Holding the Reflection of Our Compassionate Light


The sun shines down, and its image reflects in a thousand different pots filled with water.

The reflections are many, but they are each reflecting the same sun.

Similarly, when we come to know who we truly are, we will see ourselves
in all people.

amma the Hugging Saint

This month I’ve been challenged to hold tightly to my compassion for others, while allowing myself the breathing room of making loving, yet firm decisions.

We all contain our own unique and direct link to God, our Higher Power, the Universe. Not one of us is more ‘Divine’ than another. We communicate, we grow, we change, we express ourselves differently. Yet Each of us is, and can be, a reflection of the same sun, the same light, the same Source we all come from. Light can’t reflect in running water easily and it’s impossible to see our own reflection in turbulent waters…we must find stillness. When I find that stillness within, I then can hear my compassion for others—I feel that light within them and me.

Each class I teach ends with me saying the light in me honors the light in you. It’s a deeply spiritual belief that I hold. I believe that we are all each a reflection of one another. Yet at times, such as this month, I had to detach, take a step back, to protect myself and my boys. We are all reflections of each other, yet some may be battling mental illness, addiction to drama, drugs, alcohol, depression…and not behaving in ways that are for their, or anyone else’s, highest good. I know I’ve had days when I’ve said something I didn’t mean—usually when I’ve pushed myself too hard, been racing around with a million activities for my boys, and have not been meditating or doing my regular practice of yoga.

I read this beautiful quote today from my friend’s organization Spirit Rock Meditation Center . I reminds me that with each day—with each conscious breath—we can begin anew. It all starts with compassion for ourselves and a willingness to let go, to forgive and to let go of our stubborn resistance to change.


Awareness is key. Where do I need to begin anew? That’s a big question, but I’d say mainly I need to put an oxygen mask on myself first, before helping others. For me, daily meditating, yoga and writing help me (try) to be patient, let go of expectations and find beauty in the present moment. As a single mom, a daily practice of self care is hard to achieve. But it’s worth it. I made a commitment on October 20th, after recovering from a crazy month and weekend that left me depleted mentally, physically and spiritually, that I’ll DO yoga every day for a month. I teach, but I’m going to practice daily. Some days I’ll just do a 10 minute flow at home. Some days I’ll just stretch with yin poses. Other times will be power yoga—which especially fills my body and spirit with the positive energy and knowledge that I do have power over my own life, my own choices.

And this month required a lot of effort to consciously choose decisions, rather than fall into default reactions or fear. It was hard, but bore beautiful lessons. For instance, I learned the following:

I can’t control whether a stranger continued stalking me daily and my family. … I can, and did, call the police, installed a security unit and borrowed a friend’s dog for protection.

I can’t control a former loved one’s sudden anger, outbursts or unkind words. … I can pray for him and distance myself.

I can’t control someone who hurt and lied to me. … But I can walk away, speak my truth and still wish that person well.

I can’t control not getting enough time off from full-time single parenting … But I can take breaks, I can meditate, I can take a bike ride, I can do yoga, I can hire a sitter, I can slow down.

I can’t control whether people I care about don’t take care of themselves or allow others to abuse them. … But I can love them anyway, I can pray for them, and I can try to not enable or judge.

I can’t control how disease ravishes my cancer yogis or my mother. … But I can pray, provide comfort, breathe deeply, be grateful for their presence in my life.

I can’t control the steady requests for myself to volunteer or activities for my boys. … But I can say no or find other parents to help with carpools.

I can’t control whether an agent gets back to me about my book. … But I can continue to pitch others and write my 2nd novel.

It’s all about finding balance and not losing gratitude. My goal is to hold myself and others in a reflective, compassionate and humbling light. When I’m hurt, threatened, or when I don’t take care of myself and jealousy, depression or a pity party creeps in—it’s a reminder to pause and take better care of myself so I can see my reflection and the light of others in the stillness of my heart. In this space, I am convinced that I will remain ever teachable, humble, (mostly) calm and inspired, determined and grateful.

Life is beautiful. Even more so when trouble hits—as the light of love and those who are filled with love for me, shine more brightly. I am so grateful to my senior and cancer yogis who teach me to live with positive gratitude and strength. And I am forever indebted to my dear friends, whose presence makes my life feel musical and in sync. You know who you are, dear friends, and I love you.

Have a beautiful, light-filled month. ((( <3 )))

Excerpt: Uriel’s Mask / How We Love

This is a sneak peak into my novel Uriel’s Mask, from the chapter Familiar Comforts. It is a bittersweet time as Uriel prepares her childhood home for sale, after the death of her mother Melody. Her best friend Chris is there to help.


“Have you ever missed someone so much that it aches?” said Chris suddenly. His mood had clearly shifted.

“That every part of you aches?”

Uriel shook her head. She’d never been in love if she told the truth. But it was very hard for her to confront the truth. She loved how brave Chris was.

“That’s how I feel every night for Jeff. It hasn’t gone away. You’ve really never felt that? It’s torture. Url,” he paused to take a sip of his wine and then continued, “It might sound cliche, but that’s how deeply I love. I jump in, completely. I don’t hold back. I let Jeff see every part of me, every inch. Every fucked up and broken piece.”

Uriel was suddenly envious of her best friend. She rarely let Pat see her, truly see her. But maybe she wasn’t ready to look either.

“I wish I was like you,” she said instead of saying what she really wanted which was, “I’ve never been in love, I don’t even know if I love myself.” But instead, she just ate large bites of the lasagne.

