My Mother, My Friend: Conversations on Beauty & Aging

“Where there is great love, there are always miracles.”
~Willa Cather

My Mother Grace Rose and Me, 1953

       My Mother Grace Rose and Me, 1953 

Amazing to think that my mom Grace Rose has been gone 25 years this past April and my book My Mother, My Friend: The 10 Most Important Things to Talk About With Your Mother has been out in the world for fifteen years. When the idea for this book came to me from my mother in a dream, I never imagined, for so many reasons, that it would see the light of day, much less find a major publisher and still be in print today. But the light kept finding me and I’m so glad and grateful it did.

To celebrate this milestone, here are two of my favorite stories from “Conversation 3: You Are So Beautiful — Self Image and Beauty.” Happy Mother’s Day Mom, and thank you.

That Toilet Paper Thing You Do With Your Hair
(p. 79-80)

I never outwardly heard my mother diminish her body, except for wishing she could get rid of her jowls and crepey neck and keep her weight under control. She loved to shop for clothes and had two six-foot closets full of three different sizes of clothing. If I were a therapist, I’d say that she developed a clothing addiction to help her cope with her depression and my father’s difficult personality. Her weekly hair and nail appointment at the Edgewood Beauty Salon was as much an escape as it was a beauty treatment.

The first two nights after her hairstyle was freshly (and stiffly) styled, she wrapped her head in toilet paper, looking like she was wearing a papier-mâché beehive on her head. (Now, isn’t that a sexy image. I can just hear my father saying, “Oh Grace, would you please do that toilet paper thing with your hair again. It really turns me on.”) She continued this ritual until she died with the exception of one month when I was in my late twenties. Dad was trying to cut costs and told Mom that her weekly salon trips were being cut and she’d have to do her own hair. She accepted his decision, believing that his word was law, and set to doing her own hair.

The first week was a complete disaster, but Dad told her she’d get better at it. The second week there was no improvement so Dad suggested she call me to help her. She did, in tears. Angry at his insensitive behavior, but wanting to help her, I said, “Sure, Mom. How about if I cut and perm it too? I’ve watched enough hairstylists cut hair, and I just saw that new machine on TV that sucks your hair into a vacuum and cuts it perfectly.” Dad dropped her off and we went shopping for hair perm products and the vacuum cutting machine.

The stores were out of the cutting machine, so we bought a box of “Toni Natural Wave” perming solution and went back to my house for an afternoon beauty salon party. Two hours later when I was rolling a piece of perm rod paper around her hair for the hundredth time, I was ready to quit. Three hours later I knew I was in trouble when I had to cut shorter and shorter chunks of the same hair to match what I’d just finished cutting. When I finished five hours later and gave her a mirror to look at her new haircut, perm, and style, her eyebrows jumped up to the top of her forehead and her eyeballs bulged out like the black molly fish in our childhood aquarium. She coughed, trying to hide her shock. For a second we both stood there speechless and then she laughed, and didn’t stop until she doubled over. When she recovered she said, “Well, if I’d known this was what it would take to convince your father to let me go back to the beauty parlor, I’d have called you three weeks ago.”

“To seek after beauty as an end, is a wild goose chase,
a will-o’-wisp, because it is to misunderstand the very nature of beauty, 
which is the normal condition of a thing being as it should be.”
Ada Bethune, in Judith Stoughton
Proud Donkey of Schaerbeek

Hairy Apes, Ugly Ducklings, And Swans
(p. 81)

A very big part of my mother’s beauty to me was her laughter. Her sense of humor comforted me through many nights of tears during my growing up years. While I know there were happy moments, my memories of sixth, seventh, and eighth grade are more often filled with running from the taunts of peers, mostly boys, on the way to and from school. I was tomboy with a big crook in my nose and feet as big as the floor tiles in the school hallway. I was flat chested and string bean tall. My arms were so hairy that when the boys saw me they’d shout at the top of their lungs, “Look, there goes the flat-chested hairy ape.”

