“Deacon Blues” Steely Dan 1977

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

I love Steely Dan… and always loved their song Deacon Blues. AND always thought it was written about the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. “They got a name for the winners in the world… I want a name when I lose… They call Alabama the Crimson Tide… Call me Deacon Blues…”  But I just learned the song was NOT written about the Demon Deacons, but about 70’s NFL player Deacon Jones. Wow… All these years… but I was not alone in this assumption.

“Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.”

After winning our first 2 games in upset fashion, I thought our run might continue as I headed to Winston-Salem Friday to see Carolina play Wake Forest. Heard Deacon Blues on my favorite XM station – Yacht Rock Radio, except there were no Deacon blues Friday night… maybe a scare for the Deacs when Carolina finally got their act together in the 4th quarter, but the blues were all Carolina blue as we lost our first game of the season. All was not lost though – we had a great time tailgating! My sister and brother-in-law joined us for a barbeque tailgate in the “Carolina Town” part of the parking lot. I mean, when you are in Winston-Salem where barbeque is king, that’s what you have! We played cornhole, visited, imbibed, and had dinner before heading into the game. Expecting rain, I took my poncho, but amazingly, the weather held, and it was a beautiful night for football. I have not been in Groves Stadium in 25+ years. It has changed a bit. My last 2 years of college were at Wake Forest and the stadium seemed much bigger than when I was there, but when I mentioned this to my daughter, she googled it and said it is the smallest stadium in the ACC and all Power 5 conferences. Perceptions… sure seemed big to me!

First time our seats have been in front of the band and it was really fun. Band was very active and played all the fight songs plus so much more. Carolina crowd showed up and cheered hard. Just was not quite enough… no time to mope, chin up, there’s always next week!

Happy 90th birthday to our sweet Momma! Yep… Mom turned 90, but thought we were kidding her. “How can I be 90?” Two years ago, my younger daughter and I celebrated our 30th and 60th birthdays together (our birthdays are within 3 days of each other). So I thought I might bring the leftover “30” and “60” napkins to Mom’s party so she could pick whether she wanted to be 30, 60, or add them together and be 90! Wouldn’t it be fun if we could all do that!?! What age would you choose? If I could make some changes, I might go back in time, but truly, at this point, I would choose 60 (like Mom, I would definitely NOT choose 90!).

“The way I see it, you should live everyday like it’s your birthday.”  Paris Hilton

We surprised Mom Saturday, and the expression on her face when my sister brought her into the room and all of “her people” yelled Surprise, was priceless. We celebrated with a lunch followed by a beautiful cake and ice cream. And were entertained by Sweet Jack and Izzie. What a fun and special day. 90. WOW! We are so lucky to still have our sweet Momma with us. Mom has experienced and sacrificed so much in her 90 years. She has loved and lost. Raised 3 strong daughters. Loved her kids unconditionally. Said goodbye to her parents and her sweet sister who she absolutely adored, her best friend. Suffered broken bones – an ankle and kneecap. Beaten breast cancer. Set a great example for her girls. And through it all, she has been full of grace and love. Mom is loved not only by her family, but also by her caregivers, because unlike so many of the elderly, she has kept her sweet and gracious demeanor. We are blessed.

“The golden rule of parenting it to always show your children the kind of person you want them to be.”

I said goodbye to my sweet Momma and my kids and headed to my happy place. Here for a week of perfect weather and special company! And SO.MUCH.FUN! More on this next week!

My kiddos!

So… gotta share with you what I did last week. One of my girlfriends was about to embark on a BIG race and talked me into going to Cryotherapy with her. Know what that is? Well I didn’t… but I do now! Thought it might have something to do with Superman. Nope, that is Kryptonite. It is FREEZING your body! Yep, and I endured it for 3 minutes (that’s the limit). 225 degrees below zero. And if you know me, the fact that I even tried this is BIG because it was COLD y’all, actually freezing. Purpose is to reduce inflammation and pain – what I need with my knee. “Exposure to the sub zero temperatures triggers the release of anti-inflammatory proteins and endorphins.”  And I am all about endorphins! Did it help? Maybe. Would I do it again? Yep, I think so. Luckily, you wear these really warm socks (thank heavens) and mittens and you march continually while in the “vat” so you don’t freeze (guessing here!). And I was told I could come out early if I needed to – NO WAY when I knew my girlfriend would definitely not come out early and I went first. After returning my body temperature to normal, I opted to also experience the “NormaTec Compression Recovery System” to improve circulation in my legs. Obviously, anxious to have my knee back to normal, I’ll try just about anything to help my recovery. Besides, it was fun because we did it together and got to talk the whole time.

