“Sunshine On My Shoulders Makes Me Happy….” John Denver 1971

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Well Hello November! The thankful month. My birthday month (and my younger daughter’s). A month full of many fun plans. And the introduction of COLD weather and dark evenings (thank you time change).

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

So… did you trick or treat on Halloween or was it cancelled due to weather? We had some crazy weather up here and many Halloween events were postponed to Friday. I kinda bypassed Halloween this year. Knew I probably would not be home in time and had already decided not to buy candy. Worked out pretty well after all.

I was able to drive myself to Chapel Hill for our game against UVA Saturday morning. Knee did well on the trip. The Halloween storms brought in some cooler weather and it was sunny and rather chilly when I left. I was so thankful for my seat warmer and steering wheel warmer. Felt right toasty in my car. Met my younger daughter at our hotel in Chapel Hill so we could go together in one car to our tailgate. As usual, my older daughter and son-in-law had everything all set up by the time we arrived. Yep, even though the game was not until 7:30 PM, the tailgate started early morning. Walked to the student store to see if the basketball team posters were in yet. They weren’t, but should be by the next home game. I have collected these posters for about 25 YEARS, first from our dentist in Winston-Salem who gave them out to patients (BIG UNC supporter), then from the Carolina Student Store when we moved to Charlottesville.

“There is a big blue sky waiting just behind the clouds.” Meher Bano

The skies were Carolina blue Saturday, and we were Carolina “blue” as the final seconds ticked off the clock to end our game with a loss by 1 touchdown. Poor defense and strong offense by both teams was the name of the game Saturday, with UVA  stronger by 1 touchdown. But the tailgate sure was fun! Several of my kids’ friends came. And my cousin (also a big UNC fan) drove up from Greensboro just for the tailgate. Said she wanted to experience one of our tailgates because they looked like a lot of fun. Late afternoon we walked up to the Bell Tower to see the football team arrive for their “walk” to the stadium. Band was playing and fans (including us) lined the path. It was really cool! Just imagine how great that must feel for these players when they get off the bus and the band is playing the fight song, fans are cheering for them, and reaching out to slap their hand as they walk by. Adoration. This week a group of military families led the team on the walk to the stadium. They also held the huge flag during the national anthem. It was Military Appreciation Day after all. And even though we lost, we had a great day. Plus we have already doubled our wins from last year!

“Don’t let today’s disappointments cast a shadow on tomorrow’s dreams.”

Since this was an evening game, we all decided to stay overnight in Chapel Hill instead of driving home after the game. I mean, I am a road warrior, but still, I don’t like to drive late at night by myself. Besides, I got to have a sleepover with my younger daughter! Happy mom!

Another reason I am happy? The doctor said my knee looks great and released me, took my 4 stitches out, and I got to rock the bike in physical therapy. Plus I was cleared for cycle classes and will start the “Return to Running” program in 2 weeks y’all! I’ll be back to running in no time… well, maybe by Christmas (when it is freezing!). Can’t wait! I’ve been using the weight machines in the “old people” section of the club while waiting to be cleared for classes. Although when I told my daughters this, they kindly reminded me, “Mom, most of those people in that area are YOUR age! You sound like Grandma talking about all the old white hair people living on her hall!” Oh Geez! I do! But hey, in my defense, I don’t feel I belong in “that” category. At least not yet!

Last week my older daughter and I had a couple of sleepovers, and this past weekend I got that special time with my younger daughter. With all of our busy schedules, I treasure any time I can get with my kids. It was a fun weekend, even with the loss. And another fun weekend ahead. Lots to look forward to, which I am so thankful for.

NV5
My girls…

“Always find time for the things that make you happy to be alive.”

Do you have some fun things to look forward to? Are you having fun? Or are you just existing? I find my outlook is brighter when I have something to look forward to. Plus I am a planner. But maybe that is not your thing and that is ok. Just do what makes your outlook on life brighter and makes you thankful for each and every day, because as we all know, none of is us promised tomorrow.

“Happiness is not a destination. It is a way of life.”

Best,

Leslie

I voted…

PS – Did you vote yesterday? Ever wonder why election day is always the first Tuesday in November (as long as it is not November 1st which is All Saints Day)?  It was set in 1845 – voters could travel on Monday to the voting site, thereby not interfering with the Sabbath, and travel back home in time for Market Day on Wednesday. Who knew?

 

“Silver Bells” Bing Crosby (and everyone else) October 1950

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

What a difference a week makes! Last Wednesday, my older daughter took me to UVA Hospital for my 2nd knee surgery in 6 months. And hopefully the LAST! This one was much easier and less invasive than the April surgery on the other knee. And I had a new name this time! Every time they called for “Ms. Holcomb” I thought of my momma… that is her name! But now, it is also mine (and my younger sister’s). I also thought of my momma when they put a big yellow FALL RISK band on my arm. At least I did not get the DNR band (Do Not Resuscitate – though Mom thought it meant she wanted DINNER!)! My mom had both of these when she broke her hip.

