Skip to content

Funeral Etiquette Fail

October 20, 2010

I’m writing funeral thank you’s this morning.

For the record, that’s one of my least favorite chores in any part of life. Funeral thank-you’s aren’t special. I’m pretty much inept at any type of written thank you. I mean, I can write a thank you that will knock your socks off, but odds are it will be so long after the actual good deed event occurred that you won’t even remember what you did to deserve a thank you.

Thank you writing ranks right up there with exercise, cleaning out my closets, and scrubbing my toilet and tub. I know it NEEDS to be done, but it probably won’t happen until the guilt of knowing I SHOULD do it overwhelms the laziness.

And as I write these thank you’s to the nice people who brought food to us in the days following the passing of my hawt man’s  86 year old dad, I can’t help but wonder if there is some sort of funeral thank you etiquette that I am stomping into the dirt.

Of course, this whole process has been an exercise in seeing how many traditionalist boats we can rock, so maybe I’m just an ongoing extension of that.

My oldest brother-in-law actually had some fun with the traditionalists.

I like my oldest b-i-l’s willingness to challenge expectation and tradition, so I’m sorta enjoying the ride. However, my paranoia meter is still pegging the max on occasion.

I think I have a few sista-in-laws right there with me.

Here’s a run down of a few of the traditions we may have smashed in the past few weeks:

1. Open casket. Nope. Not here. I find it funny how obsessed people are with evaluating the handiwork of the undertaker. Hawt Guy’s parents had made it very clear they didn’t want to be gawked at, and the boys did a very nice job of making sure that didn’t happen, much to the chagrin of a few of our older friends.

2. Flowers. My poor sis-in-law who used to own a flower shop kinda freaked when she realized there were pretty much NO flowers. None. Nadda. And yet, it totally worked for this situation. The boys took loads of family photos to the funeral home so everyone who came in could remember the living moments of happiness, energy, and handsome vitality rather than the immediate moment of the many ways age and ill health had taken its toll on the physical body. Those photos rendered the need for flowers completely irrelevant. No mums, roses, or carnations could possibly outdo the beauty of a young couple in love and their amazing family through the years.

Although I have to say, I was hoping to snag a free plant or two for my wellness center.

Fortunately someone loves me and gave me some overflow from their place.

POST BLOG PUBLISHING UPDATE: I completely missed the wreath sent by a guy that loves this family like his own. Fortunately, my hawt honey was paying attention. Thanks, Friend! You are the coolest.

3. Church. Nope. Not this go around. No rosary service. No aisles or pews. No suits and ties (at least none required). Just a few words of remembrance and encouragement out in the beautiful pasture that is Rose Hill Cemetery. Ten minutes from welcome to final amen. That’s exactly what Charlie would have wanted. Exactly.

4. And then there are the thank yous. I have a list of people who brought food to us at some point during the process. Some of them are friends of Hawt Guy and me (my? mine? us? I?) who barely know the rest of the family. A few fed us because they love our children and wanted to make sure the little hummingbirds had plenty of sugar to survive the days of being ignored by their parentals. Some are extended family both on Hawt Guy’s side and my side. Still others are from his dad’s associations and I don’t even know them.

It dawned on me about half way through the thank you list that maybe I should sign the cards with more than just Eric, Angie, & Girls. After all, there are a few other families on whose behalf I am thanking people. I promise we didn’t hog all the food just for our bunch.

Then I happened to notice the little blank space at the bottom of the front of the card and wondered if I was supposed to be writing in the name of our departed loved one.

You know….in case they don’t remember who just died and why they made that cake.

5. Sadness and grief. I think we probably failed miserably at this one. The Kleenex Corporation stock probably dropped for a few days from lack of consumption. I know the guys will have their moments of missing Charlie and remembering the way things used to be, however, this seemed more like a celebration of a life completed: Almost a bit of relief that his struggle is  over, the worry is over, and now we move on. He wasn’t ripped from us. He released us and we released him from his physical container. We get the memories. He gets his freedom. Not much sadness to scrape up when viewed like that.

And for the record, I have learned a lot in the past couple of weeks. It’s all good information, yet not exactly an area in which I want to become an expert. At least we  have some idea what to expect the next time we experience the process.

Maybe we’ll have figured out a few more rules of funeral etiquette we can break when that time comes.😉

Silver City

October 17, 2010

This past week was a bit on the stressful side. I have to admit to being grateful to my father-in-law for passing at a time that allowed everything to occur as it should and not interfere with my plans to run away to Silver City for a few days.

