ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?!?

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Well…. It is officially fall Y’all. Luckily, I was at the beach when I had to say goodbye to my favorite season, summer. It did not feel like fall as the beach temperatures were in the upper 80’s… heavenly for this summer-loving SOLO gal!

“With the changing seasons comes new beginnings…”

Fall means FOOTBALL and TAILGATING to me. My kids are master tailgaters! We get season tickets and a parking pass to UNC football games and hope for 3:30 games – best for tailgating. Last week against Duke, we lucked up with a 3:30 game. I left the beach and arrived in Chapel Hill by 10:00am. Of course the tailgate tent was already set up and jamming with music, beer, TV – ESPN Game Day (with satellite DISH), generator, beer, food, grill, cooler, beer, food, Corn Holes, beer, chairs, and food. Not to mention the flag pole with the Carolina and American flags proudly blowing in the wind. And did I mention beer and food? My daughter has a wonderful spread of food complete with homemade Tar Heel cookies. Meanwhile, my son-in-law fires up the grill and lunch is on the way. Gosh, I love the smell of grilling. And the people behind us were smoking a pig!

“A Champion is simply someone who did NOT give up when they wanted to.” Tom Landry (My Momma always loved Tom Landry and the Dallas Cowboys)

Tailgating in that beautiful sea of Carolina blue in the Skipper Bowles’ lot is the best way to spend a Saturday. Other tailgaters come around to see what the score is on the game we might be watching on TV, visit a bit, and admire our setup. Especially the corn hole boards my son-in-law made, complete with beer holders, a bottle cap opener, and lights around the hole in case we ever get a night game! Honestly, there is nothing else that could be added to our tailgate – my daughter and son-in-law have thought of everything. Even a turf carpet. Well, I did tell my daughter that I saw fresh flowers and mums at one of the other tailgates – she said I could provide those! Maybe next game. I did venture over to the RV tailgating lot. WHOA, what a setup those fans have.

Tailgate breakdown takes about 15 minutes. My daughter and son-in-law have this down to a science. Then off on our trek to the stadium (gotta get our steps in). Luckily, last Saturday was a beautiful day. Not so lucky was the result of the game. Our seats are really good this year – 45-yard line. We are on the home side and therefore not suffering from the sun blazing in our eyes. However, I bet that sun will feel good in a couple of weeks when the temperatures drop! I love Carolina football games. The chants of TAR (on one side) … HEELS (on the other), third down bell gongs, the 4th quarter waves, and hearing the announcer say “First down… Tar HEELS!” Heard that a lot Saturday, just not enough. Yes, we lost. There were so many highs and lows to the game, but overall, it was such a fun, beautiful day. One spent with my favorite people. This could be a long season for my Heels… but I do have faith!

“It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get back up.”  Vince Lombardi

Sundays often find my son and his friends in Charlotte tailgating for the Carolina Panther games. They don’t actually go IN the game – tickets are too $$$. But they do enjoy a good Panther tailgate!

By the way, “Lovely Leslie” is doing VERY well in the weekly football contest of the Clemmons Courier! Remember I won the Football Bowl contest back in January? Well, there have been 4 weeks of the football contest this season. I came in 2nd (due to tiebreaker) once, and last week I WON (again on a tiebreaker!)!  Yes I won my 4th CAP of CAPS (still waiting on a Carolina blue hat) plus $20 (maybe I should donate my winnings to my son for Panther tickets)! I only missed 1 game. ONE GAME! WOOHOO! I entered this one while in NYC, very quickly making my picks. And yes, I did pick Duke to win their game over Baylor, only because I did not want them to lose right before playing us. Hmmm… that strategy did not work out like I had hoped.

“Virtually nothing is impossible in this world if you just put your mind to it and maintain a positive attitude.”  Lou Holtz (anyone who knows me knows I love Lou Holtz!)

So what else happens in the Fall?

Pumpkins. I LOVE pumpkin. Anything pumpkin. Pumpkin smoothies, ice cream, bread, but especially pumpkin pie – my favorite (and my son-in-law’s too). I put pumpkin in my smoothies and in my oatmeal for breakfast. Right out of the can. Heavenly. And good for you! Did you know that pumpkin is a superfood? Just one cup provides 100% of needed Vitamin A, plus antioxidants and other important vitamins.

Fall also changes my running. Remember how I love summer because there is no decision on what to wear – tank top and shorts. (You can’t go less – well, I can’t go less.) With fall, I have to think. Short sleeves? Long sleeves? Shorts? Capris? Jacket? Gloves? Ear thingies? Too many decisions. Plus the days are shorter – the sun rises later and sets earlier. But I do enjoy fall on my back porch. I can wrap up in a blanket and enjoy my time out there!

“It’s a new season. A perfect opportunity to do something NEW, something BOLD, something BEAUTIFUL.”

Oh… and of course fall is my birthday season! (BIG one this year!) And Halloween, Thanksgiving, AND October 28th starts the new Christmas Movies on the Hallmark Channel! Y’all, life in the fall is good. Maybe not as good as summer, but still good.

“Life starts over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”  The Great Gatsby    F. Scott Fitzgerald

So enjoy fall. Make an effort to spend time this fall with those you love and cherish, because as we all know, tomorrow is not promised to any of us.

See you next week!

Best,

Leslie

NEW YORK, NEW YORK! It’s a Helluva Town!

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY

Last week, my 3 kids, son-in-law, and I were in NYC for the beautiful and fun wedding of a special couple. Friends (former neighbors) we have known for over 20 years. What a blast we had! Four of us took the train, and my son flew. We decided to make a special family vacation out of this opportunity.

Before the trip we were worried about Old Irma spoiling our time in NYC. And worried that she might do harm to our special home in Surfside Beach. We were spared. We had perfect weather the whole time. Thankfully.

“It doesn’t matter where you’re going, it’s who you have beside you.”

Have you taken a train lately? NO? Oh my…well it is different from what you might expect. You don’t go through any TSA or metal detectors. And you don’t have to get to the train station an hour and a half early – just 5 minutes! Hop on the train, find a big comfy seat, plug in your laptop if you have it and log in using their wireless. Take snacks – it’s a long trip to NYC – 6 hours. But it beats driving! We arrived Wednesday midday at Penn Station, found our way out (no small feat) and took a taxi to our hotel. Met my son, started out exploring the city and found a great place for lunch.

