02 March 2016

Random Thoughts of the Day



I thought I'd share a few things I'm thinking about - because I love staying in touch with you, even if I don't have one of my big posts ready! (Also, I'm loving Design Mom's Collection of Random Thoughts. It's good old-fashioned blogging at it's best. ;)

Thinking about...

1.
-all the people who have signed up for the retreats in the U.S. & Ecuador. yay. In fact, Las Vegas is nearly sold-out. We are so pleased and honored and can't wait to meet everyone. It's the most exciting thing ever to us to see our endeavor continue and even grow a bit little by little. I can't believe our first 'Love Boot Camp' is next week in Brooklyn!!!

2.
-outsourcing. I've been trying to get my feet wet with outsourcing here in Ecuador, where it's very affordable (and still makes me feel like a spoiled brat.) We have a wonderful housekeeper + food prep helper and it's the best thing ever. It.must.continue. I want to do anything possible to still have a housekeeper in NYC. Housekeepers should be called Dreammakers because they really do make it possible to work on your dreams. I want to write a post about creative ways we can all make this happen.

3.
-design, design, design. Our design meetings (for our site) have continued - and it's all too exciting to get glimpses of what is to come. The name 'A BLOG ABOUT LOVE' is here to stay. Blogs may come and go - but I still like our name and still like blogging. I'm glad everyone we've talked to is in agreement that our name is worth holding onto.

4.
-being far away. I know the internet connects us all. But living so far from the heartbeat of communities we love (including this one!) does wear on me. Any expats know what I mean? :) We've been working on our return date to the States and should be able to announce that before too long.

5.
-beloved doggies. They are the most love-filled little beings. Sila is especially attached to me and is by my side nearly 100% of the day. It's the most adorable thing ever to me.

6.
-the election. How is everyone holding up? Trump's recklessness, racism, sexism, shaming, and hate-filled tactics are so heart sickening to me. I refuse to believe that this is what the majority of people want for this country. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this - especially if you are a Republican. Do you think you'll vote Democrat in this case?

7.
-A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson is INCREDIBLE. Thanks to reader, Sarah White, for reminding me that I wanted to read this. I think you all should buy it. We need all the love we can get in times like these! XO

And with that, I thank you dearly for connecting with me here.

Much love always,

Mara

P.S. Photos from the Ecuadorian countryside, near Cañar.

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Register now for our:

1-Day Love Boot Camp in Brooklyn, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Portland, Phoenix, & Austin

7 or 3-Day Body+Soul Camp in Ecuador* & Pennsylvania

*a killer early-bird price for Body+Soul Camp in Ecuador ends March 15th! Also, we've been noticing that flights to Ecuador are REALLY reasonable right now. Sometimes 1/2 the usual price. Note: the retreat location near Quito is NOT in an area threatened by the Zika Virus (thank goodness!). Disease carrying mosquitos cannot survive in the Andes at 9,000 feet! (Read more about that here.)

61 comments:

  1. Please be so kind as to explain how you can have a housekeeper, food prep helper, go to Machu Picchu and and and, but still beg for donations to build a website?

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    1. People ask for donations all the time in order to build a business or endeavor. (Think Kickstarter, indigogo). Know that our livelihood has not come from the blog all these years. I've donated my time to help others as I was in a position to do so due to a previous life of working my ass off. But that doesn't mean running this blog or building a site is cheap or that I can keep donating forever. To keep this going and build a site, it is costing the amount of buying a car. Note that I don't have a car, don't have health insurance, and live in a third world country to try and pull this off. We're sacraficing more than you can imagine. But it's something we care about deeply so here we are.

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    2. I think Anonymous is really just saying that, budget-wise it would make sense to use your own funds for your start-up business, instead of paying for someone to prep your food... seriously, that is a luxury of Oprah-magnitude! I'm sure you're not paying a ton for your housekeeper and food preper, but every dollar counts!! And don't use "we live in a 3rd world country to try and pull this off" as a pat on your back - I think you WANTED to move there, I'm not sure you "had" to move there as a way to help to pay for your website.

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    3. As the one who does most of the cooking here, perhaps I can elaborate. By prep food, Mara meant that our house cleaner cuts the vegetables to the size I'll need them to be for when I cook later that evening. It happens twice a week. It probably costs about $5 worth of time, and saves us from going out to eat more often, which would be far more expensive. It also helps us eat healthier, since there aren't even a lot of options down here for truly healthy food. We eat 90% from home, and it's 90% made from scratch. That takes time, so having someone help actually saves both time and money.

