Say HELLO to my Little Friend!

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Ok, I know what you are thinking… But you are going to be surprised!

March 1, 2017… D-DAY – Divorce is final. It’s also the first day of Lent, a season of reflection and preparation before the celebration of Easter. So, what do I do? Celebrate? Cry? Or pull myself together and realize, Hey I am now totally free to do whatever I want, whenever I want, wherever I want, and with whoever I want? I chose the latter. I decided I needed a present to celebrate my new-found freedom. For years, I coveted my friend’s VITAMIX Blender (yes I remember the 10th Commandment: “Thou shalt not covet…”)  but I just could not justify the splurge. Now, however, I felt that I deserved a special gift just for me. So I broke down and bought myself a VITAMIX Blender! And we have been best friends since.

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.” (Robert Frost)

Right after my separation, I could not eat. Could not sleep. Could barely function. As I said before, I was so thankful to have a job that forced me out of bed that first Monday SOLO, or I might still be there with the covers over my head. Food was the farthest thing from my mind. After dropping too much weight, I knew I had to get my act together and begin eating something, and if it was not going to be much, it should be healthy. HELLO smoothies! I became a smoothie QUEEN! (I am also a Dancing Queen – just ask my coworkers.) Using my old blender, I experimented with smoothies that included a big handful of spinach, frozen bananas, frozen strawberries (or whatever fruit I had on hand), dash of cinnamon, some protein powder, and Almond Milk. I figured that if nothing else, each smoothie would give me 2+ fruits, a veggie, and did you know that Almond Milk has 50% more calcium than regular milk? Plus, it is a good source of Vitamins D and E. Score one for me! (Sidebar: When my kids were growing up, I bought about 8 gallons of milk each week – Thank you SAM’S for cheap milk! I have not bought a gallon of milk since I moved into my new house. I buy a quart of milk each time my son comes to visit. And last week I bought a quart as I was making dinner for some friends and was not sure Almond milk would work in mashed potatoes and banana pudding. I only have Unsweetened Vanilla Almond milk in my refrigerator.)

Yes, the old blender worked (did I mention it was a wedding gift?), but I had to stop and start it too often because it would get “clogged” (like my marriage). Still, I used that old blender every morning until I brought my VITAMIX home! The other week I had all of my kids down at the beach with me (remember the longest day of the year post?), and I made them smoothies every morning. Just grab and go and take them to the beach (and be healthy!). I went to the Farmer’s Market down there and bought fresh local peaches and strawberries. I always buy a big bunch of bananas, (cheapest at Trader Joe’s) let them get overly ripe, then peel, slice, and store them in baggies in my freezer. This adds a perfect sweetness to any smoothie. And I promise you, unlike Pop-eye, you will not taste the spinach! A lot of people use kale but I have only used spinach. Did you know you can freeze fresh spinach? I could never use all of the spinach before it spoiled, so it was a blessing to learn that spinach can be frozen, which makes for a better smoothie anyway. My freezer is always stocked with ziploc baggies of bananas, spinach, and lots of different fruits for my smoothies. (I picked 17 pounds of fresh strawberries this spring – and did you know you do NOT have to cap them? Turns out the tops are really good for you… wish I had known that BEFORE I capped all those strawberries!) I make a smoothie every night and keep it in the fridge so I can have it for breakfast first thing in the morning. Starts my day off right!

strawberries

“I can’t control everything in my life, but I can control what I put in my body.”

BD (Before Divorce), my ex was the master griller, and as our old neighbors can attest, we grilled out steaks every Saturday night. Filets, medium rare, baked potatoes, salad, garlic bread. AD (After Divorce), now SOLO, I have become the master griller (I got the Weber Grill), but I rarely grill steaks – only if my kids are in town (which they were this weekend and yes we grilled steaks). Now I grill salmon. And it is not the salmon of my childhood (pronounced SAL-MON out of a can) that my mother fried in patties and served with pinto beans. (Don’t ask!) No…this salmon (wild caught) is so good…seasoned with a little olive oil and Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning. (I love TJ’s) I will bake a sweet potato and grill okra to go with it. Heavenly! Honestly, BD I never ate salmon. AD – it is on the menu every week! And speaking of food and dinners, last night we grilled turkey burgers, corn on the cob, gray zucchini (found at the Charlottesville Farmer’s Market Saturday), and roasted sweet potatoes sliced into rounds and seasoned with… yes… Trader Joe’s Everything Bagel Seasoning! (this is NOT a commercial for TJ’s). I also have to admit that most nights, my favorite dinner is scrambled eggs, grits and toast. It just does not get any better (or easier) than that.

