Ep 42: Living with Grace and Positivity through ALS with Mary Huffman


I’m honored to share this Episode #42 of the Mother’s Quest Podcast, a special conversation released in conjunction with ALS Awareness Month with Mary Huffman. Mary is a wonder woman unlike any I’ve ever met, who relishes life with exuberance, and shares her love with everyone in her midst, even when facing the greatest of challenges.

I’ve known Mary and her family, her husband Ted, and her two children Anna and Jonny, for the last eight years, where we’ve been sharing one week out of every summer at a paradise known to us as Bruin Woods, UCLA’s alumni family camp in Lake Arrowhead, California.

But the last summer we came together, Mary arrived in a wheelchair, suffering from a mysterious set of symptoms which she later learned was a fast progressing form of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

ALS is a progressive, neurodegenerative disorder which has currently left Mary almost bedbound 24/7 . This diagnosis has been devastating, as you can imagine. But through it all, Mary has focused on trying to stay positive, continuing her life goal of helping others, and making memories with her family and friends.

In our conversation, we explore all the ways in which Mary has lived with grace, positivity and optimism her whole life, and especially since her diagnosis, when instead of falling into despair, she has determined to “Stephen Hawking the crap outta this,” cherish every moment, especially with her children, and find ways to live her legacy.

This conversation covers a lot of territory, including the inspiration of her mother, who taught her so much about helping people, a year abroad in Russia during the time of Gorbachev, becoming the first college graduate in her family and then continuing to Stanford’s business school, and her entrepreneurial endeavors creating adult coloring books to reduce anxiety, something she has learned to conquer. She gives us a challenge to commit to coloring each night before we go to bed to reap mental health benefits and invited us to contribute to her Master List of Life Tricks.

And of course we talked about her family…especially her husband and children who she adores.

It was such a blessing to have this conversation with Mary during a time when she had full use of her voice. And, although we didn’t know when we recorded that we would share it publicly on the podcast, we decided afterward that doing so could contribute to her legacy of helping others. And that, as you’ll learn when you listen, means everything to Mary.

Mary has so many lessons to teach us.. I hope you’ll leave this conversation, as I did, with a deep appreciation for living your E.P.I.C. life to the fullest, finding the ways that you can help others with a generous spirit, facing any challenge that life brings you with tenacity and optimism, and remembering as Mary and her son Jonny say that there is always rain before a rainbow.

I’m sending you and your family so much love Mary as we release this episode out into the world. I hope those of you listening will join me in sending positive thoughts and wishes.

This episode dedicated by:

Mary’s friend, Marcella Klein Williams.

Topics Discussed in this Episode:

  • UCLA’s Bruin Woods, the magical place where Mary and I, and our families, have spent the last eight summers and a favorite memory of mine of Mary there singing karaoke to her husband
  • The fast-moving form of ALS Mary has, the inspiration she takes from Stephen Hawkings’ legacy, and how she hopes the fast-moving version will become the curable one

  • The video “There’s Something About Mary” that her friends and family created for her and the custom “ALS Mom” and “Team Mary” T-shirts she and her supporters have had printed

  • The inspiration of Mary’s mother to help people and the many ways her mother and Mary have opened their homes and extended kindness to others

  • Mary’s approach to engaging with her children by spending time and listening to them, giving them permission to make mistakes, and helping them understand the ups and downs that come with life.

  • Her adventurous life path, including becoming the first in her family to attend college, a year abroad in the then Soviet Union, graduate school in business at Stanford, and management consulting abroad.

  • The ways Mary has built strong connections her whole life and a key piece of advice for how to handle criticism that has served her and her relationships well

  • How stumbling on a coloring book of her mother’s led her to co-create adult coloring books with a friend, and how coloring can have the same benefits as meditation

  • Mary’s experience battling anxiety and her strategy for defeating our “anxiety monster”

  • How Mary got started creating “Mary’s Tricks for Life”, and the “Master List of Life Tricks” that we can all contribute to

  • The E.P.I.C. snapshot moments that revolve around her children and why they mean so much

This Week’s Challenge:

Mary challenges us to:

  1. Try coloring 15 minutes each night before going to sleep. Check out the special coloring pages that Mary has created if you don’t already have your own favorites.

  2. Tale a look at the list of life tricks at Mary’s website and send in your own so she can add it to the Master List of Life Tricks. This List is part of Mary’s legacy, one way to help others now and in the future.

Resources Mentioned in this Episode:

  • Learn more about Mary from her blog, Ted and Mary and watch the video we mention (linked at the bottom of the page) “There’s Something About Mary”
  • Mary’s adult coloring books available at Amazon.

  • The Coloring Book Zone where you can find Mary’s and other great coloring books. Use the code MOMISGREAT to get 30% Off.

  • The Master List of Life Tricks

  • You can help Mary with her ALS medical expenses at her gofundmepage.

  • UCLA’s Bruin Woods where I met Mary and I have spent one week out of every summer together with our families for the last eight years

Announcements:

Launched on Mother’s Day, my guest on the podcast, Graham Seabrook, and I invite you to create your own One Minute Mom Manifesto about what you want to claim or reclaim in your motherhood.

Use video, photos, poetry or any other form of your choice to express what matters most to you and share on social media using the hashtag#OneMinuteMomManifesto.

For more on the inspiration behind this idea, and why it’s so important that we claim and reclaim our whole selves in motherhood, tune into our episode on the podcast, link in the comments and at mothersquest.com/ep41-graemeseabrook

The Podcast is Reaching a Milestone

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Share the mothersquest.com/podcast with a friend!

Spring into Your E.P.I.C. Life Clarity Coaching Package

Spring is an amazing time to more fully seed the E.P.I.C. Guideposts in your life. I’m opening a limited number of one-on-one coaching spaces for a 90 day coaching package that includes bi-weekly hour-long coaching sessions where I will help you mindfully close the chapter of the last season, identify your vision for what’s ahead, set strategic action steps for moving forward, and provide inspiration and accountability along the way. Email me at julie@mothersquest.com to set up a free discovery call and learn more.

Virtual Mother’s Quest Circle Pilot

I’m excited to announce that the first founding Mother’s Quest Virtual Circle has been filled. If you’re interested in a future circle, and want to receive notice when the applications open again, please add your name to this wait list at http://mothersquest.com/virtualcircleapplication/

Help us Grow the Mother’s Quest Community

If you’re finding value from the Mother’s Quest Podcast and would like to get more involved, please join us in the Mother’s Quest Facebook Group, help us find more like-minded mothers on a quest by spreading the word and sharing your favorite episodes, and make a donation or apply to dedicate an episode. You can also share your story on the Mother’s Quest Blog.

Acknowledgements:

A big THANK YOU to our “patrons” for helping to bring these conversations to myself and other mothers through financial and/or in-kind support:

Desiree Adaway
Rachel Steinman
Katie Hanus
Denise Barreto
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Jody Smith
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The Sustainable Living Podcast

Support the Podcast

If you’d like to make a contribution to Mother’s Quest to support Season Three of the Podcast and/or help provide coaching scholarships for mothers, follow this link to make a contribution.

If you would like to “dedicate” an upcoming episode to a special mother in your life, email me at julie@mothersquest.com

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