“A single thread of hope is a very powerful thing.”

Keep your chin up, celebrate big and small moments, look for something good in every situation, and be thankful for every day you have with those you love, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

PS In 2 weeks Carolina plays Clemson (#1 team in the nation) in Chapel Hill. Maybe Steely Dan should change the words from “Crimson Tide to Clemson Tigers”. Here’s hoping we won’t be too blown out! You never know!

 

“I’m a Survivor, I’m gonna make it…” Destiny’s Child 2001

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Well, we survived the hurricane. Hurricane Dorian that is. Thankfully. Have not seen it for myself (will next week though!), but thanks to my sweet (and brave) neighbors, who rode out the hurricane, all is well in our little beach community. They said it was pretty scary with the wind blowing and rain pelting, nothing like the experience felt in the Bahamas, but still, for our area, they felt lucky we dodged a bullet. Me too!

Is there anyone who did not see the red jeep stranded on Myrtle Beach last week during the hurricane? Oh my! I promise that was NOT me y’all! But boy do I know that horribly helpless feeling after doing something so stupid. I did survive driving my car into water after last’s year hurricane… but my car did not. Scariest experience of my life. However, all ended well with a new car, exactly like the drowned car. Survival… life goes on.

“Struggles are required in order to survive in life, because in order to stand up, you gotta know what falling down is like.”

We also survived the Hurricanes… as in the University of Miami Hurricanes, who traveled to Chapel Hill for our first home football game last Saturday night. And what a game it was!  We won 28-25. Best game I have ever attended. Truly. Kenan Stadium was sold out, packed with over 50,000 fans in Carolina blue with a sprinkling of orange and green, and the vibe was electric. Our freshman QB is a campus hero (and rightly so) after going for it on 4th down, in the waning minutes of the game, with 17 yards to first down. He threw a perfect pass. Game changer… and we won. Carolina is now 2-0, winning as many games in the first 2 games of this season as we won all of last season. Hoping the run continues! It’s the topping on the ice cream of our tailgate when we win!

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

Speaking of our tailgate, first one of the season was last Saturday. Even though the game was not until 8 pm, my daughter and son-in-law left Richmond at 0 dark hundred to get to Chapel Hill and secure our tailgate spot and shop. I got there around 10:30, parked beside the tailgate, and walked up to Franklin Street to meet them at Top of the Hill (our favorite restaurant) for brunch. We had the prime table on the patio overlooking Franklin Street. Such a perfect day! As they headed back to the tailgate, I spent some time shopping and walking around campus, just enjoying being back in Chapel Hill. My younger daughter arrived mid afternoon, and the cornhole contests began. My kids are pretty good, I am not… but it is still fun! Also watched several ACC football games on TV (yes there is a big TV with DISH satellite at the tailgate) and visited with our tailgate neighbors. Cooked out for dinner and headed to the game. Our seats are even better than last year – 45 yard line. It was a perfect day and such a fun night! Plus I got to have a sleepover with my younger daughter before heading home early Sunday.

“From every wound there is a scar and every scar tells a story. A story that says I SURVIVED.”

Survival. We were the underdogs in the past 2 games. Predicted to lose. But we proved the naysayers wrong, and proved to our fans that we can fight back and win. Just like life, every day we survive, most days without even realizing it. Three years ago, I was thankful to survive each “dark” day. Thankful I had a job that got me out out of bed with a purpose for the day. Thankful for the family and friends who kept me going. Learned a lot about myself and how to survive SOLO. And now, I am still surviving daily, in a good way, and I realize it. My best plan for survival is to have fun things to look forward to. UNC football games with my kids for one. Trips to the beach. Dinners with friends. Visiting wineries. Last Sunday morning, I left Chapel Hill with plans to meet a friend to visit a winery I had not been to before. But I called an “audible” and changed plans. My younger daughter had asked if I would pick up her wine from her 2 wine clubs, and of course I said yes. Which meant, 2 free wine tastings, since she is a member. Not turning that down! Told my friend this one was my treat! Perfect September Sunday afternoon weather – sunny and not too hot. Perfect day for a drive to the wineries made more perfect in a really nice convertible, top down, music playing… and me driving! We survived my driving and oh what fun that was. Since the driving was offered to me, I said that I better drive BEFORE having wine. Been a long time since I have been in a convertible… high school maybe? (yes, that was a LONG time ago!) Wow… I have been missing out!

“Remember that time you thought you wouldn’t survive? Well you did and you can do it again.”

