Tuesday, June 18, 2013

For My Children

Dear Jessica, Brendan, Ashton and Christian,

Two years after I first had this wild notion, I finally did it. I took the plunge and registered for my first marathon. Yikes!!!

My goal since I finished the Couch to 5k program has been to do a full by the time I'm 55.  In  running Disney this January, I'll eke under that by just two days.

I want you to be there with me. Dad, all four of you, with your spouses, kids -- the whole happy, tumbling, chaotic mob of you. I want to share this milestone in my life with the people I love most. I want you to see me cross that finish line.

After all, you've been with me through so many events and occurrences in my life -- the good, the bad and, yes, the ugly. The most amazing  and happiest: the days you were born, although of course none of you remember that. You've been there through the years that I was learning to be a mom...how to hold you, bathe you, feed you, protect you, teach you, love you. 

You were my world. 

You have seen me at my lowest -- the times I was tired, short with you, yelled at you, tuned you out when I should have been listening. The times we argued. Wounded each other. But through that, loved. Now I would like for you to be there to witness something powerful.

All the good that I have tried to do in my life, I have done for you. I've tried to show you what love, faith, honesty, responsibility, empathy and dedication mean. Now I'd like to show you one more thing.

By the time I run this marathon, I will have put in well over 4 months of training. I will have run hundreds of miles. I'll have sweated buckets, thrown up, cried, fallen, gotten back up and run some more. It's going to be grueling, I already know that. I am not fast, athletic or confident.

But here is what I want you to know. 

I want you to know it's never too late to chase your dreams. No matter what life hands you, you always have a choice. You can follow any path you want, write your own chapter, make your own movie, sing your own song. Age doesn't crush your dreams and desires. Age doesn't mean you have to surrender, let go of what you want to do in life. It's all there for the taking. Reach out and work hard for your dreams.

You can do whatever you set your mind to do. Fear is a liar and whispers relentlessly in your head. Refuse to listen to it, and boot it right out of there. Yes, I am terrified about undertaking this race. But I am going to spit in fear's face, look deep into its eyes, and see for myself that it is a fraud. Do I know I can run a marathon? No. Most days I am petrified I will fail. But I know I am going to give it everything I've got to finish, no matter what. Even if I have to crawl.

I want you to know what you're made of. You come from a long line of strong men and women, and I don't mean physical prowess. We have guts. We do what has to be done. We endure; we prevail. And that's in your very marrow.

I want you to see the value of commitment. That by working hard, sticking to something even when you don't feel like it, doing the same tough things day in and day out, you will succeed. Whether it's in a race, a job, your marriage, or life, perseverance and passion will see you through. 

I want you to understand the significance of faith. Having faith in something bigger than yourself gives life meaning. It forces you to think outside your own self, nurtures compassion, expands love. Have faith in yourself, your family, and God. Not necessarily in that order.

I want you, most of all,  to know and remember my love for you. You are all grown now, with your own lives, and the busyness that all our separateness entails. We don't get to talk to each other every day. Some of us don't see each other as often as we'd like. I want you to know that I carry each of you in my heart, every single day, and I will be taking you along with me during every step of this race.

While I run, I'll be praying for the special people in my life. I will be dedicating a mile to each of you. You all have meant everything to me, and your lives have made me who I am. I will thank God for the gift of your life, for the privilege of being your mother, and for the joy of seeing who you have become.

You are my world.

I wish I could give it to you. But instead, I'll try to give you the best of me. I love you.

Always,  Mom


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Company With Sole

I am super excited to announce that I am now an ambassador for Kindrunner.com! This company, whose tagline is, "It pays to be kind", is the first socially responsible ecommerce site for runners who want to minimize their environmental impact and make a difference in the world.

The Environmental Factor
Have you ever wondered what happens to your old running shoes when you toss them in the trash? According to Mike Conforti, one of the co-founders of Kindrunner.com, most shoes end up in a landfill less than 10 miles from your home. A whopping 50 years later, they're still there AND in wearable condition, because it takes up to 100 years to biodegrade. Think about how many shoes you have -- and then multiply that by the millions of people who run.

For each pair of shoes purchased from Kindrunner.com, your old pair of running shoes can be returned and then you'll receive a $10 Kindness Cash Reward credit. (You can redeem it instantly or accumulate them over time.) You're also encouraged to reuse packaging  materials when you return your old shoes, so the shipping process is environmentally friendly too!

The Human Kindness Factor
Here's the best part. Most running shoes are still in wearable condition when they're discarded. They might not be good enough to run in, but for someone who has no shoes at all, they are perfectly fine to wear. Kindrunner.com, through its global shoe donation partnerships with Soles4Souls and The MORE Foundation Group, ensures that your old shoes go DIRECTLY to someone in need. These shoes will provide basic transportation and help prevent injury and disease in developing countries. Who doesn't get excited over that???

Here's The Kicker
Kindrunner.com's Virtual Running Shop (tm)  helps you find the best shoe for you. It's filled with expert staff videos profiling each product offered. A durability mileage rating and comparable alternatives are provided for each product as well. And if you need more help, Professor Fit (tm) and his experienced staff are always available so you'll find that perfect running shoe you're looking for. You are going to find what you need at Kindrunner.com.

