“Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!” Dean Martin 1966

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Did you know that the song “Let it Snow!” was written and composed during a HEAT WAVE in July of 1945? It was not written as a Christmas song, though it successfully evolved into one as radio stations began playing it, and artists such as Dean Martin and Tony Bennett (not the good looking UVA coach!) began performing it during the Christmas season.

“What good is the warmth of summer without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?” John Steinbeck

So did it snow in your area last weekend? It did here in Charlottesville. Forecast was for 6-12 inches, but thankfully we ended up with around 5 inches. Still, church services were cancelled, kids’ sporting events were cancelled, our clubs opened late and closed early, and of course, school was cancelled. But I had to work – our auditor was in from Chicago all weekend. We discovered over the years (worked with him for 13+ years) that we can get more accomplished working on the weekend without the interruptions of a normal work day. Only problem this weekend was finding a place within walking distance open for lunch due to the snow! Which of course he found hilarious as nothing shuts down in Chicago with only 5 inches of snow. We found ONE restaurant open and trekked to the downtown mall for lunch on Saturday and Sunday. Same place, same good food.

The thing about snow is that it is so peaceful and beautiful when it is falling. And the air feels so right – clean and crisp. Now don’t get me wrong, I prefer summer’s heat and humidity any time, but I do enjoy a beautiful snow. And I mostly love a snow on the weekend when I don’t have to work or worry about driving in it. I mean, I totaled one car last summer (driving it into a flooded roadway), I have no plans to total another driving it in the snow! Luckily our auditor is from Chicago where driving in snow is nothing!

“A lot of people like snow. I find it an unnecessary freezing of water.” Carl Reiner

The city and county, as well as our neighborhood management team, were prepared for this snow, having brined and salted the roads early. Came home Friday evening to an orange stick on either side of my driveway, and every other driveway in my neighborhood. Found it was to mark the edges of my driveway in case we got the 10+ inches forecasted, as my HOA is responsible for scraping our roads and clearing our driveways and sidewalks. Prepared. Unlike the state and counties in December 2009, when snow turned what normally is a 4-hour trip from Chapel Hill into a 17+ hour car ride for my son (coming home from Freshman year for Christmas) and me. Luckily I had filled up my gas tank and gotten my son a HUGE late lunch before leaving Chapel Hill, because for once in my life, I had no food in my car! I was not prepared – planned to be home in time for dinner, picking up a pizza on our way into town, but arrived home at 7:15 am the following morning.

“I prefer my footprints in the sand, not the snow.”

Remember the big snows when you were a kid? I remember some huge snows, but were they so big because we were so little? Or were they really big snows? When it snowed, my dad would put chains on our tires. (Yes, I am dating myself here but with a blog titled SOLO at SIXTY, there is no secret to my age!) The school buses ran with the big chains on their tires as well. And I remember how bad it was with the chains on the tires once the roads were partially cleared – such a rough ride. YIKES! Also, if it snowed during the week and schools were closed, we had to go to school the following SATURDAY. Imagine that! But I also remember my mom making the best snow cream. Of course you could NEVER use the first snow as it was “tainted” according to mom (first snow cleared the pollution out of the air!) and never use any yellow snow (duh), so we waited anxiously for that 2nd big snow. And the sledding… we had a flexible flyer and would put paraffin wax on the runners to make it go faster. Our street was basically a big hill that was great for sledding. The whole neighborhood would meet at the top and everyone sledded together, piling on top of each other on sleds. My mom always worried about us crashing and chipping our teeth! Not breaking bones, just teeth. “Make sure you close your mouth going down the hill!” Which no one did because we were screaming and laughing the whole way down. I never broke any teeth, neither did my sisters.

“Look for what’s good, what’s right, what’s beautiful. . .and that’s what you’ll see more of!”

By the way, last week my younger daughter and I watched the International Space Station fly overhead after an early morning cycle class. The sky was clear, the sun had not yet risen, and it was really cool to stand there looking at the sky marveling that there were people on the ISS and we were watching them fly by. Also marveling that my daughter who is NOT a morning person had already taken a class with me and was standing outside at 7 am. Life is good.

“For one minute walk outside, stand there, in silence, look up at the sky, and contemplate how amazing life is.”

And yes I am taking care of my knee… cycle is allowed. Just no running… which means more trips to Short Pump to take my older daughter’s cycle class, which we did last Thursday!

