Thoughts on beauty and other things I notice…

Find the Chicken.

  Each morning I play “find the chicken” with my two cats Ruby and Sneakers. Let me rephrase, I hide four pieces of flash-frozen chicken pods, and the two of them work on finding those pieces. The Vet told us at their annual check-up a few months ago that they were overeating on “filler food,” that’s why Sneakers always acted as if she was starving and was simultaneously gaining weight. The vet suggested a diet of mostly pure protein. It would be good for them, and they wouldn’t gain weight quickly. (It’s the same advice I received from my own doctor about a month earlier, my peri-menopausal body had gained weight, and I was told to eat fewer carbs more protein. I had heard about pet owners starting to look like their cats- I hadn’t really heard before about owners having the same diet as their pets, pretty funny.) It’s expensive, at $19 for a small bag of frozen food, but I was willing to try it, and they needed to “hunt for it” to burn calories. The portion control is two pieces each. I hope Sneakers won’t eat them all – she’s a hog around food and her sister has chosen to be okay with it. I get the bag out of the closet and Ruby and Sneakers know immediately that it is “find the chicken time” and they follow me carrying the bag. I put a piece on the dining table, a piece on the coffee table, I keep walking, one on the glass table near the window where they often sit, one on the counter above... read more

Welcome to Middle Age.

I think today is the day. You never know when certain days will become “marker” days and then when they show up you just know. Today is the day I recognized I’m middle-aged. I’m getting dressed – or I should say trying to figure out what to wear – to my friend from High School’s mom’s funeral that is happening in an hour. I’ve got Cher’s disco song “Only the Lonely,” playing on my iPod and I am dancing in my hallway wrapped in a towel looking foolish after a shower and feeling silly, but I don’t care. You have to understand – I play music at home maybe three times a year (unless I have a dinner party ( two times a year)) so putting a Cher disco song on at 10:30 Saturday am is not my usual thing. It’s December, I’m wearing boots and enjoying the feeling of dancing with no one but my two cats watching thinking life is just weird. I’m excited -not quite the right word- to be able to be here for D at the service today whether I get to speak to her or not. It meant so much to me when friends I hadn’t seen in years showed up at my mom’s funeral. In a way I’m also happy for D, of course, there is sorrow, plenty of sorrow, but also the relief of having a family member “pass” after being sick for a time. Those horrible caregiving years before death: the stress, mess, expense, toll on one’s heart. Growing old in poor mental or physical health is awful. No one... read more


Tomorrow I’m breaking a vow I made to my 21-year-old self. I promised myself that I would never travel the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, a drive to New York City from my college dorm usually took 3 hours, that night it took 8. My frustration was so big, and my patience was so thin that I said: “never again.” A cheap ticket made that never into a yes this year. I’m excited and a bit nervous breaking this vow, I don’t know what Hobby Airport will be like at 8 pm on Thanksgiving Eve, but I’m up for the adventure, doing something different. There are many good reasons to have rules, they keep me safe, I can plan ahead and lessen frustration, I’ve got structure, but they also bind me from spontaneity and pleasure. Getting the invitation and saying yes without too much thinking brought joy to me at the moment, It’s fun to try something new- you never know where it will lead. And it will be fun tomorrow whatever unfolds because it will be different. I’ve got my yoga tools My breath + free will to choose how I respond. This holiday weekend enjoy yourself, find joy where you find yourself, whether it is at the grocery store for the 3rd time in 24hrs, circling the parking lot for a spot, or talking to someone you would rather not, remember to exhale. You’ve your got yoga tools too; you can choose if you want to react or respond. It’s your holiday; you might even give yourself permission to break a... read more

Spiritual Stretchmarks

Spiritual stretchmarks, newborn coffee, I’ve been keenly listening to words this week, specifically the pairing of words, these two pairs stuck with me on the tip of my tongue. It seems perfectly fitting; I facilitated a workshop on menopause this afternoon. I didn’t provide any answers on how to “fix “ this life passage but instead offered ways to reframe the conversation, that is what we have the power to change. How do we respond to a life process that millions of women before us have also experienced? How do we choose to deal with this hormonal upheaval from a place of power?   We were an intimate group of three, and with intimacy, if the conditions are right, trust can build quickly. “Have you taken any restorative yoga classes before?”   This simple question unleashed a beautiful, stark, no holes barred- state of physical conditions. One minute in, we were rolling; no need for introductions. Some life passages are celebrated and some not so much. Puberty, pregnancy, and what’s happening now. Personal stories, different but similar stories repeated through new words, with the common theme of having to navigate alone, not only the present but past moments, we recognize and realize we’ve weathered similar roads before and we can do it again. We are strong enough to do it again; the beautiful thing is we don’t have to. We’ve learned from our younger selves. Otherwise why would be here on a Saturday afternoon?   Here we are doing the “alone” together. One thing I love about asana practice in a group, you are on your mat, and I... read more

Generosity and multiple blessings

  I met M for coffee Sunday, he had finished my memoir, and I wanted to hear in person what he thought. Two weeks prior I received his text. “The mail brings good things today,” a picture of the book in his hands. I was thrilled that he had ordered it- such a nice surprise, I didn’t think men would want to read my book, I believed my “audience” was women. For a nanosecond, I wondered if M was being nice or if he wanted to read it. “Should I have bought him a copy?” Get over it Maria, I told myself, he bought it because he wanted to read it, don’t over think it. I text him back a thumbs up emoji and a THANK YOU! Monday I’m in the middle of a conference call, and I see a new text slide onto my screen. “Listen GAL this book of yours is a real button pusher! Can’t read much at once. Up until 4 am obsessed and reflecting after reading too many chapters in one sitting.” I glance at it- I’m still in the middle of a call – and think in my head- that’s a good sign, right? That he was reading late into the night, that the book kept his interest? I like that he kept reading, I liked that it pushed his buttons, I want to make people reflect. My conference call ends, and I stare at his text. I’m not sure how to respond. I’ve only heard from maybe ten readers, and that includes when it was in manuscript form. And those ten readers... read more

What binds us?

It was raining hard now, only the second rain storm since Harvey hit eight weeks ago, I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to get on the road this Sunday morning at 8:30 am. I usually like the strong wind before a storm and the dark sky with the anticipation of change, something brewing and a cleansing rain, but things feel different now. “It will be okay Maria,” I tell myself. I try to convince myself, but I’m not steady as I drive across the bayou, the same one that flooded over its banks, the same one that caused such havoc. The water is low, “it will be fine,” I say again. Rhia starts class; the theme is freedom, She explains that freedom is often a place that we are striving hard to get to. What if we reframe the question like the yogis did? What if the question becomes what keeps us from freedom? What binds us so that we don’t think of ourselves as free? I repeat the question in my head. “What is it that binds me from feeling free? My first thought it “everything, ” and I sigh with annoyance for my “give up now” attitude. Wow, Maria, you’ve been up for an hour, and this is where your mind goes? I picture a bandaged ankle, my ankle, how for a short while I had to wrap it with a flesh-colored elastic 1-inch wide that I clinched with a little silver clamp a few years ago. How I liked that feeling of being supported. My sprained ankle felt safer and held when it... read more