“I Will Survive…” Gloria Gaynor 1978

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

I am often asked about regrets. Are you? Of course, I have been asked this more often in the last 3 years than ever before (if ever before!). Do you ever think “what if?” I mean, what if I had not transferred from UNC to Wake Forest? Wouldn’t have met my ex, wouldn’t have my beautiful children, wouldn’t have met the godparents to my oldest child. What if we had not moved to Charlottesville and instead, remained in Winston-Salem? We would have been closer to my family (physically), my kids would have grown up with their cousin (Jack’s dad), we would have paid in-state tuition! But I never would have found my “tribe” up here, my kids would not have gone to true neighborhood schools where they could walk or ride their bikes to school, and I would not have this job I love with people I love to see everyday.

“Never regret something that once made you smile.”

Speaking of my tribe, my former next door neighbor of 17 years came and stayed with me last week. It was like therapy as we stayed up talking, and talking, and talking well past 1 am every night (and could have gone on for hours more)! Obviously, we had a lot to catch up on. Late night sessions are not unusual for us – we planned many an elementary class party and school event late at night – we are both “night owls.” And more of our tribe (our “old neighbors”) came for dinner one night – easier to visit here than in a restaurant. Wasn’t until I had invited everyone that I remembered I am limited in fixing dinner or even setting the table! But everyone brought appetizers, salad, dessert and I ordered pizza to be delivered, and we had a great night (and my younger daughter came earlier in the week to set my table and to check the upstairs bathroom to make sure there was no ring in the toilet since I cannot go upstairs!) Though I miss my old neighbors, I don’t regret moving to my new house – the old house held too many memories and would have been too much for me to handle SOLO. No regrets there.

Our neighborhood Tribe!

“Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have her back.”

So what do I regret? Well, maybe I should have made my kids be more responsible for things that I did for them. My younger daughter and I discussed this last week. She was talking about a friend who took himself to college and moved himself in. Heaven forbid I could NEVER do that! I mean, I didn’t even want to leave them when I moved them into college. My oldest didn’t want me to leave either. Middle child was ready for me to leave, didn’t even need me to help make up her bed! And youngest was fine with me leaving (I was NOT!). Maybe I should have given them more chores? They had to make up their beds every day and clear the table after dinner, but truly, their afternoons/nights/weekends were spent filled with homework and sports. I felt it was their “job” to be successful in school, extracurriculars, and sports. Did I make their lives too easy? Maybe. But I don’t regret it – I loved doing things for them. Someone left their cleats at home? Mom went back home to get them and took them to school. Someone forgot it was spirit day and they needed a flower bouquet for school? Mom went to the store searching for a perfect bouquet to drop off at school. Forgot a lunchbox? Here it is. Homework left at home, no problem. I know, I know… But that is me. And that is how my momma was. I would do it all over again. And still do! No regrets there.

“I  never regret anything I’ve done in my past because it led to who I am today and who I’ll become tomorrow.”

In my “typical mom” fashion, I always want to see my children on their birthdays. Last week’s blog ended with a birthday shout out to my oldest daughter. My younger daughter and I headed to Richmond Friday night to celebrate with the birthday girl, my son-in-law and of course play with sweet Paige. We had a great dinner and visit, but we went through a terrible thunder storm on the way home (while singing Elton John and Billy Joel songs at the top of our lungs!). No regrets there.

And Saturday, since it was such a nice day (sunny and 90!), and my younger daughter was working there, I went out to King Family Vineyards to get a glass of wine, people watch, and work on my blog. It was packed! Remembered that it was UVA graduation weekend and I watched as families celebrated with their graduates. Even made friends with 2 moms of graduates, one from Chicago, one from California. Being on crutches brings lots of people to you, especially when you cannot carry your own wine glass! No regrets there – not letting these crutches hold me back!

“Accept your past without regret, handle your present with confidence & face your future without fear.”

The biggest question always goes back to the demise of my marriage. Do I regret my marriage? Never, it was really good for a long time. And I have my beautiful children. Would it have ended had we not moved up here? Honestly, I don’t think so. Not that it matters now! But do I regret it ending? No. And I can honestly say this now. Maybe not 3 years ago, but now. If you follow this blog, you know how far I have come and how much fun I have had these last 3 years. And how much I have discovered about myself, from loving living by myself to knowing I will survive SOLO. Plus I have spent more time with my kids, reconnected with my “tribe” far and wide, visited many, many vineyards, gone to a ton of movies, and traveled a lot. As my kids always comment to me, Mom you would not being doing half of these things if your circumstances were different. So true.

That’s my favorite thing in life: having my family around me and watching my kids talking, laughing, just enjoying being together. So I cannot think of one thing in my life that I regret… well, maybe ONE thing. I regret driving my new car into DEEP standing water. Lesson learned… turn around, don’t drown (or total your new car)!

Birthday girl!

“Just because something doesn’t last forever doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth your while.”

Don’t waste your time regretting things in your past. They are just that, the past. Concentrate on the present, and make the most of each and every day, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

PS  Only 2 more weeks on crutches y’all!

“No more regrets. No turning back. I’m moving on!”

Rocking the motorized cart! On the wine aisle and no wine?

“Mamma Mia” Abba 1975

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

How’s your mom and ‘em? (Southern for how’s your family?) Is your momma still living? Did you get to see her on her day of honor – Mother’s Day? I did not get to see my mom. Not quite sure about driving that far with only one good leg. But I will get down to see her soon. My sister visited her and face timed with me. Our sweet momma. I have never doubted her love for me or my sisters. She has loved us and her grandchildren fiercely. Like all moms, ours sacrificed so much for us and raised us to be independent, compassionate, strong women. Funny, I never truly realized how much she loved me, or how much she did for me, until I became a mother.