Looking forward to this weekend! Just hoping the “S” word does not interfere with my fun plans! And I noticed that the orange sticks are still marking the driveways….uh-oh, what does that mean?

I have my mom’s old clock on the wall in my office surrounded by photos of my family. I found myself looking at that clock and those old photos last Friday as I prepared for the weekend of work and snow, and found myself thinking about mom, and thought to myself that as those seconds and minutes ticked away, they were lost. Gone forever. Realized how important life is every minute of every day. So this week, take time each day to marvel at something amazing in life, and be thankful for every minute, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

 

GAME ON!

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Are y’all getting settled into the new year? I’m still working on accepting that 2018 is in the books. I have to admit, I have written 2018 several times, having to go back and make the 8 a 9! Sometimes I have a hard time letting go! (haha – sometimes?!?) But I think I am getting  there.

I have felt a little “off my game” lately, and not just because of the new year. Probably due to several things: holidays are over and I am missing my kids, Hallmark Christmas movies are GONE (at least until July!), and I am not running (missing that a lot!). Not running has really thrown me for a loop. I love running – it is my stress reliever. So why am I not running? Well, I realized something was wrong when I could no longer sit cross-legged or completely bend my left leg. Turns out I am experiencing some knee trouble. My last runs were on December 2nd and 3rd, knowing my doctor would tell me no more running at my appointment with her on December 4th. And she did. Plus she took x-rays and scheduled an MRI on a Friday night at 7:30. Really? Friday night MRI? Yep! Since it was my knee, I did not have to go all the way in the tube. WHEW! I was asked if I wanted music – “Do you have Christmas music?” “Christmas music it is.” Of course, you can only hear the music when the jackhammer noise is not blasting. And why is it that the minute they say “do not move,” your nose begins to itch and you feel a need to sneeze?!? Luckily, I closed my eyes and got a 30 minute nap, no valium needed. And luckily, the results are a bone bruise, torn meniscus, and screwed up cartilage – no surgery for now, just no running so it can heal. I appreciate that my doctor “gets” me. She has seen me through hamstring and hip issues – all resulting from running (and aging!). So, knowing I cannot be still and that I function better with some type of working out, she said I could cycle and do low-impact workouts. Does this mean I have to start swimming?! I mean, I can swim, but haven’t really since junior high (that’s middle school to some). Oh the joys (and woes) of aging and trying to remain active. So I am not running until the end of February, when I go back to the doctor and hope I am healed and get the green light to slowly start running again. After all, I have a race in March and one in April I don’t want to miss!

“When things get tough just don’t forget that somewhere in the distance you’ll see the sun shining.” Marinela Reka

Another thing knocking me off my game lately? The sun has been AWOL! It finally made an appearance up here last weekend. Enough so that I saw a rainbow, got my car washed, and enjoyed a beautiful Sunday afternoon sitting outside at, you guessed it, King Family Vineyards! My younger daughter was working and told me the new Crose (special rose) had been released and I should come out and try it. I believe this is the best one yet! It is so popular that it sells out by mid-summer each year, during the Polo season. And for the first time, they released some in cans! SO CUTE! It was such a perfect afternoon: sunny and warm (60 degrees), with a slight breeze making the air feel so clean. Carolina blue sky interrupted only with the passing jets’ white trails. So happy to be outside in the sun people-watching with a good glass of wine, some warm bread, and cheese. Do I mind going out there SOLO? Not at all. I often meet friends there, run into people I know, or just enjoy being alone. And there was a lot going on Sunday – a 1-year-old was having a BIG birthday party (go figure – must have been for the parents!), families, couples, and friends were all enjoying being outside on the unusually warm Sunday in January. Just like me!

“The sun is alone too but it still shines.”

So, I need to get back on my game. I had so much going on in November and December that I am having a bit of a time adjusting to a much slower, quieter pace this month. Saturday I even drove an hour to our Short Pump club and met my older daughter to take a Tabata (high intensity interval – oops, what was that about low impact?) class with her. Made my day. My sister and brother-in-law went to the beach last weekend and enjoyed sunny and warm (70’s) weather. OH was I ever jealous. But my time is coming…next month! Just hoping I’ll luck up with a warm weekend. New plan, new outlook. And hoping (and praying) my knee heals and I can get back out there running. Slowly and surely, until race day that is! So hard to have warm days in the winter and not be able to run.

