“Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone….” Bill Withers 1971

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Not sure about the weather where y’all are, but our weather has been so crazy in Charlottesville. We have seen the coldest temperatures of the season AND some fairly mild days. We’ve experienced Winter, then Fool’s Spring (plants started budding), then Second Winter (to kill the buds), and soon it will be Spring of Deception! Just give me SUMMER and those long, warm days filled with sunlight!

Ever listen to the radio and a song comes on that causes you to go “ohhhh… that song reminds me of…..” or “that was ‘so and so’ and my song back in the day.” Your breath quickens, your heart races a little, and for a few seconds you are transported back in time. And if you close your eyes you can remember just how you felt. This happens to me a lot – mainly because I listen to either the 70’s channel or Yacht Rock Radio on Pandora at work and XM Radio when I travel. I’m the first to admit that I am a sucker for the oldies – I mean, that music was the BEST!  Right? And those songs are the ones that “get” me, reminding me of my days in high school and college, of dating, old friends… so much fun, so many memories.

“All it takes is 1 song to bring back 1,000 memories.”

But music is not the only thing that evokes old memories. Reruns of old TV shows also take me back. When I got home Saturday night and turned on the TV, I was pleasantly surprised to see an old episode of Saturday Night Live. One that first aired on January 17, 1976. 1976 y’all! Back when SNL’s stars were Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Garrett Morris, Gilda Radnor, and Jane Curtin. Who remembers Weekend Update with Chevy Chase, the Norge Refrigerator Repairman, or Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger, chips? Pepsi, no Coke? And Roseanne Roseannadanna? The musical guest on this episode was Bill Withers and of course he sang “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone” with all 26 “I knows” sung in a row. Watching that SNL episode transported me back to when I was an 18-year-old high school senior, a cheerleader, and already accepted at The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill for the fall. Life was good, life was fun, life was pretty easy.

“Memories are special moments that tell our story.”

What were you doing in 1976? Can you believe that was 44 years ago? Made me stop and look back at the past 44 years. I mean, in January of 1976, I was loving high school, was not nearly as close with my sisters as I am now (one was newly married, other was in 7th grade), had not met my future husband, had not even laid eyes on the campus of UNC (yep, applied there, even though I had never visited!), but I was cheering for UNC basketball! (Still am, even though this is a challenging year, to say the least.)

As good as the 70’s were, so were the 80’s. When my younger daughter was home with me over Christmas, we were talking about a TV quote I often say: “Thank you RAY DON!” This is from one of my favorite 80’s shows – Designing Women, which I think was WAY before its time. So what did we do? My daughter found the old episodes on Hulu and we binge-watched the first season, which included the “RAY DON” episode! I think she loved it too! Brought back lots of memories for me. As much as I loved the 70’s, I also loved the 80’s (though not the music as much). I was a newlywed and then a new momma in the 80’s. Life was good, life was interesting, life was very meaningful.

“A millions feelings. A thousand thoughts. A hundred memories. One person.”

My favorite trip down memory lane is when I search for baby pictures of my kids to post on their birthday. Oh my goodness my kids were the cutest! (I know, every momma says that!) I love going through my many bins of old photos, looking back and remembering their precious childhoods and all of our fun family times. I am always so thankful for each of them. And trust me, I have bins and bins of old pictures! (Similar to my Christmas Sweater bins!)

I’ve been looking back and taking stock of my life lately. Realized that as happy as I am with where I am in my life, there are a lot of things that I will probably never get to do. It was a bit sobering. And I am ok with that. Kinda. Decided I would start my bucket list, which so far, is relatively small and fairly simple (Hawaii, NYC again, one more half-marathon). I have a friend who has an impressive bucket list and is wasting NO time crossing the fun and amazing items off the list. Not sure I’ll ever accomplish the things on my list, but it sure is fun to dream about them.

“Memories take us back, dreams take us forward.”

Do you have a bucket list? Dreams of what you would like to do or see? Things you would like to accomplish? What’s holding you back? Opportunity? Finances? Fear? Honestly, all of these things are holding me back. That and the thought that I will have time later to accomplish some of my dreams. Maybe after I retire? But do we have plenty of time? Why risk it? Why not go for those things now? Mark the fun things off your list. Make those memories. I’m gonna give it a go. Let’s not wait, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Best,

Leslie

PS… “Well, Jane, it just goes to show you. It’s always something. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.”  Roseanne Roseannadanna, SNL

“Feelin’ Stronger Every Day” Chicago 1973

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

How is 2020 treating you so far? Two weeks are in the books, 50 more to enjoy this year. Luckily, we do get one extra day since this is a leap year. Is it just me or does time seem to be flying by? I mean, the older I get, the faster it goes. Which is a great reminder to make the most of each and every day. Once that day is gone, it is gone. No getting it back.

