with Lynne and Leslie
Category Archives: Uncategorized

If You Could Only See

by SweetMidlife

Happy New Year! Lynne here.

I woke up this January 1 a few hours before I actually got up, because NOT READY, but I scrolled Facebook and Twitter, and did this Bible study/devotional thing that I am a part of, and let our 2nd-grader into our room and we all snuggled for a bit, then he left, and then, ready to get up, I looked over at my sleeping husband and thought, “He’s really cute. I love him. I would love to take his picture and post it so that people would see what I see”. But I know that he would not be happy about that (even though some partners are, and if yours is, rock on). So I did not.

And that led me to thinking about social media and such, and my desire to share things with my peeps, be it my random thoughts, or something I saw on that platform that I thought was funny or could lift people up, and I thought about how cool it is that we have this way to reach people that we don’t see all of the time, or don’t really know, and how we get to share our humanity with them.

But then I thought about how sometimes my need to share turns into a need to be validated, almost as if that dinner or experience didn’t happen if no one else but me saw it and said it was good. And that then makes these things like a performance, instead of a chronicle. And then I started thinking of that Tonic song, “If You Could Only See”, where the singer says that they wished that other people could see how their girlfriend loves them, so that other people could understand why the singer feels how he does about her. Which is nice. BUT, and this is where I am landing…

…as much as we want to shout from the rooftops about the thing we are doing or the person we love, that love, or that experience, doesn’t become less real because other people aren’t witnesses to it. Or approve when they do see it.

This year, I want to spend more time experiencing the life I have, and sharing it if I want to, but not to the point that the experience becomes just having something TO share. I want to keep some stuff. So, no shame if you want to show everyone everything, and no shame if you don’t. I just want you to know that sometimes it’s okay if YOU are the only one who sees.

Holiday Traditions, However You Got Them

by SweetMidlife

Hi! It’s Lynne! Haven’t written in many a month. Good to see you. I am so excited that Leslie decided last month to resurrect this blog that we’ve been not updating. Here’s my contribution!

It’s the holiday season, so loop de loop! And dickory dock! And we always forget to hang up our Christmas stockings until the last minute around here, and when we do, we never really put anything in them, and when THAT happens, it’s because I think of something to put in my kid’s stocking at some point, or my mom comes into town and she does it. Well, this year, there are things in it that I know I didn’t put in it, so yay, husband, or whoever random person snuck in here and put things in our stockings. Which would be a whole other problem (but I know it was the husband).

Anyway, as people ask if I am ready for Christmas, or if we are still shopping, my answers are 1. No, 2. Yes, 3. I don’t even know what “ready for Christmas” means, really. Because we all have different traditions, and wants, and plans, and my thought of a complete Christmas looks like other people’s beginnings, because they do way more than me.

And that’s okay.

Because we spend so much time during the year comparing ourselves to other people and the way that they live, and we start wondering if maybe we should be doing all the stuff that they do, and then we get resentful of them when we CANNOT do the things that they do, when they do not live in our wallets or we in theirs. My parents used to always wait until Christmas Eve to get our trees, at first because they were busy, and secondly because they were cheaper that day. and after awhile, it became our tradition to do it that way. They did what worked for them. So all that to say…

…There are so many ways to feel inadequate. Let’s give ourselves a break this holiday season. Do what works best for you. Let other people do what’s best for them. That sounds simple. Yet it is not. Maybe the more we do it, the easier it will get. Happy Holidays, my friends.

Happy Thanksgiving from your neglectful bloggers!

by SweetMidlife

So…remember us?

Remember us? This is us?

It’s OK if you don’t. It’s been months – six of ’em – since either Lynne or Leslie, the twins who write this here blog, have been heard from here. It’s not that we haven’t been busy. Lynne has her own theater company from which she hopes to change the way kids see civility, one funny, meaningful line at a time. She’s also the worship leader at her church and has a son and husband to hang out with. Leslie wrote a book and has been hitting the road and even the airways getting the word out about grief, recovery and laughing. She also has a kid to keep alive.

But that doesn’t mean we haven’t been sucking here.

When we started this blog nearly a decade ago we were newlyweds in our late 30s who had something to say about how love isn’t about age, and that you don’t have to be young to be starting a new life. And in that decade, so much has changed – we changed the focus from weddings to midlife in general. And then life hit back and we had so many other priorities, including other writing, that we stopped writing here. We even planned to end it.

And then the bill came. As in, we got billed another year for the URL. And we thought “OK. Guess we have to blog again!” Working harder so you don’t waste money? That’s a really great adult lesson at midlife, yes? But it’s not just about the money. It’s that we have more to say. We are wiser – older, a little flabbier and with these interesting lines on our faces. We also have new hair colors. We have more to say. And we’re going to take the time to say it.

