“Confetti” – by Gone West, 2019

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Goodbye February, Hello March! Can you believe 2 months of 2019 are almost in the books? March 1st is momentous in many ways for me. March 1st is my dear nephew’s birthday (Jack’s dad), and that of one of my teammates. Two years ago, March 1st was the first day of Lent, a time of new beginnings and celebrations, and also the day my divorce became final. Funny, before becoming SOLO I proudly celebrated my wedding anniversary every August. But now, I celebrate March 1st as the day I began a new journey, where I rediscovered myself, and started to really enjoy my life.

“Have faith in your journey. Everything had to happen exactly as it did to get where you’re going next.”

Ever feel like you are “lost”? Just going through the motions, doing what you have always done? Thinking, “Wait until this or that happens, then I’ll  be happy.” I now realize that I kinda “lost” myself pre-SOLO. As women especially, we tend to put ourselves last. But truly, we have to with the demands of a family and a career. Let me make this abundantly clear – I would NOT change one thing in my life with raising my children. I loved every minute and every stage of their lives. But there are other changes I would make if I had a mulligan (not Madigan, MULLIGAN!). I see many of the young moms today battling the same demands I faced. And truly, I am impressed (and a bit jealous!) that they seem to be able to pull it off so much better – they are in partnerships with their spouses, getting everyone ready for and to school and activities,  grocery shopping, and meal preps, etc. Kudos to all the working moms out there and to the dads who help them out so they can get a work out in or a night out with their girlfriends.

“Sometimes when you lose your way, you find YOURSELF.”― Mandy Hale

One of my dear girlfriends always lets me vent to her on our walks. We bitch together, and she always ends up making me feel better about myself and my life. Recently, she sent me a song she heard that made her think of me: Confetti by Gone West. She said this was definitely not applicable 2 years ago, but is now, and she is right. Two years ago I was floundering a bit, still trying to come to grips with what my new life was going to be like. Y’all, 2 years later, I am living proof that time does ease old wounds and life is what you make of it.

Beautiful Sunday afternoon…

Honestly, at the time of the BIG “D”, I wondered if I would truly ever be happy SOLO. I was looking forward to hopefully closing that chapter of my life and beginning a new chapter, but also worried about what the finality would mean. It was a scary time. As it turned out, that new beginning meant having more fun, spending more time with my kids, family, and friends, and many more trips to the beach. I was back at it Sunday afternoon – having a glass wine on a beautiful Sunday afternoon with my younger daughter. Is this my new thing? If so, I am happy with it! Especially when my older daughter, son-in-law, and granddawg also decide to meet us and enjoy the beautiful afternoon outside on our Downtown mall! I do love my life! I have a lot of fun things lined up this spring and summer and am so looking forward to them all – not to mention WARM, SUNNY days. (That “S” word is in the forecast for this weekend… will winter ever end?)

“Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes, in the middle of nowhere you find yourself.”

Selfishly, I’ve been doing what I want to do, when I want to do it. But I also have some worries being SOLO – I am totally responsible for my financial well being and for what happens if I get sick or hurt. Actually this fear came to the forefront Monday, when I left work suddenly because I did not feel well. At all. And I am never sick, never! But boy, was I sick Monday. I barely made it home. My sister diagnosed it (long distance) as the norovirus. It was not pretty and I felt the worst I have ever felt. I had many offers of help but I did not want to infect anyone else and discovered I could take care of myself. But it was scary. Still feeling a bit shaky, but better. Today was supposed to be my first day back running, but it’s not happening. Just hoping I did not infect my family last weekend!

“Expect the unexpected. Life is full of wonderful things just waiting to surprise you.”

I cannot end without mentioning how happy last Wednesday night made me as Carolina beat Duke AT Duke – it was a BLOWOUT! I know, I know… but truly, even though Duke lost their big guy to a shoe malfunction (and I honestly hope he was not seriously injured), they still had powerful back ups, and we still beat them, BIG. And how sweet it was! I admit, I never saw that coming! GDTBATH! (Great Day To Be A TAR HEEL!)

Are YOU doing what YOU love? Are you loving your life, and yourself? If you remember last week’s blog, you have to love yourself before you can love others. In the words of Ru Paul at the end of every Drag Race episode: “If You Can’t Love Yourself How In The Hell Are You Gonna Love Somebody Else?”

