05/8/16
1953_mom_mm_lowres

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!

09/24/15

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,

Mary

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.

07/28/15
"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.

07/22/15

2,920 Days: The Power of Your Presence, Words, and Kindness

TOPS International Recognition Days with Keynote Speaker Mary Marcdante

TOPS International Recognition Days with Keynote Speaker Mary Marcdante

2,920 days. This weekend I had the privilege of speaking to 2000 TOPS members at their International Recognition Days on “Finding Your Genie Within.” So much energy and emotion moved through me – I felt anxious, excited, humbled, grateful… At the end of my speech, two women – mom and daughter – came up and asked if they could have their picture taken with me and then surprised me with a photo of the three of us from eight years ago when I spoke at another event. Eight years! 2,920 days of our lives had passed and it was important enough to them to stand in line for over an hour to remember and connect with me. What a gift they gave me.

If I’m really honest with myself and you, I share this selfishly and humbly to celebrate a personal milestone with you, but equally important, to remind you in your weaker moments that your presence and words are ALWAYS an opportunity for impact. Even if it doesn’t look like it on the outside, we all need each other’s kindness — and maybe even more for some us — our own kindness to ourselves.

If you don’t know me well you may not know that I suffer self-doubt and worthiness issues in my quiet moments, which is one of the reasons I speak on the topics I do – I need the positive reinforcement as much if not more than the audience. In my strong moments, I sense that I am a channel, catalyst, example, role model, and human post-it-note for others to experience the power, value, and beauty of their presence within themselves and their relationships, but oh how those weak moments can rise up out of nowhere and try to dim my light. And then out of the blue, Grace flies in through two beautiful human beings and says, “Thank you,” just like you do with your presence right now.

Thank you.

04/10/15
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.

 

05/13/12

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

09/11/11

When Lives Change in an Instant

On this 10th anniversary of 911, I was reminded of a letter written by the mother of a young woman who died on Flight 93 , which inspired me so much I wrote about it in my book Living with Enthusiasm. I’m reprinting here in the hope that it moves you as much as it did me.

Our Lives Can Change in an Instant

Acting from our values not only fuels our enthusiasm for day-to-day living, it also allows us to get through difficult times. Our lives can change in an instant, but how quickly we forget until a crisis hits. Knowing and acting from our values can see us through. I received an e-mail from a colleague in the days following September 11 that really brings this point home.

Hello friends:

A friend of mine who lives in San Diego was a victim to the tragedy in NY last week Tuesday. Her 20-year-old daughter was aboard flight 93 that crashed in PA. Below please find her words to the community. She has agreed to have the message spread to the world. Please pass this along so that her daughter Deora can be remembered. Thank you. Continue reading