Another survival plan for this weekend – UNC vs. Wake Forest football game in Winston-Salem Friday night with my kids (tough since I went to both UNC and Wake but my heart is Carolina Blue!), followed by celebrating my sweet Momma’s 90th birthday on Saturday before heading to my happy place! Many fun plans for next week as well. And more down the road all the way to Christmas. Did I mention I am a planner? But that is what works for me. I am flexible enough (kinda) to change my plans, but still, I like knowing what’s coming. What works for you? How do you survive the challenges life throws at you? Do you plan time with friends? Or do you need solitary time?

“Don’t lose your present to your past.”

I cannot end without remembering that on this day in 2001, almost 3,000 people lost their lives in the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. Families and friends were heartbroken. Lives were changed forever. Senseless acts. If you have not visited Ground Zero in NYC, you should. It is an emotional experience. So today, remember all those who left home that September morning, never to return. And remember their families and friends. And make the most of this day and every day, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself.”  Walter Anderson

Best,

Leslie

PS – Name change is a done deal at work!

Name officially changed at work!

 

“September” Earth, Wind & Fire 1978 (my favorite EW&F song!)

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Welcome to the “burrrr” months… SeptemBER, OctoBER, NovemBER, DecemBER… I’m getting chilly just saying these months out loud! However, one is my birthday month! Just saying!

Fall…and pumpkin!

How was your Labor Day holiday? Did you get the day off? Go to a cookout? I really did not get the day off, it is month-end after all, and financials must be produced. But I’ll take the time off later. I did, however, go to a fun barbeque late afternoon.

Labor Day BBQ!

“Dream big, work hard, stay focused, and surround yourself with good people.”

Even though I had to work, it was still a less stressful Labor Day weekend than usual because I didn’t have to race. That’s right… for the first time in over 10 years, I skipped out on running the Charlottesville Women’s 4-Miler (always Labor Day weekend). Darn knee. I love running, but I do stress myself out over races. Was it a relief? Well… sorta. But it was sad as well. I run this race “in memory” of my childhood friend Luanne, who lost her battle with cancer, and last year added “in honor” of her daughter-in-law, Jenn, who overcame her battle with cancer in the most courageous way. It was also sad because I run this race with my younger daughter (who moved to Charlotte) as a mother/daughter team, Run Like Mad. I miss her. But we will be back next year when my knee is healed, and I think we’ll be changing the name of our team! That is, since I changed my name.

2018…

“And then she realized that a fresh start was hers for the taking, that she could be the woman she’s always seen on the distant horizon – her future self. One step at a time. Starting today.”

My knee is healing though, and I am slowly but happily regaining my pre-surgery life. For me, that means gaining my mobility and peace of mind. My “return to normal activities” date is September 24th, 5 months post surgery (and my late dad’s birthday!). I will be celebrating! And I will not be overdoing it this time around. I was cleared to take a step class this week, and I did, low impact. Been a LONG time since I took step. It was fun and another “step” toward normalcy.

My running limit is now up to 40 minutes so I started running part of my old route through the grounds (campus) of UVA. Can’t wait until I can run the full course! But this is a great start. The students are back at UVA for a new semester and the “Corner” is once again alive and busy. College parents are adjusting to life without their kids. Dinner tables have changed. There’s a hole in the family. I kinda feel that way since my younger daughter moved to Charlotte, but she is so happy it makes my heart full. I am sure these college parents are feeling the same way.

Yep! That’s my girl on TV at the UNC game!

All those kids back at college… you know what that means, college football!  And oh my, did Labor Day weekend bring on the start of college football in a BIG way for Tar Heel fans! We were hoping for a decent game and were happily surprised with the win! Had almost forgotten what that felt like. HEAVENLY! Here’s hoping for a repeat this weekend as I head to Chapel Hill with my kids for the UNC-Miami game. Looking forward to the start of our tailgate season. My daughter and son-in-law (professional tailgaters) had a “dry run” on our tailgate, making sure everything is in working order including the Dish satellite… all is ready! We are ready.

“The greatest power you possess in life is your understanding that life gives you a fresh start any moment you choose to start fresh.” – Guy Finley

Ready for Preschool!

Speaking of being ready, my sweet great-nephew Jack started preschool this week. He was ready and excited with his new backpack and lunchbox. It’s a whole new world for him. What we are not ready for though is Hurricane Dorian. The governor of SC issued a mandatory evacuation at my beach this week, and luckily my sister and brother-in-law were down there to ready our houses for whatever may come. Praying for all of those in the path of this furious storm. And hoping when I head there in a week, things will be all right. By the way, I will NOT drive into any water this time!

“New month. New beginning. New mindset. New focus. New start. New intentions. New results.”