Put yourself first every now and then. Do what you love. Have fun, especially with those you love, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“If you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong.”  – Groucho Marx

Best,

Leslie

PS Spring arrives in 21 days – MARCH 20, 2019 at 5:58 pm.  Just sayin’!

“(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” -Monkees 1967

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Remember last week’s blog when I told you that my younger daughter jokes with her siblings that “she has mom now, and they get mom later”… we’ve spent so much time together recently that I’m starting to wonder if it was actually a joke! Valentine’s Day morning we met at our Short Pump club before the crack of dawn to take my older daughter’s 6:15 am cycle class. Her music theme – “lots of love with a little Bad Romance” (song by Lady Gaga)! It was a tough class with great music. Afterwards, she surprised us with YETI wine cups! (Does she know us or what?) Can’t wait to use mine!

Valentine’s tradition of dinner and a movie continued with my younger daughter. We chose the theater based on which one has the best hot dogs! Violet Crown on the downtown mall won out and thankfully they were showing the movie we wanted to see – “Isn’t It Romantic” – perfect comedy, not cheesy, very upbeat – and just plain fun!

Valentine’s movie and dinner!

Monday, my younger daughter was off of work (President’s Day) and met me at our downtown club to take me through one of her lifting workouts. AND, later that afternoon, as it was “National Wine Drinking Day” (no kidding!), we had a mother/daughter wine date with one of her friends and her mother at Glass House Winery. So much time together. So. Much. Fun! But made me think she is serious about “taking mom now!” And you know what? I am thankful for it! Guess my older daughter and my son better get ready for their turn!

“A good life is a collection of happy moments.”

I had originally planned to go to the beach this past weekend, but a work project and the weather delayed my trip. I am dying to get back down there, breathe in that salty air, walk on the beach, have some fresh seafood, and visit with my friends and neighbors! And hopefully go for a run, once my knee is totally healed.

Speaking of my knee – I finally have some good news! Thanks to my physical therapist, I got in with another surgeon immediately, who said, “let’s get you back out there running.” Music to my ears. Bone bruise is healed, and although the torn meniscus will never really heal, I can live with it. He gave me a shot of cortisone in my knee, told me to get new orthotics in my running shoes (I am wearing down 1 side of my knee), work on strengthening my knees and hips, and then I can ease back into running in a couple of weeks. First glimmer of hope since this ordeal started. Somehow, I have truly been patient and given my knee time to heal. I took a lot of small steps and made changes in my life to accommodate my healing – replaced running with cycle classes (some with my daughters!), gave up my body pump classes (no squats or lunges allowed with the knee) but had fun lifting with my daughter, and walked more with friends. It was hard to accept that things might never go back to the way they were before and that I might never run again, but also, a lot of good came out of it. Still, I cannot wait to start running again, and will ease back into it slowly. Healing doesn’t happen overnight, and I will NOT risk injuring myself again. Besides, I have 2 fun races to look forward to – one in March with my younger daughter, and one in April with all of my kids. I am going to be patient and truly take the small steps necessary to get back to where I was before.

“Life is a series of steps. Things are done gradually. Once in awhile there is a giant step, but most of the time we are taking small, seemingly insignificantly small steps on the stairway of life.” Ralph Ransom

Healing is long process, one in which I lost hope for a bit. Thought I might never be able to run again. But I turned that corner with my knee last week and finally began to feel “normal,” more like my old self. Similar to healing a broken heart which is a R-E-A-L-L-Y long process, one where you think it will never heal. Then one day, you wake up and realize BOOM, the heartache is gone and your life is pretty close to normal again. It honestly took almost 3 years to heal. So just as my knee healed, so did my heart (just took a lot longer!). But both required a slow, determined process requiring many small steps.

“It will hurt and then one day it won’t. And until then, I will allow this pain to let me grow.”

I ran into an old friend last weekend who asked how I was doing. That’s when it hit me, I am doing very well thank you! No more heartache. No regrets. And even though there have been some setbacks lately, there is no longer that stab to my heart. That, my friends, is the biggest sign of healing. Divorce is not for the faint of heart y’all! But life does go on, slowly but surely. And slowly but surely you find your way back to yourself. Life will never be what it was before, it will be better. Truly.

“Sometimes your heart needs more time to accept what your mind already knows.”