Best of All
The first 500 customers who purchase shoes will get a free pair of running socks with every pair of shoes purchased FOR LIFE. So go check out Kindrunner.com. It's the perfect pairing of helping both the planet AND someone less fortunate -- while doing something all runners love to do -- buying new shoes!! It doesn't get much better than this.

Visit Kindrunner.com, and connect at Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

UNSTOPPABLE

I'm participating in this year's A-Z challenge, and so will be posting daily about a subject focusing on a letter of the alphabet.




                                                                             



This is the year I will be unstoppable. After a rocky start with my sprained ankle, I've slacked off and have not been as dedicated as I was last year. I set so many amazing goals for 2013, and if I keep this pace, I will never reach them.

I KNOW this path leads to disappointment in myself. So:

Enough is enough. 

I am going to recommit, push myself harder, eat better, lose weight that has been creeping back on, look for more ways to get outside my comfort zone....in short, I'm going to be stronger, braver, kinder and unstoppable. This is the year I will be fierce.


GAME.
ON.







Wednesday, May 1, 2013

TRUTH

I'm participating in this year's A-Z challenge, and so will be posting daily about a subject focusing on a letter of the alphabet.

I was totally blown away the other day when I read the following passage from Eckhart Tolle:

“What a liberation to realize that the “voice in my head” is not who I am. Who am I then? The one who sees that.” 

All my life, I've listened to that voice tell me bad things about myself. That I'm not pretty, that I'm stupid,  that I'm not loving, that I'm not kind, that I'm not as good as anyone else. I believed this voice inside my head. After all, it was the "real me" being honest, right? I knew the hidden, dark side to my soul, right? I knew the reality of who I am, right? That voice was right, right?

Even though....
People had never run screaming from me in revulsion when I walked into a room.

Even though....
I graduated from one of the top 10 journalism schools in the nation.

Even though....
It gave me great joy to help others, and I'd been involved with numerous charitable activities over the years.

Even though....
I helped the homeless, volunteered at schools and church, stood up for the voiceless, and was there for  friends and those I don't know.

Even though....
I had been successful in so many endeavors.

That voice was right, right?? Right???

So I felt absolutely thunderstruck when I read that quote. What if that voice -- WHAT IF -- it really wasn't who I was?? What if I really wasn't the "bad" person I was always telling myself was the real me? What if.....????

My world shifted. Something cracked open. Light broke through.

TRUTH.

I am a good and decent person. 

I love.

I am.

Truth.

I will no longer hide it.

I will live it.

Friday, April 26, 2013

SNORT

I'm participating in this year's A-Z challenge, and so will be posting daily about a subject focusing on a letter of the alphabet.

They say laughter is the best medicine, and if that's true, then I'm doped to the gills. I love to laugh, and I love being funny. It's like main-lining heroin. (I've never actually done heroin, so I'm just guessing here. It's called artistic license.)

Anyway, the best laughter is the kind you just can't control -- it has a crazed mind of its own, and you're helplessly in over your head. You giggle, you guffaw, you roar from the top of the precipice-- right there on the edge, you lose balance, topple over and dive right in. And next comes... the dreaded SNORT. That sets you off all over again. You laugh till tears run down your cheeks (and if you're a woman, they may run down your legs too. TMI? Come on, you know what I'm talking about. >wink<)

Milk spewing out of your nose, slapping your thigh (not your mama), holding your aching stomach, begging someone to STOP, stop, wait a minute, I've got to BREATHE -- man, those are signs of a good laugh and a good time. Laughter is a delight, a joy, the cherry on the top of life, a romp of the soul. I highly recommend it.

                                                                                                                              Who doesn't love laughing babies?        







                    

Thursday, April 25, 2013

RELAXIN'

I'm participating in this year's A-Z challenge, and so will be posting daily about a subject focusing on a letter of the alphabet.

                                                                       



Ahhhhhhhhhh...
Antigua
How I hated to leave you....
But now it's back to
REALITY







QUEST

I'm participating in this year's A-Z challenge, and so will be posting daily about a subject focusing on a letter of the alphabet.

I'm on a quest for life.

I've lived a safe little existance until now.

Now I have a raging desire. A roaring unquenchable thirst for adventure. To pack what's left of my time with experience--

Sights, sounds, tastes, touches
Feeling, laughter, love, and joy.

The Native Americans had something like this -- when a boy was making the transition into manhood, he would go on a Spirit Quest.

In some ways, my journey is similar. By challenging myself to try new things, to push myself out of what is my known world, I am discovering who I really am. For the first time in 54 years, I am beginning to like this daring person I'm becoming.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

OBTUSE

I'm participating in this year's A-Z challenge, and so will be posting daily about a subject focusing on a letter of the alphabet.

I'll admit it -- when it comes to technology, I am a total idiot. Yep, that's me, sitting on a stool over in the corner, weathing a huge, pointy dunce cap.

