“Baby, What a Big Surprise…” Chicago 1977

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Could this be the “last” SOLO at SIXTY?  I mean, I am going to be 61 next Tuesday. SURPRISE! Remember when 60 (and 61) seemed so old?!?! When I was younger picturing my life at 60, I never pictured it like this. Y’all know I got a big surprise in my life: the end of my 35-year marriage. Changed everything. But that surprise taught me that we are all stronger than we can ever imagine, and life does go on and can be much better than ever expected. And surprise: 60 isn’t that old at all! I have a new outlook on life. Ready to embrace these “golden years” with grace and gusto!

“Life is full of surprises, but the biggest one of all is learning what it takes to handle them.” Deborah Wiles

I am surprised at how much I am enjoying being 60 and have no shame in telling anyone my age. I feel good, I am having fun, I am still able to go out and run 5+ miles if I want to. As I have said before, 60 is the new 40, but without all the responsibilities that are there in your 40’s. Yep, 60’s are good y’all! And no surprise here – like me, SOLO at SIXTY lives on!

“Embrace life’s surprises. Enjoy and relish the good ones and accept the bad ones.”

Do you like surprises? Good ones, I mean. I love surprises!  (Hate bad ones – doesn’t everyone?!?!) Love surprising my kids, like when I show up at my older daughter’s cycle class an hour away at 6:15 am. Or taking a smoothie to my younger daughter when she meets me at the gym. Or stopping by Charlotte to see my son on the way home from the beach. And of course I love surprising my mom – any time I show up there it is a surprise to her! I mean, every day is a surprise in her world.

Last week was full of surprises. I was in Williamsburg, VA on business. Arrived early, pleasantly surprised to find that my room looked out over the James River. Not the ocean, but water is water and the view was beautiful. Getting there early meant I had time to go for a run on the beautiful property before dinner. In shorts and a tank top no less! (Yes, what a difference a week makes – shorts last week, bundled up this week!) But while I was running, a cold front came through. The wind picked up, and rain pelted me. Thank heavens I had a hat on that kept the rain out of my face (wear one every run). Yes, the rain surprised me, right in the middle of my run. Still, I was outside, running in shorts in November, and surprisingly, the rain felt pretty good! Thankfully, the weather cleared up before dinner.

“The voice of the sea speaks to the soul.”

Perhaps to no one’s surprise, after my last meeting on Thursday, I headed to the beach. The weather was surprisingly nice. Sunny and 70’s Friday, sunny and 60’s on Saturday. Even the water was surprisingly warm. I spent hours on the beach, walking the shoreline, looking for shells and renewing my soul. However, it began getting dark around 4:45… Gosh I hate the shorter days. Saturday night I met an old high school (cheerleader) friend for dinner. What fun we always have! (No surprise here!) Love catching up with this girl who leads a most interesting and fun life. Plus there’s just something about being with someone who has known you forever.

“Life will surprise you in the most unbelievable way if you let it.”  Roxana Jones

It should be no surprise to anyone that I am an extrovert (ESFJ to anyone who has taken Myers Briggs tests!). But what has surprised me most is learning that I love living alone. Wondered if I would be scared living alone in a new house – solved with a security system. Worried it be too quiet – never with Hallmark movies on! Would I be lonely? That was the biggest surprise. I don’t find it lonely in the least. So it was nice coming home alone midday Sunday, but even nicer coming home to find even more SURPRISES! A friend had been in town and dropped birthday and Christmas presents by my house. (Haven’t looked in the bags yet – want to be surprised on my birthday!) AND I had another gift in the mail from my sweet old friend Jeff (the one who introduced me to Carolina basketball in the 5th grade). I did open this surprise – a great book on the unrivaled rivalry between UNC and Duke, “To Hate Like This Is To Be Happy Forever”. I cannot wait to read this one! OH I love surprises!

SURPRISE! Presents!

“What a lovely surprise to finally discover how unlonely being alone can be.”  Ellen Burstyn

Everyday is full of surprises. Take time to realize that surprises can be wonderful gifts. Look for them everyday, and be thankful for them. As I tell my kids, the best things in life tend to happen when we least expect them. Surprises. And surprise those you love, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“When you least expect it, life may surprise you. It might turn out even better than you’d hoped.”

Best,

Leslie

PS Heading back to Carolina Saturday to tailgate and celebrate my younger daughter’s birthday. What a great surprise it would be if Carolina won a football game!