“I used to think that children were given to me so I could mold them and shape them, actually it’s the reverse. Children were given to me so they could mold me and shape me.”

I always thought my “job” as a mother was to “mold and shape” my children – to bring them up in a loving, caring, and faithful home, which I think I succeeded in doing. But truly, my children have molded and shaped my life. I never knew unconditional love until I became a mother. For the first time in my life, I knew I would lay down my life for someone, well 3 someones! My children made me a better person. I needed to set an example for them and as they did not want to disappoint me, neither did I want to disappoint them, especially as they got older. And I did not want to embarrass them. Well, maybe that last part is not totally true. I did and still do embarrass them at times, not on purpose of course!

“When you look at your mother, you are looking at the purest love you will ever know.”  Mitch Albom

My kids have taught me a lot in their “young lives.”  We talk about some pretty controversial issues, some that we do not always agree on, but respect and accept each other’s opinion. They have taught me to keep an open mind and be less judgmental. And I have learned A LOT from my kids, from how to use Waze on my IPhone, stream UNC baseball games on my TV, to what some “ways of the world” actually are. And I am thankful for that. So thankful!  If I can’t remember a password, I call them. If I don’t know what something means, I ask them. After they pick themselves up off the floor laughing, they explain it all to me. One of the biggest things I have learned recently? I am not afraid of dogs! I know, I know, I know… but I was a bit afraid until sweet Paige, my granddawg, came into my life. And my older daughter, who would have panicked at dog hair earlier, now relishes being covered in it. My sweet children convinced and showed me that I can have fun and enjoy life SOLO. And with them!

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

My daughters have become my friends. I am still their mother, and they still come to me for advice and comfort, but we are also friends. We enjoy doing things together whether it be mani/pedis, running, cycle classes, movies, trips, or just going on walks and talking. My older daughter introduced me to the love of dogs and tailgating, and my younger daughter introduced me to the love of wine and Moscow Mules!

“I asked God for a best friend and he gave me daughters.”

Then there’s my sweet son. Oh my gosh y’all, I am crazy about my baby boy. Well, actually he is almost 28, but he will always be my baby. He is tall and handsome and so kind. His girlfriend recently told me that her sisters said she had trained him well after he did something so sweet for her, and she told them, “he came off the rack just like that.” My “Bud” makes me smile every time I see his name pop up on my phone or email.

“I asked God to send me a man who will always love me. So he gave me a son.”

Yes, my kids fill my life with happiness and pride. I am so proud of them, like most moms are. They are compassionate, honest, smart, hardworking, and of course good looking! I read that kids get their smarts from their Mothers, so I must be brilliant because my kids are very smart! Even though they will always be my babies, I love the adult relationship we share now – they are so fun to be with!

My people!

Speaking of which, remember my secret crush? You know, the one I meet twice a year in the aisles of Barnes and Noble? Well that opportunity presented itself again last Friday night in Richmond. And this time, my older daughter came to chaperone. And to carry my books – can’t do that on crutches! We certainly made an interesting pair being entertained by David Baldacci in that Barnes and Noble: me on crutches with an out-of-commission leg and her in a sling with an out-of-commission arm (she had surgery on her wrist last week to insert plates just like her momma’s wrist). We needed a wagon to carry all of the books I was bringing to get signed, but we settled for a very strong bag. Luckily she does not have an out-of-commission shoulder! Looking forward to our next rendezvous in November! Funny thing, I gave my younger sister Baldacci’s last book for Christmas. She read it and became his newest fan, continuing to read about 10 more of his books and now cannot wait for this latest one, which of course I had signed for her. I love giving books as gifts!

Another thing you can’t do while on crutches: pick strawberries! But I did not want to miss out on getting strawberries for my smoothies this year. So, Saturday morning, before the habitual rains descended on our weekend again, my younger daughter took me to Chiles for some strawberry picking. We were not disappointed as we picked 14 pounds of very large, very sweet strawberries! Luckily, I was not the one carrying our strawberries! And they gave us 2 fudge-dipped strawberries for Mother’s Day. My daughter put the berries in the back of my car and headed to work as I headed home to meet my older daughter and son-in-law, who were taking my son-in-law’s mother and me out to lunch for Mother’s Day. We had fun catching up (mother-in-law to mother-in-law) and visiting with our married children, and of course Paige, our granddawg.

 

I spent my Mother’s Day by sleeping in (back in my recliner), and meeting some friends at King Family Vineyards in the afternoon. My daughter was working and I decided it would be fun to at least be near one of my kids, and it was! Amazingly, it did not rain and we were able to sit outside and visit over a bottle of wine, warm bread, and cheese. And my day ended with my younger daughter taking me to the movies (complete with a hot dog!), because as she says, that is what we do!

“Your mom is your Mom… Nobody can replace her… Nobody should replace her… Nobody can do half the things she does, or has done, for you… Nobody can compare to her… Only God can love you more than she does…. She’s only one person… But she’s the person that matters the most.”