Remember when LaBURR Day meant the start of fall? Sure didn’t feel that way this past weekend! But it IS the start of the last 4 months of 2019. If you were to stop and take stock of this year so far, is there anything you would want to change to end the year on a positive note? Have any resolutions you made in January that you still want to accomplish? Any new intentions to make these next months the best months of 2019? I plan to be more present in the moment these last 4 “burr” months of the year. Not stress over what I cannot control (example – onset of cold weather!). This journey with my knee made me slow down and appreciate many things I took for granted. I have developed patience (well some). I’m going to enjoy and celebrate life to its fullest. And let life lead me. It’s gonna be a fun ride, right into the Christmas season (my favorite time of the year!). Make the decision today to renew your spirit, refocus your intentions, take that extra step for yourself and your happiness, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“The best thing you can do for yourself is stop saying “I wish” and start saying “I will”. And then do something about it.”

Best,

Leslie

PS  A big thank you to everyone who reached out with support after the last blog… made this SOLO girl feel good about that big change.

 

“The Name Game” Shirley Ellis 1962

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

When I was in college I worked part-time for a travel agency. It was such a fun place to work as a 20-year-old, booking flights and exciting trips for people (even got a big discount on my honeymoon!). The owner was an older gentleman (he was probably 45 years old at the time but that was old to a 20-year-old co-ed!) who could not remember my name and just called me “Little Honey” after my initials “LH”… so “Little Honey” I was! “LH” also stood for Leslie Holcomb, my name for the first 22 years of my life. Then, in August of 1980, “Little Honey” became Leslie Madigan for the next 39 years.

Leslie Anne Holcomb

“Never let your fear decide your future.”

About a year ago I realized that several of my friends, including my younger sister, had reclaimed their maiden names after going through a divorce. Started me thinking about what I wanted to do with my name. Reached out to one divorced college friend to ask why she changed her name back. Her answer was simple: she was no longer that person. Hit me between the eyes. I am no longer that person either. So what to do? Should I reclaim my maiden name? Discussed it with my sisters, who were all for it, my kids who supported it, and several friends, all were for it except one who told me, “I’ve only known you as Leslie Madigan.” But that’s not who I am now… This was a big decision, emotionally and logistically. One I did not take lightly (considering it took me a year!). Decision? Return to my roots! It’s a big process, one that includes a judge, the social security office, and the dreaded DMV (thankfully I took a book – I was there for 2+ hours!).

“I lost my husband in my divorce. I gained MYSELF.”

So here I am – back where I started 39 years ago – Leslie Anne Holcomb, and y’all, it is very freeing and feels like a whole new beginning. ME! SOLO! I felt a bit of this same freedom in 2016 when I went to DMV to change my car title to my name only, and got a new, generic license plate. MADIGAN had been my license plate for over 25 years, beginning in NC and continuing when we moved to VA. And in one day, I had a generic license plate and it felt good. A step toward a new future SOLO. Freaked out my co-workers who thought some jerk had parked in MY prize parking space, since my car no longer “said” MADIGAN. (I get to work early and always park in the spot at the end of the row where I can pull through – I am a terrible parker, just saying!)

“Strong women don’t have attitudes, we have standards.”

But y’all, the most ironic thing happened while making this big change. Remember the blog “Good Day Sunshine” where I visited Kiawah Island to look at wedding venues with my son and his fiancée and her family exactly 39 years after arriving there for my honeymoon? Ironic, right? Well… when I got home from that trip, the judge’s decree changing my name had arrived in my mailbox. I took a deep breath and opened it, thinking, this is now real. Then I looked at the date the judge signed it and made the change legal, and it was… yep… August 9, 2019… exactly 39 years after my name changed from Holcomb to Madigan. Can’t make this up. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I believe in signs. And as my kids said, this gives me a new reason to celebrate August 9th. A whole new beginning y’all! Of course, it’s also a whole new beginning of changing my name at my banks, on my passport, library card (important!), bills…. Not sure it ever ends!

“And suddenly you know…It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”

So what’s the first thing I did as Leslie Anne Holcomb? Took a road trip south to see my mom. Did not tell her about the name change, knew it would be too confusing. But I knew. Then I met a girlfriend for lunch and shared with her that I had pulled the trigger on my name change. She was excited for me – she knew I was considering it. Wrapped it up with an outdoor concert with my sister and brother-in-law to see Eric and the Chilltones, a great local band performing 60’s, 70’s, Earth Wind & Fire, James Taylor, and lots of beach music – Catalinas, Tams, Chairman of the Board, you name it! Realized it is hard to Shag (dance!) SOLO. And even with a bottle of wine between us, couldn’t get anyone up to dance. Next time! Funny, for August 24th, it was CHILLY! My trusty ACAC fleece blanket got put to good use. Ran into an “old” high school friend at the concert and shared my name change with her. Felt really good to tell people. My new, yet old identity.

