“Joy To The World” Three Dog Night 1970

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Warning: There are a lot of pictures today… I took about 700 last week and it was hard to decide which ones made the cut. So I am apologizing upfront!

Remember how much fun I was having in my last blog? Meeting my son and my future daughter-in-law to look at wedding and rehearsal dinner venues? Well, that fun continued throughout this past week for me. Life’s a beach! After leaving Kiawah, I spent a couple of quiet days at the beach hanging out with my sisters and brother-in-law, reading and sleeping on the beach, then 2 of my kids arrived, followed by my nephew and his sweet family, and finally the arrival of my other kids. Then there was NO quiet – only laughter, constant conversation, baby giggles, toddler questions (endlessly!), and squeals of joy. Family time. And I loved every second of it! We were all together to celebrate sweet Jack’s 3rd birthday, and my son and his fiancée’s engagement.

Next to being on the beach together, my favorite time is being around the dinner table, talking, sharing, laughing. After cooking locally caught trigger fish and shrimp for our family dinner at my house Friday night, our crew headed to our favorite restaurant, Franks, for dinner Saturday night. Luckily we made a reservation a couple of weeks ago! This is our second year celebrating Jack’s birthday at Franks. Food was fabulous, family time even more so. Party of 12 and party it was! Even though Jack had a big candle on his cake at Franks, we also had a birthday cake and ice cream back at my house. AND we toasted my son and future daughter-in-law’s engagement, since we were all together for the first time since they got engaged. Such a joyous night! (and weekend!)

“May your home know joy, each room hold laughter, and every window always be open to possibilities.” Ethan W. Post

There’s nothing like being surrounded by all the people you love most in the world (we missed our sweet momma). Nothing y’all. Such a joyful and comforting feeling. And top that with an adorable 3 year-old celebrating his birthday (4 days in a row!) and a sweet 5-month old giggling and cooing, and I found myself in heaven. Not to mention we were already in beach heaven!

I discovered such joy in simple things last week. Like the sweet smell of baby Izzie’s head. Ahhh… nothing like the smell of a baby’s head. And the sweet things that come out of the mouth of a 3-year-old: “Les, I wanna hold you” which translates to “I want you to hold me.” “Les, I wanna make moothies” which translates to “I want to make smoothies with you.”  Jack and I made “moothies” each morning for everyone. He guzzled them down (me too!). “Les, I love you.” “Oh sweet boy I love you too!” Nothing like the arms of a child around your neck. We had constant entertainment with Jack and Izzie. Lord what did we do before these precious children became part of our family? Their actions and comments were priceless. Out of the mouths of babes. Just having my whole family together – the people I love most in my life, gave me the most joy.

“People seldom understand the secrets of happiness but I think what breeds happiness is an overdose of love from the people you call family.”

Seeing the world through the eyes of a 3-year-old makes you appreciate the small things every day. Their wonderment of nature, and the world in general, makes you realize how much we take for granted every day. Their inquisitiveness (endless questions) make you think as you search for answers. The weather was a bit cloudy Friday afternoon, so we took sweet Jack for a ride on the golf cart to see the turtles in the lake, (“How did those turtles get in the lake? Why does that turtle have squares on his back and the other has circles? What are they eating in there?”), the library, the dog park (“Why are those dogs in the fence? What are their names?”), the baseball park (“Who are those people out there?”), and the pier (“Why is the pier cut off? What kind of fish are those? What are those birds doing?”). He was enthralled with everything. Every little thing. Plus he had 1000 questions about every little thing. Which is why he is so smart! (That and the fact he is in our family!) But I truly love the pure joy Jack found in the ocean, sand, and seashells (treasures)… Just like Aunt Les. My buddy. To top the weekend off, we celebrated his birthday Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. We do like to extend birthdays in our family.

“Kids take such joy in the littlest things. We should too.”

Speaking of joy, yesterday I was allowed to run solidly for 30 minutes. No walking. I had passed the program of 30 minutes of walking 4/running 2 minutes, walking 3/running 3 minutes, walking 2/running 4 minutes and graduated to running 30 minutes straight.  Honestly, I did not think I could make it, but I did. Joyfully! A friend drove by and said he had never seen such a happy runner. It has been a LONG time coming y’all! My life is returning to normal.

Is it hard for you to find pure joy in your life? I bet not, if you stop, think, look around, and realize what all you have in your life to be thankful for. Yes we all face challenges, obstacles, and low points in our lives, but that makes us appreciate the joy from the good times even more. After all, if we never experienced sadness, loss, or pain, we would not know joy.

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

All of my people (except mom)…

One thing (among many others!) I have learned over the last 3 SOLO years, is that there is always, always, always something to be thankful for, and joy to be found in so many things I once took for granted. Please don’t wait for the “low” time to hit you to appreciate what you have in your life. Look around you, at your life, your family, your friends, your opportunities, your blessings, and truly see what there is to be thankful for. Find that joy! And find it again every day because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

My joy!

“Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea, Joy to you and me…”  Three Dog Night

Best,

Leslie

PS There are only 125 days until Christmas y’all!

