“Christmas time is here… “(A Charlie Brown Christmas, 1965)

“Happiness and cheer, fun for all, that children call, their favorite time of year…”

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Christmas is definitely in the air. It is my favorite time of year. Yes, I love summer, but the excitement of Christmas is unparalleled. The smell of fresh Christmas trees, the beautiful decorations and lights, 25 days of Christmas sweaters (I began sporting my Christmas sweaters on December 1st and will continue until Christmas – see below), the holiday music, the wonderment on the faces of children seeing Santa, the frenzy of shoppers searching for that perfect gift. The panic of parents getting to the gym first thing and remembering “Oh Heck! Elfie needs to be moved before the kids wake up!”  (Elf on the Shelf)

“We miss something if we don’t see Christmas through a child’s eyes.”  Rosemary M. Wixom

Did you hear there is a new Elf on the market? No joking, it is the Kindness Elf. Unlike Elf on the Shelf, this Elf makes an appearance each morning with a kindness mission for kids and families. For example: today open the door for someone, make cookies for an elderly neighbor, sing Christmas carols at a nursing home. What better way to raise children in kindness? Also, Kindness Elf suggests fun things for families to do together such as piling in the car in your jammies to go look at Christmas Lights, dinner at a fun restaurant (no, not that fast food one again!), hot chocolate and ice skating. All to spotlight kindness and magic at Christmas time.

“Just remember, the true spirit of Christmas lies in your heart.”  Santa Clause, Polar Express

I was at the mall this week and stopped to watch the children with Santa. There was a LONG line. I remembered standing in those lines. The Santa was a decent one, but geez, I have seen some Santas that I thought might have been pulled right off the street! Once I changed my mind about having my kids visit Santa at the mall after taking one look at him! Have you seen any like that? However, I loved taking my kids to see Santa when they were little, hoping to get that perfect picture for the grandparents. Most of the time, this was done at our church’s preschool where the REAL SANTA made an appearance. (Just look at Santa in the pictures below.) Depending on their age, the kids were either terrified of Santa or not interested in him at all, or they loved him and hammed it up for a great picture (and a candy cane).

My adorable great-nephew went to see Santa last weekend and was not impressed. My friend’s beautiful and spunky daughter also visited Santa and again, she was not buying it. I remember my son reacting the same way his first time. Now mind you, both of these precious children are only a year old and have not even made their Christmas lists yet! Just give them time. Soon they’ll run to see Santa with their lists and will be on their best behavior all of December (especially if Elf on the Shelf is watching!).

Don’t you wish you had created Elf on the Shelf?!? $$$ This was not around when my kids were young, but everyone I know with young children has one (or more!). Maybe adults need the Elf. Both the Kindness Elf and the “behavior” Elf. Actually, Elf is at my office. Yes, “Jingles the Elf” is hidden daily and the team member who finds him wins a prize for the day (we are all searching feverishly for it now!). Mind you, prizes are not behavior based (thank heavens!), and they sure are fun! Honestly, I don’t think most adults need the Elf at Christmas. This is the one time of year when people seem to be the most generous – volunteering and donating to more causes, attending church (you know the C&E attendees, Christmas and Easter, but hey, they are there!), going out of their way to brighten the holidays for those less fortunate. And people seem to generally be merry. Yet it is also a chaotic and stressful time with so many parties, baking, searching for presents, wrapping those presents, worrying about paying for those presents come January, and trying to do too much each day. With my new SOLO status and lifestyle, my life has become much less stressful during the holidays. There are less presents to search for, less family functions to attend. I discovered that stress is mostly self-created and I decided I would change direction and make the holidays more meaningful and joyful and less stressful. How? Less decorating for one. Two years ago I had 36 bins of Christmas decorations that I put out, this year only 8 bins, 2 which are my famous Christmas sweaters! I purchase fewer presents, instead concentrating on 3 gifts for each of my children and gifts for my family that are fun and more meaningful. And I am finding more time to enjoy the season by attending special events – tomorrow night I am going to a holiday candlelight tour of James Madison’s Montpelier, this weekend is my neighborhood’s Luminary and holiday party night.  I have my kids, my family, and friends, and am truly blessed.