If my summer ever slows down, I would really like to get to know my VITAMIX better. I want to make my own Almond Butter, guacamole, soups (yes it even heats the soup up!). There is so much more I can do with it. But for now I am happy with my special smoothies. And yes, I am happy!

“If you look for the good in life, you’ll find it.  CHOOSE to be happy, to be at peace.”

Do any of you make smoothies? If so, what fruits, combinations do you use? I am always looking for new recipes AND new ways to use my VITAMIX. Please share!

DSC_0426

Maybe we will talk about the OTHER little friend later on!

Off to make my smoothie for tomorrow!

See you next week.

Best,

Leslie

A TANGLED WEB…

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

“OH what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” (Sir Walter Scott – bet you thought that was from Shakespeare! I remember Andy Griffith saying this to Barney…or was it to Opie?)

I have to admit…I helped my kids cheat in high school. And I lied. I lied on my kids’ band practice charts. (Sorry, Mr. Thomas!) To fulfil their Arts requirement in high school, all 3 kids, 3 years apart in school, were in the band (9th – 11th grades). Two flutes and a trumpet. Yes, 9 years of band concerts, fundraising for trips, and the practicing. Oh, the practicing. Part of their grade was based on the number of hours they practiced. My honor roll kids were not going to let band wreck their GPA’s, but my house (and my patience – remember I have zero patience) could not handle all the practicing. So I told them to write down what would get them a passing grade and I signed the charts. (Did I mention they were also in band for 3 years in middle school?!)

Harmless enough, right? Everyone will lie at some point – it is human nature. Some lies are not a breach of trust. “Honey does this make me look fat?” “No sweetheart, nothing could EVER make you look fat.” That’s a lie… but an understandable lie. Sort of. Of course, there are people you expect to always be honest with you, even in hard times. As a mom, I try to play that role for my kids. Even when I had to tell my middle-school daughter that she should take off that Gawd-awful electric-blue eye shadow she SMEARED on her eyes before school because it did not look as trendy as she thought it did. Is that what they call brutal honesty? She thought so at the time. She thanks me now.

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” -Mark Twain

Of course, people you love are going to break your trust and lie to you at some point. And once that trust is broken, it is nearly impossible to restore. It can leave you searching for answers and explanations that you may never get. Why? How? When? Seeking these answers may seem like the only way to gain closure and move on, but it may also be the thing that is holding you back. This can be the hardest thing to realize: the reason you are not moving on is because you are waiting for “closure” – an explanation, an apology, the truth, anything. “If only I knew ‘this’, I’d be able to accept, process and move on.” We want to feel better. We want resolution. We want someone to blame. But this only holds us back.

Maybe the reason you are not getting over something is because you are waiting on these answers. But there will always be more questions. Ask yourself, do you really need (or want) the answers? If someone walks away leaving the door wide open, sometimes it is up to you to figure out how to close that door yourself. (Slam that door!)

“If you spend your time hoping someone will suffer the consequences for what they did to your heart, then you’re allowing them to hurt you a second time in your mind.” ― Shannon L. Alder

So, what do we do? We have to turn to ourselves and find ways to move forward. Collect inspirational quotes, maybe? Have those hard conversations in your head that you know will never be shared with the person meant for? Write a letter you know you will never send? Personally, I have found solace in this blog, and all of you. Truthfully, I appreciate all y’all reading my blog and sharing it with your friends and family. And I cannot tell you how much your comments on my blog posts and on my Facebook page, as well as your private messages and emails, mean to me. Please keep them coming! You have made this SOLO at SIXTY girl feel right special! (But remember I am NOT 60 yet!)

See you next week – get ready for some FUN!

Best,

Leslie

HELLO SUMMER!

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

June 21st… my favorite day of the year! Why? I thrive on sunlight and June 21st is the LONGEST day of the year! Also, June 21st is the first day of SUMMER (my favorite season). Bring on that heat and humidity! I will take the heat over the cold any day. As I said earlier, I have a space heater under my desk at work that runs every day of the year, and an electric blanket on the back of my chair for the times when the heater is not enough. Yes, I am cold. And I REALLY do not like winter and cold weather. So, every winter I promise not to complain about the heat and humidity once it arrives. And I wait patiently for summer. Ok, that is not true… I have no patience and I do not wait patiently. I LONG for summer and the LONG days of light. And here it is… and there it goes. Because tomorrow, June 22nd, we start losing minutes of light every day until December 22nd (right after the shortest day of the year)! It’s the great circle of light.

