“Better Days” Supertramp 1985

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

(note: with only 1 outing, this week’s pictures are all from my neighborhood!)

WHOA! We’ve definitely seen better days. Last week this time, Carolina was still playing basketball, having won their first game in the ACC tournament, and were getting ready to take the court for their second game. That game, which we lost, turned out to be the final game of the tournament. Who would have thought that this year Carolina would have played further in March than Duke? (hahaha! Good one, right?) And who would have thought that “March Madness” would be replaced with “March Sadness”? And that not only college basketball, but all college sports, and all professional sports would be over? No basketball, no baseball, no softball, no LAX, no sports. Period. None. Nada. What will ESPN do? What will my son-in-law do?!?!?

And who could ever have imagined that all of our schools, churches, bars, restaurants, gyms, offices, movie theaters, you name it, would be closed? Even my beloved library. Closed. And not a sign of snow anywhere! Instead, a scary virus wreaking havoc on our lives. The coronavirus, aka, covid19. Know where the name comes from? “Co” for corona, “vi” for virus, “d” for disease, and 19 for the year the first case was reported. Creative. Just like this virus.

Last meal out with a friend for who knows how long…but it was a good, fun one!

Are you nervous? I wasn’t… I mean, I probably blew the notion of contracting the virus off, until I went to a presentation at work. Our staff doctor gave a basic, down to earth, simple presentation explaining the coronavirus, including the difference between a viral infection and a bacterial one. I think we all know that the biggest difference is that with a bacterial infection, an antibiotic is prescribed, while there is no medicine for a viral infection. They have to run their course with the help of rest, fluids, and fever reducing aids. What I did not know is that a virus is not a living entity. Covid19 attacks, gets into, and replicates in and with your cells. What was amazing to me was that children up to the age of 19, are not suffering from the coronavirus. If they get it, they are asymptomatic. (Hmmm… is the coronavirus following the legal age for “having a Corona?!”) And those in their 20’s-50’s are getting it, and surviving. That’s when our Doc called out 3 of us in the room (yep, me included), saying we were in the higher risk group. “WHAT? Wait… I am NOT 65 years old yet!” I told him… to which he responded… “the high risk group is over 60.” Uh-oh… ok, that is me. Sorry Doc. I am officially nervous.

So… what was his advice? Wash your hands. Constantly. For 20 seconds. Don’t touch your face, your nose, your mouth, or your eyes. (Do you know how many times you touch your face in an hour? 23+) And practice “social distancing.” Immediately. Of course, at the time we were all jammed into our conference room, but… well…

“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.”

Social distancing? Huh? Ever heard of that phrase before last week? Me either. Yes, we should keep a distance of about 6 feet between us and the next person, as droplets from coughs and sneezes can travel up to 6 feet. UVA Professor of Physics, Lou Bloomfield explained that each person infected with the corona virus infects about 2-3 people daily. Then those infect 2-3 each. Exponentially, the number doubles about every couple of days. So… if we practice social distancing, we can slow this number down exponentially! Flatten the curve. Makes sense.

But y’all… I know social distancing is ideal for introverts, but for us extroverts, it is a major struggle. No hugs, no high 5’s, no handshakes, no sharing, no contact. And now, my new normal – working from home. Yep, I did get the nervous bug, and since we are now allowed to have only 10 people working at one time on our floor, I am working from home. Picked up a printer on my way home from work yesterday (curbside delivery service), so I am all set up. Luckily for me, the only basic requirements for my job are a computer and access to the internet. Both of those are available to me at home, and now I have a printer. But who will I talk to?!?

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

Our schools are closed until the middle of April at the earliest. I’m sure yours are as well. All the fun plans I had for the next 2 months have been cancelled – races, parties, get togethers, trips. Yes, this is real folks. And when I decided I might better stock up on some groceries, seeing that I never have much food in my house, I discovered there was the run on TP. That I did not get – this is a respiratory illness, not a gastro illness! Go figure… And there was not an antibacterial wipe or cleaning supply in sight. This is definitely real. And this is our new normal for the foreseeable future.

“At the end of the day, all you need is Hope and Strength. Hope that it will get better, and Strength to hold on until it does.”

