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Dr. Mara Windsor

The Catalyst That Sparked This Emergency Room Physician's Nonprofit

“Being a mother of three kids, as well as having three dogs and a husband, is overwhelming and exhausting,” says Mara Windsor, DO, laughing.

But for this working emergency room doc, it became the catalyst to creating something even bigger.

“I was disillusioned growing up, thinking that having a family and being a working mom would be easy,” explains Windsor. “I didn’t realize how challenging and difficult it is.”

It was that realization—and knowing she was far from alone—that led Windsor to create her nonprofit organization, L.I.F.E. (Living in Fulfilled Enlightenment).

Windsor, a Phoenix native, earned a medical degree from Midwestern University. Today, she is a board-certified ER physician at three Valley hospitals, and serves as chief wellness officer.

When she had her third child while working full-time in the ER, she knew something had to change.

“We knew we were stretching it by having one more child,” Windsor explains. “But I really felt that we needed one more child.”

What they hadn’t counted on were the baby’s health issues. At 6 months, he ended up on a feeding tube.

“He had physical therapy and occupational therapy and feeding therapy. All of a sudden our schedules just exploded.”

Windsor realized self-care was essential.

“If you’re not coming from a place of being fulfilled, happy, and optimistic, then you’re not going to be delivering your best self to anyone.”

Windsor originally thought she would use her own personal wellness journey to create a positive change society for her female friends.

“I explained that I was doing research on positive psychology and how to sustain happiness and fulfillment in life. One of the women commented that her husband needed that, as well. I realized she was right. We shouldn’t leave men out.”

Windsor began sharing what she was learning. She was already meeting with a trainer and nutritionist, so she shared that. They began offering each other parenting tips and ideas for stress reduction. By 2014, her idea evolved into an official nonprofit—L.I.F.E.

“During my research on positive psychology, I came across [psychologist] Martin Seligman’s work. His research found that sustained happiness is built on three pillars: community, philanthropy, and mentorship. Those are the three pillars I built my organization on,” shares Windsor.

Today, L.I.F.E. helps people across all communities, from medical personnel to teachers and even students.

“Burnout is a global issue,” Windsor observes.

She believes that society's expectation for instant responses makes our daily lives more stressful.

L.I.F.E. recently partnered with the Arizona Trauma Network. Their emotional support team provides crisis calls—anonymously and free of charge—for anyone who simply wants to call in and talk.