Christmas bins 2015
2015’s 36 Christmas bins! No longer…

“The holiday season is a perfect time to reflect on our blessings and seek out ways to make life better for those around us.” Terri Marshall

Christmas is not easy nor happy for everyone. It is a difficult time for those who have suffered losses. Grief doesn’t recognize holidays. And there is no time limit on grief. I know several families who will be spending this Christmas as the first without their loved ones. How can we help them through this holiday season? Remember their loved ones, share memories of them, cry with them, laugh with them, listen to them. Grief is real.

“Christmas… A season of blessing from heaven above, a season of sharing with all those we love, a season of caring, warmth and good cheer, a season of hope for the coming new year.”

It is also time to begin thinking about 2018. It will be here in 26 days y’all! Did you experience disappointment in 2017? Joy? Are you happy to say goodbye to 2017 and hello to 2018? What will you change in your life in 2018? What would make 2018 the happiest year for you so far? What challenges will you face in 2018? Start thinking about 2018… I am!

Santa Les
Anyone else have a Santa picture from Sears? 1961… me 4 years old!

Take time to enjoy the Christmas season each and every day. Choose events and functions that are truly meaningful to you. Look for blessings daily. And share this season with those you love, because as we all know, tomorrow is not promised to any of us.




Oh Tannenbaum, Oh Tannenbaum…

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

I hope y’all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I did. I spent it with my family at the beach. Thanksgiving day was the first time I had seen my mom as a 60-year-old and her response was exactly as I had predicted. “Did you have a nice birthday?” “Yes, it was wonderful!” “How old are you now, 30’s?” (in all seriousness) “60.” “60?!? How can you be 60? How old am I?” “88.” “88?!? Are you sure? My hair is not white and I don’t have wrinkles. That smells bad (holding her nose for emphasis).” At this point, my son lost it with a mouthful of turkey. But that wasn’t all. Mom asked what we were going to do for the rest of the afternoon. “Well, we are taping the Carolina basketball game and going to watch it and probably take a nap. All this turkey is making me sleepy. It’s that Tryptophan.” “A trip to Japan?” I kid you not. We all lost it then. Mom is so entertaining! Bless her heart! (By the way, it is a myth that tryptophan, an amino acid found in turkey, makes you sleepy. However, is there anyone who is not sleepy after their Thanksgiving meal?!?)

“What we’re really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean why else would they call it Thanksgiving.” Erma Bombeck

Friday night was so much fun y’all! We all went down to the Marshwalk in Murrells Inlet for dinner. The Marshwalk, similar to a boardwalk at the beach, was covered with Christmas lights. It was so beautiful! We walked the length of the Marshwalk while waiting for our table. Last year we ate outside and though it was mild, it was not quite as warm this year. Our restaurant has a live band every weekend but we never know what kind of music they will play. We were seated on the porch where the band was setting up. I looked at my sister and said  “maybe they will play some oldies.” She was doubtful. We decided to stay and listen to a couple of songs.  Well… they opened up with songs from the Doobie Brothers, Al Green, Four Tops, Bruno Mars, Commodores, and yes the Temptations, but it was “September” by Earth Wind and Fire that got my daughter and me up dancing. And dancing we did until we left an hour and a half later. The band was GREAT! Painted Man Band, a local band from the beach.

“Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.” Charles Schultz

On our way home, we stopped by a house in my sister’s neighborhood that goes WAY overboard with outdoor lights, but for a good cause. They take donations for their church. It is unbelievable! There is a combination of Frosty, Santa, Baby Jesus, and even a singing Bass fish! Over 30,000 lights and 500 man hours to set it up. Priceless.

It was hard leaving the beach – that sweet salty air. But I wanted to get home so I could decorate my house for Christmas. It’s going to be a busy December and this was my best opportunity. Besides, I always decorate right after Thanksgiving – I just cannot wait! My son-in-law’s Grandpa helped me get my tree. Remember last year when I called him to see if he would help me? And I failed to identify myself, but he said, “Sure! I am happy to help. Where should I meet you?”  Met him at Whole Foods (again this year) and he was happy to see what lady he was helping. Same thing this year except he knew it was me. Got a pretty tree and it is up and decorated in my den instead of the living room. Decided to put it where I can enjoy it every day. There’s nothing like that smell of a fresh Fraser Fir (except the beach air!).

I remember once when my neighbor was decorating her Christmas tree. It was the biggest tree I had seen! And it had toppled over a time or two. So her “fix”? She hung pocketbooks on the backside of the tree in the corner of her living room. Tree never fell over again! Pretty ingenious!

