Women Who Celebrate: Molly Mahar

July 03, 2013

Welcome to the Women who Celebrate series. Women who Celebrate seeks to unleash the sheer beauty of the celebratory spirit. In conceiving of the project, I wanted to share the simple truths of how celebration can shift the trajectory of your life, allowing in more permission, more joy, and more ease.

women who celebrate

In thinking about how to amplify some gorgeous energy around this idea, I thought it would be fabulous to interview some women that that exude a celebratory vibe about how they incorporate the act of celebrations into their daily life, what these types of rituals and ceremonies look like, and (most importantly) the positive impact of women celebrating together.

And – I’m talking equally about huge, sparkly affairs with champagne and the simple everyday act of cooking ourselves a special breakfast. The extraordinary and the ordinary.


What is really notable here for me is how it can be so difficult to invite others into our celebrations or ask other so celebrate with us, and that sharing this aspect of our lives will be both inspiring and hugely permissive for everyone involved.

Our special guest today is the phenomenal Molly Mahar! Molly is a coach, teacher, writer, mama and community builder for gutsy women.  She believes in going big, that honesty is the best policy, and in the undeniable fact that we are all deserving of fulfilling right fit lives.

Her celebrations include sparkling beverages, fancy bead crowns, and imaginative rituals concocted with her loved ones. Find Molly on Facebook, twitter, or in her online community for women, Stratejoy.


Due to some technological difficulties, Molly’s lovely video interview was gobbled up by my computer. So! There are several ways to check out her interview. You can listen to the audio or read the transcript below (complete with photos of her amazing props!).


Click here for the audio.


Mara:  Hello everyone, and welcome to the Women Who Celebrate interview series!  I’m so excited to be here today with Molly Mahar, she is just one of my favorite ladies who seems to be celebrating all over the place!  So I’m so happy to have her energy here with us today.  Molly, will you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Molly:  Yeah, absolutely!  Thanks for inviting me along, by the way, to celebrate with you, to talk about celebration in my life.  I am a coach and teacher out of San Luis Obispo, I run a website called Stratejoy – which is very celebratory, strategies for joy, my favorite word!  I work mainly with women in transition.

So, when you get to a point in your life where you don’t feel like yourself anymore, whatever the reason, whether it’s external or internal, but that “oh, fuck, what is going on?  Where have I gone?  Why am I so miserable?”  – sometimes with lots of wine, in the extreme drama version – but that’s where I meet people, and we reconnect with that true, beautiful essence that we all know is there.  And sometimes it’s about work, sometimes it’s about relationships, sometimes it’s just about being good to yourself, which I’m sure we’ll come to today.  So that’s what I do, all sorts of places to find me online, but Stratejoy is where I live.

Mara: All right, so, let’s start sort of with what celebration means for you.  How does it show up in your life?  What do you think of when you hear that word?

Molly:  Well, friends, we’re lucky, because celebrate is actually part of my life’s motto – whatever you wanna call it, your mission in life, mine is, very succinctly, “to celebrate life authentically”.  Right?

Mara:  Love it.

Molly: You did not know that, did you?

Mara:  I didn’t know that, and I love it!

4-up on 2013-06-24 at 12.35Molly:  And at the very beginning when I declared that my life’s motto, it seemed like a silly word.  Like you think of big parties, or graduations, so, “celebrate”?  We should pick something more serious, Molly, this is your life’s mission.  But it’s part of who I am.  I think there’s so many pieces that go into celebration, like gratitude, and ritual, and for me, an element of playfulness – I think life would be boring without it!

So to me, celebrate means not being afraid to declare what you’re loving in the world, whether it’s about yourself or about someone else, to share that energy, that passion, that accomplishment with others, and to give it some weight, some space, like a gold star or a sparkler. {tweet this}

I brought props for this interview!

Mara:  Wow!