So, in keeping with taking new steps, I did something this weekend I have not done in a LONG time…I baked! Made homemade, healthy, cinnamon raisin bagels and y’all, they are GOOD! I have to admit, when my family moved here in 1997, I had never had a bagel. Never. I mean, we did not have bagels in the South, we had biscuits! But my neighbor introduced us to Bodo’s Bagels and we were hooked! (If you find yourself in Charlottesville, you MUST visit Bodo’s – best bagels anywhere!) Shared the recipe with my co-workers and will share with you –  Bagel Recipe!

“Here’s the good news: You’re one step closer today than you were yesterday.”

So remember to take small steps and be patient to reach your destination, be it healing or reaching a goal. And enjoy the journey along the way, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

PS  “Noses are red, fingers are blue, I’m tired of winter, how about you?!?!”

 

“Love Is In The Air” John Paul Young 1977

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

“Love is in the air, in the rising of the sun… Love is in the air, when the day is nearly done…”

Are you feeling the love this week? I mean, it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow. Do you have a special Valentine? I have many! Remember as kids in grade school when you decorated those plain white “lunch bags” with paper hearts and cupids? And waited anxiously for valentines to be put in them? Oh and hoped for that special one? I remember taking my kids to get their valentines for school. My son loved the sports themed ones, Power Rangers, and Woody and Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story. And of course my girls loved anything with Disney Princesses – Belle, Ariel, Jasmine, Mulan. This year I only sent one Valentine – to my sweet momma. I wrote special Valentine letters to my children.

Got any fun plans for Valentine’s Day? I am continuing my SOLO traditional Valentine’s Day fun – a movie and dinner with my favorite SOLO person!

“I hope you remember that love isn’t just found in a significant other.”

There is a quote that has resonated with me over the last 3 years: “If someone is stupid enough to walk away from you, be smart enough to let them go.” I was smart enough to let go. Yes, love with a significant other is wonderful if you truly find your soul mate, but there is love and fun to be found in many relationships. This week (and month) always reminds me how much love there is to go around. Family, for one. I am so thankful for my family – my sweet momma for starters. I am blessed with 2 wonderful sisters who I love dearly (and my brother-in-law) and have fun with them every visit. We always have a group text going that keeps us in stitches. And of course Sweet Jack and his parents! And y’all know how crazy I am about my kids, and I believe they feel the same about me. I love being with them as adults. They make me so proud and are great fun to hang out with. Remember last week’s blog centered on the time spent with my older daughter? Well, last weekend it was with my younger daughter, who asked me to go to lunch with her at Three Notch’d Brewery so we could watch the UNC-Miami game together at noon. The host, also a Carolina fan, found us perfect seats at the bar to watch the game. Spread out our bar time, starting with their great pretzel bites, a beer for my daughter and a mule for me (their beers are too “hoppy” for me). Lunch of salads. And a Carolina victory… barely! I needed to work for a few hours so my daughter suggested we get dinner and watch the UVA-Duke game later at my house. And catch a few episodes of Grace and Frankie on Netflix. She brought some little cans of Crose (famous rose wine in a can from King Family Vineyard) and I made sweet potato fries and special hotdogs that a friend sent me from Omaha Steaks. What a perfect day and evening!

“If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” Mother Teresa

But it did not end there y’all. My daughter has wanted to take me to a special winery she visited with a friend, and suggested we go Sunday. I picked her up at 11 and we headed to Gabriele Rausse, a small winery open only on Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays to avoid crowds. If you are ever in Charlottesville, you need to visit this quaint winery on a Sunday before 1:00 to experience their wine tasting with food pairing. The food pairing changes weekly and is cooked right there by the winemaker. They paired 6 delicious wines with four small plates and y’all, I cannot tell you how wonderful it was! Warm homemade sourdough bread with olive oil, sweet potato gnocchi, boiled egg with salsa verde, and the best lemon square I have ever put in my mouth. I loved all of their wines, and left with a bottle of Pinot Grigio. Followed this winery with a tasting and a glass of wine at Cunningham Creek Winery. Had the most fun woman handling our tasting – she even slipped us the best dark chocolate with all the reds we tasted. Not yet ready to call it a day, we stopped by one more on our way back to town, Wineworks Extended, for a flight of wine. Also good, but absolutely my limit! Another fun Sunday with one of my loving kids. (By the way, my younger daughter always jokes with her sister and brother that she “has mom now” and they get me in my later years! Well, I think she is joking!)