      But, thanks for making me laugh about the Oprah comparison. That was a good one.

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    4. I have to agree that when you asked for donations, it was a big slap in the face to those of us who work our asses off with full-time jobs and use our own hard-earned money for endeavors like blogging. Donations should be requested for hardship or charity, but never for one's own personal gain. You have several other monetization outlets (advertising, retreats, mentoring). Focus on those and other avenues, and please do not ask for donations from your readers again. I love your blog and you both do good work, but the donation request was incredibly self-serving. Thanks for reading.

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    5. I respectfully disagree. We are all constantly asked to donate to different causes and pay for different products or services, some we see as worthy of our money, others we decide against. When someone asks for donations you are completely free to say no and decide your money is better spent elsewhere. I donated because I have got so much from reading this blog, I have learnt self worth, how to love and live, and gained so much wisdom on how to create a healthy relationship. I felt these lessons (so valuable yet offered up for free!) were worthy of a small amount of my hard earned money.

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    6. If I could just throw my two cents in… I don’t see anything wrong with a donate button. It gives readers who believe in this message a chance to invest in it if they want to. Personally, I found this blog at an incredibly hard time in my life, and I hate to think what might have happened if I hadn’t. If this blog can keep going and help just one more person, that’s something I’m happy to donate to. I’m so grateful for the love, time, thought, and work that goes into offering this blog.

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    7. Mara and Danny have given so much back to everyone who reads this blog and never ask for much at all. I really appreciate it and it's worth helping them in their journey to help all of us xx

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    8. Danny, I am the one who posted the first comment. It's the first time I have seen you react with sarcasm which tells me something hit a nerve. I hope sweet Danny and Mara, that your housekeeper is earning enough per week to live as you do. I am sure she has worked and continues to work her ass off, and I am sure, she too has no car. I hope she is enjoying trips abroad too.

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    9. Since this has become a hot topic, let me try to set some facts straight. I don't expect you to agree with me. I won't be disappointed if you don't. But context and knowledge goes a long way to decreasing misunderstanding.

      First of all Anon, in case context wasn't clear, I was replying to Julia and not to you.

      Second, it wasn't sarcasm, I literally laughed at the comparison to Oprah. I pay someone twice a week to wash and chop veggies so that I can spend a little bit less than my normal 1.5 -2 hours each night cooking healthy meals. Comparing this to Oprah is a massive overstatement, and did make me laugh.

      I won't deny that it is a luxury. In fact, I'm pretty sure that was what Mara said in the original post. We're grateful for it. And you know what? So is our house cleaner. I wish we could hire her full-time, instead it's just a few hours here and there. We're reaching out to friends and contacts to help her pick up an extra jobs.

      Regarding what we pay her...if she did work for us full-time, she'd be making 3 times the average Ecuadorian monthly wage. I know others that don't even pay half what we pay.

      Also, I understand the fact that donations were requested is a big concern of yours. Honestly, I can understand why some might feel that way. The request came at a time where we weren't sure of the future of the blog. We knew that to go to the next level would take a small outlay to put together a new website and hire someone to help manage multiple retreats.

      We reached out to ask for support after giving 3.5 years of content for free (and countless additional hours on the side writing one-on-one emails, going on walks in the park, offering phone calls and skype sessions for free). We were grateful for the donations, but even more grateful for the show of support. Knowing there were people out there who stood behind what we'd done and wanted to do was huge. It helped fuel a lot of the work we did last year.

      The donation money was not substantial. Even on our low cost budget down here, is was spent within about a month on the planned website and the needed assistant to carry the whole thing out..

      I realize that still won't satisfy many who feel as you do. So perhaps it will help you to know that after the year was finished, we donated more than double to the Hogar Miguel Leon Orphanage than was donated to us through that original request. Worst case and most self-serving scenario, we gave away everything (and more) that was given to us to what I know is a very worthy cause.

      We're not traipsing around on donor's money. The only donations we'll be asking for in the future will be to help causes like the girls orphanage, and other projects we look forward to supporting.

      Those who did donate, even if it was $5, will receive future product discounts much greater than that as a token of gratitude for their support when we were contemplating if we could really make the kind of shift we knew we needed to for this effort to continue.

      I realize that even still, that will not cause you to approve of anything that we do. It's not designed to. I never felt entitled to anyone's donation or support, and I don't feel entitled to your approval of what I do.

      I do, however, expect that even when disagreeing, it can be done civilly.