“BD” (Before Divorce) we made the most of those longer, lighter evenings. We would get home from work and go for a walk to reconnect. To talk about our day. To talk about our kids. To share some new exciting accounting regulation (we are both accountants). Our neighborhood had wonderful paved walking paths – around the lakes, the tennis courts, the pool, the basketball courts. We walked up to an hour on those evenings. And we held hands. (We ran in the mornings down the middle of the road, but walked on paths in the evening. Safety first!)

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.” Walt Whitman

Who does not benefit from the sunlight? That natural Vitamin D that we all need. (So why am I deficient in Vitamin D and have to take it in pill form daily?) Sunshine just makes everyone happier. Ever notice how grumpy people are after a day or two of gloomy, rainy weather? One rainy day every now and then is ok, but couldn’t we have rain at night instead of daytime? As the late, great Karen Carpenter (who I loved!) once sang, “Rainy days and Mondays always get me down…”  (sidebar: I know the words to every Carpenter song… several years ago, our club was having the Legacy Challenge – games between employee teams – and part of it was playing the game “Don’t forget the Lyrics” where the song plays, stops and you must finish the lyrics. I was just going to watch until it was a Carpenter’s Song. I thought, “I can win this for our team!” So, I volunteered to compete. The song started and it was one I LOVED: “Hurting Each Other.” There I was, hamming it up big time as if I was Karen Carpenter… well… I got SO into this role that when the music stopped and I had to give the next line…  I could not remember where the song ended… and we lost. Never participating again!)

“Be the light for someone in their darkest hours.”

I was in a very dark place for several months. Yet I had so many people who brought light into my life. When my husband said he was leaving me right before the movers showed up to move us into our dream house (Friday May 13th, yes Friday the 13th), I called my sister who dropped everything, including a trip she and her husband had planned that day, and came to me. She saved my life. Literally. She and I unpacked every box, hung every picture and mirror, and placed every knick knack, book and photograph (none with my ex in them) on my new built-in bookshelves. At night we sat on my new back porch and drank wine and ate cheese straws and the lemon pound cake she had baked for her trip. We stayed up late and got up early (because I could not sleep) and by the time she left Sunday morning, my house was beautifully mine. My children… oh my wonderful children. I cannot say enough about how wonderful they have been. We ruined my oldest daughter’s birthday by telling her. She calls me every day on her way to and from work. After we told my middle child, she left, and later came back to my new house and spent the night with me – we had a sleepover. She and I do a lot together as she lives in Charlottesville. My sweet son – we had to tell him via phone (he lives too far away)….He called to make sure I was ok and has loved on me and been there for me. I adore my kids! (can you tell?!?!?)

“True Friends are those rare people who come to find you in the dark and lead you back to the light.”

My friends were wonderful too. I emailed my dear “old” next door neighbor (we were neighbors for 16+ years) who had moved to Kentucky (yes the one in the last blog who helped me when my Dad had a stroke) because at that point I could not verbalize anything. Started my email with “Sit down and be alone when you read this…” She immediately drove from Kentucky to be with me and helped me tell some of my girlfriends. One of those dear girlfriends called, texted, and sent me prayers – she had known a deeper loss in her life. These prayers worked. Another girlfriend brought me a bunch of dresses to wear to my 40th high school reunion (3 weeks after my separation) because she knew I was not in a shopping mood. (By the way, I did not tell anyone at the reunion – I wanted the reunion to be about old friends, not a broken heart. But I did have a GREAT time at my reunion!) My boss made an appointment with his attorney for me – I told him first, after all, he has been divorced several times and I figured he would know what I should do because as I told him – I had no clue. My sweet co-workers, worried about my first SOLO trip to the beach house, sent me off with a sand bucket full of wine, dark chocolate, a book, and other goodies. Another girlfriend from work and I would walk to the bank every afternoon just so I could “unload” … we still do this. She is a great listener. And Advisor. Several other out of town girlfriends came and spent weekends with me. WOW I have come a LONG way in a year and am so thankful for all the love and support I have received!

“No matter how bad things seem today, or how awful the situation…. the sun will rise and a new day will give another chance to start again.  There will always BE HOPE!”