“At any given moment, we have two options: to step forward into growth, or step back into safety.”  Abraham Maslo

This past week has been fun and full. Mailman delivered my new driver’s license and social security card, which was a bit sobering, yet exciting. It’s real. Have come full circle back to “LH,” not “Little Honey,” but Leslie Holcomb, a name I have loved for 61+ years. Drove to Richmond to take my older daughter’s 6:15 am cycle class. Got to see my mom and family and a couple of good friends. Met someone I have not seen in years for drinks and dinner, and 3 ½ hours later parted ways with plans to repeat. As I shared with said person, who is also experiencing the SOLO life, I keep busy and let life lead me. And life is leading me on a wonderful path, discovering who I am and what I want out of life. How about you? Is your life leading you on the path you want? Find that path and find it soon, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“Don’t be pushed by your problems, be led by your dreams.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Best,

Leslie

PS  My name change came at a convenient time as well. I had my annual CPR certification for work this week. Yes, I passed for another year, just hoping I never have to use it! But if I do, I am certified as Leslie Holcomb. One less thing to change my name on!  And it felt good to sign my name Leslie Holcomb!

30 Compressions!

 

“Joy To The World” Three Dog Night 1970

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Warning: There are a lot of pictures today… I took about 700 last week and it was hard to decide which ones made the cut. So I am apologizing upfront!

Remember how much fun I was having in my last blog? Meeting my son and my future daughter-in-law to look at wedding and rehearsal dinner venues? Well, that fun continued throughout this past week for me. Life’s a beach! After leaving Kiawah, I spent a couple of quiet days at the beach hanging out with my sisters and brother-in-law, reading and sleeping on the beach, then 2 of my kids arrived, followed by my nephew and his sweet family, and finally the arrival of my other kids. Then there was NO quiet – only laughter, constant conversation, baby giggles, toddler questions (endlessly!), and squeals of joy. Family time. And I loved every second of it! We were all together to celebrate sweet Jack’s 3rd birthday, and my son and his fiancée’s engagement.

Next to being on the beach together, my favorite time is being around the dinner table, talking, sharing, laughing. After cooking locally caught trigger fish and shrimp for our family dinner at my house Friday night, our crew headed to our favorite restaurant, Franks, for dinner Saturday night. Luckily we made a reservation a couple of weeks ago! This is our second year celebrating Jack’s birthday at Franks. Food was fabulous, family time even more so. Party of 12 and party it was! Even though Jack had a big candle on his cake at Franks, we also had a birthday cake and ice cream back at my house. AND we toasted my son and future daughter-in-law’s engagement, since we were all together for the first time since they got engaged. Such a joyous night! (and weekend!)

“May your home know joy, each room hold laughter, and every window always be open to possibilities.” Ethan W. Post

There’s nothing like being surrounded by all the people you love most in the world (we missed our sweet momma). Nothing y’all. Such a joyful and comforting feeling. And top that with an adorable 3 year-old celebrating his birthday (4 days in a row!) and a sweet 5-month old giggling and cooing, and I found myself in heaven. Not to mention we were already in beach heaven!

I discovered such joy in simple things last week. Like the sweet smell of baby Izzie’s head. Ahhh… nothing like the smell of a baby’s head. And the sweet things that come out of the mouth of a 3-year-old: “Les, I wanna hold you” which translates to “I want you to hold me.” “Les, I wanna make moothies” which translates to “I want to make smoothies with you.”  Jack and I made “moothies” each morning for everyone. He guzzled them down (me too!). “Les, I love you.” “Oh sweet boy I love you too!” Nothing like the arms of a child around your neck. We had constant entertainment with Jack and Izzie. Lord what did we do before these precious children became part of our family? Their actions and comments were priceless. Out of the mouths of babes. Just having my whole family together – the people I love most in my life, gave me the most joy.

“People seldom understand the secrets of happiness but I think what breeds happiness is an overdose of love from the people you call family.”