I’ve been planning to kidnap my man and run away since my oldest arrived in SC a couple of months ago.

This past week just made that desire to run much more intense.

We discovered Silver City during Christmas break last year when it appeared in Mother Earth News as one of the ten best small towns in which to live. It had a college, and that college offered an in state tuition scholarship.

Daughter #1 was intrigued.

I’ve always thought her personality fit the New Mexico lifestyle really well. She’s artsy, eclectic, a bit of a free-thinker, and a wildlife lover. She’s the closest thing to a health nut I have birthed.

Silver City sure seemed to be a good match. It’s a small town, an art town, and it sits on the edge of the Gila (pronounced hee-lah) National Wilderness/Forest. It has quite the cool western history, with the likes of Billy the Kid, Geronimo, and Judge Roy Bean in it’s past.

And the sunrise over the eastern hills in Silver City is gorgeous.

I’m a sucker for sunrises over the top of a mountain.

There have been several trips to Silver City in the past few months. The first was last February for a campus tour. Then came the June orientation, August move-in, the pre-Labor Day car delivery, and finally the runaway kidnapping of my husband this past week.

Oh, who am I kidding. I like Silver City, too. I keep looking for excuses to go over there. What could possibly be the big attraction?

Maybe this will explain it:

1. My amazing #1 daughter is camped out over there in a dorm.

2. There are more 50+ year old men with long grey ponytails and neatly trimmed beards than I’ve ever imagined in my life. I kinda have a thing for that look.

3. There are places to eat like The Curious Kumquat and Vicki’s Eatery that have amazingly simple and somewhat healthy food.

4. Everyone we’ve met has been very friendly, welcoming, and helpful.

5. It’s a beautiful place for a trail ride, and #3 beautiful princess would love it beyond any human capacity to love anything.

6. It’s less than ten minutes into the forest and mountains.

7. You can drive two hours into the forest and mountains and only go 45 miles.

8. That drive is like finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It’s beautiful along the way, and even better at the end.

9. Looking out at the varied landscape, rolling hills, and nearby mountains lets the imagination run wild as to what once covered the area and formed the land. It can certainly challenge some long-held simplistic creationist views, but that’s its own blog post for another day.

10. It’s hard to believe a pile of lava snot can be a fountain of earth energy, but it can. City of Rocks State Park is nothing short of phenomenal.

11. Silver City is a powerful testimony of what a small town in the middle of nowhere can do to revitalize itself. There is some incredible vision in this place, and it’s making some incredible progress.

12. There is something at Silver City that is calling to me. Something or someone I am supposed to find. Something that has yet to fully reveal itself to me.

Don’t worry. I like where I am and I’m not going anywhere long term at this point. Maybe that’s why I like SC. There are lots of similarities, minus the forest access, of course. I’ll be hanging out over there whenever possible on a visitor only basis for the time being.

If you are looking for a new place to explore, consider taking a drive through prairie, desert, Native American homelands, US Government sand dunes, more desert, a couple of border patrol check stations, and a million miles of nothing to arrive at an oasis of beauty at the intersection of awesome and barren.

My Crazy Funeral Hangups

October 10, 2010

Our family is working its way through our first funeral process in nine years. It’s the first one ever for me and my husband to be directly involved in as far as decision making.

And I say ME and my husband loosely.

I’m not making any decisions, just an occasional comment or observation for his consideration.

It’s not something at which we are professionals (thank goodness), and it’s not something that comes naturally, especially when MEN are in charge of creating a ceremony designed to both honor the departed according to their wishes for simplicity and allow those remaining to simultaneously release, celebrate, and grieve. THESE men are very practical guys. Not much for ceremony. Their motto has been, “Keep it simple and short.” I actually love that about them, yet the sensor/feeler in me keeps flipping the paranoia switch over to the “what’s everyone else gonna think?” setting.

It’s a fine line….trying to be supportive, mind my own business, and keep my paranoid intuition in check. Not exactly a role I was born to play. If I survive without pissing someone off, I will certainly be deserving of an Oscar nomination.

Red Carpet, here I come.

I am finding, however, that there are certain things that drive me a wee bit crazy. It’s not like that’s a very long trip for me, so please understand, I am not griping or complaining about the kind and well-intentioned actions and messages of others, just noticing my reaction to them and wondering out loud why they annoy me.