There are all kinds of Moms… you don’t have to have given birth to be a mom to someone. Yet Mother’s Day is hard for many people, those who look to heaven for their moms, those who look to heaven for their children, and those who want so desperately to be a mom. It truly takes a tribe to raise children these days. We women are all “moms” in some form or fashion. My sisters are moms to my kids (aunts as well) and same for me with my nephew and his wife. I am a “work mom” to many of the younger people I work with. And I love it! So whether or not you are a mom, let children mold and shape your life, while you also mold and shape theirs. The world will be a better place. Don’t wait, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

PS I became a mother 34 years ago this Friday. One of the 3 happiest days of my life! Happy birthday to my oldest child, who talks to her momma several times every day just to check on her. Love you girl!

My beautiful daughter!

 

 

 

“A Whole New World…” Aladdin 1992

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

1992…my son was a year old, my oldest was 7, and my middle child was 4 years old. Aladdin was their favorite movie and my younger daughter knew every word to every song, sung by every character. She still does. Last Friday she and I went to a 5th and 6th grade production of Aladdin Jr. We were there with a family we feel like we’re part of to watch and support the star – Aladdin! And he did not disappoint. Singing his solos, reciting his lines, hamming it up – he was GREAT! All of these kids far surpassed any expectation we had going in. And my younger daughter sang along under her breath the whole time! “A whole new world…a dazzling place I never knew…”

“Our” Aladdin and his special family were forced into “a whole new world” 2 years ago when they lost a beloved member. Life can be so unfair, but it does go on. We may struggle, but are filled with a faith that propels us forward, one step at a time. And this family has proven this with much love and support. So much so that we took up about 4 rows of seats at the production starring this special 5th grade soccer player and now actor. A STAR is born!

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Three years ago next week marks my own entry into “a whole new world.” After facing the reality of what my future would be, I forged ahead, concentrating on my children and myself. After all, divorce affects every member of the family. Along the way, I discovered many things, the first being that no one can make you happy but yourself. Realized that I alone would determine what my future would hold and decided that it would be fun and full (and full of fun!). That was my goal – not to waste my days crying over what might have been or what should have been, but looking forward to what might be. And I think I have succeeded pretty well.

This is my 105th blog which means we are celebrating 2 years of SOLO at SIXTY today. WOOHOO! Talk about “a whole new world”! I started this blog a year after finding myself SOLO, as an avenue of moving forward in my new world, putting my thoughts and feelings together, in hopes that others who experience a loss might feel as if they are not alone in this journey. And to share the quotes that I have collected over the years (and continue to collect). Plus it gave me a reason to write, which I have always wanted to do. And thanks to all y’all (Southern for more than just y’all), SOLO at SIXTY still appears every Wednesday afternoon.

“The hardest walk is walking alone, but it’s also the walk that makes you the strongest.”

We all have to overcome hardships in our lives. It is inevitable. No one, not a single person, will go through life without facing challenges. Part of life. Helps us grow, build character, and appreciate our lives. I feel as if I have built A LOT of character with my knee surgery. Two weeks down, 4 to go on crutches! Had my follow-up appointment this week and the doctor was very pleased with the results – meniscus reattached and “bone filler” stabilized the knee. Disappointed to learn that I will NOT be running the Women’s 4-miler as part of our Mother/Daughter team this year… first year I have missed in over 10 years! For the past 8 years, my younger daughter and I have run this in memory of my sweet childhood friend who lost her battle with cancer. But I WILL be back next year.

Take me for a walk please!

“You can’t make a cloudy day a sunny day, but you can embrace it and decide it’s going to be a good day after all.”  Jane Lynch

A whole new world… finally, I was able to sleep in my bed instead of the recliner (which is very comfortable)! Sunday night, after struggling to fall asleep, I decided I needed a change of scenery. Luckily, I conquered the stairs in physical therapy last week, so I discovered a way to use a step while on crutches to get up in my bed. However, the real reason I could not fall asleep was because I had slept so much Saturday night… like, passed out from 5:30 pm until Sunday morning! My younger daughter and I went to the Taste of Monticello Wine Festival downtown Saturday afternoon. There were 20 wineries offering tastings, 2-3 wines per table. Yep, I was on crutches tasting wines. Asked my daughter if she thought we should get a wheelchair for me and she said, no way, you are more stable than anyone here with “4 legs” on crutches. And I was. But I hit my limit and said I could not taste one more wine (and remain upright)! My daughter put me in an Uber and I headed for home where I got in my recliner to rest my eyes before the Kentucky Derby. Slept through it. Slept through the Hallmark Movie. Slept through Adam Sandler on SNL. Slept through until 8:30 am Sunday morning. But I had a blast at the wine festival!

“Life is full of give and take, give thanks and take nothing for granted.”

I’ve made some discoveries in my new “limited-mobility” world. I took a lot for granted, especially just getting around. I mean, I can’t even buy my own groceries. My younger daughter took me to the grocery store Sunday afternoon, came home and unloaded them (not too many), unloaded my dishwasher (can’t do that either), and took my trash can to the curb (impossible task on crutches). Then she came back Monday night to bring my trash can back in, water my plants, and set my table for a dear friend bringing dinner the following night. I have figured out how to do a lot of things by myself (showering, driving, laundry) but some things are truly not safe. Patience is required. And I have a new appreciation for the little things, like conquering stairs. And accepting kindness offered not only by those close to you, but by perfect strangers. So many people have held a door for me, offered to carry something, offered to hold an umbrella over me, told me about their surgeries and how they are now better than before. Little things add up. I move slower and notice more. I appreciate it when I am able to move to the next step. Last week I rocked the Nustep – the equipment used by many of our “elder” members in the club, and this week I was able to move up to the recumbent bike, though at a low level. I’ll take it. I have to admit, I am jealous of those members coming out of cycle class sweaty, exhausted, having had a fun, hard and challenging class. I crave being sweaty! I keep telling myself… it will come… 4 more weeks.

