can also be so incredibly tiring… I am looking forward to a little boring old day-in, day-out for a while…
    All the best for your journey!

    • mara March 5, 2014 at 10:17 pm - Reply

      I feel a bit of what you said…changes and travel can be incredibly tiring. We have been out of our home since Feb. 1, staying with NYC friends, then traveling to Europe and Vermont,living out of bags, now back in the home of friends (they're out of town for an extended time). We're so, so grateful for all these experiences, but we're also ready to settle in somewhere.

  13. Sheena March 4, 2014 at 7:32 pm - Reply

    I can so relate to this time in your lives, Mara and Danny. Four years ago my husband and I quit our jobs, packed four suitcases and headed for an adventure abroad in Australia. We were newlyweds, leaving just two short weeks after our wedding, but it was the single best year of our lives. We flew to Australia not knowing a soul, had no job prospects and felt completely disconnected to our former lives. Was it terrifying at times? Yes. Was it scary? Sure. Was it incredibly liberating and freeing? Most definitely!

    My hope is that you embrace everything new as you move to Ecuador. It is the most strange feeling to leave stability behind, especially at a time in life when most are 'settling down' and locked into homes/careers/family. Yet I argue it is for that exact reason that it is so exciting and life changing.

    My husband and I often reflect on how much that year away did for our marriage. It strengthen our bond, encouraged independence and problem solving, opened up our schedules for the first time in our adult lives and allowed us to focus on living life to the fullest.

    Wishing you safe travels and a once in a lifetime experience.

  14. Anonymous March 4, 2014 at 9:26 pm - Reply

    8 suitcases???????!!!! What on Earth are you going to take with you?? Please reconsider. I traveled around the entire world for a whole year with just a large backpack I could carry on my back, and that's all that most other travelers I met had with them. I've also moved overseas for periods of time with just 1 or 2 suitcases. You'll be fine with 1 bag each. You'll have less weighing you down. You'll be more liberated to buy things locally, which will be more appropriate for your Ecuadorian life that the things you'd bring with you anyway. And if you really, really want something you left behind in NYC, just have a friend mail it to you.

    • mara March 4, 2014 at 9:58 pm - Reply

      I know, I know! We're pairing down a lot as we speak. 🙂 But we will still take more than 1 or 2 suitcases as some things are very expensive there. Things like kitchen items are considered luxury items and they come with a high price tag (even though the quality is often times terrible.) Since we plan on a lot of cooking, we're taking our Vitamix, Juicer, Danny's kitchen knives, a few pots and pans, spices (as many are unavailable there). We've also been told by expats that the #1 thing to bring is your own sheets. Also, we're taking all our backpacking camp gear and a few food items I really want like coconut oil (it's expensive there) and GF oats. Crazy how it all adds up!

    • mara March 5, 2014 at 6:04 pm - Reply

      Also, just to clarify, we are settling in Ecuador for a year or longer. We love traveling back pack style from place to place and have done that many times. If we went on a traveling adventure around the world, we'd just take a backpack, too.

  15. Christian J March 4, 2014 at 9:47 pm - Reply

    Mara – Vermont is about all the adventuring we get to do these days, but we were so glad to do it and see you 2 there. It could not have been a more uplifting and refreshing time. Thanks for sharing your experiences and talents.

    Me and Amy took that big leap right after we were married 10 years ago – moving to NYC without jobs and little money. Looking back, it seems pretty reckless. But its been a roller coaster ride that I have to say I'm glad we took. Its still really hard in a lot of ways, but much much better than standing safely in place. I'm so glad you 2 get to have another one of those experiences. All the best.

    • mara March 5, 2014 at 5:38 pm - Reply

      I'm so glad you guys enjoyed the weekend. This meant a lot to hear. We are SO glad you guys got to come up there. It really was good for my soul to hang out.

      Love hearing about you and Amy coming to NY. Wow. We were all just kids! Somehow we all made a good life here.