So just to keep it short (like me!), the surgery went well… had to arrive 2 hours (1 pm) before surgery with no food since the night before and no liquids for the previous 2 hours. The no food didn’t bother me, but the no drinking rule was HARD. (Couldn’t even have water!) Of course I had a lot of questions for the doctor before surgery: Crutches? Only if needed. Shower? Not for 2 days (Oh geez!). Driving? As long as not on pain meds. (Not a problem there!) Running? Very soon. (Thank you Lord!) Oh, and can I drive to Chapel Hill Saturday for the Carolina-Duke Football game? You can go but don’t drive alone that far. (My doctor went to UNC undergrad, Harvard Med School, UVA residency.) New plan – my older daughter said she would be bringing my granddawg to her other grandmother’s Friday for the weekend, and she would spend the night with me, take me to the game, bring me home, and spend Saturday night with me as well. After all, she had to pick up my granddawg on Sunday. Lots of wonderful SOLO time with my daughter… not complaining one bit! Silver lining…

“In every dark cloud, there truly is a silver lining. To find the silver linings in your challenges, shift your perspective.”

I walked out of the hospital without crutches. Seriously. Had them at home ready to use, but did not need them. Took one pain pill Wednesday night and that was it. Had a fun sleepover with my daughter and sent her on her way to work Thursday morning assuring her I would be fine and would not venture out. A sweet friend brought me dinner and visited Thursday night. And did you know that the Hallmark channel AND Lifetime channel started showing Christmas movies during the day? YEP! That’s what I did while at home Thursday!

Friday it was back to work where I found a bottle of wine on my desk. Nice thing to come back to work to! Elevated and iced my knee while at my desk. Physical Therapy in the afternoon (no time to dawdle!). My physical therapist unwrapped, straightened, and bent my knee, and I got to rock the NuStep again for 12 minutes. Woohoo! Left with a list of exercises to get my knee working. On the road to recovery and regaining my life, once again. Headed home to wait for my older daughter to arrive for dinner and another sleepover.

“Recovery is a process. It takes time. It takes patience. It takes friends…”

My daughter and I left Charlottesville pre-dawn Saturday for the Carolina game, stopping by Chick Fil A on the way in to Chapel Hill to get breakfast minis for the early part of the tailgate. Arrived to find my son-in-law already had the tailgate set up. We like a certain spot in the Skipper Bowles lot and he likes to get there early to make sure we get it. And we always do! Added a second tent this season. Younger daughter arrived shortly thereafter. She and I walked up to the student store to see what was new. I struggled a bit on the stairs, but walked without a limp, even with my knee still wrapped. Iced it back at the tailgate.

“Too many people miss the silver lining because they were expecting gold.” Maurice Setter

Besides being homecoming and playing Duke, Saturday’s game was special in that “old” lettermen had been invited. My roommate from college married one of these “old” lettermen and had texted they would be at the game. It’s been a while since we’ve seen each other, even though our mommas are at the same assisted living. They found us after half time. Loved catching up with them! And boy did they picked a great game to come to. To say Saturday was a GDTBATH (Good Day To Be A Tar Heel!) is an understatement! The emotional pendulum was swinging high both ways in the final minutes of the game. Leading by 3 and on the 5-yard line ready to score with only 3 minutes left in the game, we fumbled. Duke blazed down the field to the 2-yard line with 14 seconds left in the game and no reason not to score. Seemed a foregone conclusion we would lose again. I mean, how could they not score? But they attempted some trickeration, did NOT score, and instead threw the ball right to one of our players. Game over. Heels WIN! The Victory Bell is back where it belongs – in Chapel Hill, soon to be Carolina blue once again! As always, we stayed to the bitter and very sweet end. Winning, and winning in such a surprising way at the end of the game, was the best feeling! Our ride home was much happier than expected.

“This is what I believe to be true. You have to do everything you can, and if you stay positive, you have a shot at a silver lining.”  The Silver Linings Playbook

My older daughter and I listened to all the post-game commentary in the car on the way home, and after we lost the local FM channel, we switched to XM and my sweet girl said, “Ok Momma, we can listen to Christmas music, I know you are dying to.” It was before November 1st, the date my kids limited me to begin listening to Christmas music years ago, but the Hallmark Christmas Channel is now playing on XM 70 and it was heavenly! Plus, we had watched a Hallmark Christmas movie the night before, so we were in the mood, so to speak. Or maybe, she was so happy we won that she was just feeling generous.  As I have said before, I have the BEST kids!

“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” Oprah Winfrey

My beautiful daughters!

So…it has been an amazing week y’all. Surgery, a success. Carolina football, a victory. Time with my daughters, the BEST! Missed my son, but I’ll see him soon. Christmas music 24/7 on XM radio as well as Christmas movies on Hallmark. Silver linings abound. One of those weeks where there is much to be thankful for. Weeks are not always this wonderful, but when they are we need to capture the feelings and savor the moments. Store them up for the weeks when things are not as smooth, when obstacles try to block our paths, and things try to bring us down. We have to remember that those times will come and they will also pass, and we will soon be celebrating the good times again. Like the Victory Bell returning to Chapel Hill, Silver Bells and silver linings come back in our lives. Look for and treasure the silver linings, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“May you always find the silver lining in every cloud…”  Irish Blessing

Best,

Leslie

PS – Happy Halloween! And don’t forget to set your clock back an hour Saturday night. Ahhhh… we get an extra hour of sleep which will be heavenly considering our game this week is a night game and against UVA. And it is in Chapel Hill! Got a big dinner riding on this game!