With all the gloom and doom over the coronavirus, can we find anything good in these times? Of course we can! For me, I have been forced to slow down, stay home, and take time for reflection. Parents are appreciating their children’s teachers more and more every day. Neighbors are checking on neighbors. Families checking on loved ones. My mom’s assisted living set up facetiming for the residents this week and I got to “see” and talk to my Momma. Not sure she quite got it all, but maybe she won’t think we abandoned her. (I got a facetime call today and my sweet Momma told me I looked like I had been in a windstorm! What?!? I mean, I am working from home so I am in my comfy clothes, no make up, hair up, but I did not know I looked that bad! Ahhh… out of the mouths of babes and Great G-mas!) Did you see the sweet scene on the national news Tuesday about a NC girl who got engaged and wanted to share her happy news with her grandfather? Only problem was, he is in assisted living with no visitors. So she went outside his window and held up her hand with her new diamond ring and they put their hands together on the glass. Made me cry. I know, doesn’t take much, but that did me in!

“Keep looking up… that’s the secret of life.” – Charlie Brown

And have you seen the quarantined Italians singing out their windows? And quarantined Spaniards exercising on their balconies together? Bright spots. Making the best of a really bad situation. Plus all the kindnesses being shown. As Maria Shriver says, “Perhaps this is a moment to radically come together and practice radical compassion, radical empathy, and radical caring for our fellow human beings.” Let’s be radical y’all. Radical and safe.

“One of the most important things you can do on this earth is to let people know they are not alone.” Shannon L. Alder

I am missing my family, my friends, and my co-workers, but I am being very careful. I am in touch with my kids and my family daily.  I am missing my gym friends and my classes. I am getting out to walk and go for a run. If I have to go to the grocery store, I am going to go with the “elderly” crowds during their special time the first hour the stores open. I am learning, as I am sure most of you are, that we take a lot for granted in our lives. I want the normalcy back in my life as I am sure y’all do as well. We will get through this, we just don’t know how long it will take. In the meantime, show compassion, practice patience, make smart decisions, and check on your neighbors, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“You do what you have to do, until you can do what you want to do.” – Oprah Winfrey

Best,

Leslie

PS…

“When this is over, may we never again take for granted: A handshake with a stranger, full shelves at the store, conversations with neighbors, a crowded theatre, Friday night out, the taste of communion, a routine checkup, the school rush each morning, coffee with friends, the stadium roaring, each deep breath, a boring Tuesday, life itself. When this ends, may we find that we have become more like the people we wanted to be, we were called to be, we hoped to be, and may we stay that way – better for each other because of the worst.” – Laura Kelly Fanucci

 

“Time In A Bottle” Jim Croce 1973

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Are you feeling the effects of losing that extra hour of sleep Saturday night? Did you set your alarm and get up to move your clocks back at 2 AM? I mean, who does that?!?! And why is 2 AM the magical hour? I slept very well Saturday night at my older sister’s house, but I always do, it is so comfortable and so comforting. And I got to sleep in Sunday morning, making up for losing that hour of sleep. So, I guess I did not lose an hour. WHEW!

“TIME CHANGE GUIDE: Cell Phone: Leave them alone – they change magically. Kitchen Appliances: Get a masters degree in electrical engineering…or get a hammer. Car Clocks: Not worth it… Wait six months!”

If you could save time in a bottle, what times in your life would you save? Time in a Bottle was sung at my brother-in-law and sister-in-law’s wedding. What a beautiful song. And what a beautiful thought to be able to capture special times in our life, bottle them up, and bring them out when we need a boost in our life. I can think of right many times I would like to capture in a bottle, including this past weekend.

I left Charlottesville early Saturday morning heading to Winston-Salem to get to The Art Show and Sale, where my sister sold several pieces of her work! Needless to say, she was very pleased. I love the piece in the picture below – based on a picture she took at Shem Creek in Charleston, SC. She and I spent some time there during our trips to Mount Pleasant to see one of our favorite authors and get our books signed!

My beautiful and talented sister!

“Whatever it is you want to do, do it. You only have so many tomorrows.”

I stopped in to see my sweet Momma after the art show. Totally surprised her (as usual) and woke her up from her chair nap (again as usual!). Our visits may only be 30 minutes sometimes, but it is time I truly treasure. Even though Mom won’t remember I was there an hour later, she knew I was there in the moment. And she knew who I was: her favorite daughter. HAHAHA!  My sisters and I always tell her we are her favorite daughter. And of course, I always get a picture with Mom, because, well, you just never know. Seems I never leave Mom without running into high school friends visiting their parents too. Reassuring to know that my sisters and I are not the only ones having to place their parent in a home. Also reassuring to know they trust the care of their parents there as well.

“Memories remind us that nothing lasts forever. Time is precious and should not be wasted. Enjoy life and remember, don’t count the days, make the days count.”