We can all learn something from gazing at our beautiful Christmas trees. Here are some lessons from my Christmas Tree (borrowed some):

  1. Always be a light in the darkness.
  2. Brighten someone’s day every day.
  3. You were born to Sparkle.
  4. We all fall over sometimes.
  5. It’s ok to be a little tilted.

“Christmas waves a wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” Norman Vincent Peale.

This is my 2nd Christmas SOLO. Thankful to be where I am this year. Last year, I bought a lot of new decorations for my tree and my house. I added some new ones this year. I still have my starfish as my tree topper and saved all the ornaments that involved my kids, but discarded the others that were acquired over so many years, with so many memories that no longer hold special meaning. My tree decorations follow a different color scheme and center on family, love, friendship, the beach, and Carolina! When Mom moved to Assisted Living, we divided her special Christmas Village between my sisters and me, and gave one piece to each grandchild. My part of Mom’s Christmas Village occupies a special table near my tree. Christmas is so special to me. As I look around my decorated house, I am reminded of what is truly important in life – family and friends. The Christmas spirit.

“Home is where love resides, memories are created, friends and family belong, and laughter never ends.”

We are at the end of November, our thankful month. Remember to take the time to think of something you are thankful for each day this week. Find the Christmas Spirit. And make an effort to reach out to those you love, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.




Go Go Go Go Go Shorty…It’s my birthday… (50 Cent 2003)

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

I am 60. Sixty years old! Finally, legally SOLO at SIXTY! And happy about it! But geez…how did I get to be 60? I certainly don’t feel 60. Nor do I act 60. And I sure hope I don’t look 60! But 60 is the new middle-age, right?!?! And 6 and 0 is better than 5 and 9 any day in the sports world! (Just ask my Tar Heels!)

“I will never regret getting old. I know too many people who never had that privilege.”

Remember when 60 seemed so old?!? Back when we were 20? I don’t really remember my 20th birthday, though I do remember my 18th birthday when I thought it was going to be all about me since that was a biggie – back then 18 was a BIG deal! But my birthday was all about my older sister because she was getting married! They are celebrating 42 years of marriage TODAY! I am so proud of them. Thankfully, my cheerleader friends made my 18th birthday very fun at our Fall Sports Banquet that year. I remember how special my 30th birthday was – I brought my younger daughter home from the hospital on my 30th birthday. Best birthday present ever! I worried over my 40th birthday – we had just moved to Charlottesville several months earlier and I thought I would have no one to celebrate my 40th with me. I had celebrated all of my girlfriends’ 40th birthdays in NC because I was the youngest. But up here I was one of the oldest! Low and behold, my dear neighbor (yes the one who moved to KY) and my girlfriends decorated my yard with lovely pink flamingoes, signs, and toilet paper. It was wonderful! My mom and her sister, my Aunt Jewelle, drove up to surprise me at a birthday lunch my neighbor had planned for me. Love my girlfriends! And my 50th? My sweet older daughter planned a surprise party for me with my girlfriends at my sister’s house when she still lived up here. So I have celebrated all my “BIG ZERO” birthdays in grand fashion. And I have never fretted over aging. Thankful for it actually.

“Age is an attitude, not a number.”

But seriously, I am so happy to be 60. To be where I am in my life’s journey. I have been through and learned a lot in my 60 years. I have loved and lost, endured heartache and survived, built a wonderful life for my family and now for me SOLO. And I have grown. I have discovered who I am beyond being someone’s wife (ex), mother, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin. I am me and I love who I am today. Although I loved being in all of those “roles”, I have truly enjoyed discovering who Leslie is. I learned how strong I can be when needed. I learned to turn heartache into happiness, devastation into opportunity, and everyday life into fun and adventure. And I also know the best is yet to come.

