Learning How To Live This New Life

A new family has just moved into our apartment in Brooklyn. They have a child and a dog. That once was going to be me. They’ll meet friends for playdates at Prospect Park. They’ll sleep with a wall between them and the magic of Brooklyn all around. They’ll sit by the window and watch life take place below: neighbors chatting, people off to change the world, old Italian women meeting next door for homemade meatballs, and moms and dads on foot with strollers and groceries. They’ll order take-out from one of thirty amazing restaurants and have it delivered within 15 minutes. They’ll put rugs down for pitter pattery feet in honor of the neighbors below. And soak in my extra wide bathtub. Will they want a chalkboard wall in the kitchen? I had been planning on a chalkboard wall in the kitchen once we had kids.

It’s so strange to think of the life I thought would take place there. Our baby. Our stroller. Our playdates at the park followed by bath time in that tub.

I never could’ve guessed we would be here. In South America. Danny and I – and now our doggie girl whom we simply adore. I’m sitting on a couch that probably wouldn’t even fit in my Brooklyn apartment. Even though I love tiny apartments! All of this is a trip. And so unexpected.

It feels like we’ve been traveling the world lately even though I thought we’d be settled in meeting friends on Sunday afternoons under the Brooklyn Bridge and going to brownstone BBQs like I was doing in the photo above (while visiting Brooklyn this July). And now we’re planning out a year that boggles my mind: perhaps a spiritual journey to India (and so why not a visit to China, too?); an expedition to Machu Piccu, Bolivia, and Patagonia; and how about a retreat in Australia and Kauai – because we’ve been invited; and another U.S. Tour for our retreats – because a farmhouse in PA is calling our name; and some retreat alumni in Seattle and Las Vegas want to host us, too. We are also now starting the planning process for an online program for people who want to transform their lives and marriages. And we are very, very close to editing some content we have for a book (hint: ‘Love Story‘ fans will be very happy about it.) Holy smokes.

So there you have it.

This is unreal to me.

And yes, I know, all of this is an experience of a lifetime.

And yet sometimes I don’t know how to live this life. No one taught me how to live this life.

I don’t know how to publish a book. I don’t know how to run this little ship in the most efficient way. But I guess I don’t know how to unfold a stroller, either. So together, whatever you are doing and I am doing – let’s believe that we can do it!! Let’s make it the best we possibly can. No matter how unknown or unexpected our lives are, step by step, we can learn how to thrive regardless of what we have before us. I know it.

Are you struggling with living the life that you have before you? Or are you facing something unexpected? I’d love to hear about it. Isn’t it so nice that we’re not alone? 

Lots of love to all, 


P.S. Tomorrow I’ll share a post about something I’m doing right now to help me thrive even more as I continue down this path we’re on. It’s totally helping. 

Take a leap and register now for our Body+Soul Camp retreat in Ecuador Oct. 11-17. I *promise* you that you won’t regret it and that it will be a week of a lifetime. I think it’s safe to say that our guests would tell you to do anything you could to get there. More testimonials coming. 

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  1. Utah Girl Am I August 13, 2015 at 4:37 pm - Reply

    Mormon, single at 30, and back in Utah after 5 years in DC – yep, I'd say I'm living a life I wasn't expecting, but I'm trying my best to enjoy the journey I'm on, bc I really believe everything happens for a reason. Excited to read your post tomorrow!

    PS I really loved this article from this month's Ensign/Liahona! It's about patience, and it was really inspiring. 🙂 https://goo.gl/JS3OTe

    • mara August 13, 2015 at 6:28 pm - Reply

      Yay for enjoying the journey!!!! That is POWERFUL and no small feat! Thanks for sharing the inspiration here. Sending you love as you continue on that path and may you thrive and feel you have everything you need. XOXO

  2. Alyssa August 13, 2015 at 4:39 pm - Reply

    This definitely hit me today. I think, for me, it comes from the notions I thought I had about where I'd be at various ages. I'm 25 and to me that means I should be engaged/married. Or at the very least, seriously dating someone. I work at a job that I do love, but know that financially, I have so far to go. I have an apartment by myself that I also love (OH DO I LOVE IT!), but some days I wake up and think "Who am I and how is this my reality?" And while it's full of blessings and love and opportunity, it also at times feels oddly like I'm watching from above, rather than living it. Prayers for you, for me, for us all as we navigate.

    • mara August 13, 2015 at 6:25 pm - Reply

      Alyssa, thanks for writing in. I feel for you with the age thing. I think as a woman, you can't help but consider your age at each stage. Of course I could say to you – 25 is SO young! Marriage and family and relationships have plenty of time to develop! (Which I do believe.) Ha. But, of course, what matters the most is what you say to yourself regarding your age. I remember during all those years of infertility appointments, every nurse would say…."You are soooo young; you have SO much time." – yet I was well into my thirties and definitely felt differently about my age than they did. So, my friend – I hear you. May we both embrace our age – and LIVE IN IT FULLY without fear of the future. It is truly the best way. Much love to you.