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    10. Danny, relatively-speaking you lead a very rich life. Let's just get that out there. If you don't feel entitled to anyone's donation or support, you and Mara currently do not have jobs, you generate Brooklyn rental income, you profit off of retreats, then why ask for donations? That's fine if you want to agree to disagree with half of your readers (and you want that done civilly), but try to understand where the average American is coming from: working full-time, raising kids on one income, getting laid off and having to live off of unemployment. Then watching you and Mara live abroad, hire help, and ask for blog donations. It's insulting. Have some compassion instead of justifying your request. How are readers to know that the full donation went to the orphanage? That wasn't transparent at all. If you are going to give away everything that was donated to you up-front, why don't you say that to begin with? To the rest of us, it seems as if you truly are traipsing around with donor funds.

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    11. Rude!! So rude and hateful. This is a blog about LOVE. You should stop reading and trolling through the security of Anonymous if you don't like what's going on here. Ugh!!

      Mara and Danny - you do NOT need to defend yourselves or justify what you do with your income or how you choose to live. You guys are amazing.

      And I can't believe you don't delete comments like the above. You have much thicker skin than I do! I would be like - delete delete delete peace out suckers! :) haha Just another example of how much better people you are than me :)

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    12. oh my goodness, interesting how people seem to confuse "ask for donation" and "i force you to give me some money". its all free choice. and isn t it totally normal to ask ? ask for help, ask for support, ask for patience...ask for money. now you decide do you want to give it? are you able to ? everything is fine. one gives. the other doesn't. i just don t get what the problem is.
      if you go into a shop and you don t like what they offer, do you walk around and tell them how offended you are because you don t like what they offer?
      it s just an offer. isn t it ?

      let s try new things, people, there is much more possibility in our beautiful life than we think.
      Follow your joy even if it seems small. and lets not be afraid of our possibilities even if the circumstances look narrow. i believe there is abundance in our life. The question i am asking myself is "am i open to receive?"

      sending love to everyone,
      uma

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  2. I'm so glad that you love the book! The whole time I was reading it all I could think was that my goodness, Mara would love this book. She really speaks your language! I think I've read the book at least 5 times through now, if not more. I keep re-reading the section on relationships these days :-) Sending you lots of love my friend!

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    1. Oh yessss...my language indeed. ;) And your's, too! It was fun to see it written out so beautifully. XO

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  3. So one observation I'd like to share is that comments by readers tell more about those readers than about the blogger(s). Insecurity is something with which we all wrestle; often it brings out jealousy and anger which are secondary emotions when we are hurting. I am happy outsourcing is allowing you to reallocate resources in your energy budget! When I find myself in awe of certain aspects in my life, I am so grateful, and the humility/gratitude fruits always translate to more love for others--never to selfishness and greed. Thank you for your self care in whatever areas you need; it nourishes you which endows your messages with raw love, feeling, and power as you go about doing good in this world.

    I am Republican. I sit in a very interesting space as I see the numbers for Trump. Yes, I will vote Democratic in Nov. Similar to my previous comment, the votes tell me more about the voters than anything. But the numbers are all the more reason for us to love and live uprightly and kindly. Pride, hate-speech, and love of fame/money are symptoms of a much deeper loss inside the individual.

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    1. Sarah -thank you so much for this wise and kind comment. It's so true that blogs can often bring out emotions in people. One thing that is interesting to me is a blog post is a small slice of someone's life - and yet so many assumptions are made. So those emotions (of insecurity or jealousy or anger, etc.) are often made on false assumptions. I would say this is true across social media. There is just so, so much that a reader does not know or does not realize.

      Also, yes, it's all about allocating resources in the best way you can. And I know everyone is probably trying to do that in the best ways they are able - for the goals or needs that they have. Right now, every dollar counts as we work to build a sustainable effort. But also, every minute counts as well. So having some kitchen help is immensely valuable as the lifestyle and conveniences are different here... we don't have a dishwasher, we have zero take-out options, we already spend hours on foot at the vegetable market, and we eat nearly every ounce of food from scratch, etc. We'd practically have no time left for this effort if we tried to do it all alone.

      Also, thanks for your thoughts about self-care. I think for the most part, people look down upon others who take care of themselves, or who slow down, or do less, or hire things out. It could be seen as selfish or luxurious or lazy. And I've seen people shame each other over it. It boggles my mind. But really, self-care could be the very thing that is FUELING an effort or a business or a family. It does, indeed, nourish and power what we do here- as I'm afraid it would be impossible to do it well otherwise. My only hope is that everybody could figure out a way to get the care or help that they need for their own goals and endeavors. I've personally had to work on shifting my own paradigms to make this happen, and I think it might be possible for other's to do it, too, even if they feel stuck financially. In many cases, I think it just takes a little creativity and reallocating of resources to make it happen.