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” Maya Angelou

Think about the hardships you have faced and conquered. What did you discover in your “whole new world”? I truly believe there is something good in the hardships we face – just have to be patient at times to discover what it is. I survived something I thought might totally defeat me, and continue to thrive. My plan is to face my whole new world with all the grace and gusto I can muster. And treasure each day I wake up, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

PS  Happy Mother’s Day to all the mommas and substitute mommas out there. Nobody loves you like your momma!

 

“I Can See Clearly Now, the rain is gone, I can see all obstacles in my way…” Johnny Nash 1972

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Goodbye April showers, Hello May flowers!

Spring has finally brought May flowers!

WHEW! What a week it has been! Surgery went well on my knee and they were able to reconnect my meniscus and “cement” the stress fracture. Pain was tolerable and I was able to stop taking the BIG pain meds within 2 days. Still cannot figure out where the “high” is on those drugs! I was so thankful to stop taking them. Had physical therapy 2 days after surgery and was happy to find myself ahead of the game, just by being able to lift my own leg up on the table! My physical therapist (also a friend) removed the brace and took the bandages off – I was afraid to look, thinking it might make me queasy, but I looked, and I was ok. There were 4 small areas with 1-2 stitches, but no blood and no yuck! Knee was a bit swollen as we slowly bent my knee and extended my leg, all without much pain. I credit this to working out y’all – it is so important in our aging years to be in shape – you never know what obstacles and challenges may appear in your life, so be ready and be healthy. As much as my daughter and I hated the exercise our trainer had us do where you sit, extend one leg and raise yourself on the other leg – I am thankful we had to do them. Helped me get up and on crutches! Not to mention all the balance exercises we did on the Bosu ball. I left PT with a list of daily exercises from flexing my ankle to bending my knee.

“Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” Joshua J. Marine

As I said last week, my worst fear about becoming SOLO came true – getting sick or having surgery and dealing with it alone. But I learned something very valuable – we are never totally alone in this world. I had offers of help from so many family and friends, from food, to “babysitting,” to errands, to coming over if I find that “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Of course THAT friend would take pictures before helping me up and share them everywhere! So thankful for all of the help and offers. My younger daughter took me for surgery and spent the night on the sofa while I slept in my recliner (my temporary, yet very comfortable bed for the next 5 weeks). She set an alarm to wake us up every couple of hours to give me one of several pain meds to keep ahead of the pain. My older sister came up Wednesday to relieve my younger daughter so she could go to work. We had a fun couple of days – lots of laughs as she says she is not the “nursemaid” in the family, but believe me, she did a great job. Unfortunately for her, I had taken 2 oxycodone Wednesday morning in case the pain was bad when the nerve block wore off… and… I got sick. We handled it and that was the only time I took 2, and only time I got sick. She took me to physical therapy Thursday and then walked with me over to my office to say hello to my team. She refilled my tea and water cups endlessly (I am a big drinker) as well as the ice pack for my knee. She held her breath every time I insisted on standing up on my own. She also drank wine in front of me when I was on meds! She brought her paints and painted a beautiful beach scene for me, because I was supposed to be at the beach this whole week and instead found myself going under the knife. That beach scene will keep me focused on not overdoing it, but following the directions to a “T” so that I can get down to the beach in June. She left Friday morning after I successfully had my first shower (while she again held her breath, for many reasons!).

“There are plenty of obstacles in your path. Don’t allow yourself to become one.”  Ralph Marston

Once I found myself alone on Friday, it was all up to me to manage. Yes, I had managed okay on my own, trying to do for myself while someone was here, but, someone was here. There’s definitely a difference when you find yourself alone. A little bit scary! WOW, so many actions we take for granted daily really come to the forefront when your mobility is limited. I was proud of myself for being able to make my own lunch and dinner, until it came time to eat. I couldn’t carry my plate while on crutches! Had to eat right where I cooked. Got a bit creative for other tasks. It’s amazing how crafty we can get when left to our own devices. A paper towel holder was used to reach the end of the blinds cord, a knife sharpener was used to “hook” a soup mug, while I used a beach bag to carry my drinks and ice packs from the kitchen to my recliner. But there are many things I cannot do – cannot buy my groceries because I can’t push a buggie, cannot pull weeds in my natural area, cannot pick strawberries (younger daughter said she would take me and pick for me), cannot roll my trash can out or back into my garage. This is where the offers of help come to play.

“Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” Joshua J. Marine

For the first time since I moved into my house 3 years ago (SOLO), I found myself at home day in and day out for several days (6 if you are counting, and I AM). What to do, what to do? Well, not much! As my grandmother would say, “can you do less than nothing?” And that, my friends, is a big challenge for me. I mean, I spend a majority of my time at the office or one of the clubs working out. But I needed to just be still and rest my knee. So I slept. A lot. Definitely more than usual. Not to rub it in for those of you at work, but I slept in until after 9 am some days! And took naps, lots of them. Who knew a person could sleep so much? I kept up with my work email, ran some reports, worked on some blog ideas, did some laundry, and that flat wore me out – what’s with that? Went back to my trusty recliner and cut the TV on. WOW, Matlock is still coming on in repeats on the Hallmark Mystery channel! Who knew? And Victor and Nikki Newman are still on The Young and the Restless (aka Y&R). I haven’t watch a soap opera in years. Took me back to my college days. My very talented niece (still my niece even though I am no longer married into that family) is a songwriter in Nashville (graduating from college in 2 weeks) and wrote a song that was being performed on The Young and the Restless last Friday, so I watched, only to discover some things never change – many of the same people are still on there, just older!