 

“High on Sunshine…” The Commodores 1976

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Remember last week when I was talking about our sister time at the beach? Well, it continued as the 3 of us left Surfside Beach Monday morning and headed south to Kiawah Island where my son and his beautiful fiancée will be getting married next year. We stayed in a gorgeous home and were walking on the beach when we came across some fishermen trying to reel in a fairly large stingray. We gathered around a bit in awe as they maneuvered the stingray into the shallow surf and reeled him in – took 2 of them to get him. And yes, they did make sure he got safely back out to sea. But it was really cool to watch! Sharks in Surfside, stingrays in Kiawah. Oh, and as we walked around the lake where we’ll have the rehearsal dinner, we spotted 4 alligators! Kiawah is known for having alligators y’all. We vacationed there for several years, so we were not totally shocked by the gators. Still, we did NOT get too close. They did give us the stink eye, but we just hurried on by. I told my sisters not to make eye contact!

The main reason we were in Kiawah centered around the rehearsal dinner. You see, I have very creative sisters, and I wanted their opinions and ideas on the set up, decorating, menu, presentation, etc.! They did not disappoint. They had some great suggestions and questions for the catering manager. And they loved the venue. We also went to the venue for the reception and again, they were very impressed. We just cannot wait for next October!

“We do not remember the days, but rather the moments.”

Being in Kiawah, thinking about the rehearsal dinner for my son’s wedding brought up many memories from our own weddings. My older sister said she remembered waking up on her wedding day and smelling country ham cooking as Mom was up early making mini homemade country ham biscuits as part of her reception food. Cheese straws had been made earlier in the week as well as butter mints. Same story for me, but I also remember my grandmother, aunt, and older sister in the kitchen cutting up fruit. Lots of fruit. My older sister’s reception (November 1975) was at the church in the fellowship hall while mine (August 1980) was at my parents’ home, inside and in the back yard under a big white tent (where it was blazing hot in August!). Somehow, my younger sister stepped up the game – no smell of country ham on her wedding day (March 1983)! Her reception was totally catered and was at the Sawtooth Building in downtown Winston-Salem. She did get married in our church though, like her older sisters.

“No matter what happens, if at the end of your wedding day you are married to the person you love, then it was a roaring success.”

Mom did most of the planning and preparation herself for each of our weddings and receptions. She was the best, and sacrificed so much for us, wanting our weddings to be perfect, and they were. Unlike today, we planned and had our weddings in about 6 months or less. They were much simpler – church weddings with receptions, as my mom would say, “punch, finger foods (aka cheese straws and country ham biscuits!), and cake.” We had no alcohol at our receptions, well, except for my younger sister. After planning my older daughter’s wedding, and attending weddings of my friends’ children, I can attest that weddings and receptions are much bigger nowadays! When my older daughter got married in 2015, Mom offered to make cheese straws and when I told her the reception was going to be a dinner and catered, she was a bit shocked. Dinner? Catered? Yes, and it was delicious and wonderful!

Our rehearsal dinners were all different as well. My older sister’s was at our church in the Ladies Parlor with food prepared by Mom and my sister’s new in-laws. Mine was in the gathering room at Mom’s office building, and consisted of finger foods catered by one of mom’s co-workers. Now once again, my younger sister’s rehearsal dinner was at a country club in High Point, where her husband’s family lived. Moral of this story: the last wedding in the family has a bigger, fancier rehearsal dinner, wedding, and reception. We reminisced about all of our wedding details, laughed over a few things that happened at each, and marveled at how different weddings are today.

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” Mignon McLaughlin

We said goodbye to Kiawah on Tuesday morning and headed to Charleston for the day. This was part of our older sister’s birthday celebration. We visited art galleries, shops, and the straw market. Went down to the waterfront and Rainbow Row. Who doesn’t love Charleston? My older daughter and son-in-law visit every time they go to the beach house, but I had not been in many, many years. Such a really neat town. I was amazed at the number of wonderful art galleries and wondered why I had never visited one of them. My older sister has attended a couple of workshops from artists who own several of these galleries. Many of them were on site painting as we visited, which was very special. Her excitement for the art on display was contagious as my younger sister and I discovered a new appreciation and interest in “real art.” We all had different opinions as to what we liked, but all agreed there are many talented artists in Charleston.

To wrap up her birthday celebration, we stopped for dinner at Frank’s on our way back to Surfside. Our favorite restaurant. And even on Tuesday night, they had live music. Of course we made sure our older sister was a bit embarrassed by the birthday dessert (14-layer caramel cake) with the massive candle and everyone around us singing! Just like Jack had for his birthday; a 3-year-old and a 60-something year old both having the same birthday experience!

“Life is too short to be lived counting the years. Just enjoy the ride and make awesome memories.”

When we pulled into my driveway after dinner, my younger sister said, “Gee I wonder where your neighbors are going this time of the night?” “Wow I don’t know, what time is it?” At this my sister laughed and said “7:15!” It was already dark, y’all, and we felt like it was after 10 pm! It had been such a fun couple of days, and we were beat from all the walking around Charleston. Not sure how we got so lucky, but the forecast was rain for Monday and Tuesday, yet we had perfect days.

Sunrise at Kiawah…

I hated to say goodbye to the beach, but it was nice coming back to some FALL weather in Charlottesville. And time to get back to my routine after such a great sisters’ trip. Then a friend invited me to tailgate and go to the UVA – Duke football game on Saturday. What a perfect fall afternoon for a football game. This Carolina girl searched her closet for some orange clothing, no not for Halloween (I have a great sweater for that!), but to fit in with their tailgate colors. I did wear my BEAT VT Carolina button (to no avail), and I am hoping for the same outcome UVA had against Duke next week when we play Duke at home. And I AM hoping I won’t be on crutches for that game. Either way, I’m going!

