*let it shine* interview: mara glatzel


In today's installment of my *Let it Shine* interview series, I'm talking with intuitive guide and energy healer, Mara Glatzel.

I've been quietly following Mara's blog on and off for several years, and I finally sheepishly reached out to her last week about doing this interview. It's silly that it took me so long to connect with her given my long-time admiration of Mara and her work, but I'm so glad that I did so I can share her story with you!

Here are a few reasons why I love Mara:

  • She is seriously the best of both worlds. While some blog posts about topics like abundance or self-love or authenticity often feel flimsy and superficial to me, Mara gets into these concepts at a REAL and soul-deep level. She weaves words together like a beautiful silver-flecked tapestry, and has the substance to back it up.
  • She talks about the hard shit we often want to avoid but NEED to talk about: such as grieving the loss of your body fantasy.
  • We have some freaky-cool similarities. We're both pisces, combo INFJ/ENFJ, love Outlander, graduated with our masters in clinical social work the same year... uhhh. I'm pretty sure the universe wants us to be friends.

So without further adieu, let's get into the interview! {And a few comments from the peanut gallery (me) in brackets}

Tell us a little about your background: What brought you where you are now in your work, and what's your primary focus?

I started my business as a personal blog in 2008. Over the years, I found that running it and tending to the community gathering in my little corner of the internet was something that brought me so much joy - and also that delicious feeling of showing up in the world as I am. In 2010, I went back to school for social work, thinking that it would be a beautiful fit for me to work towards becoming a therapist. However, at some point during my two year program, it started to not feel like a perfect fit for me. The work that I was doing was compelling and I loved it, but I was also exhausted verging on being completely burnt out.

In early 2012, I made the decision to combine my love for my website, which had grown quite a bit at that point, and my skills as a therapist to create a coaching business where I could also teach classes and run in person retreats for women. This shift filled me with fear, but there was also the resonance of truth. I could feel myself getting closer and closer to what I was put on this planet to do.

Now, as an intuitive guide for women, I facilitate daily conversations about intention, truth, and celebration. At the core of this work is the deep desire help others live well-intentioned lives, which means… more joy, grit, and vibrant imperfection to spare. 

When you think of your "inner light," what does that mean to you, and what role does it play in your life and work?

I think of my inner light as the brilliant and uniquely powerful expression of my spirit. My inner light is at the truth of who I am - and what I have to offer the world around me. So often, this truth is clouded by who we think we "should" be or what we think that we "should" do and we seek to hide our inner light out of fear that we will be seen as different or that people wouldn't accept us if they truly knew us.

I believe that my inner light is the best part of who I am, and that living and sharing from that place of light allows me to best serve the world around me. When I am able to immerse myself in the vulnerability of showing up in the world exactly as I am, that inner light becomes a beacon that allows my right people, my tribe, to find me. When I allow myself to be witnessed in this way, I provide myself with an opportunity to be loved as I am, to belong as I am. {I am in love with your definition of this!} 

What are a few of your rituals or practices that help you stay inspired and connected to yourself and your purpose?

There are moments when I notice myself getting disconnected from myself. I notice that I am scrolling through my social media pages, again and again, wanting to feel like I am a part of something, but feeling more disconnected each time I log on. Or, I might be scattered and anxious, unable to answer the question: "What would I like to do right now?" Whenever I notice myself starting to feel a bit frayed around the edges, I realize that it is a good time for me to unplug completely. I like to do this for a weekend a month, because it allows me an opportunity to be a human first, to recalibrate to my own inner wisdom instead of trying to tune into the noise of the crowd around me.

{A thousand times yes! You describe this feeling so well that I often get when scrolling on my phone or on the computer, and you're right — JUST UNPLUGGING in that moment is the best possible thing I can do.}

I also incorporate the lunar phases into my life as a touching stone and way to organize my relationship with myself. Each New Moon, I set an intention for the moon cycle ahead. This intention is typically the answer to the question: "What do I need right now?" Then, over the course of the moon cycle, I hold that intention in the forefront of my mind by checking in with it each morning. I find that this helps me focus and align my inner compass with my own truth. (It also helps me keep my eyes on my own paper, which I find is something that keeps distractions at bay and helps me remain illuminated by my own inner light.

So often these days, we only get the "highlight reel" of others' lives via Facebook, Instagram, etc. If we could see you at some of your "real life" less-than-perfect or mundane moments, what might we see?

You might see me wallowing in moments of freak out. There might be tears. Or the gurgle of fear-fueled words spilling out faster than I can stop them. You would see the human moments of exhaustion. The nerves that always seem to accompany the vulnerability of allowing yourself to be seen again and again.