I must admit that I did enjoy being “still,” which is very unusual for me. I have not done this in forever, as I always have something going on if I am not going to the beach. Speaking of the beach, I missed our annual beach homeowners meeting and get together. I look forward to that every year – such a fun time getting together with all of my “beach neighbors.” Next year… and of course, later this summer.

Perfect view from my recliner…

“You carry on no matter what are the obstacles. You simply refuse to give up – and, when the going gets tough, you get tougher. And, you win.” Vince Lombardi

My older daughter came Saturday, stopping by Whole Foods for me on her way in. She watered all of my plants and took her momma for a walk. It was a gorgeous day and I just wanted to be outside. And I met a new neighbor moving in, and discovered we have mutual friends. After my daughter left, I watched the UNC vs. UVA baseball game, and fixed my dinner of salmon, baked sweet potato and zucchini. Ah… so good, but do I have to stand here and eat it?!?! Hmmm… there has to be a way to get this plate from one side of my kitchen to the other. So, inch by inch (literally) I scooted my plate around my countertops, by the sink, over the stove, while I moved on crutches until I (and my plate) reached the other side and I was actually able to sit down and enjoy my dinner at the bar, a bit exhausted. Got back in my favorite recliner, and watched the BEST Hallmark movie, “Love takes Flight”, and received a facetime call from a couple of my cheerleader friends. Life is good.

Sunday my younger daughter came by after her soccer game and took her momma for a walk (my kids don’t want me to do this by myself yet!). She also gathered my trash and put my container out at the end of my driveway for Monday morning’s pick up. She came again Monday night for another walk and to bring my trashcan back in, but a neighbor beat her to it.

The weekend went so well for me, that I decided Monday was time for a change of scenery, and I went to work. Since I have been sleeping so late, I overslept. (ha!) Honestly, my recliner is very comfy. Woke up early when my first alarm went off, but somehow went back to sleep for another hour. It was my first time driving so it took a bit of maneuvering to get in my car – had to put my seat all the way down and back to where I could not see over the steering wheel to get my leg in! Trust me, I did not drive this way. Back to the memorized position until time to get out and once again, had to reposition my seat. I was so happy to see my team and was surprised with Princess Goldfish (did you know there was such a thing?), a lovely flower, and a Retro Frigidaire can cooler so I don’t have to go far for my diet DP! Stayed longer than I had planned so it was back to the recliner with ice on my knee when I got home. But, I felt like my “old” self. Thankful and grateful for all the blessings in my life.

“The two things in life you are in total control over are your attitude and your effort.” Billy Cox

So be prepared for challenges and obstacles that will undoubtedly appear in your life, physically and emotionally. As you age, make every effort to be as healthy as you can. Sixty isn’t the new Forty for nothing y’all! Don’t take your health, or your abilities for granted, and be mindful of all of your blessings. Trust me, you are blessed in more ways than you can imagine. And make the most of every single day y’all, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

PS One week on crutches down, 5 to go! WOOHOO! It will fly by… right?!? Oh and did you know that today, May 1st, is Batman day? Unofficially, but it is thought that May 1, 1939 marked the first appearance of the caped crusader!

 

“Oh My My, Oh My My, Can you boogie, Can you slide…” Ringo Starr 1974

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

“Easter is the only time of year when it is safe to put all your eggs in one basket.”

I hope y’all had a blessed Easter. I got to be a Moravian again. Like most religions, Easter and Christmas are the holiest and biggest celebrations, and in the Moravian Church we do it up right! Easter worship in sanctuary, continued outside on the front lawn, and concluded in God’s Acre (our cemetery). So many traditions – from the first processional song that ushers the choir in, to the cross where the congregation places flowers, to the Hallelujah Chorus. And I got to see people I have gone to church with my whole life (minus the 22 years in VA – still, it is as if I never left). We did not get up for the sunrise service, but my younger daughter, my son and his girlfriend, and my sister and brother-in-law, and I made it to New Philadelphia Moravian in time to snag our family pew. (That’s important!) My older daughter was not able to come – remember her collapse in last week’s blog? Well… she did break her wrist after all and got her cast on Friday. BUT… she texted us when church started and said she was watching us live on Facebook! How cool is that?

Of course after church we had our traditional Easter lunch of fried chicken, ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, deviled eggs, fruit, rolls, and dessert. My contribution is the fried chicken from our family cookbook: “Drive to KFC and order both regular and extra crispy chicken. Place on nice platter and serve.” Added one extra step to the recipe: picked up my Momma. We all had to roll away from my sister’s beautiful Easter table after lunch. Funny thing, we were talking about someone from church but could not remember their last name… my sisters and I were debating what it could be and why we could not remember, when Mom blurted out the name surprising us all! I mean, she did not remember that our church band played at her Assisted Living the day before, but she remembered a name from the past that we could not grasp! The mind is an amazing thing.

“Traditions touch us, they connect us, and they expand us.”