      Also, thank you for your beautiful comments about the election. So true - all the reason for us to love and live uprightly and kindly.

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    2. Hi Mara, it's interesting that you mention not having a dishwasher, as if that is a big sacrifice. Do you have a washing machine? Now that would be a big sacrifice and yet, in the third world country where I grew up that's the norm. Washing clothes by hand.

      Again, does your housekeeper/cut-in-small-sizes kitchen helper not work her ass off? Does she earn enough that she can afford a kitchen helper/go on holidays? Notice where I am going with this?

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    3. Ugh. What an awful person this is!
      It's obviously someone who has never traveled. I love how they keep saying you live "abroad". It makes it sound as though you lived in Paris in an apartment overlooking the Seine - not in a third-world country where sacrifices are made every day.
      I live in Mexico with my husband and kids. It's a wonderful life here, but not always a comfortable one. I imagine it's similar in Ecuador. Here it's very normal to have a housekeeper or maid. It's not just foreigners who hire housekeepers, it's locals as well. Hiring help is a vital part of the local economy.
      Ironically enough, I used to clean houses when I lived in the States and there was nothing demeaning about it. It's a great job with flexible hours and the housekeepers I know here feel the same way. And yes, they are able to travel and enjoy a full and rich life, lol. It's just a normal job!
      I hope you enjoy the rest of your time "abroad";-)

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    4. Ugh. What an awful person this is!
      It's obviously someone who has never traveled. I love how they keep saying you live "abroad". It makes it sound as though you lived in Paris in an apartment overlooking the Seine - not in a third-world country where sacrifices are made every day.
      I live in Mexico with my husband and kids. It's a wonderful life here, but not always a comfortable one. I imagine it's similar in Ecuador. Here it's very normal to have a housekeeper or maid. It's not just foreigners who hire housekeepers, it's locals as well. Hiring help is a vital part of the local economy.
      Ironically enough, I used to clean houses when I lived in the States and there was nothing demeaning about it. It's a great job with flexible hours and the housekeepers I know here feel the same way. And yes, they are able to travel and enjoy a full and rich life, lol. It's just a normal job!
      I hope you enjoy the rest of your time "abroad";-)

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    5. Paige- so nice to read this. As a fellow expat down south, you know how much hiring help is just a part of life - and just about everyone with a profession or a house will usually hire maids or gardeners. And these people aren't necessarily wealthy at all. They just work it into their budget as a priority, prob much like Americans just work insurance or gas into their budget. It's just what you do and it's not out of the ordinary at all. I think it's fantastic that there are ZERO social judgements when someone here hires out. In the states, as is representative here in the comments, people shame each other for hiring employees. I don't get it. The idea that people should do EVERYTHING with their two bare hands is just nuts. And I get it that certainly not everyone in the states could afford to outsource. But I also think people don't make it a priority. They choose other ways to spend their money. And often hiring out is not even an option morally- because someone may feel that they "should" be able to do it all.

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  4. I will second and THIRD keeping your blog name! It's so simple and so perfect. :) It tells someone everything they need to know before they even get here. So hurrah for keeping the name! And oh, geez... The Trump factor... I'm a Democrat, so I sort of think it'd be great if Trump was the nominee, bc then the Dem would have an easier time sailing through, but I kept thinking last night as I watched Super Tuesday results coming in, "I wonder how many phone calls Mitt is getting tonight." ;)

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    1. Ah, thanks for the thoughts on the name. :)

      AND - it's true! I can only hope that Hillary will have an easy win on this. Though - ugh - it's still so awful to me that Trump will continue to be in the limelight for another 8 months with his hateful campaign. He's done SO much damage already and I cringe at what is to come. And yes, Mitt Romney seems like a dream Rep. candidate about now. It will be interesting to see if he or any independents come forward.

      Thanks for the comment - XOXO

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    2. You hope Hillary will have an easy win on this? What planet are you living on? Do you know about her email server scandal? Do you know about the 4 lost souls who died because of her choices or lack of in Benghazi? You've been away so long you don't have a clue as to what's happening in the real world anymore Mara. Trump is trying to protect this country from all the terrible killings. And Mitt should mind his own business since he's nothing but a loser when he should have won this election. So please, stay in your nice little fairy tale world over there and leave the comments about politics to those who are well informed.