 

 

 

Good Day Sunshine… Beatles 1966

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Life can be so ironic, you know what I mean? It can be filled with sadness and happiness at the same time. Last Friday I left Charlottesville pre-dawn, heading to NC. Went straight to see my sweet momma who was as happy to see me as I was to see her. “Hey Les!” Always glad to hear her greet me by name. We were just catching up when she surprised me and asked if I was dating! After I picked myself up off the floor, I thought to myself, “WOW, she remembered this time.” Remembered that I am SOLO, which is kinda ironic, considering Friday was supposed to be my 39th wedding anniversary. Ironically, I found it very comforting that she remembered that one major fact of my life on that particular day. And that’s the story I am going with, not that she thinks I might still be in high school and dating!

Left mom to meet my sisters and brother-in-law for lunch at Sweet Potatoes in downtown Winston-Salem before we attended the funeral of our cousin, who lost her courageous battle with cancer. It was good to see our other cousins – her brothers, and their family. Childhood memories flooded my thoughts sitting there, remembering trips to the beach together, traveling in the back of my aunt’s station wagon (no seatbelts!) waving at people and trying to get big trucks to “toot their horn” at us, pulling a camper. My aunt would do just about anything, and my mom always went along, bringing her 3 girls. Lots of fun times at the beach – playing in the ocean and looking for shells, and fried bologna sandwiches for lunch everyday (my younger daughter and I continue this tradition at the beach!). A bit ironic that here I am today, back where it all started… Surfside Beach.

Beach hair and we don’t care!

After the funeral, my older sister and I traveled to the Surfside Beach together (brother-in-law came Saturday). Well kinda traveled together. I have been accused of having a lead foot, unlike my sister who is a much more cautious driver. (She would NEVER drive into water!) So even though we did not stay right together, we did meet up when we stopped for gas halfway. And talked on the phone several times during the trip. Happily arrived at the beach while the sun was still up (barely!). We are losing 2 minutes of light every day! Since we had had a fairly big lunch and it was a bit late, my sister and I decided to go light on dinner and headed to Surf Diner to share an appetizer and enjoy a glass of wine on their ocean-front deck. There was a good breeze, filled with that heavenly salty, humid beach air, plus the usual fireworks on the beach to entertain us. Lord have I missed this place! Due to moving kids, I did not get down here at all in July.

Though so thankful to be at the beach, in less than 10 hours, I was on the road again early Saturday morning heading to Kiawah Island to meet my son, his fiancée and her parents to look at wedding and rehearsal dinner venues. Life gets even more ironic here y’all. How? Well, as I was driving onto beautiful Kiawah Island, I realized that 39 years ago that day, I was a 22-year-old newlywed driving onto Kiawah Island for my honeymoon! How ironic that 39 years later (don’t flinch at my age, y’all already know how old I am!) I find myself at the same place, looking at wedding venues for my adorable son and his beautiful fiancée. Was it painful? Hurtful? Devastating? Absolutely not! That’s when it hit me… I am truly happy in this ironic life I am living. I have moved on. I am okay. And even though I don’t believe that “time heals all wounds”, I do believe time eases the hurt and helps you move on. After all, it has been 3 years y’all. Plus, I have many good memories of our family vacations at Kiawah and we are making more this coming year!

“The best things in life are the people you love, the places you’ve seen, and the memories you’ve made along the way.”

So Sunday, after attending Mass in Kiawah with my son, his fiancée (I just love calling her that!), and her family, I headed back to my beach house (aka “Don’t Worry, Beach Happy!”) for the week. Arrived in time to ride my bike to my sister’s for dinner. Caught her up on the weekend’s events and excitedly talked about plans for the rehearsal dinner and wedding. When Monday arrived, after struggling through my first time back running at the beach, I spent the whole day on the beach, sleeping and reading (have read 2 books this week!), not leaving the beach until after 6:30 pm. And since Surf Diner was so much fun Friday night, I decided to head back there for dinner, especially since they will be shut down in October when the pier begins the rebuilding phase. As I was seated, my waitress said, “just one?” When I answered yes, she surprised me by saying she was proud of me for going to dinner by myself. And no, I did not know this woman, but of course I do now! She has been SOLO for 13 years and has yet to go out to dinner by herself, SOLO. And you know what? I, too, am proud of myself for going to dinner by myself, sitting at a big picnic table surrounded by families and couples, and you know what? I had a great dinner and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

“Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.” John Barrymore

Speaking of SOLO, I also took myself out to dinner last Thursday night before heading out of town. I was running last minute errands before my trip, and decided to treat myself to dinner at Bonefish. Boy was it good! And fun! Knew the bartender, so I did not even have to tell her my order (I always get the same thing!) and saw a group of special friends at the bar where I was eating. Plus, some of my old cul-de-sac neighbors came in for dinner. Shared a glass of wine with them before heading home to pack for my trip.

“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.”

So yes, I am proud. Proud that I have overcome the obstacles and challenges life has thrown at me, and yet, I still love my life. I wake up looking forward to what each day may bring. Very easy to say this while being down here at my happy place! But even when I am not down here, I do look forward to each and every day. And especially this week. My younger sister is set to arrive later today (sister time!), 2 of my kids Thursday, my nephew and his family Friday morning, and my other kids Friday evening. All the people I love most in life, except for our sweet momma, who just cannot make the trip anymore, will be together. Family weekend y’all! The BEST!