This is so true. I told myself if I could just make it through the dark of night, I could survive the light of day. I was not sleeping. Some days I just got up at 4 in the morning and went to work… My dear friend (from Kentucky) told me to ask for God’s grace every day. According to her priest, God’s grace has a short shelf life and we need to ask for His grace every day. Sometimes I asked for it hourly. And I received it because here I am – stronger, happier, a survivor.

And here I am today, June 21st, at my happy place, surrounded by my wonderful kids, on my favorite day of the year. I could not be happier! Also, I want to wish a HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to my dear college friends who are celebrating 37 years of marriage today! They know how to make marriage work. I should also be celebrating 37 years this August, but it ain’t happening y’all. And that’s ok.

“The Sun is alone too, but it still shines.”

I am blessed and lucky to be surrounded by so many caring, loving, supportive people from different areas of my life who helped me bring my “light” back. I have learned that I can find light in family and friendships which are the real prizes in life. And I have learned that sometimes the darkest times give way to the brightest moments. And even on those “dark” days, because I still have them, I know I can make my own light, SOLO. More on that coming up soon!

So get out there and shine. Share some of your light with others. And enjoy the length of this day… it won’t be light this long again for another year!

See you next Wednesday!

Best,

Leslie

Happy Father’s Day!

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

I took my mother out to lunch for Mother’s Day with my sisters and a dear friend at Cherries Café  in Clemmons, NC.  Cherries is a wonderful “ladies” restaurant  run by “old” high school friends, and in addition to great food, they have the BEST salad dressing in the world! (I buy many bottles to give as hostess gifts.) As we were waiting for our food, I decided to share my news: “I am going to be a BLOGGER!” My mother promptly exclaimed “You are going to be a FATHER?!?!?!” OMG we all fell out of our chairs laughing. Now granted, my mother doesn’t hear well (she passed that down to me!) and she has no clue what a Blogger is (or a blog, for that matter), but me? A father? Bless her heart!

Cherries Mother's Day
Pre-Mother’s Day Lunch at Cherries! You must have lunch here!

I posted my first blog the Wednesday after Mother’s Day, and since I missed that holiday, I am sending out some “Mom love” here. But I also want to take this opportunity to say Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there, old and new… especially my special first time dads: Matthew (Baby Jack), Scott (also a Baby Jack!), Joe (Baby Maddy) and my son-in-law Zach (for my Grand-Dawg Paige!).

“The greatest gift a Father can give his children is to love their Mother.” (Reverend Dr. Worth Green, New Philadelphia Moravian Church)

Our pastor, Worth Green, preached this on many Father’s Days. Most of my friends are still married; these Dads are abiding this advice. And yet, so many Fathers fail here. My father failed. My ex-husband failed. And after hearing from so many of you, I realize how many more have failed. My father left my mother shortly after I got married. I was in such a blissfully newlywed state that I had no idea anything was wrong. Mom always said I lived in a fairytale world – explains a lot! I mean, your parents will never divorce – right? And yet, mine did. And my sweet children’s parents did, again shortly after my daughter got married. I never wanted my children to have divorced parents – the possibility never entered my mind. No matter how young or old you are, divorce affects you. It’s a struggle to see everyone at holidays and birthdays and family events. I would have done anything to prevent my children from going through this. Doesn’t he remember what it was like for us with my parents? But I had no choice. “We’ve separated” implies a choice. The truth – my husband left me. And I filed for divorce. And luckily, I am in a better place. Solo. But are my children?

My dad was a man of few words. Then again, how could he get many words in with 4 girls surrounding him daily? He was a good looking man and he knew it. He LOVED being outdoors in the sun, especially the beach (like me – thriving at the beach!). He did not take aging well (unlike me – I am embracing it!).  However, Daddy had zero patience. Zero. Explains my lack of patience. I remember one time Daddy took me back to Chapel Hill after being home for a weekend. (I went home too many weekends to see a boyfriend who was still in Winston-Salem… not smart.) Anyway, Dad dropped me off, and as he left I sat on the steps of Alexander Dorm waving goodbye. Then I saw him drive by again… waved again… and again… then once more our family sedan was in front of my dorm. It stopped, and my dad yelled “How the #%&! do I get out of here?” That was the only time he took me back to college… he bought me a car to drive myself.