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    3. Wow - that's a pretty snide tone you're taking.

      Whilst I won't defend Hilary, I do expect any politician will make decisions that will result in people dying. I have no doubt that Trump as a politician will too. Trump isn't 'protecting' either, when he uses language to incite hatred.

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  5. I saw Marianne Williamson at the Parliament of World Religions in SLC last fall and I'm reading her book now too and loving it. And I, too, have thought - I wonder if Mara has read this - she would love it. :) I tried reading a Course of Miracles a few years ago and it was too rambly and schizo-ish for me to get through but I appreciate marianne's take on it. Are you still studying the Course? What do you think?

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    1. Hi Amanda! So - our start w/ the course has gotten delayed. We were thinking of possibly getting the book sent to Ecuador somehow - but it's best to just buy it while in the states. So it's already ordered and we'll be picking it up shortly during our trip which starts NEXT WEEK (I can't believe it). I, too, have heard that it's hard to get through the book. Though some have said once they get the hang of it - or begin to understand some of the language style - that it does get easier. So we're going to give it a try. In the meantime, I want to read everything by Marianne Williamson! XO

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  6. Hi guys! I just wanted to say that I always encourage people to hire house cleaners! They are the best! I have a teenage girl come a couple hours a week and those are the best two hours! The kids and I go out and play, I can run errands, and she gets money to do the things she wants! It's a win-win!
    About the election...I have been a bit stressed about it! It just baffles me that Trump has made it this far!!!
    Also, I just wanted to say that you guys rock! I always love reading your blog and I really appreciate the time and energy that you put into it!

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    1. Amazing - so cool you've been able to work that out with a house cleaner. And I'm guessing the girl loves to earn some extra money. I cleaned some neighbor's homes when I was a teenager as well. My sister and I both did it and people raved about our cleaning! It was actually a confidence boost to be valued as a worker, to be proud of our work ethic, and to be empowered by earning our own money.

      Also, a cute story - in Brooklyn - every once in awhile we'd get a knock on the door from a 10 yr old neighbor kid and he'd say: "Do you have any jobs for me?" I just LOVED his resourcefulness. He said he was saving money for something. So I GLADLY had him prepare the recycling (which he did like a champ), clean out the microwave, and load the dishwasher. It was the biggest help ever. Hoping he's still in business when we return. :)

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    2. I love your story about the little boy! Reminds me of my four year old who is always in a business endeavor to earn money! Thank you for supporting his small business 😊

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  7. I am generally skeptical of outsourcing household work - not in this instance (I don't judge it on an individual basis), but as a general practice in society. First, cleaning, cooking and other tasks are generally seen as "women's work." (Though thankfully, men do their fair share or more in a small percentage of households these days, including Danny!) Among most people I know who outsource, it's to avoid having to confront or fight about gender norms in their household and to avoid the men having to do their fair share. I'd rather see a world where men do half the work than one where we outsource this conflict and men get to continue to avoid it.

    Second, when we outsource this work, it's almost always to low-paid women who work in the informal economy with no benefits, protections or safety nets (whether in the US or poorer countries). Again, not progress for society even though it might free up the time of those who can afford such services.

    As an alternative I'd suggest 1) sharing household tasks evenly 2) parents expecting much greater contributions from kids, who can do a lot of housework and who shouldn't be catered to 3) reducing one's standards - cleaning less often and less perfectly won't hurt anyone 4) living simpler - smaller dwellings, simpler meals, owning less stuff to manage and clean - all that means less time spent cleaning and managing a household 5) an increase in cooperative living situations - I know 2 single mothers who share a home, and it reduces their costs and chores so much. And I'm sure there are many other ideas that would help.

    PS
    Your blog name is perfect. Glad others agree. And congratulations on the success of upcoming retreats. Very exciting news!

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    1. I forgot to mention one other concern with outsourcing this work, which is that it replies on having a permanent source of low-income laborers who have few other choices. For example, in the US, this work is done almost exclusively by people who are poor, brown, and often immigrants. In a society where everyone had access to fair wages, healthcare and reasonable job options, there would be no affordable labor for individuals to have housekeepers (which is why rich countries keep importing this labor from poor countries via legal and illegal immigration). I just think it's hard to outsource work like this in the US without contributing to lots of other societal problems.