We all had things we wanted to do on this trip from a Soul Cycle class to The American Girl Store to The Today Show to Ground Zero. First up we had to see a Broadway show. I let the kids pick – Lion King! They all loved the movie as kids and the Broadway Show did not disappoint. It was awesome! Made me cry at the end (imagine that!). As much as the kids loved the movie, they loved the Broadway Show more. The costumes were amazing. My favorite? The giraffes. I cannot begin to describe how great the giraffes were. And the Elephant. And the birds. And the hyenas. Get the picture?

NY Lion King
Lion King was GREAT!

“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Thursday started off with an appearance on the TODAY SHOW – look out Matt and Savannah! Or maybe look over your shoulder as my son-in-law figured out the perfect spot right behind the anchors. He was on camera more than they were. What fun we had with our “appearances” as we received texts from friends asking if we were in NYC and at the Today Show. It helped that my son-in-law had on his CAROLINA blue shirt. Not only did he stand out, he made friends with the security guards. Then a trip to the NY Library (you know I love libraries), the huge NIKE store, Lululemon (largest in the country), the LEGO Store, and the American Girl Store where my oldest daughter found her doll, Samantha, still in action, but sadly, Molly, the precious doll of my younger daughter, has been archived. (Sidebar: My oldest daughter’s Samantha doll could pass for brand new with every accessory, piece of clothing, etc. packed away for “future use”, while my younger daughter’s Molly doll could use a visit to the American Girl Doll hospital to fix her hair! Different kids, same mother.)

The NY Historical Society currently has a wonderful JFK and Jackie exhibit which we visited. My younger daughter is enamoured with JFK and Jackie. She and I saw the movie “Jackie”, and to see all the pictures in this exhibit was wonderful. We walked all over NYC and spent a lot of time in Central Park, even had lunch there at the Boat House. Okay, seriously, how do people live in NYC? How do they afford it? Where do the kids play soccer or football? Where are the schools? Where do they catch the bus? Where is Harris Teeter or Kroger? Or any big grocery store? And if you go to the grocery store, how do you get your groceries home? Inquiring minds want to know. Every second a car horn is blowing. Traffic is horrendous. There are so many people everywhere! Tough for a claustrophobic 5’2” gal. But we did meet a lot of nice New Yorkers. They guessed that we were not from NY!

We had planned to go to the Yankees – Orioles game, but after walking all day (25,000+ steps), we decided instead to have drinks and dinner at a fun restaurant, The Smith. The food was excellent as was my Moscow Mule (my new favorite drink!). My younger 2 kids met up with friends for “late night fun” in NYC and my oldest and her husband and I walked uptown to a rooftop bar. Beautiful weather and fun times!

Friday morning came early as my daughters and I walked several blocks to Soul Cycle. What is Soul Cycle? It is a total body cycle class where you work hard not only spinning, but using weights, doing push ups, dips, everything while on the bike. But it is also an inspirational experience (the “soul” part) that stays with you long after you leave class. We got our sweat on and loved this boutique class experience.

Soul Cycle 1
Girls on a mission!

“Until you spread your wings you will have no idea how far you can fly.”

Met the “men” back at the hotel and left for Ground Zero where we spent several hours. An experience not to be missed. Especially last week – the 16th anniversary. I cannot tell you how affected we all were by this exhibit. My daughter and her husband had been through it last March, but wanted to see it again. That is how powerful it is. None of us left there dry-eyed. It was so emotional looking at the pictures of each person who lost their life that day. Then to listen to the voice mails saved from those on the planes and in the Towers telling their families how much they loved them, knowing they were not going to survive, touched me like nothing else. “Honey, pick up the phone…there’s a problem on our plane… I just want to tell you I love you...” Thank heavens there were Kleenexes all around. It is still hard to believe this happened. I remember that day well…I was working at acac and we all gathered in our café to watch the horror on the TV. It was my dear friend’s birthday and we were to go out to lunch to celebrate. Plans cancelled. I bet you remember where you were that day too. New York is truly a strong city and how it has rebounded and rebuilt is an amazing testament to the character of the city.

“On that terrible day, a nation became a neighborhood, all Americans became New Yorkers.”  Governor George Pataki

I thought we had walked a lot the day before, but we racked up the steps again even though we did take an Uber to Ground Zero. We walked to Soho for lunch at a place where they brew their beer on site and have 21 different gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. Guess what we had? The best grilled cheese sandwiches! Mine even had apple slices in it. Also saw the Statue of Liberty. That evening we had drinks and dinner at another wonderful restaurant with a rooftop bar – the Refinery Hotel. Yes, we ate well and drank a lot. How did we find all these great places? Again, kids’ friends – one sent her “Guide to NYC Awesomeness” listing everything to do in each part of NYC!

Our last morning in the city was spent walking around (gotta get those steps in) and ending up at a great sports bar where we had lunch and watched the UVA game before heading to NJ for the wedding. (UVA crushed it for all you Wahoos – many who were with us at the wedding!) But the problem was the Carolina game… my son-in-law was concerned about missing that game. Not to worry, he found an app to watch it from the shuttle to the wedding, and kept us apprised of the score during the afternoon. HEELS won!

The WEDDING…  Y’all, there is nothing like a New Jersey wedding… NOTHING! I need to back up – there is nothing like a New Jersey RECEPTION! OMG nothing was spared – not one thing. After the beautiful wedding, we arrived at the cocktail party on the rooftop terrace of Biagio’s. It was perfect. The food was unbelievable! We thought this was dinner but it was NOT! There were  8+ food stations from shrimp/oysters/crab (beyond amazing) to pasta to sausages/soft pretzels (heavenly) to beef to veggies to cheeses to so much more plus servers constantly at your side offering more appetizers that were to die for! And of course, there was an open bar. Once we realized this was not dinner, we had to stop eating. Good thing because dinner was amazing. But there is more! There was a dessert room. No, not a dessert bar, it was a dessert ROOM! Filled with the best desserts ever – cakes, ice cream, waffles, funnel cakes, cotton candy, cheese cakes, a chocolate fountain, petit fours – made Chandlers in Charlottesville look like a mini-mart! And this was separate from the wedding cake.

