Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hot, Hot, Hot!

Hot, Hot, Hot!

I just returned home last week from a mini-vacation in Arizona. One of our nieces got married, and we went to cheer her on. It was an incredibly meaningful and sacred wedding,  Erin was the definition of radiant, and her husband, David, was lit from within with joy. We were so glad to be a part of the celebration, and really enjoyed meeting the couple's friends and David's extended family. We are so happy for the new Mr. and Mrs. Plummer!
                                                                              Here       Awwwwwwwwwwww...

I had never been to Arizona before, and coming from lush, green North Carolina, the terrain gave me quite an environmental shock. I have always imagined deserts as smooth white sand. No. Not there, at least. It was more like...ummm....regular dirt with some scrubby bushes scattered around. Not nearly as romantic as I'd pictured. Not bad, just different.

                                                                             Here     Where's the Sheik of Araby?

And hot. We were there during a record heat spell. It was 99 degrees the day of the wedding. Whooee. I went running twice, and let me tell you, heat does take the perkiness out of me. I "glowed" all over Tucson. ("Glow" is the Southern Belle term for perspiration.) But it's that dry heat you've heard so much about, so it evaporated immediately, leaving me like Lot's wife -- a long, tall salt lick.

We saw some cool sights, though. Prairie dogs were everywhere. They looked like tailless squirrels to me. I swear one was chasing me as I ran through the rose garden in the park. I really had to be careful I didn't step in a hole.

                                                                                Here      He's looking for me....

We also saw some giant  saguaro cacti. It was really interesting -- birds flew in and out of multiple holes in them.  There were a lot of other cacti too. I almost leaned up against one that looked like a tree while I was taking a panting, gasping break from running. Thankfully, we did NOT see any scorpions or tarantulas.

                                                                               Here   I did not run into any of these...

We may have seen some dancing elephants, since we spent a lot of time out by the gorgeous pool, sipping some refreshing drinks. It was good to have some down time and relax for a few days.

                                                                                 Here     I think I put some sunscreen on him!

My half marathon is coming up May 19. After running only a total of 8 1/2  miles in Tucson, I am really beginning to worry about how I am going to manage 13.1 in the humid North Carolina heat.  Any tips or advice from anyone?

I just learned that May 19 is also the date for my son's prom. He is our last child; this is his first prom.  It's really important that we be here. We don't want to miss it -- and yet, I've trained so hard for this half. The race is 4 hours away from where we live. I'm going to see if I can manage to do both -- run the race, leave as soon as I finish, and get back home in time for pictures. Maybe I can change into SuperSpeedyMom!! Has anyone else been faced with this kind of dilemma, and if so, what did you do?

                                                                                Here   Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! No, that's me.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

It's Time to Get Loud


"It's a great big world and you'll see
It could pass you by at light speed
You've got one life, one life
Don't stop, live it up."

Since the first time I saw this video by Canadian band Hedley, I haven't been able to get it out of my head. I think it has resonated so strongly with me because this is the conclusion I've come up with after a year of soul-searching introspection.  Not an earth-shaking realization, I know -- but after years of sorrowful events and an illness that left me practically bedridden for twelve months, I have discovered that I want to live it up.

This is an incredibly foreign notion for me. I was raised (and still am) Catholic, and Catholics are notorious for taking their suffering and self-denial very seriously. I did, for the majority of my life. But I have been evolving lately in my idea of life and how I want to live mine. 

I now feel that God has given us this stunningly beautiful world and wants us to appreciate and enjoy  it with a passion. To have fun. To seek happiness. To laugh, to sing, to love, to pray in that way. Our lives are so brief -- falling stars streaking across the universe, burning out in a few seconds -- that I want my joyride across time to be filled with every thrilling, sparkling, exuberant experience I can possibly imagine. 

One life.
Don't let it pass you by.
It's time to get loud.


Friday, April 13, 2012


Just because it is SO much fun and  you can't help yourself, let's jump up and dance with Stevie Wonder on Soul Train first!!


I'm not superstitious. I don't believe that certain days or animals or actions intrinsically have bad luck. I do believe you can think  your way into creating bad circumstances, but that they exist on their own in the universe -- no.


My mother (bless her heart) kept a running list of things that would bring disaster down upon us. You couldn't talk about a dream before breakfast or it would come true. Black cats crossing the road in front of you were portents of evil to come. Never, ever walk under ladders and don't open an umbrella in the house. Breaking a mirror would give you 7 years' bad luck. If you spilled salt, you had to pick it up and throw it over your shoulder. The list went on and on. It was wearisome trying to keep up with everything, and I realized early on that following all the mumbo-jumbo took a great deal of time and sure did keep you from living life.


So, I hereby declare ArmsWideOpen a superstition-free zone.

