24 February 2015

Getting Personal About the State of This Blog



I've been wanting to fill you all in on why I didn't blog for awhile.
But you know, after taking a break I just needed to dive in some where, so I did. And I never got back to this post.

But today I'd like to share more about my break. And practice some vulnerability. And tell you that a few months ago...

I thought I might lose this blog.

As in...I thought it might be time to pursue something else.

Even the thought of it makes me sad.

No doubt it was a devastating time for me as I have given my life to this space for over three years.

We came to Ecuador for a sabbatical from corporate life (Danny was ready for a break!) But it was also a leap to see if this blog could become something that we could do long term. In other words, could this effort that we love generate some livable income - or would we need to go back to a corporate life. Doesn't that reality just bite? I know many, many face this situation. And unfortunately for me - blogging with no real income was not something I was going to be able to continue to do long term.



So here we were moving abroad so we both could work on this project. You can imagine that I have at least 100 ideas for what I'd like to do here to support this blog community, but until then I just didn't have the help I needed to get them done. I needed help to run this ship, you know? My steam was thin. If it was going to become a sustainable blog (which I think could be possible), I knew I couldn't do it alone. Maybe a few years ago I could have. But at this point it was just too much to take on solo. I probably should have hired people much earlier and risked the investment. But Danny was on board. So I held out for that. He truly loves, loves this effort as much as I do.

But, it turns out that when we got here, my dear Danny needed a break from pursuits. This phase of life has been totally new for him, too (not having children and jobs and all - and taking a very, very untraditional path.) And the truth is, he felt anxious. He didn't have the stamina or energy to blog or work on the related projects we had in mind. It was really a rough time for him personally, which is just a normal tide of life. (He'd love to write about this in the future.)

So back to the blog.

No help. No blog income.

I was feeling like a full time paying job was going to be my new reality soon. And the dreams of continuing this pursuit here would have to come to an end. It was a very sad time for me to see this effort slipping through my fingers. I was trying hard to envision what the next phase would look like.



But, in a very relieving turn of events for us both, we both got a second wind. 

Danny had been working on healing and renewing his energy and it really paid off. He has come so far and is seriously on fire! I got a second wind from getting some potential back-up plans together and working on relieving some of the weight I had been feeling. So we are now both wholeheartedly, fully and completely moving forward with this effort here. We're both feeling so good about being here to give this space our best shot. We are finally (!!) once and for all working on launching some of our ideas. I've had these ideas for years and it's really quite fulfilling to see some of them come together (like the retreat! hello! We did it! And it was INCREDIBLE!) There is more to come.



We're super excited to see what can come of this. Thousands of lives at this point have been improved and transformed because of the inspiration they find here. We would absolutely love to see this space thrive even more. We would love to make it the best it can be and serve this community in even greater ways.

And now you know some of the ups and downs that go on behind the scene of running this blog. And yes, we had been applying all of our own tactics that we write about for getting through a difficult time (we do truly try to live everything that we write about! It all works every time.) We remain incredibly grateful for your support through all of this. You all have been with us on quite a journey these last 3+ years. We're thankful for your friendship. We're thankful to be connected here with you on this journey called LIFE.

Love to all,

Mara

38 comments:

  1. I really appreciate this vulnerability and honesty. Thanks for sharing. I'm a terribly inconsistent blogger - but I have the luxury of no one noticing. :) Welcome back- I personally missed you.

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    1. Thank you, Jane. Even though we've never met, we feel like old friends because of this blog. We have greatly appreciated your insights and comments over the years.

