Vegas, Stink bate, & Moonwalking

Friends and family of Harriet Ann Hyde (aka Granny Annie) gathered today to celebrate her life.  To remember her fun-loving spirit and to comfort each other as we grieve. I read this letter to Granny at the service and I’d love to share it with you. She was quite the character and I’m so fortunate to have had her in my life.

Dear Granny,

You told me years ago that you wanted me to speak at your funeral. Way before you started telling me that you weren’t “long for this world”, you unofficially appointed me to be in charge of your eulogy. You joked that your girls probably wouldn’t have anything nice to say about you. I tried to convince you otherwise but, as with any time you made your mind up, I couldn’t. It is my honor to be able to share a snapshot of who you were and what you mean to me.

I remember the first day I met you.  I was on the 8th grade cheer team with Kris and she hosted a practice for the squad.  We started out at on the lawn of the church across the street. After we practiced for a while, we went to the house, came through the back door and I stepped into the carpeted dining room while Kris was introducing us all to you.  I will never forget that moment. I will never forget your first words to me. You said ‘Girl. I will beat you like a red-headed step-child if you don’t get those shoes off my carpet right now’. I was terrified.  I wanted to go home.  I had no idea what was happening and wasn’t sure if you were serious or joking. At my house we wore our shoes inside and never really HAD to take them off inside, unless they were muddy or wet.  But apparently that was the rule in your house and you were pretty serious about it.

It would be several years later by the time I really got to know you.  Kris and I moved in together the summer after Freshman year of college and you became a regular part of my life. You were always so much fun…always the life of the party. Your quick wit…your spunk….and your sass. All of Kris’s friends loved being around you…and Kim’s too, I’m sure. You had just become a grandma and were loving the time with Lacey and your new name, ‘Granny Annie’….which my kids would eventually come  to know you as, a few years later.

Kris and I lived at several different places over the next few years, and we eventually landed at your house. It took a bit of time to adjust to living with you. There were more rules in your house than I had had growing up, or certainly ever had living with Krissie Jo.  You liked things neat and tidy at your house…super neat and super tidy. And once I figured that out, we actually had a lot of fun under that roof. And you became a mom to me…we became family.

I’m grateful for the many great memories I have of that time in my life. Memories~~like a pile of unorganized pictures within my heart. Snapshots and snippets…..we all have those of each other. Snapshots that offer a glimpse of what it was like to know you:

One of those snapshots shows a hard-working single mom… of the hardest working people I’ve ever known. Often working multiple jobs, physical jobs, to make sure the bills were paid and that your family had everything they needed and even wanted. Kris says she didn’t even know you were poor until she got to jr. high school. Paying your bills and keeping your high credit score was always important to you. It said to the world that you could be trusted…that you would pay your debts and fulfill your obligations. It said to the world that you knew how to take care of business. I took that with me into my own life and I carry that snapshot of you with me still today.

One of those snapshots shows an amazing cook and baker. You were someone who only believed in cooking from scratch and you loved to feed people. You taught me how to make chicken and noodles, apple pie, green beans and new potatoes (when I had never even heard of jowl bacon before). You taught me how to make deviled eggs (with just a BAM of sugar), potato salad, and biscuits and gravy (Bs&Gs). Your Bs&Gs were the best. You used a lot of pepper in your Bs&Gs and my kids actually refused to eat them…..not because they didn’t like pepper, though. They were convinced there were cigarette ashes in your Bs&Gs. More for the rest of us! I carry your love of cooking real food with me…and finding pleasure in feeding my ‘loved ones’. When I make your dishes for the holidays, everyone gets to enjoy a little piece of you.

Another snapshot…..maybe this one is actually several…..shows someone who loved to have fun, wherever you were.  You had fun at work, at home doing chores, or hanging out with friends and family. A snapshot of our fishing ‘tournaments’ where we bet a dollar to see who would catch the most fish….when you made homemade catfish stink bait that was apparently even too stinky for the fish! A snapshot of playing cards, when you’d lick the back of your Ace-in-the-hole, your right bower, and stick it to your forehead, right after you had warned us that it was ‘roaches last meal’…the way you would encourage your partner to call trump by saying ‘hey, Columbus took a chance’. Snapshots of birthday parties, weddings….trips to various taverns around town. Our trip to Vegas…where you had “saved your lunch money” for months so you could lose it all (and maybe even some more) in just a few days.  You had the time of your life and no regrets as you came home with empty pockets.