How do people learn about these things?? It was easy when my kids were all living at home. I'd be on my computer and it would hit me -- I need to insert this photo into my post! "Kiiiiiiii-iiiiiiiiiidsssss! Who's home??? Come help me!!!!" And one of them would trot in, heaving a huge, indulgent sigh, grab my laptop, and with a few clicks and lightning-fast speed typing, it would magically be accomplished.

Oh, I would ask them how to do it myself. But they'd give me that look. The one that said, "I have no desire to spend the rest of the evening wasting 3 hours of my precious life dumbing this down for you, when in approximately 7 minutes you will have completely forgotten the entire procedure and will be yelling for me to do it all over again."

I can't blame them. They're like Robert Oppenheimer trying to teach quantum tunneling to a two-year-old Forrest Gump. It's sad. I need your pity.

I'm trying, though. I recently hired an amazing guru to evaluate my blog. The first thing she had me do was fill out a detailed questionnaire. Those were some great questions, and I was eager to show how intelligent I am. The only thing was, it wouldn't let me copy and paste into an email. (Yes! I an quite the copy-and-paster!) Finally I had to break down and shoot her an email (more techno-talk, if you're not familiar) and ask how I was supposed to get my answers to her. No, not by osmosis, as I was beginning to believe, but "in the cloud."

Oh. I've heard of this "cloud" thing. I absolutely do not grasp the concept. Luckily, all I had to do was simply type my responses RIGHT ONTO THE DOCUMENT. Genius!!!!

So after that faux pas, where I once again felt like the afore-mentioned F.G., she completed her evaluation and sent me several pages of outstanding suggestions. I then had about 10 days to submit any questions I had.

Well, my questions were longer than the report. And let me preface that by saying she explained everything in simple terms, using great detail, giving me links to tutorials, and good examples, and so forth. The problem was not with the report, the problem was -- as usual -- with me.

I have so little knowledge. If you're a Game of Thrones fan, then you'll understand when I say, "You know nothing, Jon Snow." I was embarrassed to even submit some of the questions. But hey, that's the only way I'm going to learn, right? At least when my head is in "the cloud," I can't see her give me "the look."

So, as I said, she gave me incredibly valuable advice, and I've already begun implementing some of them. It might take me several years to figure out how to do them all. "Oh, kiiiiiiiiiiii-iiiiiiiidssssss! Can anyone come home to help Mom?"

PRIDE

I'm participating in this year's A-Z challenge, and so will be posting daily about a subject focusing on a letter of the alphabet.


Pride is one of the seven deadly sins, which leads to this conundrum -- if you have pride as a vice, aren't you proud that you have one of the major ones? I mean, if you're going to sin, go big or go home, right?

Now, I'm not urging you to go out and sin -- Heaven forbid!! But I feel like having a little pride is, as Martha Stewart says (and she should know), a "good thing." The key here is little. Having pride in your appearance, your home, your nation -- all these can be admirable if not taken to the extreme. There are always crazies out there who ruin it for the rest of us.

But pride in who you are, how far you've come, what you've overcome, what you've accomplished through hard work and dedication -- these can be the stepping stones to lead you to success. Be proud of yourself! And take pride in your pride.

NAKED

I'm participating in this year's A-Z challenge, and so will be posting daily about a subject focusing on a letter of the alphabet.

When I started my blog, I pledged to myself that I'd always give you the unvarnished truth. That means sometimes that I have to admit to things that I'd rather not share. If I've had a great race, or had a fun time, or eaten some great meal, or found a product I love, I let you know. But if I completely failed at some effort, or have had something really tragic or horrible happen, I share that too.

That means I often feel like I'm totally exposed. After all, I've never met most of you -- many of us have only Facebook or blogging relationships. I think these friendships are no less sincere than those I have in my "real" life. But still, I often feel I'm putting myself -- my feelings, my soul -- at risk when I'm so transparent. But if I'm not honest, then what's the point of writing down the storeis of my life? I place myself in your hands. I trust. I'll always give you the naked truth.

MANIFESTO

I'm participating in this year's A-Z challenge, and so will be posting daily about a subject focusing on a letter of the alphabet.

My husband and I are going on vacation to Antigua. We're excited, not only because we've never been there before, but also because we rarely take a break this time of year. We're looking forward to an entirely new experience. 

So, my mini-manifesto is simple this week:

To be in the moment.
To enjoy this precious time alone with my husband.
To embrace new adventures.
To simply relax.

We're going to wine and dine and lie by the pool and dig our toes in the sand and listen to the ocean and feel the sun on our faces. We're going to sleep late and take afternoon naps and run on the beach. And best of all, we're going to remember why it is that we still love each other so deeply after all these years.

                                                                         
                                                                                                                                                                                 Here


The Boston Marathon Murders

Let's not sugarcoat it -- this was an act of the utmost cowardice and malice. We don't know who carried it out and we don't know why 3 people were murdered and over 175 injured. But we do know -- evil will never stop us.

