Category : Mali’s musings

11 897

To Mom

Dear Mom,

You may have left your tired and withered body today, but I feel you all around me.Doris Adah

You live on in the stained-glass mirror that reflects the morning light streaming in through the bathroom window. Your ability to take on and quickly master new art forms was remarkable.

You live on in my love for nuances of the English language, clean lines in architecture and furniture, and well-written books.

You live on in my disdain for illogical rules, inefficient procedures, and pointless societal expectations.

You live on in brother #1's guitar playing, brother #2's keen intelligence, and brother #3's love of music. The influences you've had, both genetic and otherwise, on each of us—and on each of your four grandchildren—are numerous and profound.

Chris CarmichaelYou were a child prodigy, a musical genius, and a crossword puzzle virtuoso. I will never forget how we wouldn't let you declare a win in Trivial Pursuit until you'd answered all six questions on your card correctly.

You live on in my belief that I can do anything.

I'm happy you don't live on in my kitchen, or at least I'd like to believe that. God love you, Mom, but your cooking was truly awful.

Mom you were, and are, one of a kind.

Love always,

Your daughter


7 690

Why We Haven’t Read a Book on Sex in Over a Decade

As relationship coaches and authors of books on relationships, people often give us recommendations for other books, blogs, and movies on relationships that they have enjoyed. But for the 11 years we've been together, and the 8 years we've been writing books together, we've never once read any of these books or seen a single one of these movies. Why?

Very early on in our relationship, we knew there was a purpose behind our meeting each other. There was something we were meant to do together. For a long time, we didn't know exactly what that was. So we just kept trusting, following along wherever our passion led us.

Our conversations—which were intense and meaningful and fascinating from the very first email—only grew deeper and more intriguing over time. As an editor by profession, and a lifelong book lover who always knew one day I would write my own, I took notes. Lots and lots of notes. Eventually I bought a voice recorder, because the ongoing conversations we were having kept growing more and more fascinating, and I had an insatiable desire to capture many of the ideas we were exploring and revelations we were uncovering.

Those endless pages of notes, and hundreds of hours of recordings, eventually became the initial manuscript for our first book, The Soulmate Experience. As we wrote chapter after chapter, and met with our wonderful review group to hear about their reactions and to further explore our ideas, we eventually realized we had too much information for one book. So we set aside some of the "spicier" ideas—ideas that became the starting point for our our first book's sequel, The Soulmate Lover.

All this while, we have felt "guided" to do this work. The more we open to each other, the more we explore relationships and sexuality and spirituality between the two of us, the more we work with others to implement our discoveries in their own lives, the more fervently the material "comes through" us.

Upon the publication of our new book, though, something has shifted. Suddenly I feel okay about reading what others in the field have written. In fact, I'm feeling quite passionate about it. Our ideas are already set on paper and circulating out in the world, so I no longer have the feeling that our in-process work will be influenced by reading that of other writers. So for the last few weeks, I've been thoroughly enjoying discovering what others in the field have to say, how they are grappling with the issues of keeping relationships alive and connected.

she comes firstIn that spirit, I bought Joe a book a couple of weeks ago that I knew he was just going to love, She Comes First: The Thinking Man's Guide to Pleasuring a Woman. This happens to be a topic he already knows a lot about (lucky me!), and one he is quite passionate about. I ordered the book through one of our local bookstores, as I believe in supporting bookshops as inviting places to discover new ideas, meet our community, and engage our imaginations.

When we went to pick up the book, the bookseller smiled knowingly as he placed it in our hands.

We both smiled back. It was a sweet, delicious secret to be sharing with a stranger.

As we walked out of the shop, he called after us: "Have fun with that!"

We most certainly will…

Mali Apple & Joe DunnThank you for being here! ~Mali & Joe, authors of The Soulmate Experience52 Prescriptions for Happiness, and The Soulmate Lover.

2 620

How We Write Together: Two Voices Become One

We’re often asked what it’s like to write books together. One of the most amazing aspects of the writing process, for us, is how our two very different voices come together to create "our" voice.

Typically, we begin by having many conversations exploring a particular idea. Eventually I go off and write up a first draft. I’m very left brained, very logical and linear, and tend to write like a college professor. The ideas may be great, but they often come out sounding like a duck penned them.

Then it's Joe's turn to read the piece. Joe is more right brained; he doesn’t so much think about the meaning behind the words as feel it, feels for the heart or the essence of what we're trying to convey, then allows the right words to come up to express those feelings. His changes often "soften" the presentation, making things just flow more easily. Then we read the piece together, edit, and read it again, usually many times over a period of weeks or months (really!), making small adjustments to the wording each time, learning a bit more about the idea by trying it ourselves (again!) and sharing it with others who try it too, until we feel the piece expresses exactly what we'd like it to, and in a way that flows.