Seeing the world through the eyes of a 3-year-old makes you appreciate the small things every day. Their wonderment of nature, and the world in general, makes you realize how much we take for granted every day. Their inquisitiveness (endless questions) make you think as you search for answers. The weather was a bit cloudy Friday afternoon, so we took sweet Jack for a ride on the golf cart to see the turtles in the lake, (“How did those turtles get in the lake? Why does that turtle have squares on his back and the other has circles? What are they eating in there?”), the library, the dog park (“Why are those dogs in the fence? What are their names?”), the baseball park (“Who are those people out there?”), and the pier (“Why is the pier cut off? What kind of fish are those? What are those birds doing?”). He was enthralled with everything. Every little thing. Plus he had 1000 questions about every little thing. Which is why he is so smart! (That and the fact he is in our family!) But I truly love the pure joy Jack found in the ocean, sand, and seashells (treasures)… Just like Aunt Les. My buddy. To top the weekend off, we celebrated his birthday Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. We do like to extend birthdays in our family.

“Kids take such joy in the littlest things. We should too.”

Speaking of joy, yesterday I was allowed to run solidly for 30 minutes. No walking. I had passed the program of 30 minutes of walking 4/running 2 minutes, walking 3/running 3 minutes, walking 2/running 4 minutes and graduated to running 30 minutes straight.  Honestly, I did not think I could make it, but I did. Joyfully! A friend drove by and said he had never seen such a happy runner. It has been a LONG time coming y’all! My life is returning to normal.

Is it hard for you to find pure joy in your life? I bet not, if you stop, think, look around, and realize what all you have in your life to be thankful for. Yes we all face challenges, obstacles, and low points in our lives, but that makes us appreciate the joy from the good times even more. After all, if we never experienced sadness, loss, or pain, we would not know joy.

“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” Marianne Williamson

All of my people (except mom)…

One thing (among many others!) I have learned over the last 3 SOLO years, is that there is always, always, always something to be thankful for, and joy to be found in so many things I once took for granted. Please don’t wait for the “low” time to hit you to appreciate what you have in your life. Look around you, at your life, your family, your friends, your opportunities, your blessings, and truly see what there is to be thankful for. Find that joy! And find it again every day because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

My joy!

“Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea, Joy to you and me…”  Three Dog Night

Best,

Leslie

PS There are only 125 days until Christmas y’all!

 

 

 

Good Day Sunshine… Beatles 1966

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Life can be so ironic, you know what I mean? It can be filled with sadness and happiness at the same time. Last Friday I left Charlottesville pre-dawn, heading to NC. Went straight to see my sweet momma who was as happy to see me as I was to see her. “Hey Les!” Always glad to hear her greet me by name. We were just catching up when she surprised me and asked if I was dating! After I picked myself up off the floor, I thought to myself, “WOW, she remembered this time.” Remembered that I am SOLO, which is kinda ironic, considering Friday was supposed to be my 39th wedding anniversary. Ironically, I found it very comforting that she remembered that one major fact of my life on that particular day. And that’s the story I am going with, not that she thinks I might still be in high school and dating!

Left mom to meet my sisters and brother-in-law for lunch at Sweet Potatoes in downtown Winston-Salem before we attended the funeral of our cousin, who lost her courageous battle with cancer. It was good to see our other cousins – her brothers, and their family. Childhood memories flooded my thoughts sitting there, remembering trips to the beach together, traveling in the back of my aunt’s station wagon (no seatbelts!) waving at people and trying to get big trucks to “toot their horn” at us, pulling a camper. My aunt would do just about anything, and my mom always went along, bringing her 3 girls. Lots of fun times at the beach – playing in the ocean and looking for shells, and fried bologna sandwiches for lunch everyday (my younger daughter and I continue this tradition at the beach!). A bit ironic that here I am today, back where it all started… Surfside Beach.

Beach hair and we don’t care!

After the funeral, my older sister and I traveled to the Surfside Beach together (brother-in-law came Saturday). Well kinda traveled together. I have been accused of having a lead foot, unlike my sister who is a much more cautious driver. (She would NEVER drive into water!) So even though we did not stay right together, we did meet up when we stopped for gas halfway. And talked on the phone several times during the trip. Happily arrived at the beach while the sun was still up (barely!). We are losing 2 minutes of light every day! Since we had had a fairly big lunch and it was a bit late, my sister and I decided to go light on dinner and headed to Surf Diner to share an appetizer and enjoy a glass of wine on their ocean-front deck. There was a good breeze, filled with that heavenly salty, humid beach air, plus the usual fireworks on the beach to entertain us. Lord have I missed this place! Due to moving kids, I did not get down here at all in July.

