Say HELLO to my Little Friend!

Reposting from July 5, 2017!!! An oldie but goodie! Enjoy!

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Ok, I know what you are thinking… But you are going to be surprised!

March 1, 2017… D-DAY – Divorce is final. It’s also the first day of Lent, a season of reflection and preparation before the celebration of Easter. So, what do I do? Celebrate? Cry? Or pull myself together and realize, Hey I am now totally free to do whatever I want, whenever I want, wherever I want, and with whoever I want? I chose the latter. I decided I needed a present to celebrate my new-found freedom. For years, I coveted my friend’s VITAMIX Blender (yes I remember the 10th Commandment: “Thou shalt not covet…”)  but I just could not justify the splurge. Now, however, I felt that I deserved a special gift just for me. So I broke down and bought myself a VITAMIX Blender! And we have been best friends since.

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.” (Robert Frost)

Right after my separation, I could not eat. Could not sleep. Could barely function. As I said before, I was so thankful to have a job that forced me out of bed that first Monday SOLO, or I might still be there with the covers over my head. Food was the farthest thing from my mind. After dropping too much weight, I knew I had to get my act together and begin eating something, and if it was not going to be much, it should be healthy. HELLO smoothies! I became a smoothie QUEEN! (I am also a Dancing Queen – just ask my coworkers.) Using my old blender, I experimented with smoothies that included a big handful of spinach, frozen bananas, frozen strawberries (or whatever fruit I had on hand), dash of cinnamon, some protein powder, and Almond Milk. I figured that if nothing else, each smoothie would give me 2+ fruits, a veggie, and did you know that Almond Milk has 50% more calcium than regular milk? Plus, it is a good source of Vitamins D and E. Score one for me! (Sidebar: When my kids were growing up, I bought about 8 gallons of milk each week – Thank you SAM’S for cheap milk! I have not bought a gallon of milk since I moved into my new house. I buy a quart of milk each time my son comes to visit. And last week I bought a quart as I was making dinner for some friends and was not sure Almond milk would work in mashed potatoes and banana pudding. I only have Unsweetened Vanilla Almond milk in my refrigerator.)

Yes, the old blender worked (did I mention it was a wedding gift?), but I had to stop and start it too often because it would get “clogged” (like my marriage). Still, I used that old blender every morning until I brought my VITAMIX home! The other week I had all of my kids down at the beach with me (remember the longest day of the year post?), and I made them smoothies every morning. Just grab and go and take them to the beach (and be healthy!). I went to the Farmer’s Market down there and bought fresh local peaches and strawberries. I always buy a big bunch of bananas, (cheapest at Trader Joe’s) let them get overly ripe, then peel, slice, and store them in baggies in my freezer. This adds a perfect sweetness to any smoothie. And I promise you, unlike Pop-eye, you will not taste the spinach! A lot of people use kale but I have only used spinach. Did you know you can freeze fresh spinach? I could never use all of the spinach before it spoiled, so it was a blessing to learn that spinach can be frozen, which makes for a better smoothie anyway. My freezer is always stocked with ziploc baggies of bananas, spinach, and lots of different fruits for my smoothies. (I picked 17 pounds of fresh strawberries this spring – and did you know you do NOT have to cap them? Turns out the tops are really good for you… wish I had known that BEFORE I capped all those strawberries!) I make a smoothie every night and keep it in the fridge so I can have it for breakfast first thing in the morning. Starts my day off right!

strawberries

“I can’t control everything in my life, but I can control what I put in my body.”

BD (Before Divorce), my ex was the master griller, and as our old neighbors can attest, we grilled out steaks every Saturday night. Filets, medium rare, baked potatoes, salad, garlic bread. AD (After Divorce), now SOLO, I have become the master griller (I got the Weber Grill), but I rarely grill steaks – only if my kids are in town (which they were this weekend and yes we grilled steaks). Now I grill salmon. And it is not the salmon of my childhood (pronounced SAL-MON out of a can) that my mother fried in patties and served with pinto beans. (Don’t ask!) No…this salmon (wild caught) is so good…seasoned with a little olive oil and Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning. (I love TJ’s) I will bake a sweet potato and grill okra to go with it. Heavenly! Honestly, BD I never ate salmon. AD – it is on the menu every week! And speaking of food and dinners, last night we grilled turkey burgers, corn on the cob, gray zucchini (found at the Charlottesville Farmer’s Market Saturday), and roasted sweet potatoes sliced into rounds and seasoned with… yes… Trader Joe’s Everything Bagel Seasoning! (this is NOT a commercial for TJ’s). I also have to admit that most nights, my favorite dinner is scrambled eggs, grits and toast. It just does not get any better (or easier) than that.

If my summer ever slows down, I would really like to get to know my VITAMIX better. I want to make my own Almond Butter, guacamole, soups (yes it even heats the soup up!). There is so much more I can do with it. But for now I am happy with my special smoothies. And yes, I am happy!

“If you look for the good in life, you’ll find it.  CHOOSE to be happy, to be at peace.”

Do any of you make smoothies? If so, what fruits, combinations do you use? I am always looking for new recipes AND new ways to use my VITAMIX. Please share!

DSC_0426

Maybe we will talk about the OTHER little friend later on!

Off to make my smoothie for tomorrow!

See you next week.

Best,

Leslie

“Going to the Chapel…” Dixie Cups 1964

Welcome to SOLO at SIXTY!  (REPOSTING FROM THIS WEEK 2019!)

For you married folk (and those who have become SOLO!), do you remember when you got engaged? Was it memorable? Special? Romantic? Honestly y’all, I don’t remember the exact moment I got engaged. Have I blocked it out? Possibly. I do remember going to look at rings, only 3 months after we started dating, and I remember talking to my parents in February, but beyond that…nada. Got married 6 months later, and stayed married for 35+ years.

I think a proposal should be memorable…romantic…special. It is, after all, a life changing moment for a couple. My son-in-law thought so as well – he planned a special trip to the beach house with my daughter, knowing that is one of her favorite places (besides Chapel Hill). Took her out to dinner then to the beach to look for shells, and, being an introvert, he waited for everyone to leave the beach. Well, by that time it was almost dark! He finally told her to look at the shell he had found. When she turned around, he was on one knee with a diamond instead of a shell. We now call this area “engagement sand” when we are on the beach. It is one of our favorite areas to set up our chairs! Joined them the following day to celebrate. Oh, and she did say YES!

 

“You don’t marry someone you can live with, you marry someone you cannot live without.”

OK, I cannot wait any longer – I am busting at the seams! I AM GAINING A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW! And I could not have picked a better one for my favorite guy, yes, my adorable son. He has been dating a kind, caring, smart, and beautiful girl who we (his sisters and I and of course my son!) absolutely love. She makes him so happy. As his mother, I cannot ask for more than for him to marry someone who fits right in our family, and whose family loves him just as much. Score 2 for us! My son’s fiancée (oh I love saying that!) has spent a lot of time with us – football games, basketball games, visits to Charlottesville, to Winston-Salem to see my family, and to the beach. She also spent a weekend with my younger daughter and me in Charlotte and ran a race with us when my son was out of town. As far as we were concerned, she was already a member of our family. And my son has felt a part of her family as well – and what a wonderful (and big) family it is! I met them last summer when they invited me for brunch one Sunday when I was passing through Charlotte on my way home from the beach. I had heard all about them from my son, and was so thankful to meet them in person, as I knew my son was very serious about this special girl. After all, I saw him kiss the top of her head once – and I just knew it then! Mother’s intuition.

“A daughter-in-law is one who marries your son and becomes your friend.”

