Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro is an award-winning educator, a speaker and the author of an inspirational book of spiritual miracles titled God Came To My Garage Sale. Marni earned a doctorate in education and completed postdoctoral studies at Harvard after a 35-year career as a high school special education teacher and 12 years as a university adjunct professor. Her critically acclaimed spiritual fiction “God Came To My Garage Sale,” an award-winning finalist in the 2020 Best Book Awards sponsored by the American Book Fest, tells the story of a questioning Atheist woman who experiences numerous Spiritually Transformative Encounters. In addition to her speaking engagements and various writing endeavors on embracing Spirituality after surviving Domestic Violence, Narcissistic Abuse and Parental Alienation, Marni is a contributing author to numerous Best-Selling anthology books.
IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL HEAR ABOUT THINGS LIKE:
- Spirituality as it relates to significant loss, intergenerational abuse, domestic violence, best friend betrayal and parental alienation.
- Practical strategies to reclaim your life and flourish by staying true to your core values.
- Learning to identify red flags, follow your intuition and rediscover your passions.
- The spiritually transformative experiences that brought about Marni’s awakening.
SOME QUESTIONS IRENE ASKS MARNI:
- What is trauma bonding?
- How do you help a person map out the cause of his or her trauma?
- What prompted you to write God Came to my Garage Sale?
Listen to the podcast here
Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro: Surviving And Healing From Domestic Violence, Narcissistic Abuse And Parental Alienation By Embracing Spirituality, Leading To Rebirth
I’m delighted to have this opportunity to interview Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro, who is an award-winning educator, a speaker, and the author of an inspirational book of spiritual miracles titled, God Came to My Garage Sale. Marni will be speaking to us from Frederiksted, Virgin Islands. Marni earned her Doctorate in Education and completed her post-doctoral studies at Harvard after a successful and rewarding 35 years career as a high school special education teacher, with 12 years as a university adjunct professor.
Her critically acclaimed spiritual fiction God Came To My Garage Sale, an award-winning finalist in the 2020 Best Book Award sponsored by the American Book Fest, tells the story of a questioning atheist woman who experiences numerous spiritually transformative encounters. In addition to her speaking engagements and various writing endeavors on embracing spirituality after surviving domestic violence, narcissistic abuse, and parental alienation, Marni is a contributing author to numerous bestselling anthology books.
I’m eager to ask Marni how she became aware of the universe’s signs and synchronicities, what were the spiritually transformative experiences that brought about her awakening, and the way she survived domestic abuse and parental alienation by embracing spirituality. Her story is an inspiring story of grief and rebirth. Since many experiences in my own life sync up with Marni, I have no doubt that this is going to be an enlightening healing interview for all of us. Marni, a warm, heartfelt welcome to the show.
Thank you for having me here.
It’s truly my pleasure. Let’s begin our interview with this question. Please tell us all about your early childhood leading to your teen years.
I was born in Miami, Florida.
Me too. I was born in New Jersey, but I grew up in Miami, Florida.
I was born in Miami, but I grew up in Lake Forest, Illinois. I was in the suburbs of Illinois. I grew up with free-spirited parents. I was very independent. We weren’t micromanaged like a lot of kids are these days, it seems. I was impacted by my parents’ very bitter divorce.
How old were you?
I don’t even know exactly. There were a lot of things that happened when I was younger leading up to this. It was probably around junior high school time.
What a great age for that to be happening.
It was tough. I’m almost 60 years old. Many years later, I’m starting to put the pieces of the puzzle of all of that together, realizing that there probably was intergenerational abuse, domestic violence, and more from my dad to my mom that I’m starting to understand a little bit more of why I chose an abusive partner, at least, first time around.
It’s very similar, but it’s unbelievable how it takes years to unpack everything and put the pieces of the puzzle together. I grew up with no exposure to religion or spirituality. An appreciation for nature, humanity, equality, goodness, and a love of learning. I had so many very positive things that I took from my childhood as well. The negative things it seems, my response to them was to forge ahead, survive, and, “I’m going to make it on my own.” That’s what I did. That was my growing up to my teen years.
Through your teen years, that’s when you had the story. You also became aware of the universe’s science and synchronicities. Please share some of your own spiritually transformative experiences then you also brought about an awakening for you.