One particularly brutal day, I remember running the entire four blocks home, and bursting into tears as I opened the front door and saw my mother. After spilling my story, she told me that boys teased her the same way when she was my age. “They called me ‘Four-Eyes,’” she said, “Because I wore glasses, and ‘Greasy Grace’ because my thin hair laid so flat on my head.” She said she cried just like me, but her mother taught her to laugh it off. She promised me that one day I’d “blossom,” the hair on my arms would fade away, and that even though I felt like the ugly duckling, someday I would look in the mirror and see a beautiful swan.

Her words wrapped around me like a hug. I repeated her promise like a chanting Buddhist as I grew by an inch or two every summer, reaching my final height of five feet ten inches in my early twenties. By then, my feet had grown to a size ten and continue to expand – size twelve as I write.

As I’ve grown older, the hair on my arms has faded away just like Mom said. The only thing that’s blossomed though, is the rose bush on my balcony. It’s hard not to notice cleavage on the beach, but for me the health issues outweigh any satisfaction I’d gain from artificially blooming my breasts. Some days I look in the mirror and catch a glimpse of a swan, and some days I hear a lot of quacking. I’ve learned to smile; I hear my mother: “Look at that beautiful long neck.”

Questions to Ask Your Mom:

What do you like about being a woman?
What is one message about beauty or self-image you received from your mother?
What do/did you like about your mother’s appearance? Your own? Mine?
What’s the weirdest beauty treatment you’ve done?
What’s your favorite beauty tip?
What have you learned about beauty and aging?

If you would like to read more, My Mother, My Friend is available on Amazon. Click on the link or photo for more information:

Happy Mother’s Day!


Flying Thru Life Book Exclusive Offer with Zen Pilot Robert DeLaurentis

Flying Thru Life by Zen Pilot Robert DeLaurentisAre you dreaming big enough? My friend and coaching client, Zen Pilot Robert DeLaurentis is committed to helping people identify their impossibly big dream and go after it.

Robert has shown people through his recent record-breaking around-the-world solo flight in his plane “The Spirit of San Diego” and his new book “Flying Thru Life: How to Grow Your Business and Relationships with Applied Spirituality” that:  1) most people don’t dream big enough and 2) going after that impossibly big dream and experiencing it in real time is something everybody can do with the right support and actions.

I want to help Robert get his life-changing message out to more people. With his permission I’m sharing three of his 19 Insights from Flying Thru Life below and invite you to join me in purchasing his book. If you buy a copy today, September 24, on Amazon and register your purchase receipt at his website (link below), you’ll be entered to win some incredible prizes (scenic flight along San Diego’s coastline!) and receive for free a special gift poster of all 19 Flying Thru Life Insights. (If you’re reading this after September 24, 2015, with or without prizes, the book is still a valuable read and will be a keeper on your bookshelf.)

Here are three of the 19 Insights that will help move you through the turbulence in your life into calm air:

Ask for the help you need. Your all-knowing and 24 hour business consultant – Spirit (God, the Universe, whatever you call it) is waiting to assist you but you have to ask. You are the one that is holding you back. And you are the one that is in charge. See the challenges in your daily life not as some form of cosmic torture, but rather as opportunities to heal what you’ve been carrying with you for too long so you can fully express the joy that has always been a part of you. (p. 11)

Listening in the Silence. When you connect to Silence, you get something that is called perspective or altitude. Silence allows you to connect to your inner self, Spirit, and the collective consciousness, where you will find all the information you need available to you. (p. 67)

“I once asked Spirit for a plane so I could realize my childhood fantasy of flying. Instead, Spirit gave me a set of spiritual principles and practices. I didn’t wake up one day to find a plane in my front yard. But I was able to use the spiritual principles and practices I was given to triple my business. With the income from that business growth, my plane became a reality.” ~Robert DeLaurentis, Flying Thru Life, p.72

Reframe. You are not a victim. When you take the time to look at situations from a different perspective, things often become much clearer and much closer to reality. Compassion for everyone, including yourself is what shifts energy and results. No one is intentionally trying to hurt you or your business. People occasionally encounter tough times – and they do the best with the tools they have. By showing compassion in your thinking, communication, and actions, you can often turn a situation around with an outcome better than you could imagine. (p. 101)

I think you can see that Robert is on to something and lives the language that a lot of people give lip service to but find a lot harder to put into action. In Flying Thru Life, Robert will guide you through all 19 insights with personal stories, practical business advice, spiritual wisdom, inspirational quotes and photos that will help you break through your fear, release judgment, and inspire you to take the necessary actions you know you need to take to turn that impossible dream into reality. What are you waiting for? Join us in this evolutionary opportunity and adventure.