“Know that you are the perfect age. Each year is special and precious, for you shall only live it once.” Louise Hay

So what have I learned in my 60 years? Well I am still learning, but here is my TOP 12:

  1. Change happens and it is ok. What seems like the end of the world may be the beginning of the best part of your life.
  2. It is ok to splurge on yourself. Have your nails done. Have someone else clean your house. Buy those running shoes in every color and plenty of Lululemon pants!
  3. You can live without a man in your life, but not without your sisters and girlfriends. Sisters and girlfriends are there for you and support you no matter what.
  4. Most people would rather have your time than a gift. I always tell my children that I don’t want a gift; I want them to write a letter to me. And I save and treasure every one.
  5. Forgive those who have wronged you. You don’t have to forget, but do forgive. Not for them, but for you! You only hurt yourself if you concentrate on who has done you wrong because honestly, they do not care, or they would not have hurt you in the first place.
  6. You slow down when you age. And it is ok. Not running those 7 minute miles anymore! (Did I ever?) But I am still running and active and that is the important thing.
  7. Always be kind. You never know what the other person is going through. Just always be kind. We need more kindness in this world.
  8. Senior Discounts are GREAT! “Are you a senior?” “Depends on how much the discount is!” “Oh, yes, I am a senior!”
  9. Always use sunscreen. And wear a hat in the sun. And if you can’t reach that spot in the middle of your back, get a Bendable Body Wand!
  10. Be truthful. The truth ALWAYS comes out. Own up to your mistakes immediately. It makes life easier.
  11. Look forward in life, not backwards. Your future is so much more important than your past. “There’s a reason the windshield is so big and the rear view mirror so small.”
  12. “There is always, always, always something to be thankful for.” Look for it.

“Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that people who have the most, live the longest.”

My 60th birthday has been the best yet! And like a broken record, I have to repeat myself with “what a great weekend I had”. My sister and brother-in-law came for the weekend. My daughter’s 30th birthday was Friday, my 60th Monday. Saturday we celebrated together at King Family Vineyard with a “Cheers to 30 Years Plus 30 More” party! What fun to share the afternoon with our friends and family! And what a beautiful November afternoon it was. We set up outside and celebrated with wine, appetizers, and cake for hours! It was lovely to have my friends, who all know my daughter, and my daughter’s friends, who all know me, celebrating together. Like I said before, my kids have the nicest friends! And so do I!

And then there was Monday… my actual birthday. OH MY GOODNESS I cannot begin to tell you how special I felt! My team decorated not only my office, but our floor for my birthday. (I posted a video on SOLO at SIXTY’S facebook page). The time they spent getting pictures chronicling parts of my life, mounting and hanging them, not to mention all the “60” decorations, meant the world to me. Yes I cried. Because, not only did they get pictures, but they all know how much I love inspirational quotes and they found very special ones for me and posted them on my windows and hung them from the ceilings. And all were two-sided with separate sayings. This took a lot of thought, preparation, and effort and I appreciate it more than they will ever know. I continue to brag about the team I work with. I am so thankful for and love them!

My birthday was topped off with dinner out with my younger daughter to celebrate our birthdays followed by our tradition of getting Gelato (pumpkin for me, hazelnut for her). Perfect ending to a perfect birthday.

“A birthday is just the beginning of another 365 journey around the sun. Enjoy.”

Let’s not forget that November is our thankful month. I was blessed beyond imagination with so many things to be thankful for this past week. And with Thanksgiving tomorrow, we all need to stop and be thankful for all of our blessings. I wish for all y’all a blessed Thanksgiving. Enjoy your families and friends and let them know how thankful you are for them, because as we all know, tomorrow is not promised to any of us.



Strategically Speaking…

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

We are still in the thankful month of November. Did you take time to think of one thing you were thankful for each day? Can you believe how blessed we all are?

I spent last week in Williamsburg, VA – Strategic Planning for work. Fall was in the air as we arrived to cold, rainy weather. Luckily,  the weather cleared and I was so thankful to be able to run on the beautiful property. We do get time to workout because, after all, we are a health club! It is always such fun and very productive to get together with teammates from all of our clubs to plan for the next year, set our goals, and brainstorm on how we can better ourselves and our clubs. I work with great people.

For one of our sessions, we took a “test” on Emotional Intelligence. Supposedly there were NO wrong answers, but somehow I had to repeat my test. Just saying. I scored very high on Happiness and Optimism, but very low on Adaptability – imagine that! Remember? I really do not like change!

“If Plan A didn’t work, remember there are 26 more letters.”