  3. Katy DeBardelaben August 13, 2015 at 4:56 pm - Reply

    An, this breaks my heart a little. I mean, I know you guys are living a beautiful, blissful, peaceful, love-filled life but I so want a child for you. It's now been a year since you and Danny decided to stop pursuing children and I'm curious…do you still feel the same now as you did then? Do you think the prospect of adoption is something you could ever muster up the courage to go through? Sending love and light!

    • mara August 13, 2015 at 6:12 pm - Reply

      Hi dear Katy, thanks for writing. I still feel the same. It has a lot to do with our current situation that started right after the last IVF. Danny quit his job. And we don't make a livable income from this endeavor. And since we don't live in the U.S., have jobs, have insurance, have income, have an address, etc., adoption would be very difficult and likely impossible. In order for it to happen, it seems we'd need to change literally everything and move, find jobs, stay put, and dedicate a lot of money and time to the process instead of other things. That path just hasn't seemed possible currently and hasn't spoken to me enough. It's still a surprise to me. And it's also still somewhat uncomfortable – but not enough to change everything and continue the pursuit. So I work to accept it all as it is. And still have a desire to live the best life I can under these circumstances. Thank you for your love! Love, Mara

    • Katy DeBardelaben August 13, 2015 at 7:49 pm - Reply

      O! One more thing I've been meaning to tell you guys! You should seriously be guests on the podcast "The Longest Shortest Time". It's a really fantastic podcast about parenting (and so much more really), but always think of you guys when I listen and think you could offer a great perspective on what it means when you can't have children. Where you decide to go next when your story doesn't take the turn you anticipated. They have a really large audience too, so it would be a great way to promote your message, your retreats, yourSELVES that are so amazing. Anyway. http://longestshortesttime.com/ -> Scroll down, call for submissions. 🙂

    • Kalen August 14, 2015 at 1:26 am - Reply

      Agree! I love the longest shortest time and your story is one I haven't heard on the show yet.

    • mara August 16, 2015 at 4:16 pm - Reply

      I keep hearing about The Longest Shortest Time. Thanks for the reminder to check it out. We'd also LOVE to do a podcast – that would be so great.

  4. Jessica August 13, 2015 at 6:22 pm - Reply

    I am currently sitting in a hotel getting ready to move to Africa with our 4 little girls. Are we seriously doing this and are we crazy?! It's the unknown probably that makes me nervous at times, but we are so excited! Excited to take the leap, to live life fully and to embrace every circumstance that comes our way. And if we can't buy yogurt because it is not available…we don't need it that bad anyways, right?!

    • mara August 13, 2015 at 6:37 pm - Reply

      What?!? That is INCREDIBLE! And now I'm dying to know what is taking you to Africa. What experiences await you. That IS so exciting.
      By the way, an American couple we know just moved to Ecuador 6 months ago and they have 3 little boys. We just stayed with them after our retreat. And yes, the power goes out often. And no, they don't have a car or TV. And no, they can't get many of the food items they love. But they are fully embracing this adventure and it's amazing to see. They have chickens. A farmer delivers organic produce to their home. They live on tons of land and the boys play their hearts out. I'm learning that moving abroad is all about ACCEPTING what is different and undesirable, and cultivating GRATITUDE for what is amazing & unique about your new home. It's such a process and I'm still working on it in many ways. I wish you so much luck on your journey! It will be fun for me to think of another expat out there. I personally don't know of too many, actually. All the best, Mara

  5. Anonymous August 13, 2015 at 8:20 pm - Reply

    "Let's believe that we can do it!! Let's make it the best we possibly can" Thank you for this today. I have been struggling lately with not wanting to accept my current situation. My life is beautiful, but my husband is in his last year of medical residence and interviewing for a possible move (Maybe to New York!!) He is overwhelmed, stressed and emotionally absent most days. I am trying to be supportive and grateful for the wonderful things in my life, but I miss him and want to connect more. I am working on accepting the lack of control I have over all of this and trying to choose happiness. I love your blog! You guys inspire me more than you know.

    • mara August 13, 2015 at 8:22 pm - Reply

      THANK YOU dear soul. So glad to connect with you today.

  6. Jordana August 13, 2015 at 8:38 pm - Reply

    Mara, this post actually made me miss you! Is that weird? I feel like I can hear your voice through your writing and I love that! 🙂 My thoughts on this post are kind of the flip side. Even if you are living the life you always thought you would and everything seems to be going as planned you might still wake up one day and not be sure if it's what you really wanted. But it's amazing that no matter where we're at we can do the work to be happy with our life no matter what it looks like! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us so that we can all learn to thrive!!!

    • Quinne August 14, 2015 at 9:57 pm - Reply

      Jordana, so good to see your name! How are you??