When I was in college, I always knew in my heart and soul there had to be more to this Earth. I was seeking out organized religion at that time. I believe that there are just too many miracles, even in our bodies alone, that can’t be a chance or something like that. I went along and then after I got married, I was involved in the church, I even became a lector.
Did you meet him through the church?
My ex-husband? No, I met him in graduate school. We were both getting our Master’s degree in Education. He is someone who always touted, “I am a devout Catholic,” yet he’s someone that never went to church or never practiced. It was more for show than anything else or tradition. I can’t speak for someone else. I was very interested and researched that myself, but it wasn’t until after leaving my marriage that I realized now that it was abusive. I had red flags for years, a lot of cognitive dissonance, questioning, manipulation of money, and things that didn’t make sense.
I knew he was up to no good with a lot of things, but I ignored it so I could live my life and raise my family. I always thought, “I made a commitment. I’m going to honor that.” That type of thing. You do get busy in your life, working full-time, and when you’re in an abusive situation, you end up doing almost everything. That person is out of the picture a lot, and you’re taking care of the kids.
It’s like an autopilot.
I had a defining moment where I knew I had to escape fast. I didn’t do any of the planning that you’re supposed to do to be able to be on your feet and stuff. I just knew I needed to get out.
How long have you been married?
Twenty-seven years. When he knew that I knew and I was going to act on it, the threats came. It was a dangerous situation for me, but I knew I could escape. I didn’t realize then. When you’re dealing with an abuser, they don’t let you go easily. It doesn’t matter if you’re divorced, they’re remarried or they move on in their lives and you move on. They still stalk and harass you.
They want that power over you.
When they realize they don’t have it, they don’t give up easily. It was bad enough that I realized, “Our house that was paid off for ten years was in foreclosure. All my money was depleted.” Even our kids’ college funds were stolen. Unbelievable things were happening.
Such a betrayal and violence.
It is pretty much unbelievable. When I realized, “I needed to get out,” I had a garage sale. Even though it’s a spiritual fiction that I wrote the book God Came To My Garage Sale, I did experience a lot of miracles that can’t be explained by everyday evidence and facts.
Were you skeptical when these things were starting or had you started to open to them?
I was like, “This is unbelievable. Did I see what I saw? Did this happen?” Afterward, I realized I had a sense of calm and peace come over me. Even in the midst of all this chaos, loss, shock, and betrayal, I still felt loved just by God or by something bigger than what was on Earth here. I went back and thought about numerous things throughout my life. I connected the dots and realized that there was something more. There are miracles. When you experience these kinds of things, it is a spiritual awakening. You want to research and learn more. You listen to people. You read books. It wasn’t until a little bit after that that I lost a child. I lost an adult child to parental alienation, someone I was close, loved, and laughed with.
Please first define parental alienation for people who don’t know what that is. That was a new term for me too. I knew what it was, but I didn’t know that is the term for it. I’d love you to tell people how to pay attention to the red flags that are flying.
There are many red flags, but the thing is, usually, when you figure out that you have been smeared, betrayed, stolen from, and lied to, lots of times, that has been in the works for years and years. You just didn’t pay attention to it. All of a sudden, when you get a divorce and not one person in a neighborhood that you were close with for many-plus years talks to you, even your handyman, all of a sudden, stops talking to you, you start to realize, “Luckily, I was secure in myself as a person that I didn’t go seeking out and questioning what’s going on and this and that.” I knew that my ex had already been setting the groundwork for things.
Getting back to your question about parental alienation, it happens to both men and women. Usually, it’s in a separation or a divorce situation, but it’s when one parent wants to get revenge, is very vindictive, angry, and wants to destroy that other parent so much so that they will go so far as to murder them. That happens all the time or they’ll murder the children because they don’t want the other spouse to have custody or something like that. Those stories are all too real.
It’s a campaign of denigration that’s been in the works for years. It doesn’t just happen when you get a divorce or separation, but that’s when everything falls into place for these alienators. It’s when you have a loving, normal-range relationship with your child, and all of a sudden, it’s severed. They want nothing to do with you. They believe outlandish lies or half-truths. They’ll say, “Your parent is mentally ill. They went to a doctor for this. They’re on medication,” when, “I might have gone to go get stitches at the hospital. I might have had an antibiotic I took for those, so I wouldn’t get an infection from that cut.” They twist the stories around and they somehow get people to believe them.