First, there are the messages of condolences. It’s sort of like saying happy birthday. There are only so many ways to let someone know how badly it must suck to go through the process of releasing a loved one from this life.

Hmm…I may have to use that next time someone I care about is grieving. “I am so sorry. It really sucks for you to have to go through this.”

I really think most people prefer to give condolences without getting too involved or too emotional. You know….express the concern, yet keep it professional…..CSI style.

“I am sorry for your loss.”

I have watched way too much of that show, because as much as I love the people who have used some version of that line, it sorta makes me crazy. Again, my problem, not theirs, so nobody needs to be offended or apologize. It’s not your job to adjust the thermostat to keep me happy.

I am grateful for your love regardless of how you choose to express it.

Really. I am.

I guess the whole “Sorry for your loss” just sounds too murder-investigation-y for me. Sorta like, “Sucks for you. Glad it’s not me. Keeping a professional distance is the name of the game. Oh, and I need to ask you a few questions. Where were you on the night of the murder?”

Yes, I need psychological help. Is there a doctor in the house?

On the other hand, there have been some beautifully composed messages of condolences. Some of my favorites so far have been these:

“My intention is for comfort and joy.”

“I am so sorry and will pray for peace that surpasses all understanding for your family! Ya’ll are in my prayers.”

“My love and prayers go out to Charles’s family. He was a wonderful man who will truly be missed by all who ever had the pleasure of meeting him. Love you all.

“You are all in my prayers. He was such a sweet man and had a wonderful family too.”

“Wonderful man, wonderful family. God bless you all!”

And even the simple messages that said things like, “Love you,” “Hugs and Prayers,” “Thinking of you all,” and “Thinking of you guys” are so appreciated, whether accompanied with dose of CSI or not.😉

I think it’s the personalization that warms my heart. I am grateful for all who take the time to send a message of comfort. I am abundantly grateful for those who add a personal touch or something just a bit different.

It’s beyond cool.

The other thing on my list of minor annoyances is flip-flopping and mind-changing, especially when I sometimes get to be the messenger of what’s NOT going to happen only to be told later that plans have changed and now people are down to 24 hours for planning and prep to be nice to us.

Especially when those people crunched for planning and prep time are the same people who asked five days ago if we wanted them to do something.

And especially when they are people I really care about.

It’s a bit awkward and frustrating to say the least.

I am grateful they are not nearly as shallow and petty as I am.

I am also grateful to be part of a family who loves each other enough to overlook the minor annoyances as just a part of the insanity and stress of the process.

No hurt feelings. No grudges.

Just an abundance of love.

Flexibility is definitely the name of the funeral game.

Annoyed or not, I am truly blessed.

The Call

October 8, 2010

No matter how prepared you are, words can’t begin to describe the feeling that accompanies a middle of the night phone call with the news.

It’s like a sucker punch to the gut, delivered with a gentle dose of love and relief.

We’ve been waiting on that phone call for quite awhile. I guess if the truth be known, it’s been about five years we’ve been waiting and wondering when the call would come. However, recent days have heightened the intensity and expectation as decisions were made to stop life extending medical interventions and let nature work her spirit-freeing genius.

The call came at about 1:30 am Friday morning. It was the hospital delivering the news we knew would be coming, and had even predicted the likelihood of it being this night. No surprise at all.

No tears. At least not yet. It’s the circle of life, Cox style.

Just a big dose of raw practical gratitude and relief.

Plus that feeling of being lovingly slugged in the stomach.

And the opportunity to pass on the sucker punch to other somewhat prepared, but not bullet-proofed guts.

The Call is actually a game of tag. We were tagged first this time. We then tagged the others. We became their gut-punch of love, relief, and sadness.

Thirty minutes after our phone first rang, we were back in bed planning on a peaceful night’s rest knowing THAT call would never come again.


There are just some things life skills class doesn’t teach you.

Like the fact that there is never just one phone call after a loved one passes.

And the phone calls will come at intervals designed to make sure you will not get that peaceful night’s rest tonight.

2:30 AM: “Would you like to donate his skin for skin grafts?”

Huh? It’s 87 years old and paper thin. Why would you even want it? Not exactly a decision to be made at 2:30 AM by only one of four brothers. Someone should have asked that about 3 days ago during daytime, wide-awake hours.