 

“It’s The Same Old Song…” Four Tops 1965

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Yep… it’s the same old song! Great weekend, and another Carolina loss…after almost winning…AGAIN! But man was it a beautiful and fun day…AGAIN!  Not sure how we have gotten so lucky to have beautiful Saturdays for football. But this weekend started before Saturday…

Did you have a good Halloween? Give out much candy? Please don’t think badly of me, but I skipped Halloween! Did not carve a pumpkin either. But I did have 2 cool pumpkins – one bumpy and one colorful… good enough, right? I mean the bumpy one is kinda spooky. Instead of greeting trick-or-treaters, I went for a late afternoon run, which was heavenly at 70 degrees. Passed lots of little ghosts, goblins, firemen, and princesses all trick-or-treating at UVA. Showered at the club and went back to work until 9:00 PM. Got a big jump on my month-end financials. And a big jump when a prankster friend stopped by my office to scare the #$%& out of me! So maybe I didn’t totally skip ALL of Halloween.

Thursday night found me at a dear friend’s house for dinner. With the amazingly mild weather, we ate on her back porch and just talked. A lot. So nice to do when you are SOLO and just need someone to listen. That was one of the hardest things about finding myself SOLO – who to share thoughts, ideas, complaints, hurts, and successes with? Found the answer – family and friends!

“Life is a journey with problems to solve, lessons to learn, but most of all, experiences to enjoy.”

On Friday I left work mid-afternoon and headed to Winston-Salem. Checked in on Mom, who was having dinner (an experience to observe at her table!), and visited with her a bit before rushing to meet my brother-in-law so we could go together to my sister’s art guild’s show and sale, benefiting Crisis Control Ministry. My sister sold several pieces that night! I was very proud of her and am always in awe of her talent. There were so many wonderful pieces of art there, but of course I thought my sister’s were the best! And so did everyone else as she won the BEST OF SHOW award for her painting of our ocean birds, titled “Watching and Wading.”

 

 

“Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.” Dr. Seuss

Spent the night in Winston-Salem, which gave me just a little over an hour drive to Chapel Hill to meet my daughter and son-in-law early Saturday morning for our tailgate and football game. It was CHILLY (hello Fall!) and my daughter and I wrapped up in her UNC Snuggie (given to her by her brother when he was at UNC) and a couple of fleece blankets. It did warm up quickly. We went with the breakfast theme again since it was another early game. Now that it is cooler, we are enjoying being on the sunny side of the stadium, where it is much warmer during the games. It was HOT the first couple of games, but now it is heavenly. Speaking of heavenly, the skies were Carolina blue with NO clouds. Thought it might be a good omen…I mean, if God is not a Tar Heel, why is the sky Carolina blue? Right? But once again, we beat ourselves… tied it up at 28 all only to throw an interception and burst all of our bubbles. Same old song… Although I must admit it is more fun to lose surrounded by fellow fans than to lose surrounded by opposing fans! And we’ll be back tailgating and in search of that elusive win again in 2 weeks.

“Life is what we make it, always has been, always will.” Grandma Moses

Ever find that some disappointments are easier to take in certain circumstances? Carolina losing is frustrating, but there is so much fun “outside” of the loss that makes it more palatable. Being with my kids, tailgating, just being in Kenan Stadium. Same thing for my SOLO status – it is disappointing and hurtful, but there are so many wonderful things that have happened because of it, that make it easier to take. Life does go on, and in a much better way. In every situation, there is something to be thankful for. Always. Sometimes it is harder to find, but trust me, it is there. We all grow from the challenges we face. Keeping a positive outlook is key. It may be difficult to maintain at times, but it is crucial when you are going through tough times. Of course, admittedly, being over 2 ½ years out from my initial separation makes this much easier for me to say. At the time, I don’t think I would have believed it, but now I KNOW it.

(Even though I hate the shorter days, this is one of the blessings of earlier sunsets… and at my sister’s art show. This was God’s artwork!)

“We can’t always choose the music life plays for us, but we can choose how we dance to it.”

So Hello to November, the Thankful month. Look for something to be thankful for every day, in every situation. It is there. Even in the “same old song” circumstances. I am thankful for season tickets even if it is a losing season, because it means I get to see my kids more often. Remember to let those you love know how thankful you are that they are in your life, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

PS – Have you been enjoying the Hallmark Christmas movies? There are 2 new ones every weekend – Saturday and Sunday evenings. Plus repeats 24/7. “Same old song” – blanket, fire, Hallmark movie. Doesn’t get much better than that!

 

“Sail on, honey, good times never felt so good…” Commodores 1979

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Ever had one of those weekends that just left you thinking, “that was the best weekend ever,” where everything went perfectly and was so much fun? Well, I had one last weekend. As you know, I love being around my kids, but having them all under my roof at the same time is pure heaven for me. Everyone arrived Friday night in the pouring rain which, at the beginning of the week, was forecasted for the whole weekend. Not ideal weather for football, and my boss had graciously given my family and me tickets to Saturday’s UNC vs. UVA football game (I can always count on him for UNC tickets when they play UVA). Now, y’all know my daughter and her husband are the masters of tailgating, but due to the forecast, we were going with Plan B, prepared to tailgate from the comfort of my house instead of the game. BOY was the weatherman wrong (imagine that!). The sun came out and blessed us with a beautiful football Saturday! NO rain. My daughter and her husband set up an early tailgate since the game was at 12:20. The rest of us arrived shortly thereafter and we started the tailgate breakfast of chicken and waffles (used Chick Fil A nuggets!), scrambled eggs, fruit, pumpkin muffins, blueberry muffins, sausage balls, and Mimosas. Played corn hole, watched Game Day, threw the football, and just hung out together. SO MUCH FUN! Loved having all of my kids together. We had great seats for the game which, as has been the case these past 2 seasons, was a disappointing game for us. But still, it was a beautiful day and we were all together. There’s always next week! (Just bring on basketball… PLEASE!)