Though Saturday afternoon was a bit chilly, my sister and I decided it was warm enough to sit on her porch, wrapped up in blankets with our slippers on, and enjoy a glass (or 2 or 3) of wine. Sisters (like friends) are never at a loss of words. Or is that just me? I am rarely at a loss of words, as anyone who knows me can attest to. (Especially after having some wine!) And yes, I was drinking red wine for a big change – but it was a really good red wine.

“Spend time with those you love. One of these days you will either say, ‘ I wish I had ’ or ‘ I’m glad I did.’ ” Zig Ziglar

My sweet brother-in-law apologized to me Saturday afternoon – he had made our dinner reservation at 6:30, right during THE game. Told him it was ok, game might be a tad too stressful for me to watch, especially away from the sanctity of my own home. And boy was I right! Our dinner at Spring House Restaurant was wonderful and made up for missing the game (even though I checked the score several times). Plus the restaurant has some history with our sweet momma. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the former Bahnson House. Mom was the personal secretary to one of the Bahnsons for as long as I can remember. We spent lots of time as kids with mom going to deliver or pick up typing and dictation.

“Many things aren’t equal, but everyone gets the same 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We make time for what we truly want.”

Like I said earlier, I got to sleep in Sunday morning as we had nothing scheduled until the birthday lunch for my younger sister who was turning, well, younger than me (and my older sister!). My older sister fixed her favorite foods and I provided her favorite cake, the one mom used to make special, just for her. And her favorite people were all there – her grandkids, her son and his wife, and of course us! All there to celebrate Ishie’s birthday. Sweet Jack calls my sister Ishie, because he thinks that is her name. His parents would say to him, “Is she here?” “Is she coming?” So Ishie became her name. And it stuck. So sweet!

I couldn’t believe there was still sunlight when I pulled into my driveway Sunday evening at 7:00 pm. It makes losing that hour of sleep worth it! Especially since I had slept in and missed the darker earlier hours. Walked in my house, looked up at my clock and thought, uh-oh, I need to change all of my clocks. And even though I don’t have a masters in engineering, I was able to change the clocks on all of my appliances without getting the manuals out! (Thank heavens my car’s clock changed automatically!)

Four years ago, when my older sister unexpectedly gave up her weekend to help me move into my current house (SOLO), she said I should have the clock that was in our childhood home, because I had the perfect spot for it. She was right! It’s a wall clock that has to be plugged in, and I just happen to have a plug high up on a wall in my family room. This clock is 60+ years old and still running (like me haha!). It was always in a very prominent place in our home, and I am thankful to have it, even if moving the time forward an hour on it was a bit challenging.

“Memory is a way of holding on to the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.” – Kevin Arnold

We didn’t necessarily lose an hour of sleep last weekend, we just moved forward in our lives. And we need to keep moving forward. We can never go back, but we can choose to live for today. Make memories every day. My older sister and I talked about this last weekend. Why wait to do the things we want to do? I am doing my darnedest to enjoy my life, be with the people I love, and make new memories. Why wait?  Because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“Don’t waste time on what could have been. Instead, make things happen for you.”

Raymond making up for the lost hour of sleep! Ahhh the life of a dawg…

Best,

Leslie

PS – This week is a crazy one y’all – Started off with moving the clocks back an hour, followed by a full moon Monday, and will end with Friday the 13th. YIKES! Be safe out there and WASH YOUR HANDS!

 

“After The Love Has Gone…” Earth, Wind & Fire 1979

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Two months of 2020 are in the books y’all. Can’t get them back. Honestly, I don’t want them back! I am looking forward to warmer weather and sunnier days. And with Daylight Saving Time arriving this weekend, we’ll have even more hours of daylight. We’ve been blessed with some warmer weather lately… makes it awfully hard to go back to cold days, though I know they are probably coming. Still… I am enjoying the sunny and 65 degree weather today!

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”  Charles Dickens  Great Expectations

What did you do with your “extra day” this year? You know, Saturday, February 29th? A couple of people I know celebrated their actual birthday for a change. What a treat! Hard to imagine being a “leaper” (those born on Feb 29th). Me? I went out for a fabulous dinner Friday night with a friend, where I had a little too much really good wine (is that even possible?), and found myself sleeping in a bit Saturday morning (in my recliner I might add) before going in to work. I know, it may seem boring working on the weekend, but it was month end and I used the extra day to get a head start on the process. I have so many fun plans on my calendar in the next several weeks and I really need to be on top of things. Made sure I was home in time to see my Heels win for the 2nd time in a week! (And the win last night makes it 3 in a row!) WOOHOO! That is a major feat for us this year.