So we are back. I promise you’ll hear something from us weekly, even if it’s three words and a cat GIF. We are thankful, today, for our friends and family and anyone who ever took two seconds to care. We are thankful to God for auto payments because they got out lazy butts back to the computer.

And we’re thankful for whatever we’re gonna eat today. Because we like food. And you. Buckle in and bring snacks. It’s gonna be fun.

Allyship: A fable; Or “Helping while actually helping and not taking over every blessed thing”

by SweetMidlife

So I’ve had an interesting weekend, inadvertently having a discussion with actress/feminist activist/Twitterati champ Alyssa Milano about racism. Yeah, I was shocked as you are.

I’m not going to get into the whole discussion because it’s long and has both helpful and hurtful tangents and it’s a holiday weekend and I don’t have the time. But the gist is that Ms. Milano posted that the presence of KKK meetings in 2019 meant she didn’t recognize her country, and myself and others informed her that it’s exactly the country we’ve always known we lived in, even after the election of a biracial president that she said she’d hoped was a symbol that we were past racism (Fake “Arrested Development” narrator: We are not.)

Anyway, Milano has said that she wants to be an ally to POC, which is a noble thing, but so hard to do when you haven’t paid enough attention to the details of the actual struggle to know that it exists. This happens when we as supposed allies, whether straight allies in LGBTQ+ causes, or white allies in communities of color, or Christian allies in Muslim spaces, decide to center our feelings and tactics without asking what the communities we propose to help actually want. Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls once told me that the best way to be an ally is to listen, and not assume you’re in charge.

For some people, who have traditionally believed that their needs were to be centered in everything – my generation watched a lifetime of specials and movies where a well-meaning white person was always the star of any story about indigenous people anywhere, and I think it’s hard to get over that. (As a black woman, mainstream culture made it clear that very few things were mostly about me.)

So think of allyship as a simple parable: Imagine there is a war, a fierce one, and a band of brave fighters are doing their thing on the ground, but know that it’s going to take help from people on the outside who have more in common with the people they’re fighting. At a crucial moment, someone from outside arrives and says “I’m here to help you!” “Thank God!” say the tired freedom fighters. “Let us tell you what….”

“No need!” say the helpers. “We already know what you should do. We’ve been in charge a lot and we mean really well, so surely we can take it from here. Also, here’s what you need to do. Here’s Bob. He’ll be your leader now.”

“Wait a minute!” say the freedom fighters. “There’s so much here on that ground that only we know, that we have experienced from being on the front lines, that we need to explain to you before you can help. And we appreciate you and Bob and everything, but we just need your help to spread the word to your compatriots because they won’t listen to people like us as well as they listen to you.”

“Well….” the new allies say, tapping their feet and getting just the slightest bit indignant, “you’re not being very sensitive to us, and we mean well, so telling us how to help you, when we’ve told you our plan, is rude. If you keep doing that we’re going to get offended and maybe not want to help you.”

These sentiments were heard by some of the other freedom fighters, who began yelling at their own compatriots. “You have to be nicer to the allies, or they’ll get sensitive and run away and not help us! You’re being mean.”

“But…” said the first group, “why are you more concerned about the feelings of people who center their own over what actually needs to be done? Why are you trying to protect THEM from us when all we’ve asked them to do is listen?”

Meanwhile it’s a big old mess, and everyone is yelling and mad, and meanwhile the enemy is laughing because nothing is getting done. And meanwhile the so-called allies are giving interviews about how they’ve been slighted, and how the freedom fighters are ungrateful, and why won’t they just shut up and let Bob lead a fight he actually doesn’t know enough about?

The moral of the story is this: If you propose to help a culture not your own, but center your own ego and needs over theirs, you are not an ally. You are just one more thing we have to fight.

The Slings and Boo-boos of Outrageous Fallings

by SweetMidlife

HI! It’s Lynne. We haven’t written on this blog since January. But this seemed like a good thing to break that streak.

Hello there sling my new friend
I’ve got to wear you once again…

Two weeks ago, I fell in the bathroom and hurt my arm. Did you know that bathroom floors are wet, especially when you’ve gotten out of the shower? I found that out when I took a shower first, didn’t have a towel to dry myself off, went in the hall to get a towel and went back into the bathroom and slipped. YAY! I originally was told it was a hairline fracture, but it turned out to be a bone bruise. I was put in an arm cast for 2 weeks, which I know is short compared to a really bad break. And it wasn’t fun, but it was passable, and when I had the cast removed on Wednesday, I was given a sling to wear as much as I can over the next two weeks, but not when I drive, which I haven’t done the past few weeks, or when I write, which means I need to put it back on and make this short.

