“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!

“Deacon Blues” Steely Dan 1977

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

I love Steely Dan… and always loved their song Deacon Blues. AND always thought it was written about the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. “They got a name for the winners in the world… I want a name when I lose… They call Alabama the Crimson Tide… Call me Deacon Blues…”  But I just learned the song was NOT written about the Demon Deacons, but about 70’s NFL player Deacon Jones. Wow… All these years… but I was not alone in this assumption.

“Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.”

After winning our first 2 games in upset fashion, I thought our run might continue as I headed to Winston-Salem Friday to see Carolina play Wake Forest. Heard Deacon Blues on my favorite XM station – Yacht Rock Radio, except there were no Deacon blues Friday night… maybe a scare for the Deacs when Carolina finally got their act together in the 4th quarter, but the blues were all Carolina blue as we lost our first game of the season. All was not lost though – we had a great time tailgating! My sister and brother-in-law joined us for a barbeque tailgate in the “Carolina Town” part of the parking lot. I mean, when you are in Winston-Salem where barbeque is king, that’s what you have! We played cornhole, visited, imbibed, and had dinner before heading into the game. Expecting rain, I took my poncho, but amazingly, the weather held, and it was a beautiful night for football. I have not been in Groves Stadium in 25+ years. It has changed a bit. My last 2 years of college were at Wake Forest and the stadium seemed much bigger than when I was there, but when I mentioned this to my daughter, she googled it and said it is the smallest stadium in the ACC and all Power 5 conferences. Perceptions… sure seemed big to me!

First time our seats have been in front of the band and it was really fun. Band was very active and played all the fight songs plus so much more. Carolina crowd showed up and cheered hard. Just was not quite enough… no time to mope, chin up, there’s always next week!

Happy 90th birthday to our sweet Momma! Yep… Mom turned 90, but thought we were kidding her. “How can I be 90?” Two years ago, my younger daughter and I celebrated our 30th and 60th birthdays together (our birthdays are within 3 days of each other). So I thought I might bring the leftover “30” and “60” napkins to Mom’s party so she could pick whether she wanted to be 30, 60, or add them together and be 90! Wouldn’t it be fun if we could all do that!?! What age would you choose? If I could make some changes, I might go back in time, but truly, at this point, I would choose 60 (like Mom, I would definitely NOT choose 90!).

“The way I see it, you should live everyday like it’s your birthday.”  Paris Hilton

We surprised Mom Saturday, and the expression on her face when my sister brought her into the room and all of “her people” yelled Surprise, was priceless. We celebrated with a lunch followed by a beautiful cake and ice cream. And were entertained by Sweet Jack and Izzie. What a fun and special day. 90. WOW! We are so lucky to still have our sweet Momma with us. Mom has experienced and sacrificed so much in her 90 years. She has loved and lost. Raised 3 strong daughters. Loved her kids unconditionally. Said goodbye to her parents and her sweet sister who she absolutely adored, her best friend. Suffered broken bones – an ankle and kneecap. Beaten breast cancer. Set a great example for her girls. And through it all, she has been full of grace and love. Mom is loved not only by her family, but also by her caregivers, because unlike so many of the elderly, she has kept her sweet and gracious demeanor. We are blessed.

“The golden rule of parenting it to always show your children the kind of person you want them to be.”

I said goodbye to my sweet Momma and my kids and headed to my happy place. Here for a week of perfect weather and special company! And SO.MUCH.FUN! More on this next week!

My kiddos!

So… gotta share with you what I did last week. One of my girlfriends was about to embark on a BIG race and talked me into going to Cryotherapy with her. Know what that is? Well I didn’t… but I do now! Thought it might have something to do with Superman. Nope, that is Kryptonite. It is FREEZING your body! Yep, and I endured it for 3 minutes (that’s the limit). 225 degrees below zero. And if you know me, the fact that I even tried this is BIG because it was COLD y’all, actually freezing. Purpose is to reduce inflammation and pain – what I need with my knee. “Exposure to the sub zero temperatures triggers the release of anti-inflammatory proteins and endorphins.”  And I am all about endorphins! Did it help? Maybe. Would I do it again? Yep, I think so. Luckily, you wear these really warm socks (thank heavens) and mittens and you march continually while in the “vat” so you don’t freeze (guessing here!). And I was told I could come out early if I needed to – NO WAY when I knew my girlfriend would definitely not come out early and I went first. After returning my body temperature to normal, I opted to also experience the “NormaTec Compression Recovery System” to improve circulation in my legs. Obviously, anxious to have my knee back to normal, I’ll try just about anything to help my recovery. Besides, it was fun because we did it together and got to talk the whole time.

“A single thread of hope is a very powerful thing.”

Keep your chin up, celebrate big and small moments, look for something good in every situation, and be thankful for every day you have with those you love, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

PS In 2 weeks Carolina plays Clemson (#1 team in the nation) in Chapel Hill. Maybe Steely Dan should change the words from “Crimson Tide to Clemson Tigers”. Here’s hoping we won’t be too blown out! You never know!