“There’s always something good coming. Remember that.”

This extra day of 2020 found me quickly approaching (like the next day!) the third anniversary of my big “D” (divorce). Always a time for reflection, just like other anniversaries, birthdays, etc. Recently, a dear friend suggested to me: “We cannot choose the times we live in, but we CAN choose how we live in the times we are in.” How true is that!? When something unforeseen in life happens, you can let it make you bitter or better. Thankfully, I chose better. And I do have a choice in how I live my SOLO life. And y’all, I am making the most of this extra shot at life and making up for lost time.

“Just because the past didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to, doesn’t mean your future can’t be better than you ever imagined!”

That extra day also made it possible for me to go for a good “long” run Sunday afternoon. 5.5 miles! I have not run this route (my favorite through UVA) since December 4, 2018. I am making up for the lost time from injuries and surgeries. So much so that I am heading out in just a few minutes to run this same course in sunny 65 degrees. Finally getting that part of my life back, and it feels so good! And posting early today preparing for next week when we jump ahead and this will be 4 pm.

My older sister is also making the most of her extra shot at life – retirement. She has taken her art to a whole new level. I am happily heading to Winston-Salem this weekend, because my very talented sister is having her art on display and for sale Saturday. She was accepted to participate in the 10th Annual Art Show and Sale benefiting Meals on Wheels, at the Senior Center (for you W-S people). Another great opportunity (and benefit of the SOLO life!) to see my family AND to celebrate my younger sister’s birthday. WIN WIN!

And even though we lose that hour of sleep this Saturday night, the benefit of gaining longer days of light will outweigh it. Right? I mean who doesn’t want it to be lighter in the evenings? It sure makes traveling easier for me – I can leave later in the day and get to my destination before dark. As I have said many times before, my favorite day of the year is the first official day of summer, which this year is Saturday, June 20th (due to leap year) – the longest day of the year.

Sunburst?!?!

“Oh Sunlight! The most precious gold to be found on earth.” Roman Payne

Are you struggling with the times you find yourself in? If your life is not going the way you would have chosen, don’t give up hope. Instead, look for the positives in your life and concentrate on them. There are always positives. Yes, sometimes you have to look really hard to find them, but they are there. Choose to make your life a WIN WIN, and do it soon, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“Hope… Sometimes that’s all you have when you have nothing else. If you have it, you have everything.”

Best,

Leslie

PS… Did you know that is it actually Daylight Saving Time and not Daylight Savings Time? And did you know that DST was not started to benefit farmers? As a matter of fact, farmers were against it. According to the History Channel, farmers had to wait an hour for the dew to dry before baling hay, and farmhands worked less because they still left at the same time to get home for dinner. Who knew?!

 

“What’s Love Got To Do With It” Tina Turner 1984

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Last week I was late posting the blog and right many people reached out to make sure I was ok. Warmed my heart! I was working at our club in Baltimore – wanted to see all of our renovations and was totally blown away. In the past year it received some major love and was transformed into a whole new club with a new fitness floor, new equipment, new social space (including fireplace), new café, and new locker rooms. But… I got way behind on the blog. Had a little excitement while I was there. I was working in an office near our front desk when an elderly lady opened the door to say “there’s a dead man in the parking lot!” WHAT!?! I immediately went out with her. Her car was parked at the entrance and she told me to get in. We drove about 8 parking spots (yes 8) from the front door and all I could think was “what is the code for a dead man in our parking lot?” She said she had been blowing her horn and he would not move. I bravely got out of her car (cannot believe I got in a stranger’s car, even if she was 80 and driving a big BMW), walked up to the man’s car window, and yes, he looked dead – head back, mouth open, car running – so I knocked on his window. Startled the S%#T out of him (and me!) and said, “Sir, just making sure you are ok.” Gave our member the thumbs up and went back in the club still shaking from the possibility of finding a dead man in our parking lot. WHEW!

Returned home Wednesday in time to pick up my car (had 2 new tires put on – remember last week’s troubles), finish the blog, do some laundry, and pack up so I could return to Charlotte Thursday evening for the weekend. My younger daughter was having wrist surgery Friday morning and I was going to be with her. So excited to see my kids 2 weekends in a row!

“Sometimes all you need is for someone to just be there, even if they can’t solve your problems. Just knowing there is someone who cares can make all the difference.”