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  2. Thank you for sharing this. I love your blog, but I struggle (often) with how it just seems like things are so great for you all the time because you've got the happiness thing figured out. And to be fair, your life looks pretty great: you're in love, you're both really good looking (J. Crew weddings agrees with me on this), can afford high fashion, international travel, and have the luxury of being able to take a break from work when you need a break. So without additional information about challenges you have, it's hard to not be jealous. Even knowing the challenges of your past. I'm not proud of this, but it's how I feel a lot of times when I read your blog. I think I'll always keep reading (and if I ever get the chance, you better believe I'd love to come to a retreat), but to be honest, it's hard to not really hear about your more current struggles, and then only after the fact when you've worked through the hardest parts and now feel on top of things. This makes it hard for me invest myself in your perspective when I'm struggling in the moment. I don't fault you for this at all. You two show more vulnerability to the world in a single blog post than most people do to their more closer knit communities do in a lifetime. I just feel like I get more from your blog when I'm in a fairly good place, when what you write resonates with my experience in the moment (feeling good and strong and loving). When I'm struggling in the moment, what you write on this blog doesn't really reach me. I know others feel differently. And that's great. Because we all need different things. I guess this is criticism, which doesn't seem fair given that I do appreciate your work so much, and you've just bared your souls a little bit. I feel pretty vulnerable writing all this, actually, because I do respect you both so much for what you do and how you live and love and give. I guess I'm sharing it in order to add emphasis to how much I appreciate you sharing your more recent challenges because it helps me relate to you better, and helps make your perspective on overcoming trials more credible to me. It helps to know (and be reminded somewhat regularly) that it wasn't just some one-time thing: get over the big hump and you're done. I would love more details about what living your perspective day in-day out looks and feels like though. I love your big ideas, but sometimes they sound/seem so esoteric and hard to apply to daily life. I hope this feedback doesn't sting, that you can feel this as an attempt for me to increase my ability to connect with you, if only by being honest about how I feel to help me clear out my emotions about it all. I guess it's just so easy to feel like a failure when I espouse high ideals, because whenever I lose my grasp on them, albeit temporarily, I get very critical of myself. I need all the help I can get in accepting that even when I know the truth, I will continue to battle with lies on a regular basis, and that doesn't reflect negatively on me. Does this even make sense?

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    1. I share these same thoughts as you. I appreciate your comment.

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    2. Victoria, beautiful & vulnerable thing to share. Comparison is such a beast, isn't it.

      Infertility is a pretty huge burden to carry, and it's a daily thing, not just in the past. There are blogs by people dealing with huge issues that are about their daily lives. Terminal cancer blogs, PD blogs, etc. That has a certain dose of comfort in reassuring me that "my life isn't so bad after all."

      What I come here for is inspiration. Inspiration to me is beauty (the way color & smiles work on the brain without the need for linguistic processing). Anyone who appears to have their shit together really doesn't. Nobody does. And I mean nobody. Look at Hollywood… Look at all the spiritual people doing stupid things… We're all figuring it out, day by day. Most of us barely hanging on… I'm amazed when I talk to friends, who on FB seem to have it all together, to find what huge burdens they're dealing with — but that usually only comes out in a one-on-one, in-person meeting.

      We have it together in one aspect (D & M certainly love each other it seems). But in other ways there are always struggles. To me there's a lot of vulnerability in this blog. A lot of sincerity. Feels like I'm having tea with Mara when I read it. It's really hard to put this out into the world. It's hard as a blogger to strike the right balance. I think overall she's definitely got the mix right, of vulnerability & coolness. This is the kind of blog I'd want to look at late at night before bed. As for the blog of someone dealing with major hardship, where each post is about the hardship — I would look and wish them well, but it would be very hard for me to go back to it. I need light & color, and I find that here.

      Once again honoring your honesty, and I wish we could talk more in person…

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    3. I think it's a choice one makes, when reading blogs (or looking at social media, for that matter) to do so from a perspective of admiration, caring, inspiration, etc. rather than from a place of comparison and jealousy. When I began reading this blog, I could relate to many of the struggles Mara had had, and the inspiration I've gained from it lies in the very fact that she overcame her struggles to live a great life, continues to do so, and shares that with others so they can do the same. Looking at blogs and feeling your own life is inadequate in comparison is an easy trap to fall into. Instead, they can be sources of inspiration for what you want to create in your life.

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    4. I agree with Maria's comment!
      I love Mara and Danny's blog! All of it. From the natural beauty tips to the deeper emotional posts. I love the variety. And again, agree with what Maria said above.

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    5. I wholeheartedly agree with Maria's comment as well! Infertility is a huge struggle, and I so appreciate Mara and Danny letting us in on their journey through it. I think they open their hearts and bare their souls with their hardships and struggles. Their vulnerability blows me away. My spouse and I struggled with infertility too, and trust me talking about with anyone (even close friends) is so hard. I come to this blog to see that that challenge in my life does not have to define me. That I can overcome. I appreciate so much Mara and Danny sharing that they chose to get better not bitter. I read their blog to be inspired and remember that life is good and beautiful. Love is all around and the journey to be better and focus on our blessings never ends!