Molly:  It’s actually not champagne, it’s only 1 o’clock, and I have work to do, but – can you see my beautiful glass there? [lifts glass as in a toast]

Mara:  Oh, yeah.

Molly:  You know, toast, and I’ll be drinking that – it’s just juice and sparkling water – and my favorite part, costumes!  [lays a garland of beads on her head]  I find costumes very celebratory.

Mara:  Amazing.

Molly:  So I may just wear this for most of our interview.

Mara:  Oh, please, please do – this is fantastic!

Molly:  Looks silly, may seem silly, it’s not.  I honestly believe letting things light you up, it’s why we’re here {tweet this}.  Yes, to do good work in the world, and have strong relationships, but if you’re not enjoying that, if you’re not letting the fun and celebration be there, what is the freaking purpose, right?

Mara:  Absolutely, and you know, I find so many people say to me – and I remember this feeling so absolutely well myself – which is that I was so afraid of being, worrying about looking stupid, or being ridiculous, that I was so afraid of that that I just wasn’t having any fun.

Molly:  Yeah, I gave up a long time ago!  Obviously.

Mara:  I love that, that’s fantastic.

Molly:  But it’s a process!  And there’s different places in my life where I feel wildly out of my comfort zone.  Like around men who are wearing suits. That’s kind of like my mantra – celebrate life authentically – in ways that feel true to me, and that’ll look very different for everyone.  There is an element of permission to just love what you love.  To laugh at what you find funny.  Like I laugh a lot at potty humor, that is my level of humor.  Or like Damn You Autocorrect, that is my level of humor. And not shying away from it!  Not letting it make me feel bad about myself, just embracing those quirks as what makes you fun and different.

Mara:  Absolutely.  So that sort of answers the next question, which is around getting yourself in the celebratory spirit.  So I’m curious, in addition to awesome props and celebratory drinks, is there anything that you really do or have made a ritual of, or you use to pump yourself up when you’re feeling maybe less than celebratory?

Molly:  Okay, so when I want to feel celebratory but I’m not, gratitude.  100%.  My husband and I took a trip around the world, way back in 2008, and we listened to this like, Tony Robbins audio CD.  It was the first I’d ever heard of personal development, though – it was kinda my stepping stone.  And he did this exercise where – I think this was Tony Robbins – where you tap into a spiral of gratitude about being grateful for like, being here on earth basically, and the air that we breathe, all the way down, spiral spiral spiral down to yourself, what you’re personally grateful for in your physical body, your opportunities.  And I have this little tapping motion that goes with it.  [making tapping motions with both hands]  Tch, tch, tch, tch…and we’d walk, and we’d each be in our own heads, and are grateful, with this tapping – I don’t remember what that was, it was probably just meditation, keep your focus.

That practice, which would extend to gratitude journaling at night as well, can change any mood of mine, however dark and dank, into something a bit more celebratory, because there’s so much to celebrate!  Even if all I can name is my bed this morning, I had a cup of coffee, Max smiled at me, if that’s the only good thing, but you know, those are really good things!  Tap, tap, tap, tap.  Got it.  I mean, that’s my secret.  I have people tell me, Molly, did you do your grateful?  Like when I’m being especially bitchy or whiny or selfish.  “Molly, grateful!”  [exaggerated sigh]  Okay, okay, grateful.

molly maharMara:  Well, it’s great, I love that you guys have that ritual together, because one of the most difficult things about celebration can be inviting other people along in your celebration, or celebrating with others, or asking other people to celebrate with you.  So I love that –

Molly:  Oh, why is that?

Mara:  Well, why do you think that is?

Molly:  I don’t know, it was your question!  [laughing]  Okay, I’ll give you my answer, then I want to hear yours.  Why would it be hard…because we don’t want to be seen as bragging, maybe?  Or silly?  Or sometimes, people get that sense of, there’s so much bad in the world, who am I to be enjoying my life?  There’s so much struggle going on around me, who am I to raise a glass? What do you think, as the creator of the course?