My sweet nephew and his wife often share videos of Jack and Izzie with my sisters and me. (We can never get enough of those 2 sweet children!) Last Wednesday they sent one where Jack was ‘splaining’ how to make it snow. Basically, he said “you get vanilla ice cream and eat it and put the ‘poon’ under your pillow and it will snow.” There was also something about a toilet, but I’ll leave that out… besides, I kinda lost it after he talked about the ‘poon’! Obviously, Jack knew what he was talking about and put his ‘poon’ under his pillow because lo and behold, it snowed Thursday. Naturally, since I was driving back to Charlotte Thursday evening. It was a bit dicey traveling through southern VA and NC. Brought back memories of December 2009 when my son and I were stuck on 29 North for 17 hours coming home from Chapel Hill for his Christmas break. There was a major surprise snow storm that caused us to arrive home at 7:15 AM Saturday morning when we should have been home by 5:30 PM Friday evening! Luckily, the roads were nowhere near as bad this time and I had the 2 new tires. I felt fairly safe and prepared, even though I don’t like driving at night, and really don’t like driving at night in the rain or snow. But I made it to Charlotte safe and sound. And we woke up Friday to a beautiful and very sunny day! I mean, spring has sprung in Charlotte, even though they had some snow showers.

“My favorite part of winter is when it’s over.”

Surgery went well and we spent the weekend together, managing her pain and hanging out binging on Netflix. My son and future daughter-in-law came over for dinner and hung out with us. The weather was beautiful. I even got a good run in Saturday afternoon. My daughter suggested I run down her road to the park where she took my son and his fiancée’s engagement pictures. Had a great 2-mile run down there… and when I got to the park, I realized the whole run had been downhill, which accounted for the good time, and which also meant the 2-mile run back to her apartment would be uphill. But I persevered and made it, and thankfully, was still breathing (barely)!

Sunday was even more beautiful. My daughter and I walked to a cute café and met my son and his fiancée for brunch. And since it was such a beautiful day, we took the LONG way home, walking around another park talking and enjoying the sunshine. I left Charlotte knowing my daughter would be fine, and headed to Winston to see my mom on my way back to Charlottesville.

My younger sister met me at Mom’s with sweet Jack who put his arms around my neck and said “Les, I’ll hold you” (translation: Les, I want you to carry me). My pleasure (and my sister’s, because Jack is getting heavier!). Those sweet arms around my neck melted my heart. He entertained us and all the residents. Oh how the elderly love the sight of a child. We took Mom to the Ice Cream Parlor and while we all had cones of chocolate soft serve, Jack told us all about riding and brushing a “little horsey named Molly” at my sister’s barn. He even had on his barn boots and jeans. What a sweetheart he is! And he made a new girlfriend! No, not one of the “seniors,” but the 3-year-old granddaughter of one of my high school friends, who was there visiting her great-grandfather, who happens to be Mom’s neighbor.

“The soul is healed by being with children.” Fyodor Dostoevsky

Love shows up in so many ways, in so many places. In the very young, and the very old. There are so many types of love, and so many ways love is expressed. My daughter and I were talking about how different people show and receive love. Ever heard of the 5 Love Languages? According to Gary Chapman, the 5 Love Languages are: “Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Gifts, Quality Time, and Acts of Service.” Often, how you give love is how you want to receive love, but not always. The key is to learn how your loved ones prefer to receive love. Some show love with words – phone calls, compliments, texts. (My older daughter calls me twice a day – on her way to work and her way home from work.) Others show love with gifts. Very thoughtful gifts (proving they listen), and also love to receive gifts. Some people don’t like to be hugged, but love to be told they are loved. Some just want your time. You have to find what the other person’s love language is so that they feel the love. My sweet family has shown me love in many ways – words (texts, phone calls), gifts (flowers, famous UNC sweaters, updated wardrobes), service (they have helped me with tasks I cannot do and rescued me with car troubles!), time (getting together, visits), and of course touch (big hugs and kisses!).

“Love can be expressed and received in all five languages. However, if you don’t speak a person’s primary love language, that person will not feel loved, even though you may be speaking the other four.” Gary Chapman

Funny, I think love speaks to me in all 5 languages! I’ve always treasured words of love, but I am also a big hugger! I am not as big a proponent of gifts – I always tell my kids that the gift I want from them is a written letter – at least once a year on Mother’s Day. No gifts, just the letter. I treasure them and keep them with me. And while gifts are not a priority for me, I’ll never turn down the gift of flowers! But I show love with service. My momma was the same way. She always “did” for others – whatever they needed, but hated asking for help. One time she said to my brother-in-law, “do you think I could borrow the chain saw?” What she really meant was, would he please come up and cut down a small tree! Which he did, of course.