So enough about the food… what was next? After the special Father/Bride and Mother/Groom dances, the DJ had a special dance for all the couples. I was at a great table with all of my friends (couples), but for this SOLO gal, this dance was a bit painful. I looked up as the couples headed to the dance floor and I saw my wonderful, handsome son sprinting over to me saying, “Come on Momma, let’s dance.” Y’all, I adore my son but never loved him more than at that moment. How sweet of him to realize how I must be feeling. My kids are so special! We all danced together (my kids and me) the rest of the night. Never sat down until we got on the shuttle to the hotel. My “dawgs” were barking after dancing in heels all night, but it was worth it. Such a fun reception. I knew it would be. These dear special friends (neighbors we lived next door to for 17+ years before they moved to KY, with kids the same ages as mine, and sons both “Michaels”) cannot be topped in wedding fun. And it was more special having all my kids there to share this with them, their childhood friends.

“I may not be perfect, but when I look at my children I know I got something in my life perfectly right.”

This special wedding couple is blessed. Their Armenian ceremony included the rite of crowning, symbolizing they are King and Queen of their own little kingdom, their home. We witnessed not only their pledge to love and honor one another, but their total devotion to each other. (One funny story here… I was telling a friend about the crowning ritual and she kept saying “They put a crayon on their heads? What color Crayon?” “No, it was a CROWN.” “Why did they put a crayon on?”  After being around so many Northerners, I am not sure why my Southern accent was so rampant that she thought I was saying “crayon” instead of crown. Even though they do sound alike!)

I am thankful my kids and I could share this special day with this couple and their families and friends. It was a reunion of sorts, and you know how I love reunions! I am also thrilled that I had this time with my kids and that they made this vacation possible. Make the effort to spend time with those you love and cherish, because as we all know, tomorrow is not promised to any of us.

See you next week when we talk FOOTBALL and TAILGATING!

Best,

Leslie

(note: special thanks and credit to the Degnan’s for the reception pictures!)

I Do? Thoughts on Marriage…

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

I know I am probably the last person to give advice or write about marriage these days. Two years ago, I thought I was an expert on the subject. After all, I had been married 35+ years. Boy, was I wrong. But, my beautiful daughter and wonderful son-in-law celebrated their 2nd anniversary last night. Two years and still in the honeymoon phase.

Ali and Zach for FB2

“Marriage is not a noun, it’s a verb. It’s something you do. It’s the way you look at your partner every day.” Barbara De Angelis

My “wasband” (WAS the husband) and I met when I transferred to Wake Forest University from UNC. He was the first person I met at Wake. We were both accounting majors and therefore in most of the same classes. I followed him to the parking lot after class one day to see where he parked and saw this beautiful, nice car backing out of a spot. I thought, shallowly I might add, “Ahhh, he drives a nice car.” Nope, not him. Suddenly I hear this loud muffler from an old beat up car, sounding like it was about to explode, and yes, THAT was his car! Still… I started parking my car in that lot! We sat together in class. I remember one class when the professor, Delmer P. Hylton (any Wake accounting majors out there?) asked a question and went all the way around the class looking for the answer. Well my ex gave a pretty good answer and I thought I was safe. Nope! Never safe in that class. Problem was, I was the last one to be asked and there were no other answers for me to even make up! So Hylton said “Miss Holcomb, that smile might get you somewhere outta class, but in class is a different story.” Oh Lord, I thought I was going to die right there!

We were both dating other people, me a baseball player for the Winston-Salem Red Sox (farm team for the Boston Red Sox – now they are the Dash), and he a girl who had graduated. We were friends all of my junior year, but the summer brought about different feelings. First date was 4th of July. One year later, we were married. That was the beginning of a truly beautiful relationship that spanned 35 years and 3 beautiful kids. We were happy, or so I thought. I’ll leave it at that for now.

“Relationships last not because they were destined to last. Relationships last long because two people made a choice to keep it, fight for it, and work for it.”

So my daughter and her husband – how did they meet? At acac of course! After freshman year of college, both were working there one summer. She was a manager at our outdoor waterpark and he was a summer camp counselor who brought his kids to the pool each day (probably to see her!). They were both HUGE Carolina fans and discovered they had that in common immediately. Did they date then? NO! Date during college? NO! After college? Not really. He would go visit friends in Charlotte, where she lived, and my daughter would meet him for dinner. And she would run into him at acac when she came home (he took a job with acac after college). They were great friends. THEN… he moved to Charlotte for graduate school. What a coincidence. Maybe now they would get somewhere. But, in a BIG turn of events, acac offered my daughter a position at our new club in Richmond, VA. My daughter was looking for a change from the public accounting world and had always loved fitness, so she agreed. She left Charlotte a couple of weeks after my future son-in-law moved there. Here comes the BIGGER turn of events. Two months later, acac offered my now-son-in-law the opportunity to be the Director of Fitness and Personal Training at the new club. So he transferred his graduate program to a school near Richmond and moved. Hmmm… now they found themselves working closely together. They had a great friendship that turned into dating. Next thing I know, he tells me he wants to propose! They were going to my beach house for a week and he wanted to propose there. Needless to say, I was thrilled! Because before they started dating, my son-in-law and I were friends at work. And my kids knew him and liked him. When I had ACC tournament tickets for the family and had an extra one, I invited him. He and I took biathlon class together at acac and the instructor used to jokingly say “Oh I see Leslie is next to her future son-in-law!”  And this was way before they thought about dating… or maybe not!

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, and always with the same person.” Mignon McLaughlin

Their wedding was perfect y’all. Perfect. First the venue. They wanted to get married outside, at a place different from anywhere their friends had married. A note about my son-in-law: he is a master researcher/shopper. So they had a list of venues for us to look at. We started on Friday mid afternoon and after visiting and eliminating 5 venues, we had one more to see. My daughter was feverishly searching online for more venues to see the following day because we were so distressed. And this last venue was in Culpeper, VA, 40 minutes north of Charlottesville. We thought to ourselves that this was probably a lost cause and we were bone tired, but we did not want to hurt my son-in-law’s feelings. However, as we drove into the venue, we knew this was it. PERFECT! Old House Vineyards. The vineyard was beautiful. The “Old House” was perfect. There was an island in the lake for the ceremony where they set up the chairs and truly, no decorations were needed because there was a trellis with a waterfall in the lake and it was so beautiful. And the reception was held in the pavilion right there. Perfect!