From Boston Marathon: A Loss of Innocence from Runner's World Magazine:
"...Marathon running is a sport of goodwill. It's the only sport in the world where if a competitor falls, the others will pick him or her up. It's the only sport in the world open to absolutely everyone, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity or any other division you can think of. It's the only occasion when thousands of people assemble, often in a major city, for a reason that is totally peaceful, healthy and well-meaning. It's the only sport in the world where no one ever boos anybody. If you're losing your faith in human nature, look at marathon crowds, standing for hours with no seating, no cover, no bathrooms, to cheer thousands of strangers."

Two years ago, I began running for the first time, an overweight, older housewife with no experience, and I was welcomed into the community of runners as one of them. They've given me acceptance, confidence, advice, friendship and much, much more than I could ever give back. I am honored to call myself a runner and be amongst this group of incredible athletes.

We will not let this stop us. Evil will not take away the joy we have for this sport. Evil will not prevail. We are runners. We run. It's what we do.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

LIEBSTER Award

I'm participating in this year's A-Z challenge, and so will be posting daily about a subject focusing on a letter of the alphabet.


                                                                           

I'm blowing big kisses to Ashley Lynn who writes A Woman's Journey Back to Army Strong, for choosing me as one of her recipients of the Liebster Award. Happpppppppppppppy dance!!

"Liebster" is German for "dearest" and it's a blogger to blogger award for those having 200 or fewer followers, so they can get more exposure. Well, I'm ALL about exposing myself, so -- I graciously accept. I will restrain myself from climbing up onto the nearest podium and tearfully proclaiming, "You like me!! You really LIKE me!"

                                                                           
                                                                                                                 Here
Of course, there are rules, always rules:
1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
2, Link back to the blogger who presented the award to you.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Present the Liebster Blog Award to 11 blogs of 200 followers or less, who you feel deserve to be noticed, and leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been nominated.
5. Answer the 11 questions the blogger presented you with, create 11 questions for the blogs you are nominating, and list 11 facts about yourself.

Ashley came up with some interesting questions, so here goes.

1.  Why did you start your blog?
I began my blog in February 2012 because the last of my four children was leaving home for college and I finally had time to put two coherent thoughts together. I love telling stories, and spilling incredibly embarrassing personal details, so it was natural that I would start blogging.

2. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was in second grade, I decided I wanted to be a teacher. However, after my Pulitzer-prize winning short story was written that year (How The Mouse Got Its Long Tail), my career as a writer was born. In the sixth grade, I rewrote Shakespeare's Julius Caesar in a more condensed form, dumbing it down so my peers could comprehend it -- yes, that's just how nerdy I was. After writing for my high school newspaper, I majored in journalism at UNC-Chapel Hill.

3. What are you currently looking forward to?
So many great things are happening soon! I just did  the Cooper River Bridge Run April 6, my husband and I are vacationing soon, and then best of all, my oldest son and his wife are expecting their first child together in May. Can't wait to get my hands on that grandbaby! I've got several fun runs coming up as well, including an Electric Run, a Glow in the Night run, and a Zombie Run. Fun!!

4. What is one of your current goals?
One of my goals is to run a marathon by the time I am 55, so I am eyeing Disney in January 2014. I'll begin training for it in the fall.

5. What is your biggest pet peeve?
Oh dear, just one? I despise it when people are unkind to each other. It's so easy to be nice, but it seems that the culture today applauds people who insult or hurt each other. I find that deplorable. Oh, and my husband leaving the toilet seat up. That's a major pet pee-ve (groooaan).

6. Where are some places you have traveled/lived?
I was born in Richmond, VA, and have lived in North Carolina most of my life. My husband and I have been to the Cayman Islands, Ireland and Italy, and we took a river cruise from Amsterdam to Vienna. I've also been to France. We love to travel, and hope to do more of it in the future, before we become too decrepit.

7. Describe yourself in four words.
Exuberant, altruistic, funny, rebellious, and adventurous. Yeah, I know that's five -- see, I AM rebellious.

8. How did you come up with your blog name?
Actually, my oldest daughter suggested it. We were bouncing ideas around and it seemed to encompass my philosophy of embracing all that life offers.

9. What are five things on your bucket list?
Besides running a marathon, I'd like to see the Northern Lights, go fly fishing in Montana, zip line through a forest, visit Hawaii, and see Yellowstone. If it were possible, I would also like to eat as much sea salt caramel gelato as I can and never gain a pound.

10. What is your dream job?
I would love to be an artist and have a studio in a barn on my dream farm. I'd write poetry and novels, create mixed-media art, and continue blogging and doing my Facebook pages and groups. I'd have a lot of alpacas, rescue animals and we'd grow our own food. We might starve though, because I did NOT inherit my grandmother Vonnie Mae's green thumb. My husband says that when I go to a nursery, all the plants begin silently screaming, "No! Not me! Don't pick me!!" So maybe there should be a farmer's market close by my farm.

11. If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?  
You know those little jagged boxes with words inside like "Bam!" that are in superhero comics? I'd have those. (Are we surprised that my superpower has to do with words???) Then, when I was out living my "normal" life, being a superhero in disguise, I'd come up against, say, hatred, with my invisible, invincible  shield and "Whammo!" -- I'd obliterate it. Bigotry: "Kappppowwwww!" Rudeness: "Blammm!" And you could read it all right over my head.