“Family, we may not have it all together, but together, we have it all.”

So appreciate the irony in your life and find something each day that makes you happy, no matter how ironic it may be. Remember you can be happy even with difficulties interrupting your life. Look on the bright (sunny!) side of life’s challenges and be thankful for each and every day, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“The sun is a daily reminder that we too can rise again from the darkness, that we too can shine in our own light.”

Best,

Leslie

PS I also got my baby fix (at least until Sweet Izzie gets here!) while in Kiawah! Oh what a sweet baby…

 

“Love of Life”… CBS soap opera September 24, 1951 – February 1, 1980

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

After moving my kids the previous 2 weekends, I was a bit thankful there was no move scheduled for this past weekend. WHEW! Instead, it was time to have some fun! And there was a party involved. After driving to Short Pump to take my daughter’s 6:15 am cycle class on Thursday morning, I went back Saturday afternoon to spend some time with her, shop a bit, get mother/daughter mani/pedis, and then attend the All Team Party for our Short Pump club. The club closed early to allow the team to go to the party on the rooftop (where the pool is located). Weather was perfect, food was great, music was good, entertainment was amazing – a magician performing some unimaginable tricks, and there was a photo booth. Plus the General Manager (my son-in-law) made sure there was a very cold Bud Light Lime for his favorite mother-in-law. So glad I went!

“Stop looking for reasons to be unhappy. Focus on the things you do have and the reasons you should be happy.”

Last week a friend (and co-worker) brought me her daily calendar quote saying, “This is you!” What?!? It was about romance. Does she know something I don’t know? Have to admit, after reading it, I had to agree with her!

“I think it’s a misconception that you can live a romantic life only if you are in a relationship. In my humble opinion, some of the most romantic people I know are not married or even dating. These single women refuse to let that detail diminish their capacity for romance – richness of experience, enjoyment, love, and fulfillment. They are true romantics without men…”

I took this as a huge compliment. I admit, I LOVE romance… probably more than most people. Why do you think I love Hallmark movies and watch them over and over? They are so romantic –  always a love–ly story where the couple always ends up together, they’re always happy, and they always end with a kiss. What could be more romantic? And romance novels…Oh, I have always loved reading a good love story. (I also love mysteries!) And I love life. Truly love life. I find enjoyment spending time with my family and my friends and also just by myself. SOLO. So yes, I guess I am a true romantic!

“Learning to be alone and enjoying it is the most empowering gift you can give yourself.”  Steven Aitchison

What about you? Are you a romantic? What does romance mean to you? Romance is different for everyone, and different at different stages of life. Honestly, it holds a whole new meaning to me these days since becoming SOLO. WAY back in the day, in high school, romance was having my boyfriend decorate my locker on my birthday. In college, romance was riding around in my convertible MGB with my special “friend” before he became my boyfriend. And the day he became my boyfriend, he brought me flowers. We would talk on the phone (landline) for hours when we were not together. We became inseparable (until 3 years ago!). But as a young, busy mother, instead of flowers, I always appreciated having my house cleaned! Now that was romantic… I have shared this tidbit with many young husbands – forego the flowers and have your house cleaned for your wife. She’ll be forever grateful. Or vacuum the house, do the dishes, take the trash out, offer to pick up dinner. These little things mean so much to a busy wife. Not only will she appreciate you, she will find it very romantic. It’s called being thoughtful and is evidence that you realize and appreciate what all she does.

Romance is found in many little things. For me, it used to be a text, a phone call, a shared look, holding hands. Ever heard of the “5 Love Languages”Words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, gifts, quality time. Which of these resonate with you as romantic? I guess I am a words of affirmation or physical touch person. The goal is to find which language is most important for you and for your relationship partner, and follow through. Prime example? One person may be happy to vacuum the house, if it means you will spend quality time with them; while another is thrilled you took it upon yourself to vacuum for him/her. That’s romance for you! So another tidbit of advice to couples – if you want to be romantic, treasure your partner and let them know you are thinking about them in the way that matters to them. And of course, flowers are always nice. An “old” friend I knew before moving to VA is dating a man who sends her flowers every Friday. EVERY FRIDAY y’all. Even when they are on vacation. If that is not true romance, I don’t know what is. Oh, and he has been doing this for more than a year. (Where do you find a man like that?!?!)

“The sweetest things you can do for a girl are the little things that let her know she’s in your heart and on your mind.”

Being part of a couple is wonderful and special. Someone to share everything (romance) with. But there is nothing wrong with being SOLO either. As I have said time and again, I am enjoying being SOLO, discovering life in a new and different, yet very “romantic” way, and only answering to myself. The dictionary defines romance in many different ways, but one I can relate to is “a quality or feeling of mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life.” I find romance in having fun. Meeting friends for a drink after work (did that last week). Meeting old neighbors for dinner (did that too!). Even having dinner out SOLO and eating at the bar is romantic to me. You bond with the bartenders and meet very interesting people at the bar. Walking on the beach? Of course that’s romantic!  Even moving my kids! I am having a love affair with life y’all! And why not?