We lost my father November 2, 2000.  I had just been down to Winston-Salem to accompany him and my sisters to his doctor’s appointment. We wanted to know what was going on with his health. Evidently, a lot. After his appointment that Thursday, I went back to Charlottesville. The following Monday, I looked at my phone as I was leaving the gym and noticed a lot of missed calls. I listened to messages from my sisters and my dad’s wife – Daddy had suffered a stroke. Thanks to my wonderful next door neighbor, my kids would be taken care of and I took off for Winston-Salem to be with Daddy while he was in ICU for 10 days. Due to my younger sister’s connections to the ICU (she is a nurse), I was able to spend the night in his room. Plus, I did not have to be at work or take care of family. Dad perked up Saturday morning and was eating so I decided to head back to Charlottesville to see my family. I woke up Sunday morning with an odd feeling and decided I needed to be back in Winston. (I missed Halloween, but my dear neighbor again made sure my kids had costumes and she took pictures for me.)  We lost my dad that Thursday evening, November 2nd, around dusk. Luckily, we all had time with Daddy and said everything that needed to be said. We told him we loved him. We told him we would take care of each other. We told him goodbye. We loved Daddy. He had a very hard life as a child, steeped in poverty as he was the youngest of 9 brothers and sisters who lost their father at a very young age. He had no role model to follow. This does not excuse his actions concerning our Mom but he was still our Dad. However, I now look back and wonder how my sweet, gentle mother made it through my dad leaving her. I know first hand the pain and suffering she must have endured. And she still had my younger sister at home to get through high school. My grandmother was suffering from Alzheimer’s and was not a viable source of comfort for mom. But my mom had her sister, who was also her best friend, for support.  Geez… how history repeated itself with me. History must NOT repeat itself anymore in my family!

Mom taught her daughters to be independent and strong, and that we can survive whatever is thrown our way. And we have. I believe Mom got this from her mother, who became a widow in her early 40’s and never remarried. My grandmother, Isabel, was a strong, talented woman who lived ahead of her time. She drove a Peugeot and no one drove a Peugeot back then. (Do they even make Peugeots anymore?)  She was the head of the bridal department at Montaldo’s (an exclusive women’s store), where she bought all the bridal gowns and directed weddings. She traveled to New York often on buying trips and to Europe on vacations. Grandma Isabel was the only person I know who died probably wishing she had worked more! She was an artist (must be where my sisters get their talent). We all have some of her paintings in our homes. She took a wedding dress from Montaldo’s and transformed it into my dream wedding dress. It was difficult to watch such a strong woman succumb to Alzheimer’s. I remember in her last years when I would take the kids to see her, she would say to them “Who’s your daddy?” to which I would respond, “It’s not important who their daddy is, it is who their momma is!” And she would say, “Who’re your people?” “YOU’RE MY PEOPLE!” “Oh, that’s good.” Bless her heart. I come from a long line of strong women. Thank heavens! (and Alzheimer’s – scary!

IMG_4253 (1)
My good looking Dad on my wedding day & me in my dress by Isabel!

I read somewhere that “One of the hardest things you will ever have to do is grieve the loss of someone who is still alive.” Mom spent time with us in the hospital with Dad and I remember her telling me she had grieved the loss of my father so many years earlier. I too have grieved the loss of my husband.

Maybe men leave because they think the grass is greener on the other side… Maybe if they watered the grass on their own side, it would be greener! All I know is that I no longer have to mow any grass as I am living in a maintenance-free neighborhood, and I am so thankful. As my old neighbors will attest, I faithfully mowed our yard twice a week, alternating the direction of the “lines” in the grass. Imagine that – more routine! (I got a self propelled mower for Mother’s Day one year.  Oh and a backpack sprayer another year along with a hand truck to move kids into college!  This year I got a great tennis bag and 2 tennis skirts and all I ever ask for each year is for my kids to write a letter to me! Got the letters too!)

So for all of you Fathers out there (Mothers can remind them – we are good at that), set a good example for your children.  Raise strong, confident, and caring individuals and remind them that “Life is not fair but it does go on.” And we should all be thankful for that. And from Karon Waddell:  “Get busy watering your own grass so as not to notice whether it’s greener elsewhere.”

See you next Wednesday!

Best,

Leslie

LET IT GO!

Welcome back to SOLO AT SIXTY!

Time to LET IT GO!

Is there anyone on this planet who did not see the movie “FROZEN”? Remember the YouTube video of the mother in NC who threatened to kill the Frozen characters after listening to her child sing “LET IT GO” for 3 solid snow days? What good advice. NO, not killing the characters, but maybe Elsa was onto something: “LET IT GO”!

snow day

If you are in a relationship, you communicate with your partner daily – texting, emailing, calling, and just talking. Maybe it’s about how your day is going, how late you are working, what’s for dinner, what Hallmark movie you are going to watch that night (ok, maybe not that). Now, imagine you can no longer talk to, text, email, or call your partner anymore. Cord cut. Severed. Done. That was one of the hardest parts of my breakup because we texted, emailed, called and just talked so many times during the day. Every day. And in one day, there was just silence…no texting, no emailing, no calling, no talking…I was SOLO.