 

“I’m a Survivor, I’m gonna make it…” Destiny’s Child 2001

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Well, we survived the hurricane. Hurricane Dorian that is. Thankfully. Have not seen it for myself (will next week though!), but thanks to my sweet (and brave) neighbors, who rode out the hurricane, all is well in our little beach community. They said it was pretty scary with the wind blowing and rain pelting, nothing like the experience felt in the Bahamas, but still, for our area, they felt lucky we dodged a bullet. Me too!

Is there anyone who did not see the red jeep stranded on Myrtle Beach last week during the hurricane? Oh my! I promise that was NOT me y’all! But boy do I know that horribly helpless feeling after doing something so stupid. I did survive driving my car into water after last’s year hurricane… but my car did not. Scariest experience of my life. However, all ended well with a new car, exactly like the drowned car. Survival… life goes on.

“Struggles are required in order to survive in life, because in order to stand up, you gotta know what falling down is like.”

We also survived the Hurricanes… as in the University of Miami Hurricanes, who traveled to Chapel Hill for our first home football game last Saturday night. And what a game it was!  We won 28-25. Best game I have ever attended. Truly. Kenan Stadium was sold out, packed with over 50,000 fans in Carolina blue with a sprinkling of orange and green, and the vibe was electric. Our freshman QB is a campus hero (and rightly so) after going for it on 4th down, in the waning minutes of the game, with 17 yards to first down. He threw a perfect pass. Game changer… and we won. Carolina is now 2-0, winning as many games in the first 2 games of this season as we won all of last season. Hoping the run continues! It’s the topping on the ice cream of our tailgate when we win!

“What’s coming is better than what is gone.”

Speaking of our tailgate, first one of the season was last Saturday. Even though the game was not until 8 pm, my daughter and son-in-law left Richmond at 0 dark hundred to get to Chapel Hill and secure our tailgate spot and shop. I got there around 10:30, parked beside the tailgate, and walked up to Franklin Street to meet them at Top of the Hill (our favorite restaurant) for brunch. We had the prime table on the patio overlooking Franklin Street. Such a perfect day! As they headed back to the tailgate, I spent some time shopping and walking around campus, just enjoying being back in Chapel Hill. My younger daughter arrived mid afternoon, and the cornhole contests began. My kids are pretty good, I am not… but it is still fun! Also watched several ACC football games on TV (yes there is a big TV with DISH satellite at the tailgate) and visited with our tailgate neighbors. Cooked out for dinner and headed to the game. Our seats are even better than last year – 45 yard line. It was a perfect day and such a fun night! Plus I got to have a sleepover with my younger daughter before heading home early Sunday.

“From every wound there is a scar and every scar tells a story. A story that says I SURVIVED.”

Survival. We were the underdogs in the past 2 games. Predicted to lose. But we proved the naysayers wrong, and proved to our fans that we can fight back and win. Just like life, every day we survive, most days without even realizing it. Three years ago, I was thankful to survive each “dark” day. Thankful I had a job that got me out out of bed with a purpose for the day. Thankful for the family and friends who kept me going. Learned a lot about myself and how to survive SOLO. And now, I am still surviving daily, in a good way, and I realize it. My best plan for survival is to have fun things to look forward to. UNC football games with my kids for one. Trips to the beach. Dinners with friends. Visiting wineries. Last Sunday morning, I left Chapel Hill with plans to meet a friend to visit a winery I had not been to before. But I called an “audible” and changed plans. My younger daughter had asked if I would pick up her wine from her 2 wine clubs, and of course I said yes. Which meant, 2 free wine tastings, since she is a member. Not turning that down! Told my friend this one was my treat! Perfect September Sunday afternoon weather – sunny and not too hot. Perfect day for a drive to the wineries made more perfect in a really nice convertible, top down, music playing… and me driving! We survived my driving and oh what fun that was. Since the driving was offered to me, I said that I better drive BEFORE having wine. Been a long time since I have been in a convertible… high school maybe? (yes, that was a LONG time ago!) Wow… I have been missing out!

“Remember that time you thought you wouldn’t survive? Well you did and you can do it again.”

Another survival plan for this weekend – UNC vs. Wake Forest football game in Winston-Salem Friday night with my kids (tough since I went to both UNC and Wake but my heart is Carolina Blue!), followed by celebrating my sweet Momma’s 90th birthday on Saturday before heading to my happy place! Many fun plans for next week as well. And more down the road all the way to Christmas. Did I mention I am a planner? But that is what works for me. I am flexible enough (kinda) to change my plans, but still, I like knowing what’s coming. What works for you? How do you survive the challenges life throws at you? Do you plan time with friends? Or do you need solitary time?

“Don’t lose your present to your past.”

