with Lynne and Leslie
Category Archives: birthdays

Coleslaw, Loss, and Perspective

by SweetMidlife

HI! It’s Lynne! We haven’t written all summer, so I hope it was a good one. I am writing this gingerly because I had surgery on my left index finger last week, and I am writing with it sticking up in the air. This will be short :).

Today marks 20 years since the death of Britain’s Princess Diana, and seeing all of the specials and articles that have been commemorating the day, I remember where Leslie and I were when we found out about the Princess’ death. We were dealing with an overabundance of prepared salads and disappointment.

Our dad, Ed, was about to turn 50 years old, and Leslie, my mom, and I had planned a surprise birthday party for him that weekend. It was actually about 3 weeks before his actual birthday, but because my parents were living in Charleston, SC at the time and were planning on coming north that weekend, it seemed like a wonderful time to get our MD family together. We planned the shindig for a Sunday, in the backyard of the house in York, PA, where Leslie had an upstairs apartment that she called “The Hallway”because it was really narrow. It was a great hangout, and we were really looking forward to celebrating our dad with people who loved him so much. Leslie had even ordered like gallons of potato salad, macaroni salad, coleslaw and tuna salad from a caterer, and we were feeling very accomplished, and we were all ready to pick them up on Sunday morning, and get our salad and our party on at the same time.

So, on Saturday, I was headed up the Baltimore Washington Parkway, headed to Leslie’s, when I got a call from Mommy, who said the thing that you don’t want the people you have planned a surprise party for to say, and that was this : “Lynne, we’re not coming.”

Say who now?

I pulled over at a gas station, because I knew that this was going to be something I needed to be still for to hear.

My dad spent most of his professional career in transportation management, and at that point, was managing the school bus contract between the company he worked for, and the Charleston school system. This was right before school was to start for the year, and things weren’t going smoothly, and since he had no idea that we were planning a party, he decided that they couldn’t leave, and that they could just come home the next weekend.

Surprise!!

So, she had to tell him about the party, but his duty was still to his job, so we had to call everyone and tell them that the party wasn’t happening that weekend. And we still had to take possession of all that prepared salad, because the lady had already made it. And we were bummed. We wanted the party now, darn it, because we had planned, and because we missed our parents, and because this isn’t how it was supposed to go, and we had a lot of tuna salad to eat now. Between my mom and us, we let everyone know, and we went to Leslie’s room, and fell asleep with the TV on, feeling sorry for ourselves.

I woke up in the middle of the night, and the news was on, and it was talking about what had happened in Paris. I woke Leslie up.

“Leslie, the Princess died.”

And we were snapped out of our sleep and mostly our disappointment over missed parties. Because two young boys had suffered more than the loss of plans. They had lost their mom. And the whole world was seeing it. I have no idea how long we stayed up, crying in disbelief, but I know that our attitudes changed, because we would see our parents next week. And after we went back to sleep, we got up and picked up the salads, and Leslie had friends come over, and we ate. And the next week, my parents came, and we had the party, and it was glorious. The picture at the top of this post was taken there. And you see happiness and relief at being together.

And this is what’s important. Well, parties are important, because they celebrate life, and life is precious. My dad died 15 years later, at 64, 3 months before his 65th, breaking our hearts, and also missing out on the really good senior-citizen discounts, a thing he was really looking forward to. I write this not to make you sad, but to implore you to make the memories that make the pictures, and enjoy your lives, and roll with the changes and the plethora of mayo-based foods. Enjoy your people. They are what is important.


Hair grease, yoga and happy birthdays (plus a giveaway at the end)

by SweetMidlife

Hi!! It’s Lynne! It’s been about a month since Leslie and I have posted on this here blog, first because we kept meaning to get around to it and didn’t, and then because our web host shut down our site for a bit because we were getting too many spam comments! We’ve fixed that, the time and the spam thing, so now we’re back, peeps!

So, there is a bunch of stuff that we want to write about, including an upcoming post about an amazing friend who started a business to take care of other moms (that is coming next week), and a post where Leslie was going to interview me about my theater that does shows for kids, because we have shows coming up this weekend and I really want people to come, and we might still do that. But not now. Because today is about me, and that’s about me too, but it’s about me having me time. Leslie actually just wrote about that, so we Streeter Girls are into that.

