“Love Train”… The O’Jays 1972

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY

Not trying to wish my life away, but I cannot wait until this weekend! Four solid days filled with family, friends, fun, and lots of love. Throw Valentine’s Day in the mix, and you’ve got the full Monty! Do you have special plans for Valentine’s Day, or are you SOLO and dreading the day? If you are… don’t. Valentine’s Day is not just about romantic love. There are all types of love. Make special plans with someone you just love having in your life. I’ll be in Winston-Salem having lunch with some “old” high school friends (crashing their weekly lunch!) before heading to Charlotte to spend the weekend with my kids. I’m in a really good place this year. And very thankful for it.

“You are not defined by your relationship status or lack thereof. You are defined by how you love. Go out this week, and be love, give love, spread love!”  Maria Shriver

February is the month of Love. Love songs are on the radio, our instructors are making playlists for classes with love songs, and Hallmark is showcasing Love Ever After movies all month. I actually know someone who has written music for some Hallmark movies… my beautiful and talented niece, Natalie Madigan. I am going on the record here (pun intended), she will make it in the music industry. She is a graduate of the music program at MTSU, lives in Nashville, and has performed all over the country. In fact, she was in Richmond last Friday night performing at the Graduate Hotel. How coincidental is that? Could not miss an opportunity to hear her sing. After all, she just released an album! (Do people still buy actual albums?!?!) My older daughter, son-in-law, and I met to see and support her, not to mention be entertained. We weren’t the only ones there to support her! The crowd at this sold-out show also included some local Richmond cousins I hadn’t seen in a while, so it was a mini-family reunion of sorts. Thankful to still have these family relationships, even if I am no longer a “Madigan.” The show was wonderful! Not only does Natalie sing beautifully, she also accompanies herself on the keyboard/piano. She sang several songs, one being the title song from her new album, What It’s Like To Be Known. It was wonderful to see this beautiful girl, who I have known all of her 23 years, as a rock star! OH to be young and traveling around the country singing. Or just to be able to sing! My son-in-law asked me how those family genes skipped his wife! Hmmm… good question!

“Family is a gift that lasts forever.”

It was a rollercoaster weekend – high Friday night, low Saturday night. Have I mentioned in this blog that it is just NOT Carolina’s year in basketball?! Proof positive after Saturday’s overtime loss to Duke (of all teams!). Such a close game with us leading until the bitter end. Close but no cigar made this loss that much more disappointing. Plus the students fell just 4 points shy of getting free biscuits (when the Tar Heels score 100 points – it’s free biscuits!), not to mention a win! We were heartbroken, deflated, crushed. “If onlys” floated all around us. Prior to that game, the last 100 games played between these 2 teams resulted in a record of 50-50. 50 wins for Carolina, 50 wins for Duke. Points scored? 7,746 for Carolina, 7,746 for Duke. You can’t make this up folks. Pretty amazing right? So now the record is Carolina 50, Duke 51. Points? Carolina 7,842 and Duke 7,844. I tried very hard NOT to let that loss steal my joy, but…let’s be realistic here.

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

UVA also suffered a disappointing loss Saturday after making a pretty remarkable comeback against the #5 team in the nation. Yet Sunday morning their 7+ foot tall player was right there at church. We walked in together, and as he held the door for me, I craned my neck to look up at him (he’s 23 inches taller than me after all) to thank him. Didn’t mention his game… he’s a very sweet boy and probably wanted to blend in with the congregation. HA! NO chance of that – he’s taller than anyone else in Charlottesville!

“Healing is weird. Some days you’re okay and you’re doing just fine. Other days it still hurts like its fresh. It’s a process with no definitive time frame. You just have to keep going and know that when all is said and done, you’re going to be okay.”

After church, I decided I need to put a little more effort into recentering myself, and since my younger daughter had asked me to pick up her Wine Club selections from Afton Mountain Vineyards, I thought that might be the perfect place. Turns out it was. She is a wine club member which meant I got a complimentary glass of wine, which I gladly accepted, found a comfortable rocking chair, enjoyed the wine, the views, and the atmosphere. Central Virginia vineyards are all blessed with breathtaking scenery. As the sign at Afton says, “Grapes don’t grow in ugly places.” So true, so very true. The wine and the mountains helped me realize that what seemed like the end of the world Saturday night (basketball loss), looked much different with the light of the day Sunday.

Also realized with the light of day, that maybe, just maybe, the disappointment I felt with the Carolina loss was tied subconsciously to bigger losses in my life. It’s that time of year when everything and everyone is focused on love. With my son and his beautiful fiancée getting married this year, and us celebrating them this weekend, plus Valentine’s Day looming, the focus on marriage seemed to be in the forefront. That loss will always be in my life. Subtle now, but still there. Thankful to have 4 years behind me and to be where I am these days. Life definitely goes on. And I realize that there are all types of love and people to share love with in so many ways. And luckily for me, I get to take advantage of so many of them this weekend!

“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” Marianne Williamson

So, celebrate Valentine’s Day in the best way you can. If you are SOLO this year, celebrate the freedoms, opportunities, and benefits that come with this status. Celebrate all the special people in your life. May surprise you to realize just how many there are. If you are in a relationship, take the opportunity to appreciate what you have, cherish your partner, renew your commitment… because nobody knows better than me that too many relationships dissolve. And, as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

PS – Can you believe people are expected to spend $27.4 BILLION for Valentine’s Day? That’s an average of $196 for those celebrating the big day! “What’s in your wallet?!?!” Well, $196 less after Friday!

 

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