“You don’t want to be like me. I’m so raw that it sometimes feels like I’m a live wire, flapping wildly in the wind. For some people it’s terribly uncomfortable to be with me, because I demand that my lover be just as raw, just as real, or I’m out. I don’t have time for so-so love. I don’t want luke warm, make love only when you’re drunk love. When I make love, I want to feel the other person’s essence. You’ll laugh. But I had that with Jeff, I did.”

Chris sighed. And took another sip of his sangria, pouring more into Uriel’s glass. “Damn, Dougy was right, this is go-ood.”

“Seriously, Url, never? You’ve never felt like you’d die if you weren’t with someone?” He looked at his friend who shrugged with a look in her face like “what can I say?”

“I’ve never been a girl that men fall in love with,” Uriel said.

“Okay, that’s a cop out and bull shit Url. It’s not about being the best looking person in the room. We are all lovable. All of us Url. You’re just chicken shit. Sorry, but you are. What about Pat?”

Uriel choked on her food. “Are you serious?” she sighed. “I haven’t even called him once. I don’t miss him. Ever.” Uriel put her plate down on the table.

“That’s awful isn’t it?”

Chris patted her knee.

“No, it’s just safe I guess.”

“Well, look at my parents. All their passion ended in complete disaster, so I guess luke warm love has its advantages.”

They both laughed at that.

“My parents were in love.” Chris said quietly.

“My father was really quiet, religious. But man did he love my mom. He called her his princess.” Chris laughed, but Uriel could see tears in his eyes.

“He was a good man Url. A better man than me. He took such good care of her up until the day he died. Her dementia was bad for a while, before he was diagnosed with cancer. But he never broke one promise to her. I mean, even on days when he got chemo, if it was on their day to play bingo at church, or their day to walk to the park, he’d go. When it got real bad, he’d call and I’d drive up from Savannah. I’ve never met a man so dedicated.”

Uriel sighed. “So that’s where your sweetness comes from.”

“Maybe! Okay, are we ready to read this next letter?” Chris stood to pull out the second letter they found earlier that day, which he had tucked into his jean’s back pocket.

Melody surprised him by pulling out the bag of weed she found in Tommy’s room.

“Maybe we should try this if we’re going to read that,” she whispered.

“Good Lord, I’ve created a monster! Champagne, sangria, now this? Hmm, could be daaangerous,” Chris said with mock concern. When they opened the bag, there was a small joint buried underneath the stale pot. The smell was rotten and similar to dried puke.

“It could be 30 years old. Does it rot? Will we die inhaling this crap?” Uriel was sort of serious. A lighter lay beside the corner ashtray that still had a few cigarette butts with red lipstick marks on their edges in it.

“Never hard to find matches or lighters in this house,” Uriel said, then added, “Okay, lets do this before I change my mind!”

Chris lit the end and took three deep puffs before coughing out a ball of smoke. “I’m rusty Url. But I think this is okay. Here ya go darlin.”

Uriel took the joint and turned it back and forth in her fingers. “Here goes nothing.” She took a deep breath in and then coughed as the burn reached her lungs.

Chris patted her back hard. “It gets easier. Not that this is a great habit for you young lady.”

Uriel smiled mischievously and took a deep drag. She coughed again, thinking, “If Tommy could see me now!”

Instead she said, “Open it,” and nodded to the letter sitting on the table near their sangria. “Read it to me. I don’t have the strength.”

Uriel picked up her wine glass, closed her eyes and leaned back.

Chris cleared his throat first, then opened the letter.

“Don’t read it first, just read aloud, k?”

“Yes ma’am,” Chris said, then added, “shit. I’m nervous.”

He looked at her and took a deep breath. “Only for you darlin,” and he opened the letter addressed to Melody. It had been mailed to an address in Bountiful, Utah, with a stamp on the outside, no return address. The other letter was handwritten, hand delivered. Not this one.

My Dearest Melody,

My hands are shaking as I write this letter. (And no, I’m not drinking!) I’m shaking with pure emotion. I want you to feel the passion behind my words, feel my love for you and the boys. You have no idea how you affect me. And I know that I don’t deserve you. I do know that. This past month without you, I’ve realized just how much you, Tommy and Shane mean to me. These aren’t just words on a page. I haven’t touched a drop of alcohol since you left. What a wake up call!

I don’t expect you to believe me, but she meant nothing. Absolutely nothing. I didn’t even feel anything when I was with her. Isn’t that crazy? I think back to our first night together when Tommy was conceived. God, I get chills just thinking about it, under the stars, wet from rain. Damn, I was so in love with you, so filled with love I thought I’d burst! When I said you are my heart, I meant it. I’ve never said that to anyone else, ever. And I probably never will.

When you mother called and told me that you were with her in Bountiful, my first thought was that she was ill. When she told me that you hemorrhaged on the plane, alone with the boys, all I could do was cry. Every ounce of my body froze. Baby, I didn’t even know you were pregnant! And now you won’t take my calls. Just please, please read this and let these words sink into your heart. I love you. I want to take care of you. I can’t believe that I risked you and our family for one careless slip with a stupid girl. I transferred her Url. She’s gone. It’ll never happen again. I promise. I know these words sound hollow to you. I can only imagine. You’ve lost our baby. I’m horrified. You were alone on the plane with the boys. You must have felt so abandoned, so alone, so betrayed. And for what? For me to feel like a big shot? For me to let some girl boost my ego? I know my faults dear Mel, don’t think I don’t. And they come raging out like a hunting tiger when I drink. I stopped. I threw away all the liquor in the house.