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the game.” Randy Pausch

Speaking of games… did you watch the BIG college football game Monday night between Clemson and Alabama? Or did you watch the new season of The Bachelor? I watched the football game (and taped The Bachelor!). Roll Tide? Not this year. Roar Tigers!

Let’s make the most of these winter days, especially the warm, sunny ones, because as we all know none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

Just an FYI…. every Saturday night has a new Winter Hallmark Movie!

 

It’s a Wrap!

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Happy New Year! 2019. Did you stay awake long enough to see the ball drop and ring in the new year? Or did you set an alarm to rouse you from the sofa to welcome the new year in? Those poor people in Times Square, waiting all day, in the RAIN! Have to admit, I am glad I was not there!

Last week I could not believe Christmas was over; this week I can’t believe 2018 is over. Once my kids were gone, Christmas officially came to an end for me. So what did I do? Yep, I took my tree and all my decorations down, candles and boughs out of my windows, the netting of lights off my shrubbery, the garland off my light post, and washed and packed up my Christmas sweaters for next year. I did leave my beautiful wreath (the one I made!) on my front door. With Thanksgiving so early this year, my tree had been up since mid-November and was so dry I wasn’t sure we were going to be able to get it out of my house. My younger daughter came over Wednesday night to help me take it out. Once we hoisted it out of the stand, which was a bit of a comedy as it was such a big, DRY tree, we laid it on a sheet to carry out, but it was so dry the branches barely bent inward enough to make it through the door! I was afraid I might need a chainsaw to get it out. Vacuumed up all the pine needles and dog hair (Granddawg also visited over Christmas), moved my furniture back in place, and I was ready for 2019! I always like to start the new year off with my house in order, helps me to feel as if my life is also in order.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Eleanor Roosevelt

How did you feel about 2018? Were you glad to see it end? I feel as if I found my way in 2018. Turned a corner, took a right turn. I was finally able to close the book on a lot of hurt, pain, and self-doubt. I concentrated on how blessed I am and lived my life accordingly. Of course, there were some low, hurtful experiences in 2018. But I think after you find yourself unexpectedly SOLO, or experience other life-changing events, you have to know that those instances are going to happen, and you just have to be as prepared as possible, which is never easy. Luckily for me, the good times FAR outweighed the low times, and 2018 was the first in recent years that I truly felt good about the whole year. I had a lot of fun, spent a lot of time with my kids, family, and friends, and traveled to the beach often. I have no regrets about 2018 and I plan to end 2019 with no regrets as well.

“Healing does not mean the damage never existed, it just means the damage no longer controls our lives.”

Speaking of the beach, I am really feeling its pull these days. It has been a long time since I have inhaled that sweet salty air – well over a month! Unfortunately, I’m not sure when I will get back down there – now until mid-February is my busiest time at work, closing the books for 2018 and setting up 2019. Last week alone I visited 4 of our out-of-town clubs, 3 in one day, in 3 different states! Needless to say, it was a long, but very productive day. And Saturday I made a trip to our Short Pump club, took a great class with my older daughter, and talked her into helping me confirm inventory. Finished before the Carolina game at noon! And finally took my office Christmas lights down… so the season has wrapped up for me!

“What is coming is better than what is gone.”

Life is so similar. We are all closing the books on 2018 and opening a new book for 2019, one that includes 365 beautiful, blank pages just waiting for us to write a new story. What will you write on your pages? Will they be filled with happiness? Sorrow? Adventure? Fun? Will there be goodbye letters to some people and welcome letters to new people? You know I don’t believe in coincidences – I believe that everything happens for a reason, and that people enter our lives for a reason, though we may not be able to see it at the time. Becoming SOLO is proof for me. Yes, I said goodbye to some people in my life, but I have said hello and welcome to so many new and wonderful people. And I realized the importance of many people who had taken a back seat in my life. But I digress (imagine that!). We have 365, well now today it is down to 363 blank pages to fill. Let’s fill these pages with kindness, gratitude, happiness, compassion, love, and FUN! Make the most of these 363 days because like the last 2 days, we can never get them back. And if there is a bad page or chapter, just turn the page, knowing there is a bright blank page just waiting for YOU to fill it.