That said, I want to unveil on this Friday the 13th our first Famy Friday. I wrote about this in my very first post:

All negatives will be relegated to the "Infamy Netherworld" and you won't find them here. Only famy found here! I'll be having "Famy Fridays," where I'd love it if you would share the positives that happened to you during your week, or that you did for others. I firmly believe it enriches us all to be reminded of the good things in life and share our gratitude for them.

I'll start off:  I signed up for my first half-marathon! I am absolutely terrified, but incredibly excited at the same time. I'll be running May 19 in Jacksonville, NC, home of the Camp Lejeune Marines. The race is Run for the Warriors, which raises funds for service members wounded during the war on terrorism. It's a tremendously good cause, and an inspiring race. One year ago, I ran my first 5k there. That route led through a neighborhood next to the town high school, and the streets were lined with people sitting out in lawn chairs in their front yard, waving American flags and cheering us on. It made me feel I was doing something good and brave and patriotic. I can't think of a place more perfect to run my first half marathon.

It absolutely amazes me that one year ago I ran my first 5k and now I'm going for a half marathon. I say it again, I never exercised AT ALL, and now my life has been transformed. If you want to do something, you can. Don't be afraid. I'm proof that you can achieve things that you never thought were possible. Take that first step!!

So, what wonderful things have you done or seen this week? I'm eager to hear from you! Have an active weekend, and don't go walking under any ladders today. Not because it's Friday the 13th, but because that's just not a smart thing to do under any circumstances.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Guzzle, Slurp, Chug!!!


Drink the wild air.

That's what I want us all to do.

Last night I got the sad news that a very dear former neighbor is in critical condition and not expected to make it to Easter. She is in her 90s and lived a good life. But still...

But still...

My heart is heavy.

I am not good at letting go of people. My father died when I was a sophomore in college and he was a mere 49. Now that I am 53, it is hard to carry the knowledge that I outlived him -- to imagine not having these past 4 years, not seeing my last child graduate from high school, not being at my children's weddings, not welcoming precious new members into our family, not celebrating milestones with my husband. I have been so blessed to have had this time with Vic and our kids, and I pray that we all delight in many more years of joy and laughter together. But just never know.

I have had several of these good-byes in my life. My father first, a life-changing blow to a daddy's girl. (The hardest farewell to him was on my wedding day 2 years later, when I slow-stepped down that endless center aisle in the church by myself; it was his place to give me away and I didn't want anyone else to make that walk with me.) Then, later, I had 6 miscarriages, each loss a shiv to my heart. My grandfather passed away on a Valentine's Day shortly after I had our first daughter. My grandmother, who regaled me with stories of Jesus, lived an entire century. (Can you imagine her life and what she saw??) My father-in-law, who was Dad to me during all my long fatherless years, passed away 6 years ago. And most recently, my sister-in-law, the sister I never had, died unexpectedly and awfully, also only 49.

With each one, I had to figuratively pry my fingers open to let them go.  I do not want to say good-bye to the ones I love. (Who does?) I do not want to go through what's left of my existence longing to see their faces, yearning to hear their voices, wishing to say "I love you" one more time. I want to hang on, keep a piece of them with me, feel them close by my side.

And I have learned, with each death, something new all over again. They do not leave. They are tucked safely inside, living yet in the mansion of my heart, an infinite and enduring presence that can never die. Death, the great divider, cannot separate us after all. They are with me in all the choices I make, the words I speak, the life I live and the love I give.

This is why I urge you constantly to live life with arms wide open: I have learned how fragile, how tenuous the bond to life can be. In the tiniest, most diminutive fraction of a second, your life can explode with cataclysmic change. You will never be the same person you were. Life can still be absolutely amazing, filled with the hopeful possibility of happiness to come, but it will be altered. You will learn to live in a new world. There are no guarantees, no assurances that life now  will be there later. We are fireflies, winking out in a great darkness, and waking to shine brightly on the other side.

So drink deeply of that wild air and get deliriously drunk  on it. Guzzle, slurp, chug it all down. Love with every fiber of your being. Tell people you adore them every chance you get -- no, go out and MAKE those chances happen; do not wait. Shout it from the rooftops. Spread cheer. Laugh from your belly. Give bear hugs. Dance. Be kind. Embrace everything. Don't just follow your bliss -- live it with all the fiery passion that is in your soul. Seize every opportunity to fill your life and the ones of those around you with remarkable experiences and joyful memories. Remember your incredible, bountiful blessings every day. Forget about old hurts, past grudges, the anger of  bygone moments -- there simply isn't TIME for that anymore. Each second is counting down in our hourglass of life, and when that last grain of sand flows at lightning speed through the neck of the bottle, there's no turning it over and starting again.                                                                         


LIVE YOUR LIFE. Start right now. Already precious seconds have flitted by.