This is me. Stripped down. Raw. So in love with you that tears stain the page and my hands shake. Please, baby, find it in your heart to forgive me. Come home. You are my home. You are my center. You and the boys. Let me be a better man for you. Let’s try to have another baby. Lets mend this. My love for you never wavered, if anything, I’m more in love with you now than ever. If you feel anything as you read this, I pray that you’ll believe in me, believe in us.

Yours always,

T xo

“Holy shit,” Chris said. “I want to take the man back after reading this. Damn. Between his love and his writing and his music and his gorgeousness-HELLOO? Did your mother really have a choice?”

Chris looked at Uriel who appeared stunned, or stoned, or both. She turned  her head slowly toward Chris.

“Wow,” was all she could say.

“I wouldn’t be here, wouldn’t be born if she didn’t forgive him. I, I just don’t know what to say. Plus, I feel really weird.” Uriel giggled and then burped. She had drank and eaten more than she had in ages. Plus, the pot was starting to make her feel silly. She knew she should take this letter more seriously, but all she wanted to do was eat marsh mellows and camp out. 

She slinked down and up off the porch swing and sauntered carefully over to the day bed where her mom used to sleep in the summer. Melody loved sleeping on the screened-in porch as she got older. She was always cold, so she rarely ran the air conditioning and would sleep under the ceiling fan  on the porch. Chris followed Uriel, thinking she might stumble.

Instead, the two nestled together on the day bed. Uriel put her head on Chris’ shoulder and just listened to the sounds of the farm.

“Can you sleep here with me Chris?”

He giggled and said, “No nooky. I’m saving myself for Doug.”

Uriel laughed thinking how sweet it was that he might have a date soon.

“Maybe he’ll help you get over that married, in-the-closet disaster,” Uriel said.

Chris made a noise that sounded like “I don’t know.”

He cleared his throat and said, “I still love Jeff. And I think your dad loved your mom too Uriel. Hell, maybe Jeff loves his battle-axe of a wife too. Who knows? How do we ever know if the other person is truly feeling what we are? You know? Maybe our last night together meant nothing to Jeff. I haven’t heard a word from him. Nothing. It’s brutal.”

Chris shifted in the cushy day bed and continued. “I think about our last night together when Jeff kept whispering: ‘So this is what love feels like. This is what it feels like to be real when you make love to someone.’ He even told me he had never felt this way before. How does someone say those things and then Boom, nothing. A few days later it’s all gone, just swept under the rug. Sorry, I know I’m monopolizing the conversation. We should be talking about your stuff, sorry.”

Uriel sat up so she could look at him clearly. “Don’t be sorry. What’s there to talk about with my dad’s letter? Obviously, my mom and dad had this insane passion that I never saw. Why? Because my dad couldn’t stop drinking. I don’t remember him NOT drinking. So, maybe he was sober for a few years before I was born? Then went right back at it. Now Jeff, is a different animal ALL together.”

Uriel reached across Chris’ tummy. The pot and the sangria were making her feel brave. She almost tipped over reaching for her glass now parked on the floor beside the day bed. She straightened up without spilling any on Chris, which was an insane achievement in her state. Suddenly Uriel felt a clarity that she never had before. She even felt like an authority on the subject of relationships.

“How so?” Chris asked, raising one eyebrow and assessing his bff who seemed stoned out of her mind.

“Well for starters, he’s in denial about everything. He’s living a lie. He doesn’t drink, but he doesn’t have to. He’s just naturally fucked up. His wife, kids, community, church, all see him as this straight arrow, boy scout leader, family man. He’s never coming out of the closet. He let his guard down with you, which was probably beautiful, but that mask is back on. And baby, it isn’t coming off, except maybe for another rendezvous with someone who won’t fall in love with him. YOU, were far too dangerous for him. He can’t fall in love. He can’t let his mask down, lose his life, his family. He’s going to pretend that nothing ever happened. And if he ever sees you out in public, get ready, because he’ll pretend he doesn’t know you. He slammed the door. You are dead to him.”

She took a big sip of her wine, proud of herself for her insight, until she noticed the tears pooling in her dear friend’s eyes.

“Damn Uriel.”

“Oh, baby, I’m so sorry. What a stupid drunk girl I am.”

She laid her head on his chest. To her surprise, Chris just stroked her hair.

“No, you’re right. Jesus. What did I want anyway? I mean, to wreck a family? I think about that nurse who probably worked with your dad for months. Maybe she thought she was in love with him? Or obsessed with him. I mean, he was the hot, rocker, doctor. Wow. For her, she could have thought she found the one. For your dad, she was just, ‘why not?’ You know what I mean? Maybe your mom was exhausted taking care of the boys and he wanted attention, as simple as that. For her, though, I’m sure it wasn’t that simple.” He took a sip from her wine glass and continued. “I’m just ashamed of myself. I never want to break up a family. I think about all that you’ve been through and not once, not one time with Jeff, did I ever think about his children. So, maybe Jeff’s denial, as you call it, or his need to stay in the closet and live a lie, is a huge blessing for me. I wouldn’t want to live through the storm. Could you imagine how the good folks in Harmony or Statesville would deal with us? Jesus, we’d probably get the shit beat out of us, or get tarred and feathered by the good ole boys down at the lodge. You know? God, my dad would be so ashamed of me. I know better.”

Uriel put her glass down and snuggled with her bff.

“What we know and how we love are two different things. I’m tired of knowing so much. I think I ought to love more,” she whispered.

Before Chris could respond, he heard Uriel’s soft snoring. “It’s a deal, Url, girl,” he whispered while still stroking her hair. “I’ll think more, and you get to take some my live wire love and run with it.” 