“Time spent with family is worth every second.”

After the game, my son took his girlfriend around the UVA grounds (aka campus) and “the Corner” and met the rest of us downtown at a local brewery where we got a table, amazing pretzel bites, and drinks. Watched some football games on the big TV’s, visited with friends we ran into, and enjoyed the late afternoon together before walking to dinner on the downtown mall. Another amazing restaurant experience for us all. (Charlottesville has great restaurants!) We weren’t quite ready to call it a night after dinner so we all walked down to Draft Taproom where you self-serve yourself beer from over 60 taps. Luckily for me they have these small glasses (just my size) so I could try a couple – found one that had a hint of blueberry and lemon. Had a small glass as I was the DD – first time I have used all 3 rows of seats in my new car (the only reason I got the bigger model!).

We stayed up late both nights, or should I say early the next morning, just talking, laughing, and watching funny YouTube Videos. Loved every second of it.

“Sail on, sugar, good times never felt so good!” (again… Commodores 1979)

Sunday morning we all slept in, had brunch at my house, sat around the table and visited a bit more before everyone headed out. I know I have been saying this for the past few weeks, but my favorite thing truly, is watching my kids together. It does my heart good seeing them as adult siblings who love each other and enjoy being together. A mother cannot ask for more than that.

After dropping my younger daughter back at her house, I went to my office to clean up my desk and get ready for the new week. When I found myself SOLO 2 ½ years ago, my office became my “safe haven,” a place I could (and did) go at any time to find solace and have something to do to get my mind off of “things.”  Sunday afternoon found me feeling a bit lost after such a great weekend with my kids, so I decided to go for a good late afternoon, head-clearing run. After all, it was still light out (for now!). I felt much better. Besides, we will all be together again in a couple of weeks! Always have something to look forward to.

“Life is a balance of holding on and letting go.”

I’m not sure I would have been able to get out of bed that Monday morning after becoming SOLO without my job. I immersed myself in work, which provided a strong sense of security for me. Took me awhile to realize I would be ok and I began to step out of that comfort zone. I decided at the beginning of this year that I would have no regrets come year end, and that I needed to balance out my life a bit more evenly. I started visiting my kids and my family more often. And I found myself at the beach. A lot. I have found what “balance” looks like for me. I need my work, exercise, the beach, time with my kids and family and friends, and plain ole fun. Yes, I stay very busy (keeps my mind from going “there”), but now I do so in a way that includes lots of fun. I am doing so many things I would never be doing if I was not SOLO –  tennis lessons, trying new restaurants, visiting wineries, movies, traveling. (There is always something to be thankful for in every situation!) And I am always planning something – be it a family get together, a trip to the beach, a movie, a show, dinner out, you name it! Rarely do I find myself at home in Charlottesville without plans. If I have no plans, I head to the beach.

“Balance is not something you find… it is something you create.”

How do you balance out your life? Do you get enough sleep? Exercise? Spend time with your loved ones? Have enough fun? I know I do not get enough sleep – never have. I definitely get enough exercise. Spend as much time as possible with my loved ones. And I definitely have fun. So I almost have my balance plan worked out (need to work on the sleep aspect.)

“Balance – never let success go to your head and never let failure go to your heart.”

One more thing… I know today is Halloween, but Christmas movies have arrived on the Hallmark channel and the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries channel – 24/7! If you ever need a “lift”, watch one of these. They are uplifting and encouraging, always with a happy ending. We all need the happy ending in our lives.

Nothing like a fire and Hallmark Christmas movies in October!

So… get your life in balance before the holidays arrive. Find happiness in every day. Get enough sleep and also enough exercise. Be thankful for all the blessings in your life. And spend time with those you love, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

PS – Don’t forget to set your clocks back an hour this weekend and relish that extra hour of sleep! Maybe that will help my lack of sleep!

“Don’t Be Afraid” – Boston 1978

Are you afraid of anything? Experience fear at the mere thought or mention of something? As I told you last week, I am afraid of roller coasters. But, embarrassingly, I am also afraid of dogs. This wasn’t always the case. I actually grew up with dogs – Charlie, Penny, and Brandy. But somewhere along the way, my comfort of being around dogs developed into a fear of dogs. Not sure what caused this fear, maybe it was being chased by dogs while riding bikes and running. Got my speed and heart rate up very high!