But what other love is there? So much! Girlfriends for one. Every female needs a “tribe” of friends. When I first found myself SOLO, I thought about moving somewhere besides Charlottesville. But one of my dear girlfriends said I could not leave “my tribe”. She was so right! I am so thankful for my girlfriends, and for their sweet husbands who treat me like family. I am blessed to have girlfriends close by, and far away – distance does not matter. As one of my “far away” girlfriends told me this week, “we are connected at the heart.” So true. And I treasure these relationships. Whether it be a text, phone call, email, lunch, dinner, glass of wine, visit, or just a walk together, you can always count on girlfriends. Distance, nor time between visits, can ever change a relationship with girlfriends.

“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.” – Walter Winchell

So Happy Galentine’s Day TODAY! Wait, what, you ask?  “Oh it’s only the best day of the year. Every February 13th, my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we just come and kick it, breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus frittatas.” Famous words from another blonde Leslie, Leslie Knope from Parks and Rec.

“A best friend is someone who loves you when you forget to love yourself.”

I learned since becoming SOLO that loving yourself is very important. This is the one person you will spend the rest of your life with, so you better be happy with yourself. It’s not the easiest thing to do when life makes you doubt everything you thought was true. Surround yourself with loving people. I had a big group of “cheerleaders”  (figuratively and literally!) making sure I kept my head above water. Don’t wait to lose weight, change jobs, move, or find a mate to love yourself. Look in the mirror. You need to love yourself before you can love someone else. Stop and look at the wonderful people and accomplishments in your life. Look at YOUR special grace, talents, and kindness towards others. Realize your self-worth. BE the person you know you can be. And love yourself and your life, because it is yours. You are blessed!

“Loving yourself starts with liking yourself, which starts with respecting yourself, which starts with thinking of yourself in positive ways.”

So appreciate all the love in your life – your family, your friends, and yourself, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Valentine roses from my favorite man (my wonderful son!) a day early so I can enjoy them longer!

“Love yourself first, and everything else falls in line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” Lucille Ball

Best,

Leslie

PS  The Hallmark Channel is having a “LOVE” marathon of movies starting at 2 pm tomorrow (Valentine’s Day). Also, they are showing a Christmas movie EVERY Friday night! WOOHOO! And always a new movie on Saturday night! But if you are NOT feeling the love, I also saw this if you have an ex: “Looking to get yourself a present this Valentine’s Day? The El Paso Zoo has you covered. It will name a cockroach after your ex and then feed it to a meerkat live on camera.”

 

“COLD AS ICE” – Foreigner 1977 “HEAT WAVE” – Linda Ronstadt 1975

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Holy Cow it was “COLD AS ICE” here last week. The “Polar Vortex” extended down to Charlottesville and temperatures plummeted to a low of 7 degrees. Thank heavens not as cold as Chicago where The Today Show said your eyeballs could freeze! A “HEAT WAVE” hit as we warmed up to a balmy 74 degrees yesterday! Amazes me how fast weather can change from one extreme to the other. But I’ll take it! And since Punxsutawney Phil (aka THE Groundhog) did NOT see his shadow, spring should be arriving early. I am discounting the fact that he is wrong 60% of the time, because that means he is right 40% of the time, so come on Spring!

Since the springlike weather had NOT arrived as of Saturday, I decided to stay inside. And what better way than to cozy up in a movie theater! Saw “The Green Book”? Have you seen it? If not, you should. Based on a true story, it took place in 1962 when I was 7 years old (not afraid to reveal my age since my blog title tells it all). It was eye opening for me. Thankful for the changes in our lives since then. Go see it. You won’t be disappointed.

“A change in the weather is sufficient to recreate the world and ourselves.” Marcel Proust

Sunday was a springlike day and my older daughter called to see what my plans were and suggested I come visit and go for a good long walk her and my granddawg. My son-in-law was working on a project I’ll share when he finishes. I jumped at the invitation and an hour later I was there. We walked 3.5 miles throughout her neighborhood, talking as fast as our feet walked (I’m not sure who was walking who – us walking the dog or the dog walking us!) and ended up meeting my son-in-law at Sedona Tap House in their neighborhood for a late lunch. Ate outside on the patio, enjoyed the rare warm February afternoon, and basked in all the love and attention shown to my granddawg, Paige, aka the People Magnet. Everyone always wants to pet and love on her. Understandably. After lunch we walked back to their house, soaking up every last minute of warm sunshine, before I left to get home in time for the Super Bowl.

“Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.”

Speaking of the Super Bowl, what did you think? Were you pulling for the Patriots or the Saints, I mean the Rams? Any traditions? I always make chili in bread bowls for Super Bowl Sunday and this year was no exception. Baked the bread bowls Saturday and put the chili in the crock pot before heading to church Sunday. Came home to a great easy dinner! Watched the whole game which I found a bit boring, quite the opposite of the excitement of the playoff games.

Super Bowl Chili!

“When life brings big winds of change that almost blow you over, close your eyes, hold on tight, and believe.” – Lisa Lieberman-Wang

It has now been 9 weeks of no running for me, which is hard and very disappointing when I was running about 25 miles a week, especially when we have these surprisingly warm days in the winter. I was lamenting this fact, well, complaining actually, when I got a call that there was an opening in Physical Therapy (for my knee). Always helps to work where the best Physical Therapy practice is located (and to have friends there!). Ran over, ok, walked since I am not running, and met with the therapist (the one who did the dry-needling on my hip – success story there!). Long story short, she made my day –  told me to go for two 2-mile runs before my appointment with the orthopedic surgeon next week because he will want to know what hurts after running. Silly as it might sound, I think I might have cried a little. Then told her she had just made my day. Came to the appointment grumbling about not running, so down about my knee, and left knowing I would be running the next day in 73 degree weather. What a turnaround!

“When you can’t find the sunshine, be the sunshine.”

Did I run? Yes, but it wasn’t really pretty. I was limited to 2 miles, so I ran 1.5 miles to UVA, walked a mile, then finished up running my last half a mile back to the office. It did hurt a bit but really loosened up that last half mile. And I was able to wear a tank top in February! Go figure. Passed a lot of people wearing no shirts – men of course. 74 heavenly degrees on February 5th!  WOOHOO! Get to repeat it again tomorrow (Thursday) when it will be 71. Then I meet with the surgeon on Monday. Patience is not a virtue I possess, so this has been trying to say the least. But I am thankful it is happening in the winter (even with these warm days) instead of the summer. And I am following the rules and trying very hard to be patient. I mean, I always thought I could do just about anything, but this has forced me to take a huge step back.

“Challenges come before us so that we can discover the magnitude of our inner strength, and without such challenges, we will never really grow stronger.”

I have experienced and learned a lot over these last 3 years. Things can change drastically in a day, a week, a month, a year. Good and bad. As simple as the weather or a sporting event or as life changing as a relationship, your health, your life. But I have also learned that you gotta roll with these changes. You should too, because they’re gonna happen. And nobody hates change more than me, but you know what? I can accept change a lot better than I could 3 years ago! Discovered that not all change is bad. And life rolls on, with or without our cooperation.

“Life is about change. Sometimes it’s painful. Sometimes it’s beautiful. But most of the time, it’s both.”  Lana Lang

Roll with the changes y’all. Life has a wonderful way of surprising us. Just when we think nothing is going right, it all turns around. I am proof! Remember, every day is a gift, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

PS 41 days until Spring…just saying!

Life’s a “LaBlast”!

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

One of my readers told me she was giving up Facebook for Lent this year (begins March 6th), and was worried she would miss my blogs as she gets them through Facebook. Told her, and now you, that she could sign up to have each new blog post emailed to her weekly. Did you know that? Join the other 200+ followers that have the blog delivered right to their “mailbox” each week by signing up on the right side of this blog. Or just go to soloatsixty.com  to read the current and past posts. Did you know that last week’s blog had readers from 10 different countries! WOW, that blew my mind! How cool is that!?! I never know who is reading the blog, but can track the numbers and the countries where it is read. Also, if you are on Facebook, please “like” the SOLO AT SIXTY page to get a daily (week days only) dose of inspiration.