How are those New Year Resolutions going? According to Inc. Magazine, 80% of people drop their resolutions by mid-February. And Strava (a fitness and social app that tracks cycling and running) predicts January 19th is the day most people abandon their resolutions, which is a bit funny, because the busiest day of the year in our clubs is the 3rd Monday of the year, which this year is January 20th, Martin Luther King Day. I can attest to the fact that many people made fitness their 2020 resolution, as our clubs are very busy these days. Classes are full, fitness floor is full, locker rooms are full. Good feeling to see so many people thinking about their health and working on getting fit.

“Imagine yourself in 6 months if you continue working out… Now imagine yourself if you quit.” (borrowed from one of our personal trainer’s FB page)

I have struggled a bit with my knee lately – stiff and swollen after a couple of fairly good runs. Decided I needed a “spa day,” so I scheduled a physical therapy session. Yep, like a spa day for me, especially since my therapist changed part of my treatment from icing to heat (heavenly!). She manipulated my knee, treated it with light therapy (actual light), followed by E-Stem and HEAT. All the time I got to lie down with my knees supported by a bolster. Oh, and I had 2 pillows. So… I took a nap. Yep, right there in the middle of the PT clinic. Told them to nudge me if I snored. Nothing like getting to take a nap in the middle of the day! I was scheduled to run after PT, and was so afraid she would tell me not to, but it was just the opposite. She wanted me to run and see how my knee reacted. Don’t have to tell me twice! Left there feeling like a new person.

“Don’t run from life, run with life to face life.” – Akhil Tharakan

Had a decent run, but had to dodge some remaining snowy spots! Still can’t believe we had snow last week, and then enjoyed a record high of 69 degrees this past Sunday. I am NOT complaining – yet. I’ll be complaining as the cold weather returns this weekend. I could take one big snow, as long as it is on a weekend, where I have no plans. You know, the kind of weekend where you can just hunker down and enjoy doing nothing but being snowed in. One weekend of snow and I am done for the season. I don’t know about y’all, but I really struggle with cold weather these days! I refuse to wish my days away, but I cannot wait for spring and summer.

So struggling with an uncooperative knee and cold weather are pretty mild. But trust me, I have struggled with much more serious matters in my life, especially in the last 4 years. Several of my friends are struggling with many different issues – health, family, financial, personal. Which leads me to say that we never know what people are dealing with. No matter the smiles on faces, the struggles are real. Just be kind. Always.

“Just because you are struggling does not mean you are failing. Every great success requires some kind of struggle to get there.” – Nicky Gumble

Funny, but I really struggled coming up with a blog topic this week. Nothing happened to spark my interest. Probably because this is my busiest time of the year at work, and at work is the only place I have been… including all weekend. I did make it home Saturday in time to watch Carolina’s continuing struggle this season. Maybe I should have stayed at work! Plagued with injury after injury, my Tar Heels are in the struggle of a lifetime. But I still support and love ‘em! It’s a character-building year for sure.

“It doesn’t get easier. You just get stronger.”

I also struggled to stay awake Monday night to watch the battle of the Tigers – Clemson vs LSU, for the football championship. LSU struggled at first, Clemson struggled in the end. Two great teams, 2 unbelievable QB’s, one a Heisman Trophy winner. In the end, LSU prevailed in a big way. Then I really struggled to get up for a 6 am cycle class Tuesday morning. But I did!

So as I said, I really struggled with a topic this week… then I realized that WAS my topic. I looked around me and realized that we all are struggling in big and small ways. How do you handle struggles in your life? Do you pull the covers over your head and hope they go away on their own? Or do you face them head on (maybe after having a pity party)? Life, in general, is a struggle every day, for everyone. Obviously, some days more than others. But we have to continue fighting to succeed every day. Attitude. Fortitude. Gratitude. (Lots of “tudes”!) The struggles are real, so best to accept and overcome your struggles, because life goes on, life is good, and as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“You have within you, right now, everything you need to deal with whatever the world can throw at you.” – Brian Tracy

Full moon out my back door…

Best,

Leslie

PS – Did you know that today, January 15th, is National Bagel Day? Have to admit, before moving to Charlottesville, I had never eaten a bagel (or even seen one!). We had biscuits in the South, not bagels. Now mind you, that was 23 years ago! Today I LOVE bagels and Charlottesville has the BEST bagel shop – BODO’s Bagels!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Beginnings” Chicago 1969

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

First week of 2020 is in the books folks! Did you write 2019 by accident this week? Did you break any of the resolutions you made last week? Have to admit, mine are going pretty well, all things considered. Kept up with them every day – I’ll share details later in the year. And I did not let anything or anyone steal my joy, not even Carolina’s loss to Georgia Tech at home, which has not happened in 10 years. Even found a couple of bright spots in that loss. (Always look for the positives!) Many other things brought me joy this week. Visited my older daughter and son-in-law on New Year’s Day, even though I had just taken her cycle class the day before. (You can never see your kids too much!) Besides, they were helping me with a project. Treated them to lunch as a thank you. And had some good girl-time shopping with my daughter, which we have not done in a long time.