Mooning people was a favorite pastime for you…even teaching your granddaughter to ‘moom’ people. The students at ISU even got to see your moon from time to time (your boss had to explain why that wasn’t appropriate in that setting).

There were times when you drank too much and that wasn’t always fun for the rest of us. We would call you “Pete and Repeat” when you had too much and would tell us the same stories over and over. I remember the ketchup fight….that lead to the bleach fight…how one of us didn’t end up blind that day, I have no idea. I remember the time you dropped the cherry from your cigarette into your purse and started to yell ‘fire in the hole….fire in the hole”. I learned that drinking Regular Coke (not Diet Coke, not Sprite, not Root Beer) was the best defense against a hangover.

As you got older and less mobile, you found your enjoyment watching fishing shows and westerns on TV, speculating who would win the Voice this season, working puzzles for hours on end, and most recently, playing games on your 2 tablets….one always charging and at the ready for when the other one ran out of juice. I learned that through it all, that regardless of what’s going on, we can have a lot of fun in this life….and I take that snapshot with me.

Another snapshot shows a strong woman; a woman made out of steel. A woman who didn’t take sh*t from anybody (pardon my French). You wouldn’t let your kids, your friends or family, co-workers, or even at times your boss, give you any crap if you knew you didn’t deserve it. You knew how to stand up for yourself. You weren’t shy about letting us know when you disagreed with us or thought we shouldn’t have done what we did. “UUUUUTTTTTT”, you would say. And when you were really mad, we all knew to get the hell out of your way. Your life story contains tragedies that would impact you greatly…your strength allowed you to keep going, even as you carried the weight of heavy sadness with you. The heartbreak of some of those tragedies would never leave you.

A snapshot of a woman who loved your daughters and your grandkids dearly (although I’m not sure the same could be said about your grand-dogs). You wanted the best for your Kim, Kris, Lacey, and Deven. And you tried to instill in them the things you found important. You didn’t always see eye-to-eye, but I always knew there was an underlying deep love. I carry that snapshot of unconditional love with me.

For me, I find solace in the trees. I came across a bench in the woods the day you died. The first line of the plaque on the bench read “Peace shall fall upon you today”….so it was for you that day….and so I pray it is for all those who loved you. On more than one occasion, we talked about your faith…we talked about heaven and hell. We talked about Jesus and God…we talked about forgiving others and being forgiven. You were at peace. You were ready to leave this world behind and meet your maker. That helps us all be at peace.

I can see you mooning us all as you go.  I can see you moonwalking your way right through those pearly gates….dancing your way into eternal life, without the burden of this earthly body. I celebrate that today…I’m so glad you’re no longer suffering. Ram Dass, a spiritual teacher and author, is quoted as saying “we are all just walking each other home”. I’m so grateful I got to walk (and sometimes even moonwalk) with you, for a time.

Much love to you, Granny…you will be missed.


When Inspiration Hits

There are a few times that I’ve felt this lately….most recently in developing yoga workshops. One came while doing my own private practice at home. An idea seemed to jump on my back and somehow enter into my bones. My body seemed to take over in a way that I hadn’t experienced before. It knew what I needed to do next and showed me the way.

The idea became my yoga teacher and guide that day.

I know that my regular private practice of yoga is important not only to me but to how well I’m able to facilitate the classes I lead. I know that it helps me become a more refined practitioner and teacher. And yet, I struggle making the time to do the physical practices of yoga when there is no one there to tell me what to do next. When I have to think about what I should do next. What I love about attending someone else’s class is that they’ve already figured that out….they know the sequence and guide me through it.

I don’t have to think about it…I only have to do what comes next.

And on this day of inspiration, this idea I had WAS my teacher and led me through the movements in such a lovely way. Being on my mat was a signal to the idea that I was open and ready to receive. And it was EASY!!!!  So different than wrestling with an idea that I want to have but perhaps just isn’t really my inspiration. Not that there won’t be some struggle in my creative process but it feels so right when it’s not there. When I have enough space in my life/day/physical space to be open and to receive.