“To be happy in 2019 you must: Let go of what’s gone, be grateful for what remains, and look forward to what’s on the way.”

So that’s a wrap folks! Goodbye 2018, hello 2019!  Make the most of every day, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Happy New Year! It was a Carolina Blue day!

 

Best,

Leslie

PS Saw this and agree totally:  “Christmas is over… I am ready for Summer!”

“It’s Just Another New Year’s Eve…” Barry Manilow 1977

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Hope all y’all had a wonderful Christmas and that you were able to spend it with loved ones, be it family or friends. My whole Christmas season was such a blessing this year. Best one ever! If you have been following my blog, you know that November and December found me spending a lot of meaningful time with my family – kids, sisters, and mom. I have had so much fun. But the best part was having all of my kids under the same roof (my roof!) for Christmas. Cannot ask for more than that. As I have said before, as much as I love one-on-one time with my kids, I truly love watching them with each other laughing, joking, talking, loving. Does a momma’s heart good – my best present.

“The best gifts can’t often be packed inside a box. How can you wrap shared laughter and tears or talks that run into hours? They can only be wrapped and treasured inside my heart.”

I cannot believe Christmas is already over. My poor tree can though! It is so dry – it stopped “drinking water” last week. I guess that’s what happens when you put a tree up before Thanksgiving (which was early this year!). Since it is in my family room, I have enjoyed its Christmas spirit and beauty every night. This boosted my spirits as well.  As I look back on this past week, I realize there is nothing I would change about Christmas this year. It was our best yet. My kids and I followed a lot of our traditions and added some new fun events too.

Sunday was such a beautiful day, not at all like a wintry December 23rd. My kids went to church with me. I loved showing them off to my pew neighbors. It was the 4th Sunday in Advent, which meant the Hope, Peace, Love, and finally the Joy candles were all lit. So appropriate as it was such a joy having my kids with me in church! Not to mention that my “Day 23 Christmas Sweater” represented 3 of the 4 Advent candles, it was just missing Hope. And I felt all of these emotions Sunday. Hope for my family and friends that 2019 will be a wonderful year. Hope that all pain and suffering, physical and emotional, all disease, illness, and cancer will disappear from the lives of all afflicted. Peace, as I am at a very good place in my SOLO life and thankful my life is just the way it is. Love having my kids close to me. I love that they love me and each other, and that they are very good people. I love that they are celebrating Christmas with their momma who loves them more than anything. Joy, oh I have so much joy in my heart and life, especially this Christmas season. I looked in the face of my great-nephew at our family’s Christmas celebration, and each time he facetimes me, and feel his constant joy. Isn’t that wonderful about kids and joy – theirs is so obvious. I felt such joy having my kids with me this Christmas.

“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.” Burton Hills

After church Sunday, we decided to visit several area wineries since it was such a beautiful day. We always leave the “which ones to visit” decision up to my younger daughter, our wine connoisseur, who picks perfectly, and Sunday was no exception. We had so much fun all afternoon together and ended up at my house for a lasagna family dinner. Again, more fun just sitting around the table talking, before watching Christmas movies (non-Hallmark!).

We followed a tradition we started several years ago on Christmas Eve, going downtown to a brewery we love for lunch. But first, my older daughter and I went to an early cycle class (I am not running right now or we would have gone for a good run!), and leisurely shopped at a few stores for nothing in particular, which was more fun. Our traditional Christmas Eve dinner was later at my house before church, followed by a late night of fun and more silly movies until we all fell asleep on couches and recliners. Poor Santa had to wait until the wee hours for us to move to our beds!

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

We changed up our tradition a bit Christmas morning and had a waffle bar! Oh, and eggs, grits, bacon, turkey sausage links, and fruit! Opened presents and had a late lunch before everyone headed back to their homes. My younger daughter and I started a new tradition this year: going to a movie Christmas afternoon! We decided to see Welcome to Marwen, and it was wonderful. So happy to do this as I always feel a bit of a let down after my kids leave.

With Christmas over and my tree so dry, I am ready for it to come down. I always like to start the new year with a clean house – all decorations back in their boxes, Christmas sweaters cleaned and  packed away for next Christmas. I plan to have this accomplished before the weekend is over.

“Start every day with a new hope. Leave bad memories behind and have faith for a better tomorrow.”