Strategic planning started me thinking about what plans I have for my life. Obviously, Plan A did NOT pan out like I thought! I had to regroup and figure out Plan B and how I was going to live my life in my new status – SOLO.  Luckily for me, the big decisions were already figured out for me: where I was going to live and where I was going to work. I was already moving into a new home (which I love), in a maintenance free neighborhood – perfect for a SOLO lady! Thankfully, I had a good job surrounded by supportive and caring teammates. With the big decisions settled, I had to decide HOW I was going to live my life. Was I going to crawl back in bed, pull the covers over my head and feel sorry for myself? Or was I going to look at this new “status” as an opportunity to discover what life really has to offer? I wanted to live with NO REGRETS. I would try to take the high road in dealing with my situation, as hard as that might be (and trust me, it was difficult at times). I would concentrate on my kids and myself. And I did. I did not want my children to bear the brunt of my new status. I did not want their lives to change. And I did not want them to worry about their Mom. She would be ok. Better than ok. She would THRIVE! So with Plan B I decided I would keep myself busy, especially weekends – working, beach trips as often as possible, fun plans with my kids, friends and family, and writing. Thankfully doing many things I had wanted to do but never seemed able to find the time or opportunity before. Now life would be on my timeline. And honestly, I love Plan B! And if for some reason Plan B fails, there is always Plan C. You see, I am working on that Adaptability trait.

“Today I know that I cannot control the ocean tides. I can only go with the flow of life.”

Plan B, being SOLO, brought about some challenges. Remember how I could never get suntan lotion in the middle of my back? That was solved with the Bendable Body Wand. As there is no longer a strong hand around to open jars/bottles/etc., I needed a new SOLO solution. Found the answer at TJ Maxx for $4.99 (also saw one at Mast General in Winston-Salem for $8.00) – the easi-TWIST. With this I can open anything. Problem solved. Solo! I am adapting well to the SOLO life! (Maybe I need to take that Emotional Intelligence test once more since I am becoming more adaptable!)

Greatest invention!

“Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me.” Carol Burnett

Once again, I had another good and busy weekend (part of Plan B!). My older daughter and son-in-law came for the weekend. Winter was the word of the day Saturday as my daughter and I went out to run in 27 degrees. She is the only one who can get me out in such cold weather. What a difference a week makes! Last Monday I was running in shorts and a tank top, and Saturday I was in 3 layers with gloves and hand warmers. Oh my, I am NOT ready for cold weather. However, I was so thankful to get to run with her. Cold weather or not!

“Your life doesn’t get better by chance, it gets better by change.”

I have to add that I was extremely thankful that my HEELS finally won a pretty big football game! Actually, just the fact that they finally WON a football game. And more thankful that basketball season started with a big win. WOOHOO! Lots to look forward to.

Speaking of looking forward, next Monday is my 60th Birthday Y’all! I am so excited and thankful to turn 60. Finally, legally SOLO AT SIXTY! There will be lots to celebrate as my younger daughter also turns 30. We’re going to celebrate “30 YEARS PLUS 30 MORE” together.

Remember to pause and reflect on all the blessings in your life this week. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how rich you are. And make an effort to spend time with those you love, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

See you next week when this SOLO gal is 60!



“Come, Ye Thankful People, Come…” (Thanksgiving hymn)

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

I went to a yoga class this week. (Namaste Y’all!) The instructor spoke in the beginning about how it finally felt like the first day of fall – gray and chilly. A new season. She asked us to think about “what is going to support us in this new season.” And then we were told to set our “intention” as to what that would be. I thought about it and realized that my “intention” for the rest of this year is “Thankfulness”. Being thankful for all that is right and good in my life, and also for what might not be so great in my life. Because no matter what, every day that I wake up, I am thankful to be here. Plus I know that I am blessed and have so much to be thankful for. I just need to be more mindful.

Namaste Y'all
Great Bumper sticker!

Did you remember from last week that November is our “Thankful Month”? Did you take a minute each day this past week to stop and think of something you are thankful for? Were you surprised at all of your blessings? Did it change your outlook?

“Remember being happy doesn’t mean you have it all. It simply means you’re THANKFUL for all you have.”

I focused on all the blessings in my life this past week. And there were many.  I went out to run one day at noon in heavenly 75 degree weather (thankfully in shorts and a tank top I might add!). Came back to the club, showered and went back to work. That evening as I was getting ready to go out to dinner, I looked for my special necklace to wear. It was not in the box I always keep in my gym bag. Where could it be? OH NO! I then remembered that I had forgotten to take it off before my run (I don’t like to run with it on) so I had run back in the club, and hung it in my locker. And I left it there. I called the club in a panic to see if anyone had turned it in. Who would turn in a valuable necklace like this one?!? Nope, not in Lost and Found. I told them which locker I had used (I always use the same one – imagine that!) and when they checked – low and behold, it was still hanging there! I was thankful beyond belief! What a blessing!