“Happiness is a choice, not a result. Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy. No person will make you happy until you decide to BE happy. Your happiness will not come to you. It can only come from you.” Ralph Marston

A sweet couple I know from church stood up Sunday and shared that they were celebrating their 55th wedding anniversary. Kudos to them! They obviously know what it takes to make it. As do my in-laws, who are celebrating their 65th anniversary. True romance! I recently saw a sweet post on Facebook of an elderly couple holding hands with the caption, “I want to hold your hand at 80 and say ‘we made it’.” These couples made it. I wanted that too, but as we all know, that is not going to happen. And I am ok with that now. I realize there are worse things that could happen and many better things that have happened.

“At some point in life, someone will love you more than what you’ve expected. Be patient and learn to wait, because sometimes a patient person receives the best love story.”

So go out and find that “Love of Life”, the romance in your SOLO life, your marriage, your relationship. Never let it disappear. Romance makes life exciting. And remember, you can be SOLO and lead a romantic life! Make every day a romantic day, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

PS – We lose an hour of daylight in the month of August… an hour y’all! It’s downhill from here…but it is uphill for me as I move up to 3 minutes of walking followed by 3 minutes of running this week for 30 minutes. I’ll take it!

PSS – Did any of you ever see “Love of Life” on CBS? I know my mom watched it so I must have as a kid as well.

 

“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” Elton John 1973

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Any of y’all have a green thumb? Success with special plants that must thrive? I’ll take any advice you can share with me! I have been tasked with keeping some special plants alive from my older daughter’s yard (scary, I know!). Plants that grew from cuttings I shared with her from my house (pre-SOLO days) when they moved to their house 4 years ago. Why are these plants so special and important? They came from my Mom’s yard when I moved up here in 1997 and many of those originated from my Grandmother’s garden. Problem was, these can’t be planted at their new house yet as they are not even close to the landscaping stage. So I carefully brought them home and lovingly planted them under my deck and around my house. I’ll give them lots of love and water and do my best to keep them alive and healthy so they can be transplanted to my daughter’s new house in the fall (if I can give them up then!). Just hoping the deer don’t spot them!

“Family, like branches on a tree, we all grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one.”

Yep, last Saturday was Moving Part 2 (remember – the previous weekend was Moving Part 1 to Charlotte for my younger daughter). Another HOT July weekend, another moving truck – this time a MUCH bigger Penske truck that thankfully, I was not driving. And luckily, this move was somewhat “local.” My older daughter and son-in-law downsized to an apartment while their house is being finished. I kept reminding them, selling your house early is a good problem to have! And it will only be for a couple of months. Enjoy this time – no yardwork, only 3 rooms to keep clean, 5 minute walk to the club (ACAC Short Pump), Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods. They could have moved in with me, but instead, they moved 95% of their belongings to my house!

My sweet son helped with this move as well – coming up Friday night in time to have dinner with his momma. Wonderful having him under my roof again. And thank heavens he was here to help – there were some very heavy pieces of furniture my son-in-law built that took all of us to get on the truck. I think my daughter was probably most worried about getting the last thing, her Peloton bike, from the 2nd floor to the truck (me too – it was heavy and awkward!). Miraculously, everything fit, truck door was closed, and we caravanned to their new apartment to make the first delivery – the few pieces they will need for the next 3 months (bed, sofa, TV). Then it was on to their big storage unit (aka my basement) to unload the rest. Luckily, unloading goes much quicker than loading. To say we were worn out by late afternoon is an understatement. After much needed showers, my daughter and son-in-law took us out to dinner at Three Notched Brewery to celebrate the end of their first move. Thankfully, there is not another move next weekend! One of my friends said to me, “It’s really neat that your whole family pitches in on each other’s moves.” So true. We could not have accomplished so much without each other. Family foundation.

“The most important thing in the world is family and love.”  John Wooden.

Funny, as we were moving furniture and talking these past weeks, we realized how many pieces of furniture have been passed around our family. I have a sofa from my sister, table and “secretary” from my mom. My older daughter has a table that was mine, younger daughter has my mom’s sleeper sofa and a coffee table from my younger sister, my son has my son-in-law’s kitchen table and chairs and they have all traded blenders, microwaves, comforters, etc. Plus everyone in the family has special art on their walls painted by my talented older sister. Keeping it in the family. And sharing.

“In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future.” Alex Haley

My younger daughter spent her first weekend settling in her new apartment in Charlotte. She’ll come up when the BIG move to the BIG house happens in the fall for her sister. She had a great first week at her new job, in her new city, and loves it. Could not be happier for her. I do miss her, but I made it through the week, even ventured to our old stomping grounds, King Family Vineyards, last Wednesday night for “Wine Wednesday” – live music, wine, and friends. Went by myself but met some friends out there for a beautiful, humidity-free night. Would never have done this if my daughter had not introduced me to KFV. Thankful.

Cheers from KFV!

“Families are the compass that guides us. They are the inspiration to reach great heights, and our comfort when we occasionally falter.”  Brad Henry

So Goodbye July! You have been such a HOT, fun, and extremely eventful month! No trips to the beach, but lots of time with all of my kids and family. Would not trade this July for anything. I got to see my son get engaged and celebrate with the happy couple and her family, my younger daughter was offered a new job in Charlotte, accepted, found a place to live, moved, and is so happy, and my older daughter and son-in-law’s new house is under roof, their old house sold and they have moved to a temporary apartment. With all the events and moves, I have seen my kids every weekend in July. Also, I started my Return to Running program (outside) this week and am so happy! It’s a slow process, but it’s finally happening. Best July ever! Life is good y’all.