My son has school in the morning, so I decided to do something fun for me. There is an yoga studio around the corner from me that I have never been too, because I have talked myself out of it when I could go to the gym I used to attend or just do it at home. But this seemed like the day to let that go. So I had my son dressed and ready for school, and he looked extra cute, because it’s picture day at school. And I put on my yoga-iest outfit, and I grabbed the brush to brush his hair….. and I was greeted with an oil slick. Because he decided to put like a half pound of hair grease on himself as a way to help me out. Yeah.

I can’t even.

So I tried to wash it out without giving him a shower, but that didn’t work, so I gave him a shower and washed his hair, and there was still a 1/4 pound of grease left, and then I dressed him, and then he said he wanted to wear his fire fighter outfit in the pictures, and I was like YES because there is a hat involved, and you wouldn’t see the Eddie Munster of it all in his streaked head, and I scraped out more grease, and brushed it, and then we finally got to school, and they said that the pictures would be taken during chapel so he couldn’t wear the hat then but he looked less Munster-ish and maybe like a small skunk. It’s a’ight.

So then I went to yoga, and I didn’t have a mat or towel and they loaned me one and it was so chill, and I could do a lot of the poses, but not all of them, and that was okay, because it didn’t matter, and I wasn’t self-conscious in a bad way but I just focused on me and my breath and my joy and it was awesome. And I thanked the teacher at the end and I said that it was my first time there and she said “But not your first time at yoga?” and I said that no, I had practiced before, and she said she could tell, and that made me feel nice, even though I often felt like I was doing a new yoga pose called “The Waiting Uncoordinated Person”. But that was all good. Because I felt awesome. And I feel awesome. And there are still 12 hours left in my birthday!

Because I’m HAPPY!!

I often have these expectations for special days like birthdays, and Christmas, and I feel like I only have specified times to breathe and take care of me, and that feels like more pressure, and I measure my good time against some target I can’t even explain or quantify. But starting with last Christmas, I decided to not do that. To just enjoy the day, and the birth of Jesus, and the Chinese food and the friends who are family. And it was wonderful. And that is what I am doing today. No expectations that it has to be the best day. Just doing what I can.

And that makes it the best day.

So if you are still reading this, I would love for you to tell me of a time where you just went with it and took care of yourself, and if that hasn;t happened in awhile, tell me how you would LIKE to do that. Write in the comments below, and I will pick a person to give 2 tickets to my theater’s upcoming family shows in Hanover, MD this Saturday. Cool?


This Is 45. At Least For Lynne.

by SweetMidlife

Hi y’all! It’s Lynne. It’s been like a month since we wrote on this here blog, because I started a theater that does shows about kindness for kids and we were doing our first performances, and Leslie has been busy at work writing about the lifestyle stuff in West Palm Beach for the paper she writes for, and we both have been trying to make sure that the little boys that we live with at our separate houses are fed and not throwing themselves off of things in a way that can hurt them. But I have missed you bunches, and missed talking to you and gabbing and maybe you have missed us, too? Well, we’re back, and YAY!  The last post we did was Leslie talking about the milestone of us reaching the age of 45 at the end of April, which we did on the same day, being twins and all. And I have been meaning to write something on my own musings of being this age so far, and I haven’t, so now I am.

I will say going in that this is not a definitive look at what it means for everyone to be 45. This is just my personal experience, but maybe you will find something in it that looks like you!.

So. 45.

Hi!

Hi!

It sounds really old, doesn’t it? Like 40 sounded empowered and stuff (which our awesome blogging friend Fadra just said in a comment on Leslie’s post), but something about 45 sounds firmly planted in middle age. Because it is. And sometimes when I tell people that I am 45 they say “What? You? No, you are lying! You can’t be that old.”, while some people go “Okay.” And those reactions might make me feel some kind of way about them or me, but that is because 45 just sounds kinda old. Like it’s still young, and my Grandma is almost 90 and that lady lives life, and I am exactly 1/2 her age, so I know that I got a lot of living to do, which is also a song from “Bye Bye Birdie”, which is a movie that Leslie and I watched 70 million times in middle and high school (Whattup, Betamax? I miss you), and is also a play that I did both in 7th grade and in dinner theater when I was 26 and I was way skinny even though I ate full-fat everything because that show is all dancing and jumping and fainting 8 shows a week. It feels more substantial.