I also tried to take every opportunity to find and share happiness (which is a blessing in itself). My older daughter teaches a great cycle class at our club in Richmond on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. But it is at 6:30 am and an hour away. Oh how I wish she lived closer to me! Last Thursday, my younger daughter and I decided we would surprise my older daughter, so we drove to Richmond to take her cycle class. Left home at 5 am to get there. And surprise her we did! The look on her face when she saw us made my heart melt. She said it made her day. Made ours too. What a great instructor she is! I was so thankful we could and did do this.

“We don’t need more to be THANKFUL for, we just need to be more THANKFUL.”

Then on Friday, my younger daughter hit a deer on the way to work. Actually, she got hit by a deer. (Anyone see the Gilmore Girls episode where Rory got hit by a deer? I thought no way. Well, yes way!) She watched several deer cross the road in front of her and after they crossed the road, she sped up. Only to get hit by one last deer. Out of nowhere. She was not hurt, just so upset. She worried about the deer. She stopped, but did not get out, and did not see the deer anywhere. The deer ran off, most likely with part of her grill. Thankfully, she was not hurt, no one else was involved, and she has insurance. Only her car was damaged which can be repaired. As I told her, now she will get all of the “dings” fixed on her car. Lots to be thankful for there.

“Be THANKFUL for every mountain, because it’s the mountain top that will give you the best view of the world.”

My daughter went to the funeral of a co-worker this week. A mom, 61 years old. Basically my age. She said the service was very uplifting and the minister said that when this mom told him she was dying, he asked if she had any regrets. She replied that she wished she had prioritized things in a better way. That she had not put off having coffee with friends when they always said “let’s get together”. Or doing things she really wanted to do. I have tried to follow this advice this year in my new SOLO life. I have gone to the beach every opportunity I could find. And met friends for lunch, dinner, glass of wine, anywhere and everywhere. I am so thankful to have done this.

And actually, I met an “old” friend I had not seen in over a year for drinks after work last week. Oh my goodness how much fun it was to catch up and joke around again. So thankful for this opportunity to catch up and enjoy being able to sit outside in November. Also went to dinner with another friend as an early birthday celebration. I plan to celebrate all month long!

I hope you will join me in focusing on our blessings. We all have so much to be thankful for, but if we do not make the effort to be mindful of the good things in our lives, they slip right past us. We take them for granted.

“Sometimes we don’t notice the small prayers being answered, the unspoken prayers, the wishes. May we stop and take account, and give thanks.”

According to Forbes Magazine, gratitude improves not only your psychological health but also your physical health. Gratitude increases happiness and reduces depression. Grateful people tend to sleep better, eat healthier, exercise more and generally take better care of themselves. WOW! These are “great” reasons to be grateful!

This is what I am most thankful for every day! My happy, wonderful kids!

What is your “intention” for the remainder of 2017? Could it also be thankfulness? How will you let it improve your life? Your outlook? Your relationships? Make an effort every day this month to stop and be thankful for something in your life. I believe you will notice a big change in your outlook. And make an effort to spend time with those you love, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“As you start and end your day, be THANKFUL for every little thing in your life. You will come to realize how blessed you truly are.”

See you next week,



“She’s a Brick House…” (Commodores 1977)

Oh Lord! Not me, obviously!

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

I made a brick last Wednesday. Actually 2 bricks. I went to James Madison’s Montpelier, where they have been making bricks. Their archeology department recently discovered 2 buildings, and these bricks will be used in their reconstruction. To date, they have made around 8,000 bricks. It was not easy work! Dry clay was brought in from Williamsburg (they didn’t want to disturb their excavation area at Montpelier). Water was added and employees and volunteers “tread” the mud (just like mashing grapes – remember that “I Love Lucy” episode?!?!). Luckily, I did not have to take my shoes off and tread the mud. Once the mud reached a peanut butter consistency, I was given slab of clay, formed it in the shape of a ball, and rolled it in sand to prevent it from sticking to the brick molds. Believe me it was hard work getting the clay in the molds! I then used a strike to scrape the extra clay off the top of the mold. Our guide turned my bricks out to dry for several days, and eventually they will be fired for use. I was able to put my initials and thumbprint on my bricks. (Notice mine are not perfectly rectangular – told you it was hard work! But they will still be used.) My bricks will be part of the foundation of a historic building. How cool is that?