“Love is what we are born with, fear is what we learn.”

However, I have overcome quite a bit of my fear of dogs thanks to the addition of my granddawg, Paige. Maybe that’s because I “know” her and have been around her since she was a puppy and experienced all of her “stages.” And I am not afraid of my son-in-law’s parents’ 2 dogs who are so sweet and gentle. Now mind you, all of these dogs are golden retrievers, not sure if that makes a difference or not. But I am so thankful to have eased some of my fear of dogs!

I have to admit though, I am still a bit afraid of my sisters’ dogs. (sorry sisters!) My older sister and brother-in-law fostered a rescue pit bull mix, Raymond (Everyone Loves Raymond!), and ended up adopting him. Trust me, Raymond ended up in the right family with them – he is loved and pampered beyond words. But Raymond is still an “unknown” to me. And my younger sister rescued 2 dogs left on the side of the road – Teddie and Bodie. They are sweet dogs, but again, unknown to me. So yes, I am a bit fearful of them, although I was never afraid of her dog Tucker, a golden retriever!

“The fears we don’t face become our limits.”

Along with dogs, my younger sister also has horses. She was never exposed to horses as a child, but she found them when she needed them. When we lost our dad November 2, 2000, my sisters and I took it hard. My younger sister took it the hardest, as my older sister and I each had spouses (pre-SOLO days for me) to comfort and help us. But my younger sister was SOLO. I now understand how lost she felt. She struggled with the loss of Daddy and searched for an outlet. One day she rode by a field and saw people riding horses, and something clicked. She reached out to several barns about lessons and found one willing to teach a 35-year-old who had never even touched a horse. She was terrified and exhilarated at the same time. She learned to ride and found being at the barn very soothing. A year after we lost Daddy, a 2-year-old palomino horse was at the barn for sale and my sister fell in love. She bought her first horse, Wilbur (yes I say it like Mr. Ed would – Wil—bur!), who had never even had a saddle on. Together they learned patience, bravery, courage, loyalty, and love. Several years later, Pepper and Huck joined her family. All gentle horses. And she started entering horse shows.

Huck, Pepper, Wilbur…

“A barn is a sanctuary in an unsettled world, a sheltered place where life’s true priorities are clear. When you take a step back, it’s not just about horses – it’s about love, life, and learning.”

When she decided to move from her home and barn in Advance, NC, to High Point, NC, to be closer to her son’s family (baby Jack!), she had to sell 2 of her horses. What a hard decision. But things always work out, even if we can’t see it at the time, and it did in this case too. She sold Wilbur and Pepper to Wilbur’s original owners, and kept Huck. And she boards Huck where Wilbur and Pepper are, so they are all together and are kept together. Less painful for my sister as she gets to see all the horses when she goes out to ride Huck. Plus the barn is only 5 minutes from Mom. Life is good.

“Life has a funny way of working out, just when you start to believe it never will.”

Unlike my sister, I am afraid of horses. They are so BIG! However, after spending time with my sisters last Friday at my younger sister’s barn, I am not quite as scared. She showed us how gentle they are – they don’t bite (even though they have HUGE teeth) and they just want attention. And apples. My sister’s horses are her “beach house,” her retreat. So the next time I go to Winston, I am going to ride my sister’s horse! My older sister has done it, now it will be my turn. Can you imagine me on a horse? I want to do this. I want to overcome this fear and truly, I want to understand more of what my sister sees and feels with her horses. And what a great opportunity to bond more with my sister. Plus just imagine how tall I will be on a horse!

“Courage doesn’t mean you don’t get afraid. Courage means you don’t let fear stop you.”

Speaking of family, I left the beach a day early last week and headed to see my mom. Felt a strong need to see her and I needed a “Mom hug” which she gave me. It is always a relief when I see her and say “hey Momma!” and she responds “Les! I am so happy to see you!” Even though she asks about her mother and grandmother, she still knows who we are.

I knew my younger sister had been there earlier because Mom had a new Halloween wreath on her door, made by my younger sister, but mom said, nope no one had been to see her. So even if mom doesn’t remember I was there, she knew it in the moment. That is what is important.

My older sister met me there and we all walked down to the ice cream parlor for some soft serve chocolate and vanilla ice cream. One of the benefits of being at Trinity Elms. It is like taking mom “out” without leaving the premises. We visited, laughed, and had our ice cream before walking mom back to her room. She is doing very well – getting around much better now that her shoulder has healed. Thank you Lord!

And thank you to my younger daughter, who took me to several vineyards Saturday afternoon. What a fun and beautiful day it was. We visited Jefferson Vineyards, Blenheim Vineyards (owned by Dave Matthews of DMB fame), and ended up at Cunningham Creek, a cute local winery that was open late with some good “old” live music. My daughter, like all of my kids, knows all of the oldies from the 60’s and 70’s as they all grew up listening to this with me. Still do when we travel. This band played a lot of Beatles and Doobie Brothers, but also Zac Brown Band and Lady Antebellum. We had so much fun! And good wine! Thankfully, there was also food there so I could drive us home.

“Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and think of what could go right.”

Two and a half years ago, my biggest fear was of being alone. The fear of the unknown. What would my life be like SOLO, on my own, solely responsible for me? Could I do it? Could I move away from a life I had known for over 35 years? What was my future now? What would happen if I got sick, had an accident, lost my job? My fears eased as I discovered how strong I could be, when strong was my only option. I had to step up and be responsible for myself. I had to protect myself financially and emotionally, because there was no one else to do it. And I did. My fears eased, but they are still present. We never know what the future will bring, we just have to have faith. And we need to face our fears to know we can overcome them and survive.

Yes the white wines are mine!

“Fear is what stops you…Courage is what keeps you going.”

What are your fears in life? We all have them. Just don’t let them control your life, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

PS – Did you know that the fear of dogs is cynophobia??

“Love Rollercoaster” – the Ohio Players 1975

Do you like rollercoasters? The climb to the highest point and then the immediate drop that causes your stomach to move up in your throat? I used to love rollercoasters. (“Used to” being the operative words here.) Used to love the thrill of that nosedive. Now I feel total terror thinking about rollercoasters and I don’t enjoy that feeling of my stomach in my throat. I remember the last time I rode a rollercoaster. I was in my 40’s with my family at Busch Gardens (or was it Kings Dominion?) and I thought I might die. I did not breathe the entire ride, my teeth were clenched, and my stomach was definitely up in my throat! Have not ridden one since. I know my limit, and I reached it on rollercoasters.

“Life is like a roller coaster. It has its ups and downs. It’s your choice whether to scream or enjoy the ride.”

My life has been a rollercoaster of highs and lows these past 2 ½ years of being SOLO, and I have both enjoyed the ride and wanted to scream. Even more so this past month. If you read my recent blogs, you know that I have been in a rental “mom van” (a truly nice one!) since September 25th, when my car was flooded due to Hurricane Florence and my stupidity. It sat at Myrtle Beach Volvo waiting to be diagnosed for 3 weeks with the windows down and rain pouring in, adding insult to injury. This news pushed my stomach up into my throat! Due to the hurricane, they were so backed up with flooded cars that I asked the insurance company to move my “baby” to the Volvo dealership in Charleston, SC. Last Friday, the verdict was finally in. My car was totaled. The news was sad, but at the same time a relief, especially after the insurance adjuster told me that the “blonde” interior of my car was now green with mold and held a foot of water. Totaled. What to do now? I wanted the same car. Looked in VA and NC. No luck. Decided to expand my search to SC, and lo and behold, there were two cars identical to mine at the Volvo dealership where my totaled car was now residing. Things were looking up. The stars seemed to be aligning in my favor. I reached out to this southern Volvo dealership, and luckily, I was able to work out a great deal on the new car. And my insurance company truly came through for me (shout out to Nationwide!). So now, after a trip to Charleston, I am in the same, yet brand new Volvo. Thankfully. When I walked into the dealership and the salesman walked up and said “Leslie?”, I just hugged him (remember I am a big hugger!). I was so thankful for all he had done for me. He even followed me to return my rental car and brought me back to the dealership. Goodbye, mom van! But it gets better. We talked (can you imagine me NOT talking?) on the way back and discovered that he is from Charlottesville and went to high school and ran track with my son (the one year my son ran track!). What a small and wonderful world. Plus, I got a beach trip as a bonus. I mean, I could not come this far and not go to my beach house for a couple of days! Life is good.

 

“All of life is peaks and valleys. Don’t let the peaks get too high and the valleys too low.”  John Wooden

My previous funk has dissipated. Vanished. Replaced with a happiness even greater than before. Fueled by many recent fun and happy times. This past weekend was no exception. It was filled with my kids. All of them. We treasure these times now because it is so hard to get everyone together with all of our work and social schedules. But we try. We all met in Chapel Hill early Saturday morning for breakfast at the iconic Carolina Coffee Shop. A mainstay on Franklin Street (“the Corner” to you UVA folks). It was wonderful to have all of my kids together and watch them interact with each other. They too have missed being together. And as soon as we sat down at our table, I looked over and saw an old friend I have known since elementary school and the reason I am a Carolina fan. Could not believe my eyes! It was Jeff Whitney. We could not have timed meeting up any better if we had tried. I knew he was going to be in Chapel Hill but had not yet reached out to him. And there he was. When we were in the 5th grade, Jeff wrote a poem about Charlie Scott and UNC basketball. I was hooked on UNC and never looked back. Did you know I didn’t even apply to any other college? And yet, I never visited the campus before the day I moved in! So hard for my kids to understand, but that was the way it was “back in the day.” Jeff is also the reason we have a high school reunion every year, and every year I get a present from him! One year was a signed picture of Charlie Scott, the next year was the Sports Illustrated with Charlie Scott on the cover, and this year a special UNC basketball history book! I introduced him to my kids and we visited with him a bit before he headed back to Winston-Salem. On the other hand, my kids and I were looking forward to a full fun day in Chapel Hill!