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    2. Hmmm...I get what you are saying on a really macro level, but I don't think a number of your issues with this really apply to everyone. For instance, I have three children under age 8 and both my husband and I work full time (and commute). We both clean up quite a bit, but I LOVE that I can pay someone to do the deep clean my house needs every other week so I can spend my free time on weekends doing family activities. It has improved my life immeasurably to not have to keep up with this type of cleaning (and it definitely needs to be cleaned).

      Second, we pay our cleaning woman (and yes, they are almost all women--I can't argue with that point) $25 an hour, which she does on her own schedule (she is self employed). I have a hard time calling that low income work. And that is completely the going rate, if not a little cheap for our area (Midwest). We have employed 3 different women at various times to clean our house and they have been: a white woman in her 50s who did it for extra cash for her two kids in college, a white woman in her 30s who made cleaning houses her full time business and was quite sucessful, and currently we have a white woman in her 20s, who has a full time job (where she makes $11 an hour) and does this on the side to save up enough money to buy a house. I hardly think we are "contributing to lots of other societal problems" by employing any of them.

      I am sure that some of the issues you bring up are real. However, it is so judgmental and condescending to think that a. people don't have valid reasons to hire someone to clean their home, and b. all people who clean homes are only doing it because they can't get any other work, and are being victimized by it.

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    4. Hi Anon 1- Thank you so much for the comment and points of consideration! You have addressed many things worth chewing on. I do agree that it's certainly a problem that household work is most often seen as women's work. And that the majority of men do less housework than women. Ugh. That's a hard one to fix as there are just sooo many deeply embedded societal issues.

      At the same time, I think a job as a housekeeper CAN be a great stepping stone or a great opportunity for certain phases of life, etc. whether it's due to flexible hours, ease of entry, close proximity to home, etc. I know housekeepers can be major assets to households and some people even take pride in that kind of work. Certainly it's up to any employer to treat their employees with fairness and to create a win win situation for all. I also love the idea of being a support system to your employees - and perhaps helping them to gain more skills or education, perhaps finding them job leads or opportunities, writing recommendations, etc. In my dreams it would be amazing to send an employee to college! I know a family here in EC that does that - a young woman lives in their home and she nannies and cleans - but they also pay for her college tuition, books, transportation, etc. etc. So amazing.

      Also, even in households where housework is not seen as women's work or men's work (as is in our case), I can see that the house work could still be so much that neither actually want to do it. For us, we'd rather work on our endeavor as much as possible instead of spending many extra hours a week washing dishes (eating from scratch creates a ton of dishes!). And other families may have all kinds of varying needs. So I can definitely still see a great need for housekeepers, even in gender equal households.

      I also do love your lifestyle suggestions! I totally support the idea of kids having responsibilities at a young age. And what a great idea to combine households if it could lead to a greater family operation. And I love the idea of simplifying life. We're way into that, too. Though even then, ha, I can still absolutely see the value in hiring some tasks out! Personally, I want to hire out as many tasks as my finances will allow! Except dog walking. I totally dig taking my doggie girls for their walks and hope that I'll be able to continue pulling that off. :)

      Thanks, again, for adding to the discussion - and reminding everyone of some important ethical issues involved. No doubt, our society could improve big time in regards to the issues you mentioned.

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    5. Anon 2 - Thanks for contributing! I love this discussion. And I do agree that housekeepers are so valuable. And not all housekeepers are victims. Certainly there are macro problems in the industry - but i support the idea of individuals doing their best to create good and fair opportunities for those in need of work.

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    6. Thanks for the discussion, Mara. It's especially nice to hear about employers who are trying to help their household employees besides paying an hourly wage. Never would have thought of paying for college - so generous.
      Anon 1

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    7. This is very interesting to me. I have a South African friend who lives in an area of South Africa with terrible income disparity. She employs several people to do various work in her home (cleaning, gardening, etc). She feels it's her responsibility to create job opportunities because she has worked hard and been fortunate to have a successful career that pays very well. It's a responsibility she takes very seriously and I know she pays her staff well and gives them opportunities they wouldn't have had otherwise. I thought I would share because it's a viewpoint that I hadn't been exposed to before (I'm American). Previously I might have aligned with the first anonymous poster and been concerned about the exploitation of workers, but my friend has opened my eyes to another possibility.

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    8. Yes- I agree with this. Anytime someone can be employed, it's a good thing. And if someone is in a financial position to do the hiring whether it's for business or home, it helps to fuel the economy. And even if housekeeping or gardening or whatever is not someone's dream job, hopefully it can be a stepping stone and a way to develop work ethic or confidence, a way to get recommendations, etc.