11 Fascinating Facts About Me
1.  I've been married to my high school sweetheart for 32 years and we have 4 children, grown now. At some point, I home schooled them all.
2. My nickname is "Bubbles," for reasons I will not disclose. Lol!
3. I'm 54 years old, and began running 2 years ago after being a couch potato my entire life.
4. In the past 5 months, I ran my first and second half marathon.
5. I am crazy about weddings! I love to help plan them, and create things for them (guest books, table cards, cake decor, favors, etc.)
6. I taught adult religious education for over 16 years as a volunteer.
7. Also about 16 years ago, I began a book club so I would have someone to talk to about what I was reading.
8. I am an idea person. I'm always thinking about new careers, inventing things, and thinking deep thoughts. It takes up a lot of time. ;)
9. I'm also a dog person. We have a Lab/golden retriever mix (Sunny) who is about 13, a pug (Vespucci) who is 11, and an English bulldog (Boudreaux) who's 9. We also have a rat, Perignon, but that's a story for another post.
10. When I commit to something, I go all in. When my youngest daughter was in Girl Scouts and had to sell cookies at Walmart, I was the one dressed as a giant Samoa cookie, dancing my heart out in the parking lot. Yeah, I sold a lot of cookies that way.
11. My grandmother lived to be 100, and I fully intend on beating her record.


Questions For My Nominees
1. Why did you start your blog?
2. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
3. Would you support me in my endeavor to be Queen of our country?
4. What is your dream that you're afraid to talk about but secretly think about all the time?
5. Of course, because I love to read, what's your favorite book?
6. If you had total control of the world, what are 3 things that you would do immediately, aside from crowning me Queen?
7. What is one goal that you achieved that you are most proud of (not counting family)?
8. What are you working hardest at right now?
9. What is the most hilarious thing that has ever happened to you?
10. Finish this sentence: In 2013, I will _____________________.
11. They're making a movie about your life. Who would  you choose to play your part?

And -- ta da!! -- the moment we've all been waiting for!!  My nominees for the Liebster Award are:

Movin' It With Michelle...Running, Recipes, and Real Life Adventures!
In the Box, Out of the Box
Jen's Ink Pen!
Curiosity and Cute Shoes
The Ongoing Adventures of Healthy Habit Girl
Family Travels on a Budget
I'll Recognize Me When I Become Me
Jason's Thought of the Day
Lead Our Lives
 Rise.Run.Mom.Repeat.


Check out their blogs, and tell them ArmsWideOpen sent you.  And enjoy.












KICKS

I'm participating in this year's A-Z challenge, and so will be posting daily about a subject focusing on a letter of the alphabet.




Although I DO get a kick out of you, that's not what I mean today. Instead, I want to talk about shoes. 

In both my Couch to 5k and Bridge to 10k groups, people ask me all the time what brand of shoes they should buy. They see some they think are kind of cool and want to know if they should get them. I hate to burst their bubble, but I have to tell them the truth. 

Go to a reputable, specialized running store (not a big-box sports store), get your foot sized, and then have them analyze your gait. It's simple -- you'll run on a treadmill as you're videotaped. Then the salesperson will explain the ins and outs of how you run. If you have great form, you can buy a neutral shoe. But if you turn your ankles in while you run, you overpronate. Your foot continues to roll in while you should be pushing off, and this twisting can cause injuries. A good stability shoe will help with this. Supination means your foot doesn't roll in enough after striking. This, too, can lead to injuries. Having your gait analyzed will give you the information you need to make an informed decision about what type of shoe you need, and you'll have the opportunity to try on several brands of shoes that are exactly right for you. 




Don't be intimidated; it's interesting to see how you run and what shoe you need. If you don't want to buy them from the store, that's fine too. There are several online resources that you can purchase from, including roadrunnersports.com. Most places will let you actually run in the shoes for a specified period of time and if they don't work out, you can return them and try a different one. I've personally done this, with no problems at all. I'd bought one particular shoe, and at about 8 miles, I started getting hot spots and blistered. I took the shoes back, they let me try on some more, and I went home with a pair that I'm still wearing. 

Think of your running store as a handy source for all types of information. They are glad to be of service to you, and do their best to help. And then you'll come home not only with some kicks you love, but the ones that are perfect for your feet.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

JEWELS

I'm participating in this year's A-Z challenge, and so will be posting daily about a subject focusing on a letter of the alphabet.