I started thinking about 2019 while I was in church with my kids last Sunday, as the Advent season wrapped up. Honestly, I am not sure how in my 61 years of life, I never thought so much about the specific Advent candles before. Just something I took for granted. Advent came to an end on Christmas morning, and the Christ candle representing the light of the world was lit. Let’s carry these themes of HOPE, PEACE, LOVE, and JOY right into the new year.

Speaking of the new year… do you have any big plans for New Year’s? Will you be awake to sing Auld Lang Syne? Any resolutions to share? I started 2018 telling myself that I did not want to end the year with any regrets. I would see my “out of town” kids more, go to the beach as often as possible, read more books, and learn to knit. Success in many of these resolutions – I have NO regrets for 2018. Well, I wanted to read more books and I did not learn to knit, but there is always 2019. Since this past year was a good one for me, I plan to continue on this same course.

“Make this year a year of finding, of fulfillment, of joy, peace, and purpose.”

Here is my advice to my kids for 2019 – maybe some will resonate with you:

  1. Be kind. Every day.
  2. Be honest with yourself and others. Every day.
  3. Work hard. Every day.
  4. Have fun. Every day.
  5. Exercise. Every day.
  6. Pray. Every day.
  7. Be thankful. Every day.

“A new year. A fresh start. Same dreams. New challenges. Feel the fear and do it anyway. 365 new days. 365 new challenges.”

This year is almost over and sadly, not all of our family & friends made it. Never take for granted those you love, and make sure they know how you feel, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

And for the final time this year, the last days of 25 Days of Christmas Sweaters:

See y’all next year!

Best,

Leslie

PS: Remember in a previous blog I said I thought the Carolina Frats must have hired a company to put up all of their lights. Well, according to my son, that is NOT the case. Pledges are responsible for the lights. So glad I never knew my son was on the roof of his fraternity house hanging lights!

ATO Chapel Hill…my son’s decorations!

 

 

Love Actually… 2003

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Monday night, my sister texted that “Love Actually” was on TV. Second time this season. What a great movie! All about LOVE. And it includes the song “All I Want for Christmas” in the soundtrack. I cannot believe this is the first year I have seen this movie. Where have I been all these years? I have now seen it twice and will watch it again if possible. Definitely recommend it.

I have been tearing up the road lately! And loving the lower gas prices. Last week, I spent Tuesday and Wednesday in Maryland, Thursday in NC, came back to Virginia on Friday just to head back to NC on Sunday.  But I am loving every minute of each special trip. Speaking of love, this past Sunday was the 3rd Sunday in Advent, in which the Hope (1st Sunday), Peace (2nd Sunday), and the Love (3rd Sunday) candles were lit. Love… doesn’t this word give you a warm fuzzy feeling? I LOVED this past Sunday and felt that warm fuzzy feeling! All of the people I love most in this world, except for my son-in-law who had dawg duty, were together at my older sister’s house – Mom, my sisters, my brother-in-law, my nephew and his family, my 3 kids, and my son’s girlfriend. We celebrated our Holcomb family Christmas, laughing, eating, spending time together, and being entertained by Jack. So much fun and so much love! Next year Jack’s little sister will be with us! What a wonderful afternoon followed by the most special church service of the season – the Moravian Candlelight Lovefeast. Lovefeast, you ask? Oh yes. The service begins with Christmas hymns, then they serve a Moravian bun and Moravian coffee (brewed with cream and sugar – only time I drink coffee all year!). We all say the Moravian blessing together and enjoy the bun and coffee while the choirs sing, followed by the most special part of the service – the lighting of the candles. Our church makes all of the candles out of beeswax (representing the purity of Christ) and trim them in red crepe paper (representing the blood of Christ). Of course, the lighted candle represents Christ as the “Light of the World,” and during the last verse of the last hymn, we all stand and raise our lighted candles. What a beautiful sight to behold! Talk about a warm fuzzy feeling… Oh how I love this service – it would not be Christmas without it. I loved being a Moravian again (I’m a Presbyterian in VA). And it was worth getting home after midnight, especially having so much time in the car with my daughters. And I’m thankful for that Moravian coffee to keep me awake!