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    6. I love this thread. Thank you all for participating in a discussion that I think faces us all - - HOW do we get through the difficult times? And how can we not compare our life to another's? Anyway, I appreciate all of the vulnerable concerns here - and also appreciate so much of the wisdom that has already been shared. I guess I just want to send love to those here and to anyone who is feeling hopeless or stuck. I do my best to show that change is possible. Transformation is possible. Feeling joy (separate from circumstances) is possible. I know this. I have experienced it. And conveying that is my purpose in writing here. Somedays that message my be conveyed in a better way than others. But one thing I know is that the circumstances in my life or in your's are irrelevant to this message. So I could tell you that we don't have insurance, don't have a car, don't have children, can't live in the states on our current income (unless we found other work), and have clothes from a clothing company that I founded that was ultimately not successful. But all of this is also missing the point that it is possible to heal. It is possible to be at peace with circumstances you wish you could change. I hope one day a post may speak to you in a better way. There are many experiences ahead which I'm sure we'll be wanting to write about. And I also want to capture our retreat somehow in an online manner (like an online program) - so that people can experience a more thorough explanation of what we write about. Much love to all.

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    7. I hope Danny writes about his anxious times and thoughts....I'm not exactly sure why but what the reader, Victoria, wrote above resonates with me too. It makes me feel more connected when I read that people who inspire me also go through ups and downs... and how they get through it becomes a new inspiration.
      Tina

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  3. I am so excited to see what the future holds for this blog. I have been so inspired and so helped by every post you have written. Thank you for your efforts and for the way you choose to live.

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  4. I'm definitely one of the thousands whose life has been improved by the inspiration I've found on this blog. I remember the night I came across your blog--it was like finding just the right words at just the right time--and I stayed up until 2 a.m. reading old posts! You do truly amazing work here, and I can't wait to see your ideas come to fruition. :)

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    1. Jennifer - this means so much. I have found that each and every person is at a different place on the spectrum of healing or seeking or understanding. I have found that when I'm ready for something and also seeking it, that I usually end up resonating with something powerfully once I find it. Anyway, it's fun to see that taking place here. Hopefully reading the posts here will inspire further seeking. There is no end to what we can learn. We're trying to learn more every day. Much love.

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  5. Thank you both for putting the effort into this blog. It has given me comfort, inspiration and LOVE. I am happy to see that you want to continue this!

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    1. Thank you!! I'm happy about it, too.

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  6. Love that you shared this. It's true in life and in blogging. We usually only present our best selves instead of being honest about what's really going on. Can't wait to read more!

    Sarah

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    1. Dear Sarah - thank you ! I was thinking about this comment and the idea of honesty. This is a tangent from your lovely comment and not directed at the words you shared. But your comment just got me thinking so I thought I would share here. I would say that often - on social media or blogs, etc. - people certainly DO often present their best selves. But by doing that, it doesn't necessarily mean that someone is being dishonest or that they are intentionally trying to be untrue to themselves. It could be that maybe they are, for example, going through a divorce - but it helps to post photos of their puppy or a beautiful trip they experienced. Or maybe they just got a new outfit after feeling like crap for years and they can't wait to show it off. Perhaps it's a way for them to still connect with people when they feel alone. Or maybe it's a way to focus on something good in their life when everything else is crappy. Anyway, as I was thinking about this today, I think it's a good online practice to assume that everyone online (and in real life) does indeed have challenges. Some people talk about them openly. Some do not. And either way it's ok as that is where they are at. I guess I just like the idea of feeling compassion for people online - (instead of the judgement and comparing that is so very rampant and destructive.) It seems we all have a million times a day to practice that for people we come across. It can really be like a spiritual practice. Anyway, that's enough of my tangent. Thanks again for your comment. :)

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    2. I really agree with your thoughts and comments right here. Since comparing is so common on social media, this would make a GREAT and relevant blog post. :)

      Thank you so much for this and all your posts. I appreciate your vulnerability and your courage to keep working at your happiness and your writing. I love that you share what you are/have learned with us. You are such a gift to the world. I really hope your stamina continues and it works out so you can still share with us AND provide for yourselves. Good luck!

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    3. This! I truly believe that the reason we only post the exciting/polished parts of our lives online is because no one really wants to air their dirty laundry. My Facebook account does has family & close friends, but it also has a lot of acquaintances that don't necessarily need to know that I'm having a hard time managing stress or whatever it is. I've really come to realize that I have no room in my life for comparison. Why burden myself with sadness, anxiety, jealousy, or bitterness? If there is a force that makes you feel that way, it's best to wade through it or eliminate it. -CB

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  7. I totally relate. I have been blogging for almost 10 years and while it started out quite differently--as many blogs of our day did--the fact that I have blogging regularly for 10 years kinda blows my mind. And as my blog has grown over the past few years I've had ideas about growing it more...then I question those ideas, then I get burnt out, then my kids ask for toast, then I swear I'm taking a break, then I have crazy blog inspiration out of nowhere and blogblogblog....anyway, it can be tough. Financially I don't NEED my blog to make money since my husband works full time, but it's been hard to justify the time in terns of energy and time away from my kids--to pursue something if I'm not going to actually make a profit.