It’s like dealing with children. They have no life experience to compete. They believe their parent. They’re conflicted because they don’t want to be disloyal to that parent. They love you, but they’re being told these terrible things.
In this case, this adult child of mine was twenty years old when it happened. That child had so much experience with me. They probably know the difference between the two parents and that there was a lot of evil, wrongdoing, and stuff happening with the other parent. The thing is, with parental alienation, they know the loving parent, which I believe in this case, is me. They believe that that’s unconditional love so they don’t have to worry about whether we will be there or not. I’m the safe one.
It’s like Stockholm syndrome. Remember that bank robbery situation where the tellers who were abused and forced at gunpoint and all that? They sided with the abusers. They were empathetic to the plight of the robbers and took their side. It’s the same thing. These young children, or in my case, adult child, don’t want the same treatment happening to them, so they align.
There’s a lot of research out there. I would recommend any of your readers to look up parental alienation. There are many experts in the field that talk about it. It follows the same playbook no matter what the situation is. They align with the parent that is abusive, and they stop all communication with the parent and their extended family. They cut off everyone.
I’ve seen both of those things happen.
To me, that was one of the biggest losses. I can lose my house and all my money.
That was the best way for him to hurt you.
That was very painful. I don’t know that he thought I could recover from that. Abusers are conniving. They tried all different angles to bring you down, but it didn’t happen for me. In some ways, I have to thank him because I am living such a beautiful life.
It empowers you.
In many ways, you realize what’s important in life. You get stronger in your convictions. I was always someone who believed in honesty, goodness, love, and compassion. I am more so now with that. I don’t wish ill will on anyone. I wish healing for some people. I sure wish people that lie and deceit. I don’t wish revenge for evil-doers, but I sure wish that they would leave the good people alone. Maybe heal themselves somehow so they can move on and stop obsessing over others.
Stop passing the legacy of pain forward.
These children are going to need to struggle with this. It certainly was not what I ever imagined I’d be dealing with, but that’s what it is.
How do people pay attention to the red flags of domestic abuse? You’ve got some tips for surviving domestic violence. Do you want to pass them along?
As far as the red flags, many of us realize something doesn’t seem right. It’s like, “That’s strange that this person is involved in our marriage. Why is this person here? Why is he hiding money?” The stories of people that survive domestic violence run the gamut. There are abusers that have families with other people while they are married to what you think is their only family.
The story is unbelievable. I would say one thing that I didn’t do, and I wish I would’ve, was just pay attention to my gut and instincts because I was being told over and over, “This does not add up. This is not right. You should not be in this situation.” I ignored that. They always say, “You people ignore the red flags.” I would say when you are feeling there’s something not adding up, follow your gut. Stop what you’re doing and take time to investigate why these things don’t add up.
Like there are stages to grief, there are stages to surviving. Part of it is you have to look out for your safety, well-being, and the safety of your children. That’s number one. Everyone has their own unique situation. You have to remain vigilant. The best advice is complete no contact because engaging in any negotiation or communication with your abuser will not turn out in your favor at all. They may come across as sincere, but they’re not. They’ve abused you and they’ve done such terrible things, they’re not going to automatically stop that and come around like you can negotiate and work with them.
When someone shows you who they are, believe them.
Abusers do tell you. It’s like a mask falls. I had a best friend that I’d been completely betrayed with. You mentioned the word trauma bonding. I was trauma bonded to this best friend.
Tell us about trauma bonding.
Trauma bonding is where you have this connection with another person, but it’s dependent on history and on, “I’ve known this person my whole life. This person was here during this time and bailed me out. I told this secret to this person when we were kids.” Trauma bonding can happen in all types of relationships. It was here with the loss of this best friend. That happened after the divorce and alienation when I realized that she was very much involved in a lot of unthinkable betrayals and lies. When someone lies to you, pay attention because that means they’ve lied many other times. This person is a very dishonest person and I knew that with her interactions with other people, but I didn’t put it that would be part of our relationship.
You didn’t figure out when show someone shows you who they are.
I should have known years ago when she was involved in some very unethical behaviors. Our values did not line up years ago. I should have realized then that, “These are pretty significant that our values don’t line up.” That loss, in some ways, was harder than leaving an abusive marriage because you thought someone was close to you, but their mask fell off. She, one day, without knowing it said something where I finally listened, stopped, and went, “Wow.”
