They say we should live for the moments that take our breath away. But if that’s the truth then our lives will be composed of a few bright flashes in time. Instead the ultimate goal for each and every one of us should be to breathe life into every moment.
That’s the challenge, that’s the journey and the one that creates your story.
Breathe in, breathe out and have the courage to share…because everyone has a story.
I am Mark Brodinsky and this is The Sunday Series.
The Sunday Series (99): Full-Out
A parent, a child, a father, a daughter.
Mara Abramowitz remembers spending a lot of time with her father. “My dad had his first heart attack when he was only 32-years-old, I was about two and I was with my dad a good deal of the time because my mom worked. I spent a lot of time with him at home because he was sick. I remember my dad was always warm and comforting and I was extremely close with him.”
At six-years-old Mara also vividly recalls the vacation when her parents took her on a drive in her mom’s Trans Am from Florida to Atlanta, to visit one of her mom’s closest friends. A vacation from which Mara’s father would not return.
“It was traumatic,” says Mara. I remember being woken up by a rabbi and that’s when they told me my dad had died.” Ira Abramowitz had congenital heart disease and the attack he suffered during the family’s trip claimed his life. Mara recalls, “I remember flying back to Florida, but I couldn’t cry. I was afraid to cry because of my mom. I had to be strong for my mom. If I fell apart so would she.”
Losing someone you love is tough enough, but especially when the person you lose is the love of your life. If the world turns properly on its axis and the relationship is strong, then the first true love of a young girl’s life is one man – her daddy. It’s a love which lasts a lifetime – and Mara says losing her dad so young affected her psyche, created fear and drove her to do more with her own life and to do it better and faster than everyone else.
“I think for me growing up it was tough, but I think recently I have come to terms with it. I never really talked about it, I didn’t want anyone to see it as a weakness. I used it as energy to move forward. I graduated early from high school, went to college and got a master’s degree in criminal justice. And once I had kids I felt like I needed to give more, because you never know what’s going to happen. You have to live like every day is your last.”
Life definitely moved fast for Mara. She was pregnant with her first child while still completing her master’s degree and by the time she finished the course her daughter Lilli was 3-months-old. Life as a new mom took up a lot of time and at the same time the economy took a turn. Her husband was running a successful tourism business, but in 2007 as the economy started to slip, the couple lost almost everything they had. “We lost six businesses in six months,” says Mara. “So I could not afford to apply my degree, get a PH.D., or go to law school and that’s how I found insurance.”
In an effort to lower their bills Mara and her husband met with Teaira Still. Teaira sold them health insurance and Mara was interested in the opportunity to be an agent. From that point her adventure in the insurance industry began, and the journey of her personal life would soon take a turn. Mara and her husband welcomed their second child Liam into the world in 2011, and shortly thereafter it was time for Mara’s 30th birthday.
Her husband threw her a big birthday party with 75 of her closest friends. “Nobody has 75 close friends,” jokes Mara, and so as she remembers as she blew out her candles at the birthday bash she knew her life was going to change. The breaths Mara had been taking were not cleansing ones, she was driving her life forward, but holding back, she says she had been “pretending”, not being her true self.
Figuring out who you really are and who you were meant to be can be a powerful, transcendental moment. Never forget the two most important days in your life are the day you are born…and the day you find out why.
“I had trouble turning 30,” says Mara. “I had been told you will be comfortable when you are 30, but I realized I wasn’t that person, I was not comfortable with who I was. Blowing out the candles on my 30th birthday I said to myself, this is not even who I am, what am I doing? I’m not pretending anymore, what you see is what you get. I’m going to play full-out.”
Mara and her husband decided to separate two years ago and Mara says that was a game changer. “When we first separated I wasn’t afraid, I was terrified! I had no idea how I was going to do this. I was with my husband since I was 21-years-old, most of my entire adult life up to this point. But I grew up in a single family home, I watched my mom do it, I knew I could do it. I gain strength from my mom Randee and with the support of my family and friends I was able to do it too.”
Not just do it, but do it big. Mara’s adventure into the insurance industry eventually landed her with USHEALTH Advisors a few years ago and she says it is probably the best opportunity in America for a single mom. “It gives you the financial independence and financial stability to do anything you want to do,” says Mara. In 2015 Mara was at the helm of the #1 Satellite Division in the country, even as she was going through a divorce and what she says was personally the toughest year of her life.
But Mara says it’s the support of a great group of women at the company who have always had her back, and the tremendous culture of giving, that drives her both professionally and personally. “I love to sell and I love to hire and inspire. I want to give back the same gift that was given to me. Plus, I believe it’s so important for my daughter to see how a woman can do anything she wants and for my son to see it’s OK for a woman to work.”
And work she does! As a single mom Mara says her life is always on full tilt: “It’s crazy to say the least, it’s a race every single day. My morning starts at 6:30am, time is ticking with everything that has to get done by the end of the day.” Mara has to get the kids out, get herself together, get to the gym at some point, continue to build her team, sell, hire, inspire and then educate, not just her agents, but other younger people as well. On top of all her other responsibilities, Mara teaches Hebrew School twice a week.
“I really am insane that I do this,” says Mara. “But it’s important for my kids, for their foundation and it makes me feel good. I teach 5th and 6th grades, pre-bar and bat mitzvah. And I love when years later the kids come back to say hello, I love to see them come back. I’ve been teaching since I was 19. I’m now 33.”
Teaching, giving, selling, hiring, inspiring and being a mom – it’s a crazy life for Mara, but one she says she wouldn’t trade for the world – especially because she says she is doing it for the two most important people in her world, her 8-year-old daughter Lilli, and five-year-old Liam.
“They’re the reason I breathe. They’re the reason I get up in the morning, I can’t wait to see their faces. They’re the reason I live. Lilli is the one that has it all together, she keeps her mom in order. She checks out what I’m wearing, puts projects up on the fridge, puts the planner out and does all she can to make sure I function as a mom. She’s so brutally honest. I couldn’t have drawn a better picture of what I want my daughter to be.”
Mara says with her crazy life she is also so fortunate to have the support from her boyfriend, her ex-husband, her friends and her USHA family. “All these people, Teaira, Taraina Mccants, Liz Byrne – they all believed in me,” says Mara. “It wasn’t easy when I began in this career at all. I was quitting every day the first year, but they pushed me. And now my biggest high is building my team. I spend a lot of time recruiting and giving back the same opportunity I was given.
“It took me a long time to discover who I am and it took a long time to be comfortable about me as a person. I make mistakes like everyone else. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I’m pretty transparent and I’m OK with that, and if somebody doesn’t like me for it, I’m OK with that too.”
For Mara there’s no more pretending – it’s all about being real, as real as it gets. You get the sense from talking to her and the incredible energy she exudes, that if it were possible, she just must might make this planet we all share rotate a little bit faster, because she knows life can be short. At such a young age Mara experienced what it’s like to love and to lose. What you cherish most can be gone in an instant and she is committed to breathing life into every moment, to embracing all it has to give and to give it all she’s got.
For Mara Abramowitz, there’s only one way to play…full-out.
Until next time thanks for taking the time,
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Mark Brodinsky: Author, Blogger, Speaker, Speech Writer, Emmy Winner, USHEALTH Advisors
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