So how did it all go down and how did I put 850 miles on my car in 2 days? My son wanted the proposal to be a total surprise and at a time when her family would be together to share the big moment. She is very close to her parents, 2 older sisters, their husbands and children, and her older brother (who my son is also very good friends with). He visited her parents to ask for their blessing and to see when the family would all be together. Just so happens that would be the week of the 4th of July. So he planned it for 6 pm Friday night, July 5th at Lake Toxaway in NC. I was blessed to be there as well. With no hesitation I was happy to drive 6 ½ hours to share in the moment – I would not have missed it for the world. Before I left home, I texted my prayer group and asked that they pray for the sun to be shining at 6 pm that evening and that I would explain later. Drove mostly through sun, constantly saying a prayer of thanks. Stopped by to see my mom – her exit is right off of I-40 on my way to the BIG EVENT! Sidebar:  Mom is doing very well! She is much better now that she is back home in assisted living, surrounded by caring people, and is progressing well with physical therapy. I told her that I was heading to witness her grandson getting engaged. “What? Is he old enough to get married?” “Yes Mom, he is 28 years old.” “WHAT?!? Has he graduated from high school yet?” “Yep, he’s actually a man now, Mom.” “Well give him my love.” “Consider it done!”

Momma’s back home!

So, back to the story… the sun was shining and I was sending up many thanks as I got closer to my destination. Until I turned into Lake Toxaway and, oops, it started pouring. Oh my, what would we do? Was there a Plan B? Nope. Ok, I had total confidence that the sun would shine – just like I did the day my older daughter got married and it was pouring rain in the morning, but clear by wedding time. Besides, my friends have a direct line to the Big Man above! After texting with my soon to be daughter-in-law’s mother, I parked at the top of their driveway and she smuggled me inside just as the rain stopped and the sun came out! No joke. My son took his (now) fianceé down to the edge of the lake and we all snuck out to the deck, cameras rolling. We watched them walk hand in hand to the edge of the water where my son got down on one knee, brought out the ring, and asked her to spend the rest of her life with him. Thankfully, she said YES! And lo and behold, there appeared a beautiful rainbow. In her family, rainbows hold a very special meaning, and so I understood why it had to rain before the sun shone brightly on this sweet couple. Special blessings.

 

I have never seen such happy kids! Big smiles all around. It was a total surprise for my soon to be daughter-in-law. Her family, my daughters, my sisters (I could not keep it from them – they also love this special girl and of course my son) and I knew, but it was a total surprise for her, just as it should be. It was also a surprise for her 4 nieces and 1 lone nephew (ages 3-7), who kept asking why Michael was on one knee and why they were kissing! Then a lightbulb went off and they ran to them screaming “Aunt Jenny, can we be flower girls!” We celebrated with champagne and a sunset cruise on the lake followed by a wonderful dinner. Her family is so welcoming, fun, and musical! After dinner when all the grandkids were tucked in bed, we sat out on the porch with a lovely fire, a glass of wine, and beautiful singing accompanied by a guitar. I mean, one of her sisters met her husband in an acapella group, and I think they all have musical talent. Musical talent does not run as large in our family, but we do enjoy listening! What a wonderful day it was.

 

“Who we marry is one of the most important decisions in life.”  Nathan Workman

Saturday morning I woke up early, so happy and excited for my son and his fianceé. Plus I did not want to oversleep! I looked out my window to a beautiful calm morning with the sun reflecting off the lake. And who else was too excited to sleep? My future daughter-in-law! So we sat on the porch and just enjoyed the morning and talked. Oh my, she is so special. I could not be happier for my son or our family.

“Daughter-in-law: Created by God and hand chosen by my son to be loved, cherished, and valued in our family.”

Backing up a bit, I did spend the 4th of July with my daughters and my son-in-law’s family. My older daughter walked my 2.5 mile loop with me early in the morning (after her hour-long run!) and my younger daughter and I visited several wineries in the afternoon before I headed to a cookout complete with cornhole and fireworks. It was a busy and fun day, followed by such a special day.

 

 

My heart is full. I am so thankful. Big things are happening all around me. As I told you last week, my younger daughter is moving to Charlotte. I left my son and his soon to be in-law family Saturday and met my daughter in Charlotte to look at apartments before heading back to Charlottesville, hence the 850 miles. More to come on that next week. But first, this weekend is going to be filled with Hallmark Christmas movies (and packing up my daughter). Christmas in July y’all!

“Being a family means you are part of something very wonderful. It means you will love and be loved for the rest of your life. No matter what.”

I hope your hearts are full too. I am savoring these happy moments and memories with my family, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

7/1/2020  HAPPY 4TH OF JULY Y’ALL!

PS We will be celebrating my son and future daughter-in-law’s one year of being engaged this weekend! Looking forward to having all my kids under the same roof again!

HELLO SUMMER!

REPOSTING FROM 3 YEARS AGO! ENJOY AN OLDIE BUT GOODIE

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

June 21st… my favorite day of the year! Why? I thrive on sunlight and June 21st is the LONGEST day of the year! Also, June 21st is the first day of SUMMER (my favorite season). Bring on that heat and humidity! I will take the heat over the cold any day. As I said earlier, I have a space heater under my desk at work that runs every day of the year, and an electric blanket on the back of my chair for the times when the heater is not enough. Yes, I am cold. And I REALLY do not like winter and cold weather. So, every winter I promise not to complain about the heat and humidity once it arrives. And I wait patiently for summer. Ok, that is not true… I have no patience and I do not wait patiently. I LONG for summer and the LONG days of light. And here it is… and there it goes. Because tomorrow, June 22nd, we start losing minutes of light every day until December 22nd (right after the shortest day of the year)! It’s the great circle of light.

“BD” (Before Divorce) we made the most of those longer, lighter evenings. We would get home from work and go for a walk to reconnect. To talk about our day. To talk about our kids. To share some new exciting accounting regulation (we are both accountants). Our neighborhood had wonderful paved walking paths – around the lakes, the tennis courts, the pool, the basketball courts. We walked up to an hour on those evenings. And we held hands. (We ran in the mornings down the middle of the road, but walked on paths in the evening. Safety first!)

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.” Walt Whitman

Who does not benefit from the sunlight? That natural Vitamin D that we all need. (So why am I deficient in Vitamin D and have to take it in pill form daily?) Sunshine just makes everyone happier. Ever notice how grumpy people are after a day or two of gloomy, rainy weather? One rainy day every now and then is ok, but couldn’t we have rain at night instead of daytime? As the late, great Karen Carpenter (who I loved!) once sang, “Rainy days and Mondays always get me down…”  (sidebar: I know the words to every Carpenter song… several years ago, our club was having the Legacy Challenge – games between employee teams – and part of it was playing the game “Don’t forget the Lyrics” where the song plays, stops and you must finish the lyrics. I was just going to watch until it was a Carpenter’s Song. I thought, “I can win this for our team!” So, I volunteered to compete. The song started and it was one I LOVED: “Hurting Each Other.” There I was, hamming it up big time as if I was Karen Carpenter… well… I got SO into this role that when the music stopped and I had to give the next line…  I could not remember where the song ended… and we lost. Never participating again!)

“Be the light for someone in their darkest hours.”