I was careful not to let her know. I knew what was going on because I needed to exit in a way that was safe. My ex-husband did the exact same thing. He didn’t mean to confess some pretty wrongdoings that night over pizza, but it just came out. I finally listened. It was like a light bulb finally goes on. Unfortunately, we become enlightened and accepting of things when we are ready to be enlightened or accepting.
If someone is reading and they have toxic people in their life, how can they let go of these toxic people so that positive situations and honest people can come into their lives? How did you let go of her to stay safe and make space for better-quality people to come into your life?
In my case, I had some loose-end business situation that needed to wrap up. I didn’t let on that I no longer wanted this person in my life ever. The betrayal was so bad. I chose not to have that closure, be reasonable, and say, “This is the reason. Maybe we can work on this.” I knew that was it, that I wanted nothing to do with this person. Our values were very different.
You have to follow your gut feeling, but you also have to think about who you are and what your values are. I took time to think about, “Who am I? What do I stand for?” If I allow some of these people that I don’t have much respect for and I didn’t have a lot of respect for her in many ways for years, but I still have a trauma bond.
It was a longtime affection.
You have to search within yourself to find your own values. My values of love, honesty, compassion, goodness, honesty, being a very big one. I needed to stay true to that so then I decided, “I’ve already lost many things. I lost many friends, neighbors, material possessions, and all that.” I’d already experienced so many losses and then in losing my child, I already had lost almost everything.
You hadn’t lost yourself.
I didn’t lose myself. I had no idea that within a relatively short period of time, I would not only regain myself back. I’d have beautiful people come into my life that I would connect and resonate with. We’ve gone through similar experiences. There’s a different type of bond with people who have survived grief and loss and then had a rebirth.
How did embracing spirituality help you to survive what you went through? Did mediums help you on your journey to healing?
Most definitely. I never even believed in psychic mediums. Now I’m a contributing author to a book that’s on your website called The Last Breath. I’m one of the authors of that book. It’s mostly mediums, but how did the spiritual awakening help me? It helped me realize that there’s more to this Earth that we go through some of these trials and tribulations for the reason that I believe now after experiencing things myself and researching hundreds of other people that have had near-death experiences or spiritual awakening experiences. We choose this life, our parents, families, and situations.
Isn’t that shocking?
It’s very shocking, but I believe it now. While you’re going through it, you’re thinking, “Why would I sign up for so much pain?” The pain of losing someone is unbearable. There’s a reason for all of that. I went to a grief workshop. Terri Daniel runs the Afterlife Conference. She was in the Chicago area where I was. My friend, who is now my life partner, had lost his love interest, his friend, through cancer. I was a big part of their relationship and was there as a support to both of them, and I had gone through losing everything. It was a natural fit to spend time together.
We went to a grief workshop in the Chicago area. There was a psychic medium that was there afterward doing readings with a large group of 200 or 300 people. We thought, “Let’s stay for this.” I was 1 of the 5 called on, and this psychic medium was able to tell me the names and specifics of an aunt that had passed away very much. This just happened. Details weren’t published anywhere. Names weren’t published. I didn’t even plan on it. I didn’t even sign up for that. It was unbelievable the messages that I got.
Rick and I decided to attend a workshop the following day at the Infinity Center, which is in the North Shore suburbs of Chicago. Even in that workshop, that same psychic medium was able to tell me exactly how my brother passed away, what his name was, and things that he would not have known. It wasn’t just that. There were people that were in attendance there, that were psychic mediums, wanting to hone their craft or whatever. This was before I even believed in all this.
You are getting knocked out.
This person, who was just a participant there, knew my brother’s and my mom’s name. Even though God Came To My Garage Sale is fiction, I was inspired by a lot of true events. I wanted to write a little bit about my brother’s experience. I chose a name for him the night before that I’m going to change his name, but I also will change some situations. That participant knew that name. She’s like, “Your brother likes this name and approves of it.”
I’m like, “This just happened. I didn’t tell anyone about this.” That led to many other appointments and meetings with psychic mediums and reading, even when on a spiritual cruise or two, with psychic mediums. I was blown away. There are some people that claim to be psychic mediums, but I don’t know if they have it. Everyone has their own way of operating with that. Overall, I’ve been amazed.