The rehearsal was hot and sunny Friday night. BUT Saturday morning my daughter and I went out to run (Bride’s wish and I was complying) and it was pouring rain! We ran anyway and all of a sudden I said “did someone just take a picture of us – 2 crazy women running in the rain?” “No that was lightning.” “Oh My Goodness we cannot run in thunder and lightning!” At this point, the Bride lost it. She wanted to get married outside on the island and NOT in rain. Total meltdown. We stood in the rain (and lightning) hugging and crying and I said, “I promise you, you will get married outside. Trust me. I promise you. Let’s just keep running.” We did. The rain slacked off. It stopped raining by noon. How could I promise this to my child? That she would get married outside when it was pouring rain? I had a “God Moment” a couple of days earlier. I was running an errand, and while stopped at a stoplight and saying a BIG prayer to God asking for good weather for Saturday, I looked at the car in front of me, and there was a sticker “DON’T WORRY, GOD’S GOT THIS!” I took this to heart.

Despite my confidence that they would get married outside on the island, when we got to the venue that morning, we went directly to the pavilion, moved all the reception tables and set the chairs up so that she could walk down an aisle (that is what my son-in-law wanted for her). And truly, it was lovely. Still… the island was beautiful. So after her meltdown, my daughter was fine! My son-in-law paced around the reception hall, and the wedding planner kept asking if they could move the chairs back – to which I said no way until 4:30 (wedding was at 5:30). Even though the weather was clearing up, I did not want to jinx ourselves. They got married outside, on the island. My beautiful daughter walked down the aisle on the island all smiles as if she was Miss America! And my sweet son-in-law cried as she approached him. Having the wedding on the island included a special part with a love lock that the vineyard supplied with their initials and date. They put this lock on the “pier” rope and threw the key in the water. Funny story here – one of the guests had been married and divorced 3 times. He told another guest that he was glad they did not have that ceremony when he got married or he would be digging around the lake for his keys. To which, the other guest replied, “you would have had to use a combination lock!”

Did I mention that the wedding was a CAROLINA wedding? Yes… the bridesmaids wore Carolina blue dresses, the groomsmen Carolina blue ties. But one of the greatest things was my daughter’s shoes. Remember I said my son-in-law was a master shopper? Well as soon as they were engaged he found her Carolina Blue bridal shoes online – last pair and they were in her size. Meant to be. I remember showing them to my sister and her response? “She can’t wear blue shoes to get married in!” (We all wore white linen shoes.) But at the wedding, she said “those shoes were perfect!” And they were… just like the newlywed couple.

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

The reception was FUN! So much fun! Great food, wine, beer, music, and dancing. All of our friends and family were there. Everyone was dancing! One of the happiest days of my life, and I am sure the happiest day of my daughter and son-in-law’s lives.

wedding dancing
The Bride and her Brother!

“A strong marriage isn’t magically created when you say ‘I Do’… It’s built on a lifetime of I DO’s: I DO love you, I DO cherish you, and I DO choose you.”

I remember when we went for pre-wedding counseling, our minister, Rev. Iobst, told us he had no advice for us at that moment. Why? Because there is no way we would listen or hear whatever he had to say. All we wanted to do was get married. He was right. He said we should come back a year later. We never did. Does anyone?

So what is my marriage advice?

  1. Remember what brought you together – that pure, innocent, exciting new love. And let that love grow into a mature love. A forever love.
  2. Remember you are each other’s best friend.
  3. Remember that you are a team. And there is no “I” in team.
  4. Remember you will not always like each other and that is ok.
  5. Remember you will not always like the same things, and that too is ok.
  6. Remember to share everything – not only happiness, thoughts, and concerns, but household chores and responsibilities.
  7. Remember to cherish each other. You are each other’s treasure.
  8. Remember to always say “I am sorry” when you have hurt one another.
  9. Remember to never lie to each other. If you have to hide something or lie about it, you know that is wrong.
  10. Remember to be transparent with each other. Once trust is broken, you cannot get it back easily, if ever.
  11. Remember that “No relationship is all sunshine, but two people can share one umbrella and survive the storm together.”
  12. Remember – You’ve got this!

My children and I are in NYC this week for a special (and I am sure a very FUN) wedding Saturday. We have lots of fun things planned. Lots of friends to see, and lots of love to celebrate. I’ll share our NY experience next week!

Cherish your spouse or partner and always make them feel as if they are the greatest treasure in the world. Don’t take them, or tomorrow for granted, because as we all know, tomorrow is not promised to anyone.

See you next week!

Best,

Leslie

RUN, FORREST, RUN!  (Forrest Gump, 1994)

Welcome back to SOLO AT SIXTY!

Not only is Labor Day weekend the last opportunity to wear white shoes and white pants and the kickoff for College Football (my Heels hit a bump in the road Saturday), it always includes the Charlottesville Women’s 4 Miler. A race with 3000+ women runners (including me) in a sea of pink (or acac lime green team shirts – we want to stand out!).

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to run. I am addicted to it (like I am to seashells). I have broken both wrists running – one as a result of a heat stroke in a 10-miler race, and one running (and falling) on ice. Crazy. My mother once said to me “I think there’s a message there…”  I did not get that message. But running (sensibly) is such good exercise, and it’s my best “thinking” time. It is also prayer time for family and friends. But as much as I love running, I hate races. Yes, I run races, but I hate them. It is kinda like childbirth – if not for having amnesia after delivering your first child, there would only be single children families in this world. Same for races – after you cross that finish line you are on a high and develop amnesia and start thinking about the next race. Perfect example: my kids, son-in-law and I ran a 4-miler in Chapel Hill last April. As soon as that race was over, amnesia took effect and we signed up for it again next year! Why do I hate races? I put too much stress on myself. Yes, this one is only 4 miles and I have run 10-milers and half-marathons, but still… I start out too fast, zigzagging in and out of runners to find an open space. Too claustrophobic being in the midst of all those runners. I just want to cross that finish line!