    And like you guys (though of course differently) I know I've made a difference through my spotlights and I keep doing them in hopes of spreading more awareness and reaching a wider audience. Then I finally came to terms with the idea that "what if my blog never makes it very big, would I still do it?" (Again, without NEEDING this to work financially, I get that this is a very different angle) and I decided that even if I don't reach as many people as I would have hoped, there is still a lot of good and purpose to the people I am reaching. I actually wanted to send you guys a link to this post because I thought you'd really enjoy the quote I include from Timothy Shriver (the current chair of the Special Olympics and the brother of Maria Shriver). Here the link if you have a minute: http://www.thislittlemiggy.com/2015/01/would-i-still-do-it.html

    Lastly, I'm really happy to hear you guys are going to keep blogging and pursuing this dream. As you know you've helped a lot of people and while I still have a ways to go to becoming fully DannyandMara-ized, you've helped me make some significant changes mentally.

    PS--have you guys listened to the newish podcast Invisibilia? If not you NEED to. It's all about the invisible forces that shape our lives...ie, thoughts. I'm only on the second one and already my mind = blown.

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    1. Miggy, thanks so much. I've read a number of your spotlights over time, and I love what you do and what you bring to the table, and to the comment section!

      As for the podcast, haven't heard of it, but looking it up right now. Thanks for the suggestion.

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    2. Miggy - I love this line: "There is still a lot of good and purpose to the people I am reaching." YES. And how amazing that is. It's a powerful thing to have a voice - and I hope that you never stop sharing it, whether it's through blogging or some other platform or through a shorter or longer amount of time invested. You have a gift and a passion and that in itself is remarkable. I'm so, so inspired by what you do.

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  8. Thank you so much for continuing to blog. I will admit I am relatively ignorant to the time and effort it takes to blog (although I do know it takes quite a bit more than it appears!) That said, I am just so grateful you are going to continue, and even thinking of ways to expand. I think your message is so important, and it's changed my life a great deal already, even though I have a long ways to go. I've literally read every word you've written, and have sent so many of your posts to friends and family members when I felt they might benefit from them. So thank you! And yay for keeping going!

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    1. Sarah - I know! I once thought that blogging was just some quick little thing that people did. ;) ha. Having done it now for awhile and meeting many other bloggers, for the most part it is a massive investment of time for every blogger that I know. To produce good content regularly, you have to be constantly working on it, thinking about it, and getting it ready to be published. I usually have several posts that I'm cookin' at the same time - and when one feels ready, I publish it. Also, participating in the community does take time - whether it's through emails, comments here, or social media posts. We do love it, though. It's a great honor to have this space for meaningful discussions.

      And! THANK YOU for your encouraging words. This means a lot to us as we move forward with taking bigger leaps with this effort. SO glad that you've benefited somehow. Really, it's incredible and I'm just grateful. Much love - M

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    2. I'm so glad to know that my words and my encouragement by your blog has helped you in any small way. I wish there was a good way to express my gratitude for what you and Danny do, but I can't find it, at least with words. I am just so grateful for what you are willing to share with us. I cannot wait until you get mentoring off the ground. I will absolutely be on your wait list for your your first menthes (is that the right word?!) so much love!

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  9. I am so grateful you were able and desired to continue with your blog! I cannot express how much I love clicking on your updates on Facebook and reading each and every one of your posts. I wholeheartedly believe you two were meant to share your messages through this medium. I hope to attend one of your retreats someday! Thank you for sharing everything that you do with us on your blog!

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    1. yay! Thank you!! Sometimes I wonder if my FB page is just kinda sad over there. So I'm thrilled to hear that it works for you as a way to see updates and posts. :) I think of you when I'm posting over there. And yes, coming to the retreat would be amazing! I hope it can happen someday! I find that just even planting that seed and planning on it can often lead to something happening. (That's actually how the retreat actually came to fruition on our end.) Thanks, again.

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  10. Having discovered this blog 1 year ago, I feel like such a newbie. I was searching for happiness/light/encouragement and the words that I found, and love that I felt really touched my heart. It hasn't been easy; there are moments that I forget to love and take care of myself, but I am slowly becoming the person I want to be. Thank you.

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    1. wow, wow, wow! Love this comment. Slow growth is where it's at. Little by little. Some successes. Some failures. You can eventually feel more and more capable of facing things that once were difficult. And then you'll start again with something new. :) It's an incredible process. So worth the work!