I always say that it’s about discernment because, like in any part of life, you have people who are in business who are not honorable or are frauds. You have it in this world too. You need to come through someone who you trust and need to discern who’s real. I want you to tell us all about God Came To My Garage Sale. Tell us about what you would like our readers to know about your book and how is that questioning atheist woman who experiences numerous spiritually transformative encounters based on you and your own life experiences. I have a seeking suspicion that she’s very based on you.
She is very much inspired by me, but it is spiritual fiction. I did pick out major events that have happened to me that were life-changing. I went on to talk about them, but there are some embellishments to make it more of a believable story.
It’s filled with spiritual information that people want to glean a lot of spiritualism from it.
It was endorsed by James Redfield. That in itself was pretty amazing. He wrote The Celestine Prophecy and was very interested, not at first, but after reading my manuscript, said, “I would like to support you in this.” I do have other famous psychic mediums. One psychic medium is from Michigan. She is out of this world. I couldn’t believe the things that she could come up with. A couple of them are celebrity psychic mediums that know their stuff.
I was inspired because of this garage sale, and then many other experiences through the year or two after that garage sale, where it was more than just finding pennies and feathers, and seeing red cardinals. It was seeing people that seemed to come for a reason and then would just disappear without me seeing them leave. My first chapter is about dragonflies. At one point, I was surrounded by what seemed like 100 dragonflies circling me. Everything was in slow motion. The feeling that I had was that I was surrounded by generations of ancestors.
You’re supported. Does the dragonfly also stand for transformation also?
I write about this in my book. The dragonfly stands for all sorts of things with regard to different cultures. Overall, it is transformational, just like butterflies would be transformational. I had a lot of amazing experiences. I have since gone on to have numerous spiritual experiences almost on a daily basis that I have now. It’s almost like I can manifest some things where if I put my intention, if I focus, meditate, and follow some rituals and things that bring me to a sense of peace and calm, I can ask for some divine guidance and I can get it. It’s amazing.
Sometimes you don’t know how it’s going to come into your life, whether it’s a person you meet or a situation you’re in. I have been amazed. Like you, you’ve survived such loss in your life on many different levels, I have survived loss on many levels. For many people, they might not be able to go on with such severe loss. I’ve always felt good about going on. I was never suicidal or depressed. I always knew that goodness would prevail. Justice doesn’t always prevail, but goodness does so I’m able to go on.
I wish for you that justice will also prevail.
Hopefully. We’ll see. I haven’t had that experience. A lot of people believe lies even if they’re right in front of your face, false documentation. It’s mind-blowing. I can still live with myself, who I am, and what I’m all about. You can’t control other people.
The part of that is letting go because what can you do? Otherwise, they eat you up. You’re such a good role model for rebirth after trauma. What is your message about the importance of healing that you’d like to share with our readers and what is the best way for them to connect with you and purchase God Came To My Garage Sale?
As far as healing, part of it is searching within yourself to your own values and who you are and staying true to that. Another thing for healing, in my case, a change of scenery helped. I moved from Chicago to the beautiful Caribbean. That has been amazing. I’ve lived here for a couple of years, and I’m glad that I had a change of scenery. That helped me. Although I always had plans to stay in our marital home and create a life there, that wasn’t meant to be. Thank goodness I have found a much better existence where I am.
It is where growth and new friends waiting for you.
Another thing is to evaluate what you’re interested in, your hobbies, and how you like to spend your time. I used to always love to cook, bake and make things. My children and I would make crème brûlée. I would do so much for every holiday, no matter what the holiday was. I would decorate. We would do all sorts of art projects and stuff. That changed. I don’t do holidays like that. I’m open to other kinds of holidays. My life partner is Jewish, and somehow always in my heart and soul, I felt I was Jewish.
You probably had a past life.
I’m sure I had a past life. I’m learning. I’m open to new experiences. I don’t cook much anymore because the person I am with is a major cook and creates all sorts of wonderful meals for us.
He sounds perfect.
He’s a good person in many ways. True to the value, honesty is a big thing. It’s after years of being with such dishonest people in my life, not just my ex-husband, but my best friend, and a lot of neighbors and people that I surrounded myself with. To spend my life with someone who is honest, fun, interesting, and I learn so much from is amazing.