“There’s only one thing more precious than our time and that’s who we spend it on.” Leo Christopher

Family isn’t always blood. I called one of my oldest college friends (and the godmother to my oldest child) while I was traveling home on Sunday just to catch up. When we ended the call, we ended with a “Love You!” Another sweet friend took the time to go with me to an appointment this week. She offered, I took her up on it. The love of friends.

“Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile & who love you no matter what.”

Today is the first day of Lent y’all. Are you giving something up? Instead of giving something up, why not find ways to share love with those you love, in the way that works for y’all. Make people feel special with your words, your time, your service, your touch, and your gifts, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Smile Momma!

Best,

Leslie

PS – Happy Leap Year Birthday to all those special people celebrating their true birthday, which only happens every 4 years, this Saturday, February 29th!

 

“Crystal Blue Persuasion” Tommy James and the Shondells

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Forewarning: picture overload today. Apologizing in advance, but oh my, did I have the best weekend y’all! My world righted itself back on its axis last weekend, thanks to time filled with family, friends, love, and so much fun. Not even Carolina’s loss could put a damper on how happy I was/am.

“It’s really nice to wake up in the morning realizing that God has given you another day to live.”

I left Cville early Thursday morning heading to Winston-Salem to meet my sisters for lunch. This was the Christmas present from my older sister to my younger sister and me. No, not just lunch, but lunch AND glass blowing! We went to The Olio in Winston, a furnace glassblowing studio, where they not only make beautiful glassware, but also teach others the craft. It was so much fun. And so interesting! We were each trying to decide what we would make – a bird? a penguin? a seashell? a trinket? Trinket it was! My choice was a trinket in the shape of a seashell. The other ideas would have been a huge undertaking. We got to choose our color of glass – I chose teal, my younger sister pink, and older sister dark blue – and then it was on. One at a time we learned how to hold and twirl the rod that would hold our molten glass. The instructor actually dipped the rods into the molten glass to get a “blob” to work with. We rolled that molten glass into the bowl of broken color glass, then it went back in the oven. We then rolled our “blobs” on a thick steel table to cool the glass and begin to shape it. Then back to the oven once more, all the time twirling the rod, and when it came out, we used big tongs to begin shaping our “trinkets”. I was trying to make a conch shell. Keep that suggestion in mind when you look at my creation below! My sisters and I decided we would do it again in the fall and actually do the glass blowing and make Christmas ornaments. It was so much fun (lots of laughs and jokes), especially with my sisters!

“You and I are sisters. Always remember that if you fall, I’ll pick you up. As soon as I finish laughing!”

Since we were all together, we left there and went to visit Mom to celebrate Valentine’s Day with her (a day early!). She was thrilled to have all of her girls together. We took her to the Ice Cream Parlor where we had balloons, cupcakes, valentines, and of course, ice cream. At one point, my sister was searching in her pocketbook for something when Mom asked if she was looking for Daddy. “What?!?!  Uh… Nope, he’s been laying low lately.” (Like for the past 20 years!) Lots of laughter and reminiscing before taking her back to her room. We left Mom and went to take valentines and balloons to sweet Jack and Izzie in High Point! So happy to see these sweet, loving kids. Plus my sister had a special present for my nephew and his wife (see the portrait of sweet Jack at the beach below). Ended up going out to dinner all together. Such a fun and full Thursday!

Friday was just as full (which I love). Started off with breakfast at Pete’s, the best breakfast place in Clemmons, with a dear friend to catch up. Not only did we have a great breakfast and visit, we felt right YOUNG there (if you know what I mean! Haha!). Then back to visit Mom where she was playing Valentine’s BINGO (and winning!). She said “Oh Les! How did you find me?” Told her I saw her Valentine’s balloon still tied to her wheelchair. “Wonder how that got there.” Hmmm… maybe from my visit Thursday?!? Before I left, I checked in on 2 friends’ mommas to wish them Happy Valentine’s Day. (8 of my childhood friends’ parents are out there now.) Made one more stop in Clemmons to see a dear “old” friend I’ve known since 5th grade, before meeting some other “old” friends for lunch at The Village Tavern in Reynolda Village, beside Wake Forest, some of my old stomping grounds. The bartender knew what they wanted before they ordered! Guessing they have been there before – many times. Great lunch, great time! Loved seeing all of these “old” friends. There’s just something special about being with people who have known you 50+ years, who you share your youth with. Don’t you just love being able to say “remember when”… or “remember so-n-so?” Times to be treasured. Hoping to crash their Friday lunch again soon! Such a fun day, but now it was time to head to Charlotte for drinks and dinner with all of my kids.