For someone who has always worked by schedules and timelines and to-do lists, I must make space in my calendar for just being. And to greedily protect that time against all the distractions that I find myself being pulled away to. It feels as if this would be a luxury and part of me feels guilty for scheduling time for what may look like nothing…..and what may some days feel like nothing. For there is so much more to do in this world. So much more work to be done and people to see and activities to do.

But what if…..what if……just for a time, I dedicate myself to this open space.

What if….

Dear Fear

I recently joined a writing class and I’d like to share some of my writings as I go.  These will be fairly short and raw writings, so keep that in mind.  This week’s exercise involved a reading about fear and considering our inner critic and all that she fears. Specifically, the fear that starts to emerge when we think about getting outside our comfort zone. I wrote a letter to my fear. Here it is:

Dear Fear, 

I want to first start by saying that I appreciate what you’re doing. I appreciate that you love me so much that you want to keep me safe and protected from the big, bad world of consequences that I so desperately want to run out into. I know that safety carries a high value for you but please recognize there is also a cost to safety. Being solely focused on safety will limit me from experiencing much of what the world has to offer.

The good, the bad, and the ugly experiences remind me that I AM ALIVE!

This life is so short and precious and deserves to be experienced. For our own benefit and maybe even as a tribute to those who aren’t fortunate to get the opportunity. 

Yes~~there are many things that could go wrong. There are also SO many things that can go right. Please give me the space I need to explore this big, beautiful world of possibilities and support me, regardless of the consequences I find. Please know that I hear your warnings, but won’t always (or hardly ever?) take your path of caution.

Much Love, 


This was a great exercise and I encourage you all to try it yourself.  What do you fear, deep down, when you think of doing something new and different….something you’re not sure you would be good at or should even bother with? What is your fear trying to say to you? Is it good advice or advice that might be better to set aside? How do you respond?

To you, I also say, Much Love,


My God Box

A few years ago, I read a lot by author Anne Lamott. She is a lovely human who has had many struggles over the years and who bravely, comically, and candidly shares her heart and her experiences through her writings. She shared that she has a God Box – something she turns to when she has no idea what to do with a situation in her life. When she’s done all she can to fix or help or soften and she hasn’t got where or what she wants, she writes the problem down on a piece of paper and puts it in her God Box.  It’s her way of turning it over to someone or something that can handle it when she no longer can. It allows her worry to lessen or disappear and it recognizes, in a very physical way, that there are many things (all things?) that are very much so out of our own control. Not everything in life can be fixed to your own liking solely through hard work and perseverance. Some things need divine intervention and even then won’t always have the outcome you hoped for. It’s a lessen that is learned more easily in theory, in our minds, in our logical thinking….but much harder to embody when it’s something that is close to our hearts.

Over the past few years, I’ve turned to my God Box (GB) so many times.  My GB is a beautiful stained glass box that one of the kids, or maybe even one of their friends, made in high school. Often, it was through tears that I wrote my concerns down, folded them up, held them in prayer, and then put them in the box. As it did for Lamott, this ritual allowed me to let go…the physical act of turning my problem over to a power that is beyond my comprehension allowed me to release being consumed with concern. It didn’t mean that I stopped caring…just that I had turned my concern into faith. I had blatantly made the statement that I recognized I didn’t have control of the outcome and put my energy toward having faith that it would work out. It took the power away from the concern…it took power away from the fear. It freed my energy up for the work that I could have impact on…the things I did have a plan for. The things that actually needed my energy at the time.