And I’ll do my best to keep my daughter’s beautiful plants alive, tending to and caring for them to keep this family “link” growing. You should do the same – care for and tend to what ever is near and dear to your heart, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“Caring is a gift that no one can buy. It’s made up of love that roots in our hearts and creates memories, not just for a while but for a lifetime…”

Best,

Leslie

PS – Did you know that today, July 31st, is Harry Potter’s birthday?!?!  Any idea how old he is? Ok, I’ll tell you – Harry Potter is 39 years old today (born 7/31/1980). Make you feel old? Happy Birthday HP!

 

 

 

“Bye Bye Baby, Baby Goodbye” Frankie Valli 1965

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Do you ever get the feeling that you are exactly where you are supposed to be? I experienced that moment the other week, when my younger daughter and I were enjoying pizza and wine at Old House Vineyards. We have our routine when we are out at vineyards, and that includes blasting Elton John and Billy Joel on the drive home and singing along loudly (and out of tune). This winery trip was no different, except we got our Elton John fix a little earlier. We were enjoying the sunshine, taking a bite of pizza, when suddenly our ears perked up as we heard the familiar opening to Benny and the Jets and we looked at each other and burst out with B-B-B-Benny and the Jetsssss! Made our day!

I had that feeling again on Friday as I was helping my younger daughter finish packing up her house to move to NC. I looked up in the kitchen and saw a dragonfly hanging out on the light fixture. It stayed wherever we were packing up. I mentioned it, surprised, and my daughter calmly said, “it has been watching over me all morning.” Dragonflies hold a special place in my daughter’s life, representing a very special friend she lost in high school to cancer. She took this as a positive sign that everything would work out for her, that she was doing exactly what she was supposed to.

Special Dragonfly….

“If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.” Paulo Coehlo

Despite that calming moment, the whirlwind of last week continued. After many get-togethers for drinks, dinners, lunches, and breakfasts, my younger daughter said goodbye to her friends, her work, and her life in Charlottesville as moving Part 1 happened this past weekend. Every free (and non-free) minute I have had over the last 2 weeks has been devoted to helping this child pare down and pack up for her new adventure. Friday, she and I picked up the rental truck. Have always used Penske trucks and did so again (AAA discount helps!). But for the first time, I was the driver. SOLO. And nervous about driving that big truck (especially across state lines!). Being a bit height challenged, I made sure the seat was up as far as possible so I could see over the steering wheel (which I was gripping with all of my might), and the mirrors were positioned so I could see around me. I mean, there is NO rear view mirror. Took out extra insurance just in case!

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

10-4 Good Buddy! I can drive this!

Motored back to her apartment safely and without incident, and with the help of a dear friend of hers, packed all of the boxes and smaller furniture in the truck before my older daughter and son-in-law came to help load the BIG furniture (sleeper sofa, dresser, bed, chair). We could not have done it without them all. By the way y’all, it was HOT Friday packing that truck! We were soaking wet with sweat, but we got ‘er done. And I had both my girls under my roof Friday night. My son-in-law took my granddawg back to Richmond after having dinner with us to work on packing them up for their move next weekend.

It was 108 degrees HOT!

It was HOT Saturday as well! Our caravan left my house at 5:30 am with my older daughter in the lead, her Tahoe full of the clothes and a big TV, followed by me driving the Penske truck (with more confidence!), and my younger daughter pulling up the rear. I thought to myself that here we were – 3 strong women, heading to Charlotte. Made me proud. Four hours and 40 minutes later, we pulled into my younger daughter’s new apartment. We were anxious to see it in person – my younger daughter and I had walked all around it when we were in Charlotte, but they did not have Saturday office hours. So my sweet son and his fiancee’ looked at it the next week for us and sent a video. They gave it their stamp of approval and I saw why. It’s a cute, light, airy apartment in a very good, safe location (only half a mile from my son). My son, his fiancee’, her father, brother-in-law, and brother came and helped us unload the truck. The sweat was pouring but the truck was unloaded within 40 minutes! Again, we could not have done it without them and were so thankful. My sisters and my brother-in-law arrived shortly thereafter for the second shift – unpacking! My older sister worked with my daughter to set up her kitchen, while my older daughter (aka “the organizer”) and my younger sister unpacked and set up her closet, bedroom, and bathroom. My son and his fiancee’ went with me to return the truck, made a quick trip to Target to pick up a few things we needed, and picked up lunch from Chik-fil-A (did you know there’s an APP to order lunch at Chick-fil-A?! There is!) We were amazed at the progress made with the unpacking and organizing when we returned! And as she did with me when I moved in my house SOLO, my older sister got to work making this house a home by adding her flair and personal touches. My son and brother-in-law then worked on hanging the heavy pictures, mirrors, wine rack, etc., while my sisters and I worked on hanging the lighter pictures. And my sweet brother-in-law broke down all the boxes and put them in his car to recycle back in Winston-Salem. We had so much fun – the 8 of us unpacking, hanging pictures, organizing – lots of laughs, jokes, singing (off key of course), and just horsing around. It was fun and it was work, and it was family! It took a village of special people to make this move happen so efficiently and so fun. We all left around 4:30 as my daughter already had plans with friends in Charlotte! My heart is full. So many prayers have been answered for this child and for that I am so thankful. Plus I got to spend time with all of my kids and my sisters. However, we did not take pictures! Did not realize it until my older daughter and I started our trip back home to VA.