Uriel’s Mask is novel by Laura Roe Stevens. It is currently being read by agents and publishers for publication. If you have any questions or comments, please send me a note.

Beach Yoga for Balance, Strength, Inspiration


Photo By KellyGonzalez.com

Join me for basic yoga classes Fridays at 9 a.m. just south of the Neptune Lifeguard Tower, @ Hermosa/Manhattan Beach border: Sept. 18 – Dec. 18, 2015. Suggested donation: $10, but ALL are welcome!

There is nothing better than listening to the steady crash of the ocean, feeling the pacific breeze in your hair, watching a few surfers or dolphins float by as you flow, sweat, and breathe deeply into intentions that ignite your soul. What a way to start off the weekend too?! Lets beat the heat together. All that is needed is your yoga mat. These are basic yoga classes, for all levels of fitness, that will still ignite your heart, strengthen your body, increase balance, aid in prevention of injuries and just make you feel GOOD. It’s my happy pill. After we sweat and flow, we’ll lay in savasana, listening to the ocean, allowing our minds to find stillness so we can listen to our hearts, our inner voice that is never critical, never negative—allowing you to connect to your dreams, to your best self, to visualize your unlimited potential. That’s the magic of yoga. And a backdrop of the gorgeous Pacific ain’t too shabby. So, Join Me!

I’ll leave you with a powerful excerpt / affirmation from Louise Hay, who has been critical in my own journey to fitness and self love. This summer I spent a few weeks solo in Barcelona and read from her book You Can Heal Your Life every day as I did yoga from my rooftop with views of the Mediterranean Sea. The healing, the joy, the inspiration was incredible and hard to explain—some things in life must be felt to be understood, even for this writer!  I hope to see you soon. Shoot me a message with any questions. Until then, have a beautiful week. Namaste. xo

## From You Can Heal Your Life:

In the infinity of life where I am,
All is perfect, whole, and complete.
I live in harmony and balance with everyone I know.
Deep at the center of my being, there is an infinite well of love.
I now allow this love to flow to the surface.
It fills my heart, my body, my mind, my consciousness,
my very being, and radiates out from me in all directions
and returns to me multiplied.
The more love I use and give, the more I have to give.
The supply is endless.
The use of love makes me feel good;
it is an expression of my inner joy. I love myself;
therefore, I take loving care of my body.
I lovingly feed it nourishing foods and beverages,
I lovingly groom it and dress it, and my body lovingly
Responds to me with vibrant health and energy.
I love myself; therefore, I provide for myself a comfortable home,
One that fills all my needs and is a pleasure to be in.
I fill the rooms with the vibration of love
so that all who enter, myself included, will feel this love
and be nourished by it.
I love myself; therefore, I work at a job I truly enjoy doing.
One that uses my creative talents and abilities,
working with and for people I love and who love me,
and earning a good income.
I love myself; therefore, I behave and think in a loving way
to all people for I know that which I give out
returns to me multiplied.
I only attract loving people in my world,
for they are a mirror of what I am.
I love myself; therefore, I forgive and totally release the past
and all past experiences, and I am free.
I love myself; therefore, I live totally for the now,
experiencing each moment as good and knowing that my future
is bright and joyous and secure,
for I am a beloved child of the Universe,
and the Universe lovingly takes care of me
now and forever more. All is well in my world.

Girona: 2,000 Year Old Jewel


Somehow, I forgot to publish this post I wrote a month ago!! That tells you how my life has been catapulted into the American warp-speed pace again…These pictures and memories gave me a huge pang in the gut. Can I go back, please???! I’m jammed with what feels like a million activities for my bored children this summer and my own work writing and teaching and then the ‘other work’ us moms do: cooking, cleaning, entertaining, organizing…I haven’t taken a yoga class in two weeks, even fell asleep with my youngest last night—or rather, can we say I crashed out in his bed after bedtime story?!—and woke this morning, disheveled, racing to do more with the goal of squeezing in maybe 30 minutes for me. Which is what I’m doing right now with this blog post. Sigh…

I’m so grateful for the experience of a slower culture, it’s ancient traditions and history. And yes, I do want to go back! I hope you enjoy this and it motivates you to step outside of America and our face paced, distracted culture to experience a slower rhythm for a week or two in the future. :-)

Catalan Girona is a 2,000-year-old jewel. I am so grateful that I splurged on a tour of this ancient city. My morning started out boarding a high speed train to a tiny town, Figueres, near the French boarder to see the Salvador Dali Museum. It was interesting, and I loved hearing about the Surrealist’s bizarre life. But the next stop, Girona, made my heart sing.

GironawallThis city, which pre-dates Roman times, is gaining American familiarity as it is where much of HBO’s Game of Thrones  is being filmed. My amazing tour guide explained that in the first century BC, the Romans built a fortress with an almost triangular perimeter (a kind of acropolis) known as Força Vella. The fortress was very well protected by a defensive rampart built from large stone ashlars. This was the first city enclosure and it remained unchanged until the year 1000. This is an extension of the wall. Below, is theForça Vella with parts from the original section in the first century.


The Cathedral has sections that date back to the 11th century, making the nave and the stone glass windows some of the oldest in existence. GironachapelGironaCathedralinsideWhat is wonderful about this Catalan region is how vibrant it still is and how proud the locals are. Our tour guide, who lives in Girona, said: “Nearly no one leaves and no one considers themselves Spanish. They are quite independent Catalans. Eh?” She had a cute way of saying “Eh?” at the end of statements that seemed important to her—like a nudge to get me to understand, rather than a question.