“New year – a new chapter, new verse, or just the same old story? Ultimately, we write it. The choice is ours.”  Alex Morritt

Also found much joy in running this week, in WARM January weather, moving up to 35 minutes. WOOHOO! Amazing how long it takes to get back into running shape, no matter how many cycle classes you have taken. Running is just a totally different workout. And one I have missed. Finally starting to feel more like my “old self” (over a year later!) – running (not worrying about pace or distance, just time) and getting back into the athletic conditioning classes I have sorely missed. Taking good care of my knees – icing and stretching. With a race scheduled the end of March and another one in April, I don’t have that long to get back into running shape. But I will. Determination. I walked these same 2 races last year, one in a brace. This year, I will run them – not setting any personal records, but I will run them.

“Your speed doesn’t matter, forward is forward.”

If you are on Facebook, do you have those memories that pop up from a year, 2 years, even 7 years ago? Kinda like having a diary. You see them and it’s like “Oh… I forgot I was at the beach this time last year” or “Awww… my daughters ran that race with me 5 years ago” or “OH… it snowed today 3 years ago!” My blog is like that in many ways for me. Each week, one of my prior blogs pops up on my FB feed (SOLO at SIXTY has a Facebook page that shares to my personal page). Fun for me to go back and read what I was doing, thinking, and going through same time last year, or the year before. (Blog started in May 2017.) And since I never deleted any of my FB pics from my past, old pictures pop up all the time with the “On This Day “X” Years Ago…”  At one time it was a shock to the heart when these old pics from my past popped up. Now, not so much. I mean, I have been SOLO for almost 4 years. And hindsight is 20/20 after all.

“You know you’re on the right path when you feel good about moving forward and could care less about looking back.” – Kristen Butler

Hindsight is 20/20. Heard that before? Who hasn’t? Who hasn’t said, “well I should not have done that… hindsight is 20/20!”? Meaning, I should have known better. I have had MANY hindsight is 20/20 moments in my life. But honestly, many of those taught me lessons. The biggest? DON’T DRIVE INTO STANDING WATER! Talk about hindsight being 20/20 – I should have turned around! Better yet, I never should have set out for the beach until I knew all the roads were open and safe. Lesson learned. The hardest way. But I did meet a very sweet couple that day!

If you could, would you go back and change things, having 20/20 vision in hindsight? I often think about this. Would I not have transferred to Wake Forest and instead stayed at Carolina? Yep, I often wish I had not made that decision. But at the time, it was the right decision, and it gave me the best kids a mom could ever ask for, and some very special friends. Do I wish we had not moved to Virginia 23 years ago and stayed in NC with my family near by? Yes, I often wish that too – I missed a lot with my family. BUT, it was a wonderful decision for my children, and ultimately for me – the friends I made, friends my kids made, their education and opportunities, my opportunities, plus my older daughter met her husband here. So wow, even with 20/20 hindsight vision, I would not change anything. Well, except the car thing!

“Look forward with hope, rather than backward with regret.”

So maybe the 20/20 hindsight concept is not to regret things in our past, but to appreciate the lessons learned. Maybe in the YEAR 2020, we should remember that yes, hindsight is 20/20, but it is very easy to be wise AFTER an event. Let’s make 2020 memorable. After all, it’s the beginning of a new decade. We won’t look back next New Years with 20/20 hindsight or regret. We’ll travel through this year together, with grit and grace. Sure there will be disappointments and challenges along the way, but we won’t let them control our year. We will not let anyone or anything steal our joy. We will find something to be thankful for and we will perform at least one random act of kindness every day. We will make time for our friends and family. We will think about our health. We will make the most of 2020, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“Behind you, all your memories. Before you, all your dreams. Around you, all who love you. Within you, all you need.”

Best,

Leslie

PS It was 50 degrees Monday, snowed Tuesday, 50 today, and supposed to be almost 70 this weekend. I did not let the snow traffic or it taking me an hour+ to get home steal my joy! Instead, I relished the beautiful snow!