Speaking of Facebook, you know those “memories” that pop up on your feed, reminding you of posts “on this day”? These memories may be as recent as last year, or from many years ago. Seeing these “memories” pop up reminds me that I have come a l-o-n-g way. Looking into the past used to feel like a stab in the heart, but now I am able to look at those posts and think to myself, “yes, those were good times, but I am so thankful to be where I am today and thankful for the memories I am making now.” I read recently that some good memories are remembered as painful over time due to changes in circumstances. And the reverse as well, some painful memories are later perceived as positive as time goes on. It’s funny about memories, the emotions evoked by old ones and more recent ones. The older ones cause me to go “ohhhh…” while the more recent ones find me thinking “awwww…” And so many recent ones include “old” friends that I have reconnected with these past 3 years which is always a lift. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of posts that I wish would not pop up, but I just move on. That was a part of my life that is now over. On with the new! My favorite posts that pop up? My kids’ birthday “baby pictures” that I post every year on their special day. These always make me smile!

“Yesterday is but today’s memory, and tomorrow is today’s dream.”

The weekend before last, when I met my son and his girlfriend in Winston-Salem to see my mom, he had picked up a quilt I had commissioned for my older daughter from the same wonderful quilter, Ellen Dewey,  in Charlotte who made the quilt for my son last year. This quilt was made from her college sorority t-shirts. Trust me, she had a TON of really cute t-shirts for every sorority event from Rush to Hayride to Lazy Afternoon to Bar Golf plus one for every formal (always at the Carolina Inn). What to do with these memorable shirts? Make a quilt out of them! Since my older daughter could not go with us to Winston-Salem, I decided I would surprise her last Friday when I knew I would see her for my son-in-law’s birthday. Did not want to upstage his special birthday dinner by surprising my daughter with the quilt, so I waited until she came home with me after dinner. She was certainly surprised, and so happy! This quilt tells the memorable and fun story of her college years. She told me about each square (t-shirt) in the quilt. And I happily re-lived these memories with her. Funny thing, so many of the events centered around parties! And alcohol! I think she left that out when she was telling me about these events while she was in college! So many memories …. Oh to be young and in college again!

 

“Life is a beautiful collage of priceless moments and memories, which when pieced all together creates a unique treasured masterpiece.” Melanie M. Koulouris

Speaking of making memories… Sunday afternoon, my older daughter agreed to go to a LaBlast Dance fitness class (“the most fun dance workout you’ll ever do!”) with me at our club in Short Pump (where she lives). Younger daughter said she would pass, but my older daughter said she was game. And we had fun! The class was lead by Louis Van Amstel, one of the dancers for 10 seasons on Dancing with the Stars and the creator of the class. You dance the Cha-Cha, Tango, Hustle, Salsa, all SOLO without even realizing you are dancing! And the class was PACKED. Great workout, though it was a bit hard on my darn knee. But worth it! We went for mani/pedi’s and a late lunch afterwards. Fun memories that I love making!

“The best thing about memories is making them.”

Last week’s blog on being strong really touched people in ways I never imagined! I received many comments and emails (you can also email me at soloatsixty@gmail.com) about their realizations that, hey, they really are strong because they actually looked at what they had survived. And a lot of it was NOT easy. Life is not easy. But it is good, and it’s the only one we have.

So stay strong and when hit with a painful memory, try to remember how you felt at that time. Old memories do not necessarily have to be painful, because maybe they were good at the time. And make new, happier, fun memories every day, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“No matter how much it hurts now, some day you’ll look back and realize your struggles changed your life for the better.”

Best,

Leslie

PS Only 49 days until SPRING!

 

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, stand a little taller…” Kelly Clarkson 2011

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Who doesn’t love Kelly Clarkson?! The first American Idol winner in 2002 at the age of 20. Such a beautiful, strong voice. In our cycle classes, the penultimate song (next to the last song – I have a friend who loves the word “penultimate” and uses it every chance he gets!) is called “the Reflection song” – the instructor cuts all lights off and you are on your own, riding as fast and hard, or as easy and slow, as you want or need. The song is chosen to set your intention for the day, week, month, or year to come. Sunday morning found me at the club early, taking a cycle class from one of my favorite instructors, and the song she chose for our Reflection was Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger”. I had a lot on my mind Sunday morning and this song reminded me of how strong we all have to be to make it in this life. Inevitably, life will throw you curveballs and you can either let them hit you, catch them, or hit them out of the ballpark. I prefer to hit them out of the ballpark! And anyone who knows my athletic prowess, especially with softball, knows I mean this figuratively, not literally, as I honestly cannot hit a softball – just ask my boss!