Chapel Hill 4 miler (2)

“Running reminds you that even in your weakest moments… you are strong.”

This past Saturday was the 35th Women’s 4 Miler in Charlottesville. I cannot remember how many W4M races I have run. My middle child runs it with me. We are a mother/daughter team – “RUN LIKE MAD”. We even won the mother/daughter pennant one year! This race is organized to the hilt. The moment you drive into the race site your car never stops, or one of the male volunteers (yes TONS of men volunteer) will kindly YELL at you to keep moving – no time to chitchat here. You also line up in a very organized, yet noisy manner (remember: 3000 women all chatting) with walkers at the back and runners separated by pace. Just 4 miles and done! Thank heavens! Then it is time for all the snacks and prizes. Last weekend, thanks to Hurricane Harvey, it rained on us. And it was cold. Remember, I like to run in the heat. But we persevered. Capris and short sleeves – wished I had long sleeves and GLOVES! Could not wait to take a hot shower afterwards!

“In the end, it’s your run and yours alone. Others can run it with you but no one can run it for you. Embrace it. Be strong. Keep moving forward.”

For the last 6 years, I have run this race in memory of my sweet childhood friend, Luanne Mahannah Hinshaw, who died October 22, 2011, after a courageous battle with cancer. And when I hit that painful point in the race, I think of all she went through to extend her life, how hard she fought, and I push on to the finish. The Women’s 4 Miler is mainly a fundraiser for breast cancer, and even though Luanne did not have breast cancer, cancer is cancer. She did so much for me from elementary school all the way through high school, and this is one thing I can do for her. We met when I was in 2nd grade, Luanne in 3rd. Our parents were friends. They went square dancing together. They would “allemande left and promenade home” while we all played together outside the dance hall. Our families vacationed together at Surfside Beach (I have now come full-circle at this beach) and after they stopped, I took her on my family beach trips and she took me on hers. And y’all, we were BOY CRAZY! We had so much fun every summer at the baseball fields, the beach, the Jonestown Pool, and just hanging out (wherever the boys were!). Even though she was only 2 months older than me, she was a year ahead in school. She was a cheerleader first and taught me every West Forsyth Cheer. If not for her, I would never have been a cheerleader. The last time I saw Luanne, I was taking Mom home from celebrating her birthday at the beach. Mom and Luanne shared the same birthday, so we stopped by Luanne’s to say happy birthday. There she was, mowing her yard on a riding mower with a fleece cap on her head looking beautiful as always. She died a month later. Luanne would have celebrated her 60th birthday this September 16th.

W4M Race
Race in memory of Luanne…

Speaking of cancer, I had my 2nd colonoscopy last week, and it was no more fun than the first one I had 10 years ago. But this is something you gotta do, and now I’m off the hook for another 10 years. I breathed a sigh of relief when the doc said all was good. Was I worried? Yes. Now that I am SOLO, I am solely responsible for my health and taking care of myself. The worst part? Drinking that nasty gallon of cold PREP! I was freezing while I drank it! I got in bed, cut my mattress warmer on high, had an electric blanket wrapped around me and still shivered. And gagged with every swallow. I could share the photos, but I will leave that up to your imagination (and my editor vetoed these photos). This is important y’all. Once you turn 50 you need to do this. And again when you turn 60. (NO I am NOT 60 yet!)

“Running away from your problems is a race you will never win.”

One more thing. I had CPR and AED (automated external defibrillator) training last week. It is required for all acac team members, even the bean counters. For years, we have been taught by the famous JOE! Someone once said if you have a heart attack, acac is the place to be – everyone is CPR trained! Once a year we get “up close and intimate” with a dummy – giving mouth to mouth (2 breaths) and compressing his chest (30 reps). I always leave class feeling as if I could save a life! I am ready to do more than just call 911. And then the following week I second guess myself. My hope is that if I ever find myself in a situation where someone is choking or CPR is required, I will know what to do and can help. Just hope they are not much bigger or taller than me! Our team has literally saved lives in our clubs. Not me, but other brave team members.

So get out there y’all! Run YOUR race. Find what makes you happy. Have all of those preventive/diagnostic tests. It may save your life. And not a bad idea to get CPR certified – you might find yourself saving a life one day.

And lastly, here’s hoping Hurricane Irma takes a big turn out to sea. Prayers for all of those in her path.

Have a great week! Next week’s post will come to you live from NYC!

Best,

Leslie

“We are Fam-i-ly… I’ve got all my sisters with me” (Sister Sledge, 1979)

And Momma, brother-in-law, my 3 kids, son-in-law, nephew, his wife and sweet Baby Jack. Twelve of us!

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

What a wonderful weekend. I was at the beach, and I had my whole family with me. Yes, everyone who is immediately related to me was there. Life doesn’t get any better than this, y’all! Family is what it is all about.

“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you as you are to them.”  Desmond Tutu

We had a “Family Reunion” of sorts. We all made a special effort to go to Surfside Beach for a long weekend. Now that the kids are grown, it is not easy juggling so many different schedules, jobs, responsibilities, and driving distances to get everyone together. We celebrated my great nephew, Baby Jack’s 1st birthday, a week late, and Mom’s 88th birthday a couple of weeks early. We spent time on the beach, searched for and collected a boatload of wonderful shells, walked, strolled Baby Jack, talked, laughed, reminisced about our childhoods and those of all the kids, went out to dinner, and celebrated with a big dinner at my house Saturday night.

Sunday morning we had a family photo shoot. This time it was not me setting up the tripod, trying to get the timer set on the camera, and rushing back to my place in the pose. We had a professional photographer. After all, we need a good family portrait, pictures for Christmas cards, and photos to commemorate our time together! 9 am sharp – everyone was all dolled up, hair and makeup done, looking very stylish and groomed for our family portraits. I mean you would have thought we were having GLAMOUR SHOTS taken! (I know some of y’all had those done – I did!) So we go to the beach for the pictures, and trust me, we did not need a wind machine to get the blowing hair look. I think we had 50+ mph winds blowing. Even my brother-in-law’s short hair was standing up!

Leslie Family vacation

WHEW!  After all that posing and modeling (and fighting the wind) we were starving. Headed to the pier, or what is left of it after Hurricane Matthew last October, for brunch outside at Surf Diner. They will be rebuilding this pier, thank heavens.