Mara:  I absolutely agree.  I think that, for a lot of the women that I’ve talked to in creating this course, there’s a lot of vulnerability around asking someone to celebrate with you, or celebrating out loud, as if there’s some sort of like, celebratory police, that’s going to come around and be like, no, that’s not worth celebrating, no, that’s not big enough, exciting enough, you’re not worthy enough.  So I think that this thing happens where we suddenly get ourselves caught in the space of “I’m really excited about this, but what if other people aren’t going to be excited with me?  What if I’m gonna be caught in the act of doing something ridiculous?”  And there’s so much beauty on the other side of

Molly: [laughing]  Ah, ridiculousness!

Mara:  Yeah!  There’s so much beauty on the other side of that.  I just love it so much, because once you start embracing that ridiculous part and getting really celebratory, people notice – some people – for example, I was at my high school reunion this last weekend, and all of my high school friends were like “I’ve seen your pictures on Facebook, are you just partying all the time?”  And at first I was like, “Oh my gosh, am I just partying all the time?”  And then I was like, “Hell yeah, I’m partying all the time!”  That is great.

Molly:  I love that you think like that!

Mara: [laughing]  Absolutely.  And I think, I love that about people.  You, for example – obviously this is one of the reasons I wanted to interview you, cause I follow you on everything that there is to follow you on, and you appear to be partying all the time!  I love that.

Molly:  Even before Ken and I had our businesses doing well – back at the beginning of this adventure, we would still just take time to play, and it would really confuse people.  They’d be like, “I don’t understand how you have all of this time to be outside, to go camping, be in love –” I have a foodie background, so like, food and wine and like, literal parties and connection.  We’d be like, laying in the grass at a park all day, and we would have people be so confused, like, “Shouldn’t you be working on your business?”  But I’m like, “I’m only working on my business so I can do more of this!”  So I think those should go hand in hand.  I don’t want just one, to get a shot at having the other.  I want both, all the time.

Mara:  Absolutely, and I think you hit on something there that’s so important, which is prioritizing the celebration, right?

Molly: And we aren’t taught to do that, right? Unless it’s like, the celebration of perfection, getting the A+, I can see where it’s hard celebrating if you’re not reaching that anymore, or whatever that used to be.  I get it.  I get where we’re going with this.  Okay.  Here’s my experience of watching people celebrate together – obviously this is something I do naturally, it’s my life’s motto.  My mom once gave me the most beautiful compliment, we were driving in my old beat-up Subaru, I don’t even know where we were going but it was one of those glorious days in Seattle, and listening to Indigo Girls, because I love Indigo Girls, and I’m just singing, and she looks and me and she goes, “Molly, you’re just so much fun!”  And I didn’t take that in a flighty way, it was like, you’re so much fun and you allow people to share in that, you offer celebration, so that’s always been a compliment very close to my heart.

I like to share that story, of people celebrating together.  My mastermind that I’m doing this year – we have all different words for it, we say gold stars, what was a win, what was something you’re proud of, positive, trying to get people in the habit of saying it out loud.  And I don’t know when we adopted this language, but all of a sudden one person decided we’re going to call it a bragosaurus, like a little dinosaur, so whenever they’re proud of something they say, “I get to be the bragosaurus!” and sometimes they’ll hold up pictures of dinosaurs and then they get to share what they’re celebrating.

Mara:  Oh my gosh, I love that.  That is amazing.  And I imagine that, you know, one of the sort of big ideas behind this course is about creating spaces for women to celebrate with one another, so I imagine that that kind of energy, it’s like – sort of the brave person maybe does it first, but then quickly it catches on and people start joining in on the fun, and it becomes something really lively and magical and wonderful.

Molly:  Yeah.  And it’s like, accentuating the positives in your new dress, or like “I think I’m cute”, it’s accentuating the positives in your life.  There will always be the shitty days, and the low moments, and the doubts, and we’re not ignoring that.  We’re facing it head-on, and dealing with it with the same amount of grace and realness.  But there’s also lovely things all around us, and the only way we’ll recognize that is if we start paying attention!  And celebrate them.