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    9. I really appreciate the first anonymous' articulate comments. Whilst we hire a cleaner (and you are SO right, it's instead of gendered arguments); I feel weird about my nails getting done by Vietnamese, or massages. I feel like I'm supporting low skill, low pay migrant labour, which is better than them not having jobs, but the labour for them isn't a good job. I recall asking my nail technician if she liked my job, and with perfect English, she raised an eyebrow as if to say 'are you kidding?' and the struggled to articulate what would be a 'dream job' cause the concept isn't even feasible for her. I suppose there's HUGE demand for 'services' which are rough. To have 5 nail places in one smallish mall? It says something to me, but I still participate.

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    10. I don't know how I didn't see these comments when they were new, but I have to say I think it's ridiculous people are worried that you asked for a donation, and then hire help. I didn't even donate at the time because I didn't feel like I could (hopefully that kind of thing is in my future). But I see nothing wrong with asking for donations. Danny and Mara are not begging. They are doing a service, and if you are helped by this service, you are welcome to contribute. That's all they said. It's like giving your waiter a tip. Who's going to ask the waiter what he spends his money on? Why does he have to be dirt dirt poor in order for us to feel worthwhile about giving him a tip?

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    11. Thank you, Erin! I agree wholeheartedly. :) I think people SHOULD desire to get paid for what they do. I know I do. And there is nothing wrong with it.

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  8. I cleaned while my husband was in residency because it was flexible, paid well, I could bring my kids and we needed the extra cash. And I'm a 30 something white college educated former biochemist woman who chose to stay home after our second kid was born. I'm glad the income was there and in the future when we can afford it (damn you medical school loans!) I would love to hire some help and pay them well. Currently I stay at home but have a sitter come once a week so that I can do whatever the hell I want for three hours a week. And it's awesome and I am a better mom, wife and friend because I can go sit in a coffee shop and read or do nothing. It took me some time to not feel guilty for doing it but I am learning that the better care I take of myself the better I can care for other people.

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    1. Love this. A lot. And keep rocking the "whatever the hell you want."
      I also think there are creative ways for MANY people to pull this off - whether it's renting out a room here and there on Airbnb to earn extra cash, providing swaps for skills, cleaning, or childcare, getting a traveler from workaway.com to stay and work in exchange for housing, selling something for extra cash, offering free housing to a cousin or niece/nephew or student in exchange for housework. Anyway, I say if there's a will, there's a way.

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  9. Mara and Danny you are the absolute best. It is a pleasure and honor to any and all who choose to support you in this great cause of changing the world.

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    1. XOXOXO THANK YOU! We love this beautiful community and feel thankful for your support.

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  10. I wonder what your readers would think about me not only outsourcing my housekeeping but staying in a hotel in Manhattan on Friday nights so I can sleep in on Saturdays since she likes to come early. Knowing the value of your time is a grossly underappreciated skill. Maybe I'll start a blog about opportunity cost ;)

    Cheers from a traffic jam on the GWB!

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    1. From a fellow New Yorker, I get you. You're my kind of girl.

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  11. Wow - was not expecting all the social and gender equity comments. Seem extreme and off-base in these circumstances! Maybe I'm biased because I sometimes ask our (beloved and well-compensated) nanny to cut veggies/fruit for me as dinner prep -- much more efficient for me, and a quick, easy task for her.

    Anywhoooo, wanted to thank Mara for articulating her statement about Trump. I couldn't agree more, but you expressed my feelings perfectly, just in a more positive tone. Maybe I should stop the rants in my head and just be OK with feeling "heart sick" at this current phenomenon. I am a Democrat, but am still confused why, with all the brilliant, fair, and reasonable Republicans in our country, the Republican candidate pool is so weak this year. Such a disappointment. Team Madame President! :)

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    1. I do agree with you. I think being able to hire out puts one in a position to really be a good influence on someone - and to empower them. Certainly not everyone makes that a priority - but I think we all should. I have been MASSIVELY influenced by my bosses over the years, starting as a young girl with various jobs I had in the neighborhood, and then my first "real" job that I had in high school. Oh my goodness - what a confidence booster - and what opportunities and development came to me due to my boss and her encouragement and positive influence on me.

      Also, yes - I'll be going for Hillary all the way in this election. I truly cannot imagine Trump winning, but it's extremely unfortunate he'll get to continue being in the limelight for way too long.