“There’s nothing I can’t do… except reach the top shelf. I can’t do that.”

That’s right, surgery is on for today y’all. Probably while you are reading this. (Please say a little prayer for me.) I am not as nervous or worried this time – should be a less invasive surgery. Plus, I proved to myself last April with the surgery on my other knee, that I CAN survive having surgery, which was one of my biggest fears three years ago. I had several offers to take me to my surgery, but my older daughter insisted she would be responsible for her momma. And her momma is very thankful! Back to sleeping in my recliner for several nights – no complaints there. Might even have to cut my gas logs on – yes, I have been burning them lately on these chilly nights. Fall has arrived y’all. What a difference a week makes – this time last week we were on the beach in bathing suits, and now, it’s COLD!

Kiawah…

“Feelings are like waves, we can’t stop them from coming but we can choose the ones to surf.”

I know I have rambled on a bit this week (sorry!)… but so many memories flooded over me during my week with my sisters, good ones and some not so good ones. But I discovered something – I am ok. I have survived what life has thrown at me. The memories don’t hurt like they once did – I realize they are part of my past, and I am now living for the present. There is fun to be had and I plan to have it! I hope you do too. And I hope you know that you can get through whatever is thrown your way. It won’t be easy, but then again, life is never easy. But it is good. Look for something good in each and every day and be thankful for it, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t.” – Rikki Rogers

Best,

Leslie

PS – Did you know that 18 years ago today, the Apple iPod (first generation) was released? Also, the 4th Sunday in October is Mother-In-Law Day, and that is this Sunday! Just saying!

“Do It Again…” Steely Dan, November 1972

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

How normal is it these days to pre-plan and pre-pay for funerals? Have you done so? My mother and my aunt planned and paid for my grandmother’s funeral before my grandmother passed from this life. There were several reasons, but mainly, they knew their decisions would be made with a clear mind. My sisters and I decided we should follow their example and do the same for our Mom. I cannot imagine having to make all the funeral decisions for Mom in a fresh state of sadness. We had to do that for our dad in November 2000, even though his wife made most of the decisions. So we set up a meeting for last Friday afternoon at the funeral home we knew Mom would choose.

“Life is what you celebrate. All of it. Even its end.” Joanne Harris

I got to Winston early so I could visit with Mom before our meeting. Took her to the ice cream parlor in her building for a cone of chocolate soft serve. Oh it was so good! And since it was such a beautiful day, we went outside, traveling all around the grounds, looking at plants and people and just talking. Ended up on the porch and visited for a bit more before I had to leave to meet my sisters for our “planning” appointment. It has been 19 years since we looked at funeral expenses and boy, were our eyes opened! We were presented with a pre-planning packet of options and costs. The first page listed the base price which did not seem too bad, UNTIL, we discovered right quickly that the casket, liner, embalming, grave preparation, and a host of other charges were NOT included in this amount. We were then taken into the casket room where we were immediately overwhelmed by the many options of wooden, steel, and stainless steel caskets. I found a Carolina Blue one I thought was very nice, but my sisters overruled that choice. They said I could have it when my time comes. We finally decided on a lovely feminine one for mom, White Sand (which I thought was a good sign) complete with the beautiful Moravian Seal. The seal was a no charge item since the funeral home founder was a Moravian. Did you know that you have to have not only a casket, but a concrete vault that the casket fits into for burial? Most cemeteries, including the one at our church, require these. Thankfully, there were 3 of us working together on all of the decisions. “Together” being the operative word here. Lots of decisions & $$$ later we left, feeling relieved to have this process behind us.

“If ever there is tomorrow when we are not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.” A. A. Milne (Winne the Pooh)

Remember last Wednesday when I was “patiently” waiting on my doctor to review the MRI on my formerly good knee, which is now my bad knee, and give me the results, good or bad? Lo and behold he called me to come in late Wednesday afternoon and gave me the good news – SURGERY! Yes, that is good news to me. I want my knee back to normal. Surgery will not be as invasive as last April’s surgery was on my other knee. This time it will only be a clean up of my torn meniscus. Might not even need to be on crutches for more than a couple of days. Good thing, since I don’t want to miss any Carolina home football games. So thankful!

“Sometimes the best thing you can do is not think, not wonder, not imagine, not obsess. Just breathe, and have faith that everything will work out for the best.”

I decided I needed to celebrate the good news. As it was such a gorgeous day, I decided to go out to King Family Vineyards and enjoy the live music and have a glass of wine. Plus, I needed to get some wine for the upcoming weekend (sister time!). There were lots of young families with lots of kids running around playing, while their parents visited over a bottle of wine with friends. Then there was the “older” set where I fell, listening to the live music and enjoying a glass of wine. And missing my wine buddy, my younger daughter. As did the staff at KFV. They sent her well wishes. Me too!

“No matter what happens, no matter how far you seem to be away from where you want to be, never stop believing that you will somehow make it.”

