04/25/20

COVID-19: Please Wear a Mask

“In short: Staying safe is half a head game.”
Arianne Cohen, Fast Company on COVID-19 behavior.

It wasn’t lost on me when I watched from my metal railing balcony as my little 5-old-year neighbor wandered to the edge of the canyon in our community backyard for his daily “let-off-some-steam” time that the bars between us had many layers of meaning for me. Paying closer attention to him after I returned from an unsettling interaction out in public earlier in the day, I noticed this little guy was wearing a mask.

If he can wear his mask to play games outside, surely the 20ish male runner without a mask coming toward me as I stepped onto the grass more than six feet to the right on a short walk to avoid his heaving breath can too, right? And what about while I was waiting to pick up takeout today to support a local restaurant, the unmasked man with his masked wife in front of me and the three young unmasked men standing behind me who brushed right past me? Why no masks? Rhetorical question, sort of. But not really.

What is it with men?! With young people? Sorry, men friends and millennials I love who are wearing masks, for lumping all of you together; I know it’s not all men or just men, or young people but it is so unsettling to see the number of people who seem to have so much entitlement for themselves or so little regard for themselves or others and all the incredible life-saving going in by medical professionals and family caregivers or so little social-emotional intelligence that they won’t comply with what we know helps prevent COVID from spreading and killing people! What will it take? Do they need a personal reason like their own intubation or someone they love suffering, or worse, dying—and alone, like my aunt and the loved ones of two friends or the 202,272 other people who have died of COVID-19 as of today!? https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/coronavirus-death-toll/

I am not normally publicly vocal about these kinds of issues, but a quote by Rabbi Hillel that I’ve theoretically spouted as a speaker for years keeps playing in my head: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And when I am for myself, what am ‘I’? If not now, when.” And the community version of it, “If not us, who?”

Are you wearing a mask when you’re out? If so. thank you. (If you live in San Diego, they’ll be mandatory May 1.)

If you aren’t wearing a mask yet, please do. And adapt the premise, “If you see something, say something.” And for those you see wearing masks, thank them.

What would you say to someone not wearing a mask to help them comply without shaming them? Let’s create a list of responses in the comments because I could use them. I didn’t do so well today. To the older man in the takeout line four feet away from me as I continued to back up, I said under my mask and pointing to it, “Where is your mask?” He said, “I don’t need one.” I said, “Yes you do! For yourself, for your wife, and for me and everyone in this room. Please wear a mask.” He shook his head no, his wife shrugged her shoulders and they turned around and walked away.

Outside of neighborhood walks, I’ve been out in public to grocery shop four times in five weeks when very few people are out. Today was different with so many people outside. I get it. No one likes wearing a mask or being cooped up as long as we have, especially on a beautiful day, but, please—pretty please with f-ing sugar on top…PLEASE WEAR A MASK.

I really had to work to shift my fear and anger to compassion. But as I’m learning from my mindful self-compassion teacher training, there are two types of compassion—yin/gentle and yang/fierce. Gentle compassion comforts and fierce compassion protects. We need both and sometimes, like today, we need to use our courage to call in fierce compassion.

What are you doing to protect yourself and your family, co-workers and community? Please wear a mask.And consider reading this article from Fast Company: “6 Reasons Why You Engage in Risky COVID-19 Behaviors and How to Avoid Them. (Thank you, Arianne Cohen) bit.ly/3570ZFQ

03/24/20

Mindful Self-Compassion Breathing Meditation

Clouds above Pacific Ocean at La Jolla Shores photo by Mary Marcdante
“One for me and one for you.”

As you read that, what did you think? Did you question what I meant? Did you judge it as selfish because I put myself first? Did you feel included? Did you worry about others who might not feel included or just start scrolling?

In my #mindfulselfcompassion teacher training practicum through the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion (an awesome community), one of the core meditations we are practicing is “Giving and Receiving Compassion” using the breath. Any breath you take can become a wish for yourself and another.

If you’re someone who always puts others first, and then feels exhausted, resentful, disappointed or any negative feeling that depletes your energy, research has shown that self-compassionate people tend to be more caring, supportive and compassionate with others, less jealous, and better compromisers. The challenge is giving yourself the same care you give others.

Drawing on the Creative Life Force and breathing in good wishes first for yourself gives you the energy to send it to others.

On your inhale, if it feels right, say “Breathing in for me” and on the exhale, “Breathing out for you.” Or actually, any words that conjure up a feeling of care for yourself and another person or group, country, pet, or the earth. “One for me, one for you.” Or “In for me, out for you,” or even as simple as “Me” on the inhale and “You” on the exhale repeated for as long as you like in a slower-than-normal breathing rhythm while savoring the feelings in your body. Adding a smile can help connect your mind and body and shift your energy from stressed to blessed.

This meditation can be done silently when you’re in a stressful conversation with someone, worried about someone, or just thinking of them. You can do it for one cycle of inhale/exhale that takes just a few seconds or 15 minutes in formal sitting practice, or for a minute when you wake up before you get out of bed, just before sleep, while walking or even sitting on the toilet while you are rationing toilet paper. “One for me. One for you.” Sorry, I couldn’t resist a little levity given how serious everything is with #coronavirusprotocol and #coronavirusstress.

“One for me and one for you. One for All Beings and one for the Earth.”

 

PS. If you like this or have other topics you’d like to learn more about, please leave a comment or share your favorite meditation. I love hearing from you.

10/7/17
San Diego International Film Festival 2107 Global Consciousness Films

4 Global Consciousness Insights from San Diego Film Fest Filmmakers

San Diego International Film Festival 2017 Global Consciousness #sdiff

“What is one practical action you would want audience members to take after seeing your film?”

After a long work day and hearing my inner voice tell me I needed to step out of my way-too-comfortable comfort zone, instead of going to a comedy screening, I attended “Global Consciousness,” a series of six riveting films in 62 minutes. Kudos to the San Diego International Film Festival for a socially impactful, relevant and soul-searching evening.

At the Q&A with the filmmakers following the screening, when I asked that question about a practical step, here’s what they said:

“Awareness. Be aware of what’s going on around the world and share it.” said the writer of the film “Citizen,” about an American born Hispanic female border patrol agent whose pregnant Mexican born younger sister is deported and tries to cross the border so her child will be American. The agent has to decide between protecting her livelihood and young son’s safety and helping her sister who goes into labor as she is detained by another border agent at a desert crossing.

“Read and when you find injustice, speak your truth. Don’t turn away,” from the director of “Ravage,” about China’s illegal organ harvesting and torture of Falun Gong practitioners and political prisoners. Horrific and still going on.

“Compassion. Imagine yourself in the situation of others who are different from you. Look people in the eyes.” This from the director of “The Fare,” about a young Ecuadorian man who works in a sex-trafficking ring and has to decide between saving the life of a teen girl from his home city or saving face and ultimately his own life. Heart-wrenching.

“Love. It really is that simple. See the Oneness in humanity. Everyone goes through hard times. Don’t knock people down, lift people up.” Encouraging words from the directors of “Shine,” an animated film about helping to end homelessness.

Powerful films and powerful words to put into action. My first action post-film: share their words with you and live them best I can. Be aware, speak the truth, turn toward rather than away, look people in the eyes, love on others and lift them up.

Two more days of incredible films and live interviews. You can check out the films and events at http://sdiff.org/ #sdiff

08/5/17

Opening to Nature’s Wisdom Through Mindful Photography

In the Heart of the Agave -- Mary Marcdante, Mindful Photography
While walking in the hills of Del Mar just before sunset last night I came upon this spectacular Agave plant more than five feet in diameter growing beside a sandstone cliff two stories high. The sunlight illuminating the plant’s leaves beckoned me closer for a photo. As I held up my camera, I had the most wonderful and ephemeral moment of watching my shadow move into an alignment that merged my head with the plant’s core, which holds its newest growth and under that, what growers actually refer to as its “heart.”

I stood there for a few seconds awestruck and rooted by a feeling that I can only now describe as a falling away of the illusion of separation and equally a knowing of the Oneness that lives and breathes through me, this plant, the wind, you, and everything.

And then in an instant everything was back to normal. A car drove by, my phone chimed a message had arrived, and my shadow self stepped back into my body.

