"Inspiration lives in the possible." Mary Marcdante

Inspiration Lives in the Possible. Gnarly Trees, Dr. Seuss and Chainsaws

Gnarly Old TreeThe light on this twisted tree limb called to me from a distance. My first thought was what happened to it to cause such a crookedness in its growth. When I got close enough to really look at it, I had the strangest sensation of awareness run through me. Suddenly, just for a few seconds, it was as if I was looking at an gnarly old man crossing his legs while enjoying the view of the sky. Then it morphed into frog legs. And then I saw Dr. Seuss characters starting to appear.

And then, back to reality by the sound of a chainsaw across the street being started by the landscape team in the neighborhood.

Tree, Mary. Old tree. Branches. Blue Sky. Walk. Get going. You have work to do.

Right. Work. And then Dream Time. Maybe. If there’s time. And now yesterday’s moment is a memory and this morning I’m thinking again about that tree.

When an image is that strong for me, I’m always curious to revisit it to see if there’s a deeper meaning, message or metaphor for me. It’s a way for me to access ideas and insights and problem-solve.

Scanning through my iPhone photos this morning, there was that gnarly old man tree again standing with crossed leg and now he was smiling and reminding me to let go of preconceived notions, to enjoy the freedom of the moment, to see beyond appearances and truly feel the beauty, inspiration and creativity of the natural life that always surrounds us and lives within us…if we will only pause long enough to drop the judgment, open our minds and hearts and then take the risk to create from this space and share our creative expression with others so we can all feel more alive in this wild adventure called Life.

I flashed again on Dr. Seuss. One of the most creative minds and greatest teachers in my book. He lived just a few miles from me. The trees in his neighborhood are similar. What if the Cat in the Hat and the Grinch got their legs from Dr. Seuss pausing long enough to look up at his trees and let them talk to him? Wild. I know. But possible. Inspiration lives in the possible.

What possibility is calling for your presence today? It’s out there waiting for you to feel it.

And I’m here waiting to hear about it. Have a creative and beautiful day and let me know what you experience.

Happy Siblings Day. Love my sisters and brothers!

Happy Siblings Day

Happy Siblings Day. When I first heard the words today, I thought it was just another marketing effort and wished my three siblings well in my mind. Then I started to see all these photos and amazing and funny tributes on Facebook by friends about their siblings. It made me wonder who started this celebration and what their story might be.

Turns out there is a for-real National Sibling’s Day and Siblings Day Foundation started by Claudia Evart on her sister Lisette’s birthday April 10, 2012. Nice touch, I thought. And then I read their back story, the one the headlines leave out, which causes a lot of people to smirk, make smart-ass cracks about their less-than-perfect relationships with their brothers and sisters and move on to their next relationship-lite conversation to avoid “the feels” (um, guilty).

But wait, wait, I do need to tell you: National Siblings Day was started to honor Claudia’s siblings 40 years after Claudia’s older sister, 19 at the time, and their father, died in a horrific car crash and 26 years after her brother, a Vietnam Vet, died after falling in a freak accident at home.

I know. Take a breath. Horrible tragedies no one should have to experience. But some do. And turn those memories into something beautiful we can all celebrate with our less-than-perfect-but-still-here-so-try-to-make-the-most-of-it families. Thank you Claudia.

Nothing like perspective to remember what matters.

Whew. I think about losing my own siblings and feel this tender, teary wave of love go through me. God, I’d be lost without my sibs Eileen, Paul, and Jeanne. I don’t say that often enough. Have I ever said it — I mean really said it straight out — to myself or to them? I could write a book about all the ways they’ve inspired my life — but won’t, haha, because I’m blessed to have all of them still talking to me after my first book My Mother, My Friend was published.

However the short story must be told: Eileen, Paul, and Jeanne, thank you for keeping me real, staying connected even when it’s hard, and becoming adults who make me look better by association and make the world a more inspiring place to live. I love you. Happy Siblings Day.

What do you love about your sibling(s)? Please share your comments below.



“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


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!



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!


San Diego Living TV Appearance – The Smile Diet

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.