A tribute to my mother — watching resilience flourish during pandemic anguish

Mom and Dad (Photo credit: author)

About a year ago we all became aware that the pandemic was real and would affect us in ways none of us could have imagined. Little did we know, the year would be a pilgrimage into the disconnected unknown. But for my mom, this reality hit home at the most difficult transition point in her life just as she was dealing with her husband of 60 years (my dad) who had Alzheimer’s.

By January 2020, mom’s devoted care for him had crossed into the epic realm as she faithfully followed a strict protocol to prolong their life together, religiously following…

Let’s reach out and touch each other with words

Photo by Sam Farallon on Unsplash

I’ve been purging as I get ready to move again. This has put me in touch with sentimental boxes where I have stored precious memories: my high school prom corsage, little souvenirs from different trips, honor cords from graduating from college, a teddy bear from my childhood that I forgot about. It was fun to hold these one last time, but I noticed it was not difficult to them put them into the “bury-in-the-backyard” pile. We don’t want to haul them inside a box to yet another house, but we plan to have a little ceremony honoring these items. …

In physical sensation, there is only physical sensation

Photo by Carolina Pimenta on Unsplash

R rest back
E enliven the senses
L love and
A accept
X direct eXperience now

I’ve been playing with ways to remind myself to relax,
to let go of my thinking mind
and discover in my direct experience
what is here
right now
without any ideas

The other night
I walked up the stairs
in the dark

There was physical sensation


I couldn’t say where I ended
and the stairs began

Were there even stairs?

I couldn’t say

Without the idea,
or visual of “stairs”
There were no stairs

How much of my world is an idea?


A poetic investigation on retreat of the nature of self and other

Photo by Adam Nir on Unsplash

For three and a half days
during a silent zoom retreat called,
“The End of Separation”

I sit.

I watch my breath
my thoughts
my feelings

All arise and pass away

In the middle of the first session
Insight drops in,
with inviolable clarity
No ordinary words these.
They say,
“Love is Selflessness.”

I gasp involuntarily, feeling the truth pierce me.

For at once the words point to more
than simple altruistic kindness
The words seek to illuminate
a complete lack of self-centeredness entirely —
as in
There is no self
There is no other.


In between…

Pushing the edges of discomfort can be liberating

Photo by Chris Henry on Unsplash

I recently watched the amazing documentary, My Octopus Teacher. I loved it and found that a few lines keep sticking with me long after I forget the beautiful ocean scenes. I rarely watch documentaries. I can count on one hand the documentaries I have watched in the last five years: two, Free Solo and My Octopus Teacher. But both these movies have shown me how pushing through discomfort can be liberating and even help foster new relationships. When we are uncomfortable and uncertain, we grow.

As it turns out science backs this message, according to Dr. Daeyeol Lee, Professor of…

An ode to Medium

Photo by Pascal Bernardon on Unsplash

Ever since I was a teenager I was motivated by the idea of promoting global communication. It moved me in the way that my kids are motivated to work towards sustainability. I saw it as the biggest issue facing our times.

I yearned to connect with the rest of the planet. But communication was a huge barrier. How could we befriend each other around the world if we couldn’t even talk with one another?

There was no internet or even email, so I did what I could and traveled wide and far, eager to meet people who were completely different…

Awareness Practitioner. Playfulness Instigator. Writer

Photo Credit: Chad Thompson

Hello Medium readers and writers! I am so happy to be here.

I ask myself, who am I? Then chuckle in response for that is the question that has driven me for the last twenty-five years. It is the question that drives me to write, the question that drives me to seek and the question that inspires me to be playful.

Let’s answer it this way.

I think of myself as an awareness practitioner, a playfulness instigator and a writer.

I am half type-A perfectionist and half creative wild messy spirit. Over the years, I’ve come to embrace this dichotomy…

On a desert walk

Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

I carry my curiosity with me
It looks like a journal and pen

Out here in the desert,
I wonder,
as I walk alongside Joshua Trees and scattered boulders
What thoughts will arise?
What themes will present themselves?
What gentle pondering wants to be gently pondered?

I carry my curiosity with me

A speckled rock catches my eye
And the way the path meanders just so
I rise up a ridge to see a calico mountain reach from the sky
to the gulley below

I hear a helicopter’s whirring
and snatches caught on the breeze of fellow travelers

I listen…

What we learned about the prevalence of mold and how to recover from the toxicity — a step-by-step guide

Photo by Jan Tinneberg on Unsplash

After unexplained episodes of brain fog, anxiety, depression, and stomach pain, a lab test finally uncovered toxic mold poisoning.

Three years ago we traveled to Bishop, CA for a coveted Christmas rock-climbing vacation with our kids and their significant others. It was hard for the family to convene and we treasured our time together. I was stoked. We packed our Sprinter Van and headed up, meeting at the BLM land near Owens River Gorge to camp the night before. In the morning, my husband, Jay, turned to me and said, “I have to go home. I’m too sick.”

It was…

This is what love and compassion look like in action

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

I biked to the mailbox, located a mile away from my new house, to collect the mail. It had been a tough week. My husband broke his foot one week earlier. I was still catching up.

I opened the crammed-pack full mailbox and pulled the conglomeration of bills, notices, and ads out. A pale-blue greeting card-shaped envelope fell to the ground. I picked it up curious. I didn’t recognize the handwriting, which was addressed to my first and last name.

That’s odd.

I’ve been going by my middle name for forty years. The only people who still call me by…

Marijke McCandless

Marijke McCandless is an awareness practitioner, playfulness instigator and award-winning writer. Her recipe? Listen. Play. Write. https://marijkemccandless.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store