Many times this past year something funny would happen, or something that was applicable to “us”, and my first reaction was to pick up the phone and make a call. My sister became a grandmother to sweet baby Jack; our dear college friends became grandparents; Princess Leia died (we watched all the Star Wars Movies together); and the topper – I won the Clemmons Courier College Football Bowl Contest! What is the Clemmons Courier you ask? Well… it’s a weekly, world renown local paper (the size of a hefty church bulletin) from our home town of Clemmons, NC. And the most popular part of the paper in the fall and winter is the contest to guess the winners of that week’s football or basketball games, which I religiously enter each week. Of course, I always pick UNC and the Panthers to win, but if I don’t know the records of the other teams listed, I make my picks based on team name, mascot, uniform color, or if I know someone who went to that school or lived in that city. But it works! (Sometimes.)

Not willing to give up my North Carolina roots when we moved to VA, I continued my subscription to the Courier, even though it cost $5 more per year to get it out of state. The problem? Contest entries were due by 5:00pm on Friday afternoon, and my copy wasn’t even in my mailbox until a week later. Now remember, this was 1997, long before everything was at your fingertips on the internet, so I emailed the Contest Director asking when the Courier would go online so I could enter the contest. Bless his heart if he did not begin emailing me a copy of the contest every Thursday! I even made the headlines the next week: “Lovely Leslie of Charlottesville, VA cannot enter the Contest” (what was I saying about needing to let things go??). So I was back in the contest and the pressure was on. And believe it or not, I have won. Three times! My most recent win was this year’s College Football Bowl Contest, and I won $20 (uh-oh, I forgot to report that on my taxes!). But more importantly, I, “Lovely Leslie” won the coveted CAP of CAPS! And I wanted to share this with my best friend… only, I didn’t have that best friend anymore. So I called my kids and my sisters, bragged about it to my brother-in-law (another contest regular), emailed my friends, and my “best friend” never even knew. He would have gotten a real kick of out that.

“The truth about your heart. Your heart will fix itself. It’s your mind you need to worry about. Your mind where you locked the memories, your mind where you have kept pieces of the ones that hurt you, that still cut through you like shards of glass. Your mind will keep you up at night, make you cry, destroy you over and over again. You need to convince your mind that it has to let go because your heart already knows how to heal.” — Nikita Gill

Moving on does not mean you forget what has happened… that will never be the case. It means you refuse to continue letting the hurt, anger, bitterness, and embarrassment control your life. It means you have found your strength. Trust me, there are still minutes, hours, days that I experience that horrible hurt again – the shards of glass cutting through my heart. Seems when I find myself in a really good place, something happens – I learn something, I see something, I hear something – and I am back in that hurtful place again. But I now know that I can claw my way back up. And I can LET IT GO!

How, do you ask? Forgiveness. I read somewhere: “I never knew how strong I was until I had to forgive someone who wasn’t sorry and accept an apology I never received.” So true! My decision to forgive was NOT for anyone but ME. And it took me a L O N G time to reach this point. Forgiving did not change the past – that will always remain. What it did was free ME, allowing ME to heal, to put the hurt, anger and bitterness that caused me so much pain in a box that I then buried. It allowed me to LET IT GO. Let go of the past and the past will let go of you.

“I’ve learned a lot this year. I learned that things don’t always turn out the way you planned, or the way you think they should. I learned that there are things that go wrong that don’t always get fixed or put back together the way they were before. I learned that some broken things stay broken, and I learned that you can get through bad times and keep looking for better ones, as long as you have people who love you.”  (Jennifer Weiner – though I could have written this one!)

They say letting go means carrying a permanent scar, not a permanent wound.  I am scarred but no longer wounded, because I LET IT GO!

So if you find yourself in this position (and I pray you never do), remember, it is best to forgive – and if the person who hurt you has not asked for forgiveness – do it for YOU. This transfers the burden to them. Because you have LET IT GO!

Elsa_Door
“Let it go, let it go, Turn away and slam the door…..”

Slam that door!  See you next Wednesday!