Holidays are all about family. (Actually I think life is all about family!) My family is really good about getting together and staying in touch. I treasure these times and make every effort I can to spend time with these people I love most. Luckily, we all do. Saturday, my younger daughter and I left Charlottesville early enough to stop by Frame It where my older sister is the artist of the month and has her art displayed in their window for the month of April. I left my daughter with my sister so they could go to an art exhibit at Reynolda House and I headed to see my Momma before we all regrouped and headed to a couple of wineries. My son and his girlfriend also came for the weekend and joined us just in time for some wine. After a couple of tastings and several bottles of wine (with lunch thrown in!), we all needed a quick rest before heading downtown Winston-Salem for dinner. It is amazing to me how my hometown has changed since I moved to VA (22 years ago!). There was 1 winery and it was small…now there are many wineries in the area. And we would NEVER go downtown, especially at night, but the area has been revitalized and is very upscale. My kids and I went to a couple of bars offering music after dinner before calling it a night. (I’m a great designated driver!)

“The Past, the Present, and the Future walked into a bar….it was TENSE!”

The message on Easter Sunday was titled “The Three Tenses of Easter” – Easter past, Easter future, Easter present. When we were little, Mom was always up late the Saturday night before Easter, finishing our Easter dresses and getting everything perfect for Easter morning. Good memories. My most painful Easter memory was the year we moved to VA. We moved on Easter Monday, and I basically cried during the whole Easter service (which, to me, is the most emotional service in the church anyway) watching my little girls walk down the aisle with the choir (when big hair bows were a must since your dress was covered by a choir robe) and knowing I would be leaving all of my family and friends the next day. We learn from our past, but it is the past… gone. We can still have our memories, but need to let go of any painful parts of our past. Easter future – the promise of good things to come. Easter present – make the most of everyday. “Be God’s people in a world that so desperately needs it.”

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

So… my present (and future) right now? I had knee surgery yesterday to repair my meniscus and a non-healing fracture. Surgery was not until 3 pm, but I had to be at the hospital at 1:00, which meant no food after midnight, and no water after 11 am. Take my food but please don’t take my drinks! I am a huge drinker – drinking all day long! (ok, that sounds bad, but you know what I mean – water, tea, diet DP!) Crutches are my mode of getting around for 6 weeks. Due to this restriction, I decided I needed to get in one last hard cycle class, so my younger daughter and I headed to my older daughter’s 6:15 am cycle class in Richmond. And she did not disappoint, even with a broken arm! My younger daughter took the day off to look after her momma and get me to and from the hospital. (Remember she has told her sister and brother that SHE has mom now and THEY get mom later in the next stages of life!) She was a good nurse and we had fun watching Netflix (catching up on Grace and Frankie) and basically hanging out. Gosh I love being with my kids! My older sister came today to take care of me (and to relieve my daughter!)

It was a success!

Future? Hope to be back at work next week (it is month end after all), and hope to spend two whole weeks in my happy place once I say goodbye to these crutches in June. I have never taken 2 consecutive weeks off, but it is happening this summer!

“What a wonderful thought it is that some of the best days of our lives haven’t even happened yet.”  Anne Frank

My worst fears about becoming SOLO have happened – getting sick and having surgery. But you know what? It’s all ok. Turns out I am not actually SOLO! So many people have been checking in, sending well wishes, and offering to help in many ways. I have so much to be thankful for – it is my left knee so I can drive (eventually), I work where there is a Physical Therapy clinic on site with the BEST PT’s, my living space in this house is all on one level, I have so many friends and family offering to help, and I live where there is a first rate medical center with first rate docs! (My doctor went to UNC for undergrad, Harvard Med School, and did his residency at UVA where he stayed and is the team doc for the UVA men’s CHAMPIONSHIP basketball team.) We bonded.

Cheers to the future!

So be accepting of your past, excited about your future, and thankful for your present. And spend as much time as you can with the ones you love, because none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

PS  “Oh My My, Oh My My, Can you boogie, Can you slide…” not now, but in 6 weeks! And please excuse any errors – this blog was written on pain meds!

 

“Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again…” Fortunes 1971

Welcome back to SOLO AT SIXTY!

“No matter how prepared you are, something can still go awry.”  KLM

For the last 3 years, my kids and I have happily traveled to Chapel Hill in April to run the Tar Heel 4-Miler (there’s also the 10-miler and the 14-mile Double Down Challenge). We enjoy the race so much that while we are picking up our race packets, we go ahead and sign up to run it again the next year. Did so again this past weekend. It’s a fun race that starts at the iconic Bell Tower, winds its way through campus, a couple of lovely historic neighborhoods, back by The Bosh (baseball stadium), before returning to the Bell Tower.

We’ve established a couple of traditions – first is the pre-race dinner at Brixx. It’s close to our hotel, has great pizzas, and holds some special memories for my daughter and son from their time while they were at UNC. Second is turning in early – that 5:15 am wake-up call comes pretty quickly! We met in the lobby to head over to the race together and as we opened the hotel doors, we were met with rain. Not just rain, POURING rain. The first words out of my mouth as we walked outside were, “I am not running in this rain.” And my son-in-law, who trains for this every January-April (then doesn’t run again until the next January) said, “I hate 2 things: running, and running in the rain.” Yet he would never miss this race!

“Rain is just confetti from the sky.”