I was in a very dark place for several months. Yet I had so many people who brought light into my life. When my husband said he was leaving me right before the movers showed up to move us into our dream house (Friday May 13th, yes Friday the 13th), I called my sister who dropped everything, including a trip she and her husband had planned that day, and came to me. She saved my life. Literally. She and I unpacked every box, hung every picture and mirror, and placed every knick knack, book and photograph (none with my ex in them) on my new built-in bookshelves. At night we sat on my new back porch and drank wine and ate cheese straws and the lemon pound cake she had baked for her trip. We stayed up late and got up early (because I could not sleep) and by the time she left Sunday morning, my house was beautifully mine. My children… oh my wonderful children. I cannot say enough about how wonderful they have been. We ruined my oldest daughter’s birthday by telling her. She calls me every day on her way to and from work. After we told my middle child, she left, and later came back to my new house and spent the night with me – we had a sleepover. She and I do a lot together as she lives in Charlottesville. My sweet son – we had to tell him via phone (he lives too far away)….He called to make sure I was ok and has loved on me and been there for me. I adore my kids! (can you tell?!?!?)

“True Friends are those rare people who come to find you in the dark and lead you back to the light.”

My friends were wonderful too. I emailed my dear “old” next door neighbor (we were neighbors for 16+ years) who had moved to Kentucky (yes the one in the last blog who helped me when my Dad had a stroke) because at that point I could not verbalize anything. Started my email with “Sit down and be alone when you read this…” She immediately drove from Kentucky to be with me and helped me tell some of my girlfriends. One of those dear girlfriends called, texted, and sent me prayers – she had known a deeper loss in her life. These prayers worked. Another girlfriend brought me a bunch of dresses to wear to my 40th high school reunion (3 weeks after my separation) because she knew I was not in a shopping mood. (By the way, I did not tell anyone at the reunion – I wanted the reunion to be about old friends, not a broken heart. But I did have a GREAT time at my reunion!) My boss made an appointment with his attorney for me – I told him first, after all, he has been divorced several times and I figured he would know what I should do because as I told him – I had no clue. My sweet co-workers, worried about my first SOLO trip to the beach house, sent me off with a sand bucket full of wine, dark chocolate, a book, and other goodies. Another girlfriend from work and I would walk to the bank every afternoon just so I could “unload” … we still do this. She is a great listener. And Advisor. Several other out of town girlfriends came and spent weekends with me. WOW I have come a LONG way in a year and am so thankful for all the love and support I have received!

“No matter how bad things seem today, or how awful the situation…. the sun will rise and a new day will give another chance to start again.  There will always BE HOPE!”

 

This is so true. I told myself if I could just make it through the dark of night, I could survive the light of day. I was not sleeping. Some days I just got up at 4 in the morning and went to work… My dear friend (from Kentucky) told me to ask for God’s grace every day. According to her priest, God’s grace has a short shelf life and we need to ask for His grace every day. Sometimes I asked for it hourly. And I received it because here I am – stronger, happier, a survivor.

And here I am today, June 21st, at my happy place, surrounded by my wonderful kids, on my favorite day of the year. I could not be happier! Also, I want to wish a HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to my dear college friends who are celebrating 37 years of marriage today! They know how to make marriage work. I should also be celebrating 37 years this August, but it ain’t happening y’all. And that’s ok.

“The Sun is alone too, but it still shines.”

I am blessed and lucky to be surrounded by so many caring, loving, supportive people from different areas of my life who helped me bring my “light” back. I have learned that I can find light in family and friendships which are the real prizes in life. And I have learned that sometimes the darkest times give way to the brightest moments. And even on those “dark” days, because I still have them, I know I can make my own light, SOLO. More on that coming up soon!

So get out there and shine. Share some of your light with others. And enjoy the length of this day… it won’t be light this long again for another year!

See you next Wednesday!

Best,

Leslie

“IMAGINE…” John Lennon 1971

Welcome back to SOLO AT SIXTY!

Well hello y’all! It’s been awhile. A month, to be exact. Last blog found me at the beach, and this one is no different. I did go home for a couple of weeks, but as long as I am working from home, I’d rather work from the beach. Even found a printer in the back of a closet that had never been taken out of the box. Luckily, my tech-savvy younger daughter was here with me and helped me set it up. Turns out it is the older model of the one I have at home. Makes working from here a little easier!

Don’t know about y’all, but this “new normal” has worn out its welcome with me. I have pretty much kept to myself. I want my life back. I want to stop wearing masks and gloves whenever I go out. I want to hug people (thank God I can hug my kids!). I want to see my momma in person, not through a glass or on Facetime. I want to feel safe going back to work, to church, shopping. I am not sure we will ever get back to where we were, but I hope we get close. On the upside, there have been some good things to come out of this pandemic. We have all been forced to take a step back and slow down. Me? I have been getting about 3 weeks to the gallon on gas! My travel has decreased, my 6 am cycle classes are non-existent, I have been staying up later and sleeping in a bit. Have only eaten out once, and have been cooking again. Down here, I get fresh fish for the week, cut into individual servings, and freeze what I am not cooking that night. Also ventured out to the local Farmer’s market yesterday. So cooking it is.

“May the shells on the beach remind you that treasures arrive every day in the form of simple things.”

I was down here for 3 weeks in May – my longest time ever! Lots of rest, seashells (like I need any more!), fresh seafood, books, and beach. Family came and went. My Charlotte kids were here the first weekend. We socially distanced ourselves together on the beach and when I looked “down our line,” I pleasantly saw that all four of us were reading. The beach is the perfect place to read a good book and where I do most of my reading. We had a lot of fun together. Did not go to Frank’s or to Murrells Inlet for dinner. Played it safe and instead I got fresh, local shrimp, and we ate on my porch. Perfect weather. Played some fun, crazy games until 1 am. Yes, there was some alcohol involved! Hated to say goodbye to my kids, but so thankful for the time with them.

Had a mid-week visit from a friend who was staying at a NC beach. Spent the afternoon catching up and giving her a golf-cart tour of Surfside Beach. Next time I will head to her beach. And I have continued with our Saturday night high school zoom calls, even from the beach! So much fun to catch up with “old” friends… each week someone new pops on!

My younger daughter came back Memorial Day weekend along with my nephew and his family. They had been cooped up inside for weeks – NC had many rainy days, no preschool, no social activities. They needed a break and what better place than the beach with Aunt Les! We haven’t  been down here on Memorial Day weekend in years, and have never participated in the Memorial Day Golf Cart Parade…. until this year! We decked out my golf cart with red, white, and blue streamers, flags, and pinwheels. My great nephew (Jack) loved every minute of being in the parade waving at all the parade watchers. Ok, I have to admit, I did too! (As did my daughter and my nephew!) Had no idea what it was going to be like, nor that there would be about 100 golf carts parading down Ocean Boulevard with residents and vacationers lining the street waving and cheering us on. We even had one lady tell us our cart was the best! Have to give credit to my younger daughter and my nephew’s wife, the creative family members. It was a blast and a hoot y’all! Who knew?!?! Thankfully, sweet Izzie woke up from her nap in time to wave to us as we rolled by.

“The best things in life happen unexpectedly. The best stories begin with “…and all of a sudden.” The best adventures were never planned as they turned out to be. Free yourself from expectations. The best will come from and when you least expect it.”

With Jack and Izzie visiting, I got to spend some very special quality time with them. Could not love these kids any more if they were my own grandkids! Jack introduced me to Henry Hugglemonster and the adventures of Bluey, (a Blue Heeler puppy – Australian Cattle Dog) and his family. Oh and Fancy Nancy, which I loved! We read lots of books, played on the beach building sand castles and searching for treasures (shells), and went to see all the turtles in the lake near my house. AND one night we all played JENGA (including my older sister and brother-in-law), a game in which 3 ½ year old Jack is a MASTER! He calmly pulled out blocks (successfully) that made us all hold our breath! Loved every minute of being with this sweet family, but I admit, I went to bed early each night to rest up!

“B.E.A.C.H. Best Escape Anyone Can Have!”