“No family is perfect. We argue. We fight. We even stop talking to each other at times, but in the end, family is family. The love will always be there.”

Our family is not perfect. We have not always gotten along. As kids, my sisters and I did not necessarily like each other. There are 5 years between us. That is a big age difference for kids. When my parents were backing out of the driveway to take my older sister to college, I was not out there waving goodbye like all the neighbors were (she was the first one to leave for college). No, I was moving my clothes and worldly possessions into her room! For the first time in my life I was getting a room to myself – being the middle child I always had to share a room with one of my sisters. And then there was the time my younger sister told this “troublesome” story to Mom about something she said I did, when actually, SHE was the one who had done it – NOT me! Yes, there have been some rough patches in our relationships and times we disagreed on things in a big way and were not speaking to each other. But no matter what, there’s nothing we would not do for each other. We are close. I have felt closer to, and depended on my sisters (and brother-in-law) this past year more than any other time in my life. But then again, tragedy in any manner always brings families closer.

My kids share a special relationship with each other. There are only 3 years separating them. They have been friends since birth. When they were in high school, the “senior” would drive the “freshman” to school. That was a great bonding experience for them. I remember my oldest daughter waiting patiently (NOT) on her younger sister, to leave for school. Three years later, my son (the youngest) would have the old Subaru warmed up, windshield scraped, sitting in it ready to roll… waiting on his sister to come out and drive them. Time was not as important to the middle child as it was to the oldest and youngest! They were in the same clubs in high school. Played some of the same sports. My son made the Varsity soccer team as a freshman and played with his sister’s senior guy friends who “took him in”. This was fun for both of them. My kids actually “liked” each other as well as loved each other and still do. For this I am so thankful. I have always stressed to them how important siblings are. And as y’all know, I adore and respect my kids and am so proud and thankful for the adults they have become. And I would do anything for them. Well, except allow dogs at the beach house. I have been in the dog house for that one!

“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 want my children to know that I will always be there for them and they should be there for each other. They will always be loved more than they can ever imagine (until they have a child of their own). I asked my nephew and his wife this weekend if they ever thought they could love anyone/anything as much as they love Jack. No, they said. And they said they struggled to imagine how they could ever love another baby as much as they love Jack. I assured them that we’ve all experienced those same feelings and doubts. I told them that I even talked to my pediatrician about this same thing 30 years ago! And that as soon as my second child was born, all those loving feelings flooded over me once again. And again 3 years later with my third child. It is amazing. It is a love like no other. I remember my sweet Aunt Jewelle once telling me, “you can replace a husband, but you can never replace your child.” So true.

baby jack beach
Sweet Baby Jack loves the beach!

Our little family unit changed dynamics last year. I would have done anything for this NOT to have happened to my children. But it did. And we adapted. We are there for each other, talk to each other, and have fun things planned together. Life goes on.

“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 and who love you no matter what.”

Yes, there are friends who are as close to family as blood relatives. When we moved to Charlottesville, we knew no one. Not a soul. We were used to doing so much with my family who all lived within 10 minutes of us in NC. Saturday night dinner? Family cook out. Need a babysitter? Family right there. Where to sit in church? On the Holcomb family pew of course. Bless their heart if someone sat on OUR pew! All of a sudden I found myself in a big ocean without my floaties on! Luckily for me, most of my neighbors, especially my next door neighbors, were all without family locally too. So we became each other’s family. I remember one time I was traveling to Winston-Salem to a regional NCAA basketball tournament game where Carolina was playing (of course!). Got about 2 hours down the road and realized I did not have my basketball tickets. What to do? I called my next door neighbor who went into my house and found them right there on the kitchen island. And what did she say? “Where are you? OK. Turn around and I’ll start driving and meet you halfway.” And she did. No hesitation. We talked for about an hour on the phone until we actually met in the middle. How selfless was that?!? Another neighbor took my 2 younger kids home from elementary school one fall day while I was at the doctor’s office with my oldest, because the schools closed early due to flooding. (Nothing like the flooding in Houston – bless their hearts!). My daughter said “I think I just heard schools closed early on the radio” that was playing in the doctor’s office. “No way – it’s not snowing!” (Snow is the only reason schools closed in NC – even a dusting would close schools.) So I did not think about it at all until I got home and found out my kids were with my neighbors. I had wonderful neighbors.

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

I am so thankful for our family weekend together. Eleven of us plus the baby. And as my Grandmother Isabel used to say, and Mom now says, if it weren’t for her, none of us would be here. So True! I remember my Grandmother in her later, alzheimer-ridden years asking me “Who’re your people?” to which I always responded “YOU’RE my people!” These were MY people, all of them, together this weekend. And I treasure and love them dearly.

So let “your people” know how much they mean to you. Don’t wait until it is too late. Make the effort to get together. These are the people who share your history. Your roots. Who love you and who you love unconditionally.

See you next week!

Best,

Leslie

“Old Days… Good times I remember…” Chicago, 1975

This morning, the school busses rolled out for a new school year. Remember the excitement of a new school year? All those new supplies, new backpack, new lunchbox. Wait, we did not have backpacks nor lunchboxes back in the day. We carried our books in our arms, and our lunch was in a brown paper bag! Right? It was my kids who always had new backpacks and lunchboxes, and of course new clothes. Oh, and Trapper Keepers! Well, more exciting than that is your high school reunion!

The Barn at Tanglewood Park, Clemmons, NC. A place we hung out in high school. Oh, the stories that could be told (but won’t)! Last weekend, I attended my 41st high school reunion. I know – usually there are only class reunions for years that end with a “0” or “5”. That is, unless you are part of a very special group of “old” friends. Thankfully, I am part of such a special group! The West Forsyth High School classes of ‘75, ‘76, and ‘77 from Clemmons, NC, who decided it is important at our age to have reunions every year. I reconnected with people I had not seen in 41 years, and those I have been fortunate enough to see or connect with via social media during this past year. I hope we continue with this tradition.

“Catching up with friends is like re-opening your favorite gift.”