“Family is the support you will never have to pay for because come rain, or shine, they will be there to cheer you on with every one of your life goals.”

Even though I experienced the same feelings I had when dropping my kids off at college (away from me), I was brave when we left. Helped that I was with my older daughter. We had a good trip home, talking for 4 ½ hours (we are never at a loss for words!) and then we talked on the phone as she traveled the hour from my house to hers. Wanted to make sure she stayed awake – it had been a LONG and wonderful day, but we were beat!

“Although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” ~ Carl Bard

Slept in Sunday and then headed to my younger daughter’s old apartment to finish cleaning, packing my car with the unused boxes to recycle, stuff for Goodwill, and trash. More prayers were answered as her apartment was rented, and the new tenants wanted the furniture she did not take! Took a big burden off my shoulders on what to do with an extra sofa, chair, ottoman, and 2 bookshelves. After 2 trips to the recycle center and Goodwill, I went back to my house to reorganize my garage from everything that had been dumped there over the last week. I needed to get it ready to house some heavy pieces of furniture that my older daughter does not want to go to storage next weekend when they move to their temporary apartment while their house is being finished. Felt so good to get my house back in order. I thrive on order and routine!

My dear sisters and brother-in-law were so happy to be a part of my daughter’s move. They’ll come back to help when my older daughter and son-in-law move into their new house this fall. Family is so important y’all. We support each other in many ways. Some things that may seem small are actually very big to us. The fact that my soon to be daughter-in-law’s family gave up their Saturday morning to unload our truck in the 100 degree weather when they barely know us, tells me how important family is to them as well. We are now their family. My sisters and brother-in-law making the trip to Charlotte to help my daughter may seem small, but it was huge! My older daughter making the trip (10+ hours of driving in one day) when she has packing to do as well… huge! My sweet son giving up his Saturday plans to help his sister and be with our family – testament of how important family is to him. I was so happy to be with my family!

“The greatest gifts our parents ever gave us was each other.”

As much as I miss my girl, I am so happy for her. We have waited patiently for this opportunity, and truly made the most of the time we had together up here. I have had more fun in the last 3 years than I can remember. And it will not end. (Look out Charlotte!) We have a lot of family fun things planned, not to mention planning for a rehearsal dinner and wedding in 2020! So much to look forward to. So much to be thankful for. And for me, all the text messages, phone calls, and emails from friends checking to see how I am faring without my buddy mean the world to me. Truly.

“New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.” – Lao Tzu

Be patient waiting for God’s plan for you because it will be wonderful. Enjoy every opportunity you get to spend with your family and friends, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Good luck penny found in Charlotte! Good sign!

“So Bye Bye Baby, Baby Goodbye…”  Frankie Valli 1965

Best,

Leslie

PS Moving Part II happens next weekend as we repeat the move with my older daughter and her husband. Whew! We are tired y’all!

 

“O-o-h, O-o-h Child…” Five Stairsteps 1970

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

“Was it kinda like a whirlwind?” We moved to Charlottesville in April of 1997. One year later, in May of 1998, a tornado hit my old neighborhood in Clemmons, NC, where my sister and brother-in-law were living. It was devastating, but luckily no lives were lost. Homes, on the other hand, were damaged beyond imagination. We headed down to my sister’s armed with a chainsaw, waters, and other supplies to help them clean up all the trees down in their yard. Their house was spared, unlike so many of my old neighbors’. My grandmother was still living then, and kept asking “was it kinda like a whirlwind?”Oh yes Grandma, it was definitely like a whirlwind!” And that has become an inside family joke for us, any time life gets a bit crazy, we say “was it kinda like a whirlwind?!?

“Life is a whirlwind of many opportunities. Choose to embrace all of them in deepest gratitude.” Michelle Cruz

My life has been like a whirlwind these past couple of weeks. My sweet son got engaged and I got to be part of it! We are all still riding the high from that excitement. My younger daughter was offered and accepted an exciting new job in Charlotte, NC, and found an apartment half a mile from her brother, all in the span of 2 weeks. Her last day at her “old” job was this past Friday, giving her a week to pack up and move. She and I have been going through closets, cabinets, drawers, paring down. Many trips to donation sites and the local dumpster. Sold unneeded furniture and updated furniture going to the new apartment with a fresh coat of paint. I have become a master painter – thank you Rust-oleum spray paint! Amazing what a coat of paint will do for an old lamp (or 2) and a piece of furniture (night stand, wine cart, trunk, stools, and a desk!). Also painted all the knobs separately (same color as the lamps). Only problem I faced was painting before the temperature rose to 90 degrees which meant some early morning painting days. Thankfully, my driveway is a blacktop, though areas are now a bit darker than others. YIKES!