Another hour passed, our brains began to settle down just a bit, and the fit-full, mind-racing sleep almost overtook us again.

And the phone rang…..again.

It was Steve, the sweet guy who will graciously prepare our loved one for ceremony and burial asking my husband’s permission to begin his work. It never occurred to me that his night would be interrupted, too. However, I did give his precious wife the heads up Thursday evening that I thought Eric’s dad would pass before morning.

And so we are up. Coffee is made. It’s now 3:40 AM. Sleep will have to wait until later this afternoon when our bodies decide to slam us into the relaxing embrace of an easy chair.

Mama said there’d be days like this, but she forgot to mention there’d be a few nights, too.

Adios, Charlie. Give Alex a hug for us. You boys try to stay out of trouble up there, ya hear? Say hi to my Pappy, if you see him. He’ll be the one out hunting rabbits, dove, and pheasant.

Triple Warmer Volleyball Meltdown

October 5, 2010

Have you seen it?

I know you’ve seen it. Everyone’s seen it. You see it in peewee leagues. You see it on junior high and high school teams. It even occasionally shows up on college and professional teams.

So what is it?

The infamous and toxic triple warmer meltdown.


Yep. An honest to goodness, full-blown, crash-and-burn meltdown on the stage of athletic competition.

If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it a thousand times.

Good kids. Highly talented athletes. Possibly even in the midst of  annihilating another team.

And then they just fall apart.




Arses crammed so far up their tushes, extrication would require a Peterbilt tow truck.

No one seems to be able to explain it. The coach appears helpless to stop it. The crowd only seems to make it worse.

What the heck just happened?

It’s all about Energy Systems, Baby, and ours just took a vacation to Abu Dhabi.

There are these very cool rivers of energy in the body. Actually, there are multiple systems of energy, but for our purposes, I’m going to focus on the rivers. If you don’t believe they exist, stop by sometime and I’ll show you in your own body where some of them are and how they affect you.

Most of these rivers of energy, or meridians, have a name that corresponds to an organ system. You may have heard of some of these when listening to an Oriental Medicine guru. They have names like stomach, large intestine, liver, spleen, kidney, heart, and more. Each has a partner and is capable of sharing energy with their partner in a give and take relationship. Occasionally one is a little on the short side or maybe it’s cup runneth over and it has a bit too much energy. When that happens, it affects the body in a variety of ways, none of which are as good as when everything is balanced and running smoothly.

There is one river of energy with a very funny name. It’s the Triple Warmer meridian. My image of triple warmer is of a big brother. It can become quite protective and often times it is the only thing holding the rest of the meridians together when the stress in our lives becomes all-consuming. It’s first source of extra energy happens to be its partner, spleen, which also happens to be associated with the body’s immune system.

Now you are getting the picture.

Too much stress = illness, in part because too much stress = over-charged triple warmer and weakened spleen.

But what does that have to do with athletic performance?

Each of us is wired to respond to stress in a certain way. It has to do with things like left brain/right brain dominance, as well as which hand, eye, ear, and foot we prefer to use in a given situation. When stress kicks in, things start to shut down.

The fight or flight response can kick into high gear.

The muscles down the back of the body tighten up to prepare to run or start swinging punches.

Brain function then moves from the neo-cortex (logic, thinking, organizing, big picture, details) part into the mid-brain whose primary job is to keep us safe.

Not a great place to be hanging out when we need to think clearly, process information, move with grace and athletic prowess, and still be a decent human being.

This is exactly what I see happen in athletic arenas all the time.

I watched it last night as my 12 year old went from smashing volleyballs to shanking things left and right. I saw the moment the shift occurred. The smile left her face. Her shoulders slumped. The energy completely left her body.

Even though she continued to try and make something work, she had given up on her team and she had given up on herself. She felt as though no one had her back. She was simply trying to survive until the torture was over.

Triple warmer was in sixth gear.

Unfortunately while nearly everyone can see what is happening, very few people in the world know how to reverse it and restore balance to an athlete’s system. In some cases, the crowd and the coaches can actually make things worse by putting out energy that is even more stressful and toxic than that produced by the athlete.

Amazing coaches–the legendary ones about whom movies are made–have an incredible talent for calming the triple-warmer stress response. They recognize the meltdown as it begins and have an uncanny ability to halt it and turn things around.

Interestingly enough, anyone can learn how to make the shift happen. Unfortunately most coaches don’t believe they have the time to do what it takes to make stress management a part of their athletic program. As a result, they continue to experience the roller coaster of stress-response performance while some of their most talented athletes struggle to hold things together.

And don’t think for even a second this is limited to athletics.

How often are marriages hanging by a thread because the two parties involved are constantly ready to fight?

How many times are parents defensive when they arrive at school to talk about their child’s issues?

And what child can learn when they arrive in a classroom without their homework only to be thrown into triple warmer hyper-drive by a teacher who unknowingly creates a ton of additional stress?

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could create champions by simply calming the stress response?

We can.  Stay tuned.

Building My Wings On The Way Down

September 30, 2010

A friend/client messaged me earlier this week asking what I had planned for her personal training session. My response?


Yep. Twenty four hours prior to her arrival for her personal training session, and I honestly had no idea what I was going to do with her or for her. Now, before you freak about how unprofessional this was, keep in mind I’m doing it for free. She’s my guinea pig for a personal training class I am taking…er…uh…I mean….teaching myself. I’ve sorta been dreading it because I feel so unprepared, and since the instructor is requiring it, yet has refused to prepare us with anything other than “read the book”, I have few options besides “winging” it.

It seems like I am doing a lot of “winging” it lately. I don’t know that I ever feel fully prepared for anything anymore.

I have lots of good information to share, and I know I can lead/guide in lots of situations, yet I am really hesitant to jump into something when I feel inadequate.

Lately, however, it seems as though I need to lose the control freak thing about being fully prepared and just jump. I need to trust that the knowledge and skills I already possess, combined with the ones I am continuing to acquire are sufficient to meet the needs of the people who are choosing to be served by me.

Teachers always have to live through being a dreaded “first-year” teacher. There is always the “newbie” stage at a new job during which time “lost and confused” seem to reign supreme.

And now, I find that after months of talking about what I’d like to do, and after a few attempts to prepare myself to do it, it is time for me to jump off this cliff and build my wings on the way down.

So, Thursday evening, October 7th, you are invited to watch me do some cliff diving. After months of talking about it, I have actually decided to open up my space to all who are interested so that we can begin to explore the benefits of a yoga-type class. I say “yoga-type” because I am no expert in yoga, yet I have lots of good information to share, lots of great feel-good stretches, and oodles of awesome energy exercises. We are going to throw it all together in a big pot of togetherness and see what kind of gentle deliciousness we get.

I trust you will join me if your schedule permits. I also trust you’ll throw me a life jacket if I get in over my head.

It will be fabulous, because my mid-air wing construction projects always are.

Up, up, and away!

A Gallery of Tush Admiration

September 27, 2010

Something dawned on me this morning. Something more than the usual sun coming up over the eastern horizon.

Something that completely struck me as a bit odd.

I follow the writings of several women bloggers. I like what they write. They are funny, informative, down-to-earth, and so much more.

This morning I realized what exactly “so much more” really is.

Several of these intelligent, earthy women really like their men.

More precisely, they like their man’s backside….

They like their man’s backside appropriately adorned in a pair of nice fitting jeans. Wranglers seem to be the top pick.

The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, has a thing for the perfect frame created by a set of chaps properly fastened over a pair of Wranglers. As she says, she’s just keepin’ it real when she shares photos of Marlboro Man’s attire.

Darcie over at My Modern Country goes so far as to call her man Wranglers. I went over there just a few minutes ago to check on some info, and sure enough, there was a nice photo of some well worn, good-fitting wranglers staring me in the face. Apparently he was helping her can some pickles and her camera lost interest in the cucumbers and dill. If my man was helping me can pickles, I’d probably lose interest in the vegetables, spices, and vinegar, too.

And just when you think it’s safe to peruse photos of someone’s beautiful babies, Mama M. at My Little Life slips in a pair of 501 pockets that don’t belong to a ten year old.

I honestly had to ask myself, am I just a sick puppy with a desperate need to see the married butts of men whose wives adore them enough to brag to the rest of us about what they captured?

Or is it possible that I truly admire and appreciate women who adore their men and will publicly acknowledge that fact?

Seeing as to how I have my own set of Wranglers to appreciate and brag about, I think I’ll opt for the second option. He’s more than I can “handle” most days anyway.

However, let it be known to all that the artistic value of a well packaged and framed portrait of men in denim does NOT go unnoticed!