I was born and raised in the South -- I'm a Southern Belle through and through. My mom, Gram-maw, and Pap-paw all hailed from North Carolina, and I grew up listening to the sweet cadence of their Southern slang. These are just a few of the phrases that I thought everyone, everywhere, said:

He's so lazy he couldn't be a taster in a pie factory.
They threw him in jail 'cause he was paradin' around nekkid as a jaybird!
Jeez O'Hannah!
What in Sam Hill was he doin'?
He was runnin' 'round like a chicken with its head cut off.
Bless his heart, he's dumber than a stump.
That's a tough row to hoe.
That man's nothin' but a no-count liar.
You lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas. 
He cut his leg and was bleedin' like a stuck pig. 
Don't just sit there like a bump on a log, get up and help!
What in tarnation are you doin'?  
Don't sass me or I'll send you out for a switch.
I'm madder'n a wet hen.
I'll jerk a knot in your tail!
It's hunkey-dorey.
My stars and garters!
Quit piddlin' around so we can get outta here.
Great day in the mornin'!
She looks like she's been rode hard and put up wet.
She's ugly as sin.
She's havin' a hissy fit.
You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.
Jeet yet? I'm fixin' to cook a mess o' collards.
I'm full as a tick. I put some Goobers in my RC cola and then I had a pack o'Nabs.
I'm plum tuckered out now.

It was a colorful upbringing, to say the least. I reckon it gave me a Pure-T love for words and a turn of the phrase. I'm fit to be tied that these idioms are dying out -- it gets me all riled up. To me, they're the precious jewels of my Southern heritage. I'm stubborn as a mule, though, y'all. God willin' and the creek don't rise, I'll be talkin' Southernspeak the rest of my born days. Now, come over cheer and gimme some sugar.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

IF


I'm participating in this year's A-Z challenge, and so will be posting daily about a subject focusing on a letter of the alphabet.

If only...
What if...
If...
If...
If...

Such a small word that can make such a huge impact on people's lives. Those two little letters can take up a lot of  room in people's minds.

"If only" lives in the past. There's just no point to dwelling on it. You can't go back and change anything, so why waste energy? "If only" robs you of the joy of the present.

Negative "what ifs" harm you too. Conjuring up all the horrible things that possibly, maybe, perchance, potentially, might happen can paralyze you so that you don't move forward at all. 

But positive "what ifs" -- ahhhh, now those can enrich and enlarge your life. Can you counter the negative questions with the positive? For example, instead of "What if I fail at attempting this goal?" can you ask yourself, "What if this is the best decision I ever made?" 

What if I can't do it? -- What if you succeed at doing something you love?
What if I'm not good enough? -- What if you are better than you ever believed possible?
What if they don't like me? -- What if you find lifelong friends?
What if they laugh at me? -- What if they applaud?
What if I can't handle the responsibility? -- What if this is your shining moment?
What if I'm not the person I thought I was? -- What if you discover you are more than enough?

Leave "if only" in the past where it belongs. Embrace your future by asking "what ifs" that you can answer positively, and you will achieve your dreams.






Monday, April 8, 2013

HAVEN

I'm participating in this year's A-Z challenge, and so will be posting daily about a subject focusing on a letter of the alphabet.

A shelter from the storm...a soft, safe place to land at the end of the day...my haven is within my husband's arms.

Vic and I met in the 8th grade, when I transferred from public school to St. Ann's, the neighborhood K-8 Catholic school. There couldn't possibly have been a more difficult time to assimilate into a group of kids who had been together since kindergarten. If you don't remember, middle school is a viper pit. Yes, even a  Catholic one. It was a very, very rough year for me. I was ridiculed mercilessly by most of the kids. I was tall, straight as a rail, had a bad haircut and blushed at every insult. No wonder I became painfully shy. Vic was nice to me, although honestly, we probably barely knew that the other existed.

Then we went to high school, and things changed. In the 11th grade, I asked him out to the Sadie Hawkins dance. Do they even have those anymore?

 Wikipedia states:  "The Sadie Hawkins dance is named after the Li'l Abner comic strip character Sadie Hawkins, created by cartoonist Al Capp. In the strip, Sadie Hawkins Day fell on a given day in November (Capp never specified an exact date). The unmarried women of Dogpatch got to chase the bachelors and "marry up" with the ones they caught. The event was introduced in a daily strip which ran on November 15, 1937.

In the U.S. and Canada, this concept was popularized by establishing dance events to which the woman invited a man of her choosing, instead of demurely waiting for a man to ask her. The first known such event was held on November 9, 1938. Within a year hundreds of similar events followed suit. By 1952, the event was reportedly celebrated at 40,000 known venues. It became a woman-empowering rite at high schools and college campuses, and the tradition continues in some regional American cultures."

I remember trying to work up the nerve to ask him out. I don't know how guys throughout the ages have managed this!! It was excruciating. Our lockers were very close by and I waited before 6th period for him, hanging around totally conspicuously until he was alone. I finally blurted out the question, and he replied, "Sure." He claims I then asked, "Really?' in an amazed tone, but I believe I played it much more sophisticated than that. We'll go with my story.

His mother remembers him coming home from school, hopping up to sit suavely on the kitchen counter, and announcing that he had a date for the dance. She says he acted super-cool, so she knew he was pretty excited about going out with me.

That was our first date with each other, and the last with anyone else. 

We've been married for 32 years now, after dating for almost 6, and while every single second hasn't been perfect, we are good together. We've had some spectacularly great times, some truly awful tragedies, and with four kids, pretty much everything in between that you can think of. I can't imagine a different life, or a different husband.

