Patrick Dempsey riding in The Dempsey Challenge. Photo courtesy of Derek Bissonette, DB Maine Photography

Keeping Our Spirits Up with Patrick Dempsey

Patrick Dempsey, most known for his role as neurosurgeon Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd in Grey’s Anatomy is a Mainer through and through. Born in Lewiston, he grew up in the nearby towns of Turner and Buckfield before becoming an actor and starring in the 1980s films Can’t Buy Me Love and Loverboy. His ties to Maine continue to this day. After his mother was diagnosed with cancer, he founded the Dempsey Center for Quality Cancer Care with physical locations in Lewiston and South Portland, and now virtually through Dempsey Connects. And since 2009, he has organized the Dempsey Challenge, an annual run, walk, and cycle fundraising race to benefit those impacted by cancer at the Dempsey Center.

As we head into the second year of a pandemic, we at the Maine Health & Wellness Guide are looking to inspire people to find their way back to health. We were lucky to catch up with Patrick Dempsey on what he does to stay positive, healthy, and balanced.

Can you tell us what you are up to now and what your days in the pandemic look like?

PD: Simple days in the beginning.  It was nice to be home and not flying or working— just being together as a family, and then trying to comprehend what was going on with so much unrest and fear.  We truly just lay around the house and then as things progressed, a bit more anxiety grew.  We then tried to keep ourselves busy with positive activities such as walks, cooking as a family, along with a lot less TV!

What outdoor recreational activity do you enjoy most in non-winter months to stay active and find fun?

PD: Cycling, walks, hikes, time at the beach.

When you’re having a down day, what’s something that picks you back up? 

PD: I have found that quieting my mind really helps when I’m feeling a bit off.  I found the simple task of sitting in front of a fireplace does the trick for me.

Do you practice any meditation techniques, and if so, what are they?

PD: I do. It’s important to have time to collect yourself in the morning.  I like to wake up before anyone else in the house, let the dogs out, and then sit quietly.  I’ve been reading a lot of Ryan Holiday’s works and have found his interpretation of stoicism to be incredibly beneficial.

Being from Maine, what particular strength of Maine’s people do you connect with most?

PD: Mainers care deeply for their communities, and when people are in need, they step up and help generously. They are always last to accept help themselves, but the first to help others.  I see this with the incredible support at the Dempsey CenterThe Dempsey Challenge always highlights the strength of community and love that the state shows.

What is your favorite area of Maine to visit for adventure and makes you feel refreshed?

PD: The woods of Maine.  The coast. I love the wildlife and Maine’s natural beauty.

This past year, Activity Maine embarked on a campaign called #keepourspiritsupmaine designed to encourage leaders in Maine to reveal how they found positive ways to handle the pandemic. Check out more of our Industry Snapshots on the craft brew, distilling, and Maine outdoor industries in the blog series located in the sidebar.

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