So when the person from the orthopedic office put the sling on, I told her that I didn’t like slings, because they make my shoulder hurt, and it was awkward, and blergh. And she looked at me and said as nicely but truthfully as she could, “Well, it’s not supposed to be comfortable.”

That’s an entire sermon right there.

Healing isn’t always comfortable. The things that make us better aren’t always fun. I am not advocating things that might be harmful, like abusive situations. But saving money so you can get out of debt may not be as fun as making it rain in the candy aisle at Giant Food, which I have done and I can tell you, that’s fun. The candy. But getting out of these credit cards will be more fun.

And so will not having a hurting arm. So I am wrapping this up and putting the sling back on. And I will heal.

Peace on Earth, Goodwill on Twitter. Really.

by SweetMidlife

I’m sitting up in bed, two days before Christmas, with a lot to do and little desire, at present, to get from under this dreamy purple blanket and do anything about it. Since my laptop’s right here and writing is actual work I can accomplish without moving very much, I wanted to acknowledge something wonderful that’s happened to me in the last week that’s reaffirmed my belief in the kindness of humanity, even in this weirdly bleak dumpster fire of a national mood.

And it’s Taylor Swift fans on Twitter.

Yes, Twitter, that mythical online realm where civility and grammar go to die and be reanimated as the Wight Walkers from “Game of Thrones” – dead-eyed, focused and now armed with a zombie dragon.

About a year ago, I wrote a post on this very blog in defense of Taylor Swift, a very famous and accomplished person whose music is not my favorite, but whose hustle I admire. She’d Tweeted that 2017 had been a great year, and a writer for a national publication tore her a new one for not “reading the room” that the year had been horrific so many others. As a survivor of some heinous loss who’s had a fruitful ongoing recovery and some real triumphs, I wrote that people needed to let Taylor live, and that it was possible to acknowledge the greater state of suckiness in the world without trashing someone for expressing some damn happiness.

I’d almost forgotten about that post – 2018 has been very busy for me: I shopped and then sold “Black Widow,” a memoir about the first year of my widowhood, continued as a columnist for the Palm Beach Post as daily print journalism takes a licking and keeps on ticking, and continued being a single mom raising a great, energetic little boy. But when someone reTweeted the link to the story, a strange thing happened – well, maybe not strange when you consider the power of a fandom as strong as Taylor Swift’s – it caught on. And suddenly I had all these Swifties in my timeline, thanking me for my kindness. It knocked me over, y’all. I wasn’t a fellow stan, or someone they knew – just someone who acknowledged the right of their fave to have some happiness.

We are in weird days – the government is shut down, the economy may be wobbling and there are sad, depressed lonely people all over this country and this world. Happiness is fleeting in some parts, so when you find it, when something sweet and wonderful happens to you, we need to hold onto it and tell everybody. Twitter has no problems with people “cancelling” other people, calling them out and telling them about themselves. Happiness shouldn’t threaten you. It should be celebrated.

Thank you guys for your kindness. You made a tired journalist mom smile. Now…somebody needs to make me get out of this bed and finish my laundry.

While You See a Chance, Rest

by SweetMidlife

Hi! It’s Lynne.

An old picture of me watching tv in bed because I was too tired to take one when I wrote this post.

So I think God speaks to all of us in different ways. Some hear audible voices, and some hear a warning or encouragement from a friend about something that we never told them but has been on our hearts. I believe God talks to me through pop music. Yes, I’ve heard Him in other ways over the years, but often I am going through things in my head and a song will come on the radio that speaks to me in a targeted way. And the song that has been my kiss from above, more than any other song, is “While You See a Chance” by Steve Winwood. Maybe it’s the organ he plays, or his amazing voice, but this song has always gotten to me. Then it really GOT me.

See, there have been times in my life where I was facing big decisions about moving forward into opportunities that could change things significantly for me, and out of the blue, this song came on. The first was 20 years ago, when I was offered the chance to be in a show at the Kennedy Center in DC. It was an amazing thing, but taking it meant I would have to leave the theater company I was on summer break from, and it meant joining the theater professional union. This opened me up to work at a new set of theaters and would include health care and open doors and the chance to tour in this same show the next year. But it also meant less certainty in between because some theaters don’t hire union actors, and it meant looking for other jobs between gigs. I was about to get on 395 South in DC, headed to my dinner theater show, batting all the possibilities around in my head, when that song came on. And it got to the chorus, the “While you see a chance, take it” part, and I swear I heard a “Lynne!!” in there somewhere, and it seemed like a push. And I was grateful, and took the job, and it changed the trajectory of my life. In wonderful ways.