After my nephew’s family left, my older sister and I ventured out to Frank’s for dinner. I had made the reservation 2 weeks earlier, once they opened for limited dining. And it was well worth it. Our first time eating dinner INSIDE of a restaurant in over 2 months. First real semblance of normalcy in this crazy pandemic-world full of limitations. We did not wear masks (we were eating and drinking after all), but we felt safe. And happy!

Cheers to Frank’s!

“There is beauty in each and every storm we walk through in life… you just have to look for it.” Heather Stillufsen

It was very hard to leave the beach back in May, especially since my younger daughter had come back with some of her friends, but it was time for month-end at work, and part of that is easier to accomplish in the office. My first time physically back in the office in 2 months. I even took a couple of cycle classes we were offering outside under a big tent. Before I left to come back to the beach, the governor finally moved VA to Phase 2, allowing gyms to open at 30%. So many thankful members and team members! And many who are waiting a bit to come back. We are all uncertain of these times.

“The secret of CHANGE is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Socrates

But here I am, back in my happy place (big benefit of the pandemic!). And even though the weather has not been the best this week, with scattered rain and cold (72 degrees) weather, it has been heavenly. My younger daughter was here again and we binge-watched Netflix’s Sweet Magnolias! Weather is improving daily, with the forecast for HOT and SUNNY this weekend. AND I am thrilled to be down here on my favorite day of the year (besides my birthday!) – summer solstice, the official first day of summer, Saturday, June 20th. The longest day of the year! And I’ll be celebrating it with my sisters… Holcomb Sister Weekend 2020!

“Sister is probably the most competitive relationship within the family, but once the sisters are grown, it becomes the strongest relationship.” Margaret Mead

I cannot end without acknowledging all the pain, unrest, and protests that have taken over our world lately. Never has there been a more important time for introspection. What brought it home to me was a post from one of my friends, who is white, with very sweet children who are black. She said she had to have “the talk” with her son. No, not the sex talk, “the don’t run, don’t reach for your phone, look them in the eyes and speak. We just need you to make it home talk.” He’s just a kid. Stop and think about that. Let it sink in. Here are a couple of articles that affected me this week. I hope you will take the time to read them.

White Privilege…

Our Pain Is Not Your Classroom…

So while some of us are returning to a bit of normalcy in our lives, maybe we need to embrace a new normal. Just IMAGINE what our world could be… Imagine all the people living life in peace”… (John Lennon). Take some time for introspection. And remember, don’t wait, because none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

PS – Did you know that your noontime shadow on the day of the solstice will be your shortest noontime shadow all year?! Yep, and I’ll be out there enjoying mine!

 

 

“Washed Ashore…” The Platters 1967

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

I missed y’all last week! I shared a posting from early May 2018 to tide us over until this week. “Tide” being the operative word here! I am now residing in the world of palm trees where the tide changes every day. Life is just better at the beach y’all. Period. No question. Better. With some of the restrictions lifted in SC, I decided it was time for a change of scenery. And what better place than the beach in May? None!

“The doctor said it was of extreme medical importance that I go to the beach. Also, I’m calling myself “The Doctor” these days.”

Worked some magic with month-end financials, got my plants covered at home, stopped the mail, and headed out last Thursday. First big trip in way too long. I did make a trip to my older daughter’s house for a walk and dinner the night before. She also helped me make a Mother’s Day poster for my mom. But honestly, I just needed to see her since I will not be around for her birthday this year. First time missing it as I will be at the beach for the remainder of May. So Happy Birthday this weekend to the child who first made me a momma!

On my journey to the beach, I stopped in Winston-Salem to see my sweet momma through a window. Her assisted living residence set up Mother’s Day window visits, so I called to say I could not be there Sunday, and they kindly set up a window visit for me Thursday afternoon. My older sister met me there and we held up my HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY poster even though it was several days early. Mom looked good, but could not understand why we were outside and not coming in. That was hard… we just wanted a hug… she did too. A few tears from all of us, and lots of laughter! So thankful she is where she is, safe and sound. We also dropped off 2 dozen assorted Krispy Kreme doughnuts to thank her caregivers and nurses, who deserve so much more. And no, my sister and I did not take any of their doughnuts (but man did they smell heavenly!). Both of my sisters went to see Mom on Sunday (and took my poster again!) for a properly scheduled Mother’s Day window visit.

“That feeling of ‘I want my mom’ has no age limit, no time limit, and no distance limit.”

Left my Momma and headed to Charlotte. My younger daughter had asked me to come spend the night since I was so close. I jumped on that invitation and arrived in time to walk with her to my son and his fiancée’s apartment for dinner. No holding back hugs with my kids. It was so good to see them in person and catch up on everything! Wedding plans are all under control, and we are hoping the virus will be under control as well when October arrives. Such an exciting time!

Friday morning my daughter and I got up early and made a trip to a special bridge in Charlotte where she shared with me the best view of the Charlotte skyline. She has been obsessed with this skyline forever! I can see why… it is very special. Dropped her back at her house, hugged her tightly, and headed to the beach. My happy place.

The beach… I have not been down here since November. My sister and my sweet neighbors have checked on my house, but it needed a thorough cleaning, which I found to be very therapeutic. First the inside on Friday, then the outside Saturday. Power washed everything in sight that I could reach – porch, siding, picnic tables, chairs, golf cart, bikes, grill… if it was there, it was cleaned! Felt so good! But what felt even better was having my feet in the warm sand again, walking in the surf, basking in the sun, looking for shells. The weather has been perfect – sunny, no rain, no humidity, morning lows in the upper 50’s-60’s and afternoons in the upper 70’s. This weekend we will reach the 80’s. Heavenly. This will be my longest visit down here yet!

“The beach is where our souls realign with the universe. The horizons answer questions. The surroundings give peace.”

And I did have a great Mother’s Day and hope y’all did as well. Women are all mothers in some capacity! I celebrated with my kids via zoom. Brought flowers down here from my son and opened gifts remotely on our zoom call. I got a drill! Crazy, right? I am so excited because every time I need one, I have to ask my son-in-law to bring his to my house. Plus, I was supposed to go to a book signing here at the beach for an author I love (have read all of her books!), a UNC grad, Kristy Woodson Harvey , but of course that event was cancelled, so my kids got me her newest book! I am blessed and a very lucky mom of the greatest kids ever!

Mother’s Day Zoom….

“A mother is your first friend, your best friend, your forever friend.”

I found myself again y’all. I know that sounds crazy, but I really needed a change of scenery and to re-center. We all need that reset button at times. Our lives have been turned upside down this year. I don’t even know what day it is half the time! Things we took for granted were pulled right out from under us – getting together with family and friends, going to work, out to dinner, to parties, to the gym, to church, to the mall, to the movies, to get ice cream, to WINERIES…GONE! I don’t have to tell the extroverts in the group, but for us, this has been doubly hard. And honestly, I think even the introverts reached their limits of isolation. But in the meantime, we all slowed down, realized how overscheduled our lives were, and found ways to connect with people in creative ways. I don’t think we will ever go back to the way things were before COVID19 entered our lives, but that does not presume doom and gloom. Not at all! It just means we will adapt to a new way of life. We are resilient. We just need to make the most of these times, find the good hiding in plain sight, and look for the silver lining, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Mother’s Day Beach Sunrise! (photo cred Irene Gerba)

“Life has taught us that we are not always in control. Life is full of experiences, lessons, heartache, and challenges. But it has also shown us LOVE, beauty, possibility, resiliency, HOPE, and abundance  EMBRACE IT ALL.”

Best,

Leslie

PS – New Blog Post again on June 17th…. If you want it emailed to you, sign up on the right side of the blog here. I will post it on Facebook. And I’ll share an old post each Wednesday until we meet again!