Mara:  I love that.  So if you’re thinking about, over the course of your life, of many celebrations, what are – maybe one is a lot to ask.  What are your top couple of celebrations?

Molly:  Okay, good question.  Well, one of the things that I love most about celebration is ritual, the idea of having this thing that I always do or always go to, and I think my parents did a really good job of creating this when I was little, so we would have things to look forward to, and that’s carried on into my life as an adult.  So I’ve always been like, I think of what I do as a camp counselor for adults, which I love, growing up and in college I would always involve people in doing things.  So, even in my family, with Ken, we have this ritual that we honor on our anniversary – before we got married was when we started celebrating anniversaries, so we’ve been going a long time – we would write a letter, together, like at a meal, talking about our favorite moments from the past year and what we’re predicting for the next year.

And we have this stack of like seven or eight letters now, and I love sharing that meal with him and getting to read about our journey.  And it’s hilarious, like, we still don’t own a boat.  Someday we will, we keep saying, we’ll own a sailboat next year, next year will be the year of the sailboat.  No sailboat yet, but that, that is one of my favorite celebrations, because it just reminds me how far we’ve come and now we have our tiny son, we moved to California, we had this adventure, and it’s a beautiful way to celebrate it every year.  So that’s one of my favorites.

Mara:  That’s fantastic.

Molly:  When I quit my job – everything has Ken in it, because a lot of it involved him, he’s who I spend most of my time with – but he picked me up in a limo, which was a total surprise, I’d never been in a limo before.  So here I am, walking out of – even though I was really excited to quit my job to start working on Stratejoy more full-time, part-time, I still felt sad to leave my hotel.  I’d been part of the opening team, I was there at 7 every day, I picked the flatware for this place, it was my home!

So I was bawling, I walk out this door with all these flowers people had given me, arms full of flowers, but I was like, sobbing, and here’s Ken out front wearing this suit with a limo, and I’m like, [mimes emotional tears] “…yay!”  I remember that moment, so clearly!  [laughs]  That was a great celebration, celebrating a lot of hard work, I’m done, done with my job.  That’s probably the one that stands out the most, when I think what an incredible celebration that was.  A whole other story for a whole other time, but that’s my favorite.  One of my favorite days of celebrating, for sure.

Mara: [laughs]  Absolutely!  And, you know, I’m curious, in particular, especially around these sort of like rituals that you have for yourself, do you have any ritualistic celebration for milestones in your business?

Molly:  Ooooh!  Um.  Yes, I do!  This is from my sales background.  When you’re a salesperson, and you ring a gong or a bell when you make a big sale, like you get up and ring the bell.  So a long time ago, I had a bell around that I loved the sound of, especially at the beginning when it was so very new and exciting to land a client or sell a product, I actually did have a little triangle, and I’d be all by myself and I’d get up and I’d ring that triangle – “Woohoo, client!”  [laughs]  That was something that I did.

Let me think, what else did I do to celebrate in my business…?  I keep setting all these specific monetary goals for myself, and then it’s the end of the year and I’m like “Oh, shit, I’m not – how am I gonna hit this?”  I need to produce this much income in a short amount of time, and that’s when the idea of the Holiday Council was born, embarrassingly enough.  But, I love that program, it’s my favorite program I do on a big scale.  But, the first time I did it I was like “I need to make three grand, and I need to make three grand fast, if I’m gonna hit this goal!”  And I did!  There was this sense of motivation that came with each purchase – I was shut in a house with my family up in Montana, and my dad was like “What are you doing?” because I had this ticking timer for how many I had to sell before the first of the year to make this – it seems like a silly goal, but it was like, Molly, go check your email! And I’d check my email and be like “Yes! There’s one more!” and mark one more off – I had to sell like, 48 or something.