Driving to the race, we debated what to do and decided to wait it out. Being the “prepared Mom,” I had brought oversized clear trash bags to wear pre-race just in case it rained. My kids laughed at first but all took one! My older daughter, the only one of us running not only the 4-miler, but also the 10-miler (14-mile Double Downer) really wanted her 3 medals for running (plus one you get at the Spring Game!). So we parked in the parking garage behind our Football Tailgate spot, got out, stretched, and put on our trash bags. Since I am still only allowed to walk, I snagged the one true poncho. I looked around and shared my momma’s famous line: “Y’all, I think it is burning off.” This was met with major eye rolls. But guess what?! The rain slacked off as we walked to the starting line (in our fashionable trash bags), then stopped before the race started! And by the afternoon, before the Football Spring Game, the sun came out. Yep, it burned off alright!

“Rise above the storm and you will find the sunshine.” Mario Fernandez

So, how did the race go? The one we all “planned” for over a year to run, and (kinda) trained for? My son-in-law, younger daughter, son, his sweet girlfriend, and I all finished the 4-miler happily. I walked it – which was a bit stressful as there was a 15 minute/mile time limit because of the start time for the 10-miler. Sounds simple right? But try it – you have to book it to walk a 15-minute mile. As I do when I run, I spotted someone up ahead at a pace to challenge me and tried to keep up with her. Was doing great until I spied someone I know from Charlottesville who had opened the new Purvelo on Franklin Street. She was cheering on the runners (and walkers) and ran out and hugged me, and I had to hustle to catch back up to my unsuspecting pacer. Hard to do when you can’t run.

“In the race of life, don’t waste your energy and time trying to compare with others. Sometimes you are ahead… Sometimes behind… The race is long and in the end it is only with yourself.”

So that leaves my oldest child, my first born, who is the real runner in our family. The one who goes out to run before the crack of dawn almost daily, and who ran 16 miles the previous weekend just to make sure she could do 14. We never doubted her. It was a foregone conclusion. Right? Well she rocked the 4-miler and was the 7th girl to cross the finish line and 1st in her age group. Then she started the 10-miler and when she ran by her cheering section (family) at the Old Well, my son-in-law mentioned she looked too warm. But she gave the thumbs up. Not to worry, this girl is tough. My son-in-law was tracking her on his phone (via her watch) and as she was coming down by the baseball stadium we all moved to our spot to cheer her on to the finish line and get pictures. As she came towards us, my son said “she looks like she is cramping.” Next thing we know my daughter was collapsing – her legs were wobbling out from under her and she was going down. Luckily a runner behind her realized it and caught her as my son-in-law sprinted to her side with the rest of us following. She was overheated and dehydrated. It was surreal and terrifying to see her like this. Never have I experienced such fear (except 3 weeks ago – later on that). Medics and EMS arrived and gave her oxygen and tried to cool her off. She kept saying she was so hot and wanted her shirt cut off (did not do) and her pants off (did not do that either) as well as her shoes (yep took them off). And she cried that she had not finished – she was only 30 seconds away. My younger daughter took her race bib and ran it across the finish line and collected her 3 medals (4-miler, 10-miler, double-downer) and with that, my older daughter still finished 1st in her age group, even losing those minutes collapsing. (note – the distance my younger daughter ran for her sister was actually the same distance my older daughter had to run from the 4-miler finish line to the 10-miler start, so we figured that counted.)

After my daughter was loaded into an ambulance, the rest of us walked to the ER and sat in the waiting room, nervously waiting. Finally, it was determined that nothing was broken when she went down, only a badly sprained wrist. And instead of IV’s, the doctor had her drinking water, and said if she could keep it down, she could leave. She did, and shakily came out to the waiting room cold, barefooted, looking for her shoes! My son had them for her. I had her new race hat, and my younger daughter had her medals. She had become overheated – was overdressed, the weather had warmed up, and she was pushing it hard running. Her body responded by shutting down. It was so scary. But she was ok.

“Never let a stumble in the road be the end of the journey.”

We loaded my daughter in the car and headed back to the hotel, another race in the books, one with more excitement than we wanted. After much needed showers, and a good rest for my daughter, we packed up, and headed back to campus for our last tradition, lunch at Top of the Hill (TOPO), our favorite spot. We lucked up on a table for 6 immediately. We were all famished and ready for our favorite seasonal blue/white beer (with blueberries), except for my older daughter, who was still feeling a bit queasy. We kept her drinking water. By the end of the day, after the Spring Game, she was finally hungry and back to herself, except for the wrist. I suggested they go back to TOPO for dinner, but instead they opted for Chick-fil-A on their way home. Even her voice was back to normal. So thankful.

“Families are the compass that guides us. They are the inspiration to reach great heights, and our comfort when we occasionally falter.” Brad Henry

Oh and what happened three weeks ago? It was Friday night and my younger daughter called me and said, “Mom are you still at work?” “No, why?” I asked nervously holding my breath… “I think I just totaled my car!” After finding out where she was, I grabbed my keys and anxiously raced to the popular intersection where her car was blocking traffic on a busy Friday night. She was ok, but her car was totaled. Luckily, the lady who had hit her was also ok. And the story ends well – my Subaru-loving daughter who had been looking at a new, bigger Subaru, ended up with one, just a bit earlier than planned, but it all worked out. Funny thing, she was without a car for the weekend since her rental car would not be available until Monday, so I drove her to her soccer game (she plays in a women’s soccer league) and picked her up. I have not been to a soccer field since my son graduated from high school 10 years ago and here I was driving my 31-year old! Brought back many memories.