As I said last week, running is out for now, so I decided Wednesday night after my King Family Vineyard visit that I would make the trip Thursday morning to my daughter’s cycle class in Richmond at 6:15 am. So glad I did! After class, I got to see my sweet granddawg and after being slobbered, shed, and loved on, I followed my daughter to see her new house. I was amazed at the progress since my last visit. They are getting close now… down to about 4 weeks until they will be reunited with all of their worldly possessions (stored in my living room, basement, and garage) and move into their dream home. And my home will return to normal, just in time for the holidays!

And today, I am also returning to normal. After the funeral planning appointment last Friday, I headed to Surfside beach. Arrived in time to order takeout from Bubbas. They have the best clam chowder. Saw my favorite waitress who said, “when I saw that takeout order I thought it was you, but it wasn’t your name. You didn’t get married, did you girl?” “Nope, just reclaimed my maiden name.” “Good girl!” We had bonded before I became SOLO, but even more so after. I’ve gotten a lot of takeout from Bubbas throughout the years, but sometimes I’ll eat at the bar and visit. Friday night was so beautiful, I decided to eat outside on my porch, breathing in that wonderful salty beach air. Saturday was even more beautiful. My younger sister got to the beach house in the morning and we spent the entire day on the beach. Sunny, no humidity, gentle breeze, 80 degrees. Heavenly. Older sister arrived Sunday morning. Another gorgeous October day on the beach. Another day to let the beach and salt water heal everything. And it did. Sisters on the beach. Oh and a SHARK! Yep, we saw a large shark in the shallow part of the ocean. Everyone on the beach gathered to watch this shark swim around and around. This is why even though I love the ocean, I do not go in past my ankles. Remember the movie JAWS? I took my younger sister to that movie back in 1975 and she has not been in the ocean since! She was 12 years old and is now… 50-something!

October is such a great time of year at the beach. Crowds are gone, temperatures are lower and there is no humidity. My sisters and I ate dinner outside at Dead Dog Saloon Sunday night and enjoyed not only a great dinner but a great band. Plus we enjoyed the Harvest moon over Murrells Inlet. Honestly, we enjoyed just being together. Said that Mom would love seeing us together. She loved her sister dearly, and they too did so much together. She would be so thankful that her girls are following in her footsteps. It was truly a beautiful night. We did have a purpose and plan for being at the beach besides soaking up the sun and eating out. We went to Kiawah Monday for some pre-wedding planning for my son’s wedding next year, and to Charleston Tuesday to celebrate our older sister’s birthday. More on those adventures next week! But I can tell you it was great fun!

“Sisters make the bad times good and the good times unforgettable.”

This visit, I also got to hang a new sun catcher in my beach house. This was given to me by the parents of my late childhood friend. Before visiting mom last Friday, I stopped in to visit them, and it was such a delight. My friend’s mom was like a second mom to me growing up. I spent as much time at their house as I did my own. Plus, she took us to the beach when we were in junior high and high school and totally boy crazy! I know we drove her crazy! Told her we loved boys so much because neither of us had brothers (we both had 2 sisters). Made sense to me! Just as I had my 43-year high school reunion last weekend, they were having their 64th high school reunion Friday night and expecting about 17 classmates to attend. Imagine that! Like my classmates, they also have reunions each year. Seems to be the trend these days. I left their house with a Christmas sweater one of her daughters sent me (it will show up this year in the 25 days of Christmas Sweaters!) and the sun catcher in memory of their sweet daughter and my friend. I also have one at my house in Charlottesville. As the sun hits the catcher, Luanne’s smile is seen in a rainbow of colors. I love having this one at the beach house, so appropriate, as my early memories of beach trips revolve around our families vacationing together at Surfside Beach.

“Things end, but memories last forever.”

When I became SOLO 3 years ago, the first thing I did was change my will, establish a power of attorney, and a living will or advance directive.  At that time, I thought I wanted to be buried in God’s Acre at my home church in Winston-Salem, New Philadelphia Moravian Church, and had that stipulated in my will. But as these past 3 years have evolved, so have I. Now I know that I want to be cremated with my ashes spread at the beach. This was a big decision for me, one I did not make lightly.

“Just before I die, I am going to swallow a bag of popcorn kernels. My cremation is going to be epic.”  (Just to add a little lightness into the conversation.)

No one wants to think about these morbid plans, but trust me, we all should. Don’t leave your wishes unknown to your family members. My sisters and I talked about it, and we each want to be cremated, but our ashes will be spread at different places, proving that as close as we are and as much as we share, we are still individuals. If you do not have a will, get one soon. If you do not have a living will, get one immediately. Make your end of life wishes known. Be an organ donor. Make your plans. Go out and have fun. Don’t wait, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“Every story has an end. But in life, every end is just a new beginning.”

Best,

Leslie

“Reunited and it feels so good…” Peaches and Herb 1979

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Have you ever operated a jack hammer? Me neither. But I have heard one. Our parking garage at work is undergoing needed repairs and it sure sounds like they are using a jackhammer. I experienced the jackhammer effect Monday night as I was once again reunited with the MRI machine (my 4th experience). If you’ve ever had an MRI you know exactly what I am talking about. If not, you must lie perfectly still for at least 20 minutes in a tube, with headphones on, listening to your choice of Pandora’s music (I chose Yacht Rock), while a jackhammer sound surrounds you. Luckily for me, my appointment was at 7 pm and by the time I got in, I was so tired I slept through the whole thing! Probably helped that they gave me several pillows and put a blanket right out of the warmer on me. Proving that I can fall asleep anywhere, anytime!