 

“Doctor My Eyes…” Jackson Browne 1972

Welcome to SOLO at SIXTY!

Week 7 of the 2020 pandemic quarantine. Who would have ever thought?!?

Know what I realized after wearing my mask everywhere? You can read a lot about a person just by looking at their eyes. I mean, that’s all you can see with these masks. Which is bad for me, because I tend to look at people’s lips while they are talking since I am a bit hard of hearing! And it is even harder now that their voices are muffled by these masks. So now, I look at their eyes. I pass someone and smile, and can see them smiling back. Their eyes are smiling. You can also read their sadness, frustrations, and pain. I never thought about this before donning my mask. Now I am more aware. Are you?

“Sometimes our eyes can’t hide what we really feel inside.”

Are y’all sporting masks these days? Any cool ones? I had no bandanas or fabric or elastic to make a mask. Saw a great post on FB about using old short-sleeve t-shirts to make a mask. You cut out the sleeve (remember – use short sleeves), then cut a strip at the bottom of the t-shirt (not the hem but above it so you can stretch it out) which becomes your tieback. Here is the link. I started with an old t-shirt of mine, but quickly realized that the sleeves were too small. My daughter reminded me that some of my son’s old t-shirts that did not make it in his t-shirt quilt were still in his dresser. So I washed them, cut the sleeves out, plus 2 strips off the bottom of each t-shirt, and made some masks. My daughter’s favorite was from an old tie-dyed t-shirt of his dating back to a spirit day in high school. I even sacrificed a couple of old Carolina t-shirts plus one from Bubba’s Fish Shack! Sent masks back with my younger daughter for her, my son and his fiancée, and saved a couple for my older daughter, son-in-law, and me!

Homemade mask!

Yes, my daughter went back to her home in Charlotte last Friday. Sad to see her go, but thankful for the time I got to “mother” again. I loved every minute of it. We had a lot of fun together – cooked good meals, drank good wine, watched good movies… fun! Told her she can always come back since we are both sheltering at home SOLO these days. But the plan is to meet back up at the beach soon… how much better is that?! Her first morning back home she jokingly texted me “Good morning! I am ready for my coffee!” Now, I don’t drink coffee, but I made her a pot of coffee every morning. Part of my mothering!

“There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.”  Jill Churchill

My kids and I had a zoom call Friday night. Loved seeing their faces and catching up. My younger daughter was still on the road heading home, and was part of the call, just without the video. Made the last hour of her trip home go by so much quicker. Even though she did not see us (she was driving after all!) she could hear us and join in. So thankful for this technology! I know, I know… I say that every week. But it is so true. My sweet older daughter facetimes me every day to check up on me and let me visit with my granddawg. And my sweet nephew facetimed me as he and Jack were reading books before bedtime. So sweet to get to visit with them and listen to books that I read to my children. Special times. I hope we continue this going forward.

“The smallest gesture can have the largest impact… It takes so little to be kind… even from a distance.” Anita Opper

Last Wednesday, my neighborhood set out luminaries in celebration of the 50th Earth Day and in honor of our medical heroes. It was quite the sight. Very uplifting. We do this during the Christmas season, so it seemed appropriate to light up the night in these challenging times. With the increased daylight (YEA!) we did not light them until 8 pm. I love this time of the year… longer days, warmer temperatures. Things are looking up!

“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

When I started this blog three years ago, I was looking for that light in the darkness. I was looking for an outlet where I could put my thoughts and feelings into words, and hopefully help others who have suffered a loss. I wanted to show that no matter what, life goes on and can be better than before. Writing every week has helped me reconnect with many old friends and find new ones. I feel like I have accomplished a lot of what I set out to do with this blog, and then some.  I have felt so much support, and received great feedback from so many people who felt I was talking just to them. Thank you for all of the love and comments! But now, I am going to take a step back. Instead of publishing a new blog each week, it will come out once a month, the middle Wednesday (like being the middle child, which I am!). You can sign up (here on the blog site) to receive the BLOG via email every time it is published. I’ll continue to post the inspirational quotes each weekday on SOLOATSIXTY’s Facebook page, plus post when the NEW BLOG POST is coming out. I always end these blogs with a reminder not to take this life for granted and to make the most of every day, and I plan to do that, because as we all know… none of us is promised tomorrow. 

“Might not be tonight, tomorrow or the next day, but everything is going to be okay.”

See you in 2 weeks, May 13, 2020!

Best,

Leslie

PS…. here are some more shelter at home funnies:

“Overslept this morning and was late getting to the living room.”

“When a sketchy guy wearing a mask and gloves rings your doorbell at night:  2019: OH MY GOD! CALL THE COPS!   2020: YAY! Dinner’s here, let’s eat!”

“Can we uninstall 2020 and install it again? This version has a virus!”

 

“How Long… has this been going on?” Ace 1975

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

So… just how long has this been going on? Who knows anymore? I don’t even know what day of the week it is! Well, except for today. Today is Wednesday, in case you need to know. And I only know that because it is Blog Posting Day for me! But when you get out of your normal routine of going to work, the days kinda run together.

Today is the 50th Earth Day y’all. Did you know that? The theme this year? Climate action. Kinda appropriate, considering that with this pandemic, there have been less travel, less cars on the road, and less emissions in our atmosphere, leading to less carbon monoxide in the air. Best example is in New York City. According to Columbia University, carbon monoxide emissions decreased 50% in March. Pretty amazing. And good for our earth. My neighborhood is lighting luminaries tonight at 8 pm to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and to honor our health care workers and first responders. I love my neighborhood!

“Love the earth as you would love yourself.”  John Denver

The pandemic became real for me when we closed our clubs on Monday, March 16th, at 4 pm. I began working from home the next day, due to my new fear of getting COVID-19, since I was scheduled for surgery on March 25th. Social distancing was in full force. My younger daughter arrived that Sunday, March 22, as we were worried that if she waited any longer, the state borders might close and she would not be able to come. I mean, we had no idea what was happening in our “little world” at that moment, or what was going to happen. Now we do. Many have lost loved ones, many have survived the virus, many have had the virus without even knowing. Many have filed for unemployment for the first time in their lives (no easy task!). Many small businesses (and some larger ones) have closed their doors forever, feeling they cannot recover from the financial losses due to COVID-19. The Downtown Grille in Charlottesville is one of those. It has been on our historic downtown mall for over 21 years. A very nice, classy restaurant many people would go to for special occasions. One of my dear girlfriends, who shares a birthday week with me, and I have made this restaurant our birthday tradition. No more. I am sure this will not be the only victim of our current times, but I have to admit, this one surprised me.

We miss you too!

“Good things happen, too. Don’t skip over that stuff just because it feels like the sky is falling. It is just as urgent and important to note the goodness and beauty around us.” – Nanea Hoffman

My daughter and I ventured out Saturday to run a few safe errands and deliver a baby shower gift for a friend of hers. The shower was actually a zoom meeting later Saturday night. Oh the wonders of technology. Zoom party complete with wine, friends, videos, music… a celebration. Proof that even in these dire times, celebrations continue. Connections with family and friends continue. Just in a different format and venue. My sisters and I were able to facetime with our sweet momma all together. I missed my high school zoom call last weekend, but got to catch up with a couple of very dear girlfriends for 2 hours! We asked ourselves why we had not done this before and decided we would make this a recurring event, even when life goes back to normal. Ahhh normal… what is normal?

“Only when normal things are not normal any more do we realize how special normal things are.”