But I digress. But actually, maybe that’s what 45 is. It’s remembering all of the things that have happened up to this point, that have added up to me being where I am now, and figuring out how that makes me who I am. Like my parents, and my sister, and us living overseas then coming back to the states and not being accepted by everyone, but still finding a niche, and me not finding a job in social work, and going into acting because I could do that and do shows that reached kids, and me loving it and choosing that life and getting training, and now me starting my own business and using all that I have learned. And there is also me getting married at 39 (and not having sex until then) and having a baby at 41 and having the loves of my life later than some might have and loving every minute. Well, most minutes. Because tantrums are not fun. And I miss people, like my dad, and my brother-in-law. That comes with being alive, the grieving, which I actually said to a good friend today who is missing someone she loves, too.

And it brings me here, to where I am writing this in a shirt with pictures of big cats on it and pajama bottoms that I worked out in earlier, and I need to take a shower, and my kid is watching TV from the kitchen as he looks into the family room because he can’t eat in there, so he is standing in the doorway drinking apple cider so he is still technically in the kitchen but he did just put his empty cup in the sink, so that’s good. I have a schedule for today, and I have already missed some of it, but I have moved things around, and I will get done what I need to get done. And I have okay grown-up things to do like get my oil changed, but also fun grown-up stuff to do like make cupcakes for my kid’s class tomorrow and also really awesome fun stuff to do this weekend like celebrate my son’s birthday and eat more cupcakes, this time made by my sister-in-law because she is really good at that. And I am still trying to be more organized with time, and with cleaning things up, and not going out with stuff in my hair, and I was NOT the last person to pick up their kid at school yesterday, and even if I was, at least I picked him up. He is here right now eating blocks of cheese and sticking pens into the salt shaker. Hold on.

I’m back.

And I am working on being more present for my friends, and doing what I said I would, and trying to make them know how much I love them, although I don’t do that right all of the time. And I am calling my mom more, and my sister more, but less when she has to work.

And I am working on owning up to my mistakes and feeling the shame that makes me want to do better, but not living in it and staying there. Don’t have time for that.

And I am loving my husband and seeing where I have changes to make and where we both do, and taking care of my crap, and diving into his love and also knowing that I don’t have to work to earn his love, but that his love makes me want to put in the work that it takes for us to do right by each other. Funny how that works, no?

And I am working on being a woman whose life in real time matches up to who she says she is when she says she is a Christian and wants to love people like Jesus showed us we should.

And I am working on loving me, and giving myself breaks, and realizing that I am kinda cool. I am making time for myself and honoring me. That is a work in progress. But I really like me. That felt weird to write. It will hopefully get less weird.

This is 45 to me. I have grown, and I am growing, and maybe you are younger and have figured this out before I did, and maybe you are older and you still have not, but that it okay. We are moving at our own pace, hopefully, altogether, forward.

I am liking this so far.


Oh, we’re 45, we’re beautiful, and we’re fine: Claiming your middle-aged awesome

by SweetMidlife
Leslie with the Afro, Lynne with the locs. Hi!!

Leslie with the Afro, Lynne with the locs. Hi!!

This post was originally going to be about Beyonce’s “Lemonade” and whether a middle-aged viewer who is an admirer but not by any means a super fan would find it as enlightening and transformative as so many have, and whether anything in a soulful piece about anger, forgiveness, betrayal and acceptance could spur that admirer toward writing death threats to strangers who may or may not have betrayed another stranger. I doubt that. Anyway I’m not writing that story right now because I’m a really busy single mother and haven’t had the time to watch it – which alone I guess says something about my investment in some “Lemonade” transformation. Do with that what you will,

So that is not the story we will be writing today. The story I am writing is about how my sister Lynne and I turned 45 yesterday, a sort of milestone birthday that doesn’t have the same punch as those ages that end in a “0” but is the sort of age that people toss off as an example, like when a younger acquaintance was talking about a male contemporary and said, increduously, “He likes old women, like 45 year old women!” and I didn’t snatch her teeth out. I am fairly sure I thought 45 was old when I was 25, although only in relation to myself. The coolest people I knew, the most together, were in their 40s, and I was awed by what seemed to be their poise, their experience, their lived-in sexiness. I could not imagine what would have to happen in the 20 years between me, at the time, and my 45th birthday, and even imagining it was weird. I hoped I would be awesome. But unimaginable.

Guess what? It happened! I’m 45! I’m 45! And I am awesome. I am not as rich or thin or internationally famous as I imagined I would be, but I have a bunch of other things that are more important and I’m not even saying that to make up for not being rich and thin. I know that my sister feels the same way, because we talk on the phone and read each other’s minds. No we don’t. We’re not psychic.(OR ARE WE?)