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR! ABBA 1980

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Happy New Year and HELLO 2020! Welcome to a new decade y’all…doesn’t that seem impossible? I have a feeling 2020 is going to be a GREAT year. I mean, my favorite number is 20, and there it is, double in the year 2020! What are you looking forward to this year? Are you making resolutions? What about resolutions for the next decade? Hard to imagine what my life will look like in 10 years. I never imagined 10 years ago that my life would look the way it does today! But I am thankful it is what it is.

“2020: Just believe that good things are on the way.”

It’s a brand new year y’all. A wonderful opportunity to start fresh, develop new interests, new hobbies, meet new people. A new chapter. I am going to be thankful for each and every day, because once gone, that time cannot be relived. Several years ago, I decided I would do everything I could to see and spend time with my family – my kids, my momma, my sisters, and my nephew and his sweet family – as often as possible. I have been pretty successful with that plan and so it will continue this year. Even made that early morning trip to my daughter’s cycle class New Year’s Eve morning! 2020 promises to get me back to my favorite pastime, running, with 2 races already scheduled. (Ran Monday in 72 degree weather!) Plus I hope to spend more time at the beach – after all, I was on crutches and out of commission for April and May of 2019. And then there’s the wedding! The icing on the cake to a great year ahead!

Take me with you Santa!

So I’ve said goodbye to 2019, and also to Christmas 2019. As much as I LOVE Christmas and everything associated with it, once it is over, it is over for me. No dragging it out at my house! Time to move on. After I published my Christmas blog last Wednesday evening, my younger daughter and I continued a Christmas Day tradition we started last year and went to the movies, this year to see Little Women. LOVED it! We had skipped lunch since we were still full from brunch, so we splurged and got a hotdog at the movies. This theater has the best hotdogs – split and grilled and served on a grilled bun. (Christmas dinner!) A real treat!

Another real treat was meeting some of her friends and their moms Thursday afternoon at Mount Ida Winery. Hard to believe it was December 26 with 60 degree weather. It was such a beautiful day and I was so thankful my daughter finally got to visit Mount Ida, the only winery she had not been to, and visit it with me! Their huge Christmas tree is still up and decorated. Unlike mine! Yep, my tree is down and has been taken away by our trash collector. As of last Friday morning, all of my decorations were back in their bins, stored away for Christmas 2020. Same with my beautiful Christmas sweaters! I decorate early and take down early. I like to start the new year with a clean slate, including my house! Everything back in order. Only things left are my Moravian Star, which will stay up until this Sunday (Epiphany), and the beautiful wreath I made with my sister and daughter. My wreath may stay up all year – too much love and effort went into it to just discard it! I’ll just change the bow on it.

My wine buddy!

“It doesn’t matter what’s been written in your story so far, it’s how you fill up the rest of the pages that count.”

Friday brought the first College Football Bowl game (for me that is) as Carolina played Temple in the Military Bowl in Annapolis, Maryland. My older daughter and son-in-law went to the game to cheer on our Heels in person, but my younger daughter and I opted to watch it from the comfort of my sofa. I was decked out from head to toe in my Carolina garb and wrapped in a Carolina blanket for good luck. Turned out to be a GDTBATH (Good Day To Be A Tar Heel) and the BEST game! Heels won 55-13! Gave all Tar Heel fans a lot of excitement and hope for the 2020 season. (Yet another reason 2020 will be good!)

Decked out for the game!

“Catch Carolina Fever… kiss a Tar Heel!”

My younger daughter said goodbye to me Saturday afternoon to head back to NC, but not before we made a trip to King Family Vineyard (our second in a week!) to taste their 2019 Crose Rose (named for the town of Crozet!), which did not disappoint! It was yet another perfect December day – sunny and 66 degrees! Who could imagine December would end with such warm weather? Of course, I am loving it! Many other people were also enjoying the perfect weather as it was very busy out there. We got a glass of Crose and sat outside enjoying the spring-like weather and the views and just talking. Perfect ending to a wonderful week.

“Memories remind us that nothing lasts forever. Time is precious and should not be wasted. Enjoy life and remember, don’t count the days make the days count.”

So now it’s time for a perfect beginning to a wonderful new year. 2019 was not a bad year by any means for me, but I sure am thankful to have those 2 knee surgeries behind me! There were many good things in 2019 – my sweet son got engaged to a lovely girl, my younger daughter accepted a new job and moved to Charlotte, and my older daughter and son-in-law sold their house the day it was listed and built a new beautiful home. And I reclaimed my maiden name and became Leslie Anne Holcomb, 39 years to the day of trading my maiden name in. Very exciting and empowering for me.