I had the MRI on my right knee, which was recently considered my good knee, which has since become my bad knee, while my bad knee has become my good knee. Did you follow that? At first I thought I might have overcompensated my good knee while rehabbing the bad knee. Went back to Physical Therapy and we decided I needed to have it checked out. Which led to the MRI. Waiting on results and the new plan. And we all know how much I love waiting! In the meantime, running is not in my wheelhouse right now and it’s back to cycle. But that’s ok… I mean, it could be worse. And I’m making some early morning trips to my daughter’s 6 am cycle class in Richmond!

Post cycle class!

“When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to what’s happening. That’s where your power is.”

The new bad knee did not slow me down last weekend as I was reunited with lots of people, beginning with my sisters. My artistic sister was participating in an art show/sale benefitting Crisis Control in Winston-Salem, NC. My younger sister met me there Friday evening and together we supported and celebrated with our older sister who sold some of her art. I left my sisters to reunite with some high school friends. But first, I decided to stop in and see my Momma, hoping she would still be awake. She was and was sitting near the nurses station just hanging out before bedtime. And thankfully, her face lit up when I walked in which always warms my heart. “Les, you’re here!” Yep, there I was. I always love surprising Mom. Told her I liked her PJ’s and sweater combo, and she informed me she was NOT in her PJ’s in public! “Oh, I see, you’re just in your comfy clothes. I can relate…” Then told her I was going to a mini-reunion to see some of my high school friends and we talked about who would be there and who would not. She remembered so many of the names. I left shortly thereafter so she could go to bed and I could head to the reunion.

“You can’t make old friends… you either have them or you don’t.”

One of our crew had rented a cottage in Tanglewood Park and when I entered the park, I thought maybe it was December instead of October! Tanglewood offers a holiday “Festival of the Lights” starting November 15th and since it is so massive with over 150,000 lights on the 2-mile route, they start setting it up early. Therefore, many of their decorations were up, not lit, but up, and I found myself passing under snowflakes, driving by Christmas trees, beside reindeer (not to mention the live deer!), and of course, Santa. Needless to say, I was in Christmas heaven! It was like being in a Hallmark movie! Ok just kidding… it was 90 degrees after all (I was expecting cold weather – thank heavens I threw a pair of shorts in my bag!). Plus I had no idea where the cottages were, so I drove all over the park and got to see all of the Christmas decorations. Finally came across a park ranger and flagged her down to ask directions. Found I had just passed the turn off for the cottages. As I was driving down the totally unlit, unpaved road, many scary thoughts crossed my mind – scary like when I drove my car into water (except that was in daylight). Like, what if this road goes nowhere? What if I get a flat tire and there are no people around? Or worse, there are scary people around? My kids would kill me if they knew I was driving down a seemingly deserted road in total darkness! About that time, I saw lights – finally I had found the cabin. And friends! Old friends… those friends who you’ve known forever… from elementary school through high school. We’ve all aged, yet we haven’t. That’s what being with old friends is like. You share history… you knew each other “when”. Doesn’t matter what “group” you were in in high school, you’re all now in the same group. And so thankful to see each other. Lots of catching up and lots of laughs remembering “those times” from high school. There were several reunions from our high school this past weekend for different years. Proof that people still want to get together with the people they share youthful memories with. Well, at least the older set. My kids have been out of high school 10, 13, and 16 years and have yet to attend a reunion. Not even sure they have had one. I don’t plan to miss any of mine, and we get together yearly.

“High School Reunion Truth: Where everyone shows up older and then grows young again.”

As I said, my old classmates get together every year and every year my friend who organizes it gives me a present. I have received the December 2, 1968 issue of Sports Illustrated (when it cost 50 cents!) featuring Charlie Scott on the cover, a picture signed by Charlie Scott, and several Carolina books which I love! So this year, I was wondering if the tradition would continue… and it did! Received the book “Battle of the Blues” (Carolina blue vs. Duke blue). And of course, there is no blue like Carolina Blue! So why do I get these special presents? The guy who gives them to me is the one who introduced me to Carolina basketball, Coach Dean Smith, and Charlie Scott when we were in the 5th grade. Is he a prince or what!?! He knows I bleed blue!

I love Carolina presents!

“Southern by birth. Tar Heel by the grace of God.”

Saturday morning I stopped in to see my sweet Momma once again before heading to Charlotte. She was sitting with her buddies around the nurses station and when I walked in, once again she lit up. She had no memory of me coming by the night before, but I did show her a picture of us (I always take a picture with my Momma). I wheeled her down to one of the “visiting rooms” and we just visited. Showed her pictures of my kids, of my daughter’s new house, and of the reunion the night before. We talked and laughed and then I had to leave to get to Charlotte and see my kiddos. Leaving Mom is always hard. I know I’ll see her again this weekend, but still… just leaving her there is hard. Funny thing though, 6 of my high school friends’ parents are there with Mom, and one is on the waitlist. That is encouraging. Plus it is always fun to run into them when I go visit Mom.

Smile Momma!

“No matter your age, you always need your mom.”