“Old, peeling & crusty paint has to be scraped away to make way for a new coat. Letting go of the old in life can sometimes feel like you’re being scraped & sanded, but it’s just prep work for beautiful new hues.” Jane Lee Logan

I have been thankful for the whirlwind of my life recently – it has kept me unbelievably busy so I don’t have to think about next week, when my younger daughter is no longer living in the same town as me. She and I have had a lot of fun together these past 3 years, fun that I would have missed out on had I not become SOLO. (Always a silver lining!) I am so happy for her though – this move is going to be great for her! And I’ll have 3 kids (now that my son is engaged!) living in the same town. I’ll readjust, put a fresh coat of paint on my life and move forward, it’s just that I am scraping and sanding right now. And it hurts a bit!

“Change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous in the end.” Robin Sharma

My younger daughter and I have been spending time together doing things we have had on our to do list. Visited several more wineries, one we have not visited before but sampled at the Wine Festival in May, one we have visited before but wanted to go back when there was music and food, and a return visit to the winery where my older daughter got married. Have not been back there since 2015 and it has expanded to include a brewery and a distillery. Plus they were serving brick oven pizzas Monday afternoon, so we took advantage of my younger daughter not working this week, and went there for the afternoon. Besides she needed a break from packing and I needed a break from painting! Saturday, after painting furniture and packing, we headed out to Cunningham Creek where the wine was flowing, the music playing, and the food delicious! We even played cards while sharing a bottle of wine and enjoying the music. Gosh I am going to miss this girl! It’s so fun when your children grow up, become independent, and become your friend. You no longer have to “discipline” them – they are responsible for all of their actions! I am lucky that not only am I my kids’ momma, I am their friend. And nothing I love more than being with them. Needless to say, we have a lot to look forward to coming up soon, from beach trips to football games.

“Home is where mom is.”

I always want my kids to feel that my house is their home. Even though they have their own places, and though this is not the house they grew up in, it is my home, and where we all get together as a family. So… home is where mom is, and where families gather. And actually, my basement if filled with the majority of my older daughter and son-in-law’s belongings as they transition to their temporary apartment until their house is finished, so my home is really their home right now! And I don’t mind a bit!

Yes, life is definitely in whirlwind status this week and next (moving my older daughter and son-in-law next weekend!). Plus my younger daughter and I took advantage of our last time to work out together and had personal training with our favorite trainer. AND I moved up to walk a lap, jog a lap status for half a mile this week, a mile next week, outside the following week! I had to take a breath and write my blog y’all. Actually, it is therapy for me. So the whirlwind stopped for a bit to let me finish the blog before heading back to my daughter’s to pack up. Moving day is Saturday, of course the hottest day of the year by far, both here in Charlottesville, and in Charlotte! But we will be prepared. The whirlwind continues!

When your life seems to be “kinda like a whirlwind”, be thankful. It is most likely a blessing in disguise. And when big changes come into your life, power through all the scraping and sanding and put on that fresh coat of paint and look for “the beautiful new hues” because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“Ooh-oo child…Things are gonna get easier…Ooh-oo child…Things’ll get brighter…”  Five Stairsteps 1970

Best,

Leslie

PS  On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon, which he did for over 3 hours. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”  So… Monday night, July 15th, the International Space Station was visible for 6 minutes at 10:29 pm and my kids and I were all outside watching it and texting each other at the same time, from different cities. Cool, right?

 

“Going to the Chapel…” Dixie Cups 1964

Welcome to SOLO at SIXTY!

For you married folk (and those who have become SOLO!), do you remember when you got engaged? Was it memorable? Special? Romantic? Honestly y’all, I don’t remember the exact moment I got engaged. Have I blocked it out? Possibly. I do remember going to look at rings, only 3 months after we started dating, and I remember talking to my parents in February, but beyond that…nada. Got married 6 months later, and stayed married for 35+ years.

I think a proposal should be memorable…romantic…special. It is, after all, a life changing moment for a couple. My son-in-law thought so as well – he planned a special trip to the beach house with my daughter, knowing that is one of her favorite places (besides Chapel Hill). Took her out to dinner then to the beach to look for shells, and, being an introvert, he waited for everyone to leave the beach. Well, by that time it was almost dark! He finally told her to look at the shell he had found. When she turned around, he was on one knee with a diamond instead of a shell. We now call this area “engagement sand” when we are on the beach. It is one of our favorite areas to set up our chairs! Joined them the following day to celebrate. Oh, and she did say YES!

“You don’t marry someone you can live with, you marry someone you cannot live without.”

OK, I cannot wait any longer – I am busting at the seams! I AM GAINING A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW! And I could not have picked a better one for my favorite guy, yes, my adorable son. He has been dating a kind, caring, smart, and beautiful girl who we (his sisters and I and of course my son!) absolutely love. She makes him so happy. As his mother, I cannot ask for more than for him to marry someone who fits right in our family, and whose family loves him just as much. Score 2 for us! My son’s fiancée (oh I love saying that!) has spent a lot of time with us – football games, basketball games, visits to Charlottesville, to Winston-Salem to see my family, and to the beach. She also spent a weekend with my younger daughter and me in Charlotte and ran a race with us when my son was out of town. As far as we were concerned, she was already a member of our family. And my son has felt a part of her family as well – and what a wonderful (and big) family it is! I met them last summer when they invited me for brunch one Sunday when I was passing through Charlotte on my way home from the beach. I had heard all about them from my son, and was so thankful to meet them in person, as I knew my son was very serious about this special girl. After all, I saw him kiss the top of her head once – and I just knew it then! Mother’s intuition.