LAH… My new name in gifts…

“Keep your eyes on the stars, but your feet on the ground.”  Theodore Roosevelt

So, I head into 2020 as a new person, so to speak. And I am very excited about that. Looking forward to what the new year may bring. My “mantra” for 2020? I will not let anyone or anything steal my joy! That includes my own thoughts. Sometimes my thoughts tend to get the best of me – conversations in my head that I know will never happen; worries about tomorrow; expecting something dire to happen. This year I plan to quelch these thoughts and worries at the onset, to make every effort to expect the best life has to offer: happiness, success, and lots of fun. Let’s make the most of 2020, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“10 years from now, make sure you can say you chose your life, you didn’t settle for it.”

Best,

Leslie

PS – Did you realize that in 2020: Valentine’s Day is a FRIDAY!  Cinco de Mayo is on TACO TUESDAY! 4th of July is a SATURDAY!  Halloween is a SATURDAY! Christmas is a FRIDAY! AND…. NEW YEAR STARTS WITH A 3 DAY WEEKEND!  Thank you LEAP YEAR!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

(WARNING: Picture overload today!)

“Shepherds, Angels, Innkeepers, Kings… From the very beginning, Christmas has brought people together…”

I hope today has been merry for you, spent in a way that brought you much happiness. I’ve had a busy, wonderful week, filled with family, fun, love, and FOOD! I feel as if I have eaten enough this past week to last me the rest of winter!

Made a day trip to Winston-Salem, NC last Thursday to bake with my sisters. Our annual Holcomb Sister Christmas Baking Day. My older sister’s kitchen smelled like Dewey’s Bakery (for all you Winston locals) as we sifted, stirred, mixed, dipped, and baked fudge, peanut butter balls, thumbprints, molasses cookies, and 7-layer squares. All the time talking and laughing. A lot! Oh and a bit of singing Christmas carols, off-key of course. After the last treat was taken out of the oven, we prepared a big tray of goodies to take to Mom’s caregivers, who so appreciated being remembered. They love Mom, and for that, we are very thankful. But how could you not love our sweet Momma? She is still the sweet, grateful, mild mannered lady with a soul filled with grace. We also went with Mom to a Christmas concert by a string quintet of violinists and cellists from the local high school (my alma mater!). These high school juniors and seniors were so thoughtful to give up an afternoon to play for the residents, a full hour of every Christmas carol imaginable. It was much appreciated by everyone in attendance, including my sisters and me.

“It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.”

Said goodbye to my sisters and mom and headed back to Charlottesville, knowing I would see them again 2 days later. Listened to Christmas music all the way home. (No surprise there!) And yes, Saturday morning I headed back to Winston for the weekend, for our Holcomb Christmas Gathering. While my sister and my younger daughter went to an exhibit at Reynolda House, I spent the afternoon picking up a few last minute gifts – mainly Moravian cookies to share with my team! Finally found them at, you got it, Dewey’s Bakery! My brother-in-law and I met my older sister and younger daughter at a neat brewery before dinner. Okay, so maybe, I got wine at the brewery, but it was good wine! And dinner at Quanto Basta was wonderful. Late to bed but early to rise, my older sister and I headed to early church, only to arrive to find NO ONE there. Discovered that there was only 1 service Sunday morning. Back home to grab a bite to eat and try again an hour later. Walked in to have the first usher ask me where my Christmas Sweater was! Told him my sister refused to sit with me if I wore the Sunday one to church! (It was a great one – see below – wore it for my favorite little people!) Wonderful to be a Moravian again and see Moravians I have known forever. This is my home church… the one I have been a member of for 62 years. Baptized, confirmed, married, and had all of my children baptized in this church.

After church I picked Mom up and brought her to my sister’s (where I changed into my Llama Christmas Sweater!). My other kids, future daughter-in-law, younger sister, nephew and his family arrived shortly thereafter for our Holcomb Christmas celebration. Everyone I love most in the world was together at my sister’s. Life does not get any better than that, y’all! We laughed, played with Jack and Izzie, opened presents, and had a wonderful meal together at my sister’s beautiful table. Had so much fun that the time got away from us and everyone left later than planned… meaning my younger daughter and I didn’t arrive at church until right as it was beginning. That’s right, I went BACK to church for the Moravian Christmas Eve (early) Lovefeast. It is just not Christmas for me without that service: my once-a-year Moravian coffee (very blonde y’all – the coffee that is – brewed with cream and sugar), the Moravian bun (no beef!), and a lighted beeswax candle dressed in red crepe paper. The beeswax symbolizes the purity of Christ, the red crepe paper the blood of Christ, and the lighted candle the light of the world. All of my favorite Christmas carols were sung. Best time of the year to be a Moravian! And yes, we hit the road home to Charlottesville after the service, visiting with church friends, AND stopping by to see my younger daughter’s picture still hanging in the church from 30 years ago. Yes, 30 years ago! What a precious treat every visit to New Philadelphia. And what a wonderful weekend.