Hello Charlotte NC! I have not been to Charlotte since moving my daughter there. I just love her apartment and its location. She does too. As much as I miss having her in Charlottesville, I am so happy for her being in Charlotte. Reunited with 2 of my kids as my son and his fiancée met us at my daughter’s apartment. We took the light rail uptown to have brunch at a wonderful eclectic restaurant, Haymarket. I am so happy when I am surrounded by my kids. Not just being with them, but watching them with each other. I am thankful that not only do they love each other, they like each other. That’s important. That afternoon, my daughter and I walked to a local brewery, sat outside enjoying the nice weather, and caught up with each other, before I headed back to Charlottesville. It was hard leaving my kids! But like my Momma, I know I will see them again soon. Still…

Brunch with my kids!

“Your children might outgrow the space on your lap, but they will never outgrow the space that they have claimed in your heart.”

One of my high school friends told me he and his wife read my blog on Wednesdays to see where I have been and what I have been up to. They felt my pain when they read I drove my car into water, and totaled it. A pain I never hope to repeat! Another friend said I need to put these weekly posts into a book… hmmm… interesting idea! But for now, I am just enjoying life day by day, looking forward to special, cherished events each week, and sharing my life and feelings with all y’all. I am eternally grateful for all of the kind comments, emails, and texts I receive. If I can make one person smile or laugh at my experiences, it is worth it. If I can give one person hope for their future, it is worth it. How about you? Are you enjoying life and making the most of each and every day? Looking for special experiences, time shared with friends and family? Just remember, there is fun to be had. Don’t waste a minute, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“The secret of being happy is accepting where you are in life and making the most out of every day.”

Best,

Leslie

PS Did you get your flu shot? One of my girlfriends and I walked up to CVS to get ours. Still freaks me out a bit that you get shots at the drugstore. Go get your flu shot people! Not just for you, but for all of those people out there whose health is compromised. Trust me, as much as I hate needles, if I can get the shot, YOU can get the shot!

OUCH! Got my flu shot!

 

“Reelin’ In The Years” Steely Dan 1972

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Well… SWEATember is over and HOTober has arrived! The high today in Charlottesville is supposed to be 97. How can it be that hot on October 2nd?!? Unexpected. I have to admit though, unlike everyone else, I am LOVING the hot weather! Just not quite ready to say goodbye to the summer that I love…

“Your everlasting summer and you can see it fading fast…So you grab a piece of something that you think is gonna last…”  Reelin’ In the Years -Steely Dan

All of our football Saturdays in Chapel Hill this season have been very hot – mid-90’s, plus our seats face the sun. Should feel pretty good with fall weather… but there has been NO fall weather yet! So… we have been sweating in more ways than one at our Carolina football games! Week before last, we played Appalachian State and as embarrassing as it is to say, we already had a check mark in the win column. Especially after scoring in the first 17 seconds of the game. Unexpectedly, that was the highlight of our game… we lost. No excuses. Then this past Saturday we were playing the #1 team (at the time) in the nation – Clemson. Just wanted it to be a respectable loss (we were a 28 point underdog). We had a check mark in the loss column, until… we scored in the first minute of the game. “Wait, did we just score on Clemson?” The Clemson fan sitting behind us said, “We’ll give them that one score, it will be their last.” UNEXPECTEDLY, it was NOT our last, and, long story short version, we lost 21-20, after going for 2 at the end of the game for the win, and coming up short, literally. Still, it was an amazing game and so much fun! Who woulda thought that the Tar Heels would give Clemson such a game!?! So unexpected! And so welcomed.

“Expect the unexpected. Life is full of wonderful things just waiting to surprise you.”

After the game 2 weeks ago, I headed to Winston-Salem and spent the night with my sister. We needed to clean out Mom’s storage unit and planned to do so Sunday. Finally came to terms that Mom is never going to wear all of the fashionable clothes, nor use the household items and furniture we put in storage when her house sold. It was time. Mom had A LOT of clothes! And lots of lace, most passed down from my grandmother. Oh and some fur stoles and hats. Not to mention her figurines that were supposedly “blessed by the Pope.” No, we are not Catholic, but my Grandmother visited Italy once and purchased a lot of figurines that she said were “blessed by the Pope!” We worked hard, going through clothes and bagging them for donation. Kept the furs, donated the lace to one of my sister’s friends, and set up the furniture to go to a great charity. We laughed and we cried. Especially when we came across Mom’s wedding portrait and her wedding dress. She was so tiny when she got married! I kept the picture, and we just could not part with the dress. Also found the dress mom wore to my wedding 39+ years ago! Not sure why she saved it (we donated it), but then, I still have my “going away” dress, shoes, and hat (probably time to get rid of them too!). We also found a big box of cards that Mom saved. Now I know where I get that from! I save all of my cards and notes (especially those since becoming SOLO) and get them out at times to laugh over the funny ones, and feel the love in the special ones. I imagine that is why Mom saved all of hers. It was almost like taking a sneak peak into Mom’s life, without her knowing. And unexpectedly, we found it very emotional. Thankful to go through this now, when we could then go see mom, rather than later when she is no longer with us. OH and we debated on who got the portrait of my older sister and me (see below). We texted it to the family (my kids and nephew) to see who might want it, and one asked for the measurements, but I think he was kidding. So… I brought it home and it will be hanging in my house. Unexpectedly!

“Hidden blessings are like hidden treasures. Sometimes you have to dig to find them. May you be blessed to see your blessings in unexpected places. What appears to be a problem may actually be an answered prayer in disguise.”