Here’s a little sample of wording changes that came from Joe. This is a piece that will be in our new chapter "Sex and the Practice of Being Present." This section explores how to practice presence with your lover while giving (or receiving!) a sensual massage. Notice how he suggested changing the phrase "create a romantic mood" to the much lovelier "add a little romance". Even more importantly, he noted that we were getting to the massage too quickly, and suggested the couple "Take a moment to connect" before beginning.


This next one is another example of how my original draft morphed into the final piece that will appear in the book. Here is what we started with:

Heart Grow Fonder original

The lovely new title and the idea of moving from the "bitter" side of bittersweet and towards the "sweet" side both came through Joe:

heartgrowfonderfinal USE

To us, our styles feel like they were meant to go together. It's certainly clear that neither of us could write these books alone. Mine would come out sounding like sleep-inducing technical manuals, and Joe’s would end up being a few sweet words scribbled on some scraps of paper that would float away on the wind when he went off to go for a swim.

Mali Apple & Joe DunnThank you for being here! ~Mali & Joe, authors of The Soulmate Experience52 Prescriptions for Happiness, and the upcoming book The Soulmate Lover, and creators of Mantras for Making Love.


15 925

The Gifts of a Blind Eye

“Are you sure you don’t notice anything unusual about my face?” I asked her again.

It was Saturday afternoon. A gorgeous sunny day at a winery somewhere among the vineyards of Napa County. We’d been chatting about ten minutes when it struck me that this was the first time I’d ever met and had a conversation with someone who didn’t do that awkward double-take, nervously looking away from my face and back again, trying to figure out what was going on with me and which eye to look into.

I’d seen that response all my life. Having been born minus one optic nerve, my left eye generally just floated around. That plus the thick lenses I wore for the severe myopia in my "good" eye meant I was teased regularly in school.

Molly Nov 1964I remember standing against the gym wall with the two learning-disabled kids in my class, feeling humiliated that the team captains couldn’t decide which among the three of us to choose next.

You develop a thick skin. You come to understand that what a person looks like on the surface may not tell an accurate story about their capabilities and who they are.

I remember transferring to a new high school my sophomore year and, upon arriving my first day, being immediately escorted by a kind lady to the classroom for students with physical and mental limitations.

You learn to speak up for yourself.

“This can’t be my classroom,” I said. “It must be a mistake.”

I remember spending an entire summer trying to learn how to return a tennis ball until I realized, this is just not the sport for me. Along with baseball, basketball, frisbee . . .

You become resilient. You work hard to discover where you can excel.

I remember a woman in an aerobics class, who’d apparently gotten herself all worked up by the time she finally turned around and screamed: “Why do you keep staring at me?!”

You learn to smile at the little ironies of life. Before that moment, I hadn’t even known she was there.

I remember a young woman in college I’d just met who said flat out, “Why don’t you get that eye fixed? It’s really unattractive.”

You develop empathy. It’s been said that facial defects are the most difficult for people to accept, and I’ve noticed that is true for me, too, when I meet people who have them.

“No, I don’t notice anything unusual about your face,” the woman sipping the chardonnay said again. “Now you must tell me why you’re asking!”

Mali post-surgeryWhat was different that day in Napa was that I’d just recovered from surgery to straighten my eye. It wasn’t 100% successful, but enough so that my misbehaving eye wasn’t the first thing someone noticed upon meeting me.

What a freeing feeling that was!

And yet . . .

This “defect” has been such a gift to me. The more I contemplate my blind eye and limited vision, the more I learn from it, the more I see how this “disability” has helped to shape who I am.

I’ve always recognized that my visual limitations encouraged my other senses to develop more fully, including my intuitive senses. Navigating life without them would be much harder than navigating it minus one eye.

Seeing the world without normal depth perception has made me into someone who searches for the depth in everything.

Having precarious vision in my sighted eye, with no spare to count on, has made me incredibly grateful for this truly magical sense. I’ve always been in love with sight. If you know me, you know I never take a sunrise, a rainbow, a baby’s face, or the cross-section of a red pepper for granted. (And I'll try to make sure you don't, either!)

Mali todayA while back, I overheard a couple in a restaurant talking about their baby daughter. They had just found out that she was blind in one eye. They sounded scared, really worried about what effects this would have on her life.

I just couldn't not go over and introduce myself.

“I wouldn’t say that there haven’t been challenges along the way,” I told them, “but facing those challenges has everything to do with the person I am today. Yes, she probably won’t be a natural at softball or tennis, she will need to learn some special tricks to be able to parallel park, but with you helping her to discover all the gifts in her special circumstances, her life is going to be exceptional.”

If you’re dealing with a challenging life situation, what’s to lose by spending a little time contemplating what gifts that situation just might have for you? 

~Mali Apple, coauthor of The Soulmate Experience: A Practical Guide to Creating Extraordinary Relationships52 Prescriptions for Happiness, and the upcoming book The Soulmate Lover