“Christmas magic is silent, you don’t hear it, you feel it, you know it, you believe it.”

With Christmas falling on Wednesday this year, my sweet son and his fiancee stayed in Charlotte and spent Christmas with her beautiful family. Of course, this meant he missed out on the 8 am Christmas morning run! That’s right, my daughters and I got up to go for a Christmas run this morning. First time I have run for 30 minutes without following the walk 2/run 4-minute plan. And it was wonderful! Did have to stop a time or two to catch my breath after a big hill, but honestly, it was a great Christmas treat for me. My younger daughter texted her brother to say we were making her run for her presents! Not true! Well… We were all glad we ran together, after it was over, of course! And it made our traditional brunch of breakfast casserole, fruit, and sugarcake more appreciated!

We opened presents, played with my granddawg, and loved on each other before my older daughter and son-in-law left for Christmas dinner at his parents. That left my younger daughter and me alone for the rest of the day and the week. And we plan to make the most of it. As I am finishing the blog here, she is napping before we head to the movies. We have had some late nights, early mornings, and busy fun-filled days. Visited a winery Monday to pick up her wine club box, and enjoyed a glass and the beautiful day and view, before she met friends for dinner. Christmas Eve we left home at 5 am to get to my older daughter’s cycle class at our Short Pump club at 6:15 am (best way to start the holiday off!). And we were all up late last night after Christmas Eve dinner, church, and late night Christmas movies. She’ll head back to Charlotte this weekend, and my Christmas decorations will come down. Once Christmas is over, and my kids are gone, I am ready to welcome in the new year.

“I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month.”

I hope your Christmas was very merry and meaningful for you. If you are like our family, you have prepared, been served, gifted, and eaten wonderful food this holiday season. Not only have these foods/meals fed us, the spirit of sharing time, love, and thoughtfulness nourished our soul. I also hope you got to spend special time with those you love, and that you have made plans to do that as we welcome 2020, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Merry Christmas from my beautiful family…

Best,

Leslie

PS: Sadly, the 2019 annual 25 Days of Christmas Sweaters has come to an end. It has been fun sporting a different Christmas sweater each day of December, and so much fun to share with you and read your comments! Below are the last sweaters of December:

 

“Wonderful Christmas” Paul McCartney and Wings 1979

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Countdown to Christmas. One Week. ONLY 7 days! I talked to a friend this weekend who had not started shopping yet. That would make me crazy. I am ready, except for some baking, which I will mark off my list tomorrow as I am heading to my sister’s house for our annual Sisters Christmas Baking Day. I have done a lot of meal prep for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so that I can enjoy these last busy days of the Christmas season stress-free. Besides, my days are pretty full this next week, full of many special and fun events. I’m “simply having a wonderful Christmas time…”  Hope you are as well!

 

 

“May you never be too old to search the skies on Christmas Eve.”

I finished up my Christmas shopping at the mall last week and stopped to watch the kids visiting Santa. Some happy and enthralled, some NOT! I started to go sit on Santa’s lap and tell him my wish list, but thought better of it! (My kids would kill me!) Remember going to see Santa as a child? Mom always took us to Sears to see Santa and tell him our dreams of Christmas morning. Of course, this was after poring through the big ole’ Sears catalog and making our wish list. Even though my children’s preschool had a really good Santa for visits and pictures, I still took them to the see the mall Santa many years as well. (Full disclosure here – I found more Santa pictures of my son than the girls! But I do have them… somewhere!)

My babies 1991

 

“I wish Santa would publish his naughty list. What a great way to meet fun people!”

As I said, my days have been full y’all! Last Saturday was a prime example. I left home for an early cycle class at the gym in pouring rain. Had plans the rest of the day with a friend. We had made a bet and the loser had to buy dinner… guess who lost?! Was afraid the weather might put a damper on our plans, plus luminary night in my neighborhood. But my faith in the weather prevailed as I told my friend I was confident the afternoon would be beautiful. And I was right! In the words of my sweet momma, “it burned off.”  First stop was the only winery my younger daughter had not taken me to – Mount Ida Reserve, and the views were gorgeous, including the HUGE Christmas tree! Oh, and the wine, food, and atmosphere were perfect too! Couple of hours later we left to head back to my house to put out my luminaries, light them, and head to dinner on the downtown mall. Remember, I lost a bet. A sports bet between my team and my friend’s team. Football. Thank heavens I did not say double or nothing to include the basketball game as well, because I would be sunk! So dinner on the Charlottesville downtown mall at a great little restaurant was on me. Good food and good wine. Plus the city’s Christmas tree is up and lit. And HUGE!