“Life has knocked me down a few times. It has shown me things I never wanted to see, I have experienced sadness and failures. But one thing’s for sure, I always get up.”

What defines us as being strong? If you watched The Bachelor Monday night (after the UNC basketball game!), it was all about physical strength. But that does not define strong in my life (though I wouldn’t mind being stronger physically!). Being strong to me means standing up for myself, and for others. It means looking for the good in life. It means being there for those who need a lift. It means continuously moving forward, no matter how hard it is to put one foot in front of the other. It means being confident and content in my life. It means going for the grace and gusto in life, not wallowing on the sidelines.

Lunch with my old cul-de-sac!

Once you discover your strength, it is easier the next time you are faced with a challenge, because you know you will survive. I wish someone had told me this 3 years ago, so I am telling you now. Know that you are stronger than you ever imagined. I mean, look back at all the obstacles you have overcome in your life – 100% success rate, right? Because here you are, standing tall!

“Being strong doesn’t mean you’ll never get hurt. It means even when you get hurt, you’ll never let it defeat you.”

Last week, I did not let Movie Pass defeat me! I used my Movie Pass (which FINALLY offered a good movie) to go see The Upside with Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston and y’all, it was great. I cried and laughed out loud with the other 2 people in the theater. Based on a true story of a strong, yet unexpected relationship, and what a heartwarming story it is. Go see it. You won’t be disappointed.

And did the temperatures drop in your area? Ok, I am not strong when it comes to cold weather – I am a WIMP and I admit it. Holy cow it was frigid up here! And especially on the night of the Super Blood Wolf Moon Eclipse. Did you see it? I set my alarm to get up at midnight, bundled up, and went out on my back deck, looked up at the clear, starry night, marveled at the beautiful moon, and texted my kids “if you are awake, go outside and look straight up.” And they did. It was so awesome! And more so, knowing my kids were doing the same thing, at the same time.

“The weather went from 70 to 30 like it saw a state trooper.”  (more like 50 to 10!)

Had a fun Saturday! My younger daughter and I met my son and his girlfriend, and my younger sister and sweet Jack for lunch at The Feedbag, this wonderful hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Mocksville, NC, right down the road from where my sister used to live. When we were choosing a place to meet for lunch that would be near Mom’s, my younger sister suggested The Feedbag, telling me their food is great, atmosphere Southern and homey, and that they had been written up in Southern Living. I was sold! We all had a great and fun lunch before going to visit Mom (one of the strongest women I know). As I have told you, Mom’s Assisted Living has a cute self-serve soft ice cream shop where you can have chocolate, vanilla, or swirled ice cream in a cone or bowl. We treated mom to ice cream and were entertained by Jack and his new tool bench complete with tools, that my sister had just gotten him. What fun Jack had hammering, nailing, and especially using his saw! And what fun mom (and all of us) had visiting and watching Jack. Nothing tops a child’s laughter!

When my sister and Jack headed back to High Point, and my son and his girlfriend to Charlotte, my younger daughter and I decided we would visit a couple of wineries before going home. We started at RayLen and ended up at Medaloni where there was a birthday party complete with snacks, cakes, and live music for all to enjoy. We had a tasting, me with white wines, my daughter with reds, got a glass of wine along with some cheese and crackers (since I was driving us home for 3 ½ hours), and sat in these adorable Adirondack chairs with slats cut as wine glasses and a wine bottle, and just talked. Oh, and people watched.

“You have within you, right now, everything you need to deal with whatever the world can throw at you.” Brian Tracy

My favorite man!

So realize your true strength. Stand tall and proud and strong, knowing who you are. Lift up those around you who are struggling with finding their strength. Have fun, love life, and live it to its fullest with all the grace and gusto you can find, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

 

“Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!” Dean Martin 1966

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

Did you know that the song “Let it Snow!” was written and composed during a HEAT WAVE in July of 1945? It was not written as a Christmas song, though it successfully evolved into one as radio stations began playing it, and artists such as Dean Martin and Tony Bennett (not the good looking UVA coach!) began performing it during the Christmas season.