When you buy Flying Thru Life today on Amazon and register your receipt number at this special website link, you’ll be entered to win an epic flight with Zen Pilot Robert in his plane “The Spirit of San Diego” and fly over the scenic coast of San Diego followed by a luxurious lunch at The University Club on the penthouse floor of Symphony Towers. You’ll also be entered to win one of six of the new Amazon Fire ebook readers, plus you’ll receive these 19 insights in a suitable-for-framing poster you can download immediately that will help you make your seemingly impossible dreams possible.

For more information and to order your copies, click here: Flying Thru Life Special Offer.

In gratitude,


PS.  You may feel fear, doubt, and confusion on your journey to a more abundant life and want to give up at times but by applying the 19 spiritual insights Robert identifies in his book Flying Thru Life, you can navigate your life’s flight plan in a conscious, courageous way and land in your future with grace and ease. Check out Flying Thru Life here.


Mom, You’re the Real Hero in the Family. Happy Mother’s Day.

“Life is short, life is precious. Don’t wait, do it now.”
~ Mom

My mother showed me in words and actions that the greatest gifts we give each other are our presence and appreciation. Here’s a story from my book, My Mother, My Friend to help keep that in mind and celebrate Mother’s Day.

Mom, You’re the Real Hero In The Family

Last Photo with Mom

The phone rang at 2:40 a.m. I heard Jeanne’s voice, “Mary? Mom’s free now. She just took her last breath.”

“I’ll be right there,” I said.

The ten-minute ride to the house was filled with thoughts of regret, guilt and sadness. I was exhausted and had left the house at ten o’clock, kissing my mother good-bye and saying, “I love you.” I thought I felt her squeeze my hand ever so lightly.

Why didn’t I stay? I was glad that Eileen and Jeanne were there with her but I wanted to be there too when she left her body. I’ve always felt strongly about not wanting to die alone and wanting someone I love to be holding my hand when I die. I wanted that experience with her and yet, I never asked her what she wanted.

The house was lit up when I got there. Mom was still warm, but beginning to cool. Her skin was this odd shade of cream with a glow that still shines in my mind’s eye. I couldn’t take my eyes off her and wondered if her spirit was hovering about. Continue reading


Inspired Action: Do You Have Inspiration Deficit Disorder?

“Success is not to be pursued;
it is to be attracted by the person you become.”

~ Jim Rohn ~

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This headline really got my attention this morning: Do You Have Inspiration Deficit Disorder?

While I’m not a fan of negative labeling, I’ve learned that most people are more apt to first pay attention to the problems in their lives and then how to solve them and wait for inspiration to arrive. If that’s you, stop waiting. What often happens is that we get stuck in retelling the problem instead of taking inspired action and creating an inspiring result.

For as long as I’ve been researching, speaking, consulting and coaching on how to stay inspired and enthusiastic through challenge and change, one of the most common “Yeah, but” responses I hear from people is that the idea of living an inspired life is a luxury to experience after you’ve slogged through the hard stuff rather than a necessity that will ease you through the hard times – and in some situations even prevent unnecessary hard times that we’ve self-created. What side of the fence is your mind leaning on? Continue reading


How to Use Enthusiasm to Create Your Future Now

Expectations are powerful indicators of your future. Positive expectations strengthened with enthusiasm help you to access your deeper desires and create a path for more abundance to come your way.

Let me share a great example:

When I was writing Day 6 of The Smile Diet in my book, Living with Enthusiasm: How the 21 Day Smile Diet Can Change Your Life, I was looking for a way to explain how you can increase your enthusiasm for an activity you’ve scheduled in the future to help maximize and increase the enjoyment of the experience.

I created the example of anticipating a massage that you would schedule a week after doing your daily reading for Day 6. I suggested doing a conscious 16-second savoring smile every time you think about the upcoming activity to increase the pleasure of the experience, but then deleted the story because of space.

Because of the synchronicity that happened two days later, I added it to a later chapter and still marvel at how Life is always giving us clues and gifts to help us live richer (in all meanings of the word), healthier, and more inspiring lives. Continue reading


4 Things Mothers Most Want from Their Adult Children

Think about all the different ways you’ve appreciated your mother over the years. What kind of gifts have you given her? Preprinted cards? Flowers? Candy? Jewelry? Clothing? I’m sure your mother enjoyed them, but have you ever wondered what she’d buy herself under the same circumstances?

In a national retailers’ poll of mothers, 49 percent of mothers expected flowers; 13 percent said they wanted them. It’s presence, not presents, that count. How much time do spend with your mother? And how much of that time do you both enjoy? Continue reading


You Are Wired to Be Inspired

“Have the courage to act instead of react.”
~ Earlene Larson Jenks

Did you watch the Grammys? So many amazing performances so full of mastery, so much audience enthusiasm for the art and skill of creating and performing music. Were you inspired? I sure was! And I still am. In fact, I watched all the main performances last night on YouTube, which, actually, surprises me.

When I stopped to think about what compelled me to revisit performances of musicians, excellent as they may be, whose music I’d never listen to by choice, I realized there was a great practical tip here for creating enthusiasm and inspired action. Can you guess what it is?

You’re right. When people give themselves completely to their unique gifts and share them authentically and enthusiastically with the world, magic happens. We’re all capable of creating that magic daily, but the challenge for most of us is first of all to KNOW what our gifts are, and then second, to FREE ourselves from our fears and give ourselves completely to whatever it is we’re doing and express our GIFTED SELF. Great performers have learned how to do this. We can too.

I think of performance artist Pink on that Cirque du Soleil style twirling machine and the flawless performance she gave. Did you wonder, like I did, whatever inspired her to take on a risk like that? In front of 25 million viewers?! Where did her courage to do that come from? How many times did she practice that routine to make it look so effortless? How did she not puke while she was twisting upside down, dipped in water, all the while singing her heart out, and then be able to stand at the end and not just walk but strut confidently off the stage?


TIP: I have an idea about what moves her that I believe moves each of us to inspired action and Gifted Self moments, which strung together become an Inspired and Gifted Life. I wonder if you agree?  I believe we are all wired to be inspired. And when we appreciate what inspires us, we are filled with a natural enthusiasm that gives us the confidence to move beyond our fears and share our Gifted Self into greater expression with the world.

Can you think of a time when you were totally and completely your most confident, inspired Gifted Self without worry or fear of what others would think or what might happen? When you were so present in the moment that all you were aware of doing – fully, completely, and enjoyably – was whatever it was that you came there to do?

TIP: Memorize a Gifted Self Moment and relive it often throughout your day to receive greater inner strength and motivation to act on what is important to you. This energetic space is where your manifesting power, dreams, and Creative Spirit live.

So what inspirations will you notice, appreciate, and enthuse about with others today to experience and share more of your Gifted Self with the world? Share your thoughts in the comment box and check out the inspiring resource below to help you.


Ever heard of a Virtual Retreat? This is a really innovative idea and will definitely nourish and nurture your Creative Spirit and help you discover and express your gifts with confidence and grace. I love this: “You will meditate, move, journal, visualize, laugh, and engage your whole body and spirit” all from the comfort of your own home and phone or computer. Get a couple friends together and share the weekend or a few hours together. I’ll be attending too.

Jen (author of The Woman’s Comfort Book series) is leading this bargain-priced Virtual Retreat with 13 other world famous teachers February 12-14. You can listen live or use the replay/download option at your convenience. Sign up by February 5th and get a major discount plus bonuses and ongoing support included. Check it out here.  Just reading the details will reduce your stress and make you smile. Add your 16-Second Smiling Breath and you’ll really relax.

NEXT ISSUE: How to get started discovering your gifts and strengths and a great new book for connecting more deeply with your Inner Voice (IV to your Creative Spirit) in challenging times.

Inspired by your presence…Mary

PS. Leave a comment on my In The Moment blog by Sunday February 8, 2010 about something in this post that inspired you, helped you, or triggered a new insight and you’ll be eligible to win a copy of Marci Shimoff’s best-selling book “Happy for No Reason” and my book “Living with Enthusiasm.”