“Lessons from a Christmas tree: *Be a light in the darkness *We all fall over sometimes *You can never wear too much glitter *Bring joy to others *Sparkle and Twinkle as often as possible *It’s ok to be a little tilted” -Jane Lee Logan

Sunday was busier than Saturday with another early cycle class, followed by church, followed by a quick trip to my older daughter’s house in Richmond to pick up some liquid gold. What, you ask? Sourdough Starter, my friends! My daughter brought me some from her grandparents so that I can resume making sourdough bread and my famous sugarcake. Just in time for Christmas! You cannot make good sourdough bread without real starter that lives in your fridge and is fed potato flakes, sugar, and hot water every 5 days. Took a pan of fresh out-of-the-oven sugarcake to work today to surprise my team! It has been a while – my last sourdough starter died in my fridge from neglect. My fault. Not happening again! But I digress… Sunday’s fun continued as I rushed back to Charlottesville to get my appetizer in the oven before friends picked me up for a Christmas open house. I have missed this party for the last 3 years – it usually conflicts with my Holcomb family Christmas, which falls this coming weekend. When I say the views from these friends’ new house were unbelievable, I am not joking. I understand why they wanted this property for 35 years.

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.”  Norman Vincent Peale

Monday was a sobering day as it found me at a funeral mass for one of my former neighbors. She was part of a loving couple who had been married for 60 years. The pure love of her husband and family are a testament to the special lady she was. And honestly, the mass was a celebration of her life. So appropriate at this time of year when we celebrate the birth of Jesus and celebrate the love of family and friends.

“The loss is immeasurable, but so is the love left behind.”

Monday night was a pick-me-up as I met a friend for dinner and a show featuring Jim Brickman. I have heard his music on the Christmas stations, but to experience his music in person was wonderful. He plays the piano unlike anyone I have ever seen before. Had a couple of accompanists with him, but basically, it was Jim Brickman and his piano. About every Christmas song imaginable. Loved the show. Very entertaining. I would go again, and if you get a chance, take it.

“It is Christmas in the heart, that puts Christmas in the air.”

I came home from that show and just sat and looked at my tree. (like every other night!) I am loving my Christmas tree y’all. My tree is always personal to me, and this year is no different  – it is all about ME! My tree topper is a starfish, my ornaments all have a special meaning, be it something my kids made in elementary school, or ornaments given to me by family and friends. It shines brightly and tells a special story that I enjoy every night. Plus the wonderful smell of that frasier fir… heavenly. My sweet kids all have their trees up as well. Special.

“You can make your life beautiful with your efforts. Just as you converted a simple tree into a beautiful Christmas tree.”

We lost my dad in November of 2000. Christmas was a bit somber that year. I mean, how could we celebrate Christmas and be merry when we had just lost a parent? I struggled even to find a suitable Christmas card to send out. (This was before I sent out a family picture for my cards.) But amazingly, I found the perfect card, which to this day, remains my favorite, so much so that I framed it. It has a sweet, simple picture of an evergreen tree with the following message: “The evergreen reminds us that through all the seasons and in spite of adversity and change, life prevails and hope grows forever new.” It spoke to my heart in 2000, again in 2016, and every year since. Life prevails and hope grows forever new… How encouraging these words are. We all suffer loss, difficulty, and adversity. We wonder how we will go on. But we do. Life prevails. Hope grows forever new. In this meaningful season of Christmas, let us remind ourselves that everyone we meet is facing something we know nothing about. No one’s life is easy. Let us be kind and encouraging. Let us be supportive and loving. And let us all remember the true reason for this season. Enjoy and celebrate life every day, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.”  -Charles M. Schultz

Best,

Leslie

“Simply having a wonderful Christmas time…Oh Christmas time…”  Paul McCartney

PS – Update on the 25 days of Christmas Sweaters in case you missed them on facebook:

 

 

 

“Christmas Star” John Williams, Home Alone 2

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Countdown to Christmas – 2 weeks! 14 DAYS Y’ALL! Holy moly time is flying by! I hope you are enjoying this Christmas season and finding joy each day. Even if is it just a moment of peace.