The city center has dramatic views with quiet but steady winds that seem to whisper the history of this city. I could imagine life there more than 1,100 years ago when Charlemagne overtook the Moors, to the Roman times and then later to the Catholic expulsion and “conversion” of the Jews.


History definitely is alive and flourishing in this city, which now depends on tourism for much of its economy. I loved the immersion in thousands of years of struggle and culture, that is rare for an American to experience. It’s in moments like today when I feel with complete certainly that I am a mere speck of dust on the timeline of this Earth. Being in a place like Girona, or Montserrat (where I visited last week) helps put life in perspective. We are mere specks of star dust, with such short lives. It reminds me of two important things. First, how important is the petty stuff, worries and ingrained habits? Seriously, I need not take myself so damn seriously. And Second, life is so very short. I spent most of the 10 hour excursion today with an old French couple, Henri and Violet, married 50 years now, who relished every minute of the Dali and Girona tours. They were so grateful to still be able to go up cobble stone pathways, or steps and take in the views. Henri had a pace maker and had also undergone spinal surgery. He was a lucky man to be there—and he knew it. The two were holding hands, laughing, asking so many questions and were such a delight for me to be around. It was a joy to see the city through their eyes. As much as they could do—hiking up to the top of the center wall wasn’t possible. But they were able to see and do so much and were so happy just to be alive and to be together. And their love for life and each other was contagious.


Our tour, that required that we hike in 95 degree temperature, ended at 5 p.m. in the city center where locals were just beginning to come back out and cool off. Talk about joy for living! This little boy ran up to me and splashed water on me, while singing something that I’m sure was a taunt to get me to follow suit. His father laughed and laughed. (Something I’m becoming so fond of, how I see more parents laughing, rather than scolding, their children in Spain. It’s a refreshing difference from America.) After I shot this picture, the boy dragged me to the fountain where he splashed me properly! That’s the way to cool off!

GironaboyAfter my train ride back to Barcelona with Henri and Violet, we hugged, kissed and exchanged contact information. Henri kissed my hand saying it was a joy to be together. And that’s the wonder of traveling. You never know whose path you’re going to cross or how they will affect you in a wonderful way. I was afraid to travel by myself initially, but am so glad that I opened my heart up to new possibilities, new horizons, new experiences and new friends!

blessings multiply when in gratitude

Laura Roe Stevens:

Love this. ((( <3 )))

Originally posted on livingthroughtheheart:

i work with children with cerebral palsy.  i don’t know where to begin in explaining to you the blessings these children give to this world.  they are the constant reminder to me of all the gifts money can’t buy.  the smile, the glee, the bright eyes, the pure joy they emit when i walk into the room, or when they see the simplest things in life, like a butterfly landing on a nearby blade of grass.  they don’t ask for much, just a hug, eye contact, a simple gleeful ‘hello’, someone who may just pause to let them know they aren’t forgotten, that they are not only worthy of love, but they are pure love.

this weekend my daughter, riki, who works for espn, was able to get her hands on some extra tickets to the opening ceremony of the special olympics, which she wanted to be able to give…

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Got Power?

photo by @rickylesser

photo by @rickylesser

Where is your power? What represents it? Is it your car? Is it your house? Is it your job and who reports to you? Does it stem from giving a husband or a wife a “honey-do list” of chores a mile long? Is it in your job as a parent “guiding your children?” i.e. telling them what to do, who to be, what to think? How’s it all working out for you? Do you feel powerful? Maybe. For a little while.

Authentic power doesn’t come from how much money you have or with the ability to boss minions around. Authentic power can’t be created by trying to control someone else, either. Shaming, blaming, criticizing, cajoling, nagging, belittling—none of these control tactics will change another person’s behavior or thoughts—and especially not make a dent in their addictions. That’s the kick. Addictions can’t be managed because they trigger a chemical reaction that make a person crave that substance, or hormone high from a behavior, again and again and again. They give a temporary relief, a ‘time-out’ from life or feeling whatever a person doesn’t want to feel or think about. I’ve been there. Alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, food (sugar!), porn, multiple dramatic relationships, gambling, compulsive shopping—it’s all a way to distract from whatever ails a person. They all distract from feelings of sadness, from trauma, from betrayal, from neglect, from frustrations, lost dreams…whatever needs to be felt, gets stuffed or shuffled or juggled with drama, things, substances. And there is NOTHING you can say or do to stop another person from doing any of it. Some are offended by that. Some don’t believe addictions are real. I’ve heard some, who continue to try to change a person, say: “If he loved me, he wouldn’t do this (insert alcohol, cigarettes, porn, compulsive shopping),” or, “If he cared about having a good life or this family, he wouldn’t drink every night” or “She chooses to binge eat every night. No one put a gun to her head. It’s disgusting.”

Last month a friend in Barcelona hared that a waiter brought their table a free bottle of champagne one glorious afternoon. A man, sober 10 years, said that while looking around at all the beautiful, smiling faces at other tables who were sipping exotic drinks by the sea, he hands began to shake violently. “Why can’t I be like them?” he thought. When he told the waiter to take it back, he said it was the first time in many years that he was “gutted.” He was so tempted, haunted, by the thought of having a sip that he had to excuse himself  because if he had one drink, he’d have to have more and more and might end up divorced and on a park bench again by month-end. Where is his power? In knowing that he is powerless over his addiction and in getting help. But no one can do it for him. No one can shame him, or blame him or criticize him into it. Why would they want to? This beautiful person knows he isn’t like social drinkers. By embracing his powerlessness, he can embrace his authentic power.

