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.