03/30/10

“Eat Slow or Die Fast” with Dr. Bruce MacFarland (1923-2010)

Last week I was privileged to celebrate the life of a great friend, father, and a pioneer and leader in the nutrition and holistic health fields, Dr. Bruce MacFarland.

We were invited to bring a favorite food to share, which in my case, that day, because I was pushed for time, would have been chips and salsa, picked up at Costco. But as I thought about all the things I’d learned from Bruce over the five years I’ve known him including his infamous “Eat slow or die fast,” and “Don’t cross your legs or risk varicose veins,” I realized I wanted to do something to honor his health conscious ways (well, except for Kopp’s Custard in Milwaukee, but who can resist that!) so I decided to make homemade hummus with sliced carrot sticks.

I got out one of my favorite (and beautiful to look at) recipe books “The Raw Goumet” and made the Hummus recipe, which is good, but still kind of bland. I wondered what I could do to spice it up and asked the Ethers, “What would Bruce add?” Continue reading

08/15/09

Happy Birthday Julia Child!


Bon Appetit and Happy 97th Birthday Julia Child! And thank you Julie Powell, Nora Ephron, and Meryl Streep for keeping Julia’s spirit alive in the film Julie & Julia. It brought back a memory of one my life highlights…

Several years ago I had the good fortune to meet Julia Child, who was 90 at the time. She was still doing PBS cooking specials, had written 12 cookbooks and taught millions of people that cooking can be easy and fun. She came down from her home in Santa Barbara to promote her latest cookbook at a book signing at The Book Works, Flowerhill (a wonderful independent bookstore adjoining one of my favorite book-writing cafes, The Pannikin).

I stood in line with more than 300 people for two hours. When I finally reached the front of the line, I couldn’t believe how nervous and excited I was. My goodness, she was even larger than life in person. And very direct and clipped in her responses, which made me more nervous because after reading extensively about the challenges she’d faced in her life including breast cancer and the death of her husband, I’d been planning my question for days and began to wonder if she’d answer it.

As I got to the table where she was sitting, she looked up at me and sounding slightly impatient, said in her iconic voice, “What are you smiling about?!”

Feeling uncharacteristically embarrassed, I said, “Getting to meet you, Ms. Child. Would you sign this book for a friend and may I ask you a question?”

She nodded yes and began to write, so I crouched down on my knees to meet her eye to eye and continued, “How do you stay so inspired and enthusiastic, especially in difficult times?”

Arms flying into the air and sounding slight exasperated, she responded in her characteristic, slightly off-key trill, “Wellllll, I eat well, I’m passionate about life, and I love what I do! Now what else can I do for you?”

I offered my hand to shake hers and she gave me as hearty a handshake as someone 50 years younger. (Must have been from all that dough she kneeded over the years!) What a wonderful expression of enthusiasm and a confirmation that doing anything with enthusiasm, especially something you love, not only makes life more enjoyable, but helps you get through challenging times.

Here’s a short video clip recap of my experience with Julia from a speech I did at the Sharp Women’s Health Conference in San Diego. Bon Appetit!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjwv-lX9TtY]

06/4/09

The Smile Diet Blog: Smile and Move!

One of the blogs I write is “The Smile Diet,” which keeps the message of my book Living with Enthusiasm: How the 21-Day Smile Diet Can Change Your Live” current with what’s going on in the moment around the world.

Read today’s Smile Diet Blog entry about a great site and resource “Smile and Move.” Watch the video and take your day to the top!

06/2/09

San Diego Living TV Appearance – The Smile Diet (video)


On Monday I had the pleasure of being interviewed on TV on the San Diego Living Show with Brooke Landau, who has one of the biggest and brightest smiles I’ve seen. We talked about my book “Living with Enthusiasm: How the 21-Day Smile Diet Can Change Your Life” and the importance of starting your day with the 16-Second Smile and different ways to use a smile to manage your stress.


Brooke has healed from several health challenges including Lyme disease that temporary paralyzed her. She said that without knowing it, while she was recuperating she chose to consciously smile, not knowing about the smile research and said that it really did help with her attitude.

CONSCIOUS SMILING WORKS to help you feel better, heal faster, strengthen your relationships, get more done and enjoy your life more every day. Why not try a 16-second smile right now with a big deep breath or two or three and feel your body relax.

02/17/09

Discover Your Happiness Strengths

After a four year hiatus, today I repeated the VIA (Values in Action) Strengths survey on the newly updated happier.com. Once again, I was reminded of the power of self-discovery and self-awareness, and the immense value of identifying your personal strengths.

The site highlights research and assessments by the gifted Dr. Martin Seligman, founder of the Positive Psychology movement at the University of Pennsylvania and helps you apply that research to your life in very user-friendly ways.

According to the VIA Institute on Character, this survey is the most scientifically validated tool for measuring character strengths. Over 1.3 million people have taken it. There are 24 qualities that have been validated as strengths that lead to happiness when applied to your daily life. Alphabetically listed, here they are:

Appreciation of beauty and excellence
Bravery and valor
Capacity to love and be loved
Creativity, ingenuity, and originality
Curiosity and interest in the world
Forgiveness and mercy
Gratitude
Honesty, authenticity, and genuineness
Hope, optimism, and future-mindedness
Humor and playfulness
Judgment, critical thinking, and open-mindedness
Kindness and generosity
Leadership
Love of learning
Modesty and humility
Perseverance, industry and diligence
Perspective (wisdom)
Prudence, caution, and discretion
Religiousness, spirituality, sense of purpose, and faith
Self-regulation and self-control
Social intelligence
Teamwork, citizenship and loyalty
Zest, enthusiasm, and energy

When you take this free profile online, which I highly recommend, you’ll be asked 240 multiple choice questions. Set aside a half hour to answer – it’s worth the time because what you’ll learn can positively shape everything you do. You’ll be fascinated, I promise.