“A daughter-in-law is one who marries your son and becomes your friend.”

So how did it all go down and how did I put 850 miles on my car in 2 days? My son wanted the proposal to be a total surprise and at a time when her family would be together to share the big moment. She is very close to her parents, 2 older sisters, their husbands and children, and her older brother (who my son is also very good friends with). He visited her parents to ask for their blessing and to see when the family would all be together. Just so happens that would be the week of the 4th of July. So he planned it for 6 pm Friday night, July 5th at Lake Toxaway in NC. I was blessed to be there as well. With no hesitation I was happy to drive 6 ½ hours to share in the moment – I would not have missed it for the world. Before I left home, I texted my prayer group and asked that they pray for the sun to be shining at 6 pm that evening and that I would explain later. Drove mostly through sun, constantly saying a prayer of thanks. Stopped by to see my mom – her exit is right off of I-40 on my way to the BIG EVENT! Sidebar:  Mom is doing very well! She is much better now that she is back home in assisted living, surrounded by caring people, and is progressing well with physical therapy. I told her that I was heading to witness her grandson getting engaged. “What? Is he old enough to get married?” “Yes Mom, he is 28 years old.” “WHAT?!? Has he graduated from high school yet?” “Yep, he’s actually a man now, Mom.” “Well give him my love.” “Consider it done!”

Momma’s back home!

So, back to the story… the sun was shining and I was sending up many thanks as I got closer to my destination. Until I turned into Lake Toxaway and, oops, it started pouring. Oh my, what would we do? Was there a Plan B? Nope. Ok, I had total confidence that the sun would shine – just like I did the day my older daughter got married and it was pouring rain in the morning, but clear by wedding time. Besides, my friends have a direct line to the Big Man above! After texting with my soon to be daughter-in-law’s mother, I parked at the top of their driveway and she smuggled me inside just as the rain stopped and the sun came out! No joke. My son took his (now) fianceé down to the edge of the lake and we all snuck out to the deck, cameras rolling. We watched them walk hand in hand to the edge of the water where my son got down on one knee, brought out the ring, and asked her to spend the rest of her life with him. Thankfully, she said YES! And lo and behold, there appeared a beautiful rainbow. In her family, rainbows hold a very special meaning, and so I understood why it had to rain before the sun shone brightly on this sweet couple. Special blessings.

I have never seen such happy kids! Big smiles all around. It was a total surprise for my soon to be daughter-in-law. Her family, my daughters, my sisters (I could not keep it from them – they also love this special girl and of course my son) and I knew, but it was a total surprise for her, just as it should be. It was also a surprise for her 4 nieces and 1 lone nephew (ages 3-7), who kept asking why Michael was on one knee and why they were kissing! Then a lightbulb went off and they ran to them screaming “Aunt Jenny, can we be flower girls!” We celebrated with champagne and a sunset cruise on the lake followed by a wonderful dinner. Her family is so welcoming, fun, and musical! After dinner when all the grandkids were tucked in bed, we sat out on the porch with a lovely fire, a glass of wine, and beautiful singing accompanied by a guitar. I mean, one of her sisters met her husband in an acapella group, and I think they all have musical talent. Musical talent does not run as large in our family, but we do enjoy listening! What a wonderful day it was.

“Who we marry is one of the most important decisions in life.”  Nathan Workman

Saturday morning I woke up early, so happy and excited for my son and his fianceé. Plus I did not want to oversleep! I looked out my window to a beautiful calm morning with the sun reflecting off the lake. And who else was too excited to sleep? My future daughter-in-law! So we sat on the porch and just enjoyed the morning and talked. Oh my, she is so special. I could not be happier for my son or our family.

“Daughter-in-law: Created by God and hand chosen by my son to be loved, cherished, and valued in our family.”

Backing up a bit, I did spend the 4th of July with my daughters and my son-in-law’s family. My older daughter walked my 2.5 mile loop with me early in the morning (after her hour-long run!) and my younger daughter and I visited several wineries in the afternoon before I headed to a cookout complete with cornhole and fireworks. It was a busy and fun day, followed by such a special day.

My heart is full. I am so thankful. Big things are happening all around me. As I told you last week, my younger daughter is moving to Charlotte. I left my son and his soon to be in-law family Saturday and met my daughter in Charlotte to look at apartments before heading back to Charlottesville, hence the 850 miles. More to come on that next week. But first, this weekend is going to be filled with Hallmark Christmas movies (and packing up my daughter). Christmas in July y’all!

“Being a family means you are part of something very wonderful. It means you will love and be loved for the rest of your life. No matter what.”

I hope your hearts are full too. I am savoring these happy moments and memories with my family, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

PS Did you watch the USA Women win the World Cup Sunday? Way to go USA’s WOMEN SOCCER!!