After breakfast we had a shopping spree on Franklin Street and the student store, where I bought some Carolina swag for the new car and my kids talked me into a special early birthday present. We headed back to the tailgate, played cornhole, watched other football games on tv, walked around and visited with other fans, imbibed special concoctions, and had lunch. It was a gorgeous day! This was definitely a high for me! And my son, his girlfriend, and I climbed the 128 steps of the Bell Tower, something we have wanted to do each game day. The bell tolls every 15 minutes and every now and then plays “Hark the Sound” and “Carolina Victory.” Mark this off my bucket list!

Since the game wasn’t until 7 pm, we also had dinner at the tailgate. As I have said before, my daughter and son-in-law throw an amazing tailgate! This time, in addition to our family, several of my son’s friends, and my son-in-law’s friends came as well. The more the merrier! We broke camp, packed up the truck, and headed to the game. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful evening. On our walk to the stadium, I asked my kids if we had a chance to win… Nope, not a chance, they said. So when we found ourselves leading for the most part of the game, we were on a big high…only to drop down to the lowest low when VT ran over our defense converting three 3rd downs and one 4th down en route to putting the game out of reach with no time left. Talk about a low. A dagger to our hearts. However, it was truly a fun game (until the end) and a wonderful day. First time the student section in the stadium was full and they had to turn students away.

“Hanging out with your grown-up kids is like visiting the best parts of your life.”

Sunday found us all at breakfast again. Did not want the weekend to end so we sat around and visited until it was time for us all to hit the road. I love the sight of my children laughing with and teasing each other. Biggest high for me. We’ll all be together again soon. I am thankful for these times and never take them for granted.

My Family!

“Remember that life is full of ups and downs. Without the downs, the ups would mean nothing.”

Do you sometimes feel as if you are on a rollercoaster in your life? I am sure you must… it is the way of life. We have to learn to be patient and strong during the lows and know that life will soon rebound back up. Try not to live in the lows, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

 

“Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters…” White Christmas, Irvin Berlin 1954

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

What a wonderful weekend I had filled with family, fun, happiness, celebrations, and lots of love. Oh and wine, lots of wine! My sisters and brother-in-law came to visit so we could celebrate my (older) sister’s 65th birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MELINDA!! For one month, my sisters and I are 65, 60, and 55… until I turn 61 in November. When we were MUCH younger, my sisters and I would have our picture taken professionally (if you consider Sears and Kmart Portrait Centers professional) every 5 years for our Mom. We missed the last several photo ops, but made up for it this weekend!

“Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters!”

“A sister is one of the nicest things you can have, and one of the best things you can be.”

My sisters and I have not always had the perfect relationship. There have been arguments, struggles, and conflicts. But deep down we always knew we would be there for each other. And we have. I cannot imagine what I would have done without my sisters in my life, especially these last 2 ½ years. Admittedly, I always wanted an older brother, especially when I was in high school (you know with cute older friends?!?!?!), but that did not happen. I am now ok with that. (Like I have a choice?) Besides, my brother-in-law is a brother to me, and believe me, I am very thankful for him, and thankful he loves my sister. And HAPPY BIRTHDAY DENNIS as tomorrow (Oct. 12) is his birthday!

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

My sisters and brother-in-law arrived Saturday and we spent the afternoon visiting a very busy and very good winery – Pollak. My younger daughter, the wine professional in our family, is a wine club member here and joined us. We chose a couple bottles of wine, sat outside enjoying the scenery and the wine, and visited for the better part of the beautiful afternoon. We laughed over childhood pranks, memories, and old secrets. Reminded each other of things we might have wanted to just forget! Remember, there is basically a 5 year separation in our ages that was HUGE when we were growing up, but now makes no difference.


 

“When I say I won’t tell anyone, my sister doesn’t count.”

Several of my daughter’s out of town friends were in Charlottesville for the day, so we went with her to a brewery downtown to see them. It was a perfect evening, and we decided to walk to our downtown mall and have a wonderful dinner outside. Our fun day had come to an end. But we still had Sunday!

Post dinner stroll!

“Having a sister is like having a best friend you can never get rid of. You know whatever you do, they’ll still be there.”

After brunch at my house Sunday morning, we headed to King Family Vineyards to celebrate my older sister’s birthday. My daughters and son-in-law came, as well as some of my friends who know my sister. Unfortunately, my son wasn’t able to join us. And unfortunately, the polo match was cancelled for the day, but we found a table in the shade and set up our “tailgate”. It was a beautiful, but hot (87 but felt like 92), afternoon. So much for any fall weather! Most of my sister’s birthdays have been celebrated in much chillier temperatures, which she loves, but I like the heat!