And over the years, I have heard that song when I was wrestling with things, or about to venture into new territory: I heard it in a restaurant while very pregnant, heading to the last meeting for the teaching artist job I had, and pretty much one of the last professional things I was going to do before the baby came. It seemed like a nice segue into a the next season, and to rest in that.

So speaking of rest, this takes us to this past Thursday. That baby is now 6, and he has his own social schedule and things that he needs rides to, and my husband and I have church commitments, and I am teaching drama and directing a show and about to be in a show, and leading worship at church and there is also dinner to make and things to do and although I am trying to order things in an orderly fashion, it’s a lot.

So Thursday, it was a snowy and rainy day here, and my kid had school, and I was preparing for an after-school drama club that I am excited about. I was on the way to a meeting about an opportunity next year, and I was thinking ahead to drama club, and another lesson my son had that evening, and also a networking event I was supposed to go to while he was at his lesson, and I just felt tired. And right before I left, I got notice that the school system was cancelling after-school events because of the weather, and that was sad, but also took something off of my plate. And I thought to myself, “If weather is stinky enough for them to cancel things, maybe I should not go to the other things we had planned tonight.”

I got in the car, and Steve Winwood came on.

And relief and organ music came over me, and that was conviction. I rearranged my son’s lesson, and I sent regrets to the other event. And we came home after school. And I ate dinner in bed.

Sometimes taking chances means going towards something active and exciting. And this time it meant the chance to recover from excitement, and to embrace safety and rest.

Which actually is pretty exciting too.


Three years a widow: I really am OK, you guys!

by SweetMidlife

Man, we were hot.

Well, look at that. It’s July 29th again! It’s the third anniversary of my husband Scott’s death! Well, isn’t that…a thing!

The only way that this date is not going to be significant and, again, a thing, is for me to be dead and not know that it’s happening, and since we aren’t planning on that happening anytime soon, I’m going to have to deal with the commemoration of this sucky, life-ruining thing every. Single. Year. The first time, I was resolved to be sad and tipsy and kinda backstroke luxuriously in my grief. Last year, I kind of cried and then said “Screw it, let’s do something fun.”

And today….I don’t want to cry. I still do that, sometimes, with no prompting or sad gauzey Lifetime movie montages necessary. I don’t need to manufacture occasions to miss Scott, because I always will. The loss of him will never be OK. It reminds a stupid glitch in reason and logic and God and I are gonna have a long talk about it when I finally do make it to wherever it is we go and meet God. (If it’s my idea of Heaven, it’s an endless “House Hunters” marathon next to All-You-Can-Eat Pad Thai Night.)

But at the three year mark, Leslie. Is. OK. Leslie can smile, and laugh, and not feel guilty about it. Leslie can think about giving Scott’s extraneous dress shirts and sports shorts that still take up too much space in a closet in a bedroom he never slept in, and not feel like she’s picking off pieces of her own skin. She can talk about the times he was a jerk, and not feel like she’s a bad priestess at the Altar of Husband. She can watch the video of his eulogy and not crumble. Her wedding photos don’t seem like the foundation of an elaborate cosmic joke – on her. She can consider doing things he wanted to do but never got to and feel him laughing with her, and not imagining that she’s doing something wrong by still being alive without him.

And that part’s huge. Leslie’s OK. I’m OK.

So today, when you come onto my Facebook page and you tell me stories about Scott, make them happy ones. Make them funny ones, ones about his Ravens obsession and his bad driving and his sloppiness. Make them about his kindness and larger-than-lifeness. I am not the only person who lost him – as his cousin Kenny says in that crazy eulogy, the dude drew a crowd. He was a man that people showed up for, even if he didn’t always believe it.

I am showing up for Scott Zervitz by being what he would want me to be: OK. Better than OK. I’m good. His son is good. We’re good.

And this time next year, I intend on being able to say the same.

The Discoveries You Find When You Walk Instead of Drive

by SweetMidlife


Lynne here! It’s a sunny day in Annapolis today, but yesterday was a different story at one point. It was really rainy in the late afternoon into the early evening, and my son had a music lesson in the downtown arts district of town. I decided to run an errand while he was there, and since parking in that area is dodgy, I armed myself with a large umbrella and took a walk. And it was wonderful. I drive down this street a lot, but I often miss things that aren’t directly in front of me, which is good because driving. But here are some of the things I noticed as I walked to the 7-11 to buy my son Doritos that I may have (and actually have) missed in my car.