Though so thankful to be at the beach, in less than 10 hours, I was on the road again early Saturday morning heading to Kiawah Island to meet my son, his fiancée and her parents to look at wedding and rehearsal dinner venues. Life gets even more ironic here y’all. How? Well, as I was driving onto beautiful Kiawah Island, I realized that 39 years ago that day, I was a 22-year-old newlywed driving onto Kiawah Island for my honeymoon! How ironic that 39 years later (don’t flinch at my age, y’all already know how old I am!) I find myself at the same place, looking at wedding venues for my adorable son and his beautiful fiancée. Was it painful? Hurtful? Devastating? Absolutely not! That’s when it hit me… I am truly happy in this ironic life I am living. I have moved on. I am okay. And even though I don’t believe that “time heals all wounds”, I do believe time eases the hurt and helps you move on. After all, it has been 3 years y’all. Plus, I have many good memories of our family vacations at Kiawah and we are making more this coming year!

“The best things in life are the people you love, the places you’ve seen, and the memories you’ve made along the way.”

So Sunday, after attending Mass in Kiawah with my son, his fiancée (I just love calling her that!), and her family, I headed back to my beach house (aka “Don’t Worry, Beach Happy!”) for the week. Arrived in time to ride my bike to my sister’s for dinner. Caught her up on the weekend’s events and excitedly talked about plans for the rehearsal dinner and wedding. When Monday arrived, after struggling through my first time back running at the beach, I spent the whole day on the beach, sleeping and reading (have read 2 books this week!), not leaving the beach until after 6:30 pm. And since Surf Diner was so much fun Friday night, I decided to head back there for dinner, especially since they will be shut down in October when the pier begins the rebuilding phase. As I was seated, my waitress said, “just one?” When I answered yes, she surprised me by saying she was proud of me for going to dinner by myself. And no, I did not know this woman, but of course I do now! She has been SOLO for 13 years and has yet to go out to dinner by herself, SOLO. And you know what? I, too, am proud of myself for going to dinner by myself, sitting at a big picnic table surrounded by families and couples, and you know what? I had a great dinner and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

“Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.” John Barrymore

Speaking of SOLO, I also took myself out to dinner last Thursday night before heading out of town. I was running last minute errands before my trip, and decided to treat myself to dinner at Bonefish. Boy was it good! And fun! Knew the bartender, so I did not even have to tell her my order (I always get the same thing!) and saw a group of special friends at the bar where I was eating. Plus, some of my old cul-de-sac neighbors came in for dinner. Shared a glass of wine with them before heading home to pack for my trip.

“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.”

So yes, I am proud. Proud that I have overcome the obstacles and challenges life has thrown at me, and yet, I still love my life. I wake up looking forward to what each day may bring. Very easy to say this while being down here at my happy place! But even when I am not down here, I do look forward to each and every day. And especially this week. My younger sister is set to arrive later today (sister time!), 2 of my kids Thursday, my nephew and his family Friday morning, and my other kids Friday evening. All the people I love most in life, except for our sweet momma, who just cannot make the trip anymore, will be together. Family weekend y’all! The BEST!

“Family, we may not have it all together, but together, we have it all.”

So appreciate the irony in your life and find something each day that makes you happy, no matter how ironic it may be. Remember you can be happy even with difficulties interrupting your life. Look on the bright (sunny!) side of life’s challenges and be thankful for each and every day, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“The sun is a daily reminder that we too can rise again from the darkness, that we too can shine in our own light.”

Best,

Leslie

PS I also got my baby fix (at least until Sweet Izzie gets here!) while in Kiawah! Oh what a sweet baby…

 

“Love of Life”… CBS soap opera September 24, 1951 – February 1, 1980

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

After moving my kids the previous 2 weekends, I was a bit thankful there was no move scheduled for this past weekend. WHEW! Instead, it was time to have some fun! And there was a party involved. After driving to Short Pump to take my daughter’s 6:15 am cycle class on Thursday morning, I went back Saturday afternoon to spend some time with her, shop a bit, get mother/daughter mani/pedis, and then attend the All Team Party for our Short Pump club. The club closed early to allow the team to go to the party on the rooftop (where the pool is located). Weather was perfect, food was great, music was good, entertainment was amazing – a magician performing some unimaginable tricks, and there was a photo booth. Plus the General Manager (my son-in-law) made sure there was a very cold Bud Light Lime for his favorite mother-in-law. So glad I went!

“Stop looking for reasons to be unhappy. Focus on the things you do have and the reasons you should be happy.”

Last week a friend (and co-worker) brought me her daily calendar quote saying, “This is you!” What?!? It was about romance. Does she know something I don’t know? Have to admit, after reading it, I had to agree with her!