I was supposed to be at the beach this week. Washing the remnants of winter away and readying my house for summer. Cleaning both the inside and outside of the house, charging the golf cart, and pumping up the bike tires. Plus spending my days on the beach collecting shells (which I heard are plentiful now!), reading, sleeping, enjoying the beach, renewing my soul. This is my annual April week at the beach. Not happening. At least not yet.

“I am missing the beach and I am sure that the beach is missing me.”

I was also supposed to run a race in Chapel Hill last Saturday with my kids. Cancelled. We were supposed to go to the Spring Football game. Cancelled. And I was supposed to get together with some of my Carolina dorm friends. Cancelled. Gosh I hate that word. Postponed is better. I will get together with my kids and with my college friends later. We will run the race and attend the spring game next April. And of course I will go to the beach later… actually in about 10 days. Soon.

“Life is not always a celebration; so be ready to courageously face disappointments when they come and be sure to grow stronger and wiser from them.”

My kids and I were really looking forward to that race in Chapel Hill and the spring football game last Saturday. Had plans for tailgating after the race and before the spring game. Lots to look forward to this fall with Carolina football… assuming we have a season, that is. This new “no sports” world is hard, even for me. Which made the early release of The Last Dance, the docuseries about Michael Jordan and his final year with the Chicago Bulls, on Sunday night even more special. Did you see it? Like so many, he is my favorite athlete. So nice that he is a Carolina boy through and through (born and bred in NC and played for UNC!), but he is the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time)!  When we moved to Charlottesville in 1997, my then 5-year-old son loved Carolina basketball, Michael Jordan, and the Chicago Bulls. Our new neighbor, same age and same name as my son (and same as Michael Jordan), was also a basketball fanatic and also loved the Chicago Bulls (his family had lived in Chicago). So these 2 front-toothless boys played basketball non-stop in our driveways, decked in their Chicago Bulls jerseys – my son was Michael Jordan, our neighbor was Scottie Pippen. Watching The Last Dance brought back lots of good memories. We all watched it. We all loved it. Cannot wait for the next 2 episodes next Sunday. Something to look forward to!

Front-toothless Bulls!

“Look forward, not behind. Your best days are still out in front of you. Be focused and keep your dreams alive.” Adedayo Olabamiji

While we wait for the return of the “old” normal, my “new” normal includes lots of hour-plus long walks. Sometimes I call friends or family and talk while walking, sometimes I just enjoy the scenery and think. After all, I have more time for this now. I know these times are hard for us all. Life is so different now… there are limitations on what we can and cannot do. But we are also learning how resilient we are, finding ways to cope, ways to hope, and ways to be connected to each other, which is so important, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

See the WISH, not the weed!

“Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.”

Best,

Leslie

PS… It’s been going on for over 6 weeks up here.

PSS… some more funnies:

“2019: Stay away from negative people.  2020: Stay away from positive people.”

“Does anyone know if we can take showers yet or should we just keep washing our hands???”

“I never thought the comment “I wouldn’t touch him/her with a 6 foot pole” would become a national policy, but here we are!”

“Since we can’t eat out, now’s the perfect time to eat better, get fit, and stay healthy.  We’re quarantined!  Who are we trying to impress?  We have snacks, we have sweatpants – I say we use them!”

 

“Let’s Hang On!” Franki Valli and the Four Seasons 1965

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

My daughter asked me Saturday night if I thought the Easter Bunny would know where to find her. Told her, “I feel pretty sure he will”. And he did. We both laughed for a long time when she came down the stairs Sunday morning. Her childhood Easter basket (made by my very talented father-in-law 32 years ago) was waiting for her by the front door, complete with Easter grass, plastic eggs (one filled with $$), and our traditional Reese’s peanut butter eggs. Oh and some bunny ears. Yes, of course I still have my kids’ childhood Easter baskets, and if the other kids were here, theirs would have been out as well!

“The very first Easter taught us this: that life never ends and love never dies.” Kate McGahan

What a different Easter 2020 was. No attending church. No new Easter outfit. No Easter family picnic. Instead, watching the Moravian church service streamed live on Facebook, which my daughter set up on my TV over the fireplace. Familiar hymns, empty pews. After it ended, another Facebook video came on with a group singing “How Great Thou Art” through a zoom session. This one got me. Brought me to tears. So thankful to have my daughter here but missed my other kids, my sisters, my momma. Easter is always an emotional holiday for me. In addition to the meaning of Easter, 23 years ago we left my family and my home to move to Virginia on Easter Monday. We spent our last Easter service with my son (5 years old) and me putting flowers on the large wire cross in the sanctuary, my daughters (11 and 9) walking into church with the choir singing “Jesus Christ is Risen Today…” Their last time. Those memories always come to the forefront on Easter Sunday for me. I hear that hymn and I picture them as my babies, not my grown children. Ahhh… memories. This year my kids are in their late 20’s and early 30’s, and Easter is so different.

“The church may have been empty on Easter, but so was the tomb.”

After the service, my daughter reminded me we had to have our Easter bonnets made by early afternoon. What you ask? My older sister came up with the idea of having an Easter bonnet competition with sweet Jack as our judge. Jack has been making so many crafts while homeschooling that we thought it would be fun to show him some of our crafting. Rule was you had to use what you had on hand. My niece made GREAT Easter bonnets for my nephew, herself, Jack, and Izzie – she has so many craft supplies at home! My younger sister added flowers to a hat and looked like she was heading to the Kentucky Derby. My older sister, always creative, used a lavender loofah with a ribbon bow and a big feather, and she added some Easter decor to my brother-in-law’s favorite fishing hat for him. My ever creative younger daughter built an Easter garden on a paper plate which we attached to a hairband. And me? I am the least creative but I felt pretty good about mine – I used a balloon weight with Easter grass and a ribbon bow on a small paper plate as a fascinator. But what made mine so funny was that I wore my grandmother Isabelle’s wig. Yep, I have her wig and I don’t know why. She wore this wig for as long as I can remember and was always so fashionable. We had a zoom session with everyone, including my older daughter and my son who did not participate this year (I sent the details a bit late to them!) but wanted to see all of the creations. What fun and what a hoot! We could not be together in person, but we could see and talk to each other. So thankful for technology. Later in the day, my sisters and I were able to have a 4-way face time call with Mom. She is doing well, happy, and had experienced a visit with a real live bunny. No joke.

“Every bunny need some bunny sometime.”

My daughter and I decided we needed comfort food for our Easter lunch, so instead of the usual KFC, I made oven fried chicken legs, mashed potatoes (thank you Bob Evans!), and of course green beans. We ate lunch out on my porch and celebrated the final hours of Easter. All in all, we adapted and had a good, yet very different Easter. One for the books. Hopefully, we will all be together in person next Easter.

“Train your mind to see the good in everything. Positivity is a choice. The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.”

Are y’all hanging IN there or barely hanging ON? So far I am hanging in there. Brought my office plants home last Friday. Kind of a sad day, a bit of finality for these times. One of my teammates always waters my plants. How will they live at my house?!?! I need a watering schedule. Speaking of schedules, I am so off my schedule. Staying up late (hello, Jimmy Fallon), so sleeping in a bit. How will I ever get up at 5 am to make it to my older daughter’s cycle class when normal life returns? Trust me, for that I will find a way! I am looking so forward to those classes! And all of my classes – I am a class junkie.