Where are you powerless? That’s our theme for our first Recovery Yoga class today at 2 p.m. at Haute Yogi Manhattan Beach. Join us!

I am powerless over what another person chooses to do—or say—or think—or be—in this life. If that person is my partner or family member or best friend, it may be excruciating to watch—especially if they habitually drink, smoke, neglect their health, binge eat, gamble, make bad choices, etc… In fact, the more that I try “to help” i.e. suggest, criticize, nag, cajole, beg for whatever I want (therapy, exercise, better choices) the more likely it is that this person will resent me and continue with these behaviors. And when it comes to addictions, like the dis-ease of alcohol, I am truly powerless. If a person refuses to get help, they won’t be able to stop. Even if they say they will. Even if they go a month sober, even if they only drink on weekends, without help, without support, without therapy, the ‘dis-ease’ builds until it’s a gnarly chemical compulsion, needed, in fact, to stuff pain, mimic joy, mimic normalcy—and they will reach for it again and again. It’s not in my control. It’s not in their control. It isn’t “manageable.” I can’t save anyone. And putting my life on hold, my dreams on hold, my goals at bay in an attempt to rescue anyone, is surely another means of distraction, right? That’s co-dependency and it’s a wicked “dis-ease” as well.

So what can I control? What can you control? Where is our authentic power?

I can control my thoughts. I choose to spin negative thoughts into positive ones. 

I can control what I put into my body.

I can meditate for 5, 10 minutes a day.

I can find a way to exercise every day. (Can you? Even if it means taking the stairs at work, power walking at lunch…there are many options.)

I can stop criticizing, myself or others.

I can allow others to help me.

I can choose who I hang out with and who I live my life with.

I can create boundaries with those who hurt me.

I can choose a peaceful environment: what I watch on TV, what music I listen to, is within my power.

I can forgive others AND myself for not being what I needed them to be. (Read that again, it’s HUGE.)

I can breathe deeply, count to 10 and respond, instead of react, when drama emerges.

I can learn how to be present and be a good listener.

I can focus one hour a day on one of my dreams (and “not listen” to any of the negative or insecure thoughts that may linger or may have been said to me about it…for one hour, I can go for it and have fun with it.)

I can create traditions with my children: gratitude lists at bedime, love bombs at dinner, family game night or movie night…

I can dream, visualize, manifest as I meditate and write.

I can let go of expectations.

I can accept others for exactly who they are—AND love them, AND myself, anyway.

I can do one good deed a day, or week, without letting anyone know about it.

I can cut off my phone and my computer for a few hours every day.

I can de-clutter and give away what I don’t use: cluttered house=cluttered mind.

I can try to understand first, before being understood, or being right.

I can control what I say. I can ask myself the following before I spit out whatever is on my mind: “Is it kind? Is it true? Does it need to be said right now? Does it need to be said by me?”

I can open up my heart, take healthy chances, ‘get out of my head’ and open up to new experiences, new friendships.

What can you control? Where is your authentic power? Join us, as we meditate, flow and sweat while thinking about one area of our lives that we can control. We will breathe into that intention for the week and feel the power of letting go of what we can not control and embracing what we can: our own lives.

The light in me, honors the light in you ~ Namaste

on the practice of patience

Laura Roe Stevens:

Patience…Something easy to have when filled with confidence and then like a lightning storm, can feel impossible during the thunderous flashes of doubt. I think I need a ball of yarn to untangle! Thanks Manette for this beautiful post! xo

Originally posted on livingthroughtheheart:

i used to think how wonderful if things that we wanted just happened when we wanted, like in the tv shows ‘bewitched’…or ‘i dream of jeanie’… wouldn’t it be cool if things just happened by magic. what i understand now is that it’s not what i want, so much as what it is i need to transform.

when i focus on the process, the journey, life – a series of lessons to learn more about myself and how i relate to others and to the universe.  i see life as the practice of patience.  if i’m focus on who i want to be like, what i want to acquire, what would make me ‘happy’, what i want people to think of me, what i want others to be like, i become discontent, frustrated, and impatient.

patience is having to wait for that something you want to happen, knowing you want it…

View original 485 more words

¡Mañana, mañana! I’m in Barcelona!

coffeeBarcastyleI am officially on mañana time…and loving it. After a few hectic and frenetic days in London …I am happy to report I am back to myself and feeling madly in love and at home in Barcelona. In less than two days, it seems that I’ve fallen in love with the heat, the slower pace and the unique rhythms of this city. Or maybe I just feel at ease here. (Here I am, just waking up and having a cup of coffee on the roof with a neighbor who asked sweetly if she could come up @ 1 p.m.)

I love my rooftop apartment where I can literally sleep outside (on what I call my yoga deck) with a bed and outside bathtub. I’m under the stars. I love that feeling! As I write, I can hear my neighbors having dinner at 10 p.m. on their roofs. Soft music, laughter and the clinking of dishes are the soundtrack to a gorgeous sunset each night.


It’s so relaxing. So peaceful for a city. No yelling or honking of horns like you find in New York or London. A band played tonight in the square. I could hear seniors cheer and clap to the music that wove spanish guitar and accordion, sounding like a Spanish polka. As I write, I can hear bells toll, a child bouncing a ball and sea gulls squawk in the darkness. My apartment is about a 20 minute walk to the sea shore. Earlier, I took a bath under a nearly full moon. My little yoga deck is practically hidden from neighbors with roof decks across from me—the bathtub area is in a private corner anyway!