 

“Remember that the most valuable antiques are dear old friends.” H. Jackson Browne, Jr.

 

Left Village Tavern following WAZE directions to get me out of Winston and on the road to Charlotte. Winston-Salem has changed a lot in the 23 years I have been gone, and I was thankful for my phone belting out directions. (How did I ever find my way around back in the day without WAZE and Google Maps?!?!) Once I got on the highway, I called my older daughter, who was already in Charlotte, to coordinate our plans. Told her my car was making a funny noise…either that, or the car behind me had a busted muffler. Nope, it was my car… pulled off the highway, off the shoulder and onto the grass since cars were whizzing by. Got out, still on the phone with my daughter, and said “Oh NO!” Panicked her a bit, but reassured her it was just a flat, shredded tire. How the heck had that happened? Time to call AAA. Only one problem: I had no idea where I was. There were no road signs or mile markers and I wasn’t sure if I was on 52 or 40. I was just mindlessly following the direction of “stay straight for 61 miles to route 77” while talking to my daughter on the phone. Hmmm… what to do… Who has rescued me before? Yep, called my older sister and brother-in-law, who luckily, had just finished a Valentine’s Day lunch and were about 10 minutes away. Their first question?  “Is there water nearby?” “Nope, learned that lesson well!” Following WAZE (same destination I had put in mine), they found me. My patient brother-in-law told me where I was (southbound on 52) and while I called AAA, he called around looking for a replacement tire. Done. Only 2 hours late leaving WS, but luckily would not be late meeting my kids. What would we do without family?!?!  I hope I never find out.

“Family is the life jacket in the stormy sea of life.”

Got to my younger daughter’s apartment in time to Uber to a very unique bar, Farenheit, located on the 21st floor of an uptown building. My kids chose this one to show me the unbelievable view of the Charlotte skyline. It did not disappoint! With a mild night, and 2 outdoor fire pits, we spent some time on their rooftop patio, enjoying the views. Left there for another wonderful restaurant in Charlotte for dinner. What a perfect Valentine’s celebration. Topped with beautiful flowers from my kids. Perfect end to a great day. Flat tire was just a blip on the radar. Nothing could take away from my happiness.

“Live for the moments you can’t put into words.”

But the weekend fun did not end there! Saturday morning, my younger daughter (who I stayed with) and I got up and went for a run together so I could see the route she takes running. It was a brisk but beautiful morning. We then met my older daughter and future daughter-in-law to look at bridesmaids dresses. Color and designer have been chosen, but now it is time to choose styles. So many beautiful styles. We left there and met my son-in-law, son, and many of their friends in town, for lunch. These friends were in town for the engagement party that night. So great to see them all again, and meet the ones I did not know.

And then… the ultimate reason we were all in Charlotte together… an engagement party for my son and his fiancée, given by her parents. All of the people I love most in the world were there, except my sweet momma who just does not travel any more, and sweet Izzie who stayed home with a sitter. Jack came with his parents and my younger sister (since there would be another sweet 3-year-old boy at the party), and my older sister and brother-in-law. My family got to meet all of my future daughter-in-law’s family – aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors, friends, plus the local friends of the engaged couple. It was the best party I have ever been to. Food was fabulous, desserts were wonderful, but best of all was my family meeting my future daughter-in-law’s family. My sisters met her mother’s sisters. All the siblings met. There were cousins galore and beloved friends. And one very, very happy young couple. The wedding is just 8+ months away. We cannot wait!

“Daughter-in-law, created by God, hand chosen by my son, to be cherished and valued as a member of our family.”

I am so very thankful for this past weekend. I have been looking forward to it for a while, and it did not disappoint. I got to spend so much time with my kids and my future daughter-in-law’s family. I am so thankful that not only has my son chosen the perfect girl to spend the rest of  his life with, her family has taken him in, and he loves them as well. My family loves and adores her too. What more could a mother want? So much to be thankful for.

“Life is short…spend it with people who make you laugh and feel loved.”

This past weekend was one of those weekends I live for. There are many more to come. I am so thankful for the special times I get to spend with family and friends. Make the effort, make the plans, take the time, and spend as much time as you can with those you love, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

PS… I was traveling this week for work, visiting one of our clubs, which is why this is late today! Did you know that tomorrow, February 20, 2020 is Love Your Pet Day? Yep! Go love on your pets folks!

My granddawg… like my pet!