If you are a “planner” like me, unexpected things tend to turn our worlds upside down! (Please don’t move my cheese!) There is no way to prepare for the unexpected, as it is just that – unexpected. But we should learn how to adapt to these events.  Take a breath, change of attitude, look for the positives. This advice was given to me 3+ years ago, and I truly have been working on being more adaptable. When I had surgery in April and was told I would not run for 5+ months, I had to adapt. Rested my knee, starting walking and cycling instead of running. Noticed a lot more while walking – when I run, I am usually looking down so as not to trip! And I have friends in cycle classes. Running is a work in progress! When my Mom gave up her phone and I wasn’t able to call her anymore, I had to adapt. I used to call her on my way home at night. Now I go see her in person much more often, and that has been a blessing. Hey, I have even adapted to being able to drink 2 glasses of wine instead of just half of a Bud Light Lime!

“Embrace the unexpected. The things we never saw coming often take us to the places we never imagined we could go.”

When the unexpected happens, and it will, know that you will survive. Yes, it may be difficult and painful, but know that you can adapt and find happiness again in a different avenue. Don’t waste time regretting the past, instead, enjoy the present, and embrace the unexpected, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“As much as you want to plan your life, it has a way of surprising you with unexpected things that will make you happier than you originally planned. That’s what you call God’s will.”

Best,

Leslie

PS Did you know there is truly a place called Tar Heel, NC?  I drove through it on my way from the beach to Chapel Hill!

 

“I’ll Be There For You…” (Theme from Friends) The Rembrandts 1994

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Y’all, I had a surprise shower last week! New towels monogrammed with my “new” initials. A black work bag with “LAH” monogrammed in Carolina blue. A bowl that says “Happy Everything!” And of course, some wine to toast the two dear girlfriends who surprised me with this shower in honor of my name change. Do these gals know me or what!? What a thoughtful thing to do.

“Let us be grateful for the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”  Marcel Proust

When we moved to Charlottesville 22 years ago, we knew no one here. Luckily, we moved to a perfect neighborhood with neighbors our age, and children our children’s ages. Since we had no family in town, these neighbors became not only friends, but family. Two of my dearest friends are from that neighborhood. These 2 girlfriends met me at the beach last week for a couple of days of sunshine and girl time. We had a great time catching up, basking in the sun, going out to dinner at all of my favorite restaurants, and enjoying some great wines. Had perfect beach weather. We saw beautiful sunrises and breath-taking sunsets. There was not a quiet moment the whole time we were together (imagine that!). In fact, the first morning, we were sitting on my porch having breakfast and laughing so hard and so loudly that one of my beach neighbors came by to see if everything was ok! It was more than ok… it was Girlfriend time! Same on the beach. Gosh we had so much fun together. Even though we are in contact with each other, we still had a lot to catch up on and celebrate. And celebrate we did. (There were right many empty wine bottles in the recycle bin!) Each night I shared one of my favorite restaurants for dinner – Gulf Stream where we saw a magnificent sunset, Claw House at Murrells Inlet where we walked the marshwalk and listened to live music, and of course, my favorite, Franks. Had breakfast one morning beachside at my favorite breakfast dive on the pier. Spent all day long on the beach talking, laughing, and sharing. Couple of tears here and there, but a perfect couple of days.

“Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.” Eleanor Roosevelt

That Girlfriend Time was just what I needed. These are the kinds of friends who are there for you, who have your back, who know what you have been through, and how you are feeling even if you don’t know yourself. These friends have been my cheerleaders, inspiring and encouraging me. We have each experienced a great loss, all different, but a loss all the same. We have laughed together and cried together, and know that we can always count on each other. An anchor in this crazy life we lead. Speaking of anchors, my girlfriends also gave me a beautiful anchor beach towel monogrammed with my new initials! A reminder of how friendships anchor us in life and how we can be an anchor to one another.

“Life’s roughest storms prove the strength of our anchors.”

Did you watch the sitcom Friends? Maybe easier to ask, did anyone NOT watch Friends? Can you believe it’s been 25 years since the first episode aired? We all loved the friendship between Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Ross, Joey, and Chandler. And of course the hairstyles! The original pitch for the show was: “It’s about sex, love, relationships, careers, a time in your life when everything’s possible. And it’s about friendship because when you’re single and in the city, your friends are your family.” I am so thankful for friends that I consider family.

“Why we need best friends. Because they laugh at the same stupid things we do. Because they give us honest advice. Because they will be there for us, even if they are thousands of miles away. Because they celebrate with us when we’re at our best, but still love us at our worst.”

Do you have friends who anchor you in life? Ones you know you can call on no matter what and they will be there for you? Who lift you up when you are down, and celebrate with you when you succeed? I am blessed with some of the best friends a girl could have. Many different circles – my kids, my sisters, my “trio”, my work friends, my old neighborhood friends, my NC friends, my college friends, my high school friends, church friends, new friends…You can never have too many friends. But true friends will support you and walk with you in good times and bad. Be an anchor for your friends. Treasure and foster your friendships, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“The greatest gift of life is friendship and I have received it.” Hubert Humphrey

So true! Those are frozen grapes in the wine to keep it cold!

 Best,

 Leslie 

PS… I know fall has arrived (even though it is still 90 degrees!), because the Hallmark Channel began showing their Fall movies last weekend. I mean, Christmas is only 3 months from today y’all.  AND the Hallmark Christmas movies begin October 26th. Just saying!