“May the light that entered the world that night cast its brilliance into the deepest corners of our souls this Christmas, giving us peace on earth of which the angels spoke so long ago.” Randy Kilgore

As I ended my last blog, I was setting off on another fun adventure, and what fun it was! Last Thursday I drove to Charlotte and met my son and his roommate (whose birthday it was) at their apartment. We walked several blocks to the Charlotte Panthers’ Stadium where my son’s girlfriend met us so that we could take a tour of the stadium, an event offered by one of our large vendors. Because my son lives in Charlotte and we are all Panthers’ fans, I immediately took advantage of this offer. Oh my gosh what fun that was! Toured and learned so much about the Panthers, the 75,525-seat stadium, the locker rooms, the press boxes, the field, the “TopCats” locker room, everything Panther! The concourse is half a mile. The 2 video boards are each 55 feet tall and 198 feet wide! Imagine being on that Jumbotron! Loved every minute of it! And afterwards we walked to a local bar where we were treated to cocktails and appetizers. SO. MUCH. FUN. Loved spending time with my son (my favorite guy), his girlfriend, and his roommate.

“Family… today’s little moments become tomorrow’s precious memories.”

Left Charlotte and headed to Winston-Salem. Stopped by Mom’s, hoping she would still be awake and I could surprise her, and luckily, there she was, in her PJ’s with her friends just chatting at the nurses station. “Well look who is here – my daughter! Hey Les!” Oh those sweet words warmed my heart! And funny thing is, the caregiver told me Mom had just said she was not quite ready to go to bed. A mother’s intuition to wait up? I believe! Spent the night at my sister’s and left VERY early Friday morning heading back to Charlottesville and directly to work!

My sweet Momma….

“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.” Desmond Tutu

Today I am back in NC, spending the day baking with my Mom and my sisters, using Mom’s Christmas recipes. We are making several traditional Holcomb Christmas sweets – fudge, peanut butter balls, molasses crinkles, and thumbprints cookies. Lots of sisterly love and fun. I know Mom is loving being here, surrounded by her girls, and rolling a thousand peanut butter balls!

“Mothers hold their children’s hands for short while, but their hearts forever.”

This Friday is the Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year. Did you know that it is 5 hours and 50 minutes shorter than the Summer Solstice in June?!? That is almost 6 fewer hours of sunlight! BUT… I love this day because it means that we will now begin adding 1 minute of light every day! And those minutes add up… quickly. More light… just like the candles in the Candlelight Lovefeast. This is a time we can be a light for others. Share your light with those who need it most. Your light will shine brighter for it.

Let your light so shine…

“There are two ways of spreading light… to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” Edith Wharton

So y’all, this time next week another Christmas will have come and gone. My children, who are spending Christmas with me, will have returned to their homes. Life will settle back down a bit. But in the meantime, I plan to enjoy and love every special minute of this holiday season. Treasure the time spent with my kids, family, and friends, and remember the reason we celebrate Christmas.

“It’s not what’s under the tree that matters, it’s who is around it.”

I wish for each of you a blessed Christmas with much love and happiness. Cherish the love of family and friends, and make sure you share this love and your light, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Merry Christmas,

Leslie

PS Could not end without this past week’s Sweater collection! HO HO HO! Enjoy!

“Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy” Bing Crosby and David Bowie 1977

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

This past Sunday was the 2nd Sunday in Advent, meaning the Hope candle for the 1st Sunday and the Peace candle for the 2nd Sunday were lit. PEACE. Such a calming word. It’s lovely when we find peace in our lives. When there is no conflict, worry, or angst. When life is calm, skies are blue, and we have a feeling of contentment. This time of year we tend to get caught up in all the hustle and bustle of the holidays – parties and events, shopping and presents to be bought, and celebrations in addition to our everyday busy lives. So when we do find a moment or two of peace, we must cherish them.

“Nobody can bring you peace but yourself.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Came out of church Sunday to SNOW! Lots of it. Made life a bit chaotic as everyone was carefully trying to navigate their way first to their cars, and then on the snow covered roads home. And it continued into the night. Our original prediction of 2-4 inches was surpassed within the first couple of hours. I last measured over 9 inches on my deck! But the chaos of the morning lead to a very peaceful Sunday afternoon and evening at home in front of a fire, wrapping presents and watching Hallmark Christmas movies, content to be inside. I went out later to take a picture and just stood listening to the silence of the new fallen snow. So unlike the days when my kids were younger, out sledding and playing in the snow! I remember putting beach towels down in the entrance hall for my kids and their friends to leave their boots, jackets, snow pants, etc. It was a pile taller than ME! Loved those times dearly, but I have to say that Sunday’snight made me think of Silent Night’s “all is calm, all is bright”. I left my outside Christmas lights on all night. They looked so special under the snow.