“Love Train”… The O’Jays 1972

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY

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

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

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

“Family is a gift that lasts forever.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best,

Leslie

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

 

“Betcha By Golly, Wow…” The Stylistics 1972

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Hello February! January literally flew by y’all. February promises to be filled with much more than just work for me! Lots of fun and special events are happening in my life this month, many including my kids and family. Yes, I have been looking forward to February for quite a while. And as a plus, we get an extra day since it is Leap Year.

“I am sure the person who put the first R in FebRuary also decided how to spell Wednesday.”

Betcha watched the Super Bowl Sunday… Did your team win?  Any favorite commercials? Did the Google commercial bring tears to your eyes? Obviously, it did for me. And Sam Elliott and Bill Murray put a smile on my face. I read a statistic that said the team that scores first has a 2:1 chance of winning the Super Bowl (has happened in 8 of the last 10 games). Based on that, I figured the 49er’s would win… until the fourth quarter. Though I had no skin in the game, I work with a great guy who played for the Chiefs for 11 years back in the day (he is my age!), and was inducted into their Hall of Fame. So with that connection, I was pulling for the Chiefs, who never gave up, and was very happy for him that his old team became Super Bowl champs. (I think that 2:1 stat is going down!)

“Winning is fun…Sure. But winning is not the point. Wanting to win is the point. Not giving up is the point. Never letting up is the point. Never being satisfied with what you’ve done is the point.” – Pat Summit (University of Tennessee Women’s head coach for 38 years)

This was the first year I veered away from my Super Bowl tradition of making bread bowls and chili to eat while watching the big game. 2020 is going to be a year with some new changes for me. Even one as small as the Super Bowl meal. Baby steps. So what did I do for dinner? Well… I took myself out to dinner, ate at the bar, and watched the first quarter with a lot of other fans. Passed on a glass of wine though…I had already had one when I slipped away from work for an hour or so (hopefully the last weekend at work for a bit) and ventured out to my favorite winery. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, sunny and 62, and King Family Vineyards was debuting their new wine, Verde, described as “light, fresh, and spritzy.” And I can attest that it is! I have to admit, I missed my wine buddy Sunday afternoon, and everyone at KFV told me they missed her too. I got a glass of this new wine, some warm bread and cheese, sat outside and enjoyed a late lunch under a perfect Carolina blue sky. Appropriate, as I was a bit “blue” over my Tar Heels continued scoring woes. But whatcha gonna do? Get a glass of wine, get over it, wait for the next game, and keep cheering. Honestly, with the expectations being pretty low it kinda takes the pressure off, so any win will be HUGE! I left KFV with several bottles of the new wine to take to Charlotte next week for my younger daughter. Part of my February fun plans!

“A winner is a dreamer who never gives up.”  – Nelson Mandela

What was NOT part of my February plans? Another visit to the knee surgeon. But I found myself there last week. After having my best run so far, and venturing back into athletic conditioning classes, my knee (from original surgery) was pretty angry. And swollen. Had to get x-rays (again), with 200 of my closest friends also getting x-rays, but all was clear. Could see the hardware holding my meniscus in place and the “human cement” securing the insufficiency fracture. Got a shot of cortisone in my knee (OUCH!) and permission to continue working out, just need to be mindful of what causes my knee to hurt. He did remind me I am not even 10 months post surgery. Felt encouraged. I am not giving up. And now, my knee feels pretty darn good! Had another good run Monday in 68 degree weather. Gonna be hard to accept when real winter weather arrives. A friend of mine lives in Denver, Colorado where it was 72 Sunday, 25 Monday. Go figure!

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” – Thomas Edison

By the way, how are those New Year resolutions holding up? Need a reset? Nothing wrong with that. Don’t give up, just hit the restart button. Read a great quote recently – “Don’t be afraid to start over. This time you are starting with experience.” Probably was not meant for New Years resolutions, but hey, it’s relevant. Never too late to reset and restart. I’m the first to admit, I got side-tracked with one of mine. I’m not giving up on it though, just got myself back on track this week. Ever heard of the 21/90 Rule? If you commit  to a goal for 21 days, it should become a habit. And if you can do it for 3 weeks, you should be able to continue for 3 months, at which time it becomes a way of life.

“I’ve decided my 2020 will start on February 1st, January is a free trial month.”

I hope y’all have a great week. I hope you find something each day that makes you smile. I hope you don’t give up on your hopes and dreams (or New Years resolutions!). I hope someone is kind to you every day, and I hope you pay that kindness forward, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

More Kobe…

Best,

Leslie

PS … Did you know that today, February 5th, is National Weather Forecaster’s Day? Yep, there’s a day for everything! Show some love to our weather people!