“Birthdays are made for celebrating the love you share with family and friends.”

It was so much fun sharing the weekend and celebrating with my sisters. Though we talk or text daily, it’s more special to actually be together. And we try to as often as possible. Once I found myself SOLO, I made every effort to become more involved in my family. And I cannot tell you how happy it has made me. So thankful to NOT be missing out on so much with my siblings and my kids.

“A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost.”  Marion Garretty

With Mom in her current state of mind, my older sister has become the glue that holds our family together. My younger sister is full of fun and has grandbaby Jack to share with us, and me? I am the middle child, who can now appreciate being the middle. We all “miss” mom. Yes she is still living and knows us and loves us, and enjoys being with us, but is not quite able to be the parent anymore. She now asks us if we have seen her Momma lately and do we think she is still in Greensboro. Our answer? Well, she is not moving anywhere any time soon! (Our grandmother is buried in Greensboro.) And as I have said before, no matter how old you are, you always need and want your momma. To listen to you, give you advice, and love on you with a “Mom hug” that is so comforting. Even our mom is looking for her momma. But that is what siblings are for. We never leave each other without big hugs!

After my family and friends left the vineyard Sunday, my younger daughter and I cleaned up and decided to get one more bottle of wine and sit for a bit, catch up with each other, and enjoy the late afternoon. We covered lots of topics, and of course talked about the blog (she is my editor). When I was telling her my thoughts that included the part of missing my mom, she said the sweetest thing to me. “Mom I cannot imagine not being able to talk to you.” Be still my heart. You know I adore my kids.

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Late afternoon…

I am thankful for the close relationship my kids share with me and with each other. I have always tried to foster a mutual respect, love, and friendship between my kids. I truly wanted them to like each other and be friends as well as siblings. And they do. They stay in close touch with each other, and support each other as well. I know it was hard for them when their parents’ marriage ended. As much as my life changed, and I realized that my future as I had always imagined was not going to happen, the same thing happened to my kids. Their family “broke up” as well – no longer was it mom AND dad. Now it is mom OR dad. That breaks my heart for my kids. But life goes on and we adjusted. And I try to keep things as normal as possible for them.

If you have a sibling, make every effort to keep in close touch. Support each other. Never take that relationship for granted. One thing you should always be able to count on, is your family. Luckily for me, I know without a doubt that if I need them, my kids, my siblings, and my brother-in-law would be there in an instant. Just look how they have supported me and come to my rescue so many times. Can you say that? If not, you need to work on that relationship now, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“Family is like music, some high notes, some low notes, but always a beautiful song.”

Best,

Leslie

PS – Know what the latest craze in killing bugs is – especially flies and mosquitoes (which are HUGE in NC and SC)? SALT GUNS! Yep… uses table salt and will blast an insect without any mess or smashing guts. And as I learned this week, several of my friends have them and love them. No more fly swatters. Hmmmm… should I get one?

 

Uptown Funk – Bruno Mars 2014

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Hello October! Fall… I truly am not ready for you.

Ever find yourself in a funk? No, not the hip hop dance kind of funk! I mean a mood you just cannot shake easily? A fog that surrounds you no matter what? I did last week. The weather really affects my mood, and it was not cooperating. Had not for a while. Drizzly, gloomy days. No sunshine. Traveled to our club in PA in the rain. Good trip with fun teammates. Traveled home in the sunshine (finally) thinking I could get back to Charlottesville in time for an early evening run since I had been in the car for over 5 hours. It was sunny on our drive home, until we got closer to Charlottesville… the clouds increased, the drizzle started, and there was a chance of thunderstorms. Went to the office since that is where I always start my runs. Waited and worked an hour or so and decided it was not happening after all. In my mind I needed that run to get me out of my funk. Now my funk was stronger. Woke up the next morning to rain as well. Geez…I heard on the news that our area has had more rain than the Northwest!

“Each new day has a different shape to it. You just roll with it.”

 (Working in our GM’s office at our PA club – she is a Villanova Fan – Just could not look at this any longer! Villanova beat my Heels in the NCAA finals in 2016… Sorry Beth!)

What I really needed, was to get down to the beach house to make sure all was good. And to breathe in that wonderful, healing, salty beach air. So I decided Thursday night I would get up and head to the beach EARLY Friday morning! My sister and brother-in-law were also going to the beach Friday. I called them about 4 hours into my trip only to discover that they were about 2 miles ahead of me. With my heavy foot, I caught up easily and followed them as we took a different route to bypass one possible flooded area into the beach. We couldn’t have planned to meet up any better!