Best,

Leslie

SWEAT, TEARS, OR THE SEA: PART 3

“The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea…..”  (Isak Dinesen)

So I talked about SWEAT and TEARS… now my favorite salt water… THE SEA!

The ocean cures all wounds, physical and emotional. Ever had a cut or scrape (or poison ivy?) and gone into the ocean only to have it heal much quicker than normal? The ocean will do that. Ever felt so low and lost that you are not sure how you will find your way again, then looked out at the ocean only to feel a calmness? The ocean will do that. The rhythmic ebb and flow, not to mention the size, will calm your soul and let you know that life is so much bigger than your problems. I have to admit right up front, I do NOT go far out in the ocean… I have seen too many sharks and have no desire to meet one up close. (Remember “JAWS”?!?!) But still… the beach is my favorite place on earth and the closest place to God for me. Nothing soothes the soul like a walk on the beach.

blog toes
Notice the polish color?  You’ll never believe the name — ready?  “WIFE GOES ON!” I kid you not!

Surfside Beach, a small family beach south of Myrtle Beach is my happy place.  When we were kids, my family vacationed at Surfside with 2 other families… We loved going to Surfside and staying in the true Beach Houses – those with no AC, big porches, and great names. One house we rented was the “PINK LADY”. I cannot remember why it was called the Pink Lady – I don’t even remember it being PINK! I guess my age is no secret here, so it should be no surprise that by this point the Pink Lady, and all the other old beach houses, are no longer standing, replaced with newer editions.  I have now come full circle back to Surfside Beach, where I have a house of my own. (By the way, we originally named the beach house “IT’S A SHORE THING,” however since we now know it was NOT a “shore thing”, I have changed it to “DON’T WORRY….BEACH HAPPY”!  Like it?)

“When anxious, uneasy and bad thoughts come, I go to the sea, and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise, and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused.”      -Rainer Maria Rilke

The minute I step outside of my car and breathe in that salty, muggy, sultry, humid sea air at the beach, I am at peace.  You just cannot find this aroma anywhere else! I go to the beach as often as I can to renew my soul, rejuvenate my spirit, and refresh my outlook… and it works. Everything seems simpler at the beach: running, bike riding, even sleeping, and everywhere you go the happy beach people wave at you and say, “hey y’all” (and for “you guys” North of the border, if they are greeting more than two people it’s, “hey ALL y’all!”)

I am so thankful for my beach neighbors who have taken me in and helped me with so many issues surrounding beach house ownership – from having trees trimmed, to roof repairs after Hurricane Matthew, to giving me mothballs to get rid of a small snake in the storage area! (I do NOT do reptiles!) AND for telling me about the “Bendable Body Wand”  – a 14-inch wand that helps me get sunscreen on that hard-to-reach spot on the middle of my back! Unlike my teen years at Surfside, when Baby Oil counted as sunscreen, I am now strictly SPF30 or higher. The problem was reaching the middle of my back SOLO. Problem solved.

Proudly, I can say I have mastered many of the tasks I was not responsible for BD (Before Divorce)!  I changed the AC filters in the house, got my cable bill lowered, and figured out how to charge, lock, and secure the cover on my golf cart.  Believe me, this is no easy task for a 5’2” woman to do SOLO!

I have also become an excellent power washer – power washing everything I can find and reach – including the beach bikes. As much as salt air heals my soul, it does cause damage to some things, like handlebars. But, a little elbow grease and car wax and Voila! Rust is gone and the bikes are good as new, like me! However, this time I did not do everything SOLO…..my patient brother-in-law (who is more like a brother to me) provided a little extra elbow grease and taught me how to use the air compressor to pump up all the bike tires. Asking for his help was a great lesson for me.  Being SOLO does not mean I am invincible and accepting help doesn’t make me less independent. Everybody needs a hand getting the air back in their tires sometimes.

But my favorite part of the beach is being ON the beach – sunbathing, reading, sleeping, walking, people watching and clucking – what is clucking you ask?  Well, have you ever seen someone walking down the beach, head down, eyes trained on the sand, every now and then dropping down to pick up that special shell?  That’s clucking –  similar to a chicken pecking.  I LOVE seashells and have learned so much about the different types – Olives, Augurs, Limpets, Slipper Shells, Cockles… I have them displayed in vases everywhere: the beach house, my office, my Charlottesville house, even my kids have some on display in their homes. I am addicted. I look for seashells every day at the beach. But even more exciting than a great seashell is a shark’s tooth. My best friend growing up and I were professional shark’s teeth hunters when we visited Surfside as kids.  Though I usually find more (with my eagle eyes – can’t hear worth a darn, but I sure can see), my personal goal is to find at least 1 shark’s tooth each day. Here are a few “treasures” from my recent weekend at the beach.