As we're aging, I think I'm more aware than ever of how blessed we are. So many years ago, back in that Catholic high school when we were first dating, we would laugh and say our match was "made in heaven!" I believe that to this day. He is still my one true love, my heart, my haven.









Sunday, April 7, 2013

GARBLED

I'm participating in this year's A-Z challenge, and so will be posting daily about a subject focusing on a letter of the alphabet.

Sometimes this world presses in on me, filling me with panic and fear. At least that's how I feel sometimes. When I should have a spirit of peace, a demeanor of calm, instead I am scared, confused and hurting.

I worry about each of my four children. There are so many things that can go wrong in life. I worry about my husband. He has an incredibly stressful and demanding job, with very little time to exercise and get healthy. I worry about my 83-year-old mother, who lives alone, four hours from me, and has multiple health problems. Sometimes when I think about all the "what ifs," my mind can race, and my thoughts become garbled. They're like a jungle thicket, snagging and tearing at my peace and serenity. Yes, the world can weigh heavily on my mind some days. 

                                    
                                                    Here
That's when I realize it:  the blessing of the run. I lace up my shoes and escape to the road. Blue skies, soft breezes, the singing of the birds -- it's balm to my spirit. The run speaks to me in the hidden part of my soul, quieting my heart, gentling my mind. It untangles all the garbled thoughts, and I can soar free above the problems that hold me pinned. 

                                     
                                                      Here

The blessing of the run. 
I breathe. I love. I am.




Saturday, April 6, 2013

FAINT-HEARTED

I'm participating in this year's A-Z challenge, and so will be posting daily about a subject focusing on a letter of the alphabet.

Getting healthy and fit is not for sissies.

If you're like me, you'll have to change your ENTIRE lifestyle. Think that's easy? Think again.

I began running at the age of 52. I had never exercised before -- I'm not exaggerating. I wasn't familiar with push ups, except for bras; didn't know what planks were, other than boards my kids used to build a tree house; had no idea that a fartlek wasn't a bodily noise. I was the consummate couch potato, except with four kids, I never had time to sit.  "Athlete," however, was not the first word that would have come to mind to describe me.

Most of my life I was underweight. I drank milkshakes every night to try to gain weight (Ohhhhh,   [insert anguished face here]  why  did I not enjoy those days more??) I ate junk food and sugar like it was the end times. I was simply uneducated about the harm those foods were wreaking on my body. 

Fortunately for me, I'd inherited amazing metabolism, so until I had my fourth child and then shortly after became perimenopausal, I never gained weight from my poor diet. But after a hysterectomy, I packed on the pounds and the day finally came when I knew that I MUST make a change.

Altering years of bad habits was a slow process, and I had much to learn along the way. After I started  running, I realized I needed to better fuel my body. Thus began the research into what I should be eating.  

I took baby steps...The first thing I did was cut out soda, and that was brutal because I drank liters of it. I didn't like water, so I began using Crystal Light Pure packets. (I've never liked artificial sweeteners.) Once I had completely substituted those for soda, I began using half packets. I slowly weaned myself off the flavorings and switched to plain water. It was amazing to me how after I stopped guzzling soda, water tasted wonderful!! I now drink at least 68 ounces a day for good hydration.

In addition to cutting out the sugary drinks, I began adding in more vegetables and whole foods, with the goal of moving us toward a more plant-based diet. We started eating fewer processed, packaged goods. I began to be more adventurous and tried new things, like quinoa, kale chips and nori, and expanded our diet to include them. I switched to almond milk, real butter and almond butter. I started educating myself about GMOs.

Today, I run half marathons. In the fall, I'll begin training for my first marathon. It's been an interesting journey, but I feel better than I have in years. 

Nope, this healthy stuff ain't for the faint of heart. 





Friday, April 5, 2013

EXUBERANCE

I'm participating in this year's A-Z challenge, and so will be posting daily about a subject focusing on a letter of the alphabet.


Shortly before New Year's Day, when I was formulating my goals for 2013, I was asked to choose a word to describe what I dreamed for this year.  I thought long and hard, because I had so many disparate goals and I knew I wanted my word to encompass them.  I ultimately selected:
                                         

                                           EXUBERANCE 


Yup, this is how I want to embrace life:

Music jacked up,
arms wide open,
head flung back,
eyes, not squeezed shut in fear but
taking it all  in,
hair streaming back,
sweat dripping,
screaming at the top of my lungs,
leaping with total abandon
into the great unknown!!



                                                                     
                                                                                                                  Here


                                                                               
                                                                                                                  Here

                                                                           
                                                                                                                 Here

                                                                               
                                                                                                                   Here

                                                                               
                                                                                                                   Here


                                    EXHILARATION
                                    EXCITEMENT
                                    FERVOR 
                                    JOY


                          It just feels right.









Thursday, April 4, 2013

DON'T

I'm participating in this year's A-Z challenge, and so will be posting daily about a subject focusing on a letter of the alphabet.