This trip is about testing my boundaries and tackling fear. I travelled quite a bit when I lived in London, but this is a solo trip as my boys vacation with their dad in France. I wanted to go somewhere cheap to fly from London, since I meet back up in London to fly back to California with my youngest. I booked this flat specifically because it was on top of a building, mostly outside, (I have about 400 feet inside!) in a residential neighborhood. I knew it was up 8 floors, so I packed only a carry-on and my yoga mat! No hair dryer. Only one pair of shoes! Very few clothes since I wanted a few books. I had to think about just what I need for almost 3 weeks away. I simplified.

And this flat outside where I write, read, eat and do yoga, forces me to engage (important when traveling solo) and detach at the same time. I find myself staring at the clouds and seagulls as they pass by. I watch old neighbors tend to amazing rooftop gardens. I can see younger neighbors doing laundry and cooking or playing with children on their own rooftop oasis.


My neighbor’s large decks are amazing. On my little deck, I write. Often. I do daily yoga in insane heat, but with continuous breezes that feel like God’s breath. After bathing, I’ll walk very slowly into town to go to markets. I love wearing loose dresses—it’s too hot for anything else. I love smiling at people who smile back. My neighborhood is filled with bohemian artists with nose rings, dark makeup, tattoos—and also seniors who come out only at dusk to watch people from their balconies, while wearing smock dresses and old fashioned white linen shirts. The old and the new converge on this block, perhaps within this entire eclectic city.


I am not in the main tourist area, and I am thankful for that. Yesterday I ate out alone. I normally hate doing that. I sat outside (it doesn’t get dark until after 10 p.m.) at a cafe table and just watched children run past, adults walking dogs, seniors playing cards. It was relaxing. An old man smiled at me, often. An old lady came over and asked me something in Spanish. I’m convinced she thought the blond girl playing with the water pump in the courtyard was mine. People are people wherever you go. Every southern city I have ever visited has been laid back. No rushing. Long conversations. No one was staring at their mobiles, except for the tourists, who were glued to them. I felt ashamed for that. I felt this way in Seville and in Tuscany too. Perhaps I am destined to return to a hot, slow-paced city again. Southern California, for all its sun, still leaves me cold by the icy Pacific breezes. Laugh all you will, but I had purple fingers after an evening beach stroll last week in Hermosa Beach! Plus, everyone is so busy. So very very busy in LA. I feel like I will move to a southern European spot someday. I know I could definitely live here.

On my first evening in Barcelona, I sat on my balcony observing how the neighborhood begins to percolate once the heat subsides. I noticed a neighbor drag out a large paint brush and bucket. She began to paint her outside patio wall beige. I naively thought she wanted a new color for her wall…I woke in the morning to find a screaming lioness mural across from me! How appropriate for my arrival, as I feel like I’m coming back to life after a long hard winter!

beigecanvas lioness mural

Until I muster the energy to write another post…Tener una hermosa noche! :-)

Looking Into My Mother’s Eyes


I walk into the Alzheimer’s facility with a somewhat brave face. After being buzzed in, I force a smile, force small talk, to yet another new administrator, before making my way into the cafeteria. The small tan room with light tan round tables, is before me. Everything is neutral, as if bright colors might offend those with memory impairment. I behave like this is just another day, no big deal. I haven’t seen Mom in a year, but pretend I am prepared. Mom is hunched over her wheelchair. A nurse is trying to feed her. I sit down and introduce myself to a new nurse whose name I forget instantly. She says this is her first week on the job. Mom strains to turn her head and eyes me, but doesn’t smile. She turns away in slow motion, moving as if under water, as if I am not there. The nurse tells me that Mom loves music. I tell her that she used to play piano by ear, up until a few years ago. She promises to play more music for Mom tomorrow, classical instead of country.

The nurse places a small piece of salmon on a fork and touches Mom’s lower lip with it over and over again until she licks the spot, but closes her mouth reflexively. This goes on until Mom finally manages to open her mouth, even if just barely. The nurse then pushes the food inside. As I watch, I wonder when the day will come when Mom can’t chew, when she can’t swallow.

In between bites, Mom grinds her teeth like a delayed response, a late synapse connection telling her mouth to chew at the wrong time. How frustrating that it happens when nothing is in her mouth! How frustrating and terrifying this whole damn disease is. I try hard not to imagine Mom waking in the middle of the night confused, not knowing where she is, not knowing  who anyone else is around her.

But, that’s not likely to happen anymore. She no longer appears anxious or frightened. She’s in the late stage of the disease.

The nurse leaves and I begin chattering on, showing Mom pictures of the boys from my phone. Pictures of my life in California. Of course, she doesn’t look at the pictures, but at me. Mom sort of chuckles as I try to feed her. I bribe her with a small piece of a warm chocolate chip cookie. It takes three touches on her bottom lip before Mom can open her mouth. I gently push it in. Only half makes it inside. But she smiles. Mom still loves chocolate. She can’t move her hand, but her eyes look down at it briefly, so I place it up on the table and put mine on top. She smiles again briefly, then stops.

And then she begins to stare.

Mom stares deeply into my eyes. I lean forward, forcing myself not to look away. I continue to gaze back just as deeply into those eyes of hers that are a shade of blue I’ve never seen before in anyone else. They are as blue as western corn flowers or a Tiffany’s box. Who knew a color could break my heart.

As I am staring back, I fight tears and remind myself that she is in an infantile place now. She is in a beautiful state of purity, innocence, trust. Looking into Mom’s eyes, I can remember exactly how it felt to stare deeply into my sons’ eyes when they were both newborns. I’d lie with them and stare so deeply that I’d ache. I’d tremble with how remarkable the knowing is. How raw, how powerful it is to be so open, so pure, so trusting.