 

blog treasures
Look at all those Sharks’ Teeth!

 

Now the big question… do I retire and move to Surfside, or will it lose the “retreat” feel for me if I live there full-time?  Fortunately, (or not?) I don’t have to make that retirement decision yet, although truly I would LOVE to live in Chapel Hill for a couple of years and be surrounded by Tar Heel fans (and all that beautiful CAROLINA BLUE)… but that is a topic for another day!

“All of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea — whether it is to sail or to watch it — we are going back from whence we came.” -John F Kennedy (who would have been 100 years old Monday, May 29th)

So head to the ocean, get your sweat on, have a good cry and HEAL!  I did!

Best,

Leslie

See you next Wednesday!

SWEAT, TEARS, OR THE SEA: PART 2

Welcome back to SOLO AT SIXTY!

“The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea…..”  (Isak Dinesen)

My last post was about SWEAT… today I want to talk briefly about TEARS…

TEARS – A good cry is often a reaction to and a release of pain and sadness….  “The RAIN falls because the cloud can no longer handle its weight.  The TEARS fall because the heart can no longer handle the pain.”  Believe me, I have felt pain like no other this past year, and have cried many tears.  I have learned that you cannot always control your tears and that is OK.  My family and friends have held my hand, given me shoulders, and just let me cry.  I am not embarrassed by it anymore.  It just is.

I have now come to the end of all of my “Solo Firsts”…First Beach trip solo, First Family Vacation with a smaller family, First 4th of July (our first date was on the 4th of July in 1979), First wedding anniversary not celebrating, First birthday with no contact (thankful for my kids, sisters, friends and my special co-workers who decorated my office!), First Thanksgiving not going to my in-laws, First Christmas card with just the kids and me, First Christmas, First New Year’s Eve, First Valentine’s Day, First ACC Tournament, First NCAA Basketball Tournament (but enjoyed watching these alone!), First Easter, First Anniversary of moving into my new home by myself.  I did my best to preserve most of “our family” traditions, but I started some new ones too. It was hard, it was emotional, there were tears, but I made it. As my girlfriends say, I “survived and thrived!”

I love this quote by Rose Kennedy:

“It has been said that time heals all wounds.  I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting it’s sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”

This I verily believe (sounds like a Moravian liturgical response!).

There are things in life that will always make me tear up: sappy movies, especially Hallmark and/or Christmas movies (who hasn’t cried during “You’ve Got Mail” or “Miracle on 34th Street”?), a song on the radio that brings back memories (especially now – hard to relive some memories), and saying goodbye to someone. There is a church hymn I can never sing without crying. (“Here I am Lord, is it I Lord? I have heard you calling in the night…” I know I am not alone here).  I hear the first bars of that song in church and I am a goner.  And it is ok.

An “old” friend reminded me over dinner last weekend (as we were discussing this blog) that not all tears are the result of pain and sadness. Happiness also brings on tears.  Even he has cried over experiences with his children.  (Tears are NOT limited to females – Ladies, don’t you love a man who is not afraid to shed tears?! Except maybe those on the Bachelorette!)  The births of my three children and the marriage of my oldest  daughter all brought tears, but were the result of sheer happiness! Not to mention tears at all of their college graduations. Of course, this happiness could have been the result of knowing I just got a big raise (no more tuition payments!)  BUT…..it also meant no more visits to Chapel Hill – Top of the Hill…..no more visits to Wrightsville Beach – Dockside and the Oceanic.   So maybe there were a few sad tears in there after all…

In the beginning of this “new journey” I cried a lot. For a while, I could not tell anyone my husband left me because I could not verbalize it without tears.  Then I could.  And I did.  And a funny thing happened: it was not me who was crying, but the people I was telling… I was comforting them and in so doing, their tears eased my pain.  Because not one person I told said, “I saw that coming.” Not one.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not go around blubbering, and I never cry myself to sleep (not that there’s anything wrong with that, except puffy bloodshot eyes the next morning. Anyone have tips for that??) Sometimes a good cry is just what the doctor ordered. And a good place for a good cry is in the shower!  Try it!

Just be salty! Take a shower and have a good cry!

Best,

Leslie

“sweat, tears, or the sea” continues next Wednesday with my favorite – the sea!