He is a miracle that came into your life. You found yourself with him.
As far as my book, God Came To My Garage Sale. It is on Amazon, Barnes & Noble. It was published by Balboa Press, which is a division of Hay House. The book is only $11.99 or $3 for an eBook. It’s very reasonable. It can be found in many bookstores, even in the States. I’m getting contacted to come do book signings and to go to different places. It’s out there.
This past couple of years, I contributed. I’m a co-author of four other bestselling books. One I mentioned that’s on your website is The Last Breath. I contributed a chapter there. I’m also involved with bLU Talks, which stands for Business, Life, and Universe. I’ll be going to Columbia University in New York City, speaking on surviving domestic violence, narcissist abuse, and parental alienation, but handling these life challenges with love and goodness and talking about how spirituality plays a role in that as well.
I was also in a dog book, The “UltiMUTT” Book for Dog Lovers, which was a lot of fun. I wrote a chapter called Doggy Divorce from A Dog’s Perspective. It touches on alienation. It’s someone else’s story, but I had the honor of writing that. I was also in a book called The Evolution Of Echo, where I also wrote from a different perspective, from the abuser’s point of view.
It wasn’t that hard because when you start to try to put the pieces together and understand what happened to you, you almost have to try to understand the mindset of an abuser of someone who’s malevolent. It was very healing to write this essay from that perspective because I don’t feel like I’m a victim. I was a victim. Unfortunately, anyone that is targeted by an abuser is a victim, but I certainly don’t live in that victim mentality.
I finished writing another book. I’ve been working on it for three years. I have a series of four books. The main title is True Deceit, False Love. This particular book is a book of terms. I also have poetry books in the works. The other question is, “How do you survive this?” You think of your interests and pursue them. I could very easily retire to the Caribbean and not do much each day, but I find a lot of healing and joy in writing.
Everyone needs to find that magic key for themselves.
Find what works for you, what you enjoy.
Would you say the tip for finding joy in life is to find what you enjoy?
Find what you like to do, whether it’s a craft or volunteering for an organization that you feel strongly about, traveling and seeing the world and other experiences, or taking up a completely new hobby. I was told by a lot of people, “You’re going to take up scuba diving because you’re in the Caribbean.” No. I’m not interested. I love to snorkel and I’ll snorkel every day, but I don’t want to put on a big heavy tank and feel constricted like that.” People do pick up hobbies that they never thought they would. We spend a lot of time skiing, even though I’m in the Caribbean, we will go to where there are beautiful mountains and ski. That’s something I wasn’t involved in for many years, but now I enjoy it.
I can certainly relate to that. Where do you go to ski?
I love Alta. We have a great time in Utah and even Minnesota. We spent some time skiing in Minnesota and Colorado. It’s fun to try different places to ski. Finding something that is interesting to you and doing it. I had an interview with an amazing woman, Rusty McDonald, who is a survivor herself, and she picked up painting. She loves to paint now and finds a lot of therapeutic value in that. You just have to find what works for you.
You are terrific. You’re a true role model for grief and rebirth. This has been a pleasure interviewing you. You survived traumatic domestic abuse and parental alienation by embracing spirituality. Now, you are thriving. In addition, your book, God Came to My Garage Sale, beautifully illustrates that paying attention to the universe’s signs, synchronicities, and spiritually transformative experiences can transform lives. I highly recommend it. Thank you from my heart.
Thank you for having the show just like you were called to handle your grief, probably through speaking with others like this and connecting with other people, and giving a platform to people to share and communicate. Our voices matter. We need to speak out. No one is slandering anyone or saying anything negative. We’re speaking our truth. We’re connecting with others so that they could maybe realize, “Maybe I can survive what I’m going through, too.”
If they can learn from our experiences and not struggle as much, what a blessing. Here’s a reminder to make sure to follow and like us on social at @IreneSWeinberg on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. As I like to say, to be continued, many blessings and bye for now.
- Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro’s book: God Came to My Garage Sale
- Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro’s book: True Deceit, False Love
- Dr. Marni Hill Foderaro’s recommended books: The Last Breath, The Celestine Prophecy, bLU Talks, The “UltiMUTT” Book for Dog Lovers, and The Evolution Of Echo