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  11. Mara,

    I've been reading your blog for less than a year, but after reading this I felt I had to say thank you. Your post entitled, "The Work I Did To Be Happy" (originally published in March of 2013) changed my life when I read it. I was going through a difficult time with things going on in my life that I was not prepared to handle. Through the last year, your words have been like a compass to me. When the sum total of everything going on in my life becomes too much, I re-read that post. I feel like I have been trying to become the type of person that post describes my whole life, but could never really figure out the "how". I am grateful for your vulnerability and your willingness to try to express what is all around us, but is next to impossible to grasp - and if not to grasp, to hold firmly onto - finding meaning and joy and love in life, no matter the life. Thank you so much for your work. Much love.

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  12. Mara - I've been reading this blog for about six months, and I'm sorry I've never commented! I LOVE your blog! I stumbled across it because I had decided to cut back on refined sugar and dairy and found some of your posts relating to those topics. But then I started reading through old post, and I really enjoyed reading everything you have to say. I love how positive, honest and encouraging you are, and I get excited when I see new posts from you. I'm SO glad that you've decided to keep at it. And, I'd definitely read a book by you if you ever get a chance to write one. :) With love, Sara

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  13. Danny + Mara,
    I missed your posts when you took your break and wondered if you both were okay. Although I've never met you, I feel connected and sincerely happy when I visit your blog. Who knew this global community would ever have that kind of strength and warmth? Please continue to share your story; Your voice reaches people who care about the ups and downs, the beauty, the challenges, and the honest realities of life. I wish you both the very best in your journey!

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  14. Hi Mara, I first stumbled on across your blog from your interview/post on your journey with infertility on another blog and I was immediately moved by transparency and vulnerability. I'm going through some similar struggles you've faced in the past and reading through your blog - the positivity the seeps through encourages me. I'm both grateful and so appreciative to you both for your dedication to sharing your lives with us! Thank you!

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  15. Hi Mara,
    I think I have only commented once to thank you for recommending the Crocs sandals - which I still think are SO awesome - but I wanted to comment here to say that I initially found your blog late one night a few years ago, when I was very sad over the state of my relationship. I found your posts very comforting. Since then we have got married, and continue to work and do better at our relationship. I am happier now, but still love the insights you give in this blog, and the concrete steps and suggestions you make. Not just generalities like "think positive", but the WHAT and the HOW. And you write with such honesty. And you may not have this or that, but seriously, Mara, the post you wrote about your real estate investments, how you built that up from very little - that was super freaking inspiring! Not many people have achieved that. Whatever your plans for this blog, I am glad to know you want to continue. But no matter how many people you help, it must work for YOU and Danny in YOUR lives. I am grateful for whatever you share.
    Emm xxx

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  16. Thank you for posting this very honest update on the blog. I initially started reading as I went through my own fertility treatments, and I continue visiting the site for your heartfelt and varied posts about your lives. I come to be reminded that no matter what we face in our lives, we can always find ways to CHOOSE HAPPINESS. Your words matter, and you are so admired and appreciated by your readers (including me!). Thank you again.

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  17. I'm so glad you've decided to continue on with this blog! For the most part for me the message that you share on your blog wasn't anything new but I really connected with how you say it. The way you lay it out and make it applicable to real circumstances just made all the difference for me to actually use these tools and make a change in my own life. I'm so grateful for all the time and energy you've put into this blog so far and can't wait to see what else you have in store. I know it's already been said, but thank you! :)

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  18. Wonderful to hear that you'll still be able to share what you know and how you live with the world! Whether you publish every day or only rarely, it's still a useful outlet for you and for your readers. Hopefully there's never a need for something so severe as "losing" the blog. Also, while it's surely nice to have support, you are 100% capable of doing this solo and rocking it, even if that means not putting in place all of your ideas and visions.

    Finally, financial aspects of this post reminded me of things you shared in your real estate posting. From that post, it's clear that you have been willing to make sacrifices (like having roommates as a married couple) in order to make it financially. Also, it seems clear that you have built a lot of wealth in savings, hedge fund investments and real estate in order to set yourself up to be a full-time parent if desired. So, if you decide you're meant to work on this blog full-time, please do know it's in your power to restructure your life financially to make that happen. Maybe it involves living somewhere else. Maybe it involves living in Brooklyn again but at a much more frugal level. Maybe it involves continuing to rent your condo for a profit and renting a tiny studio to live in in Brooklyn. Maybe it involves allowing yourself to live off of interest and earnings from investments. Just don't let finances stop you given that you've worked so hard in your past to give yourself a degree of financial freedom. And don't assume that you need to go back to your old level of living in terms of condo size and location, cars, general spending. It's powerful to reimagine one's entire living style to enable a dream and to not take a job you won't love.

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