At the end of the profile, you’re presented with a personalized list and description of your 24 strengths in order of importance to you. While the list wasn’t new information to me since I’d taken it before, it did show that four of my strengths remained in the top five in a new order and reflected more of how I experience my happiness now, which is a real gift because it reconfirms what has helped me survive some very challenging personal changes in the past four years and is what I can count on and follow when the world around me is in flux (like now!).

Another powerful reminder of this assessment, similar to Marcus Buckingham’s work and the Gallup StrengthsFinder, is that for a person to feel happy on a regular basis, your day (work and personal time) needs to include activities where you can apply and experience your top five strengths.

Here’s my Happier.com list of top 5 strengths:

1. Appreciation of beauty and excellence
2. Gratitude
3. Curiosity and interest in the world
4. Kindness and generosity
5. Love of learning

Fortunately for me, my work as a speaker and writer committed to helping people stay inspired through challenge and change allows me to use these strengths every day. But…that doesn’t mean I’m always aware that I am doing so, or actually using those strengths, and therein lies a major key to feeling happier – a written daily strengths checklist and journal you can review and act from, especially when you’re going through a difficult time.

A few other interesting insights:

The profile lists your strengths in order of preference and while it’s not stated, you can presume that your 24th strength is also your greatest challenge.

Not surprisingly, I share #24 with most other people who take the profile. (When I went through Seligman’s six-month “Authentic Happiness Coaching Program,” they mentioned this research fact.)

Drum roll, please: my #24 is Self-Regulation and Self-Control. While there many areas of my life where this is not true, where it does fit is with time management. I have a hard time sticking to my own self-defined schedules for getting projects done (which is another reason why I love accountability partners and client timelines).

But here’s the good news in identifying and applying your strengths: On the occasions that I do get stuck, if I apply even one of my strengths to getting something done that I’m avoiding that is important and not urgent (Covey’s Key Success Quadrant), magic can and often will occur.

For example: First thing in the morning, I love to walk at Torrey Pines Reserve and Beach, take photos of moments that inspire me (here’s one from today), and then journal, all of which I do almost every early morning before I start my work day. These activities energize and nurture me and as I was reminded again today, tap into my strengths.

Once I get to my desk, if it becomes challenging for me to stick to my daily work plan (what plan!?), and I find myself clicking on the Mahjong Titans computer game or stepping away from my desk for a sugar-fat snack attack, it’s a sign I’m off track. While fun, those actions don’t move me forward in my day or life. The key to my success in that moment (and long term) is to catch myself in that .5 second that researchers say a decision occurs, and do the following: smile, take a deep breath, review my strengths list, and ask myself, “How can I apply at least one of these strengths to this task?” In the case of a marketing call, I simply have to remember how grateful I am to get to do the work I do, how much I appreciate my audiences, and how curious I am to learn more about a new client, and voella!, the calls get made and I’m using my strengths in service to my higher purpose and vision.

And, sometimes, honestly, playing Mahjong Titans and hiking to the store for a king-size Reese’s Crispy Crunchy Bar still do the trick.

You can take the VIA Happiness Strengths for free at Happier.com. Go take it now. You’ll be glad you did. And if you’d like this type of information presented at your business or organization, or would like a complimentary coaching session on how to apply this in your life, email me at mary (at) marymarcdante.com.

02/12/09

Do You Agree? Is Knowledge the Key to Survival?

“I will say the most important thing the human race has for our survival is our brain. If knowledge is not passed down to the next generation, we will become extinct.”~ George Lucas

George Lucas, filmmaker and creator of the movie Star Wars challenged President Obama to make education a top priority as he accepted the Lincoln Medal for his movies and effort to improve schools at the reopening of Ford’s Theatre in DC last night. (source)

Do you agree that knowledge is the key to survival?

When I read George Lucas’ comment, in the moment I found myself nodding my head, “Yes! The brain and knowledge are our key to survival.” My life’s work as a professional speaker and writer has been built on education and learning and are two of the greatest gifts life has given me.

And then I thought about it more deeply. I do agree education should be a top priority not just nationally, but also globally, and…

There’s another “thing” to paraphrase Lucas, that I also consider a gift from life, that is equally as important as knowledge, and without it, all the knowledge in the world won’t save our planet.

That thing? That gift? That survival glue? The heart. If love and wisdom -  gifts of the heart – are not passed down to the next generation along with knowledge, we will not survive.

Education and knowledge lead to awareness; education and knowledge, combined with the heart’s wisdom and love lead to contribution and transformation.

Let your heart lead your learning. You are transforming the world.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

12/24/08

Your Power to Inspire. Happy Holidays! (photos & audio)

May your holidays be filled with laughter and love and remind you of
your power to inspire your world and how much you inspire mine.
Thank you. Love,
Mary


Click on the start button to hear a short 3 min. story about the power of love
during the holidays excerpted from a recent live presentation.

Laugh as much as you breathe, love as long as you live.
~ Anon ~