The short story is that my life and work led me here, all of it; the good, the bad, and the painful, because ultimately, everything is serving and informing us.
The longer story and professional narrative is detailed below. You can also view my resume/bio HERE.
In the Fall of 2012, while teaching community health education at Kent State University, I was sent a textbook to review; Designing Healthy Communities by Richard Jackson. It was an unusual textbook, hard-bound, longer horizontally than vertical, and reminiscent of a precious children's book my grandmother had given me when I was 8.
As I opened the book and found my way to the table of contents, I actually cried. I felt as if my personal calling and professional life had finally collided. I was struck, dumbfounded, and in awe that a public health professional with the credentials and experience of Dr. Jackson began his book referencing love. Love! Chapter 1 opens with “What does love or caritas have to do with the built environment?, followed by; “We love our families and our country, but do we really love ourselves?”
Big, beautiful questions and questions which I myself was grappling with professionally in the community health/public health arena, because to me, fundamentally, love seemed like the “missing piece” in all primary prevention efforts from drug and alcohol, to sex education, to nutrition and exercise, and no one, at least to my knowledge, was talking about it publicly-- in a textbook no less!
Flash forward to May of 2014, when I was with my dad during his final days. He would often sleep for long periods of time and wake up to either acknowledge my presence, thank me, or ask a question. This particular day, as he woke up from his rest, he opened his eyes, smiled at me, and said the following before closing his eyes once more:
“Mayra, promise me you'll work on love.”
These simple yet powerful words just lingered, suspended in mid-air, until I slowly breathed them in. His directive was in the context of an earlier conversation he and I were having, and his desire that I stop writing and publishing children's books, and instead produce books to help adults. As a person of “and”, I told him that it was not “either-or”, and that I would, in time, get around to writing for grown-ups. Not knowing exactly what that would entail , or even look like, I said "I'll work on love, Dad."
Publishing became my way into all this work. My first books for grown-ups were actually journals, so they don't count as “books”, but truth is I wasn't sure what the heck I really wanted to say. It would take another 4+ years and the passing of my daughter Serena for me to begin to gain some clarity and to find my voice as a writer and publisher...and that of course, is an ongoing unfolding and exquisite dance.
To me, the way to flourishing is the way of love, which is the way of nature (cooperation) and of the giving and receiving of kindness. Inherently, “designing healthy communities” is not possible until there are enough human beings who understand and embrace this, and that competing for basic resources is inhumane and destructive (to ourselves and others).
All human beings want freedom from fear and to live joyful and productive lives, but this freedom begins on the inside, not the outside. It is heart-work and soul-work. That is the only thing that changes minds, but this change begins with you, and with each of us. Glad you are here!
I offer custom publishing, facilitate dialogue(s), do private coaching*, and lead book studies and courses on social-emotional intelligence, personal peace, systems/spiritual literacy, and flourishing. (*Specializing in adaptive leadership, spiritual mentoring, mindfulness training, and essence literacy.)