“Whatever good things we build, end up building us.”

Ok funny story to share here. The song “Brick House”? Well… it was popular while I was at Carolina. My roommate was dating a football player whose first name was (still is) Rick. He was (still is) a BIG guy! I mean, he was a linebacker after all. Anyway, we called him “Rick House” after the song. When I sent them my wedding invitation, I addressed it to my roommate and Mr. Rick House. When my roommate commented how funny that was, I said I did not get it. What was funny? I had called him Rick House for so long I forgot it was not his real last name! I was so blonde (still am)! They got married (still are). Very proud of them. They have “the foundation.”

I believe it is important to have a strong foundation in our lives. My mother gave my sisters and me a strong foundation and set a great example of goodness and independence for us to follow. As I have said before, I come from a line of strong women who successfully enjoyed life SOLO. My mother set rules for us girls and we followed them (pretty much). I never wanted to do anything that might embarrass my mother. I respected her too much. We went to church. Every Sunday. She showed us through example that if someone was sick, or there was a death, you help out – take dinner, bake a cake, offer assistance in whatever area they need. (We did joke with Mom that she should read the obituaries and take a pie to a widower! She did not think that was funny. But I have a friend whose mother passed away and the women were bringing lots of pies! Oh Lord, don’t let my children get this idea!) Mom loved us dearly and did everything for us. We always had a new outfit (which she lovingly made) for every special occasion and holiday. I remember her being up late the night before every Easter finishing our Easter outfits. She encouraged, supported, and expected a lot from us.

I have tried to give my kids a strong foundation. They were loved unconditionally. (Still are.) They were expected to behave, be polite and respectful, be fair and honest, be kind, and do well in school. When my children were little, I went to a parenting seminar, where I learned that parents should EXPECT, not hope, that their kids behave. And I learned it is ok to say “because I said so” (which is good since I used it often!). When we moved to Charlottesville, one of the first things we did was find a church. In Winston-Salem we were Moravians and went to church almost every Sunday. Wanted to continue that foundation in our new city, even though there were no Moravians here. We became Presbyterians, while maintaining our Moravian roots. All my children went through confirmation. Maybe they do not attend church regularly now, but they have that foundation they can build upon.

“A successful person is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him.” David Brinkley

I have also tried to set a good example for my children. I want them to know that love, honesty, and respect are the building blocks for life. Thankfully, I established a firm foundation in my own life BD (before divorce) that carried me through AD (after divorce) –  my wonderful job and co-workers, my support group made up of my children, sisters, and girlfriends. My faith. Yes I had doubts, but I never lost my faith. And look where I am now, 18 months later. Successfully navigating life SOLO and very happy! Honestly, I love living SOLO. Never had the chance as I graduated from college and got married without ever living on my own, doing what I want whenever I want with whoever I want. Life goes on, and life is good.

“Whatever life gives you, even if it hurts you, just be strong. Remember: Strong walls shake but never collapse.”

Notice I did not start this blog with “I had the best weekend”. I could have – it was GREAT once again! After making my bricks and having lunch with my daughter, who works at Montpelier, I drove to the beach for a couple of days. Needed that beach air, sunshine, and ocean to renew my soul. It worked. It was beautiful and warm down there. Heaven on earth. My foundation. Luckily, my sister was there as well. Hated to leave but did not want to miss the UNC-Miami game in Chapel Hill Saturday. Yes, another loss, but it was still such a beautiful, fun day tailgating with my children and seeking that win, even though it eluded us once again. Carolina football is rebuilding their foundation this year. Laying “bricks” for next year. Just keep those “bricks” away from the basketball team.

“There is always, always, always something to be thankful for.”

Today is November 1st. First day I can “legally” begin listening to Christmas music (according to my kids). For you XM Radio users, channel 70 is the Holly Channel starting today! Besides November being MY birthday month (WOOHOO!), I always consider November to be a “Thankful” month. I am so blessed to have wonderful kids, family, and friends to share my life with. Take time every day this month to stop and be thankful for something in your life. I believe you will surprise yourself with all of your blessings. And make an effort to spend time with those you love, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“The thankful heart opens our eyes to a multitude of blessings that continually surround us.” James E. Faust

See you next week!



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

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you next week.