The truth is, insecurity and fear don't go away. They show up whenever you find yourself, again, at your upper limit, struggling to soften and surrender into the newness of showing up authentically through transformation or shifts. Though the fear doesn't go away, there is a particular beauty and skill to allowing yourself to be exquisitely human. I don't believe that I have to do anything perfectly. I just want to do it, even if that includes the messiness of sobbing on the bathroom floor or needing a major pep talk to get it done.

{Again, I 100% agree here — there are so many messages out there about being 'fearless' and not having self-doubt, etc. but I just don't see that approach as reality-based.} 

However, I really try to include these moments in my highlight reel. I think there is an amazing amount of permission in showing your flaws and vulnerabilities on social media. There is a power to celebrating the truth that we don't have to be perfect robots in order to make our dreams come true, that it is ok to have your human experience alongside of your achievement. We are human beings and not robots. We can be afraid and ready. For me, it's really important to show up that way as often as possible.

What's one of your favorite breakfasts?

Mmmm. Avocado toast with a sprinkle of sea salt and scrambled eggs. Plus coffee with coconut milk, of course. {Sign me up!} 

And how about lunch/dinner?

I am a huge fan a big salads or veggie stir fry for lunch - and taking a real, live lunch break. My sweetheart is a professional chef, so she usually has dinner covered.{Ummmm, might be just a tad jealous here. ;D} (Although, I have a particular penchant for turkey burgers and roasted sweet potatoes.)

What feeds you spiritually?

Being out in nature. I find that I am nourished by leaving all of my devices behind and getting out in the fresh air. I live in a beautiful seaside community, so I like to find my way to the beach, dive into a pond, or watch the Osprey hunt over the harbor.

What is your favorite way to move your body?

I have a fondness for unstructured movement like a solid walk or an impromptu dance party.

{Love it! I'm just getting interested in the 5Rhythms, and super excited to explore it. I had a solo dance party this morning before work!}

3 items you always have with you (beyond wallet/keys/phone!)

Portland Bee Balm. Harry potter book on tape (on phone). A pen.

What are some of your absolute favorite fictional books, movies, and albums?

I love YA books and fantasy. Also, anything that Madeleine L'Engle. I'm currently reading my way back through the Wrinkle in Time quintet. Each book is just so gorgeously well-written. {Okay, the universe has given me Madeleine L'Engle twice randomly in one day... I think it's time for me to pick them up finally.} 

I adore television shows that feature quippy crime solvers with a romantic potential - Bones, Castle, etc. My favorite movie is Remember the Titans, but I will be won over by just about any football-themed movie. In this moment, I am also pretty into Vance Joy radio on Pandora. {HIS VOICE!!} 

Which podcasts, books, courses, or other resources have had a real impact on your life?

When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams, Women who Run With Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés
, The Law of Divine Compensation by Marianne Williamson, 
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, 
Trauma Stewardship by Laura Van Dernoot Lipsky‎ {*adds to Amazon wish list*}

What can you tell us about your offerings and any projects that you're working on? 

Yes! I am getting ready to run my absolute favorite course again this fall, The Deep Exhale. The Deep Exhale is a journey for women who are ready to rest - women who are exhausted physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Women who want to take action and create in their lives without sacrificing their own care. The Deep Exhale teaches women to rewrite what it means to receive their own care and adoration.

This class is for you if you are sitting there thinking: "I don’t have time to rest. I couldn’t possibly (even if I really wanted to). Must be nice to be able to relax. I have too much to do. Everyone is depending on me. I have to hold it all together, all the time. Sounds amazing, but…"

The truth is that you do have time and it is possible to pour more of your own care and more rest into your life in this exact moment. (And I really relish the opportunity to teach you how.)


Mara, thank you so much for taking the time to connect with my amazing readers — I adore you and I know they will, too. Namaste, and I can't wait to see what comes from you next!

***** If you resonated with Mara, I hope you'll check out her upcoming course and read through some of her posts! You also might like my recent post on what to do when you're feeling super overwhelmed — including a free printable that you can keep handy by your desk or on your fridge. 

why the 4 agreements are pretty much all you need to know


Step 1: Learn the 4 agreements.

Step 2: Practice them daily.

Class dismissed, now go live your shining life!

Okay, but really -- if you've flirted with personal development anytime in the past 15 years, it's likely that you've heard of the phenomenon that is Don Miguel Ruiz's The Four Agreements, inspired by ancient Toltec wisdom. The original book, published in 1997, was a New York Times bestseller for 7+ years -- perhaps in part because it's a quick read, clocking in at just over 150 pages. At the treatment center where I work, The Four Agreements is the only book that *every single new client* gets a copy of.