We are all born in this perfect state. And that’s why I believe in oneness. We divide, distrust, judge, criticize, separate, as we age.

But when we are born, we have this ability to love with abandon. We don’t judge. We love who we love and it has nothing to do with what they look like or wear or own. We aren’t ashamed of our feelings, we embrace them. We scream when hungry, cry when we need to be held—we know we deserve love and deserve to be taken care of. Somewhere along the line, maybe in elementary school, we start to lose that knowledge.

We lose touch with so much as we layer on fears, doubts, judgements, anxiety, hurts, grudges. And it’s hard to be happy, to be at peace, to be creative, to be playful, to give love, to receive love, with all those layers weighing us down.

I adore how toddlers and preschoolers live unabashedly too. They embrace who they are and what they want! A tutu with cowboy boots and a martian mask—hell yes! No toddler cares what another person thinks of them. They’ll grab a jar of paint and just stick their hands inside and relish in the gooey feeling and then paint their arms and legs because it just looks cool. They’ll dance, spin, rock it out, screaming to their favorite Barney tune.

They also trust that the Universe has their back. Have you ever seen a toddler just fall backwards on purpose and giggle as adults scramble and run across the room to literally have their back, break their fall? Those little munchkins know that the Universe will care for them, that the Universe has their back.

We are all born knowing these truths, until sadly, some adult doesn’t show up or doesn’t care for us, or other people hurt us and then we build walls. As I said, we pile on judgement, hurts, guilt, anxiety, fears, grudges, criticism, doubt until there is no room for joy, for trust. It’s like wearing 10 coats on a summer day and wondering why we can’t run freely in the surf.

These thoughts, or some version of them, race through my mind as I am looking into my mother’s robin’s egg blue eyes. So I allow myself to try to channel my inner preschooler. I allow myself to enter into a staring contest like the ones I used to have with my sisters or my childhood bff when I was little. I lean in and tell myself to just go there. Who’s going to blink first? I think, so I won’t cry.

After we stare for what feels like five minutes, although I’m sure it is only two, she smiles. I can see kindness, inquisitiveness behind her blue blue eyes. She doesn’t know who I am, but she still feels, she still tries to connect. Someday I will just get a blank stare in return. So today, I am grateful and I am heartbroken at the same time. But mainly, I am grateful. The same eyes that used to be filled with so much fear, so much anxiety, so much stress, that they would dart around a room, are now at peace. They calmly stare deeply into mine. She is smiling. She is trusting. She is peaceful.

Last year when we did this, our foreheads touched and she said I love you. This year, she can hardly speak. She doesn’t know who I am, but wants to. I ache with the purity, the openness, the trust I see in her eyes that won’t look away.

Timeless Images From Southeastern Appalachia


Slave Girl, Photograph, property of the NC Archives, Asheville, NC

“And when great souls die,  after a period peace blooms, slowly and always

irregularly. Spaces fill with a kind of soothing electric vibration.

Our senses, restored, never to be the same, whisper to us.

They existed.  They existed.

We can be. Be and be better. For they existed.”

Maya Angelou “When Great Trees Fall”


I recently went on an excursion in the appalachian mountains in TN & NC. I love getting lost on old dirt roads where history seems to drip from the branches of trees. Getting lost here gives you a perspective that can rarely be found in today’s America filled with strip malls and manicured neighborhoods. I sought to find images of a history that wasn’t always recorded. A past that can be sensed and felt from the old dirt roads, abandoned farms and barns, stoic river banks. The backdrop for part of my novel Uriel’s Mask is from this region, and from the pain of those who existed a long time ago, but were never recognized, named, seen, heard. They may never be, but their past still subtly influences the story of our present—which is especially felt in this timeless region of the country.

Here are some more images from my journey:


How old is this house, now eaten by kudzu? What stories does it have? Only the trees and soil know, and they aren’t telling! I found this cabin on an old dirt road near Townsend, TN…I was lost, but so glad I found this, as well as a few wild turkeys and one small black bear!


This stretch of the French Broad River in Asheville, NC seems to ache in a haunting way. Neglected from its former state of importance, few visit, and yet it rolls on as if a witness to those who died silently, nameless, near its banks.


If you look closely, you can see the U.S. Mail sign sliding into a Blacksmith sign of this TN barn near Townsend on a winding old dirt road.


How I miss horses! Gentle, powerful, sensitive, soulful—better company than most people. It was hard to see so many neglected in the mountains. Not brushed, left alone for months. These were better cared for than others I saw.


Why do I love old barns so?


A typical scene between Nashville and Knoxville, TN.

streamI will always love how trees arch and lean in across streams, as if yearning to touch, to comfort one another. They are silent witnesses to all who have walked near or sat on their banks.

maskA mask found in Asheville, no name for artist, unsure of age.

My time in southeast appalachia is always special. This time I researched details for my completed novel Uriel’s Mask. I am so grateful to the librarians, historians and art preservationists who bent over backwards to help me! And also to my sister Elizabeth who got lost with me, giggling the whole time. Sometimes it takes getting lost to get on the right path to be found, right?  And thanks also to Georgene who looked after the boys so I could go on this adventure… Here’s a poem that has always resonated with me, as it strikes a chord of truth, especially for southerners who can sense how much of our painful history has slipped away without witness, into the soil, the river banks, the roots of trees—and even into the boards of old barns and cabins.

“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.”

Hermann Hesse, Baume