“What good is the warmth of summer without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?” John Steinbeck

So did it snow in your area last weekend? It did here in Charlottesville. Forecast was for 6-12 inches, but thankfully we ended up with around 5 inches. Still, church services were cancelled, kids’ sporting events were cancelled, our clubs opened late and closed early, and of course, school was cancelled. But I had to work – our auditor was in from Chicago all weekend. We discovered over the years (worked with him for 13+ years) that we can get more accomplished working on the weekend without the interruptions of a normal work day. Only problem this weekend was finding a place within walking distance open for lunch due to the snow! Which of course he found hilarious as nothing shuts down in Chicago with only 5 inches of snow. We found ONE restaurant open and trekked to the downtown mall for lunch on Saturday and Sunday. Same place, same good food.

The thing about snow is that it is so peaceful and beautiful when it is falling. And the air feels so right – clean and crisp. Now don’t get me wrong, I prefer summer’s heat and humidity any time, but I do enjoy a beautiful snow. And I mostly love a snow on the weekend when I don’t have to work or worry about driving in it. I mean, I totaled one car last summer (driving it into a flooded roadway), I have no plans to total another driving it in the snow! Luckily our auditor is from Chicago where driving in snow is nothing!

“A lot of people like snow. I find it an unnecessary freezing of water.” Carl Reiner

The city and county, as well as our neighborhood management team, were prepared for this snow, having brined and salted the roads early. Came home Friday evening to an orange stick on either side of my driveway, and every other driveway in my neighborhood. Found it was to mark the edges of my driveway in case we got the 10+ inches forecasted, as my HOA is responsible for scraping our roads and clearing our driveways and sidewalks. Prepared. Unlike the state and counties in December 2009, when snow turned what normally is a 4-hour trip from Chapel Hill into a 17+ hour car ride for my son (coming home from Freshman year for Christmas) and me. Luckily I had filled up my gas tank and gotten my son a HUGE late lunch before leaving Chapel Hill, because for once in my life, I had no food in my car! I was not prepared – planned to be home in time for dinner, picking up a pizza on our way into town, but arrived home at 7:15 am the following morning.

“I prefer my footprints in the sand, not the snow.”

Remember the big snows when you were a kid? I remember some huge snows, but were they so big because we were so little? Or were they really big snows? When it snowed, my dad would put chains on our tires. (Yes, I am dating myself here but with a blog titled SOLO at SIXTY, there is no secret to my age!) The school buses ran with the big chains on their tires as well. And I remember how bad it was with the chains on the tires once the roads were partially cleared – such a rough ride. YIKES! Also, if it snowed during the week and schools were closed, we had to go to school the following SATURDAY. Imagine that! But I also remember my mom making the best snow cream. Of course you could NEVER use the first snow as it was “tainted” according to mom (first snow cleared the pollution out of the air!) and never use any yellow snow (duh), so we waited anxiously for that 2nd big snow. And the sledding… we had a flexible flyer and would put paraffin wax on the runners to make it go faster. Our street was basically a big hill that was great for sledding. The whole neighborhood would meet at the top and everyone sledded together, piling on top of each other on sleds. My mom always worried about us crashing and chipping our teeth! Not breaking bones, just teeth. “Make sure you close your mouth going down the hill!” Which no one did because we were screaming and laughing the whole way down. I never broke any teeth, neither did my sisters.

“Look for what’s good, what’s right, what’s beautiful. . .and that’s what you’ll see more of!”

By the way, last week my younger daughter and I watched the International Space Station fly overhead after an early morning cycle class. The sky was clear, the sun had not yet risen, and it was really cool to stand there looking at the sky marveling that there were people on the ISS and we were watching them fly by. Also marveling that my daughter who is NOT a morning person had already taken a class with me and was standing outside at 7 am. Life is good.

“For one minute walk outside, stand there, in silence, look up at the sky, and contemplate how amazing life is.”

And yes I am taking care of my knee… cycle is allowed. Just no running… which means more trips to Short Pump to take my older daughter’s cycle class, which we did last Thursday!

Looking forward to this weekend! Just hoping the “S” word does not interfere with my fun plans! And I noticed that the orange sticks are still marking the driveways….uh-oh, what does that mean?

I have my mom’s old clock on the wall in my office surrounded by photos of my family. I found myself looking at that clock and those old photos last Friday as I prepared for the weekend of work and snow, and found myself thinking about mom, and thought to myself that as those seconds and minutes ticked away, they were lost. Gone forever. Realized how important life is every minute of every day. So this week, take time each day to marvel at something amazing in life, and be thankful for every minute, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie