Today I’m super excited to introduce you to one of my favorite people: Mara Glatzel. Mara is a self-love coach, a writer, the author of Medicinal Marzipan – one of my favorite blogs about body image and self acceptance, and also author of the brand new book Body Loving Homework – 100 Prompts for Cultivating Self-Love.
It’s a fabulous book, I’ve read it and I’m so excited to be working through it myself (and can I just say, as a designer, I’m totally jealous, the book is GORGEOUS). I asked Mara a few questions about herself, her journey, self love, writing, and more. Don’t miss a special discount on her new book, just for Body Positive Yoga readers, at the end of this post!
Tell us a little about yourself, and what you do.
I work individually with women who are ready to dig deep and make phenomenal, transformative changes in their day to day in regards to their capacity for living their lives instead of going through the motions. These are women who have always secretly suspected that there might be a little bit in store for them, if they could just figure out how to access it. In addition to coaching, I write and create products to help each and every one of us answer the deceptively simple question, “What do you think you deserve?”
How would you describe your style of coaching? What’s the one thing you bring to the table that’s uniquely you?
My style of coaching is a mash-up of clinical skills that I acquired during gaining my masters in social work and the ways of connection that I was born with – listening to what people are saying and what they’re not saying, speaking to them like the gorgeous and intelligent human beings that they are, and utilizing to my own hard learned, real life, practical teachings around self-love. I work with my clients to break down their big, beautiful dreams for themselves into manageable, bite-sized action steps. We celebrate successes and process perceived setbacks. I work with my clients intensively to dig deep into their lived history and consciousness, and begin to bring their talents and heart-felt offerings forward into their daily lives. I tend to curse when I’m really passionate about something, which is often.
What do you think is the biggest obstacle that keeps us from trusting or understanding our bodies?
People who struggle with their bodies use food, money, alcohol and a myriad of other substances to fill the void that appears in the wake of their disconnection from bodies. We act as if our heads are in one part of the house and our bodies are in the other – with nothing but distance and walls separating the two. The biggest obstacle is navigating the labyrinth that stands between us and our most deeply known beliefs. We are the product of our experiences, and the dark underbelly of that truth is that many of those experiences represent the repetition of one fact: you cannot trust your body, your gut, or your intuition. We seek external experts to reconnect the pieces for us, thereby validating our belief that our own truths are not enough. We can pick up the pieces, and choose, instead, to trust those small sparks of vulnerability and inspiration and heart-felt joy to lead us in the right direction.
How has cultivating self-love brought about change in your life?
Cultivating self-love has allowed me the opportunity to enjoy the process of becoming myself. Instead of approaching my life from a perspective of lack and fear – I am able to enjoy the journey that I am on – trusting that things are unraveling as they should. The better question might be, what hasn’t cultivating self-love brought about change in my life? Self-love has changed everything, simply with the whisper of: you deserve much, much more than you have been allowing yourself. It has taught me. I used to think that I would love myself and then YAY, I would be fixed. I have realized that self-love has softened me, deepening my understanding that I will never be perfect, I will never have my shit together in the way I had once hoped I would – and that is a good thing. I work from the perspective of taking strength in my imperfections, finding inspiration in the moments that hit all my buttons, and that which reminds me that I am totally, utterly, human.
Give us a little peek inside Body Loving Homework! What can we expect?
You can expect: 100 prompts to inspire you to re-imagine how you’re living your life, an intro and conclusion, and a series of examples of brave and vulnerable truth-sharing. These are the bones of the book, 100 prompts, 10 weeks, a list of loving instructions. You can also expect: rare and valuable permission to relax into your own experiences, find the beauty in that which has kept you stuck, and the hope for the continuous, and exciting, revision of your best plans for yourself.
You say in your book that writing can have a profound effect on understanding and relating to your body. Why writing? What’s special about writing that helps us to heal and understand?
Truthfully, I don’t expect writing to be as useful a tool for everyone as it is for me. But, for me, writing has provided me with a voice when I have no voice, and the promise of a fresh page when I was deep in the cycle of hating myself and seeking something, anything, to fix me. The reason I love writing is that it provides a container for your experiences – YOU get to author the story and you get to decide how it ends. I love the process of making something that I experienced as ugly or hurtful into something beautiful and well-crafted. In working with clients, I’ve found that writing is a great tool to help them look at their lives from a different point of view – freeing them from the difficulty or fear around expressing these secret dreams and wishes verbally.
You emphasize several times not to edit yourself during this process. What’s so sinister about editing? Tell us more about that.
We love to edit. In the age of the computer, we can highlight an entire passage and remove it from view immediately. I have found that there is something to that moment when you want to close a document without saving or delete without a second thought – the fear around that which was said. Sometimes, it’s because we’ve said something shocking. Sometimes, it’s because we think what we’ve written wasn’t good enough. The purpose of asking people not to edit is to keep those taboo and forbidden words intact, so that we might begin to understand what it is that makes us want to hit delete.
What do you hope that people will take away from Body Loving Homework?
I hope that when people begin reading Body Loving Homework, they feel simultaneously understood, loved, and empowered to reclaim their lives. It is a tool, and though much can be gained from simply reading the words, the true value of the book is in providing yourself with the space to make your writing a priority in life. Your thoughts, dreams, plans, and ideas matter. You can change your life for the better, if you choose. The purpose of this book is to guide you through the process of engaging with yourself on a new level, challenging yourself to dig deeper and shine brighter.
Okay, time for some fun stuff
Favorite quote: “With love, even rocks will open.” – Hazrat Inayat Khan
Favorite word: rigmarole.
Most hated word: Baby talk. As in, between adults. Like “birfday.” Ugh.
Best meal you ever ate: The first meal my sweetheart ever cooked for my family: Braised short ribs, demiglaze, brown butter + bourbon mashed sweet potatoes, and sauteed garlic swiss chard.
Favorite way of moving your body: Swimming, hands down. I grew up by the ocean, and during high school I was the captain of our varsity water polo team. I love hopping in and letting all of my worries wash away.
Desert-island books (you get three): Dangerous Angels by Francesca Lia Block, She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb, and House of Spirits by Isabel Allende.
Your perfect day, described in 7 words: Hot coffee. Computer off. Lots of love.
If you could say just one thing to the person reading this, what would you say?: You are the only expert that you need – trust in yourself and you will have all the answers that you’re looking for.