  16. Anonymous March 4, 2014 at 10:15 pm - Reply

    Mara and Danny- I've been following your blog for a while now and love that despite challenges, you live in such a way to enjoy and truly experience life together. I know this is a bit off the wall, but with your prompt asking for inspiring stories of people living their dreams, I was reminded of twin sisters who have dedicated themselves to becoming experts on the study of media and body image- they manage a non-profit called Beauty Redefined ( I don't know them personally, but I've been so impressed with their work and their efforts to get this important message out to the world. The passion they have for their work reminded me of the passion you and Danny often share for choosing happiness regardless of circumstance. If you haven't heard of them, you should get to know them and their organization!

    • mara March 4, 2014 at 10:25 pm - Reply

      I absolutely LOVE, LOVE Beauty Redefined!!! I've been wanting to highlight them on the blog. The work they are doing is AMAZING and every woman, young and old, needs to hear and spread their message. Thanks for writing about them here. Cheers to people doing amazing, amazing work for the world and especially for women!!

  17. Anonymous March 5, 2014 at 5:55 am - Reply

    Wow! I've never in all my travels encountered someone who brought along a Vitamix and a Juicer! Those are so heavy and so expensive if you break them in travel. Are you sure it won't be more liberating to leave them at home and just cook with local implements? I know no other blender compares to a Vitamix, but a local blender might meet your basic needs. Or maybe you don't need both of those items – perhaps one of them can do double duty. For example, fresh juice is often cheap to buy in tropical countries.

    • mara March 5, 2014 at 10:40 pm - Reply

      I know, we like our Vitamix. we rely on it a ton for cooking. Our intention with the juicer was to make vegetable juices, which are less accessible than the fruit juices. We're going to do an extended juice cleanse once we arrive and also want to do them more regularly, so I feel better about taking it. Also, because of hygiene practices in many places, we plan to make this stuff ourselves. We've had this juicer for years but have never been able to use it as in New York, the produce is so dang expensive and it just hasn't made sense. Anyway, I know it sounds crazy, but with the produce being SO cheap and SO fresh, we're super excited about taking these items.

  18. Anonymous March 5, 2014 at 5:12 pm - Reply

    Weird question, but what in the world are you oging to do with 8 suitcases in Ecuador?? :O
    Also, how to you feel about the "low living standards" in this country? Also, any worries about crime,etc?

    • mara March 5, 2014 at 10:30 pm - Reply

      ha! I did respond to something similar above. We are going to be reducing a bunch (and we actually never had 8 suitcases full, we just new that was our limit and didn't know exactly how many we'd need). But basically, the bulk of what we're taking is kitchen stuff for Danny (every expat has told us to bring these things as the quality there is terrible and also surprising more expensive than the states.) Also, we're taking our camping/hiking gear. Anyway, it's surprising how it does all add up. I'll report back on how we do with reducing even more.

      As for low living standards – we'll see how it goes! Most expats report that you can live a very comfortable life there. Healthcare is supposedly better and cheaper than you can get in the states, so we'll see what our experience is. After a month of traveling there, we felt comfortable enough to move there and the quality of life seemed very doable. But I know it's hard to know exactly what it will be like until you're actually living it. In my mind, I am just thinking of it as if we'll be "camping out" for a year. We don't plan to buy a lot of furnishings and will live off very few items. But I feel up for it.

      As for crime, it does happen, but people have reported to us that it's mostly petty stuff like thievery, pick pockets, etc. People do have home break-ins if they don't have proper security measures, but we've heard these rarely end in violence. Anyway, we know we'll need to be extra careful there, esp. as Americans. We'll do our best to be vigilant and see how it goes. Many Americans live there very, very happily. It's one of the #1 American retirement locations outside the US. So we're hoping for the best.

  19. Kellie January 30, 2015 at 10:14 pm - Reply

    I just found your blog and I love it! We are on an infertility journey right now and there are a lot of emotions associated with that! Your desires to be positive and loving and learn from the experience really resonate with me. We just decided to move across the country and work as cottage parents at a home for neglected children. We'll be buying an RV and spend our off-time traveling around the east coast. I'm nervous about quitting my stable job, but I'm excited to actually feel really alive again, and for the chance to get my mothering instincts out children who desperately need a mother figure. I'll be blogging about the whole thing on my blog! And I'll definitely be reading your blog archives for many days to come.

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