I have been enjoying my Christmas tree and decorations each and every night. And I added the final 2 pieces to complete my Christmas decor. First was my Moravian Star, given to me by my sister…. unassembled. Now, I have to brag on myself here. Have you ever seen a Moravian star? It has 26 points, y’all! And I put it together all by myself. WHEW! Honestly, the directions were very good and to the point (pun intended here!). There were 8 star points with triangle bases (assembled first) and 17 with square bases (assembled next). Final star point included the lightbulb. So… once I had it assembled, my problem was hanging the star on my front porch. Believe it or not, one of my neighbors also has a Moravian Star from Winston-Salem (small world) over their front door. I checked theirs out. They switched their porch light to include a plug. Did it themselves. Well, that was NOT happening at my house! Time to call an electrician. Luckily, I know one who came right out and switched my porch light to include a plug as well. Oh, and he also hung my star for me. My hero! My star shines brightly all day and night and will until Epiphany (January 6th). A guiding light, reminding me that no matter how dark life gets, there is always a star shining brightly over me (and all of us). I am now one happy Moravian camper!

“Always aim for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” W. Clement Stone

Wait, what is a Moravian my non-NC friends ask? (My NC friends know what a Moravian is – so many are Moravian!) I have been a Moravian since birth, though I am a practicing Presbyterian in VA, as there are no Moravian churches anywhere nearby. Moravians are the oldest Protestant Church, dating back to 1457. The Moravian motto, which I have always loved, is: In Essentials – UNITY; In Non-Essentials – LIBERTY; and in All Things – LOVE. And according to the Moravian Church, the Moravian Star is “the star of promise, the star of fulfillment, and the star of hope.” See why I wanted my own star again? We always had a Moravian Star at Christmas when I was growing up – and I remember the early ones were made of paper, assembled with paper fasteners. Paper had to be a lot harder to put together, right? And no telling what the instructions were like – I mean you could not go to YouTube for directions! But my momma always got ours put together. And she remembered the light bulb before closing it up! Like everything else, Moravian Stars have come a long way. My new one is strong plastic with NO fasteners, just  twist and lock.

“The brightest stars shine for the benefit of others.”

So… what was my final missing decorative piece? The piece de resistance – my Christmas wreath for the front door. Another decoration that I proudly made myself, I might add. And what fun it was! My younger sister and younger daughter came up last Friday so that we could go to a wreath-making workshop at The Market at Grelen in Orange County, VA. My younger daughter and I did this last year and said we would do it every year. And this year I invited both sisters and both daughters, but my older sister had already committed to an art workshop, and my older daughter could not make it. They won’t miss it next year, same with my younger sister and my younger daughter! All of the greenery and berries for the wreaths are cut right there on the property. Took about 2 hours from start to finish. Oh, and we also learned how to make a bow – yes, we made our own bows people! And they look good!

“Wreaths… hung to fill our homes with holiday cheer, they’re made in circles with no beginning or end to symbolize the endless connection we have with family and dear friends.”

We had fun, not only making the wreaths, but doing it together. A new annual family tradition for sisters and daughters! We also had fun visiting a couple of wineries afterwards. And topped the night off seeing The Four County Players perform our favorite Christmas movie, White Christmas. It was fabulous and having a friend in it added to the fun! Of course, my sister and I sang our favorite song from the show, Sisters, all the way to the play (and all the way home!) with a couple other favorites as well. I think my daughter had her earphones in!

“When traveling life’s journey, it’s good to have a sister’s hand to hold on to.”

After my sister left Sunday, my younger daughter and I met my older daughter and son-in-law for a late lunch before the Carolina-UVA basketball game. Since both teams have struggled as of late, we thought, “hey, maybe we will finally win one here.” NOPE! Once again, we left the arena disappointed. Not belaboring this, because even though I take each loss personally (not sure why, but I always have), I had such a wonderful weekend!

“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”  Charles Dickens

You realize how insignificant a basketball loss is when you compare it to other losses. My old neighbors and I lost the sweetest neighbor (a devoted wife, beloved mother, and grandmother) yesterday. Part of a special couple who set the bar very high in marriage (59 years celebrated last August) and family for everyone who knew them. Another friend is in the hospital with her husband, praying for a miracle. Several families I know are also praying for miracles as they have sweet children battling cancer, several adult friends as well. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle of some sort, so be kind. Be a friend. Be compassionate. “Let your light so shine”  in the darkness of this world, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world…”

“Star light, shine bright, See me through the dark night, Light mine, half way, Guide me home for Christmas day…”  Christmas Star   Home Alone 2

Best,

Leslie

PS… Did you know that the next full moon, the COLD moon is tomorrow, 12/12 at 12:12 am?!?! Don’t miss it!

PSS… The latest in the 25 Days of Christmas Sweaters in case you missed it on Facebook!