Things I didn’t know
When you walk down a street and look at things deliberately instead of driving down it on the way to somewhere else, you find out stuff you didn’t know. Like the Subway I planned to buy chips at originally is gone. And I found out the they are building new things in that district because I had to cross the street to walk on the other side because construction chopped up the sidewalk. Plus, the sweet Irish hotel that my husband and I stayed at once as a present from my mom is now a Hilton Garden Inn with a really cool restaurant next door. And I picked up real estate flyers for cool places I won’t live in because I like my house, and also because I can’t afford it. But I love that kind of thing.

Ooh, and I had also missed a mural of the area painted ON THE GROUND. There was beauty under my feet. That sounds poetic.

Isn’t that lovely? It’s the Maryland State House! Painted on a crosswalk.

People-watching Galore
When you are walking, you can pay attention to the people walking past you, and you wonder about their stories. Like did that guy running down the street get caught in the rain, or is he running on purpose? The guy standing outside of 7-11: does he hang out there a lot? Does he know the lady who was buying lotto tickets inside, or are they making conversation? Do the people getting gas and driving notice the people around, or are they things that happen to be there as they go to where they really want to be? And how nice is the 7-11 manager? And I can answer that: very. Are other people as curious about other people as I am? I don’t know.

Things look haunted and beautiful in the rain and picture-worthy and I like it
I don’t know what it is about rain hitting things, but it makes me want to take pictures of it. The sound of rain often drowns out the rest of the outside noise, and makes this beautiful neutral hum. And it makes me wistful, and casts this natural film over things that looks better than an Instagram filter.

Misty pretty stoplight

So, this isn’t a really deep post, but just one about what happens when you literally slow down and take things in. You get an appreciation for things you see every day but don’t really see.

Grace. Amazing.

by SweetMidlife

Happy New Year! It’s Lynne. There’s something that I wanted to share that’s been rattling around my head.


My son has a tablet that he plays games on, and watches videos on, and has fun and learns things, and all of that. And there are times when he gets caught up in it, and doesn’t respond to us calling him because he’s mesmerized by the screen. And this drives us a bit crazy, and we shake our heads at”these kids today”, and screen time, and the like. So one day, my son was walking down the steps with his tablet in hand, eyes focused on the video he was watching, and I said, “Look up at where you are going and put the tablet down”, and as I said that, I had a scene in my head of me walking down those very steps with my eyes on my phone. And I got convicted that I do the same thing. My son has even called me out on it, because we have that drilled into him now, and also because it’s a little kindergarten righteous indignation. Well played, Young Sir.

So I knew that I wanted to write about this, and at first it was going to be about being present in what we do, and being aware of our surroundings and the people in our lives, and that’s a good topic that I have written on before and will again, because it’s an issue for me. But what keeps coming to me in this is how to have grace when you see people doing things that you don’t like that you realize you do yourself. And when that happens, you have several choices.

You can say, “Wow! This is something we both do that’s bad that we need to stop it right now. No excuses”. This is valid. It’s good to recognize when you are doing things that are detrimental, and might cause you to fall down the steps and breaks stuff, and to just cut it out.

Or you can say, “Wow! We both do this thing, and now I understand how easy it is to do it, so now I think it’s not a big deal anymore”. This makes sense in some scenarios, because maybe the thing that you and the other person are doing isn’t going to hurt anyone, even in small doses.

But sometimes the thing is a big deal, or something that could be. And it needs to stop. But stopping it isn’t easy. And you are stuck between cold turkey/no mercy/no excuses and just letting the whole thing go and going back to where you are. But there is something in between, and that is what I think is grace.

But grace looks differently to some people. Some people think that the best way to extend grace is to just let people be, and not say anything, even when they know that the person is in the wrong, or is hurting themselves and other people. They equate grace with speaking nothing negative ever. And I can imagine if their act is something that YOU do yourself, it’s even harder to admit that the thing is wrong.

But here is the in-between. Recognizing that the behavior needs to change. For you both. Even if it requires you to admit fault, or adjust things, or to briefly look bad, or look like a hypocrite. Or say something negative about someone else because you don’t want to hurt their feelings.

I think grace looks like this: “We have made choices that can hurt us. We can and should do better. I know it might be hard. But I love you, and I love me, and we know where we need to be. We can get there.” Kind change.

So I have been telling my kid to look where he’s going when he has is tablet in his hand, and I have been putting my phone down when I do the same. We both have places to go. And we’ll get there quicker without the falling. Graciously.

Scrappy Theme by Caroline Moore | Copyright 2020 The Sweet Midlife | Powered by WordPress