How are you spending your days? Like I said, I am sleeping in, working a bit, writing, reading, and walking or running 4-5 miles a day. When I walk, I either call friends and catch up or listen to music. I am thankful for the beautiful weather we have had. It’s a bit chilly today but still, it is sunny. I’ll take the sunshine anyday. Like everyone else, I miss my family, my friends, my co-workers, my normalcy. But at the same time, I am enjoying this much slower pace. I am enjoying having a child home again. I am enjoying catching up with old friends. I am actually stopping and smelling the flowers y’all! So let’s hang in there, and let’s hang on… this is TEMPORARY! Good days and good things are coming, but in the meantime, make the most of every day, don’t wish these days away, stop and appreciate all that you have, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“Even on a cloudy day, the sun is shining somewhere!”

Best,

Leslie

PS – Some more Coronavirus funnies:

“Me: Alexa what’s the weather this weekend? Alexa: It doesn’t matter – you’re not going anywhere.”

“I swear my fridge just said “what the hell do you want now?”

“The world has turned upside down. Old folks are sneaking out of the house, and their kids are yelling at them to stay indoors!”

“I was so bored I called Jake from State Farm just to talk to someone. He asked me what I was wearing.”

“Quarantine has turned us into dogs. We roam the house all day looking for food. We are told “no” if we get too close to strangers. And we get really excited about car rides.”

 

“Lean On Me” Bill Withers 1972

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Well… the Easter Bunny is scheduled to come this weekend. Wonder if he will be wearing a N95 mask?!? Maybe he will leave us all one in our Easter baskets! For the first time in 250 years, the Moravian Sunrise Service at Old Salem (in Winston-Salem, NC) will consist of the minister and only 7 band members, instead of the 100’s of band members that usually accompany them. Normally, 7,000+ people attend this pre-dawn service. I remember going one time in high school, taking my grandmother Isabelle, and her 2 sisters, Alda and Ethelyne. Not sure how I was appointed the one to take them, but we headed out before the crack of dawn. Parked, and made the trek to God’s Acre with thousands of other worshipers to hear the minister proclaim, “The Lord is risen.” To which we would respond, “The Lord is risen indeed.” Except, before the proclamation, one of the sisters felt dizzy, probably from being in the midst of 7,000 people, and we had to trek back to our car and head home. Don’t remember attempting that again!

Growing up, we always went to our home church, New Philadelphia Moravian, for the Easter service (not a sunrise service). Of course Mom always made sure we had a new dress that she had lovingly made, often with fancy smocking or embroidery, new shoes, and a hat. As a matter of fact, my family is having an Easter Bonnet contest Saturday to see who has the best homemade bonnet! Results next week! I digress… back to the Easter service… There are 3 parts to this Moravian service, starting in the sanctuary, followed by a portion on the front lawn, before concluding in our own God’s Acre. Our family would then meet up with my Mom’s sister’s family for a big picnic at Tanglewood Park, complete with fried chicken (not KFC but the real thing), green beans, potato salad, rolls, some sort of jello/7-Up salad, and of course sweet tea. Oh and always a delicious dessert. So much fun for us kids and lots of work for my mom and my aunt (which I now realize!). Once we moved to Charlottesville, we always went back to my sister’s for Easter. After church, instead of going to Tanglewood Park for a picnic, our whole family celebrated Easter at her house with a “picnic” of sorts. My contribution was always the fried chicken (new family recipe: drive to KFC, pick up chicken, place carefully on your best Easter dish, and serve). My kids have gone with me to Winston for Easter these past 4 years. Last year we went early Saturday and visited some wineries with my sisters and brother-in-law. So much fun! My younger daughter and I had planned to go a day early again this year to see an exhibit of Tiffany Glass at Reynolda House with my sister on Saturday. Not happening. I am so sad to miss celebrating Easter with everyone this Sunday. (Here are some pictures of Easter outfits made by my sweet Momma for my girls:)

“We isolate ourselves so that when we get back together, no one is missing.”

How are you? Is the quarantining getting to you yet? I am thankful my kids are grown and I am not homeschooling. I cannot imagine how parents are homeschooling while trying to work from home. I admire each and every one of you! And I can guarantee that every parent is worshipping the ground their children’s teachers walk on. Kuddos to all of you educators!

“Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other.”

My nephew’s sweet wife has been rocking the home schooling for Jack, and sweet Izzie too of course. They share their fun creations with my sisters and me daily. These include, but are not limited to: “making” stained glass (painting the glass on their back door), creating race cars out of treasured toilet paper rolls (empty of course), creations with pipe cleaners, painting with celery, making a cell phone holder (also out of an empty toilet paper roll), making a pinwheel, and some very special rainbows. My sisters and I loved the rainbows so much that they made templates, put together the needed supplies, and mailed out 12 rainbow kits, 3 going to my sisters and me. The 3 of us had a special zoom class with them full of laughter and fun as we made our rainbows together. My younger sister did not have a stapler, so she used medical tape. Still worked! I will cherish mine!

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” Albert Einstein

Even with all of the fun times I have had lately, my New Year’s resolution, not to let anything steal my joy, has REALLY been put to the test. It’s a struggle. This pandemic has stolen several opportunities I had to spend time with my kids and family, time at the beach, time with friends, many fun events, and my life as I knew it. But I do have one child here with me and I know my other children are safe and healthy, same for my sisters and their families. There is joy to be found in this. Last weekend my older daughter and son-in-law came by to help me with a couple of small projects. I was so happy to SEE them in person, even if we did practice safe social distancing, well, except with Paige. She was very happy to see me (definitely NOT because I had treats in my hand!). Joy! And I came home from a walk Sunday to find my younger daughter had set up a wine tasting for us on the back porch! More joy!

“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” Henri Nouwen

Porch wine tasting!

Speaking of joy, last Saturday night one of my high school friends set up a zoom “meeting” for anyone in our class. After my daughter got me set up, I sat on my back porch, glass of wine in hand, and visited with these people I have known forever. It was so much fun catching up with everyone (some who I have not seen in forever!) that we are doing it again this Saturday night, with more advanced notice. I mean, it’s not as if we have big plans, or any plans, on Saturday night these days! (Well, except watching the new Hallmark movie!)

“Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.” Woodrow T. Wilson

I have a new mantra (in addition to my resolution). This is TEMPORARY. That’s right folks. This is not going to last forever. We won’t come out of this unscathed, but we will come out of this. How will we react? How will we recover? Will there be a new normal? I believe there will be. I think we will relate to people differently – probably hesitate to hug someone or shake hands. Passing the Peace at church will be different. We may be a bit shell-shocked and remain wary of catching the virus. But I also think we will appreciate everything, big and small, more than ever, and not take everyday things for granted any more. I believe we’ll all be a bit more patient and a bit kinder. At least I hope this is what we come away with from this pandemic.

“Every situation in life is temporary. So when life is good, make sure you enjoy and receive it fully. And when life is not so good, remember that it will not last forever and better days are on the way.”

Sometimes I just stop and ask myself, how this can be? How can our lives have turned upside down in such a short period of time? I went back into my Christmas decorations to get my Moravian Star out to hang back up on my front porch. I saw on Facebook that many people in my hometown of Winston-Salem (where there is a huge presence of Moravians!) were getting their Moravian Stars back out and hanging them up, so I decided I would share this gesture in Charlottesville. A symbol of love, hope, and peace. A light to the world. A Christmas decoration at Easter. Joy!

“Easter is meant to be a symbol of hope, renewal, and new life.”

I don’t want to end without noting that we lost a great singer and songwriter last week y’all, though not to Covid19. Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Bill Withers. 81 years young. Safe to say there is no one who has not heard his songs “Lean On Me” (especially recently – it has been the background song to so many inspirational videos) and  Ain’t No Sunshine. He was a classic.