I loved high school. I was a good student. And I was a varsity cheerleader. I was part of a group of wonderful girls who spent a lot of time together almost year round. Summers were filled with practices and cheerleading camps. Boy, were our summer practices fun since the football team was also having practice. And yes… I dated a football player. He was a senior, I was a junior. When school started, we practiced twice a week and had football games every Friday night (remember Friday Night Lights? That was US!). Winter brought basketball games every Tuesday and Friday. (My football player also played basketball. No wonder I loved being a cheerleader!) Our squad was GREAT! We won awards. We won trophies. We performed stunts 3 girls high. I’m surprised none of us have had knee replacements as we had one stunt where we literally dropped on our knees.  No fear. Now, my knees do creak and I am terrified of heights! Sidebar: While having dinner with a very tall friend (15 inches taller than me), I mentioned something about being so careful and a bit afraid, now that I am SOLO, when I get on step stools or ladders. He asked why I was always on a step stool – DUH – to reach anything! I am 5’2” after all. He never has that problem.

I carpooled to school with fellow cheerleaders. On my days to drive, 5 of us piled into my tiny Orange Honda Civic 2-door hatchback with NO A/C (but it did have a cassette player), and headed to school. Several years ago, after reconnecting on Facebook, we had a cheerleader reunion of sorts at Myrtle Beach. 39 years after leaving high school we met as adults (well sorta) and caught up. It was as if we had not been apart throughout the years. We have since stayed in touch through emails and Facebook. We have seen each other retire, have grandchildren, move, end relationships, and begin new ones. And we are getting together again soon!

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

We grow up. Live our lives. Grow our families. Build our careers. Make new friends. Yet we have such a history with those sweet “young” people from our high school years. Those wonderfully carefree, innocent, fun years before we HAD to grow up. Before we had jobs. Mortgages. Responsibilities. Before life became real. Last weekend we all went BACK in time and celebrated those “Wonder Years” together. I had a BLAST! Spent the afternoon with a very special group of ladies that I treasure being a part of. Lots of laughter, sharing, and WINE! Facetimed with one of “the group” who could not be there – she was in St. Croix (life is rough…). And I cannot repeat her advice to us for the night in case my mother or kids are reading this!

reunion girls (2)
Special Girlfriends!

Then it was time to go to the reunion. The excitement of seeing who might be there. We had fun! Lots of fun! Lots of memories shared – pep rallies, football games, basketball games, baseball games, homecomings, proms. Who dated who? Some are still together after all of these years. Impressive. They know the secret. Some classmates re-met and married after reuniting at previous reunions. And what a difference a year makes. At last year’s reunion, I was newly separated, though I did not tell anyone. Not because it was a secret, but because I did not want our reunion to be about my broken heart. But life goes on. This year was a completely different story. I have come so far – as I was told, I have “survived and thrived”. And I am happy. Over the past year I shared my newfound status with many of my high school friends, and thankfully, due to my blog (which I learned so many classmates are reading!) most were aware of my new status: SOLO. I only had to tell one special “old” friend because he is not on social media and had no clue. Yes he was dumbfounded like everyone else has been. But the biggest surprise to me? As I hugged many of the guys, they whispered in my ear that they are reading my blog (among other things haha!)! That never occurred to me! I have no way of knowing who is reading my blog. So here’s to all y’all! Thank you!

“Ah, how good it feels. The hand of an old friend.”  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

So… the organizer of our reunion told me a week earlier that he had a present for me. I love presents! What could it be? Something from high school? That was a bit scary. No! So much better than that! Background – I became a Carolina fan in the 5th grade. How did this happen? And Why? Well, this kid in my class wrote a poem about Carolina Basketball and Charlie Scott (first African American to receive a scholarship to play basketball at UNC). I loved that poem. Everyone did. The teacher had him read the poem to every 5th grade class. That was my introduction to college sports – Carolina basketball, to be exact. Remember, I come from a family of girls – no sports in our family. But I started watching Carolina basketball games on TV with my Dad (also played cards with him) to see what it was all about. I fell in love! And have loved my Tar Heels since. Oh what about the present? Well the kid who wrote the poem is the organizer of our reunion for the last 2 years. Going through some old stuff, he found an old Carolina Tar Heel print signed by none other than Charlie Scott – and he gave it to me. Made me cry. Another UNC memento to be framed for my office. He is one special friend! And truly a great guy.

Charlie Scott

I am a hugger. If you get within a foot of me, beware because most likely you will be hugged. I hugged so many old friends last weekend. It did my heart good to see and hug all the beautiful people at our reunion. Old boyfriends. Old best friends. Old crushes. New crushes. Classmates who were once just acquaintances and are now friends. Gosh what a beautiful group of people! We have aged well. When I look at these “old” friends, I don’t see people approaching 60. I don’t see wrinkles, bald heads, pot bellies, or gray hair (I do LOVE gray hair!). I see sweet, beautiful, 17 year-old faces of people with whom I shared my youth. Those fun filled years.

I am so thankful to be able to see those friendly faces of long ago. Classmates that maybe you did not know as well back in the day, you now bond with. We are adults. Life has changed all of us, hopefully for the better. These are people that make me wish I lived closer to them. That make me want to go back to NC more often. And people I long to keep in touch with.

“Enjoy yourself. These are the good old days you are going to miss in the years ahead.”

One more thing… My reunion definitely “eclipsed” the Eclipse! (funny right?) But I hope you got to view it because you won’t get a chance again until 2024. I got glasses while at the beach last week. Also, things have settled back down in Charlottesville. Hopefully, “LOVE” will put us back in the spotlight in a much softer manner. Ok that was 2 things. Maybe 3 – funny story here… my girlfriend from work and I walked downtown yesterday and she took my picture with the glasses. However, with the eclipse glasses on you can’t see a thing. Nothing, nada, total darkness (except the eclipse!). So I had them on and was saying, “Did you take the picture? Hello! Was it ok? Did you take my picture? Are you there?” Took the glasses off and she was off to the side dying laughing because I looked like a fool there with my glasses on and all the people around us eating lunch on the downtown mall, looking at me like was crazy! What are friends for?!? And notice that I said “take” my picture, not “make” my picture!

LOVE 1 (2)
Notice the ECLIPSE glasses!

Go to your reunions. Connect with and cherish old friends. Relive your youth, if only for a night. Don’t take anyone or anything for granted – including tomorrow.