Personally, I'm not the biggest fan of Ruiz's writing style (even for a short book, it takes a little while to really get going), yet I love the ideas and don't think reading the book is even really required to get a lot out of understanding and practicing the core concepts. I like what Penn State psychology professor John A. Johnson has to say about the 4 agreements' similarities to some key concepts of modern psychology:

Despite the claim that the ideas in this book represent insights possessed by the Toltecs in what is now Mexico a thousand years ago, most of these ideas are highly similar to concepts used by modern humanistic psychologists, transactional analysts, and cognitive-behavioral psychologists. For example, Ruiz says that all children are born perfectly loving, playful, and genuine. However, parents teach their children what Carl Rogers called conditions of worth–standards of behavior the children must follow to receive love and avoid criticism. Eventually these standards become internalized into what Eric Berne called a life script–an unconscious set of instructions for living life. According to Ruiz, most of these unconscious beliefs are perfectly arbitrary or downright false. Many of them are irrational and unnecessarily limiting. They key to freedom–pace cognitive therapists such as Albert Ellis and Aaron Beck–is to become aware of our irrational and limiting thoughts so that we can replace them with healthy thoughts. In short, this book could be a primer for cognitive-behavioral therapy.

So, the ideas are related to the classic CBT framework of "thoughts -- > feelings -- > behaviors," thus it's important to evaluate limiting core beliefs/thoughts and restructure them to be more supportive and empowering. (You can hear a little more in this brief video about the book's rationale on the importance of reexamining beliefs.)

Taking this further with the evolution of the "third wave" of behavioral therapy (such as Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, a passion of mine), I find it relieving that you don't have to somehow magically banish those limiting beliefs from your brain forever. Newsflash: we are all occasionally hit in the gut with some variation of that "not good enough" thought. And to expect yourself to be somehow "over that by now" will only lead to more shame and disappointment! Regardless of what gremlins you're struggling with, viewing the 4 agreements as basic "how to live" guideposts will never steer you wrong.

What are the 4 agreements?

1 / BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD. "Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love."

This one covers so many basics that are fundamental to personal integrity and healthy relationships. Don't be disingenuous or two-faced. Don't say anything you wouldn't want repeated (certainly in any format besides face-to-face). Respect the incredible power that your words have. Do what you say you're going to do. Very few principles in life are more important than this one.

2 / DON'T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY. "Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering."

Can I get an A-FREAKING-MEN? I say that because this is the toughest of the agreements for me, so don't be surprised if you see it tattooed on my wrist someday. Caveat -- you're human, and you can't just be en Emotional Magician. So, I would disagree that we can be totally "immune." Things are going to hurt your feelings from time to time -- hell, sometimes that's even the intent (hopefully rarely, or else GTFO of that relationship)! But looking at all the times that you worried thinking something was about you and it really wasn't at all... yeah, all the time, right?

Other people have their own shit going on, and we're all interpreting life our own personally-tinted lenses. So maybe it's really not about you, biscuit. Don't assume that -- oh wait, I'm getting ahead of myself...

3 / DON'T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS. "Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life."

Trivia question: How much drama could be avoided if we stopped blindly running with our assumptions? Answer: 95% of it! Statistical fact. (Or not.) Again, it's totally natural for your mind to make up all kinds of assumptions and stories and interpretations. It's busy trying to keep your ass alive, after all! But assumptions can be crazy-making if they go unchecked.

One of my favorite tools is being able to label the story in my head, and if it's running laps in there, to check it out with someone: "Ok, I'm telling myself a story that you think I'm ridiculous and self-involved because of what I said earlier about my hair." They may say, "Really? I didn't think anything of it!" or something like, "Well, your comment was a little silly, but that doesn't mean I think you're ridiculous." Think of how freeing that is compared to you running your assumption on the mental hamster wheel until you wear yourself out with rumination.

4 / ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST. "Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse, and regret."

Is it a cop-out to say this one speaks for itself? Really, though: just focus on doing the Next. Right. Thing. The rest can wait.

I have the 4 agreements up on my wall at work, and though I don't have them up at home, this post is inspiring me to get on that. I find reminders to be very helpful. And as with any other focus of self-improvement, do yourself a favor and remember that you're never going to be perfect at following these agreements. Think of them as a compass rather than a destination, and you can notice when you're off track and point your ship back in the direction you want to move in.

Do tell...

Which of the 4 agreements is the most difficult for you, and why?

If you added your own 5th agreement, what would it be? (Psst, Don Miguel Ruiz and his son actually co-authored The Fifth Agreement in 2011, which is another pretty legit guidepost, but think about what your own 5th agreement would be before looking at it!)