As I glance at that photo again, trying to recapture the feeling and make sense of the insight to apply to my daily life, it looks as if a new plant shoot is about to burst open on the top of the left side of my head. Maybe nature’s gift of new ideas for my next book? Funny what a hair clip in shadow can create in one’s imagination. Or maybe not.

One of my favorite Zen proverbs pops into my mind: “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”

Yes, and…through it all, keep looking, keep asking, keep photographing and writing, or creating through whatever your chosen path is, and remember to align head and heart — your’s and nature’s.

You never know where enlightenment is waiting for you.

05/14/17

My Mother, My Friend Turns Sweet 16

My mother’s presence lingers in the 25 years after her passing, especially on Mother’s Day. Her legacy is filled with the births of five children, one who, sadly, died a week after birth, and four, fortunately, who still carry her story into their own lives — two with children of their own, two with contributions that include mothering in myriad other ways.

This Mother’s Day 2017 one of my mother’s greatest legacies to me turns Sweet 16. My book, written in her honor after she died, My Mother, My Friend: The 10 Most Important Things To Talk About With Your Mother, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2001 and remains in print and available on Amazon, having sold more than 30,000 copies, a feat I’m proud of and so grateful to so many for in a world according to Nielsen BookScan where the average book sells less than 250 copies and no more than 3,000 copies over its lifetime

I still receive letters and emails about how the book has changed a woman’s relationship with her mother, her daughter, her extended family of sisters, aunts, grandmothers, granddaughters, and what has really surprised and delighted me because of my own journey — her relationship with herself.

As a first time published author I was beyond thrilled to finally have that book out of my head and into print. After ten years of living with my mother’s spirit (or my imagination, take your pick), telling me in two dreams, “We have a book to write together; it’s a book for adult daughters and their mothers so they can know each other better and make healthier choices than I did,” I was ready to move forward with my life.

In those 16 years since publication my life has been filled with more choices, more challenges and lessons than I could imagine. Buoyed by the thousands of women I’ve met and talked with all around the world through my speaking engagements, coaching, blog, and social media, I continue to be inspired and humbled by their stories of strength, courage, forgiveness, heartbreak, loss, creativity, wisdom and deep love. Something else that I didn’t expect but kept showing up were opportunities to explore my own mothering and befriending — and lack thereof oftentimes — of myself.

The exploration and adventure of self-care, self-discovery and creative expression has continued after My Mother, My Friend as a new book waits in the wings to find its way from my heart to paper: My Self, My Friend. My resistance to finishing the manuscript is strong but I’m inspired to keep going based on a dream I had a few years ago where my mother appeared again, having an equally significant conversation with me, guiding me to choose a path to greater presence, connection and valuing of myself in my life and in the world.

If this is something that calls to you, I invite you to walk the path of My Self, My Friend along with me as we learn how to live, love, listen and laugh with ourselves through anything. I would love to hear from you with a comment below or click here to be notified of updates.

01/22/17

San Diego Women’s March Review

Keep democracy alive. Participate
Amazing. Brilliant. Courageous. Destiny. Extraordinary…I could run through the alphabet of superlatives to describe yesterday’s Women’s March in San Diego. So many of you posted about your experience on Facebook and I have loved reading every one. Thank you for inspiring me. This was one of those once in a lifetime moments for me.

I am still thinking about all the families who brought young children and the leaders these children will have the potential to become over the next several decades. They’re watching and participating and even if they’re not sure what it’s all about, they will remember it was important enough for their parents to participate and bring them along. They were making their history. And they could one day say, “I was there and now I am here and I am making a positive difference in the world for human rights. Look what we did. Look what we can do together!” #ittakesavillage


Another image that has stayed in my mind are the people in wheelchairs being pushed by their family and friends in an unending crowd of moving people while their frame of reference is eye level with most people’s waists and they are dependent on the kindness of others to make sure they are safe. People were kind and it was safe.

And I think of that story President Obama told about a town hall meeting he spoke at in South Carolina where very few people attended early in his first campaign. There was an uncomfortable silence when he finished speaking and then out of that silence a woman in the back yelled, “Fired up! Ready to go!” and slowly others start to follow. “One voice can change a room…it can change the world.”