“I think it’s a misconception that you can live a romantic life only if you are in a relationship. In my humble opinion, some of the most romantic people I know are not married or even dating. These single women refuse to let that detail diminish their capacity for romance – richness of experience, enjoyment, love, and fulfillment. They are true romantics without men…”

I took this as a huge compliment. I admit, I LOVE romance… probably more than most people. Why do you think I love Hallmark movies and watch them over and over? They are so romantic –  always a love–ly story where the couple always ends up together, they’re always happy, and they always end with a kiss. What could be more romantic? And romance novels…Oh, I have always loved reading a good love story. (I also love mysteries!) And I love life. Truly love life. I find enjoyment spending time with my family and my friends and also just by myself. SOLO. So yes, I guess I am a true romantic!

“Learning to be alone and enjoying it is the most empowering gift you can give yourself.”  Steven Aitchison

What about you? Are you a romantic? What does romance mean to you? Romance is different for everyone, and different at different stages of life. Honestly, it holds a whole new meaning to me these days since becoming SOLO. WAY back in the day, in high school, romance was having my boyfriend decorate my locker on my birthday. In college, romance was riding around in my convertible MGB with my special “friend” before he became my boyfriend. And the day he became my boyfriend, he brought me flowers. We would talk on the phone (landline) for hours when we were not together. We became inseparable (until 3 years ago!). But as a young, busy mother, instead of flowers, I always appreciated having my house cleaned! Now that was romantic… I have shared this tidbit with many young husbands – forego the flowers and have your house cleaned for your wife. She’ll be forever grateful. Or vacuum the house, do the dishes, take the trash out, offer to pick up dinner. These little things mean so much to a busy wife. Not only will she appreciate you, she will find it very romantic. It’s called being thoughtful and is evidence that you realize and appreciate what all she does.

Romance is found in many little things. For me, it used to be a text, a phone call, a shared look, holding hands. Ever heard of the “5 Love Languages”Words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, gifts, quality time. Which of these resonate with you as romantic? I guess I am a words of affirmation or physical touch person. The goal is to find which language is most important for you and for your relationship partner, and follow through. Prime example? One person may be happy to vacuum the house, if it means you will spend quality time with them; while another is thrilled you took it upon yourself to vacuum for him/her. That’s romance for you! So another tidbit of advice to couples – if you want to be romantic, treasure your partner and let them know you are thinking about them in the way that matters to them. And of course, flowers are always nice. An “old” friend I knew before moving to VA is dating a man who sends her flowers every Friday. EVERY FRIDAY y’all. Even when they are on vacation. If that is not true romance, I don’t know what is. Oh, and he has been doing this for more than a year. (Where do you find a man like that?!?!)

“The sweetest things you can do for a girl are the little things that let her know she’s in your heart and on your mind.”

Being part of a couple is wonderful and special. Someone to share everything (romance) with. But there is nothing wrong with being SOLO either. As I have said time and again, I am enjoying being SOLO, discovering life in a new and different, yet very “romantic” way, and only answering to myself. The dictionary defines romance in many different ways, but one I can relate to is “a quality or feeling of mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life.” I find romance in having fun. Meeting friends for a drink after work (did that last week). Meeting old neighbors for dinner (did that too!). Even having dinner out SOLO and eating at the bar is romantic to me. You bond with the bartenders and meet very interesting people at the bar. Walking on the beach? Of course that’s romantic!  Even moving my kids! I am having a love affair with life y’all! And why not?

“Happiness is a choice, not a result. Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy. No person will make you happy until you decide to BE happy. Your happiness will not come to you. It can only come from you.” Ralph Marston

A sweet couple I know from church stood up Sunday and shared that they were celebrating their 55th wedding anniversary. Kudos to them! They obviously know what it takes to make it. As do my in-laws, who are celebrating their 65th anniversary. True romance! I recently saw a sweet post on Facebook of an elderly couple holding hands with the caption, “I want to hold your hand at 80 and say ‘we made it’.” These couples made it. I wanted that too, but as we all know, that is not going to happen. And I am ok with that now. I realize there are worse things that could happen and many better things that have happened.

“At some point in life, someone will love you more than what you’ve expected. Be patient and learn to wait, because sometimes a patient person receives the best love story.”

So go out and find that “Love of Life”, the romance in your SOLO life, your marriage, your relationship. Never let it disappear. Romance makes life exciting. And remember, you can be SOLO and lead a romantic life! Make every day a romantic day, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

PS – We lose an hour of daylight in the month of August… an hour y’all! It’s downhill from here…but it is uphill for me as I move up to 3 minutes of walking followed by 3 minutes of running this week for 30 minutes. I’ll take it!

PSS – Did any of you ever see “Love of Life” on CBS? I know my mom watched it so I must have as a kid as well.