What we are, every year, is more comfortable in our skin, more willing to claim the stuff that we know, and to not do what we and other women do all the time which is to downplay it and be self-deprecating. I still do that, too much, but I am learning to accept it. Not only because it seems phony to those who note their admiration, and maybe a little ungrateful like they’re stupid and wrong to think you impressive, but because a lot of people with a lot less reason to be proud are claiming their stuff, and the stuff of others, without even a thought.

I am not perfect. I am not where I want to be in a lot of ways. But I have built a good career that I am proud of, that I fought for. I am doing better in taking care of myself. I am a good friend, a good mommy, a good daughter. I was a good wife (but not “The Good Wife.”) I am better at most things, besides running and having good knees, at 45 than I was or would have been at 25 or 35. I have had losses and struggles, disappointments and giant, giant self-made mistakes, and some stuff that was just all-out stupid. I have learned from all of those things, that happened to me and that I made happen, and I have become a better, smarter, more humbled and yet more confident person than I would have been without those lessons.

And I am particularly proud to be 45, an age that my sweet goofy husband did not get to be, because I am living it for both of us. What an insult it would be to him and the things he was robbed of to whine and wrap my head in my hands and wail about getting old? Scott would want to be 45, and 50, and 75. He can’t. But I can. And I’m gonna start it off by saying:

I am excited to be 45. I earned this age. I earned these wrinkles and this cellulite, and also this common sense and distaste for drama. I have earned my career, and my friendships, which are mostly years old and healthy, because I have worked for them. I will not be coy about it anymore, pretend that I’m not proud so I seem nicer and more  humble. This is not a time for humility. It’s a big day. And I’m happy for it. Light them candles up, y’all.

I have earned them. We both have. We all have.


Living A Life That Makes People Want To Say Nice Things At Your 80th Birthday Party

by SweetMidlife

Happy Monday! Lynne here.

I had the honor last night of attending our Aunt Dorothy’s 80th birthday party, and it’s been in my head all night. It was a lovely shindig, with delicious eats from a place that does Caribbean food, people who you know are over 70 but look 50, and a cake table that looked like something out of a magazine. Cake pops, y’all! There was also amazing music, that went from smooth jazz to Motown to line dancing music, which was awesome because the aforementioned spry older people flooded the dance floor. They can do a wonderful Cha Cha Slide, with the correct amount of hip swaying, but without testing gravity when they guy in the song says “How low can you go?”, because they are smart. I, on the other hand, so happy to be moving again after recovering from surgery, squatted all the way down and for a split second, wondered who was coming to lift me back up. I did it myself. But there was a moment.

There was a cake pop in this bag but it got eaten. Good party.

There was a cake pop in this bag but it got eaten. Good party.

But the best part about it was the love laid on my aunt. You could see the life she lived in pictures on the slideshow that her family prepared, including pictures of people who aren’t here anymore, like my aunt’s husband, my grandparents, and my dad and his brother. So many smiles, and so many good times. And at the party, in person, there were people from all facets of her life, including family (like her gorgeous brand new great-granddaughter, who slept through large portions of the evening because she is an infant and they have it like that), friends that she has known for 60 years, folks from her church, and former colleagues from her days in the Federal government. They all had beautiful things to say about her, about how good a cook she was (Sister can throw down), but even more about how faithful she is (taking care of both of my grandparents and her husband towards the ends of their lives), and her generosity and hospitality, and how she takes people under her wing when they need help. And unlike the things that are said about some people at these occasions, when people feel obligated to say nice things because, hey, you ARE giving them free chicken, people meant every word of it. And I thought about what a testament it is to you that friends from almost your entire life, and people from the job you retired from 25 years ago, will gladly come and tell people, but most importantly, YOU, about what you meant to them. My aunt beamed the whole night, and we all beamed with her.

It made me proud to be her niece, which I already was proud of, and it also made me want to live a life that people will say nice things about in 35 years when I turn 80. Not because it will be nice to hear, which it will be, but because it means that I was good to people more than I was not good to them, and that the little moments of my life would add up to a life well-lived. I know that I don’t always get it right, and I am not saying that so you say “No, Lynne, you’re great!” I am serious. I mess up. But last night gave me something to aspire to, and I want to continue in that direction. See you in 35 years at my 80th. Come. There will be chicken. And the Cha Cha Slide. And we can help each other up if we go too low.