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    2. I can't stand Trump. But Hillary? What is her appeal besides being female?

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    3. For me, if it was trump or Hillary, I'd have a hard time voting at all. I lean libertarian, and even though Sanders is completely against many of my ideas of correct policy, I at least trust him. I'd rather feel as though someone is being honest while disagreeable, and I don't get that feeling from trump, nor from Hillary and the surrounding scandals.

      So in this area, Mara and I differ.

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    4. I am fairly libertarian as well and this election is a sad state of affairs. I used to think Sanders would be okay, but after reading more about his life choices I don't think I'd be comfortable with him "leading" our nation. I am glad my faith is in Christ. I am not sure who I will vote for at this point. I may be writing in a name just to exercise my right.

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    5. Hi Sage! I technically did speak too soon - as I'm assuming at this point that the race will be between Clinton and Trump. So out of those two, I would certainly vote for Hillary. My actual preference is Sanders, however. But it's looking like he likely won't be an option. Certain Hillary has baggage - and pretty much every candidate does. So it's just a matter of voting for people with the baggage that you can handle the most. ha. Though I also feel for candidates as they are under such a scrutinizing spotlight at all times and the media just goes wild about anything they can.

      Also, for me, I don't believe in not voting. I feel that allows others to make decisions for you. So I'm all for voting - even if a candidate is not perfect to me, which I don't think they ever will be.

      Also, I must say that I am THRILLED at the idea of having a female president. This would be HUGE for the world and for every young girl alive. I am so ready for this - and it feels hugely overdue. It would be exciting to me to see that history unfold. And, I think Hillary is intelligent and a strong leader - and her lifelong public service is incredibly impressive. She is definitely the most "presidential" to me and would represent our country in many positive ways.

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  12. So I haven't even talked about this at all because the discussions easily get heated and dramatic and contentious and I try to stay away from that all together, but your blog is a place of love so if there is any where to comment, it would be here! But I want trump to win. I'm a big supporter of gender equality and feminism and a lot of the things he isn't known for, however I 100% will be voting for him and would love to see him in office. I think it's scary to voice that because I see people saying that and then getting hate mail just because their views on trump and people getting shamed to the bone. I wish that weren't the case because I think honest dialogue would help the situation. Not that it would make everyone agree, but it could open our hearts to kindness and love for each other for a start. I think people who like trump have received so much backlash it's also hard to believe. I'm not saying people shouldn't express their opinions but just because I want trump to win doesn't mean I'm a bad person or less humane and the stuff I have seen on Facebook and comments to people who support trump is despicable. Honest conversation is great but shaming people for having opinions is not the way to peace. You guys haven't done this. That's why I'm writing on your blog and not on Facebook. I have never wrote my option on anything public at all! But I do wish there was a way to dialogue about these things in a way to learn and understand each other and not to bolster our own opinions in hopes of conforming others but rather in hopes of loving others and understanding and uniting. I think that if what would make America great again!! ��

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    1. I'm so curious, Anonymous: Why do you support Trump?

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    2. You're absolutely right that it's completely unacceptable the way people are being cruel to Trump supporters. But that's what is so concerning to me about Trump himself. He is cruel, unkind, insulting and offensive. He lacks basic human decency. Which makes it sad for me to see people who dislike him responding to his supporters in like manner. But being persecuted doesn't automatically make one's cause noble.

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  13. Yes I will elaborate on why I support him.... Just had a busy evening and day today.. will elaborate more sometime this weekend. :) Thanks for your kind responses! And yes I agree... we should definitely not support someone just because they're being persecuted! I was just meaning that I haven't voiced exactly why I support him because i don't want to take part in all of that.

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    1. Only if you feel called to reply, Anonymous. I now understand why you haven't voiced your reasons, and maybe you'd prefer not to because the conversation could become uncivil. So, I'll leave it up to you—and won't be offended in the slightest if you decide to leave your politics off the page. I was curious and wrote my comment without really considering that you might not want to elaborate. Best wishes. xx

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  14. I would have a hard time voting for either candidate as well. Not that I am a supporter of either party, but tend to vote for the person running...so I have gone back and forth. I do have a close friend in the secret service. His opinion is slightly interesting to me as he protects these folks and travels with them. His observations on the current president and staff vary, but Hilary is someone he said he would be greatly concerned with. Hes given me a lot of inside info that would be very scary if she was elected and or came to light. Shes not a nice person, nor honest, nor right to run our country in the slightest. Help us all if she ends up being President.

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