“From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli…” Marine’s Hymn

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Yes I know… I seem to keep starting my blogs with “What a great weekend I had.” But luckily, and truly, I have had the best weekends! Each and every weekend. And this past weekend did not let me down. It started Friday. It was a beautiful sunny, warm day. One NOT to be spent inside. Not your typical late October weather. Met a friend and tried a new place for lunch, the Market at Grelen, which is actually a nursery with the coolest shop and cafe. I went for lunch but left with a few plants! After that, we visited Barboursville Vineyard for a wine tasting. It was wonderful! There were 18 wines on the tasting. Wanting to enjoy the weather, we went to their Library as well to split a flight of their “special” wines – 6 more. Lovely. Sat out on their patio and enjoyed the view of the vineyard and mountains. Left with 2 bottles and 2 glasses. (I have started a collection of winery glasses.) As if I hadn’t tried enough wines, we made one more stop at a small vineyard, Chestnut Oak Vineyards, since it was still open and on our way back to Charlottesville. It did not disappoint! Another wonderful tasting and beautiful scenery.

Saturday morning my younger daughter and I headed to DC for the weekend. We checked into our hotel, and headed out to meet her DC friends for lunch on the rooftop of Bar Deco. It was a gorgeous day and my daughter’s friends are wonderful. (All of my kids have the best friends!) After lunch we visited the Renwick Gallery (part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum) for an interesting exhibit “Murder is her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death.” From 1943-1953, Lee, considered to be the “Mother of Forensic Science”, built very detailed miniatures of actual crime scenes (like little doll houses) to train homicide detectives in the determination of cause of death. Each piece was so detailed that she knitted stockings with straight pins, used real tobacco to roll tiny cigarettes, and wrote tiny letters with a single hair paint brush. Incredible. After we finished the exhibit it was too late to visit any other museums, so we walked to the monuments. Always memorable.

But, as memorable as the monuments were, they were not the reason for the trip. The main focus of my weekend was the MARINE CORPS MARATHON. NO, I was not running it! My younger daughter was running it. We took the metro before sunrise to the marathon. She went to the starting line and I found my way to the best viewing spot. I must admit, I was totally out of my comfort zone navigating the unknown area alone. However, now that I am SOLO, I find myself much more confident, independent, and willing to go outside my comfort zone. Saw her run by in the beginning of the race and she saw me and waved, and the spectator beside me said, “Oh I am going to cry – I just saw your face when you saw your runner.” I was crying! It is very emotional. The race first began with the wheelchair and duo racers. I watched people in wheelchairs with no legs – their arms pedaling as fast as they could, and duos –  people pushing others who were unable to run for many reasons. Then there were runners carrying large American flags, even blind runners with guides. But mostly, I was emotional for my daughter starting out on a 26.2 mile journey. I headed to the next good viewing spot around mile 11, at the Lincoln Memorial. While waiting to see her, I felt as if I was in an episode of “Gomer Pyle USMC” as the Marine Corps Pep band continuously played the Marine’s Hymn (“From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli…).  Shazaam! Truly the Marine Corps Marathon is a great spectator race.

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

However, just as life is unpredictable, so was her marathon. She was running very well until about mile 9. Then her hips locked up. She made it to mile 10 and felt she could not continue. I met her at mile 10 and she stopped. She was so upset to not finish. Felt like a failure. But she is NOT a failure. How many people are even brave enough to attempt a marathon? 26.2 miles. Running a half marathon of 13.1 miles and turning around and running it again. I could not do it. Not many runners I know could or would do it. But she tried and I am so proud of her for that. It was on her bucket list that she makes every birthday. She has run 4 half marathons plus the Charlottesville 10-miler and the Women’s 4-miler many times, but this was her first marathon. She kept it fairly quiet, telling only her siblings and closest friends. And hated to tell them she did not finish. Life doesn’t always go like we plan. It rarely does.

“I can accept failure. Everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”  Michael Jordan

Once my daughter realized she physically could not continue, and was able to wrap her mind around it, she was okay. Disappointed. But okay. Her siblings and I are so very proud of her for attempting this feat. She is a trooper. And I am so impressed by the love and support she received from her siblings and friends when she told them she did not make it. One friend texted her ‘Your race today has no impact on what you choose to do next! If you are done with long distance running – that is a great realization. If you are more motivated to improve as a distance runner now and try another marathon, that is also great.’  How true is that!?! We should never let any one event define us or deter us from anything we want to do. We are all so much more than that.

“Like the marathon, life can sometimes be difficult, challenging and present obstacles, however if you believe in your dreams and never give up, things will turn out for the best.”  MEB

When life does not go as we plan or think it should, we must try a different path. Never give up. When I became SOLO, so much changed in my life. But the important things remained constant. What did not change? The love and support of my children, family, friends and co-workers. I found a way to forge ahead on a new path. I went out of my comfort zone and found life is truly fun and exciting. And I am very happy. Try something out of your comfort zone. Be brave. Be strong. Take a chance. Don’t be afraid to fail. Not all failures are really failures. Some are just stumbling blocks that build character and make us stronger. It’s how you react after a failure that counts.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill.

Spend some time this week with those you love, because as we all know, tomorrow is not promised to any of us. And don’t forget – Hallmark Christmas movies start this weekend – October 27th ! OH YES!

See you next week.

Best,

Leslie

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