We are bombarded all the time with positive motivational messages: You can do anything!! Keep going!! Visualize it and you can achieve it! Believe! Believe! Believe!!

Rarely do we hear a negative word. But today, I'm here to tell you -- DON'T.


                                                                          

                                                                              Here

DON'T get down on yourself when you fail at something -- and trust me, there will come a time when you fail. Miserably. It's part of being human.

DON'T blame yourself. We women tend to think everything is our fault. It's not. Sometimes it's something someone else has done; sometimes it's just circumstance. Don't always think it's all about you.  

DON'T think you have to do it all. You don't have to be CEO of one of the biggest corporations in the world (despite books being peddled about this very subject right now), president of the PTO, den leader of the cub scouts, and teach Sunday School, read to the kindergarten students, head up the fundraising committee, volunteer to be team mom, clean your home yourself, scrapbook, make jewelry, take ballroom dancing, go to Weight Watchers, garden, cook gourmet meals, and read the Kama Sutra in your spare time. You really don't. We place unreasonably high expectations on ourselves. Pick the ones you sincerely want to do, and do those. Don't carry the weight of the world on your shoulders.

DON'T feel your children are a reflection of your parenting skills. They're not. You can do everything right, and your child will still make dreadful mistakes. Or you can do everything wrong, and your child will become a minister, or -- God forbid -- president of the United States. It's all a crap shoot.

Don't regret. What's in the past is over. Not one minute of second-guessing or wishful thinking or regretting and fretting is going to change it. Forgive yourself and move on. 

Don't be judgmental. This applies to pointing the finger at others, of course, but mainly, don't judge yourself harshly. You are doing the best you can with what you have to work with in this particular moment in history. Other people are judging you enough, you certainly don't need to add to that. Be kind, and love yourself.

Don't give up. Yeah, we've come full circle in this post now. You CAN do anything. Really. Just keep going and believe in yourself.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

CLEAVAGE

I'm participating in this year's A-Z challenge, and so will be posting daily about a subject focusing on a letter of the alphabet.

All my life, I was underweight, until I had my fourth child. Not many skinny girls had big breasts when I was growing up, although now you can buy them. So, there I was...a tall, thin, very flat-chested teenager in the 70s. Farrah Fawcett in that damn red bathing suit was everywhere. No Wonderbras had been invented yet. No wonder I was painfully insecure. 

In my mid-50s now, I see the true meaning of the word cleavage: the way in which a thing tends to split, according to the Thorndike Barnhart dictionary I've had since the fourth grade. This physical lack of cleavage split me off from not only from society's ideal of what was feminine, but from the truth about myself. I never felt, deep down inside, pretty...alluring...a "real" woman, whatever that was. Even after marrying a man who found me beautiful (and does to this day) and had four children, I accepted this as reality.  

But now, I refuse. It has taken me many years to -- dare I even say it?? -- begin to accept the concept that I could be beautiful. See, even now it is difficult for me to say out loud. I am beautiful. Droopy eye, long nose, flat chest and crooked teeth -- they all add up to one hell of a gorgeous woman. So there it is, finally. Cleavage. I'm cutting asunder society's idea of beauty, cleaving it forever from  my heart's understanding of what is true about me. 



BANDIT

I'm participating in this year's A-Z challenge, and so will be posting daily about a subject focusing on a letter of the alphabet.

BANDIT. Thieves are terrifying threats, but doesn't "bandit" sound comedic, like a little raccoon that sneaks onto your porch at midnight and dives headfirst into your container of birdseed? I had that happen once, actually. I was in the mountains, staying by myself out in the middle of nowhere, and in the middle of the night was awakened by fearsome thumping and scraping on the front porch. Heart in throat, I crept into the living room and peered out the huge bay windows into the darkness, and saw, illuminated by moonlight, the masked bandit's rump above the opening of my covered can of birdseed. He had a feast, and I'd almost had a heart attack.

There are many things that steal from our lives, perhaps not as cute or funny as my masked marauder, but marauders just as well. The stranger who laughs as you try something new in the gym. The driver who gesticulates furiously at you on the highway. The friend who says unkind things behind your back. The mother who can no longer remember your name. The child who brings you to tears by abandoning his faith. The husband who cheats.

So many incidences that pick you up, turn you over and over in their tiny paws, and take small, precise bites of your heart. When the thief of joy hits, life can sometimes feel like everything, every contact you have with others, goes wrong, ends badly, is hopeless.

                                                                       

                                                                              Here
Just like the raccoon on my porch, these bandits of our happiness come when we least expect it and seize their chance. Our tendency is to be on guard, to protect our valuables. But we can't lock up our love like a safe. Each small moment that we are unhappy, or angry, or frustrated, or despairing,  the bandits make off with something that can never be replaced. 

Instead, throw open the coffers of your heart. What is given freely can't be stolen. When you love in the face of hurts, in SPITE of the hurts, you affirm that life is a wide-open, generous force that cannot be conquered by the thieves of this world. Unmask the bandits. Recognize them for what they are, and no longer give them power over you. Love. Love again. And then love some more.