In San Diego, 40,000 people got fired up and went. We marched, we sang, we carried signs about issues that matter and are at risk of being dismissed, denied, or repealed; we hugged, we spoke up, we cared, we participated (around the world!), we showed the world what loving each other, our country, freedom and our rights looks like and feels like — that is love in action — and we opened the door along with the rest of the marching world for everyone to join in.

And today, we begin again. Fired up. Ready to go. Again. Right? We hope and pray. But we need more than hope and prayers. We need action. Ongoing action.

I have not been as active a citizen as I could be. I’m still learning. I made a promise to myself that I would commit to minimum one action a day – email, letter, social media post or comment, photograph, phone call to my representatives (now in my contact list), a conversation with someone who may have a different perspective – to listen, to learn, to stay informed and to speak up on the key issues that matter to me. I may fail at times but I promise to keep getting back up. How about you?

What ideas and commitments will you follow to stay fired up and not just ready to go, but going, already there, and speaking up and sharing whatever is most important to you?

It’s a choice every day. And not always easy. In fact most of the time pretty challenging. Grateful to my circle of inspiration. Stay inspired. And invite others to join you. Our presence, your presence, does make a difference.

I appreciate you and look forward to walking with you on this journey and where it will lead over the next decade and lifetime.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead

See more photos on Facebook at www.facebook.com/marymarcdante. Let’s connect.

#whyimarch #sandiegowomensmarch #womensmarch

11/20/16
Torrey Pines Razor Point Lookout Stars of Torrey Pines by Mary Marcdante

Mindfulness: Smile. Click. Laugh. Connect.

Torrey Pines Razor Point Lookout Stars of Torrey Pines by Mary Marcdante

No matter how much mindfulness training I do, my mind still notices what is different about other people I meet for the first time, most often their physical characteristics and then their language. But what’s equally true, is that when I’m at Torrey Pines, a smile and a conversation about the beauty of nature and what we’re privileged to be in the midst of transforms those differences into unique opportunities for connection and understanding. It turns strangers into stars for me. Stars of Torrey Pines.

Yesterday afternoon, there were three groups of people standing against the wooden fence at Razor Point Lookout gazing out at the ocean. On the right was a group of two young men and a woman, dark haired, sturdy looking, taking photos of each other. I asked if they had taken one of all three of them together so they could return in 10 years and celebrate their friendship. They nodded no, so I offered to take that photo. The man in the red hoodie handed me his phone. They posed, I clicked, and it turned into a fun photo session. Smile. Click. Laugh. Connect.

As I walked away, a couple standing to this group’s left – he a tall, thin yogi-type and she, a lithe brunette, said, “Would you mind taking a photo of us.” “I’d love to!,” I said, “Especially with that t-shirt.” (It said, “Heavily Meditated.”) We laughed and the man, who had a German accent said, “If you think that t-shirt saying is creative, you should go to Japan and see what they do. Sayings you wouldn’t believe.” Smile. Click. Laugh. Connect.

To move along the trail, I had to backtrack past a third group of four people. Wow, did they look alike. And like the others, they were posing for each other. I asked if they were family. Four heads nodded yes while one pair of eyes rolled noticeably. I asked if they’d taken their holiday photo yet and if not, this would be a perfect place to do it. They all looked at each other, the eye roller laughed and nodded no, and the mom handed her phone to me. They were full of expression and clearly enjoyed one another’s company.

Three groups, a total of nine people, from all over the world, and for a few minutes, we were all in the same community enjoying the park and each other’s presence.

I felt this warmth of connection and gratitude wash through me as I walked away. When I was about 30 feet back into the foot trail, I turned around and yelled, “Thank you so much! You’re my Stars of Torrey Pines! How about a group photo?!” Not knowing what to expect, I held up my fingers, 1, 2, 3, and yelled, “Go!”

Much to my surprise and delight, they rallied and gave me another first at the park – a spontaneous group photo of people unknown to each other, people willing to let down their guard with each other for a few moments, mug for the camera (instead of mugging each other) and welcome me as if I were a family friend posing them for the Holiday photo. Wishing that for you and your family and the world.

Smile. Click. Laugh. Connect.