See you next week when I will share another reunion. A family reunion!

Best,

Leslie

A Free Day? What is that?!?!

Welcome back to Solo at Sixty!

This past Saturday I found myself at loose ends. For the first time in… umm… forever, I had nothing planned! Remember, I love routine, and am a huge planner. Yet here I was, not at work and not at the beach. I have worked a lot these past 15 months, often on the weekends as well. Working was good for keeping me busy and keeping my mind off of things in my personal life. But now I am past that stage. I no longer need the distraction. But this was a new thing – a total day off with nothing scheduled! What to do? After Friday night’s impromptu protest on the campus of UVA, and the predicted “unrest” for our downtown area, I decided it would be wise to skip my normal Saturday routine of going downtown to the Farmers’ Market and running through UVA. Good move on my part! For anyone who did not have their TV on last weekend, our lovely city of Charlottesville was invaded by a hateful group opposed to the City’s decision to move the Robert E. Lee statue out of Emancipation Park (formerly known as Lee Park) in downtown Charlottesville. I will not go into the politics of these decisions, nor give value to these violent protests. Just saying that our lovely city was dealt a black eye. And it affected my Saturday routine as well as all the downtown businesses and restaurants.

I decided to take a cycle class away from the Downtown area instead of running, and when I got to the studio, I asked if the rope wall yoga class after cycle was full. Lucky me! There was one spot left and it had my name written all over it! Sidebar: When my son was little, the kids and I were back-to-school shopping at the mall, circling the parking lot several times before we finally found an open spot. I said “that spot has our name written all over it.” To which my son said, “where?!?! I don’t see our name anywhere!” Kids are so literal.

“Each person deserves a day in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares that will not withdraw from us.” Maya Angelou

If you remember my first blog, I mentioned how much I like yoga but never seem to find time for it. Well, Saturday I had time. Plenty of time. I love the yoga teacher and I love the rope wall. It is such a different yoga experience. I could actually talk to my neighbors without getting the evil eye from all the yogis! As a matter of fact, we were encouraged to talk to and help our neighbors with positions and poses. If you have never experienced yoga on the rope wall, it is wonderful for getting into deep poses as you have stability from the ropes, while gravity pulls you into position. I love inversions (upside down – like my life last year) and my favorite position is the STARFISH (upside down with arms and legs outstretched – my kids vetoed this picture!). It reminds me of the beach. PLUS, my girlfriends and I always joked that when our spouses were out-of-town, we could sleep like starfish. One of the benefits of being SOLO is sleeping like a starfish all the time!

 

Lucky me again! As I was leaving the studio after cycle and yoga, a farmer’s market was set up right across the way. I bought peaches, zucchini, and eggplant to supplement the veggies from my garden for the week. Well, actually for the short week, as I am at my happy place (BEACH) the rest of this week until my reunion this weekend. More on that later.

“You don’t always need a plan. Sometimes you just need to breathe, trust, let go and see what happens.”  Mandy Hale

So what to do now? Cycle, Yoga, Farmers’ Market. Done. Sitting in my car having the smoothie I had made to enjoy after cycle, (not knowing it would be 2 hours later after yoga too) I pondered my dilemma of what to do with this “me time.” I headed to the nail salon to get a pedicure and yes, I chose the Essie color “WIFE GOES ON”! (It is now my favorite color – even bought a bottle of it to have on hand.) While being pampered with the pedicure, I watched with dismay, disbelief, and horror, the national news about what was going on downtown, barely a mile away from me. This was NOT my Charlottesville! My daughter works at a vineyard a few weekends a month, so I texted a friend about going out there to see her, far away from downtown. My friend and her husband picked me up and off we went. We got a bottle of wine, bread and cheese, and sat outside and enjoyed the serenity and beautiful views of the VA mountains. We were joined by my friends’ son, his girlfriend and her lovely friends who were in Charlottesville, visiting for the first time. We assured them how special and beautiful Charlottesville is, as evidenced by the views at King Family, not by what was going on downtown. Unfortunately, their dinner reservations were cancelled as most of the restaurants in Downtown Charlottesville closed due to the actions of the “visitors” to our town. So they visited with us instead. Nothing like surrounding yourself with a group of beautiful, fun, young people to lift your spirits! There was a lot of laughter and a lot of wine consumed! And actually, I think those young people enjoyed hanging out with us “old folks”!

Speaking of beautiful, fun, young people – oh wait, these people will not be young, but they will be beautiful to me! I am heading to my 41st high school reunion this weekend. Remember in last week’s blog I mentioned that we now have a reunion every year? We need to cherish every chance we get to spend time with “old” friends. Hopefully I will have a lot to share next week about the reunion.

“Allow yourself to rest. Your soul speaks to you in the quiet moments in between your thoughts.”

As I said before, I am such a planner that rarely do I have days with nothing to do. I usually find myself at the beach on these weekends, but my older daughter was in town Thursday night before heading to NC Friday for a wedding. Not missing a chance to spend time with my kids! My calendar is already scheduled out to December with beach trips, a trip to NYC, football tailgating weekends, parties, weddings, trips to visit my family and friends, plus I do work one weekend a month to get my financials out. So finding myself free was a bit disconcerting. But it was a wonderful day spent doing just what I wanted. Another perk of being SOLO!

“Sometimes, the best “action” is to be still. Take time to breathe into the wind, focus on the horizon, and look inside for the answers. There will be time enough for getting busy.”  M. B. Moss

What did Sunday bring, you ask? Don’t! No, just kidding. It was a good day as well. I headed downtown to my office early morning and along the way I noticed that the police presence was still very much in sight. State police as well as local police. But there were also people running, walking, having brunch outside. Restaurants were open and business was thriving. Our church service was dedicated to the horror our city had witnessed the day before, and was very comforting. Since I will be off to the beach for the latter half of this week, I went back to the office after church before heading home mid-afternoon to pick those last veggies in my garden and sit on my back porch watching a Hallmark movie and working on my blog. Life goes on.

I have realized that we all need to take (or make) time for ourselves. And we need to make the most of every day because we never know what tomorrow may bring.

Here’s to you West Forsyth Classes of ‘75 ‘76 ‘77! I cannot wait to see your beautiful faces this weekend!

Best,

Leslie