Mara:  I love that, that is so fun.

Molly:  So I guess that was one way.  And of course when you finish a program, you know, I like to treat myself, because I’m exhausted from launching.  I like being outside, I like being naked, and I like drinking champagne, so I do some of that like at an outdoor lady spa with alcohol!

Mara:  Perfect!  All three at once.

Molly: I like to reward myself for putting in the month of longer hours and launch-time stress, so that for sure.  And I like being by myself, actually, so that’s enjoyable for me.

Mara:  That’s fantastic, thank you so much – you know, I hadn’t anticipated asking you about celebrating within your business, but just on a personal level, I sort of got the impression that that was something that you did really well, and I know that a lot of people who are going to be reading this interview are entrepreneurs, and this is something that we don’t do enough of.  Especially, like, I love the idea of celebrating in that context with your family, where everyone’s like sort of involved in the sales process, that’s just so lovely, because that’s another level, too, of encouraging other people to celebrate with us, and sometimes that makes the celebration real, or really meaningful.

Molly:  Yeah, yeah.  And for those of you who are entrepreneurs out in the world, don’t let the comparison be the thief of your joy.  You helped one person, you got one person to sign up for your free coaching call, you know, those are milestones!  Yesterday, you had zero.  Today, you have one.  That is worth celebrating!  I had that happen to me so often, Mara, I’d have these lofty goals and wouldn’t meet them, over and over and over, I’d probably start – well, there’s how I celebrated the financial one, but that one was so funny because it was literally down to cents that I needed, but other times, my arbitrary number goals, I’d never make!  I’d never hit them, all of the huge ones.

I had to start celebrating the progress that I am making.  And for me, I’m like, I fall so easily into comparison, so I have to be very very conscious not to compare myself to anybody else.  This is my life, my business. So celebrate the tiny little pieces, because nobody else is going to do that for you, so.

Mara:  Absolutely, I love that so much, thank you for adding that.  Is there any last parting words that you would like to say about celebration, any last flavor you want to leave people with?

Molly:  Let me think.  What would I say?  Um, I would say that our lives are beautiful and sometimes the beautiful piece is the hard work, that is the soul work that you may feel like you’re meant to do.  That that done without any sort of heads up, breathing in, drink your glass of fizzy, run around with your child, that’s not sustainable, and there’s really truly a value to joy above all else.  There’s no point if you’re not enjoying yourself – why are you doing it?  You can make a change, you can shift things for the world, while still valuing your own well-being, your own fulfillment, and celebration is one of the ways to make sure that happens.

Mara:  Oh, I love that!  Well, thank you so much for being with us today, this was fantastic.  And again, all of your information will be below this, so you guys should all check out Molly ASAP.  She is a fantastic celebration expert!  And you know, the great thing about surrounding yourself with celebratory people is that they make you feel like celebrating all the time.  I think that one of my best ways of getting in the celebratory spirit is to hang out with people, or fill my newsfeed, or my twitter feed, or whatever, with people who are having a rockin’ good time all the time.  And I just think that that’s really inspirational.  So hopefully everybody will catch up with you!

Molly:  Hey, shout out at me on Twitter, and tell me what you’re celebrating, like right at this moment while you’re reading this interview.  Hey, what are you celebrating?

Mara:  Right now?

Molly:  Yeah!

Mara:  Well, I’m still sort of celebrating my one-year anniversary, even though I’ve been celebrating it for like three weeks, but it’s just that special!  [laughs]  It’s fantastic!  What are you celebrating right now?

Molly:  Oh, you know what, I’m celebrating feeling the upswing of one of my dips – I get these dips where I’m all grouchy, like anybody, but I have ones for like two weeks, and yesterday and today [hand motions rising upward] I’m climbing up out of it!  So I’m celebrating that.

Mara:  Fantastic!  Well, thank you so much!

Molly:  Thank you for having me!

Mara:  Bye!