Don’t let these trying times steal your joy. Just remember that this is temporary and will not last forever. Look forward to fun times this summer, when we are on the other side of this challenge. Be smart and stay home if you can. Don’t put yourself or others at risk. Practice kindness. Be the light, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

PS….We all need some humor so here are some “funnies” guaranteed to make  you smile:

“We are about three weeks away from knowing everyone’s true hair color.”

“You might as well go ahead and pronounce the ‘L’ in ‘salmon.’ Nothing matters anymore.”

“Like a good neighbor, stay over there.”

“Back in the day, there was so much toilet paper that people used to literally string it up in the trees of their enemies.”

 

“What’s Going On?” Marvin Gaye 1971

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

WOW! I know I have said it before, but WOW what a difference a week makes. This time last week I was trying to wake up from anesthesia. Yep, surgery #3 in the past 11 months. And please, Lord, let this be the last! With the first 2 surgeries (one on each of my knees), I just woke up on my own quickly after surgery. But this time it was different, they had to wake me up. Probably because I was up late the night before and very early morning of surgery to get some reports finished for work. Plus, I just could not sleep.

So what took me to the OR this time? I had half of my thyroid removed. I kept thinking the surgery would be postponed due to COVID-19, but thankfully, it was not. I have been dealing with this since November, when my doctor stated I had some shoddy nodes on my thyroid during my annual exam. What? Shoddy? Geez…. She scheduled an ultrasound of my thyroid and referred me to an endocrinologist. Luckily, I knew and loved this endocrinologist – he had been my neighbor! After reviewing my ultrasound, he decided I should have a biopsy of my thyroid. The results of the biopsy? Indeterminate. Seriously?! So, he referred me to an endocrinology surgeon, warned me that even though he looks like he is 12 (a Doogie Howser), he is the absolute best. One of my dear friends went with me to the surgeon (2 sets of ears are better than 1) to understand what options were available and what the surgeon’s plans would be. Had another ultrasound, this time of my entire neck, mainly to check all the lymph nodes around my thyroid… as long as we were taking out half my thyroid, if any lymph nodes were enlarged, they should come out as well. Luckily, none were. Original surgery date was scheduled for early May so that I could run the 2 races I had planned with my kids – one in March, one in April, plus spend my annual April week at the beach. But once those events were cancelled, I called back to reschedule, and March 25th was the date. Luckily, my younger daughter was up here, so she once again took me for surgery.

“Also highly contagious is – Kindness, Patience, Love, Enthusiasm, and a Positive Attitude. Don’t wait to catch it from others. Be the carrier.”

Let’s face it, because of this impending surgery, I have been very nervous about COVID-19, which is why I decided to work from home as soon as we closed our clubs and things became a bit dicey. So nice and reassuring that the first person we saw at the hospital was a friendly, familiar face asking us the relevant COVID-19 questions before walking us into the hospital. You really cannot go anywhere in Charlottesville and not see someone you know… which I treasure! Surgery was a success, but I have yet to figure out how I went into surgery in a purple gown complete with a heating element, but woke up in a yellow gown. Hmmm… not sure I really want to know! Also went home with just a bandaid on my neck – internal stitches, all in the crease of my neck. Follow up appointment this Friday. No running until next week. And most importantly, the results came back yesterday… BENIGN! WHEW… I admit, I breathed a big sigh of relief when my old neighbor called me to give me the results. Did not realize until that moment how much this has weighed on me since November.

“There’s always something good coming. Remember that.”

Ahhh… the gift of flowers!

Another big difference in a week? What else, more COVID-19 cases, more closings of restaurants and businesses, and here in Virginia: an extension of our Stay At Home Order until June 10th. JUNE 10th y’all! Holy Cow! Foolishly, I thought we might be returning to normal by the middle of May, I mean, my oldest child will be celebrating her birthday in May and I don’t want to miss it! I have never missed her birthday… And I want to go see my sweet Momma in person – I am so afraid she will not know who I am if this goes on too long. Luckily, the sweet caregivers where she is have FaceTimed with my sisters, my nephew’s family, and me all together so she can see us in one place. Plus they post pictures on their facebook page almost daily so we know she is fine. But still…

“I miss you so much more than the miles between us…”

Y’all, can you imagine this happening in the 70’s?!?!  Thank heavens for all of the technology that we have available to us today! I FaceTime with my kids and my sisters. A high school friend is organizing a zoom happy hour this weekend to get some of us together. Another friend is getting us together for a FaceTime happy hour! So thankful for all of these opportunities to connect with people near and far.

“I never thought the comment ‘I wouldn’t touch him/her with a 6 foot pole’ would become a national policy but here we are.”

What have you been doing to pass the time and keep your sanity while being homebound? I’m going out and walking every day, some days meeting up with different friends to walk and talk while practicing physical distancing. Good opportunity to get some exercise and catch up. Jimmy Fallon and I have become very good friends! I have stayed up and watched him every night – I love that his show is coming right from his home, with his kids making all the signs and his sweet wife filming. I have also gotten hooked on Home Town in HGTV! Oh my, as much as I love Chip and Joanna Gaines, I LOVE Ben and Erin! They are redoing homes in their small Mississippi town. And I never watched Grey’s Anatomy, until last year, but now I am going back and watching the old ones. And I have to admit this, my daughter and I binge-watched Tiger King Sunday afternoon. OMG we could not stop watching, honestly. It was addicting. Crazy! And not to give anything away, but Myrtle Beach Safari with big cats is also featured in this documentary. What? Who knew it existed? Not me!

“You’re not stuck at home, you’re safe at home. One word can change your attitude, and one cough can change your life.” Timber Hawkeye

I have also been blessed to have my younger daughter here, who is working every day, as am I. I wear my headphones so as not to talk to her too much during the day! We’ve gotten in a pretty good routine of getting up early enough to walk around my neighborhood before starting to work and taking a few minutes here and there to get up, walk around, and do a couple of exercises from our old personal training days. Plus gives me a chance to talk haha! She has been running in the evenings, I have been walking (until next week when I am released to run again!). The weather has been wonderful, until the cold rain yesterday. We’ve been cooking and baking. My dishwasher has run more in the last 2 weeks than in the last 6 months! But I love it!

“A bend in the road is not the end of the road… unless you fail to make the turn.”  Helen Keller

It has only been 2 weeks working from home, and 2 weeks of our clubs being closed, but it seems almost a lifetime. I cannot imagine this continuing for MONTHS!  Hoping the physical distancing we are practicing will flatten that darn curve. Hoping that people are taking the precautions seriously. I want my normalcy back. I want to hug people, and visit, dress up and go out to dinner. I mean, I have not even put on makeup for 2 weeks! But we have to remember y’all, like my Moravian Star being up during Lent instead of Christmas, this is all temporary.

“When all the dust is settled, and all the crowds are gone, the things that matter are faith, family, and friends.”  Barbara Bush

Don’t stop taking precautions to prevent the Corona virus from spreading. Hang in there so we can end these limitations to our daily lives and return to some sense of normalcy. Check in on your family and friends, especially those who are alone, every day. Look for ways to be kinder to people and to yourself. I took to heart this week a prayer I read, Slow Me Down, Lord, by Wilferd A. Peterson. The part that spoke the loudest to me was: “Teach me the art of taking minute vacations—of slowing down to look at a flower, to chat with a friend, to pat a dog, to read a few lines from a good book. Slow me down, Lord, and inspire me to send my roots deep into the soil of life’s enduring values that I may grow toward the stars of my greater destiny.” Slow down, make the most of each and every day, and be thankful for the blessings in your life every day, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

PS – Today is April Fool’s Day. Don’t you feel like someone is playing an April Fool’s joke on us every day? A bad one?

“April Fool’s Day is cancelled this year as no made up prank could match the unbelievable SH#T happening in the real world right now.”