“A snowflake is one of God’s most fragile creations, but look what they can do when they stick together!”

If you recall, I ended last week’s blog telling you I was off to attend a fun event that night. And I was: my first EVER Carolina basketball game in the Dean Dome. Can you believe that?! My younger daughter and I left Charlottesville late afternoon and headed to Chapel Hill. Had dinner at our favorite restaurant, TOPO (Top of the Hill) and walked (briskly I might add) to the Dean Dome to watch UNC play UNCW, my younger daughter’s alma mater. I got tickets to the game for her birthday (and mine!). When I was at Carolina, basketball games were played in Carmichael Auditorium. I remember camping out for tickets at least once. We set up early and got close enough to an outlet to have an electric blanket! But I digress… I have been in the Dean Dome for several Late Nights with Roy – the last one in 2017 when the Championship banner was hung, but this was my first game and it was exciting! Great seats and great atmosphere. So much Carolina Blue. SO. MUCH. FUN! The UNCW coach is a former UNC assistant coach, so it was a homecoming for him and he was well received. First half was very close, but UNC pulled away in the 2nd half. Still, it was a great game for us and we stayed until the last second ticked off, then trekked back to our car enjoying all the Christmas lights on Frat court (they must have hired a company to put up all their lights!) and the beautifully decorated Carolina Inn. Since it was a 9 pm game, we did not get home until 3 am (thankful for 5-hour energy drinks)! But it was worth every sleep-deprived moment! Oh how I would love to have season tickets to those basketball games…

“The purpose of our lives is to be happy.” Dalai Lama

Though I was dragging a bit Thursday after only 3 hours of sleep, I did not want to miss the member’s Candlelight Christmas House Tour at Montpelier (home of President James Madison) that evening. This was my third house tour and I am always in awe of what I learn, see, and feel each time. My younger daughter was there photographing the event and as we walked from the Visitors Center where there was wine, food, and music, to the house, we found ourselves whispering. Then we both said, why are we whispering? Because it was so peaceful, beautiful, and quiet along the candlelit path. I love visiting with “James and Dolley” as well – it is amazing to me how they are always perfectly in period time, but I would never have made it in Madison’s time – they barely decorated for the holidays back then!

My original plans for the weekend included a peaceful trip to the beach to recharge and catch up on sleep, but the impending weather changed my plans. So instead, I went to Richmond on Saturday to see my granddawg and celebrate her birthday a few days early. She will be 2 years old tomorrow (Thursday). You may think that makes her 14 in human years (I did!), but according to WebMD that is not the case. She is 24 human years old, 15 years for her first year and 9 years for her second. That makes me feel old! She’s almost as old as my son and has only been in our lives for 2 years. To say she was excited to see me is an understatement. Of course, she is always excited to see visitors, but I like to think she felt something special for me. She loved the birthday presents I brought from my son, daughter, and me. (That dawg loves presents, and the bags presents come in!) Went out to lunch with my daughter and son-in-law, but with the chilly weather, we did not take Paige and eat outside. Love spending time with my kids.

“We should live every day like it is a holiday, being thankful and spending time with family, and looking hopefully to the future.”

I cannot end without a summary of this week’s 25 Days of Christmas Sweaters. What fun I have had with this! Love your comments on facebook each day. Still having a hard time deciding which ones will not make the cut this year. It is causing me angst when I need peace!

This Christmas season, and every other day of the year, strive to find peace in your life, in your family, in our world. What a wonderful world it would be if only we had peace in our daily lives. And live each day as if it could be your last, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“Peace…It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”

Peacefully,

Leslie

PS I am off on another FUN adventure tomorrow. And looking forward to being a Moravian again this Sunday! More on all of that next week!