“Life is what happens to you as you are busy making other plans.” John Lennon

Things don’t always go as we plan. Obviously. Life surprises us in both good, and not so good ways. We learn something from everything that happens in our lives. Could be “don’t take today or anyone for granted,” or “don’t drive through standing water.” (Blog: “Riders on the Storm” Sept 19, 2018) But there is always a lesson to be learned. My older daughter realized she is human, and vulnerable. We all realized that things we never thought would happen, might. Life can change in an instant. Even with lots of planning.

The Old Well… can I make a wish here?!?!

So never take anyone or anything for granted. We never know what surprises tomorrow, much less today, might bring. Spend as much time as you can with those you love, and learn to adapt to life’s surprises, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

PS Can’t end without mentioning that this Sunday is Easter, a time of renewal with blessings of hope, love, and happiness. I get to be a Moravian again with all of my family and cannot wait. I hope y’all get to spend the day with loved ones as well. HOPPY EASTER!

 

Ventura Highway…in the sunshine…” America 1972

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Remember the group America? I loved them…their gentle, soulful, easy listening songs. Ventura Highway was one of my favorites. They are on my bucket list to go see – almost saw them at the beach last year, but the timing did not work out. Next time. Along with Steely Dan, Doobie Brothers, and Chicago. But I digress… Heard Ventura Highway as I traveled down I-95 last Thursday, sun shining, sunroof wide open, and music blaring on my way to my Happy Place. Only a 5 ½ hour drive from Richmond, VA, since I decided to start my mini-escape off on the right foot by taking my daughter’s cycle class (in Richmond) at 6:15 am, and leaving from there. I never take 95, instead I drive the calm and less traveled route down 29 to Greensboro, Asheboro, Rockingham, Bennettsville, BEACH! I have my regular stops (4) on that route, I mean I drink tea the whole way, so those stops are necessary in my normal 6 ½ hour drive! But I haven’t driven 95 to the beach in years, so this posed a problem – where would I stop? I was a bit out of my comfort zone, but figured it out and found a couple of clean, well populated gas stations before getting off 95 in Latta, putting me right back on my normal route for the last hour of my trip. I could drive that part blindfolded. Don’t fret, I didn’t!

“You say 4 hour car ride, I say 4 hour live concert featuring me!”

I love car rides and don’t mind the driving. Obviously. And now each day we are adding 2 more minutes of daylight which means I can leave even later in the day and still arrive before dark. (Not crazy about driving at night by myself.) I have to admit, I use both my navigation system AND the Waze app on my phone, so someone is constantly giving me directions. (During December, my daughter changed my Waze “voice” to Santa’s. Right now it is “Randy” – I know several Randys and love them all!) Directions and I don’t always mesh, so I need that double reinforcement. True, I pre-plan and look at my route on Google Maps before I leave, because I have learned that the nav systems sometimes take you odd ways to get to your destination and I like the more direct roads I am familiar with. Love the Waze app as it warns me about upcoming hazards, from potholes and roadkill to accidents and hidden “Po-pos”. My kids laugh when we talk about how I used to order a triptik from AAA when we would travel anywhere. Loved those! Loved flipping the page over when we completed each leg of our journey. Maps. Everything nowadays is on your phone. My kids can’t comprehend what it was like when I was their age and always kept a map in my glove box and relied on road signs and verbal directions (dangerous for me!). And if I got lost and needed to call home, I had to find a pay phone and a quarter!

“Trust and have faith the open road leads you to amazing destinations,”

Jakes Herbst

Driving down MY “Ventura Highway” to the beach always gives me time to think and ponder my life. Take stock. Have conversations with myself about any issues facing me. Do you ever do this? Stop and really look at your life – where you are now? Where you are going? What path you want to take? As I get older, this seems to become more important. Obviously, my life today in no way resembles where I thought I would be 5 years ago. But I am happy with where I am. I went “off the map” to get here. So I wonder where I will be in 5 more years? I think I know where I WANT to be, but how do I get there? Time to start planning now as I am no spur of the moment girl! Wonder if I could get a triptik to get me there?

“It’s good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”

Ernest Hemingway

I know what I am NOT going to do. I am not going to lament the fact that my life isn’t how I always planned it. I am not going to look back with regrets. I am not going to waste my time or my days. I am going to look forward to my future and work towards what I truly want out of life. I am going to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself to me. I am going to have as much fun as I can, and spend as much time with my family and friends, and at my happy place, as I possibly can. And I am going to try and do it all with grace and gusto, because if there is one thing I have learned these past 3 years, it is that there will be major highs and major lows, but neither will last longer than necessary. Life is a journey that we have to travel on our own merits and find our own way.

“Life is a one way road… where you can look back… but you can’t go back… so don’t miss anything in life.”

So in the meantime, I am going to enjoy these years leading up to any big changes in my life. Plan as many fun events, trips, visits with friends and family, whatever I want to do. Just like I did last weekend by taking my older daughter’s cycle class, going to the beach and seeing my older sister, coming home via Charlotte to see my son and his new apartment, and making yet one more stop to see my momma, younger sister, and sweet Jack, my great nephew, before heading home. You should do whatever makes you happy too, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Sunrise…

“Ventura Highway… in the sunshine… where the days are longer, the nights are stronger than moonshine… you’re gonna go, I know…”

America

Best,

Leslie

PS Horton heard a HOO here in Charlottesville Monday night when UVA won the NCAA basketball tournament. Last year they made history losing in the first round as the #1 seed to the #16 seed, and this year they rebounded and made history earning the school’s first national basketball championship. Needless to say, Charlottesville has been rocking and rolling in celebrations all week! Go HOOS!