Happy Birthday, Baby

by SweetMidlife

Almost a year ago, I became a mommy when I gave birth to our son.  Everything in my life up to this was preparation for being his mother.  Everything that I have ever learned about patience, about sacrifice, about commitment, about sleep, about selfishness, about selflessness, about faith, about anything.  All of that was shoring me up for where I am now. And it’s a journey.  And I daily get it wrong, and then right, and then keep going. I know that this year has been a whirlwind and a marathon all at the same time.  The first few months both whizzed by and took forever. There have been growing pains, which are good, and heart pain, like losing my dad a month after Alex came, which was awful. I feel like my life is like an accordion, always in motion, squeezing out the music, some of it sweet, some a bit questionable, but all of it ultimately with a beat you can dance to.  Oh, and I have also learned more about love in the last 365 days than I had in the 41 years that came before.  Watching my husband watch our son smiling, and then smiling the same smile back, is amazing.  Seeing the joy that he has brought my family has been wonderful. And just being with him, watching this little person who is whole and complete but growing and full of possibilities as he gobbles up the world around him like he does Cheerios? It’s everything. I am grateful for the privilege that it is to be his mother and to share the same space with him, and I thank God that he chose me to do that.  So grateful.


Happy SITS Day at Sweet Midlife! Serving up twin realness since 1971!

by SweetMidlife

Nancy the comic strip and a gypsy in a Holly Hobby turtleneck walk into a room. There is much cuteness and nothing much gets accomplished.

OK, so technically we haven’t been blogging that long. There were no blogs in 1971, and there certainly weren’t computers when we met, in a nice warm womb in Baltimore. But blogs are really just communication, and we, Lynne and Leslie, the twins who write this blog, have certainly always done that. It was probably something like “You’re taking up too much room in here,” which isn’t all that eloquent or blog-worthy.

But it was a start.

So here we are, nearly 42 years later, both married but living in different states. One’s a mom. One’s not (yet). One’s a teaching artist, the other a newspaper reporter. Both got married in their 39th year, barely escaping the Spinster Buzzer (which sounds like the legs of a rocking chair going over the tails of many cats.) We’re both kinda goofy, but have a lot to say about relationships, friendships, dirty dishes, reality stars who won’t show up, death, life and cheese.

Interestingly, this used to be a blog about being older brides, and we still talk about the state of relationships that bear the benefit of having (alleged) wisdom under our belts. But weddings are just the candy-covered frosting of the rest of your life, and that’s where we like to be. The cake’s the good part.

So come on in and hang out. Tell us what you think. Give us some advice. Encourage Lynne to finish that framed calendar thing she’s been trying to craft. Make Leslie go to boot camp. Tell us where the good cheese is.

And thanks for coming!


Go You! It’s Your Birthday!

by SweetMidlife

I wrote a thing a few weeks ago about things you never, ever get too old for, like Easter baskets.  So, here is another one.

Last week, Leslie and I (for anyone reading this blog for the first time, it is written by twin sisters) turned 41, and we each celebrated in our own special ways.  I took myself out to lunch and read a good book on my new Kindle (thanks, husband), and that night, we enjoyed the free birthday pizza and a free birthday movie rental because I signed up for various and sundry things.  Then I went home and watched “The Muppets”. And Leslie spent the day enjoying a beachfront hotel with her husband and friends (that’s how the South Floridians do it).  We both freaking enjoyed ourselves.  We come from a birthday-appreciating family. One of my aunts used to celebrate 1 day for every year she was old.  We do birthday dinners. We buy gifts. We dig birthdays.

So obviously, in my opinion, you never get too old to celebrate your birthday.  Maybe you take the day off, or maybe you go to dinner, or you go on vacation, or you rent a Redbox, or your kids take you to McDonald’s.  It doesn’t really matter WHAT you do, or where you go, or if you go anywhere.  But in my opinion,  it’s an awesome time to celebrate you, and the blessing it is to be alive for another year.  And if it’s your friends or family members who are celebrating, it’s a cool time to acknowledge that you are glad they are here by calling, or even sending out a FB message.  All that to say, we get so freaking busy we don’t take the time to slow down and revel in the birthday-ness of it all, and that’s a shame.  I am giving you permission, if you don’t do it at any other time,  to just take some time when your date of birth next rolls around and just do you, whatever that means.  You deserve it.


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