The 8-limbed path of yoga has a practice called Isvara Pranidhana. That is a Sanskrit phrase or term that translates to surrender and devotion to a higher power. Deborah Adele writes “Isvara Pranidhana, the jewel of surrender, presupposes that there is a divine force at work in our lives.” As in the ancient yogic principles, we see this faith in many (all?) formal religions. Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”  We do not know our paths or have the control we think we do and there is a peace that comes with that recognition.

fullsizerender-6-editedToday, I opened my GB and one by one, I read the concerns I had deposited. As I read them, I relived them for a moment, and then burned them symbolizing their passing as a concern of mine. Most of what was in there has worked itself out in one way or the other. Not always in the manner I would have wanted….not always without hardship and heartbreak. But one way or the other, the concerns have passed. We have come out on the other side of them and we are fine. Perhaps there were important lessons learned because of the heartbreak…perhaps the result of the situation was just what someone else needed or needed to learn. I continue to have faith, even when I don’t understand. This ritual of burning my worries and concerns was a great reminder of the life I’ve lived over the past several months. It was a reminder that I’ve been blessed with people, situations, struggles, joys of which I cared deeply. I’m honored to have had these gifts to pour my heart and soul into. I continue to pray and have faith for those things that are still working themselves out. I’m encouraged that what remains of my concern is just a small pile of ash and that my GB sits empty for now. I take all of this with me into the new year.fullsizerender-5

My wish for you in the new year is that you find your own ways of cultivating your faith. May you be reminded of that which you cared most deeply about. May you more quickly recognize when to surrender. May you find peace in the surrender.

~~Namaste – the light-love-divinity that is within me is also in you~~



9 Approaches to Radical Self-Care

Do you find yourself in the same position I’m in? There is a lot going on right now. My life has so. much. change. happening. It’s hard to keep up! Some of it is chosen/intentional and much of it is not.  There is the normal everyday change we can’t seem to get away from: new technologies, holiday season, new recipes, new friends, new fashions, new hair, etc. And then there are the big changes: job changes, presidential changes, kids leave home, AND a house change. Go big or go home, right?  We should probably start looking for a new truck, too.

While I’m not a brain scientist, I have heard one speak about how the brain functions in response to change and I know enough to know that the amount of change in my life is enough to throw a person for a proverbial loop. Like I said, I chose a lot of this change and I don’t regret it. In fact, I’m quite grateful for it. But change is change. Thanks to Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor, I know that I need to take precautions to protect myself from the negative effects on my system that this amount of change can bring.

My response? Radical Self-Care

I’m intentionally making sure that every, single day I do something big or small (or multiple things) to calm the systems of my body. I have no shame in being aggressive with my efforts to protect myself. Here are some examples of my counter-strike:

  • I bought a 2017 State Park Pass – we will enjoy even more time with the trees with this little baby.  And trees are my reset.  So happy that the new house is also surrounded by them.
  • Yoga workshops and classes – how many can I fit in/afford?  I don’t know, but throw another one in there!
  • Tai Chi – I’ve wanted to try this ancient practice for years and am enjoying it tremendously.
  • Bubble Baths – they’ve been a regular part of my life for some time and the relaxation that comes from slipping into the warm bubbles never disappoints.
  • Meditation – even 10 minutes can bring benefits.
  • Disconnect – turning off the technology can bring a massive relief. I think the effects of how connected we are in this society is a fascinating topic that will provide material for PhD candidates for so many years. While I’m not ready to walk away from it completely, I am trying to find a happy medium (and my love/hate relationship with Facebook could take up so many blog posts).  What I do know: the more I disconnect, the more relaxed I feel. So I’m paying attention to that.
  • Pranayama – one of the 8 limbs to Patanjali’s yogic path, the breath is one of the simplest ways to regulate your system. Take a moment to notice your breath.  How deep is it?  How nourishing is it?  Slow it down….lengthen it….draw it in deeper.  You’ll notice a difference in no time.
  • My own yogic offerings – I’m having a lot of fun working on new sequences, new classes, and a few workshops for 2017 (watch for those and JOIN me!!).
  • Cleaning toilets (and other things) – what could toilets have to do with self-care?? When there are things happening that you feel you have little/no control over, it often helps to focus your efforts on what you do have control over.  I may not have all the answers about what the future holds for us but I can know that we have clean toilets.

Just like the airline stewards tell us…put your own mask on before you help others.

I invite you to join me in radical self-care. Yours may look little different than mine but be intentional with how you care for yourself today. What restores and rejuvenates you? Know it…explore it…practice it.  You’re worth it and your world deserves and needs the best ‘you’ you’ve got in there.

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