    • mara August 16, 2015 at 4:25 pm - Reply

      Jordana – I miss you, too. And Quinne as well. Seriously, can we just all hang out again? I loved that so, so much. And thanks for sharing your perspective here as well. It's so crazy how really – so many of us experience similar things even though our lives are so different. Also, it's so very cool that working to tap into our highest identity and be a woman of Love is also something we all can do. I feel so connected to you all as we work on that. Much love, M

    • Jordana August 17, 2015 at 3:10 am - Reply

      Yes let's do that again!!! 🙂 Quinne, I'm doing really good! It's so good to see your name too. It's so cool that just 2 days together with people you've never met can you all feel so connected.

  7. Rebekah Leigh August 14, 2015 at 5:05 am - Reply

    It's incredible how the life we think we should have holds us back from the incredible possibilities of life awaiting us. So excited for a book and an online class. Seriously the best news ever!

    • mara August 16, 2015 at 4:17 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Rebekah! So lovely to see your name here, as always. And now it's just amazing to me that I now know you in person. So awesome.

  8. This Girl loves to Talk August 14, 2015 at 10:20 am - Reply

    I'm in Australia 🙂 If you need any assistance

    • mara August 14, 2015 at 6:53 pm - Reply

      YAY!!! Your comment name always makes me smile and I feel like old friends. THANK YOU for this kind offer. I will likely take you up on this. The current location idea is in Adelaide due to an offer of a venue there. We have so much to figure out. But we'll be working on it over the next many weeks. 2016 is going to be unreal.

  9. Cathy August 14, 2015 at 6:47 pm - Reply

    Even when you get the "perfect life" – a great husband, beautiful children, a home you love – it isn't forever. My wonderful kids have grown up and live far away. I'm grateful and proud of them and their lives. My husband is my best friend but our life is now about just us. It's a new life that takes bravery to embrace. My sweet MIL needs increased care and I'm glad I'm available and able to do it, but this is a different life also. I love to hear your honesty in loving the life we have. I love hearing about stretching what we think we can do to do what will truly make us happy and promote love and happiness for those we love. There will be more changes in my life – this I'm sure of. I Hope and pray I can meet them all with as much grace as you have.

  10. bechtold clan August 14, 2015 at 7:23 pm - Reply

    I think life is never going to be what we expect right? too many unknowns. Ive learned that the path im on isnt the one I expected, but im here, so i need to be present and enjoy it anyway. i love how you guys seem to be doing that everyday as well. However a lot can still change for you both to allow for a different path too if you let it( kids- i read the response to another posted and it resonated with me) …foster to adopt, or another way to engage in the process that perhaps arent realized yet. dont give that up entirely…:) Sounds like some wonderful things are in-store this next year – excited to read about it!

  11. Anonymous August 15, 2015 at 2:18 pm - Reply

    I don't know if there is change coming….but I need SOMETHING to change. My husband still struggles with pornogrophy. The other night I was sad about it AGAIN and held a gun in my hand. 🙁 Change is coming my way just not sure how or when.

    • mara August 16, 2015 at 4:07 pm - Reply

      Dearest Anon – I hope you see this! I am sending you a whole lot of love right now. I know how difficult it can be in a situation that may feel all wrong. But I want you to know with all of my heart, that I *KNOW* your life can improve and things can be joyful again. I know it. And I'm sending you that hope in case you could use some. Also, a few days ago I started working on a post about porn and what to do if it's affecting your relationship in negative ways. I think that post is for you! I'd love to talk about it with you by phone if you'd like. Write me at mara [at] ablogaboutlove.com and we can get connected easily. I have a U.S. # here in Ecuador and we're on EST. And, may you know that I believe YOU, my dear friend, are needed on this planet. Your gifts. Your smile. Your love. Your stories. Your experiences. You do not have to be defined by your husband or his actions or his behavior towards you. Please know that it's possible to reclaim your self worth and to reclaim your purpose. Also, please, please reach out to a professional therapist. They can be AMAZING in helping you work through situations exactly like this. There are so many techniques available and it's INCREDIBLE to feel like you have someone on your team helping you. If you need help in finding a therapist, I'd be happy to help with that. Sending love and hope your way.

    • xoxo August 17, 2015 at 10:03 pm - Reply

      Agreed! "You do not have to be defined by your husband or his actions or his behavior towards you". Positive affirmations for positive change Mrs. Anonymous. Seek help. You deserve happiness. And self worth. Others are here to guide and love and share strength…especially woman to woman. xo

    • Anonymous August 18, 2015 at 3:54 am - Reply

      I am so sorry! My husband had this problem and it was so very difficult. It horrified me for so many reasons. I felt very low and sometimes I couldn't function well. But I had to regain my self worth despite him and that was exceptionally hard to do, but it can be done. Healing is real even though it may take time.

  12. bostonshumways August 18, 2015 at 2:57 am - Reply

    Oh Mara, you are bursting with wisdom. So happy I came to catch up on your life. there is a lot of light here. Miss you guys!

  13. Anonymous August 18, 2015 at 3:46 am - Reply

    I feel the same way. And I am married and have a beautiful child. BUT I work (never thought that would happen) and sometimes I feel that my real self is home with my child all day long so I can do those play dates and soak up every moment. The reality is that it is not, but I still have a lot to be happy about. It really is all about perspective, as hard as that is.

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