 

“O Little Town of Bethlehem…” 1868

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

My tree was up before Thanksgiving (yes I know that is early) and my house was decorated, but I was missing one piece – my front door wreath! For several years my younger daughter and I have talked about going to a wreath-making class and this year, we did. We had so much fun! Learned a lot as well – all of the greenery came from the property at Grelen, a quaint nursery and shop in the nearby town of Orange. There were so many different and beautiful types of evergreens and greenery for us to use from white pine to magnolia leaves, including one in particular we loved – Carolina sapphire. The process was nothing like I had imagined – thought we would just use green floral wire to secure the greenery around a circular base, but no. Instead, we had a strong metal form with 14 sections. We chose different types of greenery, cut to about 10 inches, and bundled tightly in our hand. Had to be a handful. Then one at a time, we added a bundle and bent the wire (not floral wire!) down on each side to hold it in. Each bundle overlapped the previous bundle. The bundles added up. Little steps to a beautiful wreath. What a beautiful and special day. Definitely on the list for next year.

“Enjoy the little things in life… for one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.”

Friday night was reserved for my secret crush, not that it is really a secret according to my cousin! But first, I drove to Richmond to see my older daughter’s new office which is wonderful, and then to her house to see her Christmas tree, and to love on my granddawg Paige. Y’all, their tree is a total Carolina tree from the star to the skirt. Nothing red on this tree – red is a banned color in their house (think woof woof – NCSU). And their topper – well, no question they are Tarheels and they bleed blue!

Then it was MY time… drove across town to spend an hour with my favorite author and secret crush, David Baldacci. Even though I was early, the place was packed. Only time I don’t mind standing (and waiting), and I did so for over an hour, listening to him entertain everyone with stories and background on the new character in his latest thriller. This new book is already a best-seller and looks to be another great read. When it was my turn to get my books signed, he graciously greeted me and signed all 12 of my books! I keep my kids’, family’s, and friends’ home libraries up to date with all of his novels – personally signed with a “Happy Birthday” or “Merry Christmas.” But for my book, I just asked him to sign and date it. But what did he write? “To Leslie, Always great to see you!” Be still my heart! Such a little thing, but honestly, made me feel special, made my day. Maybe he doesn’t “know” me, but he does remember me, I mean who wouldn’t!?! I have been coming to his book signings for over 20 years and I always have more books than anyone else for him to sign. I do feel badly for the people behind me in line, but these books are perfect presents! He releases a new best-seller twice a year, which means I get to see him twice a year. Many people say that if they could have lunch with anyone in the world they would choose a professional athlete or famous actor. Me? I would choose an author.

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

Sometimes it’s the little things in life that truly touch us. My teammates at work knew that December 1st was the beginning of my famous Christmas Sweater exhibition, and they showed up Monday decked to the nines in their cheeriest (and only) Christmas Sweaters to join me! So fun for me! Come Tuesday, I was the only one sporting holiday attire, but that is ok! (Wonder if they will be borrowing a sweater from me for later in the season!)

Let’s sparkle!

 

“Christmas it too sparkly, said no one ever!”

If you know me, you know I have been collecting Christmas sweaters for YEARS! Some are 35+ years old (many with shoulder pads). Since my birthday is in November, my mother would often give me a Christmas sweater for my birthday (back when they were in style). And when my kids were in school, I loved sporting them when I volunteered in their classrooms. I have bins of them, and usually add to my collection each year. Still don’t understand why my kids raid them for Ugly Christmas Sweater parties! I plan to wear a different Christmas sweater (or 2) every day until Christmas. Little thing, but it tends to make people smile and truly puts me in the Christmas spirit. It is difficult deciding which jewels won’t make the cut this year. Christmas spirit lives on!

“And we are better throughout the year for having in spirit, become a child again at Christmas time.” Laura Ingalls Wilder

This past Sunday was the first Sunday in Advent. The Hope candle was lit. HOPE. Such a strong and yet wistful word. We all hope. We must hope or we are mired in despair. We hope for our families and friends to be safe, happy, and healthy. We hope that tomorrow will be better than today. We hope for a bright future.

“Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.”

What hopes do you have for this holiday season? I am hoping all of our dreams come true. I am hoping prayers are answered for my family and friends. I am hoping the Christmas spirit touches each and every one of you. Remember to BE present this holiday season, enjoy the little things that touch your heart, and spread joy wherever you go, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

PS Cheers and Happy 100th birthday to an “old” friend from New Philadelphia Moravian Church who has also found himself a transplant in Virginia. This dear man writes with such spirit, heart, and humor. What an example he is to all of us. Happy Birthday Ed! You inspire me!

AND I am doing something SO FUN tonight! Check out next week’s blog to see what it is!