I cannot end without remembering that on this day in 2001, almost 3,000 people lost their lives in the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. Families and friends were heartbroken. Lives were changed forever. Senseless acts. If you have not visited Ground Zero in NYC, you should. It is an emotional experience. So today, remember all those who left home that September morning, never to return. And remember their families and friends. And make the most of this day and every day, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself.”  Walter Anderson

Best,

Leslie

PS – Name change is a done deal at work!

Name officially changed at work!

 

“September” Earth, Wind & Fire 1978 (my favorite EW&F song!)

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Welcome to the “burrrr” months… SeptemBER, OctoBER, NovemBER, DecemBER… I’m getting chilly just saying these months out loud! However, one is my birthday month! Just saying!

Fall…and pumpkin!

How was your Labor Day holiday? Did you get the day off? Go to a cookout? I really did not get the day off, it is month-end after all, and financials must be produced. But I’ll take the time off later. I did, however, go to a fun barbeque late afternoon.

Labor Day BBQ!

“Dream big, work hard, stay focused, and surround yourself with good people.”

Even though I had to work, it was still a less stressful Labor Day weekend than usual because I didn’t have to race. That’s right… for the first time in over 10 years, I skipped out on running the Charlottesville Women’s 4-Miler (always Labor Day weekend). Darn knee. I love running, but I do stress myself out over races. Was it a relief? Well… sorta. But it was sad as well. I run this race “in memory” of my childhood friend Luanne, who lost her battle with cancer, and last year added “in honor” of her daughter-in-law, Jenn, who overcame her battle with cancer in the most courageous way. It was also sad because I run this race with my younger daughter (who moved to Charlotte) as a mother/daughter team, Run Like Mad. I miss her. But we will be back next year when my knee is healed, and I think we’ll be changing the name of our team! That is, since I changed my name.

2018…

“And then she realized that a fresh start was hers for the taking, that she could be the woman she’s always seen on the distant horizon – her future self. One step at a time. Starting today.”

My knee is healing though, and I am slowly but happily regaining my pre-surgery life. For me, that means gaining my mobility and peace of mind. My “return to normal activities” date is September 24th, 5 months post surgery (and my late dad’s birthday!). I will be celebrating! And I will not be overdoing it this time around. I was cleared to take a step class this week, and I did, low impact. Been a LONG time since I took step. It was fun and another “step” toward normalcy.

My running limit is now up to 40 minutes so I started running part of my old route through the grounds (campus) of UVA. Can’t wait until I can run the full course! But this is a great start. The students are back at UVA for a new semester and the “Corner” is once again alive and busy. College parents are adjusting to life without their kids. Dinner tables have changed. There’s a hole in the family. I kinda feel that way since my younger daughter moved to Charlotte, but she is so happy it makes my heart full. I am sure these college parents are feeling the same way.

Yep! That’s my girl on TV at the UNC game!

All those kids back at college… you know what that means, college football!  And oh my, did Labor Day weekend bring on the start of college football in a BIG way for Tar Heel fans! We were hoping for a decent game and were happily surprised with the win! Had almost forgotten what that felt like. HEAVENLY! Here’s hoping for a repeat this weekend as I head to Chapel Hill with my kids for the UNC-Miami game. Looking forward to the start of our tailgate season. My daughter and son-in-law (professional tailgaters) had a “dry run” on our tailgate, making sure everything is in working order including the Dish satellite… all is ready! We are ready.

“The greatest power you possess in life is your understanding that life gives you a fresh start any moment you choose to start fresh.” – Guy Finley

Ready for Preschool!

Speaking of being ready, my sweet great-nephew Jack started preschool this week. He was ready and excited with his new backpack and lunchbox. It’s a whole new world for him. What we are not ready for though is Hurricane Dorian. The governor of SC issued a mandatory evacuation at my beach this week, and luckily my sister and brother-in-law were down there to ready our houses for whatever may come. Praying for all of those in the path of this furious storm. And hoping when I head there in a week, things will be all right. By the way, I will NOT drive into any water this time!

“New month. New beginning. New mindset. New focus. New start. New intentions. New results.”

Remember when LaBURR Day meant the start of fall? Sure didn’t feel that way this past weekend! But it IS the start of the last 4 months of 2019. If you were to stop and take stock of this year so far, is there anything you would want to change to end the year on a positive note? Have any resolutions you made in January that you still want to accomplish? Any new intentions to make these next months the best months of 2019? I plan to be more present in the moment these last 4 “burr” months of the year. Not stress over what I cannot control (example – onset of cold weather!). This journey with my knee made me slow down and appreciate many things I took for granted. I have developed patience (well some). I’m going to enjoy and celebrate life to its fullest. And let life lead me. It’s gonna be a fun ride, right into the Christmas season (my favorite time of the year!). Make the decision today to renew your spirit, refocus your intentions, take that extra step for yourself and your happiness, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“The best thing you can do for yourself is stop saying “I wish” and start saying “I will”. And then do something about it.”

Best,

Leslie

PS  A big thank you to everyone who reached out with support after the last blog… made this SOLO girl feel good about that big change.