I was so thankful to finally get to the beach and see for myself that all was good and safe. Unlike my last attempt to get to the beach (did you read that blog?), this trip was totally uneventful – thank heavens! Unloaded my rented “Mom Van”, hung all my art and pictures I had taken home in case the house was damaged in the hurricane, and put all of my deck and porch furniture back out. Life returning to normal at the beach. Uncovered the golf cart, blew all the leaves and “trash” from underneath the house, set the grill back out and oops, found a 2 foot friend – a snake! He did not bother me and I certainly did not bother him. But I did turn the blower on him full blast and he slithered away. WHEW! Did not see him again (though I looked every time I came down the stairs!).

Changed and headed straight to the beach. I knew this was what I needed to get out of my funk. It was a beautiful beach day – sunny, lower humidity, good breeze. I was tired, which is not unusual for me. But I also felt so restless, which was unusual for me. Could not settle down for some reason. Could not nap on the beach (never happens). Could not get interested in a book (also never happens). Just stuck in that funk. No point in just sitting there stewing, so I got my red SOLO (haha!) cup out and went in search of shells which is always calming for me. (Remember I am addicted to shells.) Over an hour later, my SOLO cup runneth over! As I bent down to pick up the big shells, I started looking closer and found so many tiny, perfect shells – many more beautiful than the bigger ones. And I realized something. While looking for the bigger flashier shells, I was overlooking the smaller beautiful shells. Made me realize that I need to look more for the smaller but beautiful treasures in life.

Still, that restless feeling would not leave me alone. Could not settle down and just relax. I mean, I was at my special place but could not turn my mind off. Too many things nagging at the back of my mind. Since the afternoon was sunny and warm but not too hot, and I could not settle down, I decided a late afternoon run might do the trick. Surely raising endorphins from a hard run would get me out of my funk. Sweating out that good hard run, going further than I have in a long time, did help, but the fog continued to swirl around in my head. And I was struggling to put my finger on what exactly was really bothering me. Went to dinner with my sister and brother-in-law and talked to them about it bit. That is the thing when you are SOLO. Who do you vent to? What shoulder do you cry on? Sometimes you just want someone to listen, not to judge or give advice, but to listen and agree with you. To sympathize with you. Maybe that was part of the problem? I have had to make some bigger decisions lately without that “other half” to weigh in on the decision. Thankfully, I have a great support team in my family, kids, and friends. But now that I am SOLO, the ultimate decisions have to come from me and me alone. My responsibility.

“You don’t have to have it all figured out to move forward…just take the next step.”

I was so tired that I slept pretty good Friday night and woke up to a cooler Saturday morning with less humidity. Decided another run was in order, though a shorter one. Met my sister on the beach afterwards for a couple of hours until it clouded up and rained. Just what the beach area (and me) needed – more rain! Luckily, the weather cleared up in time for me to go to North Myrtle Beach for a dinner to celebrate the 60th birthday of a girlfriend I have known since elementary school. We were cheerleaders in high school. What a fun night, with special people, at such a wonderful restaurant. My friend has more fun than anyone I know! I live vicariously through her.

Sunday was a perfect beach day with sunny skies, 80 degrees and low humidity. My daughter and son-in-law were down for their last week of “summer” vacation. We spent the day together on the beach. I love having my kids at the beach with me. Got me out of my funk a bit. We talked, napped, searched for shells, and enjoyed our day on the beach. Stayed until we needed to go up and fix our traditional beach dinner of grilled shrimp, corn, and okra all on the grill. Invited my sister and brother-in-law. It was wonderful. The fog seemed to be lifting from my head.

I said goodbye to the beach 5:30 Monday morning and drove straight to work – going my normal route with no delays or closures. Arrived at noon. Thankful and sad, realizing my summer may be over. I started the summer saying I wanted no regrets this year. I would go to the beach every opportunity I could. And I did. But I am not yet ready to say goodbye to summer this year. To the serenity I feel at the beach – the sun, the heat, the stifling air at times, the shells, the fresh seafood, the dinners out. I have plans for every weekend in October so I do not know when I will get back down there. But I will. It just won’t be summer…it will be fall. Realized that was part of my funk. I hate goodbyes, even to a season (my favorite season!).

“Maybe it’s not always about trying to fix something broken. Maybe it’s about starting over and creating something better.”

My funk was still present, though not as bad and I realized I needed to rid myself of this feeling. As much as I love the SOLO life, every now and then it is hard. But we have to take the hard times with the good times and realize that the good will always outweigh the hard. I mentioned to my daughter that I was struggling with this, and somehow, just acknowledging it again, bringing it out in the forefront, seemed to help. I ran Monday evening, had some tough conversations with myself, and finally cleared my mind of the funk.

“I’m starting over… a new pattern of thoughts, a new wave of emotions, a new connection to the world, and a new belief system in myself.” Leticia Ray

Is there anything  you need to clear out of your mind? Worries? Concerns? Feelings? Don’t let it simmer too long and take away your happiness, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“I trust the next chapter because I know the Author.”

Best,

Leslie

PS – Did you know that last Friday (9/28) was the last sunset after 7 pm until March 10th? UGH… another reason I was in a funk – shorter days are coming much too quickly!